Stone has been pumping out a great imperial Russian stout for many years now, but for the most part they have stuck with what works and haven’t made many changes. The few exceptions include the very rare 2008 bourbon barrel aged version and the 2013 Espresso variant, both of which received very high ratings and praises across the net. So this year the brewers at Stone decided to grace us with two barrel aged versions of Imperial Russian Stout, Fyodor’s Classic and Mikhail’s Odd. As the names might indicate, Fyodor’s Classic is bourbon barrel aged 2013 Imperial Russian Stout and Mikhail’s Odd is bourbon barrel aged 2013 Espresso Russian Imperial Stout.
For those of you who aren’t big fans of Soviet era satirists, this beer is named for Mikhail Bulgakov and his seminal work The Master and Margarita. One of the main characters is an incognito Satan and his entourage of demons, one of whom is Behemoth the enormous mustached demonic black cat with a penchant for chess, vodka, guns, and obnoxious sarcasm. One can assume that the cat on the label of this beer is meant to be Behemoth, thus concluding our literary lesson for the day. The only other real information that is worth knowing about this beer is that the base beer was aged in bourbon barrels for 11 months and, despite the amount of time, the label claims the coffee is still very present in this brew.
The beer pours a solid black with a small amount of quickly dissipating mocha head. The aroma starts with an unmistakable bourbon, with notes of cacao, vanilla, hot fudge, and cold press coffee that slowly develop as well. It has a moderate mouthfeel with a bit of lively carbonation that gives it a slight creaminess that is balanced out by the somewhat assertive alcohol. The flavor hits all the key points you want from it, with roasted espresso, dark chocolate, oaky bourbon, dark fruits, cold press coffee, roasted malts, molasses, vanilla, and mild hops each taking a moment to explore your palate. The finish is somewhere between a shot of espresso and fine bourbon, offering equal parts coffee bite and oaky, boozy dryness with some notes of dark fruits and bitter chocolate.
|Style||Barrel Aged Imperial Russian Stout|
|Availability||One time bottle release|
|Rating||5 out of 5|
I was a big fan of the base beer and I’m am very happy with what they were able to achieve with the bourbon barrel aging on this beer. Unlike a lot of other barrel aged imperial Russian stouts on the market, this one seems to stay in a nice place where you enjoy the rich flavor and textures but it doesn’t become thick, syrupy, or down right oppressive (Bourbon County Brand Stout I’m looking at you…). But like most things in life there’s a catch, this is a one off of a one off so the chance that this beer will ever be made again is next to zero. Then there’s the $20 price tag and the fact that you can only purchase it at the Stone Company Store in Pasadena or one of their other retail locations. All that being said, I think this is a pretty good value, especially when some of its direct competition are in the $30 22oz or $15 12oz range. So if you like coffee, rich malts, and bourbon I’d highly recommend getting to Pasadena in the next day or two to pick one of these up because this is surely not a brew to miss out on.