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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,928 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4928
Reviews: 1547
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 8.47%

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

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
90 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-12-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,928 | Reviews: 1,547 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Apellonious

North Carolina

4.18/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz from 4 pack from FMcDs poured into a tulip glass

A - Pours dark as night. Half finger dark tan head. Brown notes.

S - Strong chocolate followed by some roasted malt

T - Chocolate, coffee, roasted malt. I am sensing a theme here. This is tasty.

M - Low carb, things get sticky as it warms.

O - Excellent stout, a slow sipper, perfect for cold nights weathering whatever silly named (or, more correctly, silly being the fact that they are now giving them names) winter storm we encounter over the next few months.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2014 02:40:26 | More by Apellonious
Photo of brianmandell

New York

3.83/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle dated 1/6/14 in snifter. Black as night with a quickly dissipating dark tan head. Chocolaty, roasty coffee scent. The taste is big. Chocolate sweetness up front then booze and a bright hop bitterness that lingers along a roasty ashiness. The finish dries out the tongue and leaves a very bitter ashy flavor. The mouthfeel is excellent. Slick but not too thick or cloying. I like that it's not overly sweet but the hops overpower the experience. The beer is well crafted but the hoppy character at 30 days old is not to my preference. I think this makes it a good candidate for aging. I will stash a few in the cellar and revisit over time.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2014 00:15:27 | More by brianmandell
Photo of Richardbeerlover


3.65/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours without a head and then a very thin head forms that quickly dissipated. Very thick black color. Smells like a typical dark stout. Nice slightly sweet taste without bitterness. Has a nice thickness to it. The 10% ABV shows up towards the finish. I really like this one.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2014 06:01:50 | More by Richardbeerlover
Photo of zimm421


4.36/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Appears a pitch black with a thin, dark brown head. Looks great.

The nose is all deep roastiness, with coffee and chocolate dominating and the roasted malts coming through as well. The taste follows suit with huge roasted malts, lots of chocolate and lots of coffee. This is full of deep complex flavors and is absolutely wonderful.

The mouthfeel is thick, full bodied and creamy with some stickiness left behind. This is just what I'm looking for in an imperial stout, with tons of dark flavors, thick feeling and excellent complexity.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2014 23:29:51 | More by zimm421
Photo of Hovawart


4.66/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I had two highly rated Russian Imperial Stouts right before this one. This ordering highlighted the hoppier characteristics of a more American style Imperial Stout.

It poured dark brown with surprisingly little head. The head developed slightly after the pour, but I was surprised compared to the two Russians I had poured prior.

The feel was enjoyable, but I prefer a bit more carbonation.

The taste was excellent! It was smooth and bold. It didn't have an overwhelming chocolaty taste, which I appreciated. Instead it had a subtle hoppiness. I'm a total hop head, and have kept almost exclusively to IPA's for several years. I would say I was drinking 99 IPA's for one of anything else, so the hoppy note was great!

Overall: I will definitely drink this beer again!

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2014 06:54:21 | More by Hovawart
Photo of silverblaze540


4.24/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Very dark black, with very thin brown head. Head disperses quickly.

S - Chocolate, with hints of coffee and malt. Smell is nice, but not very strong.

T - Sweet at the front, chocolately taste. Quickly switches to mildly bitter at the end with coffee aftertaste. Nice balance. Alcohol taste is prominent but balanced by other flavors.

M - Very thick, creamy, and silky.

O - Very nice and balanced beer. Heavy, with a sweet smell and initial taste. The bitterness lingers for a while. Enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2014 04:00:49 | More by silverblaze540
Photo of cjgiant

District of Columbia

3.76/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Anticipating this beer a bit. Liked FBS, and given ratings and my tastes, thought I would like this a little less. This turned out to be true.

First off, the appearance was a great black pour. The tan head laces the edges nicely. The smell was a little off to me, although interesting. I got an onion-type smell. There is some nuttiness as well, but overall not what I expected from this beer.

