1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

6,544 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 6,544
Reviews: 1,706
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.49%
Wants: 616
Gots: 1,772 | FT: 138
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-12-2005

90 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 6,544 | Reviews: 1,706 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of sendsilk
4.88/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is freaking awesome. No, they don't have a special release for this beer like Dark Lord or Darkness or Hunahpu. But if they did this beer would be completely sought after and considered rare.

Awesome mouthfeel, delicious chocolate flavor assault the palate and nostrils upon first sip. There's nothing that can be done to improve on this beer. On of my top 5 favorite stouts of all time.

Thanks Founders, for making this accessible to people without having us have wait in a line at 8am for a 1 day only release.

Photo of flipper2gv
4.26/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks a lot to BEERchitect for this one!

A: Pours really really black, totally opaque. Half a finger worth of a straight brown head. Half creamy looking. Retention is ok and lacing is bad.

S: First thing to hit me is the smoke. More than expected. Lots of semi sweet chocolate that is laced with coffee. Lots of molasses, brown sugar, vanilla, coconut toffee. Some fruits: dried bananas, dried pineapples and figs.

T: This is really good. Just the correct balance of smoke, burnt malts and sweetness. I thought this would have been sweeter but I stand corrected. This has lots of powdery cocoa and semi sweet chocolate. Good amount of coffee and vanilla too. Molasses, toffee, brown sugar are there too. The fruits are there with the dried bananas, dried pineapples and figs. Medium alcohol

M: So thick! Man, those american Imperial stouts are thick! Low carbonation and silky smooth.

O: Very good beer overall. A tad too much alcohol on the tongue but still a fantastic brew. Great balance!

Photo of Treebs
4.13/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz. bottle into pint glass.

A: Pours very thick and viscous with a deep brown head that quickly faded to nothing.

S: Smells of roasted malts with a bitter coffee backdrop. A little vanilla and sweet chocolates fill out the edges in this brew.

T:. Bitter dark chocolate with some roasted malts and some bitter hops. A little coffee, but very mild. A little burn on the back end but it mellows out the bitterness nicely and is very enjoyable.

M: Heavy bodied with a nice medium carbonation. Smooth on the way down while leaving an oily, bitter film on the tongue.

O: I enjoyed this but the Some of the flavors fell flat compared to other RIS's. Still a good brew though.

Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.52/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Duvel Tulip Glass. This beer comes out a dense black color, with basically no highlights at all, it's pretty impressive. The color of the head is chocolate milk with extra syrup. Some pretty decent lacing.

When I cracked this open, I held it six inches or so from my nose and I could start to pick up the aroma and I knew it was going to be good. Smells like there is a good combination of malts, but the strongest is certainly chocolate, a semi-sweet dark chocolate. There are also strong notes of a natural roasted barley. Hint of smokiness and a touch of alcohol that warms your nose.

The taste is truly excellent. The large amounts of malts are even more detected in the flavor profile. It tastes like a blend of bittersweet, semi-sweet, dark, and milk chocolate all blended together if that makes sense. Big flavor, slight smokiness again, but not as much as the smell. A natural sweet roasty flavor. This is truly a tasty beer, like chocolate milk for adults.

The mouthfeel is pretty much perfect. It's certainly full bodied, and super smooth. Actually, smooth is an understatement, this sets a new standard for me, silky smooth sweetness. Excellent carbonation level and really not a bite from the alcohol which stands at 10.5%; it's barely detectable. Very easy drinking beer, anybody could polish this one off with ease.

Founders does it again, I have 2 left that I'd like to put a little age on to see how they do. Its the end of May right now, I'd love to see how an aged one taste in the winter, who know's maybe I'll edit this and give it another 5 or two.

*Still good after a year in the cellar, but probably a little better fresh*

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

Got this from a in person trade from schwaeh -Thanks man awesome brew.

Poured from 12oz bottle into pint goblet -

A: Poured midnight black with half finger head that dissipated into a thin off white laceing,decent carbonation.

S: Deep roasted malts ,slight anise, chocolate,coffee.

T: Deep roasted malts with slight hops, bitter dark coffee,slight anise hints, dark chocolate.

