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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

5,633 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,633
Reviews: 1,587
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 8.7%
Wants: 506
Gots: 1,353 | 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: 5,633 | Reviews: 1,587 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of lordkman


4.35/5  rDev -0.5%

My first time having the Imperial Stout, although I've had KBS more times than I can remember (blasphemy I know).

Poured into my Delirium Tremens tulip (no snifter yet :( ) from a room temperature 12 oz bottle from my "cellar" (a pile of wine boxes in apartment right now).

A: Pours smoothly with an no head but with a ring of beautifully copper colored foam. Inky black yet infinitely enticing; no light can get through.

S: Rich dark chocolate and an almost raspberry like dark fruitness. Booze comes through slightly. An almost whisky-ness to it, perhaps from the malts. Very nice, rich and deep.

T: Big chocolate malts upfront that segues into a nice hint of booziness. Finishes with dry coffee, tobacco and chocolate notes. Reminds me of eating extremely dark chocolate (but not overly bitter) in a pipe smoke filled room. The finish lingers and evolves to include hints of licorice and malts. Perfectly balanced, although perhaps a bit reserved in its youth.

M: Silky smooth with just enough viscosity. Not overwhelming or thick in the least. Exceptional.

D: Ridiculously smooth for it's purported 10.5%, so that may hit it's drinkability a bit. Although the perfect nightcap and sipping beer, it almost drinks like a porter or session stout. Kudos Founders, but beware drinkers!

O: Overall I enjoyed this new bottle very much. I'm excited to age a few and kick up the vinous notes quite a bit. It only gets better from here, now the only debate is whether to buy more...

04-14-2010 02:58:01 | More by lordkman
Photo of mbudner


4.18/5  rDev -4.3%

Poured into a pint glass.

A-Pours black with a mocha-colored, 1-finger head leaving some spotty lacing.

S-Coffee, bitter roasted chocolate malts, a slight amount of booze. A bit meaty as well.

T-Chocolate with a slight bitter earthiness and a touch of metallic flavor at the end.

MF-Really well done on the mouthfeel. Nice and creamy with very low carbonation. Chewy with just enough sprtiz in the finish to round it all out.

D-Very drinkable for a 10%+ RIS. No really noticeable heat. Flavors are very balanced for such a young vintage.

04-14-2010 02:05:05 | More by mbudner
Photo of bobsy

Ontario (Canada)

4.47/5  rDev +2.3%

On tap at Coles in Buffalo. This has the classical imperial stout appearance, with its midnight black body and creamy mocha head. Great lacing and retention. F*ck nitro, this is how you get a beer to look good without screwing with everything else. Nice rich nose - lots of chocolate and some mild coffee notes. Reminds me of a maltier chocolate milk, but with more depth.

Pretty awesome flavour is simple, but well-executed. Huge chocolate throughout, some dark fruit, coffee and vanilla. Drinks like a regular stout, but with the amped up flavours of an imperial. Rich creamy body adds an extra layer of luxury. Not as roasty or bitter as some, but luxurious and as chocolaty as anything I've come across.

04-12-2010 15:40:58 | More by bobsy
Photo of kiddynamite920


4.38/5  rDev +0.2%

A: This thing is beautiful, everything I would imagine from an Imperial stout. Pitch black, foamy dark brown head turns into a fizzy thin ring. Nice lacing going on here. Very nice appearance.

S: Aroma is of rich chocolate and coffee. A good burn of alcohol as well. Some good wood and smoke notes. Some raisin and bourbon aromas. A little too hot right now to pick up subtle notes.

T: Hotness of the nose transfers over slightly to the taste. Nice and rich. Big malty monster here, but the 90 IBU's certainly play their part well. Great balance. Has a dry quality, like dry cocoa on the tongue. Vanilla comes through quite well, really a well balanced Imp stout. Certainly hits the mark on everything RIS. Dry, roasty, bitter and boozy. Well above average RIS.

M: Silky as it hits the tongue and lips, a bit sticky. Carbonation is right on point. Crisp enough to deliver flavors well, but relaxed to create quality sipping.

D: Very flavorful and enjoyable, but with all RIS's...one or two is plenty. Very drinkable nonetheless, yet on a Sunday night one is enough.

04-12-2010 03:50:03 | More by kiddynamite920
Photo of ritzkiss

Ontario (Canada)

4.2/5  rDev -3.9%

Goblet on tap at Coles in Buffalo. Arrives a deep black with a thin, creamy mocha head which leaves sheets down the glass. It also arrives far too cold.

After sitting a bit, the nose reveals some rich roasty malts, bitter dark chocolate and a hint of coffee. Pretty straightforward.

