Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe 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.

832 Reviews
no score

(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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 832 | Hads: 3,553
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 mdfb79
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my Duvel tulip. Received as an extra from wunderbeer in a trade, big thanks Ron, I've been wanting to try this one!

a - Pours a jet black color with one inch of tan head and light carbonation evident. No lacing and the head only lasts for a minute.

s - Smells of cocoa, bitter chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, and roasted malts.

t - Tastes of bitter chocolate and coffee, dark fruits, roasted malts, vanilla, and a little alcohol.

m - Full bodied stout with moderate carbonation, this beer is very smooth and creamy; goes down great.

d - A very good RIS. I really liked the smell and mouthfeel. Wish the taste was a little less bitter but still very good. Would definitely like to try it again and would love to try the barrel aged version.

 777 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at Sheffield's for the Dark Side of Oz event. Served in a half-pint glass.

A - A half finger of dark mocha foam with good retention and lacing. Tar black with no hints of color at the edges (although it was pretty dark in the bar, so I could be wrong).

S - Roasty bitterness, boozy. This brew had a surprisingly small bouquet, even after I let it warm up a bit. It just did not smell all that interesting.

T - The taste is huge - loads of roast malts, dark fruits, and chocolate. Nowhere near as bitter as it smelled, although there is a mounting bitterness in the aftertaste. The half-pint serving kept it from getting to be too much. Not boozy in the slightest.

M - Medium body, lighter than I expected. Low carbonation, with lots of residual stickiness. It needs a little more viscosity to support such an otherwise big beer.

D - Surprisingly drinkable for a 12% brew. I can see the bitterness getting a little overwhelming, but otherwise it's pretty easy going - low carbonation and well-hidden ABV.

 1,024 characters

Photo of chinchill
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark Horse Plead the 5th on tap at the Beer Trappe in Lexington

Near black and opaque in the glass, with dark brown showing at the edges.  Durable head but little lacing. 

Great aroma!  Rich and moderately complex, it suggests great flavor.  The flavor doesn't quite keep up but is outstanding. 
ABV well hidden in the nose, in the flavor, and in the feel.

Full body; smooth.

 383 characters

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

I got this one as an extra in a recent trade with spycow. Poured into a dogfish imperial pint.

A - Pours jet black with a big two finger tall tan head leaving small wisps of lacing down the glass.

S - Smells of dark chocolate, dark roasted malt, molasses, vanilla, oak, and some light hop bitterness. This is what you expect when you hear RIS.

T - Starts off with a big dose of dark roast quickly giving way to a mix of sweet dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses, and the faintest hint of hop bitterness at the very end. The creamy feel really helps to bring it all together. The finish is a mix of chocolaty sweetness and dark roast, lingering for some time.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Rich, creamy, feel with plenty of dark roast in the finish. The booze begins to creep in more and more as it warms to room temperature.

O - I really liked this one. It had all the typical flavors you would expect from a RIS but what really made it better was the creamy feel as it really helped to bring it all together. Good stuff.

 1,048 characters

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

Shared by yourefragile recently along side the bourbon barrel plead the fifth, these beers don't especially resemble each other.

Beer is black, with a thin lazy head of small tan bubbles, halos the snifter, no lacing, low carbonation.

Aroma is mildly sweet, mildly bitter, mildly ashy, a little roast.

Beer is medium in body and quite bitter on the finish. Not as sweet as I thought it was going to be on the palate from the nose, the lead off is a little malt syrup, medium body, the beer thins at the back and finishes moderately bitter from the roast. Nice beer overall though.

 583 characters

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.

 1,001 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my new Cigar City snifter! Big thanks to Jparkanzky for this bottle.

A: Pours an oily black color, extremely dark. Despite a rather forceful pour, only a very little bit of tan foam formed and quickly dissipated, leaving behind a ring of foam around the outer edge. Some lace forms when I take a sip, but is gone just as fast.

S: Lots of rich dark chocolate upfront, very sweet and inviting. There are hints of vanilla, caramel, and some molasses.

T: Again, lots of dark chocolate, which dominates the flavor profile. It is not as sweet as the aroma, which I am actually happy about. Underneath the chocolate there is a good bit of molasses, a little vanilla, and slight roasted malt flavor.

M: Medium to full bodied, rich and creamy with a nice level of carbonation. No sign of 12% at all, very well hidden.