O: Overall this was a very good Imperial stout, from the fist sip to the last drop.
extremely well blended and balanced,
will seek out again.

Photo of Scotchboy
3.88/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, extra from schwaeh, poured into a New Belgium globe.

A: Pours viscous, thick and dark, one of the thickest darkest stouts I've seen. Not much head, about a fingers worth after a fairly vigorous pour, and its dark brown. Head and lacing are pretty viscous and sticky.

S: Darkest malts with touches of sweetness (the hops I'm guessing), chocolate and just hints of coffee. There is a slight funk/sourness, very slight though, as is the alcohol presence. Still a good smell.

T: The dark malts are the star here, its rich and viscous with a touch of heat. There is some chocolate buried in there, and I think some of the sweetness is coming from the hops even thought there is very little bitterness at 90 IBU's. Molasses, brown sugar, and licorice are all apparent on the tongue.

MF: Chewy and silky smooth at the same time, full bodied, viscous, low-medium carbonation. Finishes a touch dry from the hops.

O: Good, but the interesting sweetness and unconventional characteristics keep it from being great. Floats back and forth from a traditional American IS to a Russian IS with the hops and dryness.

I'd recommend it. Thanks Steve.

Photo of Vdubb86
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a mug

Thanks to The Stretch for sharing the growler I got for him at the brewery with me.

This is my second review of this beer, because IT GOT BETTER. This has the blackness of the abyss of space with a brown foam that is amazing. The smell is rather vacant, but has hints of coffee and molasses. The taste is a combination of lots of molasses, some star anise, coffee and lots of cocoa powder. This is really smooth going down. I can't believe it lasted this long in the growler (4 months). It's really really tasty. Overall this is one of the better imperial stouts that I have had the good fortune to have. It goes to show that at the right temperature Imperial stouts can be one of the best styles around. I love this thing.

Photo of chugalug06
4.21/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Brew pours like Oil and leaves nice lacing… One of the darkest brews I've ever had.

S - Very tobacco. You can tell this brew has some oak in it… Smells like a very sweet Stout. Hints of chocolate, vanilla, and molasses too.

T - You can feel the heat in this one… You're also able to pick out the many different flavors hidden deep within. Orange, tobacco, chocolate, vanilla, raspy malted goodness….

M - Very think and robust. Very chewy, evenly distributes. Carbonation is as close to perfect as to be expected.

O - Great brew, slightly on the over kill side of things, but stays away from becoming a hot mess… A great brew in a great trade! Thank you dsglovin!

Photo of TheBrewo
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The pour produces a brew of the deepest brown. It pours as thick as a cake batter, dripping silently into the class. Virtually no head appears, even with a rough pour and swirl. Some big, near black bubbles transiently float around the edges, only to be swallowed up by the darkness. No lacing is evident at first, but appears as the liquid drains. Carbonation creeps up, and huge levels of sediment are noted once the glass begins to empty. The nose is dark with charcoal and roast. This comes across a bit drying, and hot with the sting of alcohol. Dark fruits of black cherry mask this well, however. Coffee nibs are also evident, but instead of imparting a deeper roast, they invite a creamy sweetness to the aroma, softening the edge along with some flecks of vanilla. As we sip the flavor hits like an anvil. The malts are explosively dark and roasty, dragging the taste buds into their bitter depths. They bring forth burnt, almost smoky, charcoal ashes. The show is all about the malts but a faint hop resin floats across the back, wafting down the throat. The middle peaks with a bittering coffee, malty vibe. As the beer warms medicinal phenols begin to seep out through this segment of the beer, adding further to the bite. Transitioning to the finale brings a boozy wash that actually cuts the deepness of the malts quite a bit. It brings with it a sweetness of heavy cream, and also hints of peppery spice, making it almost spicy seeming. The last flavor to leave is the darkest malts of the tasting, with a bit of sourness that briefly puckers the mouth. The aftertaste is actually fruity, with strawberry and cherry, along with bright hops, of all things. Oddly enough the burps it produces are solely hops. The body is full and the carbonation is medium. There is great creaminess and slurp to each sip. The mouth is left dried and slightly puckered, but coated thoroughly. The abv is up there but appropriate, and lends to a great warming factor for the beer. It drinks rather slowly because of how heavy and boozy it is, and it tends to fill you up. It would be tough to put away more than one of these in one sitting.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was actually the pour. Although it produced no head it was silent, thick, and utterly syrupy. This translated into a fantastic feel, with a huge creaminess and sticky smack to each sip. The flavors were there, and the aromas were big enough to mark this as an exemplary Russian Imperial.

