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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout - Dark Horse Brewing Company

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

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

3,108 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,108
Reviews: 770
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 8.12%
Wants: 528
Gots: 720 | FT: 78
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
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Ratings: 3,108 | Reviews: 770 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jale
4.33/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the brewery.

A: Pours a thick black with two quarters of head.

S: Roasted malts, burnt sugar, chocolate, coffee and some dark fruits.

T: Sweet roasted malt, raisin, cherry, slight bitter chocolate and coffee. Just a hint of alcohol. This beer is so complex.

M: Thick body and good carbonation.

O: This is a sipper and not just due to the alcohol level.

Photo of EricCioe
4.38/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This pours impenetrable black with a dark tan head with decent retention and good lace. On the nose there is bitter chocolate, bitter coffee, and a good deal of alcoholic heat. In the mouth there is a big chocolate note up front, a little sweeter than it seems on the nose, molasses as the big body slides down, with roasted malt and some bitter coffee on the back of the tongue as part of a long finish. There is a good deal of heat here, plenty enjoyable, but limiting the drinkability a little bit. Still, this is a good sipper and something I really enjoyed. The other two Dark Horse beers I've reviewed I didn't really like, but this one has given them a new lease on life for me. This isn't quite to the level of Founders Imperial Stout, but it's pretty close and I enjoy it a good deal.

EDIT - A year later and I've had this several times. Fresh, this is the best RIS from MI that I've had. Expedition is better after a year, but fresh this beats that and Founders.

Photo of Jparkanzky
4.58/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A) Pour into a pint glass from bottle, at near room-temp. Poured jet-black, didn't see really any red or brown within while pouring it. A few dancing bubbles on top, and no head.... the 1/16th inch head that was there for about 2 seconds was dark brown.... this beer is DARK!

S) Don't really pull a lot from the smell... it's actually quite neutral, perhaps vanilla hints to it, but I really don't know. It certainly wasn't unpleasant, but more "neutral"

T) GREAT. A little caramel perhaps, and hints of a bourbon flavor. The after-taste is pure smooth-velvety goodness.

M) A little alcohol bite at first, but overall it tastes like heavy black-creme, devoid of any carbonation whatsoever, so in a word "GREAT!"

Very enjoyable from start to finish... I took this out of the cellar at 50 deg. and waiting 15 minutes at room temp, and it still didn't really "peak" until halfway through the glass... Flavors and texture really opened up, and any negative alcohol characteristics that were clearly pronounced, disappeared when the temperature warmed up.

Highly recommend this one!

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

Pitch black body capped by a one finger cappuccino colored head. The head slowly works its way back leaving a thick sheet of lacing blanketing the walls of the glass.

Heavy chocolate and booze upfront in the nose. Molasses and slight roast fall in just behind. Subtle hints of java are buried beneath. Pleasant aroma but not overly complex.

The flavor follows along the same path in which the nose started down. Heavy chocolate dominates the front of the palate. Molasses and a bit of roast develop underneath. A slight brewers licorice flavor appears on the back of the palate. There is a definite overall sweetness with this beer, the sweetness does lean towards the darker side.

Full bodied stout but lacks viscosity. The creamy nearly frothy texture does help and make up for this. The flavor lays heavy on the tongue making for a long finish.

In a state which does not take their Imperial Stouts lightly Dark Horse holds it own. I do not find it quite as enjoyable as Bell's and Founders offerings but Plead the Fifth is far better than the majority of the RIS's out there. Very drinkable for such a big beer. The booze does make its presence known but does not become obstructive. Definitely one worth seeking out.

Photo of callmescraps
3.55/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Been hearing about this one, just stumbled across it.

Appearance- Black with a very thin mocha head even with with a vigorous pour. No lacing, just the thinnest of caps.

Smell- Big, rich chocolate. Bourbon and vanilla. It really has nice bourbon. Some toasted marshmallow. It's very nice.

