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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

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1,728 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,728
Hads: 7,033
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 676
Gots: 2,059 | FT: 150
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: 1,728 | Hads: 7,033
Photo of bjohnson
4.58/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

hoppymeal gets two big thumbs up for including this in a trade. Pulled from the cellar and served at temp.

A: Pours an absolute black a night. Eight ball black if you will. Head is a weird coca reddish color--melikes!
S: Big nestle cocoa notes with infusions of dark fruit of fig with chocolate covered cherries. Slight necco wafer chalky notes also.
T/M: Dark chocolate notes with a slight sweetness that like hot chocolate syrup. Bitter coffee flavors of expresso and extra bold coffee--these are also present in the finish. Sweet caramel notes round out other two. Milkyness is present for a second before the bitterness develops. Robust with a big body. Warming in the chest with the high abv and slightly boozy, but it's really masked by the larger than life flavors of this beer.
D: Yum. Only word I can come up with right now. It's thick and bold, warming but not overly boozy. Nice balance and easy sipping. Seek it out if you can as it's worth the quest.

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Photo of CH3CH2OH
4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a midnight black with a finger of brown foam that quickly dissipates. Aroma of dark chocolate and sweet malt. Taste of sweet chocolate and coffee; very faint bitterness - tastes more like roasted malt bitterness than hop bitterness. Thick chewy mouthfeel with fine carbonation. Drinkable for a beer of this kind. A very simple stout with roasted malt up front and hops and alcohol playing a secondary role. Might show more depth if aged.

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Photo of mrmanning
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another pitch black impy from MI- Dark, dark opaque black, with a good initial froth of mocha head, receeding down to a thin ring, lots of lacing too. Bloody insane aroma, like, it’s really huge. Anise, dark rum, dark chocolate, bourbon, raisins, burnt molasses, tobacco. It goes on and on. And the body is big too. A punch of roasted coffee beans, with huge boozey dark chocolate. Burnt brown sugars, and throw in a touch of hops bitterness. Though it’s big, it’s 10% seems closer to maybe 8%. It’s still a sipper, and one of the best I’ve ever had. A ramped up version of the breakfast stout, minus the crazy booze of the Kentucky Bourbon. Incredible. Thanks so much Chris for another "stylin" brew!

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Photo of AaronHomoya
4.62/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle from 2006.

Black colored with a hint of brown and reddish tones underneath. Minimal head is tan/brown/orange. Sweet malt, dark chocolate, roasted malt and coffee all appear in the aroma. Later, hints of vanilla emerge as well. Taste follow with sweetness, chocolate and coffee flavors. Fairly dry feeling, slightly bitter finish of roasted malt and a hint of hops. Smooth, medium bodied with decent carbonation. Hides its 10% ABV extremely well. Simply a great RIS.

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Photo of akorsak
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a trade with meathookjones. This is a 2006 bottle.

A: The stout is an oily black color with some dark browrn hints. The head is a mocha brown color that does not retain for very long.

S: The aroma is a toasted grain and chocolate, alcohol strength.

T: The ale has a deep roasted taste flavor with a stronger malt flavor that has comes through like a red wine with many layers of taste. The malts are big and bold, roasted, chocolatey and full of warming alcohol.

M: The mouthfeel is dry, with a little bit of hop kick and a lot of roasted malts. Very nice mouthfeel with a good balance of flavors.

D: The abv is a bit high, but the roasted malts are great. A good night-cap.

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Photo of gmfessen
4.49/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

According to the beer notes, mine is a pre-2005 but I just picked it up in November 2006 so I guess it’s been sitting around a while. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, reminds me of motor oil pouring out; black as night with almost no head. Smell is wonderfully complex, slight hints of coffee and citrus, but dominated by a milk chocolatey aura. Taste is initially of roasted malt and citrus notes, with a good amount of hops to balance and an ever so slight aftertaste of alcohol. The mouthfeel is definitely full bodied, with very little carbonation and leaves a coated feel on the mouth. A very drinkable beer, but at 10% watch out! I would definitely recommend trying this beer. If you love imperial stouts, this is a wonderful beer for you. I would be interested to try a post-2005 bottle side by side.

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

Thanks to czoch for this bottle. It is from 2005 so it has already cellared a bit. I don't understand why Founders uses a cryptic way of dating their bottles; if this was a beer that was meant to be drunk fresh then I would want to be able to tell that easily.

