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Founders Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
75 IBU

Added by mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

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Reviews: 1,824 | Ratings: 7,539
Photo of tr4nc3d
3.84/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz bottle poured into my snifter

This pours a velvet looking black color with no light passing through. The pour was barely able to produce a half inch mocha colored head that lacked head retention. Mere little ring on the outside edges of the beer and no lacing at all.

The aroma was pretty sweet smelling. Roasted malts are the prominent smell with a huge aroma of chocolate. I get some vanilla, dark fruit, and a perfume like scent

Sweet upfront taste of chocolate and candi sugar that leads to a roasted coffee flavor with some cream.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with average carbonation.

Overall I wanted a couple more flavors to come out of this Stout but it was worthy of trying once.

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Photo of turnstile
4.22/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours thick and syrupy out of the bottle. Pitch black with a coffee-brown head that develops for a few seconds before receding into a thin ring around the glass. Minimal signs of carbonation.

Smell: Boozy; dark molasses with freshly-ground coffee with bittersweet chocolate mixed in. Roasted malts evntually come through against strong alcohol aromas.

Taste: Lactic-sweet with notes of milk chocolate and coffee. Moderate bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied to say the least. Smooth and thick on the tongue with little carbonation noticeable.

Drinkability: Typically bitterness + high ABV = sipper, but it's not the case with this brew. The delicious sweetness up front affords some great drinkability, but you'd be wise to enjoy this one slowly. Finishes a little too syrupy for my liking - the last few sips are tough to get through.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.53/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured out like black ink and oil, with an totally brown head. The head doesn't last long, thinning to a skim then a crown within a minute. Utterly jet black in appearance.

Burnt marshmallow, dark fruit, chocolate, coffee and hops mingle nicely in the nose. Hardly a trace of that 10.5% alcohol at first, but with a little warming and settling it does start to make itself known.

Flavor is big and bold, but not brash. The hops definitely make their mark, but at 90 IBUs, that's expected. They're on the citrus rind-y side, exerting a grapefruit-like essence, but that's carefully balanced and offset by healthy dark roast coffee bitterness, charred grain, more burnt marshmallow, graham cracker, big gooey milk chocolate (I'm getting that s'mores thing here)...and traces of dark fruit (fig, grape). Alcohol underlines all of that, and gives it a nice warm edge. Fantastic. The finish features the coffee and hops, mostly.

As fantastic as it tastes, it feels even better. Can I give it a 6 out of 5? Rounded, ultra-creamy, thick, gooey...oh yeah.

A total knockout from the one the finest breweries in the world. Seriously good stuff.

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Photo of hoppymcgee
3.41/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 2009 vintage 12oz. bottle into a Bruery tulip.

A: The best feature of this beer. Black as night with a bubbly brown head that recedes into a wispy mass and laces the side of the glass.

S: Iced coffee, some malts, and smoked beachwood. Maybe a little bit of black currants from the aging.

T: Meh. I don't think the aging did this beer any well. Acridly roasted coffee, no sense of sweetness, way too bitter (they should have made this about 70 IBU's). I do sense a little mellow nougat flavor as this warms up.

M: Perfect carbonation level to mask a rather thin RIS. Dry finish.

D: Not too shabby. Even though I didn't like the taste that much it was pretty easy to take down - maybe one good feature from the aging?

Overall, my least favorite from the Founders portfolio of beers I've sampled thus far.

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Photo of divineaudio
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz dated bottle into a tulip.

pours black as night and forms a thick, chocolate brown head that hangs around. nice chunky lacing too.

smells of molasses, raisin, alcohol and roasted deliciousness. taste is similar but much more complex. i'm picking up mostly roasted malts, but also some coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, raisin and apple. a dry, bittersweet hop finish gives this one great balance. alcohol content is noticeable, but not overpowering.

mouthfeel is heavy, but also incredibly smooth and creamy with a little bit of alcohol warming.

this beer is quite drinkable for being so strong and rich, bit i couldn't see anyone having more than 2 of these at any given time. fits the style perfectly, and is yet another star in the founders lineup.

