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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.

835 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 835
Hads: 3,572
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 8.27%
Wants: 555
Gots: 937 | FT: 110
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: 3,572
Photo of IdrinkGas
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter.
A: Pitch black. No light passes through. A couple fingers of a creamy head. This is the definition of the word viscous

S: Roasted malts, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder. Some burnt sugar. Almost everything I'm looking for in a stout.

T: Sweet carmel malt flavors mixed with bitter dark chocolate and a little hop bite mixed into the finish. Wonderful blend of sweetness and bitterness. .

M: Big body with a creamy mouthfeel. Carbonation is just right.

I would have thought this beer was under 9% ABV if the label didn't say otherwise. More please...

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into a snifter glass.

Appearance: dark black oily bodied beer without any head. Maybe a really thin ring of white. Poured the beer really hard, it might have no head because its right out of the fridge with no time to warm up.

Smell: deep roast and chocolate malts. Earthy and mild smoke. It smells assertive, but not overdone.

Taste: Bitter sweet chocolate or maybe bakers cocoa with a mild bitterness / roastiness upfront. Smoke and coffee notes blend nicely together midpalate. Just a hint of black licorice, leather, oak/woodiness, and molassess in the finish. The leathery note remains into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: This beer is at the high end of a moderate bodied beer with low carbonation levels. The beer has a wonderful mouthfeel thats really chewy and creamy. Its also silky and smooth. No booze to this beer at all, it seriously drinks like is 7 to 8% ABV stout, but its 12%! Alcohol is very well hidden and thats an understatement.

Overall: I see why BB Plead the Fifth is such a great beer. This base stout is a really wonderful and enjoyable beer! Dark Horse really brews a nice RIS here!

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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 thagr81us
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to my boy aasher for this one! Fifth in the series and fifth on the day! Served from bottle into a Duvel tulip. Poured pitch black with a minimal fizzy brown head. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, dark chocolate, dark fruit, and subtle alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, dark chocolate, dark fruit, subtle sweet alcohol, and subtle caramel. It had a heavy feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. The aroma and flavors on this one were quite nice for a RIS. While they were not overly complex, they made this one quite enjoyable. The key thing for a RIS for me is if they can cover up the alcohol while still keeping it around as a more subtle flavor. This one did this quite well. A definite must try for any beer drinker out there.

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Photo of maximum12
4.8/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Missed Plead the 5th last year when it came around, so gladly grabbed a single when it appeared on local shelves. Fantastic name for a brew, by the way.

Slithers into the glass like a liquid little black dress, all silky & languid. The scents wafting out of bottle & glass are enough to make my mouth water.

Wow. Wow. This is a first-class stout. The roasted malts are deep enough to swim in, rich enough for Pamela Anderson, complex as a hundred-year old Swiss watch. Accompanying all this pleasure is a sweet choco tinge & a sliver of underlying coffee that's just enough to set off the deep darkness of the malts.

Damn. Creamy, mouth-coating goodness that doesn't let go. 12% ABV? Sign me up for a bender on this one, it'll be short one. There's certainly a bit of warming effect here, but the alcohol is absent for a stout this big.

Fantastic flippin' brew. I'll be out to seek out a four-pack of fifteen of this - I'd love to see how it ages, although I can scarcely fathom is can improve much. Absolutely fantastic!

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Photo of popery
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes 7/29/11. Wonderful stout. This beer is big and rich without any of the off-notes that can accompany that. The beer pours wall-to-wall black with a thin mocha head. The aroma is milk chocolate, dark chocolate, molasses, caramel, nutty roast, creamy coffee, vanilla and a hint of cinnamon. Mouthfeel is smooth and very full. Taste is sweet but not cloying. There’s a mildly bitter finish with roast and some earthy hops. A bit of a tannic quality, wine-like. This is a real treat and an excellent beer.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours jet black with a dark brown head. In the aroma, roasted malt, coffee and a sweetness that reminds me of oatmeal. In the taste, sweet roasted malt and a dry coffee ending. A small hop bite and medium to bigger bodied mouthfeel, with a semi dry coffee and a small alcohol presence in the aftertaste. Nice big flavor, big roast, nice coffee presence and hides the 12% very well.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.57/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.56/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of cbutova
3.92/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pitch black motor oil ale pours into my pint glass. Not much of a head forms but a creamy pillow tops the beer. Small spots of lace from a creamy ring.