Taste- It has some nice chocolate, and some booze. Ok, plenty of booze. It's got a ton of dark fruits, tons of raisin. Seriously, lots of raisin. It finishes with bitter chocolate, and a little ashy. Sweet, booze, raisin.

Mouthfeel- Just too thin, frankly. A little flat.

Overall- I was so excited about this one after the smell. But it does not deliver.

This is just disappointing. It should have lot going for it, but it's thin, a little hot, kind of ashy in the end, and basically a raisenette beer. So it goes.

Photo of smakawhat
4.33/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass.

Comes out just jet black. Sits on a very dark black body. Leaves some dark cocoa powder like bubbles of a small head but doesn't stick around. Manages to leave a collar and lots of leg action on the glass.

Bouquet is a very barleywine like with sweet raspberry fruit. Small hints of dark chocolate in the back, and some powdery dry arid sensations.

Taste is a real soft berry and chocolate. It feels like berry chocolate. This is very light bodied too and feels incredibly balanced. Slight tinges of tobacco on the swallow also with a good deal of masked abv quality. Kind of a dry finish also sort of hinting that at first from what the nose felt like. A little thin but surprising. Hints of smoke and chocolate too.

Overall it's quite enjoyable actually, interesting take for such a big abv.

Photo of mikeyv35
4.08/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Date: 03/28/2011
Type: 11.2oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2010
Glassware: Portsmouth Tulip

Poured a deep dark chocolate in color w/ a 1/2 finger tan head that left substantial lacing on the glass. Appears beautifully viscous. Aromas of chocolate malts, molasses, and underlying dark fruits. Taste was about the same, chocolate, molasses, a touch of dark fruits, and a finish of good hop bite and bitterness to keep this from cloying. Full bodied. At 13% ABV you can only drink so much of this despite Dark Horse doing a damn fine job at masking the booze.

Pleasure to sample and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but 11.2oz. really should be split w/ a good BA buddy IMO.

Photo of BieresDesMoines
4.05/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours like motor oil, only a deep impenetrable black color leaving only a rumor of a head around the edges of the glass. The aroma is rich, roasty, and malty with a lot of coffee and some bourbon boozy notes with some deep chocolate of both the sweet and bitter variety. The flavor is again very rich with (again) both sweet and bitter chocolate notes. The beer is not nearly as sweet as most of this strength or viscosity. There are plenty of coffee and boozy tones in this one as well. The palate is profoundly full and sticky. Delicious.

Photo of Gfunk720
4.4/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to John for this bottle. Consumed out of my Capt. Lawrence LE tulip.

A- Pitch black, and thick. Pours with a thick chocolate colored head, but only about 1 finger. It sticks around for a few minutes.

S- Smells of sweet malt, chocolate, and coffee. I also get a touch of the hoppy/imperial smell as well, but it is not prominent. Reminds me of Zuhkov's.

T- Wow. A beautiful beer. The malt profile is nice and complex, and plays well into the hoppy aftertaste. The flavors are mostly chocolate and coffee. It starts out smooth and creamy, but finishes with a nice hoppy bite.

M- Very nice. While it looks really thick, it is not as viscous as some other beers of the style. The carbonation/body/and flavor all are very very nice.

O- I tried not to expect too much of this beer, and it really was a nice surprise. This is a great RIS, and I really don't have anything bad I can say about it. Can see why the Barrel aged version of this beer is so coveted.

-Gfunk

Photo of robwestcott
3.45/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

a bottle from 2009

poured cold and black as night from the bottle to a surly darkness 10oz goblet with a wisp of a dark, super short lasting mocha head.

big aroma of dark raisiny fruits and roasty malts.

dark fruits and char, smoke. this is a thick black smoky stout. not particularly up my alley.

big bodied, medium carbonation, smooth, smoky bitters.

drinkable - nah, not really.

