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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,777 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,777
Hads: 7,298
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 713
Gots: 2,212 | 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: 1,777 | Hads: 7,298
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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Photo of smcnulty1981
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

A: pours a fairly viscous pitch black color with some dark brown hues almost no head at all good amount of lacing and some alcohol legs

S: lots roasted chocolate and coffee on the nose with a hint of earthy hops there is bit of alcohol on the nose

T: chocolate and coffee taste and finishes with a bit of smoke flavor there is bit of alcohol

M: extremely full mouthfeel a tad sticky and lingers for a long time

O: great flavor and mouthfeel great example of a standard imperial stout

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Photo of ma121606
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am on drinking my second now, YES

Appearance - very dark brown, very thick

Smell - Smells like sweet coffee and some type of christmas candy in a glass

Taste - I expected it to be bitter, but it is smooth.

Mouth-feel - smooth and creamy

Drink ability - too easy to drink, but watch it I'm on number 2 and I'm feeling it.

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

12oz bottle poured into snifter. Thanks StayWhatYouAre2 for sending this in a surprise box, along with a dozen other midwest brews.

A: Pours quite viscous, like unused motor oil, and is just about as black as well. It actually "glugs" a little coming out of the bottle. It settles as a completely still black body of liquid with almost no head at all; just a spotty film and thin ring of tight brown/mahogany bubbles. Moderate lacing is left on the glass after rolling it a bit.

S: Chocolate stands out immediately ... rich semisweet chocolate. Coffee and roasted malts are also prominent. The dark fruit aroma is a little less subtle than I was expecting, which is fine by me. There is definitely a good amount of alcohol in the aroma. This really smells a little hot and could probably use some age.

T: Chocolate and coffee are, again, prominent. Typical. There is a pretty strong presence of dark fruits (fig and plum) that last from the beginning to the end. Roasted malt, providing a subtle smokiness, sneaks in near the end. The contrast between sweet chocolate and fruit, and roasted malts and hops, would provide a well balanced finish if it wasn't for the booze. The alcohol isn't hidden very well at all and leaves a bit of heat and a burn in the throat.

M: Although it doesn't have the fullest body, it's pretty viscous and slightly sticky. Coats the mouth and tongue nicely. Very little carbonation adds to the creaminess. Finishes slightly dry.

D: Drinkability isn't very high at all as it is right now. Viscous stouts rarely are, and this one is just a bit to boozy to put down easily. I think with some age this could mellow out and become a very nice stout. That isn't to say that it's not good now, it's just a touch hot. Overall, it's still quite enjoyable.

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Photo of Gyle41386
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

Pour is rich, deep, dark black. The tiniest of mocha-colored heads sits on top, but doesn't last for terribly long. Thin sheets of lacing remain attached to the glass.

Nose is quite roasty, giving this a big-time coffee vibe. Also present are molasses, bittersweet chocolate, brown sugar, and a very faint citric hoppiness.

Flavor is sweet up front, with the molasses/chocolate/sugar combo playing a vital role. On the swallow, though, comes the bitterness. It's both roasty and hoppy in a way that I don't really know how to describe other than to say that it's, well, roasty and hoppy. There is an occasional boozy sting, but it's not frequent enough to be a deterrent.

This is a big beer. Full bodied. Maybe not Expedition-thick, but not far off. Low carbonation level keeps it from being too tingly. It's a beer that just slides down your throat, and at a decent rate of speed if you're not careful. I've been wanting to try this beer for a long time, and Founders did not disappoint.

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

Randy stumbles down the corridor, his gas lantern glistening off of the black walls. Covered with soot after a long day in the mine, everywhere his eye turns reveals only more blackness. "Used oil" is all he can think of, even as he splashes his face and attempts to smudge the grime away. He glances in the mirror and sees a few spots of his face through the blackness... Spotty lacing on the sides.
Lunch of coffee, always coffee, he can smell it from down the hall. Dinner of coffee, breakfast of coffee. It's always dark, so always coffee. Dark roasted grain of black currant bread, a hunk of chocolate. The earthiness of the walls blends too, almost a hop note, but it fails to surface. A faint aroma of alcohol... I suppose it's not always coffee.
The flavor, then... sweet. Surprisingly sweet. Sugar-oil. Strong both earthy hop and roasted grain bitterness, some alcohol, carob, chocolate, espresso. Reminds me of Fat Dog, in some almost fake sweetness notes, almost artificial... but doesn't seem too bad. The mouth is coated with the stuff, thick and oily, heavy, very nice.
He must have dozed off. He looks at his watch... back to work, he's slept far too long. He staggers back down the hallway. Can't wait for the weekend, I'll have it again... seems so far off...

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

This is a re-review.
I have layed this beer down for 9 months, and am trying it again.

Poured absolutely gorgeous, a viscous black with sturdy lacing and a paper thin head.

The smell is divine, big dark fruits, prunes, baltic malts, and a little coffee.

Taste is coffee, caramel, english bitter toffee, prunes, and brandy, absolutely delightful, and true to it's style.