S- Dark roast malt comes off strong with a fairly harsh edge to it. Also get a dose of dark fruit, coffee, cocoa and caramel.

T- Definitely one of the harsher stouts I have had recently, but in a nice way for an RIS. The dark roast, burnt malt thrashes the palate with cocoa, coffee, dark fruit, licorice and caramel notes as well. A bit of alcohol, not surprising at 12%.

MF- Thick body supporting the huge flavor. An overall silky feel with some cream and alcohol warming to it. Acrid roast bitterness. Higher carbonation than I would prefer.

A very solid stout and a very strong one coming in at a heavy 12%, still big even in 2011. Dark Horse knows how to make a stout, I hope they do more with their numbered series because they were all pretty nice.

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Photo of tavernjef
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark pitch black oil with a slight purpley fade. Rigorous pour revealed no head what so ever, only a few small, looser bubbles break the surface then break down to keep at the edge with a slim collar. No lace either. Very slight oily brown parched residue slips across the surface with very tiny dots of lace dripping down the glass as it is sipped.

Aroma is not complex nor big. Quite empty really, I get slight chocolate and plum with a slight tender sweet alcoholic warmth reminiscent of weak Port or Irish Creme. Tapering burntish molasses vapors underneath.

Taste is nearly as empty, yet perhaps a bit more intensity given off from what the aroma leads off being, but unfortunaly the same avenue is being driven down. Mediochre amounts of tender and brief chocolate take the front. Molasses tang and darker fruits make a favorable twist in the middle areas but don't last all that long as it takes a warmer turn of port-like plumyness and dark raisiny alcoholic warmth towards the finish. A slight chocolate return and small surge of coffeeish bite help encourage a finish worth finishing. Heat fades well. Bits of roasted coffee stay as does a tiny raisin skin tartness and feel.

Feel is smooth and quite quick with a moderate silky medium heftified body. As it finishes it gains a bit more heavier tone and character. Mild and sweetly dark with partial chocolate and dark fruit layers build a bit as it goes. Not quite what I was expecting given the other Dark Horse goodies I've had and liked, but good enough to try. Give me their Black Bier though and I'll be content enough.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, but no date on the label, or any indication of the 12% abv strength.

pours black as used motor oil, with very dark tan head. but the head fades fast to a thin collar. aroma expands and intensifies as it warms - roasted coffee, cocoa power, booze.

taste is rich and bold. bitter dark chocolate, caramel, a little alcohol. lingering charcoal smokiness. definitely a sipper. thick, full body. coats the mouth, but enough carbonation.

overall - I really like, very good RIS.

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Photo of mynie
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sold to me as "Plead the Fifth" imperial stout. Also it came in a fourpack, not a bomber. And I should mention that I bought it at Eagle River Liquor in Fulton, Illinois. Because that store doesn't sell enough good beer.

Damn fine pour. Damn fine. I'd pit this bad mofo up against Dark Lord and the Abyss. Black as the total absence of colors and then there's a wonderful chocolate brown head sitting on top of it that is just mouthwatering. Seriously--I've been here for like 4 years and I don't think I've ever used the phrase "mouthwatering" before, since it's so cliche. But that's what this is.

Smells very rich and intense. This is a room temp pour but it's still pretty hard to pick out one flavor from another. There's a little bit of smokiness, but that's overridden by chocolate and roughraw porter malts. You also got some bread and nuts in there, too. Not much of the liquor or alcohol burny yeast that you normally expect from an RIS.

Tastes...wow the taste is solid but still a total letdown. Little dull and watery at first, but that falls into a meaty smoke flavor that runs quickly into a chocolate malt and gives way to some lightly burny yeast. Eh. The blend ain't all the great, the seltzery beginning is nothing short of offputting, and it's not nearly intense enough for the style.

