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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: 3,575
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 drxandy
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz to snifter, pours a deep dark opaque black, deep brown head fades to lacing

smells of roasty malts, bitter chocolate, alcohol

tastes of bakers chocolate, bitter, roasty peaty earth, sweet lactose? maybe flaked grains?, heavy and sweet, hop resins linger, malts are blended well, reminds me more of an american double with the amount of hops, but could be a young bottle - mmm

mouthfeel is heavy roasty lingering bitterness, rich and thick, yum

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

From notes on 12/26/10. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a clear pint glass. Thanks to my sister-in-law from Ohio for bringing out on her trip to CA for Christmas.

A-Pours a deep, dark brown almost black hue with a scant one finger, creamy tan head with good retention and adequate lacing.

S-Deep, dark chocolate and toasted malts and dark dried fruits. Also some vanilla, and booze. The smell is very nice.

T-Close to matching the aroma. Quite as expected for style with dark chocolate, dark fruits, vanilla, and alcohol. Better than I expected.

M-Robust, smooth, but a tad thin due to under carbonation.

D-Very good for a RIS, but not great. I like this and wish it were available in the PNW since offered as a single 12 oz. bottle.

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Photo of drumrboy22
3.92/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz. bottle into Great Divide Yeti chalice. Beer was thick and jet black, with no head. Very little carbonation and no lacing.

Aroma was chocolate, coffee, bitter hops, dark fruit, licorice, molasses and burnt grains.

Taste was chocolate, vanilla, coffee, cherries and burnt grains. Very good, but just a tad thin.

Nice beer and great to get as an extra in trade.

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

Jet black with a fizzy, brown head that quickly dissipates, leaving some trace patches. And ring around the perimeter.
Smell is fairly smokey, with some dark chocolate. There is a dark berry presence as well--perhaps boysenberry or blueberry. Some faint, roasted malts on the end.
Nice, smokey malts, with some faint dark chocolate. Again, there's a faint berry presence, but I can't quite call it...a slightly creamy finish.
Mouthfeel is smooth and silky. Medium body. Faint bitterness.
This one is quite drinkable. The alcohol content is amazingly well-hidden, and the smell and taste is exceptional.

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Photo of mchegash
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - 3.75/5
Pitch black, very little head however, just a very thin layer of medium brown head which almost immediately dissipates down to a thin ring around the edge of the glass

Smell - 3.75/5
Alcohol is the dominant scent, with some dark malts, chocolate/cocoa notes. Dark fruits, perhaps a bourbon-esque alcohol quality.

Taste - 3.75/5
Smoky, sweet, earthy malts. Strong cocoa notes in the aftertaste. Some dark fruit, a little metallic tinge and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - 4/5
Medium-full body. Medium-light carbonation. Smooth and crisp.

Overall - 4/5
Overall this was a decent beer. I liked the cocoa notes and the smooth feel. I would have liked more foam, for the aroma to be less boozy, and for the taste to be less metallic and earthy.

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Photo of Bone53
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pretty much black with a light brown head that quickly dissipates.

Smell: Dark fruits, roasted/chocolate malts, caramelized sugar, alcohol. Not as robust as i had hoped

Taste: Dark fruits upfront, roasted malts and slight chocolate mid palate, with a hoppy finish. My favorite RIS has a rich espresso-like finish, and this doesnt have that.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and very thin for a RIS. Although i get a touch of the alcohol, it goes down too easy. I expect a beer in this style to be viscous and chewy, and this doesnt give me that satisfaction. Also a bit of bitterness on the finish

Overall: I think this beer is overrated to be quite honest with you. It has a decent amount of the roasted malt, chocolate qualities you want in an imperial stout, but its not up there with Founders IS, Expedition, Ten Fidy, or even Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout in my opinion. I found the mouthfeel to be lacking as well as its very thin and not as luscious as a beer in this style should be. Still a solid RIS and should cellar well

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Photo of fscottkey
3.89/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: [4.00] Looks jet black in the glass. I get no light penetration. It has a brown head that looks creamy and delicious. The head is much more brown than most stouts. Unfortunately it dissipates quickly. The ABV is on the label (11%). There was a bottled date but it is smudged almost completely off.

