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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,733 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,733
Hads: 7,096
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 689
Gots: 2,091 | FT: 151
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
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Reviews: 1,733 | Hads: 7,096
Photo of Beerisgood3
2.7/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Black as motor oil, and pours like it too. Seems quite thick. Messed up the pour a bit so there wasn't much of a head. Though what is there is creamy and brown. A quick swirl churns up a bit of a creamy head which lingers a while. Leaves some bubbles on the glass but not any lacing.

S: I'm still training my nose...i find the strongest note to be of bitter chocolate with some small amount of coffee coming through. Smells of alcohol. Aroma doesn't overwhelm me. As it warms the chocolate notes seem to come out a bit.

T:Roasted malts are there as the first note. The other thing i notice is ALCOHOL. the 10% hits me right in the face. There when you swallow too. There is a sweetness that you get in the front that gives way to a hoppy finish that intensifies a moment after you swallow which combined with the alcohol bite is borderline aggressive. As it warms the chocolate and sweetness come out a bit more at the beginning. Let it warm further and the bite isn't quite as harsh.

M: Definitely coats your mouth. Pretty thick beer.

D: I'm nearly having to fight this one down, though not quite. Certainly couldn't drink more than one of these. It's pretty intense.

Overall i think i may just not be ready for a beer like this. This was pretty aggressive on the palate. I'm fairly new into the craft beer scene (been about a year or so now) and am still trying to learn to critique my beers more analytically. I've never been super fond of stouts....but this one seems a bit much. Perhaps it's simply be ahead of my league given its high praise on BA.

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Photo of uno99
2.76/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Guinness glass. serving temp is fairly warm. left outta my fridge for a couple hours.

A: looks appealing but no head to speak of which is to be expected in this 10.5ABV monster.

S: very boozy and slightly sour.. do I have a bad bottle?

T: sour and boozy again upfront but nice chocolate and malt mid sip. then sourness returns. damn I think it might be bad... :(

M: nice thick and moderately carbonated.

D: well since this is so sour gonna have to dock some points here..

Not sure if this is a bad bottle, but I'll edit my post if I revisit this beer.

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Photo of Dubber55
2.88/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours pitch black. The head is the color of coffee with cream and it quickly settles down to a thin collar around the beer. Very little lacing and retention

The aromas include coffee, chocolate, ethanol, maybe some licorice, and smoke

Initially, I taste mostly coffee up front. Then I get chocolate, roasted malts, smoke, and alcohol. You can really taste the roasted grains. There is a pretty big burnt/char character in this beer. The finish consists of lots of roasted malt. Its dry and bitter.

This is a viscous, thick, and chewy beer. Pretty creamy mouthfeel with low carbonation

The drinkability is below average in my opinion. Its just too bitter, burnt, and dry for me. The alcohol kick at the end of each sip doesnt help either. After a few ounces, I know what this beer is about and dont feel the need to drink anymore

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Photo of Frozensoul327
2.97/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I was really let down by this brew. All hyped up and took me nowhere. Poured out to a pitch black color with only notes of a head. Nearly no carbonation at all, not to mention that any lace was a long shot. Aromas of coffee, chocolate and dark rotted fruit. Nothing amazing so far. Flavor was abrasive and acidic, with strong indications of alcohol and burnt malts. Mouthfeel was good and thick, but wasn't enough to save this beer from being a disappointment. I'd probably pass on this if offered again. I may re-review again, but as for now, this brew was a course in undesireable beerdom. Pass on it.

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Photo of charlesw
3.08/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Odd or interesting or whatever that Founders would have so many different imperial stouts. So close to one another and yet so different... This time it's their IS - an RIS. Deep and black, totally opaque. Very small head despite a vigorous pour.

Smells of smoke and sour apricots.

OK. Tastes like an RIS, mostly. Smoke, coffee, licorice, milk chocolate, citrus peel bitterness. Well. Citrus pips, anyway.

In the style it's a bit more reserved than many. Why, I can see how this might be drinkable and good at that with only a year in the cellar. As it is, it's over the top on the smoke and bitterness.

