Founders Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
75 IBU

Added by mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

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Reviews: 1,818 | Ratings: 7,516
Photo of ma121606
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am on drinking my second now, YES

Appearance - very dark brown, very thick

Smell - Smells like sweet coffee and some type of christmas candy in a glass

Taste - I expected it to be bitter, but it is smooth.

Mouth-feel - smooth and creamy

Drink ability - too easy to drink, but watch it I'm on number 2 and I'm feeling it.

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Photo of Reaper16
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle served into a Gulden Draak tulip

Pours a super-dark brown. You can tell that it isn't quite black when you look down into the glass; the edges are clearly a lighter shade of brown than the middle of the body. You can see the edges when looking straight down into the glass because there is nearly no head on this pour. It spiked at half a finger and then leveled off to the tracest of rings. The foam is an interesting color though. It's one of the darkest heads I've ever seen; the caramelized color of it as as dark as some malty beer styles' non-foam bodies! As I drink I notice that there is actual lacing going on, which is always a plus.

Right up front you get the chocolate. I am reminded of the cocoa nibs used in Breakfast Stout only strengthened in intensity. There is a small amount of generic coffee coming off of the roasted malts. Delicately rising up out of the glass is a black currant aroma. I was expecting more of a dark fruits kind of thing, but am pleasantly surprised with this black currant/wild berries thing it has going on. I'm kind of getting oats too; I don't know if any oats were used in the malt profile but it smells like it.

The most noticeable aspect of this imperial stout is its remarkable fruit character. The flavors of black currant and boysenberry are so powerful yet well-crafted. Their sweetness melds wonderfully with the flavors of 60% cacao dark chocolate and toasted pecan. As the beer warms I can make out the restrained presence of leafy bittering hops.

The mouthfeel is insane on this beer! Its sort of medium-thick, by which I mean that it gives you the pleasure of a thickness in the mouth but at the same time it isn't so thick as to prohibit extended drinking. To the beer's credit, this is comes in 12oz. bottles. Founders Imperial Stout is absolutely good enough of to have two bottles of in a sitting (which would only be two more ounces than the standard 22oz. bomber). Given that the style is limited in drinkability I feel comfortable giving this one a 4.5 when rating to style. This is pretty damn drinkable, 10.5% ABV or no.

As far as readily-available seasonal Impy Stouts go, Founders Imperial Stout is every bit the beer that Bell's Expedition Stout is. Do yourself the favor of buying a four-pack of this while you still can. I was expecting a solid stout but I didn't expect something as delicious as this. A treat.

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Photo of mikedashg
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a rich thick black with a bubbly, moderately sized, dark tan head. Good sized lacing on the glass.

S - Rich chocolate smell with sweet roasted malts and coffee

T - Wow, again with the rich big chocolate, like a bittersweet cocoa powder. Sweet roasted malts and roasted coffee. This time, the taste really hits you. Very powerful stuff. Nothing subtle about this one, a lot more defined then the smell.

M - Moderate carbonation, nice and smooth, creamy, velvety. But also. quite thick!

D - Quite an exceptional example of style with in your face flavors. This one was almost a year old I think, so hopefully it's as good as this one was when it's fresh.

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Photo of wyattshotmaker
4.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into a snifter,more or less black. nice almost brown head.smells like dark chocolate,coffee,black cherries,dark fruit.

taste is incredibly rich,some dark cherry flavor upfront,big coffee and dark chocolate flavors,somewhat sweet, follows through,finishes with some coffee like acridity. this beer has more coffee acridity than most other beers,but it is nice.

incredibly rich mouthfeel,just super thick.i almost have to scrape my tongue off after each sip.great beer.

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Photo of movingtrain
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Piraat glass.

Appearance is and very opaque. There is a nice creamy tan head, about half a finger, sitting on top.

The aroma is quite sweet...smells of sweet brown sugar, molasses, wheat bread, caramel, dark chocolate, and vanilla.

The taste is good...hints of vanilla in the background, and molasses. These give way to some serious chocolate notes. There are some spices in there, as well. Cinnamon, nutmeg. I absolutely love the dark, bittersweet roasted coffee notes in this beer. This, combined with the other flavors here, make this a wonderful treat for the palate--balanced, intense, and delicious.

Overall, this is a solid Imperial I've grown quite fond of. I'm glad this has been put back into Founders's rotation. It has some excellent flavor, and great body.

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Photo of jampics2
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite Imperial Stouts will make this night better. This pours black as the dark winter night. Smells like chocolate, roast, creamyness, and hops. Tastes like it smells, just a bit of alcohol burn.