The taste itself has a coffee-bitter, cigarette smokey flavor to begin. This is combined with and cut by a dark chocolate taste, although there is an alcohol bite as well. The middle brings out some hazelnut, leading into a finish that starts with some seemingly carbonation-driven play on the tongue. The end is a lasting coating that returns to a coffee nature.

My initial tastes were at a colder temperature than ideal for the beer, and my enjoyment grew as the beer warmed (not shockingly). However, It never quite got to the point of being as good as I had hoped. I do have a few more to try to see if maybe this was an off night.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2014 04:24:55 | More by cjgiant
Photo of beagle75


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

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Opaque black color with one finger of diminishing beige foam head. Heavy lacing remains on the glass.

S: Nutty dark roast is both unctuous and spirituous. Chocolate liqueur is offset by soft breadiness.

T: Begins barely off-dry, with complex fermented tobacco. Dissonant citric acidity yields to immense dark qualities in the middle. The roast that emerges is principally nutty, matching the smell. New sweetness develops about midway though the flavor profile, leaving an impression of dark bitter chocolate to linger into the finish. No alcohol is detected.

M: Thick viscosity, dense and velvety on the palate, with low carbonation.

D/O: Amidst Founders' limited releases such as KBS and the Backstage delicacies, this much more obtainable beer quietly shines. Huge in its application of sensory qualities, it does not so much err from traditional form as it magnifies and enlarges it. It is an under-appreciated top-shelf contribution to the imperial stout style.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2014 02:01:03 | More by beagle75
Photo of Treyliff

West Virginia

4.65/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Fresh 2014 bottle, Poured into a snifter

A- pours like motor oil with a small foamy dark tan head that reduces to a small layer floating on top, alcohol legs and small patches of lace on the glass after agitation

S- smoky and roasted malt with notes of charcoal, ash, and charred wood. Sweet molasses with dried fig mixes with chocolaty undertones with a hint of herbal hop

T- intense smoky malt attacks the palate with notes of charcoal and earthy charred wood. Sweet chocolaty undertones mix with flavors of prune and raisin. Despite in intensity of the malt, the hops break through, leaving some herbal and piney bitterness. The finish brings an almost chocolate milk-like sweetness with more smoky notes to close it out

M- thick and viscous body with medium-low carbonation leads to a thick and creamy mouthfeel, with a pure silk finish. Slightly warming at the end, but the ABV is controlled well

O- an amazing example of the style, intense the whole way through and will stay on the palate long after consuming. A little less smoke and char would bump the taste up to a 5

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2014 01:37:22 | More by Treyliff
Photo of TheBullsHorn


4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

It's hard to try and find something wrong with this ale. Complex combination of flavors intertwine into this silky mouthfeel that begs you take another sip. The long lingering after palate is complemented with dark roasted malty bitterness. Perfect beer for a night cap.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2014 05:48:28 | More by TheBullsHorn
Photo of MysticMoose


3.55/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a stemmed stout glass. The pour was a thick, almost molasses looking drink, like I'd expect from a heavy imperial, but it had much less head than I expected. The head that it did have was dark and rich.
Founders Imperial's smell is dominated by sweetness, more caramel than chocolate.
The taste was less than impressive. Packs the expected punch of an imperial, but it lacks depth. You get the alcohol and hops up front, but the flavors don't really develop on the back end. The aftertaste is predominately bitter, which surprised me for a beer with such a sweet smell. There are definitely chocolate undertones, but that's about as deep as it gets. This is certainly a beer that would benefit from aging.
The mouthfeel is excellent. It has the warm thickness of an imperial, and sticks with you well after you gulp it down.
Overall, I expected more out of this beer, being a big fan of Founders in general. I felt, however, that the flavors here were quite basic for an imperial stout. It was strong, hoppy, and close to overpowering, but didn't have the back end complexity of a truly great stout. I have a couple bottles in the cellar, and hopefully they get wiser with age. As it stands, I just can't call this beer a top 100.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2014 06:39:43 | More by MysticMoose
Photo of beersgud


