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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

6,347 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 6,347
Reviews: 1,651
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.49%
Wants: 593
Gots: 1,642 | FT: 124
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: 6,347 | Reviews: 1,651 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pennzoil 10W-40 black. Does motor oil have highlights? I didn't think so. The fudge colored cap is one of the darkest that I've ever seen and is an imposing three fingers immediately after the pour. It looks as though I'll have to time its descent with a calendar, so my lace assessment will have to wait. I'm being so impatient because the glass is more than a foot from my nose and the beer smells absolutely wonderful.

It smells fantastic up close too. Founders says that they use 10 varieties of malt in Imperial Stout. That may be true, but the lion's share of the total just has to be chocolate and black because the nose is as dark and as aggressive as the color. Most of each noseful is made up of ridiculously roasted barley that oozes aromas of bittersweet chocolate, blackstrap molasses and ground espresso beans. Incredibly, I can also appreciate a whiff of tangy citric hops.

There's no letdown on the palate. In fact, it's even better in the mouth than it was in the nose, something that I didn't think was possible. This is one of the most shockingly flavorful Imperial stouts in existence. Screw Spinal Tap's amps, this sucker goes to 12! Take no chances, drink this beer at or near room temperature for maximum taste bud slappage.

The best part about the flavor profile (other than the fact that it's as deep as the Marianas Trench) is the concentrated, almost liqueur-like flavor and the fact that anise is so prominent. I don't remember a beer that showcases that particular flavor to this degree. American-grown hops play a major role as well; a stunning achievement in a beer that, by my best guess, is about 16 months old.

I was going to say (prior to popping the cap at least) that I'm glad that some brewers are releasing their high-ABV beer in 12 ounce bottles since an entire bomber is tough to get through on occasion, depending on the time of day, circumstances, etc. When the beer is this mind-blowingly delicious though, I'll take the biggest bottle the brewery can muster and let the chips (and me) fall where they (I) may.

Beer this big deserves a body to match. Thankfully, one has been provided. It's been a while since I drank a stout with this much chewy malt. It's almost milkshake-like! Crack open a thesaurus, look up the word creamy and insert what you see in the following sentence: Founders Imperial Stout's mouthfeel is incredibly <insert>. Thanks, you've just saved me a little time and effort.

I continue to be floored by Founders Brewing Company. As long as they continue to brew beer like Imperial Stout (and so many others), they'll have a perennial spot in my top-10 breweries in America. This is a stunning beer that caught me a little off-guard with just how good it is. There are scores of great RISs out there. Founder's version can hang with the best of them and then some.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.88/5  rDev -11%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This was the thickest looking beer I have ever poured. It was like oil or molasses. Thick with no head, none at all, nadda, not even a bubble. No lace ethier, very odd for an RIS. Smell was very nice. Deep dark chocolate and roasted coffee mixed in with hints of vanilla and sugar. Very sweet, and damn near perfect smell on this, fine job, very rich and desert like. The taste was strong, and definatly packed a punch. Very sweet, with the biggest flavor here being roasted coffee and chocolate. Definate alcohol presence here whci at 10% is not shock. Again the feel was very thick, but the lack of carbonation hurt it, as it did not feel as creamy as it could have been. This left the mouthfeel a bit dull and flat. The finish was nice, dry and somewhat hoppy. This one needs more carbonation. The flatness in the mouthfeel takes away from the great aromas and flavors it possess. Maybe/hopefully it was just a bad bottle, will have to seek this one out again.

Photo of SocalKicks
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of Knapp85
3.88/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew poured out as a black thick looking liquid. The head was brown in color with a light lacing. The smell of the beer was heavily roasted with some burnt wood aromas in there too. The taste of the beer was good, it was roasted and bitter with a light sweetness in there too. The mouthfeel had a good oily thickness to it which was nice. It left a good coating in the mouth too. Overall this beer is pretty good.

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of womencantsail
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The pour is viscous and black with a finger or so off mocha colored foam that dissipates somewhat quickly, but leaves a nice bit of lacing.

S: Loads of coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, a bit of dark fruit, and a touch of alcohol.

T: The amount of chocolate in this beer is amazing. A very smooth chocolate and coffee taste with a nice hint of bitterness on the finish.

M: Very smooth, rich, and creamy.

D: An awesome RIS, one of the better ones I've had, actually. The alcohol is pretty much non-existent and the flavors are absolutely amazing and epitomize an RIS.

Photo of largadeer
4.12/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one from WeisGuy. Thank you, Shane.

2010 batch. The body is black as pitch, the head a deep brown that quickly recedes to a thick collar.

Delicious oatmeal raisin cookie aroma. Dark chocolate and black licorice are equally prevalent. Alcohol is barely noticed.

