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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

6,541 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 6,541
Reviews: 1,705
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.49%
Wants: 616
Gots: 1,766 | FT: 137
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: BeerAdvocate on 02-12-2005

90 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,541 | Reviews: 1,705 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Jeffo
4.02/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle so generously flown over the pond by Kkottonmouthkngz. Thanks again for knocking off this long time want man!

From a bottle into a snifter

APPEARANCE: A thick, black, sludgy looking pour yields a small, medium looking, crackly, dark mocha colored head with relatively lousy retention. Head quickly fades to a ring and half wisp. Thick, black body with some carbonation evident. Touches of wisp remain but no real lacing down the glass. Dark and thick body, but a lousy head.

SMELL: Roasted and smoky malts with dark chocolate and dark cherries on the nose. Some port qualities, and some faint coffee aromas as well. Definitely big enough.

TASTE: Roasted and smoky malts with some dark, pure chocolate and port wine qualities. Dark grapes and sweet molasses at the swallow. Bold and lingering aftertaste of bitter chocolate, coffee, sweet molasses and port wine as well. Big flavors, very roasted and flavorful, with a balanced finish. Good stuff.

PALATE: Full body and lower levels of carbonation. Creamy and heavy on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes slightly sticky. Very good feel, with enough weight to make it big. Needs to be slightly creamier for a perfect score here.

OVERALL: Good stuff, and very demanding as well. Definitely one of the bigger imperial stouts out there, and one everyone should get a shot at. As far as imperial stouts go without any added hoopla, this is a solid example of the style. If you get a shot at this, don’t pass it up. Eternal thanks to Kkottonmouthkngz for my shot. Recommended.

Photo of matttttYCE
4.02/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Poured into my Deschutes balloon glass/snifter, this one has a nice dark mocha colored head, a little more than 1 finger high. Head fades pretty quickly to a thin covering of bubbles and a ring around the edges. Color of the beer is motor oil black.

Smell - Aroma is not as intense at first as I expected for a 10.5% RIS. As I pick through this, I get notes of deep roasted malts, smooth and silky dark chocolate, some hints of coffee, subtle vanilla notes, also some light smokiness and char and hints of dark fruit and tart cherry. After a while, as this warms up more, more flavors come out and I get licorice and what I assume to be anise notes. Probably one of the first times I've been really been able to identify anise.

Taste - Tons of roasted malt flavor, lots of very dark chocolate taste like I just bit into strong dark chocolate, more smoke and charred aspects to the taste than I got from the nose (but not too much that it's offensive), just a dash of vanilla in there, some of the licorice and anise from the nose, and notes of dark fruit/cherry closer to the end.

Mouthfeel - Quite a nice feel. Thick creamy consistency (almost chewy), carbonation is pretty light, basically full bodied, with a finish that is pleasant, subtle, moderate in length, and a bit dry.

Overall - At first I really wasn't getting much in the aroma (even after it warmed a bit from cellar temp ~50 degrees), and I thought it was just the brew, so I started drinking it. Then I didn't get all that much from the taste either. So I let it warm further and finally got the characteristics to shine through. So you know, you might want to let this one warm a little more than usual. Anyways, a very nice example of an RIS. This isn't my favorite of the style, but still one I'm quite glad to have tried. Thank you very much for this one McNuts!

Photo of tim007007
4.02/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of macesq
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Preismj
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: heavy dark black with a sticky tan head at about an inch. beautiful looking stout and its all the head on this one which is thick and fluffy like whipped cream on top.

s: cocoa, toffee, coffee and a touch of hoppy aroma in the distance that gives a whiff of heat from the abv.

t: delicious profile of flavors here, and it follows the nose. Tastes just like the breakfast stout but with higher alcohol content and slight hop profile...but a light hop presence. delicious. getting some oat or barley...definitely grainy in the back end of this with a malty finish. bitter chocolate to start, sweet malt toffee to end.

m: Thick, slight fizz. coats extremely well.

o: very good. I give it a 2 out of 10 for originality as it is really just a base breakfast stout with a higher abv. however, a 9 out of 10 for pulling off a delicious brew that hides the abv pretty well behind delicious flavors.
will try to track this down in bottles to save for sure.

Photo of spinrsx
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz received in trade with igeunard - thanks! - Bottled 11/2011

Appearance - Dark brown colour with a large size fizzy/frothy brown head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for 5-6 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, coffee, roasty notes

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and coffee. There are also some roasted/smokey/burnt notes and a nuttiness and also some vanilla. I can pick up on the booze, but not all that much.

