Russian Gun Imperial Stout | Grand River Brewing

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Russian Gun Imperial StoutRussian Gun Imperial Stout
164 Ratings
Russian Gun Imperial StoutRussian Gun Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Grand River Brewing
Ontario, Canada

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
The Russian gun (or Gun as we call it) is named after the Queens square cannon that sits downtown Galt, Cambridge. The cannon was awarded to the town of Galt for its support of the English troops during the Crimean war which ended in 1856.

That year to celebrate the victory during Victoria day the Cannon was fired at noon. The men firing the cannon successfully fired three shots however during the forth the powder prematurely exploding killing both men charring their upper bodies beyond human recognition and dismembering the arms and hands of both men; two children were lightly scratched.

We have crafted the Russian gun to commemorate this local tragedy taking the recipe from an old English recipe dating back to the early colonial times.

Added by Viggo on 04-03-2009

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Ratings: 164 |  Reviews: 96
Photo of BBP
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

8.0% version. Unsure as to whether the recipe has changed or just the ABV.

Pours black with decent head and lacing.

The aroma is of cocoa and a bit of pine from hops. It's pleasant but a bit light.

The flavor is predominantly chocolate with some pine and citrus bitterness. It's not so hoppy that I'd call it a black IPA, but there's enough hops to provide balance to the malt and then a little bit extra. There's a little bit of sweetness with some caramel malt but the flavor is overly bitter and roasty.

The mouthfeel is medium heavy and medium full. The finish is slightly dry and moderately sticky.

Overall, this was a better stout than I was expecting, especially in terms of what's brewed in Ontario. It wasn't extremely complex, but everything done in it was done well. I'll have to try more grand river brews to see if they're done as nicely.

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Photo of jsnoek
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of Stocean1
3.76/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 release, poured a two finger caramel cocoa head, reminiscent of coke, near black body, good retention and lots of sticky lacing

Smell is burnt malt, molasses, coffee, dark bread

Taste follows the nose with some licorice, dark fruit, and a light metallic note (light for this brewery). Booze is well masked.

Medium bodied but light for a RIS, little carbonation and akin to a watery syrup, not overly bitter for the style.

A decent RIS although pales to Wellingotn's version.

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Photo of Reagan1984
2.14/5  rDev -42.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Thanks to Alex (Masterski) for providing this in a recent trade. Alex’s boxes are always very interesting.

A foamy, frothy tan head builds aggressively on top of this beer. Collapses from within. Looks like a coffee milkshake sitting atop the black beer. Lots of sticky lace. Sadly this is the highlight of this beer.

Soy mixed with dark roasted malt and some black licorice.

Oh MY, why is this so metallic? Burnt roasted malt and ash. Charcoal as a matter of fact. Alex mentioned this was a bot if a joke insert in our trade. I deserved that as I sent him a beer from Maine that fit the same billing. Whew… not a great beer here. A much better looking beer vs. the flavor. Milky dirty at the end. My wife says it tastes like blood and water.

Body is way too thin.

Hmm, won’t be having this one again. Just move on.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark brown with good clarity and little head. Smells quite toasty, like white bread dry toasted, and there is some dry roastiness that is a touch on the light side. Tastes very, very dry, also with toasty notes. Unfortunately it's also a little thin and a little one dimensional. I think this one is a little too attenuated- it cries out for just a bit more sweetness and a bit more depth.

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Photo of divineaudio
3.4/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

from notes.

a - pours dark brown with a thin cap of head. no lace.

s - nutty with some roasted malt and herbal hop character.

t - more roast with notes of molasses and dark chocolate. some raisin maybe or other dark fruits. long bitter finish to balance the malt base.

m - medium body with not quite enough carbonation.

o - enjoyable but nothing special. worth a try if you find yourself in ontario looking for beer.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes. Thanks to korguy123 for sending this my way.

