Plead The 5th Imperial Stout - Dark Horse Brewing Company

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Plead The 5th Imperial StoutPlead The 5th Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

3,474 Ratings
THE BROS
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Ratings: 3,474
Reviews: 839
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 7.89%
Wants: 554
Gots: 907 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,474 | Reviews: 839
Photo of magictacosinus
4.26/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Finally found a chance to open my sole bottle of this, sent to me by angrybabboon in April 2013. This is the '13 bottle, and I believe it's about a year old at this point. Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass - split, as I always do with RISs.

Yeah, that pours like syrup - just black treacle all the way, with a surprisingly high amount of head (mocha colored... Yum!) that rises to the glass about 1-2 fingers high. No light shines through this, suffice to say. The head eventually dies down, and it loses its carbonation slowly over time, but it does leave a terrific amount of lace and foam at the sides and does coat the glass semi-dark with each swirl. While it brings nothing new to the table, it is indeed a benchmark for what I expect with these beers.

Smells really good, however - this isn't a sweet RIS at all, and rather, this contains all of the roasted and hedonistic qualities that I simply adore these beers for. Big roasted chocolate notes, coffee, as well as peanut butter, with molasses, plum, cherry pits, and a sharp earthy bitterness at the back. Caramel, nutmeg, and burnt toffee finish it off. This is one of the nuttiest imperial stouts I've whiffed on in a good long while, and the roasted character is very fresh and lively. Perhaps due to the age, it does lack a complex array of flavors, but the heat is magnificently toned down - invisible, in fact, and no extra sweetness other than the malt profile completely comes through, in the end. Very good stuff.

The flavor is an explosion of chocolate and roasted malt flavors that coat the palate in a ridiculously hedonistic way - it's really the equivalent of eating a coffee filled dark chocolate truffle. After the roasted notes come in, there's a sharp nutty, peanut brittle flavor that becomes overrun with molasses, dark fruit, light leather, and finishes with more caramel and cinnamon, with a baker's chocolate bittered finish. The chocolate becomes more predominant over time, and with the added effect of the beer coating the mouth with a melting sensation, the truffle effect is turned up to 11 on this - honestly, the only other equivalent flavor is from Marshall Zhukov, although not NEARLY as exaggerated. While it does get more syrupy and less lively as it gets flatter, it always tastes really full and thick as an RIS should.

Yeah, this is pretty great stuff, and while it's not as complex or insane as other domestic offerings, it still is notable for its stupidly easy drinkable character, especially with the alcohol being this well hidden, in this case. I definitely was happy with my half portion, but I could have easily had more if I wanted. Definitely worth a try, and a very interesting look on how the base beer changes substantially compared to the bourbon barrel version.

Photo of Qbdoo
4.76/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

From a bottle, pours black as night with hardly any head (despite three tries), though what you get is a dark tan.

Scent is not powerful: roasted malt, coffee.

Taste: roasted malt, coffee, a little chocolate, There's just a bit of booze, but not too much. There are Russian imperial stouts that have too much, but this - despite 11% abv, is just right.

Mouthfeel is unbelievable: thick, creamy with a light carbonation. Probably the best mouthfeel of any stout, maybe any beer.

This may be my new favorite beer. Wish it were more readily available.

Photo of zimm421
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip. Appears a dark brown, nearly black, with one finger of tan head. The head dissipates fairly quickly, but leaves a ring around the glass, and has nice lacing.

The nose is full of deep roastiness and wonderful dark and milk chocolates. Not overwhelmingly powerful, but the notes are there (just too weak for me). The taste is again full of chocolate, some dark fruits, smoke and a wonderfully roasted malt finish. This is just what I'm looking for in a stout: not something that is overwhelming in one direction or another, but is wonderfully balanced in all aspects. The alcohol is very well hidden, and everything works together very well.

The mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied, with low carbonation, and a finish that isn't overly sticky. Overall, this is a very good imperial stout, with wonderfully complex and subtle flavors. This is also something that I can drink over and over again, not something that is so overwhelming that you're knocked out after one. Really hope I can try the barrel aged version at some point!

