Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

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1,711 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,711
Hads: 6,950
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: 7.18%
Wants: 660
Gots: 1,994 | 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
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Reviews: 1,711 | Hads: 6,950
Photo of b3barron
4.09/5  rDev -5.3%
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 -4.9%
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)

Photo of Source
4.55/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a 12oz snifter.

Appearance: Jet black with a 1mm caramel tan head which settled quickly to a slight cream on top.

Smell: Overwhelming coffe / java/ joe and cocoa with a hint of sweetness. A lovely aroma.

Taste: Much like the smell, only more intense. Great cocoa and coffee flavors ring through. The caramel and malt background really balance it out. While the the big nature of this stout was pleasantly warming, the 10.5 abv was hard to detect.

Mouthfeel: Thick and smooth. Not a beer you quaff, but instead enjoy in small sips. From pour to finish I clocked 75 enjoyable minutes.

Drinkability: With the high abv and great dessert flavors, I can really see this as a nice after dinner treat. Truly a fine stout. (742 characters)

Photo of david131
4.18/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Absolutely pitch black with just the slightest bit of light getting through around the edges. The brown head is very slow to rise, very creamy looking, and settles to a thin covering over the entire surface. Not too shabby.

S- A very sweet, roasty aroma with anise, dark fruits, and a nice smoky aspect. Some cocoa is noticeable in there in well. Pretty fragrant and enjoyable, but it's just not knocking my socks off.

T- Very sweet and smoky at first with lots of anise and bitter black chocolate moving in at the end. Surprisingly sweet and bitter. Very good, but maybe a bit too sweet for me.

M- Bitter on the tail end, and a little dry that I attribute to the alcohol content.

D- A very solid Russian Imperial Stout. A very good example of the style. I would definitely get this again, even though it is not my favorite.

I don't really know how this will age, but I don't anticipate this getting much better considering Founders track record with aged stouts. Also, it is drinking pretty good right now with balanced flavors and a very reasonable alcohol presence. (1,076 characters)

Photo of Strix
4.05/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pitch black, brown head, not much lacing.

Smells of dark chocolate, charcoal, and a bit of molasses.

Dark chocolate, dark fruits, and molasses in the taste. Towards the end, turns dry and a bit chalky. Bitter dark chocolate aftertaste.

Mouthfeel silky smooth, very nice.

Charcoal and bitter chocolate were a bit heavy for my liking on this, but certainly worth a try. (371 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
3.89/5  rDev -10%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz 2009 bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a very dark brown, near black liquid with slight reddish tints against light, nearly opaque. Large dense deep brown head, it almost looks like it has reddish tints as well. Great retention and clumpy streaks of lacing all over the glass. Very strong, potent aroma, that leans a little heavily on a hop like bitterness, slightly astringent, almost like a house hold cleaner. Behind that, some malt and coffee like presence and dark fruit sweetness, but the astringency is a turn off. Body is very thick and creamy, but very low carbonation reminding me of Expedition (looking at other reviews, starting to wonder if I have an off bottle). Primary flavor starts with dark fruit, berries, etc transitioning to a light coffee/chocolate flavor before a dry light hop finish. Very little alcohol presence. A nice RIS, and great representation of the style, but nothing remarkable and in my opinion I prefer something cheaper like Old Rasputin or Storm King. (1,000 characters)

Photo of luciusgilmer
3.39/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into a tulip style glass.

A: like many Founders Beers, this looks awesome: deep, rich color and nice thick head (3/4 inch in my glass).

S: I'm not impressed by the smell; it's clearly rich, but not distinctive (their Scotch ale, by contrast, is interesting to smell); I smell all the things I probably should plus a whiff of alcohol.

T: It's a good stout, but I'll keep looking. There are rich oat and malt flavors to it, but the ABV actually makes it less appealing here.

M: Really nice carbonation and flavors make this a tasty beer to roll around in the mouth.

D: But I kept noticing the alcohol level, which is not a super sign for me. I would not turn one down, but at the usual Founders price, I will reach for their other products instead (like the Dirty Bastard). (791 characters)

Photo of Andrewtherooster
4.12/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a mug.

A - Thick, beautiful, dark dark brown with a small light brown head.

S - Immediately I notice a dark cocoa scent, followed by what smells like black cherries.

T - This brew packs a wallop in each sip. Straight on I get what tastes like a mouthful of black cherries and blackberries, followed by a milk chocolate that transitions into dark chocolate and eventually a roasted, coffee flavor. The malts are present and heavy throughout each drink, but there's this nice, earthy hop flourish toward the end.

