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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.

835 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 835
Hads: 3,573
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.26%
Wants: 555
Gots: 938 | 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: 835 | Hads: 3,573
Photo of SierraFlight
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into stout glass. Very dark brown and nearly opaque with a few brown slivers at the edges. Half an inch of tan head rises and quickly falls to a thin cap that lingers. A few spots of lace remain. Aroma is of roasted malts, dried dark fruits, unsweetened chocolate, touch of soy sauce, and alcohol. Taste starts moderately sweet with chocolate, brown sugar, and date. Some bitterness follows from espresso and woody notes. Alcohol is masked well but not completely hidden. Medium-full body, creamy texture, low carbonation, warming sweet finish.

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Photo of WorldWideStout
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Lukafer, czoch85, and flandersned for all hooking me up with this brew in different trades!

A: Nice and viscous with a dark, but decidely brown body. Very small mocha head fizzles out after around half a minute.

S: Coffee is the predominant scent I get; chocolate and a bit of spicy rye hang around in the background.

T: Starts off with a bit of sweetness, then goes to semi-sweet chocolate. Coffee is there in the middle as well, but less prominent than it was in the nose. Coffee moves forward for a more bitter end, and the aftertaste is a muted coffee flavor.

M: Somewhat silky, a little lighter than I was expecting.

D: Goes down easy for a big fella.

This was a good stout, but not a great stout. There was no delicious flavor or complexity or anything that stood out to me. I was hoping for a more stellar brew, but I enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing how it ages.

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Photo of deereless
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown head which drops and leaves a lingering layer of spots, pours with some serious viscosity and moves in the glass with a slight sluggishness, obsidian black in color - 5.00, S: Intense aromas, tons of dark coffee and black licorice, profuse sweetness suggestive of candied prunes or dates, lots of roasted grains as well as some baker's chocolate and fudge - 4.50, T: Thick chocolate and coffee, double fudge brownie without all the excessive sweetness on the palate, alcohol burn is present but not disruptive, some dark raisins and molasses, hops play a lesser role in the profile than the malts but provide a significant citrus bite - 3.75, M: Thick and smooth mouth feel - 4.25, D: All around a very nice RIS, intensely thick and flavorful and made for a cold winter night - 4.00

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Fresh off the tap, in a St. Bernardus goblet. Cause that's how I roll, yo.

Dark as sin, black as all the wrongs in the world, huge tanned brown, cocoa head standing firm above. Beautiful. Amazing. Gorgeous. Outstanding.

Aroma: Oatmeal? Hmmm? Well, it's creamy, ...there's chocolate. Not too sweet. Roasty, but not too much. Creamy chocolate. Let's stick with that.

Drinking it: Big, fat, fantastic, delcicious. Rounds around the mouth, and sticks with it. Very well rounded, all together. What we seem to have is an RIS that is not outrageous in any degree, not overly out-there with any particular element.
Big, thick mouthfeel, long cocoa and coffee finish. Mmm, just right.

Very tasty, and not really easy to read the 12% abv, until, what, wait a minute, ...there it is...whoa-oh...

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Photo of dirtylou
3.97/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz single, no bs IV. sticker on neck notes 04/08

appearance: snifter treatment. jet black body with a thin chocolate neck, very little in the way of lacing/retention

smell: rich and chocolatey, heavily roasted, earthy peat, dark fruit

taste: nice - dark and extremely roasty, char and peat, licorice and bitter dark chocolate, cola, espresso

moutfeel: creamy and rich, seems a touch thin

drinkability: good

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.97/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Type: 12 oz bottle
Glass: Snifter
From: mL in Birmingham, MI
Price: 4.50 a single

Appearance: dark brown almost black, opaque, and a fingers worth of tan head that leaves a lacing. looks solid for a RIS but nothing overly special

Smell: roasted malts and chocolate. not the most fragrant beer

Taste: opens up with some roasted malts that are followed by a stronger chocolate taste and somewhat weaker dark fruits. some hoppy bitterness in the backend

Mouthfeel: pretty heavy, creamy, and ends with a strong and lasting bitterness. warming feeling too

Overall: solid but nothing to go crazy for. my first good/great beer from dark horse. probably not something I would buy again at the price

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Photo of PDXHops
3.97/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle courtesy of Ryan011235, poured into an oversized snifter.

Looks pretty much like a big stout should, black and intimidating with a dense 1-finger cap of dark tan head. Retention is pretty good. The lacing is a bit spotty, but it stains the glass impressively.

At 12%, the alcohol is shockingly well hidden in the nose. Smells quite good. Nice combo of chocolate, dark roasted and burnt malts. A touch of molasses, a bit of dark fruit and a gentle coffee presence. Definitely looking forward to this.

