1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout - Dark Horse Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Plead The 5th Imperial StoutPlead The 5th Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

3,007 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,007
Reviews: 763
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 8.12%
Wants: 507
Gots: 720 | FT: 81
Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
2010 and pre: white label
2011: white label OR black label with black no logo cap
2012: black label with logo cap
2013: black label with logo cap, ABV of 11% in the top right corner and new government warning

(Beer added by: HopHead84 on 09-27-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 3,007 | Reviews: 763 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jwinship83
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A- black thick looking body under a coffee colored modestly sized sticky head.

S- lots of coffee and dark chocolate. some raisins in there too along with roasted malts and a touch of alcohol.

T- very roasty with tons of coffee. chocolate and raisins/unburned cigarettes also. bitter hoppy finish. very dry

M- thick and chewy with ample CO2

D- picking up this basically unknown beer was a great idea. darkhorse hasnt failed me before and definitely didnt with this one. the taste and experience of this one is fantastic, its just way too strong to be sessionable. more people should check this one out. very good example of the style.

jwinship83, Sep 29, 2008
Photo of Brabander
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this bottle from my beer buddy Jeffo (Jeff) some weeks ago, just before we went the the CBC festival in Kopenhagen. Tonight is good night to open this one.

Poured in my Struise glass this beer has some problems to develop a head...but with a strong pour the head get two fingers big. After a few minutes the head is a few millimeter. The fluid is deep deep dark.

Smell is very nice with some boozeyness. I like 'm this way. Soft and smooth with the alcohol well hidden! Thanks Jeff for this beer!

Brabander, Jul 05, 2012
Photo of TheBear11D
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle

Pours black and looks pretty thick despite its high ABV. Has a small dark chocolate brown head that leaves behind decent but not impressive lacing.

Great nose. The roasted malts are first to tickle the nostrils, but the amount of alcohol cannot be hidden. Also has a smokey smell with chocolate.

Wonderful flavor! Chocolate and roasted malts dominate the taste. The alcohol is well hidden at first but it lasts well into the aftertaste.

Thick and creamy with very mild carbonation. The body compliments the flavor.

Well worth having! I continue to be impressed with Dark Horse.

TheBear11D, Apr 22, 2011
Photo of BMMillsy
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Older bottle (old white and gray/black label). from trade with jrgratz. Thanks ya! Pours thick jet black with dark brown small head. Big roasty aroma balanced by some dark fruit and anise. Big furry mouthfeel with adequate carbonation. Big bittersweet chocolate taste, roasty malt, sweet molasses. Really awesome and like this better than the fresh BA version I had. Lingering cocoa on the palate. Big stout on the sweet side and very nice.

BMMillsy, May 03, 2013
Photo of vande
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a.) can't believe I hadn't reviewed this before
b.) year old bottle straight from the cellar

a - oily black...viscous, dark, thick and foreboding....

s - rich, roasted malts, chocolate - dark, sweetness...hints of coffee

t - delicious - what you smell is what you get, and more. I think this beer did quite nicely with a year on it. Happy to know I've one of each of the series, except Tres, still in the cellar!

m - a solid medium, to heavy bodied beer that is hard to put down...

o - quite enjoyable... a great stout at a great price!

vande, Dec 21, 2011
Photo of VncentLIFE
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

What a beauty of a stout. Looks like pitch. No carbonation and no head.

Smell is a lot sweeter than I expected. Thick roasted malts, a bit of cream, Balanced and thick. somewhat spicy and a hint of leather. all odd combination i know. I cant really figure out why it smells like kind of spicy. Maybe vanilla.

Exceptionally roasty and robust, Burnt espresso, black bitter chocolate, and barrel pitch. I know its not BA, but I get that burnt wood kind of charcoal character. Thick creamy milk chocolate comes in somewhere in the middle. Finishes very bitter, with the heavily roasted malt dominating late. Theres this kind of spicy thing going on that I cant figure out. Its like a hint of cinnamon, or some kind of pepper spice. it goes very well with all the chocolate flavors. Hints of vanilla as well.

Feels so thick. Dark Horse had to use lactose somewhere in this. While it still feels overly bitter, th e underlying caramel sweetness is really good.

If it wasnt for Siberian Night, this would be my favorite RIS.

VncentLIFE, May 01, 2012
Photo of BJRHOMEBREW
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pour a deep rich black with a thin tan head that fades by the last sip.

S: Roasted malt with hints of cocoa and dark fruits.

T: Sweet dark malt, again dark fruits with a nice chocolate finish.

M: Rich and smooth with just a hint of alcohol on the finish.

O: A GREAT example of a true RIS. In this day when so many breweries are adding adjuncts to their RIS its nice to drink a wonderful example of the true style.

BJRHOMEBREW, May 25, 2011
Photo of barnzy78
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. Poured black with a thin light brown head, even with an aggressive pour. Little lacing on the glass also. Aromas were of roasted malts and chocolate with hints of black licorice. I expected a plume of alcohol, but wasn't overly present. Mouth-feel is medium to thick and thickens as the stout warms. Tastes are roasted malts, chocolate, and espresso. It is boozy, but the alcohol isn't overly present given the 12% ABV. Fruity esters reminiscent of ripe dark fruits are also present as it warms. Overall, a well done RIS! Really enjoyed this one, and would recommend it. I only bought a single, but would have been satisfied with a 4-pack.

barnzy78, Apr 23, 2009
Photo of oberon
4.44/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Unbelievably this is the first time I have had this beer...crazy.Pours jet black like an oil slich with a thinner beige head atop,like thick crude.Chocolate and black licorice in the nose along roast and sweet alcohol.Heavy roast and earthiness intertwined with alcohol dipped dark druit and deep molasses sweetness with that black licorice coming into play as well,whoo this big and complex.Big and chewey this is a sipper that Iam drinking at 6:00,it could be an early bedtime tonigh because I have three more to drink.

oberon, Apr 16, 2014
Photo of Beerandboards
4.44/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle received in a trade with brees. Not sure on vintage but looks to be a couple years, judging by looks of the label.

A - pours inky thick black. Very little head, but expected.

S - lots of chocolate, dark and milk varieties, little bit of roasty/coffee type notes. Some darker ripe fruits.

T - leads with the dark fruit and almost a black licorice type note. Coffee and chocolate back this up. Mild sweetness. But loads of complex dark fruit/licorice is the main element.

M - thicker, low carb. Could have used a tad more carbonation to liven up the flavors a bit. But quite good.

O - my best comparison would be a better version of TenFidy. The flavor profiles are similar and I think Pt5 is a little more refined. Overall an outstanding stout. I prefer a little more coffee and chocolate in my stouts, so the only demerit from anything higher is based purely on personal preference.

Beerandboards, Apr 20, 2013
Photo of tut2528
4.44/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: pours jet black, in very minimal head formation. giving it a couple of swirls it elicits an very dark tan almost brown head. big alcohol legs are noticeable.

S: roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, slight fudge sweetness, big dark fruits (predominately plums and figs), slight tart cherries as well. just a slight touch of coffee grounds

T: pretty similar to the nose. chocolate fudge, plums, figs, and cherries. but in addition, I pick up on a big black licorice, a slight hint of hops, and a vanilla cream finish. i find no alcohol presence and this one is going down

M: full bodied that coats the mouth with a nice bitter chocolate and sweet dark fruit characters

O: extremely smooth beer. and i must say that at the alcohol is almost undetectable. just a freaking fantastic RIS. definitely need to get my hands on the BA version, bc I can't imagine how fantastic that one would be!

tut2528, Feb 22, 2013
Photo of merlin48
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of Plead The 5th, pours a dark and opaque body with a small light brown head that leaves some spotty lacing. Aroma is dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses, coffee, and some dried dark fruits. Full bodied and creamy mouthfeel with a lower than medium carbonation. Taste is complex. Chocolate, strong roasted coffee beans, molasses, caramel, vanilla, leather, anise, and cherry skins. Alcohol is very well concealed but for some mild warmth. Excellent and very well put together. This one belongs in the top tier of American impy stouts.

merlin48, May 08, 2008
Photo of tigg924
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass

Appearance: 1/3 inch head, clear, dark brown in color, sediment at bottom of bottle

Smell: deep dark chocolate, faint alcohol

Taste: nice mix of dark and sweet chocolate, burnt malt, sweet sugar, and alcohol that burns

Mouthfeel: medium body, sweet with big time alcohol burn--slight bitterness on the aftertaste, medium carbonation

Drinkability: My second favorite in the line behind the blueberry, but I think that is just because I find the blueberry to be unique. This is a superb beer. It has the most alcohol burn I have tasted. It almost tastes like it has peppers. One of the best RIS I have had in a good long time. It tends to be on the sweeter side, but is nowhere near the cloying stage and far less sweet than Southern Tier. A great beer. Now that I have finished the series, I would rank them.

1a) Tres
1b) Plead the Fifth
3) Too Milk Stout
4) One-Oat
5) Fore--Smoke

tigg924, Jul 13, 2011
Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got this in a trade with mynie, been on my wants list for awhile so I've been looking forward to it.

Pours a jet black, decent viscosity, not much head though and no lacing.

Smell is subtle but has a nice roasted malt aroma, hint of coffee and chocolate, and especially some dark fruit looming in my nostrils.

Taste is thick and chewy and coats the mouth nicely, strong roasted presence with a coffee/dark chocolate bitterness, slight dark fruit presence, the strength is very well hidden and has surprisingly little warming action.

deltatauhobbit, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of chrismattlin
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This beer is delicious! So delicious it would satisfy someone unfamiliar with stouts or a seasoned veteran.

