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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: 3,572
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 8.27%
Wants: 555
Gots: 937 | FT: 110
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: 3,572
Photo of Wadsey
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Plead the Fifth

Served in DFH signature glass

A: Pours black with minimal, light brown head. Typical looking imperial stout, in other words. 

S: Dried dark cherries and star anise or licorice. A floral note that borders on perfume keeps flaring up. Additional aromas include light roasted chocolate, peat, smoke/soy sauce and solvent. The last two notes are subtle enough not to hurt the beer. 

T: The tongue follows nose, and all notes are superbly integrated into a whole. Roast is stronger in taste and balances the dark fruitiness of the beer quite well. Medium-high bitterness. A little alcohol. 

M: Big body and medium-light carbonation. Mouthfeel is oily and coating. Somewhat warming. 

O:  Plead the Fifth rightfully belongs to the trilogy of Michigan Russian Imperial Stouts, which also includes Bell's Expedition Stout and Founder's Imperial Stout. It is more daring and complicated, though. Not as traditional. 

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Photo of beerhan
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I finally got around to trying this one on tap at Reverend's.

Served in a 10 oz snifter.

A-Jet black, one finger tan head that does not last long. Super turbid appearance.

S-Lots of burned espresso notes and some roastiness and dark chocolate.

T-Bitter dark chocolate dominates with a very mild coffee taste in the back with hints of molasses, cocoa and a bit of smoke character.

M-Very rich and chewy. Goes down smooth with relatively no burn for something of this caliber.

O-Decent beer but I would prefer a slightly milder one if I had the chance. It tastes good but it is a bit much more me. I would drink it again but it goes better with cold weather.

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Photo of Blanco
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of the darkest stouts I've seen, the color is pitch black and the head is dark brown. A healthy pour produces a huge had that holds relatively well. smell is of roasted malt and chocolate. I can also get a little waft of the booze coming up. taste is bitter, with strong chocolate notes and big maltiness. big, thick mouthfeel this is probably one of the thickest stouts I've had. Alcohol is hidden well, especially given the ABV, although there is a slight warming effect to let you know it's there. Overall, I'm impressed with this one. The flavor is a bit more abrasive than I normally enjoy, but this is a huge stout so I can't really knock it for that.

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Photo of lurpy1
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Irony of ironies: After working in Michigan and unsuccessfully pursuing PT5, I find it back home in Minnesota. OK, so maybe I wasn't pursuing it that hard, still makes for a good lead-in.

Shared with the wife, poured from the bottle. My first impression: Oil spill. Plead the 5th gloops around in the glass, leaves a West Texas Crude sludge behind.

One whiff lets you know PT5 means business, the smell is strong on the alcohol, along with malt, coffee, yadda yadda.

The taste has a little bit too much alcoholic burn for me to give it a great score, but still a very tasty beer with a nice balance of carbonation and viscosity.

Very good beer, glad I finally made contact with it.

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Photo of jpmclaug
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into my Founders snifter. Got this bottle in a trade with mothman.

A - Pours thick like motor oil. Not any motor oil but I don't feel like going to the mechanic so I'll push it another couple thousand miles motor oil. Menacing dark brown head rests on top for a bit before running off.

S - Nice roast flavor with a hint of sweetness. Some vanilla notes and a bit of booze.

T - Again some roast with a good bit of chocolate malt. Some boozy notes mixed in as well. More and more chocolate as this sucker warms.

M - Thick body with a light carbonation.

D - A sipper for sure. A nice dark chocolate flavor dominates this one on top of all the other normal flavors you will find in a RIS. I would pick this up if I saw it on the shelves just to see how it aged. Certainly a solid RIS as is though.

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Photo of GarMerr
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Nice coffee, chocolate & licorice flavors on the nose and tongue. A little thin, but pleasant mouth feel. Probably a little too hyped, but still a quality stout.

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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 Morey
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

Appearance: Pours black as night with one finger of brown colored head. Head settled pretty quick to almost nothing but a ring of foam around the outside edges of my glass. No light penetrates through this beer.

Aroma: Dark chocolate, Molasses, Campfire coals, but fairly clean for a 12% Imperial Stout.

Taste: I'm getting molasses and dark fruits up front followed by some subtle roasted flavors. There's also a really nice chocolate flavor towards the middle. Just a touch of coffee on the finish....surprisingly clean.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a low-lying carbonation.

