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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.

5,925 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,925
Reviews: 1,601
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 546
Gots: 1,432 | FT: 123
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
90 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-12-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,925 | Reviews: 1,601 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ATPete
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle

Pours a solid black color, completely opaque with an large brown head. Big roasty sweet dark malt in the nose, hints of coffee and a small whiff of burnt bread. Much is similar in this beers flavor, malty goodness with a nice high hop balance, his beer weighs in at 10.5 and 95 IBU, yea the hops shine through more than youd think. I love that character in an Imperial Stout, others may not. Medium bodied, lighter than you may expect, superbly drinkable.

ATPete, Feb 16, 2009
Photo of taylorhamrick
3.43/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This pours a deep, dark black, perfectly opaque. A thick brown head sits on top with some loose, clinging bubbles. Nice lacing and retention. Really a beauty. There isn't an abundance of smells. I get the feeling of carbonation in the nose, a smell of alcohol, with a faint whiff of roasted malts in the background. The taste hit me immediately as a bittersweet chocolate, then the alcohol took over. This one finishes kind of dry, with that taste of black patent erasing everything else behind. The only complaint is that it lacks complexity. I mean, there's plenty of flavor there, but I can't dig deep and search without finding the same stuff. The mouthfeel is oddly a bit thin, which may be a product of the dryness. It allows the alcohol to just pund your tongue - which brings me to drinkability. The attack on my tongue of the alcohol slowed me down quickly, and the feeling in my nose from the alcohol and sort of empty carbonation worked to do the same, but I still found this to be pleasant.

taylorhamrick, Feb 16, 2009
Photo of TMB0424
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black body with very slight deep brown edges when held to the light. A thin, coffee bean colored head rises and falls very quickly into a ring. Good lacing throughout.

Smell is of roasted malts, sweet roasted coffee and barley. Slight wisps of chocolate here and there. Not much alcohol in the nose, but it's there.

Roasted barley and sweet malts are in the forefront, with espresso and bitter chocolate backing it up. Good hop character in the finish, perfectly balancing out all of the sweet elements. It's rich and creamy, full bodied. Alcohol adds a nice kick towards the finish but it's not overpowering - doesn't drink like a 10 percenter.

TMB0424, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of Proteus93
3.95/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Blackity black. Light tan head, not huge, but creamy and retention is good.

S: Roasted malts, smokiness, with that smoked scent going so far as to give it a bit of a meaty scent. It compliments a light anise and very soft chocolate aromas.

T: A hoppiness I don't usually pick up from the style... it adds a nice bitterness and a little touch of spiciness. Maltiness, unsweetened chocolate.

M + D: Medium heavy, but got a bit hot as it warmed and rightly so, I suppose Good beer certainly... but a bit too intense.

Proteus93, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of scifan
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thick midnight black with a creamy mocha head that quickly fades into a thin wispy ring.
Smells good lots of big roasted malts, lots of expresso, some sweet chocolate and a hint of alcohol.
Taste heavenly. Lovley roasted barley flavors, coffee on the front and then some nice reisdual sweetness on the end.
Very smooth with a slightly bitter finish
Alcohol is well hidden wouldn't have a problem finishing a four pack.
Another awesome offering from Founders

scifan, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of beermanbrian
4.55/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Motor oil black with a creamy mocha head. Retention wasn't great is the only knock on this ones appearance. Smell of chocolate malt with some lite burnt malt notes. Taste is full of chocolate, coffee and some bakers chocolate bitterness on the back end. Mouth is full and creamy. Big surprise (not!) a great brew from Founders. Do these guys do anything other than make tremondous brews? They impress time after time.

beermanbrian, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of jmalex
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice to finally get a hold of this one. If Founders' other stouts are any indication, this one should be awesome.

APPEARANCE: Pours pitch black into my Delirium tulip. There's almost no carbonation, and only a small brown head even initially forms. It settles immediately to a thin brown collar ringing a still black surface.

SMELL: Major amounts of roastiness and fruitiness at the same time. A little chocolate backs it up along with some toffee, but the aroma of this beer is all about the darkest malts in existence.

TASTE: It begins with an intense chocolaty roastiness with tons of caramels and other dessert-type flavors completely dominating. But then it undergoes one of the most drastic transformations I've ever experienced in a beer. A huge bitterness comes on in the form of both hops and black malt. As the sweetness drops out, the bitterness intensifies and continues on well through the finish. Very unique.

MOUTHFEEL: Full bodied with a very low carbonation that works really well here.

DRINKABILITY: The bitterness is a bit much but still really nice. No sign of the alcohol which is always a plus.