I've yet to have a beer from Dark Horse that wasn't exceptional, and this one keeps the streak going!

The 11% abv is masked well in this deep, dark beer. The epitome of what an American Imperial Stout aspires to be, this beer gets better as you drink it and it warms.

This is a brew to keep on hand.

chrismattlin, Jun 05, 2014
Photo of drtth
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lightly chilled and poured into a Duvel glass. A glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: The beer pours out a nice black stout color with a ¼" dark brown head that recedes fairly quickly to a ring of foam and a very thin layer of patchy foam on the surface. Sipping leaves some sparse leggy lacing that turns into speckles of foam on the glass. Later in the beer the ring of foam and speckled patterns of lacing from sipping persist.

Smell: Even from a distance the rich dark chocolate aroma fills the air. The chocolate blends nicely with some lightly sweet vanilla, a trace of licorice and some hints of dark toffee. There isn't a hint of alcohol.

Taste: As expected from the nose the flavors begin with some sweet roasted malt flavors of things like dark chocolate, molasses, dark toffee and vanilla. But about midway through the roasted bitterness puts in an appearance without dominating everything else. There is no real hop bitterness in this so I suspect it has long ago faded away. Any alcohol is well concealed here or shows itself only in the early sweetness and in the effects it produces.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is full bodied and silky smooth with some soft persistent, but very light carbonation, especially at the end of the beer. The finish begins with vanilla and sweetness, changes into to dark chocolate and then roasted bitterness. The bitterness slowly fades leaving a light dryness and soft finish of dark roasted malt bitterness.

Drinkability: Although a one a night beer with its 12% ABV, its definitely a wonderful Imperial stout for sipping before the fire while listening to music and/or reading. One of the things I particularly like about this beer is that the flavors changed nicely so that it is not really the same set of flavors that dominate throughout. I'll definitely have this one again, and again now that its available in PA.

drtth, Nov 15, 2009
Photo of --Dom--
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I don't feel like following a format today so: This beer is awesome. Pours with a short dark brown head. Not quite as thick as a yeti or ten fidy. Mouthfeel is spot on, creamy with medium carbonation. Everything is balanced, none of the flavors are too much. Slight alcohol heat but not a predominate taste. Dark chocolates with just a hint of burnt coffee. Amazing stuff, get some if you can.

--Dom--, Apr 12, 2013
Photo of Docrock
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

served on-tap at Dark Horse in a snifter:

A - Almost a pitch black body with a half an inch head of dirty brown color. Head disappear very quickly, minimal lacing but nice legs

S - Chocolate and roasted malt, a bit of molasses.

T - Bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee, some vanilla. Starts very sweet and finishes with a dry chocolate finish

M - Moderate to low carbonation. Very warming, creamy and silky. Medium to full body, chewy and heavy, but not too thick. Alcohol is hidden extremely well. You don't notice it until you near the bottom of the glass. minimal aftertaste.

O = Extremely pleasant beer, very drinkable, much smoother as it warmed in the glass.

Docrock, Feb 13, 2013
Photo of Spider889
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this single at From the Vine. Live review.

I really want to ding this beer on appearance for the horrid label. The lack of other pertinent info such as bottle date, abv, or IBU also is a little annoying.

That said, the beer itself is wonderful. It's about as thick a beer as I have ever seen. Jet black and ropey coming out of the bottle. At first I feared there'd be no head on it, but with some effort I pulled out a two-finger tall head, the color of a dark double shot of espresso. The head was very thick and gooey, and I really think oats or some other body-aid is used in this beer. Finally there's a pretty awesome blanket of lace that started before I even took my first sip.

The nose begins with the sweet notes of strong alcohol. It's not overpowering at all though. Dark fruit aromas of raisin and date mingle with the malt. Roasted but not burnt like some stouts can be. Milk coffee also makes up a very enjoyable portion of the aroma.

This is surely an exceptional Imperial Stout. Thick layers of coffee, bitter chocolate, and toasted bread crust layer themselves quite nicely. The 12% abv isn't nearly as noticeable as you'd imagine. Plead the 5th finishes with a very mild sweetness and some fruity alcohol.

The mouthfeel has the illusion of dryness, but I have determined that this is mostly a trick on the mind, as the bitter hops and ashy roasted barley flavors create a dry, gritty flavor. The mouthfeel itself is rather smooth, creamy, and sticky. The beer is strong, but not overly boozy, though I imagine that I'll be feeling the effects of this bottle for the next hour or so. Carbonation is about medium for such a big stout, and the body is as full as you're going to get.

Overall a wonderful beer, definitely the best Dark Horse offering I have had to date. I can only imagine how amazing the barrel aged version of this is.

