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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.

831 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 831
Hads: 3,550
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 8.27%
Wants: 549
Gots: 938 | FT: 108
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
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Reviews: 831 | Hads: 3,550
Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ Dark Horse. Listed ABV wsa 14%.

Served in an 8 oz snifter.

A - Pitch black with a small amoutn of light brown head.

S - A big chocolate aroma up front that compliemnt a robustr roasted malt profile. A big sweetness is present throughout and some molasses flavours in the background. Bittering is light. Extremely smooth for the ABV. The finish has a big roasty malt presence.

M - Med to full body. Silky and somewhat viscous.

O - A superb example of the style. Dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of FreshmanPour77
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed on 8-7-10
Reviewed cold from a bottle to a glass but let warm to room temp

A - Poured black with one finger foam, nice dark tan lacing ring at the top, can't see if there is any carbonation present

S - Dark roasted malts, dark chocolate with hints of coffee and vanilla

T/M - Full bodied brew, dark roasted malts with a nice smooth finish, notes of dark chocolate, coffee and vanilla very present

D - Very drinkable RIS got this as an extra from albgarza, big thanks! A great brew from Dark Horse, I have a couple of these so I will for sure enjoy this brew again. I highly recommend this brew

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Photo of Gfunk720
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to John for this bottle. Consumed out of my Capt. Lawrence LE tulip.

A- Pitch black, and thick. Pours with a thick chocolate colored head, but only about 1 finger. It sticks around for a few minutes.

S- Smells of sweet malt, chocolate, and coffee. I also get a touch of the hoppy/imperial smell as well, but it is not prominent. Reminds me of Zuhkov's.

T- Wow. A beautiful beer. The malt profile is nice and complex, and plays well into the hoppy aftertaste. The flavors are mostly chocolate and coffee. It starts out smooth and creamy, but finishes with a nice hoppy bite.

M- Very nice. While it looks really thick, it is not as viscous as some other beers of the style. The carbonation/body/and flavor all are very very nice.

O- I tried not to expect too much of this beer, and it really was a nice surprise. This is a great RIS, and I really don't have anything bad I can say about it. Can see why the Barrel aged version of this beer is so coveted.


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Photo of cpetrone84
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-pours a compeletely opaque black liquid that resembles a thick viscous motor oil. The head is a dark brown color, almost mocha like and very thick and creamy looking. The retention is ok and lingers for about a half a minute with a thick creamy lace covering the glass and falling a bit slower than the head itself

S-the nose is fair in strength and seems very sweet and slightly boozy. A hint of dark bitter chocolate and molasses tickles the nose lightly. Dark fruits of prunes and some lightly rum soaked raisins comes in at the back and is really the foundation for this aroma.

T-the taste is big and more balanced than the nose. The sweetness of prunes and raisin set in first. Lots of dark, slightly bitter chocolate has a good hold in the middle as the molasses adds a bit of complexity to the taste. The finish brings more of the same dark fruits with a hint of booze and a small hop balance with a light hop bitterness.

M-this has a nice full body and is extremely smooth and brings a nice creamy texture. Just enough carbonation to hold the body and give it a nice clean finish.

D-I love a big creamy stout and this lives up to that. It has hints of booze but nothing that really detracts from the overall great drink that this proves to be. The nose was a little sweet but the beer brought a great balance and complexity.

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Photo of ferrari29
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a snifter at Jerry's

A - Beer pours with a black "lights out" colored body and chocolate shake head; one finger head; good lacing; held very well

S - Beer has a strong dark chocolate scent; espresso coffee beans; dark fruit, figs and dates; touch of vanilla; cocoa

T - Cigar, oak, chocolate, dark roasted coffee, vanilla; very nice dark fruit, figs; maple syrupy; some toffee notes; dark cocoa powder

M - Full body beer with a chewy consistency; dry finish; espresso and dark chocolate aftertaste - 4.0

D - Awesome; great dessert beer; good balance of roasted malt and dark fruit

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Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Darkness snifter.

A- Really attractive Imperial Stout one finger dark brown bubbly head, pitch black color, dissipates to a nice brown collar around the glass, splotchy lacing, nice retention.
S- Wood, oak, nice roasted coffee presence, vanilla, chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, slight dark fruit presence (plums), nice aroma.
T- Really surprised by the sweetness in this beer, really tasty, coffee, chocolate, slight vanilla, molasses, brown sugar, roasted notes, oak is present, dark malts.
M- Big mouth feel, silky smooth, dry finish, coats the palate.
O- This beer is really good, drinking it I had no Idea this was 12% abv, the alcohol is hidden well, easy drinkability, one of the best easy to find Imperial Stouts I’ve had.

