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: 51 | Ratings: 183 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by emyers:
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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
More User Reviews:
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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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HattedClassic from Virginia

4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours absolutely no head. At most, there is a tiny bit of brown head that peeks but immediately dissipates. The beer itself is a dark chocolate black that looks pretty nice. It has a good heavy looking texture that makes it appealing to look at.

The smell is very good. The beer has a strong espresso note that mixes well with the chocolate and sweet bourbon notes but is still the dominant note to it. The barrel aging seems to have given it a good vanilla note to it and mixes well with an indulgent caramel note. The smell seems to lean more towards the espresso, vanilla, and caramel as it warms up.

The taste is very good. The taste still has that dominant mix of vanilla, caramel, and espresso that seems to take over the taste. The more roasted and coffee notes along with the chocolate come out more in the finish. The barrel notes such as the bourbon and a tiny bit of booze come out more in the front.

The feel is very good. It has a heavy body with a familiar coffee slight thinness. The carbonation is sharp and tingling. The finish is fairly dry.

Overall, this is definitely a very good beer and one worth getting if available. It's a good variation on a coffee stout using espresso beans and fantastic from beginning to end.

Feb 19, 2018
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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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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
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dsshuck from Delaware

4/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jan 31, 2020
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DruC4 from Michigan

4.74/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Jan 14, 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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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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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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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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nrbw23 from Ohio

3.25/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Apr 06, 2019
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jdhilt from New Hampshire

4.77/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours a one-finger head that finishes without leaving any lace. Black color, no highlights. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Coffee nose and flavor is coffee and hints of dark fruit, decent RIS. Higher ABV (13.5%) is nearly hidden. Seriously pricey at $15.99 for a 500ml caged & corked bottle from Beverage Warehouse Winooski, VT.

Jul 06, 2018
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arizcards from Arizona

4.22/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a 500 ml bottle from Craft Beer Hop Stop on 11-11-17 for $15.99. 2017 version aged for 14 months in bourbon barrels. Better be good for the $1.00+ per ounce package retail price!

Beer poured black with an okay brown head that dissipated quickly.

Nose was espresso and bourbon forward, very nice.

Taste follows the nose, espresso interlaced with a huge malt base finishing with a nicely weaved in bourbon barrel flavor.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and very smooth.

Overall a very good beer that does not quite rate up to BCBCS and not worth the price point.

Jan 27, 2018
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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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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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Gagnonsux from Texas

4.44/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dec 24, 2017
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.23/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Both dark, dreamy and clever, the satirical ale mimics the satirical writing of Mikhail Bulgakov with a masterful blend of roasted grains, espresso, bourbon, oak and decadence. Stone Brewing is no stranger to dark, rich and luxurious ale, but this coffee and whisky infusion makes this stout a masterpiece in its own right.

Pitch black and crowned with a honeycomb structured, mocha stained froth, the stout cativates the olfactory senses with intense espresso, whisky, burnt sugars and a hint of scorched fruit. Its taste is highly robust with all things roasted. Blackstrap molasses, burnt grain, marshmallow and dark roast coffee.

As the ample carbonation carries the bulk of sweetness away, the bubbles highlight the beer's spice, whisky and earthy notes. Italian espresso shines while the remnants of roasted grain, sweet impressions and dark fruit leaves a whisky soaked, macerated taste of dark berries and black cherry behind. Hints of coconut, vanilla and caramel stem from the nutty and oaken taste of barrels for a spicy, bitter and smoldering finish.

Complex flavors hide underneath the dominance of coffee and bourbon as the stout sheds hints of roast derived astsringency on the finish, providing a powder fine, light ash texture with peppery spice and a slow whisky burnt to close the session malty dry and prickling with warmth. A long espresso and whisky finish is expected.

Nov 14, 2017
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russpowell from Arkansas

4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 2.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had to use a real cork screw this. These Escondido series corks are shit, period, 3rd incident with these beers

Pours ebony with a sliver of mocha colored head. Viscious, zero head retention & lacing

S: Choclolate, espresso, gets stronger as it warms

T: Follows the nose, vanilla & dryness, with just a little barrel & booze up front. Coffee, coffee grinds, dryness & just a little vanilla as this warms. Dryness, charred coffee, vanilla, a little Baker's chocolate

MF: A liitle chewy, light carbonation, warming

A good, almost great RIS, this seemed about peak form, not sure aging this will do more than tamp down the coffee & barrel ( which is pretty restrained )

Feb 10, 2018
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Franziskaner from Missouri

3.79/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pitch black in color with just a suggestion of some brown head barely around parts of the rim. The aroma is a decadent blend of espresso, dark roasted barley, and sweet bourbon. I'm tasting espresso, sweet boozy bourbon, and dark roasted barley. The mouth is thick, chewy, and sticky. My throat was warmed by the alcohol.

Mar 11, 2018
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zeff80 from Missouri

4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle. Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a small, light brown head of foam. It smelled of vanilla, oak, coffee and chocolate. Great aged flavors - tar, vanilla, oak, wood. Not a boozy or overly sweet barrel aged beer.

Jan 23, 2018
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FLBeerGuy from Florida

4.73/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Mar 31, 2018
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PhineasMcClintock from Massachusetts

4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dec 16, 2018
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clayrock81 from Florida

4.03/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a black body with minimal head. Aroma is strong, lots of roasted coffee beans in there, hints of booze and vanilla w/ milk so kind of like an espresso. Strong, sticky, boozy, coffee taste is prevalent with notes of raisins and dark fruits along with vanilla and lactic sweetness. Easy to drink and mostly hides booze with a clean finish.

Dec 06, 2017
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avalon07 from South Carolina

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

L: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a beautiful dark brown / black color and a thick consistency. There was a small amount of creamy, tan-colored head that quickly dissipated. Average lacing.

S: An incredibly enticing aroma of chocolate, espresso, bourbon, roasted malt, dark fruit, and vanilla.

T: Tasted of a fair amount of espresso, lots of chocolate, some bourbon (not an overwhelming amount), hops (mostly in the finish), a hint of vanilla, some roasted malt, and dark fruit (plums, in particular). A big, bold, powerful kind of flavor - exactly what you expect from an RIS. Complex and well-balanced.

F: A solid amount of carbonation with a super smooth finish. Full-bodied.

O: Mikhail is an extremely well made stout. Very much drinkable.

Dec 09, 2017
Mikhail from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 183 ratings