Another winner from Founders. Maybe not up to quality of the Breakfast Stouts, but that's a hard perch to achieve. This is worth seeking out.

jmalex, Feb 13, 2009
Photo of tjthresh
3.9/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque oily black with the slightest brown ring around the edges. Aromas of coffee, bakers chocolate, licorice, anise, burnt sugars, and tobacco spit. Strong cup of coffee, chocolate concentrate, spicy hops, chewing tobacco, and cooked raisins. Medium body. Light carbonation. Dry finish. Thin and oily.

tjthresh, Feb 13, 2009
Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.9/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into my nonic pint glass. Appears a nearly opaque dark brown color with a healthy two fingers of fluffy tan foam. The foam leaves a nice, sticky lace on the glass with each sip. Smells of rich roasted malts, bitter cocoa and burnt caramel with a hint of black licorice. Tastes of bitter, dark chocolate, and heavily roasted malt. Full bodied and rich with medium carbonation. Slight alcohol bun, but not as much as I was expecting. Can't wait to see what some time in the cellar does to this.

ClockworkOrange, Feb 13, 2009
Photo of Ummagum
4.1/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured form a 12 ounce bottle. Beer poured black with a brown head. Head disappered into a thin ring which left nice lacing down the glass. Smells of roasted coffe with a hint of chocolate. Good drinkabilty with a coffee taste and some fruitiness. Another good beer from Founders.

Ummagum, Feb 13, 2009
Photo of WakeandBake
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very black color pour with a thin, creamy, dark brown head that diminishes to a nice thin ring,and leaves some good lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma is of dark roasted malt, light coffee, faint toffee, and sweet dark fruitiness.Flavor is very roasty malt driven, coffee,bitter chocolate notes some wood or maybe grain,very balanced. Medium-bodied light carbonation, slick mouthfeel with a dry, bitter-roasted finish that features just a touch of alcohol. As always Founders makes it Yummy !

WakeandBake, Feb 12, 2009
Photo of NoLiberty
3.7/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours rich, thick and chunky into the glass. It feels almost heavier than a standard 12 oz. Color is absolutely black with no color coming through at all. A light half finger cappuccino colored head froths up on the pour and settles into a light spotty covering, like the skim on top of a simmering tomato sauce. Strong edging with high droplets of lacing

The aroma is rich roasted sweet malt and boozy alcohol, which actually gives a nice balance of seductive, deep, warm and refreshing. A bit deeper down are coffee and chocolate notes with some subtle yeast-like qualities that add a nice spicy intoxication.

Nice, almost lacto-like sweetness up front that moves to a roasted bitterness that tingles the back outer tongue. Nice alcohol lingers on top making the flavors of coffee, roasted malt and toast come to life. Finishes out with a smooth swallow followed by hop bitterness aftertaste and a lingering burnt breath. The flavors are all there but not entirely blended. The finish is odd and the pacing of the drink seems slightly too front forward.

Mouthfeel is lighter than I anticipated for the thick appearance. Carbonation seems spot on. Real viscous feel to the beer, it's slippery and moves at it's own pace; not too fast not too slow. A good sipper but not unpleasant to pull hard on.

I like this beer despite some quirks here and there. The overall experience is pleasurable and something I'd come back to from the Founders folks.

NoLiberty, Feb 12, 2009
Photo of abents
4.15/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a pitch dark black with a minimal brown head that laces like a milkshake. Chocolate odors emit along with roasted malts. The aroma is not severely overwhelming, in fact more underwhelming than anything. Has a nice rounded taste however, smooth sweet chocolaty malts balanced with a nice hoppy bitterness that leads to a balance often lacked in RIS. Very drinkable RIS, alcohol is warming and inviting, this ones on the drier side as well with a nice burnt malt that is warming and pleasant. Moderate carbonation as well makes this a very drinkable stout.

abents, Feb 11, 2009
Photo of CrellMoset
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of gford217 - thanks so much!! A completely unexpected and generous beer care package from a fantastic BA. Poured into a 22 oz. brandy snifter.

Appearance: I've noticed something about Founders brews. When they're supposed to be bright and vibrant - like, say, the Centennial IPA - they're bright and vibrant. When they're supposed to be deep, ruddy, crystalline - say, like the Dirty Bastard - they're deep, they're ruddy, they're crystalline. And when they're supposed to be black, well, they're pitch fricken' black. This one falls into that latter category, obviously, and pours like used, spent motor oil into the brandy snifter, thick and viscous, forming a one-finger, deep brown head of impressive retention that leaves even more impressive lacing, sticky, sheet-like, just all over the place, is this a run on sentence yet?

Aroma: Thick, fudgy, fresh baked brownies, spiked with ... bitter astringencies, and perhaps a kiss of alcohol. Definite anise and other otherworldly spices, very reminiscent of licorice, but also definitely fruity in places, with hints of raisins and cherries.