This is nothing fancy, just an honest-to-God, straightforward, well-made imperial stout. Textbook really. Rich roasted malts, chocolate, just a hint of caramel sweetness, coffee, a hint of vanilla, a touch of leafy hops in the finish which, along with the hefty roast, add a nice light drying to complement the creamy, rich mouthfeel. Hides the ABV well, just superbly creamy, rich body.

Paired nicely with my chocolate dessert, would gladly drink this again!

04-10-2010 13:13:09 | More by ritzkiss
Photo of LordAdmNelson


4.55/5  rDev +4.1%

Dark opaque black with thin milk chocolate head produced by a vigorous pour. Dark roasted malts with a bit of chocolate, coffee, and anise in the nose. Taste follows suit with big bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. Occasional hints of dark fruit, leafy hops, and wood/must. MF is big and oily, slick. Drinkability is surprisingly high. Very good and interesting sipper. Honestly I can't fault this beer that much. It's a very very good example of the style, potentially the best I've had without the addition of some sort of barrel aging. Tremendous work from Founders.

--Had this one again recently and it is incredible. It really is one of the best non-BA RIS's out there as far as I'm concerned. The depth of flavor paired with the classic taste and feel is just superb. I wish they would put this in some kind of barrel and bottle it.

04-09-2010 04:21:48 | More by LordAdmNelson
Photo of TheSevenDuffs

Ontario (Canada)

4.6/5  rDev +5.3%

A - Poured jet black with one finger of foamy coffee-coloured head that stuck around for a while.

S - The nose is full of chocolate and coffee with roasted malts and a hint of licorice.

T - The palate is bitter chocolate with some coffee and an overall roasted malt flavour. The hops are apparent here in the bitter finish and they act as a great compliment to the chocolate turning it in to a bitter dark chocolate palate. There is also a sweetness - maybe some molasses and caramel that compliments the bitter chocolate malts. This is an incredibly complex stout. The alcohol is somewhat present but not overwhelmingly so - after all it is 10.5% ABV.

M - Medium body with some chew. Smooth and silky.

D - This is the best imperial stout I have had. It is incredibly complex and perfect for a cold winter night.

I will definitely buy this stout over and over again. incredible!

04-07-2010 02:55:40 | More by TheSevenDuffs
Photo of ZeroSignal


4.13/5  rDev -5.5%

Poured from a 12 oz bottle

A - An aggressive pour yields a thin, dark brown head that quickly settles; the pour is jet black

S - Nose of chocolate, cocoa, coffee and caramel up front. Sweet, dark fruit and a light alcohol is present as well

T&M - Dark chocolate and a sugary sweetness, some alcohol and espresso; this feels semi-dry and full bodied, thick and slightly creamy.

D - High ABV is well hidden, and this is very nicely balanced; appropriately sweet but not overly so. This is definitely a sipper, but thoroughly enjoyable to drink

04-06-2010 00:39:28 | More by ZeroSignal
Photo of tr4nc3d


3.85/5  rDev -11.9%

12 fl oz bottle poured into my snifter

This pours a velvet looking black color with no light passing through. The pour was barely able to produce a half inch mocha colored head that lacked head retention. Mere little ring on the outside edges of the beer and no lacing at all.

The aroma was pretty sweet smelling. Roasted malts are the prominent smell with a huge aroma of chocolate. I get some vanilla, dark fruit, and a perfume like scent

Sweet upfront taste of chocolate and candi sugar that leads to a roasted coffee flavor with some cream.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with average carbonation.

Overall I wanted a couple more flavors to come out of this Stout but it was worthy of trying once.

04-03-2010 19:45:10 | More by tr4nc3d
Photo of turnstile


4.22/5  rDev -3.4%

Appearance: Pours thick and syrupy out of the bottle. Pitch black with a coffee-brown head that develops for a few seconds before receding into a thin ring around the glass. Minimal signs of carbonation.

Smell: Boozy; dark molasses with freshly-ground coffee with bittersweet chocolate mixed in. Roasted malts evntually come through against strong alcohol aromas.

Taste: Lactic-sweet with notes of milk chocolate and coffee. Moderate bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied to say the least. Smooth and thick on the tongue with little carbonation noticeable.

Drinkability: Typically bitterness + high ABV = sipper, but it's not the case with this brew. The delicious sweetness up front affords some great drinkability, but you'd be wise to enjoy this one slowly. Finishes a little too syrupy for my liking - the last few sips are tough to get through.

