1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout - Dark Horse Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Plead The 5th Imperial StoutPlead The 5th Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

3,007 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,007
Reviews: 763
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 8.12%
Wants: 507
Gots: 720 | FT: 82
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:
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

(Beer added by: HopHead84 on 09-27-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 3,007 | Reviews: 763 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Phillyz
3.75/5  rDev -13%

Phillyz, Nov 26, 2013
Photo of Bartos
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

Bartos, Jan 16, 2014
Photo of coldmeat23
4.33/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

Pours a dense, dark, black color. A head of a little more than a finger of dark brown foam. Dissipates quickly. Lacing is spotty, but somewhat sticky.

Big, rich malt notes of sweetness. Milk chocolate. Coffee with extra heavy cream. Light hints of dark fruits.

Milk chocolate shake. Yummy. More of the coffee with heavy cream. Dark roasted malt notes. Light hint of smoke and a slightly heavier hint of graininess. Light touches of sweet molasses, dark fruits and carmalized brown sugars.
Nicely balanced and very well done.

High end of medium, almost full bodied. Very smooth with a light touch of creaminess. Carbonation is very low. A touch more would give this one a nice, creamy edge, I believe.

G-D! If that's 12%ABV, I'm a jackass! I guess that answers that lifelong question.
The alcohol is so well-hidden inside this one, I'd probably guess it to be no more than 7 or 8 percent, at most.
Fantastic balance and extremely drinkable. I want more....alot more!
Here's to Dark Horse Brewing!

coldmeat23, May 21, 2009
Photo of doucmehu
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

doucmehu, Oct 02, 2012
Photo of jkball01
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

jkball01, Mar 30, 2014
Photo of putnam
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Black oil. Very dark sheet of foam after raising the pour high enough to kick in some turbulence -- darker than Breakfast, Shakespeare at al. -- minimal though.
Aromas of bitter chocolate, black coffee and marshmallow. There are also some wild yeasty elements to the bouquet that remind me of certain Belgian Quadrupels -- doughy, with notes of reduced red berries, spices and nut butters. Think Bernardus12/Rochefort10 with piles of coffee and chocolate extract added.
Velvety and not particularly sweet, the flavors are very roasty and intense, yet lacking any sourness or astringency. A long cadence of milk sugar and espresso define the finish.
Herbal burps betray some lost hop component (that's quality to me.)
Quite well balanced. Maybe a little top-heavy. It will be interesting to see what happens to this bottling over time.
This is what I remember Expedition tasting like.
Spectacular.
I'm guessing 10% ABV or more.

putnam, Jan 20, 2005
Photo of stephens101
4.58/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 version.

Empties the bottle black with a sheer, tan head. Aroma is spot on with milk chocolate, dark fruits, subtle vinegar and burnt oak floating freely. This is one of the smoothest beers I can recall trying. Just floats its way down (despite its medium to heavy body) with prominent notes of milk chocolate, bubblegum and black licorice, followed by hints of oak, cherry and vanilla. Fusel alcohol is barely noticed in the back. A beautiful, well-crafted stout that pairs well with this cool and rainy spring evening.

stephens101, May 24, 2014
Photo of JohnQVegas
3.58/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into Bruery tulip, much thanks once again to my friend Jeff (AleWatcher) for more Midwestern goodness!

Pours pitch black, nary a hint of brown to be seen, with a dense one-finger dark brown head on top, that fairly quickly settles down to a thin brown ring on the outside edge of the glass. Nice lacing.

Nose has a clean, fruity quality to it. Somewhere between cherries and blackberries, with a spicy alcohol bite and a bit of burnt sugar underneath. Bit of molasses mixed in. As it warms, roasted malt comes through a bit cleaner, still wrapped in the spicy alcohol, still a big healthy dose of clean, dark fruit. At one point I even picked up pretzels.

Taste starts off with a healthy dose of alcohol bite. Molasses in there, again, with a big bitter burnt sugar bite towards the finish. Lots of dark fruits, again. Finish is long, burnt, bit boozey, bittersweet. Lacks the complexity that I generally look for; lots of flavor, which is to be expected for a beer this size, but this one seems to clash a bit - the burnt flavors, the alcohol, the sugary sweetness. Seems to be a big dose of crystal malts in there that could use just a bit of toning down in my opinion. Not a flaw per se, more a matter of preference.

Mouthfeel is slick, full bodied, light carbonation, long finish and a bit of an alcohol burn in the back of the throat on the swallow.

Drinkability is decent, though the flavor profile is a bit coarse and raw. Alcohol definitely bites back, as well. Again, a decent enough beer, but it doesn't have the beautiful cohesiveness that the best IS seem to have. Doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable, though.

JohnQVegas, May 30, 2010
Photo of paco1029384756
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a short foamy dark tan head.

