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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.

832 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 832
Hads: 3,553
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.26%
Wants: 550
Gots: 937 | FT: 108
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: 832 | Hads: 3,553
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 UrbanCaveman
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Cappy's, arrived in a snifter.

Appearance: Arrived your typical imperial stout solid black, capped with a thick head of almost dark brown foam that lingered for an impressively long time. Lacing was insane.

Smell: Dark stone fruits and chocolate leap out of the glass to smack you across the nostrils and demand your full attention. Beneath them, there's blackened grains and lightly roasted coffee, but it's the fruit and chocolate that demand attention here.

Taste: Did I mention that the fruit and chocolate are attention hogs? Because they're front and center in the taste as well, from first sip all the way through the finish. Plums, dark berries, and a mix of sweetened and super-dark chocolate dominate the flavor profile. Beneath them, swirls of lightly roasted coffee, cream, and scorched malt can be found.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and full, yet with an oddly watery finish.

Overall: This is a tasty stout. I'm not sure quite how the chocolate and fruit notes dominate every other aspect, but I am not complaining.

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Photo of ixodus
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a thick jet black with reddish brown hues and a mocha head. Leaves trace amount of lacing.

S: Rich dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, licorice, anise, plums, raisins, cork like woody smell.

T: Decadent dark chocolate almost like chocolate mousse, licorice, charred oak, french vanilla, molasses, and espresso,
finishing off with a roasty dark coffee like bitterness that lingers for awhile. Complex and definitely on the roasty side. This beer is still quite hot.

M: Thick and vicious, creamy, hot, with soft carbonation.

O: Overall this beer is a excellent. I would definitely seek this out. One of the most complex non barrel aged RIS' I have ever had

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Photo of bonbright7
4.54/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

While I was standing around with friends at The Black Sheep of Mineola, NY, I was handed a glass of this majestic blur of dark brown to black ale, which was overflowing with soft foam. The stunning aromas of chocolate and coffee were readily apparent, but there were so many other things to notice, I took my time with it.

The nose on it told me it was a very full bodied ale, but I don't think I was ready for the strength of it. The initial taste was light for .5 second and then it exploded with a full- on licorice, deep coffee, and a dark mess of an ale.

The mouth-feel was luxurious, though the abv really shined with its hotness there as I tasted it as if it was a fine selection from Pommerol.

This RIS went very well with a pulled bbq pork sandwich as it comfortable overtook the food elements.

Clearly, this was one of the better ales I have tasted in a long time and my only regret was that it is listed as a seasonal coming out in February.

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Photo of MIbeer27
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, dated 1.15.15.

Bottle into snifter with deepest black hue and a thin mocha head that quickly recedes to a thin collar.

Aroma is massive. Huge dark fruits like cherry, fig and raisin over top of dark, bittersweet chocolate, espresso, molasses and roasted barley . Hints of alcohol heat are there as well, but hides well.

Taste coats the entire mouth with all of the aforementioned flavors, joined by heavily charred, ashy malt notes. Slight warmth from the alcohol trails all the way down into the stomach. Taste lingers with slight herbal notes and the roasted barley standing out. Burps are rather fruity.

Mouthfeel is chewy thick with modest carbonation.

Overall, Plead the Fifth is one of the most complex beers that I've ever had. Maybe its the age (almost 7 months at time of tasting), but this one was easily the dark-fruitiest RIS that I've ever had. Not quite at the level of Founder's Imperial Stout, but damn close and an instant favorite.

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Photo of cetherid
3.97/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a tulip


beer pours a dark brown/black. Looks a little like used motor oil. Head was minimal...thin brown bubbly head, like a cola but dissipated quickly.


Dark malts obviously. Notes of chocolate, burnt coffee and a nice little hop aroma. Perhaps a hint of soy in there but nothing terrible.


Big roast up front moving to some slightly sweet, slightly bitter dark chocolate with a pretty boozy finish. I get some subtle licorice and burnt/smokey flavors in there as well. Perhaps a little too boozy, but I suppose acceptable given the ABV.


Full bodied with decent carbonation. Fairly oily/slick mouthfeel to it.


Overall a solid RIS. I'd opt for an Expedition stout over this but I would imagine the BA version of this is stellar. A little hard to come by so I probably wouldn't seek this out again as I can pick up a sixer of Expedition about 5 minutes away whenever I want. I'm curiously how an aged bottle of this be as it's currently drinking a little hot.

