1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

6,108 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 6,108
Reviews: 1,612
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 570
Gots: 1,470 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 6,108 | Reviews: 1,612 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of degerbah
3.83/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque blackwith very little milkshake colored head.Smell is slightly of coffee with a lot of malt and a hint of something botanical. Perhaps hops. The taste is initially less complex with the smell. Primarily tasting of coffee, with a heavy licorice after taste. Not nearly as sweet as I'd hoped and very very boozy towards the end. Perhaps should be left to cellar for some time as it tastes a little raw, like it needs to mellow a bit. For my money I'd rather have KBS, Breakfast Stout, Backwoods Bastard, or really most of their other beers. Too much licorice for me.

Photo of BeerLover99
4.68/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Deep onyx, giant 2 finger oatmeal head, amazing lacing

S: chocolate, vanilla, licorice, roasted nuts, coffee, and malt.

T: Big malt, roasted nuts, licorice, bit boozy, dark chocolate, hint of coffee. mild bitter finish.

M: Heavy, smooth/thick, solid amount of carbonation.

D: This MONSTER is to be treasured and respected! Sip this beast with love and care. Another delicious offering from Founders, wonderful Imperial Stout; if you love Imperial Stouts this is a must!

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

Poured at essentially "cellar" temperature which turned out to be pretty perfect. Pours oily black with amber highlights. 1 finger dark tan head similar to espresso creme. One of the darkest heads I've seen. Head retention is fairly good considering the ABV. It has a good amount of legs and a super sticky lacing.

Smells of rich dark chocolate and dark roasted coffee. Tobacco, dark fruits, and raspberries come out but are more subtle. Subtle warmth from the alcohol. Molasses and syrupy sweetness.

Deep roasted malts and burnt sugar in the taste. Lots of coffee...reminds me of french pressed coffee that has steeped for a tad too long. Raspberries come in both at the beginning and finish, but the finish is mostly dominated by bitter roasted malts and molasses.

The mouthfeel is thick and silky, but there's a surprising amount of carbonation. It's not an interference, but it's a little different for the style and ABV.

I'm surprised to see how quickly this beer is going down. It has such a massive flavor and body, but I can't stop drinking it. But, not being too heavy of a drinker, I believe one 12oz is all I'll need.

Another very pleasant offerring from Founders. Can they do no wrong?

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

A: Very Dark, black, with a giant head. Very dark tannish head. Looks nice.

S: Dark chocolate, and some coffee, and malt. Possibly a little black licorice.

T: Big malt taste, a good bit of booze, chocolate through-out. Very dark, and quite delicious. My friend Alanna says 'very heavy coffee'

M: Thick, with appropriate carbonation.

D: Definitely something I would buy again. Nice tasting and appropriate for the style. And Alanna says: 'Very good for me, and I don't really do stouts' So I guess that sums it up from me, and my guest reviewer: Alanna.

Photo of WYVYRN527
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours jet black with a thick tan head, that settles to a small film on the surface. Lacing is minimal.

S: Very roasty, with notes of chocolate, espresso, and burnt toast. The booziness comes through on the nose as well.

T: Taste is very much like the smell. Chocolate, coffee, and toast are most apparent up front. The alcohol is also present. It is rather hoppy on the finish, drying and pleasant.

M: Full-bodied and very viscous, along with a warming booziness.

D: This brew is quite drinkable, but one that I would consume as a nightcap on a cold evening like this one.

Photo of steve8robin
3.9/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Found this one at Julios. That time of the year...

A: Awesome. Very dark with an awesome dark brown head about an inch thick that quickly dissipates to a ring around the top of the glass.

S: Kind of just smells like a standard breakfast stout. Nothing special on the smell.

T: Very boozy upfront. This might have a much better taste after aged for several years. I will definitely have to pick one up to age. Not bad, but the boozy taste heavily overrides most of the other flavors.

M: Very good amount of carbonation. A little heavy, but not too light.

D: Goes down a little hard because of the heavy booziness and hoppy taste up front.

All in all, this is a great brew if you like it very boozy and hoppy. If that's you, you would love this one. Otherwise, age befoe you try this.

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

Pours black with a thin brown head.

Smells sweetly of roasted malts, a bit of roasted coffee beans, and a hint of raisin.

Upfront the taste is strongly sweet with a molasses/brown sugar flavor. There's a little dark chocolate bitterness at the end that lingers for a bit, but the rich taste upfront really dominates.

The mouthfeel is very smooth, yet thick and chewy. It's carbonated enough to feel lively on your taste buds without being overly bubbly.

Although the flavor is very rich, drinkability is great. I'll definitely be picking up some more of these this winter.

