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

2,901 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,901
Reviews: 756
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 8.12%
Wants: 490
Gots: 702 | FT: 79
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: 2,901 | Reviews: 756 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.05/5  rDev -6%

I had no idea Dark Horse distributed to Indiana until a couple of weeks ago, and Double Crooked Tree was rockin. Now on their famous Plead the 5th? Can’t wait.

A: I can’t even see through the beer as it’s flowing thick from the bottle; dark black motor oil body. It looks excessively viscous. The head is rich reddish-brown, oily and just a hair lighter than the body. Smooth and about a half-inch high, the retention stays around for a while. Little lacing, though.

S: Holy hell, that’s a boozy beer. Layers upon layers of pepper, pungent bourbon, roasted malt, and lots of char come up. Excessively fiery. There’s some black cherry, hazelnut, dark chocolate, toffee, and more than enough smoky peat, too – killer smokiness against some rich sweets. Ends piney, though the main body of this robust nose is alcohol and spice.

T: Vanilla, chocolate fondue, fondant, strawberry shortcake, and molasses; starts creamy. Lasting just a quick second, the sugar is overcome by a thorny bitterness: pine, booze, fig, licorice, and spicy alcohol with a moment or two of cough syrup tongue-smacking character. Some smoky flavors are there, as well, but without the big roast tastes of the nose; satisfying, nonetheless. Finishes with that thought, as well as a caramel stickiness, a chalky yeast flavor, and some light hop fruitiness.

M: Hot, though wonderfully creamy. Astringency is dark, lifting the sugary tastes off the tongue to avoid stickiness.

O: A great stout; it’s a showcase for the often-limited smoke tastes of imperial stouts. Glad I had this fresh – some age would just empower the big ol’ booze character. Like I need any more excuses to drink the rest of my four-pack…

BarryMFBurton, Apr 27, 2012
Photo of JeffBrenner
4.05/5  rDev -6%

Had on draft in 10oz goblet. Pours a jet black with next to no carbonation. Minimal dark ring of head. Has a nice smell of chocolate and coffee. Surprisingly smooth for coming in at 11%. The coffee stout taste really hides the boozyness well. Has a nice smooth feel to it, not too creamy like a lot of stouts. Love the name. Would definitely be a repeat buyer and I'm not usually a fan of stouts.

JeffBrenner, Aug 04, 2013
Photo of FosterJM
4.05/5  rDev -6%

921st Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter
12oz

2011 Bottle

Thanks to Kzoobrew for this one!

Happy Stout Day! 11/3/11

App- A good dark chocolate pour with a one finger semi brown fast receding head. Maybe 4 dots of cling on the whole glass. A very liquid lush pour

Smell- Smells like a small abyss with a good bit of luscious chocolate, malt, cream and a little boozy. Okay I lied. ALOT boozy. I like it.

Taste- I have had this profile before but this one just tastes good. A good bit of heavy cream with roasty espresso and a bit of dark chocolate with some vanilla.

Mouth- This was a low medium body with a good bit of a low/medium creamy carbonation. A bit of a bubbly heavy cream.

Drink- I like this one alot. For 12% this was smooth rich and creamy. A bit boozy but I like that in my high ABV stouts. Has a nice balance between the roast, chocolate and creaminess. I would love to see the BBA version. I bet its amazing. Kevin, again thank you for this one! Super tasty.

FosterJM, Nov 04, 2011
Photo of nlmartin
4.05/5  rDev -6%

The beer was served slightly chilled in a pint glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a very solid black. The head is a thin burnt tan coloration. The head resolves into a disk of burnt tan. No lacing remains behind on my glass.

Smell: The beers aroma is very boozey smelling. The boozeyness works well. The beers aroma leads with chocolate, this rides the expected toasted, roasted and chared aromas. The remaining aromas are raisins, tobacco, and charcoal.

