Written by Tom Becham
Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout (yes, they refer to it that way instead of Russian Imperial Stout) is a solid, solid Impy Stout. It’s also one of the older ones produced in the United States. Typically, of Stone products, it has very strong, in-your-face flavors, high ABV, and apologizes for nothing.
In odd years, Stone releases unusual versions of their IRS. I remember a licorice-flavored version one year, vanilla and oatmeal in another. This year, their variant Imperial Stout is called the Chai Spiced Edition.
For those of you unfamiliar with chai, it is the Indian version of tea, highly spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger and black pepper. Stone states that they used all of these ingredients in their 2015 IRS, as well as a splash of black tea.
This beer pours as dark as sin, and as black as Dick Cheney’s heart. There is a small, short-lived tan head that blooms on top.
The nose is amazing, as all the spice ingredients previously cited make an appearance. The clove and ginger are the predominant notes, however. And underlying it all is the usual dark roasty aromas. The olfactory component of this beer doesn’t change or fade as it warms.
On the palate, this beer is somewhat less successful. At first, it’s ALL spice notes. In fact, if you don’t like aromatics like clove and/or ginger, this beer will likely turn you off. As it warms, the beer takes on much, much more of the black tea taste.
Mind you, this isn’t a BAD thing. All these flavors work quite well with the base of an Imperial Stout. However, the flavors are never integrated as a whole.
The verdict: Excellent concept, less-than-great execution. Give it a try, though. Your mileage may vary. And it’s interesting for the novelty alone, if nothing else.
Tom Becham. Tom Becham.Tom Becham. Tom Becham. Yup that’s Tom Becham. That’s Tom Becham’s picture. Right over there. Well, “left” over there, actually. Tom Becham lives in Oxnard, CA. Tom Becham has written reviews for brews and breweries as far away as Hawaii. Tom Becham has written them for us so long it was once rumored he died in a sinking ship at Pearl Harbor.
Tom Becham wants you to know that’s not true. But one thing is true: his name is Tom Becham 😉