Tasting Notes: Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing

StoneTIRSPourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we lay down our hammers and deal the workweek a final, crushing blow with the help of a tall, imposing pour of Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing (Escondido, California).

Released back in March as the successor to the fan-favorite Stone Imperial Russian Stout that was developed in 2000 and discontinued in 2016, Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout arrived with an upgraded recipe boasting “the careful addition of Belma hops and flaked oats.”  Although the beer retains the original recipe’s old-world nature by pouring “jet-black with a fluffy chocolate head and [tasting] of deeply dark fruit flavors with rich chocolate and coffee overtones”, the added flaked oats enhance the beer’s “long-lasting smooth and silky finish” while the new-world Belma hops “[intensify] its berry flavors and aroma while subtly introducing a juicy melon undertone.”  In an impressive show of force, Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout flexes its power with a 10.6% ABV and 65 IBUs.

Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout is nearing the end of its run as a Special Release offering, but it can still be found in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 22 oz. bottles and on draft at many craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Virginia and throughout the rest of Stone Brewing’s nationwide distribution area.

Now that we are all a bit more familiar with Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout’s heritage and updated tweaks, let’s get into these Tasting Notes and see how it all translates!

Tasting Notes for Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing

Appearance: Totalitarian presents itself as an inky, glossy black brew capped with nearly two fingers of super creamy, dark mocha-colored foam.  Even when held to the brightest of light sources, the darkness holds and this Imperial Stout remains completely opaque.  Head retention is solid, but the top cap does slowly slip down to a chunky ring that leaves sweeping lines of lace across the glass.

Aroma: This party is all about those roasted malts as it jumps off with a strong presence of dark chocolate, smoke and char, and espresso roasted coffee.  These heavier notes are broken up a bit with tones of anise, dark fruit and rich toffee, but the roast is undeniably the center of attention here . . . and that’s pretty alright if you ask us.

Taste:  Deeply roasted malts lead here as well, saturating the palate with incredibly satisfying notes of bittersweet dark chocolate and intensely roasted coffee beans.  That roasty, slightly bitter malt character is quickly balanced by tones of dark fruit, booze-soaked berries (strawberry, black currant and raspberry), toffee, rich molasses, subtle melon, earthy leather, and burnt sugar.  A touch of creamy vanilla creeps in just as the flavor profile closes with a graham cracker and sweet bready character.

Mouthfeel:  Full-bodied with a softer carbonation level, this beer is creamy, smooth and velvety on the palate and lingers a bit to give the flavors a chance to fully develop. To keep things from getting cloying, the malt presence and those sneaky hops work together to find a nice balance between this stout’s roasty bite and sweeter qualities.  The 10.6% ABV provides a slow building heat in the throat and belly, but it is far more reserved than expected.  The aftertaste leaves behind just a touch of smoke, toffee and chocolate.

Final Thoughts:  Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout may be an updated take on the OG Stone Imperial Russian Stout, but it still holds true to what big, beautiful Imperial Stouts were before the rise of the overly-sweet, adjunct-filled Pastry Stouts that are now the norm.  The goal that was achieved here was to coax as much aroma, flavor and complexity possible from just hops, malt and yeast while still maintaining some semblance of balance.  It is all about straight-forward craftsmanship, and it is absolutely gorgeous for being so.

Now this may leave some questioning why would the decision makers at Stone Brewing retire the original Stone Imperial Russian Stout if they were not going to make any drastic changes?  Well . . .we can only answer that question with another: Why not?  It was a completely different world when the recipe for Stone Imperial Russian Stout was developed in 2000. That beer was already considered a viscous monster to those dabbling in craft beer at that time, and the idea of adding oats for more body would have been considered insane. Now, that’s what people want.  On top of that, you have to consider that Belma hops were not even released until 2012. So, who’s to say those hops would not have made it into the original if they had been available?  If trends were different and other ingredients were in the brewery almost two decades ago, there is a good chance that the original could have looked a lot like the Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout that is in front of us right now.

With that said, that is a lot of what-ifs.  What we do know is that Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout is all about showing respect for the past while still keeping an eye on the present.  It is a needed throwback offering that gives veteran craft beer drinkers a chance to reminisce on the days when the Russian Imperial Stout style was at its height of popularity . . . but, at the same time, it gives newer craft beer enthusiasts a chance to have a more educational, streamlined experience with the style while still possessing the body, feel and hop flavors that are more customary today.  Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout wears two hats and it looks damn good in both.  Be sure to check this one out before it begins to disappear from shelves and taps.  Prost!

 

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Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout Debuts for Stone Brewing

StoneTIRSbottlesStone Brewing (Escondido, California) has officially launched Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout as its newest Special Release offering.

Moving in as the successor to the fan-favorite Stone Imperial Russian Stout that was developed in 2000 and discontinued in 2016, Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout has arrived with an upgraded recipe that boasts “the careful addition of Belma hops and flaked oats.”  Although the beer retains the original recipe’s old-world nature by pouring “jet-black with a fluffy chocolate head and [tasting] of deeply dark fruit flavors with rich chocolate and coffee overtones”, the added flaked oats enhance the beer’s “long-lasting smooth and silky finish” while the new-world Belma hops “[intensify] its berry flavors and aroma while subtly introducing a juicy melon undertone.”  In an impressive show of force, Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout flexes its power with a 10.6% ABV and 65 IBUs.

