Stone Brewing

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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #61
Ranked #985
4.35 | pDev: 6.21%
Stone Brewing
California, United States
Notes: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout with Espresso.
Reviews: 52 | Ratings: 184 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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backblast from Alaska

4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2017 Batch 03 - enjoyed on 3-20-2021

Pours jet black with no head and low carbonation.

Tastes of dark fruit and coffee right off with a nice booze balance. Along with that, the barrel, char and dark chocolate all work together wonderfully.

Mar 21, 2021
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emyers from Illinois

4.35/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a snifter.

Near black with a one inch creamy off-white head.

Nose: All espresso with a slight hint of bourbon/vanilla.

Taste: Espresso again up front but with a bit more chocolate backing it up and a dose of herbal hops on the finish. Minimal barrel presence.

Feel: Medium body, smooth with medium carbonation.

Apr 06, 2020
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Wolvmar from Michigan

4.31/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

March 2020 Review
500ml bottle, 2017 Series, Batch No.03, bottled in October 2017. Poured into a tulip glass.

Pour: black with a minimal brown head that dissipated quickly and left little to no lacing. 3.5

Nose: Coffee, chocolate, oak, dark stone fruit, vanilla. Very good. 4.25

Taste: Pretty much follows the nose with sweet malt, coffee upfront and bitter chocolate on the back end. Really good. 4.5

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, smooth, creamy. Very good. 4.25

Overall: a really good, maybe great coffee stout. Easy drinking despite the ABV. Absolutely worth trying, will pick up another to cellar. 4.25

Mar 22, 2020
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Jeffo from Netherlands

3.32/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this from rutger this past summer

From a 500ml corked and caged bottle into a snifter
IBU: 43
2018 series batch #2
Bottled October 2018
Aged 8 months in Kentucky bourbon barrels
Imperial Russian stout aged in bourbon barrels with espresso beans

APPEARANCE: Clear black pour yields a 2+ finger, medium looking, slightly creamy tan head with good retention. Black body with medium levels of carbonation evident for the style. Head slowly recedes to a thin wisp and clings to the glass. Splotchy wisp remains leaving decent lacing down the glass as it empties.

SMELL: Roasted and burnt espresso beans on this one. Charred. Some dark chocolate, oak and bourbon aromas, vanilla cream and butterscotch as well. Well put together.

TASTE: Roasted coffee flavors up front, with bourbon, oak and some vanilla cream as well, then some wood and alcohol at the swallow. Flavorful finish of wood, bourbon, vanilla and butterscotch sweetness, as well as some bitter dark chocolate and bitter, roasted espresso beans as well. Charred espresso and somewhat boozy.

PALATE: Medium body and slightly higher levels of carbonation. A touch foamy perhaps, goes down a bit prickly with a bit of a scratch and finishes somewhat mouth-coating. Some heat lingers.

OVERALL: This is alright. The coffee is a little overly roasted or burnt and it’s a touch boozier than it needs to be, but it’s certainly enjoyable, especially for those who like coffee-forward stout beer. I’m a fan, though I do with it was a little creamier as opposed to charred. I’d also like a bit of a silkier mouthfeel as well. Nevertheless, Stone makes good stuff and this one falls into that category. Thanks again, rutger!

Dec 23, 2019
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kitch from Hong Kong

4.39/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A 500ml corked and caged bottle, 2017 Series, Batch No.03, bottled in October 2017. Poured into a snifter glass.

Appearance: It was black in colour with a half finger brown head that dissipated quickly and left only sparse to no lacing.

Aroma: Light roast, milk chocolate, damp coffee grounds, espresso, oak and vanilla.

Taste: Moderate roastiness, milk chocolate, coffee, espresso, oak, bourbon, vanilla and a lightly herbal bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, full bodied with soft carbonation.

Overall: Really enjoyable drinking, as its rich and smooth with velvety chocolate, and nice barrel notes expressing bourbon and vanilla.

Dec 13, 2019
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bobhits from Kentucky

4.68/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Nose - coffee, burnt malt, dark bakers chocolate, vanilla, oak.

Taste - Mikhail is a coffee bomb bringing with it the citrus, the dark burn beans, and the lingering ground espresso beans out in their fullest. I've had coffee that tasted less like coffee. The back is a rich and heavy stout providing chocolate, vanilla, light hops, and intense sugary sweetness.

