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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.

6,025 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 6,025
Reviews: 1,606
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 556
Gots: 1,447 | FT: 120
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: 6,025 | Reviews: 1,606 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerMaverick
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

BeerMaverick, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of haazer
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

haazer, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of cetherid
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

cetherid, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of arktos
3.58/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

arktos, Mar 29, 2011
Photo of julian
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

julian, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of Snow81
4.72/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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

Snow81, Mar 27, 2011
Photo of babaracas
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

babaracas, Mar 27, 2011
Photo of Aircow86
4.9/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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.

Aircow86, Mar 27, 2011
Photo of bum732
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

S: Fruity roastiness, earthy cocoa, roasted barley, some alcohol.

L: Thick black as night, dark tan head with good retention.

T: Charry semi-sweet roasty malt. Medium citrus bitterness leads to some very dark chocolate before some dry bold earthy roastiness. Slightly ashy. Alcohol slightly warming.

M: Medium-full body, medium carbonation.

A great beer, loved all the bold flavors and how everything works together. The strong roastiness was countered nicely by the sweetness, very well done.

bum732, Mar 27, 2011
Photo of StLThrash
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into my Schlafly snifter.

A - Thick and black, poured with just a hint of a tan head, left a small ring.

S - Rich, dark, chocolate, hints of espresso, with some alcohol in the nose. Lots of toasted malts.

T & M - Similar to nose. Starts with the chocolate sweetness, toasted malts, and finishes with the coffee bitterness and some alcohol. You can taste the alcohol, but it doesn't hide the other flavors. Not much hop bitterness, but wasn't expecting much.

Overall - a really good imperial stout. A definite sipper, the alcohol creeps up as it warms a bit. Another great Founders beer.

StLThrash, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of burnstar
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black. Black even as it comes out of the bottle. Looks viscous. Tiny tan head. Smell is very intense roasted malt. A little smokey. Taste has a nice malty sweetness. Big roasted malt again. Bitterness from the roast malt. Some chocolate and coffee notes. Significant hop bitterness also. Think creamy mouthfeel which is what I want in an Imp. Stout. Although it's very good, this is a sipper. A very good Imperial Stout overall.

burnstar, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of CuriousMonk
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter glass at ChurchKey. Pours opaque black with a nice brown head that leaves some light and sloppy lacing and a film on top of the beer. Aroma of roasted barley malts, molasses, dark chocolate, coffee, dirt, and toasted brown sugar. The flavor improves upon the aroma. The same qualities are there- roasted malts, molasses, dark chocolate, coffee, earthy notes along with some figs, smoked wood, burnt toast, nuts, hops, and plums. Some hop and alcohol bitterness comes in the finish. Full-bodied, with a rich, robust, and thick mouthfeel and moderate carbonation. Dry, roasty, smoky aftertaste. Gets better as it warms.

CuriousMonk, Mar 25, 2011
Photo of goalie33
4.15/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter. No 'best by' date.
A) Pitch black beer. Bits of a brown head form, but quickly disappear leaving just a ring around the edge. Doesn't leave much lacing, but leaves lots of alcohol feet.
S) Deep, rich espresso and chocolate notes, hints of dark fruit and licorice. Alcohol is noticeable in the nose.
T) Chocolate with a slightly chalky coffee bitterness underneath. Alcohol is there, but doesn't detract from the taste. Very rich finish, bit of a lingering bitterness afterwards.
M) Very nice mouthfeel. Full body, thick, smooth, creamy feel, coats the mouth. Virtually no carbonation on the tongue.

Another great release from Founders. Great flavors, smell and mouthfeel in this beer. Can't ask for much more out of an Imperial Stout.

goalie33, Mar 25, 2011
Photo of yuenglingfan101
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Black beer all the way with a little tan head. Smells of malts and chocolate. The taste is the same as the smell. Mouthful goes pretty much the same smooth and chocolatly and very strong like chocolate liquor. Drinkabilty. This one had me buzzing after 1 beer do to its abv, but its worth the money for this beer. Why pay for chocolate liquor when you can have founders imperial stout for a reasonable price!!!

yuenglingfan101, Mar 25, 2011
Photo of seeswo
4.1/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a cocoa head. Looks good. Nice smell of chocolate and roast. The hops blend very nicely with that roast flavor to form a nice balance on the palette. This is accompanied with a bit of chocolate and a great deal of smoothness. Very agreeable. Mouthfeel is heavier and creamier than average, but not as good as some. Tick this up a touch because it is very good.

seeswo, Mar 24, 2011
Photo of Bendurgin
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Another beer from Grant. Thanks! Poured into a tulip. First off, this is the darkest beer I've ever seen. If there is a such thing as dark black this is it. It pours looking thick and oily with about a finger of dark mocha head. It dissolves almost right away leaving a shimmering black mass sitting in my glass.