Morey's Bottom Line: What this beer lacks in aroma, it more than makes up for in taste. A really nice Imperial Stout. I can't taste the 12% at all! I would love to have the barrel-aged version of this beer. An outstanding representation of the style.

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Photo of Donerik
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black like an RIS should be, 3/8 inch head on a aggressive pour, dissipates quickly, nice lacing, good ring of foam.

S: all roast, not too many other scents.

T: Roasted Malt, Roasted Malt, then it comes in with a subtle chocolate finish, but not like hershey's syrup definitely like bitter dark chocolate.

M: thick, lightly carbonated, heavy

D: I'd drink this back to back, then I'd be buzzed, So I'd drink as many as I could, it's a good brew.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. I'm guessing from 2012, but no way to know for sure I suppose. Trying to get it warm .enough.
Poured very heavy looking. The extra dark head has almost a purplish hue to it and it mixes with the black and again deep deep purple liquid. Oh and the bottle of the bottle looks like mud. Heavy lacing from a head that shows great persistence.
Deep dark malt appeal with some roast, but in no way over the top. More of a plum like quality. Rich but not necessarily all that complex.
Wow that just coats the teeth with an almost gooey stickiness. Rich and some warms shots to the gut. Hops in the bittering and some in the finish...the long rich finish. More roast in taste. Some takes have a clear shot of booziness, others don't. Fruit is less than in the aroma.
Really smooth and just enough carbonation to notice and appreciate.
This is a rather well done RIS. Even for it's ample size it avoids excess. It demands a slow enjoyment, but an enjoyment it is.

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Photo of ypsifly
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The reviews describing this as looking like motor oil are dead on. Pours like oil, had to really raise the glass in order to get a 1" head that was dark and receded slowly. The lacing is more like a fine coating of foam that is consistant through most of the glass.

Smells of dark coffee, molasses with some malt underneath. As it warms up there's a hint of alcohol.

Wow! This is an extremely full bodied, dry finishing treat! I detected some some sweetness upfront, but the roasted malt takes over.

For this style, this is a very drinkable beer. Fans of Old Rasputin will really like this one.

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Photo of dlello2
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Super dark and viscous. Dark dark brown with just a hint of red head.

S - Roasty. Definitely dark fruit.

T - Very nice. Chocolate, not as much fruit, almost no alcohol for 12%. Some signature dark horse smokiness shows up at the beginning and end.

M - Viscous and smooth. Good amount of carbonation.

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a black body with minor head and lace. First thing that hits me in the nose is dark fruits like raisin, figs, and then minor sweet malts like chocolate and something sugary (not going to say candi sugar or caramel...toffee? molasses?) and then balance from some roasted malts and to be honest no alcohol. The lack of alcohol in the nose and also the beer itself is quite a feat considering it's a double digit ABV beer. This beer, for as heavy as it could be and with so much going on, is actually light and easy to drink with a chewy, fuller body that goes down incredibly easy with notes of chocolate and other sweet flavors (again - toffee? molasses?) hints of figs, some roasted malts, good balance and the beer has a good, strong finish without alcohol burn. Just a solid stout.

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Photo of mentor
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours thick, black, and almost flat. A very tiny ring of brown head formed around the edge of the glass, even after a hard pour. Smells of coffee, molasses, fuggles (a type of English hop), and some alcohol. Tastes of coffee, chocolate syrup, and a faint alcohol. This beer is really sweet and the flavors I've described above are really strong. The roast flavors almost have a feeling about them...like tiny roast bits of grains sand-papering my tongue. Also a note about the chocolate, it's a delicate and sofisticated chocolate, not a dry (baker's chocolate) or waxy (Nestle's) chocolate. The sweet hangs around heavy and hot on the back of the tongue. This is definitely a thick-bodied beer, which is appropriate for the style. Not sure the ABV, but I'll bet it's high. I could still pick out the alcohol burn despite the 'in-your-face' potent sweet, roast, and chocolate flavors. I recommend this beer for those interested in the style.

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Photo of Greencoat
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Bottle.

Motor-oil pour. 1/2 finger, dark tan head slowly fades into a sheet of foam. 100% opaque - none of that ruby highlight stuff!