Simply one of the best dessert beers or maybe a saturday wake me up?

Nov 08, 2019
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DIM from Pennsylvania

4.41/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

I can't believe how potent the espresso notes are considering this was brewed 20 months ago and bottled 10 months ago. Up front I tasted robust barrel notes of vanilla, boozy sugar, and a woody char that lingered a bit into the finish that was otherwise straight up deeply roasted, wonderfully flavorful espresso. Some of the strongest coffee notes I have ever found in a beer.

Very satisfying overall and worth a try for sure.

Aug 25, 2019
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EMH73 from New York

4.46/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a quarter inch dark tan head that leaves a couple wisps of lacing. Smells of bourbon, espresso, dark chocolate and barrel. Tastes of espresso, dark chocolate, caramel, vanilla, almond, bourbon, char, dark roasted malts and dark fruits. On the light side of full bodied, light carbonation, dry and lightly butter fisish, creamy mouth feel.

Aug 16, 2019
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Sludgeman from District of Columbia

3.38/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A 2017 Series Batch 03. Purchased at the Stone Brewery in Richmond, VA. A 500ml bottle, corked and caged. Poured into a small stemmed tulip. I had a difficult time removing the cork.

Over barreled. More whiskey than expresso stout. Way too thin for the taste profile. Did I hold onto this beer too long (unintentionally)? 3.25

A – Pours an opaque black. Very effervescent with the pour. A short-lived brown head. No lacing. Minor alcohol legs. 3.75

S – Aromas of whiskey, coffee, vanilla, even some cherry. 3.75

T – Roasty malts, coffee, solventy. Too hot. 3.25

MF – Medium bodied but thin, warming. 3.0

Apr 28, 2019
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.46/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle. Caged and corked. Bottled in October 2017.
Black colored body, with a thin edge of dark brown back lit highlights. One finger of tan, fizzy head quickly goes away, leaving a very active top surface. I see one small of lacing after the first sip.
Aroma is rich with coffee/espresso and notes from the oak barrel (bourbon, vanilla and caramel). Quite impressive for the age in the bottle.
Taste introduces the fudge chocolate to the mix of coffee, dark fruits, oak/bourbon, vanilla and caramel. The aftertaste is very mellow with coffee and vanilla, with a touch of fudge.
Thicker mouth feel, with a mouth coating texture. Good carbonation.
The entry of the fudge chocolate in the mid portion of the taste profile really adds to the depth and richness of the beer's taste. Otherwise the coffee/espresso would dominate and make this a barrel aged coffee beer. Really has a swirl of flavors that blend and balance very well. Higher ABV% is well hidden. This beer is remarkably easy to drink.

Apr 24, 2019
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LifesAnesthesia from Virginia

4.49/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2017 Bottle - aged 2 years:
L - Deep, opaque black with a medium tan head that dissipates somewhat quickly
S - Tons of bitter, roasted notes up front along with notes of bitter dark chocolate and dark fruits
T - Fudgey bitter dark chocolate and bitter roasted espresso up front along with notes of oak, vanilla, dark fruits (raisins and figs) - slight alcohol warmth
F - medium to full bodied with a light amount of carbonation - smooth, rich, and velvety
O - A really solid imperial Russian stout from stone.

Apr 13, 2019
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REVZEB from Illinois

4.29/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured jet black from the bottle, with light brown lacing. Smell is powerful espresso with dark chocolate, a wonderful pairing together, plus complementary salt, caramel, bourbon, almond and marshmallow. Taste is fudgey, with robust coffee pervasively throughout. Nice waves of bourbon, charred wood, dark fruit, caramel, almond, vanilla, with then a finish of hot booze with espresso. Not very balanced but intense, yet highly textured from the espresso. It's no fyodor, but it is pretty, pretty good

Mar 21, 2019
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woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.37/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Для моего второго пива, Happy New Russian Stone Beer Sunday (Неделя 729), я обратился к (For my second beer of … , I turned to … Ah, this day is shaping up nicely, comrades! Life is good in Woodyvlostok. Pierogies are simmering, my babushka is coming over, my AK-47 has been cleaned & ready to discharge at the range & I am nearly finished reading my collection of Russian Crime & Suspense stories.

