Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,728 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,728
Hads: 7,037
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 677
Gots: 2,063 | FT: 150
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

90 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 1,728 | Hads: 7,037
Reviews by ShippinUpToBoston:
Photo of ShippinUpToBoston
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%

More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
4.86/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

As I was pouring this beer, I thought to myself - "what beer is more black than this one?" ...and the answer is none. None more black. Not only is it black as can be, it's thicker than you can imagine. It plops into the glass without making a sound. Then, to top it all off, the head is the darkest MF'ing head I've ever seen. This head is darker than most brown ales. Huge, foamy, frothy, two and a half finger head that lasts for a long, long time. I've never been so aroused by just looking at a beer.

The smell is incredible and it hits your nose while you're pouring the beer, well before you bring it to your face. An abundance of roasted malts and barley washes over your senses like nothing else; deep, dark, bittersweet cocoa beans, espresso, molasses, char-broiled smoke, and a wave of leafy hops. The nose is as powerful as this beer is dark, and the only thing left to do is taste it.

FIS hits your palate like a semi-melted milkshake or warm syrup - this stuff is thick, bold, and robust beyond belief. So many traditional RIS flavors clashing, yet executed so elegantly well. Deeply roasted malts, hot molasses, dark, thick espresso - it's all there. Some light hints of sweetness come through; licorice, old figs, anise, dark fudge - but the sweetness is balanced extremely well by a huge wave of hops. At 90 IBUs, this RIS packs a punch in the hop department - slightly floral, leafy, ashy, dry, and a touch spicy, the hop bitterness plays well with the malt bomb and makes this 10.5% stout incredibly drinkable.

The alcohol is present, warming, and adds a bold character without being abrasive or off-putting. A nice smokey and campfire-roasted element can be found in FIS; almost similar to Founder's Porter, only amped up about ten times. A nice woody, charred, and smoked flavor in the aftertaste really adds a great deal to the already massive flavor profile. Coupled with the huge, creamy, and thick body, this beer is one of the most bad-ass things I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. Carbonation was just right, enough to make the body silky and bring out the flavors.

Good god, Founder's knows what the hell they're doing over there in Grand Rapids. For the longest time, I used to rave about FBS, but the FIS takes things to a whole new level. I know they are slightly different styles, but this is a pinnacle in Founders' line-up and really, a pinnacle in RIS's altogether if you ask me. Kind of hard to find, even in season, but worth taking the time to seek out a few 4-packs. This beer is goddamn delicious.

EDIT: recently had a bottle aged two years (bottled Jan 2011, enjoyed Jan 2013). The alcohol was still bold, still assertive, and still mild enough to enjoy perfectly. The smokey, campfire aspect was a little toned down, but this allowed for the chocolate to really jump out. Mouth feel was still silky smooth, and though the carbonation had lost some of its bang, it was still enough to produce that gorgeous, dark tan head. I think I prefer this one fresh, but it's amazing either way.

 3,034 characters

Photo of don1481
4.21/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into Ol' Trusty Pint Glass.

Appearance: Holy blackness. I hold this up to the light and NOTHING gets through. And with a chocolate-colored head. Wow. This clearly means business.

Smell: Lots of coffee here. Some hints of chocolate, smokiness. I don't really smell alcohol here.

Taste: Tastes like coffee with hints of chocolate coming through. I'm not really tasting any of the alcohol, which is surprising. None of the flavors are particularly overpowering - it's a little more... subdued... than what I expected from other reviews. I expected to have to sip this one a little more, but it's going down MUCH more quickly.

Mouthfeel: Pretty clean. Taste doesn't linger at all. Not sticky afterwards.

Overall: Ohhh boy. This is dangerous - I can drink this MUCH faster than the other stouts I've recently reviewed. I'd say that this goes down almost too easy, but since when is that a bad thing when in the confines of one's own home and not driving back from a bar?

 989 characters

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.99/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 edition, 12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with absolutely no head what-so-ever, except an extremely thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Massive aroma of roasted malt up front! Some notes of roasted coffee, a touch of smoke, and tons of brown sugar!

Taste: Wow!! Tons of roasted malt up front, imparting strong notes of roasted coffee beans, a touch of smoke and tons of dark chocolate. The beer is beautifully balanced with tons of brown sugar-like sweetness and finishes with a touch of dark chocolate-like bitterness! Absolutely delicious!