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

pours a brown-black with virtually no head. Smells like bourbon. Tastes like a strong stout mixed with bourbon, nothing too flavorful but respectful none the less. Certainly a good beer to sip a savor. Really shines on the mouthful as the flavor fully comes out and tastes really smooth for the whole time. Overall a better stout, certainly stronger and less chocolaty than I usually like but a great stout none the less.

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Photo of Lolli1315
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- An absolutely opaque blacks as no highlights are seen when placed next to a light. A small thin layer of brown head appears composed of small bubbles. The head becomes slightly patchy with a thick ring around the glass.

S- Tons of what seems to be milk chocolate prominent. The smooth chocolate turns to a bitter chocolate and burnt roasted malt aroma. Figs and plums combine with burnt coffee before an appropriate alcohol aroma helps to finish.

T- Smooth chocolate taste to begin before the bitter chocolate and burnt coffee takes its place towards the middle of the beer. Plums and figs linger in the background as the coffee and chocolate tastes continue into the end. An alcohol taste reveals itself in the end of the beer as it warms the mouth and lingers into the finish with some light bitter character.

M- Full bodied and chewy as the alcohol warms the mouth.

O- Unlike some Russian Imperial Stouts, this one doesn't seem like it needs any time put away and is great now. Great drinking and would suggest this to anyone.

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

Thanks to kstrickler for providing this as an extra in a trade.

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A: Pitch black in color with a small mocha colored ring on top. It appears very still. It's like staring into an abyss.

S: Black licorice, dark chocolate, alcohol, sweet roasted malts all make up the aroma. Well balanced with aspects.

T: Lots of roasted malts and dark bitter chocolate. Black licorice and notes of smokiness come through.

M: Very smooth. Heavy bodied with minimal carbonation. Finishes very smooth and hides the alcohol extremely well.

O: A well put together RIS. Well above average, hopefully I'll be able to try it again sometime.

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Photo of docoman
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First time having non-BBA version of pt5 and it's very similar to BBA version, minus the bourbon influence. Almost has a tobacco smell/aftertaste and I'm not a smoker. Hard to love this beer, it's good, just not great compared to others.

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Photo of OldIronLungs
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to omgshesaboy for this one! Excited!

Pours an oily black into a deep tulip with a finger of dark mocha head that quickly falls to a ring.

Nose is a blend of medium roasted malts and sweet dark chocolate, some liquorish. Very lightly boozy. Subtle but pleasant.

Holy Moses, this one is viscous! Great body with a persistent tingle that dances through the finish. Dark roasted coffee, molasses and liquorish, a bit of bitter chocolate and a light earthy hop bitterness that blend with the slowly building warmth in the back of the throat. But 12%? Never would have guessed.

For me, imperial stouts live or die by their body and this does not disappoint. It warms beautifully; One of the best stouts I've had in recent memory. I would LOVE to try the barrel-aged and sour versions!

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Photo of kirkpjr
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a SA perfect pint glass.

A: Pours an oily thick black color with minimal carbonation. A very thin ring of milk chocolate head develops and dissipates to the edges of the glass. Little to no lacing.

S: Sweet molasses, dark cherries, and chocolate. Actually reminds me of Dark Lord in the smell. Notes of vanilla, leather, and tobacco.

T: After the smell, I expected an onslaught of sweetness. To the contrary a nice strong bitterness upfront cuts the sweet flavors. Dark chocolate, roasted malts, leather, and tobacco. Wonderful mix of sweet and bitter, smoky flavors here.

M: Chewy, although not creamy. Thick and low carbonation. Fairly spot on for a RIS.

D: Rich and flavorful. The residual sweetness and thickness of this beer limits its drinkability. Outstanding beer and would love to get some more of this.

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Photo of WorldWideStout
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Lukafer, czoch85, and flandersned for all hooking me up with this brew in different trades!

A: Nice and viscous with a dark, but decidely brown body. Very small mocha head fizzles out after around half a minute.

S: Coffee is the predominant scent I get; chocolate and a bit of spicy rye hang around in the background.

T: Starts off with a bit of sweetness, then goes to semi-sweet chocolate. Coffee is there in the middle as well, but less prominent than it was in the nose. Coffee moves forward for a more bitter end, and the aftertaste is a muted coffee flavor.

