Winter Stout (Russian Imperial Stout) | St. George Brewing Company, The

very good
58 Reviews
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Winter Stout (Russian Imperial Stout)Winter Stout (Russian Imperial Stout)

Brewed by:
St. George Brewing Company, The
Virginia, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.60%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by mmmbeer on 01-14-2006

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Reviews: 58 | Ratings: 68
Photo of CuriousMonk
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From winter brew tasting notes (2010): Poured a dark brown color with a moderate to large frothy brown head that lasted with good lacing. Moderate to heavy toasted chocolate, dark grape skin aroma. Medium to heavy bittersweet toasted malt and tannic flavor with a medium to heavy sweet finish of moderate to long duration. Full body with a smooth texture and flat carbonation. This is a very good complex beer, but does not put together for me when comparing against the likes of better winter RIS styles.

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Photo of Futility
3.87/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Rich and sweet and heavy where I question my ability to get to the bottom of the glass. I'd guess a fg of 1.030 or more. A little cherry, licorice, and smoke on heavy malf base. Reminds me of a wee heavy more than an ris. Just more black than you would find in that style. Feeling type 2 diabetes setting in.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer is black with kind of a pathetic head. No lacing, low carbonation. Eh....

Aroma is bitter with roasted grains.

Beer is not hot, as I was expecting but for an RIS it is quite thin. Really thin in fact. There are some nice sweet malt flavors in the front but not as biscuit-like as they probably should be. The finishing bitterness from coffee and chocolate and roast is quite strong. It hides the 7% well and that's about the only thing I can say this did well.

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Photo of bgildea
3.86/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown black color with a very thick dark tan head that stick around and leaves some decent lacing.

S: Slight smells of roasted malts and chocolate. Not a very distinguished flavor.

T: Starts with a very slight sweet taste, maybe some semi sweet chocolate. The flavor fades into a roasted malts and bitter, almost coffee flavor. Nice balance of sweet to bitter and leaves a very distinct bitter aftertaste.

M: Realtively thin beer. I was expecting a much thicker beer for an imperial stout.

D: It's a drinkable beer. Pretty tasty Russian, and I would definitly have another.

Overall: Overall the beer was pretty good. Nice balance of sweet and bitter flavor with notes of chocolate, malts, and coffee. Leaves a very distinct bitter aftertaste, that I think many hop lovers would appreciate.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at The Brickskeller during an event.

Pours a deep, dark color bordering on black. Thin tan head eventually fades into a few bubbles atop the beer. The nose brings some roasted character as well as a bit of chocolate and coffee. Everything gels pretty well.

The flavor isn't quite as complex and integrated as the nose, falling just a bit flat. There are some coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt notes, though they never seem to find that cohesion point and really mesh. The mouthfeel is somewhat full but a bit thin for the style, though it works with the flavors and makes it quite drinkable. A 7.6% RIS is something I could definitely handle more often than the typical booze bomb.

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Photo of austinhensley
3.29/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured basicly dark brown with orange hue at bottom of the mug. Creamy inch thick head. Did not ecspecially enjoy the mouthfeel or the after taste, but the flavor was exceptional. Did not feel very heavy, but definitely warmed me up. Great lacing that stayed on the glass almost all the way until I was finshed with the 3 pint mug.

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Photo of nickd717
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Pours just about black with a one finger tan head and decent lacing.

The aroma is roast, chocolate, dark fruits, anise, and a little sweet caramel.

The flavor is sweet caramel and chocolatey malts, molasses, anise, black cherries, and metallic notes.

Medium full bodied and smooth with soft carbonation.

A solid but not great imperial stout. Hard to be too impressed after having almost 200 in the style I guess.

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Photo of biglite351
3.26/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - black all through. Tall brown creamy head.

S - heavy malts and chocolate but bitterness in the finish.

T - strong malts and fruit, prune and raisins. Bitterness as if from a dark chocolate. Deep, but not exactly good.

M - medium coating with a light tingle on both the sides of the tongue and the top back of the throat.

D - the flavor is a bit to bitter and just not good enough to have more than one.

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Photo of Zraly
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black with mocha head. Faint hint of malt and chocolate in the nose, but nothing astounding. Decent lacing.

The taste is decent, although I do not consider it a traditional Russian Imperial Stout. Thin body. Notes of roasted malts, coffee, and chocolate. Long story short, this is actually a session RIS if I ever did come across one. To use simile, it was like a size 8 woman in a full-figured woman's clothing. I am going to be able to polish this off all by myself without any problems. It might be better to continue marketing it as a Winter Stout rather than a RIS. Or I have a serious drinking problem.

Certainly not bad -- I did enjoy drinking it. However, a bit more body and forward flavors would round out the profile for the style.

