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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,733 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,733
Hads: 7,094
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 17.32%
Wants: 688
Gots: 2,090 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,733 | Hads: 7,094
Photo of mfunk9786
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I feel strange reviewing this brew first before reviewing any other Founders offerings, because they really do a great job and I feel like by not giving this an A+ I'm understating how fantastic this brewery is on the whole. But I have to keep the style and other examples I've had of the style in mind, so here's my analysis:

A: Black as night. If you were to deep sea dive into a pool of this beer, you'd feel like you'd died and gone to liquid purgatory. There's absolutely no sight of the other end of the glass. Where the appearance really lets me down is in the head, which is minimal at best. The lacing is fantastic and the head never disappears entirely, but from the time I poured it into my Piraat glass, there was never an entire coating of head over the top of the beer, and that was a little disappointing, and it definitely comes into play when we get to the mouthfeel.

S: The smell certainly improves on the appearance. It smells sweeter than this style usually does, which definitely gives it a distinctive edge in this category. A bit of vanilla on the nose, which I found surprising.

T: The taste was a letdown. Once the beer enters your mouth, it's surprising just how bitter and burnt this beer tastes. Maybe I'm spoiled by Founders various Breakfast Stouts, but I was expecting a bit more dark fruit and chocolate, and was met with the liquid equivalent of an 80%+ dark chocolate bar, that's just far too bitter to enjoy straight-up. I've had Imperial Stouts that are able to represent their individual flavors much better than this one, and it came as a huge shock to realize that this beer is so one-note compared to others I've had. That being said, the alcohol is very nicely hidden, and I certainly didn't pour it out, there's definitely enough to like here if you have some stout experience.

M: For the style, the mouthfeel is about average. Thick; chewy.

D: Like I said, I didn't pour my glass out, but the bitterness certainly starts to take its toll towards the end of the glass. It's not the juicy hop bitterness that comes with a great double IPA, instead it's a burnt cocoa and alcohol bitterness that eventually begins to make your tongue go numb. Although, would a numb tongue improve the drinkability rating? These are the questions that plague us. But I'm going with a completely middle-of-the-road score for this style. Not terrible, but not great either.

There are obviously a lot of admirers of this brew, and perhaps Founders' love of chocolate, coffee, and oatmeal in their other brews have spoiled me (is there any better beer on the planet than Founders Breakfast Stout?) but this one just fell short of my expectations. Buy a single bottle if you can find it before you take the plunge on a 4 pack. Luckily, Founders is spreading ever so slowly across the country, so your chances of locating a bottle will increase every year until they get their due as a nationally available brewery.

I purchased my 12 oz bottle for $4.50 at Pinnochio's Beer Garden in Media, PA. It's worth noting, as I probably will be with every single Founders review, how much I appreciate the 12 oz bottles when compared with bomber-obsessed breweries - it's a lot nicer to spend a bit less to try a beer but still get plenty of it to enjoy - and to have a 4 pack available if you do love it.

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Photo of fropones
4.68/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Black as night with no light shining through. A decent espresso head goes down to a nice half finger pancake on top.

S - Bakers' chocolate, toffee, molasses, roasted malt, and coffee.

T - Chocolate covered espresso beans off the bat, with more chocolate rounding it out. This is an extremely delicious brew.

M - Good carbonation, nice and chewy, creamy, full bodied.

D - Drinks extremely nice. Not even a sipper at 10.5 abv. Even though it's summer time I'm going to have to go pick up more of this stuff.

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Photo of jtingue
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 Release. Poured into a snifter.

Appearance. So dark that when you pour it it looks as if it were solid. Pours with a finger of dense light brown head, which slowly dissipates to a nice think layer on top of the beer. Lacing is simply amazing, leaving a mosaic of clusters of tiny bubbles permanently on the side of the glass.

Smell. Huge smells of dark roasted fresh coffee beans. There is a definite presence of some sort or dark berry or even raisin scent. Also some nice hearty rye or wheat bread notes in there as well.

