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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.

837 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 837
Hads: 3,579
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.26%
Wants: 554
Gots: 940 | 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: 837 | Hads: 3,579
Photo of GabrielM
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared as an extra from pittsburghkid66 - thanks again! Poured into a snifter.

A - pitch black body, dark brown head on top. A standard appearance, yet one that always excites me.

S - a ton of roasted malts and brown sugar. A little vanilla, alcohol and spice.

T - roasted malt more than anything, some sweet coffee-and-cream, chocolate and molasses on the back.

M - fantastic! Great carbonation, very smooth and balanced.

D - dangerously good. This one lacks the espresso/hop bitterness I've come to expect from big IRS, especially ones at 12% ABV. Very grateful I got the chance to try this beer.

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Photo of TheBear11D
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle

Pours black and looks pretty thick despite its high ABV. Has a small dark chocolate brown head that leaves behind decent but not impressive lacing.

Great nose. The roasted malts are first to tickle the nostrils, but the amount of alcohol cannot be hidden. Also has a smokey smell with chocolate.

Wonderful flavor! Chocolate and roasted malts dominate the taste. The alcohol is well hidden at first but it lasts well into the aftertaste.

Thick and creamy with very mild carbonation. The body compliments the flavor.

Well worth having! I continue to be impressed with Dark Horse.

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Photo of JJKBeerLvr
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into pint glass in April 2015.

Appearance: Dark black with nice tan head.

Smell: Pleasant, and can definitely smell the roasted malt and coffee. There is some hops aroma, but it is dominated by the roasted aromas.

Taste: Interesting combination of flavors. There is a strong coffee and roasted malt flavor, but with a nice contrast of hops. But the flavor is definitely dominated by the roasted malts.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, and very smooth.

I really like this. This is an interesting imperial stout. It have a variety of flavors with a kick from the alcohol, but the flavor is not overpowered by the alcohol.

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Photo of 7ways
4.07/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle thanks to steelersxl, hand labeled '09, poured violently into a Duvel tulip. It shows with a very minimal and very dark chocolate head on top of a rich Seal brown body. Sticking to the glass is a thick gloopy lace that I've rarely seen. It's almost not even lace, just globs of viscous liquid suspended high in the glass.

The aroma is pretty intoxicating, though I can't smell much of the 12% alcohol, so +1 right there. Pretty intense sweet chocolate/cocoa, and something outdoorsy. Not much else, but very inviting nonetheless.

After drinking half the glass, I've changed my mind to thinking that it tastes a little better than it smells. The reedy/lake/woods chocolate thing is joined by mocha, crazy big roasted malts, a little licorice, and oh yes, there's the yummy booze I'd almost forgotten about. Bittersweet and clean finish.

This body is quite full but is slightly lacking on carbonation. Some creamy little bubbles would do wonders for it; however, it is still cohesive enough to not put a damper on the experience.

Overall, a very impressive RIS.

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Photo of 2xHops
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

As expected, the beer is super dark in color. Perhaps I poured the wrong way, but I did not see any "head" forming at all.

The taste is strong with some roasting characteristics. There seems to be some hint of chocolate and coffee flavors to go with the burnt malt notes.

The mouthfeel does feel like it's quite malty and slightly "syrupy." I don't quite feel the carbonation coming through.

Overall, it's a pretty nice example of this style, and I particularly liked the high ABV content. Who doesn't, right?

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Photo of amcmaho1
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle thanks to always-generous Injuredreserve. Thanks so much Shane, this is an excellent beer to have in celebration of my birthday.

Bottled 4/10
poured into Cigar City snifter (Thanks again Shane!)

Appearance: Incredibly dark...There is no translucency here to speak of. Only on the absolute edges of the glass is there a slight color change from obsidian black to tobacco brown. There is a very shortly lived khaki colored head which dies down immediately, though there are some alcohol legs and some slight carbonation blotches. For the darkness of this beer alone, it deserves accolades.

