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Founders Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
75 IBU

Added by mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,829 | Ratings: 7,583
Photo of johnnnniee
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received in trade from TexIndy, Thanks for the opportunity.

Pours a solid black with a smallish tan head that doesn't visit for very long. Smells of chocolate syrup and roast, slight perfume aroma and a bit of alcohol as it warms. Taste is roasty and filled with chocolates. Hop presence is felt mid to finish as well as a bit of alcohol bite, which then gives way to a roast bitterness. Body is thick, mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, carbonation is low but adequate. Its a good Imp Stout, hoppier than I like. I wish I had more so I could lay some down.

Revisited this today as I lucked into a four pack of this in VT. Solid black with a thin tan head that subsides but never really disappears. Smells is heavy on the milk and dark chocolate with some roast and earthy hops. Taste is about the same. Hugely smooth silky creamy mouthfeel with a light level of carbonation and a medium to thick body. I don't recall liking this one as much the first time I had it, but I really enjoyed this today. My review reflects this sampling.

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Photo of rayjay
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks go to csmiley for this gift in the Black Booty BIF 09.

Big brown head on this one. Looks dark and velvety.

Highlights: very fresh malt aroma and flavor. Picture milling some roasted barley and chocolate malt right into your hands. Some carmel malt too. Stickiness of the body and mouthfeel (and abv) suggest first runnings only. 90 IBUs are smothered by the sticky sweet malt but do get observed, as does a big delicious roasted grain bitterness like coffee or baker's chocolate, and without much acidity to speak of.

American yeast, with some esters but not the full on Christmas fruit cake of some imperial stouts. Definitely NW hops, or at least some high alpha Brit hops like Magnum. Evidence of long tank conditioning from the general smoothness.

Sticky and chewy mouthfeel that never bogs the beer down but makes a simple statement: big stout here.

Very well made, and worth adding to your glass or cellar. Founder has certainly mastered black beer. Cheers!

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Photo of Gavage
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: black in color with a short 1/2" head that falls to a thick surface foam. Some mild lacing develops.

Smell: chocolate, roasted malts, and espresso comes from the glass easily into the nose.

Taste: roasted malt profile is big along with dark chocolates, espresso, and hints of alcohol. Bitterness is perfect in balancing out the sweetness here. There are also some prunes and red grapes here too.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp to start, smooth and a bit dry at the finish. Aftertaste is long as the flavors seem to stick to the tongue. Heavy in body.

Drinkability: very nice flavor profile screams for you to have a few of these, but the alcohol level and heaviness knocks it down a notch. Great beer overall.

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Photo of kasper
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours an oily, viscous black with a dull, grayish-brown colored watery head that leaves dotted lacing all over the glass.

S: Aromas are sweet: rich milky malts, chocolate covered espresso beans, maybe a bit of dry burnt bark. It's interesting and rather inviting.

T: Fairly tasty stuff. Lots of malt and milky chocolate up front, dry espresso flavors quickly follow, finishing super dry and unmistakably bitter.

M: Feel is consistent with your average imperial stout. Fairly heavy, low carbonation, and noticeably slippery.

D: Solid beer. Good tasting imperial stout. Nothing to go jumping out of windows for, but still a winner.

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Photo of dondeez21
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottled poured into a goblet.
A: Jet Black with a nice thin orange/rust colored head that quikly disappeared.
S: Smelled like coffee slight toffee and roasted malt.
T: Very good. I drank one right out of the fridge and alot of the flavor didnt come through. The next night I let the bottle sit out of the fridge for 30mins and then was able to taste the beer. Very chocolaty/coffee/roasted malt with a slight burn of alcohol. This beer would most likely age great.
M: At warmer temps this beer is a nice thick stout that feels like it sticks to your mouth and taste buds.
D: Excellent beer from and excellent brewery.

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Photo of sholland119
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a deeply brown to black much like an oil slick.

S-Chocolate and vanilla, maybe a bit of roasted coffee.

T-Roasty in the front with dark chocolate sweetness and a warming alcohol finish with a hop bite.

M-Oily and medium to heavy bodied with medium carbonation.

