Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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.

835 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 835
Hads: 3,575
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.26%
Wants: 555
Gots: 938 | FT: 111
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 835 | Hads: 3,575
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black absolutely sucks up all the visible light spectrum in my glass, big tan head after a vigorous pour. Aroma has dark licorice or pitsella (anise notes) with big ripened fruit notes,and an awesome roasted malt dark chocolate strong coffee combo. Big creamy toasted marshmallow experience this beer is extreme and awesome with a touch of soy sauce. Flavor is completely different than the draft sample I had much more rounded dark fruit sweetness in the flavor in the draft. This one is aggressive needing some age yet still a necessary drinking experience for any beer lover. I used to not be able to get any Dark Horse now that it's distributed in Ohio I've seen most of their beers come through, I really like their standards and their limited releases have been outstanding. Extremely sweet creamy sweet it could use a bit more hop balance than this, really it has anise (black licorice) a touch of soy sauce tones, and some dark fruit with soothing alcohol tones...strong espresso and dark chocolate this is one big ass stout. There's nothing here screaming hop bitterness I just wish it had more of that. Body wise this beer borders chewy full bodied stout with strong residual finishing characterisitcs and a strong soothing alcohol burn in the finish. Drinkability overall is a one and done type of affair, I liked it on draft much better. Challenging huge flavors going on but the balance could have been much better.

 1,440 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Fresh off the tap, in a St. Bernardus goblet. Cause that's how I roll, yo.

Dark as sin, black as all the wrongs in the world, huge tanned brown, cocoa head standing firm above. Beautiful. Amazing. Gorgeous. Outstanding.

Aroma: Oatmeal? Hmmm? Well, it's creamy, ...there's chocolate. Not too sweet. Roasty, but not too much. Creamy chocolate. Let's stick with that.

Drinking it: Big, fat, fantastic, delcicious. Rounds around the mouth, and sticks with it. Very well rounded, all together. What we seem to have is an RIS that is not outrageous in any degree, not overly out-there with any particular element.
Big, thick mouthfeel, long cocoa and coffee finish. Mmm, just right.

Very tasty, and not really easy to read the 12% abv, until, what, wait a minute, ...there it is...whoa-oh...

 793 characters

Photo of Gtreid
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to greatfulbeerhead for sending this one as part of a recent Dark Horse box. 12 oz. bottle poured into my Stone RIS tulip.

A: Pretty much black, with some ruby highlights. After the pour there was next to no head, but after swirling the glass an evil looking dark brown, reddish head appears. No lace whatsoever.

A: Enormous chocolate nose! Dark chocolate, roasted malt, dried dark fruits, and an earthy hop presence. I get notes of cherry wood and burnt caramel with dirty grass.

T: Again, huge chocolate! Baker's, dark, milk, I think they put every type of chocolate imaginable in this one. I also get notes of vanilla, char, and oddly enough smoke. Finishes somewhat dry and very sweet.

M: Viscous and thick. Pretty low levels of carbonation makes for a rather oily mouthfeel.

D and overall impression: Drinkability is just above average here. The big sweetness and high ABV will limit it some. Overall, I really like this brew. Chocolate and char play very nicely off one another. Probably should be classified as an American Double Stout, but who cares, really nice offering from the guys at Dark Horse. Skal.

 1,130 characters

Photo of AdamMY
4.46/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The appearance leaves a lot to be desired, hardly any head, and that which came out was very brown.

The aroma though is like good hot chocolate, which is completely evident in the amazingly chocolate taste. This really tastes like high quality chocolate with hints of espresso.

The mouth feel is very smooth and creamy, almost silky smooth. Combined with its amazing chocolate taste, this is quite drinkable and I honestly do not think I am drinking anything alcoholic.

 471 characters

Photo of Beejay
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First off, I would like to state that I believe some of the issues I had with this beer were due to the growler filler rather than brewery. I have had this beer before and really enjoyed it, my bottle review is on here as well for comparison.

A: Motor Oil Black, with no head at all, just a coffee brown ring of bubbles.

S: Sweet, dark chocolate, raspberries, dark fruit and brown sugar.

T: Dark and roasty. Coffee and burnt caramel throughout. Sweet, big and tasty.

M: Thick and syrupy, very low carbonation. The carbonation that is there is very fine.

D: Very nice overall, but it just doesn't match the awesomeness that this beer is from a bottle. I would love to try it on tap sometime, and see how it compares. Unfortunately, a bad growler fill done this one in a bit. For shame whole foods..