3.5/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into stem stout glass, appearance was little to no head. Head that was apparent was beautiful tan cream. Opaque color (black/brown). Smell had chocolate and coffee notes. Taste was much smokier than I had anticipated. Very boozy as well. Sifts in mouth extremely well, despite overwhelming character. Overall an above average beer that I see aging well.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2014 06:33:07 | More by beersgud
Photo of Zdrummer15


4.21/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into snifter

Appearance: pitch black with no transparency whatsoever, thin mocha colored head that dissapates quickly leaving only a ring with spotty lacing

Smell: very roasty. chocolate, caramel, hints of coffee and dark fruits

Taste: largely matches the nose. Some hop bitterness right off the bat followed by the dark chocolate. Finishes with a bit of coffee and then some alcohol warmth, as expected being a big, fresh RIS

Mouth feel: thick, full-bodied, light carbonation

Overall: very solid stout from Founders. I've come to expect nothing less from them. It doesn't blow me away like their American style offerings, but that's not to take anything away from it as American Imperial Stouts are one of my two favorite styles. As far as Russian Imperial Stouts go, this is probably the second best I've had the pleasure of enjoying, right behind Ten Tidy, and just ahead of Old Rasputin

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2014 05:08:31 | More by Zdrummer15
Photo of dank203

New Jersey

4.45/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

tulip: black, completely opaque. coffee+cream colored head. rich aroma of chocolate. hint of booze. faint. more chocolate. one of the richest and smoothest feel I've had in a while. the chocolate is so present. very roasty on the back end and a lingering alcohol taste but it is warming and pleasant

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2014 21:24:07 | More by dank203
Photo of JohnG190

New York

4.66/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solid black with a small dark khaki head. There's a hint of ruby around the edges. Great lacing. A beautiful stout to behold. On the nose there's lots of coffee, chocolate and dark roasted malt. As it warms, hints of smoke and vanilla come through. Outstanding aroma! On the palate, hop bitterness gives way to a chocolate and coffee bomb! Mouthfeel is thick and creamy. Little carbonation lends to the smoothness of this great stout. Overall, this is the finest non-BA Imperial Stout I've ever had.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2014 23:15:01 | More by JohnG190
Photo of Elprico


4.59/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A-Jet black appearance with a thin, tan head that leaves some nice lacing.

S-Bitter, dark chocolate and toasted malt, wood, and finally coffee and slight hops.

T-Starts off with a deep roasted malt flavor that moves into a nicely bitter aftertaste of coffee. I can see how some would see the flavor as too roasted, but it becomes more pleasant as it warms up. About half way through I began to pick up more of a raisin and plum like sweetness. This is meant to be sipped very slowly.

M-Pretty thick, but given the huge taste I thought it might be thicker. It's really creamy and easy on the palate, and for being over 10%, the alcohol is masked like no other.

O-It's hard to complain about this fantastic example of an Imperial Stout. It's almost like drinking a hot chocolate. Bitter and roasted and perfect for cold weather.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2014 05:36:11 | More by Elprico
Photo of Act25

New Jersey

4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer goes through the roof when coupled with great chocolate. I'm serious, it was just OK with cheddar and strong cheese, but with dark chocolate it was great. You must drink this beer with high quality chocolate or with dessert as a night cap (as I am doing....) ha.

A: The pour is viscous oil, as thick as any or ted fidy, and black with a finger of mocha foam fades to a flat surface, leaving nice lacing.
S: Not enough, what there is, is good. Hops, coffee, chocolate, charred wood, roasted malt, esters. More bakery than deli. Better as it warms.
T: Follows smell, but bursts forward with abundance, with more hoppy bitterness melded with lots of chocolate that resolves itself with some roast char and a long, long balanced bitter finish, a great finish.

