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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

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5,745 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,745
Reviews: 1,594
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 514
Gots: 1,392 | 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: 5,745 | Reviews: 1,594 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

harrymel, Feb 09, 2011
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.

tewaris, Feb 09, 2011
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.

jjanega08, Feb 09, 2011
Photo of SpdKilz
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%

[edit] Currently drinking this again thanks to Kevin (kzoobrew). I am upping my ratings because holy cow, maybe I wasn't taking accurate notes last time but this is utterly damn tasty.

First of all a big thanks to Abel (abecall98) for sharing this beer with me while he let me crash at his place the day before going to Russian River for the PtY release! Cheers buddy!

Appearance - We all agreed, this pours just a massive dark black color that coats the edges of the glass...thickly hanging against them. Slight tan head is achieved but overall, little lacing. Very ominous.

Smell - Heavy sweat malts, molasses, chocolate, roasted malts, and slight alcohol.

Taste - Similar to the aroma, though I get more sweet chocolate up front, then come the roasted malts and sweet brown sugar/molasses flavor. Cocoa, vanilla, and some dark fruits make themselves known later on, and just a hint of alcohol.

Mouthfeel - Fuller bodied, lower carbonation, creamy. Appropriate.

Drinkability - For what this beer is, it is damn drinkable. Very glad I was able to try this seeing as I have missed it every time I am back in the Midwest. How odd I have to drive up to Nor Cal to try this! Thanks again Abel.

SpdKilz, Feb 09, 2011
Photo of headbucket
3.43/5  rDev -21.3%

Purchased around december 2009.decided to let them sit after the first one I tasted was a bit too intense for me, a big russian/imperial stout fan.

A:pours with one of the darkest heads I have ever seen. A nice head a little less than an inch forms after a vigorous pour. The head lightens a bit after sitting, to a very dark tan/singed paper color. Nice lacing left on the glass. Dark black beer.

S: dark malts,roasty, and a bit of chocolate and smoke.

T:semi-sweet and dark, chocolate, roasty bitterness similar to a coffee flavor, a little leather flavor maybe, then the smokiness comes in and takes over. There is a weird mix of bitter and smoky/burnt flavors on the end and throughout the aftertaste. The strongest smoke/burnt flavor I have encountered in an imperial stout and I'm not a big fan of it. It overpowers and just doesn't
do it for me here, would rather be tasting the chocolate and bitter flavors more.

M: thick and smooth. Very nice. Along with appearance, the best parts of the beer.

D: great mouthfeel and the abv isn't too apparent so that is good, however the odd bitter/burnt aftertaste doesn't do it for me. Would be a little lower but the glass is going down pretty quick despiter the smoky finish.

I really like fbs and kbs, cbs is up there too but the smokiness/ burnt bitterness of this beer just isnt somethin I can get into. Will be sitting on my last two for atleast a few more years in hopes that they turn into something I can enjoy more

headbucket, Feb 09, 2011
Photo of twelvepack
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%

Served from a 12 oz bottle

A: A rich deep brown with a little bit of red on the lining of the head with lacing.

S: Smells of coffee and roasted malts. Dark fruits in there too.

T: Starts off with a hoppy and roasted coffee bean kick that melts away into a sweet dark chocolate and malty finish that hangs on the back of the palate. Some definite smokieness in there that lingers.

M: A truly wonderful mouthfeel. Rich and complex that compliments the flavors involved. Thoroughly enjoyable.

D: A superb beer. Founders does it again.

twelvepack, Feb 09, 2011
Photo of SeaUrchin
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%

reviewed from notes, had this years release during the supper bowl, 12oz bottle poured into duvel tulip

appearance - black, held it to a light and only the edges lightened to a dark brown, a nice brown head about 2-2.5 fingers high, moderate carbonation running up the sides of the glass

smell - the smell is up front with chocolate and roasted malts, then a medium(compared to founders breakfast stout) coffee smell, this moves into a slight scent of dark fruits, maybe raisins

taste - opens up with a dark roasted coffee that is not overpowering in the least, then a nice dark chocolate quickly takes over, this melds into a sweet roasted malt and finishes with a bitter coffee kick, no where near FBS as mentioned but still delicious

mouthfeel - thick, almost like milk, but a bit lighter due to the carbonation, would have enjoyed this to be slightly "slimeyer" because i didnt have the after feel on my tongue that i remembered from last years(i enjoy the feeling)

drinkability - this is a sipper but something that i could sit and drink many of them over a night, possible my next candidate for a poker game, one of(if not) my favorite russian imperial stouts

SeaUrchin, Feb 08, 2011
Photo of readbaron
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%

Purs thick and dark, dark, dark brown, with a bit of mocha head that quickly thins to a tiny ring with a bit of lacing.

