1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,913 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4913
Reviews: 1545
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 8.47%

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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
Ratings: 4,913 | Reviews: 1,545 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of theghost3


4.2/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to johnd513 for this extra. Pours a midnight black with a chocolate milk brown head. Significant lacing.

The scent is roased dark chocolate malts with roasted coffee. The taste is bitter coffee with dark chocolate; somewhat milky. Mouthfeel is thick & smooth but ends fairly acidic, like coffee.

This is a drinkable RIS. The taste is excellent with a nice milky quality but a little more acidic than I like.

Serving type: bottle

04-07-2009 01:51:58 | More by theghost3
Photo of BeardedBoffin

New Mexico

4.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a black elixir with a beautiful mocha head that left plenty of lacing down the class. A nice coffee, mocha aroma wafts above this brew with just a hint of deep dark ripe fruit. A hint of alcohol is lurking behind all of this.

Fairly thick, but not in a bad way. A powdery bittersweet cocoa flavor is the main event here. Coffee does bandy about a bit, but it is the chocolate that dominates. The beer finishes with a long lasting dry bitterness.

The alcohol is not that noticeable in the flavor profile, which is nice considering the 10.5% ABV. Drink after dinner, you will enjoy it.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2009 00:44:42 | More by BeardedBoffin
Photo of mikereaser


4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a complete pitch black with just a fine layer of brown foam that slow disappeared

S - Deep roasted malts with hints of chocolate and coffee

T - Very strong roasted malt flavor and coffee up front with a nice bitter chocolate finish

M/D - amazingly smooth and full of flavor. This is a nice sipper that is just a treat to consume

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2009 02:01:23 | More by mikereaser
Photo of bonkers

New Jersey

4.1/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured from a 12 ounce bottle into my SA pint glass. It pours thick like motor oil, is jet black and has a minimal tan head, with a bit of lacing. The aroma of strong brewed coffee and a hint of chocolate. The flavor profile consist of coffee and chocalate and is pleasantly bitter. This full bodied brew has higher carbonation than I am used to in a RIS, but it is a good thing. This stout is a very good sipper.

After ageing for a year the flavors really mellow out. There is a lot more dark fruit, and more sweetness. I highly recomend aging this one.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2009 00:14:49 | More by bonkers
Photo of HopDerek


4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black with some dark brown edges. Three fingers of creamy chocolate milk colored head has great lasting retention and leaves some pretty impressive lacing behind. Smells of roasted malt, chocolate, dark fruits, coffee, smoke, anise, and a touch of woodsy hops. Tastes of chocolate, raisins, plums, and figs up front then lots of roasty malts and coffee flavors. Slight notes of vanilla and anise are picked up before a pinch of chalkiness and some smokiness, with a earthy hop finish mixed with a tad bit of alcohol warmth. Medium-full to full in body, smooth, thick, and creamy with some chewiness to it as well. Extremely drinkable, but the higher ABV hinders how many I'd enjoy in a session.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2009 21:42:04 | More by HopDerek
Photo of beer2day

North Carolina

4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaque and deep black with 1-finger dark brown head. Good lacing.

Nose is slightly less aggressive than expected. Chocolate dominates, followed by roasted malt and faint milky sweetness. Licorice presence as well. I like it.

Very creamy on the tongue - almost sweet - with a roasted, very bitter finish. Slight alcohol burn on the exhale. Excellent.

Excellent impy stout. Very easy to sip by the fire pit on a very cold NC night. Another great beer from Founders.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2009 01:11:21 | More by beer2day
Photo of homebrew311


4.22/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Thick, jet black, viscous pour with a thin brown ring of head that quickly dissipates. Some lacing around the glass with each sip.

S: Very deep roasted malty notes, a hint of bitter coffee, some dark chocolate.

T: Wow this is delicious. Reminds me of KBS minus the bourbon. Very heavy on the roasty and coffee notes, although no coffee is added to this beer. Some hints of vanilla as it goes down. The finish is all alcohol which balances well with the roasted flavors.

M: velvety, soft, thick, luscious chewy mouthfeel. This is a liquid meal for sure.

