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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

5,781 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,781
Reviews: 1,594
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 517
Gots: 1,397 | 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: 5,781 | Reviews: 1,594 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of joe1510
4.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12oz Bottle
$10.99 4-Pack
Liquor World - Kankakee, IL

Bottled 1/7/13

Founder's Imperial Stout is black as the ace of spades. There's no seeing any light through this body. A milk chocolate head rises easily to two fingers while staying dense the whole time. It finally settles to a finger+ while leaving chunky intricate lace down the glass. Not often do you run across a stout this big that shows retention like Founder's version. Bueno.

Baker's chocolate and ripe, dark berries draw me in immediately. Heavily roasted coffee and heavily roasted malt keep my sniffer in the glass. There's even a nice touch of that mild lactic vanilla that sets it all off. Chocolate? Oh, yeah. Fudge, of course. This beer is packed to the gills with everything a big stout should be.

Everything I mentioned in paragraph up are involved here. Bittersweet chocolate wraps itself around a gangload of dark berries. Coffee, light on the cream flow through the middle. Rich, dense fudge brings up the rear. This stout is so perfectly balanced I have no idea how it's even possible. Nearly perfect.

The mouthfeel is out of this world good. It's soft but there's still a perfectly velvety feel to a body that's big and bold. The roastiness adds enough bitter to fall in the moderate+ range and the finish is surprisingly dry. There's no sweet stick going on here.

For years now this has been my favorite imperial stout on the market. Better than most limited releases that people praise. Founder's version is all at once bold, rich, dry, and fucking awesome. Oh, it's available too, 48oz for $11. Show me something better, I'm all ears.

joe1510, Nov 18, 2013
Photo of timc100
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2012 bottle

Pours an incredibly rich dark brown/black and leaves a dark, burnt mocha head - incredibly creamy, fantastic thick retention and lacing - incredibly beautiful looking beer. Aroma is huge! Sticky browny batter, burnt caramel and toffee notes with the chocolate. Big boozy dark fruits - raisin, fig, dark cherry. Heavily roasted acidic espresso and light sweet notes of vanilla. Taste is just as vibrant and rich. Dark bitter chocolate and espresso collision with bold notes of dark fruit, espresso bitterness and some remnant ash. Incredibly smooth - full body, soft carbonation, velvety mouthfeel. A little alcohol warmth at the finish.

Absolutely incredible beer. Would love to try a straight bourbon barrel aging of this. With age the vanilla and milk chocolate pop.

timc100, Feb 26, 2013
Photo of Metalmonk
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured out like black ink and oil, with an totally brown head. The head doesn't last long, thinning to a skim then a crown within a minute. Utterly jet black in appearance.

Burnt marshmallow, dark fruit, chocolate, coffee and hops mingle nicely in the nose. Hardly a trace of that 10.5% alcohol at first, but with a little warming and settling it does start to make itself known.

Flavor is big and bold, but not brash. The hops definitely make their mark, but at 90 IBUs, that's expected. They're on the citrus rind-y side, exerting a grapefruit-like essence, but that's carefully balanced and offset by healthy dark roast coffee bitterness, charred grain, more burnt marshmallow, graham cracker, big gooey milk chocolate (I'm getting that s'mores thing here)...and traces of dark fruit (fig, grape). Alcohol underlines all of that, and gives it a nice warm edge. Fantastic. The finish features the coffee and hops, mostly.

As fantastic as it tastes, it feels even better. Can I give it a 6 out of 5? Rounded, ultra-creamy, thick, gooey...oh yeah.

A total knockout from the one the finest breweries in the world. Seriously good stuff.

Metalmonk, Apr 02, 2010
Photo of BillyB
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I thought this was an outstanding example of the style! Founders certainly knows it's stouts.

Poured a beautiful black/opaque color with a very thin, whispy brown layer of foam.

Aromas of chocolate, vanilla, coffee, mollasses, wood and whiskey dominate this very complex aroma profile.

