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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.

832 Reviews
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(Send Samples)
Reviews: 832
Hads: 3,553
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.26%
Wants: 550
Gots: 937 | 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: 832 | Hads: 3,553
Photo of kkleu357
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%

From notes on 2/27/14

Jet black. Minimal dark tan had. Very strong stout smell. Really sweet smelling. Taste like eating a dark chocolate candy. Mildly roasty. Minimal coffee flavor. Mostly chocolaty. Very good. Would love to try the bourbon barrel version.

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Photo of Trooper92292
5/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A beautiful black color. Aromas range but are not overdone. Such a satisfying taste. The feel is just so well done. I'm popping a bottle open of this now and had this on tap weeks ago and it's one of my favorite beers out there. I first had this last year, a friend introduced me to it, and I could not believe how good this beer is. This is on my top 5 easily. If you have a chance to drink this beer, do it.

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Photo of MIbeer27
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, dated 1.15.15.

Bottle into snifter with deepest black hue and a thin mocha head that quickly recedes to a thin collar.

Aroma is massive. Huge dark fruits like cherry, fig and raisin over top of dark, bittersweet chocolate, espresso, molasses and roasted barley . Hints of alcohol heat are there as well, but hides well.

Taste coats the entire mouth with all of the aforementioned flavors, joined by heavily charred, ashy malt notes. Slight warmth from the alcohol trails all the way down into the stomach. Taste lingers with slight herbal notes and the roasted barley standing out. Burps are rather fruity.

Mouthfeel is chewy thick with modest carbonation.

Overall, Plead the Fifth is one of the most complex beers that I've ever had. Maybe its the age (almost 7 months at time of tasting), but this one was easily the dark-fruitiest RIS that I've ever had. Not quite at the level of Founder's Imperial Stout, but damn close and an instant favorite.

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Photo of Bshaw22
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

This is one of my favorite imperial stouts. It's too bad it's so hard to get. I've had 3 bottles in my life. The one I am reviewing was a year and a 1/2 old.
Nose was intense with dark fruits and dark chocolate.
Taste was smooth across the board with nothing overpowering. One of the finest mouthfeel ever for this style.

I'll be searching these out again!

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Photo of vfgccp
3.66/5  rDev -13.5%

A - Coffee body with thin cola highlights. Ok retention and low lace on a light tan head.

S - Roast nose with a light edge of booze. Cocoa, burnt toast, touch of caramel and dark fruits. Fairly light.

T - Caramel, barley, and molasses. Dusty center with just a hint of balsamic vinegar. Astringent burnt toast finish.

M - Smooth, but a little light for an RIS.

O - Not bad, but a little disappointing given the hype.

3.66 Plead the 5th
--- -Jay- -Jon- -Anth- -Vin- -Avg- Weight
A - 4.00 4.00 ------- 4.00 4.00 10%
S - 3.50 3.75 ------- 3.25 3.50 20%
T - 3.75 3.50 ------- 3.50 3.58 40%
M - 4.00 3.25 ------- 3.50 3.58 10%
O - 4.00 3.75 ------- 3.75 3.83 20%

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Photo of mlhyatt
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12 oz into tulip glass

A- jet black with no head, even poured aggressively.

S- tons of chocolate followed by roasted notes. It all pinnacles up to some dark fruits such as dates and figs.

T - doesn't follow the nose as much as I expected. Much more dark fruit than anything else. There are subtle dark chcolate in behind the fruits and a very slight roastedness that finisbes the beer. It instantly dries the mouth after the swallow too.

M- thick and heavy, just like I like my stouts. Not overly bitter or harsh. Just right on the mouthfeel.

O- a good stout, was hoping for more of the chocolate and roast to be more prominent in the taste but I will definitely pick these up again.

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Photo of MacQ32
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

A - Pours near black with a finger of rich chocolate colored head. Solid retention, fantastic lacing.

S - Roasty chocolate and big boozy nose predominantly. Light vanilla notes, some definite coffee type roast.

T - Monster booze with roasty chocolate notes, coffee, vanilla. Almost bourbony from the substantial alcohol heat. Finish is much more enjoyable as the sweetness starts to dominate through the aftertaste.

