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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,779 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 1,779
Hads: 7,308
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 714
Gots: 2,216 | FT: 154
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout | 10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

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

75 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,779 | Hads: 7,308
Photo of Katulus7
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful thick and dark with a bit of tightly laced head.

Dewy deep coffee scent with overtones of strawberry.

Surprising crisp taste, sweet with increasing espresso notes that increase steadily as the aftertaste fades into moderate bitterness.

Tremendous satisfyingly thick feel with low-moderate carbonation.

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

Fresh 2009 vintage from a stubby brown twist-off bottle.

Pours black as black as black. Totally opaque, no highlights or edges. Creamy 1" khaki head. Ominous and unmoving. Small dots of lace.

Smells of cocoa powder, malted milk (actually similar to Whoppers candy) a touch of vanilla and dark roasted malts galore. After a few swirls of my glass, a faint alcohol whiff is detected. The roasted malts and deeeep chocolate permeate my nostrils.

Whoa...intense roasted malts coupled with a nice hoppy counterbalance give this stout some major traction. The malted milk & chocolate I detected in the smell translate into dark bitter, chalky baker's chocolate of the 80% cocoa variety. The hops play a big party in the chalky dry element to this stout. The neck label reads 90 IBU's - so there's some major hop action happening to keep this massive stout from becoming too sweet and cloying. The alcohol is pretty well masked as well.

Mouthfeel is not as thick & oily as I would have guessed. It's a touch thin as the carbonation is fine but fleeting. Heavy-full bodied for sure but not a lot of finesse on the tongue.

Drinkability is good because of the slightly 'watery' mouthfeel, meaning it doesn't seem to engulf your entire palate because there's a bit of ease in the swallow.

Overall a very well made and hugely flavorful RIS. The dry/chalky elements of this highly hopped stout really make it stand out. Too many huge RIS' are too sweet, but this one manages to get the malt barrage in tact while giving the hops some of the spotlight also. Very, very flavorful and surprisingly easy to drink.

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

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into my church brewworks sifter.

A: Pours midnight black like used motor oil, builds a thin brown head which quickly dissipates.

S: Smells like burnt coffee.

T: Rich, bittersweet chocolate. A slight touch of hops on the back. Practically burns the tongue, burnt...ground....everything....

M: Thick and chewy like a RIS outta be.

D: Very rich, hides the alcohol well. I could put a few of these away in a sitting.

Another OUTSTANDING offering by founders. These guys can do no wrong.

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

12 oz bottle, served in Murphy's pint glass.

Pour - black, with a 1 finger head, gone fast but strong smell of chocolate. Smell - nice chocolate, burnt alcohol and nice smoke.

Taste - Very chewy, smoky, creamy - yet heavy/solid taste of chocolate with a medium to dark chocolate with alcohol evident in the immeidate warming. Excellent stout.

Overall - strong smoke as it warms, thick and chewy. Excellent taste - you should drink this stout if you want to try a real imperial stout with nice smoke and alcohol.


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Photo of guityler83
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 1/12/14

A: Poured into the proper glassware, a founders snifter, the head was a finger and a half tall, very dark brown color - like a bar of chocolate. Long sustaining, and when it started to fall it left behind a thick coating on the edge of the glass. The beer is black opaque.

S: A moderate level of roast and char combined with bakers chocolate and cocoa powder. It comes of sweet with some caramel notes at warmer temperatures. A low level of nutty aroma. Also getting some slight piny notes from what I imagine is the hops.

T: A nice mix of roast and chocolate flavors balanced nicely with a moderately firm bitterness. Similar dark chocolate and cocoa flavors as the aroma combined with a roastiness that comes of as kind of a pepper (jalapeneo) flavor. The balance is on the malt side and it comes off moderately sweet. The caramel malts don't come through very distinctly, though there are some toffee notes. The bitterness is a nice compliment to the overall flavor profile of this beer.

