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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

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1,719 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,719
Hads: 6,991
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: 7.18%
Wants: 665
Gots: 2,034 | FT: 152
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: 1,719 | Hads: 6,991
Photo of predikit
3.96/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours thick, and deep brown, settles in the glass black. Leaves brown head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smell is rather muted, some notes of molasses, slightly fruity.

Taste has some dark fruit notes, before quickly sliding into molasses and bitter coffee and chocolate, which take the finish and the aftertaste. Alcohol is well hidden, though I noticed when drinking along side a meal, the alcohol will come out more.

Full bodied, syrupy thick, extremely smooth and creamy.

A very good stout. (499 characters)

Photo of Jacobob10
3.65/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottled on 12/12/2014.

Poured into a snifter. Black as midnight with one of the darkest brown heads I have ever seen. The head is small but leaves some nice lacing on the glass as it goes down. Legs on the glass as well when you swirl it around. Nose is filled with chocolate, vanilla, port, coffee, and booze, although the sum is not great as its parts. It falls apart a bit upon tasting. Way too heavy on the burnt malt. Big espresso notes as well as bitter dark chocolate. Very bitter in fact. Full bodied with a chewy texture. Booze remains prevalent throughout the beer. I put one of these bad boys in the cellar to revisit in a year. Hoping some of the burnt flavor will mellow out. Hate to say it but I don't get all the Founders love. I've been generally disappointed with most of what I've tried. (813 characters)

Photo of uvachief
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft from a 32 oz grunt. Pours dark black with 2 fingers of tan mocha colored head. Significant lacing throughout the drink. Aromas of coffee and chocolate with a hint of dark fruit. Nice heavy body in the mouth with a rush of chocolate, vanilla, roasted malts and coffee (not espresso). Extremely smooth and well balanced. Aftertaste is much the same on the back end with maybe more coffee. Extremely smooth and drinkable. 32oz gone in a flash. Well hidden abv. This was 2013 so aged at least a year. Very smooth. (526 characters)

Photo of ryanmextorf
4.46/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

LET THIS THING AGE! It is leaps and bounds better after about a year or two of cellaring. The intense dark fruit notes fade a little bit and it turns into a delicious, chocolatey, fudgey brownie. (195 characters)

Photo of SierraFlight
4.15/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into stout goblet. Very dark brown to black liquid with light brown head that stands two fingers tall before settling to a sheen and leaving some patches of lace. Aroma is very roasty malts, unsweetened chocolate, espresso, dark fruit, molasses, and alcohol. Taste is initially sweet roasted malts, with cocoa and dark fruit followed by coffee (and maybe some hop) bitterness and fruity esters on the finish. Medium-full body, creamy and thick texture, soft carbonation, long bitter finish and warming alcohol sensation. (539 characters)

Photo of BucannonXC5
4.42/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Ratings are correct below, but I changed some marks above to make the final rating as correct as possible with Beer Advocate's "revamped" system. The 4.42 overall rating is correct.

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Karl Strauss snifter glass
From: Beer Advocate’s SteveB24
Price: N/A
Purchased: N/A; Received on Feb. 7, 2015
Consumed: Feb. 21, 2015
Misc.: Bottled on Dec. 22, 2014

Thanks Steve!

Poured a black color with 1-to-2 fingers of dark tan, rocky head. Great layered, spiderweb foamy lacing on the sides of the glass. Average-to-above average retention. (Sight - 4.63)

Smelled toffee, caramel, roasted coffee malts, dark chocolate and roasted nuts. (Smell - 4.13)

Tasted caramel, toffee, metallic notes, roasted coffee malts, rich dark chocolate, chocolate milkshake, roasty nuts, some smoky fire and sweet sugary notes. (Taste - 4.38)

Full body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish. Alcohol is well hidden. (Feel - 4.88)

This was just a really good RIS, definitely in the my top three without looking back. So smooth for 10.5 pct. (Overall - 4.50)

4.42 | 98 | A (1,095 characters)

Photo of BeerDawgs
4.52/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A 12oz bottle with a bottled on date of 12.22.15

L - Pitch black motor oil. Thick and creamy! 1/2 a finger of tan head. No lace sickness

S - Dark chocolate and roasted malts

T - Roasted malts and dark chocolate. Not overly sweet. ABV is hidden. Dried fruits and well balanced.