D-Gets better as it warms, very very nice.


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Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12Oz. bottle purchased as a single at Marty's in Newton on 1/27. Served in my DT tulip. Poured the color of engine oil with a tight, half inch, mocha-colored cap embedded with bubbles. Head eventually dissipated into a band that coalesced around the bowl and some swirls of foam; some spots of lacing present adhered during the tasting. Nose was cocoa, coffee and dark fruit. Taste consistent with nose; however, dark fruit disappears and a slightly boozy quality comes out manifested as a lingering bitter astringency at the finish. Mouthfeel was medium-bodied and oily with a little bit of carbonation prickliness. A solid RIS, but not my favorite - a little too much alcohol and didn't quite achieve the mouthfeel qualities I like in an RIS.

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Photo of cvstrickland
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The stubby twist-top bottle unloads a glossy used motor oil-black elixir capped with a thick two finger-deep layer of melted fudge milkshake foam. Bumping around inside a dimpled seidel, the sturdy chunk resists deflation and sticks an oily film of fine lacing onto the glass.

The smell is rich and roasty with loads of potent dark chocolate and zippy, citrusy American hops. Notions of choclate-covered candied lime zest swirled with sticky pine resin and savory espresso-- all infused with lemon juice, spruce needles, and licorice-- swirl with notes of hot chocolate made with French roast above the inky blackness lurking in the glass.

The taste is big and boldly dark-chocolatey sweet with creamy toffee and potent citrus hops. Strong, smooth black coffee brings excellent balancing bitterness, and is complemented by plenty of belly-warming that completes a dank-ass mocha tour-de-force. Cocoa-dusted caramels linger in the finish.

"Imperial" is the only way to describe the feel of this magnificent drink. Huge, silky, soft and mellow-- but also potent and kickass-- Founders Imperial Stout is a benchmark brew. As quaffable as a gigantic, full-bodied monster like this can be.

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Photo of oldhippie247
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours darker'n a black steer's tookus on a moonless prairie night--to borrow a phrase. Tan head leaves nice lacing on the glass.

Nose is awash in roasted, chocolately malt goodness.

Drinks as dark as it looks. Big, big roasted malt bitterness with hints of bittersweet chocolate and black coffee. Mouthfeel is luscious with great dry finish. The only downside is the slight booziness that becomes more and more evident as the beer warms--then again, there are worse downsides.

Overall a great beer and another reason Founders is inching its way into my top 3 breweries. Awesome.

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Photo of GRPunk
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap, served in a nonic pint glass.

A- It poured a near-black body with hints of dark brown at the edges. The 1-finger, brown head that left beautiful lacing and sticky spots all down the glass.

S- The aroma was full of roasty notes with a raisn-like sweetness.

T- The flavor was just a touch on the sweet side. It had a lot of roasty flavor and roasty notes. There was a lighter chocolate accent.

M- It was quite smooth, outside of a slight alcohol twinge.

D- It's a definite sipper, but so good that I'd love to drink it again.

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Photo of Ezekiel81923
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Secured a 12oz bottle the afternoon before the Superbowl. Poured into my Sam Adams perfect pint.

Appearance: Pours black, thick, like motor oil. 1/2 finger brown head disappears quickly living a thin layer of foam on the top of the brew. Beer lets absolutely NO light through. Spotty lacing all around the glass.

Aroma: Toasted malts. Cocoa notes are pretty prevalent after a few sniffs. Some dried fruit sneaks in there. The cocoa might be hiding some coffee or espresso bean aroma, hard to distinguish it.

Taste: Toasted malt greet you first, followed by the cocoa bean flavor as you swoosh it around a little bit. I can't seem to find the dried/burnt fruit flavor that I found in the aroma. Finishes with the burnt coffee bean that sits on the tongue for quite a while after the swallow. Actually, sometimes it almost feels like the chocolate and the coffee bean tastes alternate with each other on the tongue before finally settling on coffee.

Mouthfeel: Some carbonation that is just enough to tickle your tongue. No bitterness, no detectable hops. Full bodied brew that coats the tongue and covers the whole palate. Finishes a little dry.

