1. The BeerAdvocate Store is back! Pre-order your stuff now. Items begin shipping Dec 15. Christmas deadline = Dec 18 @ 5pm EST.
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout - Dark Horse Brewing Company

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

3,101 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,101
Reviews: 768
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 8.12%
Wants: 526
Gots: 721 | FT: 79
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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 3,101 | Reviews: 768 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JamesShoemaker
3.9/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a new snifter. My parents got me this bottle for Christmas, thanks!

A - very good looking beer. Forced pour produces little head, foam starts dark brown like an RIS, but lightens as it settles. Bubbles swirl on the surface, making it look alive.

S - phew, not good. I don't know if it's my glass, but it smells sour, almost like a Belgian dark. Not what I expected and totally unpleasant. I can't even stand taking my customary deep whiff.

T - good, creamier than I expected, though my initial expectations were kind of rocked by the odor. I like the milky flavor working with the malts to cover up the alcohol (which is undetectable even at 12%). Not a great big slap in the face like most specialty double stouts from Michigan breweries.

M - the consistency is really interesting because of the aforementioned milky flavor. It's a smooth drink to be sure, and the alcohol is clandestine in a very dangerous way. If this bottle's smell is a fluke, I could drink more than one of these in a sitting.

O - I'd love to try this on tap, but another bottle may be out of the question, assuming it's not my glass making it smell like this. Dark Horse is a great company regardless, I love the sheer variety of stouts they produce.

Photo of mulder1010
3.9/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought last year at West Lakeview Liquors in Chicago.
355 ML poured into a tulip

A-- Poured ink black. Think the light ran away from this. Evil looking. Very short lived dark brown film that became a thin, dark brown collar. Obvious alcohol legs.

S-- Heavy roasted malts, candied soy sauce, deep, dark bitter chocolate and notes of coffee. Smells slightly oaked and even for a year old a good amount of alcohol is obvious.

T-- Hops have held up well as slightly spicy green pepper taste. Dark, bitter, sweet chocolate, coffee, candied char and candied soy sauce. Alcohol is really obvious.

M-- Slick, oily and sweet. Finishes with a dark bitter chocolate and coffee. Heavy feel and low carbonation are an understatement. A touch too sweet in the front and mid palate.

O-- Loved the BA treatment and this is good but probably a bit too young and slightly too sweet. or my palate is no longer American. Slow as heck sipper.

Photo of claminat420
3.9/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- poured the typical stout color with a dark chocolate head.

S- smell some weird fruity smell like bananas and a slight alcohol scent. weird but good.

T- roasted malts from hell. the alcohol being 12 is really hidden. the fruity scent kinda hangs as an aftertaste.

M- medium light bodied. nice carbonation.

D- could drink a couple 12's but i'm not to much of a stout fan to begin with.

Overall- this stout is defintitely one for the stout fans. the 12abv is subtle. not to much carbonation and wasn't to much of a head but still good.

Photo of WYVYRN527
3.9/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours black with a thick tan head that settles quickly. It retains a thin film on the edges, and lacing is minimal.

S: Malts lend a roasty character, with hints of dried dark fruits, such as prune and rasin. Chocolate and coffee aromas are also present. Still quite young, the hops lend somewhat of an off-putting vegetable-like smell in the backround.

T: All malt at first. Roasty espresso and chocolate flavors mingle with notes of dark fruit, molasses, and a bit of licorice. The hops are more balanced in the taste than the smell. They give the beer an earthy character, and dry out the finish.

M: Very full-bodied and chewy, and flavors are long lasting. Finish is silky, and alcohol gives a nice warming sensation.

D: Quite drinkable, despite it's ABV and youth. Although it will definitely benefit after a year or so in bottle, it is quite good young. It's worth picking up a four pack.

Photo of westweasel
3.9/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours out a super thick, motor oil like liquid with a faint ring of tan bubbles on the edge of the surface and a small spiral like rorschach figure of bubbles in the middle of the surface.
The beer has great "legs" as you move it around in the glass.

The aroma is filled with thick, rich dark chocolate, and dark bing cherries. There is a slight bit of coffee-like roastiness that becomes much more prominent as the beer warms.

The mouthfeel is full and thick with very little carbonation.

The flavors are a mixture of sweet dark roasted grains and coffee, dark chocolate, and dark bing cherries. There is just enough bitterness and roastiness to keep the beer from being cloying. It's kinda of close though.

This is a very drinkable and enjoyable beer. As it warms, it becomes sweeter and more coffee-like.