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Photo of eduardolinhalis
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured in a Duvel tulip glass.

A: Pours a deep black color forming a medium creamy thin bubbled and very dark beige head. Few spotty and lingering lacings left in the glass

S: Roasted malts and strong notes of dark chocolate and roasted malts. Flowery hops and booze in the very end

T: Slightly sweet upfront followed by roasted and caramel tastes. Biscuity. Dark chocolate, dark fruits. Oak. Complex. end is bitter which is a mix of roasted malts and hops

M: Heavy, creamy and molasses body. Medium carbonation. Sweet roasted aftertaste

O: Great drinkability. Great Imperial Stout

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Photo of ChugginOil
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark Horse: Plead the Fifth

Pours a very thick and syrup like dark brown and settles black hole. A fingers worth of orange tinted mocha colored head sits and dissipates quickly. Some oily lacing grabs the glass.

The nose is a bit overpowering with alocohol up front. Underneath lies some sweet and roasty aromas. Chocolate vaguely lingers behind it all. Lots of booze.

The taste offers much more than the nose thankfully. Massive roast overload that is akin to toasted nuts. Some caramel and a bit of cocoa come through next. A lot of heat on the back end.

The mouthfeel is thick as oil. Super viscous and syrupy. Awesome.

Overall, i love the cards being played here but aging will improve this beer by lowering the highly noticeable heat. I cant wait to try it again next time this year ( if i dont finish the other 5 bottles).

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours absolute midnight black with a tan head that quickly dissipates to a thin ring.

Aroma is charred dark grain, licorice, molasses, and dark fruit.

Taste is sweeter than I had anticipated from the nose. Dark roasted malts hit first, but then it changes to a layered burnt character. Some nice chocolate, licorice, and coffee notes. The finish is dry and woody with leafy green hop flavors in the mix as well as black currant and subdued alcohol.

Mouthfeel is full, thick, and sticky.

A very nice, balanced stout. Alcohol is amazingly well hidden. Is this really 12%? Smooth, drinkable, and complex with an interesting play between the malt, hops and dark fruitiness. Recommended.

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Photo of Mavigo
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Got this off tap at Crunchy's in East Lansing. Was served in a snifter.

A: is a deep brooding, opaque black color with burgundy tinges with a short milk chocolate colored head with good amounts of lacing.

S: Voluptuous aroma, rich milk chocolate, barley, malts, coffee, brown sugars, dark fruits

T: Incredible taste, very sweet, a bit heavy, rich chocolate, toffee, coffee, malts, yeast, had a sort of tang to it, oh but it was smooth and rich, ABV is well masked

M: heavy full body along with medium amounts of carbonation, very rich and robust, viscous flavor

O: Overall, I bought this on a limb, it just sounded good and it was damn good. I recommend it for sure.

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Photo of SAxDRC5
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A:Black with a brown/tan head. leaves decent lacing

S: Dark chocolate and dark fruits. a hint of caramel, and maybe a touch of alcohol.

T: burnt malts, dark fruits and dark chocalate are the first flavors I get. a bit of sweet brown sugar and molasses in the middle and finished with a touch of hops and some warm alcohol. very complex.

M: a bit fizzy for the style. alcohol is more present than I would expect, warm alcohol feeling throughout.

O: pretty good. better taste than most imperial stouts, mouthfeel is the only downfall of this beer. I would like to try the bourbon barrel aged Plead the 5th, it may be a bit less fizzy.

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Photo of tigg924
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass

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

Smell: deep dark chocolate, faint alcohol

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

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

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

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

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Photo of prototypic
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to hoppymeal for this one. Been looking forward to it for quite a while.

2008 release

Pours a jet black, onyx color. Not a hint of light cutting through. A dark, mocha brown head rises to about one finger and receded quickly to lie on top for quite a while. Perhaps a little too much alcohol? Sticky, stringy lace clung to the glass.

The nose is strong and extremely enticing. A strong mix of roasted and chocolate malts jump out of the glass. Smells like bittersweet dark chocolate rather than sweet milk chocolate. Coffee is very much in the mix and smells delicious. I'm a coffee lover, so any coffee prominent stout is right up my alley. There's some light black licorice and molasses roaming about. Alcohol is noted, but isn't overly strong. It doesn't present itself as a big beer at all. Plead the 5th has a very deep, rich nose. It's extremely impressive.

The flavor profile is equally as impressive. Bittersweet dark chocolate is very prominent. There's a slight sweet fudge-like taste that mixes well. Roasted malts are flavorful and mix very well with the chocolate variety. Coffee/espresso are prominent. While it is a secondary feature, it's very assertive in its role and cranks up the flavor (and character) a great deal. Did I mention that I love coffee? To a lesser degree, molasses and black licorice add depth and more flavor. This is one big, badass malty imperial stout. Alcohol is easily noted, but I wouldn't have guessed it's 12% at all. There's absolutely no residual warmth. Finishes sweet and very malty.