F - Thick bodied and medium carbonation.

O - An amazing Imperial stout. Get it if you can! (381 characters)

Photo of ThomasMetal75
4.2/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A- Looked like motor oil! Not even a red tinge could be detected. The head was a deep, dark, brown color. It died to a fine 1 finger that suck around. Not a large amount of lacing, but it was there. The beer has great looking alcohol legs that cling to the glass.

S- Lactic sweetness, but its light. Overall the beer smells on the drier side for an imperial stout. Dark, semisweet, baker's type chocolate is there. Rich coffee notes as well. Some dark fruits. Deep, roasted, maltiness. Smells excellent.

T- WOW! The nose and taste are the same. Very malty, with deep roasted notes to it. Sweetness is there, but it's not like a candied sugar flavor like some of these imperial stouts have. It's more on the drier, roasted coffee side of the flavor. I'm also getting a powdery quality to the dark chocolate flavor. I don't get much of the 90 IBUs at all. The bitterness was masked very well. And so was the alcohol for the most part. The beer has a very nice warming quality to the alcohol. It doesn't burn whatsoever. It finishes somewhat sweet and chocolatey and warming.

M- This is how a good imperial stout should feel. It's a full bodied beer, as one would expect. But in saying that, this was not harsh or hard to drink at all! It coated your mouth and the back of the throat nicely, and some of the flavors did stick around for awhile.

Overall, you need to get this. This is the perfect beer during the messy 2015 snow, cold, and ice we've been experiencing. I used it as dessert, and it worked out fantastically. It got loads of flavor and complexity without the harshness or burn you sometimes get from the style. And it's not overly sweet. Go get yourself a 4pk, try 1, and cellar the rest. A rated beer all day long son! (1,734 characters)

Photo of sharkfin_24
4.38/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as night, friends compared it to oil. The taste definitely makes it worth the cost. The only bad thing is the guts the day after. Comes out looking like it went in, kind of scary lol. (198 characters)

Photo of maedhros09
3.93/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look: Pours petroleum black, with a couple fingers of brown head.

Smell: chocolate, roasted coffee beans, and dark fruit

Taste: Starts with sweet chocolate bread, roasted malt, and dark fruit, finishing with a lingering herbal hops bitterness. Some tingling sensation towards the end which I assume is the alcohol.

Feel: Thick body and fairly smooth

Overall: If your taste buds are severely dulled and you want to experience an imperial stout, I would recommend Founder's. It could almost be described as a distilled imperial stout, with all the flavors magnified beyond the usual imperial intensity. The hops definitely make a very strong appearance at the end - this more than anything else spoils the experience a bit for me. I wonder if it would mellow out a bit if you cellared it for a few months. Also, the malt end definitely falls on the sweet side even for the style. Overall I prefer a little more subtlety and balance in an imperial stout (both the Old Rasputin and the Narwhal accomplish this), but it's worth it to experience Founder's version. (1,065 characters)

Photo of TKaten
3.83/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful thick pour, looks like shiny motor oil streaming out of the bottle. Nice feel, creamy and viscous like a good stout should be. Only complaint is that it's a bit too sweet on the palate for my taste. But overall a very enjoyable experience. (251 characters)

Photo of Catracho5
4.6/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Belgian style tulip glass bottle 12/01/2014

A: Pitch black with a brown creamy head that dissipated after about 7-8 minutes, not a whole lot of lacing, very little carbonation, looks pretty viscous as I swish the beer around in the glass, very nice.

A: Big roasted malt, coffee like aromas, chocolate, picking up a slight hint of that soy sauce smell, very slight, picking up some slight alcohol aromas, very nice aroma.

