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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

6,002 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 6,002
Reviews: 1,606
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 552
Gots: 1,441 | FT: 119
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: 6,002 | Reviews: 1,606 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Slatetank
4.13/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up at Brass Rail in Campbelltown.
Poured from the stubby 12oz into a snifer and an 1/2 pint

A - Almost pitch black like oozing slimy railroad tie pitch w/ a molasses type reddish hue. The cap is a honey shade of brown w/ rocky foam froma vigorous pour. The head settles slowly to a ring around the glass. The opacity is pretty impressive while there are random streams of tan lace splattered like silly string. I am piqued by the beauty of this stout

S - cookies, lots of cocoa and chocolate malt w/ a dark chocolate and mild pine hop aroma. The nose has a caramel/vanilla note and mellow fig w/ toffee accent. Touches of cooking herbs and spicy hop tinges round out the fragrant odor

M - Rich and spicy w/ mucho maltiness-the feel is full. The level of carbonation is moderate which pleases my palate. There is a warmth of alcohol as it finishes w/ bitter hop spice and sweet stickiness of dark malts

T - A rich dark chocolate flavor begins the Founders Imperial Stout experience w/ mild buttery toffee that fades into a bitter citrus hop taste which brings out more caramel and roasted barley flavor in contrast. The spice plays well w/ the dark toasted an chocolate malts. The plum notes come forward gently as it warms w/ an herbal hop taste. The taste of green pepper is noted and seems to overshadow the malty cocoa taste at the end. There is bitter flavors in the residual taste and alchol giving a green impression. The taste of sweetened espresso also unfolds as the final sips reveal more vanilla bean taste in the spice flavor.

D - The taste of this Imperial stout is very layered yet a bit 'angular', slightly on the edgier side w/ more of a malt + hop interplay w/ 90 ibus almost apparent in flavor and the 10% is not very hidden, but it more than makes up for it in the flavor - a highly drinkable impy on the hoppy side. I can't wait to taste this again

Slatetank, Apr 15, 2009
Photo of Murchmac
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Murchmac bows head in silence for Younger35. As a couple of BAers were sitting round my table discussing founders and the imperial stout isn't being brewed anymore, Mr. FedEx rings my door and what do I get as an extra? Founders Impy. Thanks Daniel.

10.5abv, 90IBU? huh? Pours a dark black with coffee mocha ring around the collar.

Smells roasty toasty dark malts, as it warms up, dark chocolate. Always bet on black, Wesley Snipes did in White man can't jump and Woody lost all the money.

Tastes in order: Hops, thick dried dark fruits, leather, chocolate, toughness. Like if a gay chuck norris were turned into a chocolate easter bunny.

Fantastic when warms up. Chewy creamy aftertaste, with some burn in your throat. Feel the burn.

Murchmac, Apr 14, 2009
Photo of TequilaSauer
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Looks great, very dark and oily out of the bottle, but with more head than I was expecting.

Smells great. Lots of coffee and caramel. I'm looking forward to this.

Attacks with a lot more syrup and sugar than I expected, with a lot of that very quickly giving way to a hoppy bitterness. Boy, does this get bitter. As my palette settles down from those first few sips, the beer gets better. I am now tasting cherries and grapefruit along with dark chocolate and coffee.

A very good stout from a brewery that never disappoints. It's not the best thing you'll have from Founders, but it represents the style and brewery well and should not be missed by any RIS fans.

TequilaSauer, Apr 14, 2009
Photo of alcstradamus
3.35/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A--Pitch black with no highlights and about a half finger of head. A small amount of lacing is left behind.

S--Big roasted malts and caramel, coffee, and a little bit of chocolate and nuts. Citrus hops also present. There is a slight bourbon like booze scent that is barely in the background. Very pleasant overall.

T--Dominated by roasted malts and coffee bitterness. Earthy hops also are big and help make this one very bitter for a stout. This is not meant for the weak palate, that's for sure. The flavor profile really doesn't strike me the way that the nose did. Kind of like stale coffee and hops put in a blender. Still, its not horrible overall.

