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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.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

869 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 869
Hads: 3,723
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.02%
Wants: 555
Gots: 1,014 | FT: 114
Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

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: 869 | Hads: 3,723
Photo of stephens101
4.56/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

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Photo of HoppySeb
4.53/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

What an amazing beer - I wish I had access to it more often. Poured from a refrigerated 12oz bottle into a KBS snifter - poured vertically, producing a great looking two inch thick foam that is light brown in color. The head quickly dissipates and forms a ring around the glass which stays there as you drink it.

Its nose if mostly chocolate, vanilla, ripened plums, coffee and light spices - sweet. Taste is bittersweet. Definite hop presence with bold dark chocolate and vanilla bean flavors.

Mouthfeel is amazing - thick and chewy, allows you to extract every ounce of flavor from this beer. Carbonation is very light, as expected.

Overall - I'm very impressed with this beer as I was not expecting it to be this great. I will definitely seek it out more often! Highly recommended!

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Photo of Treyliff
4.52/5  rDev +6.9%
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

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Photo of mntlover
4.49/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep dark black no highlights when held to the light just a black hole sucking up all the light. Small pinky sized coco head falls to a ring, no real lace left behind.

Aroma is very nice lots of roasted malts, rich chocolate notes, sweet smelling with hints of earthy peat and coffee notes. If possible it smells thick bodied.

Taste is like the nose rich thick roasted malts, good chocolate with hints of coffee in the middle and lingering also in the finish with some bitterness added. Big chewy sweet stout but its not cloying, I suppose there enough hops to balance it out, but not enough to be noticed. Some spicy alcohol notes also in the finish but blend well and do not distract.

Mouthfeel is nice big chewy drew with good mellow carbonation . Makes for easy drinking which could be a problem on this big of a beer.

Overall this is a very nice stout, one I would love to have more of.

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

Bottle purchased at EBI in Saratoga, NY.

Pours a dark black, with a half inch head that fades down to film and a little bit of foam quickly. Not much lacing.

Smells like chocolate, roasted malt, and a bit of alcohol.

This stout uses its alcohol very well- it gives a spicy bite that plays nicely off the malty, chocolatey sweetness. There's a tiny bit of soy sauce flavor, with roasty bitterness and dark fruit flavors.

Medium to full bodied, creamy, smooth delectable mouthfeel. Low carbonation. Present but not threatening alcohol.

The bourbon barrel aged version of this is a classic, this base version is very nice as well, and holds itself up on its own.

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Photo of mtomlins
4.59/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a coffee mug (the only way to drink stout in the morning!).

Pours a deep a deep black with 1-2 fingers of dark mocha head, dissipating quickly to a creamy collar and leaving slight lacing. Massive roasted malts, dark chocolate, a bit of coffee in the nose. On the palate the dark roasted malts shine through with lots of dry coffee, fudge, dark chocolate and some nice bitterness. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy with just the right amount of carbonation. Overall, this is just a delicious, well balanced stout, one of my new favorites!

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Photo of d5001986
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into Spiegelau tulip.

A: Pours a pure inky black with just a trace of tan head.

S: Roasted malt, coffee, molasses, and vanilla.

T: Roasted malt, burnt coffee, vanilla, and bitter dark chocolate up front; with some smokiness, spicy pepper, and light nuttiness. Also a moderate bitterness follows.

M: A good thick and oily body, just right to the style. Little carbonation comes through.

O: A very nice impression of the style, rich yet drinks easy as far as stouts go. Overall solid, and a good buy.

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Photo of Dope
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Review from the same batch as the below, now a 3 year old bottle (2011 batch)

A: Pitch black pour with the a very small dark brown head. Head fades almost instantly. Minimal bits of lacing here and there and very little head retention.

S: Loaded with dark fruits. Almost wine-like or sherry-like (oxidation?). Mild chocolate but mostly raisins, cherries, generic stone fruit. Even berries.

T: Sweet dark fruits up front. Again with the stonefruit and raisins. Chocolatey, more so than I remember. Starts out like milk chocolate (chocolate-covered raisins and cherries?) and then turns quite bitter. Very baker's chocolate-esque or cocoa-like. Lingering chocolate and dark fruit forever.

M: Heavy, thick, viscous.

O: Well, as mentioned in my older review, this is one of the fruitiest RISes I've ever had. Aged though, it is MUCH less harsh and much better balanced. There's tons of sweet milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate (in the finish) to back up all that fruit. Flavors are still bold but not harsh and over the top. No real sign of alcohol now except for the belly warmth. Three years has greatly improved this one.