S: [3.75] Dark fruits. Plums. Some alcohol. Maybe a hint of smoke and malts.

T: [3.75] Does not follow the nose. Smokey malts. Chocolate. Some booze.

M: [4.50] The body is medium+. It is chewy and nice. There is a bit of alcohol astringency on the finish that makes it feel a little dry and tight.

O: [4.00] I held on to this one for a while - waiting for a good opportunity to try it. I was not blown away (maybe my expectations got too high). It is a solid beer. The flavor is really good. The mouthfeel is great. At 11% the alcohol is only poking in just a bit. I would probably not actively seek this out again. There are lower ABV beers that I prefer.

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

Received in local trade from Barfwin.
Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter.

Aroma: Rich, dark, molasses maltiness up front. This maltiness floods the nostrils with each whiff. Some fruity grape jam notes with some cocoa.

Appearance: Pitch black opaque body. Forms dark brown 1/2 finger head, which depletes to almost nothing very quickly.

Flavor: Rich, dark chocolate brownie, light sweetness balanced w/ cocoa bitterness. Dark fruity notes similar to aroma. Some grape soda. Slight earthiness noted on finish.

Mouthfeel: Full body. Thick, syrupy viscosity. Medium CO2 w/ more bite than normal for this style.

Overall: Definitely worthy of the praise this one receives. Chewy, malty, rich, imperial stout. Alcohol is well hidden. Thick, rich viscosity is one of my favorite aspects of this brew!

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

Straight from the pour, you can tell this one's gonna be a heavy-hitter. Total black with a dark brown head. Mild head at first, but before long it recedes completely and gives the beer a thick, flat appearance. Heavy and intense looking.

Good profile on this one. Dark chocolate, licorice, molasses and roasted malts. Lingers on the aftertaste a bit, but not offensive. Thick and chewy mouthfeel.

This is a pretty solid stout. I enjoyed the pure "heaviness" of this beer, but it seemed to come up just short of epic in my opinion. Damn good beer, though.

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Photo of bound4er
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Jet black appearance with a thin, tan head. Smells rich, sweet and fruity for an impy stout - dark chocolate, vanilla and bubblegum come to mind. Taste follows the nose with more chocolate, vanilla and tutti frutti sweetness. Both alcohol and hops are well hidden though the former is good but the latter is not in my book. Rich and creamy mouthfeel with almost no carbonation. This beer is rich and tasty but its sweetness and lack of any detectable hops to clean up the finish makes it a bit tiring to finish a 12 oz. bottle in one sitting.

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Photo of SWMeyer4141
3.72/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Originally planned on reviewing The Abyss for review 200 but didn't know if I could handle the bomber, so it may have to wait for 300....or hell, 201. Anyway, I'm been sitting on this beer for a while and decided lets go for the Plead the Fifth.

Review 200, poured into snifter...2011 Vintage

Appearance-Holy motor oil. Dark as can be, viscous looking. About a one finger dark brown head, you can just tell this is gonna be boozy. No retention or lacing as expected.

Smell-Dark chocolate, lots of it. Along with some booze, almost rum like. Vanilla, light licorice, slightly floral and nutty. Each whiff is different and have no idea what to expect from this one.

Taste-BIG booze. Taste is really refects the aroma with a vodka like taste, and after 2 sips I can feel it. Dark chocolate upfront with some cherries and vanilla. I feel like more flavors are trying to creep through as well, just not fully working with the alcohol.

Mouthfeel-Full bodied, moderate carbonation...and booze.

Overall-If this beer mellows out it could immediately become an A beer. The flavors are amazing, just wasn't fully ready.