Starts of with a faint chocolate aroma with toasted malts and a nice oat presence. Simple yet affective aroma. Roasted barley is huge on the pallet with a bit of char to it. A little bit of vanilla is noticable with a bit of a boozey presence.

This is a big full chewy feel to it. Really soft carbonation to it. I feel like I should reiderrate, this is a huge beer. Overall, this is the real deal. This is a no nonsense straight up RIS. May as well be the poster child for the style.

Bendurgin, Mar 24, 2011
Photo of dmfrench
4.88/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sweet, inky, creamy, hoppy, frutiy, cocoa... epitome of RIS

A: Flawlessly opaque black with a two finger dark khaki head that soon diminished to a thin film, but regenerated with every sip, never exposing the body. A beautiful, slow, and subtle cascade effect entertains as the head stabilizes. Not a whole lot of lacing, but everything else is in perfect order.

S: Balanced presentation of heavily roasted maul, spicy hops, cocoa, dark fruit, and coffee, in that order. A mouth watering aroma, if not overtly powerful.

T: Sweet inky creamy fills every corner of your palate, carrying embittering burnt malt, drying hops, cocoa, fruit, and coffee. Finish is forever long on drying hops and cocoa. Just delicious. Compared to Bell's Expedition, it's heavier on burnt flavors and lighter on fruit, but they have a similar vibe, with Founders Imperial being the classic Stout that I would come back to more often.

M: Biggest, creamiest mouthfeel possible.

O: What can I say but classic... perfection.

dmfrench, Mar 23, 2011
Photo of wethorseblanket
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes:
Shared by John (MaxStout) - thanks

A: Pours straight black with orangish edges and a decent mocha head fading to the edge. Minimal lace.

S: Roasty oat grains, floral hops, faint dark chocolate and coffee.

T: Roasted malts, dark chocolates, oats are well balanced.

M: Thick and smooth, slick and tongue coating. Somewhat dry and bitter on the finish.

O: Very good and enjoyable. Would seek this out.

wethorseblanket, Mar 21, 2011
Photo of AdamBear
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-very dark brown with a thing tan head

S-smells like a dark chocolate bar. almost like if you filled the glass with hershey's dark chocolate syrup. has a decent strength

T-oh wow its like taking a shot of pure ground coffee...yes the solid form. it just sticks to your tongue as if it were a powder. it has quite a good matching after-taste. this is a really impressive russian imperial stout. i didn't expect it to be so smooth. there's also a large lack of alcohol note which i find impressive for this one.

M-very thick and full. medium carbonation with a chalky finish

D-well, its not the easiest drinking stout. it definitely took me awhile to finish but it was enjoyable all the way through. this is highly impressive for this style.

AdamBear, Mar 21, 2011
Photo of madvermin
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to ChadQuest for this beer, just one of many awesome brews Chad sent me as part of a trade.

Pours a very, very viscous oily black. I'll bust out the over-used motor oil comparison for this only because it is exactly what it looks like. No head generated at all, and only slight bubbling even with aggressive pouring. You can already tell this is a big boy stout. Leaves spotty lace somehow despite having not more than a sliver of head at any point in time. I know the style usually entails not much head, but others have at least offered a tiny glimpse of what could be, and this one doesn't even do that.

Aroma is very deep with tons of quality semi-sweet chocolate, a slight tropical hoppiness and roasted malts including coffee offering further complexity. I'm impressed by the chocolate as it has a nice milkiness to it that makes this beer smell a bit like Whoppers and a lot like a tasty dark chocolate milkshake (what up Steak & Shake). Could use some more strength though.

Taste is a rich, decadent chocolate treat with hops and coffee offering contrast in the best of ways. The hops are very much present here, and the 90 IBUs the bottle claims this beer has is just enough to cut through the massive amount of malt up front. Excellent mango/pineapple flavors combine with the chocolate and roasted coffee and char to form a brilliant beer with a pleasant smoky finish. I'd like it if the coffee was a bit stronger, but that's definitely nitpicking. Alcohol offers a tiny spice at the end which is pleasant too. I'd say I'd also like this to be a bit sweeter, but that's a matter of personal taste - the beer is ridiculously good as is.

