1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

5,689 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,689
Reviews: 1,589
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 510
Gots: 1,372 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 5,689 | Reviews: 1,589 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of spunk509


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

First, let me say that I LOVE Founders as a brewery. I think they put out incredible product, especially their stouts of which I have a large collection cellaring.

With that being said, the imperial stout is not my favorite.

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass with little head and carbonation.

Aroma is classic for a coffee / imperial stout. LOTS of dark, roasted malts - almost like burned chocolate.

The tastes sticks well with the aroma. I really wonder if there is coffee in here (as in CBS) or if it's all in the malt. Lots of strong, dark malt flavors with a hint of vanilla.

Founders knows how to create good mouthfeel and this beer is no different.

Overall I rate it lower than KBS, CBS, and breakfast stout. I think that without the barrel aging or the added maple or bourbon flavor this beer is just too much dark roasted malt to compete with its big brothers. Keep in mind this is comparing the beer to some of the greatest beers made - no easy task.

01-14-2012 03:20:39 | More by spunk509
Photo of Lolli1315


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

A- Pours and opaque black, can't get any darker than this. About a finger of head, maybe a little more that is dark brown. Nice lacing as this is sticking to the entire glass.

S- Roasted malts slightly overpowered by the smell of alcohol, certainly not unappetizing though. A dark chocolate aroma tends to sneak through before being squashed out by the malt and alcohol.

T- The roasted malts jump around for around a couple of seconds before a dark chocolate bitterness kicks it of the way. The alcohol taste is hidden initially, but towards the end of the beer it leaps out almost unexpectedly and sticks to the palate for quite a long time.

M- Very chewy and thick with a smooth carbonation that makes this a smooth the entire way down.

D- The lingering taste of alcohol in this beer is the only real thing detracting from the drinkability. If you look past that and understand it is something to be expected out of a bigger beer, then this beer will be one you keep reaching for.

12-14-2009 00:38:10 | More by Lolli1315
Photo of Auracom


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

From notes. 12 oz. bottle on February 6th, 2011 in a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

A - Completely opaque, oily black coloring. No light getting through this one. One finger mocha-colored head. Light brown coating on the sides of the glass.

S - Huge, huge roasted nose. Some booze, caramel malts, some coffee, lots of dark chocolate.

T - Much of the same as the smell. Alcohol is a bit less apparent in the taste. Slight bitterness and more sweetness coming through as well.

M - Body is thick as hell. Oily coating lingers on the tongue for quite a while. Extra chewy. Carbonation is just enough. Really enjoyable in this aspect.

D - Gets knocked here for the abv, just too much detection/presence.

*Having revisited this one multiple times, including in a recent stout tasting, I'm deciding to bring the score up a bit. FIS seems to have my ideal base profile for an imperial stout. I still think it has a bit more heat than I'd like when fresh though.*

02-13-2011 23:12:27 | More by Auracom
Photo of jsprain1


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

A- Pours quite close to black. I think can call it black. Head is thin but lasts well with a good bit of sticky lacing.
S- Not as vibrant as I expected. There is molasses, dark chocolate, and fig. Complex but restrained.
T- More coffee like than the nose indicated. Quite espresso-like. There is a dark fruit flavor and a slight prune quality. There is a bit of hoppiness in the finish.
M- Medium bodied for an imperial stout. Carbonation is low, but the body comes across as rich and creamy.
O- It's a quite good Imperial Stout. There are some out there I like a little more, but this one is quite good.

10-02-2011 06:45:03 | More by jsprain1
Photo of RedHaze


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

Based on the notes, this is a 2004 or earlier version. There was no date on the bottle or the 4 pakc carrier.

This pours a very dark and viscous black with a dense one finger head, that might be the darkest I've seen. It took forever for the foam to fade to a very nice cap, leaving behind a solid sheet of lace.

Smell; very good roasted malt aromas, with a solid presence of chocolate. There's some dark fruits, with coffee and caramel.

Taste; the roasted malts dominate the first few sips with te coffee and slightly over cooked caramel. After I let this sit for a while some very nice dark fruits come through with dates, prunes and raisins. To top it all off this finishes with a rich dark chocolate flavor.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability; this has a very full bodied mouthfeel, and I'm not surprised after the pour. Drinkability is very good, especially since the alcohol is barely detectable, but it's still a sipper for sure.

I've passed this beer up in the past, for reasons I can't explain. Never again though. Founders is definitely one of my top two or three favorite breweries.