Drinkability: A sipper, but I think most stouts are. At 10.5% abv, its advised. Could certainly drink more than one if it were not for the alcohol though.

I like this more than the Breakfast Stout. Hopefully my scoring reflected that. BS is still my go to Founders stout though, solely based on drinkability and price.

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Photo of tai4ji2x
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle with no dating, but i'm pretty sure this is from the current winter 08 batch. poured into tulip.

opaque black, with voluminous brown head that gradually fades to a wispy layer. great lacing, with multiple, delicate, thin rings all down the glass.

smells of coffee, dark fruit (dried cherries). roasted malts and earthy tones. some coffee acidity too?

tastes fruity again with that dried cherry hint. roasted malt blends with coffee and cocoa tones, with note of char accompanying the hop bitterness. coffee tones, with bitterness and acidity, continues into finish, which has that lingering hop and trace of charred malt in the bitterness.

smooth, syrupy, with creamy tones, esp. to the carbonation. faint astringency in the finish.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

'08 12oz twist-off from my most recent order from Archer Liquors.. Very well packed shipment... 1 of 4.. tonight poured into my New Belgium snifter...

1" tan brown head.. dies quick with little lacing.. the brew is black..

Nose is cold press coffee with more than enough milk chocolate.. licorice notes.. very roasty.. smells pretty much fantastic right now with no aging.. lite fruity esters are dark dried cherries with some background prune..

Flavor is pretty huge and spot on for a great RIS.. rich and intense from front to back.. no real room for anything else.. dark malts, French Roast.. quite a bit of fruity esters.. again.. cherry and sorta a deep ripe plum.. verging heavily on prune ester.. bakers chocolate throughout.. hoppiness is fairly heavy fresh with quite a bit of citric hops that are blasted out of the water by the stout qualities... body is perfect for the style and the carbonation is light.. smooth mouthfeel with a ton of complexities that I am only touching on.. finish is chocolate covered espresso beans without a whole lot of sweetness..

World Class! a little bit of EtOh as it warms but it doesn't distract too much... This is gonna be a champ, if it isn't already.. purely a great brew that is every bit as good as many "barrel-aged" brothers that wouldn't hold a torch otherwise... sippin' brew.. awesome.. I wish soooo much that I could score this a whole lot easier.

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Photo of scottoale
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. brown short bottle with twist-off cap. Poured into a tulip nearly jet black (brown) with 1/2" foamy two-tone cappuccino head. The head dies down leaving only specks of lace.

The smell is of sweet roasty coffee, bakers chocolate, wee bit of licorice and a mellow alcohol whiff in the end.

Nice rich roasty malt flavor full of chocolate, espresso, dark fruit, some molasses and more roast. Nice balance with the sweet to bitter roast in the finish. The alcohol is very well masked by the flavor, hard to believe that it's 10%.

Smooth easy sipper that still stands tall for this style...Founder's does some really nice big brews, this is no exception.

And yet another big thanks to the over- generousity that is, the hoppymeal! Thanks again D-

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Photo of pgenius
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Dark as night with a thick brown head that surprisingly didn't last too long.

S - Nice chocolate and coffee scent with a subtle roastiness.

T - Big chocolate flavor up front gives way to coffee beans, roasted malts and alcohol. The hops are balanced well but becomes more evident as you swallow and dominate the aftertaste along with residual roasted chocolatey alcohol flavor.

M - Excellent full-bodied beer that coats your mouth. It's low carbonation is perfect for this brew.

D - Outstanding beer. This is one of the finer examples of imperial stout. I can't believe it's only 25 IBU's, tastes more hopped than that. I will be drinking this in the future.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh 2009 bottle.

A: Looks nice in my Brooklyn tulip. Black with no light getting through. mocha colored head with some lacing. I guess that is what a 90 IBU imperial stout does.

S: Nice big chocolate nose right up front. Very subtle roast. The chocolate is massive. A slight hint of anise which I usually hate but it is so subtle and blends well with the other smells. A slight hint of booze as well.

