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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.

831 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 831
Hads: 3,549
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.26%
Wants: 548
Gots: 938 | FT: 108
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
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Reviews: 831 | Hads: 3,549
Photo of Jho3325
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as night. It gave a thin mocha colored head that dissipated relatively quickly. The beer sticks to the glas as you drink it.

Smell is of coffee and chocolate with definite roasted qualities.

Taste has a hint of coffee and chocolate. As it warms the dark berry flavor takes over. Very sweet with almost a bubblegum type taste to it. However the sweetness is cubed by the roasted elements.

It has a thick mouthfeel with a slight burn on the way down. Even still the 11% alcohol is not overpowering.

This is a great RIS. I look forward to trying this with some age on it. Well done and I would recommend.

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Photo of ravot
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a Plead the 5th, 2013 vintange, into a Bells Brewery snifter.

Pours of motor oil. Jet black. Minimal lacing on the glass. Head was minimal if any. The pour seems as if it were thick like oil.

This bottle immediately smelled of chocolate, dark roasts of coffee. More chocolate.
Some cocoa, coconut.

Dark roast malts, chocolate. Some slightly alcohol tasting, very good. Definitely sweet as you drink it. Some hops are hiding in there. Bitter chocolate notes in there. Being that it's ABV of 11%, hard to tell.

Creamy, refreshing like a milk stout. Dessert like feeling.

Man this is a great stout. Aged for a year. I feel this might better aged than fresh but now i need to take another test and get some fresh since coincidentally, distribution is right about now.
Get your hands on this, fresh or aged, you won't be disappointed in an overall solid Imperial Sout

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

A: Pours a pitch black color with a one finger brown head and light lacing.
S: Roasted malts, light coffee, and chocolate.
T: Much like the smell with roasted malt, and Coffee on the back end.
M: Heavy on the palate. Really coats the whole mouth with a nice roasted after taste.
O: Very good RIS.

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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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Photo of truebluebums
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured in a tulip

App: Black, like an Imperial. Pours a small brown head that disappears quickly leaving almost no traces.

Smell: Cocoa, roasted malts, caramel, some espresso, dark berries, slight hops, and the alcohol is there but not readily apparent

Taste: Roasted malts with cocoa, leaning more towards sweet than bitter, good balance. Definite berry flavors in there which are a little odd but delicious none the less, adding a tart sweetness to the beer. Smooth vanilla. Warm, light espresso. Slight acidic finish but mostly covered by the roasty malt bitterness.

Not much as far as carbonation goes. A little lacking with mouth-feel but overall a great Imperial. Sets itself apart with a very interesting palate. The taste is pretty intricate. Love it.

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Photo of dar482
4.71/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

(With a year aged.

A year in, the aroma has a bright raspberry/blueberry boozy jam aroma. Tons of umami. Coffee, sweet chocolate.

The flavor follows with tons of complexity. Alcohol is present. There’s a vodkaed blueberries, roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate. A hop bitterness that hits towards the end with a bit of umami. Caramel and molasses linger throughout.

The mouthfeel is full, but lighter than a Founders Imperial I had next to it. Lighter side of extremely viscous.

Age this beer. It inched by Founders Imperial with a year on it.)

It is a dark black color with a coffee head.

The aroma is of roasted malts and big coffee.

The flavor is of bitter chocolate, but not offensive with roasted malt and coffee. There is a beautiful clean finish. The creaminess is throughout and it does not have an alcohol bite.

The sweetness and creamy qualities carry it through, but really push the strong flavors along. It has such tasty qualities, but without being overpowering and the clean finish is wonderful.

It reminds me a bit of Imperial Biscotti and Even More Jesus. This is dangerously drinkable at 12% ABV, unlike some beers this style or bourbon aged beers.

This beer hides its 12% better than a beer like KBS. However, the cloying finish at a point that doesn't have a clean creamy finish like Ten Fidy. Love it still, but not as complete as I remember having it for the first time.

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Photo of confer
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had the 2013 version. I let it sit in the basement for a over six months before trying it.
It pours a dark brown with a caramel colored head that was around for only a short time.
The smell changed and got better as it warmed. At different temperatures you can smell coffee, chocolate and also prunes.
Surprisingly light for the style feels like a lot of carbonation. Taste is like a coffee with a touch of flavored cream, not very bitter only a little in the aftertaste.
This is a very nice beer which hides it's alcohol content unbelievably well.

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Photo of Cresant
4.69/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured this 12 oz. bottle into a New Belgium globe glass. The body was dark brown and the very creamy head was dark tan. The head was smaller than expected even after a hard pour.

The smell was of sweet cocoa. Hints of vanilla and big fresh grain aroma.

The taste was sweet and creamy with significant roasty bitterness. Chocolate and vanilla. Very well hidden alcohol. So smooth and tasty, just a well constructed big stout.