Smells like big burnt roasted malts. A hint of leather, and maybe a tiny bit of chocolate/sweetness.

Taste is quite good - more complex than the nose would lead you to think. Roasted, almost bitter malt is the dominant flavor, then it mellow into a bit of sweetness before finishing with a smooth burnt bitter flavor.

Mouthfeel is perfection. Thick and viscous, nicely carbonated, creamy, but not sticky. Delightful.

readbaron, Feb 08, 2011
Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%

Pours super black looking very thick with an excellent tan-brown head and lacing, though the head subsides semi quickly.

The smell has to be one of the most burnt, roasty IRS smells I have ever smelled. The smell also has some sweet dark chocolate cherry aromas, big brownie smells, and theres also something very succelent/savory like a cut of brisket to this beer. Very enjoyable.

The beer has a very nice taste of coffee roast, barley, fudge, a little alcohol complexity at the back, and some of the savory smokiness you get in the nose. Nice but could be more complex with the flavor arrays.

The Mouthfeel is absolutely amazing. It has to be the creamiest beer out of the bottle I may have ever had. Totally coating, and great level of carbonation.

D: This is a very awesome beer from Founders, maybe one of my favorite offerings they have. At 10.5%, you can barely tell. If this beer had a little more flavor packed into the taste it would maybe be a top 5% RIS for me, and it's easily top 10%.

Dreadnaught33, Feb 08, 2011
Photo of scottfrie
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%

12oz bottle into Duvel Green tulip. Bottled 11/09.

A: Pours black with a billowing dark reddish-brown yielded from a rough pour. The head took forever to fade into a thick collar that left a network of delicate lacing down the glass. Just outstanding looking.
S: Chocolate-coffee ice cream and maybe a few hints of rich dark fruits.
T: Rich with more coffee than the nose. This first thing I notice is how bitter this beer is, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's got big flavors of chocolate malt and coffee, with slight hints of vanilla and burnt flavors. Aftertaste has a touch of smoke and a punch of coffee bitterness.
M: Alcohol is just barely noticeable, and most of the warmth is gone. Body is on the fuller side of medium but could use a little more. Carbonation is just right for the style though, and the mouthfeel is pretty darn nice.
D: A pretty impressive beer and one that I would buy now and then if it were available to me. I love that it's in a 12oz bottle since I don't know if I'd want to drink any more than that by myself. Cheers!

scottfrie, Feb 07, 2011
Photo of dc55110
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%

Thanks to wkcyr4 for including this awesome extra!

2008 Vintage

Pours thick! Nice dark mahogany head, dissipates as expected. Small amount of lacing.

Smell at first was a bit off, hard to place the source, just something not right. As it came up to room temperature the aroma be came quite pleasant with hints of malt, raisin, tobacco, slight booze.

Age as done quite well for this beer. Fresh Imperial Stout is very good, but the years have added a bit more complexity to the flavors. It starts out slightly sweet with hints of raisin, fig and malt. The finish has as slight bitter chocolate/molasses taste.

It coats the mouth nicely, without being to thick. Very good sipper, but that doesn't mean I couldn't see myself having two or three in a sitting.

Overall this another wonderful stout from a brewery that knows what they are doing when it comes to stouts... and just about any style they choose to brew.

dc55110, Feb 07, 2011
Photo of thetomG
4.15/5  rDev -4.8%

Inky oil-slick jet black in color. Solid layer of tan foamy head that leaves behind spotty lacing.

Aroma has a very pleasant mild chocolate aspect alongside the more standard roasted malt & bitter coffee elements of a stout.

