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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.

5,666 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,666
Reviews: 1,589
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 507
Gots: 1,361 | FT: 118
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: 5,666 | Reviews: 1,589 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheBungyo


4.68/5  rDev +7.3%

2008 Bottle.

Onyx. Obsidian. Coal. I could throw out synonyms for black for days, but hopefully the hint is clear. This is one dark beer. The head, a half inch high crown the color of runny mud, lasts for a minute or two before dissolving into a glass hugging ring.

Nose is baking chocolate, chocolate syrup and booze. Not this beer's strongest suit but still very good.

Man oh man does this taste good. First sip and my mouth is assaulted with rich fudge, milk chocolate, baking chocolate, and a finish that mixes char with more milky chocolate. This is just an amazing example of an imperial stout. Finish is nice and dry too.

Only a mouth luscious and thick could do a beer like this justice and this mouth does. Smooth like velvet.

If I didn't have a job to go to tomorrow or a limited supply of this I could drink this one forever. Wow.

02-20-2011 23:19:16 | More by TheBungyo
Photo of MetalHopHead6


4.35/5  rDev -0.2%

Founders Imperial Stout is roasty, a little smokey, and licorice-sweet.

It poured black with no head and it left very little lace. The smell was strong and smokey; the flavor was sweet and candy-like, dominated by licorice, but with a roasty finish and a hint of smoke. The feel was fantastic, with a great deal of breadiness and bitterness to perfectly balance the sweet flavor.

Founders Imperial Stout is a balanced RIS with a huge alcohol presence and a great blend of sweet and roasted flavors and a bitter and smokey finish.

02-20-2011 20:40:13 | More by MetalHopHead6
Photo of Gmann

New York

4.43/5  rDev +1.6%

Pours a pitch black color with a thick brown head that slowly disipated into a solid ring.

The aroma is fantastic. Milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate are forefront with hints of very light coffee. Typical founders stout aroma, wonderful.

The flavor is a mix of milk and bitter chocolates, roasted malt, and caramel. This is a dark milky way in a glass. There are some subtle dark fruit notes to round out the flavor.

The feel is unreal, so smooth. Full body with soft carbonation, silky silky silky feel. Sweet and bitter on the palate; finishes bitter.

Great beer.

02-20-2011 05:45:58 | More by Gmann
Photo of FanofHefe


4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Served on-tap in a pint glass. Deep dark, black body with a small dark tan head. The head dissipates quickly but leaves nice rings of lace all down the top half of the glass.

Aroma - nearly perfect. Rich chocolate up front, followed by dark fruit, roasted malt and a just a touch of tart hops at the back end. Every other whiff I get a hint of alcohol, but not much.

The taste is amazing. The chocolate, toffee and roasted malt flavors blend effortlessly and are not harsh in any way. I detect nearly no alcohol.

This is the best non-barrel aged stout I've ever had. Delicious.

02-19-2011 02:07:27 | More by FanofHefe
Photo of unibrew

New Hampshire

4.58/5  rDev +5%

Finally, a beer getting excited about! This brew has it all, and I give it high marks on all aspects for the style. It's thick, nearly chewy, black as night, roasty, coffee in nose, bit-o-licorice in the taste to go along with the nose. I could honestly live without the licorice, but, I'm sure it's there for some reason. Not much in the chocolate, but, not overwhelming in the coffee either. However, there is a lot of flavor! When finished, there is sediment in the glass. There's just too much stuff in the beer to be absorbed! I love a nice RIS, and I would have to say this is my new favorite! Better than Old Rasputin, Brooklyn Chocolate, and even Chocolate Yeti. (High praise from me indeed!) Seek this one out, and hopefully, you'll find a 4-pack for $11 or $12.

02-18-2011 22:51:25 | More by unibrew
Photo of CooperEllis

New York

3.93/5  rDev -9.9%

12oz into the DFH snifter.

Pour is deep and dark brown, with a rich chocolate head that leaves a mess of lacing across the brew and sides of the glass.