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Photo of brewmudgeon
3.1/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

founders FIS, fresh

a 3.5 tiny cocoa colored head above a very dark body. transient grainy lace.

s 3.5 char, dark chocolate, hops, some alc. almost smells like a black ipa.

t 3 the hops are clearly there, flavor and bitterness-wise, much more so than in the 11-month cellared bottle i tried before. this makes the beer a very different beast than even the slightly aged version. the finish is still predominated by a dry char that i do not find nearly as charasmatic as that in tres. can't say i'm loving this, but it is certainly bolder and more interesting than the cellared bottle.

m 3.5 medium to full body, a bit more viscous than at 11 months. the harsh finish is still bugging me.

o 2.5 a beer that i have tried to like now in two forms. still not succeeding. does not seem to come together at all and adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

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Photo of beerguy101
3.16/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark black color. Small tannish foamy head. Aroma is chocolate. Dark roasted malts. Choclately and slightly sweet. Touches of smoke, vanilla and dark fruits. Nice balanced. Mouthfeel is full. Finish is clean. Aftertaste is slightly bitter. Nice example of an imperial without being over the top.

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Photo of deebo
3.2/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2011 keg

A-Very heavy brown head that will be with you for the duration. Black as night.

S-Smoked roasted malt, charred wood are strongest aromas present.

T-Strong burnt oak wood taste, that turns to a bitter aftertaste.

M-Creamy, bitterness lingers.

D-Definitely a sipper.

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Photo of thirdeye11
3.23/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Ktown67 for bringing this one to me from Wisconsin!

Let me first state I am not a stout drinker in general. I have had some I really liked recently so I am really excited to try some Founders.

Presentation: Poured from 12oz bottle into my Duvel tulip glass.

A: Pours a 1/2 finger of dark tan head resting atop a pure plack beer. The head takes a minute to form, and sticks around for only a couple of minutes. Lacing on the glass is excellent. Coats quite nicely.

S: Smelling some woody notes here, some roasted barley or oats, and smoke. The alcohol is REALLY obvious in this one, maybe more so than any beer I've had. Despite that it has some nice characteristics and I enjoy smelling it.

T: Taste is nice and creamy smooth, black coffee is prominent but the most outstanding taste is pure dark 100% cacao chocolate. Since I'm not a fan of dark chocolate this isn't exactly my favorite beer. The creaminess helps balance it though.

M: Really amazing. Nice and creamy, perfectly carbonated for the style, and coats my mouth about as well as any beer.

D: It took me over an hour to finish a 12oz sample, and I couldn't have more than one due to the bitter finish of this one.

I think I will revisit this beer in a few years as I develop more of a taste for stouts. The alcohol, dark chocolate and coffee notes contribute to an overwhelming bitterness for me. I rated it higher than I probably wanted to, but I know it's a good stout. Still not the best I have had, but good.

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Photo of Pullen
3.24/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Quite roasty...burnt toffee notes....kinda oaky with licorice added. Not quite balanced, but it's not a bad beer.

Two fingered head that dissipates quickly.

Not as hoppy as I expected, but this beer is drinkable.... Probably a good introduction to RIS's for beginners...

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Photo of sopor
3.26/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Holy hell this is black. And obviously thick just by how it pours. A finger of copper coffee colored creamy head sticks to the side of the glass. If you look closely at a large bubble, it has the look of oil slicked on water. Smells strongly of roast coffee bitterness with a hint of plumby sweetness.

Complex is an understatement, I can taste butterscotch, burnt maltlike coffee, that plumby syrupy sweetness and a bit of hop bittering. The alcohol is hidden. Feels thick and oily, slick and chewy in the mouth.

This beer is too big and thick for me, so it lost big onthe drinkability.

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Photo of Joshualvsjenny
3.3/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A: talk about a beautiful beer, coal black like used motor oil, with a deep brown head. One of the best looking stouts I have seen!

S: Alcohol, roasted malt, licorice, chocolate.