M: A nice creamy full bodied beer. The carbonation is medium and there is only a slight bit of alcohol warming. Astringency is kept to a minimum and the aftertaste is left with a chalky like sensation.

O: The balance of chocolate and roast combined with the firm bitterness is a great combination in this beer. I don't think its worth the price tag of a 4-pack, but its a tasty beer none the-less.

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

Poured from a 12oz short bottle into my Portsmouth snifter/tulip. Pours a dark and thick black with a very slight reddish tinge. Fills the glass extrememly dark black with absolutely no light through. Head is a very late arrival...even with an aggressive pour. No head at all upon final pour...but alas! It starts a late arrival but remains very small, less than a finger in size and very deep tan, close to brown. Leaves very spotty lacing, not much to get excited over though.

Aroma has a slight bitterness to it, loads of coffee notes, and not much booze to speak of. Smells thick and malty(yes I said it, smells thick!).

This is a very good and solid stout! How does Founders keep making great beers-and stouts for that matter. All taste different, yet similar at the same time. This one is huge with the coffee notes. Very smooth and thick, malty mouthfeel. Not a great fridge temp beer...definitely let this one get a little warmer. Wow...as I continue to drink, velvety smooth. As the temp goes up on this beer...so does the booze in the mouthfeel. In the end...very good stout from Founders!

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Photo of NeedBeerHere
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out black as night with a three finger nice brown head with incredible retention with incredible lacing as the head falls like no other beer I have drank. Smell is forward dark fruits, burnt malt, and a little black liquorice, Taste is just like the nose and doesn't let up. The head is still there which is amazing for any beer I have drank. Really a tasty stout that is like no other. Mouthfeel is really thick. Basically this beer is the epitomy of a great stout as it has an ever lasting head with great taste and really nice thick mouthfeel. Although it's not my favorite tasting stout it is one of the best I have seen. Hard to beat.

I have never seen a beer with such nice lacing, Totally incredible.

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

12oz. Bottle poured into a small snifter

Appearance : inky black in color. Small brown head froms with vigorous pour that dissipates quite quickly.

Smell : strong roasted aromas. Lots of coffee and bitter sweet coco

Taste: strong roasted taste with some smoky flavors. Hoppy bitterness comes though on the finish. Lots of coffee and bitter sweet coco. very well balanced beer that hides the alcohol well.

Mouthfeel : full body with little carbonation

Overall : great beer very well done exactly what I would expect coming Founders. This beer is definitely a beer I'll be having again and would recommend to anyone looking for a imperial stout.

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Photo of tcblack4d
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've finally started reviewing beers after many years of simply reading the reviews online. This is my first BA review.

Poured into tulip glass:

A- Thick, black body with a one-finger, frothy, head.

S- Malt, dark chocolate, and a little coffee. Smells like a classic RIS.

T- The first thing I noticed was a strong roasted and smoky malt followed by dark chocolate and a little coffee that comes through at the end. Seems like the malt dominates. A little bitterness, but not at all over the top. Less boozy than expected considering it's abv and the fact that it's from Founders and an RIS.

M- Big thick heavy body with an oily feel that coats the mouth. Great beer with plenty of body.

O- This is an excellent RIS and one of my favorites. I
love breakfast stout, but it seems like I've enjoyed drinking this more so this year than FBS.

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Photo of katan
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz into a goblet

A - Pours black as night - thick like motor oil. Head formation is somewhat strong, mocha in color. Well retained at 1mm. Some floating yeast suspended in the beer.

S - Very chocolately, bittersweet. Roast is present but overall muted. Some yeast breadiness and almost no hopping.

T - Starts off lightly sweet, chocolate, some toffee and coffee - perhaps a hint of vanilla. Brings in some light hopping and a more roasted barley character. Finishes with the most bitterness, with a burnt note sticking to the tongue. Overall a malt forward beer.

M - Moderate body, moderate to light carbonation. Comes off very thick and cloying. Finishes with a burnt substance sticking to the tongue.

