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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

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1,718 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,718
Hads: 6,985
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: 7.18%
Wants: 664
Gots: 2,031 | FT: 152
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: 1,718 | Hads: 6,985
Photo of JRed
4.15/5  rDev -3.9%
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 +12.3%
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 +0.7%
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 -9.7%
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 -2.1%
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%
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 +2.3%
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 -5.3%
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)

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,718 ratings.