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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: 7,094
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 688
Gots: 2,090 | 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: 7,094
Photo of Damian
4.57/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Drank from a 12 fl. oz./355 ml bottle purchased at Liquor World, Cambridge, MA
Served in a snifter

The beer poured an oily, absolute pitch black with a small, bubbly, coffee-colored head that quickly faded to a thick ring. Spotty drops of lacing trickled down the glass.

The aroma was intense. Sweet, rich and creamy. Coffee notes dominated (freshly brewed coffee, to be precise). Deep roasted malts came through strong as well, along with some baker's chocolate. Slightly boozy/bourbony. Overall, quite robust and complex. As the beer warmed, the nose became much sweeter and more complex. A distinct, oat-like quality was noticeable. Brown sugar came through as well. Dark chocolate notes became much more pronounced.

Like the aroma, the taste was rich and full. Super deep, dark, roasted malts were immediately apparent. Some brown sugar too. Bitter coffee (possibly coffee grounds) came through as well. Baker's chocolate was noticeable in the center, along with some sweet raisiny and dark fruit notes. The finish was uber bitter with a charred, espresso-like flavor. Dry, woody and slightly tannic. A subtle leafy hop presence was also detectable.

The mouthfeel was one of the biggest I can remember for a Russian imperial stout. My glass felt like a lead weight. Super thick, heavy and rich with a very fine and mild carbonation. Oily and chewy. Outrageously creamy on the palate.

Drinkability was very good for the style. Although this beer was was quite "big" in all aspects, the flavor profile was rather well balanced. Furthermore, the 10.5% ABV was remarkably well hidden.

This is a huge Russian imperial stout that competes with (and beats) many of the "bigger boys." If the folks at Founders know what's best for them (and for us), they will add this beer to their regular rotation.

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Photo of ndekke39
4.1/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Judging by the notch, this was bottled on June 2008. Decanted into a pint glass. Completely opaque black with a thin tan head. Okay on the retention. Aromas are pretty light: the expected bitter chocolate and dark roasted coffee. Maybe some raisins and charred wood. Tastes of the dark chocolate and coffee. Decidedly burnt finish, although it's not bad - the bitterness off-sets the dark sweetness. Decent amount of carbonation - actually a little lighter-bodied that most other imperial stouts, but all of this makes it a very drinkable stout. The higher ABV is hidden, so take care, but otherwise this is a great example of a standard imperial stout. Nothing crazy like barrel-aging or whatnot, but if you're the mood for a good stout, this is a sure bet.

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Photo of thirdeye11
3.23/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Ktown67 for bringing this one to me from Wisconsin!

Let me first state I am not a stout drinker in general. I have had some I really liked recently so I am really excited to try some Founders.

Presentation: Poured from 12oz bottle into my Duvel tulip glass.

A: Pours a 1/2 finger of dark tan head resting atop a pure plack beer. The head takes a minute to form, and sticks around for only a couple of minutes. Lacing on the glass is excellent. Coats quite nicely.

S: Smelling some woody notes here, some roasted barley or oats, and smoke. The alcohol is REALLY obvious in this one, maybe more so than any beer I've had. Despite that it has some nice characteristics and I enjoy smelling it.

T: Taste is nice and creamy smooth, black coffee is prominent but the most outstanding taste is pure dark 100% cacao chocolate. Since I'm not a fan of dark chocolate this isn't exactly my favorite beer. The creaminess helps balance it though.

M: Really amazing. Nice and creamy, perfectly carbonated for the style, and coats my mouth about as well as any beer.

D: It took me over an hour to finish a 12oz sample, and I couldn't have more than one due to the bitter finish of this one.

I think I will revisit this beer in a few years as I develop more of a taste for stouts. The alcohol, dark chocolate and coffee notes contribute to an overwhelming bitterness for me. I rated it higher than I probably wanted to, but I know it's a good stout. Still not the best I have had, but good.

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

Received as an extra from madtowndmb1. Thanks for this opportunity, Kyle!

A: Roughly a finger of dark tan head over a jet black brew. A bubbly head retains well and leaves mesmerizing vertical lacing on the glass.
S: Sweet malts of coffee and chocolate, smoky on the nose as well. There's a sense of burnt or bitter. Dark fruits and an oat aroma pull through.
T: A well-balanced stout with sweet malts reflecting the aromas, the emphasis being on a very dark, bitter chocolate (maybe pure cacao?); sip ends in a slightly sour/citric tang at the back of the mouth.
M: Big, chewy, and full-bodied to boot. This keeps my mouth busy!
D: Another RIS sipper, but absolutely fantastic and superb drinkability. Give me more!

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Photo of stewart124
4.57/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This imperial stout pours jet black with a thin tan white lace for a head.

The smell is quite robust and a very potent roasted nose. Lots of roasted barley and black patent but nothing acrid.

Taste is so smooth and easy drinking that it's hard to believe this cup of motor oil is 10% abv. Lots of roasted barley in the taste with a spicy hop character that blends very well. Bits of oak and a toasted note really bring out this imperial stout. I am having a hard time picking out any flaws.

The aftertaste is to no suprise a huge amount of roasted character and this finishes dry with a very subtle sweetness.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.16/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a brownish head. Nose is boozy with touches of molasses. Flavor is intense coffee off the first hit. Lots of roasted malts. Just a punch in the mouth nearly. Mellows out and gives a lot of molasses too fairly quickly. Thick and robust. Seems a bit too boisterous to be bringing the subtleties that you might be able to draw off the other "biggies." Either way, who cares. It's still hearty and robust and carries a great flavor profile. Thick molasses and quite malty. (But mostly, it's bringing the molasses.) Feel is thick and smooth on liquid. Carbonation is low. A pretty intense and hearty RIS. Another Founders beer I have enjoyed.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.13/5  rDev -4.6%
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

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Photo of Murchmac
4/5  rDev -7.6%
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.

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Photo of TequilaSauer
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of alcstradamus
3.42/5  rDev -21%
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.

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Photo of farrago
4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of bassmantin
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
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.


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Photo of kbutler1
4.33/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of sarahspat
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of maximum12
4.1/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

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Photo of dancinwillie
3.78/5  rDev -12.7%
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!

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Photo of GatorBeerNerd
4.42/5  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.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.25/5  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.

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Photo of tedpeer
4.15/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

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Photo of olmatty
4.23/5  rDev -2.3%
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.

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Photo of theghost3
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

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Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.23/5  rDev -2.3%
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.

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Photo of mikereaser
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
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

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Photo of bonkers
4.12/5  rDev -4.8%
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.

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Photo of HopDerek
4.4/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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