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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
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Reviews: 835 | Hads: 3,572
Photo of Buebie
2.65/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I spent the evening bored outta my mind at an art show that involved some of the works with people staring at each other and other weird shit. I was so thirsty for beer by the end of this nonsense I needed the strongest thing in my fridge.

Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into an oversized snifter. Off the pour I get a smallish half an inch very dark brown head, cola like, receeding very fast. Leaving very small traces of spotty lace. A colar of retentoion. The beer itself is black, no light penetration.

The aroma holds some boozy warmth, alot of very dark chocolate, all bitterness in the aroma. Some cocoa powder smell in there too. A touch of roasted grain smell.
The aroma is a bit dissapointing overall, with the boozy warmth being the main contender.

The mouthfeel is quite slick with a full bodies creamy mouthfeel, mixed with quite a bit of carbonation.

The taste on this is as the aroma would suggest. Its very bitter, nothing too inviting for an RIS, its more like a really malty dry stout with lots of bitterness. My tastebuds are really overwhelmed here with bitter burnt grain overload here and I'm a bit dissapointed. No warmth suggesting 12% in the taste though, its well hidden. This finishes dry and again, bitter with nothing fun or exciting going on here.
For an RIS I'd have to plead the 5th, rather then say what is really on my mind with this one, as its probably going to offend somone.

Do not want

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Photo of malty
2.65/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured pitch black (like motor oil) with no head whatsoever - just a faint beige halo surrounding the edge.

Scent is vinous with a somewhat pronounced alcohol (sharp) presence. Raw sourdough with distant bitter chocolate.

Flavors of dry, bitter baker's chocolate with burnt coffee and woody notes. Very liquer-like flavor, kind of like dark rum. Sharp alcohol flavor is very noticable.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with virtually no carbonation. Dry and chalky texture right through the finish.

Drinkability for me is a bit less than good. I wouldn't order another at a pub, would move onto something else.

Overall a nice full-bodied Imperial, though very unbalanced. Alcohol sharpness is very intrusive and mouthfeel is watery and uneventful. Nice bold dark roasted malt flavors, but get squelched by the alcohol presence. Bold, strong but unrefined.

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Photo of justintcoons
2.77/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a snifter. Aged approximately a year.

A: Pours black as night with a finger of deep brown head.

N: Chocolate covered cinnamon bun, fig and molasses.

T: Sugar coated plum and metal upfront. Fig and bitter cocoa nib appear mid-palate. Finishes with dirt covered chocolate, molasses and prune.

M: Medium-full bodied, silky, smooth, sticky and warming.

O: Not a very impressive Imperial Stout taste wise. Bitter and tastes somewhat like vomit. Not recommended. Try Dark Horse One, Too, Tres or Fore before this one. They're much better.

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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 Arbitrator
3.01/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Chilled 12oz into a glass. Received in a trade from Hexxed. Thanks buddy!

A: Pours a viscous, opaque motor oil black with no light penetration, even at the edges. The head is a quarter-finger of dark mocha-colored foam that retains well, slowly collapsing into a film on the brew with a thick collar. Some lacing down the glass.

S: Burnt figs and dates, roasted coffee, and a bit of booze burn. Decent; it's pretty malty, but nothing too exceptional.

T: Tons of roasted coffee, burnt sugar, burnt chocolate, burnt figs, and burnt plum. Lots of burn. Ashes, smoke. The chocolate emerges occasionally, but it doesn't dominate the beer or define its taste. The burnt / ashy combination gets kind of strong after a while; I prefer something with more anise and dark fruits, and less burn / smoke.

M: Very thick, with low carbonation. It's a tad below velvety; it's not carbonated enough to cleanse the tongue, leaving a thick coat behind. Quite warm, even a tad hot (but for its ABV, impressively restrained).

D: It's enjoyable, but it doesn't distinguish itself from other imperial stouts.

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Photo of hardy008
3.06/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pitch black with a dark tan one finger head with good retention. Leaves spotty lacing. Smells like raisins, alcohol, anise, dark chocolate, dark roasted malt, and vanilla.

