Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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: 3,573
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: 3,573
Photo of Beejay
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First off, I would like to state that I believe some of the issues I had with this beer were due to the growler filler rather than brewery. I have had this beer before and really enjoyed it, my bottle review is on here as well for comparison.

A: Motor Oil Black, with no head at all, just a coffee brown ring of bubbles.

S: Sweet, dark chocolate, raspberries, dark fruit and brown sugar.

T: Dark and roasty. Coffee and burnt caramel throughout. Sweet, big and tasty.

M: Thick and syrupy, very low carbonation. The carbonation that is there is very fine.

D: Very nice overall, but it just doesn't match the awesomeness that this beer is from a bottle. I would love to try it on tap sometime, and see how it compares. Unfortunately, a bad growler fill done this one in a bit. For shame whole foods..

 802 characters

Photo of jeff1973
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Schlafly tulip. Date code was rubbed off, think it is the latest bottling (2013??). Thanks Beerbyrd.

A - Pitch black. Mocha colored head with medium-low head that dissipates very fast.

S - Semi-sweet chocolate, dried cherries, a little raw grain.

T - Big-time chocolate covered cherries, then a nice roasty bitter finish that balances and dries the beer out.

M - Medium thick, would like it a bit thicker and chewier. medium low carbonation that is spot on for this beer.

O - Taste is excellent. On the sweeter side of RIS's. Wish the mouthfeel was a bit thicker, but a trivial flaw.

 622 characters

Photo of bonemuse07
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First day of summer means I should celebrate all that is dark, right? Since we had tornado warnings tonight, the skies were certainly dark. However...

A: Poured into a large snifter. This beer was darker than the skies. Midnight black/oily--not sure light would be able to escape it. Only about 1/4 finger of head, cocoa, disappeared quickly.

S: Big dark chocolate smell, followed closely by alcohol. Some coffee, oak, and faint vanilla in there. I was expecting a little more sweetness to it, but the chocolate seems to be overpowering

T: Dark, almost burnt chocolate. The hops add an extra kick to the coffee flavors. Definitely some oak. This beer overwhelms the taste buds. Surprisingly, there's not as much of a boozy taste as I was expecting, but it definitely warms you up after a few sips. Finishes with a faint sweet aftertaste...

M: More carbonation that I was expecting, especially after so little head. Coats everything, but the coffee/bitter doesn't overwhelm. Very well balanced.

Overall: I was expecting a little more sweetness from it, but it surprised me with how full and thorough it was. This is an excellent stout. Dark Horse is rapidly becoming one of my trusted breweries, i.e. I'll try anything from them.


 1,243 characters

Photo of micromaniac129
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I gave this beer an aggressive pour and i was rewarded with a tall mocha head. I also watched as the Guiness effect unfolded, quite pleasing.
Appearance other then that was rather standard.
Aroma was rich with nice depth. Really lots of roasted goodness. Hints of vinnilla and coffee some chocolate too perhaps.
Taste was good lots of roastedness, chocolate and coffee. There was an earth taste too.
This beer also has a lighty sweeten taste which i think nulls the alcohol profile because at 12 percent it is almost absent from the tasting, which could be dangerous.
The feel on the palette is flat, velvetty flat which I did not like. Restrained alcohol warms and coats the tongue.
I'd say all in all a pretty damn good beer, but be fore warned alcohol wise it drinks small.

 776 characters

Photo of blackenmn
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle to snifter:

A:Poured a thich pitch black with a minimal head with turned into a thing collar in no time most likely from the high ABV eating it up. This thing was viscous enough to make the glass noticeably heavy.

S:Smelled of burned bittersweet chocolate, heavily roasted sweet caramel malt, and a hint of ABV warmth. A little more balanced on the nose than expected.

Taste:Tasted of thick dark fruit and a subtle cream possibly vanilla like pressence. Definite raisin and dark chocolate came through as it warmed along with a noticeable citrus aspect. Tough to believe this is 12% but alcohol showed it head every now and then.

