1. 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.

4,910 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4910
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: 4,910 | Reviews: 1,545 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ritzkiss

Ontario (Canada)

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

Goblet on tap at Coles in Buffalo. Arrives a deep black with a thin, creamy mocha head which leaves sheets down the glass. It also arrives far too cold.

After sitting a bit, the nose reveals some rich roasty malts, bitter dark chocolate and a hint of coffee. Pretty straightforward.

This is nothing fancy, just an honest-to-God, straightforward, well-made imperial stout. Textbook really. Rich roasted malts, chocolate, just a hint of caramel sweetness, coffee, a hint of vanilla, a touch of leafy hops in the finish which, along with the hefty roast, add a nice light drying to complement the creamy, rich mouthfeel. Hides the ABV well, just superbly creamy, rich body.

Paired nicely with my chocolate dessert, would gladly drink this again!

Serving type: on-tap

04-10-2010 13:13:09 | More by ritzkiss
Photo of jzeilinger


4.13/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass, is pitch black in color with a huge three finger mocha colored head.

Smells of sweet coffee, roasted malt, and a slight hint of milk and vanilla.

Taste is bittersweet chocolate, coffee, dark roasted malt, mild traces of dark fruit (very mild traces), finishes with a hopped bitterseweet bite, more so than most Imperial Stouts I've had. There's also mild traces of caramel.

Mouthfeel is medium heavy body, sticky, and the bittersweet coats the mouth and lingers for several minutes - does not finish clean.

This is a very drinkable stout.

Serving type: on-tap

03-10-2010 05:49:16 | More by jzeilinger
Photo of KeefD


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

Had this on tap at Stub n Herb's. Dark brown/black in the glass, left fabulous lacing all the way down the goblet. Nice warms, roasty aroma, some caramel, chocolate and light booze. Flavor is nice balance between sweet caramel and bitter roastiness. Full bodied, viscous. Yum. This went wonderfully with Stub's Blue Balls (mini cheeseburgers stuffed with blue cheese and topped with grilled onions). Excellent beer, and surprised it took me this long to try it.

Serving type: on-tap

12-28-2009 00:24:03 | More by KeefD
Photo of erz316


4.63/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pretty much the same as the bottled version. If anything I notice a much larger hoppy presence in the general flavour, but this is almost evened out by the added chocolate flavour. body isnt as thick as I remember it, but the presentation and look of the brew is exceptional; the head is incredibly thick and lovely.

Serving type: on-tap

12-18-2009 03:23:31 | More by erz316
Photo of ffejherb


4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at UJ's on the Manatawny on 5/17/09. Served in a snifter.

A - Deep black body with slim tan head that reduced to a patchy film but left a pretty thick coating of lace around the glass.

S - Bitter chocolate and cocoa notes with a slight burnt caramel aspect. Hops display an earthy, somewhat woody character.

T - Rich chocolate notes with a heavy nutty astringency that lasts well into the finish. Concludes with an earthy hop bitterness. Alcohol presence is quite tame overall for an Imperial Stout.

M - Warm and softly carbonated, Founders Imperial Stout is full bodied with a rich, fairly chewy texture. Finishes with moderate bitterness and quite a bit of astringency on the palate.

D - Even though I nursed this bad boy for about an hour, this remained quite drinkable throughout. While I prefer Breakfast Stout, this is certainly no slouch.

Serving type: on-tap

05-19-2009 22:44:46 | More by ffejherb
Photo of mhatters


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

Poured on-tap at TJs

Jet black pour, with a chocolate colored head that bubbled and hung about - small amounts of lace formed in a ring around the glass

Nose is powerful, lots of malt and roast, coffee comes fast and hard, than disapates some when allowed to open a bit. The alcohol is present, as is chocolate and more malt. A molasses like sugar aroma hints about.

Rich, robust and deep flavor - well roasted malts are apparent right off the mark, coffee, chocolate, and some raisin and plum at the back.

Bitter finish, with oak, roasted coffee, and bitter chocolate

This is a huge beer, super rich and chewy, mild carbonation, creamy with a wonderful roasted malt persistence. A great representative of the style and as a stand-alone beer.

Serving type: on-tap

04-26-2009 21:19:56 | More by mhatters
Photo of timmay41


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

A: Pours inky black with a light, one finger caramel-colored head. This quickly dissolves, leaving delicious looking lacing and medium sized carbonation bubbles.

S: Smells of a clean, strong coffee bitterness and smokey roasted barley. Hints of dark chocolate and a touch of alcohol on the nose.

T: Dark, dry, and rich on the palette. Strong espresso flavor that rounds out with chocolate semi-sweetness and a little alcohol heat in the aftertaste. For the first few sips I didn't know what I was tasting; it's an aggressive malty front. But once it warmed up some the taste improved.

