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Founders Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

5,804 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,804
Reviews: 1,597
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 522
Gots: 1,398 | FT: 120
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: 5,804 | Reviews: 1,597 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4/5  rDev -8.3%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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 largadeer
4.1/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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 emerge077
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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 zeff80
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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 SocalKicks
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

SocalKicks, May 10, 2013
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

This has been an elusive beer for me I've had many of Founders specialties and rarer brews but I have had trouble tracking down the Imperial Stout until I stopped in at D's this past week. I love anything dark they make especially their porter I wish they would make a standard stout as well because their porter is world class.

Appears a deep dark black hue with a big mocha tan head forming thick in my Sierra Nevada chalice. Fine even seckled lacing all around this black beauty.

Aroma has big dark chocolate and espresso bean freshly roasted tones with big vanilla and slight anise edges to it. Dark fruit hidden in the dark roasted malt character, almost a wine like nose in the finish.

Flavor is creamy roasted malt ridden with bitter dark chocolate and heavy espresso notes. Heavy hops hit the palate with a sharp creamy milk chocolate syrup finish this stuff is classic and should be a friend of any craft beer fiend.

Mouthfeel is full bodied coats the palate from the front to the back, I can't get enough of this style of big beer from Founders just tell them as they get it it's okay to send it to the Pittsburgh market.

Drinkability overall is incredible the best heavy dark beer I've had whilst living in te ohio valley for quite sometime.

Update version bottled on 12-15-11

Appears so dark that it absolutely absorbs all degrees of the visible light spectrum, big dark tan head almost a leathery brown thick soft textured head creamy billowing just outright beautiful. Fine speckled lacing dances around the sides of my Samuel Smith imperial pint glass. Aroma has earthy herbal hops big loads of dark chocolate notes, something soy sauce about this batch that works into an imperial stout profile, dark fruit hints of anise black licorice. Flavor is full of dark fruit big blast of coffee dark espresso grade strength, creamy dark chocolate bitterness just an aboslute excellent interpretation of an imperial sout. Full bodied stout that coats the palate from every angle the most filling beer around, even smooth carbonation not a cloying bone in this beers body. Supreme being of imperial stout in the world there's really not a better beer out there even compared to KBS, CBS, or Breakfast Stout this beer is the base example of all of those beers.

WVbeergeek, Jul 10, 2010
Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev -8.3%

nickfl, Feb 28, 2014
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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
Photo of Kegatron
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Founders.

Pours black as night with a thin head of a burnt mocha colored tan creamy foam. Retention is very nice and wouldn't quit, leaving behind some spotty lacing and brown oily residue down the sides of the glass. The aroma is a tingling mix of roasted bitterness and heat, chocolate sweetness, zippy coffee character, and dark fruit tartness.

The taste is rich, roasted bitterness right off the bat that melds into chocolate and molasses sweetness, additional bitter coffee notes, and a dark fruit tang in the backend. Finishes with a combo of bitter notes and warm, tart sweetness. The mouthfeel is full, rich and creamy with the alcohol presence adding beefiness and warmth to the overall feel.

Wow, this is pretty much the definition of a RIS. Founders leaves nothing out with a complex taste and aroma that is held up by a muscular yet approachable body. I'm definitely getting a case of this next time it's released. Great stuff!

Kegatron, May 11, 2008
Photo of russpowell
4.43/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from joe1510, cheers Joe!

Pours ebony with a pinky of chocolate head. Nice oily sheen, above average lacing & below averagehead retention

S: Bourbon, vanilla, oak & toffee, plus some hazel nut??

T: Dryness, roasty malt, dark fruit, leafy & herbal hops up front. Some booze warmth is coming through as this warms, along with plummyness, charred grain, coffee & oaky dryness. Finishes dry, with juicy charred grain & some dark fruit, plus some smokeyness & sourmash aftertaste