Taste: Like the Founders Porter I tried earlier tonight, this one's decadent and opulent to a fault. Rich, sweet, milky chocolate notes are balanced with other toasted notes, faint maple syrup, sweet, lactose-laden coffee, heavily crisped toast, a healthy dose of char, raisins. There's also a very prominent and definite anise note that rises above many others, but plays very well among present company given the balance of the flavors and the mouthfeel of this one.

Mouthfeel: About as thick as snails snot, this one, as the omen of the appearance holds true. Moderately carbonated - and the effervescence does do its best to fight its way through - with the thick body holding down many of the carbonation's valiant attempts to puff this one up. What results is an incredibly creamy and even though still thick, sugary, and dominating mouthfeel. This one's about as close to milkshake as they come.

Drinkability: Founders at its best, or rather beer at its best, and Founders at its typical. I have to say I'm almost mildly disappointed with this one, hoping that combination of one of my favorite styles with one of my favorites breweries would produce lightning. Instead, it just produced the forest fire, or perhaps a severe house fire, or maybe just the sort of thing that strikes a lightning rod, and, well, nevermind. The long and short of it is, regardless of my expectations, this is still a really solid beer, more towards the chocolate and anise end of the RIS spectrum, sweet and spicy, though definitely complex across the board. The alcohol's plenty up there, as is typical for the style, though well hidden ... this is a beer worthy of a four-pack pick-up, either way.

CrellMoset, Feb 11, 2009
Photo of JonathanL7890
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got in a local trade with zymrgy - Thanks Bob.
A very thick pour with a 1 finger beautiful brown head. Viscous oily consistency. Lacing encrusts the glass. This glass will need soaking!!!
Aroma: A good hop presence here. Melds with the roastiness dying to come out.
Taste: MMM. pleasant bitterness offset by roastiness, some raisin, dried fruit.
Mouthfeel: silky smooth. Carbonation battles through the viscosity of the liquid , blurb , blurb.
Drinkability: Good, Need to alternate pints of this with a glass of water.

Overall: delicious. I've yet to be disappointed by founders yet. I must seek out more of this stuff.

JonathanL7890, Feb 11, 2009
Photo of kels
3.98/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I think I was saving this for a special occasion, but what's more special than the first day to break 60 degrees in 3 months? Cheers to better weather - here's my review on a bottle poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Beautiful opaque black with only a hint of brown. Skim of a caramel tan head that hangs around the edges and leaves the lightest lacing behind.

Smell: The smell is actually somewhat subtle, with hints of bitter coffee, syrupy caramel malts, slight chocolate and pungent alcohol.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The taste is very complex. I get different characteristics of the beer with each mouthful. Pronounced bitter coffee and roasted, syrupy, but not too sweet malts dominate and are met with a bitter, oily hoppiness. The alcohol is very present, especially in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is very rich with moderate and satisfying carbonation.

Drinkability: Moderate - the heat from the alcohol is pleasing, but the bite slows me down a bit.

Interesting offering from Founders, and I'm glad I got to try it. Definitely defined and different from the FBS, and holds its own well.

kels, Feb 10, 2009
Photo of cvfish
3.98/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured a deep black color that produced a brown head that retained well and left a good chocolate lace

S - Chocolate malts, coffee, molasses

T - Roasted chocolate malts, bitter coffee, molasses, and booze

M - A little thin for a RIS in my opinion, but still ok, with subtle carbonation

T - A good RIS, like I said a little thin for me, but still good

cvfish, Feb 10, 2009
Photo of tmoneyba
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a black color with large rocky brown head that lasted with excellent lacing. Aroma was medium malt and coffe that lasted the whole brew. Flavor was rich and smooth malt and chocolate with a long finish.

Another very solid brew from this house.

tmoneyba, Feb 10, 2009
Photo of avalon07
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a coal black color and a totally thick consistency. There was a half inch of tan-colored, long-lasting head and some good lacing.

S: An underplayed smell of malt, coffee and dark chocolate.

T: Like the smell, the taste is underplayed, but still very good. Roasted malt, coffee, chocolate and molasses. The alcohol is well-masked.

M: A high level of carbonation and smooth, dry finish. Full-bodied.

D: This is a very good example of Russian Imperial Stout. It's not quite as punchy as some in this style, but it's very easy to like.

avalon07, Feb 10, 2009
Photo of bjoyce12
3.98/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Founders does some things exceeding well(Breakfast Stout) and some not so much(Red Rye, Old Curmudgeon). Their Imperial Stout belongs in the former class of brews. Pours a dark black as expected. Foam dark-brown colored. Nose of rye bread and burnt molasses. Tastes like a Russian Imperial should; dark, heavy, full of body, although with a little alcohol burn at the end. Not the best ever Russian Imperial(Old Rasputin has that), but still a very, very good issue.

bjoyce12, Feb 09, 2009
Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.73/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks for the hook-up fogdog! You're one helluva trader!