M: Full bodied and biting with carbonation up front, velvety in the mouth and down the throat with warming alcohol afterwards.

D: My cheeks are warm and happy. This is a great representative for the dry imperial stout family.

Serving type: on-tap

03-09-2009 03:52:41 | More by timmay41
Photo of genog


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

Had this on tap at Bodega in Columbus. I was shocked to see it on the menu, since I have never even seen it in bottles. It was brought to the table in a 10 oz small, sample type glass. Black as night with minimal brown head that disappeared soon after my first sip. Aroma was very malty, cocoa, and licorice. Plenty of licorice in the first sip from the beginning to the lingering after effects. Sipped on this one as it was incredibly filling. Glad I finally got to try this great founders beer.

Serving type: on-tap

03-01-2009 17:03:34 | More by genog
Photo of Kadonny


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

Poured from tap into a tulip style glass at the Craft Ale House in Limerick PA.

A: Jet black with a one finger light brown tight head. No light comes through this fine liquid. Full ring glass lacing.

S: Coffee, expresso, dark chocolate and a slight hop nose.

T: Follow the nose. Lots of dark coffee flavors inculding espresso, dark chocolate and dark fruits like cherry. Cocoa and milk chocolate come after with the sweetness and the finish ends up bitter with a nice slight hop bite. Alcohol becomes apparant on the finish.

M: Thick and creamy, very creamy with a full coating mouthfeel. Finish as I said has lingering bitterness. Medium alcohol can be tasted especially after it warms. Low carbonation too.

D: Low, this needs some time to balance out and let the alcohol subside and meld in with the other flavors. One 12 ounce glass was enough for me.

Overall a very good impy stout. Another quality beer by Founders, but not one I would enjoy every day like many of their other beers. Still very nice.

Serving type: on-tap

02-23-2009 15:06:48 | More by Kadonny
Photo of WakeandBake


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

A very black color pour with a thin, creamy, dark brown head that diminishes to a nice thin ring,and leaves some good lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma is of dark roasted malt, light coffee, faint toffee, and sweet dark fruitiness.Flavor is very roasty malt driven, coffee,bitter chocolate notes some wood or maybe grain,very balanced. Medium-bodied light carbonation, slick mouthfeel with a dry, bitter-roasted finish that features just a touch of alcohol. As always Founders makes it Yummy !

Serving type: on-tap

02-12-2009 22:22:21 | More by WakeandBake
Photo of GRPunk


4.13/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap, served in a nonic pint glass.

A- It poured a near-black body with hints of dark brown at the edges. The 1-finger, brown head that left beautiful lacing and sticky spots all down the glass.

S- The aroma was full of roasty notes with a raisn-like sweetness.

T- The flavor was just a touch on the sweet side. It had a lot of roasty flavor and roasty notes. There was a lighter chocolate accent.

M- It was quite smooth, outside of a slight alcohol twinge.

D- It's a definite sipper, but so good that I'd love to drink it again.

Serving type: on-tap

02-03-2009 22:12:17 | More by GRPunk
Photo of Roeters


4.35/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours black as night, with just a slight head of brown bubbles

S: Slight coffee smell, over powered by the smell of dark malts

T: Dark rick flavor of a great Stout followed by the mild taste of Alcohol making this a true Imperial.

M: Leave this great mouth feel with a slight foaming action on the tongue as it passes thru. Making the experience that much better.

D: The only thing against this beer is the high alcohol content, after one or two 10% beers you're going to be going down the road to get kicked in the face after some more beers.

I love Imperial Stout, it is one of my favorite beers. Thank God I live in walking distance of the tap house!

Serving type: on-tap

06-25-2008 06:21:30 | More by Roeters
Photo of FtownThrowDown


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

On draft at Founders. Pours damn near black. Smell is chocolate, some coffee, but plenty of dark malts. This tastes incredible. This was my highlight of the night. Full, creamy and luxurious on the mouthfeel. A really decadent imperial stout. This is one of my favorite Impy's. Can't wait for bottles of this to be available again!

Serving type: on-tap

06-09-2008 22:56:40 | More by FtownThrowDown
Photo of Kegatron


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

On tap at Founders.

Pours black as night with a thin head of a burnt mocha colored tan creamy foam. Retention is very nice and wouldn't quit, leaving behind some spotty lacing and brown oily residue down the sides of the glass. The aroma is a tingling mix of roasted bitterness and heat, chocolate sweetness, zippy coffee character, and dark fruit tartness.