A full, thick body and light carbonation give it a silky smooth, creamy feel. It's very lush. Dark Horse did a very nice job here. Drinkability is good (and deceptive). This goes down way too easy and doesn't feel as big as it is. My bottle doesn't list the abv, but I suspect the 12% listing is close to accurate. I respect the strength, but it really is a joy. It'd be every bit as enjoyable if it were 9% though.

Sorry, I'm not Pleading the 5th on this one. I'm very guilty of loving this beer and I'm not afraid to admit it. It's loaded with delicious flavor and is extremely impressive all around. To be fair, this bottle is roughly a year old. Perhaps more. It's drinking incredibly well right now. The abv could probably be shaved a little and it wouldn't skip a beat. That's about the only criticism I have. If you happen to land multiple bottles, by all means, put some back for a year or two. I promise it's more than worth it. Thanks a ton, Derek. This was excellent.

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Photo of Bung
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. Black pour with brown/ruby highlights in the head. Head is not large and recedes to a thin ring. A good amount of film sticks to the glass. Roast aromas, some dark chocolate and dark fruits, port like. Smooth full body. Taste is a silky blend of dark chocolate, molasses and chocolate covered fruits. Some vanilla and barrel like qualitites. Finishes with some more chocolate and light espresso. Drinks well, but is filling. Another excellent stout offering from Dark Horse. They produce a nice line of beers under the radar in West/Central Michigan.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review #700

2011 Vintage
12oz bottle received in trade from brooklynbrews
Notes taken on 09/20/14 - Stone IRS snifter

A: The pour is fairly thick and black as tar with no light seeping through whatsoever. A thin lip of turbinado sugar forms over top for a few shortened moments. Very mild with the stick and more so just a few alcohol legs running down the sides of the glass.

S: Rich dark chocolate with molasses, soy, leather, and a wet tobacco likeness. Real intense dark roast grains here. I get some dark berry fruit midway and a simple char sugar on the finish that evokes vanilla and marshmallow. Has a similarity to crème brulee which is quite nice.

T: Tastes super rich yet smooth and easy drinking. Sweet and dessert like but not cloying. Deep roasted grains with lightly scorched sugars bring notes of dark chocolate covered raisin, blackstrap, dark bread, and blackberries. There is a moderate to low amount of bitterness and some light alcohol warmth to this. I get a touch of vanilla crème and some earthy root stems mixed in as well. There is a slight oxidized metallic note but otherwise time has been great on this one. What a real treat.

M: Full bodied and thick with a silky smooth mouth feel. Frothy and lush it stays lighter on the palate with some light drying at the finish. Alcohol warmth upon exhalation.

D: With some age this is one silky rich delight and this has got to be one of the best Non Barreled stouts around. Have not had fresh to compare but I imagine the hop bitterness has faded off some and the alcohol has mellowed a bit. I don’t think I would let this one go much longer as some signs of oxidization are starting to show. Would love to get my hands on the BA version now.

Another huge thanks to brooklynbrews for nailing another top want of mine.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle that I can't remember where I got. It probably was moose3285 or Scoobydank. I've had this bottle for a year already, so I'm stoked to try it.

A: Definitely among the more impressive imperial stouts I've happened to gaze upon, this is about as black as my heart, and takes the light out of highlights. The high will be reserved for the KO, I guess. A dark brown head that hangs around surprisingly long caps this beer.

S: Super rich and thick. Soy sauce, teriyaki, dark chocolate, bitter coffee, licorice and cream are prominent. It's hysterical how *thick* this beer smells.

T: Pretty awesome. Opening up with a lot of roasted barley, this beer quickly segues into a melange of soy, teriyaki, licorice, treacle, and a slew of other good things that are bad for you. Like a sweetened dark chocolate, this is intense with the sweetness and the bitterness slugging it out on my palate. Hop character is non-existent, this is a exhibition of what dark grains can do for a beer. Oxidation is minimal, the one year that I've had this bottle hasn't imparted any raisin/port notes. The finish is great, it's long, bitter, mildly sweet with cocoa.

M: Spectacular. So freaking thick and creamy, this is what Dark Lord wants to be. The carbonation is a little higher than it needs to be, but hot damn, this awesome

D: Yeah, bye bye, sobriety. I'll see you on the morrow.

Notes: The nutter in me wonders how this beer would pair with black pudding.

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Photo of pburland23
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of joepais
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A huge thanks to Bill Scoobydank for making this happen.

