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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.

835 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 835
Hads: 3,574
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.26%
Wants: 555
Gots: 938 | FT: 111
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 835 | Hads: 3,574
Photo of WilliamD
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jet black in my snifter. Thin, tan head that dissolves quickly, leaving a curious image that looks like the fossil of a prehistoric armadillo captured in stone. Two minutes later it's a peacock.
Burnt malts, coffee and faint alcohol. Some chocolate as well.
Coffee and cocoa up front. Roasted malts and booze. Moderately bitter.
Smooth, yet slightly tingly. A bit warming from the booze.
Quite tasty, and quite drinkable on a weekend. Limit- three? Only one on a week night, however.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at Sheffield's for the Dark Side of Oz event. Served in a half-pint glass.

A - A half finger of dark mocha foam with good retention and lacing. Tar black with no hints of color at the edges (although it was pretty dark in the bar, so I could be wrong).

S - Roasty bitterness, boozy. This brew had a surprisingly small bouquet, even after I let it warm up a bit. It just did not smell all that interesting.

T - The taste is huge - loads of roast malts, dark fruits, and chocolate. Nowhere near as bitter as it smelled, although there is a mounting bitterness in the aftertaste. The half-pint serving kept it from getting to be too much. Not boozy in the slightest.

M - Medium body, lighter than I expected. Low carbonation, with lots of residual stickiness. It needs a little more viscosity to support such an otherwise big beer.

D - Surprisingly drinkable for a 12% brew. I can see the bitterness getting a little overwhelming, but otherwise it's pretty easy going - low carbonation and well-hidden ABV.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
2.95/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a near black in color with almost no head to be found.

Smell is some dark cocoa and some hops coming through as well. The hops are throwing off the smell a bit though. Taste is roasted black malt and some slight coffee as well. Mouthfeel is tad thin too. This is my least favorite beer from an outstanding brewery. I've liked everything else from them, so this beer definitely won't deter me from seeking out more Dark Horse offerings.

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Photo of brdc
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to hoppymeal for this one. Small capped bottle poured into a pint.

One shade below pitch black, it has a very thin dark cocoa head that does not hold, but leaves some lacing.
Aroma is very nice and well balanced, if not powerful. Roasted grains, coffee, chocolate, licorice, anise.
Body is this beer's major fault, although not a prominent one. This is just medium bodied, lacking that extra punch that qualifies the top RIS. Flavor is actually very pleasant, showing an impressive balance between the bitter roasted grains, unsweetened coffee and the sweet cocoa.
Balance like this is unusual; a bit more body would make this a spectacular beer.

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Photo of tmoneyba
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

4 Bottle pack from the package store in front of Dark Horse.

Poured a black color with an average creamy brown head that mostly lasted and produced good lacing. Heavy roasted malt and chocolate aroma. Full body with a smooth texture. Good complex roasted flavor with a heavy roasted bittersweet finish of long duration.

Good complex standout brew.

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

12 oz bottle courtesy of grub! Day 2 of epic DrJay visit tasting.

Pours a deep, dark and opaque black, no light escapes, very thick brown head forms, drops a lot of lacing, settles down to a thick ring, looks like a RIS! Smell is great, tons of chocolate and fruit, toffee, coffee roast, very perfumy and floral hops, licorice, strawberries and cherries, dates, more roast and chocolate, awesome. Taste is great as well, chocolate, insane amount of roastiness, dry and chalky middle, toffee, some smoke, charred wood, burnt sugar, light bit of fruitiness, roasty bitter finish. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low to medium carbonation, some warmth going down, but very smooth. Great imperial stout, very nice. Thanks Russ!

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Photo of emerge077
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Moved from the "750mL" listing
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4
rDev: +4.1%

This is about the 3rd sample of this particular Dark Horse stout that i've had.

Pours jet black, very dark mocha foam. Body is definitely thick and rich. It's unique character of plum, fried plantain, dark chocolate, frozen chocolate covered banana, and roasty char make for a very interesting RIS. Long lingering aftertaste of earthy char and espresso. This is strong stuff, ballsy with a great deal of substance to it. Drinks like a champ, definitely a sipper. Probably my favorite beer from Dark Horse.