10-25-2006 01:21:02 | More by RedHaze
Photo of Freethyhops


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

12oz bottle served in a pint.

A- pours pitch black. a little over a finger of creamy brown head. nice head retention for 10.5% and nice lacing.

S- light roast and chocolate. not a huge aroma. smells like possibly some molasses or licorice in there. not bad but not as nice on the nose as most Founders stouts.

T- again. chocolate is the main character with some light roasty coffee like flavors mixing in with it. some caramel/molasses/licorice sweetness in the backround. the high bitterness helps the coffee stand out as it warms. the booze does come out to play a little bit but barely

M- so thick and creamy. carbonation is low/medium and fitting for the style. hits in both departments here

D- some tasty stuff that is well worth the price I paid. I'd definitely pick up another 4pk if I see it again. I could certainly have another but this is one to save and keep around as long as possible.

02-10-2010 04:30:14 | More by Freethyhops
Photo of bamadog


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

This one bad-ass stout, and yet another great offering from Founders. Pour is from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pour is thick and viscous and looks like motor oil; starts with a one finger dark brown head that fades to a thin skim with a thicker ring around the surface; body is entirely opaque and black; thick portions of lacing hold on to the sides.

Smell: Quite smokey and "thick" smelling; deep dark roasty malts; slight chocolate and a slight whiff of alcohol. The smell is very strong and just pouring out of the glass.

Taste: Huge mouthful of robust flavors -- very smokey; deep bitter-sweet chocolatey aspect; definite roastiness and coffe-esque flavors; there's a definite presence of alcohol in it and it comes across a bit like bourbon and a little warm.

Mouthfeel: Thick and viscous, very much as it should be; a little gritty; a little sticky on the roof of the mouth; mouth, throat and belly are left quite warm.

Drinkability: Moderate - love the strong and robust flavors and the smells to match; like a meal unto itself; too heavy and the ABV is too high for too much of it; I think this would have to be amazing with some age on it and I'm considering starting a vertical.

12-13-2009 07:50:11 | More by bamadog
Photo of cps98


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

A – Super dark midnight black, nice 2 finger toffee colored head. Really good lacing.

S – Light coffee, milk chocolate notes.

T – Had some burnt malt character along with heavy dark coffee and some dark chocolate.

M – Nice full bodied beer with really good carbonation.

O – This was really nice although I prefer the Breakfast Stout over the Imperial.

01-25-2012 01:29:22 | More by cps98
Photo of nova009


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

Poured from a bottle into a snifter

A- pours black as night with a nice finger and a half dark tan fluffy head that sticks around for a long time, lacing is pretty nice, spotty in some areas but all around pretty solid

S- dark roasted coffee hits your nose immediately, bitter dark chocolate follows, dark roasted malt, slight hint of alcohol as well

T- roasted malt hits first, dark chocolate follows with hints of dark fruits like raisins mixed in, the finish is dry and bitter like you just shot down an espresso, i think i pick up a faint trace of vanilla as well

M- definitely full bodied, smooth and creamy, coats the entire palate nicely, good balance of carbonationFull bodied...creamy and smooth...bitter chocolate

D- very nice imperial stout, this is my first time trying it and im sad its taken me this long, although this is a seasonal i would drink this year round if i could, props to founders for another great brew

03-04-2011 04:31:36 | More by nova009
Photo of WYVYRN527


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

A: Pours jet black with a thick tan head, that settles to a small film on the surface. Lacing is minimal.

S: Very roasty, with notes of chocolate, espresso, and burnt toast. The booziness comes through on the nose as well.

T: Taste is very much like the smell. Chocolate, coffee, and toast are most apparent up front. The alcohol is also present. It is rather hoppy on the finish, drying and pleasant.

M: Full-bodied and very viscous, along with a warming booziness.

D: This brew is quite drinkable, but one that I would consume as a nightcap on a cold evening like this one.

12-20-2009 06:36:17 | More by WYVYRN527
Photo of Darkmagus82


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

On tap Zeno's and served in a snifter type glass

Appearance – Deep black with a dark brown head of about 1 inch. The head was fairly persistent, but faded slowly giving some nice lacing. Swirling the beer in the glass gave indications of its wonderful thick body, as it seemed to cling to the side of the glass and slowly creep back to its resting home in the bottom of the vessel.