Flavor follows along the same lines as the aroma, but the roasty aspects really dominate here. The beer finishes with a nice bitter coffee flavor.

Mouthfeel is excellent - super silky smooth and oily. The high abv is almost totally hidden making this one dangerously drinkable.

Another top quality beer from Founders. Highly recommended.

thetomG, Feb 06, 2011
Photo of rka758
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%

12oz bottle poured into Westy goblet.

A: Poured black as night with no head...sheet black.
S: Strong roasted malts with a bit of chocolate.
T: Roasted malt, smokiness and dark chocolate.
M: Nice and chewy.
D: Very good and very dangerous. I put this in the same ring as Bell's Expedition and GI BCS.

rka758, Feb 05, 2011
Photo of smakawhat
4.15/5  rDev -4.8%

Happy to at once get my hands on this. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

Pours like oil out of the bottle... borderline black. No head to speak of but perhaps 2 millimeters of dark mahogany bubbles. Slowly falls. Body is dark as night.

A good solid nose of faint chocolate with malt character. Simple roast too. Slight sweetness, cloyingly feels deceptive. Unfortunately there isn't much else to it than that. Strangely a smell of a hard boiled egg.

Taste is just a solid malt, with a simple good tobacco. Some carbonation though but a huge aerated mouthfeel of tobacco and whisps of dark bitter chocolate. Has borderline milk/cream stout fizzyness on the end but dark chocolate comes out in the swallow. Mouthfeel has lots of silk, but would be silkier if it wasn't so carbonated. Carbonation tingles on roof mouth long after beer has been consumed also. ABV is also very well hidden and masked.

Still another great beer from Founders what can I say, I get more and more impressed with these guys every time.

smakawhat, Feb 04, 2011
Photo of Jaycase
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%

a: Dark as a moonless night. Exquisite.

s: Roasted malts. Some chocolate.

t: Nice chocolate flavor. Taste seems to subside quickly. Doesn't linger.

m: Low carbonation. Smooth. Thick and chewy - like drinking an imperial stout bar. Very nice.

d: Alcohol sneaks up on you like a purse snatcher.

A very impressive beer. It's about 3 dollars more per 4 pack than Old Rasputin around here but I really dig the chewiness of this. I will definitely pursue this in the future.

Jaycase, Feb 02, 2011
Photo of THECPJ
4.43/5  rDev +1.6%

Reviewed from notes 1/24/2011

A: molasses, malts, sweet, a little bit of booziness

Ap: black with ½ finger mocha colored head, nice lacing

B/T: mid carbonation

Af; sweet, smooth, sticky roasted coffee

O: an overall good beer, but would choose KBS or breakfast stout over this one from Founders


THECPJ, Feb 01, 2011
Photo of Frosty80
4.43/5  rDev +1.6%

Color: pours extremely dark brown, almost completely black with the smallest of dark brown rims. sits black with a two-finger, creamy brown/mocha head

Smell: very mellow chocolate and roasted malt in balance as well as some light alcohol presence

Taste: rich, roasted and slightly charred malt with just enough chocolate to round it out a bit. alcohol is only an ankle-biter here but comes through a little more in the finish, which is somewhat dry, lightly bitter and mostly roasted/charred malt with light chocolate notes

Mouthfeel: low carbonation. very full, chewy body

Notes: kick-ass stout. the burnt malt flavors are very welcome as they add character and invoke thoughts of malt and fire

Frosty80, Jan 31, 2011
Photo of dgugliuzza
4.78/5  rDev +9.6%

2011 realease....Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a founder's snifter.

A- Black as night with a deep, mocha brown head. Large bubbles form on the side of the glass as the head disperses. Beautiful golden brown lacing.

S- Smells of roasted chocolate with a subtle coffee finish. Reminds me of a freshly baked fudge chocolate cake.

T- Perfect bittersweet dark chocolate blend. Hints of vanilla and toffee interspersed throughout the dominant roasted chocolate flavor. Tastes like the best chocolate cake money can buy sprinkled with a few coffee beans to balance this beauty.

M- Thick, chewy and smooth. A seemingly impossible combination that this beer manages to capture. Little to no carbonation.