M--Medium bodied with a smooth creaminess that gets broken up on the back of the throat by the carbonation.

D--This one has tons of flavor, but it is not a flavor that makes me want to continuously reach for the glass. The 12 oz. bottle is more than enough, and since I can only find this in 4 packs I probably won't buy it again.

Don't get me wrong, this is an impressive beer, but it is not meant for my palate. I love coffee in my beer but unfortunately the coffee profile here is not very good and there are not enough other flavors to make up for it.

alcstradamus, Apr 13, 2009
Photo of farrago
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Heavyset one finger head of dark brown froth, very integrated, like a tarp over the surface, plenty of sticky lacing left behind. The liquid is pure jet black, nary a hint of color to be seen. Brawny nose, hurls roasted coffee, black licorice, mint, bittersweet chocolate, not a lot of milkiness or creamy accents, dry and dense like cooking batter, waft of maraschino cherry and raspberry fruit scents, hops muffled if even there. Full-bodied, Very chewy yet with a subtle carbonation which prods the whole forward when it starts to get lazy. Pure coffee, dark chocolate, toffee flavors, spoonful of freshly whipped cream on top. Gentle roast, never that aggressive of a toastiness, much in keeping with a bigger isn't always better approach. Pine and anise seed brighten the mid-palate and add lift. Dense soda bread doughiness. Subtle white grapefruit tang through the finish. For a beer of its size never comes close to wearing you down.

farrago, Apr 13, 2009
Photo of bassmantin
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Decided to pour my first 2009 vintage tonight.

Pours a very dark brown into my Surly snifter. Moderate head that clings creamily to the class.

The smell is very milky and smooth. The hops are very mild, even with minimal agings. That said, there is still a bit of an edge that could stand to be mellowed with a year or so of aging. The malts are very smooth and silky, like a milk stout. I usually don't like milk stouts because the ones I've had have been watery, but this one is nice and full but keeps the creaminess of a milk stout.


bassmantin, Apr 13, 2009
Photo of kbutler1
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured form a growler my brother brought out to me from MI.
A: Pours a deep brown/black color with a reddish tan color head with small bubbles. Head slowly goes down forming a very small head on this beer
S: Bittersweet chocolote, malt, and coffee smell
T: Very heavy coffee/espresso flavor turing to bitter on the tongue. Very complex taste
M: Heavy, which I think is appropriate for this style
D: very drinkable. Definately a sipper that gets better as it warms up a little bit.

Bottle. 2009 vintage, it's been sitting in my cellar for a while. Poured into a tulip glass a very dark brown/black color with a big, think fluffy dark tan head that slowly settles down the glass. Nice left from the head. A big whiff yields some very strong notes of dark chocolate, molassess, coffee, and a slight hint of booze. The mouthfeel is surprisingly a little lighter than I thought with a nice medium, velvety feel. Dark roast coffee flavors mix really well with dark chocolate. There is some sweetness that is really nice in this. Some licorice notes as well. Very nice beer my only knock would be the mouthfeel, wish is was just a little heavier.

kbutler1, Apr 13, 2009
Photo of sarahspat
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A hard pour into a tulip glass resulted in about 3/4 an inch of beautiful chocolate brown head, with a middling amount of spiderweb lacing. The beer is midnight black, with no sign of any highlights.

The nose contains mostly cocoa/chocolate fudge brownie (very chocolatey!), caramel, some hazelnut and coffee notes. The smell might be my favorite aspect of this beer.

At first, it tastes very sweet and very bitter at the same time. Chocolate and earthy notes occupy the center of the flavor profile, with the focus turning toward espresso towards the finish. Also has a subtle black olive flavor. Bitter coffee grounds linger on the palate long after the swallow. Chewy mouthfeel, like you would expect for the style, with light carbonation. The alcohol is noticeable on the palate, which hurts drinkability.

This style is still not one of my favorites (not a huge fan of the coffee flavor), but I'm glad that I can at least appreciate the quality of this brew now. This beer has definitely helped my beer education, too.

sarahspat, Apr 12, 2009
Photo of maximum12
4.1/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to sholland119 for throwing this in as an extra on one of our trades, which will surely be written about in future history books detailing the rise & fall of BA.

