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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

5,618 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,618
Reviews: 1,587
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 8.7%
Wants: 505
Gots: 1,352 | FT: 117
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
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Ratings: 5,618 | Reviews: 1,587 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DannyDan


4.1/5  rDev -6.2%

Pours out black with a thin tan head that has light, but decent lacing, very little retention and moderate carbonation. This brew has a very strong chocolate aroma along with some coffee, dark fruits and sweet malts. The first thing I taste is some coffee followed by some dark fruits (raisins, and plums come to mind), and the taste finishes off with some bitter chocolate. The dark fruits add some sweetness that balances well with the chocolate. I can taste a little bit of alcohol near the end, but not real strong for a beer having 10.5% ABV. The mouthfeel is a nice creamy, but sticky brew that is lip smacking good. I enjoyed this one and will drink it again. This in my opinion is not as good as Old Rasputin or Thirsty Dog's Siberian Nights, but still worth getting.

04-09-2011 01:18:41 | More by DannyDan
Photo of gskitt

New York

4.03/5  rDev -7.8%

Pours a ink black with a very dark brown head. Scent is not overpowering, but the roasted malts, chocolate and coffee notes are there. Taste is a deep, rich balance of those roasted malts and bitter chocolate. Very little carbonation, thick and creamy mouthfeel. This a really nice RIS. Founders rarely disappoints.

04-09-2011 00:26:36 | More by gskitt
Photo of MattyG85


4.83/5  rDev +10.5%

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Very black with a decent two fingers of tan head that fades into a thin patchy layer. Decent amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: Sweet dark roasted malts with a big presence of chocolate and coffee. Hints of molasses, anise, and dark dried fruit. Very faint booze scent. A very vibrant aroma.

Taste: Sweet dark malts with big notes of chocolate, coffee, molasses, and anise. Light hints of dark fruits. The dark chocolate and anise stand out quite a bit here. Very good.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat thick and fairly creamy with a moderate level of carbonation. Alcohol is hidden fairly well.

Overall: A very good and tasty version of a Russian Imperial Stout.

04-07-2011 07:10:35 | More by MattyG85
Photo of mechamifune

North Carolina

4.63/5  rDev +5.9%

Poured into a sifter, it has a jet black, almost oily appearance. Very slight brown head dissapears almost immediately. Decent lacing. Looks the part of a big ass IS, I just wish it retained a little bit of the head though.

Smell is a lot of sweet malt up front. Comes through a lot better for me than in a lot of other examples of the style. Coffee/Chocolate is there, but relatively muted... overall probably one of the more pleasant "sweet" smells i've found in a beer.

Taste is subtly sweet upfront, slightly bitter chocolate/coffee in the middle, and finishes with a little hop bite in the end to offset the sweetness (make no mistake though, this is not a "hoppy" stout). A wonderfully blended taste where it really feels like all the flavors have come together. No "off" flavors at all, and none of the slight lactic/sour finish I get in some Imp. Stouts.

Mouthfeel is the real standout here. Incredibly smooth and creamy without feeling too heavy. For the size of this beer, it is very easy to drink, and in that sense i think it is really the benchmark for the style. Never feels boozy or hot.

As a whole, this might be my favorite "normal" Imp. Stout. It drinks incredibly smooth, is sweet without being sticky, is creamy without being overly heavy, and blends together the traditional Imp. Stout flavors as well as any other example of the style I can think of. I was quite happy to be able to buy this beer for 10 a 4pack, I just wish there was more of it to buy. Drink this beer!!

04-06-2011 17:56:19 | More by mechamifune
Photo of OWSLEY069


4.6/5  rDev +5.3%

Pours jet black with a small tan head. In the aroma, coffee and a small roast. In the taste, big coffee and a nice roasted malt, sweet to dry. A smooth and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a semi dry coffee coffee aftertaste. Big coffee, hides the alcohol, and quite fantastic.