Smell – Strong roasted coffee mixed with a more bitter chocolate are up front and fairly persistent throughout the nose. A very smoky aroma then mixes in along with a bit of a sweet backbone of toasted barley.

Taste – Smooth. There is a roasted coffee flavor that meets the tongue with warmth. A sweet and smooth chocolate flavor then works its way into the profile and starts to take over the coffee flavor. Toward the end however, the roastiness of the brew comes back to take over the sweet, this time with an bitter chocolate and smoky flavor.

Mouthfeel – As anticipated from how the brew seemed to grasp the glass when swirled, the body is hearty and thick. It coats the mouth and tongue like a blanket; warm and comforting. The carbonation is lower, which suits the body quite well. Very nice.

Overall – Quite a great beer. It has it all; flavor, aroma, look and feel. One great brew to sit back and savor if you have the chance.

02-07-2012 01:06:11 | More by Darkmagus82
Photo of mikem0487


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

12oz bottle, bottled on 12/07/12

A-Poured a thick jet black. Surprised to have no head what so ever in the poor. A incremental sized brown head formed for a moment than receded to the edges. Had this on draft a couple weeks ago and poured a nice foamy head. Complete opposite of what it is now. Hope that does not carry over to the smell and taste.

S-Smells like a great imperial. Roasted dark chocolate malts, mild smoked tobacco in their with prunes, raisins. Minimal hop presence in the nose which does not diminish at all the great aroma this beer has.

T-Roasted malts, dark chocolate, tobacco, dark fruit on the palate. This is defiantly a malt driven beer with the hops for balance. Finish's mildly bitter on the end and leaves a chocolate burnt aftertaste. Very enjoyable brew. Taste great throughout than leaves with that burnt after taste which is not my favorite.

M-Medium bodied beer. Low carbonation. Finishes on the dry side. Great for this style.

O-A great beer overall. I enjoyed it much better on draft than I did in bottle however. The appearance did not resemble the first time I had it on draft and the tobacco burnt taste is more heavy on my bottled beer tasting. This is still a great beer overall but if I had reviewed it when I had it on draft this would have gotten a much higher score. Goes to show you that everything in the brewing process down to the packaging of the beer can take away from such a stellar beer.

02-02-2013 00:59:33 | More by mikem0487
Photo of GregSVT


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

12oz bottle into a snifter

A: An aggressive pour of a deep black liquid produces a huge tan head with good retention and leaves tons of lacing as it recedes.

S: The aromas are cocoa, coffee, and a hint of hops. The hops give it an almost earthy aroma which I find very unique. It's also slightly smokey as well.

T: The taste is earthy as well which is odd for a RIS. After that I pick up a lot of cocoa/bakers chocolate and a hop bite on the finish. Very interesting flavors.

M: The feel is thick and creamy with great carbonation for the style.

D: ABV at 10% and the hops in the flavor are the only thing hindering this from being highly drinkable. It's a lot like Old Raspy but a bit better IMO.

Worth a try for sure. I'm grateful for the opportunity from one of my trading partners.

03-20-2010 01:52:57 | More by GregSVT
Photo of kirok1999


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

Back after at least a 2 year absence from Ohio.
Inky black in the snifter with just a trace of head and slight lace. Thick legs hang from the glass.
Smells of roasty chocolate and coffee.
Taste is very dark and roasty. Slightly sweet and dry in the finish. Alcohol is very well hidden but there it is slightly hot in the finish. There's some dark fruit, charred plums, cherries and fig.
Feels dense and creamy. Very heavy.
A very heavy stout and just great to sip on a very cold winter night.

12-23-2008 23:26:28 | More by kirok1999
Photo of woosterbill


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

On-tap at the Brewster DeCicco's, with CBS on deck.

A: Deep black body with just a wisp of swirling dark brown bubbles that just won't go away. A swirl creates a half-inch head that's as dark as just about anything out there (Hunahpu's excepted, of course). Lots of lace. Intimidating and beautiful.

S: Pleasantly boozy, with coffee, dark chocolate, and intense dark fruit - prune overload. Impressive, but a bit overboard with the fruit if you ask me.

T: Grapes, prunes, raisins, and rich coffee. Chocolate on the finishs, as well as some serious boozy burn. Tasty, but a bit harsh.

M: Highly carbonated, very creamy, and rich. I like it.

O: This is quite the beer, but just a trifle boozy and unbalanced to be truly great. I've got a couple bottles, and I'll definitely be sitting on them for a while longer. I bet they'll be great at room temp on a cold winter's evening.