The mouth on this beer is second to just a few, like Night Tripper. But soooo creamy and good. Drinkability is unheard of, I could savor this and many more tonight.

The fire is roaring, this stout is making the night better for sure. A chocolate blanket of perfection.

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Photo of jmacdaddy2008
4.67/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I haven't reviewed a beer in awhile, but this one made me want to write down a few surprising notes.
This beer had a nice head, great color and smelled wonderful. I picked up notes of coffee, chocolate and booze.
I remember this beer being a lot hotter last year, but I was really impressed by its drink ability this year.
We were only alloted a few cases in town so I am definitely snagging a few 4pks. before they are gone.
Kudos to Founders for this rendition of a RIS.

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Photo of eternaljester81
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Pours nearly pitch-black, with some some brownish-red hints at the edges when held to light. The head, while thin, is also a brownish red, but dissipates quickly. Lacing is minor.

S - Dark-roast coffee is the first part of the nose, followed with some bitter dark chocolate scents. The back-end is full of alcohol, which had me a little nervous for the taste.

T - Pretty amazing...I could leave it at that. I was surprised after the smell just how well hidden the alcohol is. Actual, this is quite similar to Founders Breakfast Stout (one of my favorite beers ever), only with more bite. This brew just tastes explosive with bittersweet chocolate and espresso notes, and just enough hop bitterness to balance out the impressive malt presence. All in all, this is the smoothest Imperial Stout I've ever tasted.

M - This feels incredibly smooth in the mouth, with a decent tingling from the alcohol. Maybe not quite as thick as I expected, but by no means watery. In fact, I'm most reminded of those bottled/canned cappuccino drinks you can find at most gas stations, which is in no-way meant as a slight.

D - At 10.5%, this is deceptively drinkable. While the flavors are huge, this is also an impressively smooth beer, which could easily get away from anyone.

I have to add that I'm a bit of a Founders fan-boy, as they are without-a-doubt my favorite brewery. Regardless, I feel they've earned my love by producing some of the finest beers in the world. The Imperial Stout is absolutely no exception.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a 1 1/2 finger head with great retention and a dark brown color.

Smell is of chocolate and licorice with a bit of roast, but licorice and chocolate dominate.

Taste is similar to the nose. I'm impressed with a lack of hot alcohols in this beer. It's not a pry top, so I imagine it's had time to age. Incredibly smooth on the palate. Low bitterness for the style. I want a bit more roast, but it's so malty sweet with chocolate/licoricy notes with a touch of toffee, but not too much.

Mouthfeel is incredibly creamy and smooth.

This beer is one of the most drinkable for the style that I've had due to a lack of fusel alcohols or flaws.

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Photo of Mistofminn
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Recieved this bottle from iconoklaztor. Thanks, again Don! I've been drinking a lot of your beer lately.

12 oz bottle, vintage unknown (although it was waxed on top, so maybe Don has some knowledge of it's age) pours a viscous black-hole black into a tulip glass. Thin, dark brown head is produced, and doesn't stay for long. Only leaves tiny spots of lacing here and there. A good swirl leaves a thin film of brown liquid on the thats what I like to see...the ultimate test of an Imperial Stout. If it stains your's good to go.

The nose is strong on toasted malts and chocolate, light bitter coffee, vanilla and alcohol. There is a lot of complexity going on, but it's a little more muted than I would have hoped.

Taste is pretty much the nose but vamped up. Everything is more defined, and the complexity of the malts shines through in this one. Alcohol is nowhere to be found (contrary to the nose) and notes of vanilla and chocolate come out. Tasty!

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, thick and rich. Very low carbonation is appropriate for this brew. Slides down my throat, beckoning me to drink more. Drinkability is great, the age on this (whatever it is) has done away with the alcohol and made this an incredibly drinkable brew.

Overall, another great beer from Founders. When this hits Minnesota, I'm definitely getting more of this. It's not a world class Imperial Stout, but it's definitely a good one, and one that I will be drinking a lot more of.

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Photo of PDXHops
4.53/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to brewdan for this 12 oz bottle, poured into a Duvel tulip at cellar temperature.

Looks a bit like used motor oil pouring out of the bottle, thick and black. In the glass, though, there are some deep ruby highlights around the edges. An extremely dense creamy tan head. Great head retention, great lacing, and the beer stains the glass from top to bottom. Looks almost too good to drink. Almost...

