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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: 8.27%
Wants: 553
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 coldmeat23
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

Pours a dense, dark, black color. A head of a little more than a finger of dark brown foam. Dissipates quickly. Lacing is spotty, but somewhat sticky.

Big, rich malt notes of sweetness. Milk chocolate. Coffee with extra heavy cream. Light hints of dark fruits.

Milk chocolate shake. Yummy. More of the coffee with heavy cream. Dark roasted malt notes. Light hint of smoke and a slightly heavier hint of graininess. Light touches of sweet molasses, dark fruits and carmalized brown sugars.
Nicely balanced and very well done.

High end of medium, almost full bodied. Very smooth with a light touch of creaminess. Carbonation is very low. A touch more would give this one a nice, creamy edge, I believe.

G-D! If that's 12%ABV, I'm a jackass! I guess that answers that lifelong question.
The alcohol is so well-hidden inside this one, I'd probably guess it to be no more than 7 or 8 percent, at most.
Fantastic balance and extremely drinkable. I want more....alot more!
Here's to Dark Horse Brewing!

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Photo of dukedevil0
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a single 12oz bottle from Famous Wines in Lombard, IL. Thanks to the beer guy there for putting this in the system at my request because they weren't selling singles of it at the time!

A: Pours a super DARK BLACK, almost as black as can be, with a very nice chocolate shake colored finger and a half of head that reduces down to a nice layer of bubbles. Leaves a nice little bit of lacing on the glass.

S: Smells very nice, the usual chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt notes...slight bit of dark cherries and dark berries when i search for them...

T: Tastes great, with lots of both milk and bitter chocolate, roasted malts, some coffee flavor to a lesser extent (more so in the finish and aftertaste), extremely subtle alcohol flavor in there

M: One of the more creamy RIS I've had. It just feels dense and heavy. Very smooth, small bubble carbonation.

D: It's a sipper, especially because it's so heavy, but the flavor is great, the alcohol tinge is minor enough that i don't think it really affects drinkability,

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle purchased at Cloverleaf a few weeks ago, <$3. The beer is very black with a thin tan head, less foam than usual for a RIS. The smell is rich with chocolate and roasted malts, a noticeable black licorice aroma too. The beer tastes overpowering with malty sweetness, dark fruits like prunes and raisins and plums, and black licorice or anise (but thankfully not much). Lots of previous reviewers noted a lack of body but I thought this was thick and filling. Maybe I tried the latest batch and it's been improved in some way, it was thick and oily and good. This beer is up there in Dark Horse's line-up, along with Perkolator and Double Crooked Tree.

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Photo of littlekidlover
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured this into my beer tasting wine glass. Not much to be said for the head, a little caramel color that disappeared quickly. This monster poured like 10W-30! The aroma is caramel chocolate, and raisin. Taste is the same, nice hop balance bitter coffee with a little bit of lactose and vanilla. The mouthfeel is silky smooth, like the oily pour would suggest. Highly drinkable, though you better not be a lightweight. Once again a SOLID effort from a brewery that has puts out a lot of winners. I applaud Dark Horse for putting out some great and fairly priced four packs of specialty beers.

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Photo of Bung
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. Black pour with brown/ruby highlights in the head. Head is not large and recedes to a thin ring. A good amount of film sticks to the glass. Roast aromas, some dark chocolate and dark fruits, port like. Smooth full body. Taste is a silky blend of dark chocolate, molasses and chocolate covered fruits. Some vanilla and barrel like qualitites. Finishes with some more chocolate and light espresso. Drinks well, but is filling. Another excellent stout offering from Dark Horse. They produce a nice line of beers under the radar in West/Central Michigan.

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Photo of WakeandBake
4.49/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A thick dark black motor oil pour with a thin coco colored head,light carbonation with lots of sticky lacing. Aroma is heavy dark chocolate,bitter coffee,and roasty/burnt malt,and a hint of smoke. WOW Flavor is of bitter coffee,dark chocolate,malt,caramel,vanilla,hints of oak,and alcohol,medium to full body with a creamy mouthfeel, awesome bittersweet finish. This is outstanding in every way. Dark Horse Rocks !

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Photo of rye726
4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a thick oily black with a silky espresso head. Nose has big roasty malts, chocolate, subtle piney hops, molasses, licorice, dried plums and cherries, coffee and vanilla. Taste is a well balanced blend of bitter hops, molasses, dark malts, fugde, and ripe pitted fruits. Thick body is very well carbonated. Great stuff from Dark Horse.

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a short foamy dark tan head.

Scent of roasted malt, chocolate, a hint of alcohol, sugars, and lots of fruit. This one smells much more sweet than typical beers of its style, but it is balanced well and hides the alcohol nicely.

Taste of roasted malts, molasses, dark fruit, sugars, and some earth. Finishes with dark fruit and roasted malts. Alcohol is masked very well, there is some heat to it, but it is far from harsh.

Mouthfeel is heavy and smooth with a small bite of carbonation.

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Photo of gatornation
3.67/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this imperial stout pours black and thick with very little head and 1/4 inch black cherry ring til the end ....it does have good lacing thru-out the smell is chocolate and molasses followed by coffee and some vanilla notes.the taste is bitter sweet chocolate first followed by a coffee bourbon taste throw in some berry/fruit tastes then finish with molasses ,burnt malt and slight vanilla bean..i do taste the alcohol presence this stout is a little to bitter for my liking and and a tad high on abv for my liking..not as smooth as some of dark horse earlier numbered stouts and not my favorite style of the 5..having said that it is still a good stout and i recommend trying this well made russian imperial and any other beer from this outstanding brewery

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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 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 Frosty80
4.9/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Color: pours a VERY dark brown. sits black with only the slightest brown rim

Smell: perfect balance of chocolate, coffee and alcholol

Taste: aroma translates perfectly to pallet. sauperb balance of chocolate and roasted malts with a perfect amount of alcohol

Mouthfeel: full body. creamy. low carbonation

Notes: excellent stout. one of the best ive had

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Photo of Ineedabeerhere
3.77/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for this one Dave!

Well I thought to myself- "Yeah, I'll just have one brew before going to bed" and picked this one out of the fridge. Man, I didn't know what I was getting myself into.

After a straight-down-the-pipe pour into my DFH snifter, a very late forming film of mocha is formed which dissipates to nothing quickly. Even upon swirling, the film upon this black-as-night brew struggles to reappear. I wondered why- then I came on BA and saw the ABV. Uh oh....

Aromas of roasted and chocolate malt, sweet molasses, some alcohol and dark fruits come through (maybe some caramelized brown sugar). Much better as it warms up...

Flavor is pretty good here. Smooth, coating the mouth with flavors of roasted and chocolate malts and dark fruits . Some malt complexity challenges the tongue with just enough of a hint of alcohol to keep you wary of the ABV.

Carbonation level is appropriate, lending to a very smooth, viscous sipper. I don't know how drinkable you could expect a brew like this to be, but it's about what you would expect considering its style and ABV.

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Photo of Gigantis
4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought two of them and meant to age one but my wife really wanted to try it and... well... I wasn't going to let her drink alone and I didn't have anything else. Shoulda' aged it probably.

The appearance is not impressive. After pouring one for my wife into a snifter and getting no head whatsoever, I tried a really aggressive pour into my pint glass (my preferred RIS glass) and got only slightly better results. I'm not a sucker for head like some are, but this dense, blackest black brew gave me nothing but some dark tan bubbles. Yes, it is dark and thick but it doesn't look as alive as, say, Founders KBS or some other headless stouts.

Smells real nice though. Aromas of bitter dark chocolate, toasted malt, oak, vanilla and ... I think burnt cake, whatever that means. There was a slight trace of alcohol going up the nose. I liked that. Maybe an essence of elderberries, but I feel like the esters were weak in the smell here.

Once it hits your mouth this beer is really a top of the line RIS. Good, dark coffee, chocolate, roasted malts and grains, a little dark fruit and vanilla near the end and great lightly-hoppy bitterness to even it out. The body is heavy and boozy but it isn't overwhelmingly viscous or oily.

Sure drink a few of these. Don't let me stop you. One was enough for me though.

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Photo of cvfish
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - This beer poured a pitch black color that produced a fluffy brown head that had great retention and left beautiful lace along the side of the glass

S - This beer produced aromas of chocolate, coffee, and brown sugar

T - This beer produced flavors of bitter dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, some brown sugar, and a little bit of dark fruits on the finish

M - This beer had a meduim to heavy body accompanied by a light amount of carbonation

D - This was a great RIS, a little different that normal RIS's, but not as in your face as the WWS, but somewhere in between, a very good beer

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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 schellsbeer
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Lately I have been on a Dark Horse kick and for good reason....their stouts are fricking incredible. I also love their Strong Dark Bier. So, as soon as I saw that they had an Imperial Stout hit the shelves, I picked up a few 4 packs. This review is for the first bottle. I plan on aging the rest.

