Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

BA SCORE
96
world-class
2,746 Reviews
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States
stonebrewing.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
2,746
Ratings:
8,345
Avg:
4.34
pDev:
9.22%
 
 
Wants:
814
Gots:
2,338
For Trade:
100
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,746 | Ratings: 8,345
Photo of jwc215
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured jet black with a fairly thin, but extremely well-retained tan head.
The smell was mainly of rich, roasted coffee with a touch of alcohol. It was slightly thin, but what was there was very inviting.
The taste was incredible...I drank it before reading the label -which describes it perfectly - It was a complex mixture of coffee, licorice (anise), chocolate-like berries (black currants)...and a slight charcoal-like smoke malt...but, as my roommate (who had the good fortune of sharing it with me) pointed out - each one was like a different level. It was like eating a rich layer cake. You could taste the different levels individually.
The mouthfeel was silky smooth. Perfect.
The drinkability...well, if it weren't for a budget and alcohol-content - I could drink it endlessly...
This is a beautiful beer...
I was prepared to be a bit disappointed because of the hype, which is sometimes overrated. But, in this case the hype was well-grounded!

 960 characters

Photo of Billolick
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at BT in NYC, sheesh, Stone is just crushing folks at the Tiger this week! Their I.S. hardly seemed like the appropriate brew for a warm summer night in the big town, but this one had to be tried and enjoyed. Poured black and gooey with a solid dark tan head. Coffee and chocolate in the nose. Body/mouthfeel is rich, thick and motor oil in feel. Big and bold flavors of roasted malt, coffee, raisins, prunes, chocolate. Finishes dry with uggodly hops. This stuff has the style nailed. Classic sipper. I imagine this stuff would age very well also.

 555 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Color is as black as sin, thoroughly opaque, utterly dark, and well-endowed with a full, thick, lush roasty-toasty tan head.

Aroma: Oh, goodness, gracious, golly! Sweetness, rich, lush, chocolatey, and burgeoning with a myriad of further flavors, dates, raisins, anise, molasses, maple syrup, dark, twisted, delicious...I've compared certain other Imperial Stouts to candy bars (Bell's Expedition, to name one, whose glass I drink this from), and this goes a touch beyond that, without testing the boundaries of sweetness. Magnificent.

Taste: No body could be fuller, no taste could be richer, the malt is thick and juicy, even, and the hops keep the tongue busy and happy. A complex melange, a viscous mouthfeel, constant tussel with the palate, insistent pleasure on the tongue.

Now, the thicker, slicker, motor-oliy feel kicks in, but by now, you love it, or you're out. Strength, too, sets it's feelers out and begins to trickle into the feeling and the brain, as well. Sticky and treacly, though dark, and thoroughly delicious, if your tastes run like mine.

It rolls around and around the mouth, washing all the senses with this rich, dark, utterly decadent flavor.

Oh, what dark malts can do, for this flavor is so rich, so thick, so fully flavorful, this is decadence, indeed.
Finish? There ain't none! It just keeps going in the mouth!
Mouthfeel? It is utterly dominant, thoroughly covers every inch of the senses...an amazing beer!

I'm going to close on the note that this is my second bottle of this incredible beer, and second review, for when I first cracked the cap on this monster over 15 months ago, I might not have been prepared for the totality of this experience, despite my past love and appreciation of Imperial Stouts.
Now, later, I acknowledge what an astounding bad boy this one is, and I LOVE IT!!!

 1,847 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured on-tap and served in a tulip, the beer is jet black, with a low profile, small bubbled, light brown head that holds to the glass as you go. Aromas are rich, with blackstrap molasses, dark roasted coffee, and old world fruit sweetness. The beer has a full, round body, and delivers an initial blast of dark roast coffee initially. Forward flavors are immediately followed up by a strong molasses and chocolate palate, with a deep, dark sweetness overall, and a slight hopping at the end of the flavor profiles. Cleans itself up very nicely, leaving a roasty and boozey aftertaste that has hints of fruit character. Very smooth, clean finish. Tremendous beer.