Taste: The beers flavors are a booze soaked combination of chocolate, raisins, molasses, cigar ash, darkly roasted and chared espresso.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The body of this beer is huge. This is a low carbonated full bodied beer treat. Big and chewy just the way I like em. This is a sipper and a taste bud destroyer. Definately a one and done beer.

nlmartin, Sep 29, 2008
Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.05/5  rDev -6%

Awesome extra from stxSS07! 12oz bottle into a Stone IRS glass.

A: Inky black beer with about a finger worth of frothy tan head that recedes to practically nothing. Completely opaque. No lacing to speak of. This is a damn dark beer. Some mung on the bottom of the glass.

S: Molasses, brown sugar, roasted barley, and a fair amount of booze. Roasted barley and a bit of coffee as well. Dark fruits, plums, and just a hint of earth in there as well.

T: Chocolate and a fair amount of coffee and burnt malts, some caramel, decent amount of hops in here which pair nicely with the bitter burnt malts. Finish is bitter and resinous hops dominate the long finish. Brown sugar and molasses are mixed in with a lot of chocolate. Not bad at all.

M: Very heavy, viscous body, with light creamy carbonation. Sticky on the lips, and fairly warming on the finish. Warms the whole way down, without really being hot. Very nice here.

O: A nice stout that I would love to have on hand regularly in the winter time. Tons of great flavors and a nice amount of complexity without ever being overwhelming. Nicely done!

pokesbeerdude, May 27, 2011
Photo of MarcatGSB
4.05/5  rDev -6%

Poured from bottle into Riedel whisky glass.

Appearance: Pours pitch black with caramel colored head. Head dissipates quickly, hardly any lacing.

Smell: The smell is quite nice. Notes of heavy roast, figs, ripe fruit, molasses. Alcohol comes through slightly.

Taste: Real nice roast at first followed by bitter chocolate. Dark malt and coffee are washed away by a very pleasant licorice finish.

Mouth: Chewy, good amount of carbonation, yet is silky smooth. Great amount of puckering hop at the end.

Drink and overall: Really enjoyed this beer. Very drinkable, quality impy. I had never had it before, so this was a treat. Would I buy it over Expedition Stout if it were same price, for a while yes.

MarcatGSB, Sep 17, 2011
Photo of BARFLYB
4.05/5  rDev -6%

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.

BARFLYB, Apr 14, 2010
Photo of russwbeck
4.05/5  rDev -6%

A: Absolutely motor oil black pour out of the bottle and in the glass. A deep brown head is noted briefly after a very vigorous pour. No retention, black as the night.

S: Big hints of molasses on the aroma, mixed with some dark fruits, chocolate, and only very slight roast. Much more sweet and fruity than I was expecting.

T: The taste really mirrors the aroma, with a lot more roastiness on the backend. Molasses and chocolate dominate, dark fruits rest underneath, and some booze and roast finish it off. The taste is pretty nicely balanced, but lends towards the sweet side.

MF: Thick, creamy body with basically no carbonation. The sweetness and roast mix to make this pretty drinkable.

O: This was a pretty good deal. Got it in a trade, but I believe it was less than $5 a bottle. For a 12% RIS this was great. You really can't tell the ABV is so high. Would definitely recommend this.

russwbeck, Feb 03, 2012
Photo of webmanspidey
4.05/5  rDev -6%

12 ounce bottle poured into a large chalice. This is a dark black color with a silky, creamy head. Smell is sweet, dark cocoa powder.

Taste is a complex mix of dark chocolate, raisin, and molasses. Alcohol is present, but blends in well enough to not be overbearing. Finishes slightly bitter. Mouthfeel is thick and smooth.

webmanspidey, Mar 31, 2010
Photo of rudzud
4.05/5  rDev -6%

Picked up a 4 pack of this in Charlton, and according to the notes it is a 2011 vintage. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a nice deep brown almost black hue with a good quarter inch dark chocolate hue that does not really fade, just settles down to a creamy blanket. Quite solid, light lacing. Good for the ABV.

S - Strong dark chocolate, almost acrid roast, slight almost leather notes, earthy bitter char. Alcohol is not really noticeable.