The palate, like the aroma, is much like an oatmeal cookie. Rich, but not terribly sweet - there's a good balance of charred malt, black licorice and bittersweet chocolate. Full bodied, a little ashy and tar-y mid-palate. The finish is sticky, bittersweet, deceptively smooth for a 10.5% beer. There's no trace of alcohol, no harshness; it's a very mellow beer, though drinkability is hampered by the sheer richness of it.

On the whole, I don't enjoy this as much as Breakfast Stout or KBS, but it's a great beer nonetheless.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Passed along to me via kp. Thanks, kp! The age of the bottle is unknown to me.

Appearance: Pours a deep, heavy, black body with a thin, brief, dark tan head.

Smell: Bold, assertive roasted malt aroma layered with rich, yet slightly sweet-smelling notes along with a particularly fruit background scent of plums and prunes.

Taste: Why, it's a whole myriad of malt flavors: bittersweet chocolate, dark caramel, blackened grains, espresso-flavored oatmeal, licorice, and molasses. Again, there's a big pop of fruitiness, now followed by a drizzle of sherry. Slight roasty, earthy bitterness midway. Pinch of Latakia pipe tobacco. Minor hints of peppery alcohol. There's a pleasant interplay of concentrated fruit and roasted malt flavors prior to the drying, roasty finish. A taste of charred sugars lasts into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium-low carbonation. Smooth, tongue-battering mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Dense, succulent malt flavors and pleasantly warming throughout, though, for the most part, the alcohol content remains rather well-hidden. It would not be advantageous at all for you to pass up this one.

Photo of oberon
4.55/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an ink black color with deep mocha colored head that leaves a nice sheet of lace behind,aromas of rum and butter dominate but there is a slight presence of grassy hop that adds to the aroma complexities.Think and full mouthfeel with rich buttery flavors with a rum/alcohol finish that really warms the inside and is very sustaining.Wow a big badass impy stout with tons of complexities Iam glad I have more to say the least.

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.51/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

truly exceptional stout right here. I love the fact that it isn't sweet at all, and it doesn't try to hide what it is. very straightforward stuff. the pours is almost jet black, just the darkest shade of brown in there, with a patient but excited mocha colored head that swirls right back up as soon as it settles. the nose is very alcoholic, but its not aggressive or cheap vodka style, its there as a reminder, or maybe a warning. I pick up some good wood in this too, maybe birch or maple, something lighter than oak for sure, more fresh. there is a cocoa bitterness throughout the flavor, that climaxes toward the finish. lots of dark dark roasted barley here, and a certain earthen quality that fills in for the usual residual sugar. it makes the beer more drinkable than it should be. I love the mouthfeel, soft as crushed velvet, but with enough carbonation for its huge body not to get filling. it also finishes fairly clean for a style that usually clings to the teeth for ages. alcohol is warming but not offensive, and the absence of sweetness is astounding and really quite unique in the big stout world. I can finally see for myself what all they hype is about, and this is a beer for the ages. hard to imagine kbs and cbs being even better, but I will find that out for myself as well...

Photo of emerge077
4.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Grey label, bottle is notched on the top left, 4-pack is dated on the inside "Sep 30, 2004". From Orbitalr0x's blog, the 2005 has the purple trim label, therefore this is the 2004 edition. Also, no ABV listed on the bottle.

Served at 55-60º.
Pours into an Oerbier tulip an impenetrable black, like an espresso brownie. Head is a mocha creme, cascading with tiny bubbles. Irregular spotty lacing with the occassional patchwork of lace. Zero light gets through this one...

Rich milk chocolate aroma, with earthy malt in the background.

Huge chocolate and charred malts, espresso bean, lactic acid. Bitterness of baker's chocolate, long smoky char in the finish. Sweet and sticky on the lips. This stuff is pretty decadent. The full, impossibly smooth feel is akin to it's cousins KBS and Breakfast Stout. Milky texture. Every bit as smooth and delectable as KBS, but without the bourbon barrel influence.

Mellowed enough with time to diminish the alcohol burn of a fresh bottle. My first sample of this was a fresh one about 2 years ago, and I thought it was a monster. This aged bottle proves that it's possible to tame the boozy beast...

Notes: 3-year vertical '04-'06
2004: Mildly sweet chocolate, some oxidation/papery, chewy feel, slight tea-like aftertaste, possibly from age/oxidation.
2005: Slightly peppery, grapey, chocolate is more in the back, very long in the finish, bitterness has begun to fade.
2006: Peppery, licorice smell, definitely a greater hop presence, dryer & more alcoholic, some phenols and heat.

Thanks to Jay23 for upping the ante that made this vertical possible.

Photo of zeff80
4.29/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, black as oil color with no head to speak of at all. It left soapy residue on the glass.