D - Moderate to good drinkability. Flavors are not overwhelming and palette abusing, while the roast does get a little bit tiresome.

A very good imperial stout.

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Photo of veinless
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to ChadQuest for this beer, just one of many awesome brews Chad sent me as part of a trade.

Pours a very, very viscous oily black. I'll bust out the over-used motor oil comparison for this only because it is exactly what it looks like. No head generated at all, and only slight bubbling even with aggressive pouring. You can already tell this is a big boy stout. Leaves spotty lace somehow despite having not more than a sliver of head at any point in time. I know the style usually entails not much head, but others have at least offered a tiny glimpse of what could be, and this one doesn't even do that.

Aroma is very deep with tons of quality semi-sweet chocolate, a slight tropical hoppiness and roasted malts including coffee offering further complexity. I'm impressed by the chocolate as it has a nice milkiness to it that makes this beer smell a bit like Whoppers and a lot like a tasty dark chocolate milkshake (what up Steak & Shake). Could use some more strength though.

Taste is a rich, decadent chocolate treat with hops and coffee offering contrast in the best of ways. The hops are very much present here, and the 90 IBUs the bottle claims this beer has is just enough to cut through the massive amount of malt up front. Excellent mango/pineapple flavors combine with the chocolate and roasted coffee and char to form a brilliant beer with a pleasant smoky finish. I'd like it if the coffee was a bit stronger, but that's definitely nitpicking. Alcohol offers a tiny spice at the end which is pleasant too. I'd say I'd also like this to be a bit sweeter, but that's a matter of personal taste - the beer is ridiculously good as is.

Mouthfeel is thick, creamy, viscous and heavy. This is the opposite of watery in every sense of the word. Chewy and full, the finish is sticky and mouth-smackingly good. Drinkability is as good as it gets for a beer like this, as the abv of 10.5% is noticeable only beneficially in the taste, and doesn't affect the ability to take swig after swig. You could sip this or chug this and it would be awesome either way. Great, great beer, and once again Founder's fulfills expectations.

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

Pours pitch black with one finger creamy, medium brown head, fades in a minute to a thin ring, leaving a few blobs of lace behind. Smell: molasses, dark chocolate, earthy, with notes of smoke, anise, and faint alcohol. Taste: roasted grain, a little char and caramelized sugar, lots of dark chocolate, black plum skin, a little anise at the end of the sip. Hopping is earthy and sweetened grapefruit. Medium-to-full bodied, nice middle ground between syrupy and creamy. Nice RIS with alcohol pretty well hidden and the considerable sweetness is kinda balanced by the hop flavors. Year not noted on bottle, but from the store I'd guess 2011 but possibly 2010.

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Photo of ARoman
4.19/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

*transferred from previous notes 1/21/2014*
On tap into a tulip glass. A dark fruit and sweet chocolate aroma with a background ashy trace greet the nose. As it warms, the chocolate smell turns to caramel and a light cookie dough smell appears. There might also be an earthy and/or barnyard note in there, but I couldn’t lock onto it. There’s a very thin mocha brown head that dissipates quickly and leaves nearly no lacing. The beer itself is a very dark, near opaque black-brown. It’s mostly chocolate syrup sweet with some minor smokey/oaky bitterness. A resin (grainy) and ashy coffee and chocolate flavor hit the tongue first for this medium-full bodied beer. The sticky and oily texture doesn’t have much carbonation to it (mainly flat) and it leaves behind a mild ashy smokey finish although pretty clean for the most part.