Tastes like dark chocolate, dark roasted malt, alcohol, anise, raisins, and vanilla. Very sweet, with a lot of bitterness provided by the dark roasted malt. I am not a big fan of anise or licorice, and wish I had not detected so much of it.

Full bodied with average carbonation. There is a lot of alcohol heat with this beer, which is the main problem I have with it. The second problem is that this beer is too sweet, and too bitter. The aftertaste mostly is alcohol, roasted malt, and dark chocolate. This isn't a bad beer, but is a bit too hot for me to enjoy properly. Also not as well made as the best Russian Imperial Stouts. I should have let this one age a while before drinking it.

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Photo of jwhawkins81
3.14/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Aroma - Roasted malts and a coffee bitterness

Appearance - Brown head that quickly fades. The beer itself poured a very dark color without much carbonation.

Taste - Coffee bitter with a sweet roasty backbone. Not as smooth as I would have liked. The bitterness was a little harsh in contrast to the other flavors in the beer.

Notes - Maybe it was because I wasn't in the mood for a big stout like this but I wasn't a fan of this beer. I put the other three in the cellar and expect better things from them in a years time.

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Photo of SrMonkey
3.15/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an inky black, with minimal brown head despite pouring straight down the glass. Aroma of roasted malts and a hint of baker's chocolate. Flavor starts thin and acidic, like burnt coffee, progressing to herbal hop bitterness and finally a nice smoky malt finish that lingers. For 12% it was pretty watery, maybe had to do with it being undercarbonatef as well.

Expectations given the ABV were that this would be thick, sweet brew. Instead it was acidic, dry, flat and thin. The only aspect that distinguished it for me was the pleasant smoky finish.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.15/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've had this one a few times now, and waited to review it as I figured maybe something in my perception of this beer was off. After further consideration, I realize that maybe I just don't care for it all that much.

Pours a very dark brown, black color, with a small but firm dark brown head. Aromas of black licorice, molasses and a bit of vanilla. Somewhat bitter on the palate, with more licorice, chocolate and alcohol. I can't place my finger on it, but I just don't like it.

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Photo of harrymel
3.2/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Recent batch, reviewed 07FEB12
Pours a dark, near black stout with opacity throughout. A finger of light mocha foam falls to nada except a ring of the same. (3)
Figs, licorice, roasted malts, nougat and a hint of mint. Some notes of coffee and a little cocoa. There's also a hint of diacytal on the nose. (3)
Roasted, sweet, some raisin, prune and smoke. There's a weird hot dog flavor on this beer I didn't previously note. I can only relate this to poor fermentation technique as I've only ever tasted this in poorly conducted homebrews otherwise. Luckliy, the overall flavor isn't too impacted by this. (3.5)
Medium on full bodied with a moderate carb and semi dry mouthfeel . Middle of the road. (3)
Man, this beer really was much better the time I had it before, and IIRC, that beer had a year on it. I believe this one is fresh. Too bad, if that is the beer they want to call "ready" then I will grade accordingly, not that great, pretty average. (3)

Reviewed 26FEB11
Thanks to UMNBeerhunter for this extra, cheers joe!
A: pours an exceptionally dark black stout. So nice. No head formation, and in fact difficult for me to even agitate a head here. When it does show, it's transient and dark brown. No laces. Looks sticky.
S: Graham, licorice, anise, cocoa, malts. Thick, appreciate this nose a ton. Dark, long roasted figs. Brown sugar.
T: Dark, roasted oats, raisins, charcoal laden cocoa. Molasses, plum, figs still in here. Outstanding.
M: thick, heavy with low-medium carbonation. Sticky and coats my mouth. Resonant.
D: Excellent beer here folks. I think the beer is superb.
3.5/4.5/4.5/4/4.5 - 4.4

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Photo of BradenMK
3.22/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was a weird beer for me. I don't know if my palate is wrecked by something... it shouldn't be... but I was feeling under the weather today. EDIT: Hmm... my palate is indeed wrecked. I am currently drinking a Founders Imperial Stout and I taste nothing but chocolate covered raisins...

