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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.

837 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 837
Hads: 3,579
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.26%
Wants: 554
Gots: 939 | 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: 837 | Hads: 3,579
Photo of tut2528
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: pours jet black, in very minimal head formation. giving it a couple of swirls it elicits an very dark tan almost brown head. big alcohol legs are noticeable.

S: roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, slight fudge sweetness, big dark fruits (predominately plums and figs), slight tart cherries as well. just a slight touch of coffee grounds

T: pretty similar to the nose. chocolate fudge, plums, figs, and cherries. but in addition, I pick up on a big black licorice, a slight hint of hops, and a vanilla cream finish. i find no alcohol presence and this one is going down

M: full bodied that coats the mouth with a nice bitter chocolate and sweet dark fruit characters

O: extremely smooth beer. and i must say that at the alcohol is almost undetectable. just a freaking fantastic RIS. definitely need to get my hands on the BA version, bc I can't imagine how fantastic that one would be!

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Photo of sholland119
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewpub.

A-Beautiful. Dark and rich with a thick, dark mocha head. My favorite loon in an RIS. A beer that looks like this rarely disappoints.

S-Nicely complex. Lots of bourbon and alcohol, vanilla, dark chocolate and milk chocolate.

T-Caramel and dark chocolate in the front with lost of vanilla. Then a hint of maple, then some bourony notes in the finish. Quite hot in the finish, but it's fresh and 14% so no huge surprise there.

M-Medium bodied but rich and coating.

D-14% so proceed with caution (duh!). A little hot (again, duh!) but really delicious and enjoyable.


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Photo of VncentLIFE
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

What a beauty of a stout. Looks like pitch. No carbonation and no head.

Smell is a lot sweeter than I expected. Thick roasted malts, a bit of cream, Balanced and thick. somewhat spicy and a hint of leather. all odd combination i know. I cant really figure out why it smells like kind of spicy. Maybe vanilla.

Exceptionally roasty and robust, Burnt espresso, black bitter chocolate, and barrel pitch. I know its not BA, but I get that burnt wood kind of charcoal character. Thick creamy milk chocolate comes in somewhere in the middle. Finishes very bitter, with the heavily roasted malt dominating late. Theres this kind of spicy thing going on that I cant figure out. Its like a hint of cinnamon, or some kind of pepper spice. it goes very well with all the chocolate flavors. Hints of vanilla as well.

Feels so thick. Dark Horse had to use lactose somewhere in this. While it still feels overly bitter, th e underlying caramel sweetness is really good.

If it wasnt for Siberian Night, this would be my favorite RIS.

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Photo of BoardwalkBock
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A: As black as the night sky. Beautiful tan, caramel-looking head that fades to a nice lacing that is strewn all over the glass.

S: Caramel, molasses, chocolate, roasted coffee and tons of smokey char.

T: Wow this beer is big! Tons of chocolate, roasted coffee, earthy and smokey malts and dark fruits. Some nice vanilla to compliment at the end. Slight alcohol. Not as much as I expected for 11%. Very nice.

M: Big bodied, decent carbonation. Slight bitterness.

O: This is a very solid RIS with no complaints. First time having this beer. Will be heading back to the store to pick up a few to age for years to come. I really hope I get to try the BBA version soon. I can only imagine how aging this beer in BB would increase an already stellar RIS.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a very dark, oil-like black coloring with a thin, low profile, dense, light tan colored head. Aromas of dark, bittersweet chocolate, black cherry, peat and earthy tones, and a touch of ginger. Pretty interesting nose. Flavors are heavily roasted, with a warm, cocoa and sweet chocolate backbone supporting a touch of bitter coffee and some subtle fruit sweet highlights. Rich and smooth in mouth...almost creamy. Bitter and creamy aftertaste, with hints of baker's chocolate and a hint of booze. Rich, smooth finish, with a slight bitter linger. Very solid, robust brew.

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Photo of phishisphunk
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter after being chilled in the fridge for about an hour (an unseasonably warm April is leaving my basement warmer than hoped for this time of the year!). This beer pours a very inky black with the slightest formation of a tan head. My initial impression of the nose was that it smelled similar to a DFH World Wide Stout or Bell's Batch 9000. Initially very sweet, sugary, and syrupy smell. However, after a moment a robust and roasty smell dominates. The taste of this beer is superbly solid. Well balanced, beautiful roasted malt flavor dominates, without the slightest hint of alcohol. A perfect example of what a Russian Imperial Stout should taste like. Reminds me a bit of Old Rasputin. Carbonation in the beer is moderate. with a slight watery feel as the beer passes through to the end of the palate, but finished dry. Very enjoyable brew and by far my most favorite Dark Horse to date. Strongly recommended.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Pours jet black, tan lacing for a head.