Don't get me wrong: I am by no means the kind of guy who gets down on beers for not being Xtreme enough. But I expect a lot out of an RIS. And this one, while plenty enjoyable, doesn't fully deliver.

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Photo of Pencible
3.52/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

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

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.64/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

HUGE thanks to rschne13 for the trade on this one.

a- Popped open the 12oz bottle and poured it into my oversized snifter. Gorgeous thick sludgey stout goodness. pretty much no head at all. When I swirl the glass I can build up a little bit of a brown head. Snail trail-like lacing. Has a bit of a barrel aged look shine.

s - Dark chocolate alcohol sweetness. Extremely well balanced roasted malt. I swear I'm picking up some sort of bourbon (ev

t - HOLY CRAP. This is fantastic. Deep dark chocolatey roasted malts. The booze is really nice. This is an A double plus beer.

m/d - Tonight is/was an evening for big stouts and this beer...I had some high expectations for and it stepped to the plate and slammed it out of the park on the first pitch. Mouth is crisp and it is smooth, silky and easy to drink. Flavor is strong dark chocolate...a bit on the heavy side, but you'd expect that at 12%.

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Photo of gford217
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Monger poured into a tulip - 12oz bottle reads "Plead the 5th".

A: Pours pitch black with a dense, but thin, mocha head that dissipates fairly quickly to a collar and leaves decent lacing on the way down.

S: The aroma has a surprising sweetness to it which balances the roasted character very well. There is dark chocolate and vanilla up front on top a roasted malt backbone. As it warms, the alcohol heat comes out just a bit with a little bit of coffee mixed in.

T: The taste brought the chocolate malts to the party in a big way. There's a big sweet blast of milk chocolate up front with the toasted malts and a hint of wood in the middle with some dark fruits as well. The finish is a slightly bittersweet chocolate flavor.

M: Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with minimal carbonation. Sticky and sweet.

D: This is my favorite of the stout series so far by a mile (only Tres to go). Great beer from Dark Horse and highly recommended.

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

Thank you Steasy66!! Been wanting this one for a while now, the BB version was fantastic.

Appearance. Pours thick and black with a thin brown head.

Smell. Dark chocolate and molasses with some dark malts and brown sugar and a bit of vanilla.

Taste. Sweet bakers chocolate, some lightly smokey dark roasted malts, black licorice and molasses, with some black coffee in the finish. High abv is well hidden. Very nice.

Mouthfeel. Full body with low+ carbonation. Thick and viscous with just a little warmth.

Overall. A fantastic ris. Lots of chocolate which is never a bad thing for the style.

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

Big thanks to stevef03 for this bottle. I'm finally getting around to doing the Dark Horse One - 5th tonight.

A: Pours a beautiful motor oil opaque black. There is little to no head on this beer. There is just the tiniest of bubbles along the top of the beer. Minimal lacing as it drinks.

S: Smells of sweet chocolate malt, raisin, vanilla, and booze. Super stone fruits and alcohol. It smells delicious.

T: Spot on plum, chocolate, vanilla, and toffee. There is a big boozy sweetness in the finish as well. I get hints of brownie and caramel too. Great flavor, but just a tad sweet. I'm nit picking at this point.

M: This is a full boded beer that starts off sweet and smooth. The silky chocolate notes are evident from start to finish. The flavors envelop the palate. There is some serious cloing that occurs (really sticky and chewy), but it's feels fantastic.

O: This beer is damn delicious. It's a bit boozy at times, ans a bit sweet times, but it's fantastic. What an incredible beer. It's just right for the style. I'd drink this all the time if I could.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.89/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer pours an opaque used motor oil black color. The head is half an inch in height, and recedes quickly into a ring of lacing. The aroma is of milk and dark chocolate, graham cracker, toffee, vanilla, and is rather prominent. The taste is full of roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, toffee, graham cracker, and hints of coffee. The mouthfeel is full bodied with appropriately low carbonation, and a velvety texture. Overall, this is one of the best RIS I have had. I really like the fact that it isn't overly hoppy the way a lot of American made RIS tend to be. If this were available to me locally it would be one of my go to stouts.