Appearance: Pours pitch black, thick, and oily. Head is slow-forming, dark brown, tight and creamy. Only reaches about 1/4 inch in height, but retains well. Head is pretty sticky, and leaves spotty lace.

Smell: Loads of malt, dark chocolate, dairy, roasted aromas, and MAYBE some hops. Surprised I didn't get more of a hop-oriented aroma. 90 IBUs, where you at?

Taste: Dark chocolate, molasses, loads of malt, charred wood, big pine, and tons of bittering hops and burnt, smokey notes in the finish. This is the bitterest RIS I've ever had. With that said, it's still balanced! Just a huge beer - big malt, big hops!

Mouthfeel: Rich, malty, smooth, and robust. Finishes very dry and bitter. Attacks the mouth with bitterness and heat, but malt provides some cooling comfort. Creamy when swished.

Drinkability: Big, robust, strong, and mean. Very mean. This is a good RIS, but one of the toughest drinks I've ever come across. Not because it sucks; it's just a handful. Be careful.

ThreeWiseMen, Feb 09, 2009
Photo of johnnnniee
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received in trade from TexIndy, Thanks for the opportunity.

Pours a solid black with a smallish tan head that doesn't visit for very long. Smells of chocolate syrup and roast, slight perfume aroma and a bit of alcohol as it warms. Taste is roasty and filled with chocolates. Hop presence is felt mid to finish as well as a bit of alcohol bite, which then gives way to a roast bitterness. Body is thick, mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, carbonation is low but adequate. Its a good Imp Stout, hoppier than I like. I wish I had more so I could lay some down.

Revisited this today as I lucked into a four pack of this in VT. Solid black with a thin tan head that subsides but never really disappears. Smells is heavy on the milk and dark chocolate with some roast and earthy hops. Taste is about the same. Hugely smooth silky creamy mouthfeel with a light level of carbonation and a medium to thick body. I don't recall liking this one as much the first time I had it, but I really enjoyed this today. My review reflects this sampling.

johnnnniee, Feb 08, 2009
Photo of rayjay
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks go to csmiley for this gift in the Black Booty BIF 09.

Big brown head on this one. Looks dark and velvety.

Highlights: very fresh malt aroma and flavor. Picture milling some roasted barley and chocolate malt right into your hands. Some carmel malt too. Stickiness of the body and mouthfeel (and abv) suggest first runnings only. 90 IBUs are smothered by the sticky sweet malt but do get observed, as does a big delicious roasted grain bitterness like coffee or baker's chocolate, and without much acidity to speak of.

American yeast, with some esters but not the full on Christmas fruit cake of some imperial stouts. Definitely NW hops, or at least some high alpha Brit hops like Magnum. Evidence of long tank conditioning from the general smoothness.

Sticky and chewy mouthfeel that never bogs the beer down but makes a simple statement: big stout here.

Very well made, and worth adding to your glass or cellar. Founder has certainly mastered black beer. Cheers!

rayjay, Feb 08, 2009
Photo of Gavage
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: black in color with a short 1/2" head that falls to a thick surface foam. Some mild lacing develops.

Smell: chocolate, roasted malts, and espresso comes from the glass easily into the nose.

Taste: roasted malt profile is big along with dark chocolates, espresso, and hints of alcohol. Bitterness is perfect in balancing out the sweetness here. There are also some prunes and red grapes here too.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp to start, smooth and a bit dry at the finish. Aftertaste is long as the flavors seem to stick to the tongue. Heavy in body.

Drinkability: very nice flavor profile screams for you to have a few of these, but the alcohol level and heaviness knocks it down a notch. Great beer overall.

Gavage, Feb 07, 2009
Photo of kasper
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours an oily, viscous black with a dull, grayish-brown colored watery head that leaves dotted lacing all over the glass.

S: Aromas are sweet: rich milky malts, chocolate covered espresso beans, maybe a bit of dry burnt bark. It's interesting and rather inviting.

T: Fairly tasty stuff. Lots of malt and milky chocolate up front, dry espresso flavors quickly follow, finishing super dry and unmistakably bitter.

M: Feel is consistent with your average imperial stout. Fairly heavy, low carbonation, and noticeably slippery.

D: Solid beer. Good tasting imperial stout. Nothing to go jumping out of windows for, but still a winner.

kasper, Feb 06, 2009
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 5,925 ratings.