Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

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6,131 Ratings
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Ratings: 6,131
Reviews: 1,614
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 573
Gots: 1,490 | 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: 6,131 | Reviews: 1,614 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of elephantrider
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Thick and oily pour. Faint head that disappears pretty quick.

S: Molasses, dark fruit and chocolate and roasted malts.

T: Can definitely tell this is a high abv beer. A hint of coffee in the flavor but the chocolate prevails over that and the dark fruit flavor. Little hop bite in the end.

M: Not as heavy as it looks and there is some alcohol warmth that I enojoy.

O: I like this stout alot and if I could do two reviews of one beer I would do a aged one these also.

Photo of wnh
4.43/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a thick, dense used-motor-oil black capped by a smallish russet brown head that's short lived.

Nose is packed with intense aromas of baker's chocolate, dark roast coffee, bright cherries, caramel, charred wood, with an herbal--almost minty--note in the background. Smells absolutely fantastic.

Surprisingly subtle on the palate, roasted grain and coffee notes take center stage. Very little bitterness. Dark chocolate and a caramel sweetness slowly emerge. Lingering toffee note with accompanying candied nuts. Finish is uncharacteristically short.

Full bodied but soft. Dry-ish and a bit chalky, though not in a bad way. Aromatic, flavorful, and a joy to drink.

Photo of vandemonian
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Founders Imperial Stout is a tasty RIS with some smokey character.

A: Black with good 15 mm head. 4.5

S: Smells malty with some roasty/smokey character. 4.5

T: Roasty malt and coffee and into a smokey aftertaste. 4.5

M: Thick and good. 4

O: Yum. Not as good as the KBS I just had though. 4

Photo of cosmonick
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a wine glass.

Appearance: Black with a small chocolate brown head.

Aroma: Chocolate liquore with a little bit bit of maple and roasted malt.

Taste: Much like the aroma, it tastes like a dark chocolate liquore with and a nice roasted malt finish. The bite from the 90 ibu's does a good job balancing the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth creamy body with light carbonation.

Overall: Imperial has long been been one of my favorite Russian Imperial Stouts. This is a very nicely crafted ale that is somehow both simple and intense.

Photo of 1Adam12
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as used motor oil. Smell is my favorite feature. Huge chocolate coffee combo that smells like something fresh from sixbucks a.k.a. starbucks. Malt, graham cracker, vanilla, and a bit of alcohol round out this beast of a nose. Taste wasn't as good as the nose, but still very good. Very malty, lots of coffee. Slight bit of chocolate and vanilla. Maybe just a tinge of sweetness to it. No hint of the ABV. Mouthfeel is creamy and gets creamier as it warms. I'd say it is between medium and full bodied, closer to the full end of it. Overall, this is very good. Very easy to drink for a high ABV stout. Highly recommended for a stout lover.

Photo of Bonis
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes: 8/6/2011

A - Black (duh) with a small dark mocha head which fades to a thin brown layer of bubbles. Nice.

S - Awesome. Dark chocolate, roasted barley, bourbon, fermented dark fruits, coffee malt. A touch of bitter hops. Nothing is overly intense on the nose, but the mesh of aromas is impressive to say the least. Alcohol is there, but overpowered by the complexity of the other components on the nose.

T - Very similar to the nose, but more balanced by the bitterness of the massive hop presence. I was surprised the hops were so big, after this has sat in my cellar for a good 6 months. Bittersweet dark chocolate is in abundance, more so than the nose offers. Alcohol is nowhere to be found (except in my gut). It would be scary if I were regularly able to drink this beer.. I have never tasted a 10.5% beer in which I found such little alcohol presence.

M - Low carb, full body. This one is filling overall, warm in the gut. Nice bitter hop presence on the tongue.

O - An awesome RIS. Maybe the best I've had, but I really couldn't tell you. Would recommend to purchase if you can find this rare brew. I am now deeply regretting the fact that I left the last 4-pk of this on the shelf at Whole Foods so many months ago... I picked up KBS instead. Damn me... seriously.

Photo of woosterbill
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Brewster DeCicco's, with CBS on deck.

A: Deep black body with just a wisp of swirling dark brown bubbles that just won't go away. A swirl creates a half-inch head that's as dark as just about anything out there (Hunahpu's excepted, of course). Lots of lace. Intimidating and beautiful.