The booze is more noticeable in the mouth, but provides a modest warming presence that's not at all out of place. A bitter undercurrent previously undetected helps keep the sweetness under control, although there's a substantial tanginess that's a bit sticky at the finish. Nice robust roasted character. Carbonation is appropriately low, accentuating the slippery character of the medium-thick body. Finishes perhaps a bit too cleanly, but that's nitpicking.

Overall impression: A nice RIS that seems to have excellent aging potential. I think I will throw my other one in the cellar and revisit in a year or so.

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Photo of eclipse54
3.97/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 ounce bottle I received for winning rowingbrewer's "Guess My Stats" LIF. He sent me this "want," for which I'm very grateful. Poured into a DFH signature glass...

Pours completely black with about an inch of brown head; the head consists of thousands (millions?) of miniscule bubbles that, for some particular reason, I'm finding rather fascinating to examine at the moment. Unfortunately, they don't hang around for long, quickly dissipating to a ring around the lateral edge of the liquid's surface. Minimal (at the time of writing, a lone patch) lacing is left behind.

Also of intrigue, the sediment from the base of the bottle left an intricate pattern on the bottom of the snifter during the pour. The aroma is of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, roasted malt, cane sugar, and some coffee. It is very inviting, and the taste is a great host that follows through with all the promised flavors: caramel, molasses, vanilla, coffee, sugar, and some warming alcohol on the finish. Excitedly, the alcohol is very well hidden. I was quite surprised to see that this was 12% ABV.

The mouth is rich, but not overly so, and finishes with a bit of a sugary, sticky resin. Overall, a delicious, highly drinkable RIS that I'm very happy to have tried.

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Photo of cetherid
3.97/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a tulip


beer pours a dark brown/black. Looks a little like used motor oil. Head was minimal...thin brown bubbly head, like a cola but dissipated quickly.


Dark malts obviously. Notes of chocolate, burnt coffee and a nice little hop aroma. Perhaps a hint of soy in there but nothing terrible.


Big roast up front moving to some slightly sweet, slightly bitter dark chocolate with a pretty boozy finish. I get some subtle licorice and burnt/smokey flavors in there as well. Perhaps a little too boozy, but I suppose acceptable given the ABV.


Full bodied with decent carbonation. Fairly oily/slick mouthfeel to it.


Overall a solid RIS. I'd opt for an Expedition stout over this but I would imagine the BA version of this is stellar. A little hard to come by so I probably wouldn't seek this out again as I can pick up a sixer of Expedition about 5 minutes away whenever I want. I'm curiously how an aged bottle of this be as it's currently drinking a little hot.

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.96/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle out of a four pack and into a snifter so help me god. Been impressed with this series so far, this is my fourth out of five.

Deep space black with more blackness and some black to go on top of that. Ok, there's some brown towards the edge. A dark brown pillow tight nitro like head up above, after a few minutes, nothing, no lace.

Im not digging the nose on this at all. I mean it's malty as hell with some roasted qualities and chocolate, but there is also this rotted dark fruit scent that turns me away. It reminds me of a certain stout from a Jamacian brewery way down south, but 5th is not that rotted. Some creamy french vanilla.

5th comes back into focus on taste. This Russian delivers without that huge dark fruit thing, it's there but tucked under all this dark chocolate which was not as big in the nose, weird. Chocolate clumped in with vanilla and alot of cream. Saying there is alot of roasted malt is a understatement, it's huge. no alcohol, and this is a 12%er.

This is smooth, perhaps the smoothest 'fresh' rizzz i've had probably to date. Im upset that I missed it on tap by a few hours, damn. This is great out the bottle though. Pretty much full bodied and malty smooth, rich and not that bitter. In fact this is not bitter at all, more sweet. The carb is light, it's real light, but it's keeps number five together.

Excellent drinkability and a straight forward RIS. The nose bother's me but other than that, this is great. I'll try another bottle to see if that odor is still there. The alcohol is nowhere to be found, very impressive. Dark Horse continues to put out good dark beer and others.

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Photo of ColdPoncho
3.96/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dense and dark brown thick head sits atop a black-as-night body. Its a great looking beer.

S - Chocolate, smoked meats, licorice. Dark things, not much sweetness.

T - Boozy, some metallic dark fruity sweetness, But really nice profiles of chocolate and coffee and roasted malts. A good tasting beer for sure.

M - Thick, viscous, hella smooth. A very nice mouthfeel.

O (D) - There are so many exceptional beers in this style (that I've tried), that it's hard for anything to stand out. This isnt the best RIS I've ever had, but its certainly comparable to many of the excellent ones I've had.

