Founders Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
75 IBU

Added by mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

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Reviews: 1,817 | Ratings: 7,515
Photo of Billolick
4.67/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ouncer sampled w/o any freshness dating. Founders continues to blow me away, when will these fine brews be available in the northeast??
Pours Jet black, stately mocha head, leaving fine lacing. Nose is big and loaded with chocolate, smoke and coffee grinds. Full bodied brew, alcohol present. Complex flavor profile, including lots of expresso coffee, dark chocolate, smoke, alcohol, rum soaked brownies, yum yum ...big bold, full bodied sipper. Seek---age/enjoy

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Photo of GClarkage
4.71/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

07/19/06- Aquired via trade with Irishsnake.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with no freshness info listed. Poured into my Stone RIS tulip.

Appearance- Black as motor oil. Very slight head, almost non existant. Dirty brown light rim of a head that erodes quickly. Some, but light whisps of lace left behind.

Smell- Wonderful scent of roasted coffee beans and quality dark chocolate.

Taste- Tastes just as good as any other RIS I have tasted. Dark chocolate flavors mixed with a heavily roasted malt base. Coffee flavors come in hard in the beginning and make way for the chocolate as the beer warms. Incredible meld of flavors.

Mouthfeel- Light carbonation (just the way I like an RIS), creamy, thick, viscous and gooey.

Drinkability- The abv comes into play quickly. This one is so thick and chewy that it becomes a chore (a good chore) to finish if it's room temp. Becomes super sweet...almost like drinking a melted candy bar that's been left in the sun. Overall though, it's probably the best tasting stout of any kind I have tasted...better than Stone and better than Speedway...super quality brew here....high recommendation! Thanks much John!

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Photo of WesWes
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of tempest
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a single at Abe's Cold Beer for $3 a couple months back. Poured pitch black with a tall light brown head. Man, this is pretty bitter. It's also a little more drinkable, which I also like from the big stouts. The beer tastes like extra thick dark chocolate cake, like flourless cake. There's a also a slightly tangy citrus bitterness, that while you can feel, struggles to overcome the massive dark malts on your tongue. Overall a fine RIS and certainly worth my three buck.

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

Appearance: black in color with a short 1/2" head that falls to a thick surface foam. Some mild lacing develops.

Smell: chocolate, roasted malts, and espresso comes from the glass easily into the nose.

Taste: roasted malt profile is big along with dark chocolates, espresso, and hints of alcohol. Bitterness is perfect in balancing out the sweetness here. There are also some prunes and red grapes here too.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp to start, smooth and a bit dry at the finish. Aftertaste is long as the flavors seem to stick to the tongue. Heavy in body.

Drinkability: very nice flavor profile screams for you to have a few of these, but the alcohol level and heaviness knocks it down a notch. Great beer overall.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.39/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: poured a very dark brown in color with brown highlights that had a thin head and left a little amount of lacing sticking to the glass.

S: some milky lactic character stood out on the first whiff and had lost of chocolate, roasty notes, a tad of maple syrup, slight coffee, and some malty sweetness.

T: the chocolate character was more intense on the palate alongside roasty malts, coffee, slight lactic milky notes, and sweet accents.

M; the brew wsa meduim to full in body with a fair amountof carbonation which had a sweet, roasty, milky, and silky finish.

O: I would for sure get more of this elixer and was solid all around. founders kills on them stout brews.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.41/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured on-tap and served in a snifter, the beer is jet black, with a great looking consistency, and a thick, foamy, dense, creamy, milk chocolate colored head. Aromas are rich and deep, with a good blending of chocolate and coffee, as well as some roasted qualities and a slight boozey kick. Flavors are robust and full, with a heavy roasting, almost to the point of char, carrying a solid dark coffee backbone, with some bitter cocoa nib and sweet molasses and vanilla highlights. Very well blended, and extremely smooth despite the bitter coffee and chocolate notes. The aftertaste is more of the smokey/roasted character, with a touch of the bitter chocolate and coffee once again. This full bodied brew leaves a trail of rings around the glass, and is insanely smooth leading to a velvety soft, creamy finish, with a touch of drying bitter left behind for just a moment. Tremendous beer!

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.88/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a regular snifter. 08-09 winter release. 10.5 %, 90 IBU's. I've been waiting for this for two years & it's finally here, I'm in heaven.

A- Founders IS comes out black from the bottle and is even blacker when condensed in the glass. A very thick looking brew with some tannish bubbles trying to form a head but fail. Just traces of foam here and there condensing towards the middle. Some dots of lace are seen on the glass. Again this is very dark and deep, no getting around it. If i wanted to get even with somebody i would pour this on their favorite garmet.