It's black. Dark black. Less black than just dark. Darker than black. Black black. Smells very nice, with an overlay of Kit Kat.

This, is tasty. Roasty, dark, chocolatee, with a nice little kick at the end, like the sting of a black wasp. I'd like to let it warm up & allow it to breathe a little, but I'm having trouble being patient, it's good enough cold. I guess it's a good sign that I feel like I need another bottle to do this review justice. Oh, yeah, warm it's even better.

For a 10.5% beer, this is easy to drink. Leaves a good, crusty, malty feel in the mouth that makes me want to forego the ritualistic nighttime tooth brushing.

Excellent beer. I can understand the anticipation of this brew arriving on store shelves again. I'd be happy to have another...now. Or later. Whatever.

maximum12, Apr 12, 2009
Photo of dancinwillie
3.8/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

BA has this listed at 25 IBU, while my bottle has it listed at 90. Curiouser and curiouser...

Decants quietly, and dark black. A milk chocolate colored head, about a half inch high is an appealing crown.

Sweet chocolate mixed with roasted malts rise up make my mouth water. Second sniff reveals a fruit aroma, dark fruit, maybe cherries or plums, I'm not quite decided.

Roasted malts, chocolate covered malted milk balls (Whoppers), and burnt malts on the back end. A little bit boozy, not over the top though. And at first I didn't think I noticed any hop flavor, but as usual, as I let it warm a bit I'm picking some up. I guess I have to believe the brewers claim of 90 IBU, and I'm guessing that it used to be 25 and the brothers are busy as usual, but if I tasted this blind, and had to guess between the two numbers, I'd go with the 25. Take that for whatever you think it's worth.

Full in body and somewhat silky, but that bit of booziness gives this a bit of a bite. Long bitter finish lingers, making the distance to the next drink a little less urgent. Sip this one, and enjoy.

Doesn't seem like 10.5% ABV. This could be trouble, I could drink 2-3 if I had the next day off, and on a full stomach. Which sounds like a little bit of heaven, I might have to do this soon. Cheers!

dancinwillie, Apr 12, 2009
Photo of GatorBeerNerd
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz single purchased at City Beverage in Winston-Salem, NC in early Feb, 2009. Poured into a standard pint glass.

A: Almost a completely dead pour. There was a covering of bubbles there for a split second that was a nice tan color. Loses points for lacing and retention since there is nothing there to generate them. The color of the beer is a perfect jet black. Only the slightest highlights of reddish brown around the edge of the surface when held up to the light.

S: The aroma is dominated by dark roasted malts with hints of coffee and chocolate. A pleasant aroma.

T: I almost expected a roasted to the point of burnt taste from the nose. I was pleasantly surprised with a very nice roasted malt flavor that was by no means over done. Nice espresso like coffee flavor and some piney hop notes help make the finish have a nice bitterness. A bit of a molasses taste comes through at times along with chocolate, but they seem to be in the background. One of the best RIS I have ever had from a 12 oz bottle.

M: Its big and thick as you would hope for in the style. Creamy and smooth.

D: The drinkability is almost too good for the style. I would not have guessed the ABV was as high as it is listed. Unlike so many other RIS, I do not have to sip it slowly.

GatorBeerNerd, Apr 12, 2009
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Passed along to me via kp. Thanks, kp! The age of the bottle is unknown to me.

Appearance: Pours a deep, heavy, black body with a thin, brief, dark tan head.

Smell: Bold, assertive roasted malt aroma layered with rich, yet slightly sweet-smelling notes along with a particularly fruit background scent of plums and prunes.

