Plead The 5th Imperial Stout - Dark Horse Brewing Company

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Plead The 5th Imperial StoutPlead The 5th Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

3,475 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,475
Reviews: 839
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 7.89%
Wants: 554
Gots: 908 | FT: 105
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,475 | Reviews: 839
Photo of assurbanipaul
3.49/5  rDev -19%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a motor-oil black with ruby highlights. No head to speak of, feared it was flat until the carbonation started to break the surface (points lost). Aroma is thick, caramelized sugars and molasses with a malt base.

Taste is bittersweet and malty. Deep roasted flavors of burnt grain and sugars with a slight tangy sweetness. Charcoal, unsweetened Vienna roast coffee, Dutch cocoa, maybe a slight berry element. Mild presence of alcohol in the flavor profile, finishes dry with a mld acidic bite.

Mouthfeel is as thick and chewy as it appears. Rests heavy on the palate, coats everything. Legs imply a double-digit alcohol content. Don't understand the name, as it comes in a 12-oz bottle. Thanks to trbeer for this sample.

Photo of CaptinRedBeard
3.5/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Deuane for grabbing this for me.

A: Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Cigar City snifter. No head whatsoever. No lacing. Just a pitch black RIS.

S: Up front you get aromas of dark fruits. Followed by some subtle hints of chocolate.

T: Raisins, molasses, a bit of chocolate and a just a little bit of alcohol heat. Very little for a 12% beer though.

M: Fairly lively carbonation for such a big stout. A bit on the thin side and a little slick.

D: Noticable or not twelve percent is twelve percent. So I really wouldn't want more than one. I had this beer before and I really liked it a lot. This one seems a little raw. Maybe I'll try it again in six months or so and see how it changes with some age on it.

Photo of beveritt
3.5/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Picked this little gem up in Indiana recently. Not sure if it will be available here in Ohio; it is right at the ABV number past where drinking becomes oh so bad. The label is black and white and depicts a stylistic horse head. If I remember correctly this is the top of a series of labels from stouts that makes a continuous picture. No freshness date.

Appearance: Pours with just 1/2 inch of dark brown head. This settles quickly to a ring around the glass and a very thin and incomplete layer of foam. The beer itself is black as ink. Lots of sludge remains in the bottle.

Smell: Roasted barley bitterness with the added edge of alcohol sweetness. Some soy sauce and chocolate notes.

Taste: Acrid roasted barley bitterness upfront. Alcohol sweetness is barley noticeable, significantly less present than in the smell. Medium hop bitterness begins to appear in the finish, but is still dominated by barley. Long, lingering finish.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation level is average to average plus; a little too high for the style. Body is decent.

Drinkability: Definitely strong, but the many flavors do not seem to meld well together into a nice coherent presentation. Not one I will seek out again.

Photo of hayesez
3.51/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Received in a recent trade with wedgie9. Got home late from work tonight and figured I'd have a few beers before crashing for the evening.

Very deep, dark, nearly black beer that piles up in my Stone Imperial Russian Stout glass without much carbonation. This is being poured at a temperature that is a bit lower than normal (for my liking) for this style of beer. Normally I like to let these sit out for about a half hour - in this case, I'll let it sit in my glass. That being said, the pour portrayed the beer as fairly viscous...perhaps slightly inaccurately due to the temperature. Regardless, I like a good thick Russian Imperial Stout. A one finger cocoa colored head quickly scattered from the middle and huddled up around the edges. The resulting ring of foam is quite impressively thick and leaves a short-lived lacing on my glass every time a take a drink.

Lots of smells going on in here - there is an obvious soy sauce component that detracts from the wonderfully dark cherry aroma. A bit of chocolate and just a hint of coffee peak through as well. The alcohol is pretty well masked by these different elements resulting in a nose that would be top-notch if not for the annoying soy sauce.

The soy sauce gives way to the alcohol as the prominent detractor in the taste. The beer starts out a metallic sweet before yielding to the (again) obvious dark fruits - primarily cherry. As the beer warms I notice some dark chocolate at the beginning that I wasn't picking up 15 minutes ago. The very low carbonation makes these flavors even more obvious as there is nothing getting in the way. The 12% ABV is not nearly as masked as it was on the nose - this one is a bit hot. After completing a drink the sweet malty flavor remains for a bit before ceding to a slightly bitter roastiness. If not for the metallic sweetness and the heat, I would really enjoy this. As this beer continues to approach room temperature, it becomes a bit too thin for my liking, but still holds together well.

Not a bad beer. A bit on the green side, keeping the flavors well separated as opposed to nicely integrated. A little bit hot to drink too terribly much of, however, the 12 ounces I did have were not a problem. A solid brew that just falls a bit short in a couple of areas. As could be anticipated, I'm sure this one could stand to use a bit of time chilling out.