The taste is just as complex. For a beer to be this BIG and complex at the same time is impressive. Same tastes as aromas as well as some toffee, treacle a subtle hint of caramel. Big alcohol taste but not offensive.

Mouthfeel is very pleasant alcohol warmth and a big, full bodied, oily, slick, chewiness.
Just a fantastic beer!

BillyB, Mar 10, 2008
Photo of socon67
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on Tap at the Founder's Tap takeover at the Double Windsor, Brooklyn NY

A - Pours midnight black with almost no foam retention. Mild lacing. Visible coates the glass with a slick layer like cough syrup.

S - Impressive. Chocolate is coming right from the glass. Almost has the smell of a candy cordial. Brown sugar is evident. Did Willy Wonka brew this?

T - Robust and filled with rich malt flavor. Chocolate flavor is consistent throughout, and possibly stronger as the beer warmed up. Has a subtle brandy-like sweetness at the end.

M - Thick, heavy, and clearly a stout for lovers of big beers. Flavors stayed on the tongue long after the beer was gone.

O - I loved it, and maybe as much as the more acclaimed breakfast stouts. This is as good as a Russian Imp Stout can get.

socon67, May 17, 2012
Photo of BigIrishman
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into pint glass

Appearance: Thick black with cappuccino colored head, not much retention.

Smell: Coffee and chocolate overload the nose, very malty base to it as well.

Taste: Huge coffee/espresso base, similar to the breakfast stout but not quite as much as the BS. Absolutely wonderful finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy, just the way I like my RIS's.

Drinkability: The 10.5% alcohol is completely unnoticeable, I could pound these down all day.

Notes: Founder's never disappoints, this beer fits perfectly into my RIS gap right now, absolutley wonderful.

BigIrishman, Mar 03, 2009
Photo of Cee-Poe
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle date 11/2011

A -- Pours deep black with little head

S -- Rich hints of chocolate and roasted malts

T -- Amazing. The 10.5% is not at all recognized. Rather, the bitter roasted malts give way to semi-sweet chocolate on the back end. One of the best tasting beers I've had.

M -- Wonderful. Not too viscus but not too thin... just right.

O -- One of my favorite beers. Happy to find some 2011 on the shelf a couple of weeks ago. That will allow me to hold off on drinking the 2012 too soon.

Cee-Poe, Feb 12, 2013
Photo of waldowin
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a thick black, like used motor oil, with a nice brown head that fades to a very thin ring.

Smells of figs, raisins, coffee, and chocolate. Thick, sweet, smoky, and heavy.

Tastes of dark chocolate, espresso, and a hint of figs and roast. Definitely let this warm up a bit from the fridge. A very smooth and tasty beer.

Mouthfeel is creamy, smooth, and wonderful. Massive but not harsh.

Drinkability is insanely good for a 12% beer. You can't see that there's any alcohol in here. That said, one of these will definitely be enough for me, I have to be conscious tomorrow.

waldowin, Mar 24, 2006
Photo of 2378GCGTG
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Apperance: True deep black body under a 1 inch copper/brown head which retains well and clings to the glass for what seems like eternity.

Nose: Chocolate, coffee, black toast and burnt roasted malt.

Taste: Roasted and burnt malts with an excellent chocolate support and a slightly bitter coffee taste all of which fade into a smokey finish

Mouthfeel: Flows like molasses in winter time, it's thick and extremely present, almost heavy, on the palate as it rolls around. This is a truely excellent body.

Overall: A truly excellent RIS, and amazing for the price, not truly perfect because I would like to see a bit more sweetness and a bit less smoke in the taste.

2378GCGTG, Feb 28, 2012
Photo of Erdinger2003
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Chimay Goblet.

The pour finds a pillowy brown to dark brown head that leaves a strong lacing and doesn't fall very fast into nothing. Once it falls the head is thin, but still doesn't break. Lacing is still very nice and strong.

