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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,733 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,733
Hads: 7,100
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 689
Gots: 2,091 | FT: 151
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

90 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,733 | Hads: 7,100
Photo of mralphabet
3.36/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Black, black, black very little dark tan head, but it leave a very nice ring around the glass thought out the session... Great lacing...Wonderful looking brew.

S: The normal Imperial Stout smells here... Chocolate and coffee with hints of dark cherry and malt... With a touch of bitterness... nice mixer of all.

T: I'm getting a strong coffee and alcohol mix.... the chocolate is a there but overwhelmed by the bitter coffee and alcohol. Little to hot for my taste.

M: Med to full bodied, with a sharpness, due to the bitterness... the finish is over all dry and a little chalky.

D: It is a 1 session beer, sip and enjoy. Gets better as it warms...

This is not my favorite Imperial Stout... this is my first Founders Brew, so I'm curious ... I'm up for more.

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

12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. No age date, but the beer is reportedly 1-2 years old according to hopsleeroy (oh, and thanks for the hook-up, Lee!)

Pours a murky, seal brown body with burnt sepia edges. Resinous-looking, and almost entirely opaque. A thin cap of dusty ochre foam recedes to a wispy patch of bubbles surrounded by a ring at the glass' edge. Exceptional aroma of burnt Earth, Baker's chocolate, coffee liqueur, toasted caramel malts, and hop brownies.

Lots of roast in this one: dark chocolate-covered coffee beans and caramel malts slowly burnt to a delicious crisp. Mocha-rich booze and black patent malts square off with some earthy hops on the finish, although I do remember the hops being much more prominent in a fresher bottle I had a while back. Raisin and candied fig show up as the beer warms, and I can still taste the coffee and cocoa minutes after each sip. Medium-thick, luxurious mouthfeel with a sticky, boozy finish...could stand to be a bit creamier, but that's a minor knock. Besides, the lowered viscosity provides a boost in the drinkability. All in all, a superb Russian Imperial by the abnormally consistent Founders Brewing team. Cheers!

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Photo of mjl21
4.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired via trade...thanks Josh! 12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. No bottling info is given. Comes in at 10.5% and 90 IBUs.

A-Pours black with a dark sandy head which fades rapidly to a smallish ring encircling a tiny bubble island. As the beer is consumed, the ring gets frotheir and the small island streaks out into a nice filmy layer. Leaves decent streaky and spotted lace.

S-Lots of roasted aroma and chocolate. As it warms it has an aroma that reminds me a lot of a freshly opened Coca-Cola. While coffee is there, it reminds me more of a mocha with the chocolate aromas.

T-It has a decent amount of roast that kicks in early. Bittersweet chocolate flavors abound giving it a roasty mocha taste. It finishes with a nice roasty aftertaste that my wife thought was too ashy; it worked well for me. While there is some lingering bitternes, the 90 IBUs are vell blended.

M-It is thick, but not motor oil heavy. It is smooth with perfect carbonation.

D-The high abv is well hidden. A great nightcap.

This is another great one from Founders. It has the perfect level of roasted malt to sweet malt combined with all of the hops to help make it a very tasty beer. Would gladly have this one again.

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Photo of drgonzo3705
4.06/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very nice deep black with a prominent mocha colored head. Sticky lacing left behind with good head retention. It settles to a nice film and perks back up with a quick swirl of the glass.

S: Bitter chocolate and coffee dominate the nose that's followed by a soft undertone of sweet molasses.

T: Big roasted coffee with a touch of chocolate and a pleasant bitterness.

M: Full bodied, barely adequate carbonation, and a nice slickness left behind.

D: A very easy drinking RIS. The ABV dampens the sessionability of the brew but a couple glasses wouldn't be a chore.

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Photo of association330
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle featuring a royal crest, "90 IBUs" bitterness statement, and "10.5% ABV" marking.

A - Pours like motor oil - jet black with a creamy pinky of milky coffee-colored head. This drops to a thin film with a modest ring of bubbly foam. There is some lacing, and the liquid itself has enough weight to cling to the glass in tantalizing fashion.