Photo of ortie
3.9/5  rDev -9.5%

Photo of aaronh
3.9/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer definitely looks thick as it pours, and I was convinced it was flat as I completed the pour. However, after a few moments a thin layer of dark brown bubbles formed atop the beer, only to disappear before I made it to a comfortable place to sit. The aroma has a slight hint of musty fruit, intermingled with coffee, alcohol, and brown sugar notes. The flavor is powerful, with highly evident tobacco flavors that are accented by coffee, cocoa, and pure alcohol. A bit of an earthy note is in there as well, with a moderate sweetness wrapping things up. Mouthfeel is very silky and seems nearly devoid of carbonation, even though visibly carbonation is evident. Drinkabilty is surprisingly good for such an assertive beer. Not sure how old this one is, but a few years of age would have rounded it out nicely. Yet another fine beer from this "Dark Horse"...

Photo of mmva321
3.9/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass.

A: There's very litlle head and no retention. But this stuff looks like motor oil coming out of the bottle, which is very impressive. Needless to say this is a jet black body. A thin caramel colored lacing lines the bottle.

S: The smell hit my nose right out of the pour, so a beer with that amount of initiative deserves a little boost in the score, though I wish the final product was a little better. It's a bitter roasted smell. Nuts, chocolate and perhaps some dark fruit. Nothing really reveals itself as being special.

T: A bitter roasted taste. Dark bitter chocolate and dark fruits are the dominant flavors and make this a very dark beer. Roasted nuts and maybe some vanilla are there as well. Very well balanced but very, very blunt and not too subtle. The roasted malt and nuts really come through at the end.

M: Thick, thick, thick. A little carbonation. Serves the dark flavors well. But the fruit flavors perhaps demand a mouthfeel that is a little lighter.

D: Though everything is really good here, this beer ends up being a little less than the sum of its parts. I find the strong and sweet dark fruit flavor to be a little off putting. I'm not sure but the beer does everything well, but has a few things that keep from being great. Try it for yourself though, it's a unique a well done beer that maybe you have a taste for.

Photo of KFBR392
3.89/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours medium heavy compared to other RIS. Head is a lighter off white color, a notch lighter then a solid tan color. Carbonation is what you would expect, thin but was present enough for you to acknowledge it.

Smell: The front is a subtle burnt chocolate which really opens up to a hearty barley malt aroma with a heavy dose of hops. The chocolate aroma has plenty of darkness to it but also has a very creamy texture as well. The booze plays its role by adding a little wicked edge.

Taste: Milk chocolate cream hits right away on the front of this brew. The high ABV takes over in the body but is certainly not offensive. Too spicy for an RIS for me but the taste is still pretty good. The hops linger around for a while.

Mouthfeel: A unique mixture of hops and molasses. Heavy feeling with interesting high points on the palette.

Overall: This beer is very good but did not live up to the hype for me. The usual place I buy from sold 4 cases of this in about 6 hours. I had to go out of my way to find some and I'm glad I at least got the opportunity to try it. Its not Founders or Oskar Blues RIS but I enjoyed this one. Would love to try the bourbon barrel version of this, but I'm sure all of you would.

Photo of BierFan
3.88/5  rDev -10%
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.

Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from tap into tulip at south park Dayton. Nice deep brown color with tan creamy lacing. Lots of roasted malt aroma...done. its very one dimensional but nice.
Taste is roasted bitter malts with a hint of chocolate and coffee but again its dominated by the roasted malt. Its a bit bitter...super dry but still pleasant. Its a big beer for sure but not my fav of the style. I had high hopes for this...maybe too high. Its kind of like a triple Guinness...if such a thing exists.

Photo of killcore
3.88/5  rDev -10%

Photo of SouljaSaia17
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured very thick and looked like syrup.

A: Very dark beer with a thin caramel colored head that has some fine bubbles on top.

S: Initial smell is of dark fruit, like plum. I also get some dark chocolate, molasses and a hint of brown sugar.

T: Taste is similar to the aroma, creamy, dark chocolate up front. Middle of the flavor has some roasted malts, molasses, a bit of caramel and coffee. Finishes somewhat dry, with yeast type feel.

M: Very rich, smooth and creamy. No noticeable carbonation, but alcohol is not present.

O: Another very good stout, this is a big beer at 12% so its a slow sipper. I have been saving this for a few weeks now and thought this would be the perfect time to have it. Not too familiar with Dark Horse Brewing, but I like what I have had so far!

Photo of rregan
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours an inky black. It had a thin brown glow near the edges.

S- There are notes of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and coffee, but there is a hot, booze smell that overpowers it all. It shakes your shoulders.

