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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

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1,718 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,718
Hads: 6,988
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: 7.18%
Wants: 664
Gots: 2,031 | FT: 152
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: mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

90 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,718 | Hads: 6,988
Photo of dancinwillie
3.78/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

BA has this listed at 25 IBU, while my bottle has it listed at 90. Curiouser and curiouser...

Decants quietly, and dark black. A milk chocolate colored head, about a half inch high is an appealing crown.

Sweet chocolate mixed with roasted malts rise up make my mouth water. Second sniff reveals a fruit aroma, dark fruit, maybe cherries or plums, I'm not quite decided.

Roasted malts, chocolate covered malted milk balls (Whoppers), and burnt malts on the back end. A little bit boozy, not over the top though. And at first I didn't think I noticed any hop flavor, but as usual, as I let it warm a bit I'm picking some up. I guess I have to believe the brewers claim of 90 IBU, and I'm guessing that it used to be 25 and the brothers are busy as usual, but if I tasted this blind, and had to guess between the two numbers, I'd go with the 25. Take that for whatever you think it's worth.

Full in body and somewhat silky, but that bit of booziness gives this a bit of a bite. Long bitter finish lingers, making the distance to the next drink a little less urgent. Sip this one, and enjoy.

Doesn't seem like 10.5% ABV. This could be trouble, I could drink 2-3 if I had the next day off, and on a full stomach. Which sounds like a little bit of heaven, I might have to do this soon. Cheers! (1,292 characters)

Photo of GatorBeerNerd
4.42/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz single purchased at City Beverage in Winston-Salem, NC in early Feb, 2009. Poured into a standard pint glass.

A: Almost a completely dead pour. There was a covering of bubbles there for a split second that was a nice tan color. Loses points for lacing and retention since there is nothing there to generate them. The color of the beer is a perfect jet black. Only the slightest highlights of reddish brown around the edge of the surface when held up to the light.

S: The aroma is dominated by dark roasted malts with hints of coffee and chocolate. A pleasant aroma.

T: I almost expected a roasted to the point of burnt taste from the nose. I was pleasantly surprised with a very nice roasted malt flavor that was by no means over done. Nice espresso like coffee flavor and some piney hop notes help make the finish have a nice bitterness. A bit of a molasses taste comes through at times along with chocolate, but they seem to be in the background. One of the best RIS I have ever had from a 12 oz bottle.

M: Its big and thick as you would hope for in the style. Creamy and smooth.

D: The drinkability is almost too good for the style. I would not have guessed the ABV was as high as it is listed. Unlike so many other RIS, I do not have to sip it slowly. (1,266 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
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. (1,136 characters)

Photo of tedpeer
4.15/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours an opaque black, with an inch+ tan head that quickly subsides to 1/8. Nice lacing.

S - Roasted malts, hints of coffee and chocolate.

T - Roasted, almost burnt. Bitter finish with alcohol warmth.

M - Thick and creamy with medium carbonation.

D - This is a sipper. (312 characters)

Photo of olmatty
4.23/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Wow! This beer pours like very used motor oil with a low light brown head. Good lacing and decent retention.

Smell- Roasty malts, dark coffee and a bit creamy

Taste- rich,thick coffee, sweet molasses, raisins, a bit of dark chocolate, some bitter hops

Mouthfeel- Thick as the aforementioned 10 w 40.

Drinkability- High ABV and huge flavor and still pretty smooth and drinkable. But if you try to knock down a bunch of these you'll end up crocked. (465 characters)

Photo of theghost3
4.18/5  rDev -3.2%
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. (418 characters)

Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.23/5  rDev -2.1%
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. (602 characters)

Photo of mikereaser
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
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 (341 characters)

Photo of bonkers
4.12/5  rDev -4.6%
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. (557 characters)

Photo of HopDerek
4.4/5  rDev +1.9%
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. (706 characters)

Photo of beer2day
4.28/5  rDev -0.9%
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. (474 characters)

Photo of homebrew311
4.18/5  rDev -3.2%
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. (803 characters)

Photo of beerorRIP
4.32/5  rDev 0%
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. (875 characters)

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.78/5  rDev -12.5%
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) (307 characters)

Photo of Stimack
4.4/5  rDev +1.9%
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! (951 characters)

Photo of BMoney575
4/5  rDev -7.4%
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. (514 characters)

Photo of kbeals
4.17/5  rDev -3.5%
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. (553 characters)

Photo of Jerzdevil1116
4.7/5  rDev +8.8%
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. (615 characters)

Photo of abfraser
3.87/5  rDev -10.4%
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. (1,060 characters)

Photo of johnmichael712
4.75/5  rDev +10%
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. (2,572 characters)

Photo of bbothen
4.1/5  rDev -5.1%
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. (624 characters)

Photo of chaz410
3.89/5  rDev -10%
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. (452 characters)

Photo of Pullen
3.24/5  rDev -25%
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... (274 characters)

Photo of Risser09
3.61/5  rDev -16.4%
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. (799 characters)

Photo of ScreamForMe
4.35/5  rDev +0.7%
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! (297 characters)

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,718 ratings.