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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 afausser
3.77/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours a near pitch black--the only real hints of color are in the carbonation bubbles and the very small ring of head around the edge of the snifter, which is a fizzy soda/caramel color. What little head there is is not lasting and leaves little trace of its existence save for that ring. The lacing is nice and sticky in a fine foam sheet, which is pretty surprising given all of the other characteristics of the appearance. The lacing bubbles are much smaller than the bubbles that make (or made) up the head, which is also quite interesting.

S: Metal, dark chocolate with slight hints of raspberry, smoke, earth, and coffee notes are all initially present while this one is still cold. There's something a little spicy--but the only specific spice note that I'm getting out of it really is a slight alcohol heat, though that comes across as well blended and creamy. As it warms even a little, it comes across as smooth cocoa and coffee--almost like a very very sweet mocha.

T: Fruits come through nicely in this one. That's not to say that the beer is overwhelmingly fruity--it is mostly metal, smoke, and earth, with dark chocolate and coffee notes, but is definitely colored by a spectrum of fruits. There's raspberries, to be sure, as well as strawberry, lime, and a very faint sour apple blends quite nicely. As it warms, more and more sour cherries come out, as well as a dark raisin note that provides a sort of juicy element to the taste, and eventually the prominent fruit notes are these and the apples. A definite anise notes comes out more and more as it warms as well. There's a very odd slight hint of teriyaki sauce, of all things.

M: Full bodied, smooth and creamy. The bubbles deliver just the slightest crispness to the mouth, which also results in a bit of alcohol heat. I'd describe the crisp feel as subtle but persistent--the bubbles are small but definitely there in force, which results in a sort of minty hint in the aftertaste.

D: Drinkability is low on this one, though still good for the style. Maybe I'm just not feeling it very much tonight, but I'm barely through any of it and am already getting a bit frustrated. Definitely not Founders' best, though usually I'm so impressed with Founders beers that this isn't really all that negative of a comment.

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Photo of Beerisgood3
2.7/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Black as motor oil, and pours like it too. Seems quite thick. Messed up the pour a bit so there wasn't much of a head. Though what is there is creamy and brown. A quick swirl churns up a bit of a creamy head which lingers a while. Leaves some bubbles on the glass but not any lacing.

S: I'm still training my nose...i find the strongest note to be of bitter chocolate with some small amount of coffee coming through. Smells of alcohol. Aroma doesn't overwhelm me. As it warms the chocolate notes seem to come out a bit.

T:Roasted malts are there as the first note. The other thing i notice is ALCOHOL. the 10% hits me right in the face. There when you swallow too. There is a sweetness that you get in the front that gives way to a hoppy finish that intensifies a moment after you swallow which combined with the alcohol bite is borderline aggressive. As it warms the chocolate and sweetness come out a bit more at the beginning. Let it warm further and the bite isn't quite as harsh.

M: Definitely coats your mouth. Pretty thick beer.

D: I'm nearly having to fight this one down, though not quite. Certainly couldn't drink more than one of these. It's pretty intense.

Overall i think i may just not be ready for a beer like this. This was pretty aggressive on the palate. I'm fairly new into the craft beer scene (been about a year or so now) and am still trying to learn to critique my beers more analytically. I've never been super fond of stouts....but this one seems a bit much. Perhaps it's simply be ahead of my league given its high praise on BA.

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

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a Duvel glass. Bottled on 11/20/09. A hard pour created a very delayed but huge head which was dark tan and dense and creamy. I've never seen a beer head develop so slowly. It left a sticky lace down the glass an a cap remained. The body was opaque and black/brown.

Smell was molasses and spices. Maybe cloves. Rich, but well hidden alcohol despite the high ABV.

Taste was chocolaty. Sweet at first but a gentle wave of bitterness arrives later. Anise and bitter coffee. Well hidden alcohol in the flavor too.

Mouthfeel was velvety and full bodied. Rich and creamy.