M - Fullish bodied, silky smooth with minimal carbonation, big boozyness. Definitely a bit of a sipper/warmer

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Photo of woodychandler
3.82/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Based on the site's "Notes", this is a 2013 bottle, but I do not know whether it was purchased at The fridge or at The Friendly Greek Bottle Shop. Either way, it is part of the great Bottle Purge of 2014 here at Chez Woody and I raise a toast to "Dark Horse Nation", which will debut on History Channel next Tuesday, 29 July 2014. Skoal!

I could see some lees at the bottom of the bottle, so I employed a very gentle pour to get things started. I still got a brief finger of deep-tan head with limited retention, quickly falling to wisps. Color was a deep, dark-brown (SRM = 44), allowing zero light penetration. Nose smelled of molasses or medicinal cough syrup from when I was a kid. It had a vegetal, root-like quality that also put me in mind of my grandparents' Geritol. I am not trying to be funny or anything of that nature, either. That is just what comes to mind. Mouthfeel was big, dense, thick, chewy. There was an initial, immediate fusel alcohol burn that slowly died down, allowing for flavors of burnt charcoal, dried dark fruits, anise, and molasses to come forth and be recognized. Whew! This was definitely a no-playing-around beer. Finish was dry, mainly due to the alcohol heat, with a lingering smoky chocolatiness that began to put me in mind of brownies. It was a good beer and I am sure that it is an excellent example of the style, but a) I do not really dig the style and b) it could have aged a while longer to reduce the heat.

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Photo of larryarms847
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours thick like black tar and looks like quite the beast! A very thin head, less than pencil thin, but dark chocolate brown in color.

My nostrils are treated with quaffs of chocolate, roasted coffee, and toasted nuts.

Wow, this is a mouthful! Chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, and a nutty finish are wonderously balanced with the slightest hint of booze, but I definitely feel it warming my stomach!

Thick, chocolate syrup like that is more like a meal than a beverage.

Overall, they definitely got something here! I will be on the prowl for this again!

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Photo of Roguer
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thin tan head quickly fading; nice dark brown, almost black brew.

Fantastic and strong aroma. Roasted barley, chocolate, oak, vanilla, cream, and booze. Smells barrel aged.

Flavor is all of the above, plus oats, bananas, and nuts. The roasted malt is delicate; a symphony of big stout flavors acting in delicious harmony.

Thick and creamy, almost chewy.

Delicious stout, right up there with Ten-FIDY and Founders Imperial Stout.

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Photo of AdmiralOzone
4.63/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from bottle into the center of an Imperial pint glass. Fairly aggressive pour develops only about an inch of reddish brown head, that recedes quickly. Ink black in color.

The nose picks up chocolate, coffee and vanilla along with dark fruits. Just a faint hint of soy sauce.

I take a sip and think wow. Just a fantastic beer.

This beer couldn't feel any better.

Overall I love this beer. Can only imagine what the barrel aged version would be like.

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Photo of bowzer4birdie
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 poured into a snifter. Dark as night with minimal dark brown head which quickly disappears. I think I can taste bitter, semi-sweet chocolate paired with a roasty coffee-filled linger. The bitterness, to me, is from the chocolate, I don't necessarily pick that up from the coffee influence. Dark brown sugar, too, and does sweeten up a tad as it warms. Drinks very smoothly for 11.0% but even after it warmed I couldn't help but notice the lingering bitterness. Tends to be a bit of a downgrade for me.

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Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Picked up one of these in Ithaca, also spotted them in Binghamton. Nice to have Dark Horse coming to this area, although it'd be even nicer if we got any of the rarer variants, but that's not likely.

Poured into a nonic pint glass; jet black with a minimal half-finger dark brown head from a rough pour. Head quickly fades into a single-bubble-thick layer of foam.
Smells of semi-sweet chocolate, coffee, brown sugar and molasses, and even a hint of oak or something.
Taste follows nose...sweet chocolate and brown sugar are cut with hints of roasty coffee bitterness, but it's mostly sweet. Aftertaste of semisweet chocolate and stickiness. Not much booze noticeable in the taste.
Mouthfeel is full, slick and sticky.
Overall, a big tasty stout but it's a bit sweet for my taste. I'd still love to find [one of] the BBA version[s] sometime, but I'm not too hopeful.