This might go well with a grilled steak. It might also be good material for a sauce reduction to use on various red meats.

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Photo of AleWatcher
2.62/5  rDev -33%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured into snifter.

This is pretty dark. Bubbles up a dark tan, cocoa-powder head of 3 fingers. Retention holds for a sip or two before all that remains is a lazy and loose collar around the ring of the glass. No lacing at all.

Smell has an astringent alcohol-- certainly a bit of a flaw. Especially for only being 7%! Roasted chocolate, black, and crystal malts show up... A bit underdressed for the occasion. This beer needed a higher OG.
The beer is overly carbonated and a bit thin. If I didn't KNOW this was an RIS, I would certainly not guess it.

The beer has some sweetness up front, but dries out through the middle--- and finishes dry. A slight note of black licorice seems to creep in. Very roasty malts. The anise finish hurts the overall mark for the taste. The astringent booze doesn't help either.

Overall... This is not a good RIS. This would be a solid American Stout... Sadly, the label says RIS! It makes an attempt to hit the right notes, but much like my tone-deaf wife, we suffer for it. Is this awful? No. Undrinkable? No. But is it anywhere near where I'd like to see it.

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Photo of maximum12
2.8/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thanks to billab914 for sending a bottle of this my way this spring. Looking for this to erase the last memories of the 2010 Playoffs from my mind & send me stumbling to bed, delirious &/or oblivious.

Pours black. I know, I know, shocking, but I always wonder about those who can write 106 words about the "appearance" of an RIS. They're all f-ing black! Smells nothing like an RIS. Smells like clothes after being packed into a bag for five days after being worn around a campfire for a couple nights. Not good.

The St. George RIS, well, blech. This is clearly some kind of a rauchbier, smokiness is keeping the patient upright. Slivers of chocolate, sweet malts, & various other stout-types of stuff are evident, but man, other than roast, char, & smoke, there's nothing much going on here. The one drum this RIS is playing is OK, but it's very, very repetitive.

Very mediocre brew. Glad I'm splitting this bomber. I expect much more depth, & taste, out of an RIS, & this one is sadly lacking.

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Photo of Khazadum
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks so much Neorunner for everything up until now and going forward. I know this will be a good one ( its a dark one! ). Tad bit of warming from the fridge, popped top, and casual pour into my brandy snifter.

Fantastic head development. Hooo dogggyyy! I have a collection of frozen pea sized mocha head that keeps being refreshed from the bottom. Many little streams are evident along the side of the glass. As it packs its way down, the lacing is strong, beautiful.

The inky darkness doesn't even have some contrasting or similar tones to offset it. This is seemingly oil come to life in beer form. I have to mention a second time how shocking the lacing is on this beer. There are mountaintops and thunderheads all over the place.

Gentle inhales yield an exponential reward. You can snatch out milk chocolate, sweet bourban-esque notes, attenuated alcohol, and mocha. Further attempts pull forth fresh ground coffee, none of that store bought shit here.

Deep choking gasps allow me to further enjoy this mystery. The alcohol tries to bite me, but barely manages a kitten love bite. The grains finally come forth at this moment and mingle with a mocha presence confusing and clarifying their purpose. Dark fruits are the last thing you find as the receptors lose their activated shape.

Flavor Profile
This beer is a one-two punch of crazy delicious. The first jab to my mouth is a burnt grain infused with alcohol. Quickly the carbohydrates escape and leave me with heavy ethanol and oxidized metal. I'm shocked and awed the first time I sipped this. As the alcohol loses its interest, I find that a right hook is coming straight for me.

Right through my jaw comes the sweetness of knuckles dabbled with great coffee grounds. This dark chocolate cup of Joe lingers and actually bows out to a new partner for my tongue to waltz with. It actually has a separate hop finish. Its just as how it should be. Enough to notice that I'm getting tingled with bitter tendrils, but not nearly enough to force me to forget the prior candied moments.

However, just like a boxer, this beer is not all one attack. This beer can't go out swinging with just one arm. It has finishing notes of your favorite homemade cups of coffee. The opening at times is pure dark chocolate bliss. It is never the same sip, and it is always a great time.

Oral Sensations
Here, I draw the line. We were on a roll! It had me down for a 9 count, but up I shot at this point. This beer is watery in feeling. Its not the most watery stout I've ever had, but from the looks of it it should not be at this level. It comes through perfectly on the carbonation, and reminds me of a smooth vanilla shake. However, it lacks that consistency I'm looking for. It truly borders the thinness I expect from other styles.