Taste. Hits the palate with a quick burst of roasted malts, again with the flavor of hearty rye or wheat bread. The berry and coffee notes detected in the nose come next to do a beautiful dance on your palate. Some bitterness comes in along with they roasted character noted before. Chocolatey sweetness leads into a wonderfully fruity and roasty finish.

Mouthfeel. Heavy body with just enough carbonation to give it a bit of creaminess.

Ho-ly shit. This beer simply blew me away. It is hard to say a bad thing about it. Up until now, this is the best imperial stout I have ever tasted. So much complexity already. I can't wait to age the rest and enjoy at a later date. Highly recommended.

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Photo of cps98
4.08/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A – Super dark midnight black, nice 2 finger toffee colored head. Really good lacing.

S – Light coffee, milk chocolate notes.

T – Had some burnt malt character along with heavy dark coffee and some dark chocolate.

M – Nice full bodied beer with really good carbonation.

O – This was really nice although I prefer the Breakfast Stout over the Imperial.

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Photo of nUgZ
4.78/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a black color with a half finger head and some lacing.

S: Roasted malts, dark chocolate, espresso, and a little dark fruit. Just what a RIS should smell like.

T: Very much like the smell, with a little smoke as well. There are hops there, but everything else is so dominant it's hard to tell.

M: Full bodied with a little carbonation. Super smooth...almost ideal.

O: What a treat! I love everything about this beer.

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Photo of predikit
3.96/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

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Photo of vince4953529
4.29/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one hell of an opaque beer, with minimal carbonation to boot.
It tastes a bit chocolate-ly, and it's rich and smooth without the boozy effects.

This drinks supremely easy, just wish it is available easily in CA so it would become my daily session beer.

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Photo of JoePat
4.65/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage
This beer pours a pitch black with a two finger mininmum brown head tha slowly dissipates leaving some of the thickest lacing I have ever seen.
I smell a lot of coffee, chocolate, and some smoked malts.
Huge bitter chocolate, expresso and roasted malt flavor. A little smokey flavors as well and it all melds perfectly.
The lightest mouth feel of any stout like whip cream making me want drink after drink.

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Photo of generalnotsew
4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pour is deep space black with a nice chocolate head. Not much else you can say about a stout really. Smell is sticky sweet molasses and bitter coffee with hints of dark chocolate. Very fine smelling stout and quite strong too. Taste is sublime! Nice hop/coffee bitterness upfront with sticky sweet dark chocolate with an almost cloying sugar sweetness. I love by bitter IPA's but when it comes to stouts this is what I like to see. Drinkability does suffer a bit due to sweetness though. Otherwise this is top of the line and one of my absolute favorites!

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Photo of TechMyst
4/5  rDev -7.6%
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

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Photo of mattbk
4.34/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A - Whoa that's really thick. Motor oil. Still pours a deep tan head that's long lasting. Very nice appearance.
S - Chocolate. Almost more chocolate than any other beer I've ever smelled. Some bitter roast behind that, not much dark fruit. Excellent.
T - More roast than I expected, still some chocolate, a bit more dark fruit, a little bit of hop there, definitely some bitterness. Some of the bitterness from alcohol, not hot though. It's very good.
M - A bit lighter than I would have liked, definitely lighter in the mouth than from the appearance. Medium to medium heavy maybe? Very light carbonation.
O - A very good imperial stout, the aroma is superb, the taste is very good as well, no heat despite the 10.5%. Absolutely would recommend.

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Photo of --Dom--
4.54/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip. Pours like motor oil, nuff said. Not much of a nose on this actually.

The taste? Exquisite. Starts with deep roasted coffee and dark chocolate, It's dense and the flavor continues to unfold. There is a strong hop presence as well, but not how you would think. The taste goes on for miles. I can't even imagine how much dark malt they use making this. The booze is definitely present at 10.5. The mouthfeel is slightly harsh actually, but it's not bad.

