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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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,733 | Hads: 7,096
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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Photo of antoines15
3.48/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a growler after visiting the brewery on the KBS release day. The beer pours as dark as oil with a 1/2 inch head that remains throughout. Also, it has good lacing even though my glass wasn't cleaned properly. The taste is dark chocolate and coffee. The alcohol is pretty well hidden and the aftertaste is not bad. Overall, it's another good offering from Founders, but not one of my favorites.

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
3.49/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours murky black with no head and then, a head appears. Some lacing throughout.

All the taste elements are here, but it seems disjointed and not in proportion. The boozy and vinous character stand out but they are too dominant. Hops seems to be in their as well. Again, everything is there, but it doesn't mix well.

Smells real good though.

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Photo of arktos
3.53/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

03/29/11 - No freshness date on bottle

12oz to snifter

A: Black with a one finger deep cinnamon colored head - alcohol knocks the head down quickly, minimal amount of lacing.

S: Roasty/toasty meets bitter hops. Black malts, charred wood and perhaps a bit smokey. No mistaking there's alcohol present; there's a good bit of booze soaked chocolate.

T: Quite a bit more hops than I was expecting. Dark roasted/black malt with a quick sweet hit of molasses before the hops come over the top of it all. Good bite of alcohol shows itself midway thru and helps to offset things. An underlying dark chocolate/coffee ground dryness emerges and ends up closing things out.

M: Medium bodied for the style, but bold in flavor - alcohol is ever present and builds as you make your way thru the glass... Imperial for sure, it's a sipper.

O: Was initially taken back by the hops but got used to it quickly as the glass warmed. While the hops could be taken down a bit and the alcohol could be masked better; It's still good... just not sure I'd want more than one in a sitting.

*I've only had a few RIS so far (Smuttynose, Rasputin, Samuel Smith) so may need to revisit later.

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.53/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter on 5/14/10

Bottled on 11/27/09

On the pour I can see faint traces of scorched brown; once in the glass however, this beer is jet black. This actually has to be one of the most viscous beers I have poured. So thick, it was almost a drizzle. The head is solid two fingers of milk chocolate colored foam of small, densely situated bubbles. Reduced to about 25% retention after several minutes, it has left good lacing so far. Thin but good retention & spotty lace throughout.

Despite being a tad restrained the aroma is good. Licorice is notable upfront & quite prominent. Following are notes of sweet chocolate, roasted malts & hints of toffee. Maybe a spot of caramel & molasses. Not too much in the way of appreciable hops. A little booziness is also to be had.

This is a big, malty critter. Moderately sweet chocolate, caramel & licorice hit upfront, leading in to drier, roasted malts. It seems roasted coffee is a faint part of the equation. In any case, the finish is very dry. As with the nose, hops are minimal at best; not exactly a problem though. Come to think of it, hops may account for a portion of the bitterness that embodies the finish. Honestly though, something about the taste isn't quite working for me. Something is missing, possibly distinct burnt characteristics.

Very full bodied; this is a thick, chewy brew for sure. Carbonation is low; smooth & creamy, just like it should be. As mentioned above, the finish is very dry. Lots of roasted bitterness lingers on the finish for quite some time. At 10.5% abv, the alcohol is well-hidden.

Regardless of the fact that something about the taste doesn't fully jive with me, this is a really solid Imperial Stout. It's otherwise very impressive. More impressive is how easy of a drinker it is at the aforementioned abv. I would have no reservations about giving it another shot next time around, especially if I found it on draft. Don't let me discourage you from giving a try.

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Photo of Stunner97
3.53/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- dark black with very think tan head off the pour, nice appearance for the style

Smell- lots of coffee, some hops and roasted malts, not overwhelmed by the smell but not bad

Taste- Nice flavor but to me still a bit strong in the coffee department though not to level of their breakfast stout, alot of hoppy bitterness on this one this one with slight heat, balance not perfect but not bad

Mouthfeel- heavy with moderate carbonation

Drinkability- Decently drinkable though I truely was not ultra blown away by this stout by any means, just lacking that little something special that makes you really love a great stout, a good beer but not great

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Photo of bbeane
3.53/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured into a tumbler... looks like used motor oil. Black in color with no light showing when held up to light. Very little head despite an agressive pour. What little head was there disappears quickly

S- Smells like toasty malt, coffee, maybe some chocolate or cocoa, hint of alcohol

T- Malty sweet start, hint of plum, molasses and strong alcohol taste, with a hint of chocolate or cocoa

M- Pretty thick, syrupy with very little carbonation

D- It was tasty, though I don't think I could drink alot of it... I'd much rather be drinking the BS

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Photo of BrokenStones
3.55/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with thin tan head in Stone IRS tulip. Lots of lacing considering such a small head.

Smell is heavy with dark chocolate and coffee.

Taste is nice toasted malt and dark chocolate. Good coffee flavor in aftertaste. Much better than Breakfast Stout.
Mouthfeel is very rich and creamy. Full bodied. Not a lot of carbonation.

Overall this is a pleasant sipper.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of zoolzoo
3.55/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage

A: Inky black, coffee bean head.

S: Roasted malt, coffee, smoke, dark chocolate.

T: Dark chocolate and charred flavors at play with a little hop zing. Pure cocoa and black coffee in the finish with woody tannins, very bitter, a notable lack of sweetness. Mostly roasted characteristics.

M: Creamy, well carbed but not over carbed. The flavor profile does not call for "motor oil" as a descriptor, not enough residual sugars.

D: Good beer, but one and done.

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Photo of beersgud
3.55/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into stem stout glass, appearance was little to no head. Head that was apparent was beautiful tan cream. Opaque color (black/brown). Smell had chocolate and coffee notes. Taste was much smokier than I had anticipated. Very boozy as well. Sifts in mouth extremely well, despite overwhelming character. Overall an above average beer that I see aging well.

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Photo of craytonic
3.55/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Typical motor-oil black, big head and some lacing.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee/espresso, roasted malt, malts, some grapefruit hops, some random dark fruits

Taste: Chocolate, coffee/espresso, roasted malt, some grapefruit/pine hops

Mouthfeel: Not as thick as I expected for a RIS. Alcohol is noticable

Drinkability: Decent, was a little disappointed in this one, won't try it again - very ho-hum for a RIS.

Part of my darkness, dark lord, kate, sexual chocolate, RIS tasting, and near the bottom of the stack.

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