MF: Slick, pretty rich & chewy with great balance

Drinks easy for the style & ABV, not my favorite, but not far from it

russpowell, May 01, 2009
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.51/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

truly exceptional stout right here. I love the fact that it isn't sweet at all, and it doesn't try to hide what it is. very straightforward stuff. the pours is almost jet black, just the darkest shade of brown in there, with a patient but excited mocha colored head that swirls right back up as soon as it settles. the nose is very alcoholic, but its not aggressive or cheap vodka style, its there as a reminder, or maybe a warning. I pick up some good wood in this too, maybe birch or maple, something lighter than oak for sure, more fresh. there is a cocoa bitterness throughout the flavor, that climaxes toward the finish. lots of dark dark roasted barley here, and a certain earthen quality that fills in for the usual residual sugar. it makes the beer more drinkable than it should be. I love the mouthfeel, soft as crushed velvet, but with enough carbonation for its huge body not to get filling. it also finishes fairly clean for a style that usually clings to the teeth for ages. alcohol is warming but not offensive, and the absence of sweetness is astounding and really quite unique in the big stout world. I can finally see for myself what all they hype is about, and this is a beer for the ages. hard to imagine kbs and cbs being even better, but I will find that out for myself as well...

StonedTrippin, May 09, 2013
Photo of MasterSki
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the 2009 release - the recipe must be slightly different, as it lists 10.5% ABV and 90 IBUs. Served in a pint glass.

A - Looks like a good stout should. One finger of mocha foam that dissipates and leaves a ton of lacing. It's pitch black (not even brown at the edges), and there's a bunch of bubbles at the bottom of the glass.

S - Coffee, bittersweet chocolate, roast malt, some dark fruit sweetness as well - plums, currants, etc. There's some hop flavor as well, in a similar vein as fresh Darkness. It's really delicious, but not huge.

T - There's a lot of bitterness in this one - coming from the coffee, bitter chocolate, and even the hops. There is some residual sweetness on the edges of my tongue, but the taste is pretty consistent. Even the aftertaste is kind of bitter. I'm curious to see if this mellows out and sweetens up as it ages.

M - Medium-bodied, with a surprising amount of carbonation tingle to it. Leaves a sticky coating on the inside of my mouth.

D - The surprisingly refreshing mouthfeel and well-hidden ABV make this a very (and dangerously drinkable) stout. I should probably be sipping it, but instead I'm hitting it like an IPA. I'd definitely bring a 4-pack to a party.

It'd be nice if this was made more often than every three years, although it's not like Founder's has any bad brews to displace (they seem to have given up on that quad they made).

MasterSki, Jan 31, 2009
Photo of Slatetank
4.13/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up at Brass Rail in Campbelltown.
Poured from the stubby 12oz into a snifer and an 1/2 pint

A - Almost pitch black like oozing slimy railroad tie pitch w/ a molasses type reddish hue. The cap is a honey shade of brown w/ rocky foam froma vigorous pour. The head settles slowly to a ring around the glass. The opacity is pretty impressive while there are random streams of tan lace splattered like silly string. I am piqued by the beauty of this stout

S - cookies, lots of cocoa and chocolate malt w/ a dark chocolate and mild pine hop aroma. The nose has a caramel/vanilla note and mellow fig w/ toffee accent. Touches of cooking herbs and spicy hop tinges round out the fragrant odor

M - Rich and spicy w/ mucho maltiness-the feel is full. The level of carbonation is moderate which pleases my palate. There is a warmth of alcohol as it finishes w/ bitter hop spice and sweet stickiness of dark malts

T - A rich dark chocolate flavor begins the Founders Imperial Stout experience w/ mild buttery toffee that fades into a bitter citrus hop taste which brings out more caramel and roasted barley flavor in contrast. The spice plays well w/ the dark toasted an chocolate malts. The plum notes come forward gently as it warms w/ an herbal hop taste. The taste of green pepper is noted and seems to overshadow the malty cocoa taste at the end. There is bitter flavors in the residual taste and alchol giving a green impression. The taste of sweetened espresso also unfolds as the final sips reveal more vanilla bean taste in the spice flavor.

D - The taste of this Imperial stout is very layered yet a bit 'angular', slightly on the edgier side w/ more of a malt + hop interplay w/ 90 ibus almost apparent in flavor and the 10% is not very hidden, but it more than makes up for it in the flavor - a highly drinkable impy on the hoppy side. I can't wait to taste this again

