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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout - Dark Horse Brewing Company

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

837 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 837
Hads: 3,579
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.26%
Wants: 554
Gots: 939 | FT: 111
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:
Beer added by: HopHead84 on 09-27-2008

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
2014 - white label with black logo cap, ABV of 11% in the top right corner, government warning on bottom right side of label
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 837 | Hads: 3,579
Photo of MBrausen
4.77/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was poured from a 12oz bottle into a Town Hall sniffer.

A. This pours like used motor oil. A very thin head, with very minimal carbonation.

S. Smells of milk chocolate, light toffee, mild smoke and coffeee.

T. A extremely pleasing coffee taste. A little bit of bitterness with a sweet finish. Noticeable toffee in the initial taste, that fades to the smooth coffee.

M. A very smooth taste, that goes down easy. There is a very nice mixture that doesn't boarder on any extremes. There is a very nice dry finish to the taste.

O. This beer has a great balance between the thickness I expect in a Imperial Stout, and being easy to drink. It doesn't feel overly filling, but has lots of bold flavors that really tingle the palate. I really enjoyed this beer, and am adding it to my list of "to buy" next time I'm at the store.

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Photo of Apatschinn
4.77/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

App. - Pitch black pour. Nearly opaque in the glass. Virtually no head at all with little lacing.

Smell - All things chocolate. Light amount of coffee mixed as well. Very impressive.

Taste - Fails to keep up with the smell. Heavier coffee aftertaste that quickly dissipates. Great initial flavor though!

Mouth. - Light and smooth, very impressed.

Over. - Great beer I got from a friend in a trade, Would definitely love to see this on tap nearby!

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Photo of Qbdoo
4.76/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

From a bottle, pours black as night with hardly any head (despite three tries), though what you get is a dark tan.

Scent is not powerful: roasted malt, coffee.

Taste: roasted malt, coffee, a little chocolate, There's just a bit of booze, but not too much. There are Russian imperial stouts that have too much, but this - despite 11% abv, is just right.

Mouthfeel is unbelievable: thick, creamy with a light carbonation. Probably the best mouthfeel of any stout, maybe any beer.

This may be my new favorite beer. Wish it were more readily available.

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Photo of BrentJ
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I was excited to see this new entry to Dark Horse's stout series. I picked up a 4-pack at the Liquor Stop in Highland, IN.

Poured thick and black. The smell had my mouth watering for the first taste; which was outstanding. I'm looking forward to picking up a few more 4-packs...

One of the best stouts I've ever had! Well done, Dark Horse!

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Photo of BeerBuckeye
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Pours a dirty motor oil black, plenty viscous, a nice mocha colored head that fades quickly leaving behind very little lacing.

S - Very chocolatey, hints of dark fruit, licorice, coffee, and oak. Man this is a good smelling brew.

T - Oh man, hits you with a ton of bitter, dark roasted coffee. Nice, bittersweet chocolate, a hint of that fruity sweetness. Touches of vanilla, oak, and almost like smoked charcoal. Delicious.

M - Sticky, full, roasty. Perfect mouthfeel.

Overall - Blown away by this one, truly outstanding.

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Photo of Rizalini
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my tulip. The smell of chocolate fills the air as soon as I pop it open. It pours rather flat, but the smell is very inviting. The taste is exactly what I look for in a impy stout. Thick, rich, roasty, viscous, smooth to drink but lingers on the tongue. Hands down one of the best stouts I've had, period.

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Photo of Retail1LO
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is what I'M talkin' about!

Poured into a pint glass from a room temperature bottle.

Thanks to Centennial for giving this to me when he was a guest at my house the other evening.