M: Somewhat silky, a little lighter than I was expecting.

D: Goes down easy for a big fella.

This was a good stout, but not a great stout. There was no delicious flavor or complexity or anything that stood out to me. I was hoping for a more stellar brew, but I enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing how it ages.

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Photo of Mississipping
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a Jackie O's snifter, both courtesy of drgonzo3705.

A: Pours pitch black, letting absolutely no light penetrate.  A small, one-finger light brown head appears, but only briefly before disappearing.  Only a thin ring is left behind, with some sticky lacing.

S: This smells excellent ... roasted malt and bitter chocolate dominate, with hints of espresso, vanilla, dark fruit, and a touch of anise.  Really a lot going on here, creating an extremely pleasant aroma.  despite the higher alcohol content, there is no sign of it in the smell.  

T: Starts out with dark, bitter chocolate and roasted malts.  Transitions slowly to a sweeter milk chocolate with fig and plumb.  Finishes roasty with an absolutely delicious espresso flavor and a touch of hops that lingers and lingers.  There is a bit of a drying effect on the finish, however, there is almost no trace of alcohol.  Really nice!

M: Full-bodied, thick, and slightly chewy.  Fairly low carbonation that provides a smooth velvety creaminess across the tongue with each sip.  Nice transition from bitter to sweet to bitter/roasty.  Again, slightly drying at the end.  

O: This is an exceptional non-BA imperial stout.  There is a lot going on in the aroma and taste, and the mouthfeel is spot on.  I've had my eye on this for a while, largely due to some of the hype surrounding the BA-version, and this version is better than I had expected.  I'm really glad to have gotten a chance to try this and will try to get my hands on another bottle or two down the road.  

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Photo of psychotia
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottle to tulip after 20 minutes out of fridge

A - black with the slightest tan head quickly settling to a thin ring around the glass.

S - initial smell is of licorice, molasses, and slight toffee.

T - jumping all over - first caramel, then chocolate, some licorice as i breathe out, then the caramel brings a huge toffee sensation. this is one of the better experiences I've had tasting an RIS.

M - viscous, yet not thick and syrupy. a slight dry/hot feeling after the swallow, perhaps (likely) from the alcohol.

O - wonderful RIS - did not have this fresh to compare, but I am grateful for my local store, their cellar, and their random impulsivity when it comes to pulling things from the cellar.

it's a great feeling when a style that once confused and alluded my taste buds is now discernible. this ranks among my favorite RISs, although I will have to now revisit my other memorable RISs to better appreciate them again (or so i hope!).

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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 ahq514
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into snifter.

Pours jet black with a half finger mocha colored head. Appears to have low carbonation. Light lacing.

Aroma reminds me of a coffee milkshake. Lots of chocolate with some coffee and roast. Some oats too. Not much in the way of hops is detected. Full of complexity.

Right up front are the creamy oats. Next comes in chocolate roast. A slight bit of sweetness in there. There is a lingering coffee-esque flavor to it. A little bit of a dry finish.

Nice full motor oil like body. Low carbonation. A sipper for sure, but very drinkable for an RIS.

One of the better RISs I've had. Really love how full the body is and the perfect balance of dry roast and sweetness. Would love to try the BA version of this.

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

Pours a nice black color with virtually no head. I love the smell though. Coffee and chocolate make up the smell of this brew.

The taste is awesome. I really this this brew and for 10 a four pack I cant complain. Its rich and full of coffee and malts. MMM!

Overall, what a great find and very flavorful! I really enjoy this brew!

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Photo of shangwang
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

received this on a recommendation in a trade with stickman1220- thanks, Chris!

poured into a Guinness glass- no date on bottle.

I liked the looks of Plead the 5th from the start- this is one of my favorite styles of beer and the appearance was exactly what I had hoped- deep brown-black, virtually no head and what little there was in a deep reddish brown color, very little lacing, and tiny tiny bubbles that shimmered in the light. This brew gave off great smells- the sweetness of dark cherry and a boozy roasted malt scent. The taste was spot on as well- a pleasant sweet milk chocolate taste with hints of roasted malt, but not enough to give it any sort of coffee flavor. A good combination of sweet and bitter with nothing out of whack. The mouthfeel was a nice medium-heavy consistency with a smooth creaminess. It finished very smoothly with a sweetness that lingered a few seconds. Very drinkable for a heavy beer with a high ABV, although I was definitely feeling a little buzz after one, so I'm not sure how many of these I'd really want to mess with in one night.

