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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

5,754 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,754
Reviews: 1,594
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 514
Gots: 1,393 | FT: 119
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: 5,754 | Reviews: 1,594 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.83/5  rDev +10.8%

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.

BuckeyeNation, Aug 29, 2006
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.73/5  rDev -14.4%

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a medium dark brown foamy head with better then average retention. Aroma of deep black chocolate with slight roasted malt without any discernable hops. Taste is also dominated by the sweet black chocolate with some roasted malt. The taste is really sweeter then expected and I can’t seem to notice any hops or bitterness which kind of seems to be missing. Body is above average with a full creamy texture. Alcohol is very well hidden which is another plus. Nice and enjoyable but would have appreciated a higher hops profile.

Phyl21ca, Dec 09, 2005
Photo of BEERchitect
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Founders simply kill it with all of their larger-than-life stouts. Although for some, their standard Imperial Stout seeps through the cracks because it's readily available when in season, for me its in the upper echelon of stouts anywhere, hands down.

As black, and nearly as thick, as 30 weight motor oil, the beer has an ultra inky appearance that reads like onyx to the eye and with absolute opaqueness. Terse on head character, the beer releases a tiny sheet of sand-stained foam before dissolving to a translucent film that evenly coats the surface midway through the session. Although retention gives way a little too soon and the lacing succumbs to the alcohol and viscosity, the beer still gives a time honored appearance of well crafted stouts.

Espresso, brownie batter, milk chocolate, cognac-like alcohols, and fudge aromas mingle about the nose with sultry and savory scents. These seduce the olfactory senses in ways that few beers can. Background notes of burnt fruit, such as cherries, red grapes, and currants inform the roasted malts but are careful to never rival the sweeter toasted scent.

Delicious chocolaty fudge and brownie flavors become a bridge from aroma to taste in effortless fashion. Backed with the firm bitterness of espresso roast, charred grain, and near-smoky woods, the beer becomes more than malty sweetness and balances the beer to near perfection. Those esters of charbroiled fruits accent the almost smoky elements and gives the nearly abrasive ten percent alcohols something to hide behind.

Without saying, the beer is certainly full bodied and then some. It's oily coat is awash in the mouth and saturates the membranes with full effect. The low-lying alcohols allow the beer to rest weightedly on the mouth and seeps into the tissues with a mesmerizing mouthfeel. The beer retains its structure well past where the finish is expected, even as the bitterness from hops and the alcohol warmth wants closure. It's indefinate linger blends seamlessly into the next sip even if minutes away. This is a dessert beer for sure!

BEERchitect, Mar 21, 2006
Photo of mikesgroove
3.83/5  rDev -12.2%

This was the thickest looking beer I have ever poured. It was like oil or molasses. Thick with no head, none at all, nadda, not even a bubble. No lace ethier, very odd for an RIS. Smell was very nice. Deep dark chocolate and roasted coffee mixed in with hints of vanilla and sugar. Very sweet, and damn near perfect smell on this, fine job, very rich and desert like. The taste was strong, and definatly packed a punch. Very sweet, with the biggest flavor here being roasted coffee and chocolate. Definate alcohol presence here whci at 10% is not shock. Again the feel was very thick, but the lack of carbonation hurt it, as it did not feel as creamy as it could have been. This left the mouthfeel a bit dull and flat. The finish was nice, dry and somewhat hoppy. This one needs more carbonation. The flatness in the mouthfeel takes away from the great aromas and flavors it possess. Maybe/hopefully it was just a bad bottle, will have to seek this one out again.

mikesgroove, Mar 19, 2007
Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Texasfan549, Dec 01, 2011
Photo of kjkinsey
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

kjkinsey, Jan 29, 2012
Photo of womencantsail
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

A: The pour is viscous and black with a finger or so off mocha colored foam that dissipates somewhat quickly, but leaves a nice bit of lacing.

S: Loads of coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, a bit of dark fruit, and a touch of alcohol.

T: The amount of chocolate in this beer is amazing. A very smooth chocolate and coffee taste with a nice hint of bitterness on the finish.

M: Very smooth, rich, and creamy.

D: An awesome RIS, one of the better ones I've had, actually. The alcohol is pretty much non-existent and the flavors are absolutely amazing and epitomize an RIS.

womencantsail, Jan 07, 2010
Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -8.3%

ygtbsm94, Jan 10, 2012
Photo of GRG1313
5/5  rDev +14.7%

GRG1313, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -8.3%

spycow, Jan 10, 2013
Photo of kylehay2004
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%

Half finger dark tan head on a jet black body, some lacing. Aroma of dark chocolate, banana bread, coffee, vinegar, roasted malts and soap. Not very sweet smelling, mostly bitterness. Flavor is much better with a nice balance between confectioners semisweet dark chocolate and espresso beans, coffee bitterness on a roasted malt background. Thick body with carbonation a little greater than I want fore the style. I like the degree of earthiness and bitterness. Some of these has too much vanilla sweetness.

kylehay2004, Dec 25, 2013
Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev -8.3%

jaydoc, Aug 20, 2013
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%

Passed along to me via kp. Thanks, kp! The age of the bottle is unknown to me.