This pours a lovely jet black with about 2 fingers worth of gorgeous espresso foam that recedes quickly, leaving a thin layer atop the rest of the beer. One of the best smelling stouts I've ever had the pleasure of taking in. A rich, chocolaty, bourbon, vanilla nose that is just so intoxicating to inhale. The taste is just behind the nose, mirroring all of the luscious flavors represented in the nose. This is my kind of stout. A little boozy, thick, rich, and creamy. The mouthfeel is absolutely the BEST I've had in a stout. I can't stop taking mouthfuls and just...letting them rest in my mouth while I tongue all the incredible flavors and texture. Unreal. I have to get more of this. Fast.

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Photo of ncketchum
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoyed on tap at Stubbys, 2nd to last glass I'm told...

A - pours jet black, no head

S - chocolate malt, maybe a bit of hops

T - black licorice up front, then chocolate milk, followed by a bit of bitter hops

M - thinner than expected, little alcohol burn, well hidden for this ABV

O - extremely solid Impy Stout. I could drink this all night, if there were more glasses available and I had a ride home. Very glad I was able to sample this one.

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Photo of rembrant
4.74/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a dire Big Stout Black..brown head settles to 1 finger and thick,leaves lace,foam,viscosity on the glass as you drink. it's hard for a proper Stout to get max points for pretty,a glass of Quaker State with 10,000 miles on it looks like good Stout.

Aroma...definitely not Quaker State...

All that dark goodness seems present with Espresso,Dark chocolate,raisins,licorace,smokey hints all entwined. It's hard to say which would win out in the end but I just can't wait.

Taste Hmmm...Yum. The Espresso/Chocolate seems a draw,big mega mocha. Raisins and dried cherries float by,currents lurk with some tart-sour cherry presence hiding amongst the crowd. A bit of smoky and the woodsy hops show up in the aftertaste,as if to reset your buds for the next adventure.
Next swig, holding it longer gets more coffee in the finish,what next? Turkey and Dressing?

If I had not been 'discovering Dark Horse over the past weeks,the surprise factor here might be stronger. As is, I was looking for the evolutions and the layers of detail,the unique tricks this brewer puts in the bottle. There's more than I can seem to describe

This joins the elite few Stouts that are pure inky black bliss. I want to do a showdown with 5th,Bell's Expedition and KBS.
Plead the 5th would start with a bonus point for price.

Mouthfeel... No surprise for me,Dark Horse found the sweet spot and all the mouth stuff is balanced,full rich opening then tapers off and the sour/smoky/roasty/bitter works with the illusion that the density thins. They brew at least 8 big dark brews,plus variants and are good at avoiding negatives like cloying,or abrassive. The carb is subtle yet enough for the right zing. Tastes and textures shift but never mess it up.

Drinkable? Well, I never tasted any "boozy" but already I know this ain't no bud light. Price is not "off the wall" nor is it cheap. I could see a stay at home session where I do several and at some point am immobile. I can make that sacrifice.

i have to go to Michigan and taste the barrell age version before I die...preferably much sooner than that.

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Photo of Gryphon69
4.73/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

snifter at the brewery, followed by a growler at home.

A- Black, no light seeping thru..anywhere, this even pours thick and syrupy. Dark head that fades after a few minutes. Laces up the sides and just...sticks to the glass.

S- Dark roasted malts, chocolate, hints of plums and other dark fruits, some noticeable alcohol.

T- My oh my, chocolates, dark roast, right up front and very balanced. Some dark fruits in the middle that linger, and not a sweet type fruit. Finish is kinda of dry with a slight alcohol burn.

M- The best, very thick, and syrupy, sticky, it gets stuck in the cracks of your teeth. chewy and lingering.

O- At the moment its one of the best RIS ive had the pleasure of drinking. Hope I can find it in bottles somewhere to add to my shelf. I highly recommend this to everyone

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Photo of drunkenmess
4.73/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Damn good stout. Pours super super dark like a thick oil. Dark brown head with beautiful lacing thru out. Smells of coffee, malt, and burnt goodness. Taste is even better than anticipated! Smokey dark chocolate, burnt malts with hints of coffee. Superb beer.