This nose is getting me pretty excited. Ultra-sweet nose, like boozy chocolate - maybe even a little tobacco. I can tell there's a lot going on, I'm just not sure how to describe it. I know this, though - I like it.

This beer is simply sublime. A fantastic parade of chocolate, burned coffee and molasses. I really think some more time in the bottle will help this one out, but it's drinking very well right now.

Syrupy sweet feel to this one. Just enough carbonation and bitterness to keep it from being sludge. Extremely full bodied.

Overall, I think this beer is amazing. That said, I think we may be starting that awkward phase between fresh, and aged perfection. If what I've tasted is a sign of things to come, be prepared to have a masterpiece on your hands in a a while. I'll be (not so) patiently awaiting next year's release.

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Photo of Bone53
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pretty much black with a light brown head that quickly dissipates.

Smell: Dark fruits, roasted/chocolate malts, caramelized sugar, alcohol. Not as robust as i had hoped

Taste: Dark fruits upfront, roasted malts and slight chocolate mid palate, with a hoppy finish. My favorite RIS has a rich espresso-like finish, and this doesnt have that.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and very thin for a RIS. Although i get a touch of the alcohol, it goes down too easy. I expect a beer in this style to be viscous and chewy, and this doesnt give me that satisfaction. Also a bit of bitterness on the finish

Overall: I think this beer is overrated to be quite honest with you. It has a decent amount of the roasted malt, chocolate qualities you want in an imperial stout, but its not up there with Founders IS, Expedition, Ten Fidy, or even Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout in my opinion. I found the mouthfeel to be lacking as well as its very thin and not as luscious as a beer in this style should be. Still a solid RIS and should cellar well

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Photo of krisandajt
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another beer courtesy of mymrnngjckt. I raise my glass to you, Kevin!

Appearance: This beer pours like motor oil into my DFH ale glass. The color is midnight black, with a very small amount of coffee colored head. What little head there is quickly fades away, leaving only a thin ring of bubbles where the beer meets the glass. Lacing is good, leaving some soapy rings where the beer settles.

Smell: Mostly bitter chocolate in the nose, but mixed in is some booziness which hints at the high ABV of this brew. Right off the bat I can tell this is going to be a sipping beer.

Taste: An interesting mix of bitter chocolate, some booze, and what reminds me of dark fruit - raisins? It's got the robustness of a big stout, but has some hints of the dark fruitiness you find is a good quad. Very unique, and rather tasty.

Mouthfeel: Thick, smooth, and creamy - everything you could ask for in an imperial stout.

Drinkability: No doubt about it, this is a big beer. Big flavor, and big ABV. As tasty as this is, there's no way you can have more than one of these in a night. All night drinkability...definitely not. But I'm sure going to enjoy it while it lasts. Definitely recommend - if you see it, grab it!

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Photo of pmccallum86
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a huge deep dark black color with a big and thick cocoa colored head that dissipates very slowly.

Smell is of big cocoa and licorice. Lots of roasted malts and a little coffee as well.

Big, big, flavor. Tons of roasted malts and bitter chocolates come up front. Followed by slight hop bitterness and some sugary caramel in the finish. Quite a nice beer, possibly my favorite offering from Dark Horse. The 12% ABV is hidden very nicely as well.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with medium carbonation, very full bodied beer.

Drinkable all things considered, but not this beer's best asset.

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Photo of falloutsnow
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

From: Binny's, Champaign, IL
Date: None, 2012-2013 edition
Glass: New Belgium globe glass

Pours a 1cm head of brown foam atop the body, it being comprised of mostly small bubbles, mixed with an occasional medium and large sized-one for varied effect. Retention is average, lasting about one minute before the foam sinks to a thick ring around the glass and a small island of lacing atop the body. Lacing left along the sides of the glass is minimal, a line or dot occurring haphazardly. Body is very dark brown to black, totally opaque, light showing only the thinnest sliver of garnet-brown hue to slip through. Carbonation is visible only near the top of the beer's surface.

Aroma is of roasted malt, heavy semi-sweet chocolate, roasted coffee beans, and ethanol. While good, this isn't as upfront about its ingredients as I would expect such a malt-packed beer to be.

Front of palate picks up semi-sweet chocolate with heavy roasted malt and coffee beans. Mid-palate of roasted malt, very dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, vanilla, and mild ethanol. Lingering aftertaste of acrid roasted malt, very dark chocolate, vanilla, roasted coffee beans, and mild ethanol.