The taste is rich, roasted bitterness right off the bat that melds into chocolate and molasses sweetness, additional bitter coffee notes, and a dark fruit tang in the backend. Finishes with a combo of bitter notes and warm, tart sweetness. The mouthfeel is full, rich and creamy with the alcohol presence adding beefiness and warmth to the overall feel.

Wow, this is pretty much the definition of a RIS. Founders leaves nothing out with a complex taste and aroma that is held up by a muscular yet approachable body. I'm definitely getting a case of this next time it's released. Great stuff!

Serving type: on-tap

05-11-2008 22:04:10 | More by Kegatron
Photo of drxandy


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

Tried this on tap april 30th '08, poured into a nonic pint

apperance was dark and thick, standard imperial stout

smell of chocolate, dark malts, hot alchohol

tasting was a bit thinner than i expected, i was surprised that i could feel the kentucky breakfast influence, maybe it's a founders stout thing, but definitely not a bad thing.

hops were certainly more present than the KBS and quite nicely added for the style.

wish this was bottled this year, i tried to get a growler but they weren't pouring it in them :(

Serving type: on-tap

05-02-2008 05:30:55 | More by drxandy
Photo of SQNfan


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

On tap at Founders. There were aromas of coffee beans and chocolate. In the mouth it was powerful with a slightly bitter finish from the hops. Overall this was quite nice an powerful but did not have the complexity and balance of the KBS. I would love to have a few bottles of this to age.

Serving type: on-tap

04-24-2008 20:26:37 | More by SQNfan
Photo of blakesell


4.18/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoyed from the tap at Gravity Head '08 in New Albany, IN. Poured into a 10oz glass. At this point of the night my notes started to get a bit.. Scrawling. So hopefully this review makes more sense than I did at the time.

Appearance- Totally opaque. Dark as night. No viability whatsoever. Head is thin and brown. Carbonation clings to the glass and leaves no legs on the sides.

Smell- Prune and raisin with a hint of grape. Big thick dark malts. Plum lingers on the finish. Great finishing hops leaving a nice hoppy scent on the nose. Chocolate on the finish as well.

Taste- Raisin and prune with much hop and malt backbone to balance it all out. Black patent and chocolate malt. Hoppy but still malted enough to remind us that it's still an imperial stout. Creamy and luscious with a hint of brown sugar.

Mouthfeel- Warming, well carbonated, full bodied and even. Sticky on the lips.

Drinkability- Excellent drinkability with well disguised alcohol content. Oh, Founders, why do you treat me so great?

Serving type: on-tap

03-06-2008 01:19:44 | More by blakesell
Photo of atrus138


4.08/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

Serving type: on-tap

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


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

On-tap at the brewery this beer just knocked my socks off. Founders maybe one of the best consistently exceptional Brewers I know. Amazing!

Appearance: Served black as coal with a chocolaty brown head and plenty of lacing lining the glass.

Smell: Roasted malts, coffee, vinous, dark fruits, deep and rich aromas of toasted grains and a touch of alcohol but not overwhelmingly in your face. The aroma is soft and pillowy and down right sniffable.

Taste: Dark roasted malts, thick rich chocolate and fruits and caramel warmed with just the right touch of alcohol bleaching the flavors perfectly this is a monster in the mouth but so terrifically friendly at the same time.

Mouthfeel: I used to think I knew what a soft mouthfeel is. I do now. WOW. This maybe a feture of the tap version but the thick smooth cream feel is exceptional.

Drinkability: The only problem I have with founders, they make too many damn good beers that I don’t want to stop drinking. This is a problem. My problem but still, I could definitely enjoy this big beer all day long, and die a happy man.

Hope this is helpful.

Serving type: on-tap

05-08-2007 00:36:39 | More by Phatz
Photo of nmyers


4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was one of the last beers I have on my visit to Founders so I hope I get this right.

I remember this beer being black like almost like night and it had an aroma of chocolate.

The taste of this beer was a combination of chocolate, coffee, and a small amount of hops.

This was a very thick beer full bodied beer and I really enjoyed it.

Serving type: on-tap

04-23-2006 22:20:42 | More by nmyers
Photo of francisweizen


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

On-Tap at the brewpub in Grand Rapids. Dark opaque bloody black with a big head of moch foam that lasts with superb lacing. Aromas of everything. Deep dark bakers chocolate comes to mind, than cocoa powder. Perhaps some vanilla, caramel, roasted malts, and green leafy hops as well. Taste is hoppy even at the start but roasted and powerful as well. Not very alcoholic, though, which is a plus in my eyes. Chocolate and coffee round out the middle and the finish is raw, green, leafy hops with an almost medicinal quality to it. Mouthfeel is thick, but not cloying or overly sweet or bitter, drinkability remains high, especially for a 12%impy. They serve this and the breakfast stout too cold at the brewpub though. This one really needs to warm up before all of it's complex flavor notes become apparant...