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Photo of MCain04
4.73/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Almost pitch black with a kahki head of 1/2 finger depth. Not much retention or lacing.

S: Roasty malts, caramel, sweet dark chocolate, a little alcohol, very nice aroma.

T: Roasy malts along with the smell, nice dark chocolate and toffee, just really great. A little bitterness lingers.

M: Moderate carbonation, a little more than necessary, but otherwise a nice full body with good smooth texture and a nice finish.

O: This is equal to, if not better than, FIS. I'm just really, really loving this brew. It's hard to improve upon. Very nice.

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Photo of nortmand
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Really, really dark brown, with some tan foam.
Roasted chocolatey smel. Whoa alot of roast. Also, a nice sweet smell.
Taste is strongly sweet, but complimented by a roast bitterness. Leaves an autumn fire taste behind.
A very nice, rich stout from dark horse. They don't do much bad.

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Photo of dar482
4.71/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

(With a year aged.

A year in, the aroma has a bright raspberry/blueberry boozy jam aroma. Tons of umami. Coffee, sweet chocolate.

The flavor follows with tons of complexity. Alcohol is present. There’s a vodkaed blueberries, roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate. A hop bitterness that hits towards the end with a bit of umami. Caramel and molasses linger throughout.

The mouthfeel is full, but lighter than a Founders Imperial I had next to it. Lighter side of extremely viscous.

Age this beer. It inched by Founders Imperial with a year on it.)

It is a dark black color with a coffee head.

The aroma is of roasted malts and big coffee.

The flavor is of bitter chocolate, but not offensive with roasted malt and coffee. There is a beautiful clean finish. The creaminess is throughout and it does not have an alcohol bite.

The sweetness and creamy qualities carry it through, but really push the strong flavors along. It has such tasty qualities, but without being overpowering and the clean finish is wonderful.

It reminds me a bit of Imperial Biscotti and Even More Jesus. This is dangerously drinkable at 12% ABV, unlike some beers this style or bourbon aged beers.

This beer hides its 12% better than a beer like KBS. However, the cloying finish at a point that doesn't have a clean creamy finish like Ten Fidy. Love it still, but not as complete as I remember having it for the first time.

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Photo of MaxSpang
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter...


Obviously, VERY dark. This guy poured very slowly into the glass. It had a lovely brown head, probably one of the darker heads I've seen. The head was about 2 fingers. There was minimal bubbles.


Very malty in the nose. There was a big amount of chocolate and roasty aromas. It had a little bit of alcohol, but not NEARLY as much as you would expect! There was also a slight graininess in the smell, as well as some tropical fruits and banana which was quite surprising.


In my notes from this beer (which I had a few nights ago), the first thing I wrote for the taste was "Sooo good". And it definitely is! Very sweet with a big amount of yummy chocolate and bittersweet cocoa. It had a burnt-sweet-fruit taste, and I mean that in the best way possible. There was a fairly strong banana flavor which was extremely pleasant. There was NO alcohol taste to be found in this beer. I swear there was a good amount of oak flavors in it, yet I don't think it was aged in oak barrels (but I'm not 100% sure that it wasn't.) I have to say that this beer was very similar to Founders KBS, without the coffee flavors.


Very thick and very smooth. This is one of those beers I put into my "Big-Ol'-Stankin-Beer" category. It was very warming from the alcohol.


This is by far one of my favorite Imperial Stouts, and relatively inexpensive (compared to other IS). It's also a bit easier to get a hold of, although the store I bought my 4-pack from was limiting 1 per customer. This beer is pretty dangerous though, because it's very drinkable (considering the thickness), and you definitely cannot taste the 12-14% ABV - so be careful with this guy!

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Photo of dgugliuzza
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a SA pint glass

A- Pours midnight black with 1/2 inch thick brown head. Great color contrast between the head and body.

S- Smells of dark roasted malts with heavy amounts of cocoa. Some coffee is also present. Smells very similar to a freshly baked batch of chocolate chip cookies.

