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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,946 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4946
Reviews: 1548
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 8.47%

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
90 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-12-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,946 | Reviews: 1,548 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of blitz134


4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Received from hoppymeal...much obliged...been wanting to try this since a friend of mine from Ohio raved about it...

What can I say really...its black, no edge highlights...all black. Small head came up, about a quarter inch but reduced to a chocolate milk colored ring around the edge.

Chocolate, toffee and Tootsie Rolls (tm) fill my nostrils. Some dark fruity hints come forth as well. Sweet alcohol wafts forth to draw it all together.

Dark chocolate and expresso notes start the flavor out. Then the transition to coffee comes in. Some pepper starts out the final transition to a bit of alcohol to finish it out. The alcohol is there, but it isn't overbearing. I really like this flavor, its super smooth and comes together perfectly. None of the flavors seem out of place.

Mouthfeel is the best I've seen in an RIS. Usually I find this style a bit thinner than its American Double Stout counterpart but this one is just a bit fuller. It poured oily and its silky smooth and slick on the tongue. A bit of residual stickiness lets it linger on the inside of the cheeks.

This beer is dangerous. Probably the easiest drinking over 10% beer I've had yet. Smooth and agreeable taste profile and no stomach burning alcohol feeling makes me want several of these. I'd pick this up often when I had the chance.

Serving type: bottle

05-01-2006 00:55:58 | More by blitz134
Photo of frazbri


4.58/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Founders Imperial Stout poured jet black with a creamy, mocha head. Chocolate, coffee, and slight floral scent were present in the nose. Espresso, charcoal and pepper flavors were accompanied by a solid bitterness. The body was thick and viscous with a moderate level of carbonation and a warm finish, but not a burn.

Oh mama! This a great beer to drink by the fireplace. I will definitely buy this again. It's also a good canidate for the cellar, if you have the patience.

Serving type: bottle

04-25-2006 00:21:58 | More by frazbri
Photo of nmyers


4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was one of the last beers I have on my visit to Founders so I hope I get this right.

I remember this beer being black like almost like night and it had an aroma of chocolate.

The taste of this beer was a combination of chocolate, coffee, and a small amount of hops.

This was a very thick beer full bodied beer and I really enjoyed it.

Serving type: on-tap

04-23-2006 22:20:42 | More by nmyers
Photo of grub

Ontario (Canada)

4.83/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage, sampled april 2006 (along with a 2003, so i'll compare the two here)

pours a deep inky black with a nearly no head.

the aroma is great. chocolate, slight oaky/vanilla aroma, roasty, malty, bit of smokeyness. some hop mild aroma, and a bit of alcohol in the smell.

the tast is excellent. tastes of dark chocolate, coffee, bit of raisin. there's a nice level of bitterness, and a bit of warmth from alcohol. it does hide the alcohol well, feeling more like 7-8% than over 10%.

to compare it with the 2003, it's like that brew but with everything turned up a notch. the bitterness, alcohol, and roastiness are all a bit stronger than the 2003. the flavours on the 2005 have not mellowed and gelled together quite as much as the 2003, but it's still very good. it has a nice full body, and seems "beefier" than the 2003 does. it's an exceptional beer on its own, but when compared with the 2003 that one is the clear winner. i look forward to trying more vintages of this one in the future.

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2006 13:28:41 | More by grub
Photo of montageman


4.53/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow. I just poured this into a pint glass about 10 minutes ago and I feel as though I've been missing something all my life. This is an exceptional beer.

Pours like thin motor oil with no head and a bit of lacing. Smells like a chocolate bar or brownies - very inviting. Taste is chocolatey with some coffee notes. Very creamy and full bodied - I could drink this all night. A super dessert beer - would probably be great with some ice cream...

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2006 03:34:02 | More by montageman
Photo of Bitterbill


3.95/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle(room temp) a pitch black with a tiny head of foam that dissipated quickly but still left a ring around the edge of the glass.

The smell is really nice...all roasty with notes of coffee and chocolate.