M - At first, while drinking this, it seemed to taste over-carbonated, but perhaps it was too cold. As it warmed up it settled down a little and got creamy like butter.

Overall I'd say this is great stout that I'll return to. It's definitely drinkable, only getting better as it warms up a tad. This is the perfect brew for a quiet winter night, to sit and sip while reading and trying to keep warm. (947 characters)

Photo of ArrogantB
3.68/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle thanks to vwcraig. Dark black with an especially dark brown head. Smells like roasty thick stout goodness. It tastes like your standard regular imperial stout. This was good but nothing really jumped out at me to make this beer special. Oh well. (257 characters)

Photo of BoitSansSoif
4.35/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Imperial Breakfast Stout may be retired, but I can still have an Imperial Stout for Breakfast...

A-Poured a velvety and viscous brownish-black w/light brown creamy head and nice sticky lacing.
S-Sweet and rich roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, light rustic earth tones, hint of rich manure (the pleasant-smelling king's stables aroma), and very faint fruit.
T-Sweet deeply roasted malt up-front w/midpalate opening up the grainy chocolate and coffee, and faint hops in the finish that accentuate the roast. A rustic earthy sensation sets in just before the finish, and a bit of hops emerge. The aftertaste is very bitter, but quite pleasant. It is warming but the alcohol is well-hidden, and more apparent about 30 seconds after the finish. A minute later the roast cedes to a grapefruit rind sensation.
M-Rich and on the heavier side, balance is even until the roasty bitterness fully dominates the finish and aftertaste. Carbonation, although invisible within, is lively enough to complement the body and carry the flavor.
D-Very good, worth looking for. I will definitely buy this again next time I see it. This is a slow sipper to take your time on. (1,158 characters)

Photo of SykDoc
4.26/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. This beer pours like a thick black motor oil. It is opaque with almost no color at the edges. A 1/2 inch mocha colored head forms and leaves a pleasant lacing around the edge.

The aroma at cooler temperatures seems to be dominated by chocolate and coffee and warms to include a healthy dose of alcohol. The malty goodness definitely comes through. The could have been more strength in the aroma.

The taste includes large notes of coffee with a good under-belly of dark chocolate. A nice level of hops sits in the background. The bitter coffee lingers on the tongue nicely. As with the smell, the alcohol becomes slightly more prominent.

The mouthfeel at cooler temperatures was a bit creamier than my preference although it did improve nicely. It is fairly full bodied with a mild stickiness left on the lips. The hops/coffee combo leaves a nice sensation on your tongue.

Overall, this is a very drinkable beer. The primary issue I had was the feel because I think the aroma, taste, and appearance are great. I will look forward to enjoying more and seeing how it gets better with age. (1,128 characters)

Photo of ATPete
4.35/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle

Pours a solid black color, completely opaque with an large brown head. Big roasty sweet dark malt in the nose, hints of coffee and a small whiff of burnt bread. Much is similar in this beers flavor, malty goodness with a nice high hop balance, his beer weighs in at 10.5 and 95 IBU, yea the hops shine through more than youd think. I love that character in an Imperial Stout, others may not. Medium bodied, lighter than you may expect, superbly drinkable. (468 characters)

Photo of taylorhamrick
3.37/5  rDev -22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This pours a deep, dark black, perfectly opaque. A thick brown head sits on top with some loose, clinging bubbles. Nice lacing and retention. Really a beauty. There isn't an abundance of smells. I get the feeling of carbonation in the nose, a smell of alcohol, with a faint whiff of roasted malts in the background. The taste hit me immediately as a bittersweet chocolate, then the alcohol took over. This one finishes kind of dry, with that taste of black patent erasing everything else behind. The only complaint is that it lacks complexity. I mean, there's plenty of flavor there, but I can't dig deep and search without finding the same stuff. The mouthfeel is oddly a bit thin, which may be a product of the dryness. It allows the alcohol to just pund your tongue - which brings me to drinkability. The attack on my tongue of the alcohol slowed me down quickly, and the feeling in my nose from the alcohol and sort of empty carbonation worked to do the same, but I still found this to be pleasant. (1,002 characters)

Photo of TMB0424
4.3/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black body with very slight deep brown edges when held to the light. A thin, coffee bean colored head rises and falls very quickly into a ring. Good lacing throughout.

Smell is of roasted malts, sweet roasted coffee and barley. Slight wisps of chocolate here and there. Not much alcohol in the nose, but it's there.

