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

Poured from bottle into Riedel whisky glass.

Appearance: Pours pitch black with caramel colored head. Head dissipates quickly, hardly any lacing.

Smell: The smell is quite nice. Notes of heavy roast, figs, ripe fruit, molasses. Alcohol comes through slightly.

Taste: Real nice roast at first followed by bitter chocolate. Dark malt and coffee are washed away by a very pleasant licorice finish.

Mouth: Chewy, good amount of carbonation, yet is silky smooth. Great amount of puckering hop at the end.

Drink and overall: Really enjoyed this beer. Very drinkable, quality impy. I had never had it before, so this was a treat. Would I buy it over Expedition Stout if it were same price, for a while yes.

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

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a beer mug.

Appearance: Pours pitch-black in a nearly-molasses fashion. Head is a super-dark tan color, and recedes to about a 2mm coating on the surface of the beer. Leaves what looks like exception lacing (except I filled the beer to the top of the glass...haha, we'll have to wait and see).

Smell: Lots of toasted caramel and toffee malt flavor going on here. Then, a medium-dark chocolate tone which rings loudly. Espresso beans dot the scented canvas, and perhaps just a touch of spice is thrown in at the end for good measure. Almost no detectable alcohol. This is shaping up to be a winner!

Taste/Mouthfeel: Beer goes in thickly, and quickly begins to carbonate on the tongue. Flavors flash repeatedly, interwoven with each other and yet set apart from all other flavors. A light sourness from what I assume are the hops is perfectly balanced with the chewy malt character and upper-crust espresso. Calming everything down is a strong (but not cloying) milk chocolate vibe. Beer finishes strongly, and leaves a strong aftertaste of chocolate and coffee. Another sip? Don't mind if I do.

Overall: At 12% ABV, this drinks like a pilsner (in terms of quaffability). Simply outstanding brew. I am a fan of RIS's, and this one fits into the category splendidly. GOOD job, Dark Horse.

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

A: Super dark brown. Nearly black.
S: Roasty and coffee smells.
T: Pretty smooth a little sharpness but it blends in quite well. A really strong coffee flavor in this one.
M: Certainly an imperial stout that can sit around. The alcohol didn't seem to present itself and it sat very nicely.

Overall a good showing on the style. It didn't have the same appearance as say Founders Imperial but I think this brew controlled the high alcohol significantly better.

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

Pours an extremely rich deep dark opaque black color with a nice firm mocha brown head. Chocolate, cherry and molasses on the nose. Taste is pretty boozey for a non- BA stout but nice dark rich fruit notes come through on the front. Despite the huge malt bill this stout finishes with nice hoppy bitterness. Very interesting and complex stout.

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Photo of jwhawkins81
3.14/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Aroma - Roasted malts and a coffee bitterness

Appearance - Brown head that quickly fades. The beer itself poured a very dark color without much carbonation.

Taste - Coffee bitter with a sweet roasty backbone. Not as smooth as I would have liked. The bitterness was a little harsh in contrast to the other flavors in the beer.

Notes - Maybe it was because I wasn't in the mood for a big stout like this but I wasn't a fan of this beer. I put the other three in the cellar and expect better things from them in a years time.

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Photo of Franz4
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Looks like a stout should with a brown sugar colored head.

S- Roasty and chocolately here, closer to milk chocolate than dark, very nice, slightly hot.

T- Chocolaty goodness and lots of roasted flavors come through, very complex, a little nutty. Very nice

M- thick and slick, just what I want in a stout.

O- Usually I give an overall score based on the scores that I've given in the 4 categories, but this beer brings everything together exceptionally well. I'd like to do a side by side with Ten Fidy, I'm not sure I could tell the difference. Quite a good brew, this one will likely be harder to find next year.

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

Thanks to sweemzander for hooking me up with this one.

Poured out a jet black with a thin brown head that quickly dissipated.

Smelled of chocolate, coffee, alcohol and kind of earthy.

The alcohol is present and the sweetness and bitterness almost fight for taste space. A bit of a wooden character to it, almost like a roasted, smoky wood or malt. There's a lot that takes place in each sip of this beer.

This beer is thick and syrupy and fills your mouth. You're really drinking something here, its not just washing past your mouth to your throat.

This beer was tasty but one for the night was good enough. There's a lot of flavor and a decent amount of alcohol so its not one to take lightly.

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Photo of Mavigo
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Got this off tap at Crunchy's in East Lansing. Was served in a snifter.

A: is a deep brooding, opaque black color with burgundy tinges with a short milk chocolate colored head with good amounts of lacing.