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Review from 07-12-2011 (fresh bottle)

A: Super thick black pour. Minimal but very dark brown head. Almost no retention or lacing to speak of. (4)

S: Roasted malt followed by some dark fruit (raisins, cherries and grapes maybe?). Some coffee too. A little alcohol. (4)

T: Roasted malt from the nose takes a back seat. Tons of dark fruit as mentioned. There is some roast, coffee and alcohol in the aftertaste but up front it is surprisingly super fruity. (4)

M: Very thick mouthfeel, feels like it coats your mouth with a viscous oil. Low bitterness except from the coffee flavor. (4.5)

O: I gave it pretty good ratings but have to take away a bit on the Overall ratings for my subjective reasons. I love big stouts but this one is super fruity and a little bit hot. I prefer more roast, more coffee and more chocolate in my stouts than fruit. I'm not saying this is bad, just that it wasn't my style. I'm going to age the rest of my bottles and see how this beer turns out. (3.5)

Overall 3.95

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a clear but opaque jet black in color with light to moderate amounts of gentle carbonation and some very faint dark cola brown highlights. The beer has a quarter finger tall foamy dark mocha head that quickly reduces to a small patch of very thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Minimal amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of dark roasted malts with lighter notes of dark chocolate and a hint of coffee.

T: Upfront there is a moderate to strong flavor of dark roasted malts with light to moderate flavors of dark chocolate and some hints of dark fruit (fig). There are light amounts of sweetness upfront. Slightly stronger than moderate amounts of bitterness which lingers of a moderate amount of time.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth and creamy.

O: Alcohol is well hidden and the beer is quite drinkable. Nice flavor and definitely one I was glad to find. Worth grabbing if you see it.

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Photo of TrekkieChick
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This beer was purchased as a special edition (limit 1 bottle per customer). It pours well, very small/no head and is a very dark brown color. It is a heavy coffee flavor, but smooth and goes down easy! I would recommend to anyone who likes coffee or coffee in their beer.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a black body with minor head and lace. First thing that hits me in the nose is dark fruits like raisin, figs, and then minor sweet malts like chocolate and something sugary (not going to say candi sugar or caramel...toffee? molasses?) and then balance from some roasted malts and to be honest no alcohol. The lack of alcohol in the nose and also the beer itself is quite a feat considering it's a double digit ABV beer. This beer, for as heavy as it could be and with so much going on, is actually light and easy to drink with a chewy, fuller body that goes down incredibly easy with notes of chocolate and other sweet flavors (again - toffee? molasses?) hints of figs, some roasted malts, good balance and the beer has a good, strong finish without alcohol burn. Just a solid stout.

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Photo of gueuzedreg
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a CS snifter.

A- Charred brown black in color; coffee head that has good retention to minimal lacing with medium legs

S- this brew totally has a Belgian dark fruit/charred fig quality to it. Some like this, some don't. I usually don't, but the taste is not dominated by it.

T- Equal chocolate and molasses to Belgian dark fruit/charred fig to help my palate out. Nice malt backbone. Not as pronounced as some, but good nonetheless.

M- Very smooth here, with perfect amount of carb. Can't complain

O- A very very well done version of a non ba stout. Get some!

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Photo of oberon
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Unbelievably this is the first time I have had this beer...crazy.Pours jet black like an oil slich with a thinner beige head atop,like thick crude.Chocolate and black licorice in the nose along roast and sweet alcohol.Heavy roast and earthiness intertwined with alcohol dipped dark druit and deep molasses sweetness with that black licorice coming into play as well,whoo this big and complex.Big and chewey this is a sipper that Iam drinking at 6:00,it could be an early bedtime tonigh because I have three more to drink.

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

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a teku glass. It looks like the bottle says 03.05.14 so this is pretty fresh.

Appearance: Pours jet black and leaves two fingers of tan/light-medium brown head which fades pretty quickly to a layer atop the beer.

Smell: Big roasted malts, coffee, fudge-like chocolate, some dark fruits, a hint of cherry. Fairly decadent. Very nice aroma.

Taste: Matches the smell until the finish which is a bit more bitter. Roasted malts, fudge, coffee, vanilla, marshmallow, a bit of char. Slightly bitter finish. ABV is masked really well.

Mouth-feel: Low carbonation with a thick, creamy body. Finishes smooth.

Overall: A very impressive stout. Rich, thick body with a decadent aroma and wonderful flavor. Really tasty.

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Photo of stdaniel
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Dark coffee, minimal chestnut colored head that disapates quickly.

S: Roasted malts, coffee, hint of vanilla, overall typical of an imperial stout

T: Roasted/charred malt, but not overpowering. Again, coffee, vanilla, sweetness. Balanced out very nicely with the high ABV. Not boozy at all.

M: Creamy, luxurious. Even the last few sips had that hit of carbonation that cuts through the sweetness.

O: No aging necessary for this impressive example of a RIS.

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Photo of barhoc11
4.77/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Darkest of dark, looks like used motor oil but in a good way. little to no head on the beer.

S: Sweet roast smell, one of the best smelling RIS's I have had

T: Just as it smells, very sweet with the roasted malt finish. As with most RIS's, this gets better as it warms

M: Nicely carbonated and thick in your mouth, just as it should for this style

O: This is one of my favorite RIS's, it pushes the limits of the style but in a very good way. It is hard to tell this is 11% abv

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Photo of Immortale25
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. Bottleneck says 3.20.14

A- Pours an intensely opaque black color with a 1/4 inch light brown head that retains well before diminishing to a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a mostly full sheet of sheer surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves large clots behind on the glass.