Very strong licorice aroma; some malt at the back but simply overpowered by the licorice.

Full rich flavor. I had this paired with dutch gouda and the flavors balanced nicely, the mouthfeel comes into play a good deal with the thickness of the stout allowing more of the complexity to be revealed as it takes longer for the liquid to clear the palate. Roast, licorice, coffee and malt.

Very thick but not syrupy. Good carbonation. Really spot on mouthfeel.

Aside from the abv being masked in the flavor and the nose by the stong licorice notes this is quite an easy (perhaps too easy) a drink.


02-18-2011 22:15:55 | More by CooperEllis
Photo of zoso1967


4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

This bad boy pours an impenetrable black brown with one of the darkest heads I have ever seen. The head is pretty much the color of a very dark hot chocolate. This is the second beer from this four pack, so I knew to pour it hard and right down the center. With the subdued carbonation it created a pretty modest head that slowly melted into the liquid. The lace that this beer produces is stubborn and clings to the snifter making interesting designs.

The aroma on this beer is incredible. It consists of: fudge, black coffee, bitter cocoa, caramel, molasses, anise, black cherries, bread and a hint of citrus. All of this is set off by a slight alcoholic hotness. This is one of those beers that I enjoy sniffing before every sip.

The flavor is super rich and intense, picking up where the aroma left off. Plenty of roasty coffee character mixed with decadent fudge, bitter cocoa, char, dark fruits, toffee and some prickly citrusy hops. Just like in the aroma there is a bit of heat, but it is kept in check quite well. The coffee and chocolate flavors are amazing in their intensity and richness. This is a great after dinner beer.

The mouthfeel is pretty serious, just like every other aspect of this brew. I would consider it to be full and it has a nice smoothness to it. The low carbonation is spot on with just enough to keep it from getting too heavy on the palate. The finish is laced with roasty malt, sweet molasses and spiky hops.

This is one to savor and for good reason. What this beer lacks in subtlety it makes up for with bold and complex flavors. Every sip you can latch on to a different aspect and be wowed by the skill it must have taken to make a beer like this. When I approached the end of the glass I enjoyed a bit of good quality 60% cocoa chocolate with what was left and this beer made the chocolate taste disappointing.

02-17-2011 22:26:26 | More by zoso1967
Photo of rrski198


4.1/5  rDev -6%

First review done at room temperature.

Second done at 40 degrees. I will take both and give the ratings as an average.

A: Jet black and oily thick pour. Little cola/mocha colored head that disapeared quickly. Little to no lacing. (No difference)

S: Sweet chocolate malt followed closely by an odd metalic/dirt scent. Cant quite put my finger on it. Nice hop bitter/earthy backbone. (Second review; Bitter sweet malt, spicy alcohol, charred wood, nails it for the style.)

T: Big fluffy sweet wave up front followed closely by the metal/dirty flavor. Quite off putting. I do like the hop and alcohol spice at the end and this sticks around the sides of my tongue. (Second review; burn malt up front, followed by burnt brown sugar and charred wood, fiishes with some really nice alcohol heat and a great hop bitterenss around the sides of the tongue. This is a real nice example of the style and while it is colder, the alcohol is much milder. it doesn't kick ight up front.)

M: Thick, chewy, oily. Spicy from the hops and booze with a mild tingle on the gums. Booze is right up front here. (Second review; Thick syrup, has the consistency of simple syrup. Great sweet/bitter balance. The heat from the booze is there, but very subdued.)

D: I am interested to try this beer at a colder temperature, however, with this review, I have to say I am quite disapointed. Founders is a first class brewery and this just doesn't measure up to their standards. There are many more imperial stouts out there that are head and shoulder above this. (Second review; Ok i retract everything. At a colder temp, this is quite awesome. I usually use North Coast Old Rasputian as the standard for this style and this is quite close. I have totaly re-done my review based upon how good this was at a colder temp. I am very impressed, but then again, I ahve never been let down by founders. I used to think that Stone was my favorite brewery, well, they have company.