The smell has plum, dark chocolate, coffee a slight smokiness, hops of some sort (slight hops).

Taste has strawbery, bitter hops, coffee, slight chocolate and smokiness to it. Very fruity and hoppy at the same time, but the hops are not overpowering. It's at first like chocolate covered strawberrys.

Mouthfeel is creamy and carbonated, smooth and then a little harsh, but as you drink it gets smoother.

I would enjoy one of these every few months, definetly not my kind of session beer.

Erdinger2003, Jun 10, 2006
Photo of HattedClassic
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark chocolate color that is almost black. Pours very little head that is a dark brown and leaves a bit of lacing on the glass.

Dark chocolate mixed with roasted malts and cocoa. A small and barely noticeable hint of alcohol with a bit of hops.

Sweet dark chocolate and a cocoa taste mix and dominate the palate. The under and after taste mainly consists of hops with some roasted malts.

Very little carbonation. The beer is a little thick but goes down smoothly.

An excellent stout if you can get your hands on it.

HattedClassic, Jan 29, 2012
Photo of Zorro
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This bottle is sampled due to the efforts of tsmthrs and Christmas in July Secret Santa BIF 2006.

Poured in the glass this beer is simply BLACK in colored with a DARK brown head. So dark you can't see the sun through the glass and it is incredibly clear and hot here today. Massive head formation, it was a good thing I poured this in to my Duvel glass so I didn't lose any beer. In appearance this beer is really more of a 5.5.

Smell is strong chocolate aroma with some strong citrus hop aroma. Lively hop aroma here that is rather minty and spicy to the nose. Roasted and coffee aromas are in this but they are most hidden by the hops and chocolate.

Taste is deeply of unsweetened dark chocolate, almost like melted bakers chocolate in a glass. Not really bitter just semi dry in the mouth in a good way. Roasted malt and coffee flavors are in this but chocolate has driven them to the edges of my senses. Basically this is like drinking dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel is melted dark chocolate candy bars. REALLY it is that thick!

Drinkability is always subjective. Ask yourself would you like drinking liquid dark chocolate candy bars in a glass? If yes then this beer is a 5.0 drinker, if not it will be a 3.0 for you.

Zorro, Jul 22, 2006
Photo of samie85
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours an engine oil black with a two finger, dark mocha head.

S-Huge roasted and dark chocolate notes with a cocoa and vanilla .

T-Roast and dark chocolate with a light, clean bitterness and more roast on the finish.

M-Frothy and full-bodied with a mouth-coating milkshake like feel and low to moderate carbonation.

D-Very easy drinking, yet complex and interesting beer. The feel here is just extraordinary mouth-coating and full-bodied without being overwhelmingly so.

samie85, Jan 16, 2012
Photo of unibrew
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Finally, a beer getting excited about! This brew has it all, and I give it high marks on all aspects for the style. It's thick, nearly chewy, black as night, roasty, coffee in nose, bit-o-licorice in the taste to go along with the nose. I could honestly live without the licorice, but, I'm sure it's there for some reason. Not much in the chocolate, but, not overwhelming in the coffee either. However, there is a lot of flavor! When finished, there is sediment in the glass. There's just too much stuff in the beer to be absorbed! I love a nice RIS, and I would have to say this is my new favorite! Better than Old Rasputin, Brooklyn Chocolate, and even Chocolate Yeti. (High praise from me indeed!) Seek this one out, and hopefully, you'll find a 4-pack for $11 or $12.

unibrew, Feb 18, 2011
Photo of titty_mcbitty
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Dark dark black. More black than other doubles. Awesome color but not much head.

S: Good god. Chocolate, vodka or bourbon, cherries, malt.

T: Similar to the nose. Chocolate (dark), booze soaked cherries, raisins, cognac, cinnamon, syrup, toasty malt, bread crust, and butter. This is superb.