T: Big chocolate, coffee, roasted malt aromas, right up front, slight soy sauce, some bitterness, slight alcohol on the finish as well as a dry finish. Very smooth drinking for 10.5% ABV.

M: Motor oil, dry, has that smooth creamy imperial stout mouthfeel, really nice, very thick.

O: Definitely world class, big chocolate coffee roasted malts, easy drinking and smooth, wonderful mouthfeel, has that slight Expedition Stout soy sauce like flavor, world class, can't until Founders is available in CA, really good. (969 characters)

Photo of E-McFarden
4.61/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Black as night, but with a taste that cannot be ignored. Apparent but not overbearing in the toasted flavor, and a pleasant undertone of cherry and chocolate. What a good beer. (176 characters)

Photo of dmgeng
4.93/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of Founders seasonal offerings that I try to get every year.

A - Dark black with some burgundy while being poured. It pours thick with dark brown rocky head and strong lacing.

S - Tons of of sweet malt smell with roasted, coffee, chocolate, caramel, and some toffee notes radiating out. There is great balance from this imperial stout.

T - Initially the rich character of malt, roast, chocolate, coffee, and some toffee/caramel taste. There is a great battle between the rich sweetness of the malt and chocolate and the bitter roastiness. Big flavors that make you beg for more.

M - Very high mouth-feel with moderate carbonation. Very balanced between the sweet and bitter and the big mouth feel make it stick to your palate but with a medium carbonation makes it not too cloying.

Overall, this is one of the best examples of an Imperial Stout you can find. Tons of flavor, great balance, and low cost make this one a great get. I know that there are some people out there that would have a hard time dealing with the thickness of this stout and the punch but I love it.

Glass- Snifter (1,096 characters)

Photo of ribby
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured into a standard pint glass with a modest dark brown head. The beer is impenetrably black. Hard to ask for a better lokoing stout.

The beer has an intense aroma of roasted malt. The IBUs on this are not what you think, the role of the hops in this brew is to balance the incredibly intense malt, both in aroma and flavor. After the malt, the alcohol is noticeable on the palate.

Overall, amazing intensity, and an incredible demonstration of the brewer's skill of showing off the intense malt with perfect balance, just enough hops to balance the sweetness of the malt. (And with all that roasted malt, not a hint of any burnt malt harshness.) (660 characters)

Photo of Hesscabob
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Finally was able to have a snifter full.

A - Impenetrable dark beer with a dark mocha/tan head.
S - Smell of chocolate, fuge, brownies, rocky road ice cream.
M - Creamier than I anticipated, perfect carbonation, no lingering sweetness such as other base stouts. The use of Oats is noted and well taken.
T - Delicious, roasted malts, marshmallow.
O - Great Imperial, much anticipated and it delivered. (401 characters)

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

This is a great Imperial Stout. Extremely smooth with a nice touch of heat at the end to let you know this is the real thing. Good malts and chocolate flavors. Highly recommended! (183 characters)

Photo of SD-Alefan
4.78/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from the bottle into a snifter. (The bottle has about a year on it).
Pours a deep, opaque darkest brown with a dark tan head.
A rich chocolate and roasty aroma with a hint of fresh coffee and a bit of toffee.
This is a great-tasting beer. Lots of dark chocolate and some roast coffee as well as dark dried fruits.
The mouthfeel is smooth and really creamy.
An excellent stout. (385 characters)

Photo of tedvr
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours really dark with a large chocolate head. Smells of burnt coffee and burnt caramel. Tastes are complex, burnt coffee and caramel. Almost has a tobacco or licorice aftertaste. Little syrupy with some carbonation. Overall a great stout! (244 characters)

Photo of ajm5108
4.83/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Everything you would expect from a great all-around stout. Smooth, even flavor of delicately toasted malt with hints of dark cocoa and a little punch at the end with some coffee. Finishes very easy, great mouthfeel. One of the standards when it comes to the style, nothing flashy or gimmicky, it is what you expect it to be & executes magnificently. (352 characters)