From the Bottle: "Small Batch Escondido"; "2018 Series Batch No. 2"; "Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels w/Espresso Beans"; "Ages Well Store at Cellar Temp (55 F/13 C) or Below"; "Brewed January 25, 2018"; "Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout is a thick, rich and sinful beer that’s heavy on the palate and massively aromatic with notes of anise, black currants, coffee and roastiness."; "In the Mash [-] Roasted Barley, Unmalted Oats and Pale, Amber & Black Malts"; "In the Boil [-] Warrior Hops"; "Whirlpool [-] Belma Hops"; "Unfiltered and Aged 8 months in American Oak Kentucky Bourbon Barrels"; "IBUs 43"; "Bottled [-] October 2018"; "Release Date [-] November 5, 2018"; "Cellar Notes [-] Intense coffee characteristics abound from both the dark malts and the espresso, while rich caramel-like and vanilla notes from the bourbon barrel aging adds layers of complexity, a touch of sweetness and a vibrant dark fruit finish. Since this is an unusual take on our traditional imperial Russian stout, 'Mikhail' pays homage to Mikhail Bulgakov, whose novel The Master and Margarita is considered the foremost of Soviet satires.

Okay, these f**king corks are a real Russian bear to get out of the neck! They are quite long & since I do not have a nice corkscrew with lever arms, I was forced to simply pull it straight up. I cannot tell you of the cold flop sweat that emanated from my body as I held a $17 irreplaceable bottle between my thighs while I tugged on the embedded corkscrew with both hands! I have a third bottled beer, but since it is a) not Russian-style & b) another corked masterpiece, I am holding it in abeyance until I can either procure or borrow a better corkscrew.

F**ksake, this is more work than I envisioned! I gotta talk to Greg about this on our next meeting. Once the pesky Gorky cork was out, the real fun began. I was now anxious to try Fyodor's goofy cousin. I am our family's black sheep goofy cousin, so this beer & I should mesh beautifully. In pouring it, the first thing that I noticed was that the two-plus fingers of head were not as dark as on Fyodor. Instead, it was more Deep-Tan/Light-Brown than simply Dark Brown. Rocky, dense, foamy with good retention & light lacing. This seemed to be more my speed (or perhaps I was slowing down after Fyodor). Color was also lighter, Very Dark Brown to Black/Opaque (SRM = > 34, < 44), allowing cola highlights to peek in at the edges. Nose was rich & redolent with coffee, but not simply coffee. Espresso! I remember my first trip to Rome. We flew in from La Maddalena, Sardinia & while awaiting FFT, we went to the airport cafe. Signora, caffè per favore. I was already starting a career-long habit of speaking the native lingo. She presented us with these wee tiny cups that put me in mind of a children's tea party with one of my female neighbors & her stuffed toy animals! 8=O Caffè? Si, caffè! One sip & I felt like my heart was going to pound its way through my breastbone & out of my chest & go running up one of the seven hills! OMFG! This beer = that! You may have heard of alcohol & beer as a depressant, but this was amping me up to the point that I was going to plug myself into my circuit breaker & power the house on my own for the afternoon. Bump PPL! Mouthfeel was less impressive than in Fyodor, but that is a minor point. I really could not taste or perceive much more than espresso in/from this one, but it was enough! It was the combination of caffeine & alcohol that got FourLoko initially banned & then retooled to disinclude caffeine. I now understand why. I should be drunk & ready for a nap, but I am wide awake. This is potent & potentially deadly! Whoo. Sadly, the espresso flavors were SO overwhelming that everything else, including the Bourbon Bbl.-aging, was getting lost in the mix. How do you rate something like this?!? As an RIS, it was kind of unbalanced in favor of its espresso flavors, at least in its youth. With aging, who knows? My health has me living for the here & now so you may have to report back, even/especially if I am gone. Finish was dry & bitter, in the way that espresso is dry & bitter. Is that your bag? It certainly is mine, but YMMV! The other consideration was the price point. Did I get my $'s worth? I would say so, but then the Q arises as to whether I would drink it again. Perhaps, but next time for sharesies, including the buy.