T - Taste is lots of almost chalky dark chocolate, charred bitterness, light campfire notes, dark fruits. Pretty straightforward.

M - Mouthfeel is creamy, very, very lightly carbonated. Alcohol is hidden very nicely.

O - Overall this is pretty solid. Nothing earth shattering but age is helping this along quite nicely.

rudzud, Oct 06, 2013
Photo of VelvetExtract
4.05/5  rDev -6%

A-Pours pure midnight with a dense coffee milkshake head. Small dashes of lace stick to my pint glass. I love the color of the head. This beer is dark and beautiful. Very nice appearance.

S-Smells like Kahlua. Alcohol mixed with crispy burnt chocolate. A noticeably pungent scent. A bit of coffee as well, but the rich, deep chocolate tones are the big ticket here. Quite similar to a Mudslide.

T-The first thing I think of is a boozy drink made with chocolate syrup. Very sweet but also has some nice dark chocolate bitterness to it as well. The alcohol is clearly detectable but it really mixes beautifully with the chocolate notes. I almost get a toasty nutty flavor as well. A bit of coffee comes out too. All in all, the chocolate rules here. I might be catching some hoppy bitterness in the back end too.

M-Very thick and syrupy. Gooey is a great way to describe it. Carbonation is soft in comparison to the bulk of the feel. Feels big, tastes big...no feels huge, tastes huge.

O/D-I would probably enjoy this one a bit more in the colder weather months. Nevertheless, this chocolate-prominent stout is an ass-kicker and a tasty feast. This is a beast. I cannot even fathom what the Barrel Aged Version of this tastes like; must be why its considered a rare gem. This brew is also relatively affordable for the style coming in at about $3.80. Dark Horse is a great company; this brew is hard-nosed evidence of that.

VelvetExtract, Jun 23, 2011
Photo of xnicknj
4.05/5  rDev -6%

on tap at devils den in philly

Pours inky black and fairly thick with a crop of tanned head, leaving a cloud of film, with spots of lacing left on the glass.

Super heavy dark chocolate nose with bitterness and caramel, roasted malts and alcohol warmth with residual sweetness.

Similar taste with waves of chocolate and cocoa, very dark with some hop bitterness. Syrup and caramel with a beefy roasted dark malt backbone. Some hints of dark fruit with raisin. Finishes w some more hop bitterness and booze, residual chocolate sweetness.

Full bodied and carbed, thick creamy and sticky. Great flavor with chocolate in the forefront, a bit boozy but not out of control. I'd definitely drink this again.

xnicknj, Apr 28, 2011
Photo of ADZA
4.05/5  rDev -6%

Another brew that i would not be drinking unless Mulder1010 and this one ive been really looking forwards to which pours a dark black hue with a chocolate two finger head and sporadic lacing,the smell is booze,chocolate coated cherries,oak,dark honey,coffee and dark chocolate very enticing,the mouthfeel is just full bodied with minimal carbonation with tastes of dark rich chocolate,rich fruit pudding,dark expresso,roasted malts,dark fruits and finished just like a milky cappicino bittersweet and overall a very nice Imp Stout that i would drink again cheers.

ADZA, Oct 23, 2012
Photo of woosterbill
4.05/5  rDev -6%

2010 bottle courtesy of aasher, poured into a Darkness glass in a side-by-side tasting with BA Pt5 and, as a control, BCBS. This one has the ugliest label I've ever scene in my life - can't wait.

A: Pitch black body with a thin brown head. Spotty lace. Attractive.

S: Still lots of coffee, bakers chocolate, brownie batter, and licorice. A touch of oldness. Quite nice.

T: Brownie batter up front, followed by coffee, chocolate, spicy alcohol, and some serious coffee-tinged bitterness on the finish. Light mustiness on the aftertaste. Intense, roasty, and tasty. Very good indeed.

M: Full-bodied, moderate carbonation; not too sticky. Excellent.

O: Great RIS. Really intense without being harsh or overly boozy. While it pales in comparison to the amazing BA version, it's a formidable beer in its own right.