04-05-2011 20:34:43 | More by OWSLEY069
Photo of heebes

Ontario (Canada)

4.55/5  rDev +4.1%

12 oz bottle.
No bottled on stamp.

Pours into a tulip a dark black with a very dark brown foamy head that has great retention. Nose is smooth, very appealing with lots of dark roasted coffee and cocoa notes, also a good amount of hops come through, as listed on the bottle at 90 IBUs. Taste is also smooth and complex; hits all the right flavour notes with burnt malts and an ever so slightly hop presence. A bit of heat felt in the finish is welcoming for the next sip on this cool afternoon. Heavily bodied and a creamy, lucious mouthfeel. A sipper of a RIS, meant to enjoy, no less because of only one 4-pack acquired on a rare trip into Michigan. Thorooughly enjoyed this beer, Founders just nail the stouts style so well and continually impress this craft enthusiast. Also sports one of my favourite Founders & overall beer labels.

04-05-2011 18:54:36 | More by heebes
Photo of StlHopHead77


4.45/5  rDev +1.8%

A-A creamy,dense,1 1/2 inch,deep,mocha crown that stood it's ground for quite some time before giving way to attractive strands of lacing sits atop a syrupy,tar pit black body.

S-The nose is great with tons of dark roast coffee,bruleed sugar and semisweet chocolate.

T-Creamy,sweetened,strong coffee,moderately charred malts and bitter dark chocolate.

M-Thick,creamy and unbelievably balanced with perfect bitterness and carbonation.

O-Stellar and dangerously drinkable!

04-05-2011 18:36:41 | More by StlHopHead77
Photo of AnPiobaire

New York

4.13/5  rDev -5.5%

The Founders Imperial Stout initially pours a rich inky brownish black with no hue coming through when held up to light. The head was a very thin, fine reddish brown head that quickly dissipates to a caramel ring with some minor lacing.

The nose is rich and complex with some chocolate and dark dried fruits. The alcohol makes its presence known as well.

The taste is rich and creamy and hits all the taste buds. It is not too boozy with a hint of tobacco and finishes with a nice pleasant bittersweet chocolate finish.

Mouthfeel as I said above is rich, creamy, and warms your chest as it settles in. A very nice imperial stout worth the taste.

Overall I would say that I have become a fan of Founders and am trying to neep myself from opening the bottle of KBS I have waiting til next winter. DO yourself a favor and make sure you try this Imperial Stout.

04-05-2011 16:33:36 | More by AnPiobaire
Photo of Drazzamatazz


3.65/5  rDev -16.5%

A: Pours oily and a deep dark black. Even going straight down the middle foam barely raised only to quickly fade away.

S: Chocolate, dark fruit, sherry, molasses like roasted malts. Slight hop ting.

T: Hello hops! Hello ABV! There's a little bit of coffee picked up here that wasn't in the nose, but the chocolate really comes out along side even more of that dried dark fruit flavor.

M: Its not really as oily as it looks, just a big full mouthfeel with a surprisingly level of carbonation considering the somewhat lame appearance. Lots of alcohol warmth here, certainly not the thing for everyone.

O: I wish I had more of these to age. Its showing a lot of potential but its still quite rough around the edges, I'll have to try and track some more down to see what it becomes as it mellows out. Pretty balanced for what it is though.

04-05-2011 01:18:24 | More by Drazzamatazz
Photo of rudzud


4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Scored a four pack of this at Julio's a few weeks back. No date on the glass whatsoever. Wonder what year this is....

A - Poured into my duvel tulip a motor oil black pour with a mocha coloured half a finger head that rapidly dissolved leaving a thin, tiny mocha halo.

S - Nice sweet, roasty malts here along with big chocolate notes. Big points for the lack of ABV on the nose here, just nice chocolate notes.

T - More big chocolate and roasted malt qualities. This is so distinctly stout. The ABV is present in the taste though, which is to be expected with the 10.5%.