Overall, it's amazing. It's definitely in my top 5 RIS's I've had. It does seem somewhat hard to get a hold of. In my opinion, ten fidy is better.

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Photo of E-McFarden
4.61/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

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Photo of AdamGarcia
4.08/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours absolute black. Motor oil. Small dark khaki head makes a brief appearance and quickly retreats to leave just a ring of froth.

S: I noticed the high ABV with my first sniff. Hints of cola. Over-ripe dark fruit. Alcohol is quite noticeable.

T: Big and delicious. Near perfect balance of huge malt and big hops. Wonderful deep, dark, almost charred flavors. Just a faint indication of nuttiness. Bitter chocolate & just a hint of black coffee in the finish.

M: Carbonation is just about right for the style. Full and slick. Lingering finish.

D: Dangerous. I notice heat in the smell but alcohol is not as present in the flavor of this beer as I would have expected. Isn't overly filling or heavy.

I've always liked Founders and the Imperial Stout certainly hasn't changed that. The breakfast stouts get all of the hype, but this is the real deal. Grab one if you get the opportunity.

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Photo of squaremile
4.72/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

HOLY SMOKES! Winter 09-10 vintage. This beer is insane! Pours straight up motor oil black. Some brown bubbles around the edges of the glass. The nose is decadent! Cocoa, espresso, molasses, licorice, vanilla, and booze. Taste is amazing. All of the above as flavors with a touch of hop bitterness to keep it from being too sweet. Flavor is HUGE. Mouthfeel is medium heavy, very smooth. Drinkability is pretty great considering the intensity of the flavors and the abv. This is one of my fav stouts ever. Maybe 6 more months and this would be at it's peak with the alcohol, which has the tiniest harshness left, which is the only ding for me. Amazing surprise considering how unassuming the bottle is and how under-hyped this is.

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

Bottle Date 12/15/11 poured into a Snifter

A: Pours a jet black, like motor oil. A very thin but creamy chocolate colored head forms, and stays put for the most part. Sticky lacing throughout the glass.

S: Huge hits of chocolate in the nose, almost like cocoa powder. Smells candy sweet, with a faint roasted malt backbone.

T: Huge roast flavor with loads of bittersweet chocolate, and toffee. The sweetness in the nose is nowhere to be found in the taste. Not even a faint hint of the 10.5% alcohol.

M: Creamy, luxurious full-bodied stout. Subtle carbonation.

O: This is simply fantastic. You'd be hard pressed to find a better non-barrel-aged Imperial Stout. There's nothing lacking here at all, just a pleasurable drinking experience.

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Photo of Steamer
4.84/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: Ink black with very dark beige, one finger head that quickly disappears leaving a rim of froth around the glass edge.
Smell: Rich, strong, and sweet mocha coffee; the high alcohol content hits the nose also.
Taste: Burnt toast with a bitter-sweet chocolate after taste. Remind me of a strong coffee with a healthy dose of kalua added. Heaven.
Mouthfeel: Thick, chewy and sticky; like an imperail stout should be.
Overall: An amzing beer and a must try for every stout lover! It's right up there at the top of my list.

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Photo of itsscience
4.21/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

It was presented to me black with about a finger of brown head. Smelling it, I get a lot of roasted grains with chocolate, charred wood with a hint of smoke, some coffee, and a slight hop aroma. The taste is much more chocolate-forward. It has a dark chocolate and cocoa powder profile carrying a vein of caramel, with a creamy, full mouthfeel throughout. It finishes with a roasty burnt oat taste with a manageable level of astringency.

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

On tap at Local Option

Black with nice carmel colored thin foam head that clears quickly and sticks to the sides of the glass

Thin chocolate aroma. Almost bitter sweat and you can smell the alcohol.

Very thick and full bodied. Starts out as a very nice smooth chocolate and finishes with a slightly bitter chocolate aftertaste.

Taste lingers and stays with you.

Nice overall beer with def drinkability. The alcohol is present and accounted for with this big guy.

