Monday, June 17, 2013

Stone Imperial Russian Stout (2008 vintage)

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (907) - Albany, New York, USA - JUN 17, 2013
I 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. 
Grade: 10/10
Watch Jay and I review the 2009 edition here:

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