Photo of erz316
4.63/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pretty much the same as the bottled version. If anything I notice a much larger hoppy presence in the general flavour, but this is almost evened out by the added chocolate flavour. body isnt as thick as I remember it, but the presentation and look of the brew is exceptional; the head is incredibly thick and lovely.

Photo of kegger22
4.15/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Founders RIS is dark brown, almost black, with a modest brown head that fades to a skin. The aroma is alcohol first and coffee second. The taste of this stout reminds me a lot of Bell's Expedition (with I admit, I've underrated), strong coffee, bitter chocolate and boozy. Feel is extremely viscous, heavily bodied, oily and with low carbonation. It would be tough to claim this is highly drinkable with the high ABV and a heavy as it is.

An excellent stout, it has it all.

I'm not really big on combining beers, but somehow, I feel compelled to mix this half and half with Bigfoot barleywine. Unfortunately, I don't have any Bigfoot around or I'd do it tonight. I will let you know how it was when I do.

Photo of Vonerichs
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a great looking stout. Opaque and black with three fingers worth of cinnamon colored head, even leaving a generous amount of lacing for a high abv RIS.

A strong and robust mix of dark roast espresso, dark chocolate, and a hint of root beer.

The taste is very deep and while there's nothing out of the ordinary for an RIS, everything is extremely well pronounced and distinct. Both the coffee and chocolate are dark, the former heavily roasted. The finish is bitter coffee.

Thick and chewy mouthfeel, dry towards the end. I needed a glass of water to restore moisture to my mouth afterwards. The alcohol is not well hidden, but for 10.5% abv isn't overbearing.

Good drinkability but as usual with a stout, heavy in the stomach like eating a loaf of bread.

This ranks up there with the best of them in this category.

Photo of Lolli1315
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours and opaque black, can't get any darker than this. About a finger of head, maybe a little more that is dark brown. Nice lacing as this is sticking to the entire glass.

S- Roasted malts slightly overpowered by the smell of alcohol, certainly not unappetizing though. A dark chocolate aroma tends to sneak through before being squashed out by the malt and alcohol.

T- The roasted malts jump around for around a couple of seconds before a dark chocolate bitterness kicks it of the way. The alcohol taste is hidden initially, but towards the end of the beer it leaps out almost unexpectedly and sticks to the palate for quite a long time.

M- Very chewy and thick with a smooth carbonation that makes this a smooth the entire way down.

D- The lingering taste of alcohol in this beer is the only real thing detracting from the drinkability. If you look past that and understand it is something to be expected out of a bigger beer, then this beer will be one you keep reaching for.

Photo of bamadog
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This one bad-ass stout, and yet another great offering from Founders. Pour is from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pour is thick and viscous and looks like motor oil; starts with a one finger dark brown head that fades to a thin skim with a thicker ring around the surface; body is entirely opaque and black; thick portions of lacing hold on to the sides.

Smell: Quite smokey and "thick" smelling; deep dark roasty malts; slight chocolate and a slight whiff of alcohol. The smell is very strong and just pouring out of the glass.

Taste: Huge mouthful of robust flavors -- very smokey; deep bitter-sweet chocolatey aspect; definite roastiness and coffe-esque flavors; there's a definite presence of alcohol in it and it comes across a bit like bourbon and a little warm.

Mouthfeel: Thick and viscous, very much as it should be; a little gritty; a little sticky on the roof of the mouth; mouth, throat and belly are left quite warm.

Drinkability: Moderate - love the strong and robust flavors and the smells to match; like a meal unto itself; too heavy and the ABV is too high for too much of it; I think this would have to be amazing with some age on it and I'm considering starting a vertical.

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

Pours a deep black into a snifter. Thin, mocha colored head that clings to the glass when swirled; oily residue & dot effect.

Creamy aroma of dark roasted malt, kaluha, & pine. The booze dances around the nostrils along with coffee.

Smooth and silky on the tongue leads to woody, dark coffee, molasses malt, and an avalanche of piney-acidic hops & alcohol. The mouth feels dry and I sm left with a boozy burn.

This thing is a sipper from start to finish. A very tasty and complex beer that really packs a punch. I plan to age a couple bottles and see what happens when the hops mellow out.

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

I'm reviewing beer number two of the four pack - poured from the bottle to a standard pint.

Brown on the pour, deep black in the glass, with a half-fingers' worth of foam - not as heady as I might hope. Delicate lacing follows each drink.

Big malts, like a melting pot of chocolate, some coffee, dark toffee, and a bit of smoke - that's a great smell this time of year. ("These are a few of my favorite things.")

Crisp and dark roast coffee-like bitter, this is truly one-of-a-kind. Just a bit of alcohol peeks through toward the end, but hardly noticable.