A: Pours jet black with a foamy tan head. Head retention was ok, dissolving to a thin layer of bubbles on top. Not much lacing.

S: A good bit going on in the aroma here, some maple sweetness, a little bit of coffee, molasses, raisins, but very sweet overall.

T: Similar to the aroma, with a good bit of maple, some dark fruit, molasses, and a little sweet. Hints of chocolate and coffee are mixed in, but play a minor role.

M: Medium bodied, maybe a touch on the thin side, with moderate carbonation. Pretty boozy for only being 8.5%.


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Photo of mintjellie
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Pitch black body topped by a thick layer of tightly-formed and creamy looking tan head. Almost looks like a nitro pour. Excellent retention. Alternating bands are left in its wake. Lots of raisin in the aroma, paired with mixed nuts. Molasses and chocolate undertones. Tastes of plums and raisins followed by molasses and black coffee with a lingering slight charred flavour and mild bitterness in the aftertaste. Bitterness chases away an initial sweetness. Medium bodied with soft and low carbonation. Feels smooth, but a little on the light side. Theres some good flavour and aroma going on here, but it could use a little bit more weight. Still, it's good to know that there is a decent RIS with somewhat wide distribution in Ontario.

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Photo of Roke87
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500 mL bottle, chilled and poured into a snifter.
Bottled on date: Jan.17/2011

Appearance- Pours a black colour with very little light just penetrating the edges of this one, has one finger of soapy off white head that quickly resides to a very thin ring leaving good lacing throughout.

Smell- Lots of roasted malts in the nose, dark chocolate and some coffee hints in there, overall a very earthy smelling stout and not too much going on. Upon warming up a little you get a little bit of a sweet caramel scent.

Taste- Just like the nose, lots of roasted malts take over right off the bat, with a hint of coffee, and lot of dark fruits, finishes with an almost sweet caramel flavour. At first almost a licorice flavour that you know is not really present that turns into a piney flavour.

Mouthfeel- Kind of on the bitter side, a light-medium bodied stout, with average carbonation for the style with an almost sweet finish.

Overall- A very good offering from Grand River on this one, Definitely not the best RIS I’ve ever tasted but also not the worst, Kinda too light on the mouthfeel for a stout but has good flavours that are all present and finishes kinda sweet which is a nice change for a RIS. All in all happy I tried it but it’s just not a go to for me.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on Jan 5, 2011.

Beer looks like a typical stout. Pitch black with a a generous, solid looking tan head.

Roasted malt comes through strongly in the nose, reminiscent of molasses. Very mild scent of coffee. Smells good, but not unique as compared to any other imperial stout.

Taste is very nicely balanced. As I drink, the taste of dark chocolate sticks out more than anything else, though generally the flavours blend together, with nothing sticking out in particular. Some bitterness in the finish. Quite nice.

Beer is medium to full bodied, nice but not as heavy as some other imperial stouts. Carbonation is nicely mild and subdued, which works well. The beer does seem a tad watery as it finishes, but generally is good.

Overall, certainly a good stout, and better than I had hoped. From looking at past reviews, it seems that there may have been a distinct difference between this year's batch and last year. I notice a lot of comments that this beer (last year) was not very similar to a stout, and seemed more like a brown ale. Certainly to me, there is no question that this is a stout. Perhaps they have made improvements!

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Photo of uno99
3.93/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From the "I forgot I had this in the cellar" series; an imperial stout I've heard some good things about.

Served at 54 Degrees into a Stella glass.

A: Very black stuff here. Only a tiny hint of light passes through the edges of the glass when back-lit. creamy one finger head settles to a soapy mess on top that leaves little lacing.

S: Quite roasty and earthy. Molasses and dark cherries are suggested. A little more liquorish than coffee but both scents can be evoked here if your willing to get your nose wet.

T: Very sweet at the front of the tongue. Fruit Flavors mid sip and then a wallop of coffee and roast bitterness at the back.

