Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

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1,711 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,711
Hads: 6,949
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: 7.18%
Wants: 660
Gots: 1,994 | FT: 151
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: 1,711 | Hads: 6,949
Photo of alexgash
4.03/5  rDev -6.7%
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. (478 characters)

Photo of RedHaze
4.08/5  rDev -5.6%
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. (1,098 characters)

Photo of Wasatch
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
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. (397 characters)

Photo of xav33
4.18/5  rDev -3.2%
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! (943 characters)

Photo of Vancer
4.38/5  rDev +1.4%
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. (668 characters)

Photo of TechMyst
4/5  rDev -7.4%
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
GET MY BUZZ ON-y (514 characters)

Photo of Matthew
4.62/5  rDev +6.9%
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. (861 characters)

Photo of beerceller99
4.7/5  rDev +8.8%
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. (299 characters)

Photo of rsyberg01
5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

S - Grey Label bottle, no purple except on the 4 pack holdster. Limited Edition printed on top of body label. According to BA notes, this means the beer I am drinking is from 2004 or earlier which is certainly a pleasant surprise considering I almost soiled myself with joy when I saw it sitting top shelf.

A - BLACK. I hope that my coffin is this black inside when I die, if so I will never wake up and even if I do I wont be able to get out because it is so damn black. You know with other Imperial stouts how you can kind of see a little light get through around the edges, well with this there is just black. Head pours to about an inch and 1/2 then to a tight bubble blanket of light brown tightly joined foam. Jiminy Flip Flappin Christmas this stuff is like syrup when it pours, extraordinary is the only word to describe this.

S - Chocolate hits first and hard, then follows through with a very nicely balanced roastiness and dark fruity vapors, I think its cherry and . Caramel and creaminess also make their way through too. A delicate hit of alcohol spices the nostrils up a bit. A sweet note comes through along with the caramel and chocolate and lingrs through the whole quaff. A seriously complex beer, such a perfect example of art in a bottle.

T - Fruitiness hits accompanied by chocolate and coffee. Creamy and roasty go hand in hand, the whole sip just blends so well together, one sip seems like 20. You just get to the whole taste over and over again in a single drink. A warming character hits you in your chest quite gently and pleasant. Little touch of bitter at the end to finish it until the next drink, Wow.

M - Just covers your whole mouth from tongue to tooth. Not slick or unpleasant at all, it holds on only as long as it needs to and then some just to tickle your mouth that much more. Not overwhelming at all. Perfect, period.

D - If I could have this beer in my fridge all the time, I would be a spoiled little bastard. This beer is a perfect Imp. Stout. When I say perfect I really mean it. My first overall 5. (2,059 characters)

Photo of murrayswine
4.18/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a re-review.
I have layed this beer down for 9 months, and am trying it again.

Poured absolutely gorgeous, a viscous black with sturdy lacing and a paper thin head.

The smell is divine, big dark fruits, prunes, baltic malts, and a little coffee.

Taste is coffee, caramel, english bitter toffee, prunes, and brandy, absolutely delightful, and true to it's style.

The mouthfeel is creamy, and smooth with a hefty body to feel right.

Lay this beer down. Young it was too unbalanced, but aged a bit, it becomes more than fantastic. (551 characters)

Photo of sponberg
4.4/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The Crab Nebulae may get sucked into this one and never come out. This sucker is dark, with a latte-colored, creamy fine beaded head. Aroma of dark bread and roasted barley, faint whiffs of alcohol, maybe some double chocolate cake - the part that sticks to the side of the cake pan. Hint of espresso in the background? Very complex.

Goosebumps. The breadth of flavors in this is huge. It's like a house party. The first guests are a viscous, sweet-dark maltiness with roasted barley hats. The sweetness is almost like someone put just the right size shot of EKU 28 in there. Who let the Germans in here? Then a family of big time dark fruitiness shows up, along with their cousin, a port-like chewy alcoholishness. A bitter old man grumbles audibly in the background all night long. A few hops - citric, but I can't place their face - show up, then leave. They're replaced by the espresso crew that arrives late, but stays for the duration. As the party warms up, some oiliness appears and things get a bit sweeter.

The party ends waaaay too soon. Next time it should be held in a bigger bottle. Hugely round, hugely smooth, goes down VERY easily but the sheer size of the thing would limit me to two. Just a brilliant, brilliant effort.

Many thanks to FBG Tip Top for this one. (1,289 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.8/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pennzoil 10W-40 black. Does motor oil have highlights? I didn't think so. The fudge colored cap is one of the darkest that I've ever seen and is an imposing three fingers immediately after the pour. It looks as though I'll have to time its descent with a calendar, so my lace assessment will have to wait. I'm being so impatient because the glass is more than a foot from my nose and the beer smells absolutely wonderful.

It smells fantastic up close too. Founders says that they use 10 varieties of malt in Imperial Stout. That may be true, but the lion's share of the total just has to be chocolate and black because the nose is as dark and as aggressive as the color. Most of each noseful is made up of ridiculously roasted barley that oozes aromas of bittersweet chocolate, blackstrap molasses and ground espresso beans. Incredibly, I can also appreciate a whiff of tangy citric hops.

There's no letdown on the palate. In fact, it's even better in the mouth than it was in the nose, something that I didn't think was possible. This is one of the most shockingly flavorful Imperial stouts in existence. Screw Spinal Tap's amps, this sucker goes to 12! Take no chances, drink this beer at or near room temperature for maximum taste bud slappage.

The best part about the flavor profile (other than the fact that it's as deep as the Marianas Trench) is the concentrated, almost liqueur-like flavor and the fact that anise is so prominent. I don't remember a beer that showcases that particular flavor to this degree. American-grown hops play a major role as well; a stunning achievement in a beer that, by my best guess, is about 16 months old.

I was going to say (prior to popping the cap at least) that I'm glad that some brewers are releasing their high-ABV beer in 12 ounce bottles since an entire bomber is tough to get through on occasion, depending on the time of day, circumstances, etc. When the beer is this mind-blowingly delicious though, I'll take the biggest bottle the brewery can muster and let the chips (and me) fall where they (I) may.

Beer this big deserves a body to match. Thankfully, one has been provided. It's been a while since I drank a stout with this much chewy malt. It's almost milkshake-like! Crack open a thesaurus, look up the word creamy and insert what you see in the following sentence: Founders Imperial Stout's mouthfeel is incredibly <insert>. Thanks, you've just saved me a little time and effort.

I continue to be floored by Founders Brewing Company. As long as they continue to brew beer like Imperial Stout (and so many others), they'll have a perennial spot in my top-10 breweries in America. This is a stunning beer that caught me a little off-guard with just how good it is. There are scores of great RISs out there. Founder's version can hang with the best of them and then some. (2,852 characters)

Photo of RonfromJersey
4.45/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Body is total blackness. No ruby highlights here, a total black hole. Topped by a thumb width of very dark tan foam, which soon resembles a table top with a slightly raised collar.

Threatening nose, full of dark fruits soaking in booze. Wisps of coffee and chocolate breeze along the edges.

Taste is a wonderous surprise. While the dark fruits still abound, the alcohol soak they lounge in is far off. It's more a sweet mocha blend that the dark fruits - plums and raisins and maybe a little prune - are swimming in, with a shot of booze mixed in. Nice mild hop bite at the finish, which lingers and mingles with a late warming glow.

Mouthfeel is fairly light for an imperial, not too light, but not the motor oil feel of many. In turn, the drinkability is increased, and it would be high anyway.

A mighty fine nightcapper. A mighty fine dessert beer. A mighty fine beer. Glad I found this in a trade box. (917 characters)

Photo of WeisGuy
4.7/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a - beautiful stout, pours like motor oil, deep dark black, tan head with retention around the edges, nice lacing

s - roasted maltiness and dark chocolate dominate, espresso in there too, slight bitterness and alcohol

t - roasted malt and dark chocolate are at the forefront in perfect balance, the finish has a nice bitterness with only a hint of alcohol

m - full bodied, very smooth, coats the mouth well

d - I could sip on this impy all night, very drinkable, the only thing prohibiting me from doing just that would be the abv

Another very impressive brew from the folks at Founders. Everything I want in an impy. Makes me even more excited to get my hands on some Breakfast Stout and KBS. (708 characters)

Photo of SethB2
4.34/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Tulip.

A - Pours a deep, thick black color with fairly small, mocha colored head.

S - Booze soaked brownies combine with overripe dark fruits and a bit of coffee. Fairly sweet overall on the nose.

T - Bready, roasted malt qualities up front, followed by a big coffee blast. Not much for hops, but there are there to keep this from getting too sweet. Very nice.

M - Full as can be, thick and creamy. Very smooth for a beer at 10%.

D - This is a pretty big beer, but I wouldn't have a problem drinking a few of these.

Thanks to Jeff Krenner (I think) for the sample. Either that or thefatkid13. I can't remember where I got this thing. (679 characters)

Photo of hoppymeal
4.15/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black and thick with a almost non-existent red-brown head that quickly fades. There are roasted malt and smoky aromas at first and as it warms a sweeter chocolate smell along with a nice boozy-bourbony alcohol presence in the aroma. Taste is roast and smokiness up front, the sweet malts are apparent after this as it rolls on and coats the tongue. A dry slightly coffee bitterness finishes along with a nice warm alcohol twang. Good body for the style, not crazy heavy but nice and thick and chewy. I like my ris to have a little more of that vinuous and ripe fruitiness mixed with the bourbony-boozyness, but whether this is classified as double stout or ris, it is a top notch beer. (691 characters)

Photo of HoboAGoGo
4.15/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pre-Recipe change, gray bottle with Limited Edition printed on it.
Poured out of the bottle into a snifter, agitated it slightly by pouring high to get an extremely thin head on it. Initial nose is of alcohol, roasty goodness, some chocolate, a deep red preserved fruit flavor and some coffee. Extremely easy on the tongue, deep roasted flavor, alcohol soaked plum flavor. An extremely drinkable Imp., not the most complex, but fairly enjoyable and I will open another in a while to see how it fares. (501 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the pre-2005 recipe as the bottle clearly states "Limited Edition on the top of the label."

Appearance: Pours a jet black inky color with a light brown head that hangs around for a good while and leaves some dots of lacing around the glass

Smell: Dark fruit, chocolate molasses, coffee and alcohol

Taste: Starts out with a chocolate and dark fruit mouthful that changes, after the swallow to some bitter tobacco flavors; slightly phenolic on the finish, which may be the result of age

Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy; modest carbonation

Drinkability: A decent Impy Stout but I was expecting a bit more; may be because of the age, however - tasted again on 10/12/09 and drinks almost identically; just a touch less warmth from the alcohol and less phenolics - tasted in 2014 and has a lot more chocolate, no dark fruit and quite a bit of hops (849 characters)

Photo of Zorro
4.56/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This bottle is sampled due to the efforts of tsmthrs and Christmas in July Secret Santa BIF 2006.

Poured in the glass this beer is simply BLACK in colored with a DARK brown head. So dark you can't see the sun through the glass and it is incredibly clear and hot here today. Massive head formation, it was a good thing I poured this in to my Duvel glass so I didn't lose any beer. In appearance this beer is really more of a 5.5.

Smell is strong chocolate aroma with some strong citrus hop aroma. Lively hop aroma here that is rather minty and spicy to the nose. Roasted and coffee aromas are in this but they are most hidden by the hops and chocolate.

Taste is deeply of unsweetened dark chocolate, almost like melted bakers chocolate in a glass. Not really bitter just semi dry in the mouth in a good way. Roasted malt and coffee flavors are in this but chocolate has driven them to the edges of my senses. Basically this is like drinking dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel is melted dark chocolate candy bars. REALLY it is that thick!

Drinkability is always subjective. Ask yourself would you like drinking liquid dark chocolate candy bars in a glass? If yes then this beer is a 5.0 drinker, if not it will be a 3.0 for you. (1,232 characters)

Photo of GClarkage
4.71/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

07/19/06- Aquired via trade with Irishsnake.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with no freshness info listed. Poured into my Stone RIS tulip.

Appearance- Black as motor oil. Very slight head, almost non existant. Dirty brown light rim of a head that erodes quickly. Some, but light whisps of lace left behind.

Smell- Wonderful scent of roasted coffee beans and quality dark chocolate.