08-18-2011 03:03:35 | More by woosterbill
Photo of jpiper


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

Pitch black with a 1.5 cm coffee foam tan head.

Tons of coffee on the aroma. Some other roasted flavors. Sweet. An inviting smell, though it makes me wonder if this one might be a bit too one dimensional.

Mmmm - roasty and delicious. Very warm. There's a ton of coffee in the middle and coffee bitterness in the finish, but the start is malty sweet with a little nuttiness. This flavor is carried through with the roasted coffee flavors into the finish. There is tons of bitterness in the finish - which actually dominates a little too much for my taste, but enforces the bittersweet chocolate flavor. Ahh, just noticed the 90 IBU's slapped on the neck label.

The first impression even before the flavor on the tongue was the feel past the lips - this beer is viscous - smooth, but thick.

The heat and bitterness limit the drinkability of this beer. This is an extreme sipper.

A good imperial stout, and one which begs for me to open a Péché Mortel for comparison. I love the mouthfeel on this, but the hop bitterness is a little too dominant for me. Perhaps with some age, this beer could be among the better stouts, but fresh it's just a touch abrasive. Still a good IS.

01-26-2009 02:01:11 | More by jpiper
Photo of JefferyLaGrow


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

08-23-2014 19:56:23 | More by JefferyLaGrow
Photo of thecheapies


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

2011 edition (12/22/11).

First time around on this'un.
12oz stubby emptied into a snifter...

A: Sludgy motor oil black with an almost three-fingered mocha head that won't leave. Big bubbles slowly pop on the surface. Grappling lace. Very big looking.

S: Smoke, dark chocolate, booze, licorice, spent coffee grounds, biscuit-y malts, milk-dipped Oreo.

T: Big roast malt with a nice black grain bill. Rich, dark cocoa. French press coffee, some licorice again. Earthy hop that stings a bit. A little hot right now (got two more of my four-pack sitting). Mildly sweet. Interesting dissection of pale malts still uncovered, somewhat of a fortune cookie flavor evident. Big bitter finish.

M: Big and creamy and chewy. The carbonation lets no one here down. Feels like hot chocolate con panna.

O: Another great brew from the Founders group. This is a must have. I'd rate it higher if it were a bit more mellow. Age'll do it good. Enjoy!

01-28-2012 04:56:46 | More by thecheapies
Photo of atrus138


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

Had this during Gravity Head '08 at Rich-O's. Color is dark black, but just shy of opaque. Head quickly vanishes and leaves very little lacing. Smell is absolutely delightful. Rich aromas of deep chocolate, but with unexpected, but welcome, fruity notes. Taste is a bit more passive than the smell. Huge malt presence (I hear they used 10 kinds of malts). Lots of chocolate, brown sugar, and nice burnt notes. Mouthfeel was on the thin side as far as imperial stouts go, but still sported a thicker medium body. Carbonation was just fine. I'd have another, though the alcohol is well hidden, so I'd have to limit myself to just one more.

03-05-2008 06:22:00 | More by atrus138
Photo of vobr0002


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

A- dark black, caramel color head.

S- burnt roasty malt. Some chocolate hiding in the backgrou nd and maybe a bit of coffee.

T- roasty, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol burn in the finish.

M- thick and creamy. Covers your mouth and higher carbonation level to enhance mouth feel.

O- This is a good stout. I think with some time down in my cellar this beer could become fantastic. Just needs to mellow out a bit for my taste.

01-08-2012 02:52:33 | More by vobr0002
Photo of PatronWizard


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

From sparse notes... oh well. Big fat thanks to Mauerhan for sharing this baby. I had been unsuccessfully hunting for awhile.

Great looking beer. Can always revive the head. Medium shade of brown head over a black fluid. Ridiculously smooth with a big kick of flavor at the end - bunrt coffee. Smells deep of dark fruit - just one though, not all of 'em, maybe brown sugar. Thick kickin chicken.

I guess I was slightly let down because I had this beer terribly built up in my mind. Still very solid.

Overall: crossed off my list

08-28-2009 02:14:14 | More by PatronWizard
Photo of CrellMoset


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

Bottle courtesy of gford217 - thanks so much!! A completely unexpected and generous beer care package from a fantastic BA. Poured into a 22 oz. brandy snifter.