S: Voluptuous aroma, rich milk chocolate, barley, malts, coffee, brown sugars, dark fruits

T: Incredible taste, very sweet, a bit heavy, rich chocolate, toffee, coffee, malts, yeast, had a sort of tang to it, oh but it was smooth and rich, ABV is well masked

M: heavy full body along with medium amounts of carbonation, very rich and robust, viscous flavor

O: Overall, I bought this on a limb, it just sounded good and it was damn good. I recommend it for sure.

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Photo of justinp444
4.62/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a tulip glass this beer pours a rich foamy chocolate head with a dark black body. Smell is of chocolate and coffee with a large amount of malt and dried fruit. Taste is chocolate with tons of malt and dried fruit, not overly sweet but more earthy hops bitter & malt sweetness on the back end with a sharp tongue coating entrance.

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Photo of eclipse54
3.97/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 ounce bottle I received for winning rowingbrewer's "Guess My Stats" LIF. He sent me this "want," for which I'm very grateful. Poured into a DFH signature glass...

Pours completely black with about an inch of brown head; the head consists of thousands (millions?) of miniscule bubbles that, for some particular reason, I'm finding rather fascinating to examine at the moment. Unfortunately, they don't hang around for long, quickly dissipating to a ring around the lateral edge of the liquid's surface. Minimal (at the time of writing, a lone patch) lacing is left behind.

Also of intrigue, the sediment from the base of the bottle left an intricate pattern on the bottom of the snifter during the pour. The aroma is of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, roasted malt, cane sugar, and some coffee. It is very inviting, and the taste is a great host that follows through with all the promised flavors: caramel, molasses, vanilla, coffee, sugar, and some warming alcohol on the finish. Excitedly, the alcohol is very well hidden. I was quite surprised to see that this was 12% ABV.

The mouth is rich, but not overly so, and finishes with a bit of a sugary, sticky resin. Overall, a delicious, highly drinkable RIS that I'm very happy to have tried.

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Photo of Spica66
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12oz bottle into glass.

A: Extremely dark pour. Very thin head, some retention.

S: Dark, roasty. Some caramel. No hops.

T: sweet on the tip of the tongue to start. Flavors of coffee and dark chocolate finish. Extremely good tasting.

M: Light body for an RIS, but that keeps the stickiness away. I actually like the combination.

D: No way in the world you would know this is 12%! It is, by far, the most drinkable RIS I have ever tasted.

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

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

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

Thanks to kstrickler for the extra!

A: Pours almost pitch black with hints of light on the edges, revealing trails of carbonation making their way up through the beer. Head is approximately one finger of fizzy, mocha colored foam that quickly settles down to a thin layer capping the beer.

S: Strong semisweet chocolate up front, followed by moderate roasted notes with some coffee lurking therein, vanilla, and some dark fruits - cherries mostly. The chocolate is dominant, but not quite overpowering.

T: Boozy notes up front, but dark chocolate overtakes fairly quickly. Dark fruits - cherries, raisins, and plums - come in on the mid-palate along with roasted malts and coffee, before giving way to a finish of vanilla and cocoa.

M: Thick and chewy with low carbonation, it coats the mouth on the way down and leaves a long finish.

D: The ABV and long finish keep it to sipping, but it's by no means a tough drinker.

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Photo of timc100
4.51/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 batch

Beautiful pitch black beer, surprisingly minimal and fizzy burnt mocha head. Decadent aroma of milk chocolate and vanilla sweetness, dark stone fruits, bakers chocolate, and faded espresso. Some decent amount of roast, a little ash. Taste is huge - bursting with rich chocolate, caramel and molasses, and dark roast coffee. The vanilla sweetness is prominent in the flavor as well. Mouthfeel is full, oily, creamy with very soft carbonation.

My favorite of the Michigan winter imperial stouts (Expedition, FIS). Incredibly rich chocolate flavor enhanced with the most vibrant vanilla for a non-vanilla aged stout. Very balanced - exceptional.

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Photo of youradhere
3.77/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Re-reviewed on 2/17/11. 2009 vintage received in a trade.

Pours black with no head, no lacing. Initially head started to form, but it quickly fell. Smells of oak, booze, char, coffee. Tastes of anise, alcohol, chocolate and toasty char. High carbonation, light-ish mouthfeel for the style. Not as good as I remember, maybe this stuff goes through an ackward stage in it's life.