S- Heavy dark roast brings notes of molasses, raisin, vanilla and...overripe banana? Wow, I've never smelled banana in a stout before but this isn't like banana notes you get from Belgians and Hefeweizens where it's fresh and sweet. This is banana that's been sitting a while and, since the malt also brings notes of chocolate it's like a chocolate-covered banana! Remarkable.

T- The dark roast sets in but is smooth at first bringing notes of dark chocolate, caramel and more molasses but then it progresses toward a heavy, bitter, charry finish. There's that banana again. I swear, this is uncanny. Booze is there and plays off the heavy flavors well resulting in a great drinkability for the ABV. Slightly sweet.

M- Creamy, thick and chewy. Medium-low carbonation and the fullest of bodies.

O- A powerhouse of a stout with intense flavors but a great delivery.

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Photo of lochef81
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Having tried the other four stouts in Dark Horse's vertical, I was very excited to sample the fifth and final offering. It did not dissappoint. This ale pours black with a very small and short lived tan head that leaves a slight film and lacing. The aroma has an over abundance of dark chocolate followed by a lesser amount of coffee, burnt caramel, and vanilla. The nose is the best thing about this beer. The flavor follows the nose but is more subdued. All the notes are there as in the nose but they just are not as dynamic. The coffee is more pronounced particularly in the bitter finish of the ale. Other than the finish it is a rather sweet stout. The mouthfeel is a little thinner than I expected but smooth and satisfying none the less. This is damn good but maybe not as rich and complex as some of the other offerings in this category. Can't wait to see how it ages.

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Photo of hplascencia1024
3.74/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Served from a bottle into a snifter

A: Pitch black with no head whatsoever

S: nice dark chocolate, roasty notes, caramel, nice sweetness

T: dark chocolate, slight coffee, heavy roast, slight alcohol burn

M: very light, nice carbonation, I would like it to be thicker(just my preference for the style)

O:A very good stout, but there are a ton of better stouts out there. not disappointing but not world class IMHO

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Photo of Apatschinn
4.77/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

App. - Pitch black pour. Nearly opaque in the glass. Virtually no head at all with little lacing.

Smell - All things chocolate. Light amount of coffee mixed as well. Very impressive.

Taste - Fails to keep up with the smell. Heavier coffee aftertaste that quickly dissipates. Great initial flavor though!

Mouth. - Light and smooth, very impressed.

Over. - Great beer I got from a friend in a trade, Would definitely love to see this on tap nearby!

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Photo of sculver91
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

A - Didn't get much of a head, but appeared a dark oil black/brown.

S - Strong dark chocolate smell, but really sweet smelling.

T - caramel and coffee, deep rich molasses. For an 11% abv beer, it surely didn't taste like it

M - Not much carbonation during the pour, but lots in the mouth. Great texture

D - Ridiculously smooth. Great flavor, can't put it down.

O - Solid stout. Heavy chocolate and coffee flavors, and had a great appearance. Definitely very good beer.

Bottled.

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Photo of chinchill
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark Horse Plead the 5th on tap at the Beer Trappe in Lexington, KY.

Near black and opaque in the glass, with dark brown showing at the edges.  Durable head but little lacing. 

Great aroma!  Rich and moderately complex, it suggests great flavor.  The flavor doesn't quite keep up but is outstanding. 
ABV well hidden in the nose, in the flavor, and in the feel.

Full body; smooth.

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Photo of siege06nd
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 bottles into Dogfish Head snifter...

A. Inky black with chocolate brown edges. A half finger of tan head with some mild bubbles sticking to the glass. Leaves a sheen of oily slick on the glass with each swirl.

S. Dark chocolate, fudge, traces of herbal and piney hops, blackstrap molasses, and suggestions of fruit.

T. Chocolate, caramel, some strawberry and cherry, roasted coffee grounds and even some char in a dry finish.

M. Coats the palate with a thick and chewy body. Good flavor integration and nice balance. Sweet, chocolatey, and fruity upfront and a slightly ashy, classic finish.

O. An excellent Imperial Stout. It's full bodied, filling, and flavorful with excellent booze-masking. Hits all of the right notes.

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Photo of BradenMK
3.22/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was a weird beer for me. I don't know if my palate is wrecked by something... it shouldn't be... but I was feeling under the weather today. EDIT: Hmm... my palate is indeed wrecked. I am currently drinking a Founders Imperial Stout and I taste nothing but chocolate covered raisins...

I will have to return to this one at a later date. Unfortunately for me, this is the first 5th I've ever seen and was the only one on the shelf. Hopefully I can find another.

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

This is a great, complex beer. No oats in the recipe that I know of but there's a smoothness that is reminiscent of an oatmeal stout. Big and bold on the nose. Main body of the flavor is bitter chocolate with some coffee. Some sweetness lingers on the finish. Solid offering, I'd like to get the barrel aged version some day.

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 869 ratings.