Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout
Mission Brewery

Dark Seas Russian Imperial StoutDark Seas Russian Imperial Stout
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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #250
Ranked #3,835
4.1 | pDev: 9.02%
Mission Brewery
California, United States
Dark Seas Russian Imperial StoutDark Seas Russian Imperial Stout
Reviews: 175 | Ratings: 721 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of BucannonXC5
BucannonXC5 from California

4.16/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Type: 22-oz. bottle
Reviewed as: Russian Imperial Stout
Glass: Ball 16-oz. mason jar
Price: $8.88 (w/ Vons card, $9.99 regular)
From: Vons in La Mesa, Calif.
Purchased: Dec. 13, 2019
Consumed: Dec. 13, 2019
Misc.: No bottled on date

Picked this up on a whim. Was in the mood for a stout and saw it at Vons, then realized that, not only had I not reviewed it, but I had not even checked into it on Untappd. I know for sure I’ve had it before, including at a tasting at Mission with Chris, Lesley and Rachel. Anyway, not really a fan of this brewery overall, but I’m definitely a fan of RIS’. This one went down as, “The ancient legends that abound about the Russian Imperial Stouts of yore are filled with tempestuous romance, sinful thievery and scurvy, too. So highly regarded was this historic recipe, the Russian Kings tried to keep it all to themselves. They failed. Today we bring you our own dastardly dark version, with a rich and roasty aroma, notes of plum and port and a velvety texture so luscious it just might make a grown man weep.”

Poured a pitch black color with 2-to-3 fingers of khaki tan frothy head. Could see just a few bubbles creeping up along the sides of the glass. Average lacing. Outstanding retention. (Sight - 4.00)

Smelled rich roasty malts, dark fudge, dark milk chocolate, brownie batter, black coffee, dark fruit (mainly plum), hints of port wine, cocoa and lingering roasted barley. As always, not much of an addition from the bottle. (Smell - 4.25)

Taste followed the nose, but not quite as good. Got roasty malts, dark fudge, brownie batter, chocolate cake, dark milk chocolate, bitter black coffee, dark fruit, plum, hints of woody port wine, roasted barley, Cocoa Puffs and cocoa. (Taste - 4.00)

Full body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish. (Feel - 4.50)

Just an excellent Russian Imperial Stout. Smooth, but full of flavor. So good. (Overall - 4.25)

4.16 | 93 | A-

Mar 09, 2020
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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.11/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

There is perfect and, then, there is close.
Dark Seas RIS is close.
The difference has a lot to do with what dessert is... or whether you are drinking your dessert.
Since this stuff is so powerful and the Dark Seas rendition was in bomber, I had it with dessert one night and no dessert the next. Dark Seas RIS is better with a sweet dessert because this RIS is too dry, too bittersweet for me to have it by itself.

My first from Mission, I went on their website and they seem to have a good story within San Diego's accomplished beer world. No distribution in the Midwest, so I am glad to sample their wares here.

Nov 19, 2018
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avalon07 from South Carolina

4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Poured from a bottle to a snifter glass. Had a dark, mahogany brown color and a thick, opaque consistency. There was a thin, tan-colored head that quickly dissipated. Not a whole lot of lacing.

S: An interesting aroma of coffee, roasted malt, dark fruit, and chocolate.

T: Tasted of a bit of dark chocolate, a hint of a burnt quality (always present), a good amount of coffee, lots of roasted malt, some dark fruit (plums, in particular), and wood. This is one of those extremely well-balanced flavors. It's not overly aggressive, but rather quite focused. Very tasty stuff.

F: A fair amount of carbonation with a smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This is a well made, easy to drink RIS. Very much worth a try.

Sep 05, 2018
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russpowell from Arkansas

3.95/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours an effervescent ebony with a thumb + of caramel colored head. Meh head retention & lacing

S: Dark chocolate & coffee

T: Follows the nose, some woody dryness, vanilla, & a touch of coconut up front. Plenty of coffee, dryness, a little char as this warms. Finishes dry with charred grain, coffee, a little woody hop & Baker's Chocolate, a little booze creeping at the edges

MF: Medium body, very slight carbonation

A solid RIS that commands respect & sipping

Apr 08, 2018
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YungAnejo from Nevada

4.13/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Picked up the 4 pack of 12oz for $2.99 on a blowout at work, bottled 094/ 16, poured into brandy snifter.