Roasted barley and sweet malts are in the forefront, with espresso and bitter chocolate backing it up. Good hop character in the finish, perfectly balancing out all of the sweet elements. It's rich and creamy, full bodied. Alcohol adds a nice kick towards the finish but it's not overpowering - doesn't drink like a 10 percenter. (661 characters)

Photo of Proteus93
3.97/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Blackity black. Light tan head, not huge, but creamy and retention is good.

S: Roasted malts, smokiness, with that smoked scent going so far as to give it a bit of a meaty scent. It compliments a light anise and very soft chocolate aromas.

T: A hoppiness I don't usually pick up from the style... it adds a nice bitterness and a little touch of spiciness. Maltiness, unsweetened chocolate.

M + D: Medium heavy, but got a bit hot as it warmed and rightly so, I suppose Good beer certainly... but a bit too intense. (522 characters)

Photo of scifan
4.23/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thick midnight black with a creamy mocha head that quickly fades into a thin wispy ring.
Smells good lots of big roasted malts, lots of expresso, some sweet chocolate and a hint of alcohol.
Taste heavenly. Lovley roasted barley flavors, coffee on the front and then some nice reisdual sweetness on the end.
Very smooth with a slightly bitter finish
Alcohol is well hidden wouldn't have a problem finishing a four pack.
Another awesome offering from Founders (467 characters)

Photo of beermanbrian
4.55/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Motor oil black with a creamy mocha head. Retention wasn't great is the only knock on this ones appearance. Smell of chocolate malt with some lite burnt malt notes. Taste is full of chocolate, coffee and some bakers chocolate bitterness on the back end. Mouth is full and creamy. Big surprise (not!) a great brew from Founders. Do these guys do anything other than make tremondous brews? They impress time after time. (417 characters)

Photo of jmalex
4.17/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice to finally get a hold of this one. If Founders' other stouts are any indication, this one should be awesome.

APPEARANCE: Pours pitch black into my Delirium tulip. There's almost no carbonation, and only a small brown head even initially forms. It settles immediately to a thin brown collar ringing a still black surface.

SMELL: Major amounts of roastiness and fruitiness at the same time. A little chocolate backs it up along with some toffee, but the aroma of this beer is all about the darkest malts in existence.

TASTE: It begins with an intense chocolaty roastiness with tons of caramels and other dessert-type flavors completely dominating. But then it undergoes one of the most drastic transformations I've ever experienced in a beer. A huge bitterness comes on in the form of both hops and black malt. As the sweetness drops out, the bitterness intensifies and continues on well through the finish. Very unique.

MOUTHFEEL: Full bodied with a very low carbonation that works really well here.

DRINKABILITY: The bitterness is a bit much but still really nice. No sign of the alcohol which is always a plus.

Another winner from Founders. Maybe not up to quality of the Breakfast Stouts, but that's a hard perch to achieve. This is worth seeking out. (1,264 characters)

Photo of tjthresh
3.88/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque oily black with the slightest brown ring around the edges. Aromas of coffee, bakers chocolate, licorice, anise, burnt sugars, and tobacco spit. Strong cup of coffee, chocolate concentrate, spicy hops, chewing tobacco, and cooked raisins. Medium body. Light carbonation. Dry finish. Thin and oily. (303 characters)

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.9/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into my nonic pint glass. Appears a nearly opaque dark brown color with a healthy two fingers of fluffy tan foam. The foam leaves a nice, sticky lace on the glass with each sip. Smells of rich roasted malts, bitter cocoa and burnt caramel with a hint of black licorice. Tastes of bitter, dark chocolate, and heavily roasted malt. Full bodied and rich with medium carbonation. Slight alcohol bun, but not as much as I was expecting. Can't wait to see what some time in the cellar does to this. (519 characters)

Photo of Ummagum
4.12/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured form a 12 ounce bottle. Beer poured black with a brown head. Head disappered into a thin ring which left nice lacing down the glass. Smells of roasted coffe with a hint of chocolate. Good drinkabilty with a coffee taste and some fruitiness. Another good beer from Founders. (280 characters)

Photo of WakeandBake
4.32/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very black color pour with a thin, creamy, dark brown head that diminishes to a nice thin ring,and leaves some good lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma is of dark roasted malt, light coffee, faint toffee, and sweet dark fruitiness.Flavor is very roasty malt driven, coffee,bitter chocolate notes some wood or maybe grain,very balanced. Medium-bodied light carbonation, slick mouthfeel with a dry, bitter-roasted finish that features just a touch of alcohol. As always Founders makes it Yummy ! (505 characters)