M: Quite epitomic of all the RIS's I've had recently. Very smooth but still lively, not super thick but a little sticky, and a dry bitter finish.

Overall a really good RIS. Im not a huge RIS fan, but I wouldn't mind drinking a few of these a year.

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Photo of bryehn
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours as black as night, with dark ruby only visible around the extreme edges when held up to direct sunlight. Creamy, but soapy tan-coloured head.

Smells of dark malts, dark coffee, chocolate and fresh pine needles. There is also a notable bitterness and a deep blackberry-like fruit tone. Rich and complex.

The taste is very deep and dark. roasted malts, coffee, chocolate and dark fruit. Rather bitter overall.

Mouthfeel is watery, but with creamy qualities. Very dry and bitter, helps smooth out the thick taste.

Takes some warming up to, but becomes surprisingly easygoing despite its richness. Very good, I'll save one for next year.

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Photo of Ralphus
4.31/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally I get an opportunity to try this beer, thanks to a friend of mine who graciously offered it up. Cheers!

It pours midnight black with an offwhite head that is rich, creamy and an inch thick. The head has some staying power and leaves thick gobs of lacing. I'm not sure what more you can ask of a Russian Imperial Stout.

The smell is slightly muted, but there is complexity. Chocolate, coffee, malt pine and wood smells come through. V. Good.

The taste is really well done. There is layers of complexity, folded between bitterness and chocolate, coffee and sweet malts. The volume is quite high but its really well done in my opinion.

Mouthfeel is soft and silky thanks to some pinpoint sized carbonation.

Drinkability is good for a beer of this strength. There's something moreish about it. Anyway, well done GR - you've moved up a notch in my book.

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Photo of Mit
3.92/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a-Dark with almost no colour coming through at all. Some head....nice lacing.

s- Nice malty notes, chocolate, coffee...really nice stout beer smell.

t-coffee, chocolate, dark malts. I also noticed a slight vanilla note...very nice taste.

m-Perfect for the abv. Really nice on a cold day.

d-I would take this over Guinness any day. Very nice.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

More and more Grand River seems to be popping up in the LCBO. I haven't been disappointed yet so I have high hopes.

A - Pitch black. Two finger creamy khaki head leaving great lacing. Decent carbonation streaming up the sides of the glass. Delicious looking head so things are looking good.

S - Lot's of roasted malt and dark, semi sweet chocolate. Really inviting. Maybe some espresso too. Typical RIS smell.

T - Packs a punch. Some alcohol is there with much more chocolate and roasted malt. Alot more coffee than the aroma. Sweet sort of finish. Not the greatest RIS I've had but it's quality.

M - Mild Carbonation. Full bodied. Really bitter and oddly sweet finish.

D - A nice RIS. Flavours seem to be a bit scattered but not enough to complain. A good Ontario brew and I could have another.

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Photo of heebes
4.03/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottled Jan 05 2011
Fresh from a visit to the Grand River Brewery in Cambridge.

Pours dark black with a two finger foamy tan head. Lacing is plentiful. Nose is dark chocolate, burnt roasted malt, slight coffee undertones. Taste is heavy on the toasted malt, biscuity flavour with some bitterness in the finish. On the lighter side mouthfeel. Drinks oh so smoothly and has a well disguised ABV. One of the best locally crafted stouts I've had! Wonderful beer from a wonderful Ontario brewery.

Bottles sporting the new updated labels which look great.

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Photo of TheHammer
3.4/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Took ya long enough to get here Winter. This has been Souther Ontario's first real snow, so to pay tribute to those who suffer in the cold, a Russian Imperial Stout.

Appearance: Poured with a solid thumb of dark brown head and laced well but didn't stick around very long. The body is as black as night as any good stout should be.

Smell: Dominated by the smell of clearly burnt malt that is redeemed by a backing of dark chocolate, cherry, apricot and dark toffee. Didn't need any warming to come out.