This is a solid imperial stout. Not much head. Great malty nose. Not even a hint of booziness can be found. Since I am from SE PA, it reminds of a less hoppy Storm King which is a compliment IMO. Highly recommended.


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Photo of maundythirsty
4.39/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Notes (on the BeerAdvocate Notes): According to the notes' description of differences in the labels, I'm working on a four-pack of pre-2005 beer, though I bought the stuff in October of 2006...

One Class A oil slick of a black beer, this stout comes with about one centimeter of light brown head that sinks back into the beer (except for a cursory ring around the glass.) Not much for bubbles, but it's not like you could see them if they were there. Zip for lacing, too. Smells thick and sweet like maple syrup, bitter chocolate, toasted malt and charred wood.

All kinds of fun. Carmelized sugar and toffee, a touch of grape skins, bread I burned in the toaster, saltines, tobacco. Margarine? Coffee, baker's chocolate and some herbal hop bitterness in the end. Thick, but simple texture. Not overwhelmingly boozy, but you certainly know it's alcoholic.

On the second cay of December -- with Wisconsin burried under more than a foot of new snow -- this is a dream come true. But maybe one or two dreams at a time, because Founders Imperial Stout eats like a meal.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.72/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - About a quarter finger of head sit a top this black beer. Only scarce isolated specks of lacing adorn the glass.

S - Dark chocolate and raisins. Abv is detectable, but the chocolate is so strong that you have to be looking for it to notice.

T - Dark chocolate malt with a lot of sweetness. A touch of floral hops, but they are faint. A mild dark chocolate bitterness in the finish. This is just chocolatey and sweet. One dimensional, but a delectable dimension.

M - Smooth, very thick, chewy, pretty refreshing, but it is so thick and rich that it leaves a coating on your mouth and throat.

D - It is an imperial stout. It is very sweet (and chocolatey) and strong. Not sessionable and no food, this is a true dessert beer. It is quite good in it's chocolate dimension. I had no problem devouring this beer and I wouldn't mind having it again.

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

this one must be 'older' because it says "limited edition" on the top of the main body label. at least 2 yrs, according to whoever put that info up.

imperial stouty pour.. black. tan creamy remnants float atop the liquid mass. rings of lacing are left behind despite the predominant lack of by-product here.

smells like hot fudge and caramel. very sweet, very rich, very smoky and exhibiting a large presence of carbon char on sucrose. just the mildest hints of non-bitter coffee.. like douwe egberts or nescafe. frozen sweetened coffee crystals inhabit the realm of flavor here. final evaluation brings out the freshness of oily vanilla beans.. really impressed by how this brew smells.. especially considering its apparent age.

smooth as silk with a bitter twinge.. just the right amount of carbonation. liquid chocolate with a hoppy finish. what the hell kinds of hops did they use? nothing has dropped out, this still feels very full-bodied. slight note of booze, but nothing to sacrifice any potential flavors. cocoa powder burps and a distinctly dirty lack of fruitiness characterize this monster of a RIS. this is the beer that brooklyn bcs longs to be.. unsuccessfully. who knew founders had this skill level on a stout.. oh wait, their stouts rule the schoolyard.

grab some old stuff, it tastes great!

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

Pours black with creamy brown head that dissapates after about two minutes to an edge ring and a few lacy islands.

Smell is roasty malt backbone.

Taste is rich & roasty, carmel, chocolate and coffee but smooth.
Mouthfeel is thick and viscous, hangs on the tongue.

I could drink this every day ! ! Mmmm Mmmm and think it is appropriate to next try it side by side with Bell's Expedition.

If you love RIS, this one is great !

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

A - Poured 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Dark black opaque color with a dark tan head that retained fairly well but not that great. 75% of the way through the beer it was gone. Large carbonation bubbles in the head.

S - Smelled of dark chocolates..burnt coffee...maltiness...minimal alchohol.

T - Relates with smell....but not in that order...burnt coffee in the taste department sticks out most...notes of dark chocolates and a warming alchohol sensation. Very robust.

M - Smooth, low carbonation feel (if any) warm towards the end mostly (10% alchohol).

D - Very drinkable. Liked it alot. I dont think I'd do more than 2 or 3 in a session though.

Notes - The label appears to give an idea of the date of the beer...probably prior to 2005, according to the description on the front page for this beer, Founders made an ingredient change 2005 and beyond..this is November 2006, beer still was good, can't wait to try one fresher.