T: I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in this one! Roasted malts, chocolate, hit of molasses. And a Very warm alcohol finish.

O: for me the alcohol was a little bit too overpowering on this one, and with 10.5% ABV it not to surprising it has a strong alcohol presents. It's just I have had imperial stouts that were way better balanced than this one. But aside from that it wasn't a bad beer. Leaves a fantastic lacing on the glass. Defiantly a sipper.

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Photo of bowersdm
3.3/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic 2008 vintage

A - the usual RIS color with a 2.5cm tan/brown head that would have been larger had the glass been taller.

S - chocolate, cocoa. not much else going on, the smell did not impress me.

T - chocolate, malty sweetness, alcohol provides an astringency that leads into the slight hop touch at the end. As it warms, a coffee flavor develops in the middle

M - textbook RIS mouthfeel. creamy, not over carbonated, chewy, just all-around great.

D - The beer itself looked beautiful, but its flavor and aroma were really weak. I've had much better imperial stouts for much cheaper, but I enjoyed the opportunity to try it. The flavor (or its lack of) made me not really want to continue drinking it. ( don't worry, I didn't drain pour it. I would never do that to an RIS.)

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Photo of jayhawk73
3.3/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a ink black, with only a sliver of a chocolate head evident. Minimal lacing on my CBS snifter. Truly one of the darkest looking beers I've seen. The nose is mainly coffee, bitter chocolate, malt, and that's really about it. Not quite as good as Breakfast Stout's nose. The taste is... interesting. Not sure whether I love it or hate it. There are a bunch of malts, anise, burned biscuit, coffee, and some hops. After half a bottle... I don't think I'm a fan. The taste just doesn't taste.... well... good. None of the 10.5% ABV is evident. Feel is smooth, creamy, and goes down like butter. The feel is definitely the best part of this brew for me. Overall, I have to say- I'm not a fan of the taste of this beer. I probably will gift the other three bottles away to friends. This is like a Breakfast Stout gone awry... and I love just about everything Founders does. I won't buy this again though. Cheers.

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Photo of mtlasley
3.33/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- A thick, viscous elixir pours from the bottle and fills the glass like velvet. It's pitch black light a moonless night in the forest. Sinful is a word that comes to mind. No light gets through this beauty. A small cocoa colored half finger head dissipates quickly.

Smell- I get strong dark chocolate notes up front. Very sweet smelling. There's coffee, followed by that signature Stout roastiness. There's a faint hint of oak lurking beneath it all. Almost a whiff of cherries in there?

Taste- Coffee and deep dark chocolate notes lead off and it's quite pleasant but it trails off quickly into an unknown bitterness. It invites a second taste quickly. The roasty character is almost too strong on the second go and it starts to overpower quickly. I find myself wishing that some of the underlying malt and chocolate flavors could shine through.

Mouthfeel- Rich and sticking. It takes on the velvet quality here in the mouth just like in the pour. It sticks to the tongue and the chops.

Overall- A sweet, decently priced Imperial Stout with some slight balance issues? We can't all be perfect and this beer really shines everywhere else. I'm definitely more partial to the BS, and especially the KBS but this is an easy to obtain winner.

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Photo of mralphabet
3.36/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Black, black, black very little dark tan head, but it leave a very nice ring around the glass thought out the session... Great lacing...Wonderful looking brew.

S: The normal Imperial Stout smells here... Chocolate and coffee with hints of dark cherry and malt... With a touch of bitterness... nice mixer of all.

T: I'm getting a strong coffee and alcohol mix.... the chocolate is a there but overwhelmed by the bitter coffee and alcohol. Little to hot for my taste.

M: Med to full bodied, with a sharpness, due to the bitterness... the finish is over all dry and a little chalky.

D: It is a 1 session beer, sip and enjoy. Gets better as it warms...

This is not my favorite Imperial Stout... this is my first Founders Brew, so I'm curious ... I'm up for more.

