1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. 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

2,852 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,852
Reviews: 752
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 8.12%
Wants: 481
Gots: 689 | FT: 75
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: 2,852 | Reviews: 752 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of VncentLIFE
VncentLIFE

North Carolina

4.45/5  rDev +3.2%

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.

05-01-2012 21:03:17 | More by VncentLIFE
Photo of BJRHOMEBREW
BJRHOMEBREW

Ohio

4.45/5  rDev +3.2%

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.

05-25-2011 03:13:21 | More by BJRHOMEBREW
Photo of barnzy78
barnzy78

Illinois

4.45/5  rDev +3.2%

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.

04-23-2009 03:44:34 | More by barnzy78
Photo of wedge
wedge

North Carolina

4.46/5  rDev +3.5%

@ Ridgewood

Had to wait awhile for this one to warm up...

Opaque black with a small, creamy head on top that sticks to the surface for the duration. Dark, vinous fruit aromas upfront...super dark chocolate, creamy malts, and slight coffee. Super dark, heavy, black malty flavor. Lots of dark cocoa and not too much sweetness or booze. Heavy, textured, chewy, and dry. A big, deliciously dark RIS...

03-02-2013 03:39:47 | More by wedge
Photo of gcamparone
gcamparone

Rhode Island

4.46/5  rDev +3.5%

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Acquired in a trade with spambum, thanks man!

A- Pours a jet black, motor oil colored body with a beautiful 2 finger mocha colored head that reduces fairly quickly to a brown ring. Little lacing.

S- Lots of dark roast coffee, milk chocolate, french vanilla, booze, some subtle dark fruit, heavily roasted malt.

T- The taste of this beer changes drastically with temperature change. It's the best at warmer temperatures, the last few sips were the best. Fresh out the fridge it has a lot of coffee and semisweet chocolate characters. As it warms it turns into a chocolate milkshake - milk chocolate, vanilla, coffee, heavily roasted malt. Virtually no booze which is good for the high abv.

M- Thick and creamy. Low carbonation.

Quite an impressive beer. Drink it at cellar temp - my rating for taste went up .5 points at cellar temperature than right out of the fridge. Very drinkable for the high abv. Overall excellent. Recommendable.

04-13-2013 23:36:24 | More by gcamparone
Photo of TwelveOunces
TwelveOunces

Kentucky

4.46/5  rDev +3.5%

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- Pours incredibly black. As dark as they come. Almost not head. More of a brown film. Impressive alcohol legs.

S- A lighter roast. A big coffee presence, A subtle caramel. A dark brew.

T- A light roastyness up front. Really goes well with the caramel. A smooth creamyness, almost a desert style stout.. Sugary but not too sweet. Some roasted toffee an burnt sugar.A decent hop presence but still very subtle. A touch of chocolate on the back end. A well balanced and rounded RIS.

M- A solid Feel to the beer. A sticky, roasty sweetness. Alcohol is extremely well hidden. Drinks like a champ.

O- This is a great RIS. Up there with Stone's IRS and ten fidy. I would love the BA version.

02-17-2013 01:35:05 | More by TwelveOunces
Photo of tpaetow
tpaetow

Missouri

4.46/5  rDev +3.5%

A- thick, black, tan head, half a finger that dissipated quickly

S- dark chocolate, coffee, bit of caramel sweetness but not much

T- similar to smell but I also get some berry notes. Really nice.

M- medium to full bodied, lighter than I had expected for a stout this big. Hides its alcohol well.

O- this is a tasty RIS. I don't like it as much as the barrel aged version, but it's a really tasty stout!

03-08-2014 03:00:04 | More by tpaetow
Photo of thagr81us
thagr81us

South Carolina

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

Big thanks goes out to my boy aasher for this one! Fifth in the series and fifth on the day! Served from bottle into a Duvel tulip. Poured pitch black with a minimal fizzy brown head. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, dark chocolate, dark fruit, and subtle alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, dark chocolate, dark fruit, subtle sweet alcohol, and subtle caramel. It had a heavy feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. The aroma and flavors on this one were quite nice for a RIS. While they were not overly complex, they made this one quite enjoyable. The key thing for a RIS for me is if they can cover up the alcohol while still keeping it around as a more subtle flavor. This one did this quite well. A definite must try for any beer drinker out there.

