Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout
8,385 Ratings
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.60%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 8,385 |  Reviews: 2,761
Photo of SocalKicks
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of zeff80
4.57/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, black as night color with a small, light brown, foamy head. It left soapy sheets of lace like legs on a red wine.

S - It smelled of sweet chocolate, roasted malt, floral notes and sweet fruits.

T - It tasted like candy sugar, licorice, roasted malt and strong chocolate and caramel flavors. A solid bitter hoppy kick balanced out the sweetness.

M - It was soft, smooth and still sharp with a warming alcohol presence. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a truly great brew. One of the most balanced RIS's I've ever had.

 547 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.86/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle(room temp – July 2005 release): Poured a pitch-black color stout with a bid foamy dark brown head with pretty good retention. Aroma of roasted malt with some coffee. Roasted caramel malt are easy to distinguish with some very easily distinguishable coffee. I was expecting a bit more complexity (liquorice, chocolate, plums…) or even more hops. Body was quite full and alcohol was well hidden. Overall, this is a very good imperial stout but I was expecting a bit more complexity and I still have to say that I would drink Expedition over this any day.

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Photo of LXIXME
4.75/5  rDev +9.7%

Simply said this is what I like about trying different beers, once in a while you get to drink a beer that states the style without having overbearing qualities. And having said that this beer does just that, it has all the qualities of a Imperial Russian Stout and yet I can not discern any particular aspect that carries the beer, nothing overdone or overbearing----just a gosh darn tasty stout.

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Photo of largadeer
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 22 oz bottle.

Black and robust, lightly carbonated and syrup-thick. The nose is all roasted barley and molasses. 10.8% alcohol is alarmingly well-hidden here, especially for a bottle with little age to it. Dark roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate and burnt toast entangle (but never overwhelm) the palate, with a long finish of black licorice and mild hops. Perfectly smooth and drinkable, I find it difficult to fault this beer in any way. One of the very best Russian Imperial Stouts available today.

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Photo of zestar
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of superspak
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter; 2011 vintage, bottled in Spring 2011. Pours Dense pitch black color with a 2 finger dense tan head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, roasted malt, toast, dark bread, light char, molasses, raisin, light licorice, herbal, and roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malts with moderate earthy yeast ester notes; with good strength and some slight booziness. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, coffee, toast, dark bread, light char, molasses, raisin, light licorice, herbal, and roasted earthiness. Slight earthy herbal/roasted bitterness after the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, roast, toast, dark bread, light char, molasses, light raisin, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and balance of dark/bready/roasted malt flavors with light-moderate earthy yeast flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very creamy, slick, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish, Overall this is outstanding imperial stout. All around awesome complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and light-moderate earthy yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of Boone757
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of Kurmaraja
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of mothman
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Spring 2008 Release

Pours about 1/4 of a finger of dark tan head that fades to a thin ring around the glass. Not a lot of lace here. We will simply call the color black and leave it at that.

Aroma: Chocolate, coffee, toffee, roasted malts, dark fruits, earthy hops. The smell is very mouthwatering. I am enjoying it so far.

Wow, the taste is very rich and roasted. Lots of chocolate, toffee, caramel, some booze, dark fruits, and earthy hops. A big amount of roasted/burnt hops in this one. The dark fruit portion is pretty dominate in this RIS. I like it, but it is quite boozy.

Mouthfeel: Rich, smooth, hot, and a little bitter near the end. I can really tell there are a ton of hops in this beer from the mouthfeel. Full bodied with a lot of carbonation. Ends with a fairly clear burnt malt flavored aftertaste.

Overall, I am really enjoying this beer and I am glad the serving size is a 12 oz bottle. A bomber would be too much for me. I like, but it is nothing I am falling in love with. A great beer none the less!

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Photo of DrBier
4/5  rDev -7.6%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.77/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

"Limited Late Spring 2002 Release" - roughly one year old right now. There's been enough said about the specifics of this beer that I'm sure I don't have to start with "Pours as black as night...". I'm not a huge fan of Imperial Stouts, but this one just became one of my all time favorites!

I was quite impressed with the level of maltiness present in the aroma, and the complexity that goes along with it. It's quite cocoa-ish, but also fruity. It has a touch of the "burnt currant" that's so common to the style, but this is more ripe and juicy - and it's the fruitiness that I recognize in the other Stone beers (particularily the pale ale). But it's even more complex than that with some very light citrusy hops and an oak character that really makes it interesting. But surprisingly, it's not that roasty. In fact, overall, it's more of a Baltic Porter. There's a touch of alcohol in the nose as well, but it seems to enhance rather than hinder.

The flavor follows the same routine. It's quite impressive with a rich-but-not-cloying maltiness that delivers buttered brown sugar, cocoa, fresh wort, creamy coffee, ripe raspberry, nuts, dried fruits, sweet bread crust, red wine, and caramel. It's well-balanced by a bitterness that supports, but also hangs in the wings.