A - Black. Not as thick as their Blueberrry Tres Stout but very black. Poured with a thin layer of small dark brown bubbles on the top that quickly eroded away leaving a ring of lacing on the outer edge of my glass. Very nice.

S - Big! Bold! Some alcohol present on the nost but not overpowering. Burnt carmel, marshmallows, chocolate. Quality ingredients were put into this Stout.

T - The taste is amazing! Strong. Thick. Alcohol but just the right amount. The drinker wouldn't have a clue that this is 12% ABV if BA or their website didn't tell you this. This beer will be absolutely fantastic with a few years of aging on it. Therefore, I can only give it a 4.5. I will have to come back and edit my review in a few years after the second one is allowed to wake up. I just apologize to this beer for drinking it a little to early. Aging is my new hobby. WOW - An amazing Imperial Stout from one of the BEST breweries in the upper midwest. Everything I was hoping for plus more. Dare I say....this might give Bell's Expedition a run for it's money. I think I may have just broke one of the beer sins in saying this...Oh well.

M - Creamy texture. Coats the mouth. Thick. Excellent. I have to give this a perfect 5.

D - Yeah...at 12% ABV, I don't think so but I really want more of you. Man this is an exceptional stout. I am glad that it is so high on the alcohol side and that Dark Horse uses bottle opener bottles and caps instead of those stupid twist off tops. This means that this should age quite well. Thanks Dark Horse. I am a HUGE fan.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

G: Poured into an oversized snifter.

A: Pours near-black with a very dark, slightly cherry-infused head. The head is a little less than a finger, and has a good amount of carbonation. Plenty of lacing.

S: Dark malt and some hop presence, but the overpowering smell here is that of dried red fruits. Also, some mild espresso. Also, some definite alcohol presence.

T: Much like the smell, but add in the tiniest bit of anise.

M: A little bit thin, though still has a good body. Good amount of carbonation. Not too much of an alcohol bite.

D: This one is definitely a sipper. Lighter than most RIS's, which might not be a bad thing considered that it's released just as the weather turns for the better.

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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 CHSLBrew
4.31/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

A-Dark, dark brown head, an aggressive pour yielded a huge, frothy, thick head which sustained well. Gorgeous black beer, poured literally like motor oil.

S-Roasted malt, chocolate. Fruity esters, very prominent and mixed, with hints of blueberry.

T-Roasted malts, slight chocolate with a hint of vanilla. Hop bitterness does its job appropriately. Slight alcohol arises in the finish, plays with the dark fruity flavors, then fiishes with choco/vanilla with a roasted maltiness.

M-Creamy and smooth. Fine bubbled carbonation. Full body, luxurious and satiny.

D-High. First had this one on cask, and now having had it from the bottle has firmly established my enjoyment of this brew.

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Photo of roadhouse
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into a snifter

Pours ink black with a one inch dark tan head forming on top that retains quite well for being in the snifter. The cap retains very well and some moderate lacing is left on the glass.

Aroma is chocolaty, a hint of fruit kind of like mixed berries, a very far and away hint of vanilla, some charred wood, vague hops, and a whiff of alcohol fumes. It kind of seems like there is a struggle for them all to blend together and create something wonderful, but they have potential.

Taste has a ton of chocolate character up front with the dark fruit character of mixed berries coming in midway through. A bit of char and coffee burnt flavors come in after the swallow followed by a big burst of warming alcohol which stays on the breath.

Mouthfeel is medium-full, chewy but not exactly viscous. Creamy texture with the right amount of carbonation. Drinkable in the sense that I am gonna enjoy every sip of this beer, but not in the I'm gonna drink a bunch of this way.

A very enjoyable RIS. I can only see this one getting greater over time and I will happily let my other three bottles age a while before cracking another.

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Photo of beachbum1975
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks go to G-Rod for sharing this one (Garrett). Latest (09) batch from West Side Liquors in Harrison, Indiana. Great, simple label and basic 4-pack. True to it's roots and not over-marketed and full of frills on the packaging.

Pours black. No light penetrating through this one. Might as well be liquid onyx. Dark tan 1/2 inch head after an aggresive pour into my tulip at 55-60 degrees. Atfer a small whirl in my glass, I see my favorite ascpect of RIS'es - an evil golden-brown film climbing up the walls of my glass. It's an oil slick now - perfect!

