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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,728 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 1,728
Hads: 7,033
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 676
Gots: 2,060 | FT: 150
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
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Reviews: 1,728 | Hads: 7,033
Photo of BMoney575
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 3-30-09

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

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

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

Mouthfeel is good, right for the style.

Drinkability is good, the decent abv is well masked.

Overall, a good beer, but not like others.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Pours out an inky jet black. A bit of tan, creamy head sits atop it, leaving behind a decent amount of lacing. Smells are of roasted coffee, and I mean a lot of roasted coffee, a bit of sweet malts in the background along with some alcohol. Taste is of bitter, roasted coffee, and alcohol. Has just a bit of sweetness which helps to balance it out. Very smooth and thick, very little carbonation. Pretty drinkable despite the high alcohol content. Overall, a very good beer and a recommendation for any fan of RIS's.

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Photo of Jerzdevil1116
4.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle purchased at Joe Canal's Liquors in Egg Harbor Twp., NJ. Poured into a pint glass.

A: Opaque black body. Film of brown bubbles on top.

S: Full of roasted malt. Notes of coffee, dark chocolate, molasses and dark fruits.

T: Slightly sweet, malty beginning quickly gave way to the coffee and dark chocolate presence. A fairly dry finish with a slight alcohol presence.

M: Medium to full body. Creamy smootheness.

D: An awesome beer. Very nicely balanced for a RIS. Never too sweet or bitter. I can go through a few of these in a sitting and eventually the 10.5 % alcohol does makes its presence known.

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

A: The motor oil comparison is bit cliche, but this thing really is viscous pouring into the glass. It just looks really thick. Black as black can be. With a dark brown finger's worth of head.

S: Burnt malts, dark chocolate, soy sauce. There are some serious roasted aromas going on here. Intense.

T/M: That thickness on pouring is now absolutely coating my mouth. This is dense. Massive burnt malt flavors. Chocolate and soy sauce there as well. Bitterness on the finish is prominent. This one is a little too thick for my tastes. It's as full bodied as full bodied gets. I'd actually prefer a 6oz bottle of this and wish I opened this with a friend.

D: Doesn't score high on drinkability in my view. I'm having trouble putting an entire glass down, not because it doesn't taste good but because of the huge, intense mouthfeel.

Overall, very tasty, but the intensity of flavors isn't offset by a lighter body that I think would have improved things overall. For instance, I had an easier time putting a Dark Lord down than this--that should say something.

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Photo of johnmichael712
4.75/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured out of a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic glass. Bottle has no freshness date, but does have a cool crest on the front with a picture of a knight slaying a dragon with a lance. This beer pours an inky black color that is completely devoid of any highlights. It requires an extra vigorous pour to milk a head out of this beast, but when one forms it's about one finger in height with a dark cinnamon color and a soft, pillowy texture. The head fades pretty rapidly, but leaves a moderate amount of lace in concentric circles around the glass.

Smell: The nose of this beer is dominated by dark chocolate and a generous amount of black and chocolate roasted malts. There are also notes of blackstrap molasses, freshly-ground espresso beans, and a little hint of alcohol. Overall, this beer possesses a fabulous nose, and I love beers in which King Chocolate reigns supreme.

Taste: This beer starts off similarly to the aroma, with huge tastes of bittersweet chocolate and roasted malts. Surprisingly, the taste of licorice is also fairly prominent, and as the beer moves away from the chocolate and roasted malt flavors this, along with molasses, become present. The beer then moves to a hint of alcohol and a strong amount of hop bitterness, which isn't surprising because the bottle tells me this beer checks in at 90 IBU's. The dry, hoppy finish is pleasant and reminds me a lot of the Stone Imperial Russian Stout I had last night. If you like Stone's IRS, you'll love this beer.

Mouthfeel: This beer, like the best Russian Imperial Stouts, has an incredibly thick, rich, and milkshake-like body. It has a wonderful chewy malt profile that feels heavenly smooth on the tongue. Overall this beer possesses a mouthfeel similar to that of North Coast's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout and Stone Imperial Russian Stout, and since they both got fives from me for mouthfeel this beer will be awarded the same honor.