The taste is huge! Roasted malt with chocolate and coffee and...a heaping helping of oatmeal. Dang, it's 12%abv and to say it isn't noticebale to me would be stretching the truth but it doesn't detract from the taste at all. Only negative thing I can say is that it is a bit harsh on the tongue. Still..I'd (and will) drink this one again.

Bottom line: This is an RIS with huge flavour!!! and....I can recommend it.

Serving type: bottle

04-20-2006 01:02:16 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of murphysbleachers


4/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into an American style tumbler pint...

Appearance: Thick, thick black. Impervious to light. Brown head.

Smell: Licorice at first. Chocolate and alcohol as it warms.

Taste: Alcohol with roasty malt in the front. Hint of chocolate in the finish

Mouthfeel: Viscous. Almost oily (like used engine oil....mmmm).

Drinkability: Smooth and warming. I could drink a few at 10% which is dangerous.

Overall a very good beer. I'd pick up an Old Rasputin from Trader Joe's rather than go out of my way for this one, but this is definately worth trying if you come across it.

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2006 20:58:14 | More by murphysbleachers
Photo of mcallister


3.88/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black gold or tar pours from this bottle. With a quarter inch milk choclate head. Very dense and impenetratable color. Delicious!!!

Over the top dark choclate aromas, a touch of vanilla, mocha latte, cassis and more decadent choclate permeating from this concoction.

A very bold, masculine statement of an Imperial Stout. Dark rich choclates, black currant, unsweetened cocoa, mocha espresso, hidden vanilla, and a slight toffee.

Somewhat tannic, and bitter, with a finish that falls somewhat short in my opinion.

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2006 23:25:43 | More by mcallister
Photo of wingman14


4.47/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a thick black tar with a very small chocolate colored head. Smells sweet and strong with mocha and chocolate tones. Very inviting. A very strong taste with immediate flavors of mocha, and roasted malts. A strong aftertaste that is bitter and leaves you wanting another sip. A smooth mouthfeel, you can tell this beer packs a punch with its ABV. This is a beer that I can't see anyone drinking in mass quantities considering its thick character and ABV. Considering the price I don't think anyone would want to drink many of these in one sitting. A good offering from founders, but not as good as their breakfast stout, but still very enjoyable. They consistantly produce great beer that is head and shoulders above many breweries. This beer is definitely worth a try! Enjoy!

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2006 03:08:52 | More by wingman14
Photo of neonbrown82


3.9/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

This isn't one of my favorite imperial stouts, but it's still good. Pours to an absolute black, thick as spent motor oil. Very little mocha colored head that dissolves to a film in a matter of seconds. Lacing is not great, but leaves a sticky film.

The smell is very sweet with a rich chocolate malt with undertones of coffee. Some hops lie beneath all of that, along with a bit of a brinyness.

The taste is good. Sweet and chocolatey as hell, fairly roasty with hints of coffee. Hints of hops shining through. Starting to get the briny soy sauce flavor, but it is tolerable. Some alcohol brushes the palate in the finish as it begins to dry out.

The body is absolutely huge. One of the most full bodied beers I've encountered. Not one of the more drinkable ones though. Too rich and bold, too dry. Not exactly a refreshing summer beverage, but it's good.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2006 05:43:05 | More by neonbrown82
Photo of orbitalr0x


4.33/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 vintage. 10% abv. The Founders Imperial Stout pours from the stubby 12oz bottle a thick, syrupy charcoal black into my tulip glass with a small dark tan head that falls to a ring around the glass. Spotty lacing left on the glass. Good deal! Aromas of dark vinous chocolate, raisins, big roasty sweetness and some caramel. Subtle burnt coffee and dark fruits.

First sip brings a dense dark roasty maltiness that weighs down the tongue. A big mix of vinous and milk chocolate flavors collide along with some mellow coffee flavors. Rich and a bit smoky with dark fruits throughout. Finishes with a touch of hops and a lingering burnt flavor. A tasty impy stout.

Mouthfeel is big, thick and a touch syrupy. Really mellow carbonation on this one works quite nicely. Goes down smooth with no trace of alcohol. I could sit down to a couple bottles and have a good evening. Yet another tasty stout from the guys up in Michigan. Keep 'em coming!