I will have to return to this one at a later date. Unfortunately for me, this is the first 5th I've ever seen and was the only one on the shelf. Hopefully I can find another.

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Photo of MarkIntihar
3.28/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into my Bell's snifter. Thanks to Dave for tossing me a couple of these in our most recent trade!

A - Pours a completely opaque dark brown color with a finger's worth of mocha colored head. Very nice and rich looking.

S - Smells of milk chocolate, molasses, dark roasted malts, and perhaps a bit of soy sauce. Fairly sweet on the nose, reminding me of the '09 Dark Lord in the nose. Not much of a hop presence in this one, which is fine, seeing as it's a stout with a few months on it.

T - Taste follows pretty closely to the nose, though there is a hollowness to it that leaves me wanting more. Also, there is a very present alcohol bite in the taste, so much so that it almost overpowers the rest of the flavors. This seems like a good candidate to let sit in the cellar a few more years. Seriously though, almost a rubbing alcohol type of taste in this one. Not pleasant...

M - For as much alcohol as is present in the taste, there is not too much heat in the mouthfeel on this one. Coats the entire mouth nicely as well. Very pleasant going down.

O - Overall I'm disappointed. I have had this one before and do not remember it being nearly this alcoholic, but this one was a booze bomb. I generally don't mind high ABV beers, but this one did not hide the alcohol well at all. I will revisit it after it has sat in the cellar for a couple years.

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Photo of claaark13
3.31/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks jayblack for this one in our recent trade. I've been trying to slide another one of these into a trade for some time, so I'm glad to get a chance to finally review one. 2010 or earlier bottle. Poured at cellar temp into a Hill Farmstead tulip.

A - Pours an oil black with slight dark brown lacing. The lacing goes away and returns when sifted. Sticks to the glass...looks very thick.

S - Chocolate, sweet molasses, roast, dog food? There is a meaty smell to it that reminds me of dog food.

T - Roasted malt throughout, sweet molasses comes through, bitter dark chocolate toward the finish. A sweet dark fruit is present. There is a flavor that I associate with the smell of dog food that I'm getting as well. It goes away after the 2-3rd sip. There is almost a hint of anise coming through. It sticks to the palate.

M - Thicker body that is really nice on the palate and carries the flavor so well.

O - I find an unfavorable flavor amidst this one and I can't shake it. The look and mouthfeel are great though. Either this is better consumed fresh or it is a base beer that is made for barrel aging. Dark Lord is that way, so sometimes it just happens.

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Photo of ibbjamin
3.34/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I'm reviewing a 12oz bottle which I purchased from Discount Liquor in Milwaukee, WI and poured into a snifter.

Pours like motor oil yet even more black in color. Leaves a small tan head which dissipates very quickly leaving no retention. Some minimal lacing.

Very pleasing, somewhat complex nose. Sweet and lightly roasted malts with hints of smoke and earthy wood notes. Rounded out with mild coffee, creme and cocoa.

The taste is somewhat of a letdown after getting well acquainted with my nose. Has a slightly bitter, old coffee flavored finish. Seems to lose some of its complexity as well. Sweet malts with hints of smoked beef jerky and creme. The alcohol is pretty well contained for this 12% beer.

Full body, minimal carbonation. The thickness of the beer could have been better translated into a smoother, creamier mouthfeel.

I have yet to be really impressed by Dark Horse beers. They are good, but have not pushed themselves into the great category yet in my opinion.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.38/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Won't wear my Sunday suit to walk that street
That would feel Byzantine

12 oz bottle...Ultra dark inky pour into my snifter with a nice thin mocha head that swells and then heads rapidly to lurk around the edges like some two-bit hoodlum.

Dark fruit, sherry, soy, and that scent that I have often described as grape bubblegum that I sometimes find in big stouts, along with some dark chocolate on the back end.

The taste and mouthfeel on this beer are slightly perplexing. For all the complexity, or at least diversity, in the nose, the taste does not quite follow. Upon warming, there is an onslaught of that grape flavor which I attribute to the heavy malt presence. The other scents promised from the smell seem minimally present, with only a slight coffee presence poking through, which I did not detect on the nose.