S: Pleasantly boozy, with coffee, dark chocolate, and intense dark fruit - prune overload. Impressive, but a bit overboard with the fruit if you ask me.

T: Grapes, prunes, raisins, and rich coffee. Chocolate on the finishs, as well as some serious boozy burn. Tasty, but a bit harsh.

M: Highly carbonated, very creamy, and rich. I like it.

O: This is quite the beer, but just a trifle boozy and unbalanced to be truly great. I've got a couple bottles, and I'll definitely be sitting on them for a while longer. I bet they'll be great at room temp on a cold winter's evening.


Photo of rowingbrewer
4.18/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours nearly pitch black with a light brown head. The smells rich roasty with a slight hint of booze, there are also some dark chocolate notes in there as well. The taste comes through even diaries than the nose and that dominates the flavor. There are also some sweet and chocoaye undertones but they are harder to detect. The mouthfeel is good and I would say full bodied with good carbonation. Overall a very good stout but it's on par with others I have had that are easier to obtain like smuttys imp stout

Photo of matttttYCE
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Poured into my Deschutes balloon glass/snifter, this one has a nice dark mocha colored head, a little more than 1 finger high. Head fades pretty quickly to a thin covering of bubbles and a ring around the edges. Color of the beer is motor oil black.

Smell - Aroma is not as intense at first as I expected for a 10.5% RIS. As I pick through this, I get notes of deep roasted malts, smooth and silky dark chocolate, some hints of coffee, subtle vanilla notes, also some light smokiness and char and hints of dark fruit and tart cherry. After a while, as this warms up more, more flavors come out and I get licorice and what I assume to be anise notes. Probably one of the first times I've been really been able to identify anise.

Taste - Tons of roasted malt flavor, lots of very dark chocolate taste like I just bit into strong dark chocolate, more smoke and charred aspects to the taste than I got from the nose (but not too much that it's offensive), just a dash of vanilla in there, some of the licorice and anise from the nose, and notes of dark fruit/cherry closer to the end.

Mouthfeel - Quite a nice feel. Thick creamy consistency (almost chewy), carbonation is pretty light, basically full bodied, with a finish that is pleasant, subtle, moderate in length, and a bit dry.

Overall - At first I really wasn't getting much in the aroma (even after it warmed a bit from cellar temp ~50 degrees), and I thought it was just the brew, so I started drinking it. Then I didn't get all that much from the taste either. So I let it warm further and finally got the characteristics to shine through. So you know, you might want to let this one warm a little more than usual. Anyways, a very nice example of an RIS. This isn't my favorite of the style, but still one I'm quite glad to have tried. Thank you very much for this one McNuts!

Photo of mikul93
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A Pours thick and black. Dark mocha colored 1 finger head. Nice lacing

S Chocolate,Roasted Malt maybe a hint of caramel and vanilla

T Sweet roasted malt, Chocolate, some vanilla, slight bit of coffee. Alcohol is not as "in your face" for 10.5 %

M This is some sexy beer. It's thick, but it's smooth and creamy. One of the most creamy beers that I have had.

O Delicious. Lots of roast, chocolate and hints of other flavors. Just great!

Photo of rootbeerman
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours dark used oil black, visually syrupy. Thin dark brown head that is about a quarter inch thick that settled to decent halo
S: great mix of vanilla, dark roasted malt, chocolate and a very light amount of coffee.
T: dark roasted malt sweetness upfront, then chocolate, vanilla, and more of a coffee bitterness. A light amount of alcohol burn on the back end.
M: very thick and syrupy, coating, very low carbonation.
O: oddly this bottle is the first time I've seen this available locally, it is a great beer, and only wish it was more available.

Photo of r0nyn
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into my DFH snifter.

Looks as damn good as any imperial stout I've seen, and I've seen a fair few in my day. Has that motor oil look that's just rich and appealing, becoming completely opaque as it settles in the glass blacker than... something really black. A creamy hazelnut-hued head rises to about an inch before subsiding, leaving some substantially sticky lacing. Just a wonderful looking brew all around. The nose doesn't disappoint either, combining essences of dark, bittersweet chocolate, decadent coffee, lush caramel and roasted barley into an enticingly aromatic aroma. Surprisingly enough, there's even a faint, but distinct wafting of hops at the end. A very well rounded smell.