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

Received in one of many trades from my main man ChugginOil (thanks much as always).

Poured out of a 12 oz. bottle into my tulip.

A – Pitch black. No light seeping through this one. Small tan head produced but dissipates pretty quickly.

S – Big powerful smell with mocha, dark fruits, dark chocolate, vanilla and coffee. You can smell the alcohol.

T - Much like the smell this one has a nice mocha taste to start. Roasty malts follow through. Coffee and dark fruits come next. Has just a bit of a sweet taste. The alcohol really warms at the end giving you that nice burn all the way down. Just a ting bit of bitterness as well.This ones gets better and better as it warms up.

M – Relatively light carbonation with a medium to big body. Leaves a nice sweet taste behind. Creamy.

O – This is a really nice stout. Very glad to get to try it. You can sip on this all night long. The ABV while apparent is not overpowering. Great brew.

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

2011 release.

Poured into a Corsendonk tulip.

Incredibly jet black and viscous in the glass. This liquid is so dark that it stains the glass. Very thin tan head emerges with no retention. Just some light brown islands of foam floating atop. No lacing either. 10.5% ABV legs are incredibly evident upon close inspection. The aromas emerge fully as it warms with dark bittersweet chocolate and black burnt coffee being the first identifiable items. Very little amount of malt appears. Dark and ominous aromas overall. 10.5% doesn't hide either.

Taste is nicely roasted in terms of malt and unadulterated black coffee. Good amount of dark chocolate bitterness as well, which leaves a thin astringent tongue feeling. Small amount of the alcoholic heat is present as it is consumed. Totally different specimen from the FBS and KBS, but still equally as enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, not as thick as its appearance. But still very smooth and creamy. A definite slow sipper and night cap.

Photo of scottyg354
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Originally reviewed this beer with a weak palette. So my review was pretty off.

A: Pours thick with a two finger creamy brown head. Non Transparent.

S:Licorice, Dark Chocolate and smokiness.

T:Some espresso. licorice and Chocoalte notes hold true to the nose. There is a mild burnt taste along with hints of tobacco. Nice

M: Smooth and Creamy. Mild Carbonation. Goes down smoothly yet warms.

O: Good Solid Beer.

Photo of mjw1200
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lots of different aromas. some espresso and chocolate. Its a roasted smell.

Flavor is what separates this beer. Impressive hop flavor in an RIS. Love that it takes more than one drink to take in the different flavors. love the dark chocolate and roasted coffee.

The end leaves a good flavor, the beer is so smooth it does not hang around as long as some. Also a good pucker at the end, almost too much sourness.

great beer. glad I found it. Excited to see how it develops with time.

Photo of daledeee
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pour a 12 oz. bottle into a large wine glass.

Got a very black body with a rather dark tan head.

Nose is loaded with vanilla, musty earth and charred wood.

Taste is really smooth but I didn't believe the label. 90IBU. This beer is quite smooth and balanced with dark chocolate, coffee, wood and, oh yes, a very bitter finish. Very good chocolate flavor at first.

Mouth feel is really quite smooth and creamy. This beer is kind of sweet and thick but I really like the overall flavor.

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

Poured deep dark black with a very small tan dead. The first smell from this is very boozy, then roasted malts with some chocolate coffee scent in the end. Taste is the roasted malt up from with a little bitter hops in the back. It ends with some warming alcohol flavor. The mothfeel is thick and chewy like any good stout should be. Overall this is an outstanding stout which I hope will continue to improve with some age.

Photo of mavbrew
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours an inky black color with a very minimal dark brown head. Almost had no head whatsoever but it opened up to a thin lace.