O: A really nice RIS, very drinkable for the abv. A very tasty beer, well done Dark Horse.

 921 characters

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

On draft at Capone's in Philadelphia.

The beer is black with a thick, beige head that plasters the glass in lacing. Can't ask for more than that. The aroma is of roast, oak, chocolate, and alcohol. The flavor is extremely roasty, with a slightly burned malt character. The feel is full bodied, with alcohol presence there, but not overwhelming. Good stuff.

 357 characters

Photo of tdm168
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to jtd1969 for sharing this one with me

A - pitch black with a short, brown head that has good retention

S - licorice, anise, chocolate, roasted malts

T - roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, licorice, dark fruit, mildly bitter, warming alcohol

M - full bodied, smooth, well carbonated

This is a fantastic beer that has an immensely deep, complex flavor. I am really impressed with this one. Each sip offered just a little something more from the great malt character. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer, and I look forward to trying it again.

 548 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours an inky black color with a brown head. The aroma has a lot of roasted malt, as well as some chocolate. The flavor is a little more complex. There is definitely a good dose of chocolate and roasted malt, but the dark fruit and alcohol also come through and add to the flavor. Thick mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A very nice stout, glad I got to try it.

 413 characters

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.

 1,455 characters

Photo of billab914
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Portsmouth tulip glass. It poured pitch black with one of the darkest chocolate heads I've ever seen on a beer. The head retreated to the edges of the glass where it left just a bit of lacing as I drank it.

The aroma has a big dark chocolate and brown sugar presence to it. Roasted malts with a touch of burntness come through in it as well. Very flavorful and appealing beer overall.

The taste shows more bitterness with bitter chocolate coming through at first. It turns to more of a roasted, burnt bitterness towards the finish. It leaves a nice bitter-sweet, dark chocolate lingering after the finish. Very nice flavor overall.

The mouthfeel is thick and heavy with low carbonation. Pretty much exactly the way I like my big stouts. Drinkability is good, it had some great flavors to it and was a pleasure to sip on this evening. A very enjoyable beer overall.

 902 characters

Photo of smakawhat
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass.

Comes out just jet black. Sits on a very dark black body. Leaves some dark cocoa powder like bubbles of a small head but doesn't stick around. Manages to leave a collar and lots of leg action on the glass.

Bouquet is a very barleywine like with sweet raspberry fruit. Small hints of dark chocolate in the back, and some powdery dry arid sensations.

Taste is a real soft berry and chocolate. It feels like berry chocolate. This is very light bodied too and feels incredibly balanced. Slight tinges of tobacco on the swallow also with a good deal of masked abv quality. Kind of a dry finish also sort of hinting that at first from what the nose felt like. A little thin but surprising. Hints of smoke and chocolate too.

Overall it's quite enjoyable actually, interesting take for such a big abv.

 848 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.82/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not sure why this is marked as retired, I have a 12 oz bottle of this brew.

Pours with hardly any carbonation at all and absolutely no head. This beer is pitch black in color and quite viscous looking as I pour it. The aroma smells quite fruity with notes of burnt figs and burnt prunes. These are joined by notes of burnt grain, and roasted coffee as well as some subtle notes of boozy alcohol. I would have to say that rich, concentrated malt notes and chocolate dominate the aroma, it is not nearly as roasty as I was expecting.

The beer is pretty darn thick and viscous as it hits my tongue. It is also lightly sweet, which is accentuated by the complete lack of carbonation. Notes of dark chocolate up front compete with a roasted grain note in the finish. The beer has a certain smooth bitterness in the finish that is also contributed by the roasted malt. The roast note certainly reminds me of black coffee. Notes of fruit are also here with notes of burnt raisins and burnt concentrated plum. There is a bit of a chalky, slightly bitter chocolate note in the middle of this beer.

This beer is pretty nice, but I can't help but think that at least a slight level of carbonation would have made this beer quite a bit better (in both its aromatic and flavor qualities). In fact this beer would be approaching stellar if it was a bit carbonated.

 1,359 characters

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

12 ounce bottle - 2014 version

Pours near black, lasting dark mocha head

Black coffee and chocolate all over the nose

More of the same as this crusher flows over the palate. Waves of dark chocolate and coffee. Dense and flavorful. I'd like to dry it with a chocolate dessert. World class night capper

 306 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 Mebuzzard
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A fine beer from Dark Horse right m'here. Thanks to gklover1 for this baby.