Overall - This bottle is going on a few years old but is still drinking fantastic. It has a lingering bitterness and you can tell it is made from quality ingredients. Not sure it's head and shoulders above some of the other good RIS's out there, but it is surely a very good beer.

Photo of hayesez
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Tis the season for the Founders Imperial Stout. A 2009 poured into a standard pint glass.

Even with a force pour for the last half, this thick stout had very little sitting on top. It did billow up to a finger or so of dark tan head and stuck around for quite a while. A thick, heavy, black beer that looks precisely like you expect from the style! Bubbled lacing hung around nearly the entire way down as I put this one away. This is a good looking beer!

Prominent smells on this one are nuts and chocolate with some roasted malt in there. The alcohol comes through a bit as this one warms up, but not much...

Silky smooth....this is nearly a perfect mouthfeel for this type of beer. Thick, velvety, smooth, with medium carbonation - outstanding! The roasted malts dominate the taste with a chocolate-coffee finish. A bit too acrid for my taste; the finish had a pointed roasted bitterness. Not overly surprising, I suppose, being that it nearly hits 100 IBUs, but I would be even more impressed if this were masked as well as the alcohol is. No indication that this thing tops 10% ABV.

While I consider nearly every imperial stout drinkable, this one could stand to sit in the cellar for a while. Probably even a bit unfair to rank a beer so recently produced. I have a feeling that a little time to sit and think would really help smooth this one out.

Overall, this is a very solid stout - what else would you expect from Founders.

Consumed on 1/17/2010

Photo of nhindian
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a large snifter.

A - A seriously thick, viscous syrup poured out from the bottle, and even after a relatively hard pour of the last half of the body, it only built about a 1.5-finger, dark mocha colored head. Head leaves just about as fast as it arrives, and doesn't leave much at all in its wake. Lacing is fantastic as you can still see the crest of the head even when the beer is nearly killed.

S - Contrary to other Russian Imperial Stouts, this one actually doesn't smell like a coffee bomb. Rather, I'm getting tons of bitter chocolates and sweet, sweet malts. There is a bit of coffee, but it is quite subdued and there's not much of a roasted quality to it. Smells fairly bitter as a result of the chocolate, and I finally get some alcohol at the end of the smell.

T - Taste is very similar to the nose. Definitely more chocolate up front than lots of coffee, and it has a thick, bread-like characteristic too that adds a lot to the body. It's interesting, it's really sweet as a result of the wide variety of malts, but it's also very bitter in the finish. Getting a bit of vanilla and roasted oat as well.

M - Mouthfeel is heavy with little carbonation. Very thick and heavy, but also quite creamy and smooth. Adequately coats the mouth in the final bitterness.

D - Drinkability is moderate to high. Given the thickness when first pouring, I thought this would've been a mighty sipper, but it drinks much easier than I would've thought due to the high chocolate flavor and creamy body. High ABV and bitterness keeps this from being a day-long beer, and the style reserves itself for a cold, winter night.

Photo of gskitt
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a ink black with a very dark brown head. Scent is not overpowering, but the roasted malts, chocolate and coffee notes are there. Taste is a deep, rich balance of those roasted malts and bitter chocolate. Very little carbonation, thick and creamy mouthfeel. This a really nice RIS. Founders rarely disappoints.

Photo of scottfrie
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into Duvel Green tulip. Bottled 11/09.

A: Pours black with a billowing dark reddish-brown yielded from a rough pour. The head took forever to fade into a thick collar that left a network of delicate lacing down the glass. Just outstanding looking.
S: Chocolate-coffee ice cream and maybe a few hints of rich dark fruits.
T: Rich with more coffee than the nose. This first thing I notice is how bitter this beer is, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's got big flavors of chocolate malt and coffee, with slight hints of vanilla and burnt flavors. Aftertaste has a touch of smoke and a punch of coffee bitterness.
M: Alcohol is just barely noticeable, and most of the warmth is gone. Body is on the fuller side of medium but could use a little more. Carbonation is just right for the style though, and the mouthfeel is pretty darn nice.
D: A pretty impressive beer and one that I would buy now and then if it were available to me. I love that it's in a 12oz bottle since I don't know if I'd want to drink any more than that by myself. Cheers!

Photo of emmasdad
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After successfully completing a number of trades for KBS and Breakfast stout, it never occurred to me to try and pick up this one. Received as an extra, and luckily so. Pours a deep, midnight black color, topped by nice half inch or so of brown foam, which quickly recedes, becoming a light collar of lace and a few random bubbles. Aromas of good dark chocolate covered espresso beans, dark roast malt and a hint of young port. A little bit more wine on the palate initially, a metallic note, then lots of espresso and dark chocolate with some warming alcohol late. Definitely need to seek some more of this one out.