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

12oz bottle poured into Bell's tulip and consumed yesterday, 3/10/13 and going off of notes from previous consumption from approx. 1 month ago.

Aroma: Smells great, got a ton of chocolate malt and coffee notes. Roast character typical of big stouts also jump out here. Very pleasing and pungent nose. (4.25)

Colour: Pours thick jet black, really viscous. Not a ton of light gets through when I illuminate. Poured aggressively with a thick, 2cm brown head that dissipates in less than 30 seconds. Laces are thick but don't stick for long. I can recognize that its definitely a RIS for sure. (4)

Flavour: Really, really, really nice. Perfect winter sipper. Strong chocolate and roasted malt giving me cocoa, caramel, and a hint of espresso. Very much full of flavour. Gives off quite a bit of heat as it warms up which can be nice depending on when it's being quaffed. This time, it's perfect for a wet Wisconsin winter evening. (4.5)

Mouthfeel: Thick bodied, one of the thicker stouts I've had- it feels like pure motor oil. Well done Dark Horse. Also, carbonation is solid for the style and it leaves a smooth, resinous mouthfeel as I swish it around and swallow. I really like the feel of this beer a lot. (5)

Overall: Well done Dark Horse. I love the combination of the flavours and the mouthfeel. It really puts the malts out up front, and its still hoppy enough to balance it out while the entire combination goes down smoothly. The appearance and smell take second fiddle to the flavour and mouthfeel for sure. I'd like to try the BBPt5 just to see how much the mouthfeel improves! But in those departments I don't see much room for improvement- it's that good. I want to call this my RIS for the really dark, cold nights while Founders RIS is more of whenever I feel like a RIS. (4.25)

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Photo of jera1350
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Viscous black with a head that nearly matches it in color and also fades very fast.

Chocolate, molasses, lots of roasted malt, nice hop presence. Also getting a real faint belgian yeast smell out of this.

Big toasted malt flavor with a fairly large coffee presence and light chocolate and banana taste. Nice hop snap too. Roasty and hoppy aftertaste is pleasant.

Big bodied and smooth. Maybe just a shy thin for the body, but by no means way off. Finishes very dry.

Awesome drinkability at this ABV. An absolute solid RIS. Really worth trying.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.24/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a dark, engine oil black with a toffee colored head the quickly dies off to leave a a nice toffee colored lacing, sticky with legs as it clings to the glass.

A - Dark roasted chocolate/cocoa, black anise, light oak, and light smoke.

T - Dark roasted chocolate, coffee, some oak character, light smokey char, anise/licorice, and light sweetness that finishes with a char/dark chocolate roast bitterness.

M - Thick, full bodied, viscous, velvety on the tongue, sticky on the lips.

O - A very well brewed stout and every bit as worthy.

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

Pours a jet black color with a tight creamy milk chocolate colored head. The head poured big and fluffy and slowly settled into a solid cap.

The aroma is quite roasty. Big roasted malt with some anise, dark chocolate, and charred wood. Some caramel and milk sugar notes provide some sweetness. Nice earthy aroma.

Taste mirrors that aroma and then some. Big roasted malt flavor, that brings some anise and boozy dark fruit notes. The next wave brings some dark chocolate, coffee grounds and charred wood. Dark caramel provides some sweetness. Slight tea like sourness as well.

The feel is moderate to well bodied with quite soft carbonation. Starts off sweet on the palate but is nicely balanced with roasted bitterness. The finish is bitter and sticky. It is a bit lighter than expected but it is very smooth. Drinks quite nice. The ABV is well hidden for the most part. Perhaps a touch of heat.

A very good earthy RIS.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Older bottle (old white and gray/black label). from trade with jrgratz. Thanks ya! Pours thick jet black with dark brown small head. Big roasty aroma balanced by some dark fruit and anise. Big furry mouthfeel with adequate carbonation. Big bittersweet chocolate taste, roasty malt, sweet molasses. Really awesome and like this better than the fresh BA version I had. Lingering cocoa on the palate. Big stout on the sweet side and very nice.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.


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