Smells of oak, cocoa and salted caramel. Maybe some coffee too.

Flavor is of caramel, oak, a bit of bourbon, toasted biscuit malts, a hint of vanilla, and non-acidic coffee. Rich but not cloying.

Full, creamy body with a light tingle of carbonation on the tongue.

Fantastic stout, one of the best I've had in a while and easily up there with Old Rasputin and Founder's Breakfast. I could have this again and again, and highly recommend it.

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Photo of rdipper
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A pleasant surprise! Got this as an extra in a trade. Jet black pour with a nice brown, reddish foamy head. Excellent example of a non BA stout. I'll be seeking this out in the future!

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Photo of TheBear11D
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle

Pours black and looks pretty thick despite its high ABV. Has a small dark chocolate brown head that leaves behind decent but not impressive lacing.

Great nose. The roasted malts are first to tickle the nostrils, but the amount of alcohol cannot be hidden. Also has a smokey smell with chocolate.

Wonderful flavor! Chocolate and roasted malts dominate the taste. The alcohol is well hidden at first but it lasts well into the aftertaste.

Thick and creamy with very mild carbonation. The body compliments the flavor.

Well worth having! I continue to be impressed with Dark Horse.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Older bottle (old white and gray/black label). from trade with jrgratz. Thanks ya! Pours thick jet black with dark brown small head. Big roasty aroma balanced by some dark fruit and anise. Big furry mouthfeel with adequate carbonation. Big bittersweet chocolate taste, roasty malt, sweet molasses. Really awesome and like this better than the fresh BA version I had. Lingering cocoa on the palate. Big stout on the sweet side and very nice.

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Photo of CO-Bloom
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great pitch black stout. Smells roasty, sweet chocolate and some burnt marshmallows. Taste followed nose with roasty coffee, some smokiness, bittersweet chocolate, toasted marshmallow and a little bit of warming alcohol. Great thick and slick moutfeel. Overall one of the better RIS I've had! Kudos Dark Horse!

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Photo of SerialTicker
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

*RE-REVIEW 3/27/14*

Appearance: Pitch black with no light getting through. A finger of dark brown head. Doesn't stick around at all like it did the first time I had it, but still a beautiful looking beer.

Smell: As I remember. Still unbelievable, and one of the best smelling beers ever. My last review nailed it as far as the aroma is concerned with coffee, chocolate, caramel, and the cinnamon/nutmeg sort of aroma. I don't so much get any dark fruits this time around, but it still smells absolutely insane.

Taste/feel: Ah, here we go -- was I out of my fucking mind before? This stuff is great! There's a nice mouthfeel that's quite heavy but extremely so (a bit of a surprise given the ABV, to be honest), and the carbonation is a bit higher than what I'd consider mild, which works very well with a beer as big as this one. The flavor of this one is overloaded with massive coffee, roast, and chocolate with dark fruit undertones. The aftertaste is warming with a slight alcohol flavor and lingering roastiness that gives a very slight ash flavor. It suits the style and ABV very well to say the least. Surprisingly, this is fairly balanced. Naturally you get a bold roasty bitterness, but that dark fruit sort of sweetness is definitely there to help out. I'm not sure where I got the hoppiness last time I had this beer or if I was just incredibly ignorant, but anyway, this is a super nice beer and worth the $3.50 a single.

The smell of this beer has to be the best of any stout I've ever had, most especially when the brew has a head on it. The taste is awesome, but strangely, for some reason I can't explain, I want a bit more out of it. There's a good amount of alcohol presence (warms the belly) and a lot of good dark chocolate, roastiness, and some dark fruits in there, but a bit more of a punch would be welcome. At the same time, as it stands now, it's an enjoyable as all hell ALMOST too drinkable 11% bomb of an Imperial Stout. Not the very best Imperial Stout I've ever had, but boy is it phenomenal.