D: This is an extremely well balanced imperial stout. Reminds me of other Founder's stouts (BS, KBS) in regards to the malt profile. This is quite drinkable for the high ABV, but the price will keep me from drinking more than one in a sitting.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2009 22:54:06 | More by homebrew311
Photo of beerorRIP

New Jersey

4.33/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured to a clear pint glass: develops a 1.5 finger brown head, and it looks quite thick and oily pouring from that bottle. the body that results is pitch black, no light passes through while a thin layer of foam remains after the head reduces. lace sticks to the glass as i drain it.

smells of roasted malts. lots of 'em. with that of course comes the coffee aroma (but there isn't any in this one) and a bit of dark chocolate. no smell of alcohol even though it's got quite a gravity.

a very smooth taste. upfront is a bit of malt sweetness followed by roasted malts / coffee and bitterness of the hops. finishes dry and with a touch of alcohol but not a burn. it's just lettin' ya know what's going on.

thick and full bodied for certain. creamy and still carbonated so that it's not a glass of motor oil.

a nice drink for certain, but after one i'll be ready for bed.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2009 03:24:14 | More by beerorRIP
Photo of LilBeerDoctor

New York

3.8/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle thanks to JCB (thanks Jason!). Pours black with a small ring of brown head. Aroma of roasted malt, smoked meats, also kind of an odd smell I can't identify (sweet perfumy?). Flavor is rather roasty with some dark chocolate bitterness and some burnt notes in the finish. Quite nice.
7/4/8/4/15 (3.8/5)

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2009 02:57:18 | More by LilBeerDoctor
Photo of Stimack

New York

4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brew pours to a pitch black color, seem thick. Has a thick dark tan head that has incredible retention. Very nice thick lacing down the entire side of the glass. The aroma is rich, heavily roasted and somewhat burnt malts - gives a slight coffee aroma. Sweet aroma with some fruit flavors. Alcohol is there but is a gives a nice rich mix with everything else. The flavor is extremely good, burnt flavor gives it some astringency, little charcoaly in feel and flavor. Coffee comes out more here along with chocolate flavors. The tail end has a nice bitterness, wondering how much comes from hops and how much could come from the burnt malts? The alcohol really adds a nice complexity as it complements everything. The feel of this brew is almost like a milkshake, has a nice and thick creamy feel. I could clearly have another one of these as the flavors are great but I think the alcohol would get to me. This is nice sipper, a good cold weather brew!

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2009 01:18:24 | More by Stimack
Photo of BMoney575


4/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 3-30-09

Pours super black, the tiniest bit of blood red around the edges. A dark head settles to a thin layer, with great lacing.

Smell is smoky, easy roasted malt, anise, with a subtle coffee bitterness at the end. Much more subtle than I expected.

Taste is good, subtle like the smell. Lots of roasted malt, anise, and a hoppy finish. Not bad, but not enough.

Mouthfeel is good, right for the style.

Drinkability is good, the decent abv is well masked.

Overall, a good beer, but not like others.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2009 23:05:41 | More by BMoney575
Photo of kbeals

North Carolina

4.15/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Pours out an inky jet black. A bit of tan, creamy head sits atop it, leaving behind a decent amount of lacing. Smells are of roasted coffee, and I mean a lot of roasted coffee, a bit of sweet malts in the background along with some alcohol. Taste is of bitter, roasted coffee, and alcohol. Has just a bit of sweetness which helps to balance it out. Very smooth and thick, very little carbonation. Pretty drinkable despite the high alcohol content. Overall, a very good beer and a recommendation for any fan of RIS's.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2009 01:41:44 | More by kbeals
Photo of Jerzdevil1116

New Jersey

4.72/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle purchased at Joe Canal's Liquors in Egg Harbor Twp., NJ. Poured into a pint glass.

A: Opaque black body. Film of brown bubbles on top.

S: Full of roasted malt. Notes of coffee, dark chocolate, molasses and dark fruits.

T: Slightly sweet, malty beginning quickly gave way to the coffee and dark chocolate presence. A fairly dry finish with a slight alcohol presence.

M: Medium to full body. Creamy smootheness.

D: An awesome beer. Very nicely balanced for a RIS. Never too sweet or bitter. I can go through a few of these in a sitting and eventually the 10.5 % alcohol does makes its presence known.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2009 03:40:52 | More by Jerzdevil1116
Photo of abfraser


3.85/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: The motor oil comparison is bit cliche, but this thing really is viscous pouring into the glass. It just looks really thick. Black as black can be. With a dark brown finger's worth of head.

S: Burnt malts, dark chocolate, soy sauce. There are some serious roasted aromas going on here. Intense.

T/M: That thickness on pouring is now absolutely coating my mouth. This is dense. Massive burnt malt flavors. Chocolate and soy sauce there as well. Bitterness on the finish is prominent. This one is a little too thick for my tastes. It's as full bodied as full bodied gets. I'd actually prefer a 6oz bottle of this and wish I opened this with a friend.

D: Doesn't score high on drinkability in my view. I'm having trouble putting an entire glass down, not because it doesn't taste good but because of the huge, intense mouthfeel.