S - It smelled of coffee, chocolate and roasty malts. There were some vanilla notes.

T - It tasted of dark chocolate and roasted malt with some bitter, sharp hop presence. There were touches of vanilla and boozy alcohol flavors.

M - It was soft, smooth and somewhat creamy. A medium to full-bodied beer with a warm alcohol presence.

D - This is a pretty good RIS. No surprise that Founders has yet another great beer in their lineup.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.13/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Strangely, it took the BS and KBS to lead me to the IS, rather than the other way 'round (I assume that's the more conventional route, anyway). Finally. The pour results in a black soup usually reserved for coating pelicans and other wildlife during ecological disasters, topped by about a finger of burnt sienna froth. I miss crayons... The nose comprises roasted and toasted malts, molasses, chocolate, maple syrup, and a nice hint of vanilla. Yum so far. The taste holds notes of dark, smokey, roasted malts; dark chocolate; a tiny bit o' vanilla; and a slightly surprising hint of bourbon. The body is Kingpin heavy and coats the mouth with thick, chewy goodness. As much as I want to guzzle this beast, the thickness, richness, and relatively high ABV make this an impossible dream (though, like Quixote, that hasn't stopped me yet). Another fine example of tasty darkness from the boyz in Grand Rapids.

Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a fairly fresh bottle, packaged in March and consumed in June. Beautiful label. Standard cap on a screw-top Heritage bottle.

This extremely dark stout is completely opaque without even the slightest, darkest mahogany edge. The tight, creamy, dark tan head has a fire-like orange tint to it; but unfortunately thins in short time to an average collar. It initially leaves some short walls of lace, but after several sips all that are left are transient spots and splashes.

The nose is surprisingly restrained given its intense hue. Still, delicate notes of vinous fruit (plums/prune) combine with a touch of scortched caramel and cold espresso to leave it enticing.

The body is full, and although it's initially somewhat zesty, it does settle to become creamy once it warms.

The flavor is almost too intense to take in at once, and that's OK because as it warms more and more becomes revealed to you. Initially, it's dark roastiness dominates, allowing some espresso-like notes and the occassional flash of almost-burnt caramelized sugar to come through. As it warms, however, it opens up to reveal much more fruitiness including the traditional "burnt currant"; more dark fruits (plum, raisin, date); and some citrus/tropical character (pineapple, sweet grapefruit, melon). The coffee-like flavors increase as well, and in addition to a note of rich, dark chocolate toffee there's a full note of mocha java (sweet and bitter - perfectly balanced). Some piney hops emerge towards the finish, and they certainly come through in the burp! It finishes with a spritz of alcohol; some of the 'juicy' dark fruit (with some burnt raisin thrown in as well); and a fog of dark roasted notes that linger in the mouth and down the throat in an amazingly long lasting finish.

Full Throttle!!! Worth seeking.

Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.07/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Acquired from fogdog courtesy of the Secret Bunny 2009 BIF, so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a thin light brown head that fades quickly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of rich roasted malts, chocolate, some dark fruit, some coffee and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a very hearty roasted malt character and bitter-sweet flavors of rich creamy chocolate and some coffee and dark fruit. The hops presence is mild but where it should be for the style and brings a good balance. The after-taste is bitter-sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp, medium-to-heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, slightly filling, strong but well-disguised kick, good representation of style, I have a feeling I might have let this one sit a little too long (at least two years, possibly longer) but it's still a good big stout worth drinking for a long time.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This has been an elusive beer for me I've had many of Founders specialties and rarer brews but I have had trouble tracking down the Imperial Stout until I stopped in at D's this past week. I love anything dark they make especially their porter I wish they would make a standard stout as well because their porter is world class.

Appears a deep dark black hue with a big mocha tan head forming thick in my Sierra Nevada chalice. Fine even seckled lacing all around this black beauty.

Aroma has big dark chocolate and espresso bean freshly roasted tones with big vanilla and slight anise edges to it. Dark fruit hidden in the dark roasted malt character, almost a wine like nose in the finish.

Flavor is creamy roasted malt ridden with bitter dark chocolate and heavy espresso notes. Heavy hops hit the palate with a sharp creamy milk chocolate syrup finish this stuff is classic and should be a friend of any craft beer fiend.

Mouthfeel is full bodied coats the palate from the front to the back, I can't get enough of this style of big beer from Founders just tell them as they get it it's okay to send it to the Pittsburgh market.

Drinkability overall is incredible the best heavy dark beer I've had whilst living in te ohio valley for quite sometime.

