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: 7,035
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 677
Gots: 2,062 | 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: 7,035
Photo of tedvr
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
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!

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Photo of obrike
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A gem of a Russian Stout...and to think I had this in Puerto Rico on a business trip. God bless beer. Now that I see it in Texas all the time, it's become a staple.

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Photo of ajm5108
4.83/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

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Photo of TheElectricOne
4.63/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

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Photo of mjwellman
4.68/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

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Photo of clay_i
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

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Photo of TheCraftBrewReview
4.85/5  rDev +12%
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.

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Photo of Tuck_leepulin
4.72/5  rDev +9%
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.

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Photo of rand
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

From 12 oz bottle to snifter

A: Appropriate jet-black color, what little head that forms collapses under its own weight and viscosity.

S: The nose is sweet and boozy, with notes of cocoa, molasses, mint and oaky astringency. Plenty of alcohol volatiles carry the nose.

T/M: Big malty sweetness and the front of the sip, along with booze. Huge, sticky complexion takes a minute to parse the nuances. Unsweetened chocolate and licorice are distinct, along with suggestions of carob, mint and husky grains. Bittering hops lend a woody, oaky astringency that centers the flavors and keeps things quaffable.

I'm drinking this side-by-side with Breakfast Stout, I'm not sure which is better. B Stout is a little smoother, but not necessarily better - and this has a higher ABV. Incredible brew nonetheless.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thick blood-black pour into SAPP with creamy dark brown foam;
Rich chocolate aroma;
Chocolate malt and stone fruit flavors/alcohol well hidden in rich malt and hop bite on the finish;
Heavy/full mouthfeel with luxurious tongue coating;
Overall a quite tasty imperial stout.

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Photo of TheItalianStallion
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 12-02-2014 and poured into a tulip

A: Pour is black as night with a head of brown foam that is 1 finger in size. The head quickly disappears into a thin collar that leaves a few streaks of lacing behind.

S: Right up front you get heavy aromas of roasted malts and dark chocolate. There is also a good amount of espresso and anise coming out as the beer warms. A faint smell of molasses as well. No hops detectable whatsoever.

T: Robust flavors of dark chocolate and roasted malts with a smokiness to it. Coffee not as strong as it is on the nose but it is definitely present, along with a bit of sweet licorice.

M: Full bodied with low carbonation, leading to a silky smooth mouthfeel that seems to coat your tongue. Finish is somewhat dry with a good amount of bitterness.

O: Founders Imperial Stout is a solid beer with a big roasted malt profile that seems to have a smokiness to it. The mouthfeel is smooth and the alcohol is masked very well. I would highly recommend this beer and I will be drinking it again for sure. I would love to try this with some age on it!

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Photo of OrangeMen
4.37/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Black, opaque. Pours a finger thick cinnamon, deep mocha color head, frothy and thick, dissipates into thin layer. Excellent lacing on sides of glass, coats like a layer of film.
Aroma- Rich dark chocolates and roasted/charred malts, bitter. Certain graniness, w/ some slightly sweeter creamy aromas underneath, milk chocolates, caramel. Slight pungnant alcohol notes.
Taste- Bitter charred malt, rich decadent chocolates follow, bitter dark chocolates. Creamy sweetness pokes through w/ notes of caramel, finishes bitter w/ lingering hops, alcohol, and roastiness.
Mouthfeel- Medium mouthfeel, fairly creamy and sticky, moderate carbonation.
Overall- An excellently crafted imperial stout, predominantly bitter but does have just enough sweetness to balance. Can definetly get some of the hops for how young the beer is, and just adds to the bitter profile. The sweet characteristics are wonderful and decadent. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of PostRockandCats
4.44/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a heavy, black liquid with a creamy, dark khaki head and a thick layer of lacing on the sides of the glass. It really is pitch black; you can almost feel the light being sucked into it. It smells of dark, toasty malts and mocha with a lovely burnt note at the end.