11-08-2011 14:17:25 | More by thagr81us
Photo of bluejacket74
bluejacket74

Ohio

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

12 ounce bottle, "Plead the 5th" Imperial Stout. Served in a chalice, the beer pours very dark brown/black with a very small brown head which goes away quickly. The aroma is roasted malt, dark fruit, milk chocolate, coffee and molasses. Taste is similar to the aroma, there's roasted malt, milk and bittersweet chocolate, molasses, vanilla, coffee, dark fruit and a bit of soy sauce. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full. Not as thick as I expected it to be (but there's still plenty of substance to this beer), but it's very slick and smooth with low carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good, it's not hard to drink at all. Overall I think this is a pretty good RIS, I'd definitely buy it again given the chance.

05-10-2008 22:51:12 | More by bluejacket74
Photo of badboyrsl84
badboyrsl84

California

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

Pours a pitch black in to a tulip glass. the mocha head to this one is very faint and appears shortly after all the beer has left the bottle .

smell - its not the most impressive thing about this beer. I have to literally put my nose in this one to get the smell of this. I get fig, dark chocolate, vanilla, and some oak.

taste - thick dark chocolate stands out the most to me here. Although the taste tends to change with each sip. The oak is present as well as a little fig, but man O man does the chocolate shine in this one. It laces the throats and leaves a thick chocolate coat in the after taste. I get a little coffee but not much.

Overall - I am thoroughly happy with this one and can't say enough about how much the chocolate throat coating stands out to me. I shall have this one again!

06-19-2011 20:55:30 | More by badboyrsl84
Photo of weeare138
weeare138

Pennsylvania

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

This one has been aging in my cellar for at least 2-3 years. I can't even remember who I got it from but if memory serves correct, I believe it was trbeer.
Appears a used motor oil, thick syrupy, viscuous, black. A thick, dark tan head slowly fades into a mild cap and collar. Spotty lacing and syrupy streaks are left around the glass.
Smell is of roasted nuts, molasses, brown sugar, caramel, dark chocolate, vanilla, and coffee beans. I'm loving this stuff. I would put this up there with some of the best Imperial Stouts I've had.
Taste echoes the aromas with complexities bouncing off the tastebuds with highlights of dark fruit jam, caramel, molasses, cocoa, coffee, and roasted nuts.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, semi-sweet with chocolate bitterness.
Let this one age a little bit and it'll reward you handsomely.

05-17-2007 19:40:54 | More by weeare138
Photo of IBUnit63
IBUnit63

Massachusetts

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

Thanks to aqsprint for this trade - 12 oz. into perfect size and shape of Moosehead mug.

40, 50 or 60 weight? Thick jet-black spent motor oil topped with very thin banana nut bread-colored head. This one's gonna be trouble.

The gang's all here - coffee, cocoa, cinnamon sugar, beef BBQ char, oily hop pine and prodigious amounts of slow-roasted chocolate malt. This one's solid.

Extremely roast-forward and complex. Austere to an extent but viscous enough to jell everything going on here - the cocoa, cinnamon sweetness, overloaded burnt malt and a mild piney hop profile. Husky alcohol notes carve out thickness in a very faint bourbon sort of way to keep it clean.

This absolutely oozes down the palate with the ingredients working together in Beautiful Chemistry to git 'er done. Finish is long and strong. Strong and soothing.

Well this one was finished way before I was ready to let it go. For such a powerful brew this drinks painfully easily. Savor this puppy.

09-15-2008 09:31:47 | More by IBUnit63
Photo of ppoitras
ppoitras

Massachusetts

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

12oz bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed only the slightest layer of brown bubbles over the opaque dark brown/black brew. Lacing is more or less non-existent, but the viscosity of the brew does leave a nice film when the glass is swirled, which I think should be worth something. Aroma is heavy oatmeal and dark fruits. Taste strikes first with the soft oatmeal, then the fruit chimes in for a moment, eventually giving way softly to more dark malts, and some coffee bitterness at the close. Warmth is evident upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth for such a heavy beer, no doubt the oats' doing, and drinkability is quashed a bit by the heartiness of the malts, but overall for the style this brew is reasonably approachable. Check it out yourself and make sure I've made the right call.

04-01-2005 02:53:03 | More by ppoitras
Photo of rmalinowski4
rmalinowski4

Illinois

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

Pours a jet black with a two finger milk chocolate head. The head recedes slowly leaving a ton of milk chocolate colored lacing. Looks deep, dark, and divine.

Smells of roasted malt, dark chocolate, and coffee. Smells simply scrumptious.

The taste is of huge sweet chocolate, thick chewy malt and rich creamy coffee. It is wonderful, well balanced and simply delicious. The alcohol is well covered and barley noticeable when cold. As the beer warms, the alcohol heat become more prevalent.

The mouthfeel is thick and chewy and completely coats your palate. There is adequate carbonation making this simply wonderful to sip on.