Scent of roasted malt, chocolate, a hint of alcohol, sugars, and lots of fruit. This one smells much more sweet than typical beers of its style, but it is balanced well and hides the alcohol nicely.

Taste of roasted malts, molasses, dark fruit, sugars, and some earth. Finishes with dark fruit and roasted malts. Alcohol is masked very well, there is some heat to it, but it is far from harsh.

Mouthfeel is heavy and smooth with a small bite of carbonation.

paco1029384756, May 10, 2009
Photo of chugalug06
4.33/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Hard to pour a thick head... Nice brown foamy head eventually shows. Brew is consistency of burnt oil.

S - Huge coffee and chocolate!!! Silky.

T - Some huge milk flavors. Lots of dark-dark chocolate too. Very nice! Awesome vanilla stands out.

M - No heat. Perfect carbonation and wonderful bitterness. Just misses perfect.

O - Awesome brew! Glad I got to try this one! Thank you for sending it awhile back Another6pack!

chugalug06, Oct 16, 2011
Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.18/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Hope to try the barrel aged version soon...

A: Beautiful black oily pour, with a nice fluffy tan head and great lacing. Very nice start I'd say....

S: Amazing smell of burnt dark fruit and malt, vanilla, fudge, molasses, charred malt. Just an amazingly complex packed aroma without any alcohol burn, great RIS smell in the top 5% I've smell for the style so it gets a 5.

T: Also very good, but lacks the roundness and balance I got in the smell. Beautiful roasted malt and bakers chocolate with some bitters in there as well. Dark fruit and leather tinged or just 'old' tinged molasses. An earthiness prevails too which seems to break up the flavors instead of combining them in some ways, almost like a 'dirt' type flavor. Maybe a touch of tartness from the fruit tastes in it.

M: A little astringent and thin though it had a nice roast and was semi juicy for an RIS.

Overall a nice beer I'd buy again.

Dreadnaught33, Aug 06, 2011
Photo of Norseman
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

Norseman, Apr 05, 2014
Photo of plumcrazyfx
4/5  rDev -7.2%

plumcrazyfx, Nov 23, 2011
Photo of russwbeck
4.05/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Absolutely motor oil black pour out of the bottle and in the glass. A deep brown head is noted briefly after a very vigorous pour. No retention, black as the night.

S: Big hints of molasses on the aroma, mixed with some dark fruits, chocolate, and only very slight roast. Much more sweet and fruity than I was expecting.

T: The taste really mirrors the aroma, with a lot more roastiness on the backend. Molasses and chocolate dominate, dark fruits rest underneath, and some booze and roast finish it off. The taste is pretty nicely balanced, but lends towards the sweet side.

MF: Thick, creamy body with basically no carbonation. The sweetness and roast mix to make this pretty drinkable.

O: This was a pretty good deal. Got it in a trade, but I believe it was less than $5 a bottle. For a 12% RIS this was great. You really can't tell the ABV is so high. Would definitely recommend this.

russwbeck, Feb 03, 2012
Photo of 57md
3.6/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Appearance is dark brown to black with a thin layer of beige head. The nose was troublesomely reminiscent of wet cardboard. There roasted malt blends well with the creamy consistency. This is certainly a full-bodied RIS. The finish has both sweet and roasted notes along with a very subtle alcohol presence.

57md, Apr 04, 2013
Photo of Kramerbarthomer
4/5  rDev -7.2%

Kramerbarthomer, Mar 10, 2014
Photo of AdamP
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

AdamP, May 17, 2012
Photo of Nichols33
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

Nichols33, Jun 12, 2014
Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip. 2013 vintage.

Plead the Fifth pours a full onyx color with a rumbling mocha froth. The head recedes gradually, leaving the dark, viscous liquid with just a small island and a ring of tightly wound bubbles.

The aroma is deep and full, with an emphasis on dark chocolate and espresso notes. The dark chocolate is the strongest and deepest presence in my nose, with espresso, roasted malt, and a bit of oatmeal as well. Not much in the way of dark fruits.

Each sip has a huge burst of flavor. It starts off with a moderate sweetness that comes through with the dark chocolate, with full roasted notes unraveling in my mouth. There are some mostly hidden dark fruits in the middle, with a bitterness that grows along with a creamy espresso flavor. The bitterness seems to linger in the aftertaste and accumulate with each sip.

This beer is thick, although the body is not quite as big as I was expecting. There is a stickiness to it, but it is not overwhelming. I prefer a gentler body than an overly thick and syrupy body, for sure. With the alcohol well-hidden as well, this beer definitely drinks like a 8% imperial stout. The carbonation is creamy and adds a layer of smoothness to the beer.

Dark Horse makes some nice beers in the high ABV range. This is a strong imperial stout by any standard.