S- Wow at the malts giving off a creamy vibe with some coffee/chocolate mix following. A lot of roast coming from the malt and coffee as well. Was not expecting any hops but are noted in the smell. Out of all the dark brews founders releases this imperial stout takes a backseat in terms of over-exposure & a nice change. Very mellow nose for such a number of ingredients & IBU range.

T- The roasted and charred character is ever present with the coffee and malt mix. This is evened out with the chocolate malts & others while the hops come through leaving some bitterness taste. Some oatmeal as well. Seeing this is at 90 IBU's i can understand. Some woody character and slight dark fruits on the end. This stout also is on the hot side initially but it adds to the appeal. I know the alcohol is there but I cant pick it up at all giving IS more pluses.

M- Coats the mouth is an understatement, as this glides throughout leaving a slickness & some hottness which i'm diggin at the moment and that's unusual.. Leaving this around for a while is no problem to absorb all th flavors. I'm liking the slight tingle the hops give off. Medium to full bodied for sure, i drank this one way to quick as it's not to sweet or overbearing amazingly. Alcohol does not get in the way although it's felt.

D- With all the complex flavors and a 10.5 ABV this is will be an occasional rarity for me as one was enough. Don't get me wrong as I could drink 2 or 3 but I would rather savor it as this is quite limited. I could see FIS aging nicer than it's family members Breakfast & Kentucky as it's brewed with more of the conventional ingredients without the coffee or bourbon profiles to keep up.

Another one out of the ball park for Founders as they keep it coming with stellar releases. I suggest if you have the access to this seek it out immediately. Now Black Rye is the only release i need before I complete their bottled line up, here's to hoping.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.27/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at a free Founders tasting. Special thanks to Big Z’s in Huntington.

A – Black with faint brown highlights. Dark milk chocolate head settles into a low halo with ok lace.

S – Great nose. Medium roast coffee balances sweet brown sugar, fresh baked brown bread, and toffee.

T – Medium roast coffee with a touch of booze. Herbal hops come through as tarragon and rosemary. Mid profile loses some of the early smoothness, with dark roast malt showing some rough burnt edges. A honey sweetness rises to match the roast on the back end, but actually over takes it and throws the profile a bit out of balance.

M – The full body leaves a nice coating on your palate. Finish is sweet with a lingering pine bitterness.

O – A nice brew. Touch boozy and sweet, even for the style imho, but still delicious.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Poured jet black with one finger of foamy coffee-coloured head that stuck around for a while.

S - The nose is full of chocolate and coffee with roasted malts and a hint of licorice.

T - The palate is bitter chocolate with some coffee and an overall roasted malt flavour. The hops are apparent here in the bitter finish and they act as a great compliment to the chocolate turning it in to a bitter dark chocolate palate. There is also a sweetness - maybe some molasses and caramel that compliments the bitter chocolate malts. This is an incredibly complex stout. The alcohol is somewhat present but not overwhelmingly so - after all it is 10.5% ABV.

M - Medium body with some chew. Smooth and silky.

D - This is the best imperial stout I have had. It is incredibly complex and perfect for a cold winter night.

I will definitely buy this stout over and over again. incredible!

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a frothy, dense, creamy, one-finger thick brown colored head. The beer is an opaque black color that shows a full, clear, dark chocolate color around the edges when held up to the light. The aroma is intensely roasted with a back drop of burnt raisin that peeks through in the finish. Notes of dark chocolate and coffee liquor comes to the fore as I take my second draught of the nose. The alcohol really becomes prominent as time goes on and my nose gets use to the other aromatic notes. The burn, roasted malt notes remain full strength throughout though. The aroma is quite nice, it is only if I smell too long that the alcohol becomes noticeable; so don't linger to on to the drinken.

Ah, this has the proper mouth coating, palate consuming heft to it that I crave in a proper winter whether Imperial Stout. ON top of this the beer is the most well balanced and flavorful big beer I have had from Founders; and by flavor I mean ones of the good tasting variety. The alcohol, while here, is quite subtle and relegated to being noticed only in the finish underneath a roast espresso acidity that lingers along with he creamy, mouth coating dark chocolate notes. I really like the balance between rich dark chocolate flavors, smooth coffee cream, and roasted espresso notes. The roast character is restrained enough that it is not harsh and acrid.