D- It's a sipper that I would have no problem drinking two or three in one sitting. The smoothness and richness create a perfect balance. I wish this was available year round

dgugliuzza, Jan 30, 2011
Photo of thagr81us
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%

Served from bottle into a Delirium Tremens snifter. Poured pitch black with a three finger tan head that subsided to a half finger very very slowly. Maintained phenomenal lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, dark chocolate, and subtle alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, dark chocolate, caramel, and slight alcohol. It had a heavy feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this brew was quite excellent. The flavor was very nicely balanced and enjoyable. Both a great aroma and flavor going on here. For the alcohol content, this one is pretty easy drinking, so drink with caution. A must try without a doubt.

thagr81us, Jan 22, 2011
Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%

Another beer given to be from Sideswipe. Thanks man.

Pours a deep black. This beer wouldn't give me a head no matter how hard I poured it. No lacing.

Aroma isnt much. Smells hot and boozy. Roasty.

The taste is awesome. I was worried for a min. Very smooth and sort of sweet. Nice and roasty with a bit of roasted caramel and sugars. Awesome.

Mouthfeel is great. Not too thick and great carb.

Overall I could drink more of this than other imperial stouts. I'll probably be trading for more of this in the future.

PeprSprYoFace, Jan 22, 2011
Photo of StoutHunter
4.53/5  rDev +3.9%

Well.... Looks like I made it to review 100, its been quite a journey and I figured I would celebrate this milestone by cracking something a little special. I picked up a four pack of this a couple weeks ago at a store I very rarely go to. I found this 4 pack sitting on the dark bottom shelf covered in dust. I have never seen this brew around before, so I figured I better give it a try. I asked the lady working there how old they were and she said they got them sometime in 2008. Poured from a stubby 12oz brown bottle into a pint glass. 08 vintage

A= I like the label on this beer, looks like a medieval crest. I know for sure this bottle is pretty old since it had a twist off cap, I have never had a founders that wasn't pry off. It made a nice pssst sound to let me know there was still some carbonation left in her. It poured a pitch black used motor oil color with a half of finger worth of brown head that died down to a super thin ring that left no lacing.

S- The aroma is pretty robust. Lots of heavy roasted grains that let some nice chocolate and coffee come through. I also pick up some molasses which makes the aroma a little on the sweet side.

T- As soon as I took my first sip I was hit with tons of sweet robust chocolate. In the middle I pick up some dark fruits and molasses that make the flavor just about as sweet as the aroma. All those flavors come together very nicely and well balanced. I can barely taste any alcohol in this beer, which makes it pretty deadly.

M- This a full bodied beer with ok carbonation, I know not to expect much carbonation in big stouts like this one especially aged ones.

D- This has to be the smoothest, easiest drinking Imperial Stout I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. It might be mainly impart to the age, but this beer is not boozy at all, in fact I can barely detect any alcohol.

Overall I thought this was a world class Imperial Stout and the best I have ever had. The flavors were incredible, as was just about everything else about this beer. Founders knocked it out of the park with this brew. I am glad I took the chance at that store and gave this beer a shot. I think age helped this beer out a lot, but I can't be sure since this was my first time trying it, but I will try one fresh when the new batch hits the shelfs, which should be shortly, I will edit it with my thoughts of it fresh. This is a kick ass beer that should be tried by every BA, and if you got the patience age them, you will not be disappointed. Founders is pretty much the king of stouts and one of the best brewery's in the USA.

EDIT- 1/30/12 I bought a fresh four pack this year and while the aged version was a little smoother, I found the mouthfeel and appearance were better so I adjusted the score because of that. This has to to be the best looking RIS I have had. I got three fingers worth of fluffy mocha head that left tons of lacing, this is the best looking RIS hands, as far as I am concerned this is the best RIS made in Michigan.

StoutHunter, Jan 21, 2011
Photo of TKEbeerman
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%

A: Poured into my pint glass, this RIS pours as dark as any with a thin dark tan head that would be much more impressive if it just was a little thicker and held on for a little bit more.

S: The aroma is heavy in roasted malt, some black molasses, and notes of chocolate.