S: The smell has a strong chocolate and roasted presence to it. There are also some dark fruits present with slight hoppy scent and some toffee as well.

T: There is a massive roasted flavor upfront with subtle notes of chocolate following but quickly overshadowed by the roasted flavor. A bit of bitters are present but only for a second and they are overshadowed by the alcohol. Finish is roasted malts (almost coffee like).

M: Thick and chewy with minimal carbonation. The feel is creamy and roasted.

D: This is a very good RIS and I wouldn't expect anything less from Founders, they really know how to make a great stout. It is very smooth and creamy, a bit of noticeable alcohol present but not overpowering. A very solid, well balanced beer with excellent flavor.

Photo of gregshead
4.1/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to johndoe8 for sharing this one. Enjoyed on 4/3/11, reviewed from notes:

A: Pours a thin jet black with minimal head

S: Roasted smells dominate. Some tobacco and coffee aromas. More bitter smell that other Imp Stouts.

T: Sweet chocolate taste up front. Roasted grains blended with a hint of coffee taste makes for a very dry finish. Taste flows together very nicely.

M: Smooth and dry. Almost chewy feel but not quite.

O: A really well constructed and all around great imp. Stout

Photo of Sideswipe
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into my New Belgium snifter. Courtesy of DFH. Thanks Dan!

Founders Imperial Stout pours an inky black. No light penetrates it. A quarter inch of light brown foam covers the beer and then recedes leaving an appealing ring around the outside of the glass. The beer is incredibly thick. It has legs more than lacing. The nose is sweet roasted malt and dark fruit. Taste follows the nose with flavors of char, raisins and figs. Bitter hops in the finish catch me off guard. This is a very complex brew. Feel is thick and chewy with enough CO2 to keep things interesting. Overall this is a very nice Impy Stout. ABV is hardly noticable and the thick, rich texture make this a joy to imbibe. Recommended!

Photo of CHickman
4.74/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours pitch black in color with a 1/2 inch creamy brown head that looked like a chocolate milkshake and faded slowly to average and left a ring around the top of the beer with good spotty lacing sliding down the glass slowly; there was an oil slick/spill appearance on top which looked like the Gulf of Mexico a few years back.

Smells of roasted coffee, cocoa, chocolate, rum or bourbon, light vanilla, burnt wood, molasses, burnt grains, sweet roasted malt, caramel, toffee, and a syrupy sweetness that reminds me of a coffee pot spiked with booze that was left on the stove too long in an old coffee pot. With that being said, this aroma was delicious and so inviting to me that as I was sipping the beer I was savoring the aroma at the same time. An excellent smelling beer, and what I had hoped for in an Imperial Stout from Founders.

The taste was equally as impressive as the aroma, with the same components in the flavor: it starts out with sweet roasted malt, roasted coffee, molasses, cocoa, toffee, chocolate, and then come the syrupy sweetness that then leads to a slight bitterness from what tastes like citrus hops mixed with a burnt Starbucks French Roast. It felt like there was a chalky residue on my tongue after the swallow, like I had just licked dry charcoal but it left a sweet cocoa powder instead of burnt wood; really quite an odd sensation that was a pleasure on my tastebuds and very tasty. Then there are the flavors of bourbon, light vanilla like it was aged in wood or a barrel, burnt wood, brown sugar, hot fudge, and some light dark fruits that were so repressed by the toasted coffee and roasted malts that I couldn't even make them out. As this beer warmed it got better, more complex, and yet stayed true to all of the sweet roasted flavors that made the initial taste blast so delicious. Quite simply, this is an excellent tasting beer and one that I slowed down to enjoy more so I wouldn't finish the whole glass so quickly.

Mouthfeel is creamy, slick and smooth, to the point of being almost watery; the body is medium to heavy, but the carbonation is almost non-existent and flows down like water, or as easy as a Guinness in beer terms.

Extremely high drinkability, as the 10.5% ABV barely peeks through, even with the slight bourbon flavor coming through in waves throughout this masterpiece. For any stout lover or coffee lover out there, this is a must try beer which I thought was excellent overall. A very high recommendation and a beer that I hope to have again soon.