Mouthfeel is thick, creamy, viscous and heavy. This is the opposite of watery in every sense of the word. Chewy and full, the finish is sticky and mouth-smackingly good. Drinkability is as good as it gets for a beer like this, as the abv of 10.5% is noticeable only beneficially in the taste, and doesn't affect the ability to take swig after swig. You could sip this or chug this and it would be awesome either way. Great, great beer, and once again Founder's fulfills expectations.

madvermin, Mar 21, 2011
Photo of MrTopher
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you Jim (RatedZ) for this gem.

A: This is a BLACK beer; there is no other way to describe the color other than BLACK! Absolutely zero head, maybe just the smallest amount of foam that disappears immediately. The lack of carbonation doesn't bother me, I know some need it, but I think with a thick I. Stout like this and others (Ten-Fidy, Old Raspy) I don't mind.

S: A lot of roast smell, but a welcoming new sent to a big beer like this. Some faint chocolate sent, but for the most part is a roast, maybe a little coffee.

T: This beer is remarkable, it's almost like a blend of an Old Raspy and a Ten-Fidy, and this is just over the top. It's very soft on the sweet department, very chocolate, a little coffee, and a lot of roast. There is no hop bite to this, its just all roast and malt. When it reaches the back of the tough there is some bitterness, but not a hop bitterness.

M: Little to no carbonation, this is a pretty thick beer, but fantastic. There is a little residual flavor left on the tongue.

D: This is an easy drink, a great end of the night beer or for a cold day. And as for the abv% it doesn't taste as strong as it looks.

MrTopher, Mar 20, 2011
Photo of codsmith
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Local Option

Black with nice carmel colored thin foam head that clears quickly and sticks to the sides of the glass

Thin chocolate aroma. Almost bitter sweat and you can smell the alcohol.

Very thick and full bodied. Starts out as a very nice smooth chocolate and finishes with a slightly bitter chocolate aftertaste.

Taste lingers and stays with you.

Nice overall beer with def drinkability. The alcohol is present and accounted for with this big guy.

codsmith, Mar 20, 2011
Photo of wmtxbb
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into pint glass

Appearance: Coal black with a dark head that shifts to lacing.

Smell: Dark chocolate, dark sweet malts, coffee, bit of a burnt character.

Taste: Smooth thick black malts, cream, whiskey, oak, and milk. Bitterness hovers of the tasting, but does not overwhelm the other flavors. Ends smooth with a backlash from the alcohol.

Drinkability: I hate the limited availability of this beer. Goes down smooth and warms the soul.

wmtxbb, Mar 19, 2011
Photo of katan
4.18/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz into a goblet

A - Pours black as night - thick like motor oil. Head formation is somewhat strong, mocha in color. Well retained at 1mm. Some floating yeast suspended in the beer.

S - Very chocolately, bittersweet. Roast is present but overall muted. Some yeast breadiness and almost no hopping.

T - Starts off lightly sweet, chocolate, some toffee and coffee - perhaps a hint of vanilla. Brings in some light hopping and a more roasted barley character. Finishes with the most bitterness, with a burnt note sticking to the tongue. Overall a malt forward beer.

M - Moderate body, moderate to light carbonation. Comes off very thick and cloying. Finishes with a burnt substance sticking to the tongue.

D - Moderate to good drinkability. Flavors are not overwhelming and palette abusing, while the roast does get a little bit tiresome.

A very good imperial stout.

katan, Mar 19, 2011
Photo of MbpBugeye
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Finally got my hands on a bottle of this. I've been wanting to try it for about 2 years now. Its always been tough to find in Columbus.

Bottled on 02/09/11

The head is super nice. Its a very dark tan with rusty shades of red thrown in. Very large and has an extreme penchant for lacing. The glass is completely coated in dark foam. The beer looks black as black can be. When the beer is swirled it moves slowly, like crude oil.

The aroma is this beer's weakest part. Its just nothing special. Lots of charred and roasted grains, some coffee and dark cocoa. A little bit of dark fruit helps to sweeten things up.

This is a very well crafted beer. We need more straight forward RISs that are this good. Things start off smooth and creamy with a nice dark chocolate and coffee bean combination. Dark fruits come in towards the middle as licorice rope is ushered in. A little bit of vanilla is seen. The finish holds charred malts and dark fruits, with some faint acidity and a nice, even alcohol flavor of rum soaked fruits.

Woah, this stuff is great as it rolls around the mouth. Low carbonation with a super full body. Some light alcohol warmth is felt in the chest and tip of the tongue. The beer is a little sticky, leaving residual charcoal flavors behind on the teeth.

This drinks very smoothly. Each sip leaves you wanting another. A very well crafted RIS. No frills, no gourmet chocolate, no espresso beans, no barrels, no weasel shit, just good brewing.

MbpBugeye, Mar 18, 2011
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 6,025 ratings.