Russian Imperial Stout
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

Russian Imperial StoutRussian Imperial Stout
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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #125
Ranked #2,165
4.2 | pDev: 7.86%
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
United States
Russian Imperial StoutRussian Imperial Stout
Notes: Full-bodied stout that starts with a complex, malty sweet and high-roasted character that is wonderfully balanced with the use of citrusy American hops.

75 IBU
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Reviews: 114 | Ratings: 272 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Durandal_777:
Photo of Durandal_777
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.6/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A hand bottling is poured carefully (to preserve carbonation) and summons up a thin dusting of a brownish tan colored head. The beer is quite black in appearance, but showed a chocolate brown hue as I was pouring it. Rich chocolate aromatics are quite evident and they are backed by a substantial toasted malt note, with lots of darkly toasted whole grain bread aromas, a touch of coffee notes . Thankfully this is lacking in the sharp, acrid acidity often found in this style of beer, though there is a touch of roast derived tartness here. A dark fruitiness is also evident with notes of burnt cherries, blackened prunes, roast raisins and even a bit of brandy-like notes when the alcohol is noticeable.

Soft and creamy feeling up front, but it picks up a nice level of carbonation. The carbonation provides a carbonic bite and a bit more texture to the brew and is at just about the perfect level for an Imperial Stout. Huge flavors of toasted malt are found here. It is interesting that the dark, roasted grain notes are not the main think I notice, instead the toasted malt flavors play the leading role with the roast / burnt malt notes adding some sharpness up front and in the finish. A slight roast acidity in the finish and a bitter, burnt-grain flavor at the fore provide an offset / balance to the toasted, darkly sweet, chocolate rich malt middle that is found in this brew. A slight, burnt vegetal note is found in the finish (something I have been noticing more lately in heavily roasted beers). Hops play a minimal role here, but do contribute to a substantial bitterness as does a dark-roast-coffee note.

This is a good beer and it would be great if not for that nagging, burnt-vegetal note in the finish (something a bit like burnt cabbage). The long, lingering finish of this beer tends to get quite roasted / burnt, though in a flavorful way (especially once it shakes the vegetal note).

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Photo of MeLoynes
3.82/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap as part of the Winter Warmer tasting at IH Lancaster. From the North Wales location.

A: The imperial stout is a dark black color that absorbs the rest of the spectrum. Carboonation appears to be at a minimum, adding to the still beauty of the stout.

S: The nose is roasted, dark with burnt toast, chocolate and coffee. The nose seems muted, as compared to some of the bottles that I've had.

T: Warming, the stout is rich and malty. Layers of chocolate, nuts, coffee, burnt toast and char wash over the tastebuds. No one flavor is stronger than another, rather they all work in tandem to produce a full flavor. The hops are an afterthought, allowing the British side of the stout come through. A nice beer to finally have on tap.

M: Full and thick, this RIS isn't a pounder. The malt focus is a nice reminder of the stout's origin.

D: This version tips the scales at 9%, so it is not a pounding stout. The smaller pour that I had was a perfect size to reveal the intricate strength of the stout.

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Photo of Emoney1975
4.49/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of John_M
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brought this beer to a recent bottle share in Portland. While this showed pretty well, obviously, it was hard to appreciate it, drinking it side by side some of the BA coffee speedway variations, aged BCBS and other barrel aged stouts on offer. Nevertheless, the beer had an impressive soft, fairly full mouthfeel (this bottles was at least two years old I believe), and there was plenty of coffee, light vanilla, licorice, burnt toast and roasty malt on both the nose and palate. Alcohol was pretty well integrated into the flavor profile.

A nice enough beer, but it was just out of its class at the bottle share I attended.

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Photo of CharlesK
4.06/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Foxman
4.43/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It pours a full-featured featureless, inky ermine. Two fingers of crema light brown head settle slowly. Dainty fingers of bubbly lacing tickle the inside of the glass.

In the aroma, earthy roasted malt is dense with dark chocolate, black coffee, and cocoa, and sweet with dates and molasses. Biscuit and vanilla latte ably foil a proud yet humble stile of alcohol.

Upon sipping, dark roasted malt is charred just so, and intimates heady espresso, unsweetened chocolate, and blackened biscuit bottom. Molasses and burnt sugar come off as neatly bitter and aptly sweet as well. Cocoa and a vague but pertinent hop note lightly spice the way in to a warm channel of alcohol. The grain grants a graceful reiteration of its presence with a tongue-caressing trio of coffee, darkened bread crust, and black molasses. The finish is crisp, dry, and grounded. Gosh, this is damned good.

Full bodied, it's creamy, thick, slick, juicy, and it fades to a gutsy, spicy glow.