Cheers!

woosterbill, Dec 20, 2012
Photo of Reagan1984
4.05/5  rDev -6%

Special thanks to Jcb890 for providing this in a trade earlier this year. Good guy.

Pours with a minimal head that collapses almost immediately. No light shines through this motor oil.

Aroma is sweet, dark warm chocolate and slightly fruity.

Wow, this taste very fruity and of figs and prunes. Very sweet... to be honest made me think of Dark Lord for a moment. (that's a compliment) Certainly a lot of chocolate notes. This one grows on me as I enjoy it. As it slightly warms I get more of a caramel mix with the chocolate notes.

Very thick and almost syrup like. Almost no carbonation. Velvet like in your mouth.

I really like this. Glad it's a 12oz bottle as I can play in this one for quite some time. I'll pick this one up again. Nice beer.

Reagan1984, Sep 01, 2010
Photo of Spcoly
4.05/5  rDev -6%

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

A: Dark with almost zero head

S: Faint smell of chocoalte, roasted malts

T: Wonderful...bitter sweet chocolate. Not much of a burn considering the high ABV

M: Medium, low carbonation....excellent drinkibility...definitley a sipper considering the ABV

O: Hands down one of the best stouts Ive ever come across. Which I had more than one bottle....will definielty buy again!

Spcoly, Aug 19, 2011
Photo of andrewinski1
4.05/5  rDev -6%

Poured into a tulip. Almost no head comes from a very aggressive pour. This one looks very thick during the pour. Pitch black of course. This is a little bit underwhelming.

I immediately get a bit of a boozy smell from the pour. When I stick my nose in the tulip, chocolate is dominant. A hint of roasted malt is noticed as well. I enjoy a little bit of alcohol smell, myself. I think it adds a bit of complexity and is a nice contrast to the sweetness.

Some imperial stouts are strong with roasted malts, this one has only a tough of bitter roasted flavor up front, but is dominated by mostly sweet chocolatey flavor. This is a very appealing flavor profile, as the hotness that was indicated by the aroma, is very well hidden.

The soft carbonation is perfect for the style. This is a huge beer, and thus not very drinkable, but I will enjoy the hour or so it will take to drink this one for what it is. I will definitely try this one again.

andrewinski1, Sep 11, 2010
Photo of blackenmn
4.05/5  rDev -6%

Poured from bottle to snifter:

A:Poured a thich pitch black with a minimal head with turned into a thing collar in no time most likely from the high ABV eating it up. This thing was viscous enough to make the glass noticeably heavy.

S:Smelled of burned bittersweet chocolate, heavily roasted sweet caramel malt, and a hint of ABV warmth. A little more balanced on the nose than expected.

Taste:Tasted of thick dark fruit and a subtle cream possibly vanilla like pressence. Definite raisin and dark chocolate came through as it warmed along with a noticeable citrus aspect. Tough to believe this is 12% but alcohol showed it head every now and then.

Mouthfeel:Very thick and creamy with a slight warmth throughout. Not alot of bitterness present on the tongue and it finished pretty wet.

Drinkability:This went down a bit too easy for the considerably high ABV. This was a very enjoyable brew none the less though and really transformed nicely as it warmed. mmm mmm

blackenmn, Mar 12, 2010
Photo of BieresDesMoines
4.05/5  rDev -6%

The beer pours like motor oil, only a deep impenetrable black color leaving only a rumor of a head around the edges of the glass. The aroma is rich, roasty, and malty with a lot of coffee and some bourbon boozy notes with some deep chocolate of both the sweet and bitter variety. The flavor is again very rich with (again) both sweet and bitter chocolate notes. The beer is not nearly as sweet as most of this strength or viscosity. There are plenty of coffee and boozy tones in this one as well. The palate is profoundly full and sticky. Delicious.

BieresDesMoines, Mar 23, 2011
Photo of TrekkieChick
4.06/5  rDev -5.8%

This beer was purchased as a special edition (limit 1 bottle per customer). It pours well, very small/no head and is a very dark brown color. It is a heavy coffee flavor, but smooth and goes down easy! I would recommend to anyone who likes coffee or coffee in their beer.

