received a 12oz bottle of a 2008 vintage in a trade with "Ding"
(thanks, man!). It actually had an "enjoy by" date of 1/1/2013. I poured
it into a tulip glass.
Appearance: Completely opaque black of the deepest shades. Forms a
small, brown, foamy head which mostly dissipates but not completely and
leaves minor lacing on the glass.
Smell: An interesting combination of red grape, orange citrus and chocolate syrup.
Taste: If you know me you’d probably assume I drink "Stone IRS" every
year, but I actually haven’t had this beer in quite a few years. I was
definitely excited to try a 5-year-old vintage of it since I do remember
it being quite an intense beer when it was fresh. The aging has
definitely helped to take the edge off, though the flavors seem a tad
muted as well. It’s a small price to pay because the net result is still
a complex and delicious beer.
A delicious blend of chocolate, black licorice, red grape, some orange
fruit and just enough bitterness to balance it out. I do remember a
fresh vintage having a slightly sour/tart note, which is barely
recognizable this time around. Chocolate syrup is still quite prominent,
as is some black licorice or root beer flavors but without any
spiciness. There’s some black cherry through the middle along with
slightly dank hoppiness coupled with some orange flavor. A beer this
beer needs plenty of hops to balance it out and after five years they’ve
faded a bit as it’s not exactly a bitter bomb, but still retains enough
hop character to maintain the balance as the sweetness never becomes
cloying. The alcohol has faded to the background well, though it’s still
noticeable and does tie all the flavors together. This is definitely
one of the best examples of the style I’ve ever had.
Drinkability: After five years in the cellar, Stone Imperial Russian
Stout has mellowed wonderfully. The mouthfeel is soft, smooth and
slightly slick but not oily. It goes down remarkably easy and is only
slightly dry in the aftertaste. The 10.8% ABV weight is quite efficient
as the beer is still overtly strong, but its actual boozy character has
mellowed and is easily tolerable. I highly recommend cellaring a bottle
since the results are this good.