“Stone Imperial Russian Stout is so thick, rich and, well, sinful, you might worry that you’ll be doomed to the fiery pits just for thinking about a sip. Rest assured, however, that even though this seemingly pernicious brew is indeed as black as sin, we guarantee that no actual sin was committed in making it…you’ll have to add that on your own. This massive and intensely aromatic beer abounds with notes of chocolate, coffee, black currants, anise and roastiness, and its heavy palate is nothing to be trifled with.”
Another week passes, another review of a Stone brewing beer, you could say that we have a slight crush on this American brewery at the moment. Served in a beer tulip. The jet black pour can only manage to knock up a thin, tanned head that doesn’t take long to peel off and establish a halo around the edges of the glass. Some spotty lacing is left clinging. Rich, hefty and layered are the words that first spring to mind when sniffing this beer. A firm yeasty component provides an intense dark sweetness that results in wafts of Vegemite, molasses, licorice and tobacco. A strong sense of espresso is noted as is a subtle spicy character – hinting at Asian spices like star anise, nutmeg and clove. Among all of this is also a moreish suggestion of dark chocolate and a lactosey creaminess. The depth on show here is mind blowing. The mouth feel is thick and heavy, the body is full and the C02 level is low. Even though the ABV (10.6%) is high, it’s been well concealed among the arsenal of flavours provided here. The palate is as complex as they come. There isn’t really one standout flavour that comes forward, just an intricate fusion of ash, molasses, Vegemite, espresso, licorice, chocolate, a touch of vanilla and a subtle hint of ripened dark fruit. An overall alcohol warmth surrounds it all adding that extra level of complexity. Sheez! Let’s just shoot straight here…unadventurous beer drinkers beware, this is like unleashing the KGB on to an infant. It’s aggressive, potent, moreish and seriously rich. If that’s how you love your stouts then get stuck in. But we’ll offer three words….proceed with caution.