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.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

822 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 822
Hads: 3,497
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 7.86%
Wants: 551
Gots: 919 | FT: 105
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: 822 | Hads: 3,497
Photo of Spica66
4.32/5  rDev +2.9%
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. (441 characters)

Photo of Xul
4.05/5  rDev -3.6%
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. (924 characters)

Photo of youradhere
3.77/5  rDev -10.2%
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.

5/19/2010
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. (1,610 characters)

Photo of TTAmod
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
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. (1,781 characters)

Photo of marvin213
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
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. (2,054 characters)

Photo of jmerloni
4.65/5  rDev +10.7%
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. (722 characters)

Photo of mschantz
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
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. (347 characters)

Photo of alovesupreme
4.32/5  rDev +2.9%
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. (476 characters)

Photo of CooperEllis
4.37/5  rDev +4%
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.

(120ish) (629 characters)

Photo of TheSupremeAJ
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
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. (621 characters)

Photo of mikeyv35
4.08/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Date: 03/28/2011
Type: 11.2oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2010
Glassware: Portsmouth Tulip

Poured a deep dark chocolate in color w/ a 1/2 finger tan head that left substantial lacing on the glass. Appears beautifully viscous. Aromas of chocolate malts, molasses, and underlying dark fruits. Taste was about the same, chocolate, molasses, a touch of dark fruits, and a finish of good hop bite and bitterness to keep this from cloying. Full bodied. At 13% ABV you can only drink so much of this despite Dark Horse doing a damn fine job at masking the booze.

Pleasure to sample and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but 11.2oz. really should be split w/ a good BA buddy IMO. (653 characters)

Photo of timc100
4.51/5  rDev +7.4%
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. (656 characters)

Photo of dukedevil0
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a single 12oz bottle from Famous Wines in Lombard, IL. Thanks to the beer guy there for putting this in the system at my request because they weren't selling singles of it at the time!

A: Pours a super DARK BLACK, almost as black as can be, with a very nice chocolate shake colored finger and a half of head that reduces down to a nice layer of bubbles. Leaves a nice little bit of lacing on the glass.

S: Smells very nice, the usual chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt notes...slight bit of dark cherries and dark berries when i search for them...

T: Tastes great, with lots of both milk and bitter chocolate, roasted malts, some coffee flavor to a lesser extent (more so in the finish and aftertaste), extremely subtle alcohol flavor in there

M: One of the more creamy RIS I've had. It just feels dense and heavy. Very smooth, small bubble carbonation.

D: It's a sipper, especially because it's so heavy, but the flavor is great, the alcohol tinge is minor enough that i don't think it really affects drinkability, (1,031 characters)

Photo of Pinknuggets
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle to HFS sniffer

A: Black as night with a thin mocha head completely dark with no even hints of brown what I think a IS should look like

S: there is some chocolate in there but there is definitely a dark fruit aroma like figs or something this is coupled with a roasted smell very complex lots of depth but there is is a hint of alcohol as well

T: The taste is not as complex as the smell upfront there is literally no taste which is kinda weird, but once you swallow the taste starts to come out. There is more of a coffee taste then chocolate but that smell could be the more toffee like taste. You can definitely taste the dark fruit which i usually don't like but its well balanced here and the alcohol is fairly well hidden but if you look you can't taste it

M: There is a weird carbonation feel upfront despite the complete lack of carbonation a mildly heavy chewy constancy that goes down pretty smooth and easily for an IS (i can drink this no need to sip)

O: A interesting IS has a lot of different tastes but it is well balanced and other then the slightly weird carbonation and lack of punch with the taste this is really good. Defiantly worth trying again not your average imperial stout which is always a welcome change from chocolate and coffee but those are the flavors i truly love. (1,308 characters)

Photo of Frosty80
4.9/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Color: pours a VERY dark brown. sits black with only the slightest brown rim

Smell: perfect balance of chocolate, coffee and alcholol

Taste: aroma translates perfectly to pallet. sauperb balance of chocolate and roasted malts with a perfect amount of alcohol

Mouthfeel: full body. creamy. low carbonation

Notes: excellent stout. one of the best ive had (356 characters)

Photo of ixodus
4.47/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a thick jet black with reddish brown hues and a mocha head. Leaves trace amount of lacing.

S: Rich dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, licorice, anise, plums, raisins, cork like woody smell.

T: Decadent dark chocolate almost like chocolate mousse, licorice, charred oak, french vanilla, molasses, and espresso,
finishing off with a roasty dark coffee like bitterness that lingers for awhile. Complex and definitely on the roasty side. This beer is still quite hot.