Update version bottled on 12-15-11

Appears so dark that it absolutely absorbs all degrees of the visible light spectrum, big dark tan head almost a leathery brown thick soft textured head creamy billowing just outright beautiful. Fine speckled lacing dances around the sides of my Samuel Smith imperial pint glass. Aroma has earthy herbal hops big loads of dark chocolate notes, something soy sauce about this batch that works into an imperial stout profile, dark fruit hints of anise black licorice. Flavor is full of dark fruit big blast of coffee dark espresso grade strength, creamy dark chocolate bitterness just an aboslute excellent interpretation of an imperial sout. Full bodied stout that coats the palate from every angle the most filling beer around, even smooth carbonation not a cloying bone in this beers body. Supreme being of imperial stout in the world there's really not a better beer out there even compared to KBS, CBS, or Breakfast Stout this beer is the base example of all of those beers.

Photo of Kegatron
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
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!

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.16/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a brownish head. Nose is boozy with touches of molasses. Flavor is intense coffee off the first hit. Lots of roasted malts. Just a punch in the mouth nearly. Mellows out and gives a lot of molasses too fairly quickly. Thick and robust. Seems a bit too boisterous to be bringing the subtleties that you might be able to draw off the other "biggies." Either way, who cares. It's still hearty and robust and carries a great flavor profile. Thick molasses and quite malty. (But mostly, it's bringing the molasses.) Feel is thick and smooth on liquid. Carbonation is low. A pretty intense and hearty RIS. Another Founders beer I have enjoyed.

Photo of jlindros
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: A super dark thick frothy head rises up 1 finger and slowly fades over pitch black and super thick beer.

N: Lots of roast, chocolate, hops, dark malts, with some bittering hops. Mostly dark malts, crystal, roasted, chocolate, etc. That adds some sweet aromas and syrupy too. THen come bitter hops with some earthy and spicy hop aromas. A little coffee too.

T: Pretty rich, lots of malts again, with lots of roast, a little chocolate, crystal, etc. This time some smoked malts too with some smoked flavor and even smoked gouda cheese or smoked cured meats. Chewy malts with all that. Touch of chocolate, some good roast and coffee. Some bitterness as well, some from roasted malts but quite a bit of hops too. Hops come in the earthy spicy variety. Semi smooth and a little creamy, but thick and chewy at the same time.

M: very thick and chewy, somewhat smooth and a little syrupy with decent carbonation.

F: Bitter! It has quite a bit of bitterness, mostly from the charred malts. WIth that is a touch of minerality and little soy sauce but not much. THere are also some hops that come in the finish adding more bitterness and earthy flavors. Lingering roast and some coffee, as well as perhaps black patent malt dark flavors. A little stickiness, but not as much as I expected for how thick and chewy it is. It also hides the booze well and drinks more like a 7-8% rather than 10.5%.

I love this stout, lots of dark malts, chewy, bitter, hoppy, and overall pretty drinkable. A nice roast, coffee, and chocolate addition as well but not over the top in any. Best of all is the price landing this at about $4 for a 12oz which is much more affordable than most great RIS beers.

Photo of Slatetank
4.13/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up at Brass Rail in Campbelltown.
Poured from the stubby 12oz into a snifer and an 1/2 pint

A - Almost pitch black like oozing slimy railroad tie pitch w/ a molasses type reddish hue. The cap is a honey shade of brown w/ rocky foam froma vigorous pour. The head settles slowly to a ring around the glass. The opacity is pretty impressive while there are random streams of tan lace splattered like silly string. I am piqued by the beauty of this stout

S - cookies, lots of cocoa and chocolate malt w/ a dark chocolate and mild pine hop aroma. The nose has a caramel/vanilla note and mellow fig w/ toffee accent. Touches of cooking herbs and spicy hop tinges round out the fragrant odor

M - Rich and spicy w/ mucho maltiness-the feel is full. The level of carbonation is moderate which pleases my palate. There is a warmth of alcohol as it finishes w/ bitter hop spice and sweet stickiness of dark malts

T - A rich dark chocolate flavor begins the Founders Imperial Stout experience w/ mild buttery toffee that fades into a bitter citrus hop taste which brings out more caramel and roasted barley flavor in contrast. The spice plays well w/ the dark toasted an chocolate malts. The plum notes come forward gently as it warms w/ an herbal hop taste. The taste of green pepper is noted and seems to overshadow the malty cocoa taste at the end. There is bitter flavors in the residual taste and alchol giving a green impression. The taste of sweetened espresso also unfolds as the final sips reveal more vanilla bean taste in the spice flavor.

D - The taste of this Imperial stout is very layered yet a bit 'angular', slightly on the edgier side w/ more of a malt + hop interplay w/ 90 ibus almost apparent in flavor and the 10% is not very hidden, but it more than makes up for it in the flavor - a highly drinkable impy on the hoppy side. I can't wait to taste this again

Photo of oline73
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Photo of mendvicdog
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Photo of XmnwildX12
3.75/5  rDev -14%

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 6,347 ratings.