Highly recommended!!! Although the alcohol will stop you.... you'll want to drink a few of these!

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Photo of chinchill
4.15/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz 2011 bottle served in a Belgian snifter.

Pours clear, dark brown but sit near black and opaque in the glass. Little head or lacing;
Aroma:sweet and a bit boozy with a hint of molasses.

Flavor: robust, rich, refined and well-balanced. Leans slightly towards sweet. Very good mix of dark fruit and roasted grain flavors with a touch of coffee and earthy spices.

Feel: full body with excellent, soft, medium-low carbonation.

O: excellent

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Photo of olradetbalder
4/5  rDev -7.6%

Photo of dbrauneis
4.23/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Release

A: Pours an opaque jet black in color with just the faintest hints of very dark brown near the surface when held up to the light and moderate amounts of visible carbonation near the surface as well. The beer has a quarter finger tall dark mocha head that reduces to a medium sized patch of extremely thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of dark roasted malts with significant notes of coffee, anise/licorice, and bittersweet chocolate.

T: Very similar to the smell, the taste of this beer is dominated by the dark roasted malts, anise/licorice, coffee, and bittersweet chocolate. There is a light to moderate amount of bitterness that lingers lightly. Just a hint of alcohol as the beer warms up.

M: On the lighter side of medium bodied with moderate to high amounts of carbonation. Smooth with some alcohol warming (which increases as the beer warms).

O: This beer has a great amount of complexity to both the smell and the taste of the beer. This beer is very enjoyable but not the easiest to drink, the high ABV (which is not all that well hidden) makes this one a real sipping beer. Good example of the style.

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Photo of jlindros
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Can't believe I haven't reviewed this yet. Great time to review it, sitting through Hurricane Earl. Spring 2010 release.

A nice creamy rich dark head rises up to 1 finger but fades semi quickly over super dark almost pitch black colored beer. It has nice legs running down the sides of the glass too indicating it's thickness.

The nose has plenty of dark roasty malts, lots of coffee and toffee, roasted barley, some oatmeal, creamy chocolate milk, some bakers chocolate, a slight caramel, chewy malt aroma, some sweetness but no real booze. THe nose is a little harder to get out than I expected, lighter.

The taste comes on really rich, velvety, thick, and tasty. It is a little boozy, with some warmth and very light tingle. There is some nice dark malts, some roast, light coffee, toffee, caramel, and somewhat sweet. Lots more creamy chocolate milk and oatmeal, but not too heavy on the oatmeal. Some bakers chocolate as well. A light vanilla flavor as well. A slight bitterness, a little from the roast and some soft earthy hops.

The mouth is heavier but not overwhelming, with good carbonation and a light warming booze.

It finishes slightly dry with some more sticky sweetness, lingering toffee, some coffee and roast, lots of chocolate, creamy milk and bakers, and even a little vanilla still. Some light warming and tingly booze late, but not as much as I expected. A little bitterness It coats the mouth pretty well too and just lingers and lingers. A little bitterness starts to build too and get a little more bitter as it goes, some light spicy hops and somewhat from the earthy roast. With all the dark malts in this I'm surprised there aren't any off flavor minerals and briney flavors, they did a good job with this.

Overall I'm a little disappointed by the nose being too light, but the taste was great, and the whole experience of the beer was pretty nice. I need to crack my aged bottle sometime, although I think I want to keep aging it.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.53/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2006 release poured from a 22oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep brownish black, with a thick brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: It has a rich coffee roast & dark chocolate aroma with a little bit of hops & alcohol. The smell has a robust quality to it that lets you know right away that this beer doesn’t mess around.

T: The taste is an excellently balanced, rich flavor of coffee & chocolate, roasted malt and a touch of hops. As Stone does so well, it’s not overly sweet, but not bitter and STILL masks the 10.80% ABV.

M: Full-bodied, extremely smooth, medium carbonation, leaves a clean finish without any syrupy or oily residue which I would attribute to the fact that the sweetness isn’t excessive.

D: This beer is treacherously drinkable because it’s so smooth & tasty and the ABV is well hidden in the taste. It also is not filling unlike other stouts that I’ve had. Given all of that, this beer can do some heavy damage if you go with it for some time. Unfortunately for me, I won’t be able to test myself beyond the one bomber that I had.

This is an excellent beer. I know that by the time I make it back to the store where I got this beer, it will all be gone. While I consider myself lucky to have gotten the beer, I’m cursing myself for not buying more of it. I guess I learned my lesson for next year.

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Photo of oberon
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black like motor oil I held it up to a pretty bright light and nothing shined thru a bit of a mocha colored head settled nicely on top perfect.Hops in a imperial stout well this one has a big dose that come thru in the aroma with some cocoa powder and deeply roasted malt.Big complexities going on in the flavor department roasted coffee followed by a medicinal quality a touch of smoke and hop dryness in the finish.A beer that lives up to the billing big bold and beautiful man what a beer!

