Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,734 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,734
Hads: 7,104
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 689
Gots: 2,093 | 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: 1,734 | Hads: 7,104
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.

 754 characters

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.

 815 characters

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!

 737 characters

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.

 2,186 characters

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.

 651 characters

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.

 522 characters

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

Poured into pint glass

Appearance: Thick black with cappuccino colored head, not much retention.

Smell: Coffee and chocolate overload the nose, very malty base to it as well.

Taste: Huge coffee/espresso base, similar to the breakfast stout but not quite as much as the BS. Absolutely wonderful finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy, just the way I like my RIS's.

Drinkability: The 10.5% alcohol is completely unnoticeable, I could pound these down all day.

Notes: Founder's never disappoints, this beer fits perfectly into my RIS gap right now, absolutley wonderful.

 569 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

G: 18-ounce glass snifter.

A: Pours a thick, dark, opaque liquid, reminiscent of Hershey's syrup in color. Starts off with about a finger-and-a-half of head that is nutty in color. There are a decent amount of carbonation bubbles visible on the top of the head, and the head recedes quickly to about half a finger. Decent amount of lacing as it goes down.

S: Very smeet malt smell from the start, fading into a calming alcohol presence. Hints of dark, unsweetened chocolate and a subtle whiff of coffee. Little to no hop presence, although I cannot be sure how old this beer is, as I don't believe it has any sort of bottled-on date.

T: The initial taste first brings a sweetness that hits the back corners of the mouth--reminds me of the feel of green apple Jolly Ranchers in the mouth, though with much less pungency. A mild caramel biscuit flavor underneath the sweetness.

M: Medium-bodied and crisp. Mild carbonation on the tongue and crisp as it goes down. Maybe just a little bit hot in the mouth--I'd bet the mouthfeel would be sublime with a year or two on it.

D: Quite savory. Not quite as complex as Expedition, although it'll definitely factor into the rotation. I'll definitely lay a couple of these down to see how the flavor profile develops over time.

 1,273 characters

Photo of TheDoorman
3.95/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a thick black with a thin coffee head, evincing minimal carbonation. Aroma is big roasted malt flavors, roasted coffee beans. Taste follows the nose. Roastyness galore. Not oversweet like some RIS can sometimes be. I'd actually say this could use a touch more sweetness, which is out of character for me to say. The flavors are big and roasted, but not sugary. Hops are present to cut the big roasted flavors and provide a nice bitter finish. Definitely very hoppy for the style. A touch short of thick and creamy, but still a very nice smooth mouthfeel, with carbonation kept to a minimum. It could use a touch more body though. Alcohol is barely perceptible. A very nice RIS overall.

 691 characters

Photo of genog
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Bodega in Columbus. I was shocked to see it on the menu, since I have never even seen it in bottles. It was brought to the table in a 10 oz small, sample type glass. Black as night with minimal brown head that disappeared soon after my first sip. Aroma was very malty, cocoa, and licorice. Plenty of licorice in the first sip from the beginning to the lingering after effects. Sipped on this one as it was incredibly filling. Glad I finally got to try this great founders beer.

 496 characters

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

Dark raw cocoa at its unprocessed best. Light scent, pitch black still oil with thinnist beige lacing. Light scent of cocoa and expresso. Bit of a bitter chocolate tang that lingers. The ABV is hidden well, though it's definitely present. A dry tannin appears for a moment, but not disturbing the melody. Thick and slick, the mouthfeel is velvety bliss. Reminiscent of RISs that recreate the ancestors of the style. A real treat.

 429 characters

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

2 12oz bottles into a Duvel snifter, pours a deep opaque black with a thin tan head that lasts as a thin layer and leaves great lacing. Aroma is loaded with roasted malts and cocoa with hints of fresh ground coffee. The taste is a nice plethora of roasted malts with cocoa subdued in the finish. The beer is somewhat heavy, but the alcohol is fairly well hidden. This is certainly an exceptional Imperial Stout.