S - The usual burnt malts going on. Good quality French roast coffee, toffee, hints of dark fruit and bitter chocolate. Some clean hoppiness and just a touch of alcohol. Intense, smoky, rich, and mouthwatering. I spent five minutes just inhaling this brew - it practically begs to be consumed.

T - It's all here. The dark roasted coffee dominates, but you've also got the desired bitter chocolate and dark fruit characters (dark fruit comes out more as the brew warms up). An appropriate toffee sweetness balances the coffee/chocolate bitterness. Hop spice and bitterness hit on the swallow, while a delicious smoky, slightly sweet, burnt malt aftertaste finishes out the experience.

M - Mouthfeel is rich. Superb smoothness, with soft carbonation, especially as the beer approaches room temp (alcohol tingle becomes more noticeable as well). Alcohol warms the back of the throat.

D - Founders hits a home run with this one. If it wasn't 10.5%, I'd session it again and again. A perfect "one and done" nightcap brew, since your tastebuds will be done after a bottle of this.

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Photo of BeerImmediately
4.43/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into Chimay gobblet.

Pitch black, with a decadently brown, 1/2F head fading slowly to skim w/out much lacing.

Smell is rich and inviting. Bitter bark, english toffee, and milk chocolate.

Taste is fantastic. Sweeter than the aroma - leading with concentrated cocoa, half & half, followed by black licorice, molasses, and espresso.

Mouthfeel is the real winner here - creamy and smooth up front, but finishing with a tight, dry bite that keeps it from being too rich.

For a RIS over 10%, this is among the best in terms of drinkability. Highly recommended.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.77/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pour an opaque darkness with a fairly shallow dark brown foamy head that fades fairly quickly. Spotty patterns of Belgian lacing left behind. The smell is amazing! Rich sweet Tootsie Roll-like milk chocolate. Lightly carbonated, the mouth feel is full bodied and ultra creamy with a solid coating character, almost oily, helping the roasted coffee note linger really nicely. Full flavored, the choco-latte taste is world class. No way that i'd guess any where near 10.5% ABV!! An amazing beverage! The sight of the bottom of the glass brought a tear to my eye. Highly recommended.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.55/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter. No bottle date present, but I know it was bottled sometime in January of 2009 considering its a specialty brew Founders bottles.

(A)- Pours a thick opaque black color. 1 finger head dissipated down to a layer of light brown bubbles. Some lacing present.

(S)- Rich, roasted coffee malts with dark chocolate and molasses. Kinda has a cola smell to it. And call me crazy, but I also smell hickory smoke amidst the roasted malts.

(T)- Tons of roasted coffee and dark chocolate (Mocha anybody?) Its got a serious bitter hop finish (90 IBUs !)

(M)- Its thick, rich, sweet, bitter, and dry all at the same time. There is plenty of carbonation. The 10.5% abv is integrated very well. The strength of this brew is really potent! Considering it was bottled about 6 months ago!

(D)- A classic RIS in my opinion. Definitely a sipper to be savored and enjoyed, then agian, show me a RIS that isnt a sipper!
Plain and simple; buy a bunch of these, drink one or two now and save the rest for 2+ years. By then, this will rock your socks off!

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Photo of hike20
4.36/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a Duvel tullip. Pours completely black with a nice brownish tan head. Smells like coffee and alcohol. Taste is very rich and warm. Tons of complexity and depth, yet well balanced. So many flavors its hard to separate them. Esspresso roast coffee with a bit of chocolate and alcohol and a hint of smokiness. Rich creamy mouth feel. Another great stout from Founders. This brewery fast becoming a favorite of mine.