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2006 03:53:18 | More by orbitalr0x
Photo of GeoffFromSJ

New Jersey

3.43/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours murky black with no head and then, a head appears. Some lacing throughout.

All the taste elements are here, but it seems disjointed and not in proportion. The boozy and vinous character stand out but they are too dominant. Hops seems to be in their as well. Again, everything is there, but it doesn't mix well.

Smells real good though.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2006 19:05:36 | More by GeoffFromSJ
Photo of TurdFurgison


4.22/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I tried this based on good experience with other Founders beers. This one doesn't disappoint either. I poured it into a pint glass, and it had a good stouty appearance. Dark black liquid with very thin tan foam on top. The head dissipated quickly so that it looked like I was drinking cola.

This actually smelled like Founders Breakfast Stout, but with less coffee. It was also a little heavier feeling than the Breakfast Stout. A lot of alcohol is apparent in the initial sips, and you can taste the hops bitterness in the after-taste. Very strong flavor, almost too rich.

A really good imperial stout, but I probably won't drink it too often.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2006 03:34:56 | More by TurdFurgison
Photo of Sephiroth


4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours innocently enough, average head, some momentary lacing. As thick and black as any imperial stout. As it warms, the aroma really shows well. Chocolate, coffee, and roasty burnt malt are all there.

Taste is awesome, chocolate, both milk and the dark kind, coffee, roasted, then burnt malt, and a dry, bitter finish. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous, low carbonation. Insanely drinkable right now, it will be a struggle to cellar this.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2006 08:36:37 | More by Sephiroth
Photo of waldowin


4.58/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a thick black, like used motor oil, with a nice brown head that fades to a very thin ring.

Smells of figs, raisins, coffee, and chocolate. Thick, sweet, smoky, and heavy.

Tastes of dark chocolate, espresso, and a hint of figs and roast. Definitely let this warm up a bit from the fridge. A very smooth and tasty beer.

Mouthfeel is creamy, smooth, and wonderful. Massive but not harsh.

Drinkability is insanely good for a 12% beer. You can't see that there's any alcohol in here. That said, one of these will definitely be enough for me, I have to be conscious tomorrow.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2006 07:55:53 | More by waldowin
Photo of BEERchitect


4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Founders simply kill it with all of their larger-than-life stouts. Although for some, their standard Imperial Stout seeps through the cracks because it's readily available when in season, for me its in the upper echelon of stouts anywhere, hands down.

As black, and nearly as thick, as 30 weight motor oil, the beer has an ultra inky appearance that reads like onyx to the eye and with absolute opaqueness. Terse on head character, the beer releases a tiny sheet of sand-stained foam before dissolving to a translucent film that evenly coats the surface midway through the session. Although retention gives way a little too soon and the lacing succumbs to the alcohol and viscosity, the beer still gives a time honored appearance of well crafted stouts.

Espresso, brownie batter, milk chocolate, cognac-like alcohols, and fudge aromas mingle about the nose with sultry and savory scents. These seduce the olfactory senses in ways that few beers can. Background notes of burnt fruit, such as cherries, red grapes, and currants inform the roasted malts but are careful to never rival the sweeter toasted scent.

Delicious chocolaty fudge and brownie flavors become a bridge from aroma to taste in effortless fashion. Backed with the firm bitterness of espresso roast, charred grain, and near-smoky woods, the beer becomes more than malty sweetness and balances the beer to near perfection. Those esters of charbroiled fruits accent the almost smoky elements and gives the nearly abrasive ten percent alcohols something to hide behind.

Without saying, the beer is certainly full bodied and then some. It's oily coat is awash in the mouth and saturates the membranes with full effect. The low-lying alcohols allow the beer to rest weightedly on the mouth and seeps into the tissues with a mesmerizing mouthfeel. The beer retains its structure well past where the finish is expected, even as the bitterness from hops and the alcohol warmth wants closure. It's indefinate linger blends seamlessly into the next sip even if minutes away. This is a dessert beer for sure!