The unassuming little bottle pours out a thick black concoction with a brownish tan head that falls rather quickly, leaving moderate lace behind. Copious amounts of yeast sediment remain in the bottle, this could either be good or bad depending upon how the yeast reflects in the glass. Smell is dark coffee and not much else, possibly some slight caramel in the back. First taste has this malt forward brew brining the malt bitterness of black patent roasted malt, followed by a subdued sweetness and an even more subdued smokiness which is a nice surprise. Yeast is barely detectable in this cornucopia of flavors, all jockeying for my attention; this is so much that it takes me a quarter of a glass before I even find the alcohol (12%), and even then it is perfectly balanced. The mouthfeel of this beer is something somewhat of perfection- it keeps the malt char, sweetness and smokiness all in line and playing beautifully with eachother on my palate. The carbonation is perfect, and I can see now why there was so much yeast sediment- as to even reach this modicum of CO2 a damn near entire yeast starter slurry is needed to survive the flavor and alcohol. Very drinkable, I wish I had more of it here in the PNW.

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Photo of TTAmod
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a four-pack at my special beer store for $13.99. The date stamped on the bottle is 043-13, or February 12th, 2013. I poured one of the 12 oz. bottles into a tulip.

A: This beer is BLACK with a two finger brown head. Retention is good considering ABV.

S: Strong whiffs of chocolate, coffee, and alcohol.

T: Strong notes of dark chocolate, dried cherries, charred malts, roasted coffee, a trace amount of bittering hops, and a bit of heat. It doesn't taste too sweet; in fact, it ends on a dry note. It's not overly bitter at any point, but there's enough bitterness to add depth. Ash and roasted coffee stick around after the finish.

M: Another strong point of this beer. Obscenely smooth and quite drinkable, even if it is a bit hot. There's some carbonation, but it feels like silk going through my mouth and down my throat. No fuss at all.

O: This is how to do a strong stout right. The alcohol is kept in check by the onslaught of roasted malts, which invoke flavors of cherries, chocolate and coffee. However, these malts are balanced by just enough hops which keep the stout flavors from completely dominating.

This one is right up there with some of the best strong stouts on the market; however, this one is a LOT harder to find than some of the more prevalent ones (Ten Fidy, Founders IS, etc) mostly because Dark Horse is a pretty small brewery and doesn't have quite as wide of a distribution area as other breweries. Add to the fact that this is a seasonal (late winter) brew and most stores only get one case, and you got yourself a tough beer to find.

So, if you can find it, definitely pick it up. If you cannot find it....don't fret! Pick up some Ten Fidy or Founders IS, both of which are much easier to locate and are just as good as this one.

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Photo of marvin213
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The darkly tanned, thin layer of fizz looked great, though it dissipated more quickly than I'd have liked. Other than that, it's a dark black, imperial-looking stout. Kudos for what appeared like oatmeal sediment as the last drops fell into my Carolina Brewery pint glass.

Smells good and imperial. I've noticed lately how some dubbed RIS fail to smell like the ones that got me so loving the style. This one has a nose for a king (or queen, as it were): dark fruits (without a sourness), nicely toasted malts (with maybe a hint of chocolate without a disgustingly candy aroma), and a poignant while modest alcohol vibe (alluring like a treat instead of an unabashed alcohol bomb).

It's a bit more plummy and figgy than a great one but, thankfully, not overly sweet. It's solidly an appropriate representation of a Russian Imperial Stout. There ia an oatmealish flavor in there, perhaps affirming my sediment observation. The taste of the chocolate, as in the nose, is basically perfect--hinted at without a sweetness smack. This beer really seems to nicely blend all the right components of an RIS. There's nothing really unique about it, on the plus side being plainly good. When the marketplace seems flooded with over-the-top obnoxiously done stouts, this is a simply good (yet imperial) russian stout.

Oatmeal input allows for a silky input. It conjures images of soothing oatmeal baths on sunburn-singed skin. It really, really sits well. It's silky like soy milk. I cringe at penalizing simplicity, but only a complexity could attain world-class status. With all due respect, it feels like a Russian Imperial Stout is supposed to feel.

The alcohol is perfectly intertwined with the taste of this beverage. The aforementioned plumminess makes it a wee bit tart for multiples, but 12% is subtlely placed. The sediment stain I see on the bottom further represents oatmeal presence, but there's a thickness there discouraging multiple sessions. Still, Dark Horse comes strong with a well-built stout. Thanks to NotCreative for the chance to enjoy.