T: The flavor is excellent. Don't know the difference between and RIS and an American Imperial Stout? Try this brew and a Founders Breakfast Stout side by side. Heavy amount of roasted malt backed up by a hop bitterness, molasses piled on top of notes of chocolate and maybe some liquorish.

MF: Mouthfeel is rich and creamy, full and almost perfect.

D: Drinkability at 10.5% is almost perfect.

Overall, this is the definition of what a RIS should be. Brews take notes, Founders is where it's at.

TKEbeerman, Jan 12, 2011
Photo of TCHopCraver
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%

Reviewed from notes made on 1/9/11. This was bottled in 11/09 and I had to hold the bottle right up to a light because the date had become so faded.

Whoa, this beer is so dark. This is right up there with the blackest stouts I've seen, if not the blackest. After a medium-hard pour into a snifter, a one and a half finger dark mocha head rests on top. There is some deep red color at the edges, but the body is quite opaque. Thick clumps of froth drip down the glass post-sip and leave small dots and swirly streaks of vertical lacing.

Roasted malts, espresso, bitter cocoa, molasses, vanilla - every aroma you could possibly want from a Russian Imperial Stout exists in the bouquet. When swirled, roasted malts and nuttiness take over the profile. Conversely, when at rest the coffee and chocolate aromas dominate. Way back in the bouquet are some dark fruit scents.

The flavor brings big time roast notes at first, with anise and molasses supporting. As the beer mellows over my tongue, bitter chocolate, espresso, and creamy vanilla coat, followed by a roasty malt and earthy hop finish. Throughout the sip, there is certain acidity that complements the roasted flavors.

The mouthfeel is rather forward and biting at times. The acidity makes for a puckering feel for the whole sip, while a creamy medium to full body takes the reins in the middle. The finish is quite dry and does a nice job of cleaning my palate.

Founders IS is a delicious slow-sipper and is a damn fine interpretation of the style. The taste is maybe just a tad bitter and acidic, but is also big, bold, and flavorful. This is one of which I will always pick up a four pack each year it comes out and enjoy the bottles over the course of time.

TCHopCraver, Jan 11, 2011
Photo of hawks10
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%

12oz bottle - Purchased January 2009 - Two years old as I pour it into a snifter...

Pours thick and viscous, black. The extreme edges show a tiny bit of dark red/brown when held to the light, otherwise, this is an opaque beer. A very thin cap of dark tan head forms and quickly recedes, leaving a ring of haze behind...

Very rich smelling, sweet chocolate with hints of vanilla as well. Slightly roasted with faint hints of brewed coffee. Smell remains sweet overall, finishing with a warm booziness...

Slightly sweet, powerful dark chocolate dominates the flavor. Becomes slightly roasted in the middle, but the sweetness comes back out with loads of molasses and touches of vanilla. Finish has a strong alcohol bite while also being strongly bitter, aftertaste rivals the strongest west coast IPA's, hops definitely play a role here...

Full bodied, not quite as heavy as expected, but still a thick, creamy beer. Low carbonation makes this beer slick. A lingering bitterness and moderate alcohol heat in the aftertaste...

It's been a while since I've had a fresh Founders Imperial Stout, but I don't remember liking it near this much. 2 years seems like a great time to drink this beer...

hawks10, Jan 07, 2011
Photo of mdfb79
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my Duvel tulip. Received as part of my Secret Santa box thanks to pwoods; thanks Patrick! Bottle in from January 2009.

a - Pours a jet black color with two inches of tan head and moderate carbonation evident. Tiny bit of lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of cocoa, sweet chocolate, caramel malts, roasted malts, sweet fruit, and some sugar or molasses. A lot sweeter than I was expecting but I really like it a lot.

t - Tastes of milk chocolate, cocoa, roasted malts, vanilla, dark fruits, molasses again, and very very light alcohol. Again, very good.

m - Full body and low carbonation, very smooth and creamy. Great mouthfeel.

d - A really great RIS; I loved this beer. I thought the nose was amazing and the taste was almost as good. It also had a great body. Would love to have this again.

mdfb79, Dec 30, 2010
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 5,745 ratings.