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Photo of Tomdee74
4.75/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

got this up at table and vine store in west springfield mass. drive from new haven ct is decent and shorter than a trip to julios. absolutely loved founders breakfast stout and heard good things.. couldn't wait to try this..

Pours a dark black into a tulip glass with a decent head that dissipated a little too quickly but some bubbles do remain. lacing is great!

Smell - ahh smells like a good stout.. i smell the coffee and not the alcohol. smells almost sweet but not overbearing at all. very nice smell.

Taste - absolutely fabulous! very smooth.. very dangerous such a high abv you would never know. This is a frest stout bottled in November and it tastes great! I imagine some age is really going to propel this beer!!

Mouthfeel - Very smooth. Very easy to swish around in your mouth and enjoy. tastes like a great stout with sweet coffee flavors.

Drinkability - forget it i could drink these until they destroy me. very drinkable. very smooth i recommend only having one with dessert!!

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Photo of homebrewhawk
3.93/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle served in a snifter. Bottle conditioned. Poured a deep brown/black with a finger of tan head that quickly dissipates. Roasted barley, hops and a bit of alcohol in the aroma. More roasty barley in the flavor. The alcohol in the aroma doesn't come through in the flavor. Big rich body. Fair amount of hop bitterness. Long dry finish of chocolate malt. Solid beer.

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Photo of mjn5036
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Twelve ounce bottle poured into a snifter. Pours pitch black. Beautiful...about as dark as you can get. Pour gave way to a small coffee colored head that quickly dissipates. This beer has a wonderful nose to it. Smells of roasted malts and coffee beans. Chocolate as well. Burnt sugar. Alcohol is there as well. The taste is not a letdown. Tastes just as good as it smells, maybe ever better. Tastes of roasted malts and espresso. Black coffee. Caramel and some kind of sugary sweetness. Vanilla extract maybe? The flavor really starts to come out as the beer warms. Slight hops at the end give the beer a nice balance. This is a very bold beer with intense aromas and flavors. The body is there to match both, very heavy and creamy with low carbonation. The alcohol is present but not overbearing. This would go very nicely with a decadent dessert. Very glad to have had the opportunity to try this one, so thanks Ed!

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Photo of tzieser
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. pitch black in color with a very small brown head that receeds slowly.

s: deep roasted/burnt chocolate malt character, with subtle notes of booze. decently complex, but nothing over-the-top either. fits the style perfectly.

t: the taste was much smoother and more complex than i expected. dark chocolate flavor up front, followed by notes of roasted coffee and a subtle hop backbone. alcohol is barely noticeable. an excellent true-to-style imperial stout.

m&d: smooth and creamy mouthfeel. drinkability is good.

a great RIS. definitely worth picking up. i'll definitely be putting two of these away for a year or two.

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Photo of Brenden
4.37/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This review was a long time coming, but my notes are complete.

The color is the deep, rich, pitch black of a good RIS. A nice tan head forms and sits at about one finger for pretty long time and leaves moderate lacing.
The malt backing on the nose here is massive. Lots of rich, roasted and chocolate aromas are most prominent. Lots of roasted barley in here as well as molasses. Bittersweet, the only thing I'd like here is a little more of the roasted coffee, which is present, and perhaps a stronger undertone of the dark fruits that add to the complexity. It's certainly in this beer's favor that a hops presence is detectable and well done to the point that it complements rather than interferes in the overall picture.
There's not much more to say regarding the flavor; all the richness and fullness one would expect from the smell is here, and this is a finely crafted example of the style. The astringency that tends to be present in many imp. stouts really isn't here.
The body is a full as one would expect, rich and thick with a creamy smoothness. There's a twinge of citric hops in a lingering semi-dry finish.
A high ABV lowers the drinkability just a bit,but otherwise a fantastic brew, great with a hearty meal or just to sip, especially on a cold winter night.

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Photo of WorldWideStout
4.13/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a rich, thick, warm dark brown. I made sure to observe it in good light, and it definitely wasn't as dark as most others seem to say. Interesting. Barely any head. Lacing holds on pretty well, and there is a bit of a foam that hangs around the side of the snifter.