M: Very smooth, rich, and creamy and long-lasting. Satisfying. The finish on this beer is best part.

D: Great RIS up there with all the best, and yet original, more dessert like, more chocolate.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2014 02:27:23 | More by Act25
Photo of dar482

New York

4.75/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

(Update: Same bottle date, 12/6/12, aged 13 months.

The beer pours extremely dark and thick, with floaties on the bottom.

The beer punches first of fudgey chocolate, rich rich cocoa chocolate. Almost like a gourmet hot chocolate. Deep roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate, dark cherry, a bit of umami.

The flavor follows with a fudgey chocolate and deeply roasted coffee in the front, then onto some umami, a rounded flavor of dark cherry. There's roasted malt and coffee throughout. The hops still come through giving still a woody hop bitterness on the finish and on and on.

Having had a vertical of '11, '12, and the most recent batch ('13/'14). Some people preferred the balance of bitterness in the '12. I prefer '11 as the hops have fallen through and it creates a luscious stout.

Age this! Enjoy!)

Bottle on neck says the beer was bottled on 12/6/12.

The color is a pitch black stout color with a chocolate brown half finger head. The head lingers, good amount of lacing on the glass. Beautiful color on the head.

The aroma has roasted malt, coffee, and deep rich chocolate fudge. It’s a very delicious chocolate aroma. There’s a bit of dark fruit in there.

The flavor is deep and rich. The first hit is just of dark roasted espresso, which leaves an aftertaste that salivates the mouth and asking for more. There’s also a dark bitter chocolate. However, the big flavor is that bitter espresso or French roasted coffee. It’s quite smokey at times. It’s almost like charcoal with how deep and burnt the flavor is. For some, this would be too roasted, smokey, or almost burnt.

As the beer warms up, you get some deep rich dark fruits like cherries or raisins, much like a Belgian strong dark ale.

The mouthfeel is just luscious and viscous, almost like drinking hot chocolate. It’s very creamy and the alcohol does not come through at all.

This is quite an exceptional beer, but for those who are interested in deep dark flavors. The bitterness in this does not let up.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2014 16:11:20 | More by dar482
Photo of Ieatlambfries

New Jersey

4.61/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a viscous opaque black. Thick dense head of dark brown bubbles. Small islands of lace left after each sip.

Smells of dark chocolate, fresh ground coffee beans, and dried figs. Very slight hint of alcohol on the nose.

Big flavors of baking coco, yoo-hoo, espresso, and roasted malts. Dried fruits such as figs and dates. Thick sweet malt backbone. Hop presence melds perfectly with the bitter dark chocolate flavors. Alcohol is dangerously well hidden.

Mouthfeel is thick and full bodied. Although the head was dense, it doesn't come off as very heavily carbonated.

Overall an excellent RIS. One of the best I've personally had.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2014 21:13:11 | More by Ieatlambfries
Photo of Bowers-Brew


4.51/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark as night. Almost no foam even when poured from a foot above the glass...

S - Sweet chocolate, toffee, raisin and oatmeal and bourbon/alcohol notes.

T - Alcohol and sweetness are very present up front. If you let it linger you can

M - Flat, heavy, and creamy.

O - A great example of an Imperial Stout. I won't make it a regular (like Founder's breakfast stout), but it's certainly an every now and then sipping beer to keep in the rotation. Prost!

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2014 23:13:16 | More by Bowers-Brew
Photo of macher0


4.45/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle to snifter.

This pours highly viscous, second to the likes of ten fidy, and jet black. A thick fine bubble amber head slowly retreats to a nice rim. A thick layer of amber remains when swirled or swiled.

The nose is very malty and a little hoppy. The taste follows the nose. The nose and taste are fairly basic but spot on: dark roasted malts, medium hops, domestic yeast and minor notes of marshmallows, tannins and booze. The booze is up front at this point but its only been in the bottle for a month. I assume the booze will mellow after time.

