Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout is released annually around mid-late April. It’s something of a strange time to release a beer as dark and heavy as this one, but Stone has never been a brewery apt to abide by anyone’s preconceived notions. It is not called an Imperial Russian Stout because it originated in Russia, but rather because it was brewed for the Tsars of Russia by English brewers. The Russian court called for ever stronger and darker beers, likely to help ward off the brutal winters Russia is well known for, and American brewers have continued this escalation.
Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout, at 10.5% ABV, is almost certainly a much bigger beer than anything that ever graced Catherine the Great’s table. It pours absolutely opaque, more light escapes black holes than passes through this glass. It has a tan head which recedes in a few minutes, a common occurrence with higher alcohol beers. What head remains clings to the side of the glass with great conviction.
The aroma of the beer is very rich in itself, with notes of coffee, dark chocolate, fusel alcohol, molasses, dark fruit and anise. The beer itself is very full-bodied, almost viscous, it absolutely coats the palate as you drink it. There’s a modest amount to break up the heaviness of the beer. It’s fairly sweet on the front end, with the molasses and coffee flavors coming across strongest. As it moves across the palate it shifts to a more roasty, charred flavor. Dark chocolate is present throughout, almost like an easel off of which the other flavors play. It finishes dryer than it begins, with the bitter dark chocolate hanging around for a while after you’ve finished.
This is one of the original Imperial Russian Stouts brewed in the United States and the beer stands the test of time. A absolute hallmark of the style, this is a absolute must-try for stout-lovers. Buy a few bottles and save some for winter, you’ll be glad you did.
If you liked this try: Great Divide Yeti, Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, Victory Storm King, or Port Brewing Old Viscosity
Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory.