Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

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

Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,779 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,779
Hads: 7,301
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 714
Gots: 2,214 | FT: 154
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout | 10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

75 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,779 | Hads: 7,301
Photo of rudylaw
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into snifter.

Man is this beer dark. Soul-suffocating dark. Light brown head that disappears almost immediately.

I smell chocolate, coffee, roasty malts. Nothing too complex... a nice, straightforward looking/smelling beer.

Silky first sip reveals a nice hoppy bite. Bitter chocolate comes out to play right away and I smell more coffee than I taste. Man, this is good. I'm getting not so typical dark fruits as well. I get a strong plum finish upon each sip. Also, as the beer warms... the coffee beans are more evident. Such wonderful maltiness.

This is outstanding. I only grabbed one 4-pack... and that frugalness will haunt me in my dreams.

 668 characters

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

A. Black as hell. Very silky in appearance, with a beautiful smoky. Light brown head that doesn't last long enough. Slight lacing.

S. Fresh hops which give off a green grassy scent that blend well with rich coffee and tons of roasted malts. Bitter chocolate top it off. Oats are present provide a milky scent. Small bits of caramel. Alcohol is present but. Has to be looked for.

T. Everything mentioned above is present in the taste. Notable roasted malts and stringent bitter coffee flavors give this stout a bite. Ultra bitter chocolate stands big and bold as well. Unbelievably creamy and smooth from start to finish. No harshness. Really great bitter and salty finish with some plum after tones that leads to a fantastic imperial stout.

 744 characters

Photo of FishHeadLover
4.83/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Got this beer from the Hop Shop in Indi. I was really looking forward to this since everything i have had from Founders I have loved.
A- Poured black as black can be with a thick brown head that slowly laced around the edge of the glass.
S- Smelled of heavy chocolate and coffee.
T- I love imperial stouts and this one is now one of my favorites. Some imperials taste to much of burnt chocolate but this one was smooth.
M- Not much carbination but just the perfect amount of thick and chewy.
D- I think this beer has one of the easiest drinkabilities of any imperial I have every had.

 586 characters

Photo of kirok1999
4.08/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Back after at least a 2 year absence from Ohio.
Inky black in the snifter with just a trace of head and slight lace. Thick legs hang from the glass.
Smells of roasty chocolate and coffee.
Taste is very dark and roasty. Slightly sweet and dry in the finish. Alcohol is very well hidden but there it is slightly hot in the finish. There's some dark fruit, charred plums, cherries and fig.
Feels dense and creamy. Very heavy.
A very heavy stout and just great to sip on a very cold winter night.

 492 characters

Photo of brdc
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks hoppymeal for this one. Small capped bottle poured into a snifter.

Very dark, just one shade below pitch black, which somehow allows for a minimal reddish highlight. Very dark, fluffy brown head, rather small but good looking, lots of lacing.
Very nice aroma, molasses, liquorice, roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits.
Very close to full body, one step down from "chewy"; very flavorful although it lacks a bit of complexity to make it just perfect. Still, lots going on, with chocolate, more on the sweet side, some coffee, molasses, dark fruits, anise. Easy to drink, went down way too fast.

 605 characters

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

*Bottle 2005 Vintage. Thanks KarlHungus for sharing!!

A- Very dark brown head, black body. Nice thick head and lacing.

S- A deep milky chocolate, cream, graham cracker, a touch of vanilla and some dark fruits, and hopiness. Very Balanced.

T- Nice dark fruit off the bat followed by a nice stream of chocolate, coffee, and mellow balanced hops.

M- Very Smooth mouthfeel, and great long finish.

D- Great stuff! The 3 year old bottle wasn't at all oxidized and was very delicious. It's not very sessionable, but I will definitely seek out more.

 549 characters

Photo of waltonc
4.27/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed half a 3-year old bottle of this with a friend.

This beer is a liquid steak. If you break your jaw, and have to wire it shut, just drink Founders Imperial Stouts while it heals.

Heavy black tar appearance with dark brown lacing. Smoky flavors and smell, with all the other typical stout fixings, such as coffee and molasses. Mouthfeel is pretty thick, and you can't drink too much. In short, a great imperial stout.

 426 characters

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

A: Pours black as night, with just a slight head of brown bubbles

S: Slight coffee smell, over powered by the smell of dark malts

T: Dark rick flavor of a great Stout followed by the mild taste of Alcohol making this a true Imperial.

M: Leave this great mouth feel with a slight foaming action on the tongue as it passes thru. Making the experience that much better.

D: The only thing against this beer is the high alcohol content, after one or two 10% beers you're going to be going down the road to get kicked in the face after some more beers.

I love Imperial Stout, it is one of my favorite beers. Thank God I live in walking distance of the tap house!

 661 characters

Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at Founders. Pours damn near black. Smell is chocolate, some coffee, but plenty of dark malts. This tastes incredible. This was my highlight of the night. Full, creamy and luxurious on the mouthfeel. A really decadent imperial stout. This is one of my favorite Impy's. Can't wait for bottles of this to be available again!

 331 characters

Photo of iconoklaztor
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to sprinkle for hooking me up.

Pours a nice black with a head that quickly went away. This is a nice find. Ive wanted to try it and have never seen it on the shelfs. IDK whats the story on this brew?

The taste is nice and firm with dry coffee and a creamy milkyness Ive only seen in oatmeal stouts. This is like a creamy and strong oatmeal stout. I like it

Overall, I would love to get more of this if I can. Ive never seen it hit shelves but believe me if I do I will get tons!

 488 characters

Photo of Kegatron
4.4/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Founders.

Pours black as night with a thin head of a burnt mocha colored tan creamy foam. Retention is very nice and wouldn't quit, leaving behind some spotty lacing and brown oily residue down the sides of the glass. The aroma is a tingling mix of roasted bitterness and heat, chocolate sweetness, zippy coffee character, and dark fruit tartness.

The taste is rich, roasted bitterness right off the bat that melds into chocolate and molasses sweetness, additional bitter coffee notes, and a dark fruit tang in the backend. Finishes with a combo of bitter notes and warm, tart sweetness. The mouthfeel is full, rich and creamy with the alcohol presence adding beefiness and warmth to the overall feel.

Wow, this is pretty much the definition of a RIS. Founders leaves nothing out with a complex taste and aroma that is held up by a muscular yet approachable body. I'm definitely getting a case of this next time it's released. Great stuff!

 954 characters

Photo of drxandy
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried this on tap april 30th '08, poured into a nonic pint

apperance was dark and thick, standard imperial stout

smell of chocolate, dark malts, hot alchohol

tasting was a bit thinner than i expected, i was surprised that i could feel the kentucky breakfast influence, maybe it's a founders stout thing, but definitely not a bad thing.

hops were certainly more present than the KBS and quite nicely added for the style.

wish this was bottled this year, i tried to get a growler but they weren't pouring it in them :(

 522 characters

Photo of SQNfan
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Founders. There were aromas of coffee beans and chocolate. In the mouth it was powerful with a slightly bitter finish from the hops. Overall this was quite nice an powerful but did not have the complexity and balance of the KBS. I would love to have a few bottles of this to age.

 289 characters

Photo of Overlord
4.8/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Quite simply, one of the best beers I have ever had. Thanks to RoyMunson for the trade.

Pours a charcoal black with a large, dark brown head. Bubbling carbonation gives the glass a beautiful coating and keeps this heavy, syrupy beer from getting too dense.

The smell is chocolate, dark fruits, and a hint of roasted malt. The flavor is absolutely breathtaking. Dark chocolate, some cocoa, vanilla (all their stouts have vanilla in spades, I love it!), plums, figs, raisins, and just a ton of malt and molasses backing it all. Just letting it linger on the tongue is an absolute treat.

Just fantastic.

 603 characters

Photo of BillyB
4.55/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I thought this was an outstanding example of the style! Founders certainly knows it's stouts.

Poured a beautiful black/opaque color with a very thin, whispy brown layer of foam.

Aromas of chocolate, vanilla, coffee, mollasses, wood and whiskey dominate this very complex aroma profile.

The taste is just as complex. For a beer to be this BIG and complex at the same time is impressive. Same tastes as aromas as well as some toffee, treacle a subtle hint of caramel. Big alcohol taste but not offensive.

Mouthfeel is very pleasant alcohol warmth and a big, full bodied, oily, slick, chewiness.
Just a fantastic beer!

 619 characters

Photo of blakesell
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoyed from the tap at Gravity Head '08 in New Albany, IN. Poured into a 10oz glass. At this point of the night my notes started to get a bit.. Scrawling. So hopefully this review makes more sense than I did at the time.

Appearance- Totally opaque. Dark as night. No viability whatsoever. Head is thin and brown. Carbonation clings to the glass and leaves no legs on the sides.

Smell- Prune and raisin with a hint of grape. Big thick dark malts. Plum lingers on the finish. Great finishing hops leaving a nice hoppy scent on the nose. Chocolate on the finish as well.

Taste- Raisin and prune with much hop and malt backbone to balance it all out. Black patent and chocolate malt. Hoppy but still malted enough to remind us that it's still an imperial stout. Creamy and luscious with a hint of brown sugar.

Mouthfeel- Warming, well carbonated, full bodied and even. Sticky on the lips.

Drinkability- Excellent drinkability with well disguised alcohol content. Oh, Founders, why do you treat me so great?

 1,008 characters

Photo of atrus138
4.09/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this during Gravity Head '08 at Rich-O's. Color is dark black, but just shy of opaque. Head quickly vanishes and leaves very little lacing. Smell is absolutely delightful. Rich aromas of deep chocolate, but with unexpected, but welcome, fruity notes. Taste is a bit more passive than the smell. Huge malt presence (I hear they used 10 kinds of malts). Lots of chocolate, brown sugar, and nice burnt notes. Mouthfeel was on the thin side as far as imperial stouts go, but still sported a thicker medium body. Carbonation was just fine. I'd have another, though the alcohol is well hidden, so I'd have to limit myself to just one more.

 637 characters

Photo of Floydster
4.44/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle from seaoflament, thanks for giving me the opportunity to try this beer, 2006 vintage, poured into my Ommegang Three Philosophers glass

A-Black color with very little light going through, miniscule 1/8 inch mocha head, flat liquid, disappeared immediately, absolutely no retention or lacing

S-Huge vanilla aroma, milk chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, molasses, brown sugar, booze, smokiness, and burned accents

T-Big chocolate malt taste at the beginning, then fades into some vanilla and roastiness, ends with a dry coffee feel at first, gets sweeter as time goes by, something spicy but not bourbon in here but I could not figure it out, a tiny amount of hoppiness in the end, malt overpowered it all, not as thick as I thought it would be, smokiness came to the surface at the end with maple syrup and sugar following it, not bad overall

M-Thin body for an imperial stout, could have used a lot more carbonation, chewy and sweet mouthfeel, strong spiciness on the back of the tongue, taste lingered for a while too

D-Could have drank another bottle of this but it is a sipper, especially at ten percent alcohol, it is hidden well though, smooth and goes down relatively easy, a bit heavy on the stomach

Another great Founders beer, not as good as the breakfast stouts in my opinion but right up there, look forward to trying this fresh next, recommended for RIS fans

 1,391 characters

Photo of pwoods
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to beachbum1975 for this brew. He said it's been aged awhile in appropriate conditions so I'm not sure on the dating.

12oz. stubby brown bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Pours a motor oil black with similar viscosity. 1/2 finger head is very slow to form but holds decently well. Some patchy lacing.

S: Still has a pretty boozy twang around everything. Burnt malts and burnt coffee beans. Deeply cooked brown sugar and molasses.

T/M: Wow.. for as rich and robustly delicious as the alcohol is, it's completely mellow and just damn tasty.. Very tasty mocha espresso mixture. Some chocolate covered dark fruits and even a bit of citrus left. It feels like I'm drinking a slightly thinner melted espresso dark chocolate bar.

D: Wow... I can't wait until the new bottles come out this summer. Founders has got to be one of the best breweries out there.

 858 characters

Photo of Hojaminbag
4.02/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to GrizzlyAdams for sending this to me in a trade.

This is a dark black. Not even trying to hold it up to the light makes a difference, it's still completely opaque. However, I got NO head from a vigorous pour. I'm guessing that is not normal, but it was strange to me.

Smells fruity and chocolately; pleasant. A little alcohol scent.

Up front there is some fruity sweetness, followed by rich choclately/coffee malt taste. Finishes with a little bit of dryness that I swear is a faint hoppiness, but I can't be sure.

Great mouthfeel on this beer. Despite the fact that my beer had no head, the carbonation was fine. Enough body to accompany the big flavors.

OK drinkability.

 686 characters

Photo of BeerTruth
4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I had this one on my 'wants' list for a pretty long time and SPLITGRIN was nice enough to hook me up. Thanks man!

12 oz. stubby bottle poured into a nonic. Not sure about the year, I'm still clueless on how to use the Founders notches on the label.

