Well, it's not too different from the previous years, and that's fine. Stone's Imperial Russian Stout has always been a favorite, and as we haven't talked about it in a few years, we figured it was time to celebrate its greatness again.
Everything here is as it should be: the pitch black pour and the tan head greet you with a warm embrace, stroking your hair, telling you how beauty is about more than a bag flowing in the wind. Beauty, it seems, is what you're about to imbibe.
Notes of roast and anise dance on the nose, playing hacky sack with the chocolate and coffee. The flavor reflects all of this, making for a deep, flavorful 10.5% ABV ride.
Yada, yada, yada. You already knew all of that. The flavors haven't really changed much over the years. There is one thing, though, that has improved, and I am happily surprised that it has.
My main issue with the previous IRSs has been the mouthfeel -- great as the flavors might have been, the mouthfeel really didn't measure up. Not a huge deal, I know, but I like my imperial stouts thick.
And this year Stone really has hit that home better than they did over the previous years. It will still need to be aged to reach its optimal level, of course, but I was surprised exactly how thick the 2014 felt, right off the bat.
That sets this year's edition apart for me. It's tasty as always -- no surprise there -- but this (to some) minor detail makes a difference.
Of course, the price of the beer has steadily increased, too. I'm not quite cynical enough to blame Stone for that, but we're close to what I'd consider to be a pretty steep point. Something to keep in mind.
It's worth it, though. The Imperial Russian Stout is a great beer. Go drink it, and be appropriately happy.
Vote for Stone Imperial Russian Stout (2014): It’s your civic duty!