T- Tastes of sweet roasted malts with plenty of chocolate and coffee to back it up. Not only does it smell like a cookie, but it tastes like one too! Has a nice subtle bitterness at the finish which brings it all together. This is tasty beyond words.

M- Creamy and chewy as it should be for the bold imperial stout that it is. Sits much like a desert on the palate.

D- Fantastic. One of the more tasty imperial stouts I've had the delight to drink. The alcohol is hardly noticeable. This could have a 20% abv and still be delicious.

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Photo of cradke
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark dark and pours quite thin and viscous. Finger thick dark head. Reflective, see-your-face-in-the-beer, dark.

Smell: Delicious. Dark chocolate and malt. Perfect level of sweetness (dry). Touch of smoke to it. Wonderful.

Taste: First thing that hits me is biter chocolate and then some smokey notes and peat. GREAT roasted malts and dark chocolates spread across the palate. Great amounts of flavor. Nicely earthy with some bitter coffee. Fantastic level of dry-ness.

Mouthfell: Spot on. Thick and substancial. Good amount of carbonation.

Overall: Wow. This beer is fantastic.

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Photo of BruceBruce
4.69/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A. Solid look and nice 1/4 inch tan head

S. Amazing, I cant convince myself that this isn't BA, it must be the strong alcohol presence. Booze at first and then some coffee and then alcohol then a bit of roasted malts and then way more booze, LOVE IT!!!

T. Alcohol up front and very present, then coffee and maybe a hint of chocolate, the presence of booze is amazing hits you first and last. I love this beer!!!

M. A bit thin for me but not bad 3.5

O. I love it, great taste, a smell that I seriously put my nose to the glass until the last sip. I love this beer so glad I got one in, ISO: again for sure.

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Photo of Cresant
4.69/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured this 12 oz. bottle into a New Belgium globe glass. The body was dark brown and the very creamy head was dark tan. The head was smaller than expected even after a hard pour.

The smell was of sweet cocoa. Hints of vanilla and big fresh grain aroma.

The taste was sweet and creamy with significant roasty bitterness. Chocolate and vanilla. Very well hidden alcohol. So smooth and tasty, just a well constructed big stout.

The mouthfeel was medium to full and it was oh so creamy. This one exceeded my expectations.

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Photo of martyl1000
4.69/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at coopers Tavern for Mad Craft Beer Week.

Renewed(my faith in double stouts, and that's no exaggeration. My tastebuds have changed vastly in the past couple of years -- I'm all about the IIPA's, now. I've been moving away from my beloved imperial stouts...

Pretty sure it's me. I've completely lost my affinity for other styles, too: tripels, BSDA's, other sweet styles. English barleywines were my drug of choice for four years, and now I don't think I can drink the 25 bottles I have in my cellar.

But I should be writing about how much I love this PT5. I don't know how to expl#it. It's very sweet, but despite my previous paragraph , I love it. More later...

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Photo of glazeman
4.69/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Split with airohead2001. I looked all over southern Michigan and could not find this beer, even though it's from Michigan. Then, when I head up to Milwaukee, there it was. Glad, to have finally found this one.

A: Opaque black with a half finger tan head. Not too much head retention, but it does have a nice crown. Some lacing, but not as much as I would have liked.

S: The first thing I thought of when I smelled this is smores by the campfire...superb. Upon further inspection I get coffee, vanilla, and some sweet fruits.

T: Not as rich as other RISs, but oh so wonderfully complex. It's sweet to start, sour in the middle, and has a wonderful coffee, toast, and chocolate finish. The sweet/sour notes I get in the beginning/middle are of cherries and raspberries. As good as it gets, taste wise.

M: The antithesis of darklord as far as mouthfeel goes. This one is thin and light. At first I thought this was a bad thing, but for some reason it works well with the taste. Also, the thinness adds to the drinkability and makes it feel even better in the summer heat.