Overall this is one of the best non barrel aged stouts that I have had, it is simply delicious. I am definitely going to seek out more of this one.

05-22-2011 03:08:46 | More by rmalinowski4
Photo of WakeandBake
WakeandBake

Michigan

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

A thick dark black motor oil pour with a thin coco colored head,light carbonation with lots of sticky lacing. Aroma is heavy dark chocolate,bitter coffee,and roasty/burnt malt,and a hint of smoke. WOW Flavor is of bitter coffee,dark chocolate,malt,caramel,vanilla,hints of oak,and alcohol,medium to full body with a creamy mouthfeel, awesome bittersweet finish. This is outstanding in every way. Dark Horse Rocks !

05-12-2009 00:55:34 | More by WakeandBake
Photo of Deuane
Deuane

Pennsylvania

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

Whoo-hoo! Plead the 5th ON TAP! Lucky for sholland119 and I to score an offering of this from the tap.

A-Black. A medium, dark tan head slowly reduced to a thin veil and would revive with moderate agitation. Deposits ringing lace as the volume reduces.

S-Dark cherry, alcohol fusel elements, and a waft of smokiness all lying on top of a HUGE, rich and roasty dark roasted malt base. Hints of raisin and sherry in the background. All in all quite complex.

T-A luscious combination of plum, raisin and sherry accenting a rich, roasted malt base. Bit of alcohol burn in the finish but it works for this beast of a brew. Finishes with a building dry woodiness.

M-Medium-heavy bodied, very smooth with a dry finish that slowly fades into a long lingering bitter, roasted malt bite.

D-Smooth and easy going, well rounded and VERY flavourful....in fact disturbingly so! For a brew packing a reported 14% ABV this beer could get you into serious trouble, fast! A VERY complex and intriguing brew. Well done Dark Horse!

03-08-2010 12:52:41 | More by Deuane
Photo of david131
david131

California

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

A- Absolutely pitch black and thick looking. A nice, creamy mocha head forms and had excellent retention.

S- Lots of chocolate and coffee. Some anise and smokiness are in there as well. Smells wonderful and balanced, but it is pretty subdued.

T- The perfect balance of all the flavors. There is a ever so slight hop presence on the tail end, but I love how it is not in your face at all. Very clean and enjoyable.

M- Very creamy and ridiculously smooth. It doesn't get much better than this.

D- A tasty pick. I could really sip on this for awhile. Much better than I expected. Dark Horse really knows what they are doing with stouts.

06-26-2008 03:07:04 | More by david131
Photo of putnam
putnam

Michigan

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

Black oil. Very dark sheet of foam after raising the pour high enough to kick in some turbulence -- darker than Breakfast, Shakespeare at al. -- minimal though.
Aromas of bitter chocolate, black coffee and marshmallow. There are also some wild yeasty elements to the bouquet that remind me of certain Belgian Quadrupels -- doughy, with notes of reduced red berries, spices and nut butters. Think Bernardus12/Rochefort10 with piles of coffee and chocolate extract added.
Velvety and not particularly sweet, the flavors are very roasty and intense, yet lacking any sourness or astringency. A long cadence of milk sugar and espresso define the finish.
Herbal burps betray some lost hop component (that's quality to me.)
Quite well balanced. Maybe a little top-heavy. It will be interesting to see what happens to this bottling over time.
This is what I remember Expedition tasting like.
Spectacular.
I'm guessing 10% ABV or more.

01-20-2005 00:16:59 | More by putnam
Photo of bs870621345
bs870621345

New Jersey

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

Second time having this, better(?) on tap.

Pours jet black with a mocha colored head and minimal lacing. Looks like a stout should.

I get a lot of fruit, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, vanilla, and almost an oak like smell. It is not barrel aged but its got a few characteristics of such.

Taste is very much like the smell. Chocolate dipped dark fruits with some vanilla and coffee mixed in. Seems like there are some spices as well. Alcohol is rather prevalent, but it is a really big beer.

Mouthfeel is thick, creamy, oily, and delicious. Lingers for a long time.

Overall, this is damn good. It brings to mind Lost Abbey Angel's share, but a hell of a lot better value.

08-27-2011 22:43:35 | More by bs870621345
Photo of GabrielM
GabrielM

New Mexico

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

Shared as an extra from pittsburghkid66 - thanks again! Poured into a snifter.

A - pitch black body, dark brown head on top. A standard appearance, yet one that always excites me.

S - a ton of roasted malts and brown sugar. A little vanilla, alcohol and spice.

T - roasted malt more than anything, some sweet coffee-and-cream, chocolate and molasses on the back.