Photo of drpdaddy
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks, warbird07 for this one. Poured into snifter. Pours pitch black with very little head and no residual lacing. Smell is spectacular dark malts, chocolate, molasses, raisins very faint ethanol. Taste chocolate, coffee, raisins, sweet malt, tobacco, the ethanol is very well hidden considering the abv. Mouthfeel is velvety smooth, almost creamy, faint carbonation. Overall a very solid RIS, underrated if you ask me. This beer is way to easy to drink which is dangerous at this abv. I definitely recommend this one.

Photo of thecarster1
3.53/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a- bottle poured into a tulip glass, pour is very thick, scant head which is normal for a brew of this strength, very dark black motor oil coloring.

s- dark and stormy nose, lots of bourbon here, dark roasty burnt coffee, and dark chocolate, very strong, some alcohol.

t- lots of bourbon off the bat here again, dark heavily roasted malts, dark back coffee and chocolate, the alcohol is here but it kept in check pretty well for a 12% brew.

m- thick and coating.

d- not a bad beer by any stretch, but a sipper for sure at this strength and because of the massive flavors it packs, i've got another one i'm popping in the cellar to see how well it fares with a bit of age on it.

Photo of dbossman
4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Black and thick--looks like motor oil coming out of the bottle; dark brown head that loses its retention quickly until it becomes very still and black; lacing is okay for the style

S: Some alcohol and lots of dark roasted malts with some coffee and hints of chocolate, vanilla, and dark fruits; a hint of bourbon and tobacco even

T: Slightly burnt roasted malts: coffee, tobacco leaves, vanilla, and a touch of dried, dark fruits and chocolate; also some subtle but pleasant booziness peaking through

F: Nice creamy and yet sticky beer; this is viscous and chewy and the beer sticks pleasantly to the inside (especially roof) of the mouth

D: This is a strong and slightly boozy beer but it is complex with lots of subtle nuances making this one hell of a sipper

Photo of cosmicevan
4.65/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

HUGE thanks to rschne13 for the trade on this one.

a- Popped open the 12oz bottle and poured it into my oversized snifter. Gorgeous thick sludgey stout goodness. pretty much no head at all. When I swirl the glass I can build up a little bit of a brown head. Snail trail-like lacing. Has a bit of a barrel aged look shine.

s - Dark chocolate alcohol sweetness. Extremely well balanced roasted malt. I swear I'm picking up some sort of bourbon (ev

t - HOLY CRAP. This is fantastic. Deep dark chocolatey roasted malts. The booze is really nice. This is an A double plus beer.

m/d - Tonight is/was an evening for big stouts and this beer...I had some high expectations for and it stepped to the plate and slammed it out of the park on the first pitch. Mouth is crisp and it is smooth, silky and easy to drink. Flavor is strong dark chocolate...a bit on the heavy side, but you'd expect that at 12%.

Photo of UMNbeerhunter
4.93/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Since I have had about a dozen of these and sent out tons as extras I suppose I should finally review it.

Poured from a 12oz into a Darkness tulip.

Pours black as night with a beautiful brown 2 finger head.

Smells great as well. Lots of chocolate and a little coffee.

Taste is on par with the best IS that I have tasted. Hands down the best stout I have tasted out of a 12oz serving. I will buy a case of this next time it is released.

Mouthfeel is nice as well. Medium weight and the chocolate resin sticks to your mouth in a way to stay for a long time and not be offensive.

Drinkability is high as this is one of the best off the shelf easy to get IS I have had.

Photo of Urbancaver
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

At a tasting in the fall with One Too Tres and Fore. This is the only one I have notes for.

Pours pitch black. Incredibly dark with a bit of light brown head. Looks stunning! Smells fruity and chocolatey. There is a hint of roastiness on the nose but most of what I get is dark fruits. Tastes similar. Dark Fruits, molasses, chocolate, roast, a TON going on. Very well balanced for something so complex. Thick on the tongue and pretty boozy. Drinkability suffers a bit but overall a nice sipper

Photo of youradhere
3.75/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Re-reviewed on 2/17/11. 2009 vintage received in a trade.

