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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
94
outstanding

869 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 869
Hads: 3,724
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.02%
Wants: 556
Gots: 1,013 | FT: 114
Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

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: 869 | Hads: 3,724
Photo of UMNbeerhunter
4.92/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Since I have had about a dozen of these and sent out tons as extras I suppose I should finally review it.

Poured from a 12oz into a Darkness tulip.

Pours black as night with a beautiful brown 2 finger head.

Smells great as well. Lots of chocolate and a little coffee.

Taste is on par with the best IS that I have tasted. Hands down the best stout I have tasted out of a 12oz serving. I will buy a case of this next time it is released.

Mouthfeel is nice as well. Medium weight and the chocolate resin sticks to your mouth in a way to stay for a long time and not be offensive.

Drinkability is high as this is one of the best off the shelf easy to get IS I have had.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.48/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

At a tasting in the fall with One Too Tres and Fore. This is the only one I have notes for.

Pours pitch black. Incredibly dark with a bit of light brown head. Looks stunning! Smells fruity and chocolatey. There is a hint of roastiness on the nose but most of what I get is dark fruits. Tastes similar. Dark Fruits, molasses, chocolate, roast, a TON going on. Very well balanced for something so complex. Thick on the tongue and pretty boozy. Drinkability suffers a bit but overall a nice sipper

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Photo of youradhere
3.77/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Re-reviewed on 2/17/11. 2009 vintage received in a trade.

Pours black with no head, no lacing. Initially head started to form, but it quickly fell. Smells of oak, booze, char, coffee. Tastes of anise, alcohol, chocolate and toasty char. High carbonation, light-ish mouthfeel for the style. Not as good as I remember, maybe this stuff goes through an ackward stage in it's life.

5/19/2010
The unassuming little bottle pours out a thick black concoction with a brownish tan head that falls rather quickly, leaving moderate lace behind. Copious amounts of yeast sediment remain in the bottle, this could either be good or bad depending upon how the yeast reflects in the glass. Smell is dark coffee and not much else, possibly some slight caramel in the back. First taste has this malt forward brew brining the malt bitterness of black patent roasted malt, followed by a subdued sweetness and an even more subdued smokiness which is a nice surprise. Yeast is barely detectable in this cornucopia of flavors, all jockeying for my attention; this is so much that it takes me a quarter of a glass before I even find the alcohol (12%), and even then it is perfectly balanced. The mouthfeel of this beer is something somewhat of perfection- it keeps the malt char, sweetness and smokiness all in line and playing beautifully with eachother on my palate. The carbonation is perfect, and I can see now why there was so much yeast sediment- as to even reach this modicum of CO2 a damn near entire yeast starter slurry is needed to survive the flavor and alcohol. Very drinkable, I wish I had more of it here in the PNW.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another fine Dark Horse ale, courtesy of hoppymeal (thanks, Derek!). Here we have a 12 oz. bottle with an extremely unattractive black & white label: an awkwardly ugly 'horse' rendering, an awful twisting vortex of curves and pointy bits; below it, a different font used for every letter in 'Imperial Stout'. Horrid. Let's hope that what's in the bottle trumps what is on the outside... poured to a snifter, post-'Valentine's Day' dinner (of Dungeness crab and garlic bread).

A: Appropriately dark/'black' (opaque but for strands of amber at the edges). Not much head beyond a stubby (<1/4" inch) rusty cream that introduces the pour; it recedes to a slender ring and a few dabs of film in a fractured swirl. Almost no lace, just a few tiny dimples.

S: Loved the aroma at first, then it dissipated on me: warm chocolate and plenty of smoky char, sweet and savory all at once.The chocolate aroma is enticing, no doubt. Something spicy and plum-like in there, too, then some notable boozy fumes.

T: Loads of dark chocolate - we're talking the richest and dirtiest cacao here. Vanilla and creme brulee notes in all that fudginess, then some maple and blackened wood/charcoal. As deep as one could ever want in an RIS, tantalizing and complex.

M: Luscious mellowness, the finest of creamy textures. Not too heavy, just very smooth with a nip of alcohol and a long lasting burnt bitterness that gets sweeter as it trails off. Coating feel is magnificent.

