Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2007

I’m going to cut right to the chase here — the 2007 Stone Imperial Russian Stout is delicious. Absolutely delicious. Please understand that you’re going to see that word — delicious — over and over in this post. There’s no way around it.

I’ve had my fair share of good Russian imperial stouts — Brooklyn Black Chocolate, Oskar Blues Ten FIDY, North Coast Old Rasputin, Bear Republic Big Bear Black, Great Divide Yeti and Oak-Aged Yeti, Victory Storm King… the list goes on and on. I’m pretty sure that it’s my favorite style of beer.

Stone’s is among the best. I drank two bottles of the 2008 late last year, and at less than a year old it was very good. My notes finished with this: “Somewhat in your face but still awesome.” I could tell that it would only improve with age, and online reviews confirmed as much.

Last night, the Flying Saucer tapped a keg of the 2007 Stone IRS. Jake and Asa (two of the nerds that run the place) told us that it was brewed in February 2007, meaning it was 34 months old when we drank it.

As I’ve already said, it was delicious. I’m not quite ready to call it the best Russian imperial stout I’ve had. But it’s close, really close. On to my full review…

Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2007

It’s pitch black, plain and simple. I tried to get something else to come through with some backlighting, but it didn’t happen. It’s black. The head out of the tap is one-finger thick, bubbly, creamy and latte-colored. It slowly and stickily recedes to a splotchy cap and eventually nothing at all. Despite initial signs of stickiness, there’s not much lacing.

The nose is delicious. I smell all sorts of sweet, chocolatey, luscious malt. There’s also dark fruit and molasses and… I could go on, but I need to stop typing and start drinking.

It’s absofreakinglutely delicious. It’s no longer raw and in your face. Jake called the younger one “rough around the edges” — this is anything but. There’s bittersweet chocolate and a bit of coffee and just a touch of fruit, and it’s all melted together in one deliciously malty package.

I’m not really getting any hops. There’s a very small hint of bitterness in the finish, but I won’t call it outright hoppiness. There’s no doubt that the hops faded over time, but there is definitely something balancing the beer out — despite the huge and sweet malt load, it’s never overwhelming or one-sided.

There isn’t a hint of alcohol in the nose or taste, but it only takes a couple of sips for the alcohol to warm the belly. For a beer with an abv right around 10%, it’s remarkably subtle.

The mouthfeel is smooth and somewhat chewy and just a bit fizzy. It’s not extremely thick, but still quite nice. It’s a fitting part of the package.

The Stone 2007 Imperial Russian Stout is top notch, top drawer, elite, as good as it gets — you get the point. I’m so glad I’m aging a handful of 2008 bottles, but it’s going to be really hard to fight the temptation to crack one open soon.

A+ (The nerds over at BeerAdvocate give it an A)

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