Pours black with no head, no lacing. Initially head started to form, but it quickly fell. Smells of oak, booze, char, coffee. Tastes of anise, alcohol, chocolate and toasty char. High carbonation, light-ish mouthfeel for the style. Not as good as I remember, maybe this stuff goes through an ackward stage in it's life.

5/19/2010
The unassuming little bottle pours out a thick black concoction with a brownish tan head that falls rather quickly, leaving moderate lace behind. Copious amounts of yeast sediment remain in the bottle, this could either be good or bad depending upon how the yeast reflects in the glass. Smell is dark coffee and not much else, possibly some slight caramel in the back. First taste has this malt forward brew brining the malt bitterness of black patent roasted malt, followed by a subdued sweetness and an even more subdued smokiness which is a nice surprise. Yeast is barely detectable in this cornucopia of flavors, all jockeying for my attention; this is so much that it takes me a quarter of a glass before I even find the alcohol (12%), and even then it is perfectly balanced. The mouthfeel of this beer is something somewhat of perfection- it keeps the malt char, sweetness and smokiness all in line and playing beautifully with eachother on my palate. The carbonation is perfect, and I can see now why there was so much yeast sediment- as to even reach this modicum of CO2 a damn near entire yeast starter slurry is needed to survive the flavor and alcohol. Very drinkable, I wish I had more of it here in the PNW.

Photo of msubulldog25
4.35/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another fine Dark Horse ale, courtesy of hoppymeal (thanks, Derek!). Here we have a 12 oz. bottle with an extremely unattractive black & white label: an awkwardly ugly 'horse' rendering, an awful twisting vortex of curves and pointy bits; below it, a different font used for every letter in 'Imperial Stout'. Horrid. Let's hope that what's in the bottle trumps what is on the outside... poured to a snifter, post-'Valentine's Day' dinner (of Dungeness crab and garlic bread).

A: Appropriately dark/'black' (opaque but for strands of amber at the edges). Not much head beyond a stubby (<1/4" inch) rusty cream that introduces the pour; it recedes to a slender ring and a few dabs of film in a fractured swirl. Almost no lace, just a few tiny dimples.

S: Loved the aroma at first, then it dissipated on me: warm chocolate and plenty of smoky char, sweet and savory all at once.The chocolate aroma is enticing, no doubt. Something spicy and plum-like in there, too, then some notable boozy fumes.

T: Loads of dark chocolate - we're talking the richest and dirtiest cacao here. Vanilla and creme brulee notes in all that fudginess, then some maple and blackened wood/charcoal. As deep as one could ever want in an RIS, tantalizing and complex.

M: Luscious mellowness, the finest of creamy textures. Not too heavy, just very smooth with a nip of alcohol and a long lasting burnt bitterness that gets sweeter as it trails off. Coating feel is magnificent.

D: Oh,
so good, but a tad too pronounced with its boozy warmth to earn a 'perfect' score. Whatever ~ it's damn awesome, a lovely example of all that I love in a Russian Imperial. I've sipped for a while now; my conclusion: I DEFINITELY want this again! My overall score doesn't entirely reflect how 'WOW-worthy' this is. Forgive the label critique: this is a pretty amazing beer.

Photo of aasher
3.93/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This pours into my snifter an oily midnight black with a dark, dark khaki head that quickly dissipates and laces the glass. The aromas are of oak, bitter chocolate, and a considerable amount of alcohol. The 12% is very present in the nose. The flavors are of conflicting chocolate (both sweet and bitter), oaky smoke, and alcohol. It's good but not as good as it could be. The strongest aspect of this beer has got to be the mouthfeel. It drinks exceptionally smooth and also lighter than it looks. It's velvety smooth. Overall this is a very fine beer but it misses on a few levels. The amount of alcohol present in the nose and flavor is a slight turnoff. It's 12% and you know it. It's good but powering through a four pack of this would be quite difficult but one or two is just fine.