Appearance: I've noticed something about Founders brews. When they're supposed to be bright and vibrant - like, say, the Centennial IPA - they're bright and vibrant. When they're supposed to be deep, ruddy, crystalline - say, like the Dirty Bastard - they're deep, they're ruddy, they're crystalline. And when they're supposed to be black, well, they're pitch fricken' black. This one falls into that latter category, obviously, and pours like used, spent motor oil into the brandy snifter, thick and viscous, forming a one-finger, deep brown head of impressive retention that leaves even more impressive lacing, sticky, sheet-like, just all over the place, is this a run on sentence yet?

Aroma: Thick, fudgy, fresh baked brownies, spiked with ... bitter astringencies, and perhaps a kiss of alcohol. Definite anise and other otherworldly spices, very reminiscent of licorice, but also definitely fruity in places, with hints of raisins and cherries.

Taste: Like the Founders Porter I tried earlier tonight, this one's decadent and opulent to a fault. Rich, sweet, milky chocolate notes are balanced with other toasted notes, faint maple syrup, sweet, lactose-laden coffee, heavily crisped toast, a healthy dose of char, raisins. There's also a very prominent and definite anise note that rises above many others, but plays very well among present company given the balance of the flavors and the mouthfeel of this one.

Mouthfeel: About as thick as snails snot, this one, as the omen of the appearance holds true. Moderately carbonated - and the effervescence does do its best to fight its way through - with the thick body holding down many of the carbonation's valiant attempts to puff this one up. What results is an incredibly creamy and even though still thick, sugary, and dominating mouthfeel. This one's about as close to milkshake as they come.

Drinkability: Founders at its best, or rather beer at its best, and Founders at its typical. I have to say I'm almost mildly disappointed with this one, hoping that combination of one of my favorite styles with one of my favorites breweries would produce lightning. Instead, it just produced the forest fire, or perhaps a severe house fire, or maybe just the sort of thing that strikes a lightning rod, and, well, nevermind. The long and short of it is, regardless of my expectations, this is still a really solid beer, more towards the chocolate and anise end of the RIS spectrum, sweet and spicy, though definitely complex across the board. The alcohol's plenty up there, as is typical for the style, though well hidden ... this is a beer worthy of a four-pack pick-up, either way.

02-11-2009 05:23:08 | More by CrellMoset
Photo of rajendra82


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

This one year old bottle was personally aged and sent to me by my Secret Santa. The beer poured opaque reddish brown-black with an inch thick brown head. Lacing was solid despite the high strength.

The aroma was a blend of roasted and fruity flavors like coffee, chocolate, raisins, and figs. The taste was bitter at first sip with unsweetened espresso flavor being at the forefront. As I let the sip linger on my tongue, chocolate, grapes, toffee, and soy sauce made a brief appearance, before being washed away in the herbal hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel was thick, sticky, and smooth. The 10% ABV was not a major detractor from drinkability, except in the mild afterburn in the stomach.

Not quite as intense as other American Imperial Stouts that I have sampled, but rather more in line with the English varieties.

12-19-2004 05:04:29 | More by rajendra82
Photo of brstls4drmrs

North Carolina

4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

2012 review---a little more detailed than my 2011 review....

A - Pours of a thick viscosity like motor oil but in a dark coffee/black color. Hardly a layer of foam on top whatsoever. Just a thin piece of brown like snowflake almost appearing like a layer of sugar on top.

S - Heavy on the coffee with some very nice dark fruits and a splash of licorice. Some faint dark chocolate in there with some smaller doses of booze as well.

T - Like dark chocolate, coffee beans. There's also a slight buttery tone as it goes down.

M - This brew is silky smooth with a buttery texture on the finish. Very interesting and quite enjoyable. Light carbonation.

O - A great stout. Highly recommend this one. Still as good as ever!

02-27-2011 02:59:48 | More by brstls4drmrs
Photo of schoolboy


4.09/5  rDev -6.2%

This pours as one would expect, a dark, opaque, mostly flat headless pool of darkness. There is a hoppy aroma - nice.

The taste stands out, especially since this beer says it was bottled 1-3-2013 and here I am drinking something you should age a week after it was made. The taste is a great mix of smoky, hoppy bitterness. There is very little sweetness left after all the smoke and hops.

The finish is a little sweeter, but it helps make it all work well.

Overall this is a well balanced big stout, and it is hard to imagine it improving a lot with aging, but I bought one to put away for a while to see how it changes,

01-11-2013 00:25:29 | More by schoolboy
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 5,689 ratings.