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2006 18:08:52 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of Crosling


4.13/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rich opaque black color, with a small filmy head of light tan. Aromatics are very roasty, burnt, malt accented with a touch of chocolate and fruit, along with the aroma hops, which are fortunately very mellow and only provide a slight hint of apricot and citrus fruits. Flavor begins with a plethora of sharp anise notes, which leads into a light array of currant and charred fruits. Chocolate covered truffles finish things out, underneath a rich roastyness and an easily perceptible hop flavor and bitterness on the finish. A bit hoppy, especially in the flavor...compared to what I generally enjoy in the style. But the malt flavor is still phenomenal and the texture and body remains very rich throughout.

Serving type: bottle

03-19-2006 01:43:37 | More by Crosling
Photo of aforbes10


4.33/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black and syrupy, almost lumpy. cocoa colored head. beer is all about roasted malt and chocolate flavors. no dark fruit flavors like in other imperial russian stouts ive had. Roasted flavor is not harsh but very up front and taste defining. some hop flavor on the finish. Might cellar one to see how the taste changes. alcohol hits fast and hard as i drink it at 3:30 in the afternoon during a departmental seminar on squirrels. very full and syrupy mouthfeel. not a top of the line impy, but i'm left wanting more nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2006 20:19:17 | More by aforbes10
Photo of AlexJ

North Carolina

4.9/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Another mind-blowing product from a very respectable brewer. This beer pours like a madman. Deepest nightmare black, with a small, dense head of mocha froth that remains as a thin ring. Terrifyingly black, this is one of the thickest, viscous, quagmires of a beer that I have ever had the delight of laying my eyes upon.

Aroma is a sweet lullaby of smooth, roasty malts, melted milk chocolate, dark fermenting fruit, plums, dried mission figs, black Sambuca, well aged Port, and coffee liquor. BIG nose, very intense and complex. I'm IN!

A highly anticipated sip reveals a truley precious nectar. A creamy mudslide of amazing flavors tears across my tongue. Complex malt entry of scorched caramel, milk chocolate pudding, malted milk balls, and mocha. There's tons of sticky, booze-soaked dark fruit; plum, fig, bitter black cherry, and candied citron. It rounds out with a perfectly delicate hop finish with nuances of crushed Douglas Fir pine needles and dark, bitter herbal notes. There's a perfect distribution of charred malt and fragrant hop bitterness. 12% abv, really? This is UNbelievably smooth!

Body is quite possibly the biggest I've ever had...like a melted hot fudge sundae. It just glides across your mouth a creamy, buttery texture and a mouthfeel like liquified silk. So creamy and sinfully rich. There's no way that this 12 oz. bottle is less than 500 calories. Worth every one too! Killer delicious, but definately a one-beer-per-session type of beer. Unless you want to go into diabetic shock that is. I couldn't imagine a finer way to go.

Serving type: bottle

03-11-2006 02:17:27 | More by AlexJ
Photo of shbobdb


4.18/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Wow. This is a freakin' good beer. It pours a dark mahogany, with an ominous, dark, yet friendly fluffy head. What an inviting beer!

How does it taste? How does it feel? Well, like a homebrew I recently did, but good. In the homebrew, I threw in 2 pre-made edme stout kits and balanced it out with 3lbs of the neigh unfermentable Laaglander amber. This beer tastes like that, in so far as it has a lot of nice roasted barley flavours. They really steal the show, but they balance it out with a thick, full mouthfeel and just enough hops to make their presence known and clean the palate out. Mmmm. The warming alcohol finishes off the experience, bringing it to a wonderfully warm close.

Would have loved it in the winter. I love it now, but definately a cold-weather beer. This is MY kinda RIS.

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2006 23:40:11 | More by shbobdb
Photo of Tallboy


4.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours: Dark like midnight black with almost no head. a few bubbles around the rim and slight carbonation. but still lacking lacing on the glass however.

Scent: Rosated grains and nutty goodness with chocolate and distinct coffe aroma mixed in with the alcohol.