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

12oz bottle poured pitch black into a pint glass- espresso-esque crema like head. Very fine bubbles. A thick layer of sediment remains on the bottom of the bottle, and looking down the neck into the bottle indicates that it as well is impenetrable by light. Very rich, smooth chocolate boozey aroma. The flavor of this beast is astoundingly smooth despite the 12% label... rich toffee, caramel, and chocolate are prevalent as hops are muted. Mouthfeel is amazing and perfectly appropriate for a good RIS. Overall this beer is outstanding, and I will write a more detailed review next time since im already getting slurry.

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Photo of emyers
4.31/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a Great Lakes snifter.

Appearance: Pours black with a thin medium brown head dissipating quickly into a light lacing.

Smell: Roasted barley, strong molasses, dark chocolate. Strong dark fruit presence. Bold aroma, yet well balanced.

Taste: Similar to the smell. Very strong roasted barley/dark chocolate base complemented by dark fruit, molasses, and a smokey character. Tons of depth but maintains great balance. No alcohol heat.

Mouthfeel; Full-bodied, but not extremely thick as many imperial stouts tend to be. Medium carbonation.

Overall: One of the best non-barrel-aged imperial stouts on the market.

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

A - Jet fuel black. Thick as shit. Dark brown head, beyond tan and beyond beige. Impressive. Thick. Would be stickier if I were drinking it slower, I assume.

S - Wild aroma. Deep deep mocha aroma, with mild dark fruit aroma like cherries or raisins or even red grapes.

T - Wow. Dense flavors. Chocolate, coffee, more raisins and black cherries than grapes. Molasses malt. Slight alcoholic aftertaste. Interesting.

M - Thick as shit. Not very dry. The viscosity of this beer is impressive. Definitely chewy. Carbonation is perfectly appropriate and non-interruptive.

D - I'll get this again in a heartbeat. This is a beer everyone should try at least once. This is impressive. It tastes like it should be 500 calories.

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

Poured intoa snifter this beer yielded a dark brown head which dissipated to a ring over a few minutes. This beer is black.
Black coffee with dark belgian chocolate. Bananas, walnut and alcolhol are also present.
Trader Joe's Belgian Dark chocolate with a chalky character. Walnuts are once again present and coffee finishes the beer with a roasted after taste.
A good body that holds up to the flavor of this beer.
A great imperial stout that I would love to enjoy again.

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Photo of CooperEllis
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Weisguy who tucked this into a box that was already chock full of excellent brews.

12 oz into chalice-ish glass

Aside from the total lack of a head this is a perfect pour, nice color, despite no head decent rim lacing that is a bit sticky.

Straight roast malt armoa. Clean, crisp and very refreshing for such a dark beer.

Full taste, gone a bit quickly, not much to stick around, which is the only reason this wasn't a 5. spot on.

A bit light on mouth, and as noted above, it doesn't stick around particularly long. This may be the most refreshing RIS I've ever had, and for that I'm greatly enjoying it.


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Photo of Gear54
4.84/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Ale Emporium in Indianapolis

Pitch black pour with 1/2 finger of kaki head and light lace left on the glass.

Aroma is coffee and chocolate predominantly with roasted malts and black licorice present in the back ground. Slight amount of booze as well.

Taste: wow! This beer is like drinking chocolate cake! Dark chocolate and roasted malt with coffee flavor and maybe a touch of carmel at the end. Just a touch of alcohol mixes well enough with the flavor to not cause any ill will toward the flavor.

Feel is good as well. Lasting flavors coat the mouth and the chocolate is rich and smooth. I could drink several of these and be happy!

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Cappy's, arrived in a snifter.

Appearance: Arrived your typical imperial stout solid black, capped with a thick head of almost dark brown foam that lingered for an impressively long time. Lacing was insane.

Smell: Dark stone fruits and chocolate leap out of the glass to smack you across the nostrils and demand your full attention. Beneath them, there's blackened grains and lightly roasted coffee, but it's the fruit and chocolate that demand attention here.

Taste: Did I mention that the fruit and chocolate are attention hogs? Because they're front and center in the taste as well, from first sip all the way through the finish. Plums, dark berries, and a mix of sweetened and super-dark chocolate dominate the flavor profile. Beneath them, swirls of lightly roasted coffee, cream, and scorched malt can be found.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and full, yet with an oddly watery finish.

Overall: This is a tasty stout. I'm not sure quite how the chocolate and fruit notes dominate every other aspect, but I am not complaining.

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Photo of docoman
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First time having non-BBA version of pt5 and it's very similar to BBA version, minus the bourbon influence. Almost has a tobacco smell/aftertaste and I'm not a smoker. Hard to love this beer, it's good, just not great compared to others.

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