Wet and a bit sticky, it settles in at the back of the mouth, taking up office for many minutes. Recycling the taste in the mouth is as simple as inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Enjoyable to just sit back and circulate.

Easily drinkable, but I'd suggest doing so at a relatively slow pace, given that there's nothing small about this beer, especially if you're working on a bomber.

Photo of jera1350
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours into a Darkness snifter a thick and jet black color with one-finger brown head that leave a fair amount of lace.

Tons of coffee, subtle hops and some banana. Bitter chocolate as well.

Rich as expected with lots of chocolate malt, hints of coffee, nice hop bittering.

Full bodied, silky smooth with some creaminess to it.

This is just a straight forward, nothing fancy RIS and it's done to near perfection. For the price, I can't think of a RIS that is of higher quality. Not real shocking from the same brewery as KBS and Breakfast Stout. Great RIS.

Photo of ma121606
4.18/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am on drinking my second now, YES

Appearance - very dark brown, very thick

Smell - Smells like sweet coffee and some type of christmas candy in a glass

Taste - I expected it to be bitter, but it is smooth.

Mouth-feel - smooth and creamy

Drink ability - too easy to drink, but watch it I'm on number 2 and I'm feeling it.

Photo of Reaper16
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle served into a Gulden Draak tulip

Pours a super-dark brown. You can tell that it isn't quite black when you look down into the glass; the edges are clearly a lighter shade of brown than the middle of the body. You can see the edges when looking straight down into the glass because there is nearly no head on this pour. It spiked at half a finger and then leveled off to the tracest of rings. The foam is an interesting color though. It's one of the darkest heads I've ever seen; the caramelized color of it as as dark as some malty beer styles' non-foam bodies! As I drink I notice that there is actual lacing going on, which is always a plus.

Right up front you get the chocolate. I am reminded of the cocoa nibs used in Breakfast Stout only strengthened in intensity. There is a small amount of generic coffee coming off of the roasted malts. Delicately rising up out of the glass is a black currant aroma. I was expecting more of a dark fruits kind of thing, but am pleasantly surprised with this black currant/wild berries thing it has going on. I'm kind of getting oats too; I don't know if any oats were used in the malt profile but it smells like it.

The most noticeable aspect of this imperial stout is its remarkable fruit character. The flavors of black currant and boysenberry are so powerful yet well-crafted. Their sweetness melds wonderfully with the flavors of 60% cacao dark chocolate and toasted pecan. As the beer warms I can make out the restrained presence of leafy bittering hops.

The mouthfeel is insane on this beer! Its sort of medium-thick, by which I mean that it gives you the pleasure of a thickness in the mouth but at the same time it isn't so thick as to prohibit extended drinking. To the beer's credit, this is comes in 12oz. bottles. Founders Imperial Stout is absolutely good enough of to have two bottles of in a sitting (which would only be two more ounces than the standard 22oz. bomber). Given that the style is limited in drinkability I feel comfortable giving this one a 4.5 when rating to style. This is pretty damn drinkable, 10.5% ABV or no.

As far as readily-available seasonal Impy Stouts go, Founders Imperial Stout is every bit the beer that Bell's Expedition Stout is. Do yourself the favor of buying a four-pack of this while you still can. I was expecting a solid stout but I didn't expect something as delicious as this. A treat.

Photo of mikedashg
4.53/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a rich thick black with a bubbly, moderately sized, dark tan head. Good sized lacing on the glass.

S - Rich chocolate smell with sweet roasted malts and coffee

T - Wow, again with the rich big chocolate, like a bittersweet cocoa powder. Sweet roasted malts and roasted coffee. This time, the taste really hits you. Very powerful stuff. Nothing subtle about this one, a lot more defined then the smell.

M - Moderate carbonation, nice and smooth, creamy, velvety. But also. quite thick!

D - Quite an exceptional example of style with in your face flavors. This one was almost a year old I think, so hopefully it's as good as this one was when it's fresh.

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

poured into a snifter,more or less black. nice almost brown head.smells like dark chocolate,coffee,black cherries,dark fruit.

taste is incredibly rich,some dark cherry flavor upfront,big coffee and dark chocolate flavors,somewhat sweet, follows through,finishes with some coffee like acridity. this beer has more coffee acridity than most other beers,but it is nice.

incredibly rich mouthfeel,just super thick.i almost have to scrape my tongue off after each sip.great beer.

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

12 ounce bottle poured into a Piraat glass.

Appearance is dark...black and very opaque. There is a nice creamy tan head, about half a finger, sitting on top.

The aroma is quite sweet...smells of sweet brown sugar, molasses, wheat bread, caramel, dark chocolate, and vanilla.