Beer is medium-heavy to heavy bodied with medium-light levels of carbonation. The result is a smooth, slightly foamy mouthfeel that is thick and well-geared towards sipping. Ethanol is only slightly felt on the tongue and in the nostrils, very good for an 11% beer. Closes dry and slightly astringent, with moderate stickiness clinging to the palate.

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Photo of RJay
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pitch black with no light able to penetrate through, during the pour I was reminded of the last time I changed the oil on my car. There was a half finger of head that faded to covering the edge of the glass, this stuck around until the end.

Aroma - Toasty roasty malts with some chocolate notes. There is a fruity aroma but I can't quite make out what it is. There is also a nice warm tingle to the nose from the alcohol.

Taste - Sweet roasted malts with chocolate and toffee with a coffee like bitterness.

Mouth Feel - Silky smooth with light carbonization and has some weight to it, pretty thick beer.

Drinkability - This is my favorite out of the series. Definitely a sipper but a great beer, as the beer warms up in the glass more of the aromas and flavors can be picked up.

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Photo of YumYumGumGum
4.07/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: ideal slim headed stout. Pretty low carbonation but an amazing opaque black color.

S: i got virtually no scent until it warmed up and i got chocolate and nice coffee but mostly roast and alc.

T: great taste, smooth high gravity, the coffee taste is great. If you like a full bodied stout with subtle coffee. This is your beer.

M: very nice, smooth, in fact, im appreciating the low carbonation strong body now.

O: im thankful for my currently half full barglass of plead the fifth. The great part of this well made stout is it shockingly spectacular delivery of the warming 12%abv. I highly recommend this to coffee afficianados.

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Photo of blakelive784
4.07/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to maximum12 for this extra!

12 fl oz brown glass bottle served in a snifter, reviewed live:

A - Pours a thick motor oil black color with three fingers of thick, creamy brown head. Retention is damned impressive, especially at 11%, and the head leaves nice cream lacing as it recedes.

S - Sweet hot chocolates, cream, subdued roasted malts and toffee undertones. Favors sweet. A touch alcoholic. Dark fruit and fig notes. It's highly lactic, reminiscent of a milk stout. I'm missing any coffee or bitter roasted malts. Inviting.

T - Creamy semi-sweet chocolates perfectly counter the subdued roasted malt body. Vanilla and toffee undertones alongside dark fruit. It's sweet, without ever feeling unbalanced. The alcohol is makes a subtle presence on the way down. Nearly perfectly balanced. Masterful brewing.

M - Full bodied, creamy and silky smooth. Damn near perfect.

D - I'd never guess this is 11%. Wonderfully built and amazingly drinkable. A great success from Dark Horse.

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Photo of 7ways
4.07/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle thanks to steelersxl, hand labeled '09, poured violently into a Duvel tulip. It shows with a very minimal and very dark chocolate head on top of a rich Seal brown body. Sticking to the glass is a thick gloopy lace that I've rarely seen. It's almost not even lace, just globs of viscous liquid suspended high in the glass.

The aroma is pretty intoxicating, though I can't smell much of the 12% alcohol, so +1 right there. Pretty intense sweet chocolate/cocoa, and something outdoorsy. Not much else, but very inviting nonetheless.

After drinking half the glass, I've changed my mind to thinking that it tastes a little better than it smells. The reedy/lake/woods chocolate thing is joined by mocha, crazy big roasted malts, a little licorice, and oh yes, there's the yummy booze I'd almost forgotten about. Bittersweet and clean finish.

This body is quite full but is slightly lacking on carbonation. Some creamy little bubbles would do wonders for it; however, it is still cohesive enough to not put a damper on the experience.

Overall, a very impressive RIS.

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Photo of ADZA
4.07/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another brew that i would not be drinking unless Mulder1010 and this one ive been really looking forwards to which pours a dark black hue with a chocolate two finger head and sporadic lacing,the smell is booze,chocolate coated cherries,oak,dark honey,coffee and dark chocolate very enticing,the mouthfeel is just full bodied with minimal carbonation with tastes of dark rich chocolate,rich fruit pudding,dark expresso,roasted malts,dark fruits and finished just like a milky cappicino bittersweet and overall a very nice Imp Stout that i would drink again cheers.

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