As the beer warms up it even becomes more balanced and rich, with the roast burnt notes balancing even a step more. It still finishes with that bit of roast acidity, which helps to balance the mouth coating thickness; making you to want to take another sip that much sooner.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.89/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz 2009 bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a very dark brown, near black liquid with slight reddish tints against light, nearly opaque. Large dense deep brown head, it almost looks like it has reddish tints as well. Great retention and clumpy streaks of lacing all over the glass. Very strong, potent aroma, that leans a little heavily on a hop like bitterness, slightly astringent, almost like a house hold cleaner. Behind that, some malt and coffee like presence and dark fruit sweetness, but the astringency is a turn off. Body is very thick and creamy, but very low carbonation reminding me of Expedition (looking at other reviews, starting to wonder if I have an off bottle). Primary flavor starts with dark fruit, berries, etc transitioning to a light coffee/chocolate flavor before a dry light hop finish. Very little alcohol presence. A nice RIS, and great representation of the style, but nothing remarkable and in my opinion I prefer something cheaper like Old Rasputin or Storm King.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.23/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears dark blackish black. Nice head full brown and lacing. Aroma is strong of roasted malt, double strength coffee, chocolate and alcohol. In the taste, deep roasted flavors. Black coffee, charred malts and some booze as it warms. Clean alcohol. Dark chocolate. Very tasty. Mouthfeel is full bodied and fairly smooth. Medium carbonation. A big beautiful beer and Im glad I have a few more to set aside for a while. Im sure the booze will mellow out alot but it was not distracting here. Certainly worth the purchase, but damn the 4-pack I could have went with 6 for sure.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

'08 12oz twist-off from my most recent order from Archer Liquors.. Very well packed shipment... 1 of 4.. tonight poured into my New Belgium snifter...

1" tan brown head.. dies quick with little lacing.. the brew is black..

Nose is cold press coffee with more than enough milk chocolate.. licorice notes.. very roasty.. smells pretty much fantastic right now with no aging.. lite fruity esters are dark dried cherries with some background prune..

Flavor is pretty huge and spot on for a great RIS.. rich and intense from front to back.. no real room for anything else.. dark malts, French Roast.. quite a bit of fruity esters.. again.. cherry and sorta a deep ripe plum.. verging heavily on prune ester.. bakers chocolate throughout.. hoppiness is fairly heavy fresh with quite a bit of citric hops that are blasted out of the water by the stout qualities... body is perfect for the style and the carbonation is light.. smooth mouthfeel with a ton of complexities that I am only touching on.. finish is chocolate covered espresso beans without a whole lot of sweetness..

World Class! a little bit of EtOh as it warms but it doesn't distract too much... This is gonna be a champ, if it isn't already.. purely a great brew that is every bit as good as many "barrel-aged" brothers that wouldn't hold a torch otherwise... sippin' brew.. awesome.. I wish soooo much that I could score this a whole lot easier.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Glad to have a couple of bottles of this from BitterBill. Pours a black color, nice carbonation, nice creamy tan head, lots of lacing afterwards. Scents of roasted malts, toffee/caramel, slight spices. The taste is awesome of sweet roasted malts, and a deep toffee/caramel flavor. Medium body well balanced brew. Very drinkable, no hint what so ever of being a 10% ABV brew. What a delicious beer.

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Photo of Tone
4.09/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a black color. 1/4 inch head of a tan color. Decent retention and slight lacing. Smells of alcohol, sweet malt, slight dark citrus, and a hint of hops. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp with an average carbonation level. There is also a slight dryness. Tastes of strong alcohol, roasted malt, sweet malt, slight hop, and a hint of dark citrus. Overall, a good RIS. Great blend, good body, aroma, and complexity.

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Photo of Zorro
4.56/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This bottle is sampled due to the efforts of tsmthrs and Christmas in July Secret Santa BIF 2006.

Poured in the glass this beer is simply BLACK in colored with a DARK brown head. So dark you can't see the sun through the glass and it is incredibly clear and hot here today. Massive head formation, it was a good thing I poured this in to my Duvel glass so I didn't lose any beer. In appearance this beer is really more of a 5.5.

Smell is strong chocolate aroma with some strong citrus hop aroma. Lively hop aroma here that is rather minty and spicy to the nose. Roasted and coffee aromas are in this but they are most hidden by the hops and chocolate.

Taste is deeply of unsweetened dark chocolate, almost like melted bakers chocolate in a glass. Not really bitter just semi dry in the mouth in a good way. Roasted malt and coffee flavors are in this but chocolate has driven them to the edges of my senses. Basically this is like drinking dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel is melted dark chocolate candy bars. REALLY it is that thick!

Drinkability is always subjective. Ask yourself would you like drinking liquid dark chocolate candy bars in a glass? If yes then this beer is a 5.0 drinker, if not it will be a 3.0 for you.

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Photo of biegaman
4.55/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Founders Imperial Stout has a head darker than coffee - heck, most chocolate isn't this deep, dark brown in colour. And though it's hard to imagine, the liquid is even deeper and darker yet; I doubt even the most powerful bleach would be enough to get a stain this inky and black out of a shirt. And while the foam may disappear like dandelion spores in the wind, the opacity is steadfast.