Photo of tpaetow
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A- thick, black, tan head, half a finger that dissipated quickly

S- dark chocolate, coffee, bit of caramel sweetness but not much

T- similar to smell but I also get some berry notes. Really nice.

M- medium to full bodied, lighter than I had expected for a stout this big. Hides its alcohol well.

O- this is a tasty RIS. I don't like it as much as the barrel aged version, but it's a really tasty stout!

Photo of SD-Alefan
4.52/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Center pour from a 12oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

What a lovely pour. A deep rich (nearly black) mahogany with a nice brownish-red foam that quickly dissipates to less than half a finger.

The smell is incredible! I get caramel, toffee, chocolate, perhaps prune, roasted coffee and a bit of booziness.

The first taste: A little bite of booze then a hit of sweetness and fruit followed by dark chocolate and raisin. The aftertaste is dark chocolate, slightly bitter and creamy. It lingers on the tongue, awaiting the next sip.

The mouthfeel is wonderful. Full and creamy with a late tingle on the tongue from the carbonation.

Overall, this is a great beer. Full of wonderful smells and flavors. I feel like the next time I have it, I'll be picking up different layers. I can't wait.

Photo of andrewjraab
4.21/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a opaque oily black with a dark brown pancake batter (oily) head. Wonderful smell of campfire, malts, vanilla, roasted malts, coffee. The taste follows the nose with some added semi sweetness up front (raisins, figs) followed by a drying dark chocolate. Some smoke detected in the back end. Overall this is a must have kick ass RIS. I purchased two wight the idea of aging one, but I don't think I can wait. Phenomenal brew.

Photo of Copernicandream
4.88/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle into a 12oz snifter. Fresh.

A: Impenetrable dark black, very minimal frothy head on a moderately aggressive pour that faded to nothing almost immediately <30 sec.

S: Chocolate, espresso, roasted malt, difficult to place - dark berries, red wine???

T: The taste is much more subdued than the smell. Essentially just heavy rich roasted malt. A little alcohol in the aftertaste. I get some dark chocolate bitterness, im sure hops are also involved but they're mild. The same ?blackberry, black raspberry, and what chilhood memories tell me are elderberries? come out with warmth - this is very subtle and I clearly am having a hard time nailing it down. Lets just say "dark fruit ester."

M: Full bodied, rich and creamy. Big bad beer. This is perfect, what you expect when you hear Imperial Stout. Moderate warmth from the 11%. Carbonation is mild and extremely fine.

O: Perhaps the, if not one of the best imperial stouts I have ever tasted. This blows the socks of Founders booze bomb, which I very much respect. Very complex and full bodied providing a filling feeling along with a complex palate. I can see why people wait in line for the BA version, it would likely be amazing.

Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.24/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Kind of a small head that doesn't retain too long. Yet, still appealing in appearance.

S - Notes of chocolate and espresso.

T - This beer has a very unique taste and feel in that it has the "bigness" of a barrel-aged stout, without the burn. I keep waiting for it to come, because of the boldness of flavors and abv, but it never comes. which is ok. It gives you a slightly different experience. The taste is superb.

M - Full bodied, creamy, substantial.

O - A superb beer that doesn't disappoint. I liked my second one (days later) than my first. Maybe I pulled it from the fridge too soon on the first because I couldn't wait.

Photo of Jho3325
4.37/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

Photo of ravot
4.14/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

Appearance:
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.

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

Taste:
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.

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

Overall:
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

Photo of N_Schleret
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

Photo of kdahnke123
3.74/5  rDev -13.2%
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.

Photo of truebluebums
4.3/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

Photo of dar482
4.71/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

Photo of confer
4/5  rDev -7.2%
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.

Photo of Cresant
4.69/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

Photo of chefhatt
3.55/5  rDev -17.6%
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.

Photo of GilGarp
4.34/5  rDev +0.7%
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.

Photo of tastybeer
4.36/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

Photo of JohnG190
4.42/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

Photo of Neorebel
4.31/5  rDev 0%
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.

Photo of timc100
4.51/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

Photo of oline73
4.03/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

Photo of ohiobeer29
3.91/5  rDev -9.3%
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

Photo of rudzud
4.05/5  rDev -6%
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.

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 3,474 ratings.