Hard pour produces a half inch of light khaki head, medium retention for awhile until turning to a small cm thin collar, solid black body, no lacing

Aroma is oak and lotsss of grape/plum, hints of cherry and pomegranate are in their too, swirling agitation brings out sweet malt milk chocolate, slight booze is noticeable

Taste pretty much follow the nose straight through, not very bitter or roasty, I’d say it falls well inline with its catergory, very reminiscent of a red wine.

Feel is heavy, thick and oily, very smooth with no alcohol burn present, long semi-dry finish

Overall for the couple bucks I spent it’s definitely worth the try, a big smooth flavorful representation of the style, I think those couple years really helped the abv hide

Definitely need to change that labeling tho gotta be honest it looks kinda sketchy, wouldn’t have took it for anymore then I paid

Mar 30, 2018
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GreatBeerMakesMeCry from Utah

4.41/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

No head to speak of, but doesn't taste under carbonated. Delicious chocolate notes. Great aroma. I can't taste any alcoholic flavor, which is impressive for a 9.8% ABV. Bottle in Del Mar.

Dec 14, 2017
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dave_ackbar from Hawaii

4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep black, with a nice burgundy tan head.
Smells smoky with a hint of dark coffee
Taste, I let it get to a little bit about room temp and it was terrific.
Feel is slightly acidic but smooth
Overall I would purchase it again.

Nov 19, 2017
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andrewh995 from Arizona

4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark black with a light brown head. Smells of roasted malts, coffee, dark chocoalte, and some hops. Tastes of very darkly roasted and slightly burnt (in a good way) malts, dark bitter chocolate, mild hops, and dark coffee. Medium-heavy in body and medium in carbonation. Overall this is an incredible RIS from a brewery I haven't heard much of. Excited to try more of their products.

Jul 31, 2017
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woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am just continuing to wade through the Bottle Backlog here at Chez Woody as beers come to the surface for drinking and reviewing. I am back on an Odds & Sods kick, clearing out some loosey goosey bottles before embarking on the next long brewery horizontal. What will it be? That would be telling!

From the bottle: "The ancient legends that abound about the Russian Imperial Stouts of yore are filled with tempestuous romance, sinful thievery and scurvy, too. So highly regarded was this historic recipe, the Russian Kings tried to keep it all to themselves. They failed. Today we bring you our own dastardly dark version, with a rich and roasty aroma, notes of plum and port and a velvety texture so luscious it just might make a grown man weep."

I Pop!ped the cap & began a gentle pour, in keeping with my New Year's Resolution. Aggro pours from bottles are now (mostly) a thing of the past. I am really coming to embrace a vigorous in-glass swirl since it is much less likely to bungle things up. This action raised just under two fingers of foamy, deep-brown head with moderate retention that left some nice lacing in its wake. Color was Black/Opaque (SRM = 44), allowing ZERO light penetration. Nose was bready and chocolaty, like chocolate cake batter or really dark chocolate brownies. Liquefied dessert! Mmm. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, not quite creamy, but on the approach. The taste was as they mentioned, with plum and port, but also with leather, dark chocolate and rich coffee. This was true to my initial thoughts of liquid dessert, although it would work well with cheesecake and coffee. Finish was semi-dry with just enough sweetness to keep it from being outright dry. This would definitely be worth trying if you have not had it before.

Apr 18, 2017
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Kirock from Nevada

4.34/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Nice black appearance and a somewhat subdued smell of smokiness and perhaps some fruity nuances.

It's a smoky chocolate flavor with a nice smooth mouthfeel. Bold yet smooth. Medium carbonation seems to help this feel balanced. Maybe it isn't for everyone but I rather enjoy it.

Mar 24, 2017
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Zythophile from District of Columbia

3.92/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle Date: none
Palate Contaminants: other beer

Appearance is black with a little bit of medium brown fine head.

The smell is burnt molasses and olive oil. There's a slight bit of vanilla.