D: Out of this world. Probably the most drinkable RIS I have ever had. Alcohol is 100% hidden the flavors are robust and delicious, and the feel is light and makes for easy drinking. If you haven't tried this one you defiantly should.

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Photo of office888
4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours dark black, almost syrup, with a thick brown head. Carbonation dissipates down pretty fast to a light, frothy layer.

S: Coffee, maybe dark cherries, dark chocolate.

T: Impressive taste that fairly reflects the smell, almost no taste of alcohol whatsoever. Sweet, almost a cherry note to it.

M: A little bit of carbonation, and absolutely thick. I'd be hard pressed to find a food pairing for this beer, it's a meal on its own!

D: Solid imperial stout, if not the best imperial stout I've ever tasted. I would definitely buy it and drink one again. It's a perfect stout for someone who appreciates the darker beers.

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Photo of watsonmd
4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Served 55F, poured into snifter.

A: Black, with thick brown head that stays... and brown lacing during the session.

S: Chocolate, malt, maybe a hint of licorice?

T: Wonderful. Coffee, chocolate, with full malty backbone, maybe some cherry, or other fruits hidden in there... Something roasty trying to break through...

M: Heaven, coating the mouth, slippery, silky and full. Stays with you long after the swallow. Thick feel, with dense carbonation.

O: Awesome trade. Would definitely buy if it was available in GA. Will have to settle for Bell's Expedition, and Founder's Imperial....

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A- Probably the thickest pour I've experienced. Dense, black, and viscous, this one has allmost no carbonation going into the glass. Very small head that was only slightly thicker than a film on top forms, even with some vigorous pouring. What little head there is retains as a thin film and laces just a bit. Black as night in the glass, with no light able to penetrate the body.

S- Upon opening the bottle and the release of air with a hiss, the big, bold, roasty notes can be detected. Prominent among the strong, dark, roasted malts is a blend of chocolate and coffee. Chocolate is semisweet, while the coffee gives the whole scent some teeth. Underneath the chocolate and coffee flavors, there is a ton of dark malts; some bitter, some sweet in smell.

T- Big, roasted, dark malts off the bat, just like the scent. Slightly more bitter than the smell, and progresses right into the chocolate and coffee blend I described. Coffee is bitter, but not overly so, with the chocolate sweetening things up just a little bit. The blend of coffee and chocolate dominates most of the drink, moving towards a slightly more bitter bite to finish it. Right at the end, some alcohol bitterness makes an appearance, but does not overpower the coffee and chocolate bitterness.

M- Feels just like it looked in the pour; thick. Smooth, with very low carbonation as it slides across the palate. Slight to moderate alcohol heat peaks through at the ends, warming as it goes down.

Overall, I am impressed. This has been somewhat under the radar for me, and when the store tweeted out that it had it, I grabbed the 2 bottle limit. Glad I did that. We'll see what the other one tastes like in a few months to a year, but it drinks great fresh.

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Photo of LehighValleyEats
4.67/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Plead the 5th Imperial Stout is heavy, heavy, heavy. What else could be expected from an Imperial Stout. The guys over at Dark Horse Brewing Co. describe this one as..."big & full bodied with lots of roasted malts & balanced with heavy hops..."

The 5th pours out with the sight of midnight with a fading brown head with little retention. The aroma is extremely complex, with rich maltiness at first whiff, then the coffee, chocolate, & a hint of sweetness dominate the senses. The flavor is bold, big, complex. Hard to describe the symphonic array of tastes bouncing around my mouth. Maltiness & traces of maybe maple syrup come through, with the chocolate & coffee resonating in the front. The heat is apparent as well. The mouthfeel is very heavy, as i expected, & i must say that this beverage is a "1 & done."

Overall Impression: I loved it! Can't praise this wonderful concoction with anymore praise then has already been said. Go out & try it immediately.

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 837 ratings.