Overall, very tasty, but the intensity of flavors isn't offset by a lighter body that I think would have improved things overall. For instance, I had an easier time putting a Dark Lord down than this--that should say something.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2009 03:37:49 | More by abfraser
Photo of johnmichael712

North Carolina

4.78/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured out of a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic glass. Bottle has no freshness date, but does have a cool crest on the front with a picture of a knight slaying a dragon with a lance. This beer pours an inky black color that is completely devoid of any highlights. It requires an extra vigorous pour to milk a head out of this beast, but when one forms it's about one finger in height with a dark cinnamon color and a soft, pillowy texture. The head fades pretty rapidly, but leaves a moderate amount of lace in concentric circles around the glass.

Smell: The nose of this beer is dominated by dark chocolate and a generous amount of black and chocolate roasted malts. There are also notes of blackstrap molasses, freshly-ground espresso beans, and a little hint of alcohol. Overall, this beer possesses a fabulous nose, and I love beers in which King Chocolate reigns supreme.

Taste: This beer starts off similarly to the aroma, with huge tastes of bittersweet chocolate and roasted malts. Surprisingly, the taste of licorice is also fairly prominent, and as the beer moves away from the chocolate and roasted malt flavors this, along with molasses, become present. The beer then moves to a hint of alcohol and a strong amount of hop bitterness, which isn't surprising because the bottle tells me this beer checks in at 90 IBU's. The dry, hoppy finish is pleasant and reminds me a lot of the Stone Imperial Russian Stout I had last night. If you like Stone's IRS, you'll love this beer.

Mouthfeel: This beer, like the best Russian Imperial Stouts, has an incredibly thick, rich, and milkshake-like body. It has a wonderful chewy malt profile that feels heavenly smooth on the tongue. Overall this beer possesses a mouthfeel similar to that of North Coast's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout and Stone Imperial Russian Stout, and since they both got fives from me for mouthfeel this beer will be awarded the same honor.

Drinkability: A fabulously drinkable stout, I can easily see myself going for a couple of these in a night. It's delicious enough and smooth enough for this, but at 10.5% alcohol just make sure that someone else is driving.

Notes: Another fabulous beer from Founders. I've been flooring at how adept they are at producing high quality "big beers", and their Imperial Stout is no exception. This definitely ranks as one of the top three Russian Imperial Stouts I've ever had, and it, Stone IRS, and North Coast Old Rasputin make a triumvirate of thick, delicious, and easily accessible stouts that are among the best in the world, bar none.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2009 02:05:27 | More by johnmichael712
Photo of bbothen


4.15/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bootle into Sam Adams beer glass.

Pours a deep & dark black with a small less than one finger deep tan colored head. The slight head quickly turns into a small bubbly ring around glass.

Smells of roasted malts, malted milk, cocoa, faint roasted coffee & slight booze.

Bitter chocolate, charred malts, roasted coffee beans, over ripe fruit, vanilla, warming alcohol, hoppy bitter finish. I love the bitterness here.

Smooth, creamy, full bodied, low carbonation, lingering bitterness.

Drinks well. The 10.5% makes itself known, but still drinks easy.

A fine example of a RIS. And a great beer. Kudos.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2009 00:45:20 | More by bbothen
Photo of chaz410

North Carolina

3.9/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this lovely beer at the Common Market in Charlotte, NC.
Pours jet black with a thin mocha colored head.
Smell is roasted, malted, slightly caramel and coffe hints.
Taste is roasted and toffee like malts. Chocolate and burned coffee are throughout the palate. Good hop finish, better than expected.
Good beer overall, kinda wanted more from founders, but I can't complain, they have so many specialty stouts, it's nice to see a good solid standard.

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2009 02:24:46 | More by chaz410
Photo of Pullen


3.2/5  rDev -26.8%
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...

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2009 01:36:54 | More by Pullen
Photo of Risser09


3.6/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter - Fridge temp - 2008

Appearance: Pours a midnight, jet black color with a slight, brown head that goes away pretty quickly. No lace. Not a very lively brew.

Smell: Deep roasted malt, coffee, leather and a pinch of hops. The label indicates 90 IBUs, so they must not have spared. Licorice is in there, too.

Taste: Extremely roasty flavor is indicative of burnt toast, charcoal, and dark espresso. A hoppy bitterness further accentuates the roasty feeling. Mild sweetness and a nice belly warming feeling.

Mouthfeel: Lots of roastiness and warming alcohol. Medium bodied with little carbonation action.

Drinkability: This beer is okay. It's bold and powerful, but feels over-attenuated without much flavor complexity. Worth consuming, but there are better RISs.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2009 11:57:54 | More by Risser09
Photo of ScreamForMe


4.38/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received from Educator BIF - darkerthebetter (thanks Ed!)