The mouthfeel was medium to full and it was oh so creamy. This one exceeded my expectations.

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Photo of chefhatt
3.55/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured some into a snifter from my brothers growler. It is black as night body with a tsmall tan head. The smell has a roasty malt aroma with chocolate notes. The taste is has roasted malt taste with chocolate coming on the back of the tongue. The mouthfeel is smooth and overall a pretty good stout.

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

Picked up when I was in Ohio a few years ago. Likely a 2010 bottle.

Seved slightly chilled in a goblet. Plead the 5th is nearly black in color and only the slightest bit of light passes through the edges. Viscous appearance with basically no head.

Aroma is richand roasty with wonderful chocolate notes.

Flavor is rich and robust with dark roasted malts and bitter dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and low in carbonation. Alcohol is present but subdued probably because of the age.

Overall an excellent imperial stout but hard to get in these parts. Maybe worth bringing home again in the future.

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Photo of tastybeer
4.36/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A good looking beer....Totally opaque, deep brown color, modest light brown head, and nice lace. Aroma is an easy going mix of dark chocolate, cocoa, dark berries, plums, vanilla bean, and perhaps a hint of smoke. Deep and smooth aromas... Taste is very chocolatey with some caramel, creamy vanilla, and lactose sweetness. Slight piney bitterness works its way through. Very yummy; dessert in a glass. Mouthfeel is extremely smooth, coating, and almost silky. Overall an excellent Russian Imperial Stout. Chocolate chocolate chocolate.

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Photo of JohnG190
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as pitch with a quickly dissipating dark brown head. Lots of lacing. Aromas of chocolate, burnt sugar, coffee, and dark roasted grain. Flavor follows the aroma with chocolate and roasted grain dominating. Finishes dry with a bittersweet chocolate aftertaste. Full bodied with very little carbonation, this is a very smooth Imperial Stout. Overall, a very well crafted beer that goes down surprisingly easy in spite of the 11% ABV.

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Photo of Neorebel
4.31/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Plead the 5th looks almost perfect... pitch black, with a thin, off white ring around the perimeter of the glass. Splash of tan in the center. Visible and minimal carbonation. Aroma is very heavy... dark chocolate cake, dark fruits, some sour cherry, and it is indeed very roasty. Flavor wise, that roasty, toasted malt aspect comes through in a big way. Secondary to that are the pleasing coffee and chocolate notes. It does start off very smooth, and appropriately fades out into a very dry finish. There is a very strong 'campfire' aspect to this as well, which could turn some people off. I rather like it, myself. The mouth feel is medium-heavy, and overall, this is an interesting blend of sweet and smoky. Recommended for any RIS head.

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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 oline73
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2009 bottle poured into a goblet.

The beer pours black as night with just a small ring of cocoa colored head around the edge of the pour. I'm getting a strong sweetness and fairly intense roast in the nose. I'm also getting some dark fruit and warm alcohol. More of the same follows in the taste. Lots of roast, but the age has made sure it isn't abrasive. Dark fruit and bitter dark chocolate along with some smoke. The finish is bitter and warm from the alcohol. I'm glad I didn't drink this fresh, I think it would have been too bitter for my tastes. The smoke/roast flavors stick with you well after your done with each sip. The body is really thick with smooth carbonation and the finish is dry.

Overall: I enjoyed this one but I don't think I'd like it as much fresh. I had it side by side with a fresher barrel aged version, and the barrel really does some magic. I'd definitely have more of this one, but I won't go out of my way to get it.

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Photo of ohiobeer29
3.91/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've tried this beer many times and never been thrilled with it until now now I get why people really enjoy this beer a nice balance of dark malts,chocolate and heat behind it a well put together stout will def be buying more next year

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Photo of rudzud
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a 4 pack of this in Charlton, and according to the notes it is a 2011 vintage. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a nice deep brown almost black hue with a good quarter inch dark chocolate hue that does not really fade, just settles down to a creamy blanket. Quite solid, light lacing. Good for the ABV.

S - Strong dark chocolate, almost acrid roast, slight almost leather notes, earthy bitter char. Alcohol is not really noticeable.

T - Taste is lots of almost chalky dark chocolate, charred bitterness, light campfire notes, dark fruits. Pretty straightforward.

M - Mouthfeel is creamy, very, very lightly carbonated. Alcohol is hidden very nicely.

O - Overall this is pretty solid. Nothing earth shattering but age is helping this along quite nicely.

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Photo of nataku00
4.26/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a tulip glass. Was told it's a 2013 batch. Beer pours dark opaque black with some brown tints and no head. Some alcohol legs when you swirl it but not much head formation.

Nose is medium roasted coffee, sweet and nutty, with some bittersweet chocolate, prune, and a bit of dark roasted burnt malt.