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Photo of taylorhamrick
3.37/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This pours a deep, dark black, perfectly opaque. A thick brown head sits on top with some loose, clinging bubbles. Nice lacing and retention. Really a beauty. There isn't an abundance of smells. I get the feeling of carbonation in the nose, a smell of alcohol, with a faint whiff of roasted malts in the background. The taste hit me immediately as a bittersweet chocolate, then the alcohol took over. This one finishes kind of dry, with that taste of black patent erasing everything else behind. The only complaint is that it lacks complexity. I mean, there's plenty of flavor there, but I can't dig deep and search without finding the same stuff. The mouthfeel is oddly a bit thin, which may be a product of the dryness. It allows the alcohol to just pund your tongue - which brings me to drinkability. The attack on my tongue of the alcohol slowed me down quickly, and the feeling in my nose from the alcohol and sort of empty carbonation worked to do the same, but I still found this to be pleasant.

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Photo of righthereisay
3.39/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Got this is Swansboro, NC at Harrika's Brew Haus. I was looking for some stouts to try. Didn't particularly like the 10.5% ABV on this one.

Poured into a glass, it looked great. Near black. I'm not into labels, but I personally thought the lablel made it look like a cheap beer.

Anyways, it does smell like coffee, maybe some chocolate, but mostly alcohol.

The taste was rather good. Nice blend of flavors. I thought that there may be a little too much carbonation, but that could be a result of the alcohol. I personally didn't appreciate the bitterness at the end, or the lack of a body.

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Photo of luciusgilmer
3.39/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into a tulip style glass.

A: like many Founders Beers, this looks awesome: deep, rich color and nice thick head (3/4 inch in my glass).

S: I'm not impressed by the smell; it's clearly rich, but not distinctive (their Scotch ale, by contrast, is interesting to smell); I smell all the things I probably should plus a whiff of alcohol.

T: It's a good stout, but I'll keep looking. There are rich oat and malt flavors to it, but the ABV actually makes it less appealing here.

M: Really nice carbonation and flavors make this a tasty beer to roll around in the mouth.

D: But I kept noticing the alcohol level, which is not a super sign for me. I would not turn one down, but at the usual Founders price, I will reach for their other products instead (like the Dirty Bastard).

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Photo of hoppymcgee
3.41/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 2009 vintage 12oz. bottle into a Bruery tulip.

A: The best feature of this beer. Black as night with a bubbly brown head that recedes into a wispy mass and laces the side of the glass.

S: Iced coffee, some malts, and smoked beachwood. Maybe a little bit of black currants from the aging.

T: Meh. I don't think the aging did this beer any well. Acridly roasted coffee, no sense of sweetness, way too bitter (they should have made this about 70 IBU's). I do sense a little mellow nougat flavor as this warms up.

M: Perfect carbonation level to mask a rather thin RIS. Dry finish.

D: Not too shabby. Even though I didn't like the taste that much it was pretty easy to take down - maybe one good feature from the aging?

Overall, my least favorite from the Founders portfolio of beers I've sampled thus far.

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Photo of teromous
3.41/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

From the bottle: Bottled 12/15/2014 so it is less than a month old

Appearance: Oily black body. When pouring it came out as a viscous oily substance that I had to adjust my "pour stream" to prevent it from falling out of the glass. It's not necessarily good or bad, just noteworthy. There is a thin dark brown head that fades out rather quickly.

Aroma: The aroma is almost non-present. I pick up the scent of pure alcohol mixed with what smells like chocolate brownies. It probably sounds great, and it does smell good, but it's like smelling the pan that brownies were cooked in rather than the brownies themselves. It is the whisper of a ghost.

Taste: Fortunately that chocolate brownie aroma made it into the flavor. It is here and it is nice, but it is very faint. It tastes as if this beer has been aged for a very long time despite how young the "bottled on" date is. If you've ever aged a truly fresh beer you will know what I mean when I say that the flavors have melded and faded away from the foreground. The alcohol presence is gone which is fantastic. Nothing stands out in this, however in its subdued splendor it is enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: it is thick and coating like brownie batter. Lovely presence on the palate. It could not be better. It has very low carbonation and it works nicely with the nice thick body.