M - Nice and creamy. Not quite as thick as I'd like but this is super smooth and creamy with the big ABV hardly noticeable.

O - Really wish I knew what year this was so I could rate accordingly. Its a nice imperial stout but I could use a bit more chocolate. Didnt get any espresso at all. Not too many cold days/nights left, now is the time to be enjoying these! Looking forward to seeing how the last 3 age.

04-04-2011 05:33:31 | More by rudzud
Photo of Mississipping


4.18/5  rDev -4.3%

12oz bottle poured into snifter. Thanks StayWhatYouAre2 for sending this in a surprise box, along with a dozen other midwest brews.

A: Pours quite viscous, like unused motor oil, and is just about as black as well. It actually "glugs" a little coming out of the bottle. It settles as a completely still black body of liquid with almost no head at all; just a spotty film and thin ring of tight brown/mahogany bubbles. Moderate lacing is left on the glass after rolling it a bit.

S: Chocolate stands out immediately ... rich semisweet chocolate. Coffee and roasted malts are also prominent. The dark fruit aroma is a little less subtle than I was expecting, which is fine by me. There is definitely a good amount of alcohol in the aroma. This really smells a little hot and could probably use some age.

T: Chocolate and coffee are, again, prominent. Typical. There is a pretty strong presence of dark fruits (fig and plum) that last from the beginning to the end. Roasted malt, providing a subtle smokiness, sneaks in near the end. The contrast between sweet chocolate and fruit, and roasted malts and hops, would provide a well balanced finish if it wasn't for the booze. The alcohol isn't hidden very well at all and leaves a bit of heat and a burn in the throat.

M: Although it doesn't have the fullest body, it's pretty viscous and slightly sticky. Coats the mouth and tongue nicely. Very little carbonation adds to the creaminess. Finishes slightly dry.

D: Drinkability isn't very high at all as it is right now. Viscous stouts rarely are, and this one is just a bit to boozy to put down easily. I think with some age this could mellow out and become a very nice stout. That isn't to say that it's not good now, it's just a touch hot. Overall, it's still quite enjoyable.

04-04-2011 03:11:15 | More by Mississipping
Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT


4.35/5  rDev -0.5%

poured into a bells tulip glass.

Appearance: Motor oil black body and a very dense dark brown head 2 fingers worth of head. Lacing is thick on the side of the glass.

Smell: Roasty coffee, smoke, caramel. Maybe a hint of hops.

Taste: First taste this beer is amazingly sweet malts fading into coffee and smokey bitterness that is also roasty that lasts midtaste to the aftertaste of this beer. It quite a tasty beer! The upfront sweetness surprised me with this beer especiallly at 90 IBU's. Alcohol well hidden.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied beer. Low almost reaching moderate carbonation. Very smooth beer that is chewy and boarderline syrupy.

Overall: This beer is my favorite non barrel aged RIS. Gives Old Raspy some serious competition. I might have to do a side by side to see which i prefer. Almost to close to call. Another exceptional beer made by Founders that reminds me that around the Great lakes area of the USA... they ARE the black beer authority!

04-04-2011 01:47:08 | More by 4DAloveofSTOUT
Photo of stckhndlr


3.83/5  rDev -12.4%

A- This is a very heavy beer. By that I mean it feels like it weighs alot in the glass. Pours a very thick pitch black. Dark tan head with lacing that holds the side of glass very nicely. Has the look of used motor oil it's so dark. Light will not get through this one.

S- Smokey caramel, coffee and dark fruit from this one. Has a touch of sweet scents wafting from it too.

T- Caramel and chocolate. Slight hint of smokey bitters to it as well. At over 90 IBUs that is to be expected. Swirling it in the glass intensified the caramel and chocolate flavor while actually reducing the bitterness on the finish. Finish was pleasant that lasted for quite a bit.

M- Thick and creamy but smooth.