What is particularly odd is the slightly oily, but very light, almost watery mouthfeel. For the make and model of this diesel motored fiend, I expected a bigger, more rounded feel. Not particularly the experience I was hoping for.

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Photo of bluemoonswoon
3.4/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a New Belgium tulip glass.

A: Thickness bottled. Inky black, couldn't stand a spoon in it like say one might be able to do with a glass of Dark Lord but really not that far off.

S: Smells sweet and boozy, boat loads of chocolaty malt. I'd say you can just about taste the booze on this one with just a sniff.

T/MF: Big, thick, chewy if slightly undercarbonated. Licorice, seems to be the driving force in this beer, sweet tobacco, slightly acrid smokiness and or hop bitterness, licorice comes back in the finish as well in a big way. Hot boozy licorice, very dry, very raw, I feel as though this beer is not done with whatever it needs to be done with to make it a finished beer. Some time in the cellar I think would be good for it. The amount, or more correctly stated, the noticeable presence of alcohol in this beer is too high for my taste at the moment. Perhaps given time the booziness might subside that might allow the malt bill on this beer come through in a bigger way.

D: This time I don't think that my ratings reflect how I actually perceived this beer, it's not what I am used to, I don't really like the licorice that I can taste, but the mouthfeel on this seems to improve but that may be an account of how my tongue is numbed out by the alcohol in this. It just doesn't taste like what I'm used to, it's not really smooth, it's thick but not smooth and that alone sort of makes the whole drinking experience suffer for me, where the beer might actually taste better than I am rating it, but the feel made me think that it tastes worse than it actually is. I'm not going to say I'm disappointed in this beer (though at 11 bucks for 4 I might be) I'll say that this was not exactly what I was expecting out of this beer.

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Photo of DearthVader
3.41/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received as an extra from Beerness. Cheers, Charlie.

Poured into my Coronado snifter.

Pours a sludge-like black with a burnt brown head that sits 2" off the top. Extremely thick lacing is left from this. You can't pick up the slightest glimpse of light through this. This should really become a world wide definition for what a dark/thick beer is. A promising start.

Smells of robust coffee, dark chocolate syrup, roasted malts, and a ton of booze. Tingles the nose a bit.

Taste is a little harsh. The booze is just too much for me. I love the burnt coffee notes and the mouth coating chocolate syrup, but the booze drowns them out. Very hot beer.

I took the hot booziness out of consideration for the mouthfeel. If I were to consider the hot burn from this brew, it'd probably be in the 1.5-2 range. I love a thick, creamy stout, and that's exactly what this is. Mouth coating and almost chewy.

Overall, this was good. Not something I'd seek out, but if one lands on my doorstep again, I wouldn't be disappointed. I'm very happy I got to try this. I am actually very curious how the BA version would be.

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Photo of kscaldef
3.41/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Rediscovered notes from Sept 2012, on tap at Fermentoren in Copenhagen)

A: Very dark black. 1/4" mocha head, recedes leaving a ring

S: rich roast, soy sauce, molasses

T: Chocolate, red plum, coffee. Woody.

M: Low carb. Thick. Tannic.

O: Okay, but vastly inferior to the BB version.

 288 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.45/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Modest starting head--dark, dark tan color. Surprisingly little stability; this dies to only rim bubbles. No lace. Dark brown where no light shines through.

Overly mild aroma, most notable appearance is the alcohol.

Good burnt malt flavor, but it is compromised by the thinner body. This may be because of the very high alcohol. Elements of coffee and nearly no notable hop bitterness.

 389 characters

Photo of robwestcott
3.45/5  rDev -18.4%
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.

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Photo of SFLpunk
3.45/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

12oz brown glass pry-top bottle. Thanks to Carl! No date. Purchased at Julio's.