Overall: My overall experience with this beer is that I like it a lot and I would drink it again. Although it is fresh it tastes faded, but somehow it works. Was the beer aged extensively prior to bottling? I don't know. I would recommend drinking it "as is" and not aging it further. I would drink another bottle of it, but I probably wouldn't keep a sixer around.

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Photo of alcstradamus
3.42/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A--Pitch black with no highlights and about a half finger of head. A small amount of lacing is left behind.

S--Big roasted malts and caramel, coffee, and a little bit of chocolate and nuts. Citrus hops also present. There is a slight bourbon like booze scent that is barely in the background. Very pleasant overall.

T--Dominated by roasted malts and coffee bitterness. Earthy hops also are big and help make this one very bitter for a stout. This is not meant for the weak palate, that's for sure. The flavor profile really doesn't strike me the way that the nose did. Kind of like stale coffee and hops put in a blender. Still, its not horrible overall.

M--Medium bodied with a smooth creaminess that gets broken up on the back of the throat by the carbonation.

D--This one has tons of flavor, but it is not a flavor that makes me want to continuously reach for the glass. The 12 oz. bottle is more than enough, and since I can only find this in 4 packs I probably won't buy it again.

Don't get me wrong, this is an impressive beer, but it is not meant for my palate. I love coffee in my beer but unfortunately the coffee profile here is not very good and there are not enough other flavors to make up for it.

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Photo of Prufrock
3.45/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

pours pitch black with a touch of brown head that falls quickly to nothing.

coffee, raisins, molasses, and a touch of soy sauce in the aroma. smells very sweet and dark, if that makes sense.

heavy but smooth mouthfeel with just a touch of carbonation. raisins and a vinous sweetness dominate the flavor with some coffee-like bitterness and alcohol. touch of soy sauce lines the throat and the finish, which along with the alcohol limit the drinkability.

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Photo of glazeman
3.46/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bomber poured into a snifter.

A: Black and totally opaque. Nice 1 finger tan head. The head fades fairly quickly into a swirly thin membrane with a nice collar.

S: Not as an intese of a smelling beer as I had expected. Smells fairly sweet, almost like peanut butter.

T/M: Something was missing here for me. This beer was quite a bit more bitter than I expected. It has a nutty/boozy flavor with hints of chocolate. Has a sticky feel and is slightly hot on the palate.

D: Alright, but doesn't really leave me yearning for more.

It was nice to try this beer, but I definatly prefer Goose Island's Night Stalker or Bell's Expedition over this beer.

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Photo of headbucket
3.46/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased around december 2009.decided to let them sit after the first one I tasted was a bit too intense for me, a big russian/imperial stout fan.

A:pours with one of the darkest heads I have ever seen. A nice head a little less than an inch forms after a vigorous pour. The head lightens a bit after sitting, to a very dark tan/singed paper color. Nice lacing left on the glass. Dark black beer.

S: dark malts,roasty, and a bit of chocolate and smoke.

T:semi-sweet and dark, chocolate, roasty bitterness similar to a coffee flavor, a little leather flavor maybe, then the smokiness comes in and takes over. There is a weird mix of bitter and smoky/burnt flavors on the end and throughout the aftertaste. The strongest smoke/burnt flavor I have encountered in an imperial stout and I'm not a big fan of it. It overpowers and just doesn't
do it for me here, would rather be tasting the chocolate and bitter flavors more.

M: thick and smooth. Very nice. Along with appearance, the best parts of the beer.

D: great mouthfeel and the abv isn't too apparent so that is good, however the odd bitter/burnt aftertaste doesn't do it for me. Would be a little lower but the glass is going down pretty quick despiter the smoky finish.

I really like fbs and kbs, cbs is up there too but the smokiness/ burnt bitterness of this beer just isnt somethin I can get into. Will be sitting on my last two for atleast a few more years in hopes that they turn into something I can enjoy more

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,733 ratings.