Smokiness dominates the taste. There are some dark fruits in there like raisins and prunes. Black licorice, as well. And I get some alcohol taste. Charcoal. (Haven't used that one on anything but a wine.) There's some bitterness in the middle, but it doesn't dominate. Basically, overall it has a lot of nice supporting flavors, but nothing really carries it. Maybe smoke is the point.

The feel is a little thin for the type, and the smokiness is about all there is for the aftertaste.

Mar 05, 2017
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Red5StandingBy from Maryland

4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a 22oz of this from Mission Brewery last weekend, tried it on tap beforehand and it seemed pleasant enough for a full review at home. Poured into a Spiegelau Stout Glass. No bottle or freshness date.

L: Dark black with faint ruby edges, great two finger tan head with excellent retention and spectacular lacing.

S: Rich aromas of wood smoke, molasses, chocolate, vanilla, sherry and even some leafy hop.

T: Follows the nose closely however the sherry and wood smoke notes fall off a bit, the molasses and chocolate is mellowed nicely by the vanilla. Leafy hop is still present. Complex and balanced nicely. Could be a touch more bitter.

F: Very smooth for 9.8%, creamy mouthfeel with decent carbonation. Medium body.

O: An excellent beer by Mission, competes with their Shipwrecked DIPA.

Feb 25, 2017
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brentk56 from North Carolina

3.48/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Surprisingly translucent coffee brown with a tan head; strands of lacing hang around; just can't get over the color since i was expecting something more like engine oil

Smell: Roast, ash and chocolate; peanuts, too

Taste: Very roasty, up front, with chocolate and peanut tones underneath; the beer develops an ashen taste, after the swallow, along with a tobacco bitterness

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body; moderate carbonation

Overall: Quite disappointed in this beer; not only does it lack the full body I expect with the style, the flavor profile is just unpleasant

Jan 12, 2017
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johnnnniee from New Hampshire

3.83/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle in trade from solidfunk, thanks for the opportunity!
Solid black with a good sized tan head that persists. Roasty chocolate with a bit of earth and licorice and just a touch of dark fruit. Pretty tasty stout.

Jan 07, 2017
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jeffjeff1 from California

4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- black color, nice looking head that dissipates quickly
S- chocolate, coffee mostly
T- chocolate, coffee mostly, very good
M- full bodied
D- very good. Definitely getting more of it, very good stout!

Sep 14, 2016
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DrinkThemAll from California

4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a black opaque with little to no head. Extremly robust and an almost peanut butter Like taste. Burnt toffee and a bitter dryness to the finish. Different than others of the style, but solid nonetheless. I think of peanuts and chocolate all the way with this one!

Sep 06, 2016
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michiganmatt from California

4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Extremely dark brown, almost black. A small layer of mocha foam which dissipates quickly.

S: Strong chocolate/cocoa aromas, nutty (peanuts), raisin and other dark fruits. A tiny bit of booziness.

T: Very toasty and nutty (has an almost peanut butter-like taste). Moderate sweetness with strong notes of dark fruits. Cocoa is much less detectable than in the aroma. Overall pretty delicious.

F: Medium-full bodied. Moderate amount of moderate-high intensity carbonation. Very slight bitterness.

O: This is quite a good beer. I really like the nuttiness. It's something I've never experienced in such a strong stout.

Jul 09, 2016
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OldManMetal from North Carolina

4.16/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Dark Seas lives up to its name: it is an impenetrably black, effervescent beer that is devoid of highlights except for a fleeting glimmer of mahogany at its base; the thin, brief-lived creamy brown head leaves fair bands of lacing. The nose is medium-strong and dark: toffee and dark cocoa with hints of bitter coffee and black-strap molasses, all topped by significant alcohol overtones. The palate is a dark, bitterish, seamless blend of fairly rich dark chocolate, toffee and a bit of lighter milk chocolate, over a significant boozy undertow. The finish is a fair hit of alcohol and bitterish toffee, and is slightly astringent; the linger is a mild chocolate/grassy bitterness that lasts for a good while. The mouthfeel is commensurate with the full body, and the texture is thick, creamy/sticky and slightly peppery from the well-expressed carbonation. A solid RIS (if a bit restrained flavorwise) with a great mouthfeel. (12 oz bottle, no code date)

Jun 13, 2016
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CraftBeerRunner from California

4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Excellent imperial stout. Excellet chocolatey head, crisp coffee/licorice smell. Rich and robust flavor. Think delicious texture. Very good! Bevmo, Oakland, May 2016

May 08, 2016
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Rogerlb from California

3.58/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm with that other guy. This RIS is more roasty malt and coffee than some of the other RIS options. Old Rasputin for example has a sweeter fruit that makes it closer to barley soda pop (no wonder it's so popular). Mission lays in the burnt coffee and caramel, therefore feels more like a "russian imperial" to me. You know, dark and aggressive and a bit off-putting.

