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
93
outstanding

822 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 822
Hads: 3,497
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 7.86%
Wants: 551
Gots: 919 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 822 | Hads: 3,497
Photo of scottfrie
3.65/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into AVBC snifter. Received from a generous trader many many months ago.

A: Pours motor oil black with about a finger of short lived dark brown head that quickly faded into a thin collar leaving no lace.
S: Rich dark notes of chocolate, roasted malt, and a touch of spicy alcohol. I'm also getting a subtle yet strange notes of some kind of mint and maybe a hint of metal.
T: Follows the nose with a rich roasted dark malt taste. Very smooth. I get notes of caramel, dark and milk chocolate, coffee with cream, a hint of molasses and sweet dark fruit. Roasted but fairly sweet all around. Finish is lightly bitter (chocolate bitterness) and the aftertaste has flavors of tobacco.
M: Low yet tingly carbonation with an airy mouthfeel and full body. For 12%, the alcohol is noticeable but not really warm or overpowering. Overall a little sharp around the edges.
O: A fairly solid stout all around. Full mouth, great flavor. Not the greatest though, and perhaps a little rough around the edges, but I would definitely have another one of these again. (1,066 characters)

Photo of ColdPoncho
3.96/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dense and dark brown thick head sits atop a black-as-night body. Its a great looking beer.

S - Chocolate, smoked meats, licorice. Dark things, not much sweetness.

T - Boozy, some metallic dark fruity sweetness, But really nice profiles of chocolate and coffee and roasted malts. A good tasting beer for sure.

M - Thick, viscous, hella smooth. A very nice mouthfeel.

O (D) - There are so many exceptional beers in this style (that I've tried), that it's hard for anything to stand out. This isnt the best RIS I've ever had, but its certainly comparable to many of the excellent ones I've had. (599 characters)

Photo of MrGaryFish
4.61/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review #1. Brought back from a trade at DLD. 12 oz. bottle poured into Green Man snifter @ 50*

A: Pours opaque black with 1 finger of khaki head that quickly dissapates

S: fair amount of coffee followed by dark chocolate

T: massive amounts of chocolate and coffee, a little astringency from chocolate and other dark malts, excellent flavor that continues long after the finish, well hidden alcohol that is only noticed at the back of the throat

M: thick and viscous, excellent full body

O: Fantastic flavor, great nose and excellent body. Bitterness, astringency, chocolate and coffee flavors all coming through in proportion. 3 more to try with friends down the road, I would definitely trade for again. Wish the BA version was not so limited. (750 characters)

Photo of OWSLEY069
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours jet black with a dark brown head. In the aroma, roasted malt, coffee and a sweetness that reminds me of oatmeal. In the taste, sweet roasted malt and a dry coffee ending. A small hop bite and medium to bigger bodied mouthfeel, with a semi dry coffee and a small alcohol presence in the aftertaste. Nice big flavor, big roast, nice coffee presence and hides the 12% very well. (381 characters)

Photo of stxSS07
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle

A- Pours opaque black with a rich brown 2 finger head. Darkest head I've encountered on a stout

S- Ridiculous. Chocolate, cherries, roasted malt, figs, dark fruit.

T- Bitterness and roastiness up front from the malt, dark chocolate and dark fruits follow up and fill the mouth with flavor. Alcohol burn on the end cleans the palate and gets you ready for the next sip.

M- This is the blueprint for a perfect RIS. Coats the mouth with a smooth blanket of flavor, but the carbonation comes along to clean it up. Fantastic.

O- Probably the best RIS I've had to date. Drinks amazing for a 12% beer. Will buy all I can get my hands on. (661 characters)

Photo of xnicknj
4.05/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on tap at devils den in philly

Pours inky black and fairly thick with a crop of tanned head, leaving a cloud of film, with spots of lacing left on the glass.

Super heavy dark chocolate nose with bitterness and caramel, roasted malts and alcohol warmth with residual sweetness.

Similar taste with waves of chocolate and cocoa, very dark with some hop bitterness. Syrup and caramel with a beefy roasted dark malt backbone. Some hints of dark fruit with raisin. Finishes w some more hop bitterness and booze, residual chocolate sweetness.

Full bodied and carbed, thick creamy and sticky. Great flavor with chocolate in the forefront, a bit boozy but not out of control. I'd definitely drink this again. (707 characters)

Photo of MaxSpang
4.7/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

APPEARANCE

Obviously, VERY dark. This guy poured very slowly into the glass. It had a lovely brown head, probably one of the darker heads I've seen. The head was about 2 fingers. There was minimal bubbles.

SMELL

Very malty in the nose. There was a big amount of chocolate and roasty aromas. It had a little bit of alcohol, but not NEARLY as much as you would expect! There was also a slight graininess in the smell, as well as some tropical fruits and banana which was quite surprising.

TASTE

In my notes from this beer (which I had a few nights ago), the first thing I wrote for the taste was "Sooo good". And it definitely is! Very sweet with a big amount of yummy chocolate and bittersweet cocoa. It had a burnt-sweet-fruit taste, and I mean that in the best way possible. There was a fairly strong banana flavor which was extremely pleasant. There was NO alcohol taste to be found in this beer. I swear there was a good amount of oak flavors in it, yet I don't think it was aged in oak barrels (but I'm not 100% sure that it wasn't.) I have to say that this beer was very similar to Founders KBS, without the coffee flavors.

MOUTHFEEL

Very thick and very smooth. This is one of those beers I put into my "Big-Ol'-Stankin-Beer" category. It was very warming from the alcohol.