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Photo of blakelive784
4.07/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to maximum12 for this extra!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Alewatcher for the opportunity to try this one.

A: Dark as night. Slight mocha head that dissapates quickly leaving a tan ring.

S: Nice chocolate, dark fruit, sweetness.

T: Surprised that there's a little bit of a coffee here as I didn't pick it up in the nose. The chocolate and dark fruit are there of course as well as a spicey quality of some kind towards the end of the sip. Leaves a great chocolate taste. Hard to pick up the alcohol which is nice.

M: Smooth and creamy. Very good.

D: As I mentioned in the taste portion, the 12.00%ABV is hardly present making this an amazingly drinkable beer considering the alcohol level.

I looked forward all day to having a beer after work and I'm really glad I chose Plead The 5th. Thanks again Jeff.

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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!

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Photo of jdklks
3.92/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Tyson for this one.

pours thick and black with a DARK brown head, like a mix between milk and dark chocolate, that swiftly vanishes, bubbling lightly as it goes. very thick, looks good. The smell eminating from the bottle upon opening promised me a truly "aromatic" experience; and when poured, it doesn't disappoint. hints of both chocolate and vanilla, with an undertone of bourbon/alcohol complimented by a trace of wood (oak?).

the flavor borrows all those attributes of the smell, but descends upon the palate with an undesirable sweetness reminiscent of blueberries. That same sweetness gives way to a bitter burnt coffee aftertaste that, though not bad at all, could be more impressive. not as complex as it would have you hope from its smell, which could be attributed to the intensity of the sweetness up front and the burnt bitterness at the end. huge alcohol burn on the way down, and though it isn't all that unpleasant, it doesn't add anything to the beer. let this beer age and cool down a bit.

I might as well be eating this with a spoon; the thickness is ridiculously awesome, and if it wasn't for the fact that it is slightly over-carbonated, the mouthfeel would certainly warrant a 5. a slight burn going down warms up your whole body, which isn't so surprising considering the 12%

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Photo of glazeman
4.69/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Split with airohead2001. I looked all over southern Michigan and could not find this beer, even though it's from Michigan. Then, when I head up to Milwaukee, there it was. Glad, to have finally found this one.

A: Opaque black with a half finger tan head. Not too much head retention, but it does have a nice crown. Some lacing, but not as much as I would have liked.

S: The first thing I thought of when I smelled this is smores by the campfire...superb. Upon further inspection I get coffee, vanilla, and some sweet fruits.

T: Not as rich as other RISs, but oh so wonderfully complex. It's sweet to start, sour in the middle, and has a wonderful coffee, toast, and chocolate finish. The sweet/sour notes I get in the beginning/middle are of cherries and raspberries. As good as it gets, taste wise.

M: The antithesis of darklord as far as mouthfeel goes. This one is thin and light. At first I thought this was a bad thing, but for some reason it works well with the taste. Also, the thinness adds to the drinkability and makes it feel even better in the summer heat.

D: Out of this world. Probably the most drinkable RIS I have ever had. Alcohol is 100% hidden the flavors are robust and delicious, and the feel is light and makes for easy drinking. If you haven't tried this one you defiantly should.

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Photo of stxSS07
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle

A- Pours opaque black with a rich brown 2 finger head. Darkest head I've encountered on a stout

S- Ridiculous. Chocolate, cherries, roasted malt, figs, dark fruit.

T- Bitterness and roastiness up front from the malt, dark chocolate and dark fruits follow up and fill the mouth with flavor. Alcohol burn on the end cleans the palate and gets you ready for the next sip.

M- This is the blueprint for a perfect RIS. Coats the mouth with a smooth blanket of flavor, but the carbonation comes along to clean it up. Fantastic.

O- Probably the best RIS I've had to date. Drinks amazing for a 12% beer. Will buy all I can get my hands on.

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Photo of lurpy1
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Irony of ironies: After working in Michigan and unsuccessfully pursuing PT5, I find it back home in Minnesota. OK, so maybe I wasn't pursuing it that hard, still makes for a good lead-in.

