Brew Review: Russian Imperial Stout (2012 Vintage)

2 Nov

Brew: Russian Imperial Stout (2012 Vintage)

Brewed by: Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA)

Style: Russian Imperial Stout (10.5% ABV)

 

This brew comes out, for some reason, at the end of #stoutseason at the end of winter, or I guess in MN sort of in the middle.  Usually I see stouts showing up in stores at the end of fall or beginning of the winter so people can enjoy the big warming flavors of these brews as the weather gets cold.  Either way, I am not complaining about it this beer is widely viewed as one of the best in the style, beeradvocate agrees.  This wasn’t the first time I have tried this beer, if you go back to the Autumn Brew Review 2011 you can see that I was able to try a sample of this brew, however seeing as how I was at beer festival it was one of 80 or so beers I tried so trying to remember that specific one is pretty much impossible.  But I liked it enough or had heard enough about it to grab a couple bottles for myself when it came home.  This brew was bottled in the middle of April, I think the 16th.  I opened the bottle on May 17th so it only had about a month’s worth of time to develop and age in the bottle so I knew I was getting into a pretty fresh beer from the start. 

Stone’s RIS poured out black.  Not much else to describe here but black.  No light seeps through, no rose or red around the edges, it’s black.  Plain and simple.  The head was excellent, big rich mocha head settles after a minute or so into a cap on the top of the lightless brew.  It also leaves a nice ring on the glass from where it once was and the lacing that descends as I drink this down.

The aroma on this brew is big.  It has rich chocolate and coffee right on the start.  Those smells blend their roast smells together to create a large roast presence.  The hops are still present in the aroma, since this brew is still pretty fresh, which is telling on how much of a hop addition is in this brew since there are obviously pounds and pounds of grains in this recipe.  I don’t really pick up on any alcohol in this which is a good sign.  The aroma ends with even more dark chocolate.

On the first sip I realize how creamy and smooth this beer is.  It slides over my tongue and down my gullet without a hitch.  The hops are present, their bittering oils haven’t faded yet into the dark murky black that surrounds them.  The huge amounts of sweet sugars balance those hops out.  There is some coffee and chocolate but not as much as I smelled at first.  The hops and the bitterness from the hops and roast seem to dominate. 

I would say that this beer was a tad too fresh in the bottle to really enjoy it.  The hops were still fresh and the roasted notes hadn’t taken their hold yet.  After only a month it was too soon, maybe after 6 months or a year this will really come into its own.  Time to forget about the other couple bottles I have for a while and focus on some other beers.

 

Final Grade: B

Edit: I was able to try another bottle of 2012 RIS from Stone at 2012 Darkness Day, which means this bottle had a little over 6 months of age on it.  This brew was much better.  It had mellowed out, the hops had lost their edge and the smooth roast, chocolate, coffee and deeper flavors had begun to creep out.  I didn’t take any specific notes on this brew in particular but as I was drinking it I was remembering the first time I had it 5 months earlier and was looking at my notes from that tasting.  It has improved markedly since then and I think with a bit more age this will become a fantastic stout.

 

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