D: Oh,
so good, but a tad too pronounced with its boozy warmth to earn a 'perfect' score. Whatever ~ it's damn awesome, a lovely example of all that I love in a Russian Imperial. I've sipped for a while now; my conclusion: I DEFINITELY want this again! My overall score doesn't entirely reflect how 'WOW-worthy' this is. Forgive the label critique: this is a pretty amazing beer.

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Photo of aasher
3.91/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This pours into my snifter an oily midnight black with a dark, dark khaki head that quickly dissipates and laces the glass. The aromas are of oak, bitter chocolate, and a considerable amount of alcohol. The 12% is very present in the nose. The flavors are of conflicting chocolate (both sweet and bitter), oaky smoke, and alcohol. It's good but not as good as it could be. The strongest aspect of this beer has got to be the mouthfeel. It drinks exceptionally smooth and also lighter than it looks. It's velvety smooth. Overall this is a very fine beer but it misses on a few levels. The amount of alcohol present in the nose and flavor is a slight turnoff. It's 12% and you know it. It's good but powering through a four pack of this would be quite difficult but one or two is just fine.

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Photo of Brez07
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 bottle poured into a snifter. Not sure of the bottle date, but I got it about 6 months ago

A: Dark pour with some brown highlights along the edge. Head is thin and brief. There's mostly just a ring around the glass

S: Lots of roasted malt, but not over the top. Some dark chocolate mixed in, which imparts a small amount of sweetness. There are also notes of smoke, toffee and possibly brown sugar. I detect a small trace of alcohol as well

T: Again, the roasted malt dominates the flavor. There more of a bakers/bittersweet chocolate in the taste though. The beer developed a very rich chocolate flavor as it warmed

M: Full bodied, smooth and creamy. Maybe a touch high on the carbonation but I didn't mind. Small amount of residual bitterness after each sip

D: Very easy to drink considering the style and ABV. Not nearly as roasty as some others I've had in the style. You really don't notice the 12%. This is a good beer that I'd drink again if available but won't go out of my way to get

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Photo of nwu008
3.54/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A -- Rich dark brown with a very thin head, even after a vigorous pour.

S -- Loads of chocolate, roast nuts

T -- Sweet roasted malt, chocolate finish. Some sour notes on the finish

M -- thick and chewly

D -- a little hot even for a high abv imperial stout, richness limits drinkability.

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Photo of AllFineThings
4.52/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served out of the bottle and into a tulip glass.

Not much head or lacing at all, jet black.

Smells of dark roasted malts, and chocolate/coffee.

Tastes of dark chocolate, roasted malt, and burnt fruit.

Very, Very smooth for 12% ABV, so=Very Easy To drink..

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Photo of GregSVT
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a snifter - courtesy of Exiled

A: Pours pitch black with a tiny dark brown head that fades to a small ring and leaves some lacing on the glass when you tip it up and down.

S: The nose is full of dark fruit, chocolate, and bitter coffee.

T: The taste is dark chocolate, dark fruits, coffee, and bitter roasted/burnt malt.

M: Mouthfeel is pretty thick and creamy...very full bodied. Exactly how I like my imperial stouts!

D: Pretty tasty although the bitterness may turn off some. The high alcohol makes this tough to drink more than one.

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Photo of alpinebryant
3.82/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an oil sticky thick syrup with a very dark tan head.

Smell of oaky, charred remains of a bourbon barrel. I had to stop and question if this had any barrel aging, which as far as I am aware, it does not. Easily comparable to Ten Fidy in aroma with the sweetness that comes out.

Taste of a slightly boozy , sweet imperial russian stout. There are tons of charred remains in here after the sweetness settles. You can rub your tongue against the top of your mouth and feel the chalky feeling you get from ashes if one were to taste ashes... There is a lot of sweetness, a definite hop presence that brings the ash flavor down a notch, but I can never get over that ashy burnt aftertaste. This is a very tasty beer, but I would remove some of that black patent. Chocolate does it for me, and while this is tasty, I would rather have a RIS that has less char broiled coal characteristics in it.

Very low carbonation with an ashy mouthfeel.