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Photo of Edman5P
4.19/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 12/22/2014
Poured out like heavily used motor oil with no head although it tasted quite nice. Sweet dark chocolate and coffee on the nose and a very heavy taste of dark coffee and chocolate on the palate. Very nice imperial stout

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A huge thankyou to kmpitz2 for this bonus.
I can locate quite a number of their brews in my area...unfortunately, this one did not make the shelves.
Pours like molasses...black as night w/ just a thin layer of cocoa colored head. Lacing is thin, but has nice cling.
Aroma is filled w/ chocolate malt, coffee, rum raisins.
Taste is just what I expect from Founder's...a style pushed to the extreme.
Filled w/ coffee (no Breakfast Stout mind you), semi-sweet cocoa, with a nice balance of hops to finish off. Alcohol is so well hidden until it works its way to room temperature. Smokiness flavor works its way out after warming up as well.
Mouthfeel is a thick, but refreshing feel...a little bitter, but finished slick and sweet.
Can't say drinkability is up there as this baby is 12%, but I would enjoy a couple in an evening. Thanks again kmpitz2...giving me a chance to try this one.

Edit: Had one of these with a year on it and it would score just shy of a perfect 5!!

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Photo of theghost3
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to johnd513 for this extra. Pours a midnight black with a chocolate milk brown head. Significant lacing.

The scent is roased dark chocolate malts with roasted coffee. The taste is bitter coffee with dark chocolate; somewhat milky. Mouthfeel is thick & smooth but ends fairly acidic, like coffee.

This is a drinkable RIS. The taste is excellent with a nice milky quality but a little more acidic than I like.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I poured into my glass to a finger of brown head. This beer is black. The head looks pretty thick. This is one sexy looking beer. The aroma is just about every dark scent you can imagine: chocolate, coffee, molasses, licorice, and some alcohol. The taste is alcohol forward at first. As the offering warms up it recedes with the bakers cocoa and coffee coming to the forefront. The taste is slightly bitter, but not too much. The mouthfeel is nice and viscous. This is a beer that I have been eying in the fridge for several months now. It was well worth the wait.

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Photo of mbudner
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A-Pours black with a mocha-colored, 1-finger head leaving some spotty lacing.

S-Coffee, bitter roasted chocolate malts, a slight amount of booze. A bit meaty as well.

T-Chocolate with a slight bitter earthiness and a touch of metallic flavor at the end.

MF-Really well done on the mouthfeel. Nice and creamy with very low carbonation. Chewy with just enough sprtiz in the finish to round it all out.

D-Very drinkable for a 10%+ RIS. No really noticeable heat. Flavors are very balanced for such a young vintage.

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Photo of lurpy1
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Always excited for a first try of a beer from maybe my favorite brewery out there. Picked up a rather expensive 12 oz, poured into a pint glass..

Like all Founders darks, Imperial Stout doesn't pour out, as much as it oozes out. It's a dark,like some evil muck from Dungeons and Dragons. Don't step in it. But sure is compelling to look at.

The smell is a roast orgy: Roast malt, roast coffee, perhaps roast nuts

Taste is predominantly coffee, some dark fruit thrown in for good measure. There's a slight hoppy bitterness to FIS, which really comes out if you eat with something sweet. This caused me to ding the taste score slightly, despite the awesome coffee notes.

As always, Founders kills in on mouthfeel. This is a 10.4 ABV drink? Really? Silky smooth, tremendously thick.

In the pantheon of dark Founders' brews, I rate this behind Porter and FBS. But still, a terrific stout. Wish the price point was a little better.

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Photo of aorloski
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - WOW one of the darkest and viscous beers i have ever seen. To call this motor oil is an understatement. Nice chocolate fluffy head.

Smell - Awesome bitter dark chocolate, roasted malts, hints of vanilla and coffee

Taste - Chocolate, big time. Right up front you get hit with the bitterness which leaves room for the roasted malts and subtle notes of coffee and vanilla to come afterwards. What i like the best is the lingering flavor of melted dark chocolate in your mouth from this.

Mouthfeel - Awesome, coats the mouth and leaves an amazing taste for you to long for more.

Overall - Another fucking amazing Founders stout.

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Photo of david131
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Absolutely pitch black with just the slightest bit of light getting through around the edges. The brown head is very slow to rise, very creamy looking, and settles to a thin covering over the entire surface. Not too shabby.