Reviewed on: 05-12-2008 01:23:12

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Photo of TasteTester
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this in a trade from Younger35. Thanks bud.

A-Dark body, oily consistency. Not a bit of head to speak of. No lacing.

S-Too much alcohol overtones. Other than that, chocolaty.

T-Alcohol will kick your a**. Heavy in the right places. Stick to your ribs good.

M-Thick and sticky. Not much else to it.

D-Be careful with this one. I could probably stomach 3 or 4 then call it a night.

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Photo of DrJay
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Biergotter Tasting - Day 2. Big thanks to grub for cracking this one. 12 oz "Plead the 5th" bottle.
This stuff was your basic black with faint brown edges and a thin, dark brown cap of fine bubbles that settled to a long lasting collar. Sticky lacing. Rich aroma, lots of fruit and roast character, chocolate and cocoa, dried fruits and cherries, hint of vanilla. Reminded me of a fruit and nut chocolate bar. Chalky, dry roast flavour with medium to low hop bitterness. Very nutty with dark chocolate and cocoa notes, plus mild alcohol towards the end. Caramel and toffee sweetness. Faint licorice. Full bodied with low, very fine carbonation, alcohol warmth and a chalky dryness. Rich and delicious, just the way a big stout should be.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Inky black body. Tight crown of dark brown foam. Lacing is spotty.

Aroma: Dark chocolate, anise oil, dark currant, black licorice and heavily roasted coffee bean.

Flavor: All the aromas translate nicely to the palate in this beer. The chocolate and coffee and licorice. Yeah, there's a nice combination of flavors here.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Greasy and oily to an extent, which is good. But where's the body? The girth? This beer needs more heft. Carbonation is appropriately low. Alcohol accents nicely and doesn't become toxic at all in this high octane beer. Nicely done beer overall.

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Photo of grub
4.62/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Biergotter Tasting, Day 2: Stouts and Belgians. i contributed this bottle, a bonus in a trade with GrandCruDrew. thanks drew!

12oz "plead the 5th" bottle. sampled nov 28/08.

pours inky black and nearly opaque. a small dense brown head forms, quickly dropping to a ring around the glass. the ring seems to last forever and leaves spotty lace the whole way down the glass.

aroma is excellent. anise. dark chocolate and dark roast coffee. some dark fruit too. light alcohol. caramel. toffee. there's some hops in there, a bit of pine and grapefruit. vanilla. i'm in love with it and don't even need to taste it.

taste is great. anise. dark and bittersweet chocolate. coffee. caramel and toffee. big whole wheat bread and biscuit. dark fruit. light alcohol. medium bitterness level. light pine and grapefruit again. also has a nice earthy component.

mouthfeel is great. nice big body. medium-low carbonation level. silky smooth.

drinkability is great. excellent balance. great depth. an excellent stout.

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Photo of waltonc
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this bottle up somewhere in Ann Arbor this past summer. Pours super dark with thick mocha head that eventually disappears. Smells like sweet coffee and chocolate, a little bit like a milk stout too. Tastes like deep roasted coffee and chocolate, but balanced with some subtle dark fruit. Not too much hops. This is a really well balanced flavor. Nothing is out of whack. Mouthfeel is fairly thick with medium carbonation and fairly sticky. If this is 12% ABV, it's hidden well. I could drink this all night, or so I think right now.

For the first half of the bottle, I kept wondering, "where have I tasted this before? I know I've had something recently that tasted a lot like this." Then I remembered - it reminds me a little of the non-barrel aged version of Brooklyn Black Ops, which is awesome. I highly recommend this and can't wait for the chance to buy more. A very pleasant surprise. Everything I've had from Dark Horse so far has been excellent. Not surprising - another great Michigan brewer. I'll put Michigan up against any other state, including California.

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

Got this in a trade with mynie, been on my wants list for awhile so I've been looking forward to it.