Looks fantastic. Just about black, rich pour. Off-brown, dark milkshake, coffee head. Looks a bit like BA Yeti.

Pleasant rounded aroma of black leather, some nice soy, coffee beans, toasted caramel, baked chocolate. Some dark fruits and toffee.

Flavor follows the aroma . Well balanced between the coffee, chocolate, toffee and black fruits. Some grassy hops and soy underneath. ABV is well hidden here. This a rich, but not overwhelming, beer. Slight bite on the end that lets the fruits snap away and the malt to linger a bit. Somewhat smoky.

 625 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Inky black pour with almost nothing of a head. When I finish pouring, there are some mocha bubbles, but nothing else. A swirl produces decent legs, but it doesn't look that viscous.

Smell - Hops. Lots of hops for a stout. No real sweetness in the smell. Booze is the second most predominant smell. Chocolate malt in the back, but it's a lot of hops and alcohol.

Taste - Wow, it tastes amazing. Hops temper any sweetness that's there. Behind that is all chocolate and coffee. Maybe even some plum flavor. Delicious. Bitter finish, but it's appropriate and nearly perfect. Boozy finish.

Mouthfeel - Not as thick as I'd expect. I enjoy a chewy stout, but this isn't quite that. It makes it easier to drink in regards to the body. The booze is still apparent, but I suppose it's tough to ignore 12% ABV.

Overall - I love this stout. The flavors are nearly perfect. Looks awful and doesn't smell anywhere near as good as it tastes, but damn it's good.

 1,001 characters

Photo of tempest
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Liberty St for $5/pint. Appeared pitch black with a brown cascading head. Damn, this is rich stout. Still, it wasn't cloying or too thick to have more than a few ounces like DFH World Wide Stout. It has a big chocolate cake taste that reminds me of 3F Dark Lord - though smoother and not quite as complex. This beer might benefit from a little more cellaring, it's just not as flavorful as the great imperial stouts. Still, it's fairly drinkable for the style and makes for a good dessert beer. Vanilla ice cream anyone?

 530 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark Horse : Plead the 5th

Pours a dark oily black with a tan mocha head and some foam. Aroma full of roasted malts, vanilla, cocoa nibs and espresso. Well rounded roasted malt flavor, follows the nose with some cocoa and coffee flavors. Hop character is earthy and minimal. Alcohol well hidden. Overall, I really liked this stout, drank very easily for its size. Recommended.

 377 characters

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

Saw a four pack of this the other day and it jumped into my lap and rode home with me.
Pours a solid black with a minimal tan head that dissipates quickly a leaves no lace. Smells of licorice, molasses, bitter dark chocolate, dried dark cherries covered in vodka, a bit earthy herbal hops in there somewhere too. Taste is tart dark fruit drenched in dark chocolate and dipped in rum or vodka. Espresso and an earthy hop bit round this one out. Leaves a lingering roasted grain char mixed with some sweetness that linger long after every sip. I'm kind of amazed that the depth of flavors in this brew meld together so well. Sweet sticky almost syrupy mouthfeel. Light level of carbonation and a thick body. I really enjoyed this one. Really thick and sweet but incredibly tasty. Shit I'm thinking about pouring this over some vanilla ice cream in a few.

 852 characters

Photo of dcmchew
4.4/5  rDev +4%

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

 1,080 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received as part of the Black Booty BIF. Pours black with a thin head that settles to a ring. Smells of coffee and bitter chocolate, with a slightly roasty and milk chocolate finish. Impressive taste, a choclate explosion with wonderful bitter chocolate, some berry notes, both long and delicious. Later some cinammon and a big hit of coffee make an appearance. The mouthfeel is long and super smooth. Utterly delicious, this is a great beer.

 442 characters

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

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a very dark, oil-like black coloring with a thin, low profile, dense, light tan colored head. Aromas of dark, bittersweet chocolate, black cherry, peat and earthy tones, and a touch of ginger. Pretty interesting nose. Flavors are heavily roasted, with a warm, cocoa and sweet chocolate backbone supporting a touch of bitter coffee and some subtle fruit sweet highlights. Rich and smooth in mouth...almost creamy. Bitter and creamy aftertaste, with hints of baker's chocolate and a hint of booze. Rich, smooth finish, with a slight bitter linger. Very solid, robust brew.

 619 characters

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