Photo of phillybeer7779
4.63/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle into an oversized Duvel tulip.

Appearance- pure black, with an inch of slowly developing head. I will never drink this beer in a different glass again! Beautiful stout!

Smell- Lots of chocolate, roast, and coffee with a hint of alcohol, very inviting.

Taste- Very true to the aroma, though the alcohol is very well hidden.

Mouthfeel- Thick mouthfeel, I am aware that I'm drinking a big beer, but my palate can handle at least another beer after this one.

Overall- Excellent beer. If Founders made this a brewery only release with a gimmicky name, it would be among the most discussed beers on this site. However, I am much happier knowing that I can grab this bad boy off the shelf for 3 months of the year. If you like stouts, you will like this one!

Photo of KAP1356
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. 2010 bottle from mattgreger last time I was home. Poured into a Victory tulip...

A - Pours a nice opaque black color. A creamy, dark brown sugar colored head forms about 2 fingers thick. Head leaves some really nice lacing along the glass.

S - Nice aromas of sweet chocolate and dark roasted malts. Dark, sweet fruits and some slight coffee aromas follow. At the end is some slight vanilla and a little bit of booziness.

T - Dark fruits, sweet chocolate, roasted (almost burnt) malts. Vanilla, caramel and some dark toffee also come out. Follows the nose quite well except that the booze is less prominant.

M - Medium to heavy bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Slightly slick on the tongue. Could be a bit creamier and thicker to me though.

O - For my first time having this, I am extremely impressed. Really enjoyable beer and surprisingly very drinkable. Glad I got to try it.

Photo of luisfrancisco
4.67/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 12 oz bottle. Shared with another BA.

Bottle pours pitch dark black. Viscous liquid. Gave a tan head that receded quickly.

Smells like chocolate and molasses, some coffee in the background. The nose was mostly bitter chocolate.

Tastes like chocolate and molasses, some dark fruits and some coffee. Roasted barley is there, but not astringent. The chocolate and molasses notes gives it somewhat of a "sweet" taste, although just apparently, since the beer is fairly bitter and roasty.

Mouthfeel is just fantastic. Very creamy and luscious. Reminds me somewhat of the Abyss, only no bourbon notes to be perceived. Alcohol is very well hidden.

Overall this is one fantastic RIS, up there with the best I've had. This was my first Founders beer and it is fantastic. I had been anticipating the moment I tried one of these and it was definetly up to the hype.

Photo of Trilogy31
3.65/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pitch oily black with a fleeting finger of coffee brown/copper head into my duvel tulip. Nose shows hints of toffee almonds, semisweet chocolate, roasted mocha notes, movie theatre popcorn butter as well along with slight alcohol notes. Taste is rich bitter chocolate, bitter espresso, finishes with a dry somewhat metallic note. Very nice beer though i would take a breakfast stout/ kbs anyday though that doesnt diminish this beers quality.

Photo of vfgccp
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at a free Founders tasting. Special thanks to Big Z’s in Huntington.

A – Black with faint brown highlights. Dark milk chocolate head settles into a low halo with ok lace.

S – Great nose. Medium roast coffee balances sweet brown sugar, fresh baked brown bread, and toffee.

T – Medium roast coffee with a touch of booze. Herbal hops come through as tarragon and rosemary. Mid profile loses some of the early smoothness, with dark roast malt showing some rough burnt edges. A honey sweetness rises to match the roast on the back end, but actually over takes it and throws the profile a bit out of balance.

M – The full body leaves a nice coating on your palate. Finish is sweet with a lingering pine bitterness.

O – A nice brew. Touch boozy and sweet, even for the style imho, but still delicious.

Photo of secondtooth
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Impenetrably coal-tar black, with a thin but exceptionally dark tan head. Lace is spotty and almost nonexistent.

Nose is cocoa, and burnt wood.

First tasting impression is strong and rich. Dark chocolate malts, some licorice, herbs, and an unquestionably dry, slightly bitter burn at the finish.

This is a big, bold, and ballsy beer, definitely potent, intense, and richly complex.

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 6,544 ratings.