Photo of TheElectricOne
4.63/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a tulip glass

Founders has become known for delivering knockout stouts, from KBS to CBS and everything beneath. This is no exception. Delivers an obsidian black color, with a chocolatey, quickly dissipating head. The aroma is powerful, including dark-roasted coffee, chocolate and molasses scent. This is reflected in the taste, which starts heavily roasty and finishes like a mocha with strong espresso and sweet dark chocolate notes. Leaves a long-lasting imprint of dark chocolate on the palate. Overall, a fantastic stout that delivers a smooth 10% ABV amidst dark, sweet flavors. (597 characters)

Photo of mjwellman
4.68/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours dark with wonderful brown creamy head. Smell is chocolate and coffee. The taste is wonderfully smooth. Sweet, but I cant ID what that is. Definetly a coffee and chocolate taste. no bitterness. I could drink this all night. (234 characters)

Photo of clay_i
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Superb. There are few examples of a simple, non-coffee, non-pepper, non-BA stouts out there that are at the level of this. Definitely going to pick it up whenever I see it. (172 characters)

Photo of TheCraftBrewReview
4.85/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance – 97: Generally speaking with a stout, the darker the color, the happier I am. And with a Russian Stout? That sucker better be black as night, wielding a sickle and hammer and whistling Tchaikovsky. To that end – Well done, Founders. My initial pour created a quarter-inch thick head which slowly dissipated over a minute’s timeframe, leaving behind a caramel outside ring with bubbles on top that oddly resembled the Kremlin. Go figure.

Aroma – 96: Roasted malts dominate the smell of this beer, with a hint of coffee, chocolate, molasses and bread. The faintness of alcohol is also readily apparent, which isn’t a surprise given the ABV.

Body and Texture – 97: After the first sip I was ready to start singing “The Hunt for the Red October” theme. Wow. This beer dominates your mouth from the start, sitting incredibly heavy from the outset. After a moment my palate developed a very malted, dark tinge to it, which is perfect. A slight bitterness remained, but only lingered until the next sip.

Taste – 96: As the beer is brewed with 10 varieties of malted barley, that is the first (and last) taste that was readily apparent upon drinking this beer. There is an initial sweetness that I found to be quite pleasant – almost as if black cherries were dipped in dark chocolate. Perhaps the best thing about this beer was the rich aftertaste. Similar to a dish that has few ingredients but is immaculately executed – every note on this beer rings true to form. The ABV is hardly noticeable given how everything sits on your tongue.

Overall – 96.2 (World-Class): Before I forget, I did want to give Danny Gallina (the manager over at Legacy Beverage) a shoutout – This beer surpassed my expectations and then some. Not to say that I would ever have low expectations from Founders (as they happen to be one of my favorite breweries) – but I’ve found Russian Imperials to be very hit or miss with the malts. Occasionally malted beers can sit for too long and become bitter and unpleasant – luckily for me this was the complete opposite. Everything about this beer is dead on, from the beautiful artwork depicting the Russian coat of arms, the initial pour, look and taste – all hit the mark. In a stout world currently dominated by bourbon-barrels, this Russian version stands out. I’m very sad to say dosvedanya.

Purchase Value (A) – Given the beer’s national recognition, I was surprised to pay only 11.99 for a four pack, and would gladly do so again. The folks over at Legacy Beverage were very easy to work with, and Danny’s recommendation was spot on and well appreciated. (2,633 characters)

Photo of Tuck_leepulin
4.72/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into a snifter bottled on 12/02/2014

Appearance: Black as midnight with a dark tan head

Smell: Dark roasted coffee and chocolate

Taste: Bold and complex with tons of roasted malt flavors along with chocolate and coffee-like bitterness

Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy, just what I desire from an imperial stout

Overall: This is one hell of an RIS. Complex malt flavors and probably the best mouthfeel of any stout I have had thus far. (454 characters)

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,719 ratings.