Serving type: on-tap

07-19-2005 19:03:52 | More by francisweizen
Photo of CRJMellor


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

'05 version
Pours a deep, rich black with a thin but viscous luxurious dark tan head that leaves big hunks of lace on the pint.
Aroma of bittersweet chocolate, dry roasted coffee beans, brown sugar, roasted barley and a resiny, earthy hop note.
Flavor is dominated in the front by rich chocolate and lactose notes. Moves to a roasted and burnt coffee middle and finishes with a really aggressive biting hop note that is slightly grassy and earthy.
Mouthfeel is very solid. Great contradictions and transitions across the palate. smooth reamy malts and aggressive roasted and hop bittering make for a complex and enjoyable beer.
Drinkability is very solid but one is enough its so powerful that your taste buds kind of need a break after just one.

Serving type: on-tap

06-01-2005 14:16:14 | More by CRJMellor
Photo of jasonpeckins32


4.72/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I tried this one on-tap at the Founders Brew-Pub in Grand Rapids, MI. These guys make a lot of very fun and interesting beers, I'm sure I'll be back there again soon.

Appearance : Very dark brown to black. It sort of looked like a really thick cup of coffee. Not much of a head, but the bit of foam that did work its way to the top of the glass was an orange-brown color.

Smell : Coffee and chocolate. I'm not sure what else I'm smelling but there is a lot more going on. Maybe molasses, and a tiny hint of some vegetable scent? I can also smell the alcohol... an awesome 12.00%

Taste : The taste is surprisingly very sweet at first, tasting like chocolate, caramel, and raisins. This is followed by a bitter coffee-like presentation that finishes quite nice.

Mouthfeel : VERY Heavy-Bodied. Might be the thickest beer I've had.

Drinkabiltiy : This beer is excpetionally smooth and easy to drink. Surprising, considering the high alcohol content and the style of this beer. Very easy to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

04-22-2005 17:57:47 | More by jasonpeckins32
Photo of granger10


3.58/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at the brewery. Pours very dark, no light penetration. Good sized tan head that sits nice and tight on top. Tons and tons of sticky lacing. Beautiful! Aroma is residual sugars and alcohol combined with a thick coffee roastedness. Taste is simply too strong on the alcohol though for me to fully appreciate this beer. It's good. Nice thick chocolate malt syrup taste then a slight hoppiness but not quite enough. Alcohol is very apparent and there's a bitter espresso taste in the finish. Finish is acidic and lingers with espresso beans and alcohol. Surely a sipper. Body is very thick. Not a real complex beer but I think time might help both the complexity and alcohol intensity. I think this might be kick-ass in a year, but for now its just decent.

Serving type: on-tap

04-06-2005 17:03:00 | More by granger10
Photo of Ohiolager


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

Founder's Imperial stout 4pk bottles $13.99(OH)

12 fl oz brown bottle poured into a stemless white wine glass. Bottled date marked in yellow just below neck. (bottled 12-14-13) So this is real fresh by stouts standards. Properly stored they can sit for over a year. (I am going to keep a few in my dark fridge for a while to age.)

Pours pitch black, with a dark tan almost brown head standing three finger tall. The thick brown head lasts forever! It finally gives way to amazing lacing. Almost two inch's of the glass is covered in a connecting design of lacing. A little less than a one finger head remains covering the surface.

The aroma is bittersweet malts, a smokey black olive smell. A hint of chocolate or cocoa, and a nutty caramel note towards the end. The smell is very smooth and inviting, one smell and you know it's an imperial.

Taste follows the nose but so much more powerful and robust. A smokey malty coffee taste hits you in the taste buds, followed by a bittersweet caramel chocolate flavor. The end is dry, bitter and kind of floral with a subtle hop taste. The 10.5 % ABV is super well hidden. If I did not see the bottle I would guess this was about 7.5 to 8.5 % ABV.

the mouth feel is very nice. A medium-heavy bodied brew. Carbonation is minimal which is just right for a quality imperial. That sweet powerful stout feel and taste clings to your mouth and wont let go. A carmel, coppery, bittersweet feeling that is robust and powerful.

Overall. WOW! I am impressed. and this stout is not even aged. Its jet black, amazing appearance, smells like an Imperial should, and tastes even better than i thought. It is a little pricey for a 4pk but, well worth it. Best imperial I have had to date. One to remember that's for sure. Exceeded my expectations, and then some.

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2014 03:58:17 | More by Ohiolager
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 4,910 ratings.