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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.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

829 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 829
Hads: 3,524
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 3.81%
Wants: 548
Gots: 931 | FT: 107
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: 829 | Hads: 3,524
Photo of pburland23
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On tap at Teresa's Next Door. There was a funny write up on the beer menu about how when the keg came in the employees at Teresa's didn't know what it was. So, someone called Dark Horse and told them they had a keg of Plead the 5th in Wayne, Pa. The Dark Horse employee asked, "How did you get a keg of that?"

It seemed to be a fortuitous break for us local beer geeks that Teresa's had a keg.

Pours a dark black color with a slight cocoa colored head.

Smells of roasted malts as well as some burnt wood aroma which reminds me of a port barrel. The taste is also dominated by the roasted malts with hints of dark chocolate and coffee.

There is scant carbonation which is nice for the style. This beer doesn't drink like it's 12% abv. There was no discernible boozy presence in my opinion.

All in all, this is a wonderful RIS. I had never even heard of Dark Horse before and was glad I wandered into Teresa's on a night they had this on tap. (947 characters)

Photo of titosupertramp
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Alewatcher for the opportunity to try this one.

A: Dark as night. Slight mocha head that dissapates quickly leaving a tan ring.

S: Nice chocolate, dark fruit, sweetness.

T: Surprised that there's a little bit of a coffee here as I didn't pick it up in the nose. The chocolate and dark fruit are there of course as well as a spicey quality of some kind towards the end of the sip. Leaves a great chocolate taste. Hard to pick up the alcohol which is nice.

M: Smooth and creamy. Very good.

D: As I mentioned in the taste portion, the 12.00%ABV is hardly present making this an amazingly drinkable beer considering the alcohol level.

I looked forward all day to having a beer after work and I'm really glad I chose Plead The 5th. Thanks again Jeff. (762 characters)

Photo of cjacobsen
4.32/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to sweemzander for hooking me up with this one.

Poured out a jet black with a thin brown head that quickly dissipated.

Smelled of chocolate, coffee, alcohol and kind of earthy.

The alcohol is present and the sweetness and bitterness almost fight for taste space. A bit of a wooden character to it, almost like a roasted, smoky wood or malt. There's a lot that takes place in each sip of this beer.

This beer is thick and syrupy and fills your mouth. You're really drinking something here, its not just washing past your mouth to your throat.

This beer was tasty but one for the night was good enough. There's a lot of flavor and a decent amount of alcohol so its not one to take lightly. (699 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thank to a couple different folks for sending these my way.

A: The pour into my snifter is thick and black with a small tan head forming.

S: Lots of dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and roasted malts. A touch of alcohol along with molasses, brown sugar, and some dark fruits.

T: Bitter dark chocolate, molasses, and burnt sugar to open things up on this one. The alcohol is there, but it's well integrated (I think). The roasted malt character is quite powerful as well and leaves a bit of a bitter aftertaste to the beer.

M: The body medium to full and is silky and smooth on the tongue. The carbonation is low to moderate.

D: For a 12% beer, this one is pretty mellow and easy to drink. Definitely one of the better "regular" imperial stouts out there. (764 characters)

Photo of birchstick
3.58/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - pours a black with a dark brown head

S - smells of roasted, semi-sweet chocolaty malts with a little bit of sourness to it

T - the taste follows the nose. Lots of dark chocolate with some vanilla and dark fruits (raisins) that segues into some sourness/fruity/tart flavors. Strong coffee flavors linger on the palate on the finish and a hint of grassy hops. Pretty solid.

M - slick mouthfeel that is medium bodied without much carbonation

D - pretty decent RIS. I would put this as above average but nothing that blew me away too much. Another solid stout in Dark Horse's lineup. (587 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeOne
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Stub & Herb's.

Poured into a 10 oz. snifter (kind of) a black liquor with a thin mocha head that left little to no lacing. No carbonation at all.

The nose was coffee, molasses, milk chocolate, and coffee.

The taste followed the nose and improved considerably as it warms, emphasizing the milk chocolate and coffee. Very good.

The lack of carbonation in the appearance was confirmed in the mouthfeel. With a lack of carbonation, I was expecting a chewiness. But it was actually a little thin for a RIS.

I would get this in a bottle if it were available to me where I lived. (587 characters)

Photo of adrock7309
4.48/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lucky to find a couple singles from last years batch sitting on a shelve at my local bottle shop.

Poured the bottle into my trusty Chimay goblet. After a vigorous pour almost no head to speak of. The top did experience a dark brown glaze but that quickly subsided.

