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Founders CBS Imperial Stout - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders CBS Imperial StoutFounders CBS Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,435 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,435
Reviews: 760
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 10.09%
Wants: 2,986
Gots: 519 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: CRJMellor on 02-01-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,435 | Reviews: 760 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of yourefragile
4.65/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review from various notes and thoughts from trying this at EBF, around Philly a few times and recently at ChurchKey in DC.

First off, I'm leaving my ChurchKey experience out of this since this beer on opening night there was oddly sour (and not the last beer I've had there that has been "off"). Appearance wise doesn't differentiate itself much from KBS, thick opaque black liquid with a thin deep tan/mocha head that fades quickly but leaves ok lacing.

Aroma is very similar to KBS, but not as boozy or coffee forward. Dominated by sweet notes of vanilla, oak, maple, sugars, etc with a mild coffee background. The maple is as strong or noticeable as the vanilla or bourbon and oak aromas, or as expected going into the beer. That's not a bad thing, as I prefer this aroma over KBS. Mouthfeel is very nice, thick, chewy, low carbonation, not overly boozy, very silky smooth. Flavors are similar to KBS but a little sweeter from the maple and a little more mellowed out. All the same notes from the aroma and the finish lingers forever. In the end I still prefer the KBS for the stronger flavors and less sweetness, but this is a very complex and pleasing beer and hopefully this will continue to make regular appearances on tap.

Photo of stakem
4.35/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well...hello there old friend. It has been awhile. Poured this time from a bottle into a snifter. The brew appears black in color with a brown head that is more than a finger strong. A full wall of webby lacing sticks to the glass. Faint brown clarity is seen through the edges.

The smell is sweet with chocolate, musty coffee, and a dark sweetness of molasses. Very pleasant and roasty with a well rounded character all about it. My only gripe is the coffee scent inclusion does not offer up and brightness or freshness. Instead it is a bit dull and earthy with that stale mustiness of left over coffee quality.

The taste is super pleasant with a smooth, sweet chocolate flavor. Notes of cocoa blend into roasted coffee, molasses sweetness and a hint of fruity alcohol. This brew is modestly bitter and roasty but very well balanced with all the flavor contributions perfectly blending together and not clashing or fighting for attention at all.

This is a medium bodied brew with a smooth feel that is modestly carbonated. Awesome arrangement of flavor. This is super easy drinking, I would have it regularly if that was possible. I would of had zero issues killing the entire bottle and looking for more.

Photo of duceswild
5/5  rDev +7.3%

Photo of corby112
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at Capones

Pours a oily complately opaque black color with a .5 finger chocolate coffee colored tan foam head that slowly dissipates into a thin ring and cap that lasts throughout. Very minimal splotches of lacing.

The maple is pretty prominent in the aroma balancing out the strong bourbon alcohol presence of the KBS. There is a nice roasted coffee presence that's accompanied by some chocolate malt, toffee, burnt toast, caramel and a healthy dose of bourbon.

The mouthfeel of this beer is silky smooth due to the additional aging in the maple barrels. The high ABV is extremely well masked even with the strong bourbon presence. All of the other roasty and malty flavors are balanced out by this sweet honey, molasses-like syrupy texture. This beers is ridiculously quaffable considering all that's going on and the high alcohol content.

As mentioned above, there are a lot of complex flavors going on here. Nice big roasty coffee presence, chocolate, chocolate malt, toffee, oatmeal, burnt toast and a very nice bourbon presence all wonderfully balanced by the sweet maple syrup flavor coming from the additional aging.

I could drink this beer all day and I'm looking forward to trying it again soon.

Photo of weeare138
4.45/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appears an opaque black with a small tan head that slowly fades into a mild cap. Scattered spots of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of oak, toffee, caramel, cocoa, & mild booze.
Taste echoes the aromas with more of a meat flavor with a touch of booze & coffee notes.
Mouthfeel is smooth, velvetty, warming, n chewy.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Love this beer. One of the main reasons is that it is just so seamlessly integrated- no one flavor dominates, each element of the taste is smell seamlessly flows into the next and plays well together. The pour is black, with a thin head and lacing. Nothing special there, but nice enough. The aroma, however is lovely. Nuanced notes of vanilla, Bourbon, chocolate, and a finish of Maple syrup. Each aroma is noticeable, but it makes a whole greater than a sum of its parts. Sweet, yes, but also complex. The taste is equally enchanting. What strikes me most again, is that each flavor is layered with the others to make a delicious whole. This time, it starts off with a bourbon and maple hit, with the bourbon flavor growing and sharpening into the long finish. The last note you experience is a nice chocolate note that picks up where the bourbon leaves off. Silky smooth, this beer just disappears, only the complex flavors make you linger to contemplate. An exemplary beer.