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

Poured from glass into a snifter. Dark as night with a mocha colored head. Good head and some retention and lacing. Looks like a good stout. Smell is rich of chocolate (not too sweet), coffee, and burnt grain. A touch of alcohol as well. Taste is similar. A very creamy dark chocolate with a little coffee and toasted grain tastes as well. Alcohol is suprisingly well hidden. Mouthfeel is thick and full, but very smooth. A great beer. One of the smoother RIS's I've had in a while. Enjoy warmer and slowyly, the ABV is well hidden and can catch up with you.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.52/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

pours absolutely black with a tan head, but even with a jhard pour i can only generate about a 1/2 inch of head. Some lacing as well. The aroma has lots of licorice, some chocolate, and a touch of espresso. Rich flavors that are seemlessly integrated and very smooth and silky in the mouth. Nice flavors of licorice, chocolate, fresh cream, and some lovely roastiness. I love the superb silky, creamy mouthfeel. This one is a winner. Maybe the creamiest of all the RIS.

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Photo of Gtreid
4.15/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks go out to headyhops81 for this one. Poured into my Stone RIS tulip. Notes from Friday night BBQ.

A: Pitch black. The pour produces two full fingers of light brown head appears and retains well. The lace is sticky and spidery.

A: Right on par with the sytle. I get chocoltae, coffee, molasses, roasted nuts, and licorice. Very nice earthiness to it.

T: Just a touch let down here. Don't get me wrong, I think it tasted very good, I was just expecting a little more from a big Founders brew. Coffee and chocolate shine, but there is a distinct bitterness from the earthy hops that do balance the beer.

M: Heavy body, good amount of carbonation give it a little bite on the back end.

D and overall impression: At 10.5% ABV this one's a sipper. Overall, this is a very good beer, I'm just not blown away with it. There is not much originality here. One par with the style, I just wanted more. Maybe a little age would do this one some good. Skal.

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

The most recent release. Thanks for grabbing me a bottle, John. I thought tonight would be my date with Mirror Mirror, but I'm a little too tired for 22oz of a 11% after two nights of sleep deprivation, so I settled for 12oz of an imperial stout instead

A: Jet black with a dark brown head, thick and gorgeous. Retention is excellent, and the delicate lacework, quite outstanding. A great looking beer

S: Big and roasty, this smells pretty good right off the bat. Rich, dark chocolate, cocoa and a little dark fruit, to start things off. There's a rather thick, creamy aroma that comes out the more I swirl this, it's intoxicating. I get a bit of bitterness, but that bit about 93IBUs can't be right, there's just some mildly pine-like bitterness that isn't aggressive by any stretch of the imagination. As it warms up, there's a delicate spice note, almost a combination of anise and cinnamon.

T: The hops do make their presence felt on the palate. The combination of biting bitterness and roasted malts make for an intense beer. The bitterness is balanced by a gentle chocolate sweetness, along with some mild cream-like character. Along with the coffee character, this beer really is a treat. The anise character is quite excellent, and the richness is incredible. Finishes bitter, leaving the entire palate on edge, craving for more.

M: Full in body, with a soft carbonation, this beer is excellent. The finish is excellent, with the contrast between the hop character and the sweetness being notable

D: This is dangerously drinkable. The few months have done this beer plenty of good, as the bottle I had fresh didn't wow me as much. For hoppy stouts, it doesn't get better than this, unless your name is Yeti.

**Edit 27 April 2012**
I'm drinking one of two remaining bottles of the Jan 2009. Still hoppy and bitter, not as aromatic as when fresh. Tons of roast, a nice char, no real oxidation (no dark fruit) despite being a screw top. A little bit of stale coffee, a little cream. Palate has a nice blend of robust roast, a little char, a nice grainy bitterness, and a little bit of fruitiness as well. Nice, medium-full body, though the mid-palate seems to have lost a little bit of heft. Thinned out a little, this has changed but not improved. Either I like this better fresh, or the 2012 release is amazing (or both). 4/4/4

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Photo of aubuc1
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured in to a snifter.

Pours a pitch black with a sticky tan head.

Smell is roasty, earthy, and a whiskey like strong aroma.

Taste is a smooth, warm, roasty with a light alcohol warming.

Very creamy mouthfeel and smooth drinkability.

This is a great stout. Not pure coffee, but plenty of richness.