 411 characters

Photo of khiasmus
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Randy stumbles down the corridor, his gas lantern glistening off of the black walls. Covered with soot after a long day in the mine, everywhere his eye turns reveals only more blackness. "Used oil" is all he can think of, even as he splashes his face and attempts to smudge the grime away. He glances in the mirror and sees a few spots of his face through the blackness... Spotty lacing on the sides.
Lunch of coffee, always coffee, he can smell it from down the hall. Dinner of coffee, breakfast of coffee. It's always dark, so always coffee. Dark roasted grain of black currant bread, a hunk of chocolate. The earthiness of the walls blends too, almost a hop note, but it fails to surface. A faint aroma of alcohol... I suppose it's not always coffee.
The flavor, then... sweet. Surprisingly sweet. Sugar-oil. Strong both earthy hop and roasted grain bitterness, some alcohol, carob, chocolate, espresso. Reminds me of Fat Dog, in some almost fake sweetness notes, almost artificial... but doesn't seem too bad. The mouth is coated with the stuff, thick and oily, heavy, very nice.
He must have dozed off. He looks at his watch... back to work, he's slept far too long. He staggers back down the hallway. Can't wait for the weekend, I'll have it again... seems so far off...

 1,276 characters

Photo of uno99
2.76/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Guinness glass. serving temp is fairly warm. left outta my fridge for a couple hours.

A: looks appealing but no head to speak of which is to be expected in this 10.5ABV monster.

S: very boozy and slightly sour.. do I have a bad bottle?

T: sour and boozy again upfront but nice chocolate and malt mid sip. then sourness returns. damn I think it might be bad... :(

M: nice thick and moderately carbonated.

D: well since this is so sour gonna have to dock some points here..

Not sure if this is a bad bottle, but I'll edit my post if I revisit this beer.

 584 characters

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

pour is how it should be. quite smooth without that much head. medium to heavy body in pour. a gentle smell of chocolate and roasted malt. earthier than most. tobacco bitter with a slight sourness. not on the sweeter side. but backed by the body so its not abrasive. a good beer. a bit pricey but another solid beer by founder's for sure.

 338 characters

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

Poured from a bottle (courtesy of ralflord -- thanks again, man!) in a pint glass. Wicked black with a thin brown leather head that quickly dissipated. A little lacing.

Very dark chocolate notes in the aroma, the smell is really enticing. More chocolaty than the Breakfast, even. Bread, coffee bean, maybe a little anise.

The taste is all that plus a bracing bitter presence. Some good, gooey dark chocolate syrup in the flavor, that turns into an unsweetened cocoa powder taste when the bitter hits.

The bitterness kind of lingers on the tongue, I find it almost abrasive. Almost. It kind of "stings" (for lack of a better word) in the way that other super hoppy IPAs do.

I'm into it -- not my favorite RIS, but I'd have another for sure.

 743 characters

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

Pours an opaque black with cinnamon head that fizzles away quickly. This brew has an enticing aroma: dark chocolate, malty, alcoholic booze, and slight raisins. Whew! Amazingly smooth taste of dark chocolate, touch of cinnamon, and roast. Alcohol is deviously hidden behind full flavor. There's a wonderful spice aftertaste that lingers which seems to be the standout characteristic that makes this a world class stout.

 419 characters

Photo of jdg204
4.85/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After two very successful Founders offerings in the past few months (B-Stout and Porter), I had to made the call to get a 4pk of Impy Stout as my next acquisition.

A: Extremely black in color and thick in texture with a dark mocha head which is a bit thin. So dark you can't see light through the glass, an impressive sight.

S: Strong roasted coffee and dark chocolate aroma dominates with some strong citrus hop in the background.

T: Taste is deeply of Dove dark chocolate and dark roasted coffee malts. Evern as the impressive hops kick in as backbone this isn't that bitter as the malts really stabilized the product. Has an amazing aftertaste that makes you save the moment.

M: Incredible thickness and gravity to this product make it easy on the palate and the savory sensation is impressive.

D: This was quite a beer and may be the best RIS I've had to date (and I've had quite a few of the best: Storm King, Stone, BBCS, Yeti). Once again I'm humbled by the guys at Founders, they've clearly found a niche in dark beers and they're not 3 or 3 with 4.2+ beers in my book. I'm excited to see what their non-Dark offerings are now. Go to any lengths to try this beer, I'm guessing it's gotten lost in the Breakfast Stout hype at Founders but this is just as deserving of great praise!!