What a great beer. As it warms up it evolves, it changes, it allows you to never be bored. I drank this beer with no expectations and was floored, for the most part. I would drink this again in a heartbeat if it was popped in front of me. It has just a few errors, and with those it makes me wonder if I would trade for it. Sure, I'd buy it to share at a nice stout themed tasting, but for myself again... I'm curious to know myself!

Oh, this is a RIS. There is no doubt in my mind. My favorite style can't fool me!

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Photo of dtivp
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a dark brown with a nice dark tan head, good retention with some lacing.
Aroma of roasted malts, hints of chocolate.
Taste was more smokey malt with some dark fruits and chocolate and a little of the alcohol warming comes out.
Medium body very little carbonation with a slight after taste.
This is a drinkable stout, however, a little liight for my style of stout. Would have enjoyed more with some grilled food.

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Photo of JamesS
3.28/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very deep onyx with some nice head and some decent lacing. Deep malt scent, pretty much just an overload of sweet malt and roasted grains, nothing out of the ordinary. Decent flavor, some deep malts and a hint of hops at the end, but nothing too intense. A fair hit of alcohol at the end roughens an otherwise smooth beer.

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Photo of ebby82
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Upon first pour, there is an obvious coffee smell. However, the coffee flavor is not overwhelming; Pours a medium black into a tulip glass. Head is minimal. The taste has coffee notes without being overwhelming. Additionally, there is a minimal smokiness to the aftertaste which adds rather than detracts from the overall flavors.

The alcohol is barely noted in the taste, although it is evident upon the effect's of a bomber's worth of beer. Although its a Russian IPA, it manages to have a light to middle bodied mouth feel; it does not have the oil like consistency of some other Russian IPA's, and it is very drinkable, although certainly not a session beer.

Eminently enjoyable and extremely affordable, this is an excellent beer.

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Photo of Pencible
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Label reads "Russian Imperial Stout" rather than "Winter Stout." Could be an updated design for 2010?

This poured a nearly opaque mahogany with a little tan head. It smelled like molasses and prunes and old oak, with dark chocolate and a bit of coffee. It tasted like dark chocolate and prunes, with some molasses and roasted coffee. It was thick with a little carbonation, and had a bittersweet aftertaste. Overall this had elements of a nice scent and taste, but something seemed artificial about them, which didn't sit well with me. It almost seemed a couple years aged, even though it was a fresh bottle. Otherwise, it had a good full body and hid the alcohol well, so it was generally easy to drink. Interesting beer to try once, but I don't think I'll be revisiting this one.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a stout glass.

A: Impenetrably dark, even held up to light. This bodes well. A thick head with impressive retention. Light lacing.

S: A bitter initial smell, with heavy notes of - I jest you not - smokey meats. This beer smells like a barbeque pit.

T: And tastes like it too! Good gods, it's as if I've just picked a rib clean and then taken a sip of dark beer. Wow. High marks for this surprisingly tasty accomplishment! A bitter, nearly metallic, aftertaste mars an otherwise excellent taste.

M: The aftertaste just ruins this one for me. Very little carbonation in this heavy beer.

D: The alcohol content is hidden well, and this Winter Stout is a success. I would pair this with barbeque or other smoked foods. Mmm, delicious. But outside of eating, I can't see myself drinking this beer very often.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From 3/27 notes. From a 22 oz. bomber into a pint glass.

a - Poured a dark brown color with one inch of tan head.

s - Has a sticky sweet smell of dark fruits, and chocolate.

t - Tastes of chocolate, raisins, plums, and other dark fruits.

m - Medium body and no carbonation.

d - Not a bad RIS. A nice dark fruit and chocolate taste. Probably wouldn't seek out again but worth trying.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.29/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Note: this beer is no longer labeled 'Winter Stout', apparently. It still has the exact same label, colors and font, but it now reads as 'Russian Imperial Stout'. Creative title huh? Actually I have had up to here with cute/clever brew names, so I applaud banality in this instance.

Big thanks to Alex for sharing this surprisingly tasty brew.

A - It pours the deepest shade of umber with a small cap of mocha foam, no real lace.

S - The smell is quite robust; huge amounts of roasted malt dominate the olfactory, punctuated by a bit of smoke, chicory, and savory spices. It smells quite good, if a bit one-dimensional.

T - The taste is also quite robust. The roast, toast and char are the star. There are small nuances of bitter cocoa and dark fruit, but mostly the flavor is blackened malt. Not a bad thing in this case. The relatively low ABV is surprising, because the taste is so full.

M - Lingering flavor, velvety feel, lack of alcohol heat are on the plus side. On the minus, it is a tad thin, but otherwise very good.