Photo of mothman
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Busters on 28th for the Beer and Breakfast event.

Poured into a 5 oz tasting glass.

Color is a dark brown/nearly black. Tan head. Very little head of course, but great lace. Very nice.

Aroma: Chocolate coffee, toffee, maple, a little alcohol, earthy hops. A little lighter aroma than Darkness, but still amazing because of the coffee notes here.

Taste: Chocolate, a lot of coffee, a little vanilla here, maple, some alcohol. A lot of roasted malts. Toffee. The taste is just like the smell.

Mouthfeel: Rich, creamy, and thick. Full bodied. Good carbonation. Ends with a chocolaty coffee aftertaste. Slightly dry.

Drinkability: only a 5 oz pour but I really tried to make it last long, but it didn't. Great easy drinking stout. I would want to drink a lot more of this if it wasn't so expensive.

Photo of tempest
4.28/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Stub & Herb's in Minneapolis. The only had a 5 gallon keg awaiting a special tapping, but accidentally confused it with the Dirty Bastard and tapped it early. Alas.

Still, I got a small glass and it was a tasty treat. No, it'd didn't change my world or light up my tastebuds like my favorite beers, but I'd easily say it's near the top of the style. You've got a hint of maple syrup with bourbon and vanilla oak, all paired with rich, delicious coffee - and that's before you even get to the malts. The malt actually just provided a gentle, dry dark chocolate flavor behind all the bigger dessert flavors. A heck of beer and very drinkable for the style, but not a best-in-the-world beer in my opinion. Still, very, very good. I can't stress that enough.

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.99/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a deep black with good carbonation leaving a short lived but healthy tannish head. A small dose of lacing clings to the glass after a few sips

S: Some maple upfront, bourbon, chocolate, coffee and oats. A little bit of booze stings the nostrils.

T: Upfront I get oats smothered in bourbon, chocolate and maple with a splash of bourbon. The flavors seemed to be a bit muddled and/or faded. Some waivering vanilla darts in and out. The finish has a sweetness coupled with a lingering roastiness, not bitter though.

M: Hearty for sure. Well carbonated, sweet, chewy. Loads of flavor saturate the palate. Pretty decadent feel.

O: I am extremely glad I finally got my hands on this beer. Nicely done. However, if I want a Maple Stout I will take a Berserker anyday.

Photo of Gonzoillini
3.5/5  rDev -24.9%

Photo of ejimhof
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of mdaschaf
4.48/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Jay for sharing this one! Review from notes.

A: Pours a dark black with a slight ruby tinge when held up to the light. Small tan colored head that had minimal retention and spotty lacing.

S: Some coffee and roasted malt mixed with some chocolate. There is a little maple sweetness and hints of bourbon and vanilla.

T: Light sweetness upfront along with some maple, more coffee, roast and chocolate. There are undertones of bourbon, vanilla, and a little caramel.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Very easy drinking.

O: A really good beer, one of the best I have had, but I think I prefer KBS which we consume side by side. I was hoping that the maple would come through a little stronger, but still a great beer nonetheless.

Photo of BARFLYB
4.88/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served on-tap at the Southphillytaproom in a wine glass. I jumped at the chance to get this offering from Founders.

A- The Canadian version is just as black and thick looking as the other version. Black as the night with a fairly sturdy dark tan head that loked yummy by itself. Some small spotty patches of lace on the way down.

S- This smells like pure bliss, and reminisant of an early Sunday breakfast with the family. Deep sweet roasted coffee backed with a good amount of roasted malt. Maple syrup is not spared and is right up there with the coffee, they make a good couple. Chocolate as well but not as prominent.