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Photo of colts9016
4.39/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this bottle from a BIF, thank you.

Poured into a nonic at 51 degrees.

Appearance: A one finger dark tan head taht is creamy and foamy. The body of the beer is jet black. The clarity of the beer is opaque. The retention on the head didn't last long.

Nose: A very nice deep roasted malt, dark chocolate, molasses, espresso, wood, citrus, floral esters, and the burnt character.

Taste: A very rich deep roasted malt. The flavor in the beer are the burnt character, molasses, espresso, oaky, citrus, floral esters, molasses, it has a little phenol, and solvent

Overall: The body of the beer is thick and chewy. The mouth feel of the beer is creamy, smooth, and rich. The finish on the beer is almost full. I really like a good RIS and this beer has it. I love the chewiness, the thick full body, and the creamy smooth finish.

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

Bottle courtesy bulletrain76. Pours pitch black with a beige lasting head. Graham crackery sweetness in the aroma with milk chocolate and cocoa powder. No indication of what's to come in the flavor, which is massively roasted with notes of the darkest chocolates. Highly bitter and slightly ashy. Surprisingly dry on the palate with no trace of the high alcohol. Medium-heavy body, smooth and drinkable.

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Photo of danielharper
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark, black, with a thick tan-colored smooth head. Head sticks around and leaves significant lacing.

Smell: Sweet, malty, chocolatey, but with a bit of a fruity undertone. Hints of chocolate-covered cherries and... grapes. Very nice aroma.

Taste: Highly astringent, very strong with the alcohol. Underneath the astringency is a strong malt presence and a touch of breadiness. Finishes dry. It's pretty unbalanced for my palate -- I'd prefer this with either a stronger malt to overcome the astringency or less alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Thick, velvety. Leaves the tongue coated. No significant carbonation.

Drinkability: A good RIS, but not quite a great one. Maybe if I let one cellar for awhile...

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Photo of asabreed
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into a Brooklyn snifter / tulip. 90 IBUs? Is that not high for the style? I like how Founders makes it apparent at the top what the IBUs and ABV are.

Appearance: Good qualities all around. Jet black. Frothy and thick mocha-colored head that leaves some nice bubbles. Also some tipping of the glass reveals the coating carbonation nicely leaving its trail. A good sign.

Smell: Dark fruits, and maybe some sweeter maraschino cherries, and sweetened, roasted malt flavors are at the forefront here. Some charcoal, some wood, mild chocolate. Caramel drizzle, a bit of vanilla and toffee. The whiff of alcohol as it warms is visceral and warranted and nice.

Taste: Let this warm to room temperature, as a bit too much bitterness can creep in once it's cooled. There's a lot of roasted, charred, dark malt on the forefront, with the mild chocolate and coffee flavors going on. Dark fruits in there also, some cherries and weirdly, some apples, which are there for the long haul. Then the bitterness and charred flavors seem to dominate, letting some caramel and vanilla float in before the ground coffee bitterness and charred malt flavors linger on the tongue in their finality.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and chewy, with not a lot of carbonation and a great coating, viscous effect that really lets the flavors come through well.

Drinkability: Another solid effort from Founders, though to me it's nothing that's transcendent, and reminds me of many others. Certainly worth a shot, though, as it's much better than average, and takes the visceral to a high level with good bitterness and roasted malt flavors.

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Photo of aewinte1
3.85/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to GREGER for hooking me up with a bottle.

A- pours jet black with 1" head. Minimal lacing. Carbonation appears standard for a stout

S- Coffee and alcohol. I couldn't really detect and hops or hints of other scents due to the overpowering coffee and alcohol smell.

T- Nothing terribly special about this beer. That is not to say it was not good, but there was nothing that really jumped out at me about the flavor. There was lots of coffee and the alcohol was not that well hidden and was quite up front on the palate. No real smokey flavors to speak of.

M- Was so-so in the mouth. It felt smooth, but the alcohol made it have a little sting in the mouth. Again, a good beer, but nothing spectacular about it

D- for the ABV, it was about average drinkability. The coffee hid some of the alcohol, but most was up front on the palate

Overall, a good beer, but not an epic beer. I would have liked a little smokey/woody flavor and possible some chocolate accents like I was expecting.