Taste follows the nose, roasted coffee forward, darkly roasted but not burnt but some toasty and nutty flavors come through. Bitter sweet chocolate and dark fruit flavors mingle but the roasted coffee and malt is main flavor. Some lingering coffee flavors on the tongue.

Full body, silky on the tongue with some surprisingly active carbonation that pricks at the tongue lightly. For 11% abv, the beer has no hint of alcohol despite being released this year. A very good imperial stout.

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Photo of MNishCT77
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle obtained on trade (thanks, Greg Radwich!), unknown bottling date (suspected 2012 vintage), poured into my FFF Teku glass, drank 9/25/13 over an hour

A: 2/3 - black as a goth at a rave, no clarity, poured with little carbonation and not evident throughout the drinking, big alcohol legs as expected at 11% ABV

S: 10/12 - bitter dark chocolate, tobacco, leather and strong alcohol notes reminiscent of a rum

T: 17/20 - on the anterior tongue, there's a moderate bitterness - dark chocolate and coffee flavors predominate; in the middle of the mouth, the malt complexity and alcohol really take over without residual/cloying sweetness; a mild bitter chocolate/coffee taste persists for 5-10 seconds and invites another-and-another sip

M: 3/5 - big chewy body, alcohol burn...but little-to-no carbonation

O: 8/10 - there was a lot of hype surrounding this beer, and, although it's a solid RIS, Pt5th unfortunately disappointed me; the major problem is the undercarbonation; I know that one cannot expect (nor should want) a highly carbonated RIS at 11% ABV, yet carbonation is critical for the flavor/aroma and mouthfeel; yet, there are some great flavor profiles here, and, as a result, would be very interested in trying the 14% ABV bourbon barrel-aged version

TOTAL = 40/50

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Pours jet black, tan lacing for a head.

Smells of oak, cocoa and salted caramel. Maybe some coffee too.

Flavor is of caramel, oak, a bit of bourbon, toasted biscuit malts, a hint of vanilla, and non-acidic coffee. Rich but not cloying.

Full, creamy body with a light tingle of carbonation on the tongue.

Fantastic stout, one of the best I've had in a while and easily up there with Old Rasputin and Founder's Breakfast. I could have this again and again, and highly recommend it.

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Photo of beatenbyjacks
4.63/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - dark oil pour, rich caramel head, and great lacing!

Smell - roasted chocolate caramel with a barrel aged smell that is great.

Taste - rich frothy chocolate boozy greatness.

Mouthfeel - frothy smooth delicious feel

Overall - wow I am glad I got this beer in a trade. Such a great beer. Imperial stout done right!

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Photo of JayQue
4.53/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A really outstanding RIS. Obtained in a trade with either TMoney2591 or Woodchopper. I let this one sit for a while....wouldn't keep another one this long....tastes too good.

Pours a dark brown, dense with absolutely no light getting through. Small brown head...dark as Ten Fidy with limited retention and little lacing. To be expected in this strong a beer.

Aroma is fabulous....Noticeable as soon as you manage to get the cap off underneath the grey waxy stuff that coats the bottle. Malts, dark chocolate, molasses type sweetness and vanilla. A potent concoction with all aromas just right.

Taste dos not disappoint either. Rich toasted malt background, molasses like sweetness, chocolate taste is restrained and just right and a hint of vanilla.

Mouthfeel is luxuriously rich and very smooth except for a mild alcohol presence, warming effect...keeps you from quickly slurping up this goodness.

One of the better RIS I have ever had. Great experience!!!! Thanks to my Illinois connection!!!

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: A viscose motor oil pour fills the vessel with a creamy, nutmeg head that lingered around a bit. Skim lacing covering, well lasting leaving a film lace coating.

S: Dark chocolate, cocoa, milky chocolate, vanilla of strong indications. Small charred bitterness, earthy roasted chocolate. No alcohol awareness for 11.0%.

T: Earthy bitter roast, fresh, darkly bitter with vanilla and charred bitterness. Bakers chocolate, burnt toffee, campfire minerality, roasted barley. Dark fruit of prunes, whiskey breath and smoky charrdness.

M: Malty body, viscose with a honey-cream substance, and syrupy texture. Softly carbonated with a bite of roasted burnt bitterness and alcohol on the swallow.

O: Overall drinks amazingly well for 11.0, well concealed alcohol. Dark, beautifully roasted bitterness with a silky nature. The only pleading here is for another bottle. all around outstanding.

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

poured from bottle into founder snifter glass
dark no head just a little line
smell is malt and heavy chocolate
taste is so smooth nice slight chocolate not as much as the smell would indicate
nice mouthfeel not super thick or thin great consistency
little lacing on the glass
would definite get again this is a class stout very nice

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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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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 831 ratings.