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Photo of Tone
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%

Pours a black color. 1/4 inch head of an off-tan color. Decent retention and decent lacing. Smells of alcohol, roasted malt, sweet malt, hint of caramel malt, slight hop, and a hint of oatmeal. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is sharp and clean, with an average carbonation level. There is a noticeable dryness. Tastes of roasted malt, sweet malt, slight caramel malt, alcohol, hint of hop, and a hint of oatmeal. Overall, decent appearance, good aroma, decent feel, good body, and decent overall.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black. Straight black. Head is a deep tan with a reddish tint. Head is slightly bubbly and creamy. Dwindles to a small cap after a few minutes. A swirl produces a decent sized head, but retention is minimal. Pours thick and syrupy.

Smell: Booze, cherries, char, burnt malts, smoke, cocoa, you name it. it's in there. It's decadent. Sweet, dark fruits (plum and fig). Licorice. Very sweet and very burnt. Some toasted malts, but they're buried. Highly aggressive on the malts and booze.

Taste: Cherry and cocoa. Toasted malts are quickly covered over by burnt malts. Loads of chocolate flavor. Runs the gamut from baker's chocolate to milk chocolate. Harsh kick of booze on the back, but it works with the overt sweetness. Char lingers in the back as well. Nicely complex with serious depth. Fig and plum come out as the beer warms. Alcohol heat builds with each sip.

Mouthfeel: Slick, but not as full as I would have expected. It pushes for full, but falls short. The carbonation is a touch high for the style, but it works with the flavor profile. Booze dries the tongue out something fierce.

Overall: A little off-kilter this fresh. Loads of flavor and tons of complexity, but it fails to meld completely. With a year or two on this, it might just be that good.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into an oversized snifter.

A: Pours an inky black. A thin brown head dissipates very quickly and leaves behind some wispy, frail rings of lacing.

S: Fudge, chocolate pudding, vanilla bean, faint creamed coffee, and an estery fruitiness that smells of currants.

T: Fudgy chocolate and just a touch of acrid smoke open. Roasted malt tastes flex and morph. Baker's chocolate and black cocoa powder. A touch woody. Estery currant flavors are locked deep within the roastiness. Another dab of smoke. Alcohol presence is felt- spicy and a tad boozy, though not at all off-putting. Light kiss of citric hops and some earthy, grassy notes. Finishes with cocoa powder, semi-sweet dark chocolate, and fudgy/brownie tastes.

M: Reasonably thick and velvety. Low carbonation. Not bad, but it lacks some dimension.

O: A very solid imperial stout, but nothing to gush over. I can't find any fault with it technically, it just stays a bit understated. The flavors shift and change, but never seem to build up to an apex. I realize this all sounds very vague and subjective, and it should. I don't even know why this beer fails to 'wow' me.

Notes: At 12% abv, this one has some serious aging potential. I have a few more bottles, and I'll revisit this vintage in a few years.

Update: I've since had the opportunity to go through a few more bottles of this, and it has really grown on me. Not sure why I was so ambivalent before. Rich, thick, brawny, pleasing, and decidedly old-school and true to style.

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Photo of jethrodium
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle shared by colonelforbin. Thanks Mike. Pours a dark black with a small tan chocolate head that settles to a ring and leaves a decent lacing on the glass. The aroma has big roastiness, light coffee, dark bitter chocolate, and a bit of alcochol. The taste has some sweetness with dark roasty chocolate and some light coffee. The finish is bitter and roasty with a bit of alcohol. Very roasty overall. Medium body. Low carbonation.

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Photo of ncvbc
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours basically black with little to no light coming through. A thin tan head slowly rises from the pour. Smell is much more sweet than the taste to come. Some dark fruits, milk chocolate, light caramel and of course hints of roast. Taste brings the roasted flavors full force. Char and smoked flavors come out. Very interesting and deep. Some sweetness again and a little bitter toward the finish. Not a bad mouthfeel, just not as big a body as I'd hoped. Overall a good drinker and brew.

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Photo of westweasel
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours out a super thick, motor oil like liquid with a faint ring of tan bubbles on the edge of the surface and a small spiral like rorschach figure of bubbles in the middle of the surface.
The beer has great "legs" as you move it around in the glass.

The aroma is filled with thick, rich dark chocolate, and dark bing cherries. There is a slight bit of coffee-like roastiness that becomes much more prominent as the beer warms.

The mouthfeel is full and thick with very little carbonation.

The flavors are a mixture of sweet dark roasted grains and coffee, dark chocolate, and dark bing cherries. There is just enough bitterness and roastiness to keep the beer from being cloying. It's kinda of close though.