O- I am not a huge stout fan but I would drink this again... That is if there was nothing else to drink and this was all I could get. Still better than others I have tried.

04-04-2011 00:21:13 | More by stckhndlr
Photo of stimulus

New Jersey

4.13/5  rDev -5.5%

Poured into a 5.5 taster glass from a Founders tasting @ Tavern on Liberty in Allentown.

A: Pours an opaque black with a light tan head.
S: Roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and dark fruits.
T: Some hop bitterness starts off the complexity, followed by roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate, and later sips result in dark fruits, perhaps plums and figs. Finally, there is a strong alcohol burn after nearly every sip.
M: Well carbonated, full bodied, but has a rough finish with the alcohol bite.
O: This was a notch below KBS & CBS, and probably two below the Nemesis. The alcohol burn was quite noticeable in this beer, though it has a similar strength as the others. Very true to style.

04-01-2011 16:27:38 | More by stimulus
Photo of djeucalyptus


4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

thanks again to semibaked for this one... not sure how I managed to not try this one yet. Pours an inky jet black with hints of dark reddish brown at the edges. A vigorous pour coaxes out a few fingers of shockingly dark brown head that leave behind some beautifully sticky, gobby lacing.

aroma of chocolate malt, roasty, peaty, must and earth. molasses and bittersweet cocoa. a hint of wet leather and a hint of dog sitting on figs.

Taste is lusciously thick with rich, dark roasted malt notes, a strong, nearly cloying roasty sweetness... burnt caramel and scorched molasses. like a chocolate creme brulee that had been left under the broiler too long. maybe that's a good thing.

mouth is sticky, viscous and full with ample light and prickly carbonation that highlights the bitter and almost astringent notes... an interesting juxtaposition.

All in all, this one is solid. maybe a touch one-dimensional and a bit on the syrupy, sweet, and burnt notes, but i like that it's not intensely boozy and thick and rich. Definitely one I'll try to track down again.

04-01-2011 07:23:11 | More by djeucalyptus
Photo of bnes09


4.8/5  rDev +9.8%

Perfectly pitch black in color. Even as it pours into a glass, this monsterous brew absorbs all light that attempts to penetrate it. Creamy, milk chocolate colored head with excellent retention for such a big brew. Layers of sticky tan lacing clings to the glass.

Overwhelming aroma of dark fruits, dark chocolate, bold coffee and black licorice.

The flavor is insane! Starts off with a massive roasted coffee and burnt charcoal bitterness. Hops are huge also and rightfully so to be sensed under the nearly impenetrable fortress of roasted malt. Mid to late drink the flavor turns to dark chocolate which seems to dominate the experience thereafter. Dark fruits, prunes and raisins, provide a sweet character. Hint of bourbon in the back adds a gentle warmth. Spicy black licorice rounds it off and the hop spiciness lingers well into the aftertaste. Probably the most complex flavor I have yet to experience in a beer.

Lets get one thing straight, this beer is THICK! Feels like melted dark chocolate as it slides down your throat and sticks to your teeth. Well carbonated for the style. Velvety smooth and creamy despite the thickness. Finish is dry and satisfying. Rich texture allows all the savory flavors to linger for minutes after each sip.

It would be difficult to put down more than 1 or 2 of these monsters in a sitting. I think 1 will be plenty for me. Amazing appearance, smell, flavor and feel. As far as imperial stouts go, it doesn't get much better than this. A masterpiece!

04-01-2011 03:43:02 | More by bnes09
Photo of NODAK


4.05/5  rDev -7.3%

Aroma is of deeply roasted malts, and some rich dark chocolate.

Pours as syrupy and black as the night sky. Very little head, suggesting low carbonation.

Mouthfeel is a little thinner than I had expected. Taste is of very roasted malts (perhaps even burnt) and very dark chocolate. Unlike many others in this style, there isn't much sweetness in this beer. Small bitterness found on the backend on the sides of the tongue with lingering roast.