Michael just may have impregnated Jan, despite her exhortations otherwise, Toby's gone away, and this is one kick-ass, blended, complex pleasure of a dark, beefy stout-beast. I don't know whether to be happy I finally picked it up, or kick myself for taking so long to do it. The ABV is steely and warm, but it's a comfy warm, and it's a pretty smooth drinker in spite of its considerable heft and aura. So Andy proposed to Angela, Jim didn't propose to Pam, and I didn't do anything but laugh, which is only right, because this RIS makes it all okay.

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Photo of Twism86
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Fish113d
4.23/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice, dark, brown with a burnt-sienna color coming through a bit. Body seems very thick, while a very sticky, thick, dense head the color of cork forms at the surface to about 3 fingers thickness and then dissipates to a nice 1/2 cm surface layer.

Aroma is slightly "boozy" with a robust amount of chocolate & caramel throughout. A sweet toffee smell maybe comes through as well. Faint oak barrels also seem to "pop" while a bit of floral hops underlines the nose. Very nice.

Sipping reveals a very thick, chewy body that starts with a lot of chocolate up front with a roasty almond flavor coming through after. A bit of bourbon flavor also comes through. Finish is fairly dry with a bit of the alcohol coming through to tingle my tongue. Overall, pretty smooth though to be honest for something near 10% abv; well-balanced.

Very warming brew. I'm glad I have a big bottle to share with a loved one (my wife) on a relatively "chill" evening. Sorry Sulldaddy, the next bottle is on me and for us!

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Photo of Clippershipp
4.48/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with only minimla head. Last year vintage purchased at the brewpub, and Expensive. Roasty malty aroma. First sip is good balance of roast and malt, but a few more gulps finds it satisfying though not complex. More medium mouthfeel, than the thickness expected. Above average carbonation.A good drink but only an average candidate in this style.

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Photo of Montanabeerz
4.24/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Zorro
4.03/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled due to the kindness of zrrbrrt and Double Trouble GIF.

This beer is a light proof black colored beer with a good brown colored head.

The smell is sweet and heavy with dark roasted malt aromas. Decent amount of chocolate in the scent with a fair amount of smoke to it. There are fruity aromas in this that tend to get a bit lost in the roast and malt. Fairly strong apple scent and almonds. To pick up the fruit you need to let this get fairly warm or warm it with your hands in a Brandy snifter. The fruit aromas are carried by the alcohol fumes.

The taste begins sweet and heavily roasted with lots of coffee taste. Mostly a sweet and mild flavored RIS this is really more of a milk stout on steroids. Sweet with mostly chocolate flavor and a very slight amount of coffee to it.

The mouthfeel is OK.

This is an extra easy to drink RIS. Some would call this dumbed down in fact. The flavors could be more complex and less sweet but this is by no means hard to drink. Really this is a beginners RIS for those not yet ready for the real stronger thing.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.39/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Darkness tulip. Beer is black / brown at the bowl with a tan head that disappears quickly, low carbonation, no lacing.

Aroma is sweet with a strong roast to it. Mild alcohol too.

Beer is medium in body, sweet up front, malt and alcohol, strong flavor, almost a dry finish with a lot of roast at the back end of the beer. The beer feels almost still in my mouth, plain but very flavorful, sweet, almost vanilla. I like it and would have it again.

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Photo of tgbljb
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served as a very deep brown beer with moderate tannish head.
Smell shows lots of roasted malt, toffee, coffee, and chocolate.
Taste is extremely impressive. he rich flavors of roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate abound, a modest sweetnes is present, and the ending gives enough dryness to tie everything togesther.
Way too easy to drink for 9.5%.
Very teasty. Probably the best beer I've yet to have from an Iron Hill.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.37/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Iron Hill has begun CANning some of their beers and this was among them. I purchased mine at their local location in Lancaster.

From the CAN: "Full-bodied Stout that starts with a complex, malty-sweet and high-roasted character that is wonderfully balanced with the use of citrusy AmeriCAN hops. 2011, 2013 GABF Silver Medal; 2003, 2006, 2010 GABF Gold Medal; 2012 GABF Bronze Medal; 2006 World Beer Cup Bronze Medal; 2010, 2012, 2014 World Beer Cup Gold Medal."

It might have been a tallboy pint CAN, but I had no fear, having recently bought some glassware at the church rummage sale across thee street, including a brandy snifter. I Crack!ed it open and commenced an inverted Glug into said snifter, creating two fingers of dense, deep-tan head with good retention. Color was Black/Opaque, allowing zero light penetration and while I would have marked SRM as 44, the CAN measured it as Lovibond = 50. Nose had wafts of smoke, dark chocolate, lemon zest and a marshmallow-like sweetness. Mouthfeel was full and creamy, like a dollop of ice cream or a spoonful of chocolate pudding. Whee! I CAN appreciate why this is such a popular style, but it just seemed a bit overwhelming to me. The finish was semi-sweet with a dominant dark chocolate flavor lingering well past my swallow. I was reminded of the birthday cakes that my paternal grandmother used to make. She never gave up her secret(s), but it may well have included lemon zest in the recipe. Would you fill a cooler with this and Ten Fidy? You are more daring than I am if you answered in the affirmative!