Smell: There's lovely notes of raisins, smoke, char, coffee, and sweet chocolate. Everything has really come together nicely over time, and some of the more prominent aromas are somewhat subdued. It seems a bit tame cool, but once it begins warming up, it really comes alive. I don't necessarily remember such a noticeable smokiness in fresher bottles, but it's adding a nice complexity and counterbalance to the sweeter aromas.

Taste: Lots of dark fruits again, alongside some chocolate and coffee notes, but there's some big smoke and char definitely making itself known. There's some really nice extremes of sweetness, roasty bitterness, decadent chocolate, and some nice subtle alcohol notes.

Mouthfeel: Very light carbonation, but still lively enough to fight it from being too syrupy. This is a viscous beer, it's chewy, and it's intense...I love it.

Overall: This has always been I beer that I've really enjoyed. This vintage bottle was great, fresher vintages are great, and I can't even imagine how the BA version is. I highly recommend this beer to anyone who enjoys bigger and more formidable stouts.

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Photo of neophilus
4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wicked Dark Beer.

Smells like sweet toffee, caramel, fresh baked coffee rolls with a hint of espresso.

Roasty flavor up front, more of a roasty edge than the aroma suggests. Solid malt body with dark brown bread and raisin-pumpernickel notes. Sticky-sweetness sets in with strong tones of dark chocolate. Eventually settles into a luscious dark-chocolate brownie flavor. Thick creamy body, little to no alcohol heat.

It's like drinking a really indulgent dessert.

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Photo of AshleyMiller
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

thanks to stx00lax for this extra in an awesome trade. poured into my old guardian snifter.

a-jet black. like a black hole i guess. thin mocha head that dissipates quickly.

s-awesome. lots of chocolatey, coffee, mocha-y goodness

t-rich thick stout, lots of malt, boozy backbone that lingers, but it's a malty booziness that's quite enjoyable, but the initial taste hides the 12% alcohol pretty well. there's a very subtle hoppy bitterness in it too.

m-very full and delightful, not a lot of carbonation, but enough for a stout.

o-quite good. one of the better non-barrel-aged stouts that i have had. i am really enjoying drinking and am excited for the second bottle surlytwinsfan sent me. thanks guys!

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Photo of hayesez
3.51/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Received in a recent trade with wedgie9. Got home late from work tonight and figured I'd have a few beers before crashing for the evening.

Very deep, dark, nearly black beer that piles up in my Stone Imperial Russian Stout glass without much carbonation. This is being poured at a temperature that is a bit lower than normal (for my liking) for this style of beer. Normally I like to let these sit out for about a half hour - in this case, I'll let it sit in my glass. That being said, the pour portrayed the beer as fairly viscous...perhaps slightly inaccurately due to the temperature. Regardless, I like a good thick Russian Imperial Stout. A one finger cocoa colored head quickly scattered from the middle and huddled up around the edges. The resulting ring of foam is quite impressively thick and leaves a short-lived lacing on my glass every time a take a drink.

Lots of smells going on in here - there is an obvious soy sauce component that detracts from the wonderfully dark cherry aroma. A bit of chocolate and just a hint of coffee peak through as well. The alcohol is pretty well masked by these different elements resulting in a nose that would be top-notch if not for the annoying soy sauce.

The soy sauce gives way to the alcohol as the prominent detractor in the taste. The beer starts out a metallic sweet before yielding to the (again) obvious dark fruits - primarily cherry. As the beer warms I notice some dark chocolate at the beginning that I wasn't picking up 15 minutes ago. The very low carbonation makes these flavors even more obvious as there is nothing getting in the way. The 12% ABV is not nearly as masked as it was on the nose - this one is a bit hot. After completing a drink the sweet malty flavor remains for a bit before ceding to a slightly bitter roastiness. If not for the metallic sweetness and the heat, I would really enjoy this. As this beer continues to approach room temperature, it becomes a bit too thin for my liking, but still holds together well.