Photo of NoLiberty
3.73/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours rich, thick and chunky into the glass. It feels almost heavier than a standard 12 oz. Color is absolutely black with no color coming through at all. A light half finger cappuccino colored head froths up on the pour and settles into a light spotty covering, like the skim on top of a simmering tomato sauce. Strong edging with high droplets of lacing

The aroma is rich roasted sweet malt and boozy alcohol, which actually gives a nice balance of seductive, deep, warm and refreshing. A bit deeper down are coffee and chocolate notes with some subtle yeast-like qualities that add a nice spicy intoxication.

Nice, almost lacto-like sweetness up front that moves to a roasted bitterness that tingles the back outer tongue. Nice alcohol lingers on top making the flavors of coffee, roasted malt and toast come to life. Finishes out with a smooth swallow followed by hop bitterness aftertaste and a lingering burnt breath. The flavors are all there but not entirely blended. The finish is odd and the pacing of the drink seems slightly too front forward.

Mouthfeel is lighter than I anticipated for the thick appearance. Carbonation seems spot on. Real viscous feel to the beer, it's slippery and moves at it's own pace; not too fast not too slow. A good sipper but not unpleasant to pull hard on.

I like this beer despite some quirks here and there. The overall experience is pleasurable and something I'd come back to from the Founders folks. (1,455 characters)

Photo of abents
4.08/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a pitch dark black with a minimal brown head that laces like a milkshake. Chocolate odors emit along with roasted malts. The aroma is not severely overwhelming, in fact more underwhelming than anything. Has a nice rounded taste however, smooth sweet chocolaty malts balanced with a nice hoppy bitterness that leads to a balance often lacked in RIS. Very drinkable RIS, alcohol is warming and inviting, this ones on the drier side as well with a nice burnt malt that is warming and pleasant. Moderate carbonation as well makes this a very drinkable stout. (564 characters)

Photo of CrellMoset
4.08/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of gford217 - thanks so much!! A completely unexpected and generous beer care package from a fantastic BA. Poured into a 22 oz. brandy snifter.

Appearance: I've noticed something about Founders brews. When they're supposed to be bright and vibrant - like, say, the Centennial IPA - they're bright and vibrant. When they're supposed to be deep, ruddy, crystalline - say, like the Dirty Bastard - they're deep, they're ruddy, they're crystalline. And when they're supposed to be black, well, they're pitch fricken' black. This one falls into that latter category, obviously, and pours like used, spent motor oil into the brandy snifter, thick and viscous, forming a one-finger, deep brown head of impressive retention that leaves even more impressive lacing, sticky, sheet-like, just all over the place, is this a run on sentence yet?

Aroma: Thick, fudgy, fresh baked brownies, spiked with ... bitter astringencies, and perhaps a kiss of alcohol. Definite anise and other otherworldly spices, very reminiscent of licorice, but also definitely fruity in places, with hints of raisins and cherries.

Taste: Like the Founders Porter I tried earlier tonight, this one's decadent and opulent to a fault. Rich, sweet, milky chocolate notes are balanced with other toasted notes, faint maple syrup, sweet, lactose-laden coffee, heavily crisped toast, a healthy dose of char, raisins. There's also a very prominent and definite anise note that rises above many others, but plays very well among present company given the balance of the flavors and the mouthfeel of this one.

Mouthfeel: About as thick as snails snot, this one, as the omen of the appearance holds true. Moderately carbonated - and the effervescence does do its best to fight its way through - with the thick body holding down many of the carbonation's valiant attempts to puff this one up. What results is an incredibly creamy and even though still thick, sugary, and dominating mouthfeel. This one's about as close to milkshake as they come.

Drinkability: Founders at its best, or rather beer at its best, and Founders at its typical. I have to say I'm almost mildly disappointed with this one, hoping that combination of one of my favorite styles with one of my favorites breweries would produce lightning. Instead, it just produced the forest fire, or perhaps a severe house fire, or maybe just the sort of thing that strikes a lightning rod, and, well, nevermind. The long and short of it is, regardless of my expectations, this is still a really solid beer, more towards the chocolate and anise end of the RIS spectrum, sweet and spicy, though definitely complex across the board. The alcohol's plenty up there, as is typical for the style, though well hidden ... this is a beer worthy of a four-pack pick-up, either way. (2,804 characters)

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,711 ratings.