The feel is my favorite aspect of this ale. Very smooth. It's hard to craft an imperial ale that's super smooth but they accomplished the feat. Moderate carbonation, especially for an ris, and full bodied.

This is the first time I've had this ale and it exceeded my expectations. I enjoy this much more than the FBS, primarily because of the feel. Man this is smooth. The booze is prolific but it works. I think if it ages it will be even better.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2014 22:56:56 | More by macher0
Photo of Alextricity


4.39/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 12/27/13. $3.49 single. Poured into a Sam Adams Shaker Pint.

Appearance: Black, black, black pour. Half finger of a dark brown head that dies down to a slight ring on top. Lacing is decent. Looks thick, rich, sexy. Mmm, baby.

Smell: Depth. Serious depth in this brew. I don't normally pick up a laundry list of things in a beer, but this is one of the exceptions: coffee, char, milk chocolate, dark fruits, smoke... a huge amount of roast, but it manages to come off as sweet and inviting at the same time. A slight note of alcohol is there as well. Smells outstanding, but it's not quite as... bold as I was hoping, I suppose.

Taste/feel: Dear God, that's rich. FIS has a fantastic mouthfeel that coats the mouth right away with its sweet, roasty, chocolatey, fruity ridiculousness without being thick to the point of syrup. A slight alcohol warmth is also there on the finish, but it's not at all harsh. Aftertaste is of char, roast, and dark chocolate and it leaves a black coffee aroma on the breath.

I'll make no qualms about it, this is the best "standard" Imperial Stout that I believe I have ever had. It's not *quite* as mindblowing as their Breakfast Stout, but this is phenomenal.

Quick note: I really love this beer, but unlike most people, I prefer sipping on this one when it's a bit colder. As it warms, the alcohol becomes much more prominent as well as harsh, and the brew becomes really syrupy sweet. If I were to review this one at its recommended serving temperature (I'm not sure what it is, but probably quite warm), I'd not like it as much. I like it soon after it comes out of the fridge, because I pick up more desirable characteristics.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2014 19:20:20 | More by Alextricity
Photo of elmore


3.94/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Bought at Woodmans on the West Side in Madison, WI.

A - Thick and viscous. Completely opaque. Very thin dark tan head that recedes to nothing quickly.

S - Hops come through more than most stouts. Balanced with a good amount of sweet malts. Hints of coffee and dark chocolate.

T - Typical tastes of an imperial stout, but hoppier than most. Espresso, dark chocolate. Some sweet malts lend balance. Alcohol not apparent for such a substantial beer.

M - Somewhat thin for such a substantial beer. Wish it had a bit more of a head. Carbonation is low.

Overall, I think average to slightly above for an imperial stout. Prefer KBS.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2014 20:40:48 | More by elmore
Photo of MattSweatshirt


4.24/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Coming out of the bottle it is almost black. A finger of thick dark brown head forms in my snifter atop a body of total blackness. Thick lacing sticks behind.

Roasted coffee and brownies lead with some more caramel mixing with the chocolate giving some more sweetness to the aroma, and a touch of cherry.

It says 90 ibu's, but doesn't come off as a bitter monster. Slight hop flavor is still intact with some earth and grass. Big roasted malt envelops and doesn't allow for much sweetness. Served room temp there is a slight alcohol warmth present throughout the taste. Chocolate is there but not like in the aroma.

Drinks so smooth and viscous. It's a big beer. Finishes dry and gets sticky on the lips.

Home run stout here as the grade and amount of reviews indicates.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2014 16:55:55 | More by MattSweatshirt
Photo of target88


4.2/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Wonderful coffee aroma beautiful black and color has an absolutely outstanding sick mouth feel good deal of hops and very stiff coffee backbone. This beer is full-bodied and demand your full attention although this is usually my type of beer the flavor color and Romar absolutely fantastic and I would highly recommend it to any stout drinker

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2014 00:36:13 | More by target88
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 4,928 ratings.