Pours a jet black, decent viscosity, not much head though and no lacing.

Smell is subtle but has a nice roasted malt aroma, hint of coffee and chocolate, and especially some dark fruit looming in my nostrils.

Taste is thick and chewy and coats the mouth nicely, strong roasted presence with a coffee/dark chocolate bitterness, slight dark fruit presence, the strength is very well hidden and has surprisingly little warming action.

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Pure black evil in a bottle. Looks like the blackest vile viscous fluid that flows through the devil's veins. This pitch black brew is topped with a small and short lived dark brown head. Lacing is limited to an oily coating on the glass. This looks sinister.

S - Bitter, bitter black baker's chocolate... the kind that is unsweetened. Super-dark roast espresso, soy sauce, and oddly enough...dill pickles.

T - Double chocolate chip cookies washed down with an espresso sans milk or sugar. This is MUCH sweeter and milky than it smells...the taste is light years ahead of the somewhat limited aroma. There is an almost milk-stout creamy lactic flavor to this beer, and some really nice "brown leaf" hops back up all the sweetness and, along with the alcohol heat, help balance this beer like a teeter-totter stuck halfway.

M - Full bodied and dextrin-y, this isn't as obese as some double/Russian stouts but it's still a huge bodied beer. Initially sweet and malty, the midpalate provides an even bigger dose of sugar before some alcohol heat and hops come in before the finish. The finish is bitter and espresso-like after swallowing, and the sweet-bitter mix in the aftertaste lasts for several minutes. Although there is a good deal of alcohol warmth, I would have guessed that this beer was closer to maybe 8 or 9%, not the wine-like 12%!

D - A nice full bodied malty stout that would pair extremely well with dark or milk chocolate, this hide's it's booze content like a functioning alcoholic at his day job. This one helluva beer. Not the best in it's style, but it's good nonetheless.

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Photo of imperialbigswig
4.87/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ok this is in my top 5 favorite RISs, probably my number 2, maybe even one if I could get my hands on more of them!!!
A- Jet black motor oil, head leaves in a hurry.
S- Dark chocolates and notes of coffee.
T- GTFOOH!!! Just so rich and bitterly chocolate.
M- thick, heavy dry and chewy, now that's what I want in an Imperial Stout!!
D- Hard drink more than one, just cuz they're so hard to find and such a heavy stout. But low drinkability is a hallmark of a great RIS!!
SIP on this one long and steady, if you can find it.

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Photo of RedHaze
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep dark black with a one finger thick brown head. The foam sticks around for the entire drink, leaving a nice webbing of lace behind.

Smell; rich chocolate malts, spent coffee grounds, dark fruits and a hint of molasses.

Taste; dark chocolate and coffee come through right away, but without being bitter, followed by some dark fruits. A little molasses and a hint of some sweet cream are present, with just a touch of some hops in the finish that keep it from being too sweet.

Mouthfeel is is full with a just a perfect amount of carbonation for me, and the drinkability is dangerously high. Wish I had been able to pick up more than the one bottle while in Michigan, but glad that I was able to try this amazing stout.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

wow, talk about having no idea what you're grabbing and being pleasantly surprised.

A - pitch black, motor oil with a dark angry brown head that starts slowly and lasts the full glass

S - Dark chocolate, coffee, roasted grains and a sweet dark malt vinous note.

T - lush rich malts convey dark chocoloate, coffee, roasted grains, dark ripe fruits...

M - full bodied, modestly carbonated, silky smooth, rich and full with a nice residual roasted feel.

D - a sipper but only so as to extract all that wonderfull flavor!

Yes sir, I'll have another.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dead black. Nice thick frothy dark brown head. Reduces to a ring, but lots of this sticky lacing.

S - COFFEE. Geez. In the mix, anise, chocolate, dark cooked fruits.

T - Taste emulates smell but not to the same degree. Like how the coffee comes through, but not the typical bitterness. Alcohol apparent but not reflective of the ABV.

M - Medium to heavy, good carb, GREAT coating.

