Review: Stone Chai-Spiced Russian Imperial Stout

Review of Stone Chai-Spiced Russian Imperial Stout from Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, CA

Beer Type: Stout  ABV: 10.6%  Tried on draught.

Their Description: “This one-time-only beer, a fascinating addition to our “Odd Beers for Odd Years” series, incorporates cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, a dash of black pepper and a dose of black tea to emulate the aroma and taste of authentic chai tea. Combine these strikingly piquant ingredients with the classic version of Stone Imperial Russian Stout―with its incumbent flavors of chocolate, black currants, coffee and roastiness―and an already profoundly rewarding beer ascends to new, flavorful dimensions.”

The Reality: Their description is right on the money. The beer gives off a pleasant aroma of chai tea spices and the flavor is a perfect balance of those same chai spices with the bitter dark chocolate and black coffee notes found in most Russian imperial stouts. The body isn’t as heavy or thick as I would’ve guessed, which gives it a nice mouth feel. The finish is very smooth and the aftertaste leaves a nice mild spice heat in your mouth.

Final Verdict: Stone Brewing is known for making a very good Russian Imperial Stout, which is what makes this incarnation such a gamble, because it was a chance to ruin it. Instead, they’ve managed to enhance it and elevate the flavor to another level of complexity. Imagine your taste buds are briefly hit which the sweet and spicy taste of chai tea, and then as you start to swallow that sip the spices subside and the sweetness morphs to a roasted bitterness with an alcohol presence rounding it out. If you’d like to have that experience go buy this beer before it’s gone. This is a such a good Russian Imperial Stout, that if Vladimir Putin tried it, he’d probably try to invade Chai-mea and keep it all for himself.