 664 characters

Photo of GClarkage
4.82/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11/26/04- Purchased at Bevmo in San Mateo, CA

Appearance- Pours a very black and thick used motor oil color. Head is brown and about 3/4 inch. Not very much lacing to be had though.

Smell- Mmmmm, chocolate and heavy burnt coffee malt.

Taste- Damn, this is the best stout I have ever tasted. I need to re-taste Rasputin on tap because it's been over a year since I have had it. But, I'm pretty sure this tops it. About the perfect combo of chocolate and coffee I have ever had. Nice hops finish in the background.

Mouthfeel- Perfect except it's a tad too carbonated to me which makes for a slightly less than smooth swallow.

Drinkability- Brutally drinkable! This may be my highest rating to date. From the first sip I didn't want it to end. Too bad I had to share a 22 oz bomber with two other people. Only 8 oz at the most for poor me :( The alcohol comes through pretty hard at the end. Already noticing a tinge of buzz after my 8oz. Fricking phenomanal beer. Like drinking a smores with a cup of coffee. But minus the marshmallow and plus the buzz. Sounds good to me.

 1,085 characters

Photo of drabmuh
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a scored tulip. Beer is BLACK as night, thick, forms a very thin head of brown tiny bubbles. The head falls away quickly leaving almost nothing behind in the way of the head but a lot of lacing, especially considering the tiny scale of the original head.

Smell is far weaker than I was expecting. There is some sweetness, some malt, not a lot of roast and I can detect some alcohol in there as well. No hop aroma.

Mouthfeel is good, not too thick not thin at all. The flavor is sweet, with a lot of roast in the back. I can taste some of the alcohol. High drinkability. The roast completely clears leaving no aftertaste. This is a superb RIS.

 670 characters

Photo of aasher
3.93/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just poured a 2009 edition since the 2010s just came in

Appearance: jet black in appearance, pours a little thick with a light caramel head, sticking to the sides

Smell: smells like a standard imperial stout, good coffee aroma and some alcohol, nothing too special

Taste: very good flavor, rich and full of coffee flavor, mild sweetness, alcohol in the after taste, good resonating flavor

Mouthfeel: extremely smooth, almost velvety, little carbonation

Drinkability: very drinkable, the flavor isn't over powering and it tastes great, the alcohol is also pretty well hidden for its content

I'd highly recommend picking one of these up, especially if over a year old.

 672 characters

Photo of stevoj
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bittercreek Alehouse Dark Days 2014 pouring this 2011 vintage. Not much can be added here, a truly superlative beer. Dark with a tinge of ruby, smooth and velvety, plenty of gentle warmth.

 188 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, appearing black. One finger tan head and light lacing. Aroma of smokey and dark malts, dark fruit, light alcohol. Taste is lighter than other top RIS, with dark and smokey malts, dark fruit. Finish has light hops and very distinct alcohol, which detracts from the flavor and flavor progression. Medium bodied.

 334 characters

Photo of Gobzilla
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: poured a dark brown like oil with a brown finger worth of head that left good sticky lacing on the glass.

S: nice roasted malt aromas with chocolate and slight coffee accents that definitely has booziness in the mixture. I also got some creamy notes followed by some oaky vanilla.

T: oak vanilla and slight greet the palate first with chocolate, and a mild hop bite as well. The beer also has some nice roasted malts that really adds balance to the overall flavor.

M: medium body with a good amount of carbonation that is sweet and silky with a mild bitter finish.

D: pretty damn good RIS from stone considering they stick to the hop bombs. This is definitely a treat after dinner. The beer drank good and could have another bomber.

 739 characters

Photo of Gavage
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one pours a strong black color with a thin dark brown head. The nose was dominated by alcohol more so than other imperial stouts, but coffee, roasted malt, and licorice were noticeable. The flavor kicks butt. Roasted malt, coffee,chocolate, caramel, licorice, plums, and alcohol were flavors I could pull out during the drink.

Very thick bodied. Smooth on the tongue. I noticed a chocolate and mellow coffee aftertaste. Very creamy finish.