Mouthfeel:Very thick and creamy with a slight warmth throughout. Not alot of bitterness present on the tongue and it finished pretty wet.

Drinkability:This went down a bit too easy for the considerably high ABV. This was a very enjoyable brew none the less though and really transformed nicely as it warmed. mmm mmm

 969 characters

Photo of BieresDesMoines
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
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 FanofHefe
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle version poured into a Duvel tulip. Deep black-colored body, no light penetration, with about a one finger dark tan head. The head dissipates fairly quickly with very little lace, as expected.

The aroma consists of dark fruit, roasted malt, and light licorice. I get a sense the taste will be sweet based on the aroma.

The flavor is typical of the RIS style - dark, roasted malt flavor, mixed with dark fruit, molasses, a bit of coffee and some sweet caramel-like notes. This does have some complexity and definitely improves as it warms.

Thick texture in the mouthfeel and only a little warming from the alcohol. A very solid Imperial Stout and I would definitely recommend it.

 687 characters

Photo of newk340
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: inky black pour, line of lacing indicating level of first pour, no head otherwise.

S: caramel and bitter chocolate evident, hints of coffee and oats.

T: heavy chocolate forefront, smooth accenting hints of caramel and coffee as the liquid settles in the mouth.

MF/D: light tingling sensations with each sip, increasing boozyness as it warms. could've/should've cellared longer.

 383 characters

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

Pours pitch black absolutely sucks up all the visible light spectrum in my glass, big tan head after a vigorous pour. Aroma has dark licorice or pitsella (anise notes) with big ripened fruit notes,and an awesome roasted malt dark chocolate strong coffee combo. Big creamy toasted marshmallow experience this beer is extreme and awesome with a touch of soy sauce. Flavor is completely different than the draft sample I had much more rounded dark fruit sweetness in the flavor in the draft. This one is aggressive needing some age yet still a necessary drinking experience for any beer lover. I used to not be able to get any Dark Horse now that it's distributed in Ohio I've seen most of their beers come through, I really like their standards and their limited releases have been outstanding. Extremely sweet creamy sweet it could use a bit more hop balance than this, really it has anise (black licorice) a touch of soy sauce tones, and some dark fruit with soothing alcohol tones...strong espresso and dark chocolate this is one big ass stout. There's nothing here screaming hop bitterness I just wish it had more of that. Body wise this beer borders chewy full bodied stout with strong residual finishing characterisitcs and a strong soothing alcohol burn in the finish. Drinkability overall is a one and done type of affair, I liked it on draft much better. Challenging huge flavors going on but the balance could have been much better.

 1,440 characters

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

Pours nice and black with a thin, mocha head.

The smell bombards you with equal parts chocolate and vanilla. I get some woodiness as well.

Tastes like equal parts blueberries and banana. Fruity and sweet while the chocolate is not completely forgotten. Nutty. There's some alcohol burn present, it's not as hot as other RIS but there's more than I like.

It has nice carbonation and a full, chewy mouthfeel. This is a solid stout... but it's still a full step down from the best in class. I'll age the remaining three in hopes the burn lessens.

 548 characters

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

(Served in a snifter)
A- This beer pours a jet black inky body with a thin broken film of bubbly tan.
S- There is a soft creamy roasted black chocolate malt aroma with some dark toffee notes coming through as it opens.
T- The chocolate malt blends with some full dark roasted black malt finish. Some tootsie roll flavors underneath turn more into dark chocolate milk and some dark roasted coffee bean taste come through in in the finish. There is no real bitterness in the finish just a mellow black malt flavor lingers after a slightly sweet finish.
M- The medium mouthfeel has no real alcohol heat noticed.
O- Nice full chocolate malt flavor with more dark roasted black malt character for support with no bitterness and very smooth and creamy.

 750 characters

Photo of oline73
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2009 bottle poured into a goblet.