The taste is good...hints of vanilla in the background, and molasses. These give way to some serious chocolate notes. There are some spices in there, as well. Cinnamon, nutmeg. I absolutely love the dark, bittersweet roasted coffee notes in this beer. This, combined with the other flavors here, make this a wonderful treat for the palate--balanced, intense, and delicious.

Overall, this is a solid Imperial Stout...one I've grown quite fond of. I'm glad this has been put back into Founders's rotation. It has some excellent flavor, and great body.

Photo of jampics2
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite Imperial Stouts will make this night better. This pours black as the dark winter night. Smells like chocolate, roast, creamyness, and hops. Tastes like it smells, just a bit of alcohol burn.

The mouth on this beer is second to just a few, like Night Tripper. But soooo creamy and good. Drinkability is unheard of, I could savor this and many more tonight.

The fire is roaring, this stout is making the night better for sure. A chocolate blanket of perfection.

Photo of jmacdaddy2008
4.7/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I haven't reviewed a beer in awhile, but this one made me want to write down a few surprising notes.
This beer had a nice head, great color and smelled wonderful. I picked up notes of coffee, chocolate and booze.
I remember this beer being a lot hotter last year, but I was really impressed by its drink ability this year.
We were only alloted a few cases in town so I am definitely snagging a few 4pks. before they are gone.
Kudos to Founders for this rendition of a RIS.

Photo of eternaljester81
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Pours nearly pitch-black, with some some brownish-red hints at the edges when held to light. The head, while thin, is also a brownish red, but dissipates quickly. Lacing is minor.

S - Dark-roast coffee is the first part of the nose, followed with some bitter dark chocolate scents. The back-end is full of alcohol, which had me a little nervous for the taste.

T - Pretty amazing...I could leave it at that. I was surprised after the smell just how well hidden the alcohol is. Actual, this is quite similar to Founders Breakfast Stout (one of my favorite beers ever), only with more bite. This brew just tastes explosive with bittersweet chocolate and espresso notes, and just enough hop bitterness to balance out the impressive malt presence. All in all, this is the smoothest Imperial Stout I've ever tasted.

M - This feels incredibly smooth in the mouth, with a decent tingling from the alcohol. Maybe not quite as thick as I expected, but by no means watery. In fact, I'm most reminded of those bottled/canned cappuccino drinks you can find at most gas stations, which is in no-way meant as a slight.

D - At 10.5%, this is deceptively drinkable. While the flavors are huge, this is also an impressively smooth beer, which could easily get away from anyone.

I have to add that I'm a bit of a Founders fan-boy, as they are without-a-doubt my favorite brewery. Regardless, I feel they've earned my love by producing some of the finest beers in the world. The Imperial Stout is absolutely no exception.

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

Pours a 1 1/2 finger head with great retention and a dark brown color.

Smell is of chocolate and licorice with a bit of roast, but licorice and chocolate dominate.

Taste is similar to the nose. I'm impressed with a lack of hot alcohols in this beer. It's not a pry top, so I imagine it's had time to age. Incredibly smooth on the palate. Low bitterness for the style. I want a bit more roast, but it's so malty sweet with chocolate/licoricy notes with a touch of toffee, but not too much.

Mouthfeel is incredibly creamy and smooth.

This beer is one of the most drinkable for the style that I've had due to a lack of fusel alcohols or flaws.

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

Recieved this bottle from iconoklaztor. Thanks, again Don! I've been drinking a lot of your beer lately.

12 oz bottle, vintage unknown (although it was waxed on top, so maybe Don has some knowledge of it's age) pours a viscous black-hole black into a tulip glass. Thin, dark brown head is produced, and doesn't stay for long. Only leaves tiny spots of lacing here and there. A good swirl leaves a thin film of brown liquid on the glass...now thats what I like to see...the ultimate test of an Imperial Stout. If it stains your glassware...it's good to go.

The nose is strong on toasted malts and chocolate, light bitter coffee, vanilla and alcohol. There is a lot of complexity going on, but it's a little more muted than I would have hoped.

Taste is pretty much the nose but vamped up. Everything is more defined, and the complexity of the malts shines through in this one. Alcohol is nowhere to be found (contrary to the nose) and notes of vanilla and chocolate come out. Tasty!

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, thick and rich. Very low carbonation is appropriate for this brew. Slides down my throat, beckoning me to drink more. Drinkability is great, the age on this (whatever it is) has done away with the alcohol and made this an incredibly drinkable brew.

Overall, another great beer from Founders. When this hits Minnesota, I'm definitely getting more of this. It's not a world class Imperial Stout, but it's definitely a good one, and one that I will be drinking a lot more of.

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 6,108 ratings.