This one turned me off slightly at the start on the aroma due to the very dominant alcohol smell, but the flavor turned the tables. The alcohol level was much more tolerable by the tongue and was balanced in the other flavors. I will need to try this one again soon.

 719 characters

Photo of liamt07
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of ZorPrime, 22oz bottle into a snifter. Spring 2010 release.

Pours pitch black, with a foamy brown head. Sticky lace, medium retention. Nose has some roasted malt qualities, dark chocolate, dark fruits (black currant, as the bottle suggests?), brown sugar and some vanilla sweetness. Taste has the sweet dark fruit initially, before the brown sugar and bitter chocolate come through along with some alcohol warmth. Slight burn in the throat comes with this. Great complexity within this, and balance between the components. Bitter roast in the finish which lingers immensely. Mouthfeel is ideal, as is the carbonation at a medium low level. A bench mark for the style.

 686 characters

Photo of tempest
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Let's get straight to the point on this one. It's an amazing beer, but I don't think it's worthy of #3 on Best of BA. Pours black with light brown head and smells a bit sherry-like, chocolatey brandy maybe with a bit of alcohol. The roasted flavors really came our in the flavor. Chocolate, burnt coffe, espresso, more chocolate, and warming alcohol; quite tasty and it really lingers. It has a nice thick mouthfeel, but it took me a while to get through maybe 5-6 oz. I'd call it a great beer, but not an epic.

 511 characters

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber bottle.
This looks like crude oil in a glass, topped with a tan head about 2 fingers thick. Very dark. Initially poured cold, but as it warmed the pours produced more head.
Smell of raisin, coffee, chocolate and roasted malt, perhaps burnt biscuit.
taste was great. Excellent balance between sweet/tart hops and malt. Coffee, chocolate. anise was a bit present as was plum and dark fruit. Flavor hits all spots on the palate.
Alcohol isn't even noticeable, except for a slight face flush.
Easy drinking for a dark beer.

 532 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.31/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage on tap at The Prohibition Pig in Waterbury, VT.

Pours the thickest and darkest of blacks. 2 inch dark brown head, with good lacing down the glass.

Smells include dark, almost burnt, roasted malt, rich chocolate, and coffee.

The taste is similar. Insanely roasty beer, they must have put a ton of roasted malt in here, as the beer is very bitter with roastiness. Some rich dark chocolate flavors as well, along with coffee and slightly overpowering smoke/ash flavors.

Thick, thick, thick body and mouthfeel- creamy and sticky all in a good way. Low carbonation.

A great stout from Stone, although I like the espresso variant better.

 650 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.6/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber bottle in to my Duvel tulip glass

A - Very deep black colour with a small amount of fomay coffee-coloured head. Some visible carbonation.

S - Very strong chocolate smell with some coffee and a clear alcohol presence. A very robust smell.

T - The chocolate nose didn't lie - a very prevalent chocolate taste. Also a very strong alcohol taste, too strong for my liking.

M - A medium to full body; slightly chewy.

D - A good imperial stout, but not as drinkable as some others. The alcohol is just too prevalent for me and creates a lasting aftertaste that follows every sip.

Overall a good beer, but not the best RIS that I have had.

 663 characters

Photo of Wasatch
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Revisted: 19 Apr 16
22oz. Bomber
2016 Release
Bottled On: 03/03/16
ABV: 10.8%

Poured into a chalice a very nice black color, nice carbonation, nice small fizzy/creamy tan head, which dissapates quickly, which leaves a medium size island. The nose is malty, with some nice roastyness, coffee/chocolate/toffee notes. The taste is malty, sweet, slightly roasty, nice notes of chocolate/coffee/toffee. Full Body, the ABV is hidden pretty well, definitely a sipper. Overall, this is still to me, a very nice brew, and worth buying whenever it is around, a classic. Might start cellaring some.

Revisted: 19 Nov 15
2015 Classic Release
22oz. Bomber
Bottled On: 02/25/15

Again, a long time coming!