KickInTheChalice, Aug 12, 2013
Photo of Treyliff
4.55/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle, poured into a snifter

A- pours opaque jet black in color with a small foamy dark-tan head that has short retention, eventually leaving a small layer on top, leaving some short lasting lace behind

S- lots of smoky roasted malt aroma up front with notes of charcoal, burnt marshmallow, campfire, smoked & cured meat, bitter dark chocolate and some woodsy notes. Underlying piney hops

T- Big chocolate and dark fig notes up front that are quickly complimented by a roasty malt that gives flavors of charred marshmallow, along with earthy and woodsy notes. Graham cracker sweetness kicks in near the end with more dark chocolate and a herbal hop finish. Some smoky malt with a touch of alcohol on the linger

M- thick and viscous body with moderate carbonation leads to a chewy-yet-smooth mouthfeel and a velvety finish, alcohol hidden brilliantly. Perfect

O- finally got a chance to try this one and it didn't disappoint. Smoky, chocolaty and true to the style. A world class example of a RIS

Treyliff, May 16, 2014
Photo of stortore
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

stortore, Jul 20, 2013
Photo of BeerThursdays
4/5  rDev -7.2%

BeerThursdays, Jan 20, 2013
Photo of Scotchboy
4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mystery beer from schwaeh. From notes, sampled 6/25.

Noticed a lot of sediment in the unmarked bottle.

A: Poured into a snifter. An aggressive pour yields a less than exemplary head. The body is motor oil black and the head that forms a nice ring is dark brown. Beer appears well carbonated and has some alcohol feet.

S: Bitter dark chocolate and espresso coffee initially, but as the beer warms the coffee dominates. Nice roasted malt character, maybe a touch of smoke and booze.

T: Coffee and hop bitterness, black licorice and bittersweet bakers chocolate. The dark roasted malts are excellent. On the tongue, it's a simple yet robust coffee stout.

MF: Initially very creamy and robust, a little warmth and booze cuts it a little. Finishes bitter and dry.

O: Pretty darn good coffee stout or RIS with the hops...I would probably go 4.0/4.0/4.0/4.5/4.5.

Dark Horse Plead the 5th!

Thanks Steve!

Scotchboy, Jun 27, 2011
Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.05/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had no idea Dark Horse distributed to Indiana until a couple of weeks ago, and Double Crooked Tree was rockin. Now on their famous Plead the 5th? Can’t wait.

A: I can’t even see through the beer as it’s flowing thick from the bottle; dark black motor oil body. It looks excessively viscous. The head is rich reddish-brown, oily and just a hair lighter than the body. Smooth and about a half-inch high, the retention stays around for a while. Little lacing, though.

S: Holy hell, that’s a boozy beer. Layers upon layers of pepper, pungent bourbon, roasted malt, and lots of char come up. Excessively fiery. There’s some black cherry, hazelnut, dark chocolate, toffee, and more than enough smoky peat, too – killer smokiness against some rich sweets. Ends piney, though the main body of this robust nose is alcohol and spice.

T: Vanilla, chocolate fondue, fondant, strawberry shortcake, and molasses; starts creamy. Lasting just a quick second, the sugar is overcome by a thorny bitterness: pine, booze, fig, licorice, and spicy alcohol with a moment or two of cough syrup tongue-smacking character. Some smoky flavors are there, as well, but without the big roast tastes of the nose; satisfying, nonetheless. Finishes with that thought, as well as a caramel stickiness, a chalky yeast flavor, and some light hop fruitiness.

M: Hot, though wonderfully creamy. Astringency is dark, lifting the sugary tastes off the tongue to avoid stickiness.

O: A great stout; it’s a showcase for the often-limited smoke tastes of imperial stouts. Glad I had this fresh – some age would just empower the big ol’ booze character. Like I need any more excuses to drink the rest of my four-pack…

BarryMFBurton, Apr 27, 2012
Photo of Gehrig
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I heard great things about this from the terrific JD, manager of the sterling Neil St. Piccadilly. I passed on grabbing it last week because I had other things in hand. Today, I didn't make that mistake.

A thin patch of amaretto head tops a lush, black body, modest lacing and duration, but still a nice-looking beer. Rich, robust nose rife with chocolate, dried fruit, and coffee. I'm eagerly awaiting the taste after the smell, and it delivers with certainty. Creamy and flavorful with a hint of boldness, Plead the Fifth brings plenty of dried chocolate, date, raisin, coffee, and molasses. The flavor is excellent, nothing short. I'm equally impressed with the mouthfeel which, though lightly carbonated, is creamy and a bit effervescent. This sure doesn't drink like a 12% ABV, no way. It's far smoother and accessible than that.

Tremendous beer, this Plead the Fifth. There's no way I'd plead the fifth in defense of this. It's worthy of a full-throated apologia. Outstanding.

Gehrig, May 24, 2009
Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 3,007 ratings.