T- This is great, exactly what I needed. The maple syrup takes the lead and is sweet and yummy. The roasted coffee is not far behind and is almost making me cry at how well it melds with the coffee giving off a very sweet taste. Some vanilla from the barrels which I did not smell. Chocolate as well. I did not really pick up on any oatmeal from the base beer but that's probably cause I was focused on the main flavors.

M- Very sweet and a bit chewy. This one has a full body with ample carbonation. This one really blows your palette away probably because of it's super freshness. A sipper for sure, it would be wrong to gulp down this wonderful creation. Just like with regular breakfast and KBS a very nice feel on this.

D- I wish I was not driving as I would of had another and probably another. I sipped this gem throughout my meal and it worked both with the entree and as a desert beer. This is the real deal and fingers crossed that more gets made soon. Get on this if you have the chance.

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.72/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On draft today at Churchkey in D.C. Served in a 10 oz. snifter.

Very near black appearance with a 1/4" dark beige head. Upon swirling the head gets bigger (oh my...), and leaves some generous lacing on the glass.

Aromas of roasted malt, bourbon.

T: Really fabulous stuff. The maple syrup element comes through more prominently in the taste than it does in the aroma. I believe this may be slightly better than KBS (I may or may not have had a KBS near me), but they are both top-notch beers, in my opinion. CBS and KBS are also very similar beers, for the most part. The melding of the barrel and roasted malt flavors is impeccable.

M: Really smooth up front and quaffable...Bang! There's some nice alcohol heat in the finish for you.

D: Fantastic beer and worthy of hype. I hope to enjoy this again, maybe even in bottles? Highly recommended.

Photo of akorsak
4.58/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At Al's of Hampden. Last night and again this afternoon. Served in a mini snifter both times. 11 ounces of glory.

A: The stout is pitch black, an encompassing morass of depth, really a beauty to look at. The bottle pour has left only the faintest band of dark head behind, The viscous body has legs.

S: Sweet maple syrup paired with vanilla bourbon, coffee and roasted chocolate. Each aroma takes it time, gradually emerging as the stout warms. The maple is, by far, the most unique aspect, a rich sweetness cuts through the rest of the already-formidable imperial stout.

T: Imperialistic and coffee-drive, the first couple sips bring the coffee stout to the fore. The coffee buzz iz intoxicatingly good, coaxing the rest of the stout out. The bourbon and maple follow, bringing out the intensity of the stout. The bourbon lends vanilla and coconut before the maple comes through with a syrupy strength. That maple is strong and very dry, each sip left my mouth to deal with a dry sweetness that screamed out for more. The whole package, as strong as it is, just tastes right - a velvety smooth stout.

M: The swirling flavors, bourbon and maple and coffee and chocolate, come together like few other beers can. From the late-night neon din to a mid-day sit-down, CBS doesn't disappoint.

O: A beer like this deserves an addendum, an "I'm with you in Rockland" postscript. Each sip is so complex, so flavorful, that words can barely do it justice.

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.68/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Founders CBS

Pours a dark tar black with a small short
livid head. Aroma of coffee, booze, syrup and chocolate. In the taste, aggressive bourbon, roast, coffee, oak and a pronounced alcohol burn. The stout qualities are there, with a black roast flavor and boozey barrel notes. At the end of the sip there is a sugary residual sweetness due to the maple syrup, along with an astringent bitterness from the hops, coffee and bourbon. Mouthfeel is full bodied and well carbonated. Overall, a treat of a beer and worth seeking. Enjoyed at Fat Heads Brewers Brunch 2011.

Photo of smakawhat
4.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Well, thanks to you (you know who you are), and on a lark I miraculously scored ONE bottle. Coddled and revered with care, poured into a large snifter glass at a good cellar temperature to review. (many comparisons will be made in terms of this vs. on tap).

Appearance is just a flat out knockout mostly because of head formation. A creamy coffee light brown and caramel, small bubbled consistency and forms so nicely. The head has a spectacular character that I have not witnessed before, and pulls the beer over the top in appearance. While holding like a solid stout, in the corner ring collar there is a sheen like film, not gross looking, but like a small soup like skin, that glosses over the edges. The corners of this head with it's hint of legs, and nice leopard lacing, show an edge of just shining polished glass. Just unreal, never seen anything like it. Body color is your standard walnut black/brown, some noticeable carbonation while tilting the glass.