02-17-2011 02:47:21 | More by rrski198
Photo of TheFightfan1


3.83/5  rDev -12.2%

Thanks to a colleague at my work for getting this for me. Poured into a snifter. Pours very thick almost like syrup on pancakes in my glass.Opague black with a tiny light brown covering some lacing globs throughout. Heavy,Heavy,Heavy.

Smell is naturally dominant in roasted malts,chocolate, slightly sweet lactic aroma. Subtle hop presence.

Taste is all chocolate.Followed with a sweeter caramel backing. Slight fruit taste of plum,raisins,even fig. Hot on the breath with a blast of hot alcohol on the palate.A slight smoke as well in the finish.

Mouth is very thick and syrupy. Slick texture,full bodied a slight chore to sip.

A solid R.I.S. and I do like just about everything I've had from Founders but this to me doesn't belong in the Top 100 beers of the world. Very basic.

02-16-2011 00:54:09 | More by TheFightfan1
Photo of chilly460


4.4/5  rDev +0.9%

A - Completely black and opaque, looks thick as it's poured. Nice dark brown mocha head, this looks like a RIS should.

S - Lots of roasted coffee, anise, licorice, and big malt background. Lots going on here, very warm aroma.

T - Slight roasted bitterness but not overboard, big chocolate coffee flavor. Some "woody" flavor, maybe some leathery tones. Finishes vanilla and roasted malts. Really liked this one.

M - Founders does it again, this is oily thick with chewiness and minimal carbonation. Just like a RIS should be.

D - I like that it's not over-hopped like a lot of American RIS, this one is drinkable as a true RIS style comes.

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2011 15:16:17 | More by chilly460
Photo of hooliganlife


3.98/5  rDev -8.7%

vintage 2009/10 release, aged 1 year.

pours jet black with a nice viscosity. chocolate like head that gives way to a light cocoa retention. light lacing.

scent is a bit light. roasted malt, dark chocolate, and a rich toffee dominate. light vanilla bean.

a bit light in flavor, although blended quite well. a nice infusion of robust roasted malt, bitter chocolate, and espresso. very dark but balanced.

very full, chewy, and with a nice moderate carbonation. has some bite to it. gums tingle, could be from alcohol although its well hidden.

this is pretty decent, not a sugary desert bomb that many imperial stouts turn into. has some bite it. i dig it.

02-14-2011 02:23:21 | More by hooliganlife
Photo of Auracom


4.08/5  rDev -6.4%

From notes. 12 oz. bottle on February 6th, 2011 in a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

A - Completely opaque, oily black coloring. No light getting through this one. One finger mocha-colored head. Light brown coating on the sides of the glass.

S - Huge, huge roasted nose. Some booze, caramel malts, some coffee, lots of dark chocolate.

T - Much of the same as the smell. Alcohol is a bit less apparent in the taste. Slight bitterness and more sweetness coming through as well.

M - Body is thick as hell. Oily coating lingers on the tongue for quite a while. Extra chewy. Carbonation is just enough. Really enjoyable in this aspect.

D - Gets knocked here for the abv, just too much detection/presence.

*Having revisited this one multiple times, including in a recent stout tasting, I'm deciding to bring the score up a bit. FIS seems to have my ideal base profile for an imperial stout. I still think it has a bit more heat than I'd like when fresh though.*

02-13-2011 23:12:27 | More by Auracom
Photo of ncaudle


4.58/5  rDev +5%

poured from 2011 bottle into snifter.

pours a gorgeous black with thick fluffy brown head. after a few minutes it settled down leaving no square cm of glass without lacing.

chocolate, roasted malts and maybe even some cherry hit the nose. the high bitterness balances out the sweetness exceptionally. the alcohol is there but blends nicely. it never slaps you in the face like many high abv brews.

nice and creamy with a thick body. in my opinion, simply perfect.

easily my favorite Founders Stout.