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Photo of Callenak
3.9/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A - Pours a jet black with small, coffee colored head.

S - Smell is chocolate, coffee, and a hint of alcohol.

T - A very pleasant beer. Good deep chocolate flavor. Small traces of coffee. For 10% the alcohol is very subdued but still warming.

M - Very thick and robust. Slight carbonation.

D - I think I paid about $10 for a 4 pack of this in Ohio. That's a great deal. Of course not a daily drinker, but could easily enjoy this once a week in the winter.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 oz. bottle with "Limited Edition" on the label. Acquired in trade, thanks Josh.

A: Very dark, almost black. Ruby highlights. Thick and oily pour with no head and only a thin trace of tan film and a ring around the glass. After each sip, I noticed a brownish sheen trailing down the glass in lieu of lace.

S: Sweet, enticing charred malt and brown sugar. Savory, smoky alcohol. Ripe fruit and molasses. Espresso and dark chocolate. Yum.

T: Rich sugary malts, lots of fruit, caramel, brown sugar. Burnt, almost charred, but still not overly bitter. A shot of espresso with sugar; reminds me of the excellent coffee we had in Italy.

M: Smooth and oily. Leaves a coating of malt bitterness throughout the mouth. Nice full mouthfeel with a terrific bittersweet finish. Some alcohol warmth comes through, but is subtle.

D: A recommended beer, flavorful and satisfying. I wouldn't rank this as my favorite RIS, though it's a very nice one. Count your blessings if you can get one for a try...

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Photo of bennetj17
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received from Vancer in BIF46. No date on the bottle, but the label is from the 2004 and older editions. Thick and oily black pour, virtually no head, just a faint ring of reddish-brown foam above tiny eruptions of carbonation. Intense alcohol in the aroma, with burnt notes of dark cherries and espresso.

The taste is much like bitter dark chocolate. It is dry, and alcoholic, although not as much as expected from the aroma. In the finish it tends to sweeten some, and leaves a hint of mocha/coffee smoke. The mouthfeel is thick like whole milk, you can pretty much chew on this stuff. Faint and soft carbonation, right on for this brew.

It took me a long time to finish this bottle. It's thick, dense and rich, yet remains balanced to the point that I can't say anything was overdone. I can see many people enjoying this beer...

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Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12-ounce bottle sporting the gray label with "Limited Edition" on it, apparently an older brewing, courtesy of shbobdb.

Pours a thick 1" creamy-tight chocolate-brown head over a totally opaque black-red-brown body. Lovely pour, lovely look. Thick and syrupy look. The head fades, but leaves thick sheets of lacing.

Great aroma: chocolate espresso, wet leather, mahogany wood-shavings, burned sugar, caramel malt, figs and raisins. Mmmmm.

Taste is enormously chocolatey and malty. Wow. French-roast espresso. Burned toffee. Toasted pumpernickel. Overwhelmingly roasty. There is a note of salted figs. This is quite delicious. Long bitter-burned malt finish.

Mouthfeel is just a bit on the thin side. Not as slurpaliciously mouth-coating as I expect from an RIS.

Drinkability? Well the alcohol is completely masked by the intense flavors, but it's still 10%, so it's a sipper.

Overall, one fine beer. Thanks again to shbobdb for this

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Photo of cameraman
4.08/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A black opaque color, with a small coffee colored head forming. Chocolate and coffee aromas come right out, but there is the slight fragrance of alchol at the end of each scent. The taste starts with a dried fruit flavor, mostly of currants, followed by the chocolate and coffee present in the scent. A small bit of bitterness comes in right at the end. Thick and rich in the mouth, with an oily texture, a warming feel of alchol does linger on the palate. A strong imperial stout, excellent flavor, and good aroma. All need to do is sit back and sip, and enjoy this beer.

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Photo of alexgash
4.03/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark, viscous (used motor oil) black with a brown leather head that sticks around for the remainder. Heavy roasted aroma matched by heady, alcohol-backed sweetness. Dark fruits and molasses with a hint of vanilla, chocolate, and pine needles. Nice. Singed roastiness up front. Sweet, rich scorched toffee sweetness. Medicinal dark chocolate and boozy coffee near the anise bitter finish. Sticky, full-bodied feel. Not bad at all. It’s no Expedition, but I’ll be back for more.