Drinkability: A fabulously drinkable stout, I can easily see myself going for a couple of these in a night. It's delicious enough and smooth enough for this, but at 10.5% alcohol just make sure that someone else is driving.

Notes: Another fabulous beer from Founders. I've been flooring at how adept they are at producing high quality "big beers", and their Imperial Stout is no exception. This definitely ranks as one of the top three Russian Imperial Stouts I've ever had, and it, Stone IRS, and North Coast Old Rasputin make a triumvirate of thick, delicious, and easily accessible stouts that are among the best in the world, bar none.

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

Poured from a 12oz bootle into Sam Adams beer glass.

Pours a deep & dark black with a small less than one finger deep tan colored head. The slight head quickly turns into a small bubbly ring around glass.

Smells of roasted malts, malted milk, cocoa, faint roasted coffee & slight booze.

Bitter chocolate, charred malts, roasted coffee beans, over ripe fruit, vanilla, warming alcohol, hoppy bitter finish. I love the bitterness here.

Smooth, creamy, full bodied, low carbonation, lingering bitterness.

Drinks well. The 10.5% makes itself known, but still drinks easy.

A fine example of a RIS. And a great beer. Kudos.

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Photo of chaz410
3.89/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this lovely beer at the Common Market in Charlotte, NC.
Pours jet black with a thin mocha colored head.
Smell is roasted, malted, slightly caramel and coffe hints.
Taste is roasted and toffee like malts. Chocolate and burned coffee are throughout the palate. Good hop finish, better than expected.
Good beer overall, kinda wanted more from founders, but I can't complain, they have so many specialty stouts, it's nice to see a good solid standard.

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Photo of Pullen
3.24/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Quite roasty...burnt toffee notes....kinda oaky with licorice added. Not quite balanced, but it's not a bad beer.

Two fingered head that dissipates quickly.

Not as hoppy as I expected, but this beer is drinkable.... Probably a good introduction to RIS's for beginners...

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Photo of Risser09
3.61/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter - Fridge temp - 2008

Appearance: Pours a midnight, jet black color with a slight, brown head that goes away pretty quickly. No lace. Not a very lively brew.

Smell: Deep roasted malt, coffee, leather and a pinch of hops. The label indicates 90 IBUs, so they must not have spared. Licorice is in there, too.

Taste: Extremely roasty flavor is indicative of burnt toast, charcoal, and dark espresso. A hoppy bitterness further accentuates the roasty feeling. Mild sweetness and a nice belly warming feeling.

Mouthfeel: Lots of roastiness and warming alcohol. Medium bodied with little carbonation action.

Drinkability: This beer is okay. It's bold and powerful, but feels over-attenuated without much flavor complexity. Worth consuming, but there are better RISs.

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

Received from Educator BIF - darkerthebetter (thanks Ed!)

Minimal head. 90 IBU on the bottle concerned me a bit. I shouldn't of worried. Beautifully balanced imperial stout.

A bit of different take on the style. Very much a sipper. Improves as you drink it. Glad I just received another bottle!

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

I got this brew in a trade with drgonzo3705, Thanks Paul!

12oz bottle served in a snifter.

L - black beauty with a creamy tan head that thins to a layer/ring leaving a sheet of lacing down the walls of the glass.

S - roasted coffee bean aroma.

T - much more comes out in the taste of this brew, roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate and dark fruit.

F - rich and creamy full bodied brew.

D - slow sipper, good nightcap. sweet dreams!

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Photo of jwc215
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaque black with a brown head that becomes a wisp. Some dots of lacing, along with "legs" stick.

The smell is of dark chocolate, coffee, some molasses and some licorice blend, with a whiff of alcohol.

The taste is of coffee and chocolate, some licorice. Roasted malt is balanced by earthy, slightly citric, bitterness. It's a bitter interpretation of the style, though some sweetened dried fruits (plum-like) come through well into the progression/warming. Finishes very dry.