It tastes like a good Imperial Stout should: dark, smokey, slightly bitter, a bit creamy and rich. No dark fruits as some IS's have. Nice hit of umami unctuousness.

The feel is rich, thick and heavy; my mouth was coated thoroughly.

Overall, this is a wonderful beer that's a prime example of the style. I'll look forward to it coming out next winter as well!

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Photo of leantom
4.59/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, this is a beer that I've been waiting to try for a while. Founders has been disappointing me lately, but I still haven't lost hope. Here goes:

A: Beautiful. Motor-oil black, one-inch black head that leaves a ton of lacing. Simply beautiful.

S: Exquisite. Lots of roasted malt impart smells of coffee and dark chocolate. The coffee isn't bitter, however; in fact it's quite rich and creamy smelling, almost as if there's a bit of lactose in here as well. Very fulfilling.

T: Follows the nose, with a faint hint of dark fruit at the back of the palate. Initial taste is one of rich coffee and decadent chocolate - perfect. This is followed by some dark fruit (e.g., raisins, figs, plum), but this taste is rather subtle compared to the dark chocolate and coffee. Lingering bitter coffee taste.

F: Thick and creamy. Great.

O: Great beer. Dark fruit detracts from the taste somewhat, but the coffee and chocolate simply overpower this minor inconvenience.

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Photo of sdeese21
4.62/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Jet black with almost no head but a rich brown foam develops upon swirling.
Smell: I can definitely pick up the bitterness in this beer (90 IBU's) as well as the usual RIS notes.
Taste: Very, Very good beer. I'm really not sure how they hid the booze so well as I'm only getting a minimal amount of warmth at the end.
Feel: Velvety, with a nice, thick mouth feel that I enjoy in RIS's.
Overall: Very enjoyable beer but the bitterness was a little high for me. I have a few to age and will try them intermittently over the next few years. Founders has been putting out some absolute quality stuff!

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4.52/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well god damn, this is a fine beer. Thanks to Jammyman for the trade. Dark as sin with a bold toasty roasted tasty feel and vibe. Not too showy on any level, just a solid imp stout. Dig.

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Photo of Samuel906
4.52/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Really excited to try this. I have heard no end of great things about Founders stouts an d this certainly did not disappoint. Pours absolutely sheer jet black with one of the darkest brown heads Ive ever seen. head dissipates quickly leaving behind the viscous, oily brew. Rich creamy mocha greets you on the nose complemented by toasted malt, and chocolate covered cherries. Taste is a tidal wave of bittersweet chocolate up front with a mellow finish of earthy tobacco, and roasted coffee. Feel is thick and oily, coats every inch of your mouth. A bit sticky. but it comes with the territory. Definitely a slow sipper. Overall, one of the kings of the heavy stouts. Great in all aspects.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.99/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 edition, 12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with absolutely no head what-so-ever, except an extremely thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Massive aroma of roasted malt up front! Some notes of roasted coffee, a touch of smoke, and tons of brown sugar!

Taste: Wow!! Tons of roasted malt up front, imparting strong notes of roasted coffee beans, a touch of smoke and tons of dark chocolate. The beer is beautifully balanced with tons of brown sugar-like sweetness and finishes with a touch of dark chocolate-like bitterness! Absolutely delicious!

Mouthfeel: Very chewy and smooth as silk, as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 10%, there’s a very pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: Jesus, what a beer! Big, bold, beautiful flavors of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate all wrapped up in a silky smooth beer! Outstanding!