Appearance: Midnight oil with a spectacular two finger head that stays around longer than I'd ever expect out of an 11% beer.The head is brown and super creamy... looks outstanding. (5/5)

Smell: Unbelievable. Coffee, chocolate, caramel, dark fruits, and even notes of ... cinnamon? There's an interesting note in there that I wasn't at all expecting. Smells fantastic. (5/5)

Taste/feel: Monstrous... what else would be expected. Wow. Major bitterness, dark fruits, a lot of roastiness, and quite a lot of alcohol warmth on the finish. The smell was sweet and inviting, but the taste is just about the polar opposite. A lot of roast flavors with plenty of dark fruits, with an odd bitter, and somewhat sour finish. Alcohol is pretty noticeable in the taste as well. The hops in this one aren't there in the aroma, but come out in the taste with the bitterness on the end of each sip. I'm not sure what to make of this beer. It smells very nice (smelled great when I first poured and there was a large, pillowy head), but the taste is barely average. A lot of bitterness, with tons of warmth, and tastes of alcohol and dark fruits. It's certainly not your average RIS. The feel of this beer is actually somewhat thin for an RIS, in my opinion. The beer doesn't coat the mouth very much, but it does have a nice "slickness" to it. (3.25/5, 3.5/5)

I'll have you know that I'm not the biggest RIS fan, but this one is just odd. I had extremely high hopes after seeing it and, especially, smelling it, but Plead the Fifth just doesn't please my taste buds all that much. If you love a big and (somewhat) unusual beer, Plead the Fifth is a must try... it's quite distinctive. Though, I think, not for the best of reasons. At $3.50 per bottle, I'm certainly glad to have tried it (since I like to appreciate a big stout time-to-time), but I'm not sure when I'd have it again... but if I did, I'd keep it in a cellar to mellow it out... this thing's pretty harsh.


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Photo of neurobot01
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2.11.14 into a Teku at cellar temp.

Look: pours as thick and dark as hot fudge. Very minimal light brown head.

Smell: cider, pumpkin spice. As it warms, more chocolate, cherries, roast, then fig and raisin even later.

Taste: very smoky, chocolate-covered cherries, some cinnamon and licorice. Fig and raisin appear in the taste as well as it warms.

Feel: starts medium but gets thicker as it warms; never dry, which many stouts with this profile tend to be.

Overall: this is a 20% better beer at room temperature, where it really is great.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. Poured black with a thin light brown head, even with an aggressive pour. Little lacing on the glass also. Aromas were of roasted malts and chocolate with hints of black licorice. I expected a plume of alcohol, but wasn't overly present. Mouth-feel is medium to thick and thickens as the stout warms. Tastes are roasted malts, chocolate, and espresso. It is boozy, but the alcohol isn't overly present given the 12% ABV. Fruity esters reminiscent of ripe dark fruits are also present as it warms. Overall, a well done RIS! Really enjoyed this one, and would recommend it. I only bought a single, but would have been satisfied with a 4-pack.

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Photo of wedge
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

@ Ridgewood

Had to wait awhile for this one to warm up...

Opaque black with a small, creamy head on top that sticks to the surface for the duration. Dark, vinous fruit aromas upfront...super dark chocolate, creamy malts, and slight coffee. Super dark, heavy, black malty flavor. Lots of dark cocoa and not too much sweetness or booze. Heavy, textured, chewy, and dry. A big, deliciously dark RIS...

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

12 ounce bottle sampled from a 12 ounce snifter. Drinking at room temperature.

Pours jet black...looks like a shot of espresso. There is a small, caramel colored head floating on top, but not more than half a finger. Carbonation, however, seems to be going fairly strongly.

Aroma up front gives hints of plum, sour apple, chocolate, molasses, heavy cream, cinnamon, dried fruit, brown sugar, burnt wood, and coffee. It's a bit peppery in the nose, layered with good dark chocolate and caramelized sugar notes.

Yeah, this one packs a punch. Super rich in flavor, and the 12 percent alcohol seems to be masked here...until the swallow. Bitter dark chocolate notes start off the flavor here...followed by notes of a balanced, bittersweet shot of espresso. Burnt brown sugar, caramel, oatmeal, honey, and molasses all come to mind when sipping this. This Imperial stout is spot on...just what you want out of the style.

In terms of mouthfeel, the only setback with this beer is that the fizzy carbonation is very apparent on the tongue. It doesn't take away from the flavor at all, but just gives a bit too much fizz in the body.