D - For the style and abv, great drinkability!

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Photo of brentk56
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a coffee brown color with a modest tan head that quickly becomes a ringlet and archipelago but leaves behind copious amounts of lace

Smell: A bit boozy, with dark chocolate, licorice and charcoal

Taste: Dark chocolate up front, with developing elements of raisin, prunes, citrus and coffee; after the swallow, the citrusy bitter flavors emerge to balance the big malt profile; fruity chocolate at the finish

Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy, with low carbonation

Drinkbility: A well-constructed RIS that is balanced and flavorful

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours absolute midnight black with a tan head that quickly dissipates to a thin ring.

Aroma is charred dark grain, licorice, molasses, and dark fruit.

Taste is sweeter than I had anticipated from the nose. Dark roasted malts hit first, but then it changes to a layered burnt character. Some nice chocolate, licorice, and coffee notes. The finish is dry and woody with leafy green hop flavors in the mix as well as black currant and subdued alcohol.

Mouthfeel is full, thick, and sticky.

A very nice, balanced stout. Alcohol is amazingly well hidden. Is this really 12%? Smooth, drinkable, and complex with an interesting play between the malt, hops and dark fruitiness. Recommended.

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Photo of abedenbaugh
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I happened to get the chance to try this beer in the 12oz bottles.

A: The color is vry dark and there was a little bit of film that was on the top. Practically no head on top.
S: Roasty aroma. A little bit of sweetness. Overall the aroma is a little on the light and mild side.
T: Very neutral flavors in the front of the palate. Then in the mid-palate the flavor really pops out with a full amount of roast, which stays until the end. Also there is a hing of an oaky/woodsy flavor. Some hints of coffee.
MF:Medium mouth fell. medium carbonation.
D: I like how the flavor developes of the course of drinking the beer. It is nice and drinkable, but it isn't anything really great.

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

The beer was served slightly chilled in a pint glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a very solid black. The head is a thin burnt tan coloration. The head resolves into a disk of burnt tan. No lacing remains behind on my glass.

Smell: The beers aroma is very boozey smelling. The boozeyness works well. The beers aroma leads with chocolate, this rides the expected toasted, roasted and chared aromas. The remaining aromas are raisins, tobacco, and charcoal.

Taste: The beers flavors are a booze soaked combination of chocolate, raisins, molasses, cigar ash, darkly roasted and chared espresso.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The body of this beer is huge. This is a low carbonated full bodied beer treat. Big and chewy just the way I like em. This is a sipper and a taste bud destroyer. Definately a one and done beer.

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Photo of jwinship83
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A- black thick looking body under a coffee colored modestly sized sticky head.

S- lots of coffee and dark chocolate. some raisins in there too along with roasted malts and a touch of alcohol.

T- very roasty with tons of coffee. chocolate and raisins/unburned cigarettes also. bitter hoppy finish. very dry

M- thick and chewy with ample CO2

D- picking up this basically unknown beer was a great idea. darkhorse hasnt failed me before and definitely didnt with this one. the taste and experience of this one is fantastic, its just way too strong to be sessionable. more people should check this one out. very good example of the style.

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Photo of khiasmus
3.84/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours very dark brown with almost no head. Leaves no lacing or legs.
Smells of black patent, huge coffee, slight chocolate, alcohol, slight metal, a bit of oxidization.
Flavor begins with dark, sweet malt, continues with roasted grain, then some metal, and an almost hammy note in the finish, reminiscent of a rauchbier.
Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, but dry and very puckering in the finish.
Not super drinkable. The strength of the grain bitterness is too much to make this one to constantly enjoy.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Of the darkest achromatic visual value with a frothy, dark brown head and some sticy lacing coating the side. The smell is of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, mollases, and raisins. The beer is well carbonated and fullbodied. The taste is of black coffee, tobacco, and wet cedar. The dark chocolate is pronounced and slightly smoky.

I'd love to drink this in the middle of a blizzard, inside a log cabin, nestled in some tall, cold mountains somewhere in Scandinavia.

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 835 ratings.