Nose, in comparison on tap, less sweet and way more balanced and enjoyable. Still incredibly roasty and coffee dominant, but a light soft milk sensation and slight sweet cream. Soft notes continue but there is just a faint bit of heat here.

Taste brings a wonderful balance. Coffee dominant but still with a light brown sugar that doesn't overpower. Texture velvety as ever, but palate then gets on the finish miraculously the one thing I have been waiting for in a stout bourbon used barrel. A hint of whiskey. Whiskey angle is not distinct, but there, a slight sense but not so much. Bitterness comes after some warming, mixes with slight boozy spirit whisk(e)y and gives off tobacco just a slight touch. Chocolate, vanilla angles still not quite there, but others I gave it too certainly picked up on chocolate.

Overall, less of a one trick pony out of the bottle, but still coffee dominant and forward but the hint of whisk(e)y just pushes it over the edge, tastes are balanced, varied, highly exploratory, and it's far less sweet which makes it much more tolerable and enjoyable for myself. Just pure magic. I can't say anymore, I drank it all with ease, it was so easy to drink on top of it.

Nothing more needs to be said than has already been.

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.7/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A black beer. Period. Creamy off brown head, simple lacing.

Coffee dominant aroma, not quite as strong as the KBS, but this one has more caramel, chocolate and almonds in the background.

Upfront flavor is coffee. Caramel, maple and almond come through in the middle and the end is mostly creamy dark chocolate. Throughout is a soft ripe black plum that provides a bit of a nibble.

Smooth overall. Feel is a touch light for style, yet at 9.4 it's easy to drink.

Photo of BillRoth
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this at the brewpub, and at first thought it was very good ( as claimed/reported). But as it warmed slightly it began to evolve into a delicious highly (dangerously) drinkable draft. I have had many Founders brews, but this was so exceptional, and so remarkable that I now believe this is as goos as it gets. It has an exceptionally good nose, followed by a perfect mouth. The flavor is, let's face it, just out and out delicious. Hints of vanilla and wood, then the maple...soft, subtle but not overwhelming...just perfectly complementary.
I may have to move to Michigan!

Photo of iL0VEbeer
5/5  rDev +7.3%

Photo of brandoman63
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of chinchill
4.65/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - a dark black color with a typical tan head

S&T - very complex, with an amazing series of flavors as one savors a sip. Coffee, oatmeal, bourbon are among main components of taste and aroma. Maple syrup used in aging makes a subtle but significant contribution to this wonderful drink. Long-lasting taste and well-balanced taste components, if a trifle sweet.

M - full bodied with adequate carbonation.

This is the best stout/porter I've ever had! I tried Founders KBS at the same time. The taste, balance and complexity of the CBS were clearly superior, but then I am not a fan of bourbon which is a bit more pronounced flavor component in the KBS

Photo of John_M
4.33/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer was sampled after the 2007 through 2011 vertical Abyss and BA Hunahpu tasting at the finewinemike event, and I have to wonder if the CBS suffered by comparison. Especially after the BA Hunahpu, this beer really did not seem to show all that well (at least not as well as I was expecting).

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. On the nose, I get a considerable aroma of coffee grounds and light maple syrup, with some underlying citrus (surprisingly, I thought) and vainilla as well. While attractive, my recollection is that I thought this beer considerably more impressive on tap. On the palate, this beer is much better, as I picked up some chocolate, a hint of mint and light tobacco, in addition to the coffee ground flavor and vanilla. While the beer is at least moderately sweet, there's some bitterness on the finish that helps to counter that sweetness. Mouthfeel was medium bodied, and frankly, I thought the bottled version came across as just a bit thin on the palate. The beer finishes well, with some noticeable coffee, dark chocolate and light licorice.

The bottled version seemed a bit more complex to me than the draft version did, and I'm wondering if this beer wouldn't benefit from a bit of short term aging. This is a fine beer, no doubt, but it really didn't show as well as I was expecting during the tasting at finewinemike's.

Photo of rab53
5/5  rDev +7.3%

Photo of KAF
4/5  rDev -14.2%

Founders CBS Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,435 ratings.