S- A very sweet, roasty aroma with anise, dark fruits, and a nice smoky aspect. Some cocoa is noticeable in there in well. Pretty fragrant and enjoyable, but it's just not knocking my socks off.

T- Very sweet and smoky at first with lots of anise and bitter black chocolate moving in at the end. Surprisingly sweet and bitter. Very good, but maybe a bit too sweet for me.

M- Bitter on the tail end, and a little dry that I attribute to the alcohol content.

D- A very solid Russian Imperial Stout. A very good example of the style. I would definitely get this again, even though it is not my favorite.

I don't really know how this will age, but I don't anticipate this getting much better considering Founders track record with aged stouts. Also, it is drinking pretty good right now with balanced flavors and a very reasonable alcohol presence.

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Photo of AwYeh
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz, presumably very fresh bottle poured into snifter

A: The first beer I've had that can genuinely claim to look like motor oil; this is black, and viscous- any shaking or movement leads to a persistent rippling wavy effect across the top of the glass. Thin but resilient dark brown head, with quite a bit of (also dark) lacing as the beer goes down.

S: Bittersweet chocolate and roasted black malts dominate the flavor here, alongside a mesh of caramel and dark fruit sweetness, with hints of coffee and vanilla. Strong bitter hop presence too.

T/M: This is one rich and complex beer- bitter hops and sweet dark fruits lead the taste in, but quickly make way for the bittersweet chocolate and roasted malts picked up on in the nose. Long, lingering sticky finish- a palate-burning bitter with the flavor of chocolate. Ethanol does make its presence known just a bit, and lends a nice warming effect to compliment the sticky mouth coat left after the finish. Thick-bodied with almost no carbonation, but quite smooth for the style and ABV.

D: The glass was fully enjoyable, and the beer evolved quite a bit as it warmed up, which definitely kept my interest (and even if it hadn't, the flavors were great all around and could have kept me nearly as satisfied). Not in a great hurry to have another right away, but definitely looking forward to seeing how this beer cellars.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Thick, jet black, viscous pour with a thin brown ring of head that quickly dissipates. Some lacing around the glass with each sip.

S: Very deep roasted malty notes, a hint of bitter coffee, some dark chocolate.

T: Wow this is delicious. Reminds me of KBS minus the bourbon. Very heavy on the roasty and coffee notes, although no coffee is added to this beer. Some hints of vanilla as it goes down. The finish is all alcohol which balances well with the roasted flavors.

M: velvety, soft, thick, luscious chewy mouthfeel. This is a liquid meal for sure.

D: This is an extremely well balanced imperial stout. Reminds me of other Founder's stouts (BS, KBS) in regards to the malt profile. This is quite drinkable for the high ABV, but the price will keep me from drinking more than one in a sitting.

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Photo of TheJollyHop
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

12/15/2014 poured into a TeKu glass:

L: Foam consists of a chocolate brown roux-like hue on top of an opaque, black body. Benchmark appearance that maintains a head that's indicative of the gravity of this brew.
S: Whiffs of plastic along with grass clippings (both usual indications in my experience of a beer that will benefit from extended bottle cellaring), earthy chocolate, and alcohol,
T: Grassy hop notes upfront, long cooking chocolate/bitter finish with notes of dried tobacco leaves and smoke. Alcohol warmth attacks mid sip and doesn't let go. Balance slanting towards bitterness at this time, which is to be expected with little more than a month in the bottle.
F: Velvety texture and full body that leaves a slick coating on the tongue.
O: On my top five list of non-barrel aged, commercially available, imperial stouts.

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Photo of genog
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Bodega in Columbus. I was shocked to see it on the menu, since I have never even seen it in bottles. It was brought to the table in a 10 oz small, sample type glass. Black as night with minimal brown head that disappeared soon after my first sip. Aroma was very malty, cocoa, and licorice. Plenty of licorice in the first sip from the beginning to the lingering after effects. Sipped on this one as it was incredibly filling. Glad I finally got to try this great founders beer.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,779 ratings.