TrekkieChick, Apr 22, 2014
Photo of blakelive784
4.06/5  rDev -5.8%

Thanks to maximum12 for this extra!

12 fl oz brown glass bottle served in a snifter, reviewed live:

A - Pours a thick motor oil black color with three fingers of thick, creamy brown head. Retention is damned impressive, especially at 11%, and the head leaves nice cream lacing as it recedes.

S - Sweet hot chocolates, cream, subdued roasted malts and toffee undertones. Favors sweet. A touch alcoholic. Dark fruit and fig notes. It's highly lactic, reminiscent of a milk stout. I'm missing any coffee or bitter roasted malts. Inviting.

T - Creamy semi-sweet chocolates perfectly counter the subdued roasted malt body. Vanilla and toffee undertones alongside dark fruit. It's sweet, without ever feeling unbalanced. The alcohol is makes a subtle presence on the way down. Nearly perfectly balanced. Masterful brewing.

M - Full bodied, creamy and silky smooth. Damn near perfect.

D - I'd never guess this is 11%. Wonderfully built and amazingly drinkable. A great success from Dark Horse.

blakelive784, Mar 18, 2013
Photo of jeff1973
4.06/5  rDev -5.8%

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Schlafly tulip. Date code was rubbed off, think it is the latest bottling (2013??). Thanks Beerbyrd.

A - Pitch black. Mocha colored head with medium-low head that dissipates very fast.

S - Semi-sweet chocolate, dried cherries, a little raw grain.

T - Big-time chocolate covered cherries, then a nice roasty bitter finish that balances and dries the beer out.

M - Medium thick, would like it a bit thicker and chewier. medium low carbonation that is spot on for this beer.

O - Taste is excellent. On the sweeter side of RIS's. Wish the mouthfeel was a bit thicker, but a trivial flaw.

jeff1973, Aug 06, 2013
Photo of FanofHefe
4.06/5  rDev -5.8%

Bottle version poured into a Duvel tulip. Deep black-colored body, no light penetration, with about a one finger dark tan head. The head dissipates fairly quickly with very little lace, as expected.

The aroma consists of dark fruit, roasted malt, and light licorice. I get a sense the taste will be sweet based on the aroma.

The flavor is typical of the RIS style - dark, roasted malt flavor, mixed with dark fruit, molasses, a bit of coffee and some sweet caramel-like notes. This does have some complexity and definitely improves as it warms.

Thick texture in the mouthfeel and only a little warming from the alcohol. A very solid Imperial Stout and I would definitely recommend it.

FanofHefe, Apr 29, 2013
Photo of beerhan
4.08/5  rDev -5.3%

I finally got around to trying this one on tap at Reverend's.

Served in a 10 oz snifter.

A-Jet black, one finger tan head that does not last long. Super turbid appearance.

S-Lots of burned espresso notes and some roastiness and dark chocolate.

T-Bitter dark chocolate dominates with a very mild coffee taste in the back with hints of molasses, cocoa and a bit of smoke character.

M-Very rich and chewy. Goes down smooth with relatively no burn for something of this caliber.

O-Decent beer but I would prefer a slightly milder one if I had the chance. It tastes good but it is a bit much more me. I would drink it again but it goes better with cold weather.

beerhan, Apr 15, 2012
Photo of Blanco
4.08/5  rDev -5.3%

One of the darkest stouts I've seen, the color is pitch black and the head is dark brown. A healthy pour produces a huge had that holds relatively well. smell is of roasted malt and chocolate. I can also get a little waft of the booze coming up. taste is bitter, with strong chocolate notes and big maltiness. big, thick mouthfeel this is probably one of the thickest stouts I've had. Alcohol is hidden well, especially given the ABV, although there is a slight warming effect to let you know it's there. Overall, I'm impressed with this one. The flavor is a bit more abrasive than I normally enjoy, but this is a huge stout so I can't really knock it for that.

Blanco, May 24, 2011
Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 2,901 ratings.