“Our most devout fans don’t surrender quietly when we discontinue beers or skip Stone Special Release favorites,” said Jeremy Moynier, Stone Brewing senior manager of brewing & innovation, and nearly 14-year Stone veteran. “We always tell them they may see it again and in this case, the one year hiatus was well worth the wait. The additional hops and flaked oats add a new layer of complexity and mouthfeel that truly enhance an already remarkable beer.”

Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout is available now and has plans to remain on shelves and taps into the month of July 2018.  You can expect to find this Special Release available in 22 oz. bottles, 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Virginia and throughout the rest of Stone Brewing’s nationwide distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing

Release – Special Release, mid-March through early July 2018
Style – Russian Imperial Stout
ABV – 10.6%
IBUs – 65
Featured Hops – Magnum & Belma
Fun Fact – On the style’s history at Stone Brewing: “When the densely dark Stone Imperial Russian Stout was still in its infancy, the style wasn’t recognized by the US Government’s agency regulating brewery labels. They thought it implied that the beer was brewed in Russia rather than being an historic English style that had originally been brewed for the Russian court. We had three options:

1. Name the beer simply Stone Imperial Stout
2. Name the beer Stone Imperial Russian-Style Stout
3. Fight back
The team embarked on a three-year naming battle before finally earning the style’s full recognition for Stone and all fellow US brewers. Stone Imperial Russian Stout was born as obstinate as it returns.”
Availability – 22 oz. bottles, 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder – https://find.stonebrewing.com/#ready

Stone Brewing Vows to Go Hop Heavy in 2018

Stone2018Stone Brewing (Escondido, California) recently unveiled its 2018 Beer Release Calendar and it boasts a serious amount of hop goodness from its newly-established Trinity of Hoppiness, a new Seasonal IPA series, and a few robust Stouts thrown in for good measure.

Just as we always do when it comes to beer calendars around here, we have posted Stone Brewing’s full 2018 Beer Release Calendar below for you to take in at your own leisure.  That said, there is a diagram and a handful of new releases that we should probably provide some clarity on before turning you loose.  We do intend to be brief, so let’s knock it out:

  • Devoted to innovation and their well-known obsession with hops, the folks at Stone Brewing are rolling out the Trinity of Hoppiness in 2018 (diagram available below).  This handy-dandy piece of reference material breaks down the brewery’s full line of hop-laden Year-Round releases and its occasionally released Stone Enjoy By IPA into the following three categories: Tropical & Juicy, Dank & Piney, and Citrusy & Floral.  The Trinity of Hoppiness basically acts as your road map to whatever hop experience you may be seeking on any given day.
    StoneTrinity
  • Stone Scorpion Bowl IPA will debut in March as the brewery’s newest Year-Round release.  Perched at the peak of “Tropical & Juicy” on the Trinity of Hoppiness, Stone Scorpion Bowl IPA “masters the fruity appeal . . .  of fruit-dominated beers . . . with absolutely no fruit additions. This juicy delight is brewed with heroic hop know-how.”  Once released, this offering will be available in 22 oz. bottles & on draft.
  • 2018 will also see the introduction of the new Stone Hop Worship IPA Seasonal Series, “three distinctive beers extolling the divine qualities of hops [to] consecrate Stone’s devotion to freshness.”  The series will include Stone Exalted IPA (February – June), Stone Righteous IPA (June – October), and Stone Sanctimonious IPA (October – December).  These beers will be available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans & on draft.
  • Need more hops? Well, Stone Brewing has you covered because they will also be releasing three Double IPA Special Releases in 2018: Stone Loral & Dr. Rudi’s Inevitable Adventure Double IPA (February – June), Stone I’m Peach Double IPA (May – August), and Stone 22nd Anniversary Double IPA (August – November).
  • Fear not, malt lovers . . . there will also be a smattering of Special Release Stouts alternating between those DIPAs. Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout, a new Special Release featuring an updated hop bill “built on the backbone of the classic Stone Imperial Russian Stout recipe”, will be available from March through July.  That offering will be followed by Stone w00tstout (July – October) and Stone Xocoveza Mocha Stout (October – December).

  “We have a Brewing Innovation Team that has labored the last year in pursuit of the exceptional…and delivered it, in sanguine, liquid form,” said Dominic Engels, Stone Brewing CEO. “These incredible new beers, alongside a series of fan favorites allow us to unveil uniquely Stone beers with every release in 2018. True to our roots, the IPAs we’re releasing this year are clearly the work of an evangelical hop worshiping crew. Amen.”

Alright . . . our job should be done here, but there is still plenty to discover on the calendar below.  Check it out and get ready for a ridiculously hoppy year with Stone Brewing in 2018.  Prost!

Stone2018calendar