Consumed: 5/25/2010

Photo of Pencible
3.52/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured a pitch black with thick tan head.
S: It smelled like roasted coffee and cream with some dark chocolate.
T: It tasted like cocoa powder and roasted coffee, with some cream and a little citrus zest. It had a clean bittersweet aftertaste with some alcohol warming.
M: It was fairly thick with moderate carbonation. Decent body.
D: This was a solid stout with a simple but enjoyable scent and taste. The body was good, but the finish was a little hot, so it was better to sip. Age may help, but it's still nice enough fresh. I just don't see anything special about this beer - not worth the hype.

Photo of jsanford
3.53/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with brown highlights and a thin mocha ring. Aromas of dark chocolate, bitter roasted malt, and a touch of caramel. Nice, but fairly typical of the RIS style. Taste is similarly middle-of-the-road, with more roasted malt, dry cocoa powder, espresso beans, and a long bitter finish. Mouthfeel is smooth and moderately creamy, with a medium-full body and low carbonation. Overall a tasty RIS, but nothing new.

Photo of thecarster1
3.53/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a- bottle poured into a tulip glass, pour is very thick, scant head which is normal for a brew of this strength, very dark black motor oil coloring.

s- dark and stormy nose, lots of bourbon here, dark roasty burnt coffee, and dark chocolate, very strong, some alcohol.

t- lots of bourbon off the bat here again, dark heavily roasted malts, dark back coffee and chocolate, the alcohol is here but it kept in check pretty well for a 12% brew.

m- thick and coating.

d- not a bad beer by any stretch, but a sipper for sure at this strength and because of the massive flavors it packs, i've got another one i'm popping in the cellar to see how well it fares with a bit of age on it.

Photo of nwu008
3.54/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A -- Rich dark brown with a very thin head, even after a vigorous pour.

S -- Loads of chocolate, roast nuts

T -- Sweet roasted malt, chocolate finish. Some sour notes on the finish

M -- thick and chewly

D -- a little hot even for a high abv imperial stout, richness limits drinkability.

Photo of thain709
3.55/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - This beer is pitch black as soon as I started pouring...a dark brown, 1.5 finger head formed and settled into a ring around the glass...not much lacing

S - Dark fruits (figs, dates, raisin)...chocolate...roasted malts...smoke...and alcohol

T - The flavors from the nose all come together in the taste...sweet, dark fruits present a sweet caramel flavor with more sweetness...the roasted malts are deep and presnt themselves with chocolate, coffee, and caramel notes...there are underlying notes of roastiness and smoke lingering around...the alcohol is very present

M - Full bodied...this one is thick...good points - roasted flavors and smoke notes that last long...bad note (big kicker) - alcohol is big

D - This RIS started off good with the appearance and smell but it fell off with the big alcohol kicker...I enjoyed the other stouts (blueberry and smoked) from Dark Horse over this one

Photo of chefhatt
3.55/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured some into a snifter from my brothers growler. It is black as night body with a tsmall tan head. The smell has a roasty malt aroma with chocolate notes. The taste is has roasted malt taste with chocolate coming on the back of the tongue. The mouthfeel is smooth and overall a pretty good stout.

Photo of upton7418
3.55/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into tulip snifter- 2015 version

L- Black body with light tan head. leave a nice lacing

S- dark malts and a strong alcohol smell

T- strong alcohol with light malts

M- light carbonation with a thick body

O- not much complexity to this beer average stout there are better variations of this style available. I'm glad I tried this but expected more based on the reviews.

Photo of 57md
3.56/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Appearance is dark brown to black with a thin layer of beige head. The nose was troublesomely reminiscent of wet cardboard. There roasted malt blends well with the creamy consistency. This is certainly a full-bodied RIS. The finish has both sweet and roasted notes along with a very subtle alcohol presence.

Photo of ArrogantB
3.56/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle courtesy of dancingcaddis, thanks man! Dark black with a short head of coffee colored bubbles. It smells odd, kind of sweet, unfamiliar. The flavor is fruity and sweet and quite interesting. The alcohol was well hidden and I am usually pretty finicky about beers with ABv over 10%.

Photo of knight84
3.57/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to alexgash for this bottle. 12oz 2008 labeled as "Plead the 5th"

With a vigorous pour this motor-oil black beer produced very little head. What did show was a hazelnut brown with little lacing. Cold coffee dominates the smell though there is a hint of oak and molasses.

Chocolate sweetness shows up front but is quickly overwhelmed by coffee. I didn't get much else, just very sweet and roasty.

Light carbonation seems to explain the lack of head, it seems to lack some of the robustness I would have expected. It feels more like a coffee stout, similar in feel to the ABC Espresso Love. A bit less "imperial" than I was hoping.