02-13-2011 17:55:43 | More by ncaudle
Photo of surlytheduff


4.35/5  rDev -0.2%

Bottle from 2011 release (I cannot for the life of me locate the inkjet bottled on date), drank from a snifter. The beer poured a deep dark piano-black, and initially seemed like it wasn't going to have much of a head. Then it was like a mad scientist's experiment, with black jets of bubbles shooting up towards the surface. After a few moments it settled into a beautiful 2 1/2 finger choclotey-brown head, which left wonderful lacing as it receded.

The aroma was full of sweet and roasted malts, fresh Starbuck's coffee, rich chocolate cake and a little bit of hops. The taste was phenomenal. Bitter dark chocolate, roasted bready malts, a little bit of alcohol, some hop bitterness and iced coffee. It was very well carbonated, a medium to full body and a mouth-coating creaminess. This was the freshest I've ever had FIS, and it was truly a wonderful experience. Three thumbs up!

02-13-2011 16:18:51 | More by surlytheduff
Photo of ChadQuest


4.65/5  rDev +6.7%

Squid Ink. Pitch Black. Head slowly forms into a menacing monster of coffee colored magic.
Aroma of chocolate and roasted malts, downright espresso when you get right into it with your nose. this is one hellava stout aroma. If the visual and aroma presentation doesn't make me wanna get into this, i am a sick person.
This mother is sooo smoooth, such a absolute rich creamy roasted flavor, like milk chocolate with finely ground espresso baked in. Just so deep and dense, endless.
HHmmm...i might go get a case. i could do this again for the rest of winter. no problem.
If this was a Waxed bomber sold one day, it would be massive, but 12oz bottles can't fit much hype inside, just amazing beer.

02-13-2011 05:49:06 | More by ChadQuest
Photo of argock


4.53/5  rDev +3.9%

Served on-tap in a 10oz stemmed clear glass snifter at beer Run (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Completely opaque black with burnished cakey brown 1/2-finger of head with good retention and lines of lace sedimenting the glass.

S: Black forest chocolate cake with a light cherry cordial glaze is my best stab and encapsulating the aroma. The dark bread aroma is unique with a delicious bittersweet dark chocolate punch and plenty of cold black coffee to go around. The breadiness is a definite departure from FBS. Hops are tobacco and earthy.

T: Flavor is deep and rich with chocolate and coffee mingling with that same cakey, dark sweet bread flavor that finishes with an ample dose of earthy hoppiness. The dark maltiness is not underplayed a bit, and alcohol is not detected. This went excellently with the double chocolate cake for a wonderful dessert.

M: Full-bodied without being overly viscous or oily. Rich and creamy it has a palate-coating quality that flows seamlessly.

D: A fantastic imperial stout. Without a doubt, I will have to find some of these bottles when they come around and stash them away. Compares very closely in quality to Bell's Expedition Stout, but Founder IS definitely lands on the sweeter, breadier side of the style versus more roasted and hop-aggressive.

02-13-2011 00:34:19 | More by argock
Photo of herman77


4.72/5  rDev +8.3%

A: Jet black with a bubbly, muddy colored dark brown head. Decent head retention and nice lacing.

S: Sweet dark chocolate, lots of roasted malt, molasses, coffee and a bit of anise.

T: Wow. So rich yet so smooth. Tons of deep roasted malt, dark bittersweet chocolate, dark fruits and a bit of coffee. Lightly smokey and woody notes. There is a good amount of hop bitterness on the backend to clean out the palate from all the richness. Its got a perfect balance of roasted malt, sweetness and bitterness. Has a long semi-sweet and roasted malt finish that is not dry like some imperial stouts. Some smokiness in the finish as well. Delicious.

M: Fuller body. Soft carbonation, nice mouth coating thickness, but not too sticky.

D: Amazing drinkability for a 10.5% imp stout. There is a touch of booziness, but its so smooth, tasty and balanced that it doesn't even matter. Can't find a bottle date, but its gotta be from this year.

02-13-2011 00:10:00 | More by herman77
Photo of boralyl


4.97/5  rDev +14%

2010 vintage. Served at 50F in a tulip glass.