Mouthfeel: Very chewy and smooth as silk, as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 10%, there’s a very pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: Jesus, what a beer! Big, bold, beautiful flavors of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate all wrapped up in a silky smooth beer! Outstanding!

 969 characters

Photo of HorseheadsHopHead
4.99/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a wine glass

LOOK: Pours a midnight black with a small brown head that leaves some scattered bits of lacing. It looks majestic. You can tell immediately that this is going to be an experience.

SMELL: Lots of strong chocolate upfront, followed by charcoal, coffee, roasted barley, burnt sugar, and a smattering of vanilla, soy sauce, and tobacco smoke. This beer smells so complex!

TASTE: A truckload of bittersweet chocolate up front; sweet dark chocolate and a dusting of more bitter baking cocoa. Burnt sugar, toast, caramel, and a bit of coffee and vanilla. It's very savory, with an umami aspect that merits a soy sauce comparison. It's slightly warming on the swallow, but the alcohol is very well hidden for being 10.5% abv. Finishes fairly dry with another wave of dark chocolate.

FEEL: Full-bodied. Thick, rich, and creamy. Like chocolate syrup but not at all cloying. Perfectly balanced. A light carbonation just tingles the palate.

OVERALL: This beer blew my mind the first time I had it, and it continues to do. This is everything you could want in an imperial stout. In my opinion, this is a world-class beer.

 1,171 characters

Photo of BuccoFan
4.64/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

As I score this, I'm realizing that I'm giving this a higher score than Expedition stout, which I've generally labeled my favorite non-BA stout. Well, so be it.

Bottling date is 12-22-14. Aged eight-plus months in my basement. Pour is of a serious motor oil quality. I mean that. That character seems to too frequently get thrown around for RISs, but it's not always true. This is a thick pour, period. Body matches. Taste is roast, malt, with chocolate undertones.

Ultimately, I think this is far superior to the KBS and is very underrated. This is a beer that needs several months of aging though, so one should give this time when it is attained. It is everything an RIS should be.

 687 characters

Photo of Catracho5
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Belgian style tulip glass bottle 12/01/2014

A: Pitch black with a brown creamy head that dissipated after about 7-8 minutes, not a whole lot of lacing, very little carbonation, looks pretty viscous as I swish the beer around in the glass, very nice.

A: Big roasted malt, coffee like aromas, chocolate, picking up a slight hint of that soy sauce smell, very slight, picking up some slight alcohol aromas, very nice aroma.

T: Big chocolate, coffee, roasted malt aromas, right up front, slight soy sauce, some bitterness, slight alcohol on the finish as well as a dry finish. Very smooth drinking for 10.5% ABV.

M: Motor oil, dry, has that smooth creamy imperial stout mouthfeel, really nice, very thick.

O: Definitely world class, big chocolate coffee roasted malts, easy drinking and smooth, wonderful mouthfeel, has that slight Expedition Stout soy sauce like flavor, world class, can't until Founders is available in CA, really good.

 969 characters

Photo of PostRockandCats
4.44/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a heavy, black liquid with a creamy, dark khaki head and a thick layer of lacing on the sides of the glass. It really is pitch black; you can almost feel the light being sucked into it. It smells of dark, toasty malts and mocha with a lovely burnt note at the end.

It tastes like a good Imperial Stout should: dark, smokey, slightly bitter, a bit creamy and rich. No dark fruits as some IS's have. Nice hit of umami unctuousness.

The feel is rich, thick and heavy; my mouth was coated thoroughly.

Overall, this is a wonderful beer that's a prime example of the style. I'll look forward to it coming out next winter as well!

 632 characters

Photo of TKaten
3.83/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful thick pour, looks like shiny motor oil streaming out of the bottle. Nice feel, creamy and viscous like a good stout should be. Only complaint is that it's a bit too sweet on the palate for my taste. But overall a very enjoyable experience.

 251 characters

Photo of NOOGIE
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent beer, excellent flavor, with a bit of alcohol burning in the end.