 802 characters

Photo of metter98
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color (holding it up to the light doesn't even reveal the slightest hint of color near the edge of the glass). There is a thin mocha-colored head.
S: Aromas of dark roasted malts dominate the smell.
T: The taste shares a lot of similarities with the aroma; there is also a significant amount of sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied, creamy and smooth on the palate.
D: The beer has a good level of drinkability as the alcohol is very well masked.

 474 characters

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

This brew poured similar to all the rest (black, thick, choco head), yet seemed to have a bit more girth to it. Could it get any thicker? I beg to differ... A slightly sweet and creamy sensation hits my nose, with a subtle smoky undertone. There is a tinge of hop presence underneath the bold, dark aroma. The taste rolls and changes from sip to as it goes down. Smooth upon first taste, then a robust grittiness to a bitterness all in the same motion. It's well-balanced, but it's also very bold. It is an imperial stout, and you clearly get that from every sip. There's a strength to every sip that you can sense on your tongue and in your nose. With all the boldness, elements of roastiness and molasses come through nicely. The aftertaste is something I hadn't gotten from the previous 4 brews: heat. This is an imperial stout and it is strong. Once this brew goes down, there is a good amount of hot in the end to remind you to enjoy this brew slowly and responsibly :)

Overall, I like this brew very much. I love a big, bold, no frill, knock you on your ass stout. And this one is no exception. The ABV is not available, but I can tell you it's up there. On top of that, there is a good amount of smooth and boldness meshed together. All that said, I would be interested to see how this brew would age. I'd like to see if aging it would bring out more flavor. In addition, I would consider warming this brew slightly before enjoying. I do feel I enjoyed it a bit too cold, as a bit less chill would have enhanced the flavor. This is a bold brew, and a great way to top off this stout series.

 1,598 characters

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

12oz bottle poured into a DFH signature glass.

Pours like motor oil, more so than any other stout I've poured. No head, no foam, no bubbles, just thick black viscous liquid. Then as it settles a small dark brown head forms then dissipates into a small rim a dark brown bubbles. Nose is very roasty and grainy, surprisingly no alcohol at all given it's 12%. Slightly sweet and as it warms there's a tinge of booze but hardly noticeable.

Mmm, mouthfeel is smooth, silky and creamy with very light carbonation, perfect for a RIS. it clings to your mouth and sticks around just long enough. Taste is great, not much for hops but a tiny bite of hop bitterness on the finish, mostly covered by the roasted barley/coffee bitterness. There's some great burnt notes here that linger and give you a really nice smooth taste. Super easy drinking and very satisfying.

 857 characters

Photo of PDXHops
3.97/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle courtesy of Ryan011235, poured into an oversized snifter.

Looks pretty much like a big stout should, black and intimidating with a dense 1-finger cap of dark tan head. Retention is pretty good. The lacing is a bit spotty, but it stains the glass impressively.

At 12%, the alcohol is shockingly well hidden in the nose. Smells quite good. Nice combo of chocolate, dark roasted and burnt malts. A touch of molasses, a bit of dark fruit and a gentle coffee presence. Definitely looking forward to this.

The booze is more noticeable in the mouth, but provides a modest warming presence that's not at all out of place. A bitter undercurrent previously undetected helps keep the sweetness under control, although there's a substantial tanginess that's a bit sticky at the finish. Nice robust roasted character. Carbonation is appropriately low, accentuating the slippery character of the medium-thick body. Finishes perhaps a bit too cleanly, but that's nitpicking.

Overall impression: A nice RIS that seems to have excellent aging potential. I think I will throw my other one in the cellar and revisit in a year or so.

 1,131 characters

Photo of nickd717
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle via trade thanks to translucent on BA. Damn dude, this is a bruiser. Is this the fifth in the "one, too, tres, fore" series? If so, then neener neener, I ticked them all off, and victory is mine!

Pours black and thick with a one-finger dark tan head. Some legs on this one - you can tell it's viscous.

Aroma is intense with dark chocolate, molasses, coffee, and roast. Slight sweetness present.

Flavor is really interesting. It reminds me of Midnight Sun Berserker in a way, except without the -bal aging notes. Rich dark chocolate and roast dominate, with a hint of coffee as well as molasses, anise, and red wine/port. Very full and thick on the palate with low carbonation. Some tannins as well as hop bitterness. Smooth and slick. A great imperial stout overall. Not too drinkable in large quantities, but you have to give it a pass on this because it's damn good. One of the better beers I've had from Dark Horse. Good job rejecting Nickelback's offer too, guys. They suck!