S: Rich, dark coffee, but muted compared to the Breakfast Stout. A little bit of charred malts, a little bit of hops, and a little bit of chocolate.

T: Coffee is the main flavor. More bitterness than in the smell. Some semi-sweet chocolate in the middle.

M: Lovely. Just the right thickness. Sort of creamy, without being too heavy.

D: Pretty high. I don't taste the alcohol, and it doesn't have any jarring flavors or mouthfeel that weighs you down.

This seemed like a less bold, more balanced version of Founder's Breakfast Stout. Reminded me of Ten Fidy in many ways.

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

12oz bottled Nov 20, 2009. Pours thick black with a one finger dark brown head into a Duvel tulip. Reduces to a whispy covering with large bubbles along the edges.

Aroma is deep dark roasted malts and dark chocolate, these dominate with some dark fruits underneath.

Flavor is rich dark chocolate, roasted malts, then some milk chocolate. Some minor notes of molasses, licorice. Incredibly strong chocolaty flavors overall. A bit of alcohol on the finish.

Mouthfeel is very rich, full-bodied but not overly so, leaving it quite drinkable for a big imperial stout. Excellent overall.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.87/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Black ink body with a thin finger of lush dark tan-ruby foam--yes, it's as if the foam has highlights, since the beer is so dark that none are noticeable; decent duration and lacing--no sin for RIS.

Fantastic smell--just incredible, complex aromas. There is plenty of dark chocolate, some vanilla, coffee, and loads of molasses with a hint of maraschino cherry.

The taste? Jeeez. Molasses, coffee, and chocolate dominate, but some citrus hops peek through for a touch of sweetness amidst this barrage of heavy malt flavor. It is even better as it warms, releasing some of that hop goodness and becoming a bit sweeter in the second half. Very oily and gritty, chewy like a DIPA, very much the antithesis of Samuel Smith's wonderfully smooth Imperial Stout. Dry finish; splendid.

This is phenomenal, truly a great beer. I just can't sing Founders' praises enough for, every time I boast to friends that Founders is in my top five favorite breweries, I try something of theirs to easily solidify that personal ranking. Imperial Stout is right there on my list of the very best RIS with Great Divide (another in my personal top five) Yeti and Oak Aged Yeti.

Best in Show stuff. Brilliant.

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Photo of NYCWheatFanSC
3.65/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a thick, oily black with a deep reddish mocha head

S - Dark roasted malts and coffee. Hint of hops.

T - Pretty hoppy for the style, but mixes well with notes of dark chocolate, burnt black coffee, and an acrid afterbite of smoke. Maybe a bit too ashy, rather than smoky. Alcohol is very well concealed.

M - Very thick, viscous, and oily - even for the style. A tad higher carbonation would go a long way.

D - Not very drinkable, would not seek out again. If I'm having a beer sandwich, its gotta be worth it!

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Photo of travduke
4.12/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I actually got lucky and got a bottle of this in two different trades in the past week. 12oz bottle poured into a SA perfect pint.

Appearance: Black, oil-like pour gives it the black as night appearance. Foamy tan head about an inch or two. Generous lacing.

Smell: Dark chocolate, bitter-sweet. Coffee, roasted malts.

Taste: Exactly the same as the smell, nothing hidden here.

Drinkability: Even with the 10% ABV this is has a far superior drinkability than most beers at that ABV.

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Photo of KingEdward
4.46/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! This beer pours black as night. There was a mocha colored 2 finger head with an aggressive pour that lasted quite a while. A thin layer of head lasted for the entire time i spent drinking this, which was about 45 minutes. There was also alot of lacing that stayed the entire time. The smell is super malty and roasted with notes of bitter chocolate and molasses. The taste is very malty, roasted, and sweet on the front end. On the back end it is hoppy with notes of bitter chocolate. HUGE rich roasted flavors. The beer is full bodied and thick. The mouthfeel is silky and creamy with perfect carbonation for this style. You would never know this was 10.5 percent abv if it din't say so on the bottle. The alcohol did come out a little more as it warmed up. This is a excellent beer;)