T- It is very very roasty overall, but finishes with a sugary vanilla taste. The taste is marked with some dark boozy flavor but not as much as the smell would imply

M - It has a lot of body, but it is soft and pillowy. It flows smoothly masking most of the alcohol burn and extenuating the roastiness.

This was a really great beer. One of the perfect sipping beers. It would work great on a cold day.

Photo of portia99
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

A - Pours thick and syrupy with an oil-like opacity and a deep brown/approaching black color. An aggressive pour fails to yield any head...all this can muster is the thinnest of collars and no lacing to speak of.

S - Sweet and molasses driven aroma. Caramel and brown sugar behind that along with some creamy vanilla. Booze is evident and appears in conjunction with the vanilla and also caramel candy. A bit of burnt creme brulee sugar as well. This really smells sweet overall - like a dessert. Some black licorice creeps into the aroma too. Really not getting much roastiness at all, which surprises me. I wouldn't call this necessarily typical for the style, but the sugary candy aspects are pretty appealing.

T - Whoa, boozy up front with a big hit of alcohol slamming the back of my throat on first swallow. Flavor is much different than the aroma. Where the aroma lacked roastiness, this cannot be said for the flavor. Behind the hit of alcohol is burnt toast-like malt, heavy espresso roast coffee and a bit of char. This really takes away from the multi-layered sugary sweet aromas that don't carry into the flavor. Very noticeable alcoholic aspect to the flavor. Licorice is mild but noticeable.

M - Full bodied, lower carbonation just on the above ground side of life. Boozey, warm alcohol throughout hitting the back of the throat initially and eventually filling the entire mouth in sensation. Heavily roasted and burnt flavors overpower other aspects and simplify the flavor profile. Burnt roastiness continues to the aftertaste.

O - This is a good imperial stout, but have to say I don't really understand the hype surrounding this one. The aroma completely doesn't match the flavors - wish they met somewhere in the middle. Balance seems a bit off...alcohol is dominating and heavy handed. It is fairly enjoyable, but when it comes to world-class RIS's this really leaves a lot on the table. Perhaps a bit of aging will smooth this one out a bit...fresh, doesn't live up to the hype/expectations I had coming into this.

Photo of Stacy53
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark Horse- Plead the 5th- Bottled: Feb. 2010
Around 3 months old

A- Black as night with a fast fading brown, tan head. A bit of red in the head as well.

S- Dark chocolate maybe some dark coffee in there also. I definitely smell some sweet notes.

T- Tons of stuff in this one. I taste chocolate, caramel, a woody taste, sweet cherries. Nice mix of sweet and smoky.

M- This one is thick with low carbonation.

D- Very drinkable, you hardly notice the ABV at 12% in this.

Photo of xpdrinker
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 12oz bottle picked up a few months ago via trade. No noticeable date stamp until after the pour - it's on the underside of the bottle and only visible if looking at it from inside and against the light. Also noticed some light-colored sludge peering through the bottom of the brown bottle. Poured into my Bruery snifter, pitch black with thin, burnt orange head that dissolves into a thinner ring. Zero lacing.

S - Slight burn at first, lots of vanilla, roastiness, chocolate and dark fruit. 

T - Varying styles of chocolate at first, lots of dark fruit and finishes really roasty and deliciously bitter. An overall cola sweetness hangs over the entire taste.

M - Medium bodied, low carbonation. Sticky cola sweetness.

O - I've had this one cellared for a few months and it's quite enjoyable. There's a cola-like sweetness throughout that at times is tasty but at other times annoying. Would kill to get my hands on the barrel-aged version.

Photo of elgiacomo
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, unknown date but at least a year old. Served at cellar temperature.

Pours thick black with a small brown head that quickly recedes to a wispy cap but does leave lots of spotty lacing in its wake.

Aroma is dark roasted malts, dark fruits, black currant, anise, some coffee and chocolate, quite a bit of alcohol. Some oxidation/cardboard is noticed. Very good strength overall.

Flavor is coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malts, anise, black currant, dark fruits, a hint of smoke, some sweetness, moderately boozy and warming.

Mouthfeel is thick & sticky, creamy, soft carbonation.

A big, intense Imperial Stout. Very good stuff, had been looking to try this one for some time. Could have used some more time to mellow out the heat, but on the other hand oxidation was setting in so I’m glad I cracked it open when I did.

Photo of tavernjef
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark pitch black oil with a slight purpley fade. Rigorous pour revealed no head what so ever, only a few small, looser bubbles break the surface then break down to keep at the edge with a slim collar. No lace either. Very slight oily brown parched residue slips across the surface with very tiny dots of lace dripping down the glass as it is sipped.