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Spring 2008 Release

G: Poured into an oversized snifter.

A: Pours a very dark, rich brown that is opaque in the glass. A finger or more of light cocoa-colored head with a good amount of carbonation visible in it. Pretty good lacing.

S: Strong on the alcohol. First scents are chocolate, cherry skins, caramel. Rich, roasted malts.

T: Waited until this one warmed up a little bit to fill out the taste profile--it definitely improves as it gets more toward room temperature. Plenty of complexity. Caramel with hints of chocolate, all behind a solid roasted, dark malt backbone. Not as much of the dried fruit as I picked up in the nose. This almost hits me as a cross between a RIS and an American Imperial Stout. Either way, very solid.

M: Medium-bodied with an above-average amount of carbonation. Definite alcohol warmth. Slightly chewy.

D: Highly drinkable for an RIS. This has a lighter mouthfeel than many others, and I can definitely see how this is a spring--as opposed to winter--release.

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Photo of nickfl
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Coal black, with about 1 inch of tan-brown head.

S - Alcohol, hops and chocolate. Rasins, estery fruit, dates and a bit of mint.

T - Spicy, hoppy. Chocolate/ espresso and rasins/ dates. A bit of buttery, nutty maltiness and a long hoppy, spicy finish.

M - Very thick and oily with higher carbonation than I would have expected.

D - I can't find anything to complain about in this one. The flavor and aroma are excellent and the chocolate notes are particularly delicious. They have done a great job of rideing the line between a vary flavorfull beer and an excessive, opressive one.

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Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -7.6%

Photo of Gagnonsux
4.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased this while on vacation in Memphis. The color is black, head is medium brown and creamy. Head is very good considering the 10.8% ABV. The aroma is of rich, dark chocolate with slight whiffs of alcohol and roasted coffee. The taste is quite simply amazing. Rich and complex dark chocolate flavor is ruling my world here. Alcohol flavor is noted in the finish. A light roasted taste rounds this out. Another great thing about this beer is that considering the extremely full flavor and high alcohol content, Stone Imperial Russian Stout is amazingly drinkable. This is a beer that every fan needs to get their hands on. I haven't finished my bomber yet and I'm already mad that I can't get more locally. Note to Stone Brewing: Please, please, please bring your full product line to Texas.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sample at Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen 2017, red session, 2005 vintage. Aroma has dried fruits, most notably figs, also some spicy notes. Taste is really smooth with liquid chocolate, fudge and figs. More roasty on the finish, a bit astringent and bitter. Really nice development over the years.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First had: bottle from Pinocchio's bottle shop, Media, PA

Poured into a Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. shaker. Thick, opaque black, reddish-brown around the edges, with a good three fingers of chocolaty brown head that receded to a mere ringlet about halfway through the session; soapy lacing throughout. Served at just about room temperature. Aroma rich with chocolate, roasted malts and coffee, with a touch of smoke. Luxurious taste of bittersweet chocolate balanced with a bit of bitter coffee, and subtle hints of smoke and and definite blast of alcohol warmth that perhaps is augmented when the beer is warmer. Thick and full-bodied, and very drinkable, if a bit on the strong side.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ the Copper Mine Pub (North Arlington, NJ) on 7/24/09. 8 oz pour served in a Chimay glass.

Pours black as night in the glass, with a 1/4 finger of creamy burnt mocha colored head. Just awesome retention here, staying rich & frothy the whole way through the glass, leaving a big cascade of creamy spotty lace and brown goo back. The aroma is just awesome smelling, being quite heavy in the nose, with a perfect evenness between the darkker notes of roast & coffee and then the sweeter tones of chocolate, toffee, and dark fruits. As mentioned before, the alcohol presence gives this some heavy presence in the nostrils but is never stinging, instead imparting a cozy smelling warmth that makes this a pleasure to sniff.

The taste starts with a big crunchy flush of blackened and burnt roast and zippy espresso character. This is then balanced (if you can call it that) by an equally massive sweeter base of dark chocolate, toffee, black currants, and liquorice. Man, the finish on this is absolutely bitter and roasty that just STICKS in the mouth. Very satisfying. The mouthfeel is full bodied with a big mouthfilling prickly carbonation that really brings out the sharp roasty character in this. This then slickens out towards the back, with a chewy feel that carries the bulk of the huge sweetness in this with it. That hefty ABV is present, but just like the best RIS do, it never detracts from the flavors but instead gives them extra gravitas in the profile, helping make everything pop.

A classic from Stone no doubt. Full flavored, full bodied, full everything, RIS that leaves nothing on the table. I love the fact that you don't have to give up an arm or a leg to procur if either. Great stuff!

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 8,385 ratings
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