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Photo of TheJollyHop
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

12/15/2014 poured into a TeKu glass:

L: Foam consists of a chocolate brown roux-like hue on top of an opaque, black body. Benchmark appearance that maintains a head that's indicative of the gravity of this brew.
S: Whiffs of plastic along with grass clippings (both usual indications in my experience of a beer that will benefit from extended bottle cellaring), earthy chocolate, and alcohol,
T: Grassy hop notes upfront, long cooking chocolate/bitter finish with notes of dried tobacco leaves and smoke. Alcohol warmth attacks mid sip and doesn't let go. Balance slanting towards bitterness at this time, which is to be expected with little more than a month in the bottle.
F: Velvety texture and full body that leaves a slick coating on the tongue.
O: On my top five list of non-barrel aged, commercially available, imperial stouts.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.21/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 12/10/14

Pours a wicked black color, perfect two finger sized head with a brownish tan color, fades at a slow rate but only leaves a small bit of lacing on the glass and no lasting cap.

Smell is very heavy on coffee aromas along with a roasted/burnt malt presence, slight metallic tinge to the nose, not really picking up much hop balance even though it was only bottled a little over a month ago.

Taste starts out with a hint of warming alcohol, doesn't get too strong to be overwhelming or distracting fortunately, strong roasted malt with a burnt bitterness in the aftertaste, coffee presence throughout the entire drink but don't expect any cream or excessive sugar to accompany it, very thick and chewy body with long lasting stickiness, avoids being cloying though.

Could use a few more unique traits to separate it from the pack but what it does it does very well. I'm glad I've got a few more bottles to see how it changes with some age on it.

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Photo of DougT
4.88/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a stout glass. Deep, dark, like the abyss. Nice 2 finger head of dark brown. Took off a couple for a few too many large bubbles. Great lacing and leaves a thick layer of creamy froth as you drink. Smell is roast, malt, coffee, chocolate and dark candi. Just what a stout should be. Could be a hint stronger, otherwise steller. Taste is ambrosia. Sweat chocolate, coffee, hints of dark fruits, with roast and malt bitters and some earthy hops. Feel is spot on. Creamy, full bodied, effervescent. You can't ask for better. So this is almost the perfect stout. As an Imperial it could use a hint more hop bitters, the head could be just a touch creamier, which might happen with age, and the smell could be subtly more intense, which would happen with the extra hops. This is a really really good beer.

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Photo of CowsandBeer
3.69/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Bruery tulip glass. Bottled on 12/02/2014.
Appearance: Pours a half finger of dark brown head with a reddish tint. Body is completely black as expected with nice creamy lacing on the sides. Not unlike Yeti.
Aroma: Lots of burnt black malts, brown sugar, super dark chocolate, some roasted coffee and cream, and a slight vinous note.
Taste: Burnt black malts, bitter coffee and cream, and a warming spike of booze in the middle with a bitter green finish.
Mf: Starts with a creamy and heavy mouthfeel and ends on a dry and chalky note.
Overall: A big hefty American stout that I struggle to drink. It’s got nice notes of dark roasted coffee and cream but these are overtaken by lots of burnt black malts and a bitter finish. As it warms it does mellow out a bit and becomes more enjoyable. Imagine chocolate covered espresso beans, awesome for some, too much for others.

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Photo of Oldejoe
4.31/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Looks dark, rich, mild frothy
Smell alcohol dominated, spicey, touch of tar
Taste heavier on bitters and toasted oats than the malts
Mouth rich, dense, chewy
Overall really good but my own preference is for maltier

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Photo of ZebraCakez
4.23/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is fantastic. Pours a dark brown/black with a burnt caramel colored head. Smells of coffee and chocolate. Taste of coffee and chocolate, roasted malt, dried figs/raisins, finishes with a smoked beef (jerkey) note. Smooth, creamy feel, super enjoyable.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.95/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Founders Imperial Stout has a medium, tan head, lots of lacing rings left on the glass, and a black appearance. Some slight brown does show up on the edges, under direct sunlight. The aroma is of sweet, sharp, intensely dark-roasted malt. Taste is of charred malt, sweetness, some cream, a bit of coffee, possibly chocolate and dark fruits, a shade of licorice, and high bitterness, seemingly from the burnt effects. Mouthfeel is heavy and slick, and Founders Imperial Stout finishes rich and impactful. The alcohol provides warmth, as the beer is consumed.


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