Pours a thick motor-oil black with some tan head after a thorough agitation. Nose is weird at first but some blows off. Fresh milk is the first thing to mind (uh oh). Creamy milk chocolate and grass. Palate is sharp and biting with alcohol. Creamy creamy creamy carbonation. Mocha (coffee + chocolate)....

stop the presses. Me thinks there's lacto ruining this beer. Banana peel comes out on the nose and things fall apart. Will re-rate if the opportunity presents. Fail. (A: 4, S: 2.5, T: 2.5, M: 2, Overall 1.5 = D+ or 2.33)

Re-Review: Appearance is the same as above but everything else is different. Big milk chocolate and coffee on the nose. Palate is rich and thick with tons of roasted black coffee beans, grounds and brew. Bitter/dark chocolate, earthy moss and top soil, lots of tanned leather and cocoa nibs. Long finish. Delightful. Sucks that I had an infected bottle the first time. The score reflects the good bottle, but the overall score is lowered due to lack of coding and the off-bottl.e

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Photo of hopspine
3.48/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured to a snifter.

A- Motor oil, thick black. Dark espresso head dissipates quick, leaving some chocolate lacings on the glass.

A- Cocoa, lots of roast, char, oak. The char was a little dominant for me... stingy, thick booze. A little metallic to my nose.

T- Roasty, with some chocolate on the tongue. A lot of booze, again, like the nose, a metallic flavor is there. Not dominant but there. Really smokey and lots of ashy, char in the finish. Flavors don't seem to meld well.

MF- Very thick. Sticky. Chewy.

O- I've had this a few times and my experience always seems underwhelmed. Too boozey for me, and just don't dig the roast/char combo it has. I'm a little alone on this one I think.

 695 characters

Photo of assurbanipaul
3.49/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a motor-oil black with ruby highlights. No head to speak of, feared it was flat until the carbonation started to break the surface (points lost). Aroma is thick, caramelized sugars and molasses with a malt base.

Taste is bittersweet and malty. Deep roasted flavors of burnt grain and sugars with a slight tangy sweetness. Charcoal, unsweetened Vienna roast coffee, Dutch cocoa, maybe a slight berry element. Mild presence of alcohol in the flavor profile, finishes dry with a mld acidic bite.

Mouthfeel is as thick and chewy as it appears. Rests heavy on the palate, coats everything. Legs imply a double-digit alcohol content. Don't understand the name, as it comes in a 12-oz bottle. Thanks to trbeer for this sample.

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Photo of CaptinRedBeard
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Deuane for grabbing this for me.

A: Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Cigar City snifter. No head whatsoever. No lacing. Just a pitch black RIS.

S: Up front you get aromas of dark fruits. Followed by some subtle hints of chocolate.

T: Raisins, molasses, a bit of chocolate and a just a little bit of alcohol heat. Very little for a 12% beer though.

M: Fairly lively carbonation for such a big stout. A bit on the thin side and a little slick.

D: Noticable or not twelve percent is twelve percent. So I really wouldn't want more than one. I had this beer before and I really liked it a lot. This one seems a little raw. Maybe I'll try it again in six months or so and see how it changes with some age on it.

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Photo of beveritt
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Picked this little gem up in Indiana recently. Not sure if it will be available here in Ohio; it is right at the ABV number past where drinking becomes oh so bad. The label is black and white and depicts a stylistic horse head. If I remember correctly this is the top of a series of labels from stouts that makes a continuous picture. No freshness date.

Appearance: Pours with just 1/2 inch of dark brown head. This settles quickly to a ring around the glass and a very thin and incomplete layer of foam. The beer itself is black as ink. Lots of sludge remains in the bottle.

Smell: Roasted barley bitterness with the added edge of alcohol sweetness. Some soy sauce and chocolate notes.

Taste: Acrid roasted barley bitterness upfront. Alcohol sweetness is barley noticeable, significantly less present than in the smell. Medium hop bitterness begins to appear in the finish, but is still dominated by barley. Long, lingering finish.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation level is average to average plus; a little too high for the style. Body is decent.

Drinkability: Definitely strong, but the many flavors do not seem to meld well together into a nice coherent presentation. Not one I will seek out again.

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