It is full-bodied and creamy/velvety. It has a stickiness, though not cloying.

Drinks very well despite obvious intensity and alcohol. A very nice brew that makes for a tasty, strong sipper. A powerful, bitter/dry, yet drinkable, version of the style. I have to say that this was enjoyable, but I enjoyed the complexities and overall taste of the Breakfast Stout more (though I do understand that it is a different, though related, style).

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Photo of glid02
4.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up at Bruisin' Ales in Asheville, NC.

Pours completely black with a dark brown head - this is one of the darker heads I remember seeing. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of roasted malts, lightly sweetened dark chocolate with hints of roasted coffee coming out more as the beer warms. All aromas are large and in charge.

Tastes very good. Like the smell, roasted malts and chocolate flavors kick things off, with light coffee flavors coming in right before a solidly bitter ending. Real big flavors here without much hint of the ABV.

Mouthfeel is nice - it's got a very nice thickness with subdued carbonation and goes down smoothly.

Drinkability is good. I had no problem finishing off one and could go for a few more, though at 10.5% that may not be the best idea.

Overall this beer didn't disappoint, just a real solid RIS that doesn't do too much with coffee or chocolate. Definitely worth a shot.

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

Reviewed from notes. Thanks to frozensoul327 for this one. It's been so long that we now carry it out here in the CT-MA area... but I still have a bottle of it cellared from 2005, and I am dying to try it soon.

This beer was very dark brown, almost black. Although I could tell it was clear on the pour, in the glass is was pretty darn opaque. What I had hoped for. There was almost no head, and what little there was died away quickly.

Aroma was of intense dark malt, raisins, mild sweet roasted notes, and bitter chocolate. Yum.

Taste was along the same lines. Strong roasted malt, almost burnt, like it had been halfway to charred. It was slightly sweet, and definitely hoppy, although it was hard to pick out hop flavors through the roastiness. Alcohol was definitely present.

Mouthfeel was thick, chewy, somewhat viscous. A beer you could sink your teeth into.

Drinkability takes a little hit, because of the intenseness of the flavors. Although I liked it, and will revisit it again, I couldn't have more than one at a sitting.

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

The people at Founders know something about stouts that the rest of us dont... This one pours a viscous brown/black, only brown when light passes through it, with a very thing dark brown head which settles quickly. Beautiful. Smells quite chocolaty but with no espresso presence really like breakfast stout, a bit of hop is in there for blance. The taste is very dark chocolaty, especially in the aftertaste.. A bit of burnt bread in there as well.. Some caramel-like cola flavor. Its very smooth and has a really good amount of balance (though certainly not hoppy) and it gets AMAZING once it settles around cellar to room temp. The mouth is viscous and thick, coating the mouth with a sweet, dark taste AND feeling which is close to perfect. Carbonation is subtle but present, more noticeable immediately on the tip of the tongue then fades.
Its very smooth and just great.. I really had to search for reasons NOT to give it an A+ (as amazing as it is, Ive had Canadian breakfast stout and that is certainly their crown jewel.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.85/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up in Totowa recently. I love all of the Founders beers that I've had, but this one was a bit different than I expected. Sure, it's a RIS, it's strong, and the alcohol can be felt from a mile away. There's something lacking in the mouthfeel, however, and maybe it's because it's just a bit thinner than what I'm used to for this style. That being said, this was not a bad beer, but it's in a category with some pretty heavy hitters!

The pour was alright - dark, somewhat thick (but not for it's style), with a decent head. The lacing is almost nowhere to be found and as I said before, the alcohol is the first thing that my nose detected. Once this beer warmed up, the flavors started to come through - bitter chocolate, currant, toffee, licorice, and a hint of vanilla. This is probably too bitter in the mouthfeel for my taste, but it's still a good after dinner beer. It could be thinner with a warmer finish to it, but overall, the mix of flavors is nice; even if I'm not used to it!