The mouthfeel is creamy, and smooth with a hefty body to feel right.

Lay this beer down. Young it was too unbalanced, but aged a bit, it becomes more than fantastic.

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Photo of Kelly88
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Fries Cafe. Served in a regular pint glass.

A- ugliest brown bordering on black. Decent tan head that is relinquished to a mocha ring with Ruby highlights.

S- huge HUGE buttered rum cake with toasty roasty chocolate coffee on the backend.

T- now I know what people mean when they say taste follows the nose. Along with the aforementioned flavors there is an alcoholic cherry flavor mixing with some very light juicy citrus hops.

M- silky smooth. Rich decadent and then a nice carbonation kicks in. I wish more stouts and brewers could match this feel.

Overall one of the best imperial stouts I've had. Really bold flavors paired with a good feel makes beer magic for me.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle. Bottled 12/29/11. Poured into Boulevard snifter.

A: Pours like motor oil, for real. Thick as hell! Basically no head. What faint tan head that was there settles into a ring around the edges of deep brown and reddish hues. The swirl conjures up a quarter finger dark tan head. Little sticky lacing bits. Alcohol feet clinging to the glass.

S: This is the base beer for KBS, no? You can tell. There isn't much coffee in the nose, it's dominated by deep dark chocolate and milk chocolate notes. Maybe a little dark fruit behind. Some raisin maybe? And I do actually get some dark espresso beans after a while.

T: Bitterness from the IBUs on the tip of the tongue for sure. I do get what some dark roast coffee beans, espresso. Then really deep bitter dark chocolate follows. The finish is very long. You do get some warming from this big beer! It's not soft like FBS, that is for sure! This might benefit from a little age, as I feel it's a little hot right now.

M: Full bodied and chewy as hell. Coats the mouth totally.

O: Impressive again from Founders. Their beers are just so well crafted. This is an A beer for me, and might go higher with a little time.

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

12oz bottled 12/15/11

A: Really dark, quarter inch really dark tan head, some lacing

S: Coffee, chocolate, malts

T: Complex, roasted malts, coffee, bitter

M: Smooth, carbonation is visually there, but I didn't notice it in my mouth

O: Very nice imperial stout, don't think I've had one this bitter before, Founders definitely has their stouts down

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Photo of xav33
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Founders Imperial Stout
12 oz bottle
Brewed 04, pondered over 10/06
Aggressive pour in an English pint.

Pouret jet black with a massive brown rocky mostly lasting head with excellent lacing.

Smelt of moderate mocha vanilla coffee, toffee, and licorice.

Taste was upfront moderate vanilla licorice sweetness and light chocolate followed by a harsh earthy burnt taste accompanied by a light creamy coffee sweetness on a long strongly bitter burnt molasses finish that turns to coffee. Mouthfeel was medium bodied, oily, softly carbonated, strongly astringent and light cozzy alcoholic warmth.

Overall, the beer starts off excellent in appearance and aroma, and at first sip it delivers, but the follow through taste and palate finish just assault and erases the pleasantness in this beer. A two faced beer, sweet and inviting at first, agressive and misanthropic later on. Intensely intriguing.

Side note: drink this beer warm!

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Photo of akorsak
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a trade with meathookjones. This is a 2006 bottle.

A: The stout is an oily black color with some dark browrn hints. The head is a mocha brown color that does not retain for very long.

S: The aroma is a toasted grain and chocolate, alcohol strength.

T: The ale has a deep roasted taste flavor with a stronger malt flavor that has comes through like a red wine with many layers of taste. The malts are big and bold, roasted, chocolatey and full of warming alcohol.

M: The mouthfeel is dry, with a little bit of hop kick and a lot of roasted malts. Very nice mouthfeel with a good balance of flavors.

D: The abv is a bit high, but the roasted malts are great. A good night-cap.

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Photo of jmalex
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice to finally get a hold of this one. If Founders' other stouts are any indication, this one should be awesome.

APPEARANCE: Pours pitch black into my Delirium tulip. There's almost no carbonation, and only a small brown head even initially forms. It settles immediately to a thin brown collar ringing a still black surface.

SMELL: Major amounts of roastiness and fruitiness at the same time. A little chocolate backs it up along with some toffee, but the aroma of this beer is all about the darkest malts in existence.

TASTE: It begins with an intense chocolaty roastiness with tons of caramels and other dessert-type flavors completely dominating. But then it undergoes one of the most drastic transformations I've ever experienced in a beer. A huge bitterness comes on in the form of both hops and black malt. As the sweetness drops out, the bitterness intensifies and continues on well through the finish. Very unique.

MOUTHFEEL: Full bodied with a very low carbonation that works really well here.

DRINKABILITY: The bitterness is a bit much but still really nice. No sign of the alcohol which is always a plus.

Another winner from Founders. Maybe not up to quality of the Breakfast Stouts, but that's a hard perch to achieve. This is worth seeking out.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,777 ratings.