Spider889, May 26, 2011
Photo of jmdrpi
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, but no date on the label, or any indication of the 12% abv strength.

pours black as used motor oil, with very dark tan head. but the head fades fast to a thin collar. aroma expands and intensifies as it warms - roasted coffee, cocoa power, booze.

taste is rich and bold. bitter dark chocolate, caramel, a little alcohol. lingering charcoal smokiness. definitely a sipper. thick, full body. coats the mouth, but enough carbonation.

overall - I really like, very good RIS.

jmdrpi, Oct 27, 2011
Photo of tbdkev
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Decided to grab this brew in celebration of the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory!

A: Pours a dark, motor oil brown with a tan head that fades quickly. Thick, as expected.

A: The nose is divided between sweet and dark chocolate malts and coffee.

T: The sweeter milk chocolate notes (lactose) surface immediately and gradually fade to a wonderful dark chocolate/coffee finish. There is an underlying fruit character as well--perhaps raisins. The combination of flavors yields some char character, and oak qualities as well.

M: Milky and somewhat chewy, with mild, fine carbonation that fits the profile well.

O: IPt5 fulfills the criteria for a stout experience, but it provides a complex enough experience to separate from most of the pack. Definitely worth the purchase.

tbdkev, Jun 25, 2013
Photo of ms11781
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed on 06/13/2011. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a medium thick, solid black color. A one and half finger, dark brown head develops, turns tan rather quickly and settles as a soap-like foam ring around the glass. Slight wispy lacing is left on the glass.

Excellent nose. Huge dark fruit aromas from the beginning. Some nice roasted notes as well as some dark chocolate and a hint of coffee. There is a bit of alcohol as well. Straightforward aromas but they stand blend together well and make for a great nose overall.

Taste is similar to the nose. Some bitterness from the roasted malt plays a huge part, as do the dark fruit notes. Dark, bitter chocolate, some sweet chocolate and a touch of coffee are here too. No detection of the alcohol that was in the nose. As with the nose, the flavors play off each other really well.

Huge, thick mouthfeel. Carbonation, while not high in general, may be a bit high relative to style and the size of the beer. Creamy, thick and viscous. Very smooth.

This is an excellent beer. I find the carbonation a bit odd, it's seems higher than it should be, but that seems contradictory considering the beer is silky smooth. Either way, it doesn't detract from the beer too much. Can't wait to see what age does to this one.

ms11781, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of BEERchitect
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A good Russian Imperial Stout that somehow keeps me wanting more. Maybe it's because Plead has a balanced and mellow take on the style (Similar to Blackout) or becuase the gravities aren't quite insane as I expected. It's kinda like a big Oatmeal Stout with the creamy texture, slickness, and weight. Lightly carbonated, the beer falls still fairly quickly and doesn't lift off of the tongue the way I like. A balanced roastiness never prefers the char or the toffee malts. Milk flavors and sweetness round out the herbal hops, sharp roasted grains, and alcohols. Still, the coffee, chocolate, anise, blackberries, plubs, grapes and dates are bold and varying and have come together very well. Nice disguise of the abv. With all the compliments, I still want more...

BEERchitect, Jun 24, 2009
Photo of superspak
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 1/22/2013. Pours dense pitch black color with a small dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a light amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, roasted malt, molasses, toffee, toast, biscuit, nuttiness, light char, light dark fruits, and roasted earthiness. Incredible aromas with awesome complexity and balance of big dark, roasted, and bready malt notes; with great strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toffee, toast, biscuit, nuttiness, light char, light dark fruits, and roasted earthiness. Fair amount of roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toffee, toast, biscuit, nuttiness, light char, light dark fruits, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and balance of big dark, roasted, and bready malt flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and lightly slick/chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is an incredible imperial stout! All around fantastic complexity and balance of big dark, roasted, and bready malt flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. An absolutely amazing offering.

superspak, Sep 13, 2014
Photo of pburland23
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On tap at Teresa's Next Door. There was a funny write up on the beer menu about how when the keg came in the employees at Teresa's didn't know what it was. So, someone called Dark Horse and told them they had a keg of Plead the 5th in Wayne, Pa. The Dark Horse employee asked, "How did you get a keg of that?"

It seemed to be a fortuitous break for us local beer geeks that Teresa's had a keg.

Pours a dark black color with a slight cocoa colored head.

Smells of roasted malts as well as some burnt wood aroma which reminds me of a port barrel. The taste is also dominated by the roasted malts with hints of dark chocolate and coffee.

There is scant carbonation which is nice for the style. This beer doesn't drink like it's 12% abv. There was no discernible boozy presence in my opinion.

All in all, this is a wonderful RIS. I had never even heard of Dark Horse before and was glad I wandered into Teresa's on a night they had this on tap.

pburland23, Dec 11, 2010
Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 3,007 ratings.