From the first sip, the palate is privy to a great many different flavors. Bitter coffee kick starts it off and sets the table for the taste of bittersweet baker's chocolate. I really love it when a beer can capture that essence and this one does quite well. There's also some of that anise-like flavoring in there too, along with the nice malty backbone to bring it all together. As the brew warms, the nuances of all the tastes become more robust, really bringing out this beer's full potential. A dash of hops make a fleeting appearance on the back end as well as a comfortably warming alcoholic presence. Mouthfeel is suitably thick and chewy, with a pleasing weightiness and decadence that few stouts can match. Almost has the consistency of a milkshake. Really quite good.

I have incredibly high standards when it comes to imperial stouts, and even more so from stouts that come from Founders. I'm glad to report that Founders Imperial Stout delivers the goods in spades. Wonderfully crafted with all the right buttons hit, I can only imagine what this fine example of brewing tastes like with some age on it. Will have to find out!

Photo of Holland
4.15/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a growler into a pint glass. Got the growler from Founders, and it traveled thousands of miles in a cooler. I taped the top with packing tape, so it had a better seal. Left it in the refrigerator for a month, had some one day and some the next. This review is from the growler, though I tried it on tap too.

A: beautifully syrupy and thick. Looked like used engine oil as the cliche goes, except it didn't have nasty sediment. The head was small, about a half inch at first, but as it warmed the lacing was nice and left bits of head on top with each sip. Not as sticky as I thought.

S: smells of wood, earthiness, roasted malts. This is certainly a malt bomb, and I love it.

T: yes, it's still a malt bomb. Here I get some chocolate and coffee, but not much. The heft of the beer taste and smell are the malts, but you can even detect some of the hop bitterness. Beautiful.

M: thick, coats your mouth nicely, and has a crisp hop to it that is almost drowned out by the roasted malts.

O: a pint is a lot to have of this, but it was worth it. It was only slightly better on tap - the growler keeps forever!

Photo of CharlieMurphy
3.93/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Split 2 ways

A: Pours like clingy motor oil. You can tell it has a certain viscosity to it yet it is silky and thin on the pour. In the half pint it fills and sits like a double dutch chocolate muffin frosted with a caramel mocha brown from the head. There's a fucking muffin in my glass.

S: This smells like a double dutch chocolate muffin frosted with caramel mocha espresso coffee. Significant alcohol underlies this in a way that almost makes you think there's the faintest hint of oak. Tremendous aroma. Some words spoke: "it smells like dessert!... and vagina!" Faintest whisper of hops.

T: Just incredible. First taste echos the smells. I fear as though I was overzealous and shouldn't have double gulped this though, for after the first big taste each subsequent one is a shadow of the fleeting ecstasy I experienced initially. The latter tastes are muffled by the slightly excessive burnt notes of the roasted malts. The whisper of hops briefly amplify this at the end of the taste.

M: Not too drying for being so burnt tarnishing. Tastes light for being up there in ABV and having a hefty dose of dark specialty malts. Low on carbonation.

O: Was giddy at the beginning of this tasting experience, but it slipped away. Will definitely revisit and re-review, slightly colder

Photo of schwaeh
3.83/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 bottling.

A: Pours totally pitch black with 1/4" of brown head that fades into a thin ring. Lots of sediment.

S: The stand outs are hops, roasted malts, and espresso. Dark chocolate, yeast, and cocoa come out as well. This still smells bitter ~5 months out.

T: Yes, still very bitter. Hops, charred malt, and espresso are still leading this several months after bottling. Bakers chocolate and some yeast are present, must be those floaties. The alcohol is present but blended into the flavor well enough.

M: Thick and somewhat grainy. Coats the mouth and leaves a lingering bitterness.

O: I remember my jaw hitting the floor when I first tried this last winter. I think I may have gotten pickier or maybe its the weather, but I think the bitterness is slightly over-the-top. I do like hops and espresso so I can enjoy this, but this may be a little harsh for many people. All in all a solid RIS that I look forward to trying at a far advanced age, much like Storm King.

Photo of armock
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to champ103 for hooking this bottle up in a trade.