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Photo of velosuds
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes on 12/26/10. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a clear pint glass. Thanks to my sister-in-law from Ohio for bringing out on her trip to CA for Christmas.

A-Pours a deep, dark brown almost black hue with a scant one finger, creamy tan head with good retention and adequate lacing.

S-Deep, dark chocolate and toasted malts and dark dried fruits. Also some vanilla, and booze. The smell is very nice.

T-Close to matching the aroma. Quite as expected for style with dark chocolate, dark fruits, vanilla, and alcohol. Better than I expected.

M-Robust, smooth, but a tad thin due to under carbonation.

D-Very good for a RIS, but not great. I like this and wish it were available in the PNW since offered as a single 12 oz. bottle.

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Photo of siradmiralnelson
4.19/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into Tulip

A. Poured a very slick 1/2 finger of dark cola colored head. Not much retention and very litte lacing. Color is all black.

S. Smell is good. Smells like a big Imperial Stout. Cocolate, dark malt, molasses, alcohol, a little coffee. Nice big stout smell. Has a pleasant alcohol aroma.

T. Taste is surprisingly based on the smell very coffee focused. Big coffee taste, followed by some dark chocolate and roasted malt. Alcohol is not very present in the taste.

M. Medium bodied. Low carbonation. Finishes semi dry with some lingering sweetness.

D. Goes down easy for 12%. This beer hides it abv very well. Kind of a contradiction between the smell and the taste, smell is not big on the coffee but the taste was pretty coffee heavy. Al in all this is a pretty damn good Imperial Stout.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.57/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Motor oil black, no head at all on the hard pour, but some bubbles rose to the top and formed a tight ring momentarily. No light coming through this one.

S - Chocolate, a lot of roast. The alcohol is buried in this one but comes out as it warms up. There's a little bit of wood on this.

T - First sip of this was great, with roasty malts dominating and some latent sweetness coming from chocolate malts. There alcohol burn grows and grows here as you keep drinking it, making it hard to do.

M - Thick, syrupy, with a moderate does of carbonation. It's very coating, covers the tongue.

D - You really start to get the 12% out of this about a quarter of the way through. It's a good beer, but a bit hot, and not outstanding. I'd drink it on occasion if available, but nothing particularly special.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Body is a dark opaque very dark brown. Pours with a one finger or so dark brown head that quickly fades to a thin collar.

S- Nose is fairly mild but consists of typical RIS characteristics. Dark chocolate, licorice, anise, and a hint of alcohol.

T-Flavor is good-and classic RIS. Dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, and anise. Finish is consistent with the initial flavor but appears to add a touch of pine and the roasted malt and dark chocolate characters intensify. A warm alcohol heat and a touch of dark chocolate and roasted malt linger.

M- Medium carbonation-and a very impressive thick, smooth, and velvety feel.

D- This is a very good, classic RIS. The alcohol is very well hidden here and the mouthfeel is fantastic. Very well done by dark-horse. Although I either traded for this bottle or received it in a LIF (so its been in the cellar for about a yr) Im excited they are finally shipping to Pittsburgh and can't wait to try some more of their brews.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my Duvel tulip. Received as an extra from wunderbeer in a trade, big thanks Ron, I've been wanting to try this one!

a - Pours a jet black color with one inch of tan head and light carbonation evident. No lacing and the head only lasts for a minute.

s - Smells of cocoa, bitter chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, and roasted malts.

t - Tastes of bitter chocolate and coffee, dark fruits, roasted malts, vanilla, and a little alcohol.

m - Full bodied stout with moderate carbonation, this beer is very smooth and creamy; goes down great.

d - A very good RIS. I really liked the smell and mouthfeel. Wish the taste was a little less bitter but still very good. Would definitely like to try it again and would love to try the barrel aged version.

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Photo of pburland23
4.4/5  rDev +4%
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.

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Photo of titosupertramp
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of cjacobsen
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Photo of birchstick
3.58/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

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Photo of BuckeyeOne
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Photo of adrock7309
4.48/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

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Photo of djmichaelk
3.64/5  rDev -13.9%
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.

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Photo of Bombers4Benedict
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of GabrielM
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 869 ratings.