Aroma is not complex nor big. Quite empty really, I get slight chocolate and plum with a slight tender sweet alcoholic warmth reminiscent of weak Port or Irish Creme. Tapering burntish molasses vapors underneath.

Taste is nearly as empty, yet perhaps a bit more intensity given off from what the aroma leads off being, but unfortunaly the same avenue is being driven down. Mediochre amounts of tender and brief chocolate take the front. Molasses tang and darker fruits make a favorable twist in the middle areas but don't last all that long as it takes a warmer turn of port-like plumyness and dark raisiny alcoholic warmth towards the finish. A slight chocolate return and small surge of coffeeish bite help encourage a finish worth finishing. Heat fades well. Bits of roasted coffee stay as does a tiny raisin skin tartness and feel.

Feel is smooth and quite quick with a moderate silky medium heftified body. As it finishes it gains a bit more heavier tone and character. Mild and sweetly dark with partial chocolate and dark fruit layers build a bit as it goes. Not quite what I was expecting given the other Dark Horse goodies I've had and liked, but good enough to try. Give me their Black Bier though and I'll be content enough.

Photo of Mdog
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black, somewhat thin brown head.

Smell: Dark chocolate, booze.

Taste: Very nice, dark chocolate, creamy, moderate bitterness, some nice roasted notes.

Drinkability: Never would have thought this was 12%!

Picked up a single of this to try, other than some alcohol in the nose, I never would have thought this was 12%. Alcohol was very well hidden in the taste. I liked the creaminess and only mild bitterness. Definitely worth a try.

Photo of sidetracked
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a medium brown head that lingers and creates nice lacing.

Smell is dark roasted malts, bitter baker's chocolate, sweet molasses, some dark dried fruits, little alcohol heat.

Taste upfront is roasted malts and semi-sweet chocolate. Finish is bitter roasted malts mixed with sweet molasses, a little chocolate and sweet dark dried fruits. Lingering bitter chocolate. Overall slightly sweet.

Full bodied and creamy. Light but present carbonation. Seems a little thin at times. Little alcohol heat.

Nice multidimensional flavor that stays interesting. Very enjoyable beer.

5/3/2011

Photo of Jmoore50
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another beer that looks like melted rubber, this one is thick. It pours and practically doesn't move. It produces a two finger brown head that has very fine bubbles. This thing was a bit overcarbonated because when I poured with a medium technique, it foamed like it was a straight down the middle. The head left in the end and all I was left with was this tar that barely resembled beer.

The smell was of dark burnt earth and roasted espresso. Lots of bitterness with some chocolate and light fruit notes.

The taste was pretty dark, in terms of dark fruits and malts go. Some earthy bitter espresso with characters of cherry. Not a lot of coffee, but what there was tasted like espresso.

The mouthfeel was astringent, and the beer felt heavy on the tongue. It was bitter and earthy, and overall enjoyable. Some roast and some burnt flavors that produces an interesting mouthfeel.

This was a good beer to have, and I am glad I got the opportunity. It did not use the usual characteristics that I love in RIS, but went with a darker roasty spin.

Photo of lnashsig
3.85/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Many thanks to GordianKnot for the chance to taste this one. a 12% imp stout bottle, no bottle date. Poured from bottle into Brooklyn Tulip glass. Pours a pitch black syrupy appearance. Barely any head (what you would expect from a beer this big). Smell- rich roasty maple syrup. Maybe some vanilla bean, some subdued chocolate flavor. From appearance and smell, it appears this one might have some time on it (yay!). Taste- Different flavors from what I would have expected. A roasty sweetness up front, some liquorice, sweet chocolate, not much bitterness at all. There is a creaminess to the mouthfeel, very little carbonation. Overall for the style, I would have expected more of a roasty possibly dark chocolate presence. I got almost too much sweetness from this one, and it kind of bugged me. Overall good though.

Photo of jsh420
3.85/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours pitch black with a 1 finger tan head that left spotted lacing

smells of chocolate roasted malts

taste is biiter sweet chocolate, coffee - some dark fruit and hops that come through

mouthfeel has a little sting to it from the alcohol and carbonation

drinkability takes a hit from the mouthfeel - still a very good RIS

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.85/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt with bitter note and very subtle coffee notes. Taste is also dominated by roasted bitter notes with light dry coffee notes. Body is quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well brewed though it doesn't really stand apart from good imperial stout out there.

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 3,101 ratings.