Appearance: Pours a deep, heavy, black body with a thin, brief, dark tan head.

Smell: Bold, assertive roasted malt aroma layered with rich, yet slightly sweet-smelling notes along with a particularly fruit background scent of plums and prunes.

Taste: Why, it's a whole myriad of malt flavors: bittersweet chocolate, dark caramel, blackened grains, espresso-flavored oatmeal, licorice, and molasses. Again, there's a big pop of fruitiness, now followed by a drizzle of sherry. Slight roasty, earthy bitterness midway. Pinch of Latakia pipe tobacco. Minor hints of peppery alcohol. There's a pleasant interplay of concentrated fruit and roasted malt flavors prior to the drying, roasty finish. A taste of charred sugars lasts into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium-low carbonation. Smooth, tongue-battering mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Dense, succulent malt flavors and pleasantly warming throughout, though, for the most part, the alcohol content remains rather well-hidden. It would not be advantageous at all for you to pass up this one.

ChainGangGuy, Apr 10, 2009
Photo of Knapp85
3.9/5  rDev -10.6%

This brew poured out as a black thick looking liquid. The head was brown in color with a light lacing. The smell of the beer was heavily roasted with some burnt wood aromas in there too. The taste of the beer was good, it was roasted and bitter with a light sweetness in there too. The mouthfeel had a good oily thickness to it which was nice. It left a good coating in the mouth too. Overall this beer is pretty good.

Knapp85, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of oberon
4.55/5  rDev +4.4%

Pours an ink black color with deep mocha colored head that leaves a nice sheet of lace behind,aromas of rum and butter dominate but there is a slight presence of grassy hop that adds to the aroma complexities.Think and full mouthfeel with rich buttery flavors with a rum/alcohol finish that really warms the inside and is very sustaining.Wow a big badass impy stout with tons of complexities Iam glad I have more to say the least.

oberon, May 21, 2005
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4/5  rDev -8.3%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev -4.8%

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Strangely, it took the BS and KBS to lead me to the IS, rather than the other way 'round (I assume that's the more conventional route, anyway). Finally. The pour results in a black soup usually reserved for coating pelicans and other wildlife during ecological disasters, topped by about a finger of burnt sienna froth. I miss crayons... The nose comprises roasted and toasted malts, molasses, chocolate, maple syrup, and a nice hint of vanilla. Yum so far. The taste holds notes of dark, smokey, roasted malts; dark chocolate; a tiny bit o' vanilla; and a slightly surprising hint of bourbon. The body is Kingpin heavy and coats the mouth with thick, chewy goodness. As much as I want to guzzle this beast, the thickness, richness, and relatively high ABV make this an impossible dream (though, like Quixote, that hasn't stopped me yet). Another fine example of tasty darkness from the boyz in Grand Rapids.

TMoney2591, Jun 23, 2010
Photo of emerge077
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%

Grey label, bottle is notched on the top left, 4-pack is dated on the inside "Sep 30, 2004". From Orbitalr0x's blog, the 2005 has the purple trim label, therefore this is the 2004 edition. Also, no ABV listed on the bottle.

Served at 55-60º.
Pours into an Oerbier tulip an impenetrable black, like an espresso brownie. Head is a mocha creme, cascading with tiny bubbles. Irregular spotty lacing with the occassional patchwork of lace. Zero light gets through this one...

Rich milk chocolate aroma, with earthy malt in the background.

Huge chocolate and charred malts, espresso bean, lactic acid. Bitterness of baker's chocolate, long smoky char in the finish. Sweet and sticky on the lips. This stuff is pretty decadent. The full, impossibly smooth feel is akin to it's cousins KBS and Breakfast Stout. Milky texture. Every bit as smooth and delectable as KBS, but without the bourbon barrel influence.

Mellowed enough with time to diminish the alcohol burn of a fresh bottle. My first sample of this was a fresh one about 2 years ago, and I thought it was a monster. This aged bottle proves that it's possible to tame the boozy beast...

Notes: 3-year vertical '04-'06
2004: Mildly sweet chocolate, some oxidation/papery, chewy feel, slight tea-like aftertaste, possibly from age/oxidation.
2005: Slightly peppery, grapey, chocolate is more in the back, very long in the finish, bitterness has begun to fade.
2006: Peppery, licorice smell, definitely a greater hop presence, dryer & more alcoholic, some phenols and heat.

