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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

5,757 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,757
Reviews: 1,594
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 514
Gots: 1,393 | FT: 120
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
90 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-12-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,757 | Reviews: 1,594 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by kojevergas:
Photo of kojevergas
3.55/5  rDev -18.6%

Founders Imperial Stout 2011 Vintage (bottled 12/22/11). Acquired from the very generous Duff27 in a trade. Thanks again, buddy! 10.50% ABV confirmed. I love Founders, so I have high hopes for this one. I haven't had it before, but I loved KBS and FBS. 90 IBUs. Label art is okay. 12 fl oz/355ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a conical Samuel Smith's pint glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are sky high given the brewery and style (which they seem to be adept at).

Served straight from the fridge and allowed to warm considerably over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger rich vibrant hold-tan head of fantastic cream and thickness, and pretty good (3 minute) retention for the high ABV. I love that gilded tan appearance; few imperial stouts can really pull that off. Body colour is a solid nontransparent opaque jet black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Nice lacing as the head recedes. That's exactly how an imperial stout should look.

Sm: Burnt malt, light fennel/licorice, creamy roasted barley, dark malts, chocolate, chocolate malt, and hints of light buried stonefruit. Light molasses. Malty sweetness. I can detect some light alcohol, but it's not a hot or boozy aroma; I can tell age may have done this one well. Coffee roast when I look for it. A surprisingly timid aroma of mere average strength. Understated, but I'd stop short of calling the aroma subtle per se. The fennel/licorice has me worried; I have a personal aversion to that flavour.

T: The first thing I notice is the black coffee bitterness and chocolate bitterness on the climax - which is more pronounced than expected, but welcome. It's more sweet in the first and early second acts. Chocolatey throughout - dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, though there is some cream up front. Little alcohol comes through at all; this isn't boozy or hot in any way. Maybe a twinge of licorice, but it doesn't bother me. I could use more roast - both in terms of barley and coffee, but there is some here. Burnt malt is prominent and works well. Dark malts abound. It's well put together and cohesive. A balanced Russian Imperial Stout, if a timid one. I want more depth of flavour than I'm getting, and each note doesn't ring distinct. Good amplitude, to be sure, but because the execution of the amplitude is so high, I have trouble really enjoying each distinct flavour. Any hop character is generic floral and functions here purely as a preservative. It's a rich flavour, but not overly so. The bitterness keeps the richness in check. Low acidity. Not at all a harsh flavour profile; it's quite mellow. Good body and build for the style. It's complex and well done, but I want bolder flavours. I quite like it and it's a tasty brew, but it's not perfect.

Mf: Warm and lightly creamy. Excellent carbonation. Not at all astringent. Good body here. It's smooth and wet. Thick and a bit chewy. Maybe a touch oily. Good presence on the palate. Complements the flavour profile well, even feeling a bit custom-tailored towards it. A bit smacky (if you will). I could use a touch more coarseness and dryness.

Dr: Drinkable for the style, but you wouldn't down it by the glass. It hides its ABV well and is an enjoyable sipper. It's a solid brew from Founders, but it's not quite on the level of KBS or even FBS, styles taken into consideration and all. I'd get it again and it's quite tasty, but it's not exemplary. A good Russian Imperial Stout that fans of the style will be pleased with, but it's not amongst the best out there. I'd recommend it to friends, but Founders does make better beers. I'll have little trouble finishing my bottle, but I do wish I had someone to split it with. Thanks again for the opportunity to try this, Duff27!

Low B

Probably best aged for 1-3 years.

Would pair well with chocolate or truffle.

kojevergas, Mar 23, 2013
More User Reviews:
Photo of don1481
4.21/5  rDev -3.4%

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?

don1481, Jan 16, 2014
Photo of oberon
4.55/5  rDev +4.4%

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.

oberon, May 21, 2005
Photo of davemarc87
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

davemarc87, Apr 06, 2014
Photo of RoyalT
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%

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.

RoyalT, Jun 10, 2006
Photo of aszatk01
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

aszatk01, Feb 01, 2014
Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%

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…

DaPeculierDane, Oct 23, 2005
Photo of DanGeo
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

DanGeo, Apr 11, 2013
Photo of tectactoe
4.88/5  rDev +11.9%

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.

tectactoe, Jan 08, 2013
Photo of Max3
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Max3, May 17, 2014
Photo of TCHopCraver
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%

Reviewed from notes made on 1/9/11. This was bottled in 11/09 and I had to hold the bottle right up to a light because the date had become so faded.

Whoa, this beer is so dark. This is right up there with the blackest stouts I've seen, if not the blackest. After a medium-hard pour into a snifter, a one and a half finger dark mocha head rests on top. There is some deep red color at the edges, but the body is quite opaque. Thick clumps of froth drip down the glass post-sip and leave small dots and swirly streaks of vertical lacing.