Shared with the wife, poured from the bottle. My first impression: Oil spill. Plead the 5th gloops around in the glass, leaves a West Texas Crude sludge behind.

One whiff lets you know PT5 means business, the smell is strong on the alcohol, along with malt, coffee, yadda yadda.

The taste has a little bit too much alcoholic burn for me to give it a great score, but still a very tasty beer with a nice balance of carbonation and viscosity.

Very good beer, glad I finally made contact with it.

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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.



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Photo of breakingbland
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle. Opaque brown with a scant brown ring of foam. The aroma is candy sweet and roasty. The taste is like the aroma with the roasty character coming to the forefront. This overall flavor is very rich and savory -- almost smoky. The hops are well-balanced with the sweet/roasty. Even though this is an RIS, the alcohol is hidden. The aftertaste is mainly roasty malt with some hops. This beer feels wonderful in the mouth: full body and smooth carbonation.

Overall, this is another great offering from Dark Horse. It definitely bumps stout up a notch or two. Will look for it again!

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Photo of tjkinate
4.26/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to millerbuffoon for this one.

A: Very subtle head with only little retention settling to a thin ring. Just one shade below black dark brown bodied brew. No lacing to speak of.

S: Molasses, dark fruits, hint of caramel, milk chocolate, quite robust vanilla notes.

T: Like the smell, but drier than expected. Strong molasses and bitter flavors, dark fruits, nice vanilla backbone. Really mellows out and improves as the beer warms.

M: Medium bodied for the style, slightly under carbonated.

O: Great beer that I have been wanting to try for sometime now. Now I just the BA version!

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Photo of bs870621345
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Second time having this, better(?) on tap.

Pours jet black with a mocha colored head and minimal lacing. Looks like a stout should.

I get a lot of fruit, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, vanilla, and almost an oak like smell. It is not barrel aged but its got a few characteristics of such.

Taste is very much like the smell. Chocolate dipped dark fruits with some vanilla and coffee mixed in. Seems like there are some spices as well. Alcohol is rather prevalent, but it is a really big beer.

Mouthfeel is thick, creamy, oily, and delicious. Lingers for a long time.

Overall, this is damn good. It brings to mind Lost Abbey Angel's share, but a hell of a lot better value.

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Photo of mtnbikerpa
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle with a slow pour gave little head. Near black in color. Somewhat of a char-coal smell, hints of chocolate. Silky smooth, not heavy mouth feel. Plenty of coco, roasted flavors to cover the high alcohol. I left over smokey flavor in the end. Overall a very tastey easy to drink brew.

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Photo of Qbdoo
4.76/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

From a bottle, pours black as night with hardly any head (despite three tries), though what you get is a dark tan.

Scent is not powerful: roasted malt, coffee.

Taste: roasted malt, coffee, a little chocolate, There's just a bit of booze, but not too much. There are Russian imperial stouts that have too much, but this - despite 11% abv, is just right.

Mouthfeel is unbelievable: thick, creamy with a light carbonation. Probably the best mouthfeel of any stout, maybe any beer.

This may be my new favorite beer. Wish it were more readily available.

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Photo of HosP
4.57/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got a couple bottle from kstrickler. Poured into snifter.

A- Pours thick black. Very little head to this, but still looks very nice!

S- Very nice nose. Bold aromas starting with chocolate and coffee. Some vanilla hints at the end with a nice roasted aroma. Just a bit of booze detected but pretty subtle.

T- Starts with a nice bit chocolate burst, a little bitterness to it as well. Mild coffee flavors supports the beer well. Some sweet vanilla flavors and a bit of dark fruit flavors round out the drink.

M- Full body and little carbonation.

O- Very solid and tasty beer. Nothing I can say bad about it, very much enjoyed it. Would LOVE to try the BA version of this. If not, would drink this anytime. Thanks Kyle!

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