Pours a complete jet black with a generous two finger dark tan colored head that slowly creeps down the sides of the glass. Stickiness is crazy good, lots of thick webbing left behind. Smell is pretty sweet for a RIS with lots of dark fruits; cherry, dates, and plums. A good amount of robust french roast and espresso in the nose as well. Toasated barley and dark chocolate aromas are detected too. A lot for the nose to discover. This one sure has that "Founders" taste to it, but that's a good thing. Blaack coffee with a hint of cane sugar. Not as sweet as the nose, but there is some cherry notes on the tongue. Smokey wood flavors with a bit of an earthy hop bite to it. Aftertaste is dry with hints of vanilla and cocoa. Thick, creamy, and smooth mouthfeel with a subtle but fitting carbonation. Perect texture for the style. I let this one warm up pretty good before tasting and I'm glad I did. What an amazing RIS, one of the best for sure. I'm surprised there isn't more talk about this beer, but maybe I'm just not paying enough attention. Do what you can to get your hands on this one.

 1,348 characters

Photo of jaxon53
4.67/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've been waiting to try this for some time now, so a big thankyou goes out to Faro for sending me this in the Secret Santa '07 BIF. 2006 Vintage. Served at cellar temperature, into my Stone snifter, from a twelve ounce stubby brown bottle.

Appearance: Pours out a deep inky black, that looks more like a well used 5w30 than a beer. Not a single ray of light could penetrate this beer. Nice! A pretty vigorous pour yielded a short, bubbly, coffee brown colored head. Head faded quickly into a dense ring of cream, that left some streaky lace behind on the glass.

Smell: Mouthwatering nose on this one! Some thick coffee aromas with some sweet milk chocolate. Some woody notes in there as well, along with some toffee, molasses, and a bit of smokey alcohol. Has a nice roasty/toasty note too.

Taste: Nice roasted malt character is paired up with a thick cocoa flavor, a touch of burnt fresh coffee,and some more toffee and molasses that were noted earlier in the nose. A bit of hops and black licorice were in there as well. Finishes very smooth with some body warming alcohol. Very rich and a little bitter. Leaves a wood like aftertaste. Flavors compliment eachother nicely and are pretty well balanced.

Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is quite thick and chewey, coats the glass and palate very nicely. Just enough prickly carbonation. Full bodied and smooth, just how I like my Russian Imperial Stouts.

Drinkability: Great drinkability. This one is a sipper though, thanks to the ten percent ABV.

Overall very good. I wish I had a few more to sip on, and a few more to cellar further. Another winner from Founders.

 1,613 characters

Photo of DIM
4.46/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

a: This beer pours thick and black. I poured as violently as I could, and all I got was a thin brown head that faded quickly.

s: I think this is the best smelling RIS I've ever had. Most obvious are the sherry, cherry and chocoalte notes. I've never smelled cherries so strongly in an RIS before. It reminds me a bit of a barleywine. Also present are some faint bitterness and some warming alcohol.

t: The sherry/cherry flavors dominate here as well, blanketed by some very dark chocolate. There is a bit of a bitter edge to the chocolate that tastes of cocoa. Alcohol is present as well and very welcome.

m: The body was surprisingly thin and I wouldn't have minded a bit more carbonation.

d: Thanks to hoppymeal for the chance to try this one. I'm seriously considering moving to Michigan, as Founders continues to impress.

 829 characters

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

Poured very dark, slow moving-thick, no head out of poor.

Smelled very robust, sweet and chocolaty.

Taste...wow, wonderful...that is a good beer. Very rich, sweet...but yet smooth and very refreshing. Burnt overtones, wonderful taste. Yummy.

Thick feel, almost syrupy, but not the bad-sort.

I'd drink this until I was full (maybe after 3, but who cares...very good.)

 370 characters

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

Thanks to SPLITGRIN for the trade!

Must be an 06’ bottle.

Pours very dark with a quarter of an inch of light chocolate foam.

Aroma is of roasted barley, chocolate malts, bitter chocolate, anise, cocoa, a bit of dark fruits, alcohol, and a touch of wood notes.

The taste follows the aromas very well; very good roasted profile with some coffee, chocolate, anise and wood (maybe hints of oak?). Carbonation is still very lively in the mouth.

A very good RIS, and one I am looking forward to trying again with some more age on it. I think this will easily join the list of my favorite russian imperial stouts.

 615 characters

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,779 ratings.