Not a bad beer. A bit on the green side, keeping the flavors well separated as opposed to nicely integrated. A little bit hot to drink too terribly much of, however, the 12 ounces I did have were not a problem. A solid brew that just falls a bit short in a couple of areas. As could be anticipated, I'm sure this one could stand to use a bit of time chilling out.

Consumed: 5/25/2010

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Photo of midnite2sixman
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black as the night, exquisite head. frothy, tons of action on the pour and staying power!

Big chocolate and coffee, roasted malts, marshmallows, and malted milk balls are all in the aroma.

Taste: Very smooth chocolatey taste with lots of coffee beans roasty tastes all around. Somewhat sweet, like fine dark chocolate. Bitter finish topped off with a cocoa butter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, nice smooth stout aftertaste, lots of chocolate in this one.

Great beer!

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Photo of rembrant
4.74/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a dire Big Stout Black..brown head settles to 1 finger and thick,leaves lace,foam,viscosity on the glass as you drink. it's hard for a proper Stout to get max points for pretty,a glass of Quaker State with 10,000 miles on it looks like good Stout.

Aroma...definitely not Quaker State...

All that dark goodness seems present with Espresso,Dark chocolate,raisins,licorace,smokey hints all entwined. It's hard to say which would win out in the end but I just can't wait.

Taste Hmmm...Yum. The Espresso/Chocolate seems a draw,big mega mocha. Raisins and dried cherries float by,currents lurk with some tart-sour cherry presence hiding amongst the crowd. A bit of smoky and the woodsy hops show up in the aftertaste,as if to reset your buds for the next adventure.
Next swig, holding it longer gets more coffee in the finish,what next? Turkey and Dressing?

If I had not been 'discovering Dark Horse over the past weeks,the surprise factor here might be stronger. As is, I was looking for the evolutions and the layers of detail,the unique tricks this brewer puts in the bottle. There's more than I can seem to describe

This joins the elite few Stouts that are pure inky black bliss. I want to do a showdown with 5th,Bell's Expedition and KBS.
Plead the 5th would start with a bonus point for price.

Mouthfeel... No surprise for me,Dark Horse found the sweet spot and all the mouth stuff is balanced,full rich opening then tapers off and the sour/smoky/roasty/bitter works with the illusion that the density thins. They brew at least 8 big dark brews,plus variants and are good at avoiding negatives like cloying,or abrassive. The carb is subtle yet enough for the right zing. Tastes and textures shift but never mess it up.

Drinkable? Well, I never tasted any "boozy" but already I know this ain't no bud light. Price is not "off the wall" nor is it cheap. I could see a stay at home session where I do several and at some point am immobile. I can make that sacrifice.

i have to go to Michigan and taste the barrell age version before I die...preferably much sooner than that.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: Black with light tan head
S: Dark fruit, and roasted malt
T: Follows the nose with dark fruit and roasted malt. Very juicy dark fruit, sweet, not bitter at all, and not trace of the 11% abv.
F: Creamy and smooth, but did not coat my mouth to well, and flavors faded fairly quick.
O: Good beer, glad I got to try it (can't get locally), but not going to seek it out.

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Photo of Siggy125
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful used motor oil blackish brown in color with deep khaki brown head. Good carbonation with some lacing.

Deep roasted coffee malts on the note. Not much abv present on the aroma

Taste. Again dark roasted scorched black coffee with mild chocolate notes. Although this was not the BA version, still sensed some vanilla/oak sweet tones followed by a little bitterness. The high abv well blended in the flavors.

Good mouthfeel, smooth on the tongue and senses but very bold, especially after temp increases. Excellent sipper. Powerful brew.

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Photo of CaptinRedBeard
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Deuane for grabbing this for me.

A: Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Cigar City snifter. No head whatsoever. No lacing. Just a pitch black RIS.

S: Up front you get aromas of dark fruits. Followed by some subtle hints of chocolate.