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Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.88/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: black with a nice lasting brown head and lacing.
S: dark chocolate, rum-soaked dark fruit, coffee.
T: big, sweet molasses-like chocolatey malts, a bit of rum-like booziness, fruitcake, roasty, bitter. warming alcohol on the long semi-sweet finish.
M: thick and viscous, carbonation struggles through.
D: a sipper that might improve with cellaring time.

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Photo of abrand
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle with bottled on date of 10/2/09 poured into a Founders pint glass.

The Founders Imperial Stout pours a deep chocolate color with a tan head that only pops up after an aggressive pour. Not much lacing or retention to note. Aromas are mostly burnt coffee with a subtle chocolate presence. I'm not picking up any of the 10% abv in the nose. Quaff is sweet licorice with a bitter chocolate finish. Odd that I am not getting consistency with the nose and quaff as I do not notice any espresso or coffee beans in the quaff, or at least nothing like the nose. Mouthfeel is nice and thick like a stout should be. Drinkability is solid for this style mostly in comparison to the high price tag that comes with an Imperial stout.

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Photo of jwhawkins81
4.02/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma - Roasted malts and a hint of hops

Appearance - Dark, dark brown with a thin light brown head. Not much carbonation from the pour at all really which is a slight let down in the appearance.

Taste - A ton of roast with hints of chocolate and a kicker of hop bite at the end. While this is still one of the better Russian Imperial Stouts I've had I would have preferred something a little sweeter.

Notes - A solid RIS that I will cellar. This one was served at 53.5 degrees.

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Photo of MrDanno96
4.15/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours really thick and pitch black. A thin ring of tan head keeps mainly to the rim of the glass. A thin film of lace coats most of the inside of the glass.

S: Really wonderful aromas of coffee and dark roasted malt. Dark chocolate and some spicy alcohol are also apparent. Nice!

T: Espresso and burnt coffee really dominate right off the bat. Notes of dark chocolate and coco powder come through in the middle palate and well. Nice coffee bitterness comes through in the finish. Dark malts really shine here, especially black patent. Some bitterness lingers just a little too long, but it's not a big deal.

M: Nice full body and a good bite of carbonation. You can feel the alcohol as you swallow.

D: Another great beer from Founders. Not quite an elite Imperial Stout, but still a really good one.

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Photo of dasenebler
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 11/27/09. One of the thickest pouring stouts I've ever had, with a mud flow of shadowy goodness. Modest dark tan head laces extremely well.

Aroma is good and improves as the beer warms: roasty, surprisingly hoppy, and boozy.

Flavor is super rich and roasty. Medium coffee flavor is not nearly as pronounced as with other Founders stouts. This is a very bitter stout in which you can readily detect the 90 IBU hop presence. This bitterness is also a product of the huge roasty flavor. Finishes with a bit of warming alcohol, with a lingering dark fruit character. Really delicious stuff here. Thick, chewy mouthfeel. Pleasantly low carbonation. Realistically drinkable for 10+ abv stout.

I enjoyed this Founders offering much more than either the Breakfast Stout or KBS. A.

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Photo of billshmeinke
4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Obtained through a trade with StormKing47. Poured into a Lost Abbey tulip.

Pours jet black. A coffee tinted one finger khaki head retains well. Dies down to a collar around the glass with a wispy head. Nice lacing.

Smells of bitter coffee, chocolate, toffee, Hint of vanilla, a bit of anise and some light bitter hops.

The taste follows smell. Taste like bitter coffee, dark chocolate, toffee, some caramel, a bit of anise. Also, some light piny hops.

Full bodied. Medium carbonation. Fairly assertive tiny bubbles.

Very drinkable for the high abv.

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Photo of wedge
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This bottle is over a year old...January 2009, I guess.