Bottle poured into a small snifter produced a good finger of than head that stuck around and settled to a thick lace. The color of the brew was black with some tan highlights at the edges.

Great aromas' of chocolate and figs just filled my head. The flavor was outstanding as well with rich sweet chocolate and some nice espresso notes. The mouthfeel was just spot on for what I look for in a stout, thick and coating in you mouth.

A great drinking stout. It left me wanting for more. This one is worth seeking out.

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Photo of chadmoe1
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at D's SixPax and Dogz in Regent Square, PA. Served in a Goblet at about 40-45 F.

Appearance -- Dark reddish-brown, opaque, with 1/4 inch dark tan head that dissipated rather quickly. Amused that it was darker than the Diet Pepsi sitting on the table.

Smell -- Notes of dark chocolate and deep roasted coffee; not much in terms of hop smell. No smell of alcohol.

Taste -- Impressive for the alcohol content. The initial chocolate/roasted coffee taste was a bit bitter but enjoyable. Flavor lasted well after a sip. Limited discernible hop flavor. Some boozy flavors (12% ABV!) but not overwhelming or overpowering. Rather smooth for such a big beer.

Mouthfeel -- This was the thickest beer I've had so far, and I think part of the long lasting flavor was due to the beer still sticking to my tongue and cheeks. Carbonation was medium to low and spot on for style.

Overall -- For such a big beer in the middle of a hot summer, I really enjoyed all aspects of it. I've had higher ABV beers you could gulp through, but this was a definite sipper -- and I enjoyed this. I would get it again, though I'd really like to try a version BA as vanilla notes would really open the taste up further.

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Photo of Overlord
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks for the great extra!

Pours a viscous, slimy black with a big dark brown head. Mmmmm. The head is surprisingly long lasting, and leaves gobs all over the glass. *CHUCKLE*

Smells ... whoa, like plums/raisins/dates dark fruits with a tinge of malt and dark chocolate. This is one of the dark fruitiest smelling RIS's I can recall.

And the smell carries through to the flavor. Wow. Robust dark fruit base, mixed with an acrid, roasted malt that's very subtle, some espresso, and dark chocolate. The sweets you're getting here are from a fruit flavoring. Interesting.

I like. I like much. Mouthfeel is slick and oily, but not overly thick, and it's pretty drinkable for the ABV.

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Photo of dcmchew
4.4/5  rDev +4%

Pitch black, dark mocha head, small and brief, but there's nice lacing afterwards.
Big chocolate aroma, sweet and dark at the same time, plus vanilla and rich roasted malts. Lots of caramel, coffee too, but light and sweetened, faint woody notes. Not overly complex, but quite intense.
Tho i couldn't get any alcohol on the nose, the 11% shows up in the taste right from the start. This amplifies a nice dark fruity flavor, with sweet dry fig, raisin and some faint blueberry. Dark chocolate, with the sweetness mostly provided by caramel and molasses, some licorice, a bit of vanilla. Gets more bitter with some heavily roasted grains, some espresso and a leafy hop undertone, finishing quite nice, quite dry from the booze and the bitterness.
Medium to light body, oily, low carbonated, smooth. Rich aftertaste with roast, dark chocolate, alcohol, faint charred wood and some leafy American hop.
Easy to drink although the alcohol is a bit present, tasty, felt somewhere between the Russian and the American Imp Stout varieties for me. Doesn't really matter, really good stuff.

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Photo of JohnnyMc
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, I had heard a lot about this beer, but I'm so glad I finally got to try it.

It pours a pitch black with a half finger mocha/brown head.

The aroma is full of coffee, dark fruit, chocolate and toffee notes.

This tastes very much the same as the aroma. There is some coffee, a lot of bitter dark chocolate, some dark fruit and a hint of bourbon. Very tasty. Despite the full flavor this is light bodied and hides the alcohol almost too well. The moutfeel is rich, creamy and full.

I'm very impressed with this and hope to have it again.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Amongst the most gorgeous beers I've ever seen this stout poured black, thick and beautiful with an intense creamy head. The creamy foam laced in a sheet along the glass.

The scent is of soft chocolate, touches of espresso and a bit of bready malt. The aroma is nice but subtle.

The taste is of strong chocolate malts, espresso, vanilla, graham cracker and dry roasted coffee. So smooth, so creamy the taste and feel are a single unit. Very light on the stomach and exceptionally easy to drink for 11 percent ABV. My only complaint is the it dries the palate but other than that this is a phenomenal beer.

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Photo of BrewUSA
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Plead the 5th

Look 9/10
Smell 18/20
Taste 38/40
Feel 9/10
Drinkability 17/20

Overall 91/100

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 831 ratings.