M: Damn near perfect. Thick and viscous. Creamy with some good carb as well. Has that booze burn to it, and it's not a bad one!

O: This beer is truly amazing. It reminds me a bit of Ten Fidy but less 'oily', if that makes sense. This brew has got a huge punch of flavors all at once, which makes it very complex.

titty_mcbitty, Feb 14, 2014
Photo of Barleythenred
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: minimal brown head with engine oil color and texture that could run a jet

Smell: Nutty with bountiful malt notes

Taste: lite hops on the front end with a powerful finish of malts and nuts

MouthFeel: like olive oil even almost chewy

Drinkability: repetitiously returnable

one of the best stouts out there a in a close race with the goose island night stalker

Barleythenred, Feb 26, 2011
Photo of sweemzander
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter. No bottle date present, but I know it was bottled sometime in January of 2009 considering its a specialty brew Founders bottles.

(A)- Pours a thick opaque black color. 1 finger head dissipated down to a layer of light brown bubbles. Some lacing present.

(S)- Rich, roasted coffee malts with dark chocolate and molasses. Kinda has a cola smell to it. And call me crazy, but I also smell hickory smoke amidst the roasted malts.

(T)- Tons of roasted coffee and dark chocolate (Mocha anybody?) Its got a serious bitter hop finish (90 IBUs !)

(M)- Its thick, rich, sweet, bitter, and dry all at the same time. There is plenty of carbonation. The 10.5% abv is integrated very well. The strength of this brew is really potent! Considering it was bottled about 6 months ago!

(D)- A classic RIS in my opinion. Definitely a sipper to be savored and enjoyed, then agian, show me a RIS that isnt a sipper!
Plain and simple; buy a bunch of these, drink one or two now and save the rest for 2+ years. By then, this will rock your socks off!

sweemzander, Jul 12, 2009
Photo of justintcoons
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter.

A: Pours as black as the depths of Hell with 1 finger of deep brown head that dissipates quickly. Has fine webbed lacing and a good film that clings to the glass.

N: Highly aromatic. Roasted barley, dark fruits, caramel, bittersweet chocolate, espresso, molasses and black licorice.

T: Bittersweet chocolate, black licorice, roasted barley and espresso upfront. Mid-palate has rich caramel, espresso, figs, overripe plums and I’m even picking up some faint citrus and floral hops. Finishes with truffle, dark chocolate, dark fruits and some pine & citrus hops.

M: Full bodied, silky, chewy, sticky, dry and bitter.

O: I haven’t had this beer in two years and I’m glad that it still lived up to my expectations. Excellent roasty chocolate, espresso and dark fruits are all over this one. Overly impressive appearance and mouthfeel. Just phenomenal all around! Founders is the king of Stouts.

justintcoons, Jan 27, 2012
Photo of gcamparone
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into an oversize wine glass. Purchased in Wakefield, RI.

A- Pours a jet-black, oily opaque body with a generous fluffy dark mocha head that sticks around for a while and leaves some heavy chocolate lacing. Perfect!

S- Intense fresh coffee beans, cappuccino , milk chocolate, vanilla, mocha, toasted malt. Upfront and inviting.

T- Hugely bold roasted coffee, semisweet chocolate, heavily toasted, nearly burnt malt. These flavors are not subtle in the least bit, they shine through this beer and mesh together perfectly. Leaves a bitter roasty note on the tongue.

M- Medium-heavy body, medium low carbonation.

An outstanding interpretation of the russian imperial. It hits all the high points of they style. Another impressive stout from founders.

I personally like it better than breakfast stout. Recommendable.

gcamparone, Feb 03, 2013
Photo of Fermenticusrex
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tasting note founders imperial stout

12 oz bottle poured into mad elf tulip

Aroma strong bitter coffee, bakers chocolate, roasted barley

Appearance black,black, and more black.  Mocha head lacing that lines whole glass

Flavor coffee, bittersweet chocolate, rum, toast, raisins

Mouthfeel/Drinkability nice level of carbonation, not as smooth as breakfast stout but not bad.  Might be able to drink two at a sitting

Overall once again founders doesn't disappoint.  Can't wait till febuary for kbs!!!