Taste: Why, it's a whole myriad of malt flavors: bittersweet chocolate, dark caramel, blackened grains, espresso-flavored oatmeal, licorice, and molasses. Again, there's a big pop of fruitiness, now followed by a drizzle of sherry. Slight roasty, earthy bitterness midway. Pinch of Latakia pipe tobacco. Minor hints of peppery alcohol. There's a pleasant interplay of concentrated fruit and roasted malt flavors prior to the drying, roasty finish. A taste of charred sugars lasts into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium-low carbonation. Smooth, tongue-battering mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Dense, succulent malt flavors and pleasantly warming throughout, though, for the most part, the alcohol content remains rather well-hidden. It would not be advantageous at all for you to pass up this one.

ChainGangGuy, Apr 10, 2009
Photo of tedpeer
4.13/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours an opaque black, with an inch+ tan head that quickly subsides to 1/8. Nice lacing.

S - Roasted malts, hints of coffee and chocolate.

T - Roasted, almost burnt. Bitter finish with alcohol warmth.

M - Thick and creamy with medium carbonation.

D - This is a sipper.

tedpeer, Apr 10, 2009
Photo of olmatty
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Wow! This beer pours like very used motor oil with a low light brown head. Good lacing and decent retention.

Smell- Roasty malts, dark coffee and a bit creamy

Taste- rich,thick coffee, sweet molasses, raisins, a bit of dark chocolate, some bitter hops

Mouthfeel- Thick as the aforementioned 10 w 40.

Drinkability- High ABV and huge flavor and still pretty smooth and drinkable. But if you try to knock down a bunch of these you'll end up crocked.

olmatty, Apr 09, 2009
Photo of theghost3
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to johnd513 for this extra. Pours a midnight black with a chocolate milk brown head. Significant lacing.

The scent is roased dark chocolate malts with roasted coffee. The taste is bitter coffee with dark chocolate; somewhat milky. Mouthfeel is thick & smooth but ends fairly acidic, like coffee.

This is a drinkable RIS. The taste is excellent with a nice milky quality but a little more acidic than I like.

theghost3, Apr 07, 2009
Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a black elixir with a beautiful mocha head that left plenty of lacing down the class. A nice coffee, mocha aroma wafts above this brew with just a hint of deep dark ripe fruit. A hint of alcohol is lurking behind all of this.

Fairly thick, but not in a bad way. A powdery bittersweet cocoa flavor is the main event here. Coffee does bandy about a bit, but it is the chocolate that dominates. The beer finishes with a long lasting dry bitterness.

The alcohol is not that noticeable in the flavor profile, which is nice considering the 10.5% ABV. Drink after dinner, you will enjoy it.

BeardedBoffin, Apr 04, 2009
Photo of mikereaser
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a complete pitch black with just a fine layer of brown foam that slow disappeared

S - Deep roasted malts with hints of chocolate and coffee

T - Very strong roasted malt flavor and coffee up front with a nice bitter chocolate finish

M/D - amazingly smooth and full of flavor. This is a nice sipper that is just a treat to consume

mikereaser, Apr 03, 2009
Photo of bonkers
4.1/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured from a 12 ounce bottle into my SA pint glass. It pours thick like motor oil, is jet black and has a minimal tan head, with a bit of lacing. The aroma of strong brewed coffee and a hint of chocolate. The flavor profile consist of coffee and chocalate and is pleasantly bitter. This full bodied brew has higher carbonation than I am used to in a RIS, but it is a good thing. This stout is a very good sipper.

After ageing for a year the flavors really mellow out. There is a lot more dark fruit, and more sweetness. I highly recomend aging this one.

bonkers, Apr 02, 2009
Photo of HopDerek
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black with some dark brown edges. Three fingers of creamy chocolate milk colored head has great lasting retention and leaves some pretty impressive lacing behind. Smells of roasted malt, chocolate, dark fruits, coffee, smoke, anise, and a touch of woodsy hops. Tastes of chocolate, raisins, plums, and figs up front then lots of roasty malts and coffee flavors. Slight notes of vanilla and anise are picked up before a pinch of chalkiness and some smokiness, with a earthy hop finish mixed with a tad bit of alcohol warmth. Medium-full to full in body, smooth, thick, and creamy with some chewiness to it as well. Extremely drinkable, but the higher ABV hinders how many I'd enjoy in a session.