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Photo of morimech
3.63/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Black, that is a bit of an understatement when describing the appearance. The mocha colored head did not form big or last long. Spotty lacing is left on the glass. The alcohol plays too large a part in the aroma and really takes away from what could be some excellant malt notes. I am able to pick up some chocolate, espresso, and anise. Nice malt flavor until the alcohol flavor takes over. The malt flavor is more of a roasted character. Thick body with nice carbonation. Texture is smooth and silky. Maybe with some age on this, I would enjoy it more. Reminds me of Expidition Stout with its hot alcohol aspect.

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Photo of hardy008
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black color with a one finger tan foamy head. Smells of chocolate, coffee, and molasses. The taste is just like the smell. Chocolate, coffee ,and molasses.

This is a chewy stout, full bodied, and perfectly carbonated. Silky and smooth. A pleasure to drink. If I had to make one criticism, it would be that this beer should be available year round.

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Photo of Avagadro
4.88/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: pours jet black and thick. It sits opaque in its goblet, with a mocha colored head.

S: bitter chocolate dominates the aroma. I would have liked to have seen a little more power in the bouquet, but it is still very satisfying.

T: dark chocolate, prunes, and coffe make up the majority of this rich brew. What is best is its savory aftertaste that last long after it leaves the mouth.

M: thick as hell and equally creamy.

D: one of the best RISs out there. This is a must have for any fan of the style, and is worth seeking out.

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Photo of hayesez
4.03/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Tis the season for the Founders Imperial Stout. A 2009 poured into a standard pint glass.

Even with a force pour for the last half, this thick stout had very little sitting on top. It did billow up to a finger or so of dark tan head and stuck around for quite a while. A thick, heavy, black beer that looks precisely like you expect from the style! Bubbled lacing hung around nearly the entire way down as I put this one away. This is a good looking beer!

Prominent smells on this one are nuts and chocolate with some roasted malt in there. The alcohol comes through a bit as this one warms up, but not much...

Silky smooth....this is nearly a perfect mouthfeel for this type of beer. Thick, velvety, smooth, with medium carbonation - outstanding! The roasted malts dominate the taste with a chocolate-coffee finish. A bit too acrid for my taste; the finish had a pointed roasted bitterness. Not overly surprising, I suppose, being that it nearly hits 100 IBUs, but I would be even more impressed if this were masked as well as the alcohol is. No indication that this thing tops 10% ABV.

While I consider nearly every imperial stout drinkable, this one could stand to sit in the cellar for a while. Probably even a bit unfair to rank a beer so recently produced. I have a feeling that a little time to sit and think would really help smooth this one out.

Overall, this is a very solid stout - what else would you expect from Founders.

Consumed on 1/17/2010

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Photo of bruachan
4.04/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

it's dark. so dark that my apartment grew dimmer when i popped the cap. i think it's drawing light into my glass. some head showed up but apparently had better things to do (though pour#2 fared much better--nice, resilient brown foam). good lacing

heavy use of deeply roasted malts. this isn't chocolatey, it's charred--with smoke to prove it

tastes like burning as well. molasses, brown sugar, fig; the smoke is great and a commanding bitterness to put the whole thing to an end

hearty and coating. i was eating chips 'n salsa and it successfully put out the fire (despite the incumbent heat, which i should say is well disguised)

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Photo of cbutova
4.66/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