A - Poured a black color with a small brown head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of roasted malt that gives nice chocolate and coffee scents

T - Follows the nose with chocolate and coffee flavors with a touch of alcohol in the finish

M - This beer has a fuller body with medium carbonation to it

O - This is a tasty stout that I'm really enjoying right now with its good taste and minimal alcohol in the taste for the abv its very easy to drink worth hunting down to give it a try

Photo of Cavery
3.75/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An extra from Chambic (cheers!). Bottle looks old, label peeling with noticeable signs of age. I can't quite read what looks like date print. Not sure on the year of this brew.

Poured into Over-Sized wine glass, shared with Klym.

Review from notes, offering had the prior weekend.

Black coffees, little head formation, light watery brown bubbles. Actually quite flat with an aggressive pour, a bit troubling. Looks like decaf. Looks like a bottomless pit, looks like it's time to take the dive. 

Creamy exotic blend coffees, a Swiss chocolate note that's intriguing. Raw creams and French vanillas. This is a solid smelling beer. A solid foundation of a nose. Strange salty ketchup in pockets. A little bit inconsistent after multiple sniffs. For the most part quite good though.

Geez, unexpected manly ashtrays with raw charcoal bitter bland harshness. A decent cutting note if licorice anise and tobacco leaf. Thin leathers that share tastes with dried jerkys. Interesting, and not bad. Though the ash rides all the other flavors a bit heavily.

An artisans medium mouth-feel that combines tobacco leaves with salty leathers. I think if the mouth was more full you wouldn't get nearly as much salt or tobacco. I appreciate the fine line this beer walks, and the mouth-feel allows for a more adventurous flavor spectrum in style.

Very good, with flare for unusual flavors. More tobacco less roast. Coffees wait behind licorice and dark bitter roots. Interesting and compelling. Though the drinkabilty suffers a bit too much for me. This a smoker's beer. Would be curious to try different vintages. I don't quite have an solid opinion on this one yet.

Photo of auroracrisis
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into a nonic pint glass, this was bottled on 2/9/2011...

Pours 10w30 thick and darker than a black steers tuckus on a moonless prairie night. Brown head that dissipates into a ring of foam.

Intense roast and earthiness on the nose, with some alcohol peaking it's head in that is comparable to rum. Waves of cocoa and black coffee behind that. Fantastic aroma, and dead on for an imperial stout.

Opens with a bitter, strongly roasted coffee flavor that transitions into earthy hops. Bakers chocolate and espresso notes, with minimal amounts of sweetness behind that.

Mouthfeel is an oil slick, and on the lighter end of heavy in body. Low carbonation and a little alcohol tingle there too. The hops dry it out a bit as well.

Overall, a great beer. One that can compete with any imperial stout out there. Tons of rich roasted flavor and earthy hops up front, with a savory coffee and cocoa bean notes that round out the flavor. Pretty available given the time of year, and some what cheap when compared to other imperial stouts of similar quality.

Photo of Janderson91
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 02/09/11. Enjoyed on 07/26/11.

A - 12oz bottle poured into a goblet. Thick, pitch black with just a hint of red around the very edge. A small brown head forms and recedes quickly. Leaves small spots of lacing.

S - Very rich. Dark chocolate, light coffee, a hint of roasted malts and also some sweet milk chocolate. Smells excellent.

T - Wow, this thing is thick and rich. IMO it's even more of a sipper than KBS. Not quite as sweet as the nose implies. Lots more roasted malts, coffee, and dark chocolate. There is some sweet milk chocolate present also as well as a certain lactic character that I enjoy. Leaves a lingering bitter coffee taste on the tongue.

M - Very nice. Very thick up front but some carbonation comes through on the back end.

O - Overall, I love this beer. Founders makes some of the best stouts in the world and this is no exception. I think I enjoyed it even more on-tap but this is definitely worth seeking out in either form.

Photo of AleWatcher
4.55/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ontap at FFF.
Reviewed from notes.
Served in a snifter.

Very dark and thick, like a soy sauce milkshake... Viscous and gorgeous, like an oil slick on foreign shores... The head reminds my of ground cinnamon flowing through an hour glass with perhaps some tan wet sand colors allowed as the shimmering light playfully caresses the bubbles whilst they tumble and fall all around. From the depths of this blackness I cry out to thee, "come drink this with me!"