Not a bad beer overall but, given my excellent past experiences with other brews from Dark Horse, I expected a little more than I got. Drinkable but not terribly memorable.

Photo of AgentZero
3.57/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Motor oil black, no head at all on the hard pour, but some bubbles rose to the top and formed a tight ring momentarily. No light coming through this one.

S - Chocolate, a lot of roast. The alcohol is buried in this one but comes out as it warms up. There's a little bit of wood on this.

T - First sip of this was great, with roasty malts dominating and some latent sweetness coming from chocolate malts. There alcohol burn grows and grows here as you keep drinking it, making it hard to do.

M - Thick, syrupy, with a moderate does of carbonation. It's very coating, covers the tongue.

D - You really start to get the 12% out of this about a quarter of the way through. It's a good beer, but a bit hot, and not outstanding. I'd drink it on occasion if available, but nothing particularly special.

Photo of otto251068
3.58/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Chimay chalice. No freshness date on the bottle.

Appearance: Very dark. This one is as dark a beer as I can ever remember seeing. When held up to the light, there is only a faint dark brown around the edges. A very hard pour only produced a half fingers worth of head, which looked great by the way. Very dense with a milk chocolate color, made my mouth water. It does fade quickly to only a few wisps and a ring hugging the glass.

Smell: Dark chocolate out in front, between bitter and sweet, this is more on the bitter side of the spectrum. Roasted flavors also come out. A sweet cream aroma comes out more as it warms, along with some very faint and pleasant vanilla. After the pour some serious vodka comes out.

Taste: Smooth cocoa with some smoke is the main attraction. Intense dark chocolate comes out for a final kick at the end. extremely dark and very rich. A charcoal bitterness and heavy clear alcohol aftertaste on this one.

Mouthfeel: Big body with medium carbonation. This beer is thick and chewy, but with a nice carbonation level that perks this one up a little.

Overall: Lots of heavy lingering flavors, but this is easily drinkable and very enjoyable. The 12% ABV, while very evident in the aroma, is well hidden within all the heavy chocolate. While the chocolate is on the bitter side, there is a bit of sweetness for balance.

Photo of thegodfather2701
3.58/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.75

I received this beer in a trade a little over three years ago, so take that into consideration when reading my review.

A-Poured into a snifter rather hard and there was no head, which wasn't surprising given its age. It poured very dark, nearly pitch black and looked very thick, even for the style.

S-dark chocolate, hint of roasted malt, dark fruits, espresso, molasses, and alcohol. Fairly complex, but at times the alcohol really seemed strong.

T-The flavor profile consisted of dark chocolate, dark fruits, alcohol, and espresso. However, the flavor was not as strong as I expected, especially for the style it seemed somewhat mild.

M-Rather thick and creamy, one of the highlights of this beer.

D-Very drinkable given for the style due to its milder flavor, but still a sipper given its high alcohol content.

Overall, I wouldn't consider this one of the best versions of the style. However, I would like to try it fresher to see if the flavor is stronger. I did enjoy it and would drink it again.

Photo of birchstick
3.58/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - pours a black with a dark brown head

S - smells of roasted, semi-sweet chocolaty malts with a little bit of sourness to it

T - the taste follows the nose. Lots of dark chocolate with some vanilla and dark fruits (raisins) that segues into some sourness/fruity/tart flavors. Strong coffee flavors linger on the palate on the finish and a hint of grassy hops. Pretty solid.

M - slick mouthfeel that is medium bodied without much carbonation

D - pretty decent RIS. I would put this as above average but nothing that blew me away too much. Another solid stout in Dark Horse's lineup.

Photo of brewcrew76
3.58/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to GrandCruDrew for this one.
12 oz bottle - Plead the 5th on the label

A - Pours solid black with 2 fingers of cocoa brown head that leaves a thin layer of foam behind.

S - Roasted, almost burnt, malt. Bitter chocolate, burnt coffee with hints of smoke and licorice.

T - Intense roasted malt, bitter chocolate, burnt coffee and a touch of smoke.

M - Medium to full body, low carbonation and a creamy mouthfeel.

D - A solid RIS but too much burnt flavor/aroma for me.

Photo of JohnQVegas
3.58/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into Bruery tulip, much thanks once again to my friend Jeff (AleWatcher) for more Midwestern goodness!

Pours pitch black, nary a hint of brown to be seen, with a dense one-finger dark brown head on top, that fairly quickly settles down to a thin brown ring on the outside edge of the glass. Nice lacing.