Pours pitch black with a light brown creamy head that leaves some drippy bits of lace behind. Heavy, rich aromas of sweet dark chocolate, boozy vinous fruits, and a fair amount of black strap molasses. First sip is a big, chewy mouthful of semi-sweet chocolate, roasted black malt, and a subtle fruity tartness. Delicious and satisfying. Bitter in the finish, but rather silky-smooth as a whole. Rich and creamy and dangerously drinkable. I mean, it feels like a "big" beer, but there isn't hardly any hint of the high ABV. Full, smooth, textured...damn tasty.

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Photo of flexabull
4.14/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of abrand, thanks again!

Pours a still and deep dark black color with a faint tan head.

Nose is exceptional. Deep dark chocolate, a touch of cream, and hints of ground coffee. Wow... this really does smell wonderful.

Surprisingly bitter tasting and kind of harsh. Really heavy roasted flavor, some bitter bakers chocolate, a hint of smoke, and a burnt toasty flavor. Finish has an alcohol warmth, and more bitterness.

Mouthfeel is nice and full, with very good carbonation.

Drinkability is pretty good. But man, this is a beast. A bit overly bitter in my opinion, this one could definitely use a couple of years of cellar time to smooth this out a bit. It's still quite tasty, but it's a bit rough around the edges.

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Photo of GregSVT
4.08/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a snifter

A: An aggressive pour of a deep black liquid produces a huge tan head with good retention and leaves tons of lacing as it recedes.

S: The aromas are cocoa, coffee, and a hint of hops. The hops give it an almost earthy aroma which I find very unique. It's also slightly smokey as well.

T: The taste is earthy as well which is odd for a RIS. After that I pick up a lot of cocoa/bakers chocolate and a hop bite on the finish. Very interesting flavors.

M: The feel is thick and creamy with great carbonation for the style.

D: ABV at 10% and the hops in the flavor are the only thing hindering this from being highly drinkable. It's a lot like Old Raspy but a bit better IMO.

Worth a try for sure. I'm grateful for the opportunity from one of my trading partners.

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Photo of antoines15
3.48/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a growler after visiting the brewery on the KBS release day. The beer pours as dark as oil with a 1/2 inch head that remains throughout. Also, it has good lacing even though my glass wasn't cleaned properly. The taste is dark chocolate and coffee. The alcohol is pretty well hidden and the aftertaste is not bad. Overall, it's another good offering from Founders, but not one of my favorites.

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Photo of mfunk9786
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I feel strange reviewing this brew first before reviewing any other Founders offerings, because they really do a great job and I feel like by not giving this an A+ I'm understating how fantastic this brewery is on the whole. But I have to keep the style and other examples I've had of the style in mind, so here's my analysis:

A: Black as night. If you were to deep sea dive into a pool of this beer, you'd feel like you'd died and gone to liquid purgatory. There's absolutely no sight of the other end of the glass. Where the appearance really lets me down is in the head, which is minimal at best. The lacing is fantastic and the head never disappears entirely, but from the time I poured it into my Piraat glass, there was never an entire coating of head over the top of the beer, and that was a little disappointing, and it definitely comes into play when we get to the mouthfeel.

S: The smell certainly improves on the appearance. It smells sweeter than this style usually does, which definitely gives it a distinctive edge in this category. A bit of vanilla on the nose, which I found surprising.

T: The taste was a letdown. Once the beer enters your mouth, it's surprising just how bitter and burnt this beer tastes. Maybe I'm spoiled by Founders various Breakfast Stouts, but I was expecting a bit more dark fruit and chocolate, and was met with the liquid equivalent of an 80%+ dark chocolate bar, that's just far too bitter to enjoy straight-up. I've had Imperial Stouts that are able to represent their individual flavors much better than this one, and it came as a huge shock to realize that this beer is so one-note compared to others I've had. That being said, the alcohol is very nicely hidden, and I certainly didn't pour it out, there's definitely enough to like here if you have some stout experience.

M: For the style, the mouthfeel is about average. Thick; chewy.