The beer pours black as night with just a small ring of cocoa colored head around the edge of the pour. I'm getting a strong sweetness and fairly intense roast in the nose. I'm also getting some dark fruit and warm alcohol. More of the same follows in the taste. Lots of roast, but the age has made sure it isn't abrasive. Dark fruit and bitter dark chocolate along with some smoke. The finish is bitter and warm from the alcohol. I'm glad I didn't drink this fresh, I think it would have been too bitter for my tastes. The smoke/roast flavors stick with you well after your done with each sip. The body is really thick with smooth carbonation and the finish is dry.

Overall: I enjoyed this one but I don't think I'd like it as much fresh. I had it side by side with a fresher barrel aged version, and the barrel really does some magic. I'd definitely have more of this one, but I won't go out of my way to get it.

 950 characters

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.

 388 characters

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

.Pours an opaque black with little lacing of tan head. Aroma is bittersweet with roasted malts and somewhat unsweetened chocolate and some plum. Tastes sweet and chocolaty with a hint of fig. Palate is slick and bitter. Overall this beer is quite drinkable for a 12% RIS.

 271 characters

Photo of cfrances33
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 vintage bottle, poured into a snifter.

Pour: Pitch black and oily. A finger of mocha head slowly rises and recedes to a rim, leaving a slight amount of lacing along the way. Good lookin stout.

Smell: Lots of bitter roasted malt up front, with some coffee and dark chocolate, and a touch of booze. Some dark fruits crawl out as it warms.

Taste: Nice roasted coffee and dark chocolate. A touch of bitterness. Dark chewy raisins and a light burning alcohol. Finishes with a lingering roastiness.

Mouthfeel: Big, thick, and chewy. A definite sipper. A bit of alcohol heat, but not a ton.

Overall: A solid RIS, but no where near in the league of its big brother from bourbon barrels.

 688 characters

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

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle with a slow pour gave little head. Near black in color. Somewhat of a char-coal smell, hints of chocolate. Silky smooth, not heavy mouth feel. Plenty of coco, roasted flavors to cover the high alcohol. I left over smokey flavor in the end. Overall a very tastey easy to drink brew.

 311 characters

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

12 ounce bottle, acquired in a great trade with jw347. Thanks!

Appearance: Deep opaque black, with moderate to solid medium brown, moderately dense head that leaves significant lacing. Beautiful.

Aroma: roasty boozy deep stonefruit tangy.

Taste: cherries coffee roasty toasty grain, some nuttiness, with a distinct bitterness, almost a sourness, on the finish. Hints at cherries.

Mouth: Very smooth, almost slick, full, moderately warm.

Overall: Very tasty and very drinkable, and something I'd like to have again.

 523 characters

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

 546 characters

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

Yet another bottle made possible by iconoklaztor. Don I cannot thank you enough.

Poured into a tulip glass, this is deep opaque black color with about a one finger dark brown head that has decent retention. Eventually, all that is left is a small ring, which surprisingly leaves nice lacing here and there.

The nose on this is dark dried fruits and licorice. Strange, I was expecting more of a maltier character, but the dominant smell here is definitely dried dark fruit and licorice. I also get a lightly toasted malt and sweet malt character, along with hints of bitter chocolate and coffee.

Much like the nose, the taste is also dominated by dark dried fruits and licorice. Not exactly what I was expecting, but tasty none the less. In the background, there is a subtle toasted malt and earthy hop character. All the typical imperial stout characteristics are there, but they are subtle and hidden by other flavours. Very complex and tasty if I do say so myself.

Mouthfeel is thick and rich, full bodied with a low carbonation. Slides down my throat, and coats my mouth. Drinkability is good, I can see myself finishing multiple of these in a night.

Overall, not my favorite Dark Horse brew, but it's definitely a good one. I'm not 100% sure, but I think Minnesota get's this brew, so next time I see it I'm going to buy a whole bunch, as I bet time only makes this brew better.

 1,387 characters

Photo of ckeegan04
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Very dark brown, near black. Head is a solid finger of dark brown foam that slowly fades to leave a thin brown cap behind. Minimal carbonation leaves the beer rather still looking.