Photo of Brez07
4.1/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 bottle poured into a snifter. Not sure of the bottle date, but I got it about 6 months ago

A: Dark pour with some brown highlights along the edge. Head is thin and brief. There's mostly just a ring around the glass

S: Lots of roasted malt, but not over the top. Some dark chocolate mixed in, which imparts a small amount of sweetness. There are also notes of smoke, toffee and possibly brown sugar. I detect a small trace of alcohol as well

T: Again, the roasted malt dominates the flavor. There more of a bakers/bittersweet chocolate in the taste though. The beer developed a very rich chocolate flavor as it warmed

M: Full bodied, smooth and creamy. Maybe a touch high on the carbonation but I didn't mind. Small amount of residual bitterness after each sip

D: Very easy to drink considering the style and ABV. Not nearly as roasty as some others I've had in the style. You really don't notice the 12%. This is a good beer that I'd drink again if available but won't go out of my way to get

Photo of nwu008
3.48/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A -- Rich dark brown with a very thin head, even after a vigorous pour.

S -- Loads of chocolate, roast nuts

T -- Sweet roasted malt, chocolate finish. Some sour notes on the finish

M -- thick and chewly

D -- a little hot even for a high abv imperial stout, richness limits drinkability.

Photo of AllFineThings
4.53/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served out of the bottle and into a tulip glass.

Not much head or lacing at all, jet black.

Smells of dark roasted malts, and chocolate/coffee.

Tastes of dark chocolate, roasted malt, and burnt fruit.

Very, Very smooth for 12% ABV, so=Very Easy To drink..

Photo of GregSVT
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a snifter - courtesy of Exiled

A: Pours pitch black with a tiny dark brown head that fades to a small ring and leaves some lacing on the glass when you tip it up and down.

S: The nose is full of dark fruit, chocolate, and bitter coffee.

T: The taste is dark chocolate, dark fruits, coffee, and bitter roasted/burnt malt.

M: Mouthfeel is pretty thick and creamy...very full bodied. Exactly how I like my imperial stouts!

D: Pretty tasty although the bitterness may turn off some. The high alcohol makes this tough to drink more than one.

Photo of alpinebryant
3.78/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an oil sticky thick syrup with a very dark tan head.

Smell of oaky, charred remains of a bourbon barrel. I had to stop and question if this had any barrel aging, which as far as I am aware, it does not. Easily comparable to Ten Fidy in aroma with the sweetness that comes out.

Taste of a slightly boozy , sweet imperial russian stout. There are tons of charred remains in here after the sweetness settles. You can rub your tongue against the top of your mouth and feel the chalky feeling you get from ashes if one were to taste ashes... There is a lot of sweetness, a definite hop presence that brings the ash flavor down a notch, but I can never get over that ashy burnt aftertaste. This is a very tasty beer, but I would remove some of that black patent. Chocolate does it for me, and while this is tasty, I would rather have a RIS that has less char broiled coal characteristics in it.

Very low carbonation with an ashy mouthfeel.

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

From notes on 12/26/10. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a clear pint glass. Thanks to my sister-in-law from Ohio for bringing out on her trip to CA for Christmas.

A-Pours a deep, dark brown almost black hue with a scant one finger, creamy tan head with good retention and adequate lacing.

S-Deep, dark chocolate and toasted malts and dark dried fruits. Also some vanilla, and booze. The smell is very nice.

T-Close to matching the aroma. Quite as expected for style with dark chocolate, dark fruits, vanilla, and alcohol. Better than I expected.

M-Robust, smooth, but a tad thin due to under carbonation.

D-Very good for a RIS, but not great. I like this and wish it were available in the PNW since offered as a single 12 oz. bottle.

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 3,108 ratings.