Photo of flagmantho
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: completely, entirely black, with a finger of creamy brown foam on top. Some of the darkest head I've ever seen on a beer. Just beautiful.

Smell: sweet aroma with a real malt character to it, plus chocolate aplenty. Yummy smelling, but not a lot of complexity here.

Taste: sweet malt and alcohol hit me first, then a roasty, burnt flavor with almost an ashy aftertaste. Chocolate is good here, but subdued in comparison to the aroma. There are also vegetal hops at the end of this one, which is par for the style. I think it's quite good, if, again, lacking in some of the complexity I usually enjoy in a RIS.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied with a low but style-appropriate carbonation. Silky smooth on the tongue; good stuff!

Overall: I like this beer a lot, and I would definitely have it again, but it doesn't quite have the rich complexity which I love in a Russian imperial stout. A very good beer indeed, but perhaps not up to its very high potential.

Photo of BeRanger
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a tulip.

A - Pours jet black with a dark brown, rich head about a finger. Leaves plenty of lacing throughout my drinking of it.

S - Dark Chocolate, Roasted Malts are bold. Hints of coffee, hops and sugary notes.

T - Dark Chocolate hits first with a roasted malts/oak undertone. You get a little bit of the sweet sugary/camamel taste as well. The beer finishes with the hoppy after-taste, alcohol is hidden pretty well.

M - Heavy and rich, good medium carbonation. The alcohol is hidden pretty well, hoppy finish.

O - This was the first time I've had the FIS. It was a pretty nice surprise, very well done and complex flavors that melded together quite nicely for a regular run of the mill imperial stout from them. Makes me look forward to KBS!

Photo of Arbitrator
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chilled bottle into a glass. 2009 vintage.

A: Pours motor oil black, with a finger of dark tan colored head that retains very well for a stout of this ABV. It doesn't leave much lacing down the sides, but it does maintain a fairly thick collar that looks very appealing.

S: Tons of roasted grain, bittersweet chocolate, molasses, caramel, anise, and a hint of dark fruit. Espresso is subdued but definitely there.

T: Fresh, this is very roasty, then chocolate-forward. Molasses and burnt caramel enter the fray. There is a delicious dark fruit undercurrent throughout (prunes, figs) that complements a flavorful burst of anise. The finish has tons of roasted grain and a light espresso component. There is a drying hop bitterness that linger well into the aftertaste. Quite complex, and a top-notch imperial stout.

M: Full-bodied. Creamy due to the low carbonation. Well-masked ABV, although it is lightly warming. Nicely rounded out when served just below room temperature. Overall fantastic, but I start to feel the sugar after working on a 12oz bottle alone.

D: Very high. I prefer Old Rasputin and Bell's Expedition, but this is in the next tier of imperial stouts.

Photo of steveheady
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of marburg
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Blackish beer with a viscous, paste-like consistency. An extremely hard pour brings forth only about a third of an inch of head, which from the top looks like a smooth, slightly pock-marked, rich chocolate mousse. Possibly the darkest head I've ever seen on a beer.

I decided to start this one a bit cold and let it warm up. Smells a bit sweet when colder. Chocolate and hints of liqueor -- Amaretto? Kaluha? -- are dominant with hints of caramel. Lots of coffee and grainier, roastier aromas as it warms up.

Intense, concentrated liquid. Starts with sweet chocolate-covered raisins that really give a syrupy, sweet roundhouse to the taste buds. Rounds out with a coffee bitterness. Warmth really begins to bring out a bit of a hop presence that accentuates the bitterness and some alcohol and punches up the sweetness. Very oily and slick; combined with the thickness, this screams "imperial."

Definitely a nice, worthwhile effort from Founders here. For a "big" beer, it's got some nice characteristics. A bit hoppy, but not terribly so.

Photo of jdhende
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Bottle into a New Belgium Globe

A: Black as motor oil with a dark brown head with a good amount of lacing.

S: Very roasty. Tons of roasted malt and coffee notes.

T: Strong roasted coffee and chocolate taste with a hoppy bitter finish. Following the smell has a very roasty taste too it.

M: Slightly thin compared to most RIS. Overall pretty smooth with a dry finish.

O: A very solid, but not great offering from Founders. Looking forward to seeing how the flavors develop with a little age.