T: Raisins, molasses, a bit of chocolate and a just a little bit of alcohol heat. Very little for a 12% beer though.

M: Fairly lively carbonation for such a big stout. A bit on the thin side and a little slick.

D: Noticable or not twelve percent is twelve percent. So I really wouldn't want more than one. I had this beer before and I really liked it a lot. This one seems a little raw. Maybe I'll try it again in six months or so and see how it changes with some age on it.

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Photo of ryanhooks81
3.91/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

poured from bottle into tulip. pours black with a thin tan head. minimal lacing. roasted malts and chocolate and coffee notes. pretty good. i was expecting it to be a bit thicker. im a little disappointed. but its still pretty good.

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Photo of mmva321
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass.

A: There's very litlle head and no retention. But this stuff looks like motor oil coming out of the bottle, which is very impressive. Needless to say this is a jet black body. A thin caramel colored lacing lines the bottle.

S: The smell hit my nose right out of the pour, so a beer with that amount of initiative deserves a little boost in the score, though I wish the final product was a little better. It's a bitter roasted smell. Nuts, chocolate and perhaps some dark fruit. Nothing really reveals itself as being special.

T: A bitter roasted taste. Dark bitter chocolate and dark fruits are the dominant flavors and make this a very dark beer. Roasted nuts and maybe some vanilla are there as well. Very well balanced but very, very blunt and not too subtle. The roasted malt and nuts really come through at the end.

M: Thick, thick, thick. A little carbonation. Serves the dark flavors well. But the fruit flavors perhaps demand a mouthfeel that is a little lighter.

D: Though everything is really good here, this beer ends up being a little less than the sum of its parts. I find the strong and sweet dark fruit flavor to be a little off putting. I'm not sure but the beer does everything well, but has a few things that keep from being great. Try it for yourself though, it's a unique a well done beer that maybe you have a taste for.

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Photo of ratedz
3.62/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours pitch black with a very thin mocha brown head that receded to a small ring around the outside of the glass.

S - Roasted malts, chocolate, and subtle coffee notes. Some dark fruits and a little smokiness are also noticeable.

T - Bittersweet chocolate, heavily roasted malts, burnt coffee. Some slightly bitter hops bite the tongue for a split second before it finishes with a little smokiness and alcohol heat.

M - Smooth and creamy, but a slight bite on the tongue seems a little off for an RIS.

O - A very good RIS, but there are others that I prefer over it. I'd be interested in trying the bourbon barrel aged version of this to see how it compares because I really enjoy bourbon barrel aged stouts. Thanks to Andy (pest) for sending a couple bottles of these in a recent trade!

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Photo of rmalinowski4
4.48/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet black with a two finger milk chocolate head. The head recedes slowly leaving a ton of milk chocolate colored lacing. Looks deep, dark, and divine.

Smells of roasted malt, dark chocolate, and coffee. Smells simply scrumptious.

The taste is of huge sweet chocolate, thick chewy malt and rich creamy coffee. It is wonderful, well balanced and simply delicious. The alcohol is well covered and barley noticeable when cold. As the beer warms, the alcohol heat become more prevalent.

The mouthfeel is thick and chewy and completely coats your palate. There is adequate carbonation making this simply wonderful to sip on.

Overall this is one of the best non barrel aged stouts that I have had, it is simply delicious. I am definitely going to seek out more of this one.

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

Is this mislabeled?

Pours black with no head at all. I spent a few minutes trying to look through the glass to no avail. Smells mostly of chocolate, some roasted coffee. Taste is of sweet chocolate, slight hints of espresso, and some roasted bitterness. Coffee is really present in the aftertaste. I'm not a huge stout fan but this could definitely help change my mind. Silky smooth and pleasent mouthfeel with little to no carbonation. This is the fastest I've ever finished a 750ml in one sitting.

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Photo of organicbrewer
4.16/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A-Jet black. one finger brown head. Nice.