D - I would definitely drink this again. Not outstanding, but better than quite a few acclaimed stouts.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Pours a thick, opaque black with about a half-finger of bubbly ecru head that dissipates rather quickly. No real lacing is produced. The nose is dark malts, figs, molasses, brown sugar, toffee, and a tiny, tiny hint of smoke. The tongue differs a bit from the nose, in that the malts become wheatier, the figs, molasses, and brown sugar almost completely drop out, and the toffe combines with a very light vanilla, some bourbon, and a good deal of (unfortunately) leather. The body is a hefty medium, with low carbonation and a nicely smooth feel. Overall, though, the strange leathery flavor weighs down an already weak taste profile and, hence, the overall drinkability. Still, the latter weathers the storm relatively well.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Thorpe429 for tossing me a bottle of this to knock off Virginia. Served in a pint glass.

A - Pours with a half-finger of tannish foam that dissipates to a thin ring. Dark, dark, brown body that isn't any lighter at the fringes.

S - Light smoked malt - maybe even a touch meaty, a touch of soy, some sweet dark fruits. Taste more like an English stout than a true RIS and reminds me of Scotch Irish John By a little bit.

T - A bit roastier than the nose suggests, and with a touch of chocolate as well. The finish is quite bitter and contains some burnt malt and char flavors. Not as good as it smells.

M - For a 7.6% stout it's got a pretty nice body, but for an RIS it feels a little thin. Very low carbonation, slightly dry roast finish, a bit of stickiness in the aftertaste.

D - It's pretty easy to drink, as it's smooth and low in carbonation and alcohol. Not a huge step down if you're trying to hit the 50 states, but not worth seeking out otherwise.

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Photo of scifan
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Found this beer while in Roanoke, Va. I love RIS's and so I thought I would give it shot. Don't think I'm gonna be dissapointed.
Pours like a typical RIS. Pitch black body with a nice mocha colored head that was big and fluffy. Although it settled down quickly leaving some lacing along the glass.
Smells good. Nice roasty character up front. Smooth milk chocolate in the background giving it a little sweetness. Also picking up a slight coffee aroma, not fresh coffee more like used coffee grounds. Very nice.
Has a nice roasty taste as well. Dark roasted malts dominate the foreground that soon gives way to nice chocolatey finish. Hints of coffee and sweet dark fruits make themselves known. Has a nice clean roasty, bitter finish.
Kind of one the thin side, but then again this isn't one of "those" big stout either. The carbonation is good for this beer its neither too creamy or too prickly on the tongue. Overall a very solid stout not overwhelming or mind blowing just a good example of the style.

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Photo of rapidsequence
3.28/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle. $6 from Magnolia in Lynchburg.

Appearance: Black. Some reddish brown highlights when held to light. Light brown head with decent retention. Pretty good looking RIS.

Smell: Dark and roasty. Bitter chocolate. A little smoky or charcoaly too. So much roastiness, that there's almost nothing sweet to appreciate. There is a little whiff of wet-papery oxidation that is more noticable before it warms.

Taste: Bitter and roasty. The roastiness is overdone, and like the smell, becomes smoky/charcoaly. This makes for a somewhat one-sided beer. I do get a little bit of bittersweet chocolate. Finish is burnt and bitter.

Mouthfeel: This is pretty good. Reasonable thick. Carbonation appropriately low, but not flat.

Drinkability: This is OK, but the bitter, burnt, roastiness gets to be a bit much. Could probably stand to reduce the black patent.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, drank on night one of our latest snowpocalypse.

First beer from this brewery, pour looks good, dark brown, near black with a mocha head. Average retention and lacing. Overall the aroma and flavors are smooth, charred and roasted, sligthly hopped, with lingering malt and chocolate notes in the finish. Medium bodied, smooth and creamy, occasionally some dark fruit flavors as well. Very little alcohol presence. A good RIS, similar to something like Storm King or Rasputin, lacking some "oomph" to put it over the top, but that's not a bad thing at this price and availability.

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Photo of Seanibus
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have this beer in a 22 oz bottle, but labeled as "Russian Imperial Stout," not "Winter Stout." Same distinctive graphic, though ( an off blue with a big, scary-looking warhammer), so I assume it is the same beer (being a total geek, I have written to the brewer for clarification, so I may have to move this review to a new beer one of these days).

So anyway.

Pours very dense, viscous black with a mocha colored head that develops quite slowly but froths up to a mighty mountain of foam. It falls to a complex lace curtain.

The aroma is chocolatey and quite nutty, with a rich sweetness.

The flavor is nutty, with a dark chocolate, slightly smokey edge. The finish has a slightly wry character of carob, with an almost wheaty tang.

The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, with relatively little carbonation and woody bitterness on the end.

Good, but not first rate.

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Winter Stout (Russian Imperial Stout) from St. George Brewing Company, The
3.91 out of 5 based on 68 ratings.
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