04-02-2010 05:47:08 | More by turnstile
Photo of Metalmonk

North Carolina

4.58/5  rDev +4.8%

Poured out like black ink and oil, with an totally brown head. The head doesn't last long, thinning to a skim then a crown within a minute. Utterly jet black in appearance.

Burnt marshmallow, dark fruit, chocolate, coffee and hops mingle nicely in the nose. Hardly a trace of that 10.5% alcohol at first, but with a little warming and settling it does start to make itself known.

Flavor is big and bold, but not brash. The hops definitely make their mark, but at 90 IBUs, that's expected. They're on the citrus rind-y side, exerting a grapefruit-like essence, but that's carefully balanced and offset by healthy dark roast coffee bitterness, charred grain, more burnt marshmallow, graham cracker, big gooey milk chocolate (I'm getting that s'mores thing here)...and traces of dark fruit (fig, grape). Alcohol underlines all of that, and gives it a nice warm edge. Fantastic. The finish features the coffee and hops, mostly.

As fantastic as it tastes, it feels even better. Can I give it a 6 out of 5? Rounded, ultra-creamy, thick, gooey...oh yeah.

A total knockout from the one the finest breweries in the world. Seriously good stuff.

04-01-2010 23:47:21 | More by Metalmonk
Photo of hoppymcgee


3.38/5  rDev -22.7%

Poured from a 2009 vintage 12oz. bottle into a Bruery tulip.

A: The best feature of this beer. Black as night with a bubbly brown head that recedes into a wispy mass and laces the side of the glass.

S: Iced coffee, some malts, and smoked beachwood. Maybe a little bit of black currants from the aging.

T: Meh. I don't think the aging did this beer any well. Acridly roasted coffee, no sense of sweetness, way too bitter (they should have made this about 70 IBU's). I do sense a little mellow nougat flavor as this warms up.

M: Perfect carbonation level to mask a rather thin RIS. Dry finish.

D: Not too shabby. Even though I didn't like the taste that much it was pretty easy to take down - maybe one good feature from the aging?

Overall, my least favorite from the Founders portfolio of beers I've sampled thus far.

03-31-2010 02:44:30 | More by hoppymcgee
Photo of divineaudio


4.47/5  rDev +2.3%

12 oz dated bottle into a tulip.

pours black as night and forms a thick, chocolate brown head that hangs around. nice chunky lacing too.

smells of molasses, raisin, alcohol and roasted deliciousness. taste is similar but much more complex. i'm picking up mostly roasted malts, but also some coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, raisin and apple. a dry, bittersweet hop finish gives this one great balance. alcohol content is noticeable, but not overpowering.

mouthfeel is heavy, but also incredibly smooth and creamy with a little bit of alcohol warming.

this beer is quite drinkable for being so strong and rich, bit i couldn't see anyone having more than 2 of these at any given time. fits the style perfectly, and is yet another star in the founders lineup.

03-30-2010 03:46:12 | More by divineaudio
Photo of MrMcGibblets


3.88/5  rDev -11.2%

A: black with a nice lasting brown head and lacing.
S: dark chocolate, rum-soaked dark fruit, coffee.
T: big, sweet molasses-like chocolatey malts, a bit of rum-like booziness, fruitcake, roasty, bitter. warming alcohol on the long semi-sweet finish.
M: thick and viscous, carbonation struggles through.
D: a sipper that might improve with cellaring time.

03-29-2010 00:14:37 | More by MrMcGibblets
Photo of abrand


4.2/5  rDev -3.9%

12 ounce bottle with bottled on date of 10/2/09 poured into a Founders pint glass.

The Founders Imperial Stout pours a deep chocolate color with a tan head that only pops up after an aggressive pour. Not much lacing or retention to note. Aromas are mostly burnt coffee with a subtle chocolate presence. I'm not picking up any of the 10% abv in the nose. Quaff is sweet licorice with a bitter chocolate finish. Odd that I am not getting consistency with the nose and quaff as I do not notice any espresso or coffee beans in the quaff, or at least nothing like the nose. Mouthfeel is nice and thick like a stout should be. Drinkability is solid for this style mostly in comparison to the high price tag that comes with an Imperial stout.

03-28-2010 04:35:26 | More by abrand
Photo of jwhawkins81


4.03/5  rDev -7.8%

Aroma - Roasted malts and a hint of hops

Appearance - Dark, dark brown with a thin light brown head. Not much carbonation from the pour at all really which is a slight let down in the appearance.

Taste - A ton of roast with hints of chocolate and a kicker of hop bite at the end. While this is still one of the better Russian Imperial Stouts I've had I would have preferred something a little sweeter.