S-ground coffee. Melted chocolate.

T-More chocolate. Nice toasty malt backbone behind the roast. Less coffee in the flavor than in the aroma. Bitter but not hoppy. Could use a bit more bitterness to cut through the sweetness (IMHO).

M-Thick. Medium carbonation. No alcohol burn. Nice for 12%

D-a great impy stout. thick and chewy with lots of dark chocolate and malt. Could use a bit more hop to cut the sweetness, or not.

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

Pour: Deep dark viscous black liquid with a dark tanned head that quickly dissipates into itself leaving what looks like "a black hole." This thing is seriously black.

Nose: Coffee, dark chocolate, dark fruits (plum/figs), hops, roasted malt, alcohol and slight vanilla.

Taste: This was very chocolate forward to my palate (much like Ten Fidy) with a strong coffee presence moving in afterwards. Vanilla, dark fruit and bitter hops/coffee come in at the end and allow a mouth coating finish of chocolate. Slight alcohol burn throughout.

Mouthfeel: This was pretty thick but well carbonated which reminded me of Older Viscosity with more carbonation. Oily slick and coating, I really liked this.

Overall: I really enjoyed this one and will need to get more from my buddy in MI (thanks splax23). This must be fantastic with a bourbon barrel aging. Great base beer.

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Photo of BuccoFan
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into pint glass. Pitch black and decently thick in the pour, with a head that sticks to the outer rim. Aroma is an intense sweet roasty malt, and it is the most prominent part of the brew. Taste is robust, with a tiny bit of carbonation detectable. Feel is medium-bodied, a little surprisingly so given other aspects.

Overall, it's a tasty, solid imperial stout. As I said, its body isn't a complete match to its aroma and taste, but after getting a bottle of this as a gift, I made an effort to get more.

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Photo of BuckeyeOne
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Stub & Herb's.

Poured into a 10 oz. snifter (kind of) a black liquor with a thin mocha head that left little to no lacing. No carbonation at all.

The nose was coffee, molasses, milk chocolate, and coffee.

The taste followed the nose and improved considerably as it warms, emphasizing the milk chocolate and coffee. Very good.

The lack of carbonation in the appearance was confirmed in the mouthfeel. With a lack of carbonation, I was expecting a chewiness. But it was actually a little thin for a RIS.

I would get this in a bottle if it were available to me where I lived.

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Photo of TK5150
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle sent to me from TimmyP, thanks man.

A- Pours jet black with a small dark brown head into my snifter. The head recedes into a brown ring around the edge of the glass. Excellent lacing on the glass as I swirl. Excellent example of what an Imperial Stout should look like in the glass.

S- Molasses is the most prominent smell, but there is also a lot of chocolate, licorice and dark fruits(raisins, figs, grapes).

T- Dark fruit (raisins, figs, grapes) mixes flawlessly with molasses; also incorporated is sweet chocolate. Not very roasty at all. Very sweet. Dessert beer for sure.

M- Low carbonation, but not quite as full bodied as I would like. Finishes kind of thin, actually. One area holding this beer back.

D- Wow, I'm glad I only have one 12 oz. bottle, or I may end up opening another, but at 12%, that would not be a very good idea.

Overall, a very nice imperial stout that is somewhat different from many of the ones I've had recently. Thin body at times, lack of serious complexity, and overall sweetness hold it back just a bit. Still, the delicious factor, appearance, and smell give this beer a nice leg up. A highly recommended beer that if were available to me, I would definitely pick up often.

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Photo of kdahnke123
3.74/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2013 Vintage poured in snifter.
A - Very dark pour with a small amount of dark brown, quickly dissipating head.
S - Dark roast smell. Medium coffee smell with overtones of red wine.
T - Medium-heavy coffee. Rich, full flavor. A little on the heavy roasted side with a light amount of hops.
M - Medium viscosity with a good mouth coating quality.
O - Overall a good stout, especially if you like the coffee variety.

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 837 ratings.