OVERALL

This is by far one of my favorite Imperial Stouts, and relatively inexpensive (compared to other IS). It's also a bit easier to get a hold of, although the store I bought my 4-pack from was limiting 1 per customer. This beer is pretty dangerous though, because it's very drinkable (considering the thickness), and you definitely cannot taste the 12-14% ABV - so be careful with this guy! (1,731 characters)

Photo of BierFan
3.86/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a tulip glass.

An inch of light brown head settles to a thin layer. Almost completely disappears after a minute. Very dark black body. Smells like cocoa powder. Not a lot to the aroma. Roastiness in the flavor that I didn't get in the aroma, quite a bit of bitter cocoa. (306 characters)

Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance -- Pours a rich dark brown with a slim creamy brown head. Coats the glass like crazy. Very photogenic.

Smell -- Very dark fruit forward, culling up notes of figs, dried cherries and cranberries. Additional notes of coffee and dark chocolate.

Taste -- On the whole Plead the 5th is First impression is of flourless chocolate cake and dried black cherries. Anise, figs, charred malt, and faint woodsmoke are also present. Slightly sweet, like a dark spice cake. Charred roast flavor does well in helping to balance the malt sweetness. The finish is rich with cocoa, black cherry, and charred malt.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-full in body, velvety. Carbonation is pitch-perfect: soft, but not quite creamy. Slightly thicker and this would have been perfect for me. I'm probably nitpicking to be honest.

Overall -- Great imperial stout. Stellar rich malt notes, and great depth. The finish had a bit more burnt char acridity than I would like. Otherwise the beer was amazing. This would be worth buying by the case. Quality for certain. (1,040 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.11/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On draft at Capone's in Philadelphia.

The beer is black with a thick, beige head that plasters the glass in lacing. Can't ask for more than that. The aroma is of roast, oak, chocolate, and alcohol. The flavor is extremely roasty, with a slightly burned malt character. The feel is full bodied, with alcohol presence there, but not overwhelming. Good stuff. (357 characters)

Photo of mjw1200
4.58/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A= Very dark color pour, not much on top, caramel color.

S= Not overpowering, had to get real close to get a good smell. Smell vanilla/bourbon. Also smell some of the coffee.

T = Exceptional. Layers, of chocolate coffee some caramel and vanilla. Alcohol is very present, but I wouldnt have it any other way. It is going to be hard to let this beer age, but I think it will be worthwhile.

M= Thicker than most beers with this much alcohol. Some stronger stouts seem to be to thin, but this one holds up. It lingers in my mouth leaving the great taste to stay around. (568 characters)

Photo of TheBear11D
4.44/5  rDev +5.7%
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. (594 characters)

Photo of Lauthaha
4.8/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a beer mug.

Appearance: Pours pitch-black in a nearly-molasses fashion. Head is a super-dark tan color, and recedes to about a 2mm coating on the surface of the beer. Leaves what looks like exception lacing (except I filled the beer to the top of the glass...haha, we'll have to wait and see).

Smell: Lots of toasted caramel and toffee malt flavor going on here. Then, a medium-dark chocolate tone which rings loudly. Espresso beans dot the scented canvas, and perhaps just a touch of spice is thrown in at the end for good measure. Almost no detectable alcohol. This is shaping up to be a winner!

Taste/Mouthfeel: Beer goes in thickly, and quickly begins to carbonate on the tongue. Flavors flash repeatedly, interwoven with each other and yet set apart from all other flavors. A light sourness from what I assume are the hops is perfectly balanced with the chewy malt character and upper-crust espresso. Calming everything down is a strong (but not cloying) milk chocolate vibe. Beer finishes strongly, and leaves a strong aftertaste of chocolate and coffee. Another sip? Don't mind if I do.

Overall: At 12% ABV, this drinks like a pilsner (in terms of quaffability). Simply outstanding brew. I am a fan of RIS's, and this one fits into the category splendidly. GOOD job, Dark Horse. (1,324 characters)

Photo of dgugliuzza
4.7/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a SA pint glass

A- Pours midnight black with 1/2 inch thick brown head. Great color contrast between the head and body.

S- Smells of dark roasted malts with heavy amounts of cocoa. Some coffee is also present. Smells very similar to a freshly baked batch of chocolate chip cookies.

T- Tastes of sweet roasted malts with plenty of chocolate and coffee to back it up. Not only does it smell like a cookie, but it tastes like one too! Has a nice subtle bitterness at the finish which brings it all together. This is tasty beyond words.

M- Creamy and chewy as it should be for the bold imperial stout that it is. Sits much like a desert on the palate.

D- Fantastic. One of the more tasty imperial stouts I've had the delight to drink. The alcohol is hardly noticeable. This could have a 20% abv and still be delicious. (852 characters)

Photo of jale
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
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. (371 characters)

Photo of EricCioe
4.37/5  rDev +4%
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. (973 characters)

Photo of Jparkanzky
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
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! (1,084 characters)

Photo of kzoobrew
4.23/5  rDev +0.7%
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. (1,224 characters)

Photo of callmescraps
3.59/5  rDev -14.5%
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. (815 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.32/5  rDev +2.9%
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. (848 characters)

Photo of mikeyv35
4.08/5  rDev -2.9%
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. (653 characters)

Photo of BieresDesMoines
4.04/5  rDev -3.8%
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. (549 characters)

Photo of Gfunk720
4.38/5  rDev +4.3%
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 (973 characters)

Photo of robwestcott
3.45/5  rDev -17.9%
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. (386 characters)

Photo of drpdaddy
4.47/5  rDev +6.4%
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. (520 characters)

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 822 ratings.