Smells like a beer I need to get to know really well. Plentiful dark malts, French press coffee, mocha, dark chocolate and cherry liqeur are a few aromas that jump out at me. Very appetizing.

The bottle says 90 IBUs, and I believe it. There's an initial puckering 1-2 punch of pungent hops and bitter burnt malts, quickly followed by a massive chocolatey (dark and sweet) maltiness. The longer I chew on it, the more layers of flavor reveal themselves: dark roasted coffee, cherry, sorghum, a booziness kind of like fermented dark fruits, etc. Wonderful stuff.

Very full bodied and velvety smooth, with a nice long burnt malt and bitter hop finish.

Overall impression: Incredibly good imperial stout (much superior to their Breakfast Stout and KBS, IMO). I'm stoked that Founders distributes to SC and I can get this more often now.

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Photo of FrognutUnl
3.83/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Thick and viscous, it pours deep cola in color with chocolate highlights at the edge of the glass. There was almost no head to speak of and what little there was quickly faded to an oily smear on top.

S - Strong aromas of roasted malts, chocolate and anise with slight bit of dark roast coffee beans.

T - Deep roasted malt with a fair amount of coffee and an almost astringent hop bitterness. The alcohol barely comes through in the dry finish. Not a whole lot in terms of complexity, but certainly enjoyable.

M - Full bodied and velvety.

D - While I certainly enjoy this beer, I had hoped that there would be a bit more complexity considering some of founders other seasonal offerings.

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Photo of d0ggnate
4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured deep black with a near single finger dark tan head layer. Frothy head fades to a bubbly ring around my glass in just minutes.
S: Bitter chocolate, faint coffee, metallic hints
T: Still bitter, but chocolate flavor is more milk, than bitter dark.
M: Very smooth and soft flavors.
D: Easy drinking. A clean imperial stout.

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Photo of kbm
4.1/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I received two of these in random trades. I had one last night liked it enough to look forward to drinking the other tonight.

Appearance: Black. Moderate tan cascading head. Decent lacing.

Smell: Metallic, coffee, chocolate, toffee and roasted malts.

Taste: Lots of coffee and roasted malts. Maybe a bit of chocolate and vanilla. Picking up the same metallic flavors in the smell and a little bit of boozy.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Moderate carbonation and moderately velvety. Very drinkable.

Great everyday imperial stout.

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Photo of rye726
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black oil with just a shade of brown around the edges. Thin mocha head with nice lacing.

Nose has chocolate, roasted malts, herbal hops, coffee, dark fruits, molasses and a hint of booze.

Taste has lots of dark malts but also a good amount of bitter hops, espresso, molasses, cocoa and ripe pitted fruits.

Full, creamy body is well carbonated. Another fantastic stout from Founders.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Nose is very dark, rich, chocolaty, malty, and coffee-like. Some sour, fruity, hoppy secondary aromas. Very soft alcohol and citric aromas. Smells like it will have a significant dry, roasted, and woody character. Smells quite nice.

Pours black with very mild dark brown head. Looks good.

Flavor starts out very black coffee-like with dry woody roast and progresses to be floral, leafy, and hoppy in midpalate before settling down to be dry, powdery, and slightly alcoholic in the finish. Soft carbonation pairs with roasted woody bite and alcohol to create a punchy mouthfeel. Lots of chocolate and coffee, some burnt character. Mild sweetness is creamy and milk-like. Smooth creamy body - the soft carbonation creams it up nicely in the mouth. Tastes good. Feels fantastic. Good drinkability.

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Photo of grayburn
4.23/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an expected midnight black with just a hint of brown around the edges. The head laces and lasts, I would like it to be just a bit bigger.

The smell and taste are both filled with the usual RIS characters, chocolate, some roastiness, a little coffee in the background...but nothing really stands out, it just seems a bit too boring for such a big beer. Not quite what I was expecting considering the quality of the Breakfast and Kentucky Breakfast stouts.

The mouthfeel makes up for any other shortcomings, perfectly smooth and creamy, delicious.

The drinkability is pretty strong as well, easy drinking...not my favorite, but definitely worth trying.

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Photo of MrStark
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter glass.

Appearance is a very dark black that pours like motor oil. A very small head that is rich and brown but unfortunately disappears quickly.

Smell is somewhat rich with an aroma of all the things you'd expect from this style, coffee, chocolate and roasted malts. There is also a hint of the alcohol.

Taste is rich and bitter. The hops seam to stand out quite a bit. Lots of nice coffee and dark chocolate as well. Pretty rich and complex. Very nice.