Tastes: Tastes a bit too burnt, it begins with a light toffee malt that is quickly overpowered by that unrelenting charred taste that progresses over a dark chocolate middle that meekly surrenders before the charred advance until finally some bitter earthy hops stand up, and in a quick and bitter struggle quickly take the life of the other life and slowly dwindle away.

Mouthfeel: Sadly, the burn taste haunts us into the afterlife, for it offers what can best be described as the aftertaste of a stale cigar that is acceptable and possibly pleasant at first but builds to an overwhelming level of repugnance as it refuses to die. Carbonation is great at the start, but pans out near the end.

Drinkability: Not as heavy as you'd think it would be but I wouldn't call it medium bodied. Clearly this is a nursing beer designed to let you squeeze a night out of it. I can't see myself wanting more then one.

Final Thoughts: Well, it shares traits with the gun shares it's namesake with. It starts out with a bang, and then you have to reload and by the time you do so, your economy has collapsed. Uhh...I think that analogy got away from me. Anyways, it's drinkable and certainly has an appeal if you are a tobacco lover but sadly, I likely wouldn't pick it up again, save if it was fresh and I was seeking to nurse one beer for the night and they had this instead of Guinness.

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Photo of Bestuurder
3.36/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 500mL brown bottle. Labelled 8.5% ABV, not 9.10! Fesh though, bottled today - January 5th, 2011.

Beautiful black colouration with a nice beige head which is both creamy and thick. Nice carbonation (of course it helps with the hard water that they have in Cambridge). Excellent lacing throughout consumption.

Noticeable aroma of black malt, buillion hops, burnt chocolate, coffee and chalk. A little overpowering at first.

Taste is off, probably should have allowed the beer to sit a couple of weeks, and I think I will do that and review again. Very unfinished; including notes of chocolate, earth, walnuts and very bitter (obviously buillion).

Thick feel to the palate, but not smooth, actually a bit harsh, whcih only intensifies as consumption continues.

Can only frink one, and that's it! Only a few sips in could I feel it hit the bloodstream. Enjoy one, and only one!


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Photo of mikesgroove
4.02/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

this one courtesy of northyork, the bottle leaked a good bit in transit but there was still about 5 ounces left and it was carbonated, so i went for it as i did not know when i would see it again. poured into a mad elf snifter.

decent pour, jet black and actually still had a small puff of a head before fading down into a light lace. aroma is hot, lots of alcohol here but it gets cut by a nice dose of chocolate and vanilla and coffee as it warms. much thinner then i thought it would be, not flat just a bit thin but the flavor was there for sure. really nice balance of smoke notes cut into by vanilla and coca and a touch of bitter coffee and tobacco. smooth finish left a nice touch of licorice on the tongue and a light fading to the taste.

overall i think it was a nice tasting ris, though a bit thin, the flavor and aroma were spot on.

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Photo of mrnobody
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. Bottling date of 4 days ago!

A: Pours black with a reddish tint when held up to the light. One finger of tan head dissipates quickly but leaves some lacing.

S: Smells of coffee, chocolate, vanilla and alcohol.

T: Starts out with sweet-ish coffee and chocolate changing to licorice and bittersweet chocolate. The finish is bitter coffee and some warming booze.

M: Mouthfeel is a little thin for an imperial stout but the low carbonation is appropriate.

D: The ABV is masked pretty well and the bitterness counters the sweetness very well making this quite drinkable.

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Photo of ckeegan04
3.49/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Into my Deschutes Brewery Reserve Series tulip.

A - Very dark black, verging on picth black. One finger of tight brown foam head. Very active carbonation bubbles quickly rising to the top. Sheets of lace left behind.

S - Lightly roasted malts with a sweet milk chocolate aroma underneath. Just a hint of dark fruits.

T - Roasted malts and hints of fruit. Semi-sweet chocolate mid drink. The roasted malts are certainly the dominant taste throughout the entire drink.