Overall, this is a fine stout...should be up there with the best of them. I would love to try some of the other treatments they do with this beer. A top-notch ale...delicious and quite a treat.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: pours like motor oil, viscous as can be, pitch black, very dark brown head that doesn't hang around for long, some lacing

S: huge molasses and chocolate notes on the front, heavy roasted character, some nice bittering hops on the finish, this smells great!

T: the sweet malty character makes a huge presence on the palate, it is quite sweet but not cloying with molasses and licorice character, beneath the sweetness is roasted barley and other dark specialty grains, some smokiness, the roast balance nicely against the sweetness, this all finishes with an earthy hop character. Everything about this stout is bold and robust, but at the same time it is nicely balanced. Very nice.

MF: thick, slightly syrupy, chewy, very low carbonation...the body and mouthfeel pairs perfectly with the in your face flavors

D: this rich and decadent treat is quite palatable, however its thickness and high gravity makes it a chore to finish, a chore that I would never pass up!

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

Received as part of the Black Booty BIF. Pours black with a thin head that settles to a ring. Smells of coffee and bitter chocolate, with a slightly roasty and milk chocolate finish. Impressive taste, a choclate explosion with wonderful bitter chocolate, some berry notes, both long and delicious. Later some cinammon and a big hit of coffee make an appearance. The mouthfeel is long and super smooth. Utterly delicious, this is a great beer.

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

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

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

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

M- thick and chewy with ample CO2

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

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Photo of tpaetow
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A- thick, black, tan head, half a finger that dissipated quickly

S- dark chocolate, coffee, bit of caramel sweetness but not much

T- similar to smell but I also get some berry notes. Really nice.

M- medium to full bodied, lighter than I had expected for a stout this big. Hides its alcohol well.

O- this is a tasty RIS. I don't like it as much as the barrel aged version, but it's a really tasty stout!

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

I got this bottle from my beer buddy Jeffo (Jeff) some weeks ago, just before we went the the CBC festival in Kopenhagen. Tonight is good night to open this one.

Poured in my Struise glass this beer has some problems to develop a head...but with a strong pour the head get two fingers big. After a few minutes the head is a few millimeter. The fluid is deep deep dark.

Smell is very nice with some boozeyness. I like 'm this way. Soft and smooth with the alcohol well hidden! Thanks Jeff for this beer!

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

a.) can't believe I hadn't reviewed this before
b.) year old bottle straight from the cellar

a - oily black...viscous, dark, thick and foreboding....

s - rich, roasted malts, chocolate - dark, sweetness...hints of coffee

t - delicious - what you smell is what you get, and more. I think this beer did quite nicely with a year on it. Happy to know I've one of each of the series, except Tres, still in the cellar!

m - a solid medium, to heavy bodied beer that is hard to put down...

o - quite enjoyable... a great stout at a great price!

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

A: Pour a deep rich black with a thin tan head that fades by the last sip.

S: Roasted malt with hints of cocoa and dark fruits.

T: Sweet dark malt, again dark fruits with a nice chocolate finish.

M: Rich and smooth with just a hint of alcohol on the finish.

O: A GREAT example of a true RIS. In this day when so many breweries are adding adjuncts to their RIS its nice to drink a wonderful example of the true style.

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Photo of badboyrsl84
4.46/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black in to a tulip glass. the mocha head to this one is very faint and appears shortly after all the beer has left the bottle .

smell - its not the most impressive thing about this beer. I have to literally put my nose in this one to get the smell of this. I get fig, dark chocolate, vanilla, and some oak.

taste - thick dark chocolate stands out the most to me here. Although the taste tends to change with each sip. The oak is present as well as a little fig, but man O man does the chocolate shine in this one. It laces the throats and leaves a thick chocolate coat in the after taste. I get a little coffee but not much.

Overall - I am thoroughly happy with this one and can't say enough about how much the chocolate throat coating stands out to me. I shall have this one again!

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Photo of AdamMY
4.46/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The appearance leaves a lot to be desired, hardly any head, and that which came out was very brown.

The aroma though is like good hot chocolate, which is completely evident in the amazingly chocolate taste. This really tastes like high quality chocolate with hints of espresso.

The mouth feel is very smooth and creamy, almost silky smooth. Combined with its amazing chocolate taste, this is quite drinkable and I honestly do not think I am drinking anything alcoholic.

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 837 ratings.