T: Chocolate is huge right up front. A nice blast of espresso beans in there as well. While not super complex this is a massive stout. The hops are there as well but buried below everything else.

M: Nice thick full mouthfeel. Carbonation is low but suits it well.

D: Really great beer. Glad I was able to pick some up to enjoy during the Super Bowl. It helps me cope with the fact that the Giants are done. Really great beer from Founders.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a tulip

A motor oil black body with absolutely no highlights. A thin, 1+ finger tan head has some nice staying power and left dots of lace all over. A very pretty stout.

Mostly bitter dark chocolate nose with anise, molasses, slight espresso, plums and a significant roasted malt aroma. This is a big, full nose that is quite aromatic.

A very nice balance of bitter dark chocolate, roasted malt, and smooth espresso. There is a big bitter component in the flavor. The chocolate and hops really smack the palate. 90 ibus is no joke for this RIS. A very slight bit of alcohol creeps in on the back end as the beer warms.

Smooth and velvety mouthfeel. Really fills and coats the mouth. Not as oily as I would have imagined but big and bold nonetheless.

The 10.4% really catches up with you even though it is so well-hidden. With such a robust and full flavor profile and body, this is a sipper for sure. A joy to drink.

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Photo of JWD
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to jcb890 for 4 of these badboys,

A- This looks great, Black with a dark brown head, look like an Abyss!!

S- Very heavy chocolate, coffee, and even some sweetness coming through. Once again very similar to the Abyss here IMO.

T- Great, tons of flavors and tons of it. I will say for the 3rd time this is very close to a muted version of the Abyss, This is a great beer!!

M- Great, on par with all but the best RIS out there. thick but not syrupy or chewy, medium carb.

D- Great, You can drink cold or warm and i would advise you to take you time and taste the changes as it warms.

Another great offering from founders, I would say this is the best value in the RIS catagory right there with Old rasputin. I liked this better though.

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Photo of malty
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fresh 2009 vintage from a stubby brown twist-off bottle.

Pours black as black as black. Totally opaque, no highlights or edges. Creamy 1" khaki head. Ominous and unmoving. Small dots of lace.

Smells of cocoa powder, malted milk (actually similar to Whoppers candy) a touch of vanilla and dark roasted malts galore. After a few swirls of my glass, a faint alcohol whiff is detected. The roasted malts and deeeep chocolate permeate my nostrils.

Whoa...intense roasted malts coupled with a nice hoppy counterbalance give this stout some major traction. The malted milk & chocolate I detected in the smell translate into dark bitter, chalky baker's chocolate of the 80% cocoa variety. The hops play a big party in the chalky dry element to this stout. The neck label reads 90 IBU's - so there's some major hop action happening to keep this massive stout from becoming too sweet and cloying. The alcohol is pretty well masked as well.

Mouthfeel is not as thick & oily as I would have guessed. It's a touch thin as the carbonation is fine but fleeting. Heavy-full bodied for sure but not a lot of finesse on the tongue.

Drinkability is good because of the slightly 'watery' mouthfeel, meaning it doesn't seem to engulf your entire palate because there's a bit of ease in the swallow.

Overall a very well made and hugely flavorful RIS. The dry/chalky elements of this highly hopped stout really make it stand out. Too many huge RIS' are too sweet, but this one manages to get the malt barrage in tact while giving the hops some of the spotlight also. Very, very flavorful and surprisingly easy to drink.

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Photo of cnjohn19
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Much like the review below this is the 2009, 10.5% brew...Poured solid black with a slight dark caramel colored head which significantly disappeared during my taste...The foam held to the pint glass and left laces after each drink...Getting cocoa bean, licorice, and toasted malts...Bold, sweet, and bitterness explodes in the taste which are the highlight of this beer...highly recommend this stout for those just getting into stouts and want to experience the 10+% qualities...

bourbon lovers (like myself) will thoroughly enjoy this beer...

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Photo of MasterSki
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the 2009 release - the recipe must be slightly different, as it lists 10.5% ABV and 90 IBUs. Served in a pint glass.