Photo of sisuspeed
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 11/27/09

Poured into a Cigar City snifter. Deep black body with a decently sized dark-tan head. Leaves elegant lacing on the glass.

Dark malts, slightly charred wood, dark chocolate and a hint of anise on the nose. Nice balance of sweet and bitter malts. Faint dark fruit in the background.

Creamy dark chocolate, bitter dark malts, faint ripe fruit and a touch caramel on the tongue. Some alcohol on the finish, but not too much. Fairly smooth. Bitter roastiness on the finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Feels fairly thick, but then watery for the style at other times. Hard to describe. Almost like the alcohol on the finish makes it feel thinner. Still quite good though. Warming alcohol on the finish.

Overall, I like this brew quite a bit. Another solid offering from Founders and a solid RIS. Not one of my favorites for the style, but still well done. Worth picking up a bottle or two.

Photo of facundoCNB
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

one of the thickest black pours i've ever seen, topped off with 1/4" of dark brown head. lots of licorice and dark chocolate hit the nose immediately, sugary sweet, dark fruits. the flavor is that of bitter dark chocolate at first but after a second turns into sweet milk chocolate with a slight lingering bitterness throughout. tastes of brown sugar, mocha-latte, toasted grains, slight licorice.

a full body stout with a slight amount of carbonation. creamy on the lips, slightly chalky after feel. this is an excellent stout that you shouldn't pass up trying. sure, it's not as good as their barrel aged stouts, but it's still DAMN good.

Photo of hungarianwax
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark and deep brown. Rich brown head

S: Smells almost a little sour and peaty. Smells a little less stouty than some similar beers.

T: Great malt, chocolately. Covers the alcohol content well. Lacking slightly in richness.

M: Feels very thin for a stout. Low carbonation.

Overall 4
Instyle 4

Photo of Sarlacc83
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, poured into a tulip. Courtesy of gford217.

Appearance: Pitch black. Thick viscous pour, but I may not have been aggressive enough when dropping this into my glass to get a good mocha head. Good lacing, though.

Smell: Coffee, dark chocolate, and more espresso. Dark fruit I can't quite put my finger on.

Taste: Roasted coffee and chocolate. Molasses. The sugary nature brings to the dark fruit back to mind, and it bugs me that I can't identify it. Some alcohol on the back end of the palate.

Mouthfeel: Oily coating with enough carbonation to lift the beer off the tongue. The coffee bitterness lingers for a bit as does some harshness from the alcohol. Sticks to the mouth more as the beer warms.

Overall: More impressed with this the second time around. I would definitely appreciate having steady access to this if I lived on the East Coast. I would have liked to age this longer, however.

Photo of alexgash
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark, viscous (used motor oil) black with a brown leather head that sticks around for the remainder. Heavy roasted aroma matched by heady, alcohol-backed sweetness. Dark fruits and molasses with a hint of vanilla, chocolate, and pine needles. Nice. Singed roastiness up front. Sweet, rich scorched toffee sweetness. Medicinal dark chocolate and boozy coffee near the anise bitter finish. Sticky, full-bodied feel. Not bad at all. It’s no Expedition, but I’ll be back for more.

Photo of timtim
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours pitch black with an almost brown head that shrinks to a thin coat and leaves tons of pretty lace. nose is huge, strong roast (mainly coffee and dark chocolate), a touch of heat and an underlying fruit scent that reminds me of laffy taffy if there was such a thing as a caramel/overripe (almost rotted) dark fruit flavor laffy taffy. maybe some smoke and vanilla in there as well. taste is big, bitter roast malt, cafe con leche, chocolate and citrusy/earthy hops. the hops seem to be fighting for attention a bit, and maybe need a little bit to smooth out. full, creamy body with a bit of a milkshake feel to it, although the bitterness and the heat seem to cut through it a bit. definite bit of alcohol heat in the finish that is mostly hidden throughout the rest of the experience. a lot of competition in this amazing class of beers. this is definitely one big ass beer, and should be enjoyed by any imperial stout fan. not enamored or as impressed as i was lead to believe i would be, but still wuite enjoyed myself. i would love to do a side by side with a year old bottle.

Photo of beer456
4.04/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Love the WINGS. God bless the WINGS motif in America right now, solar disk and all.

The beer, less impressive...BUT

Maybe I should retry in Winter.

Its April, this type of darker beer is a winter beer

Needs re-evaluation

Will re-try and report back soldiers !!!!

Photo of krunch421
4.04/5  rDev -7.3%

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 6,541 ratings.