Roasted malts, espresso, bitter cocoa, molasses, vanilla - every aroma you could possibly want from a Russian Imperial Stout exists in the bouquet. When swirled, roasted malts and nuttiness take over the profile. Conversely, when at rest the coffee and chocolate aromas dominate. Way back in the bouquet are some dark fruit scents.

The flavor brings big time roast notes at first, with anise and molasses supporting. As the beer mellows over my tongue, bitter chocolate, espresso, and creamy vanilla coat, followed by a roasty malt and earthy hop finish. Throughout the sip, there is certain acidity that complements the roasted flavors.

The mouthfeel is rather forward and biting at times. The acidity makes for a puckering feel for the whole sip, while a creamy medium to full body takes the reins in the middle. The finish is quite dry and does a nice job of cleaning my palate.

Founders IS is a delicious slow-sipper and is a damn fine interpretation of the style. The taste is maybe just a tad bitter and acidic, but is also big, bold, and flavorful. This is one of which I will always pick up a four pack each year it comes out and enjoy the bottles over the course of time.

TCHopCraver, Jan 11, 2011
Photo of OhioBobcat
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

OhioBobcat, Aug 05, 2013
Photo of BUD
4/5  rDev -8.3%

A - Poured 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Dark black opaque color with a dark tan head that retained fairly well but not that great. 75% of the way through the beer it was gone. Large carbonation bubbles in the head.

S - Smelled of dark chocolates..burnt coffee...maltiness...minimal alchohol.

T - Relates with smell....but not in that order...burnt coffee in the taste department sticks out most...notes of dark chocolates and a warming alchohol sensation. Very robust.

M - Smooth, low carbonation feel (if any) warm towards the end mostly (10% alchohol).

D - Very drinkable. Liked it alot. I dont think I'd do more than 2 or 3 in a session though.

Notes - The label appears to give an idea of the date of the beer...probably prior to 2005, according to the description on the front page for this beer, Founders made an ingredient change 2005 and beyond..this is November 2006, beer still was good, can't wait to try one fresher.

BUD, Nov 08, 2006
Photo of MadScientist
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%

A: Pours black with a persistent sticky, dark brown head made of cream, mousse-like bubbles.

S: Strong roast aroma and a good amount of coffee with a depth dark roasted grain aromas. Prunes and moderate citrus hops with the fresh hopped grassy note. There is some licorice and a moderate alcohol aroma.

T:Again lots of roast with some molasses and licorice. Firm hops bitterness with a good bit of roast bitterness and a moderately-light citrus hops flavor. There is a light malt sweetness but the balance is fairly bitter with a medium dry finish.

M: full bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: A thick, rich imperial stout that has a huge amount of flavor and complexity. I'm usually unhappy with licorice and molasses in beers because they usually seem to dominate but here there a part of the rich tapestry of flavors

MadScientist, Jan 29, 2013
Photo of jono0101
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

jono0101, Dec 24, 2013
Photo of brownbeer
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%

2009 vintage

Oily, black pour with a big, pillowy abyss of very dark brown head that's gonna leave some lacing. Very nice.

Hefty nose of hops, bitter coffee, oak, dark chocolate, sawdust?, maybe leather. Alot going on here for sure.

This one is not for the faint of heart. Thick and milky in the mouth, coating all surfaces with intense dark chocolate, alot of hop flavor for the style,an earthy dustiness, and a nice little alcohol burn to warm ya up to go with the long, dry finish.

This is a hoss and a sipper for sure. I'll be putting a 4-pack of it in my cellar shortly.

brownbeer, Jan 07, 2010
Photo of npala86
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

npala86, Feb 19, 2014
Photo of Schlais
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Schlais, Mar 07, 2014
Photo of Tiernan
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Tiernan, Jan 13, 2014
Photo of Spaten454
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Spaten454, Jun 14, 2014
Photo of GameOfBeers
4.76/5  rDev +9.2%

GameOfBeers, Aug 18, 2014
Photo of Someguy1989
4.63/5  rDev +6.2%

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Motor oil, with an almost insignificant amount of brown carbonation. The only thing I've ever seen darker was ten fidy.

S: Sweet roasty chocolate, a tad bit of dark fruit. Smells very flavorful and delicious. One of the best aromas of any beer.

T: Starts very sweet, chocolaty malt, a tad bit of dark fruit that I noticed halfway into the drink. Finishing roasty, a bit of coffee but toned down compared to the Breakfast stout. A tinge of alcohol in the finish. It was a symphony of flavors that was really really nice.

M/D: Really full bodied, very thick and carbonation is only slighty noticeable. It is a very drinkable beer but the slight tinge of alcohol at the end knocks this category down a notch. It doesn't make it a sipper though.

An absolutely amazing beer, I like this better than Breakfast stout. Can't wait for their Bourbon cousin in March.

Someguy1989, Feb 28, 2011
Photo of SanFranJake
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

SanFranJake, Jan 13, 2013
Photo of delaced21
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

delaced21, Mar 03, 2014
Photo of Krafty34
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Krafty34, Feb 07, 2014
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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 5,757 ratings.