This is an imperial stout for those who don't like the uber-malty, syrupy RIS's. Thinner, and more focused on roasted and dark chocolate notes, I found it went down very easily. Alcohol pretty much completely masked. Not bad at all.

04-01-2011 03:32:07 | More by NODAK
Photo of BeerMaverick


4.45/5  rDev +1.8%

Had this on tap at the Dirty Truth in Northampton, MA. Poured into a Southern Tier tulip glass.

A - A beautiful dark brown (almost black) with about 1 inch of tan head. Some lacing deposits on the glass, but nothing to brag about. If hot chocolate was carbonated...

S - Pure chocolate and coffee...thanks roasted malts! The perfect head thickness captures the aroma very well, so once the head dissipates a little, the smell is in your face.

T - The best part. Milk chocolate with some coffee notes. The alcohol is there, but the overpowering roasted character defends its territory. Quite the feat at 10.5%.

M - Viscous and syrupy to the perfect degree. Not chocolate milk consistency, but almost that of hot chocolate. Coats the tongue in a layer of clouds...probably the numbing feeling from the high alcohol content.

O - Overall a great beer. Not as amazing as KBS, but hey, what is? I like this a little better than the Breakfast Stout because of its predominant smokey character.

03-30-2011 19:23:00 | More by BeerMaverick
Photo of haazer


4.45/5  rDev +1.8%

Start of a small Founders run with this one. Poured into a pint glass at about 50 degrees.

A- Viscous sludgey black liquid pours into the pint glass. 99% opaque with just a few hints of dark brown. The head is a brown chocolate fluff that pours about 1 1/2 fingers worth that takes some time to settle. Wouldn't expect any less of a look to a Founders stout. Decent amount of lace hangs around as the beer dissapears.

S- Creamy melted chocolate with a touch of vanilla. Ties in with some black licorice, deep roasted malts, and a roasty profile that smells 2nd to some, but just a few. No alcohol present.

T- Taste is a delicious blend of cocoa and kahlua. A tad bit of vanilla, followed with a very stringent roasty malt backbone. As the beer warms up the licorice flavor comes to the fore. There is some heat at the end of this, but it feels more in the form of the 90 IBU's jammed into this RIS. The alcohol is again well masked.

M- Mouthfeel is a light to medium, velvety smooth brew. Very lush on the palatte. Just about no astringency even with abv. Carbonation is near perfect. Like my stouts just a tad thicker.

O- A great RIS stout, and one of the best masked abv's I've drank. Normally a beer like this slows you down, not this one. Flavors and the forgotten "drinkability" make this excellent. I would've loved to try the barrel aged version. Founders is probably the best in the business in doing stouts. I cannot wait to try the KBS tommorow, and some day CBS. For the time being, I'd gladly settle for this.

03-30-2011 03:04:26 | More by haazer
Photo of cetherid


4.28/5  rDev -2.1%

poured into a tulip


Beer looks like your typical imperial stout. pitch black with about a fingers worth of light brown head...it dissipated after about two minutes. some light lacing on the glass but nothing crazy.


big time dark and roasted malts. Aromas of coffee, molasses, bitter chocolate, perhaps a hint of licorice. A little smokiness and booze comes out as it warms up.


similar to nose but some sweetness as well as bitterness really comes out... I guess bitterness should be expected checking out the IBUs of this brew. Get some sweet chocolate and roasted coffee at the beginning, moving on to some smoky flavor and bitterness before you get that nice warming booze flavor.


almost perfect for the style. Full bodied beer with a creamy mouthfeel. A slight warming booziness in the mouth. Maybe needs a slight more carbonation but can't see many other flaws.


A solid RIS. Unfortunately it was kinda difficult to get and I would imagine from years to come will get even tougher to get that I'd probably just grab some old raspy as it's much easier to get and pretty damn good itself.