Great job Dark Horse! Just about everything I love about this style could be found in this beer. Definitely worth seeking out.

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Photo of Marty30
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz Bottle dated 5-11. Poured into a Jackie O's' snifter at 55 degrees.Have been waiting to try for a long time.

A. Black as black get's. No head, just a dark brown cap appear's and then disappears. No head.

S. Dark fruits hit first and shortly after comes the chocolate and cocoa,along with a touch of coffee.

T. Nice! I get a good bit of roasted malts,then a hefty amount of chocolate. I get some sweet figs,grahm crackers,vanilla,with a little bit of booze in the end.

M. Great heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is perfect for the style. Coats the palate and leaves a chocolate roasty aftertaste.

Overall I did not expect this beer to this damn good. It definately exceded my expectations! Very complex. I will be getting a case of this no doubt. A must try. This could be one of my favorite beers.

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Photo of ncketchum
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoyed on tap at Stubbys, 2nd to last glass I'm told...

A - pours jet black, no head

S - chocolate malt, maybe a bit of hops

T - black licorice up front, then chocolate milk, followed by a bit of bitter hops

M - thinner than expected, little alcohol burn, well hidden for this ABV

O - extremely solid Impy Stout. I could drink this all night, if there were more glasses available and I had a ride home. Very glad I was able to sample this one.

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Photo of BeerFink
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours thick opaque black, nearly entirely devoid of head - even after quite the vigorous pour. My nostrils are assailed by oily pungency - coffee, bittersweet chocolate, roasted grain, and even a hint of dark fruit. Taste is what you would expect based on the aroma, just a little weaker. Starts out with coffee and chocolate, subtle raison is noted. Some roasted grain comes in, and is most noticeable in the aftertaste. Hops are barely discernable, but are there in meek form. Mouthfeel is not as thick/chewy as I would have expected, but it is still pleasantly oily. Decent imperial stout. As cheap as these are, I wouldn't mind grabbing another and putting some age on it.

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Photo of Gfunk720
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to John for this bottle. Consumed out of my Capt. Lawrence LE tulip.

A- Pitch black, and thick. Pours with a thick chocolate colored head, but only about 1 finger. It sticks around for a few minutes.

S- Smells of sweet malt, chocolate, and coffee. I also get a touch of the hoppy/imperial smell as well, but it is not prominent. Reminds me of Zuhkov's.

T- Wow. A beautiful beer. The malt profile is nice and complex, and plays well into the hoppy aftertaste. The flavors are mostly chocolate and coffee. It starts out smooth and creamy, but finishes with a nice hoppy bite.

M- Very nice. While it looks really thick, it is not as viscous as some other beers of the style. The carbonation/body/and flavor all are very very nice.

O- I tried not to expect too much of this beer, and it really was a nice surprise. This is a great RIS, and I really don't have anything bad I can say about it. Can see why the Barrel aged version of this beer is so coveted.


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Photo of techfed87
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a heavy, thick black into a sniffer glass. Very little head. Smells of woody, almost sugary cocoa. Very oatsy, kind of reminds you how ovaltine powder smells.

First sip is very nice, with balance between sweet and bitter. Bitterness is very fine and overall, the beer is quite smooth.

Mouthfeel is quite pleasant as well, with enough bold flavors to keep you interested.

A very tasty, drinkable Imperial Stout. Dark Horse really nailed this one down.

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Photo of stercomm
4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Got a growler of this brew at the local Whole Food, had a small sample when I got home so poured into a small sampler tulip glass from Left Hand.

A - Pours an inky and oily black with a small, tan head that quickly recedes leaving a slight ring around the glass.

S - Lots of roasted malt, some brown sugar and a real deep smokiness

T - Sweet and roasty maltiness, some prune, very smooth, definitely coats the mouth leaving a nice long finish

M - Creamy with mild carbonation

O- Not being a big Imperial Stout drinker have no real comparison. Will say this is a very tasty brew, alcohol is there but not in your face, great balance of flavors

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 832 ratings.