Mouthfeel is very full bodied and thick. Nice, creamy and smooth. A nice mild amount of carbonation. It leaves a little bit of a bitter finish.

Drinkability is great for the amount of alcohol. All in all it goes down smooth and is quite enjoyable. I probably wouldn't want more than one at a time however as I feel it would better be enjoyed in moderation. Something you sip and savor.

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Photo of WeedKing4
4.13/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Oct 11, 2009
Bottle. Pours jet black. Definately has the similiar roasted malt taste like the other stouts I have had. For the most part, its pretty easy to drink. The alc.% warmth tingles the tongue just a touch, but it doesn't take away from how smooth this is. Pretty damn decent drink, and easy to drink considering its plus 10% alc. Solid beverage. I actually liked it more then the Breakfast Stout.

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Photo of natelocc787
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not much head and when it disappeared it didn't leave much lace. This Stout seemed to have a pronounced bourbon character to it along with the roasted barley, chocolate/black malts and espresso and bitter chocolate character. The flavors where there and the taste impressive but this one lacked a great mouthfeel. Chewy and semi-thick but felt a little thin compared to other examples.

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Photo of bbeane
3.53/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured into a tumbler... looks like used motor oil. Black in color with no light showing when held up to light. Very little head despite an agressive pour. What little head was there disappears quickly

S- Smells like toasty malt, coffee, maybe some chocolate or cocoa, hint of alcohol

T- Malty sweet start, hint of plum, molasses and strong alcohol taste, with a hint of chocolate or cocoa

M- Pretty thick, syrupy with very little carbonation

D- It was tasty, though I don't think I could drink alot of it... I'd much rather be drinking the BS

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Photo of scottyshades
3.9/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on-tap at Barley's Taproom in Greenville, SC for $4.25

A: Pours a very syrupy pitch black color that produces a tiny, basically non-existent head that disappears almost immediately.

S: Initial nose is pure coffee/espresso, followed by a massive burnt malt note, finally bitter hops. Caramel, molasses, and some dark fruit comprise most of the flavors I pick up. The brew smells very sour and bitter. Slightly smokey as well.

T: The flavor was a little sour in my book. The hops really create a distinct bitter flavor that really doesn't sit well with the burnt notes, sour notes, or the smoke. Not exactly my cup...I'll stick with the Breakfast Stout.

MF/D: Very very viscous, long sour coffee finish, creamy body...Not exactly all too drinkable due to the ABV and some things about this that I really didn't like.

There seemed like something was missing...Perhaps it was the 90IBUs that overdid it...Will try again, but this one was a little disappointing

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.71/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz. bottle into a Blue Point Snifter

A: Poured a vigorous 1 finger fine, fluffy, toffee colored head with outstanding retention. Brew itself is pitch black and incredibly viscous. Lacing is web-like and impressive.

S: Nose is very strong alcohol and coffee with a mild backbone of hoppiness. Breathing deep, there is a hint of milk chocolate and a trace of sweet soy sauce.

T: So deep and suffocating... initial taste is coffee and this really lingers throughout the whole experience. Middle develops into a sweet alcohol, almost candy-like and little bitterness. End is alcohol sweetness mixed with roasted malts that lasts far into the aftertaste.

M: Incredibly deep and heavy bodied. This looks, smells, and tastes viscous and really engulfs the mouth.

D: Not as sweet as some other RIS's but one of the most deep bodied I've ever had. A unique combination and one that doesn't really work for me. This one is enjoyable, but its still one and done.

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Photo of righthereisay
3.39/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Got this is Swansboro, NC at Harrika's Brew Haus. I was looking for some stouts to try. Didn't particularly like the 10.5% ABV on this one.

Poured into a glass, it looked great. Near black. I'm not into labels, but I personally thought the lablel made it look like a cheap beer.

Anyways, it does smell like coffee, maybe some chocolate, but mostly alcohol.

The taste was rather good. Nice blend of flavors. I thought that there may be a little too much carbonation, but that could be a result of the alcohol. I personally didn't appreciate the bitterness at the end, or the lack of a body.

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Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to psprings for the bottle.

Pours like motor oil. Aroma of deep roasted malt and bitter coffee. Dark stone fruits, bitter chocolate, toffee, molasses, and a bitter coffee finish. The body is rich, syrupy, and full. Glad this comes in a 12oz bottle, happier still to be splitting it with a buddy.

Founders Imp. Stout is rich, complex, and true to style. Nice.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,818 ratings.