Pours dark as it should, head is all but inconsequential, disappearing as soon as it can. The ring of foam that remains is a light brown/tan, very attractive looking detail on your glass. Smell is roast and vanilla and some plum/dark fruit. Sweet booze. Could be great...

Taste goes more of the baker's chocolate variety, bitter espresso coffee, that rotten fruit suggested by the aroma; I get the sensation of coffee on the burner too long with charcoal. Interesting. I guess that's what they call "chewy."

Get some char, slight hoppiness, even citrus, caramel deep in there giving us some body, some plums that have been boiled down to mush. It's kinda a mess. Complex and heavy, certainly not nearly as easy drinking as some of the more popular RISs (OR or Stone's IRS) which tend more to some fruit in the char.

Bitter roast and boiled plum is my takeaway. Feels boozy as well. Aftertaste has traces of hoppy resin stickiness and bitter and fruit. Burnt coffee with port. Note that the 12oz bottles I've had seem much more nuanced and sweet than the 22oz bottles. They for some reason tend towards roast burnt taste the 3 or 4 times I've had this that way. I prefer this in 12oz bottles, although I can't imagine it's a different recipe.

Once it warms, the roast turns to ash and mellows out. Do you have the patience? The ratings above, overall 3.5, is for the burnt (too burnt) bitter espresso bombers. Burnt variant on RIS with heavy roast forward than other imperial stouts.

Apr 07, 2016
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detgfrsh from Texas

4.38/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From an undated bomber. Pours an opaque black with just a thin lacing of bubbles. Smells of roasted malt, chocolate, and dark fruits. Thick mouthfeel. Rich malt flavor and a touch of bitterness, with alcohol warmth to finish. Very good stout, everything is well balanced and it's easy to drink despite the high ABV.

Mar 22, 2016
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57md from Pennsylvania

3.79/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep dark brown color with a thin layer of head. The nose is rich and roasty. The flavor is where things fall apart - it's flat for the most part. There is some roast but less than the nose would indicate.

Feb 05, 2016
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stakem from Pennsylvania

3.39/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

This 12oz bottle came to me in a trade some years ago, sorry I dont remember from whom to give thanks. It appears black with brown head that fades leaving patchy lace.

It smells meaty with minerals than raisons and milk chocolate oxidation with a backing thats both roasty with charred grain and fruity with alcohol.

This tastes of minerals and a weird meaty character before getting roast with earthen bitterness and char. Some oxidation is noticeable along with raison alcohol.

This is medium in body with modest carbonation. Its an ok offering.

Jan 13, 2016
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OlaB from Norway

3.77/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L: Very dark in color with a a small top of creamyhead that disappear very quickly , lacing seems moderate

S: Dark chocolate, cofee ,dark malts , dark fruits like figues and dates

T:Dark chocolate and cofee is the dominant taste here , very much like the smell.

F:Creamy, very thick, carbonation is very low,

O: This was a interesting beer, Stouts are usually not my favorittes but i like this one, the taste was very good balanced and the aftertaste was also very nice. It was absolutelly a enjoyable beer. and is a brew style that i want to trie more of

Dec 31, 2015
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LennyOvies from Mexico

3.8/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

L- Pitch black body with brown edges, creamy persistent beige head. Looks thick while being served.
S- Vanilla, roasted beans, chocolate, coffee, dark fruits.
T- Bitter coffee, espresso. Dark chocolate. Booze. Burnt milk candy. Everything combines for a bitter taste all throughout.
F- Rich, full, velvety. Palatable carbonation.
O- Even, though this is very good. I cant take the strong bitter taste for too long. It is a bit too much.

Dec 16, 2015
Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout from Mission Brewery
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 721 ratings