S - Dark chocolate, dark bread and roasted malts. A bit of burnt sugar as well. Alcohol is certainly present but it lies well masked beneath the other aromas.

T - Roasted malts provide a touch of astringent bitterness up front. Some dark fruits come through quickly along with a bit of molasses and burnt sugar. Surprisingly sweet in the finish. The roasted malts are the dominant taste, but the other flavors all mix in nicely.

M - Medium to full bodied with a rather creamy feel. Just a touch of lively carobnation in each sip.

O - Another excellent stout from the folks at Dark Horse. I was a touch dissapointed by their IPA offerings that I have had, but the few stouts I have had have all been top notch.

 898 characters

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

12oz to snifter, pours a deep dark opaque black, deep brown head fades to lacing

smells of roasty malts, bitter chocolate, alcohol

tastes of bakers chocolate, bitter, roasty peaty earth, sweet lactose? maybe flaked grains?, heavy and sweet, hop resins linger, malts are blended well, reminds me more of an american double with the amount of hops, but could be a young bottle - mmm

mouthfeel is heavy roasty lingering bitterness, rich and thick, yum

 451 characters

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

Poured from a 12 ounce glass into a pint glass

A: Completely opaque and black. No light coming though the sides at all. There is a dark tan head of about one finger with a reddish tint that disappears over the course of a minute or two.

S: Smells malty and sweet with a powerful bouquet of dark fruits. There is a bit of chocolate and coffee to the nose as well as the scent of alcohol.

T: Though the fruit from the smell is still present, it is less prominent. The focus has shifted to a dry chocolate flavor. The flavor of coffee adds a little bitterness to the brew and complements the chocolate well. I can taste next to no hops, but the malt flavors are intricate and balanced all on their own.

M: Fairly thick with very little carbonation. Slightly syrupy.

O: A malty yet balanced experience. A “big” beer, not an everyday thing.

 844 characters

Photo of brstls4drmrs
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to pest for this one.

A - Pours a thick dark coffee/black color with a thin tan head. The head disappears quickly leaving some good lacing.

S - Molasses, nougat, hints of caramel and dark chocolate. Also some fig and raisin in there with a very small hint of licorice.

T - Just like the aroma with molasses and some bitter flavors in there too. Some dark chocolate (very small) and dark fruits in there too.

M - Mildly carbonated with some bitterness.

O - A very good stout. Would definitely recommend this one.

 532 characters

Photo of bashiba
4.02/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a 2008 plead the 5th Imperial stout in a 12oz bottle.

Poured a thick dark black with no head to speak of.

The smell had a very full coffee and smoke aroma with a bit of molasses.

Taste is a huge blast of burnt and smokey black malts, a bit of sweet alcohol and chocolate manage to sneak there way through.
Leaves a big bitter burnt black flavor that mixes with a strong blast of pine and lingers forever.

Mouthfeel has a slighlty sticky and oily body that leaves a warm coating.

A nice Hoppy Imperial Stout, will enjoy this one again soon.

 552 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.02/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Nonic. No date or info. Thanks Sweemzander for the insane stout!

A - Poured like warmed-up syrup. Totally black as night and unrelenting in appearance, a teeny layer of brown bubbles formed with a fizz and went to a small ring.

S - Rich molasses and maple syrup with heavily roasted malts. A touch of oatmeal can be found with just a hint of coffee bean. Lightly boozy on the nose from the, I'm assuming, high ABV. [Didn't know at this point]

T - Black roasted malts create a strong bitterness that overpowers the minimal sweetness in the flavor. Maple syrup and molasses give it a breakfast-like feel minus the lack of coffee on the flavor. Boozy more so that on the aroma, it also has a teeny soy hint, almost not noticeable, but just showing it's age.

M - Moderately carbonated and smooth with a rich, syrup-like finish. Totally full-bodied and bitter from the roasted malts on the finish.

D - It could be just a touch old but it makes the wonder me wonder what the alcohol would taste like if it were young. Strong and full-bodied it's well suited to warm on a cold winter morning. I'd love to try this again.

 1,145 characters

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