Minimal head. 90 IBU on the bottle concerned me a bit. I shouldn't of worried. Beautifully balanced imperial stout.

A bit of different take on the style. Very much a sipper. Improves as you drink it. Glad I just received another bottle!

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2009 04:01:13 | More by ScreamForMe
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly

New York

4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got this brew in a trade with drgonzo3705, Thanks Paul!

12oz bottle served in a snifter.

L - black beauty with a creamy tan head that thins to a layer/ring leaving a sheet of lacing down the walls of the glass.

S - roasted coffee bean aroma.

T - much more comes out in the taste of this brew, roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate and dark fruit.

F - rich and creamy full bodied brew.

D - slow sipper, good nightcap. sweet dreams!

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2009 01:59:54 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of jwc215


4.05/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaque black with a brown head that becomes a wisp. Some dots of lacing, along with "legs" stick.

The smell is of dark chocolate, coffee, some molasses and some licorice blend, with a whiff of alcohol.

The taste is of coffee and chocolate, some licorice. Roasted malt is balanced by earthy, slightly citric, bitterness. It's a bitter interpretation of the style, though some sweetened dried fruits (plum-like) come through well into the progression/warming. Finishes very dry.

It is full-bodied and creamy/velvety. It has a stickiness, though not cloying.

Drinks very well despite obvious intensity and alcohol. A very nice brew that makes for a tasty, strong sipper. A powerful, bitter/dry, yet drinkable, version of the style. I have to say that this was enjoyable, but I enjoyed the complexities and overall taste of the Breakfast Stout more (though I do understand that it is a different, though related, style).

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2009 02:15:09 | More by jwc215
Photo of glid02


4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up at Bruisin' Ales in Asheville, NC.

Pours completely black with a dark brown head - this is one of the darker heads I remember seeing. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of roasted malts, lightly sweetened dark chocolate with hints of roasted coffee coming out more as the beer warms. All aromas are large and in charge.

Tastes very good. Like the smell, roasted malts and chocolate flavors kick things off, with light coffee flavors coming in right before a solidly bitter ending. Real big flavors here without much hint of the ABV.

Mouthfeel is nice - it's got a very nice thickness with subdued carbonation and goes down smoothly.

Drinkability is good. I had no problem finishing off one and could go for a few more, though at 10.5% that may not be the best idea.

Overall this beer didn't disappoint, just a real solid RIS that doesn't do too much with coffee or chocolate. Definitely worth a shot.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2009 20:20:01 | More by glid02
Photo of connecticutpoet


4.1/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. Thanks to frozensoul327 for this one. It's been so long that we now carry it out here in the CT-MA area... but I still have a bottle of it cellared from 2005, and I am dying to try it soon.

This beer was very dark brown, almost black. Although I could tell it was clear on the pour, in the glass is was pretty darn opaque. What I had hoped for. There was almost no head, and what little there was died away quickly.

Aroma was of intense dark malt, raisins, mild sweet roasted notes, and bitter chocolate. Yum.

Taste was along the same lines. Strong roasted malt, almost burnt, like it had been halfway to charred. It was slightly sweet, and definitely hoppy, although it was hard to pick out hop flavors through the roastiness. Alcohol was definitely present.

Mouthfeel was thick, chewy, somewhat viscous. A beer you could sink your teeth into.

Drinkability takes a little hit, because of the intenseness of the flavors. Although I liked it, and will revisit it again, I couldn't have more than one at a sitting.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2009 01:06:49 | More by connecticutpoet
Photo of BirdFlu

New Jersey

4.18/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The people at Founders know something about stouts that the rest of us dont... This one pours a viscous brown/black, only brown when light passes through it, with a very thing dark brown head which settles quickly. Beautiful. Smells quite chocolaty but with no espresso presence really like breakfast stout, a bit of hop is in there for blance. The taste is very dark chocolaty, especially in the aftertaste.. A bit of burnt bread in there as well.. Some caramel-like cola flavor. Its very smooth and has a really good amount of balance (though certainly not hoppy) and it gets AMAZING once it settles around cellar to room temp. The mouth is viscous and thick, coating the mouth with a sweet, dark taste AND feeling which is close to perfect. Carbonation is subtle but present, more noticeable immediately on the tip of the tongue then fades.
Its very smooth and just great.. I really had to search for reasons NOT to give it an A+ (as amazing as it is, Ive had Canadian breakfast stout and that is certainly their crown jewel.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2009 14:28:46 | More by BirdFlu
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 4,913 ratings.