75 characters

Photo of uvachief
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft from a 32 oz grunt. Pours dark black with 2 fingers of tan mocha colored head. Significant lacing throughout the drink. Aromas of coffee and chocolate with a hint of dark fruit. Nice heavy body in the mouth with a rush of chocolate, vanilla, roasted malts and coffee (not espresso). Extremely smooth and well balanced. Aftertaste is much the same on the back end with maybe more coffee. Extremely smooth and drinkable. 32oz gone in a flash. Well hidden abv. This was 2013 so aged at least a year. Very smooth.

 526 characters

Photo of REGreenBTRB
4.52/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: 5 - Menacing. Pitch black with this mean-looking cinnamon head than thins out.

Smell: 4.25 - Malt and a super dark chocolate; like one of those 85% dark chocolate bars or something. Smells nice.

Taste: 4.5 - Holy smokes! This beer is absolutely loaded with flavor. That super dark chocolate on the nose is there on the taste and stays there. BIG beer. Not overpowering with alcohol like a 10.5% could be, but this is obviously a sipper. There are some coffee notes on the back end, and a mild smokiness to it as well.

Mouthfeel: 5 - This things is the creamiest beer I've had yet. Silky smooth, creamy, thick, AHH! This beer reminds me of a Rolls-Royce Phantom. You see one of those things "driving," i.e, sailing on the road, and you just know that it's the smoothest ride of your life. Well, yeah. This.

Overall: 4.65 - A solid A beer. This isn't something I would drink but maybe once a month. It's so good, but so massive I feel like I'd overwhelm myself with more frequent consumption. Badass brew.

 1,022 characters

Photo of Tuck_leepulin
4.72/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into a snifter bottled on 12/02/2014

Appearance: Black as midnight with a dark tan head

Smell: Dark roasted coffee and chocolate

Taste: Bold and complex with tons of roasted malt flavors along with chocolate and coffee-like bitterness

Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy, just what I desire from an imperial stout

Overall: This is one hell of an RIS. Complex malt flavors and probably the best mouthfeel of any stout I have had thus far.

 454 characters

Photo of GPayne757
4.9/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of my absolute favorites. What is not to like! World Class is an understatement!

84 characters

Photo of leantom
4.59/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, this is a beer that I've been waiting to try for a while. Founders has been disappointing me lately, but I still haven't lost hope. Here goes:

A: Beautiful. Motor-oil black, one-inch black head that leaves a ton of lacing. Simply beautiful.

S: Exquisite. Lots of roasted malt impart smells of coffee and dark chocolate. The coffee isn't bitter, however; in fact it's quite rich and creamy smelling, almost as if there's a bit of lactose in here as well. Very fulfilling.

T: Follows the nose, with a faint hint of dark fruit at the back of the palate. Initial taste is one of rich coffee and decadent chocolate - perfect. This is followed by some dark fruit (e.g., raisins, figs, plum), but this taste is rather subtle compared to the dark chocolate and coffee. Lingering bitter coffee taste.

F: Thick and creamy. Great.

O: Great beer. Dark fruit detracts from the taste somewhat, but the coffee and chocolate simply overpower this minor inconvenience.

 979 characters

Photo of maedhros09
3.93/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look: Pours petroleum black, with a couple fingers of brown head.

Smell: chocolate, roasted coffee beans, and dark fruit

Taste: Starts with sweet chocolate bread, roasted malt, and dark fruit, finishing with a lingering herbal hops bitterness. Some tingling sensation towards the end which I assume is the alcohol.

Feel: Thick body and fairly smooth

Overall: If your taste buds are severely dulled and you want to experience an imperial stout, I would recommend Founder's. It could almost be described as a distilled imperial stout, with all the flavors magnified beyond the usual imperial intensity. The hops definitely make a very strong appearance at the end - this more than anything else spoils the experience a bit for me. I wonder if it would mellow out a bit if you cellared it for a few months. Also, the malt end definitely falls on the sweet side even for the style. Overall I prefer a little more subtlety and balance in an imperial stout (both the Old Rasputin and the Narwhal accomplish this), but it's worth it to experience Founder's version.

 1,065 characters

Photo of TheCraftBrewReview
4.85/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance – 97: Generally speaking with a stout, the darker the color, the happier I am. And with a Russian Stout? That sucker better be black as night, wielding a sickle and hammer and whistling Tchaikovsky. To that end – Well done, Founders. My initial pour created a quarter-inch thick head which slowly dissipated over a minute’s timeframe, leaving behind a caramel outside ring with bubbles on top that oddly resembled the Kremlin. Go figure.