M: Thick and vicious, creamy, hot, with soft carbonation.

O: Overall this beer is a excellent. I would definitely seek this out. One of the most complex non barrel aged RIS' I have ever had (670 characters)

Photo of bonbright7
4.54/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

While I was standing around with friends at The Black Sheep of Mineola, NY, I was handed a glass of this majestic blur of dark brown to black ale, which was overflowing with soft foam. The stunning aromas of chocolate and coffee were readily apparent, but there were so many other things to notice, I took my time with it.

The nose on it told me it was a very full bodied ale, but I don't think I was ready for the strength of it. The initial taste was light for .5 second and then it exploded with a full- on licorice, deep coffee, and a dark mess of an ale.

The mouth-feel was luxurious, though the abv really shined with its hotness there as I tasted it as if it was a fine selection from Pommerol.

This RIS went very well with a pulled bbq pork sandwich as it comfortable overtook the food elements.

Clearly, this was one of the better ales I have tasted in a long time and my only regret was that it is listed as a seasonal coming out in February. (959 characters)

Photo of Gear54
4.84/5  rDev +15.2%
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! (653 characters)

Photo of cetherid
3.97/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a tulip

A.

beer pours a dark brown/black. Looks a little like used motor oil. Head was minimal...thin brown bubbly head, like a cola but dissipated quickly.

S.

Dark malts obviously. Notes of chocolate, burnt coffee and a nice little hop aroma. Perhaps a hint of soy in there but nothing terrible.

T.

Big roast up front moving to some slightly sweet, slightly bitter dark chocolate with a pretty boozy finish. I get some subtle licorice and burnt/smokey flavors in there as well. Perhaps a little too boozy, but I suppose acceptable given the ABV.

M.

Full bodied with decent carbonation. Fairly oily/slick mouthfeel to it.

O.

Overall a solid RIS. I'd opt for an Expedition stout over this but I would imagine the BA version of this is stellar. A little hard to come by so I probably wouldn't seek this out again as I can pick up a sixer of Expedition about 5 minutes away whenever I want. I'm curiously how an aged bottle of this be as it's currently drinking a little hot. (997 characters)

Photo of Trooper92292
5/5  rDev +19%
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. (409 characters)

Photo of codysjb
4.11/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours a brown-black with virtually no head. Smells like bourbon. Tastes like a strong stout mixed with bourbon, nothing too flavorful but respectful none the less. Certainly a good beer to sip a savor. Really shines on the mouthful as the flavor fully comes out and tastes really smooth for the whole time. Overall a better stout, certainly stronger and less chocolaty than I usually like but a great stout none the less. (421 characters)

Photo of Lolli1315
4.27/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- An absolutely opaque blacks as no highlights are seen when placed next to a light. A small thin layer of brown head appears composed of small bubbles. The head becomes slightly patchy with a thick ring around the glass.

S- Tons of what seems to be milk chocolate prominent. The smooth chocolate turns to a bitter chocolate and burnt roasted malt aroma. Figs and plums combine with burnt coffee before an appropriate alcohol aroma helps to finish.

T- Smooth chocolate taste to begin before the bitter chocolate and burnt coffee takes its place towards the middle of the beer. Plums and figs linger in the background as the coffee and chocolate tastes continue into the end. An alcohol taste reveals itself in the end of the beer as it warms the mouth and lingers into the finish with some light bitter character.

M- Full bodied and chewy as the alcohol warms the mouth.

O- Unlike some Russian Imperial Stouts, this one doesn't seem like it needs any time put away and is great now. Great drinking and would suggest this to anyone. (1,037 characters)

Photo of BilbosNuts
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to kstrickler for providing this as an extra in a trade.

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A: Pitch black in color with a small mocha colored ring on top. It appears very still. It's like staring into an abyss.

S: Black licorice, dark chocolate, alcohol, sweet roasted malts all make up the aroma. Well balanced with aspects.

T: Lots of roasted malts and dark bitter chocolate. Black licorice and notes of smokiness come through.

M: Very smooth. Heavy bodied with minimal carbonation. Finishes very smooth and hides the alcohol extremely well.

O: A well put together RIS. Well above average, hopefully I'll be able to try it again sometime. (661 characters)

Photo of emyers
4.31/5  rDev +2.6%
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. (637 characters)

Photo of UrbanCaveman
4.58/5  rDev +9%
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. (1,033 characters)

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 822 ratings.