dsc008781So in case you weren’t made aware by the snot freezing in your nose and testicles instantaneously sucking up into your warm body cavity when you walk out your front door*, it’s stout season for those of us in the Upper Midwest. Winter hasn’t even technically hit us yet, and I’m already starting my annual ritual of questioning why I decided to stay here when most of my college friends opted to find work in warmer climes like Raleigh and Los Angeles. Ahh…who am I kidding. Deep down I actually like it.

To help contend with the weather, I’ve been mixing a handful of nice stouts into my repertoire over the past month or so, including Surly Darkness, Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout and my very own Oatmeal Coffee Stout. I also have a number of others on deck**, including North Coast Old Rasputin, Alpine Boris and Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. Looking forward to them.

Today’s focus of review is Stone Imperial Russian Stout, a beer that embodies much of what I love about hearty stouts. I had the pleasure a while ago of trying Stone’s 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, and liked it, so I was pretty hopeful for this one. 

Poured thick and malty with very little initial carbonation, gradually building a nice dark cream colored head. Tons of coffee and roasted malt in the nose, backed by dark fruits (maybe prunes?). Also a bit of alcohol, as this one comes in at nearly 11% ABV.

As I typically do with these types of beers, I let it warm to near room temp to give the flavor nuances a chance to come through. The taste is a combination of sweet, roasty malt up front with some bittering hops mixed in toward the finish. Some chocolate notes paired with the dark fruit again.

Overall, very drinkable through and through. A well-crafted stout.  

Rating: A-

* Not sure what the female equivalent would be. 

** I’m debating on brewing a chocolate mint stout, not necessarily because I think it’ll be fantastic (I have a feeling the mint could overtake things and turn it into a Girl Scout cookie in a glass) but more because I can. Kind of in the spirit of Sam Calagione. I’m thinking of calling it The Captain’s ExperiMint Stout. I’ve gotten mixed reactions from a couple of people I’ve already mentioned it to…so anyone out there have a strong opinion on the viability of this beer? Sound good? Sound terrible?