 1,294 characters

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

12 oz bottle served in a tulip. It pours deep black with a 1/2 inch brown head. The aroma consists of chocolate, some sort of fruit, malts and soy sauce. The taste is very good for the style. The finish is bitter chocolate, plenty of hops and coffee. Highly recommended!

 270 characters

Photo of Kadonny
3.9/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from tap into a tulip style glass at the Craft Ale House in Limerick PA.

A: Jet black with a one finger light brown tight head. No light comes through this fine liquid. Full ring glass lacing.

S: Coffee, expresso, dark chocolate and a slight hop nose.

T: Follow the nose. Lots of dark coffee flavors inculding espresso, dark chocolate and dark fruits like cherry. Cocoa and milk chocolate come after with the sweetness and the finish ends up bitter with a nice slight hop bite. Alcohol becomes apparant on the finish.

M: Thick and creamy, very creamy with a full coating mouthfeel. Finish as I said has lingering bitterness. Medium alcohol can be tasted especially after it warms. Low carbonation too.

D: Low, this needs some time to balance out and let the alcohol subside and meld in with the other flavors. One 12 ounce glass was enough for me.

Overall a very good impy stout. Another quality beer by Founders, but not one I would enjoy every day like many of their other beers. Still very nice.

 1,011 characters

Photo of HopHead84
4.23/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my snifter, the beer is black with a small, dark brown head. The creamy head quickly recedes and the lacing is scattered on my glass.

The aroma is of sweet roasted malt, dark chocolate, cocoa, anise, freshly roasted coffee. Some citrus hops linger in the background. The flavor has just the right amount of coffee and roastiness. There's some dark chocolate present and a medium level of earthy hop bitterness balancing out the sweet malt. The alcohol is most noticeable in the finish, which has a nice level of bitterness to it.

Full bodied with medium carbonation and a sticky, viscous, and chewy mouthfeel.

 624 characters

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

Thanks to jac5084 and beachbum1975 for this brew. Reviews are from jac5084's fresh bottle, and Shane's will be stored for some nice aging. Poured into my snifter.

A: The pour is just fantastic. Pours a deep, rich black with only slight brown when held up to my halogen. Great, creamy, sticky, frothy mocha brown head that leaves great lacing down the glass.

S: Smell is rich, roasted coffee up front. Smells like Imperial Breakfast Stout right now. Some rich chocolate and dry cocoa comes through as well. Slight alcohol is peeking through.

T: Taste is very rich and creamy with tons of coffee and dry cocoa powder. There are so many flavors going on, but they are not blended too well together yet. I think age will fix that. Some chocolate covered cherries and caramel also come through. Alcohol is slightly apparent.

I think this needs some time to mellow. The coffee is way too prevalent for me and the flavors are not completely balanced yet.

 952 characters

Photo of nrbw23
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a black color with a nice brown head. Head quickly turns into a layer of bubbles and leaves a nice spotty layered lacing effect.

S- Smells of coffee, dark fruits, roasted malts, chocolate, and earthy tones.

T- Roasted maltiness, chocolate coffee, dark fruits and molasses come together wonderfully. The hops make their presence felt about half way through, adding a kick of piney bitterness hints at the 90 IBU's. Alcohol is hidden well and balanced very nice.

M- Full in body and pretty low in carbonation. It does have a nice creamy feel to it.

D- Another wonderful brew by Founders highly recommended and a slow drinker for sure.

 649 characters

Photo of b3barron
4.09/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a one-finger tan head with a reddish hue that quickly subsides. Smells like some brownies my mom makes with instant coffee in them. Needless to say, this is a good thing.

Plenty of hops and a little smoke. The chocolate and coffee are also present but not quite as much as I'd have guessed. I even get a little bit of toasted almonds in toward the end.

This is a good imperial stout but not one of my all-time favorites. I'll seek this one out on draft in the future.

 475 characters

Photo of UA8
4.11/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours the color and texture of oil that is about 6,000 miles past due for a change with a burnt toffee head.

S- Scents o dark roasted coffee, released alcohol, and burnt malts.

T- Leads with semi-sweet toffee malts. Mid palate has a touch of sour candied fruits. Finishes with big bitter hops and a slight char.

M- Rich and lush, very silky.

D- A big mouth coating stout with aggressive flavors. Due to high ABV and aggressive flavor profile its a one and done beer for me.

 480 characters

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,734 ratings.