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Photo of Rollzroyce21
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

- 2013 vintage
- 12 oz. bottle poured into stemless wine glass on 8-Jun-14

This tastes like an imperial milk stout. Body's very smooth, almost velvety. Nice toasty and roasty flavors. Bitter dark chocolate with slight hints of vanilla. Very easy drinking for an 11% brew.

Comparing to other fresh IRS's... I like this slightly better than Stone's and Bell's Expedition, but not better than Siberian Night and maybe BORIS. In other words, this is among the top tier RIS's out there and I'm glad to have finally enjoyed a glass.

Gotta say, the BBA version is pretty nuts.

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Photo of chrismattlin
4.57/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer is delicious! So delicious it would satisfy someone unfamiliar with stouts or a seasoned veteran.

I've yet to have a beer from Dark Horse that wasn't exceptional, and this one keeps the streak going!

The 11% abv is masked well in this deep, dark beer. The epitome of what an American Imperial Stout aspires to be, this beer gets better as you drink it and it warms.

This is a brew to keep on hand.

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Photo of stephens101
4.56/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 version.

Empties the bottle black with a sheer, tan head. Aroma is spot on with milk chocolate, dark fruits, subtle vinegar and burnt oak floating freely. This is one of the smoothest beers I can recall trying. Just floats its way down (despite its medium to heavy body) with prominent notes of milk chocolate, bubblegum and black licorice, followed by hints of oak, cherry and vanilla. Fusel alcohol is barely noticed in the back. A beautiful, well-crafted stout that pairs well with this cool and rainy spring evening.

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Photo of HoppySeb
4.53/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

What an amazing beer - I wish I had access to it more often. Poured from a refrigerated 12oz bottle into a KBS snifter - poured vertically, producing a great looking two inch thick foam that is light brown in color. The head quickly dissipates and forms a ring around the glass which stays there as you drink it.

Its nose if mostly chocolate, vanilla, ripened plums, coffee and light spices - sweet. Taste is bittersweet. Definite hop presence with bold dark chocolate and vanilla bean flavors.

Mouthfeel is amazing - thick and chewy, allows you to extract every ounce of flavor from this beer. Carbonation is very light, as expected.

Overall - I'm very impressed with this beer as I was not expecting it to be this great. I will definitely seek it out more often! Highly recommended!

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Photo of Treyliff
4.52/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle, poured into a snifter

A- pours opaque jet black in color with a small foamy dark-tan head that has short retention, eventually leaving a small layer on top, leaving some short lasting lace behind

S- lots of smoky roasted malt aroma up front with notes of charcoal, burnt marshmallow, campfire, smoked & cured meat, bitter dark chocolate and some woodsy notes. Underlying piney hops

T- Big chocolate and dark fig notes up front that are quickly complimented by a roasty malt that gives flavors of charred marshmallow, along with earthy and woodsy notes. Graham cracker sweetness kicks in near the end with more dark chocolate and a herbal hop finish. Some smoky malt with a touch of alcohol on the linger

M- thick and viscous body with moderate carbonation leads to a chewy-yet-smooth mouthfeel and a velvety finish, alcohol hidden brilliantly. Perfect

O- finally got a chance to try this one and it didn't disappoint. Smoky, chocolaty and true to the style. A world class example of a RIS

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Photo of mntlover
4.49/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep dark black no highlights when held to the light just a black hole sucking up all the light. Small pinky sized coco head falls to a ring, no real lace left behind.

Aroma is very nice lots of roasted malts, rich chocolate notes, sweet smelling with hints of earthy peat and coffee notes. If possible it smells thick bodied.

Taste is like the nose rich thick roasted malts, good chocolate with hints of coffee in the middle and lingering also in the finish with some bitterness added. Big chewy sweet stout but its not cloying, I suppose there enough hops to balance it out, but not enough to be noticed. Some spicy alcohol notes also in the finish but blend well and do not distract.

Mouthfeel is nice big chewy drew with good mellow carbonation . Makes for easy drinking which could be a problem on this big of a beer.

Overall this is a very nice stout, one I would love to have more of.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased at EBI in Saratoga, NY.

Pours a dark black, with a half inch head that fades down to film and a little bit of foam quickly. Not much lacing.

Smells like chocolate, roasted malt, and a bit of alcohol.