03-30-2011 01:22:49 | More by cetherid
Photo of arktos


3.58/5  rDev -18.1%

03/29/11 - No freshness date on bottle

12oz to snifter

A: Black with a one finger deep cinnamon colored head - alcohol knocks the head down quickly, minimal amount of lacing.

S: Roasty/toasty meets bitter hops. Black malts, charred wood and perhaps a bit smokey. No mistaking there's alcohol present; there's a good bit of booze soaked chocolate.

T: Quite a bit more hops than I was expecting. Dark roasted/black malt with a quick sweet hit of molasses before the hops come over the top of it all. Good bite of alcohol shows itself midway thru and helps to offset things. An underlying dark chocolate/coffee ground dryness emerges and ends up closing things out.

M: Medium bodied for the style, but bold in flavor - alcohol is ever present and builds as you make your way thru the glass... Imperial for sure, it's a sipper.

O: Was initially taken back by the hops but got used to it quickly as the glass warmed. While the hops could be taken down a bit and the alcohol could be masked better; It's still good... just not sure I'd want more than one in a sitting.

*I've only had a few RIS so far (Smuttynose, Rasputin, Samuel Smith) so may need to revisit later.

03-29-2011 22:18:00 | More by arktos
Photo of julian


4.4/5  rDev +0.7%

Courtesy of ArchEnemyBrew. poured from his last 12oz bottle. Thank you brother!

A: Pitch black, dark brown bubbly head. Sticky frothy, oily head. Excellent.

S: Chocolate, molasses, roasted barley, booze.

T: Amazingly smooth roasted barley, chocolate flavor, molasses, caramely texture and boozy finish.

M: Creamy, hot and boozy, very easy drinking considering the high ABV. Excellent carbonation. Surprisingly easy drinking.

O: Excellent taste and mouthfeel. Despite the ABV this is highly drinkable. For a non-barrel aged beer this drinks like a world class barrel aged stout. Purely amazing.

03-28-2011 00:47:34 | More by julian
Photo of Snow81


4.72/5  rDev +8%

Appearance: Black as motor oil

Head: Thick frosty dark brown head

Smell: Heat with some caramel and brunt malts, subtle coco been in the background

Taste: Rich thick burnt malts with a sweet little malty and a small amount of heat

Weight: Heavy body with low carbonation

Finish: Burnt malts with stickiness on the lips and caramel with a nice hop back note

03-27-2011 06:40:42 | More by Snow81
Photo of babaracas


4.22/5  rDev -3.4%

Pours pitch black with one finger creamy, medium brown head, fades in a minute to a thin ring, leaving a few blobs of lace behind. Smell: molasses, dark chocolate, earthy, with notes of smoke, anise, and faint alcohol. Taste: roasted grain, a little char and caramelized sugar, lots of dark chocolate, black plum skin, a little anise at the end of the sip. Hopping is earthy and sweetened grapefruit. Medium-to-full bodied, nice middle ground between syrupy and creamy. Nice RIS with alcohol pretty well hidden and the considerable sweetness is kinda balanced by the hop flavors. Year not noted on bottle, but from the store I'd guess 2011 but possibly 2010.

03-27-2011 06:01:54 | More by babaracas
Photo of Aircow86


4.9/5  rDev +12.1%

Poured just a tad colder than room temperature into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance: Black as hell, gentle pour still gave way to a towering chocolate colored head. Not even a sliver of light comes through this beer.

Smell: Chocolate, anise, a touch of liquor

Taste: Very complex. Nice hop flavor for an Imperial Stout, bottle says 90 IBUs. Coffee flavor in the aftertaste, nice warming liquor feel.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, just the right amount of carbonation for the style.

Overall: A delicious beer. One of the top Imperial Stouts for sure. A few days later, I paired this with a slice of mocha chocolate cake - incredible, this beer goes great with chocolate desserts.

03-27-2011 03:29:02 | More by Aircow86
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 5,618 ratings.