Aroma is huge on the milk chocolate, dark chocolate, a bit of a blueberry hint, and a bit of leather.

Taste is heavy on the roasted malts, and lost of cocoa or chocolate. There is definitely some dark fruit or berry flavor i am picking up. The hops are pretty mellow but show up a bit on the sides of my tongue. There is no burn or hotness of the alcohol at all. I am pleased by the heavy mouthfeel and the low carbonation.

This is going down way to easily. (727 characters)

Photo of djmichaelk
3.64/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle courtesy of vinyljunkie (thanks Tom!), into a snifter.

A - Midnight black, with a thin ring of head around the edge of the glass. No retention (obviously, nothing to retain) and no lacing. It's not flat, but looks like it.

S - Heavy oat aroma, like a bowl of Cheerios. Some anise and black licorice, along with brown sugar in the background.

T - More oats all up in your face. I feel like I'm drinking cereal. Caramel and a hint of dark fruit. Lots of roast. And I'll say this -- for a 12% RIS, this disguises the alcohol REALLY well. I'm drinking this and having no idea how high the abv is.

M - Thick and chewy. Low carbonation. Not bad but not great, either.

D - Nice beer, but the abv kicks you in the behind before you know it. I couldn't taste it but I got warm pretty quickly. I doubt I could go through more than two of these in a sitting.

O - I want to love this one, but like almost everything I have from Dark Horse, there's always something getting in the way. It just seems heavy-handed to me. Nothing subtle in this one at all. I had a KBS immediately before this one, and while that might be setting the bar a little high, it reminds me what a world class stout tastes like. This isn't it. (1,228 characters)

Photo of Bombers4Benedict
4.21/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark, dark, dark with a thick finger and a half light brown head. Very appetizing.

S - Sweet is the only thing that can encompass what my nose experienced. One moment is caramel, the next is creme brulee/brown sugar, the next is subtle spiciness.

T - At first this one comes on heavy. I was worried the sweet smell was an attempt to hide the large ABV (12%) but rest assured my friends, this one was smooth and very pleasing. I would describe it as a hard creme brulee. There was a little bit of noticable alcohol but that quickly vanished into a nice sweet, malty aftertaste. The warmer this beer gets the more the alcohol stands out, though so my suggestion is to sip quickly. Obviously, this left my tongue just wanting more and more. At a tasting a week ago this one stood out in a line up of 20 or so stouts as the desert like characters gave this one independence. I was happy to revisit, no doubt.

D - Although I loved it I had to keep it at 1 and would be suprised if others could do more. The sweetness sweetness is very desirable however can become overwhelming. (1,079 characters)

Photo of GabrielM
4.47/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared as an extra from pittsburghkid66 - thanks again! Poured into a snifter.

A - pitch black body, dark brown head on top. A standard appearance, yet one that always excites me.

S - a ton of roasted malts and brown sugar. A little vanilla, alcohol and spice.

T - roasted malt more than anything, some sweet coffee-and-cream, chocolate and molasses on the back.

M - fantastic! Great carbonation, very smooth and balanced.

D - dangerously good. This one lacks the espresso/hop bitterness I've come to expect from big IRS, especially ones at 12% ABV. Very grateful I got the chance to try this beer. (606 characters)

Photo of billab914
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Portsmouth tulip glass. It poured pitch black with one of the darkest chocolate heads I've ever seen on a beer. The head retreated to the edges of the glass where it left just a bit of lacing as I drank it.

The aroma has a big dark chocolate and brown sugar presence to it. Roasted malts with a touch of burntness come through in it as well. Very flavorful and appealing beer overall.

The taste shows more bitterness with bitter chocolate coming through at first. It turns to more of a roasted, burnt bitterness towards the finish. It leaves a nice bitter-sweet, dark chocolate lingering after the finish. Very nice flavor overall.

The mouthfeel is thick and heavy with low carbonation. Pretty much exactly the way I like my big stouts. Drinkability is good, it had some great flavors to it and was a pleasure to sip on this evening. A very enjoyable beer overall. (902 characters)

Photo of biglite351
3.71/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - black as tar, tall dark thick head.

S - heavy dark roasted malts, raisins, chocolate, not bitter but very inviting.

T - heavy deep roasted malts, raisins and a bit of sweet chocolate.

M - thick but not much tingle in the mouth. Burn in the throat from the alcohol.