This stout uses its alcohol very well- it gives a spicy bite that plays nicely off the malty, chocolatey sweetness. There's a tiny bit of soy sauce flavor, with roasty bitterness and dark fruit flavors.

Medium to full bodied, creamy, smooth delectable mouthfeel. Low carbonation. Present but not threatening alcohol.

The bourbon barrel aged version of this is a classic, this base version is very nice as well, and holds itself up on its own.

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Photo of mtomlins
4.59/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a coffee mug (the only way to drink stout in the morning!).

Pours a deep a deep black with 1-2 fingers of dark mocha head, dissipating quickly to a creamy collar and leaving slight lacing. Massive roasted malts, dark chocolate, a bit of coffee in the nose. On the palate the dark roasted malts shine through with lots of dry coffee, fudge, dark chocolate and some nice bitterness. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy with just the right amount of carbonation. Overall, this is just a delicious, well balanced stout, one of my new favorites!

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Photo of d5001986
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into Spiegelau tulip.

A: Pours a pure inky black with just a trace of tan head.

S: Roasted malt, coffee, molasses, and vanilla.

T: Roasted malt, burnt coffee, vanilla, and bitter dark chocolate up front; with some smokiness, spicy pepper, and light nuttiness. Also a moderate bitterness follows.

M: A good thick and oily body, just right to the style. Little carbonation comes through.

O: A very nice impression of the style, rich yet drinks easy as far as stouts go. Overall solid, and a good buy.

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Photo of Dope
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Review from the same batch as the below, now a 3 year old bottle (2011 batch)

A: Pitch black pour with the a very small dark brown head. Head fades almost instantly. Minimal bits of lacing here and there and very little head retention.

S: Loaded with dark fruits. Almost wine-like or sherry-like (oxidation?). Mild chocolate but mostly raisins, cherries, generic stone fruit. Even berries.

T: Sweet dark fruits up front. Again with the stonefruit and raisins. Chocolatey, more so than I remember. Starts out like milk chocolate (chocolate-covered raisins and cherries?) and then turns quite bitter. Very baker's chocolate-esque or cocoa-like. Lingering chocolate and dark fruit forever.

M: Heavy, thick, viscous.

O: Well, as mentioned in my older review, this is one of the fruitiest RISes I've ever had. Aged though, it is MUCH less harsh and much better balanced. There's tons of sweet milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate (in the finish) to back up all that fruit. Flavors are still bold but not harsh and over the top. No real sign of alcohol now except for the belly warmth. Three years has greatly improved this one.

Review from 07-12-2011 (fresh bottle)

A: Super thick black pour. Minimal but very dark brown head. Almost no retention or lacing to speak of. (4)

S: Roasted malt followed by some dark fruit (raisins, cherries and grapes maybe?). Some coffee too. A little alcohol. (4)

T: Roasted malt from the nose takes a back seat. Tons of dark fruit as mentioned. There is some roast, coffee and alcohol in the aftertaste but up front it is surprisingly super fruity. (4)

M: Very thick mouthfeel, feels like it coats your mouth with a viscous oil. Low bitterness except from the coffee flavor. (4.5)

O: I gave it pretty good ratings but have to take away a bit on the Overall ratings for my subjective reasons. I love big stouts but this one is super fruity and a little bit hot. I prefer more roast, more coffee and more chocolate in my stouts than fruit. I'm not saying this is bad, just that it wasn't my style. I'm going to age the rest of my bottles and see how this beer turns out. (3.5)

Overall 3.95

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a clear but opaque jet black in color with light to moderate amounts of gentle carbonation and some very faint dark cola brown highlights. The beer has a quarter finger tall foamy dark mocha head that quickly reduces to a small patch of very thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Minimal amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of dark roasted malts with lighter notes of dark chocolate and a hint of coffee.

T: Upfront there is a moderate to strong flavor of dark roasted malts with light to moderate flavors of dark chocolate and some hints of dark fruit (fig). There are light amounts of sweetness upfront. Slightly stronger than moderate amounts of bitterness which lingers of a moderate amount of time.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth and creamy.

O: Alcohol is well hidden and the beer is quite drinkable. Nice flavor and definitely one I was glad to find. Worth grabbing if you see it.

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Photo of TrekkieChick
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 832 ratings.