Of course, this is strong and it won't take much to know ya on your ass. I'd love it if the mouthfeel was a bit thicker and some more coffee and dark chocolate notes could be found here. No matter, I still haven't had a bad beer from founders and if anything else, this proves that not all RIS's are created the same way. Worth a try for those seeking a change from the usual...

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Photo of htomsirveaux
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle tried 11 Mar 2009. Courtesy of kirok1999, thanks!

Poured in 0.4 L Steiner Pils snifter. One finger dark brown head. Quite viscous as it pours, coats and colors the glass, almost oily. Opaque pitch black color. Moderate carbonation. Smells like lots of dark chocolate and roasted coffee, alcohol. Lots of coffee and chocolate to start, through the middle and to the finish. Coats the tongue with cocoa and vanilla. Lots of deep roasted malt. Finish is warming, hot. Aftertaste is of bitter dark chocolate. Heavy body, good mouthfeel. Alcohol is noticeable but not too powerful.

Tasty and very easy to drink.

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

Thanks Dim I had to crack one tonight.(The label design is awesome ) A fresh Bottle poured into a snifter produced a short lived tan head that settled to a thin ring around the glass. The body of the brew was a typical tar black.

Aromas are nice malty bourbon nose with some alcohol detected. You also get some coffee and chocolate as normal in an IMP stout

Bitter coffee flavor with some vanilla sweetness a little alcohol heat is on the tongue as well. You can tell there is some hops in here as well with a nice hoppy bitter as it finished nice medium feel in the mouth with little carbonation just the way a stout should be.

I had the bottle sitting next to me and figured what the hell so I cracked it open. I was rewarded with a good drinking experience. I think it is a good RIS and worth your while to try

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Photo of JohnQVegas
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into snifter.

Pours motor oil black with just a bit of translucent brown around the very edges of the glass. A little foaming action going on, but very little.

Nose is dark chocolate and dark fruits, a bit of a roasty coffee note underneath, with a slightly acidic hop character that's floral and just a bit citric. Some alcohol heat comes through. An excellent balance.

Taste is rich and chocolatey - malt forward at the start with a molten super-dark chocolate note that hints at roasty coffee and dark fruit, with a resiny, citric hopping note coming through louder towards the finish, alongside a bit of warming, spicy alcohol. Finish is drying, roasty, warming. More dark fruit. Brash and young, and absolutely full of potential - this would be one of my sure fire verticals if I could get it on a regular basis.

Mouthfeel is slick and viscous, thick, with a light, sharp carbonation underneath that makes an effort at lightening things up a bit.

Surprisingly drinkable, mainly due to the fact that it's freakin' delicious. Top notch stout.

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

Really really black with a big ass creamy 3 finger head - this is the darkest brown head I have ever seen on any beer. It falls to a nice thick layer of foam.

Espresso and cream with a heavy dusting of hop oils turns to a rich chocolate aroma with hints of vanilla and anise. Enough alcohol in the nose to let you know its there. I hope this tastes as good as it smells.

Oaky earthiness - very woody. Plenty of resinous hop oils similar to Storm King only more subdued - not overpowering. Nice roasted barley flavors meld with hints of chocolaty espresso. Words don't do it justice. Ultra smooth and creamy - so chewy and desert-like. Alcohol is dangerously hidden, but still leaves a nice warm feeling.

Just about a perfect RIS. Best I have ever had.

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Photo of timmay41
4.29/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours inky black with a light, one finger caramel-colored head. This quickly dissolves, leaving delicious looking lacing and medium sized carbonation bubbles.

S: Smells of a clean, strong coffee bitterness and smokey roasted barley. Hints of dark chocolate and a touch of alcohol on the nose.

T: Dark, dry, and rich on the palette. Strong espresso flavor that rounds out with chocolate semi-sweetness and a little alcohol heat in the aftertaste. For the first few sips I didn't know what I was tasting; it's an aggressive malty front. But once it warmed up some the taste improved.