This is a very drinkable and enjoyable beer. As it warms, it becomes sweeter and more coffee-like.

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Photo of hu5om
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

tremens tulip split with e11a627
a-viscous dark black. syrupy. ring of khaki foam
s-big, dark chocolate, sweet. caramel/toffee, oats
t-dark chocolate, bit of coffee. caramel. a bit of boozy heat and licorice. rum raisen vibe?
m-a bit hot still, but body is big with low carboonation
d-could cellar for a bit longer. stiff. but there's a good profile behind it. thanks to primetime3882 for the excellent extra

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Photo of russpowell
3.94/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one from czoch75; cheers Clint!. This one comes in a 12oz bottle

Pours ebony with 1 pinky of brown/peach tinged head. Average head retention & lacing

S: Chocolate, vanilla, booze, & carob

T: Dark chcolate, dark fruit, oaky dryness up front. Oak & vanilla as this warms along with with a touch leafy hops, & bit of wet charred grain. Finishes with some chcolate & chicory

MF: Oily, medium bodied, with minimal carbonation, along with some slickness

Drinks easy for the style, but not enough flavor depth to push this to upper echelon RIS status

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Photo of n2185
3.94/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours black with a finger of brown head that fades imto a thin ring with no lacing.

S: roasted malts with lots of sweet chocolate. Strong molasses aromas follow with notes of raisins and plums. There are some floral notes as well.

T: roasted malts with notes of chocolate and coffee at first. Sweet molasses and dark fruit notes follow with a lightly bitter, roasted, and smokey finish.

M: thick body with lowish carbonation, this beer is thick and creamy.

O: a good imperial stout. A bit on the sweet side for me, but still good.

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Photo of granger10
3.94/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This Dark Horse stout pours an increadibly dark black color with purple hues and no head whatsoever. Looks like motor oil. Carbonation was lacking. Aroma is plums, charcoal, molasses, vanilla bean, and alcohol esters. Taste begins sweet with a chocolate syrup consistency. Fruity flavors, dark fruits, open this beer up esp when it gets warmer. Bitter chocolate comes then the finish is this really roasted grain astringency. I loved this beer but it finishes a little too harsh for my liking. I would also like some carbonation to liven up the mouthfeel. Nice and thick and rich, this could be really really good if they tweak a few things.

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Photo of happilysurly
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: I love the look of this beer. So dark and no chance of seeing through it. No head, very few bubbles. Serious legs.

S: Sweet, chocolate, a bit of fresh roasted coffee.

T: Tons of flavor. I can taste some alcohol in this, but only towards the end. The alcohol is overall very well hidden considering that it is 12% ABV. Dark chocolate and molasses and dark cherries.

M: No part of my mouth can escape this beer. It hits all the areas of the tongue and lingers at the back of my mouth for quite a long time. The flavor that lingers is sweet and very pleasant.

D: Love this as a sipping beer, but more than one in a sitting would be a mistake for me. The high ABV and thick, dark flavor make this a one-a-week type beer for me.

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Photo of Hophead717
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pitch black, with dark ruby/mocha head.

S: Super roasty, with strong chocolate as well.

T: Chocolate fudge, with strong roasty notes. The finish is of roasted malts, with hints of bitterness. Some alcohol is noticeable in the finish.

M: Medium-bodied, with low carbonation.

O: A good stout, but nothing special. Honestly, I expected a bit more given the reputation.

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Photo of bound4er
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Jet black appearance with a thin, tan head. Smells rich, sweet and fruity for an impy stout - dark chocolate, vanilla and bubblegum come to mind. Taste follows the nose with more chocolate, vanilla and tutti frutti sweetness. Both alcohol and hops are well hidden though the former is good but the latter is not in my book. Rich and creamy mouthfeel with almost no carbonation. This beer is rich and tasty but its sweetness and lack of any detectable hops to clean up the finish makes it a bit tiring to finish a 12 oz. bottle in one sitting.

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Photo of jjanega08
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A= pours a complete blackout black color with a suprising one finger head that is dark brown with some sort of amber color to it. The head lasts suprisingly long and has great lacing.
S= deep chocolate malts and coffee notes as expected but I get a little hop bitterness to go with it. Dark prunes and a touch of alcohol.
T= great flavor with some vanilla notes and molasses and chocolate. There is a touch of alcohol but nothing overpowering. Really flavorful.
M= a little bit of a problem here because the rediculously nice flavor doesn't coat and stick as much as I wish it would.
D= very nice glad I got this four pack. Ill be looking for it again sometime too. Really flavorful and tasty RIS seek this one out.

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 835 ratings.