Thanks to Jay23 for upping the ante that made this vertical possible.

emerge077, Sep 05, 2007
Photo of largadeer
4.1/5  rDev -6%

Got this one from WeisGuy. Thank you, Shane.

2010 batch. The body is black as pitch, the head a deep brown that quickly recedes to a thick collar.

Delicious oatmeal raisin cookie aroma. Dark chocolate and black licorice are equally prevalent. Alcohol is barely noticed.

The palate, like the aroma, is much like an oatmeal cookie. Rich, but not terribly sweet - there's a good balance of charred malt, black licorice and bittersweet chocolate. Full bodied, a little ashy and tar-y mid-palate. The finish is sticky, bittersweet, deceptively smooth for a 10.5% beer. There's no trace of alcohol, no harshness; it's a very mellow beer, though drinkability is hampered by the sheer richness of it.

On the whole, I don't enjoy this as much as Breakfast Stout or KBS, but it's a great beer nonetheless.

largadeer, Apr 18, 2011
Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%

A - Poured out an opaque, black as oil color with no head to speak of at all. It left soapy residue on the glass.

S - It smelled of coffee, chocolate and roasty malts. There were some vanilla notes.

T - It tasted of dark chocolate and roasted malt with some bitter, sharp hop presence. There were touches of vanilla and boozy alcohol flavors.

M - It was soft, smooth and somewhat creamy. A medium to full-bodied beer with a warm alcohol presence.

D - This is a pretty good RIS. No surprise that Founders has yet another great beer in their lineup.

zeff80, Jan 11, 2010
Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

JAHMUR, Mar 29, 2012
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

From a fairly fresh bottle, packaged in March and consumed in June. Beautiful label. Standard cap on a screw-top Heritage bottle.

This extremely dark stout is completely opaque without even the slightest, darkest mahogany edge. The tight, creamy, dark tan head has a fire-like orange tint to it; but unfortunately thins in short time to an average collar. It initially leaves some short walls of lace, but after several sips all that are left are transient spots and splashes.

The nose is surprisingly restrained given its intense hue. Still, delicate notes of vinous fruit (plums/prune) combine with a touch of scortched caramel and cold espresso to leave it enticing.

The body is full, and although it's initially somewhat zesty, it does settle to become creamy once it warms.

The flavor is almost too intense to take in at once, and that's OK because as it warms more and more becomes revealed to you. Initially, it's dark roastiness dominates, allowing some espresso-like notes and the occassional flash of almost-burnt caramelized sugar to come through. As it warms, however, it opens up to reveal much more fruitiness including the traditional "burnt currant"; more dark fruits (plum, raisin, date); and some citrus/tropical character (pineapple, sweet grapefruit, melon). The coffee-like flavors increase as well, and in addition to a note of rich, dark chocolate toffee there's a full note of mocha java (sweet and bitter - perfectly balanced). Some piney hops emerge towards the finish, and they certainly come through in the burp! It finishes with a spritz of alcohol; some of the 'juicy' dark fruit (with some burnt raisin thrown in as well); and a fog of dark roasted notes that linger in the mouth and down the throat in an amazingly long lasting finish.

Full Throttle!!! Worth seeking.

NeroFiddled, Jun 24, 2005
Photo of SocalKicks
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

SocalKicks, May 10, 2013
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%

Acquired from fogdog courtesy of the Secret Bunny 2009 BIF, so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a thin light brown head that fades quickly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of rich roasted malts, chocolate, some dark fruit, some coffee and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a very hearty roasted malt character and bitter-sweet flavors of rich creamy chocolate and some coffee and dark fruit. The hops presence is mild but where it should be for the style and brings a good balance. The after-taste is bitter-sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp, medium-to-heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, slightly filling, strong but well-disguised kick, good representation of style, I have a feeling I might have let this one sit a little too long (at least two years, possibly longer) but it's still a good big stout worth drinking for a long time.

TheManiacalOne, Mar 01, 2011
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%

Pours black with a brownish head. Nose is boozy with touches of molasses. Flavor is intense coffee off the first hit. Lots of roasted malts. Just a punch in the mouth nearly. Mellows out and gives a lot of molasses too fairly quickly. Thick and robust. Seems a bit too boisterous to be bringing the subtleties that you might be able to draw off the other "biggies." Either way, who cares. It's still hearty and robust and carries a great flavor profile. Thick molasses and quite malty. (But mostly, it's bringing the molasses.) Feel is thick and smooth on liquid. Carbonation is low. A pretty intense and hearty RIS. Another Founders beer I have enjoyed.

RblWthACoz, Apr 16, 2009
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 5,754 ratings.