M - fantastic! Great carbonation, very smooth and balanced.

D - dangerously good. This one lacks the espresso/hop bitterness I've come to expect from big IRS, especially ones at 12% ABV. Very grateful I got the chance to try this beer.

10-29-2010 00:51:37 | More by GabrielM
Photo of ixodus
ixodus

New Jersey

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

A: Pours a thick jet black with reddish brown hues and a mocha head. Leaves trace amount of lacing.

S: Rich dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, licorice, anise, plums, raisins, cork like woody smell.

T: Decadent dark chocolate almost like chocolate mousse, licorice, charred oak, french vanilla, molasses, and espresso,
finishing off with a roasty dark coffee like bitterness that lingers for awhile. Complex and definitely on the roasty side. This beer is still quite hot.

M: Thick and vicious, creamy, hot, with soft carbonation.

O: Overall this beer is a excellent. I would definitely seek this out. One of the most complex non barrel aged RIS' I have ever had

01-11-2012 01:18:05 | More by ixodus
Photo of Mississipping
Mississipping

Mississippi

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

12oz bottle poured into a Jackie O's snifter, both courtesy of drgonzo3705.

A: Pours pitch black, letting absolutely no light penetrate.  A small, one-finger light brown head appears, but only briefly before disappearing.  Only a thin ring is left behind, with some sticky lacing.

S: This smells excellent ... roasted malt and bitter chocolate dominate, with hints of espresso, vanilla, dark fruit, and a touch of anise.  Really a lot going on here, creating an extremely pleasant aroma.  despite the higher alcohol content, there is no sign of it in the smell.  

T: Starts out with dark, bitter chocolate and roasted malts.  Transitions slowly to a sweeter milk chocolate with fig and plumb.  Finishes roasty with an absolutely delicious espresso flavor and a touch of hops that lingers and lingers.  There is a bit of a drying effect on the finish, however, there is almost no trace of alcohol.  Really nice!

M: Full-bodied, thick, and slightly chewy.  Fairly low carbonation that provides a smooth velvety creaminess across the tongue with each sip.  Nice transition from bitter to sweet to bitter/roasty.  Again, slightly drying at the end.  

O: This is an exceptional non-BA imperial stout.  There is a lot going on in the aroma and taste, and the mouthfeel is spot on.  I've had my eye on this for a while, largely due to some of the hype surrounding the BA-version, and this version is better than I had expected.  I'm really glad to have gotten a chance to try this and will try to get my hands on another bottle or two down the road.  

07-05-2011 01:57:54 | More by Mississipping
Photo of mattboyer182
mattboyer182

Indiana

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

A - Pours pitch black with almost no head to speak of.

S - a bit of bourbon with dark rich malts.

T - very well balanced. Slightly smoked flavor. Roasted malts.

M - heavy bodied and light carbonation.

O - very good and balanced enjoyed this very much

01-10-2012 02:51:36 | More by mattboyer182
Photo of drpdaddy
drpdaddy

Wisconsin

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

Thanks, warbird07 for this one. Poured into snifter. Pours pitch black with very little head and no residual lacing. Smell is spectacular dark malts, chocolate, molasses, raisins very faint ethanol. Taste chocolate, coffee, raisins, sweet malt, tobacco, the ethanol is very well hidden considering the abv. Mouthfeel is velvety smooth, almost creamy, faint carbonation. Overall a very solid RIS, underrated if you ask me. This beer is way to easy to drink which is dangerous at this abv. I definitely recommend this one.

03-16-2011 02:43:07 | More by drpdaddy
Photo of Gehrig
Gehrig

Illinois

4.47/5  rDev +3.7%

I heard great things about this from the terrific JD, manager of the sterling Neil St. Piccadilly. I passed on grabbing it last week because I had other things in hand. Today, I didn't make that mistake.

A thin patch of amaretto head tops a lush, black body, modest lacing and duration, but still a nice-looking beer. Rich, robust nose rife with chocolate, dried fruit, and coffee. I'm eagerly awaiting the taste after the smell, and it delivers with certainty. Creamy and flavorful with a hint of boldness, Plead the Fifth brings plenty of dried chocolate, date, raisin, coffee, and molasses. The flavor is excellent, nothing short. I'm equally impressed with the mouthfeel which, though lightly carbonated, is creamy and a bit effervescent. This sure doesn't drink like a 12% ABV, no way. It's far smoother and accessible than that.

Tremendous beer, this Plead the Fifth. There's no way I'd plead the fifth in defense of this. It's worthy of a full-throated apologia. Outstanding.

05-24-2009 18:39:43 | More by Gehrig
Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 2,852 ratings.