D: Like I said, I didn't pour my glass out, but the bitterness certainly starts to take its toll towards the end of the glass. It's not the juicy hop bitterness that comes with a great double IPA, instead it's a burnt cocoa and alcohol bitterness that eventually begins to make your tongue go numb. Although, would a numb tongue improve the drinkability rating? These are the questions that plague us. But I'm going with a completely middle-of-the-road score for this style. Not terrible, but not great either.

There are obviously a lot of admirers of this brew, and perhaps Founders' love of chocolate, coffee, and oatmeal in their other brews have spoiled me (is there any better beer on the planet than Founders Breakfast Stout?) but this one just fell short of my expectations. Buy a single bottle if you can find it before you take the plunge on a 4 pack. Luckily, Founders is spreading ever so slowly across the country, so your chances of locating a bottle will increase every year until they get their due as a nationally available brewery.

I purchased my 12 oz bottle for $4.50 at Pinnochio's Beer Garden in Media, PA. It's worth noting, as I probably will be with every single Founders review, how much I appreciate the 12 oz bottles when compared with bomber-obsessed breweries - it's a lot nicer to spend a bit less to try a beer but still get plenty of it to enjoy - and to have a 4 pack available if you do love it.

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Photo of brobeerbot
4.9/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured vigorously into nonic pint.

A- Poured a beautiful pitch black and was able to get a good two finger tan colored head. Nice lacing throughout drink

S- Coffee, malt, and smoke. One of the better smelling stouts I have had.

T- This one drinks like a dream. Strong taste of malty and smoke. Some hints of bitter chocolate with a small coffee finish.

M- Thick and chewy. You know your drinking a quality stout. Sticks to your mouth and allows flavor to stay in the mouth fo quite a while.

D- This is a fairly strong drink. With the high ABV and the heartiness of this stout it is for sure a one or maybe two during the night.

Overall this is a very very good stout. Has become one of may favorite imperial stouts on the market. Have one in the cellar and will see what we have in a year or so.

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Photo of Genghis22
4.59/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to trading partner extraordinaire, stoufiend27. Thanks Stephen!

A - Pours a thick, oily pitch black. Nicw finger of mocha colored head. Looks absolutely stunning in my Deschutes Tulip.

S - Sweet malt, coffee, coca, vanilla, toffee and a touch of alcohol. This smells absolutely awesome.

T - Much like the nose. Complex flavors, all come together in harmony. There are plenty of hops, my god, there is quite a bit of hops. This is a good thing. It provides balance to a very sweet, rich, beer. Wonderful flavors of coffee, cocoa, toffee. The last taste is wonderful vanilla and the aftertaste is dry hoppy, alcoholic perfection.

M - Textbook RIS. Thick, chewy, wonderfully full bodied. Moderate carbonation. The high amount of alcohol in this brew really helps dry the tongue out at the finish.

D - As much as I would like to drink this all night, it packs quite a punch at 10.5%. The flavors are awesome, and the mouthfeel is perfect. An absolutely great stout.

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Photo of Stigs
4.1/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, served in a DFH signature glass...

A - pours big black and tick like motor oil...leaves almost an in of very tight and frothy, very dark and intimidating khaki foam. again, this is pitch black, absolutely no light getting through.

S - very dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, some fresh coffee, vanilla, dark fruits...successfully runs the gambit of the classic RIS scents.

T - insanely bold with dark roasted malt, bitterness jumps out right away...chocolate, earthy hops, some coffee, oak, malted candy...substantial alcohol punch, warming through the finish

M - crazy thick and syrupy, nice subtle carbonation...everything just coats the mouth and the flavors stick around for quite a long time.

D - great imperial stout, only thing lacking ere is a bit of grace as all the flavors just fight out over who gets attention. this one should age and mellow quite nicely, which ill have to do given the great price and availability of fantastic RIS.

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Photo of Vixie
4.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very deep black. I didn't get much head from it, just a bit of brown lacing.

Smell is a bit candy like. Definite alcohol scent there, along with chocolate and coffee.