Aroma – 96: Roasted malts dominate the smell of this beer, with a hint of coffee, chocolate, molasses and bread. The faintness of alcohol is also readily apparent, which isn’t a surprise given the ABV.

Body and Texture – 97: After the first sip I was ready to start singing “The Hunt for the Red October” theme. Wow. This beer dominates your mouth from the start, sitting incredibly heavy from the outset. After a moment my palate developed a very malted, dark tinge to it, which is perfect. A slight bitterness remained, but only lingered until the next sip.

Taste – 96: As the beer is brewed with 10 varieties of malted barley, that is the first (and last) taste that was readily apparent upon drinking this beer. There is an initial sweetness that I found to be quite pleasant – almost as if black cherries were dipped in dark chocolate. Perhaps the best thing about this beer was the rich aftertaste. Similar to a dish that has few ingredients but is immaculately executed – every note on this beer rings true to form. The ABV is hardly noticeable given how everything sits on your tongue.

Overall – 96.2 (World-Class): Before I forget, I did want to give Danny Gallina (the manager over at Legacy Beverage) a shoutout – This beer surpassed my expectations and then some. Not to say that I would ever have low expectations from Founders (as they happen to be one of my favorite breweries) – but I’ve found Russian Imperials to be very hit or miss with the malts. Occasionally malted beers can sit for too long and become bitter and unpleasant – luckily for me this was the complete opposite. Everything about this beer is dead on, from the beautiful artwork depicting the Russian coat of arms, the initial pour, look and taste – all hit the mark. In a stout world currently dominated by bourbon-barrels, this Russian version stands out. I’m very sad to say dosvedanya.

Purchase Value (A) – Given the beer’s national recognition, I was surprised to pay only 11.99 for a four pack, and would gladly do so again. The folks over at Legacy Beverage were very easy to work with, and Danny’s recommendation was spot on and well appreciated.

 2,633 characters

Photo of oberon
4.55/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an ink black color with deep mocha colored head that leaves a nice sheet of lace behind,aromas of rum and butter dominate but there is a slight presence of grassy hop that adds to the aroma complexities.Think and full mouthfeel with rich buttery flavors with a rum/alcohol finish that really warms the inside and is very sustaining.Wow a big badass impy stout with tons of complexities Iam glad I have more to say the least.

 430 characters

Photo of davemarc87
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of RoyalT
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – This is dark brown in color with a straight brown head. You don’t see that very often.

Smell – The booze here is prominent at the nose. The malts are very dark without being roasty and the sugar is sweet but slightly burnt as well, like a good raw sugar.

Taste – The alcohol is still here but eases a bit at the taste, giving this a well-balanced flavor profile. The sugars smooth out as well. Of course the highlight is the wonderfully big and rich malt base. It is like a cross between liquid malt and nicely-toasted barley.

Mouthfeel – This is medium in the body and expertly balanced. The balance really made this RIS for me.

Drinkability – This is a terrific-drinking ale that has just enough booze at the taste to keep the drinker honest.

Comments – Thanks to skyhand for busting this one out at her Semi-Annual Sewage Sale.

 865 characters

Photo of aszatk01
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle at C’est le Vin. Pours like hot tar into an imperial pint glass. ¼ in head quickly dissipates to a thin film. The film nevers quite goes away, sticking with the beer as long as it lasts, clinging beautifully rich and brown to the sides of the glass. Seems to be almost no carbonation.

Tastes wonderfully nutty, then dark chocolate and burnt coffee flavors creep up on you, before a warming alcohol and bitter coffee finish takes you home. Somewhere in there you also get sideswiped by dark, vinous fruits.

Smells like alcohol, cherries, and charcoal.

Mouth feel is pure velvet but perhaps a bit undercarbonated. A bit too bitter for my tastes too.

Drinkability. I couldn’t down more than one or maybe two of these in a sitting, iot’s too bitter and the alcohol shows through a bit too much, however, this beer leaves me quite happy and I would certainly enjoy another tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…

 945 characters

Photo of DanGeo
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of Jaurora80
4.69/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Smokesnotes
4.75/5  rDev +9.7%

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,728 ratings.