M: Full bodied and biting with carbonation up front, velvety in the mouth and down the throat with warming alcohol afterwards.

D: My cheeks are warm and happy. This is a great representative for the dry imperial stout family.

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Photo of gford217
4.37/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle of the most recent release poured into a tulip.

Pours a viscous oily black with a creamy one-inch tan head which settles down fairly quickly and leaves good lacing.

The aroma is big and roasty. Tons of dark chocolate malts and roasted coffee with a balancing sweetness of licorice.

The taste is definitely sweeter than the aroma with lots of licorice, vanilla and dark fruit that balances with the huge dark roasted malt base and then, interestingly, a bit of hoppy bitterness leading into a dry finish.

The mouthfeel is fantastic and super creamy with some soft carbonation which leaves a very nice coating on the palate.

Another great beer from Founders and a very good example of an RIS all the way around. Excellent!

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

Appearance: This one's a very dark, chocolate brown color. Not an ounce of light is slicing through. It's nearly black. The head is a very attractive dark mocha color. It only reached a finger or so deep and didn't last very long. Lacing was on the lighter side. Not a huge surprise given the high abv.

Smell: The nose is extremely impressive. Chocolate malts are at the forefront and have a very sweet, fudge-like quality to them. Roasted malts aren't too far behind and only add to the brilliant malty aroma. Roasted coffee/espresso aromas follow and are enough to entice any coffee fan. There's a bit of a barley aroma that gives it a nice earthy vibe. Alcohol is surprisingly faint.

Taste: The flavor profile is even more impressive than the nose. Founders has crafted one delicious beer here. It's very malty. Chocolate malts are the primary variety and have more of a bitter chocolate flavor than I anticipated from the nose. Not as sweet as I was expecting. Fear not, it's not at all disappointing. Roasted malts and barley complement the chocolate flavor very well. The coffee/espresso flavor is really what drives this one home for me. It's stronger than I expected. Much to my surprise (and delight), there's a nice little hop surge to this one. Oh yeah, that is in addition to a spicy element I also didn't see coming. Alcohol is noted, but it doesn't present itself as a 10.5% abv beer. Finishes a little spicy and bitter.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: As expected, this is a very thick, lush beer. It's smooth as silk. Carbonation is light enough to give it a nice creamy feel. Drinkability is good. Surprisingly good for the size. But, I can't get that 10.5% number out of my head. It goes down easy. Nice sipping beer. But, respect the strength.

There's no question that Founders makes excellent, world class beer. Imperial Stout is one fine example that stands near the front of their lineup. I can't constructively criticize this beer in any way. It's just too damn good. I hate that this beer isn't more widely available. It was extremely tough to come by this year. Hopefully Founders will ramp up the production on this more in the future. Highly, Highly recommended.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Like friggin clumpy oil into the glass. Opaque and then some. Dark mocha head, reduces to ring. Lacing is thick, almost gooey. It's going to be hard to clean this glass...

S - Roasty malt, solid cocoa underbelly, lots of coffee. Bitter and sweet and powdery.

T - Wow. Gigantic cocoa presence. Huge coffee and huge toasted malt. Overload. Danger Danger Danger.

M - Very heavy, thick, wonderful. Awesome balance, as something so heavy handed could have come out cloying or nastily bitter. It's quite the knack that it came out so balanced.

D - I like it, but man, too boozy and the coating glues itself to your mouth. I bet I wake up tasting it.

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Photo of craytonic
3.55/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Typical motor-oil black, big head and some lacing.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee/espresso, roasted malt, malts, some grapefruit hops, some random dark fruits

Taste: Chocolate, coffee/espresso, roasted malt, some grapefruit/pine hops

Mouthfeel: Not as thick as I expected for a RIS. Alcohol is noticable

Drinkability: Decent, was a little disappointed in this one, won't try it again - very ho-hum for a RIS.

Part of my darkness, dark lord, kate, sexual chocolate, RIS tasting, and near the bottom of the stack.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,728 ratings.