Pretty good mix of flavors going on here. There is a bit of a citrus taste, nicely mixed in with chocolate and coffee. Bit of a hops finish, and is on the dry side, but a pleasant dryness.

Feel is very full and thick. I almost gave this one a 5, but it fell just a touch short of the thickest ones I have tried. This is a beer that makes you stand up and take notice.

Very drinkable for the style and strength. This is not a style of beer I could ever drink a lot of at one time, but this one goes down pretty smoothly. The alcohol is fairly well hidden, so may sneak up on you. Great beer for a cold night, this will warm you up quite well.

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Photo of Daniellobo
3.83/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A pretty nice and rich imperial stout.

Presentation: 12 oz bottle. Old fashion design around the illustration of an imperial Russian-eagled emblem mixed with the Founders branding. Shows bottling date (11/20/09), IBUs (90), and Alc. by Vol. (10.5%) Poured into a snifter.

A - Black pour with a small creamy brown head with average retention and tiny lacing.

S - Roasted malt notes, chocolate and coffee, and a bittersweet hint. Pleasing but not half as complex as promised.

T - Picks up the nose and expands it with a rich malty range. Roasted malts, chocolate and coffee notes predominate, with a tiny sour hint.

M - Full body with low carbonation, and a smooth finish.

D - Nice sipper, alcohol nicely integrated and worth the experience.

Notes: Another solid offering from Founders, not tremendously outstanding or complex but does offer enough range for a rather pleasing RIS. Slight disappointment while having it at room temperature and not unfolding a promised complexity.

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Photo of JoePat
4.65/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage
This beer pours a pitch black with a two finger mininmum brown head tha slowly dissipates leaving some of the thickest lacing I have ever seen.
I smell a lot of coffee, chocolate, and some smoked malts.
Huge bitter chocolate, expresso and roasted malt flavor. A little smokey flavors as well and it all melds perfectly.
The lightest mouth feel of any stout like whip cream making me want drink after drink.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass, is pitch black in color with a huge three finger mocha colored head.

Smells of sweet coffee, roasted malt, and a slight hint of milk and vanilla.

Taste is bittersweet chocolate, coffee, dark roasted malt, mild traces of dark fruit (very mild traces), finishes with a hopped bitterseweet bite, more so than most Imperial Stouts I've had. There's also mild traces of caramel.

Mouthfeel is medium heavy body, sticky, and the bittersweet coats the mouth and lingers for several minutes - does not finish clean.

This is a very drinkable stout.

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Photo of xanok
4.27/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The last of a 4 pack that I bought in January. Sad day. This beer is not talked about at all because of their amazing breakfast stouts.
12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A-Black as anything. Duh its a stout. Not much head here, but that's likely because I left it in the fridge too long. Bout a half a finger of brown head. Still leaves respectable lacing despite it being too cold.
In the past, I remember it pouring a much larger head.

S-Fair amounts of chocolate, malts, caramel, and a bit of an alcohol kick.

T-Pretty close to the nose here. Some burnt and roasted tastes. Some bittersweet chocolate as well.

M-I found the carb to pretty a bit heavier than I remember. Thick and full bodied. Leaves a nice aftertaste as well. Nice, warming feeling.

D-Very smooth overall. Has a bit of an alcohol kick so you'll get your buzz goin.

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Photo of jmerloni
3.87/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - jet black in color with nice big brown, creamy head that has very nice retention and laces very nicely on the glass.

S - chocolate, coffee, toffee, alcohol.

T - Follows the nose plus a little brown sugar. More alcoholic than I originally expected, thought the alcohol is detected on the nose. Finishes kind of like a scotch ale and it's a little weird. Not quite as smooth as it looked.

M - Creamy but a real hard alcoholic finish that's not too pleasant. Carbonation is unbalanced, however.

D - Not very drinkable. I'd have a hard time drinking two of these. Every sip is kind of a bitch going down. It's a good beer, but not great. Would be better at like 8% ABV instead of 10.5. Don't think I'd get it again when there so many other great imperials out there.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,824 ratings.