A - Produces a 1/4 inch of dark brown head that fades pretty quickly but leaves a thick ring of lace. The beer is black and completely opaque.

S - The aroma of this beer is off the charts. I can smell it from a mile away. There is sweet chocolate paired with roasted malts. It's all melded together very well. No hint of the 10.5% alcohol contained within.

M - Full in body with light carbonation. Extremely creamy and silky smooth, coats the inside of your mouth.

T - Molasses and dark chocolate make their appearance first followed by a warming alcohol flavor that grows before being overtaken by a roasty, coffee like bitterness that lasts into the aftertaste.

An absolutely outstanding imperial stout. There are so many other imperial stouts that get hyped up that fall below the level of this beer. I wish I would have found out about this one sooner, will definitely be re-visiting it again.

02-12-2011 02:30:56 | More by boralyl
Photo of xnicknj


4.15/5  rDev -4.8%

12oz bottle poured into snifter glass

Pours a pitch black, inky color with a bubbled dark brown head. Fades into swirled, patchy film while leaving spotty lacing on the glass.

Strong scents of roasted malts with a flair of hops. Dark chocolate with hints of coffee and caramel.

Slightly bitter up front with a dash of dark chocolate and cocoa. Roasted malts create warmth with slight booziness. Caramel with molasses, very slight suggestion of licorice. Warm and hoppy towards the finish with slight sweetness.

Full smooth body with decent carbonation, a little chewy. Drinks really slick and easy, pleasant on the palate, solid flavor and the alcohol is in check considering its over 10%. Another great beer from Founders.

02-11-2011 03:37:51 | More by xnicknj
Photo of paulozanello


4.13/5  rDev -5.3%

Pours a thick, I mean petroleum thick (you can't even see through the pour), pitch black and viscous liquid with a nice chocolate color head that recedes fairly quickly leaving a thin foam cap on the surface. Mighty lacing.

Aroma is strong and full of roasted malts, espresso and mild bitter chocolate. Floral hops come through very lightly towards the end giving a nice perfume touch.

Taste is a malt bomb with roasted dark malts, espresso, chocolate, mollasses and very faint herbal hops. Lots of bitterness towards the end as well as coffee and bitter cocoa.

Mouthfeel is silky and creamy with lots of viscosity. Body is very heavy and thick and carbonation is medium. The alcohol is not overly apparent but you can definitely tell that it's there. Finish and aftertaste are very powerful, a combination of strong coffee notes and hop / roasted malt bitterness making the drinkability not that high, which I guess it's ok and expected, given the style.

A solid Imperial Stout from Founders, undoubtedly one of the best breweries out there. I still prefer the Breakfast Stout over this one but it is still definitely worth a try.

02-11-2011 02:26:53 | More by paulozanello
Photo of PreacherBrewer


4.72/5  rDev +8.3%

A - Pours dirty motor-oil black with a pinky sized head that quickly dissipates. As I swirl the beer around in my guinness pint glass, it leaves a syrupy layering on the sides. Never seen that before!

S - Malty-Caramel, hot cocoa, chocolate, and fresh brewed coffee, light alcohol.

T - Dark Chocolate, Caramel, truffle, fresh ground coffee beans, woody character from hops, warming alcohol.

M - Maximum Full-Bodiedness. Syrupy in a good way. Carbonation is just enough but not too much. It's a slow drinker, as it should be. Very filling and satisfying. leaves a coating of syrupy malty goodness on your palette.

O - This is a big ass stout that demands respect from the moment you pour, to the last bit of thick syrupy malt that is left on sides and bottom of your glass. A maximum bodied malt-bomb. A newfound legend.

02-10-2011 01:48:56 | More by PreacherBrewer
Photo of Rhettroactive

District of Columbia

4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

From bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 2/8/11
I should note that this is my 25th review

A: Molasses in a glass. It's viscous and coats the interior of the glass like few other beers I've seen. A semi-forceful pour offers a 3+ finger head that dissipates without leaving signifigant lacing. It actually looks like a frothy chocolate milkshake.