This is an aroma that will be savored by coffee aficionados, chocoholics, cigar expects, sommeliers, and stout fanatics alike. It is at once rich, roasty, and lush, brimming with cocoa, coffee, and smoke flavours. There's enough character for 3 stouts in this glass - even someone with half a nostril could appreciate its power and profundity.

Founders Imperial Stout tastes like a coffee liqueur-filled dark chocolate truffle made by an incredibly master artisan chocolatier. In fact, it's like a sample of said chocolatier's entire lineup, combining hints of biscuits, mocha, hazelnut ganache, nuts, caramel, candied citrus, and baking spices, all dusted in pure, unrefined cocoa powder.

Though richly flavoured like a cheesecake, the mouthfeel is oily and roasty in the middle and dry with lingering coffee-like bitterness on the finish. There's also a trace of herbal hoppiness sprinkled throughout. It's also ultra-smooth for something this strength; it has an opulent, velvety texture normally equated with a priced Bordeaux. Put another way: it can't get much better.

Founders Imperial Stout is a beer that reminds me of why I got into craft beer in the first place and of just what makes these offerings so special; this is a world-class beer that will impress even the most skeptical drinker whether he even actually likes it or not. Its rich but soft profile balances intensity and refinement in an undeniably impressive manner. Right up there with the bests.

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Photo of Kelp
4.4/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my glass in an inky black stream with a nice dark tan head that lasted a bit. First smell is coffee followed by chocolate and toasted malts. Nice big malty taste, a bit of chocolate and finished with a coffee undertone. The alcohol isn't exactly up front but it is definitely there. Nice and thick almost velvety to the tongue. I could definitely finish a few of these in a night but it would be a pretty long and enjoyable night.

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

pours absolutely black with a tan head, but even with a jhard pour i can only generate about a 1/2 inch of head. Some lacing as well. The aroma has lots of licorice, some chocolate, and a touch of espresso. Rich flavors that are seemlessly integrated and very smooth and silky in the mouth. Nice flavors of licorice, chocolate, fresh cream, and some lovely roastiness. I love the superb silky, creamy mouthfeel. This one is a winner. Maybe the creamiest of all the RIS.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.67/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: This one is pitch black and kind of oily. A small chocolate-brown head sinks quickly, and leaves nice lacings.

S: Dark bitter chocolate and strong black coffee, together with loads of dark dried fruits. Complex. Even bitter hops. This is great.

T: Not at all far from what the nose led me to anticipate. Everything from the smell is here, but the bitterness is a bit stronger. There is also a roasted almost burnt taste in the malt. I can sence vanilla; oak-barrel-aging? Where is the alcohol?

M: Full, thick body, moderate carbonation and a lovely bitter, chocolate aftertaste that stays for a little while.

O: A very complex and well crafted beer. Surprisingly the alcohol was only on the label, and perhaps in my legs afterwards...

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Photo of aasher
4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The Imperial Stout pours an oily, very viscous, lifeless black sludge with no head, just slight dark khaki bubbling. It smells of both bitter and sweet dark chocolate and features freshly ground coffee bean aromas. It tastes of both bitter and sweet chocolate with good roastiness with a touch of alcohol on the backend. It's very, very thick and coats the mouth like cough syrup. It's very good and has excellent flavor but the thickness is a little over the top, even for an imperial stout. This beer is definitely a sipper.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.23/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my snifter, the beer is black with a small, dark brown head. The creamy head quickly recedes and the lacing is scattered on my glass.

The aroma is of sweet roasted malt, dark chocolate, cocoa, anise, freshly roasted coffee. Some citrus hops linger in the background. The flavor has just the right amount of coffee and roastiness. There's some dark chocolate present and a medium level of earthy hop bitterness balancing out the sweet malt. The alcohol is most noticeable in the finish, which has a nice level of bitterness to it.

Full bodied with medium carbonation and a sticky, viscous, and chewy mouthfeel.

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Photo of John_M
4.4/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very pleasantly surprised to see this on tap at Al's of Hampden yesterday.

The beer pours a dark, almost vicuous brownish black color with very good head retention and considerable sticky lacing. The nose is all RIS goodness, consisting of considerable coffee, vanilla and dark chocolate. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely in this moderately sweet stout, but with enough underlying bitterness to buoy that sweetness very nicely. Mouthfeel is smooth and very long, and I get a hint of licorise in the finish that is attractive. Drinkability is pretty good, though you can certainly tell the abv. is up there a bit.

While no KBS or CBS, this is still a very solid, very enjoyable RIS from Founders. When it comes to imperial stouts, I think it's readily apparent that the folks at Founders know what they're doing.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,817 ratings.