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Photo of midnite2sixman
4.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful pour. Tar black with a seemingly everlasting head of brown sugar colored foam.

Mad coffee beans on the nose, backed by notable caramel and toffee aromas. Roasted malts and hint of sweet rice.

Smooth and oddly refreshing, loads of coffee on the tongue, bitter chocolate, and toffee back it up.

Full bodied but it won't coat your tongue, post-quaff you are left with slight bitterness and a roasted coating on your tongue.

Is it possible to get a bad beer from Founders? Cynics, please remain silent, for this beer is a delight.

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

Serving type- 12 ounce bottle poured into a Surly pint glass.

Pours a jet black with a tan head that disipates quickly. There is no visible carbonation and no cling after the pour. Good Russian Imperial Stout but does not have any qualities that might seperate it from the others. This is my second offering from Founders and I can sense a theme going on, that being of a solid brew that doesn't exactly who you but does bring a good solid beer to the table. I enjoyed this beer but would probably pass it up for other RIS's if available.

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Photo of m2paulun
4.47/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. The darkest brown it can possibly be, it is basically black. There is no way to see through the glass. Very thin brown head that goes away quick.

S - The smell is nice and sweet. There is a balance between chocolate and vanilla. There is also an aroma of roasted coffee.

T - It is pretty sweet, but the chocolate is wonderful. There is some nice roasted coffee/malts in the back. I get just a touch of alcohol.

M - Nice thick feel, very creamy. Mild carbonation.

D - I love this beer and it is a great stout to drink. The ABV is pretty high, but you barely notice it. Founders is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of OldSchoolGamer
4.4/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I can't comprehend how this beer is so overlooked. Founders has their Breakfast Stout and Kentucky Breakfast, which get all the credit. Lets see how this one fares:

A: This is dark. Really Dark. No light penetrates the beer even as I poured it. Pitch black, super thick, foamy brown head that leaves chunky lacing on the glass.

S: Smells a little sweet. Caramel, roast, coffee, and chocolate. Smells like a good mix of flavors.

T: This has got an awesome taste. Massive complexity and strong flavors. First off, there is a big roast flavor going on here. Its a little sweeter than some Imperial Stouts. Then a wave of milk chocolate and roasted coffee intermingle on your taste buds. A little caramel malt as well. This, Expedition Stout, and the Yetis are in the top tier tasting Imperial Stouts. Excellent.

M: Super creamy and thick. Coats the mouth and actually makes your tongue turn brown it is so thick. Excellent mouthfeel.

D: Drinkability is great for an Imperial Stout. The flavors keep you coming back for more. Plus the creamyness is just a pleasure to endure. It is kind of high in alcohol, however, you do not taste it at all. Very well hidden.

You can probably tell that I love this beer. Great flavor and mouthfeel put this beer up to the top. I do prefer this to Breakfast Stout and KBS. Its just that awesome. Might be in my top 10 beers of all time. When it comes out, be on the lookout for it. You won't regret it.

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

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into my church brewworks sifter.

A: Pours midnight black like used motor oil, builds a thin brown head which quickly dissipates.

S: Smells like burnt coffee.

T: Rich, bittersweet chocolate. A slight touch of hops on the back. Practically burns the tongue, burnt...ground....everything....

M: Thick and chewy like a RIS outta be.

D: Very rich, hides the alcohol well. I could put a few of these away in a sitting.

Another OUTSTANDING offering by founders. These guys can do no wrong.

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Photo of merryjoulton
4.51/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a thick deep dark black with a thin film of brown that sticks around til the bitter end. Smell is very malty, roasty, toasty, hint of coffee and chocolate, vanilla and smoked bacon. Taste is clean, crisp, malty and dark--much cleaner than I expected as this style tends to be a bit rough around the edges. Mouthfeel is thick and juicy, drinkability is great.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,733 ratings.