Transcribed from notes dtd Sa, 04 Dec 2010. This was IHNWales' RIS available at IHLNC.

The deep-brown head evidenced some real staying power in awaiting me to get around to it. Color was inky black with deep-brown highlights at the edges. Nose had a powerful French Roast coffee scent along with a citrusiness, like lemon zest. I began to muse as to whether I could grate some lemon or orange peel into my coffee grounds with any success. Mouthfeel was big and chewy. It had a wonderful chocolate taste, like a fresh oven-baked brownie.

Speaking of which, was anybody else diggin' the eastern-European chick on FX's Fully Baked commercials? I'd eat her brownie. Hers might be a blondie. Either way ... Damn, where is my Russian mail-order bride? She shoulda been here by now. That whole thing with Kvass has skewed my worldview. I was inculcated from Boot Camp to hate the pinko Russkies and now I can't get enough of them or their language.

Back to the beer. Finish had a definite chocolatiness to it that made me think that this would be an excellent dessert beer. I would not need a whole bunch of it on its own, however.

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Photo of meathookjones
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out black with a good sized tan frothy head. Some oily lacing was coating the glass as it was consumed. Strong roasted malts and burnt notes in the aroma. Chocolate and some ripe dark fruits rounded it out. Roasty as hell flavor with burnt malts and fruits. Some dark chocolate adds a bit of bitterness. It is moderately sweet as well. Ends with a ridiculously long lasting dry chalky burnt note. Thick body with a silky slick feel to it. Really easy drinking for the style, though the burnt notes could have been turned down a notch. Very nice example of the style.

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Photo of DrJay
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one poured very dark, nearly opaque, with dark brown edges. It was capped by a tan head that appeared slowly and thinned to a solid ring, leaving wisps of bubbles on the surface of the beer. The very fine bubbles showed some stickage too. The aroma was dominated by sweet malt, mostly caramel and toffee, but with significant roast, chocolate and licorice as well. Bitterness was low to moderate in strength, but present throughout. The flavour was English in character, balanced towards a rich, malty sweetness and accented by licorice early on, cocoa in the middle, and roast towards the finish. The roasted flavour was actually a lot like chewing on the roasted barley grain. The body was heavy and palate coating, and combined with low carbonation produced a very smooth and creamy texture. Even with all the residual sugar providing body, it didn't taste underattenuated at all. There was a slight dryness from tannins and no alcohol taste, but some warmth. Highly drinkable for a big beer. Definitely an interesting take on the style and certainly more in the English camp. Very tasty. Thanks Tim!

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Photo of goodbyeohio
4.27/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml courtesy of larry.. kind of an "im sorry your experience at iron hill sucked monkey testicles" olive branch type offering.

pours a resinous, viscous shiny black with frothy tan topper. head becomes soapy with rest and leaves spotty lacing. surprisingly mild yet malty nose showing big hits of vanilla and toffee caramel. aroma balanced nicely by some faintly detectable juicy hops. slick mouthfeel.. goes right down with little/no carbonation interference.. doesn't need it, this beer has body and its allowed to shine thanks to low priming levels. hops tickle the back of my throat and the beer, with its upper-middle class abv, warms my tummy. hops are more noticeable in the flavor, but exist to accent not to dominate. the dark malts evoke creamed coffee and heath bars. those green buds add something fruity to the finish and this beer really packs a very underwhelming bitterness.. which is a refreshing change for a big RIS like this. maybe a bit too sugary for some- even seems to be approaching barleywine in its grand scheme. wonderful, nice beer.. thoroughly satisfying and more than makes up for any wrongdoing on the part of my iron hill waiter from last august.

(bottle cellared 6 months)

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.31/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a black body topped by a full, bubbly, khaki-colored head.

Smell: Subtle aroma of roasty dark malts with notes of baker's chocolate, stale licorice, burnt breadcrusts, and booze.

Taste: Frothy, melted milk chocolate followed by a zip of caramel sweetness. Hints of breadcrusts, roast, and licorice. Mild, roasty, earthy bitterness. Finishes with a taste of chilled hot chocolate made with at least twice the recommended amount of cocoa powder.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied. Mild carbonation.

Drinkability: Very tasty RIS. Oh, I was crazy about it.

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Photo of Magery
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of victory4me
4.54/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of whartontallboy
3/5  rDev -28.6%

Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 bottle that RoyMunson popped and let me have some.
Pours a very dark brown almost black in color. Smell is heavily roasted malt and some cocoa. Taste is even better. More of the roasted flavors, but enough chocolate to round it out. Very nice, huge mouthfeel to stand up against it all. This is a good RIS, would love to try a BA version of this. Think that would set up and be very nice.

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Russian Imperial Stout from Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 272 ratings