Nose has a clean, fruity quality to it. Somewhere between cherries and blackberries, with a spicy alcohol bite and a bit of burnt sugar underneath. Bit of molasses mixed in. As it warms, roasted malt comes through a bit cleaner, still wrapped in the spicy alcohol, still a big healthy dose of clean, dark fruit. At one point I even picked up pretzels.

Taste starts off with a healthy dose of alcohol bite. Molasses in there, again, with a big bitter burnt sugar bite towards the finish. Lots of dark fruits, again. Finish is long, burnt, bit boozey, bittersweet. Lacks the complexity that I generally look for; lots of flavor, which is to be expected for a beer this size, but this one seems to clash a bit - the burnt flavors, the alcohol, the sugary sweetness. Seems to be a big dose of crystal malts in there that could use just a bit of toning down in my opinion. Not a flaw per se, more a matter of preference.

Mouthfeel is slick, full bodied, light carbonation, long finish and a bit of an alcohol burn in the back of the throat on the swallow.

Drinkability is decent, though the flavor profile is a bit coarse and raw. Alcohol definitely bites back, as well. Again, a decent enough beer, but it doesn't have the beautiful cohesiveness that the best IS seem to have. Doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable, though.

Photo of Retsinis
3.59/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this beer in a trade (thanks mnbearsfan)

2010 bottle

A: Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass, the beer pours black, with a dark brown hue. Very low carbonation, just film on top, then quickly became just a ring of tan cream bubbles at the edges of the glass.

S: Espresso, medium roasted malt, mild vanilla, scents of oak, and a touch of honey.

T: Licorice, bitter dark chocolate, touch of brown sugar, and smoked roasted malt. Light dry bitterness on the back end, like 70% dark chocolate, & charred oak. Alcohol is detectable, but not distracting.

M: Light oily texture, sweet but not sticky. Light carbonation.

O: Decent sipper, but half the 12oz was just fine. I had split this with my wife, who enjoyed what she had as well. I was hoping for a bit more roasted chocolate malt notes, a bit less licorice, and a more creamy mouth, but it is above average, just not great to me, in my humble opinion. I am curious what the bourbon barrel aged version adds to this beer though.

Photo of callmescraps
3.59/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Been hearing about this one, just stumbled across it.

Appearance- Black with a very thin mocha head even with with a vigorous pour. No lacing, just the thinnest of caps.

Smell- Big, rich chocolate. Bourbon and vanilla. It really has nice bourbon. Some toasted marshmallow. It's very nice.

Taste- It has some nice chocolate, and some booze. Ok, plenty of booze. It's got a ton of dark fruits, tons of raisin. Seriously, lots of raisin. It finishes with bitter chocolate, and a little ashy. Sweet, booze, raisin.

Mouthfeel- Just too thin, frankly. A little flat.

Overall- I was so excited about this one after the smell. But it does not deliver.

This is just disappointing. It should have lot going for it, but it's thin, a little hot, kind of ashy in the end, and basically a raisenette beer. So it goes.

Photo of OakedCanuck
3.62/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into cervoise. from notes

A - Pour an inky black with brown edging. Zero head whatsoever or lacing.

S - Roasty, chocolate, some leather and molasses

T - Very good roast coffee with helping bittersweet chocolate. I pick up some pepper and a hint of orange bitters. Some charcoal on the back end.

M - Medium to heavy, flat, could be a touch thicker

O - A good beer, not overwhelming but solid. It is a bit harsh/hot but some age might help that. No vintage dating I could find on the bottle. I'd have it again but won't be actively seeking it.

Photo of RonfromJersey
3.62/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

$4.00 single from Abe's.

Body is a total black hole. Not a highlight to be seen. Three fingers of dark tan dense foam.

Heavy chocolate aroma. Licorice and alcohol in the background. Some dark fruits.

Taste features chocolate up front. A smoky note. Dark fruits. Alcohol in nose not noticeable in the taste.

Mouthfeel is medium plus, a bit thin for an imperial stout.

There is a lack of depth throughout this beer. There is not anything really wrong, but everything seems to come up just a bit short.

Photo of ratedz
3.62/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours pitch black with a very thin mocha brown head that receded to a small ring around the outside of the glass.

S - Roasted malts, chocolate, and subtle coffee notes. Some dark fruits and a little smokiness are also noticeable.

T - Bittersweet chocolate, heavily roasted malts, burnt coffee. Some slightly bitter hops bite the tongue for a split second before it finishes with a little smokiness and alcohol heat.

M - Smooth and creamy, but a slight bite on the tongue seems a little off for an RIS.

O - A very good RIS, but there are others that I prefer over it. I'd be interested in trying the bourbon barrel aged version of this to see how it compares because I really enjoy bourbon barrel aged stouts. Thanks to Andy (pest) for sending a couple bottles of these in a recent trade!

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 3,475 ratings.