Fermenticusrex, Jan 26, 2012
Photo of jmdrpi
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, 2011 vintage.

opaque black, with just a thin whisp of mocha colored head. strong aroma of espresso and bitter cocoa. taste is also big bold flavors. bitter coffee, roasty malt, a bit of smoke. body is thick, a bit sticky. low carbonation.

overall, a great imperial stout.

jmdrpi, Jun 07, 2011
Photo of bjohnson
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

hoppymeal gets two big thumbs up for including this in a trade. Pulled from the cellar and served at temp.

A: Pours an absolute black a night. Eight ball black if you will. Head is a weird coca reddish color--melikes!
S: Big nestle cocoa notes with infusions of dark fruit of fig with chocolate covered cherries. Slight necco wafer chalky notes also.
T/M: Dark chocolate notes with a slight sweetness that like hot chocolate syrup. Bitter coffee flavors of expresso and extra bold coffee--these are also present in the finish. Sweet caramel notes round out other two. Milkyness is present for a second before the bitterness develops. Robust with a big body. Warming in the chest with the high abv and slightly boozy, but it's really masked by the larger than life flavors of this beer.
D: Yum. Only word I can come up with right now. It's thick and bold, warming but not overly boozy. Nice balance and easy sipping. Seek it out if you can as it's worth the quest.

bjohnson, Dec 20, 2006
Photo of Source
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a 12oz snifter.

Appearance: Jet black with a 1mm caramel tan head which settled quickly to a slight cream on top.

Smell: Overwhelming coffe / java/ joe and cocoa with a hint of sweetness. A lovely aroma.

Taste: Much like the smell, only more intense. Great cocoa and coffee flavors ring through. The caramel and malt background really balance it out. While the the big nature of this stout was pleasantly warming, the 10.5 abv was hard to detect.

Mouthfeel: Thick and smooth. Not a beer you quaff, but instead enjoy in small sips. From pour to finish I clocked 75 enjoyable minutes.

Drinkability: With the high abv and great dessert flavors, I can really see this as a nice after dinner treat. Truly a fine stout.

Source, Feb 19, 2009
Photo of Genghis22
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to trading partner extraordinaire, stoufiend27. Thanks Stephen!

A - Pours a thick, oily pitch black. Nicw finger of mocha colored head. Looks absolutely stunning in my Deschutes Tulip.

S - Sweet malt, coffee, coca, vanilla, toffee and a touch of alcohol. This smells absolutely awesome.

T - Much like the nose. Complex flavors, all come together in harmony. There are plenty of hops, my god, there is quite a bit of hops. This is a good thing. It provides balance to a very sweet, rich, beer. Wonderful flavors of coffee, cocoa, toffee. The last taste is wonderful vanilla and the aftertaste is dry hoppy, alcoholic perfection.

M - Textbook RIS. Thick, chewy, wonderfully full bodied. Moderate carbonation. The high amount of alcohol in this brew really helps dry the tongue out at the finish.

D - As much as I would like to drink this all night, it packs quite a punch at 10.5%. The flavors are awesome, and the mouthfeel is perfect. An absolutely great stout.

Genghis22, Mar 17, 2010
Photo of frazbri
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Founders Imperial Stout poured jet black with a creamy, mocha head. Chocolate, coffee, and slight floral scent were present in the nose. Espresso, charcoal and pepper flavors were accompanied by a solid bitterness. The body was thick and viscous with a moderate level of carbonation and a warm finish, but not a burn.

Oh mama! This a great beer to drink by the fireplace. I will definitely buy this again. It's also a good canidate for the cellar, if you have the patience.

frazbri, Apr 25, 2006
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 5,781 ratings.