S: Thie initial nose immediately reminds me of Founders Breakfast Stout - roasty coffee and German chocolate. Upon further investigation, I am able to detect minut traces of alcohol, but more then anything I smell freshly baked ginger snaps right out of the oven.

T: Robust and unsweetened dark chocolate punch me in the mouth. Imagine falling down a dark hole with no floor in sight. That is what this beer is: massive amounts of complex malt melding ever so perfectly with charcoal smoke and alcohol.

M: Your wife ever force feed you one of those Slim Fast shakes? Yeah - this beer is kinda like that. Velvety thick and rich with luxurious carbonation. You could have one of these bad boys for lunch and walk away content.

O: Just an awesome, complex and rewarding brew. I really wish this Imperial Stout got as much recognition, distribution and push as their Breakfast Stout, as this may be the unsung hero of their lineup. One of the better RIS's I've had.

02-09-2011 18:25:11 | More by Rhettroactive
Photo of harrymel


4.3/5  rDev -1.4%

Bottled 11/20/09
Poured to SA sig glass.

A: Beautiful three finger deep mocha head rains through itself into the beer to leave a single finger. Thick and resonant, the head sticks to the glass and shelves the length. Very attractive for an Impy Stout.

S: Coffee, chocolate, leather, cream, caramel, licorice, molasses, herbal hopping, hints of citrus (so subtle). This is gonna taste great.

T: See above. Add bittering of the hops, roasty effervescence to the profile. Just a hint of metallic flavor (copper)

M: Thick, slick, sexy velvet. Heavy body, medium carb. Superb mouthfeel. I can swish this about my mouth and roll my tongue around the beer poking toward the different nuances of the flavor collage.

D: I could drink this beer all f$@king night. This is outstanding. Just outrageous I don't have more.

02-09-2011 17:29:35 | More by harrymel
Photo of tewaris


4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

90 IBUs
Bottled 11/27/2009; Sampled 12/28/2010; 12 oz bottle poured into a 25 oz snifter.

Pours thick and tar black with an excellently formed very very dark brown head. The head retention is great and the lacing is fantastic too. Looks just as good as any other, or better!

Molasses, sweet alcohol, roast, and massive coffee notes stand out; it should be noted that the coffee, although strong, is nowhere as strong as in the Breakfast series.

Coffee forward taste with a very bright & coffee-like acidity. Bitter on the palate, and with good amount of roast too.

Silky mouthfeel. Carbonation is appropriately low; full of roast but still not harsh; finishes sweet but can't be called cloying over a reasonable serving size; and warming.

In my memory, fresh Founders Imperial is more coffee forward and in that sense it has aged for worse.

Overall, an excellent stout and it's tough to choose any other over this, within the same style.

02-09-2011 09:20:10 | More by tewaris
Photo of jjanega08


4/5  rDev -8.3%

A= This beer looks thick when it pours. Totally black in color even somewhat suprizingly black. The beer looks flat at first before there is a nice dark brown head rising out of it. It comes up to a thin skin before falling to a ring around the glass. As I mentioned it looks thick. Some pretty decent legs on it.

S= Pungent. I was getting wiffs of this right when I opened it up. Smells of a typical impy stout until you really dig in that you start to realize there is a sort of dark fruit dried prunes smell in it. The roasted barley comes through but the dark prunes set this one apart. A bit unusual.

T= The taste is a tasty treat. Tons of nice roast. The dark prunes and fruit that I smelled sort of take the back seat on it and let just an intense roastyness come through. The roast is on a coffee level almost. With a bit of the oily coffee taste I would believe this was a coffee stout.

M= Not as thick as I expected but still thicker than most Impy stouts. The finish is dry from all the roast. Long lasting finish.

D= This was a tasty treat for sure. Worth checking out and worthy of some of the praise it gets. While I don't think it is the best imperial stout I've ever had it is better than some of the more hyped impy stouts.

02-09-2011 04:48:11 | More by jjanega08
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 5,666 ratings.