This beer feels as thick as it looks. This is one of the thickest and heaviest imperial stouts available-- it is the inspiration for "cement mixer" shots. This beer is so big I have to call it "Mr Beer" in front of company.

Some kid in my 3 year old's preschool apparently used to say "holy guacamole" enough that my kid started saying it... Only, in a fit of "telephone operator"-like mishearing, my kid started saying "holy godamole." Personally, I like this better, and it has in fact become one of my go-to phrases. So here I sit, sipping this beer, saying softly aloud to myself, "anything you can assert without evidence I can dismiss without evidence. Holy godamoles this is a good fucking beer."

The nose hits with giant notes of chocolate malts... A big roasty flavor kills me here. I could drink this all night. The flavor is lots of bitter chocolate with a nice dry bitterness in the finish. I like this beer mucho.

Overall, I could rock this all the time. This is absolutely a fantastic imperial stout. Tons of flavor, and quite enjoyable. Very excellent.

4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. Bottle poured into a small snifter

Appearance : inky black in color. Small brown head froms with vigorous pour that dissipates quite quickly.

Smell : strong roasted aromas. Lots of coffee and bitter sweet coco

Taste: strong roasted taste with some smoky flavors. Hoppy bitterness comes though on the finish. Lots of coffee and bitter sweet coco. very well balanced beer that hides the alcohol well.

Mouthfeel : full body with little carbonation

Overall : great beer very well done exactly what I would expect coming Founders. This beer is definitely a beer I'll be having again and would recommend to anyone looking for a imperial stout.

Photo of Pete27lax
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer on 6/11/11

Poured BLACK like motor oil. Loved the appearance, nice dark head with decent retention and very good lacing.

Strong roasted characters in the aroma. Coffee and chocolate malts dominate the smell of this beer, not much else present though.

Taste in awesome! Coffee is present right off the bat and chocolate malts come in right after. Alcohol is slightly noticeable in this beer but nothing uncomfortable. The sweet chocolate malts and balance of coffee is what really gives this beer an excellence taste. Also a slight taste of bitterness at the end of this beer. Great taste overall.

The highlight of this beer was definitely the mouthfeel. Smooth, thick and rich. Just how I like my russian imperial stouts. That with the combination of just the right amount of carbonation gives mouthfeel a perfect 5 here.

Overall this is on of the better russian imperial stouts I've had, in the same class as Ten fidy and Stout Trooper in my opinion. Looking forward to have some more in the future.

Photo of jmvecchio1
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Imperial Stout pours out a dark black off the pour - no light is getting through this beer. A chocolate colored head develops and sits on top like a cap until it eventually fades out into some lacing. A mixture of bitter chocolate and roasted coffee greet you on the aroma with some sweetness on the finish. Alcohol takes the front seat on the first few sips, but fades out and allows the beer’s complex flavors to shine through. Hops hit up front, but are balanced nicely with roasted malts that are truly the backbone holding each flavor together. Chocolate and coffee notes are present, but not overwhelming. The alcohol slowly warms with each sip you take.

Photo of Brez07
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewing from notes. 12oz bottle served in a snifter

A: Rather dark pour, but not without a fair share of brown highlight. Leaves a 1 finger expresso colored head which presents as a ring around the glass

S: Very inviting. Lots of roasted malt mixed with bitter chocolate. Some charcoal/smoke and anise

T: Starts off with a bitter roasted malt flavor. There is a chocolate sweetness in the middle (think brownies). Finishes with the charcoal/smoke combo along with some alcohol. Roastiness is the biggest flavor here, but the others compliment it well

M: Full bodied. Creamy. Good amount of lingering bitterness. High carbonation although still seems fairly smooth

D: An excellent imperial stout. Reminds me a lot of Imperial Stout Trooper. Would like to pick some up to age

Photo of Beerenauslese
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Body is very dark brown, with a tan head that dissipates to a ring.

Smells rich, with lots of charred malt, dark fruit, coffee, and chocolate.

Taste follows the nose: first, strong chocolate milk, then coffee, and a bit of tongue tingling charred malt astringency, finishing dry and somewhat hoppy.

Body is medium and carbonation is subdued. Creamy at first, but gets flatter as it warms.

Overall, a very good IS/RIS. Very rich, the 10.5% ABV is well hidden.

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 6,131 ratings.