Notes - A solid RIS that I will cellar. This one was served at 53.5 degrees.

03-27-2010 22:07:41 | More by jwhawkins81
Photo of MrDanno96


4.13/5  rDev -5.5%

A: Pours really thick and pitch black. A thin ring of tan head keeps mainly to the rim of the glass. A thin film of lace coats most of the inside of the glass.

S: Really wonderful aromas of coffee and dark roasted malt. Dark chocolate and some spicy alcohol are also apparent. Nice!

T: Espresso and burnt coffee really dominate right off the bat. Notes of dark chocolate and coco powder come through in the middle palate and well. Nice coffee bitterness comes through in the finish. Dark malts really shine here, especially black patent. Some bitterness lingers just a little too long, but it's not a big deal.

M: Nice full body and a good bite of carbonation. You can feel the alcohol as you swallow.

D: Another great beer from Founders. Not quite an elite Imperial Stout, but still a really good one.

03-25-2010 02:52:47 | More by MrDanno96
Photo of dasenebler


4.3/5  rDev -1.6%

Bottled 11/27/09. One of the thickest pouring stouts I've ever had, with a mud flow of shadowy goodness. Modest dark tan head laces extremely well.

Aroma is good and improves as the beer warms: roasty, surprisingly hoppy, and boozy.

Flavor is super rich and roasty. Medium coffee flavor is not nearly as pronounced as with other Founders stouts. This is a very bitter stout in which you can readily detect the 90 IBU hop presence. This bitterness is also a product of the huge roasty flavor. Finishes with a bit of warming alcohol, with a lingering dark fruit character. Really delicious stuff here. Thick, chewy mouthfeel. Pleasantly low carbonation. Realistically drinkable for 10+ abv stout.

I enjoyed this Founders offering much more than either the Breakfast Stout or KBS. A.

03-23-2010 04:15:26 | More by dasenebler
Photo of billshmeinke


4.28/5  rDev -2.1%

Obtained through a trade with StormKing47. Poured into a Lost Abbey tulip.

Pours jet black. A coffee tinted one finger khaki head retains well. Dies down to a collar around the glass with a wispy head. Nice lacing.

Smells of bitter coffee, chocolate, toffee, Hint of vanilla, a bit of anise and some light bitter hops.

The taste follows smell. Taste like bitter coffee, dark chocolate, toffee, some caramel, a bit of anise. Also, some light piny hops.

Full bodied. Medium carbonation. Fairly assertive tiny bubbles.

Very drinkable for the high abv.

03-22-2010 00:31:55 | More by billshmeinke
Photo of wedge

North Carolina

4.35/5  rDev -0.5%

This bottle is over a year old...January 2009, I guess.

Pours pitch black with a light brown creamy head that leaves some drippy bits of lace behind. Heavy, rich aromas of sweet dark chocolate, boozy vinous fruits, and a fair amount of black strap molasses. First sip is a big, chewy mouthful of semi-sweet chocolate, roasted black malt, and a subtle fruity tartness. Delicious and satisfying. Bitter in the finish, but rather silky-smooth as a whole. Rich and creamy and dangerously drinkable. I mean, it feels like a "big" beer, but there isn't hardly any hint of the high ABV. Full, smooth, textured...damn tasty.

03-21-2010 23:19:00 | More by wedge
Photo of flexabull


4.1/5  rDev -6.2%

Bottle courtesy of abrand, thanks again!

Pours a still and deep dark black color with a faint tan head.

Nose is exceptional. Deep dark chocolate, a touch of cream, and hints of ground coffee. Wow... this really does smell wonderful.

Surprisingly bitter tasting and kind of harsh. Really heavy roasted flavor, some bitter bakers chocolate, a hint of smoke, and a burnt toasty flavor. Finish has an alcohol warmth, and more bitterness.

Mouthfeel is nice and full, with very good carbonation.

Drinkability is pretty good. But man, this is a beast. A bit overly bitter in my opinion, this one could definitely use a couple of years of cellar time to smooth this out a bit. It's still quite tasty, but it's a bit rough around the edges.

03-21-2010 05:52:04 | More by flexabull
Photo of GregSVT


4.08/5  rDev -6.6%

12oz bottle into a snifter

A: An aggressive pour of a deep black liquid produces a huge tan head with good retention and leaves tons of lacing as it recedes.

S: The aromas are cocoa, coffee, and a hint of hops. The hops give it an almost earthy aroma which I find very unique. It's also slightly smokey as well.

T: The taste is earthy as well which is odd for a RIS. After that I pick up a lot of cocoa/bakers chocolate and a hop bite on the finish. Very interesting flavors.