Taste- Tastes just as good as any other RIS I have tasted. Dark chocolate flavors mixed with a heavily roasted malt base. Coffee flavors come in hard in the beginning and make way for the chocolate as the beer warms. Incredible meld of flavors.

Mouthfeel- Light carbonation (just the way I like an RIS), creamy, thick, viscous and gooey.

Drinkability- The abv comes into play quickly. This one is so thick and chewy that it becomes a chore (a good chore) to finish if it's room temp. Becomes super sweet...almost like drinking a melted candy bar that's been left in the sun. Overall though, it's probably the best tasting stout of any kind I have tasted...better than Stone and better than Speedway...super quality brew here....high recommendation! Thanks much John! (1,161 characters)

Photo of Truh
4.22/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The court jester made me laugh with this one on 7/12/2006. 12-oz. bottle poured judiciously in to a Dogfish shaker. Once more, thanks to friend and BA Warriorsoul for this one.

Tiny, almost imperceptible crown of head dies to a tiara of almost red-tinged mocha at the sides, as if seeking to escape from the terrible center. Very little lacing; just a dusting of splattered wax as the pour drops. Dark as a moonless night; make sure you've got a flashlight in case the lights go out with this one. Licorice, pine essence, tar, root beer barrels, and a suggestion of smoked cedar announce themselves on the nasal cavity. Chalky treacle is the first thing noted on the mouth, followed by a syrupy brown sugar sweetness that sticks and coats down to the adam's apple. With warming, black pepper spice, caramel apple, and a kind of tinny character start to show. Body is not overly thick, which is nice considering its style and abv.

Another hit for me, just short of a home run. (981 characters)

Photo of HimerMan
4.2/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, served in Murphy's pint glass.

Pour - black, with a 1 finger head, gone fast but strong smell of chocolate. Smell - nice chocolate, burnt alcohol and nice smoke.

Taste - Very chewy, smoky, creamy - yet heavy/solid taste of chocolate with a medium to dark chocolate with alcohol evident in the immeidate warming. Excellent stout.

Overall - strong smoke as it warms, thick and chewy. Excellent taste - you should drink this stout if you want to try a real imperial stout with nice smoke and alcohol.

Cheers. (531 characters)

Photo of kmcnair
3.7/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aroma - Very rich and complex, roasted chocolate malts, a bit of burnt caramel, black licorice, coffee.

Appearance - Pours a blackened crimson color, opaque and wears a deep tanned crown of tightly packed bubbles that fades into a fine ring. Low head retention. Quite viscous and visible legs stream down the glass.

Flavor - Rich, dark chocolate and burnt malt flavors dominate. Hints of coffee and burnt tarred caramel linger in the background. Some figgy dark fruit-like esters.

Mouthfeel - Creamy and velvety, medium to light in carbonation. Full bodied.

Overall - this is a good beer. Has many fantastic qualities with no faults. It is not my favorite for the style, but it is certainly a strong representative. I would try it again sometime for sure. (769 characters)

Photo of trep
4.28/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 fluid ounces of black gold...texas tea. Small milk chocolate head that fades quickly to form a ring around the outside of the glass. A shimmer of ruby around the edges when held to the light. Looks pretty wonderful. Classy looking bottle too.

Dark chocolate, roasted malt, and the faintest hint of cinnamon, interestingly enough. Definitely a fair amount of alcohol coming through in the nose as well. Faint hints of fruity hops as it warms.

A ton of hop bitterness in this one initially that fades to the typical RIS flavors. Chocolate, roasted malt, and dark fruits are all present and very balanced. No sign of the alcohol that was fierce in the aroma.

Carbonation and body are spot on. Not too thick, but thick enough to coat every surface in your mouth.

Dangerously easy to drink this beast as well. (821 characters)

Photo of Prufrock
3.45/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

pours pitch black with a touch of brown head that falls quickly to nothing.

coffee, raisins, molasses, and a touch of soy sauce in the aroma. smells very sweet and dark, if that makes sense.

heavy but smooth mouthfeel with just a touch of carbonation. raisins and a vinous sweetness dominate the flavor with some coffee-like bitterness and alcohol. touch of soy sauce lines the throat and the finish, which along with the alcohol limit the drinkability. (495 characters)

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,711 ratings.