Taste: Ritch and malty flavor at first with with sweet chocolate and coffee, then came the everlasting hop bitterness. followed by the warm alcohol at the end.

Mouthfeel : Full bodied but a tad too bitter

Overall: Another great beer from Founders .

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2006 16:20:25 | More by Tallboy
Photo of UncleFlip


4.7/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

OK, I love this beer even before trying it. It's mainly because of the label. During a visit to Russia (my first overseas trip, no less), I became quite enamoured of the double headed eagle, complete with St. George on the shield. It's a nicely rendered version on this bottle.

Now...on to the brew itself.... :)

Appearance takes a hit because of the head- or lack thereof. A nice, deep, rich black liquid hits the glass- but only the scantest of brown heads froms. Let's hold this up tot he light. Erm....no light. Yow. None coming through the glass at all. I can't even see coloured fringes around the edges. That's a good sign, to me!

The smell is lovely, deep and pungent- velvety with qualities of black licorice, ancho chilis, raisins, and coffee.

The flavour is roasty-sweet up front, morphing into more bitter roastiness. Along the way, the flavour has some of the same qualities in the aroma. Just past the midway point, som snice hop bitterness creeps in...no, runs in. I like this one. I like this one a lot.

Nice and thinck- the mouthfeel only takes a half-point hit because the carbonation (which is low and very tight) burns a little more than I like in a stout.

Very drinkable to me- but very intense. It only misses the mark in drinkability in that it's so intense, it may put some people off.

Be well

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2006 08:49:38 | More by UncleFlip
Photo of scruffwhor


4.45/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle. The bottle said 10%abv. Let this beauty sit in the fridge for a few months before cracking open

Appearance- The color was squid ink black with a milk chocolate head of about one finger. To butcher a somewhat vague memory of a Garret Oliver comment , "this stuff absorbs the sunlight."

Smell- Imagine smelling a root beer float with some espresso and heavy cream mixed into everything else. Sweet and bitter mixed very well together.

Taste- The start is a hevay cream malt. This develops into a better defined vanilla ice cream mixed with some fresh coffee grounds. The bitterness mixes with the heavy sweetness so well, that it almost seems to make this beer taste even sweeter. The best imperial stout I've tasted so far.

Mouthfeel- Just liquid velvet, with a little carbonation to remind the palate you are drinking beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2006 05:23:48 | More by scruffwhor
Photo of Golden2wenty1


4.68/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked up a single at Riley's here in Madison. After running errands in ridiculous -5 degree wind chills, I needed a little something to get the blood flowing again.

Black hole pour with one of the darkest espresso heads I've ever seen and great lacing. Nose is strong black coffee and cocoa powder with a hint of hops. Taste is big and chocolately, cafe mocha, and a bit of minty hops to give it some bite. Mouthfeel is perfectly smooth and creamy with micro-carbonation that tickles the mouth. This stuff is dangerously drinkable at 12% abv, I could see myself 3 deep in this stuff and getting caught up with. A delicious Impy stout here, even when lacking in the characteristic dark fruits. A choco/coffee masterpiece.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2006 04:05:01 | More by Golden2wenty1
Photo of dirtylou


4/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz single, Riley's...have never tried this one though i remember seeing it last winter in south bend

appearance: pours dark as night, mysterious black appearance...head is not vigorous but more a gentle rush of creamy chocolate brown...lacing is around the rim only. pours thick as motor oil

smell: a rich and creamy, yet subtle, aroma...creamy dark chocolate, licorice, raisin, a tad nutty, very roasty and robust, a touch of alcohol sneaking through...mostly roasted malt, hop presence blocked out almost completely

taste: bittersweet immediately, heavy raisin and alcohol soaked plum/cherry flavours hit right away...alcohol warming taste throughout...rich and robust dark chocolate, heavily roasted malt, light char/smoke, there is a little hop bite not detected on the nose

mouthfeel: full bodied, dare i say a little thinner than most

drinkability: its robust and powerful, a 12oz serving should suffice

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2006 03:01:32 | More by dirtylou
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 4,946 ratings.