ESCONDIDO, CA — Each spring, Stone Brewing Co. fans across the country eagerly anticipate the comeback of IRS. No, not the government entity, 2014 Stone Imperial Russian Stout (better known by enthusiasts as IRS). Beginning today, the beer is available in limited 22-ounce bottles and on draft nationwide.
Since Stone Co-founder and President Steve Wagner conceived the recipe for this deep, rich, hearty brew in 2000, Stone Imperial Russian Stout has become one of the highest-rated Stone beers, garnering a perfect score of 100 on RateBeer and a “world-class” rating of 97 on BeerAdvocate. Very little has been tweaked since the original brew; today’s recipe consists of four malt varieties and Warrior hops. The beer delivers a dark malt backbone that transitions into coffee and chocolate flavors, with subtle notes of raisins and anise. The Warrior hops provide the perfect bitterness to balance out the robust attributes from the malt bill.
“Even before we started Stone, when brainstorming different recipe ideas, both Stone CEO and Co-founder Greg Koch and I wanted a full-bodied stout that had low hop presence, rich dark malt traits and high alcohol content so that it would hold up over the years if cellared,” explains Wagner. “The concept came up after we sampled several beers Greg had brought back from a trip through Europe. Stone Imperial Russian Stout really possesses all of the qualities we were shooting for.”
Fans may enjoy the beer now, or store it at proper cellaring temperatures (50┬░-55┬░F) for several months or years. With time, the stout will transform into an even smoother-drinking beer with more pronounced coffee, chocolate and dark fruit flavors, and the hop qualities will subside. Regardless of when 2014 Stone Imperial Russian Stout is savored, craft beer enthusiasts understand why there’s reason to embrace this IRS.
Name: 2014 Stone Imperial Russian Stout
Stats: 10.6% ABV, 60 IBUs
Availability: Limited 22-ounce bottles and draft, beginning March 24
Hops bill: Warrior
Distribution: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT and WA
Appearance: Beer pours black with a deep tan head.
Aroma: Cocoa and coffee flavors dominate, along with some fruity fermentation esters, floral hops and yeasty breadiness.
Taste: Bittersweet cocoa and coffee flavors are the major players, along with fruitiness, hints of anise and yeast, followed by a smooth, balanced, slightly astringent, bitter finish.
Palate: Full-bodied and smooth with a hint of alcohol heat.
Overall: We didn’t change this recipe much from the original version that Steve Wagner designed in 2000. It’s a fantastic recipe and we enjoy brewing it every year.
Appetizers: Caramel-dipped bacon, pecans and/or walnuts, blue cheese-stuffed dates, oysters on the half shell, foie gras
Soups: Short rib stew, beef stew, creamy mushroom soup, Hungarian goulash
Entrees: Beefsteaks with rich cream-based sauces, goose or duck with cherry sauce, coffee-rubbed lamb chops, blue cheese-stuffed grilled portabellos, vegetarian vindaloo
Cheese: Roquefort, Gorgonzola Dolce, Stilton, Shropshire Blue, aged Gouda
Dessert: Chocolate lava cake, brownies, caramel cheesecake, tiramisu
Cigars: Padron Anniversary Series, La Reloba Selecci├│n Sumatra Torpedo, Illusione CG:4 Maduro
Known for its bold, flavorful and largely hop-centric beers, Stone Brewing Co. has been brewing in North County San Diego since 1996. Founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, Stone is the 10th largest craft brewer in the United States—a position it achieved without paid advertising, discounting or compromising standards. In addition to brewing, Stone owns two eclectic farm-to-table restaurants—Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens — Escondido and Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens — Liberty Station—and Stone Farms, an organic farm located near the brewery which grows produce for the restaurants. Stone also operates Stone Distributing Co., which distributes more than 30 craft beer brands throughout Southern California. For more information on Stone Brewing Co., please visit stonebrewing.com or the company’s social media sites:Twitter, Facebook, Insta