Stone Brewing Imperial Russian Stout – Classic and Espresso (released 4/15/13)


“Congratulations, the IRS has accepted your federal tax return.” Getting back around $1,600 this year, it’s time to celebrate with the real IRS; Stone Brewing’s Imperial Russian Stout. 2013, being an odd year, Stone comes hard with their second ‘odd beer’ release. Tossing in a few hundred pounds of espresso coffee beans into IRS is arousing. ‘Coffee’ and ‘Stout’ is something that piques my interest no matter what. Throw in ‘Russian’ and I go all perestroika on my shopping cart.

P1050429Now, this blog post is mostly pointless because A) I hate reading beer reviews and B) You will most likely buy these beers no matter what (which you totally should). The classic release is the same recipe Stone has been making for years on end. It’s a beautiful beer that has tons of character and ages well. Now that your cellar is devoid of Vertical Epic beers, is it worth filling with Stone IRS? Should you go all espresso or classic? That’s my goal in this post.

I line up shots of IRS in my traditional Russian glassware: Russian president shooter glasses! On the pour, both versions are black with a thick bubbly tan head. Aside from that, both drink like two totally different beers.

P1050424The classic release smells like a hot See’s Candy store clerk: dark milk chocolate and notes of cherry cordial and vanilla as she passes by the nose. The taste makes my cheeks rosy; some boozy warming chocolate, cocoa, roastyness and notes of cherry wood and currants.  The creamy bitter finish balances the whole situation and lingers for a while. Such a nice pleasant layered sip; this beer is really done well, but you knew that.

espressoThe espresso release is a totally different beer. The fruity/cherry notes make way for a rich coffee aroma. It’s such a pleasant relaxing smell as well; I’m inhaling this beer for a few minutes and can feel the tension of doing taxes melt away. On the sip, the espresso smooths out the beer and calms the heat. I’m shocked this much flavor can come from water, plants and yeast. I wish I had another one so my wife could say, “Greg never has a second Espresso RIS at home”.

P1050428Overall I prefer the Espresso release by a wide margin. Both are stellar beers, but the classic release needs to lay down for bit to calm the warming. At 10.5% ABV on the classic and 11% on the espresso, I would have thought opposite. The espresso release is great now! One thing to note: most coffee/espresso beers give me a slight dry metallic note, this beer doesn’t do that. Stone Brewing Co. manages to keep my ADHD interest high in this ever expanding craft beer landscape. First Dayman Coffee IPA and now this? 2013 is the year of the coffee bean.

For the cellar: My goal is to pick up a few of each, maybe an extra espresso bottle to sip with some friends.

Suggested Food Pairings:

  • Dessert: cherry cheese cake, bon bons, oreo sundae – anything chocolate
  • Soup: split pea, red clam chowder, spicy african peanut soup at the Gypsy Den in Anaheim
  • Meat: open flame seasoned steak, Las Vegas 3 A.M roast beef, Indian restaurant prepared lamb chops
  • Vegan: Thai coconut curry, tofu pad thai

Thanks Stone Brewing Company for the preview bottles!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Randy Clemens
11 years ago

$1600?!? And you were gonna try getting out of BBC?! Glad you reconsidered, boo. <3

Randy Clemens
11 years ago
Reply to  gregory

I’m just giving you a hard time. *Someone* has to! 😉