D - the heaviness of the flavor and feel, plus the brim from the alcohol make this a short drinker. (373 characters)

Photo of Onenote81
3.82/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm able to try this thanks to the generous trader, enelson, for hooking me up with 3 bottles of this. Huge thanks!

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. No freshness info. Pours a very thick, dirty motor oil-black. Glugs out very slowly. The pour yields the thinnest of lacy sheets. Dark mocha colored. No lace left behind after each sip. Nice robust nose here. Tones of chocolate, coffee, vinous grapes, a bit of alcohol that singes my sinuses just a smidge.

I expected this to be full bodied because of the pour, but it actually thins out some. The mouth has low carbonation, which I appreciate for the style, but it's not heavy or thick. Could stand a tweaking here. With a big beer like this, the body needs to match the heavy color and ABV. The flavors meld together well and make up for what's lacking in the body. Lots of bitter dark chocolate, cold coffee, almond, and the finish is hintingly tart. I like this. It's an easy sipper, dare I say gulper, since the body is more on the thin side. But, beware, the ABV is on the high side. Not bad at all. (1,062 characters)

Photo of Phelps
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle received as part of a BIF box from the very generous callmemickey.

Appearance: like molasses. Pours a syrupy, inky black, thick, dark and manly. A tiny, filmy crown of deep orange appears atop, bubbling for a few seconds before becoming a persistent, bubbly ring.

Smell: lots of dark fruits: raisins, plums. Molasses, a light smokiness, marshmallows, maple and very subtle coffee in the back.

Taste: The sweetness has dropped off considerably in favor of the more roasty flavors. Campfire smoke, espresso, raisins, vodka. Solid flavor.

Feel: an alcohol heat singes the throat like heartburn. Light, prickly carbonation amidst a soft, creamy medium body.

Drink: nice flavors, great mouthfeel, good balance. Alcohol's a little heavy, but would I have it again? I plead the fifth. And by plead the fifth, I mean yup. (830 characters)

Photo of JackieTH
4.1/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: For all intents and purposes this one pours and looks like very well-used motor oil. Angry dark mocha-brown froth leaves a minimal bit of lacing.

Smell: Roasted dark coffee, malt and very rich chocolate, and dried plums.

Taste: Opens smooth, creamy and slightly sweet and with dark roasted malt but then pours on the dark, rich chocolate and espresso. There is a note of anise and dried dates. Warming finish.

Mouthfeel: Rich and thick but lacks carbonation.

Drinkability: Danger Will Robinson. (510 characters)

Photo of Augustiner719
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a very black, motor oil like color with a small 1 finger dark brown head that recedes quickly but leaves lacing down the glass. There is a big chocolate mousse aroma with some espresso like characters and a touch of vanilla. Big. The flavor has a big chocolate, malty and espresso body to it. Very well hidden 12 percent abv and a great undertone of vanilla coming on the finish. Smooth drinking with a Graham cracker breadiness to it. Mouthfeel is slick and viscous, perfect with a cheesecake. Overall this is a very drinkable high abv bottle of beer. Great beer! (617 characters)

Photo of champ103
3.67/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours an opaque black color. At first a two finger tan head forms, but recedes in a second. Not a lot of lace.
S: Big roasted malt up front. Chocolate, coffee, and sweet toffee. Lots of smoke as well. Very nice.
T: Follows the nose. All the roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and smoke you would expect. Just a bit metallic and astringent though.
M/D: A big full body that is low on the carbonation. Syrupy and sticky. A huge amount of alcohol, with plenty of heat. Though not hard to sip on.

This is very enjoyable, like everything from Dark Horse. Though a bit to astringent, and not as complex as other examples of a RIS. Basically the same thing as the Fore Smoke Stout, but with a ton more alcohol. Something that is still very much worth a try though. (759 characters)

Photo of jpmclaug
4.08/5  rDev -2.9%
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. (821 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.83/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt with bitter note and very subtle coffee notes. Taste is also dominated by roasted bitter notes with light dry coffee notes. Body is quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well brewed though it doesn't really stand apart from good imperial stout out there. (396 characters)

Photo of 7ways
4.07/5  rDev -3.1%
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. (1,070 characters)

Photo of Gobzilla
4.32/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle courtesy of bwd110 thanx for this extra playa

A: poured a very dark brown with brown highlights that had a super thin head and alomost left no lacing sticking to the glass.

S: right away I got this nice aroma of coffee and roastiness with some booze notes, chocolate showing up too but I could spot a little oatmeal and faint dark fruits as well.