One of the strangest pours I have ever seen! Poured out like a carton of motor oil and it appeared as if there was no hope for the formation of a head. After a very aggressive pour of the whole bottle into my snifter the head came out of nowhere and formed to the size of about one finger. The rising head from inside the opaque beer looked magical after such a strange pour. The head retains pretty well at about half to one finger and is a beautiful, VERY dark almost coffee bean color. A blanket of this head stays afloat on the beer for the reminder of the time. The lacing makes a cream around the glass as the head dies down. The nose on this one is good but very aggressive. I can smell alcohol vapors right of the top of the beer. The main components are, as expected, roasted malts, cocoa and some coffee notes. These are most likely from the malts. I can not pick up any hops in the aroma. The nose is of good strength and represents an Imperial Stout well. Finally to the taste. This beer is huge! Roasted malts and cocoa notes demolish my taste buds and are backed by earthy RIS-like hops very well. The hops help to balance the flavor but do not take over the malts, something I like in an RIS. The coffee is faint but I get hints of it (maybe just from similar roasty flavors). Alcohol is not as present in the flavor as I expected it to be from the aroma. The more I drink this beer, a bunch of times now, it really has one of the best non-specialty RIS flavors. The mouthfeel is amazing. This is the thickest beer I have ever had and it feels so good. It is almost milkshake thick with low RIS-like carbonation. The tongue is left with a blast of roast and earthy hop flavors, very nice. A tiny bit of warming leaves my mouth in heaven. Drinkability is great because of the taste and price for such a big beer. The downside is that this is definitely not sessionable, I would like to enjoy this one bottle at a time and hopefully on tap sometime. Great example of an RIS and one of my new favorites by Founders.

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Photo of Jimbo87
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Looks great in a pint glass.

Smell: bread, plum, chocolate, roastiness. very good.

taste: very similar to the smell, plus some of that imperial stout bitterness and slightly more plum than in the smell. i notice hops more in the aftertaste. overall extremely balanced and smooth.

Somewhat on the thick side.

Excellent stout. This is probably tied with ten fidy as my favorite imperial russian stout.

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Photo of HeyItsChili
4.37/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a growler of 08 vintage Founders Imperial Stout from the Charleston Beer Exchange.

A - I poured this into a tulip glass. Pours an almost midnight-black brown with a thin, microscopically bubbled dark khaki head and quickly slips away to the edges of the glass.

S - Mellow coffee; perhaps was bitter at one time but has been mellowed by aging. Dark chocolate and cocoa, and a hint of hoppiness.

T - Up front it is like gourmet dark chocolate with a touch of added sweetness. Really faint hop bite in there. Ends with a really rich, cocoa filled, alcoholic bite to the aftertaste. Really, really nice.

M - Viscous, slightly more than medium bodied, decent carbonation.


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Photo of Chico1985
4.55/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours super thick and black, produces a very dark brown frothy head that doesn't last too long but leaves great lacing, I think I poured it too carefully. Smells are roasted malts, a bit of cocoa, coffee, licorice, and some booze. Taste is excellent, pure RIS... big on the roastiness, subtle coffee and dark chocolate. A bit of vanilla in the aftertaste. Alcohol is there but doesn't get in the way at all. Mouthfeel is great, definitely a stout you can "chew" which I love. For a 10.5 abv this is very drinkable, and the price is excellent. I only bought a single bottle which I sort of regret now, I will buy the 4-pack if I see it again.

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Photo of atremains
4.61/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours with a monstrous tan head atop a pitch black motor-oil body. Lacing is amazing. The head reduces to a cocoa froth. The beer smells like alcohol, being that it is 10.5 percent. Chocolate, grains, and malts in the nose and in the smell. A bit of vanilla and alcoholic bite. This is by one of the best RIS I've had, a good example of the style. The mouthfeel is creamy, smooth and feels chocolaty. The alcohol puts my tongue in a sleeper-hold. Drinkability is medium. Great beer.

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

Poured at cellar temp into a tulip. This bottle is fresh.

A - Motor oil black with a thick dark chocolate two finger head.

S - Hops hide behind the sweet roasted malts. A bit of booze is in there too.

T & M - There is an impressive balance here. At such a high IBU, the bitterness is present, but it plays second fiddle to the coffee and chocolate malt flavors. The intense chewy body brings it together very well, and defines this beer. If I had a complaint, it would be that the finish is a bit hot right now on this fresh bottle.

D - A very nice winter sipper. I'll be buying more so that a couple bottles actually stand a chance to be left alone in the cellar.

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