A - Looks like a good stout should. One finger of mocha foam that dissipates and leaves a ton of lacing. It's pitch black (not even brown at the edges), and there's a bunch of bubbles at the bottom of the glass.

S - Coffee, bittersweet chocolate, roast malt, some dark fruit sweetness as well - plums, currants, etc. There's some hop flavor as well, in a similar vein as fresh Darkness. It's really delicious, but not huge.

T - There's a lot of bitterness in this one - coming from the coffee, bitter chocolate, and even the hops. There is some residual sweetness on the edges of my tongue, but the taste is pretty consistent. Even the aftertaste is kind of bitter. I'm curious to see if this mellows out and sweetens up as it ages.

M - Medium-bodied, with a surprising amount of carbonation tingle to it. Leaves a sticky coating on the inside of my mouth.

D - The surprisingly refreshing mouthfeel and well-hidden ABV make this a very (and dangerously drinkable) stout. I should probably be sipping it, but instead I'm hitting it like an IPA. I'd definitely bring a 4-pack to a party.

It'd be nice if this was made more often than every three years, although it's not like Founder's has any bad brews to displace (they seem to have given up on that quad they made).

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Photo of Bung
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Black pour with dark brown and ruby accents around the edges. A small light brown head arose and disappated, but left a ring around the glass. Real thick with nice sticky lacing on the glass. Founders does an excellent job with obtaining that small sized carbonation that leads to smooth creamy mouthfeel. Smells of roast/burnt malt, coffee and chocolate. Taste is full of nearly burnt tones accented by chocolates and some dark fruits/port. I detect/wonder if they use some oats in this one? Finishes clean but a little warming. No real alcohol presence anywhere in this one other than the slight warming quality.
Had this after an Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. Real similar, but what seperated this was the carbonation and had a little more roasting/burnt malt and coffee. Deserving of a top ten stardard imperial. Overshadowed by Founder's breakfast stouts in aclaim, but this is very worthy.

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Photo of Soneast
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black in color, maybe some hints of burnt brown coloration in the right light. Pours a rocky two-finger thick, brown colored head that is very creamy with great retention leaving traces of creamy goodness all the way down.

The aroma consists of a heavy roasted malt profile up front with little hints of smokiness as well, followed up by some coffee beans. Followed admirably by a sweet, not-quite-vanilla aroma and just a hint of caramel.

Quite a complex flavor to this beer, roasted malts, coffee, bourbon, chocolate, sweet malts and a vanilla-like (some might say marshmallows) flavors all come through. Leaves a nice, dry coffee bitterness on the tongue. Amazingly well balanced, not too sweet not too bitter. I love it!

Quite an impressive RIS, as a big fan of Founder's Breakfast Stout I couldn't pass this beer up and it proved to live up to my expectations. Rich, complex, balanced and filling. Borderline perfect.

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Photo of jwinship83
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- pours a black body with a finger of beige colored head. The head sticks around for the entire beer and leaves its mark along the sides of my glass.

S- the nose is full of coffee and roasted malts. Some chocolate is detected.

T- very dark and roasted tasting. Lots of coffee and chocolate also. Nice blast of hops at the end.

M- full bodied and rather thick. No trace of the alcohol in this one. Very smooth.

D- a solid RIS that goes down pretty quickly. A few of these in an evening would be a treat. Glad they brought this one back.

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Photo of bound4er
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A. Pours black and thick - the high viscosity actually muffles the sound as it is poured into my glass. A firm pour produced about one finger of dark tan head.

S. Rich roasted malts, creamy vanilla, a hint of booze, coffee and herbal hops.

T. A nice blast of roasted malts and coffee (much like the aroma) starts things off. Then a big hit of piney hops takes over and just expands across your palate. The bitterness here is nicely done. I really like the dryness of this beer - it offers a nice change of pace over many of the sweeter style RIS's on the market.

M. Full bodied and very smooth. Low carbonation.

D. I really struggled with the bitterness of 2008 Breakfast Stout. This is much more to my liking - the high ABV (though well hidden) and overall heaviness keeps this to a "one-and-done" sipper category but it is very tasty none the less. Another 4-pack is definitely in order.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,829 ratings.