M: The feel is thick and creamy with great carbonation for the style.

D: ABV at 10% and the hops in the flavor are the only thing hindering this from being highly drinkable. It's a lot like Old Raspy but a bit better IMO.

Worth a try for sure. I'm grateful for the opportunity from one of my trading partners.

03-20-2010 01:52:57 | More by GregSVT
Photo of antoines15


3.48/5  rDev -20.4%

Poured from a growler after visiting the brewery on the KBS release day. The beer pours as dark as oil with a 1/2 inch head that remains throughout. Also, it has good lacing even though my glass wasn't cleaned properly. The taste is dark chocolate and coffee. The alcohol is pretty well hidden and the aftertaste is not bad. Overall, it's another good offering from Founders, but not one of my favorites.

03-19-2010 18:32:43 | More by antoines15
Photo of mfunk9786


4.03/5  rDev -7.8%

I feel strange reviewing this brew first before reviewing any other Founders offerings, because they really do a great job and I feel like by not giving this an A+ I'm understating how fantastic this brewery is on the whole. But I have to keep the style and other examples I've had of the style in mind, so here's my analysis:

A: Black as night. If you were to deep sea dive into a pool of this beer, you'd feel like you'd died and gone to liquid purgatory. There's absolutely no sight of the other end of the glass. Where the appearance really lets me down is in the head, which is minimal at best. The lacing is fantastic and the head never disappears entirely, but from the time I poured it into my Piraat glass, there was never an entire coating of head over the top of the beer, and that was a little disappointing, and it definitely comes into play when we get to the mouthfeel.

S: The smell certainly improves on the appearance. It smells sweeter than this style usually does, which definitely gives it a distinctive edge in this category. A bit of vanilla on the nose, which I found surprising.

T: The taste was a letdown. Once the beer enters your mouth, it's surprising just how bitter and burnt this beer tastes. Maybe I'm spoiled by Founders various Breakfast Stouts, but I was expecting a bit more dark fruit and chocolate, and was met with the liquid equivalent of an 80%+ dark chocolate bar, that's just far too bitter to enjoy straight-up. I've had Imperial Stouts that are able to represent their individual flavors much better than this one, and it came as a huge shock to realize that this beer is so one-note compared to others I've had. That being said, the alcohol is very nicely hidden, and I certainly didn't pour it out, there's definitely enough to like here if you have some stout experience.

M: For the style, the mouthfeel is about average. Thick; chewy.

D: Like I said, I didn't pour my glass out, but the bitterness certainly starts to take its toll towards the end of the glass. It's not the juicy hop bitterness that comes with a great double IPA, instead it's a burnt cocoa and alcohol bitterness that eventually begins to make your tongue go numb. Although, would a numb tongue improve the drinkability rating? These are the questions that plague us. But I'm going with a completely middle-of-the-road score for this style. Not terrible, but not great either.

There are obviously a lot of admirers of this brew, and perhaps Founders' love of chocolate, coffee, and oatmeal in their other brews have spoiled me (is there any better beer on the planet than Founders Breakfast Stout?) but this one just fell short of my expectations. Buy a single bottle if you can find it before you take the plunge on a 4 pack. Luckily, Founders is spreading ever so slowly across the country, so your chances of locating a bottle will increase every year until they get their due as a nationally available brewery.

I purchased my 12 oz bottle for $4.50 at Pinnochio's Beer Garden in Media, PA. It's worth noting, as I probably will be with every single Founders review, how much I appreciate the 12 oz bottles when compared with bomber-obsessed breweries - it's a lot nicer to spend a bit less to try a beer but still get plenty of it to enjoy - and to have a 4 pack available if you do love it.

03-19-2010 00:29:12 | More by mfunk9786
Photo of brobeerbot


4.9/5  rDev +12.1%

Poured vigorously into nonic pint.

A- Poured a beautiful pitch black and was able to get a good two finger tan colored head. Nice lacing throughout drink

S- Coffee, malt, and smoke. One of the better smelling stouts I have had.

T- This one drinks like a dream. Strong taste of malty and smoke. Some hints of bitter chocolate with a small coffee finish.

M- Thick and chewy. You know your drinking a quality stout. Sticks to your mouth and allows flavor to stay in the mouth fo quite a while.

D- This is a fairly strong drink. With the high ABV and the heartiness of this stout it is for sure a one or maybe two during the night.

Overall this is a very very good stout. Has become one of may favorite imperial stouts on the market. Have one in the cellar and will see what we have in a year or so.

03-18-2010 01:31:40 | More by brobeerbot
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 5,633 ratings.