Poured into a chalice a very nice black color, nice carbonation, nice small fizzy/creamy tan head, which dissapates quickly, which leaves a medium size island. The nose is malty, with some nice roastyness, coffee/chocolate/toffee notes. The taste is malty, sweet, slightly roasty, nice notes of chocolate/coffee/toffee. Full/Medium body, the ABV is hidden very well. Overall, this is still to me a very nice brew, and worth buying whenever it is around, a classic. Now it should not take me 5 years till the next one.

2008 Vintage
Revisted: 25 Jun 10
Two years later

Pours a very nice black color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy/creamy tan head, which dissapates quickly, with basically no sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some nice roastiness, coffee/chocolate/toffee notes. The taste is malty, sweet, slight roasty, nice notes of chocolate/coffee/toffee. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden pretty well with this one, but kinda watery. Very drinkable still, but not holding up as well as I thought it would.

2008 Vintage

Pours a very nice black color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy/creamy tan head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some nice roastiness, coffee/chocolate/toffee notes. The taste is malty, sweet, slight roasty, nice notes of chocolate/coffee/toffee. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden pretty well with this one. Very drinkable, a joy to drink again, highly recommended.

2007 Vintage

A - Pours a black in color, some carbonation, nice creamy tan head, lots of lacing throughout the drink.

S - Scents of sweet/roasted malts, and toffee/caramel, slight smoked scent.

T - The taste is awesome of sweet/roasted malts, with nice undertones of toffee/caramel. Nice warm feeling going down.

M - Medium body.

D - Very Drinkable. Another awesome brew from Stone, they have not dissapppointed yet.

2006 Vintage

A - Pours a black in color, some carbonation, nice creamy tan head, lots of lacing throughout the drink.

S - Scents of sweet/roasted malts, and toffee/caramel, slight smoked scent.

T - The taste of awesome of sweet/roasted malts, with nice undertones of toffee/caramel. Nice warm feeling going down.

M - Medium body.

D - Very Drinkable. Another awesome brew from Stone, they have not dissapppointed yet.

2005 Vintage

A - Pours a black in color, some carbonation, nice creamy tan head, lots of lacing throughout the drink.

S - Scents of sweet/roasted malts, and toffee/caramel, slight smoked scent.

T - The taste of awesome of sweet/roasted malts, with nice undertones of toffee/caramel. Nice warm feeling going down.

M - Medium body.

D - Very Drinkable. Another awesome brew from Stone, they have not dissapppointed yet.

 3,417 characters

Photo of WesWes
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep dark black color with a thick frothy light brown head that fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich black malt and chocolate scent with a dry alcohol driven aroma! The taste is great. It has an intense black malt flavor with a dry warm finish. It goes down smooth and leaves a black malt aftertaste. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a fine Russian Imperial Stout. It has good aroma and better flavor; a good drinker.

 497 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
4.27/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 Edition served on-tap at Stone's World Bistro in an 8 oz glass, on to the beer:

Not much of a head or sticky lacing on this one, but the color as expected is pitch black. The nose brings molasses and dark chocolate, and a brush-up of fruity alcohol. The carbonation is a little harsh in the begining, but the beer mellows out as it warms. The beer becomes sweeter in this case, with a 1-2 punch of choclate and molasses, with a rush of roasted character in the end. The high alcohol level in this one balances out the sweetness of the beer, and it makes this one a sipper.

So this is what a fresh Stone Imperial Russian Stout tastes like. I have a one-year old bottle of this which I'll take notes on one of these days, so comparing the two will be interesting.

 769 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage consumed 4/3/2010.

The beer pours dark brown to black with a khaki colored head. The aroma is chocolate and roasted malt with some piney hops. The flavor is lots of bitter chocolate, coffee and some piney hops as well as roasted malt. As the beer gets to room temperature you start to get some other flavors including semi-sweet chocolate, caramel, toffee and brown sugar. Medium bitterness overall, much less so than when the beer is fresh. The alcohol is not that present in the taste but it is warming. Thick, creamy mouthfeel and low carbonation.