 993 characters

Photo of Adamdc
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into nonic pint glass.

A: Jet black body topped by 1/4 inch head of dark brown foam. Beer seems to 'glug' out of bottle--very thick.

S: Molasses, dark fruit, caramel, malt and some alcohol.

T: Bitter chocolate, coffee, malt, some bitterness and it's pretty hot, possibly a little too hot.

M: Mouthfeel is very full-bodied and heavy just how an RIS should be.

D: Not too high only because of the 'heat'.

This is a pretty solid RIS. It's my first brew by Dark Horse and I'm looking forward to trying some others.

 536 characters

Photo of kylehayworth
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this into my new Sam Adams perfect pint.

A: This beer pours a deep black, with subtle dark brown hues, a head slowly forms into a nice dark deep, and robust tan.

S: I get some vanilla, and coffee, with good chocolate presence.

T: Taste is pretty good: It starts off with a nice chocolaty and robust coffee taste, the finish is spot on, nice and bitter, with dark fruits.

M/D: Nice creamy and thick. The carbonation seems pretty low on this one, but in a nice way. Overall, this is a great stout, I've hit a brick wall with DIPA's, so I switched to stouts, this is a good way to start off. I would definitely check this one out again, almost wish I would have got a 4 pack...

 687 characters

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

thanks to badnewsbeers for this!

appearance - black like oil. almost no carbonation and very thick looking. no head.

smell - soy sauce, caramel, and hints of a fruity smell. surprisingly very little alcohol smell.

taste - malty, creamy, sweet coffee flavor. some subtle hops/bitterness that i didn't pick up in the smell. not very hot at all, although when i open my mouth and breath, the booze hits my lungs.

mouthfeel - pretty thick largely due to very little carbonation. I enjoy low carbonation, so its great for me.

overall - great beer. wish i had more. I think a couple of these is all you'd need on a cold night. the huge ABV is masked very well.

 659 characters

Photo of rfgetz
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a near black with minimal brown spotting in leiu of a head. Smell is of dark roasted malts, faint raisin and brown sugar notes, slightly alcoholic. Taste follows scent with the dark roasted grains, hints of chocolate and espresso, backed by rasin and prune notes, hints of molasses and a slightly boozy finish. Not quite full bodied, very smooth without being silky, could have been bulked up a bit. A nice RIS that doesnt overdo any particular aspect of its build. ABVs hidden suprisingly well.

 501 characters

Photo of nrbw23
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a black color with a thin light brown head. Head has little retention and leaves almost no lacing behind.

S- Smells of chocolate, roated malts, bit of alcohol, coffee and some dark fruits.

T- A great combintion of sweet and bitter. All malt at first. Roasty espresso and chocolate flavors mingle with notes of dark fruit, molasses, and a bit of licorice. The hops are more balanced in the taste than the smell.

M- This is a full beer and low on the carbonation.

D- I like this brew wish it was little thicker in body. Easy to drink alcohol hidden well and tastes great.

 584 characters

Photo of phishisphunk
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter after being chilled in the fridge for about an hour (an unseasonably warm April is leaving my basement warmer than hoped for this time of the year!). This beer pours a very inky black with the slightest formation of a tan head. My initial impression of the nose was that it smelled similar to a DFH World Wide Stout or Bell's Batch 9000. Initially very sweet, sugary, and syrupy smell. However, after a moment a robust and roasty smell dominates. The taste of this beer is superbly solid. Well balanced, beautiful roasted malt flavor dominates, without the slightest hint of alcohol. A perfect example of what a Russian Imperial Stout should taste like. Reminds me a bit of Old Rasputin. Carbonation in the beer is moderate. with a slight watery feel as the beer passes through to the end of the palate, but finished dry. Very enjoyable brew and by far my most favorite Dark Horse to date. Strongly recommended.

 933 characters

Photo of techfed87
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a heavy, thick black into a sniffer glass. Very little head. Smells of woody, almost sugary cocoa. Very oatsy, kind of reminds you how ovaltine powder smells.

First sip is very nice, with balance between sweet and bitter. Bitterness is very fine and overall, the beer is quite smooth.

Mouthfeel is quite pleasant as well, with enough bold flavors to keep you interested.

A very tasty, drinkable Imperial Stout. Dark Horse really nailed this one down.

 459 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
3.96/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

 1,633 characters

Photo of thetomG
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sipping on this one as I type - its a LIVE review!