Feb 10, 2019
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ajm5108 from Pennsylvania

3.87/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This beer is a total espresso bomb: the nose is absolutely dominated by it, and while that is all well and good I missed some variety and depth. Taste isn’t quite as dominant, but I found the barrel character a little lacking, adding just weak hints of vanilla & oak but mostly cheap booze heat. If you love espresso you may get more mileage than I did but needs to be rounded out a little

Jan 31, 2019
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

4.01/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

$ 13.00/500mL corked and caged bottle ($0.769/oz) from Franklin Beer, Franklin, PA. Reviewed 1/21/19.
“Brewed January 25,2018” on back label. On shelf at distributor. Stored at 42 degrees and served at 57 degrees in a hand washed and dried Jester King snifter. Opens with a resounding “POP” and no overflow.
Appearance – 4.
Body – Dark brown/black, opaque. When held to the light, slight penetration occurs around the rim.
Head – Large (Maximum four cm, controlled center pour), medium density, dark tan, average retention, diminishing to a three mm ring and a thin complete layer.
Lacing – None, as expected with a 13.1% ABV BBA product.
First pour – Brown, clear.
Aroma – 4.25 - Strong aroma of coffee and char. This weakens slightly over time.
Flavor –4 - Begins with expresso but the bitterness is barely noticeable. No alcohol flavor (13.1% ABV) but gastric warming begins immediately. No bourbon or vanillin, no diacetyl, no dimethylsulfide.
Palate – 3.5 – Medium, almost creamy, soft carbonation.
Impression and interpretation – 4 – Basically, expresso with some alcohol added. Allowing it to further warm in my mouth enhanced the expresso and brought out some alcohol, but still no bourbon or wood. The palate seems a bit thin for a RIS. The cork broke but I was able to extract it with a basic corkscrew, so no foul. Overall, a good brew but not outstanding.

Jan 21, 2019
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.34/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

for how good much of the stone hoppy stuff is, and how well know for it they have become, they have a lot of dark treasures too, especially the barrel aged ones, and this is high on my list of those types for these guys, its been a long long time since i have liked a stone beer this much. essentially espresso russian imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels, its mature and dense, strong but not boozy, and quite complex for not being heavily adjunct laden. there is a lot to like about this, dense dark chocolate and sweet fudge notes sort of balance each other, while wafts of vanilla and rich oak come in from the barrel, equal amounts whiskey and wood, the corn sweetness of the bourbon is there with the chocolate, faint smoke and earthy char are there as well keeping it in check. cigar, brown sugar, and caramel undertones, way behind the dark, the chocolate, and the whiskey. the coffee smells incredible, not as dosed as i thought it would be, but killer with the oak in both aroma and flavor, light raisin character about it, and not quite as fresh in the nose with the slightest vegetal element, never bitter or astringent though. great complexity overall, beautiful use of the barrel, and as it warms up, the alcohol comes out nicely, giving it just a little burn on the way down, leaving the coffee isolated on the palate at the end. really cool flavor trajectory, and just a smart and professionally crafted beer. as good as any of these big dark ones from stone!

Jan 17, 2019
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ilikebeer03 from Texas

4.7/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

pours black with a thick light cinnamon head. very good retention and lacing, especially for 13%
as soon as the cork comes out, it is a huge wave of fresh ground coffee, espresso, dark chocolate, a touch of vanilla, soft bourbon. I don't know what would make the nose any better.
taste is smooth coffee, espresso, dark roasted malt, a bit peppery, char, soft bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark bittersweet chocolate. a slight warming alcohol presence.
smooth, creamy mouthfeel. not overly sweet at all.
excellent beer.

Jan 12, 2019
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Greywulfken from New York

4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Uses Stone's Totalitarian imperial stout brewed 1/25/18, featuring roasted barley, unmalted oats, and pale, amber, and black malts; Warrior hops in the boil, Belma hops in the whirlpool, and the addition of Ryan Brother's espresso roast coffee beans; and then aged for 8 months in Kentucky oak bourbon barrels; bottled in October 2018, 13.1% abv, 43 IBUs...