HopDerek, Apr 01, 2009
Photo of beer2day
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaque and deep black with 1-finger dark brown head. Good lacing.

Nose is slightly less aggressive than expected. Chocolate dominates, followed by roasted malt and faint milky sweetness. Licorice presence as well. I like it.

Very creamy on the tongue - almost sweet - with a roasted, very bitter finish. Slight alcohol burn on the exhale. Excellent.

Excellent impy stout. Very easy to sip by the fire pit on a very cold NC night. Another great beer from Founders.

beer2day, Apr 01, 2009
Photo of homebrew311
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Thick, jet black, viscous pour with a thin brown ring of head that quickly dissipates. Some lacing around the glass with each sip.

S: Very deep roasted malty notes, a hint of bitter coffee, some dark chocolate.

T: Wow this is delicious. Reminds me of KBS minus the bourbon. Very heavy on the roasty and coffee notes, although no coffee is added to this beer. Some hints of vanilla as it goes down. The finish is all alcohol which balances well with the roasted flavors.

M: velvety, soft, thick, luscious chewy mouthfeel. This is a liquid meal for sure.

D: This is an extremely well balanced imperial stout. Reminds me of other Founder's stouts (BS, KBS) in regards to the malt profile. This is quite drinkable for the high ABV, but the price will keep me from drinking more than one in a sitting.

homebrew311, Mar 31, 2009
Photo of beerorRIP
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured to a clear pint glass: develops a 1.5 finger brown head, and it looks quite thick and oily pouring from that bottle. the body that results is pitch black, no light passes through while a thin layer of foam remains after the head reduces. lace sticks to the glass as i drain it.

smells of roasted malts. lots of 'em. with that of course comes the coffee aroma (but there isn't any in this one) and a bit of dark chocolate. no smell of alcohol even though it's got quite a gravity.

a very smooth taste. upfront is a bit of malt sweetness followed by roasted malts / coffee and bitterness of the hops. finishes dry and with a touch of alcohol but not a burn. it's just lettin' ya know what's going on.

thick and full bodied for certain. creamy and still carbonated so that it's not a glass of motor oil.

a nice drink for certain, but after one i'll be ready for bed.

beerorRIP, Mar 31, 2009
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.8/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle thanks to JCB (thanks Jason!). Pours black with a small ring of brown head. Aroma of roasted malt, smoked meats, also kind of an odd smell I can't identify (sweet perfumy?). Flavor is rather roasty with some dark chocolate bitterness and some burnt notes in the finish. Quite nice.
7/4/8/4/15 (3.8/5)

LilBeerDoctor, Mar 31, 2009
Photo of Stimack
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brew pours to a pitch black color, seem thick. Has a thick dark tan head that has incredible retention. Very nice thick lacing down the entire side of the glass. The aroma is rich, heavily roasted and somewhat burnt malts - gives a slight coffee aroma. Sweet aroma with some fruit flavors. Alcohol is there but is a gives a nice rich mix with everything else. The flavor is extremely good, burnt flavor gives it some astringency, little charcoaly in feel and flavor. Coffee comes out more here along with chocolate flavors. The tail end has a nice bitterness, wondering how much comes from hops and how much could come from the burnt malts? The alcohol really adds a nice complexity as it complements everything. The feel of this brew is almost like a milkshake, has a nice and thick creamy feel. I could clearly have another one of these as the flavors are great but I think the alcohol would get to me. This is nice sipper, a good cold weather brew!

Stimack, Mar 31, 2009
Photo of BMoney575
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 3-30-09

Pours super black, the tiniest bit of blood red around the edges. A dark head settles to a thin layer, with great lacing.

Smell is smoky, easy roasted malt, anise, with a subtle coffee bitterness at the end. Much more subtle than I expected.

Taste is good, subtle like the smell. Lots of roasted malt, anise, and a hoppy finish. Not bad, but not enough.

Mouthfeel is good, right for the style.

Drinkability is good, the decent abv is well masked.

Overall, a good beer, but not like others.

BMoney575, Mar 31, 2009
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 6,002 ratings.