Very thick blackness with only a small amount of head even with a less than gentle pour. Strong aromas of a smokey coffee/chocolate... taste is a bit intense with a multitude of flavors very much like the smell but with an added bonus of some slight booziness as you drink. I'm nibbling on some dark chocolate as I sip and it is a very very nice combination!

IMO this is one to share as its high 12% ABV might be a bit much for one person, but overall I'd definitely recommend trying it if you can find it - particularly if you like BIG flavorful stouts.



 625 characters

Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opaque black with thin tan head. Decent retention, little lacing to speak of. Smell is interesting, definitely multi-dimensional. Some smoke, coffee, booze, rock candy, dark fruit, cinnamon, and wood. Taste is far smokier than others seem to think, espresso, some bittersweet chocolate, some dark fruit again, some alcohol. Definitely interesting, better than your run-of-the-mill RIS. MF is a bit light-bodied, but definitely smooth and velvety. Drinkability, like Double Crooked Tree, is way higher than I would expect for a 10+% ABV. Definitely a good RIS, interesting. I'll be grabbing another to put away for a while.

 622 characters

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.

 575 characters

Photo of MbpBugeye
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The 5th and final installment of what should be called an epic series of stouts. And what a beer to end on.

A- Super black, Ive seen thicker and darker but this is close to the darkest. You can pour this baby as rough as you like and still will only get a small tan head that doesnt last very long. Im getting no lacing.

S- Nice smell. Very sweet and chocolatey. Behind the chocolate and roasted malts is a rubbing alcohol smell. There is a lot of dark fruits, brown sugar and vanilla.

T- Very smooth and creamy. This beer seems like it is more than just a simple RIS. You would think it has chocolate or vanilla or milk sugars added. I was shocked to see that the ABV was 12%. There is lots of vanilla, chocolate and dark fruits along with brown sugar and a milky sweetness.

M- Full bodied but not insanely thick. The carbonation is very low, especially towards the end of the glass. This is one creamy smooth beer.

D- The ABV is insanely hidden. This makes for a dangerous stout. It drinks like a cream stout and packs a punch like the big RIS that it is. I have not yet had all of this series but this is my favorite so far.

 1,132 characters

Photo of CarbonIS
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As with most beers from Dark Horse, this imperial stout is a step above the others. Pouring a dark, creamy black, almost to the consistancy or oil, the Plead the 5th bottles that I have had recently have had the perfect amount of carbonation (or lack there of). Creamy and malty in feel, the aromas of this imperial stout smell of intense coffee and chocolate, but thankfully lack the intense bitterness of other imperial stouts that smell so strongly of coffee. Drinkability is fantastic, rich, almost chewy, and smooth. My basis for comparison, while it may be a high standard, for all other imperial stouts.

 610 characters

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

12oz bottle split with onix1agr and the old lady. Thanks for the chance bud.

A- super thick murky black liquid with dark brown edges. Small coffee colored skin of foam that vanishes to a ring around the top.

S- deep dark roasted malts giving off tons of chocolate and coffee. Lots of brown sugar and molasses sweetness. Some bright hits of hops but very mild. A underlying rose like floral quality with warming.

T- chocolate cover rasberries and a cup of espresso. Brown sugar over grapefruit and a bit of toasted wood.

M- chewy and thick with a good amount of carb that lift the syrup and keeps thing lively.

D- its a huge beer with a lot of complexity for sure but easy on ya. Great for enjoying with some friends.

 725 characters

Photo of krisandajt
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another beer courtesy of mymrnngjckt. I raise my glass to you, Kevin!

Appearance: This beer pours like motor oil into my DFH ale glass. The color is midnight black, with a very small amount of coffee colored head. What little head there is quickly fades away, leaving only a thin ring of bubbles where the beer meets the glass. Lacing is good, leaving some soapy rings where the beer settles.

Smell: Mostly bitter chocolate in the nose, but mixed in is some booziness which hints at the high ABV of this brew. Right off the bat I can tell this is going to be a sipping beer.

Taste: An interesting mix of bitter chocolate, some booze, and what reminds me of dark fruit - raisins? It's got the robustness of a big stout, but has some hints of the dark fruitiness you find is a good quad. Very unique, and rather tasty.

Mouthfeel: Thick, smooth, and creamy - everything you could ask for in an imperial stout.

Drinkability: No doubt about it, this is a big beer. Big flavor, and big ABV. As tasty as this is, there's no way you can have more than one of these in a night. All night drinkability...definitely not. But I'm sure going to enjoy it while it lasts. Definitely recommend - if you see it, grab it!

 1,208 characters

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 835 ratings.