Nose is BIG on this one. Alcohol, grassy hops, burnt malts and a large whiff of burnt cherries. Perhaps some traces of oak and vanilla in there, too. If the mouth is anything like the nose on this, I'm gonna love it!

Much like the nose. More vanilla in the mouth. Medium to full bodied with full flavor. This is nice. The major flavor on this one is rich, heavily roasted malts, baker's chocolate and burnt dark cherries.

I feel evil drinking this, like a good RIS should make you feel.

Very nice! My favorite offering from Dark Horse to date!

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

First of all I just want to start by saying that I really like the way Dark Horse packages their beers. The 4 pack cardboard holder is just plain brown with nothing on it, the bottle has a label that looks like something I could print off of my printer at home, and the bottle cap is just plain black. Everything about it screams microbrewed, and if you didn't know what you were looking for you'd walk right past it in the beer aisle without noticing it.

A- Pours like a RIS. Jet black, dark brown head (darker than most actually). No highlights...I'm shocked.
S- Kind of disappointing nose. Dark roasted malts, chocolate and coffee. It's not bad just not particularly enticing.
T- Big improvement over the smell. Nothing really sets it apart from other RIS's I've had except for the bitterness maybe. Other than that coffee, chocolate, dark fruits etc, etc.
M- Not quite as thick as I usually like RISs to be. I do appreciate the huge amount of warmth that comes after each sip though.
D- I always feel silly talking about drinkability for a beer like this. One is great, two might get to be a little much.

my bottom line: Plead the fifth is an especially bitter, strong, warming RIS. Very tasty but other than the bitterness and strength it fails to really set itself apart from the rest of the RIS pack in my book.

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Photo of midnite2sixman
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black as the night, exquisite head. frothy, tons of action on the pour and staying power!

Big chocolate and coffee, roasted malts, marshmallows, and malted milk balls are all in the aroma.

Taste: Very smooth chocolatey taste with lots of coffee beans roasty tastes all around. Somewhat sweet, like fine dark chocolate. Bitter finish topped off with a cocoa butter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, nice smooth stout aftertaste, lots of chocolate in this one.

Great beer!

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Photo of prototypic
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to hoppymeal for this one. Been looking forward to it for quite a while.

2008 release

Pours a jet black, onyx color. Not a hint of light cutting through. A dark, mocha brown head rises to about one finger and receded quickly to lie on top for quite a while. Perhaps a little too much alcohol? Sticky, stringy lace clung to the glass.

The nose is strong and extremely enticing. A strong mix of roasted and chocolate malts jump out of the glass. Smells like bittersweet dark chocolate rather than sweet milk chocolate. Coffee is very much in the mix and smells delicious. I'm a coffee lover, so any coffee prominent stout is right up my alley. There's some light black licorice and molasses roaming about. Alcohol is noted, but isn't overly strong. It doesn't present itself as a big beer at all. Plead the 5th has a very deep, rich nose. It's extremely impressive.

The flavor profile is equally as impressive. Bittersweet dark chocolate is very prominent. There's a slight sweet fudge-like taste that mixes well. Roasted malts are flavorful and mix very well with the chocolate variety. Coffee/espresso are prominent. While it is a secondary feature, it's very assertive in its role and cranks up the flavor (and character) a great deal. Did I mention that I love coffee? To a lesser degree, molasses and black licorice add depth and more flavor. This is one big, badass malty imperial stout. Alcohol is easily noted, but I wouldn't have guessed it's 12% at all. There's absolutely no residual warmth. Finishes sweet and very malty.

A full, thick body and light carbonation give it a silky smooth, creamy feel. It's very lush. Dark Horse did a very nice job here. Drinkability is good (and deceptive). This goes down way too easy and doesn't feel as big as it is. My bottle doesn't list the abv, but I suspect the 12% listing is close to accurate. I respect the strength, but it really is a joy. It'd be every bit as enjoyable if it were 9% though.

Sorry, I'm not Pleading the 5th on this one. I'm very guilty of loving this beer and I'm not afraid to admit it. It's loaded with delicious flavor and is extremely impressive all around. To be fair, this bottle is roughly a year old. Perhaps more. It's drinking incredibly well right now. The abv could probably be shaved a little and it wouldn't skip a beat. That's about the only criticism I have. If you happen to land multiple bottles, by all means, put some back for a year or two. I promise it's more than worth it. Thanks a ton, Derek. This was excellent.

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