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Photo of Justin_Neff
4.36/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled: 12/20/12 - poured into a CCB Snifter

A: Thick and dark - looks like motor oil. Aggressively poured with what looks like no head, until it quickly develops into thick, dark brown, fluffy, 2 finger foam. Remains for several minutes and leaves a perfect, thick lace on the glass.

S: Roasted chocolate malt and barley smells, with piney hops. Smells toasty and bready. Expected a little more chocolate and was taken back a little by the hop presence. Not bad by any means, just a little surprised.

T: Wow. Roasted, toasty, chocolate in the beginning - almost a hint of some smoke. Mid drink is when the hops arrive. Finishes with some more chocolate and almost a hint of hazelnut with some booze and bitterness that survive in the after taste. This is extremely balanced and works well.

M: Very thick, full, sticky body - which one would expect from a 10.5% ABV RIS. Pretty amazing how easy it went down though.

O: I continue to be impressed with Founders, and this one is right at the top with a couple other seasonals they do. Throughout the drink I kept thinking "this is really good, but also really thick". Then all of a sudden it was gone and I realized it was going down much easier than I thought it was. The balance of the hops, and sweet roastiness is incredible. Can't wait to do a taste of one of these vintage '12 bottles next January with a year of age vs a fresh bottle of Vintage '13.

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Photo of righthereisay
3.39/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Got this is Swansboro, NC at Harrika's Brew Haus. I was looking for some stouts to try. Didn't particularly like the 10.5% ABV on this one.

Poured into a glass, it looked great. Near black. I'm not into labels, but I personally thought the lablel made it look like a cheap beer.

Anyways, it does smell like coffee, maybe some chocolate, but mostly alcohol.

The taste was rather good. Nice blend of flavors. I thought that there may be a little too much carbonation, but that could be a result of the alcohol. I personally didn't appreciate the bitterness at the end, or the lack of a body.

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Photo of BigIrishman
4.57/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into pint glass

Appearance: Thick black with cappuccino colored head, not much retention.

Smell: Coffee and chocolate overload the nose, very malty base to it as well.

Taste: Huge coffee/espresso base, similar to the breakfast stout but not quite as much as the BS. Absolutely wonderful finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy, just the way I like my RIS's.

Drinkability: The 10.5% alcohol is completely unnoticeable, I could pound these down all day.

Notes: Founder's never disappoints, this beer fits perfectly into my RIS gap right now, absolutley wonderful.

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Photo of rabidawg
4.55/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a pure black with an espresso-colored head. Sheets of lacing coat the inside of the glass. Magnificent.

Smell: Bittersweet dark chocolate and french roast coffee aromas. Toasty bread crust and a slight burnt aroma. Rum-like at times, and earthy.

Taste: Soft in the mouth from the low carbonation. Spicy holiday fruitcake flavors initially. Ginger and cinnamon. Rich scorched chocolate and dark-roasted coffee. Slightly slick and buttery near the end, with leafy green hops washing away the residual sugars after the swallow. Alcohol is well hidden, but a slight numbing is present after the swallow.

Kick-ass imperial stout! Thanks to cmaruschak for this midwestern gem!

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Photo of Fermenticusrex
4.58/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tasting note founders imperial stout

12 oz bottle poured into mad elf tulip

Aroma strong bitter coffee, bakers chocolate, roasted barley

Appearance black,black, and more black.  Mocha head lacing that lines whole glass

Flavor coffee, bittersweet chocolate, rum, toast, raisins

Mouthfeel/Drinkability nice level of carbonation, not as smooth as breakfast stout but not bad.  Might be able to drink two at a sitting

Overall once again founders doesn't disappoint.  Can't wait till febuary for kbs!!!

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Photo of Tripphop
4.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep blackish brown, no light shines through. The head is generous and has a very fine carbonation, a burnt caramel color. Smells of big roast, very bold and intense. Flavor is rich and full, lots of roasted malt and chocolate, big finish, alcohol is warming. Overall a solid imp stout, wish it was year 'round, this puppy has some bite.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,733 ratings.