M/D - Medium bodied with a relatively creamy feel. Carbonation is at a decent level and brings the beer to life just a bit on the tongue. Very sweet in the finish.

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Photo of Long813
3.77/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on: Jun 02 2010
From: liamt07

A: Dark brown almost black body and two fingers of light mocha head. Retention is good and leaves decent lacing.

S: Mild notes of chocolate, coffee and caramel notes.

T: Much like the aroma, the taste is full of mild chocolate, caramel and coffee. Pleasing, but could be stronger.

M: Medium bodied and low carbonation. The texture is very smooth and creamy leaving a sweet malt finish. Very pleasing with slight alcohol notes.

D: Thanks again liam, this is not a bad stout. Although it's not a full or strong in some aspects, all around it's a great beer that I could drink all the time.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle with a May 25, 2010 bottling date - Fresh Fresh!

Pours a dark brown with hints of garnet glinting in the light, a finger or two of creamy mocha head builds and manages to leave some rings down the glass.

Nose is chocolaty, hints of coffee, sweet caramel, a hint of butterscotch diacytyl.

Quite chocolaty, lacks the hefty roast I expect with a good RIS, coffee, toast, raisins and dark fruits play a dominant role, caramel, sweet with a light grainy astringency in the finish - with the lack of roast I can see the Baltic Porter comparisons. Light body though it doesn't feel as thin as some of the reviews have spoken of.

Not terrific though not terrible. Hides the ABV relatively well though I am still waiting for an Ontario brewer to make a truly badass RIS - this is not it.

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Photo of pootz
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I waited to do this review until I sampled this both on tap and bottled. There is a difference and I have to say when this is fresh I prefer the bottled version.

Appearance: Served at 45deg.F this pours a light-defying black ale in the thistle with a creamy 2 finger mocha colored cap. This cap reduces to about 1 finger and lasts the drink. Moderate carbonation.

Aroma: Cocoa, roasty cereal husks, burnt toffee, figs and leafy hops...a light earthiness... very nice.

Flavor profile: Front end has a rich flood of malty toffee tastes mingling with dried fruits and cocoa...mid palate some complexity as the balance starts; cherry pipe tobacco, nuts, spice and dried fruit riding just above the lush bittering hops....finishes cocoa-bitter and roasty...great stuff!

character and impression: Rich viscous mouth feel, massive malt spine, toasty-toffee-bitter profile. One of the best domestic RISs I've tasted. Rich,flavourful, well balanced, satisfying. ...too bad a few kegs could not be cold stored and sampled mid winter 2010 as I plan to do with some of the bottles I stored.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Courtesy of northyorksammy (thanks!). Bottled March 9th, 2010 - this batch weighs in at 8.4% ABV. Poured from a 500mL bottle into my Bruery tulip.

Very dark taupe/brown body with a smattering of ballooning bubbles forming a wheat colored skin and a creamy soft-serve collar. Thick sandy lacing leaves uniform arcs surrounded by a thin layer of legs.

Roast malt, black coffee, chocolate, and light fruity esters (turkish apricots?) aromas all complement one another well.

Everything in the nose is on the palate with a deep maltiness as well, suggesting a baltic porter at times - though the coffee and chocolate notes make sure you know this is a RIS. Mild hops add further depth with a bit of citrus and perhaps loam, and along with the astringency of the roast malt help balance out the sugars in the finish. A grainy element comes through which makes this a bit more "rustic" then many examples of the style, but it isn't off-putting.

Medium to medium-heavy bodied, but not really as full or rich as many stouts. While the flavor profile is good, it lacks the alcohol, body, or immensity of the better "Imperial" stouts.

If this beer has sacrificed those things mentioned above, it is in the service of drinkability, so some may find this a welcome trade-off.

Happy to get a chance to try this.

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Russian Gun Imperial Stout from Grand River Brewing
Beer rating: 3.71 out of 5 with 164 ratings