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

Based on the notes, this is a 2004 or earlier version. There was no date on the bottle or the 4 pakc carrier.

This pours a very dark and viscous black with a dense one finger head, that might be the darkest I've seen. It took forever for the foam to fade to a very nice cap, leaving behind a solid sheet of lace.

Smell; very good roasted malt aromas, with a solid presence of chocolate. There's some dark fruits, with coffee and caramel.

Taste; the roasted malts dominate the first few sips with te coffee and slightly over cooked caramel. After I let this sit for a while some very nice dark fruits come through with dates, prunes and raisins. To top it all off this finishes with a rich dark chocolate flavor.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability; this has a very full bodied mouthfeel, and I'm not surprised after the pour. Drinkability is very good, especially since the alcohol is barely detectable, but it's still a sipper for sure.

I've passed this beer up in the past, for reasons I can't explain. Never again though. Founders is definitely one of my top two or three favorite breweries.

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

Glad to have a couple of bottles of this from BitterBill. Pours a black color, nice carbonation, nice creamy tan head, lots of lacing afterwards. Scents of roasted malts, toffee/caramel, slight spices. The taste is awesome of sweet roasted malts, and a deep toffee/caramel flavor. Medium body well balanced brew. Very drinkable, no hint what so ever of being a 10% ABV brew. What a delicious beer.

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Photo of xav33
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Founders Imperial Stout
12 oz bottle
Brewed 04, pondered over 10/06
Aggressive pour in an English pint.

Pouret jet black with a massive brown rocky mostly lasting head with excellent lacing.

Smelt of moderate mocha vanilla coffee, toffee, and licorice.

Taste was upfront moderate vanilla licorice sweetness and light chocolate followed by a harsh earthy burnt taste accompanied by a light creamy coffee sweetness on a long strongly bitter burnt molasses finish that turns to coffee. Mouthfeel was medium bodied, oily, softly carbonated, strongly astringent and light cozzy alcoholic warmth.

Overall, the beer starts off excellent in appearance and aroma, and at first sip it delivers, but the follow through taste and palate finish just assault and erases the pleasantness in this beer. A two faced beer, sweet and inviting at first, agressive and misanthropic later on. Intensely intriguing.

Side note: drink this beer warm!

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

Oh man, be careful with this one – you HAVE to let it warm, otherwise when cold it’s just a harsh lil brew. When warm;

the freakin’ pour comes out like coal black motor oil (tasty, huh?), and it will produce a brown head with stickly sheet lacing.

Great whiffs of chocolate coffee, man, I could sniff on this all night. The quaff almost took my breath away, the bourbon tinged with raisons, plums and anise was most superb.

Just a fine sipper, I guessed 10% alcohol, the fire in my head gave it away. Let a couple age for a year, I’m guessing a year old brew would knock on a perfect 5. This year’s brew is just a tad green and harsh – just a tad now.

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

CONTAINER TYPE: bottle (Limited Edition/ no purple on lable)
FRESH: 2004? (2 years old)
COST: $3
HEAD: none
LACE: Dark brown tiny spots
AROMA: Syrup and dark malts
MOUTHFEEL: thick; burning cond.
PALATE: smooth oily/resinous
TASTE: dark roasted malts...not too sweet
COMMENTS: like Expedition, but not going over sweetness edge

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Photo of Matthew
4.62/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is from 2004 vintage bottle.
As it poured down the side of my glass it was clear that this beer is opaque inky black and very viscous.
Immediately there are big notes of dark chocolate, hints of ripe currants, a big sweetness and very light hints of dark roasted coffee. The aromas in this beer are very perceivable and fill the area around the glass.
Big flavors of dark chocolate and currant up front complimented with a slight sweetness. There is a bit of bitterness followed by alcohol in the end. This beer has aged very well, very smooth and incredibly drinkable. The mouthfeel is exceptional. Big rich, smooth and velvety over the palate. Very thick and promotes the richness of the deep chocolate and sweet notes. For a 10% abv imperial stout, this is so incredibly drinkable its scary. A truly exceptional beer that has aged very nicely for me.

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Photo of beerceller99
4.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Opaque black with a sheen of light brown head.
Strong chocolatey, roasted grain smell.
Full bodied and mildly carbonated with an ultra smooth mouthfeel.
Flavor is bittersweet chocolate, expresso coffee, and blackened malts. Has a mildly bitter alcohol bite to finish.
A most excellent stout.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,728 ratings.