Pour looks like dark brown glass into a snifter, where the body presents as opaque black... Next to nothing of a head after a center pour... Roasted malt and coffee aromas on the nose have airy vapors of dry oak and whiskey mixed in... Drinks relatively lean and light, not too sweet, with an elegant chocolate, coffee, bourbon barrel flavor, not too sweet, with a mildly bitter drying char on the finish... Mellow and smooth, the execution here is very strong and the beer is excellent, despite falling short of some of my typical reservations about the headless look and thin feel...

Glad I got my hands on a bottle, and you would be, too...

Dec 23, 2018
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

3.84/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled October 2018; drank 12/12/18 @ the Yarchives.

Black appearance.

A rough pour yielded a huge dark tan head; strong tree-rung lace.

Cream, chocolate syrup, oak & faint bourbon notes in the nose.

Medium thick, creamy mouthfeel.

Cream & oak flavors up front; chocolate syrup & faint bourbon notes on the finish.

An above average but not quite special barrel aged stout. I won't seek it out, but I'd have another in a pinch.

Dec 13, 2018
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DerAudi from Ohio

4.75/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is honestly, in my opinion, a highly underrated stout. I had the 2018 release which was labelled as Totalitarian stout aged in bourbon barrels brewed with espresso beans. Silky smooth, full body, big chocolate, heavy coffee. Everything about this beer is superb. Perfect consistency with little to no lacing, very thin, tan head. Nose is heavy with coffee and chocolate notes. The bourbon barrel flavor is subtle which is what I prefer. This is everything a stout should be. Even better than the CBS I had, in my opinion.

Dec 09, 2018
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dbl_delta from Pennsylvania

4.27/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500 ml bottle into pint glass. Epic battle getting the cork out, but I eventually prevailed. Pours a very dark brown with a minimal but persistent tan head. Initial impression is either coffee with cream and dark chocolate, or expresso with milk chocolate. There is a hint of bourbon, but it's very understated. Or maybe Stone is the only brewer that can show restraint when BBA'ing - I've tried a few bourbon bombs in the past couple of weeks, and Mikhail is a refreshing change. Mouthfeel is medium, as is carbonation. Could be thicker, but it's eminently drinkable. Alcohol is apparent, but not unpleasantly so. Finish is more coffe/chocolate. This is the first Stone product I've tried in a while (so much beer, so little time...) and it's pretty good!

Dec 01, 2018
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.21/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This one pours a fairly dark black color, with a small head and not much lacing.

This smells like very roasty coffee, char, bitter hops, espresso shots, cookie dough, dark chocolate, and oak.

I wish this was in barrels a little bit longer. Despite this, it’s still a well done beer, with a great coffee character- roasty but lush, with some cookie dough and a definite hop presence.

This is medium bodied and fairly creamy, with a decent level of carbonation. It’s a slow sipper.

This is solid. It’s definitrly one of the few Stone beers I’ve enjoyed in recent months.

Nov 24, 2018
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jws7968 from Illinois

4.49/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I had to use a corkscrew to open the bottle, but it was well worth the effort. Pours dark with a thin head that left little lacing. Smell and taste are both coffee/espresso forward, with the taste being boozy from the barrels.

Nov 23, 2018
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CHickman from New York

4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black as night with a small tan head that faded slowly and left minimal spotty lacing. Smells like an espresso with fresh ground coffee, roasted grains, charred wood and burnt coffee grinds. Flavor followed suit with tons of coffee mixed with roasted grains, chocolate, brownie batter, charred wood, maple syrup, vanilla and molasses. No milk qualities except for the smooth feel and ease of drinkability as this slides down and hides the ABV masterfully. An excellent brew that went down easy and had no bitterness, just enough bourbon barrel influence and a lot of rich malts and coffee in the mix.

Oct 07, 2018
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Lahey from Michigan

4.34/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours with an inky black appearance and very little head. Has a coffee and chocolate smell with some of that caramely bourbon barrel influence. Taste follows the smell. Strong coffee forward with cocoa and bourbon mingling in the background. Not much dark fruit flavor to be found, which is fine with me. Mouthfeel is full with just enough prickly carbonation, but not too syrupy. Overall a very enjoyable beer. On par with a other top flight barrel aged coffee stouts in my opinion, but not necessarily my favorite.

Jul 16, 2018
Mikhail from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 184 ratings