Slatetank, Apr 15, 2009
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Terminal blackness describes the appearance, full-on ebony, covered by a toasted brown cap.
Aroma is all things you want in an Imperial Stout, mollases, carob, anise, mostly chocolate, with undertones of coffee, rich, complex and deeply dark....a tickler for the nostrils, there's a fullness of flavor in the smell of this, that simply must be savored at length. I want to stave off the sipping, just to bask in this olfactory delight.
On the lips and off the tongue, it's a thick, rich sensation...a fullness in the mouth, comes in grand force and takes over the cavernous reaches of the mouth...sits in command on the palate, as excess dark deliciousness drips over...a kingpin of the Imperial Stout variety, though certainly no Dark Lord...I don't taste any 12%, but it's making it's way assuredly onto my system, I can nice drinkability on it, too, despite the high octane booziness...it doesn't feel too bad on me, at least, not until I try to stand up...whoop=wha---whoa!!

much thanks to Chaz for the bottle...a happier day will fall when Founders is available locally!

feloniousmonk, May 06, 2005
Photo of jlindros
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: A super dark thick frothy head rises up 1 finger and slowly fades over pitch black and super thick beer.

N: Lots of roast, chocolate, hops, dark malts, with some bittering hops. Mostly dark malts, crystal, roasted, chocolate, etc. That adds some sweet aromas and syrupy too. THen come bitter hops with some earthy and spicy hop aromas. A little coffee too.

T: Pretty rich, lots of malts again, with lots of roast, a little chocolate, crystal, etc. This time some smoked malts too with some smoked flavor and even smoked gouda cheese or smoked cured meats. Chewy malts with all that. Touch of chocolate, some good roast and coffee. Some bitterness as well, some from roasted malts but quite a bit of hops too. Hops come in the earthy spicy variety. Semi smooth and a little creamy, but thick and chewy at the same time.

M: very thick and chewy, somewhat smooth and a little syrupy with decent carbonation.

F: Bitter! It has quite a bit of bitterness, mostly from the charred malts. WIth that is a touch of minerality and little soy sauce but not much. THere are also some hops that come in the finish adding more bitterness and earthy flavors. Lingering roast and some coffee, as well as perhaps black patent malt dark flavors. A little stickiness, but not as much as I expected for how thick and chewy it is. It also hides the booze well and drinks more like a 7-8% rather than 10.5%.

I love this stout, lots of dark malts, chewy, bitter, hoppy, and overall pretty drinkable. A nice roast, coffee, and chocolate addition as well but not over the top in any. Best of all is the price landing this at about $4 for a 12oz which is much more affordable than most great RIS beers.

jlindros, May 08, 2010
Photo of drabmuh
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An awesome unexpected extra sent by JohnQVegas, one of my all time favorite RIS, Founders. You are the man.

Beer is black and has a brown head with tiny bubbles that disappears quickly. Minimal lacing on the glass.

Beer is roasty and sweet in the aroma, inviting me to drink.

Beer is sweet and mildly roasty without an aftertaste. Lots of coffee flavors, no ash. Medium body, easy drinking, beautiful. Mildly sweet in the front overall very nice. So drinkable, great feeling in the mouth too. I love this beer. Next opportunity I'm buying a case of this.

drabmuh, Sep 03, 2010
Photo of oline73
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

oline73, Jul 21, 2013
Photo of Rifugium
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Capone's, Norristown, PA

Poured a thick, opaque black with a small mocha head; minimal retention and lacing. Aroma is pretty typical of the style: dark malts, roasty coffee, cocoa, some noticeable alcohol. Sweet taste, caramel, dark malts, chocolate, pumpernickel, some bitterness coming in from the coffee, and a slight alcohol burn. Heavy-medium body, not overly extraordinary or unique, but obviously still a fine brew overall.

Rifugium, Jan 29, 2012
Photo of WesWes
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a big time black color with a 1/4" brown head that fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a killer black malt bitterness up front as well as some warmth and a bit of chocolate malt sweetness. The taste is great also. It has a rich, earthy, black malt flavor that goes down extremely smooth with a bit of warmth in the finish. It is bitter with a ton of roasted barley. Wow, this is a smooth beer. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a very well brewed IS. It's simplistic, but full flavored and damn enjoyable.

WesWes, Feb 23, 2010
Photo of mendvicdog
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

mendvicdog, Oct 01, 2012
Photo of Mora2000
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to slasher007 for sharing this bottle.

Pours black with a brown head. The aroma is a mix of smoke and roasted malt. The flavor is more of the same with smoke and malt as well as some coffee and possibly some vanilla. Thicker mouthfeel and lower carbonation. A very good imperial stout but in my opinion not as good as some of the top level beers in this category.

Mora2000, Jan 07, 2010
Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 5,804 ratings.