T: upfront on the palate the chocolate was more potent than in the nose along with coffee, roastiness, and oatmeal accents but the booze was not as strong on the taste like the nose; very tasty RIS.

M: the brew was full bodied with a very low amount of carbonation which had a sweet, roasty, boozy, and chewy finish.

D: it drank really good and was very tasty I hope I can get my hands on some more of this delectable beer. (787 characters)

Photo of Vonerichs
4.1/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pitch black with a short-lived head that, at it's peak, was just small tan bubbles gathering around the edge with spotting in the middle.

Smell is deeply roasted malts, a little soy, and black licorice.

In the taste, the deep roasted malts are complimented by heavy hops, giving it a dark berry flavor. Hints of chocolate throughout.

Mouthfeel is creamy with low carbonation. Good for the style.

This weighs in at 12%, and is slightly hot. Aside from that, a very good stout. (483 characters)

Photo of andrewinski1
4.01/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip. Almost no head comes from a very aggressive pour. This one looks very thick during the pour. Pitch black of course. This is a little bit underwhelming.

I immediately get a bit of a boozy smell from the pour. When I stick my nose in the tulip, chocolate is dominant. A hint of roasted malt is noticed as well. I enjoy a little bit of alcohol smell, myself. I think it adds a bit of complexity and is a nice contrast to the sweetness.

Some imperial stouts are strong with roasted malts, this one has only a tough of bitter roasted flavor up front, but is dominated by mostly sweet chocolatey flavor. This is a very appealing flavor profile, as the hotness that was indicated by the aroma, is very well hidden.

The soft carbonation is perfect for the style. This is a huge beer, and thus not very drinkable, but I will enjoy the hour or so it will take to drink this one for what it is. I will definitely try this one again. (945 characters)

Photo of Bonis
4.37/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Wow this is as close to black as they come. Half finger of dark mocha head settles to a ring.

S - Roasted chocolate malt, bitter dark chocolate, hints of coffee and booze. Some dark fruit makes its way in that adds a subtle sweetness.

T - Dark chocolate and dark fruits up front, with a bittersweet bite to end. Alcohol lingers, but in a sweet form of fruit and chocolate. This one is really tasty.

M - Big bodied and thick/chewy. Alcohol coats the mouth with each drink and is apparent on the way down. Everything I'd expect in a 12% RIS.

D - Doesn't drink like a 12%, so I'd say drinkability is good. Wouldn't want to have more than a couple in a night. Make this one a sipper. (687 characters)

Photo of rembrant
4.74/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a dire Big Stout Black..brown head settles to 1 finger and thick,leaves lace,foam,viscosity on the glass as you drink. it's hard for a proper Stout to get max points for pretty,a glass of Quaker State with 10,000 miles on it looks like good Stout.

Aroma...definitely not Quaker State...

All that dark goodness seems present with Espresso,Dark chocolate,raisins,licorace,smokey hints all entwined. It's hard to say which would win out in the end but I just can't wait.

Taste Hmmm...Yum. The Espresso/Chocolate seems a draw,big mega mocha. Raisins and dried cherries float by,currents lurk with some tart-sour cherry presence hiding amongst the crowd. A bit of smoky and the woodsy hops show up in the aftertaste,as if to reset your buds for the next adventure.
Next swig, holding it longer gets more coffee in the finish,what next? Turkey and Dressing?

If I had not been 'discovering Dark Horse over the past weeks,the surprise factor here might be stronger. As is, I was looking for the evolutions and the layers of detail,the unique tricks this brewer puts in the bottle. There's more than I can seem to describe

This joins the elite few Stouts that are pure inky black bliss. I want to do a showdown with 5th,Bell's Expedition and KBS.
Plead the 5th would start with a bonus point for price.

Mouthfeel... No surprise for me,Dark Horse found the sweet spot and all the mouth stuff is balanced,full rich opening then tapers off and the sour/smoky/roasty/bitter works with the illusion that the density thins. They brew at least 8 big dark brews,plus variants and are good at avoiding negatives like cloying,or abrassive. The carb is subtle yet enough for the right zing. Tastes and textures shift but never mess it up.

Drinkable? Well, I never tasted any "boozy" but already I know this ain't no bud light. Price is not "off the wall" nor is it cheap. I could see a stay at home session where I do several and at some point am immobile. I can make that sacrifice.

i have to go to Michigan and taste the barrell age version before I die...preferably much sooner than that. (2,086 characters)

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 829 ratings.