 564 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Imperial Russian Stout
Stone Brewing Co.
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.50 %

LOOK: Pours the darkest of browns more or less black, with no sediment and cannot see through. Small wisp of light brown head forms and recedes the edges of the glass.

SMELL: Roasted malts, coffee, smoke, cocoa and dark fruits are all present in the aroma. There is also a detection of alcohol, which is to be expected of a stout of Imperial Russian strength.

TASTE: Deeply roasted malts kick things off, with subtle notes of chocolate, coffee, black licorice and vanilla. There is a hint of plum and date as well, and alcohol is quite tame. Pretty tasty and remains roasted and flavorful the whole way through.

FEEL: Full bodied, silky smooth on the palate, medium carbonation, lingering stout flavor sticks with you.

OVERALL: A delicious stout sporting great strength, feel, flavor and general outcome. A stout that does its job and is proud of it. A salud' to Stone for a job well done!

 980 characters

Photo of dar482
3.87/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer comes in a black color with tinges of brown on the edge.

The aroma has anise spiciness, a bit of pine, a lightly roasted malt, and nuttiness.

The flavor pop immediately of heavy bitterness, almost overwhelming. Anise spice, bitter dark earthiness, a nice chocolate malt and heavy espresso. Lots of alcohol and bitterness in the end. A medium plus mouthfeel.

The overwhelming theme in the end is alcohol and that dense bitterness that overtakes any wonderful roasted malt or sweetness in the imperial stouts.

 519 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 22oz bomber that had beeen aged for one year. Poured black with a brown head that faded quickly and left minimal lacing. The smell was of sweet stewed dry fruit, especially prunes and dark cherries; as well as dark malt, a touch off soy, and a hint of anise at the end. The aroma of alcohol has been tamed by the aging. The taste is very mellow at this point, and markedly similar to the aromas with the addition of a tasty black licorice finish. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, but not remarkably so. After some aging, this one is pretty drinkable. Overall, a very good beer, and probably more drinkable and enjoyable for the aging, but probably not quite the elixer its made out to be. Quite good, but don't kill yourself trying to find it.

 762 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle in a snifter. Split with oglmcdgl, 09 version.

A- IRS is black, dark and bold looking. A tan mocha head with some retention sat on top for a while before defleating. Nice sheets of lacing stuck to the glass.

S- dark sweet chocolate with some hops hiding. Roasted malts and sweet coffee. A lot of dark fruits as well with some alcohol coming from this fresh bottle. A bit of cream and vanilla in the distance.

T- A sweet blast of chocolate with coffee not to far behind. Roasted malts follow and play well with the vanilla/cream underlay. I'm getting just a hint of a tootsie roll flavor. Some hops balance it all out making for a delicious treat. A bit of fresh alcohol.

M- Full bodied with some apparent alcohol sting but some malt fullness to heal any wounds. Coats the mouth with the main ingredients focusing on chocolate. Some bitterness and a bit of carbonation. Pretty good all around.

D- Best to be split with the high ABV but I could see myself with one of these in the middle of winter. Not the most drinkable RIS i've had but perhaps some age can fix the dents. Gets better with some chocolate nearby.

 1,129 characters

Photo of flagmantho
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22 oz bomber into a pint glass.

Appearance: completely black with a thick, foamy mocha brown head. Really, I don't know what else you'd need in a beer.

Smell: gobs of chocolate and alcohol, a little coffee and malt. Just what I want in a RIS.

Taste: slightly fruity alcohol and enough bitterness to stand up to the malt. At first, some of that great chocolate character from the nose failed to come through in the flavor, but as my glass warms up I'm getting more of that smooth chocolate which is just heavenly on the tongue.

Mouthfeel: thick and coating without being too much to handle. For the style, there's a relatively high level of carbonation here which lends a creaminess to the event. Great!

Drinkability: frankly, most RISs cannot break the 4.0 drinkability limit for me. The flavors are usually great, but the cumulative effect of all that malt plus the Herculean alcoholic content just pull that number down. After some consideration, though, I think Stone's RIS rates a bit higher ... it's just plain good.

 1,038 characters

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,345 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe