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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: 554
Gots: 938 | 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 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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Photo of claminat420
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- poured the typical stout color with a dark chocolate head.

S- smell some weird fruity smell like bananas and a slight alcohol scent. weird but good.

T- roasted malts from hell. the alcohol being 12 is really hidden. the fruity scent kinda hangs as an aftertaste.

M- medium light bodied. nice carbonation.

D- could drink a couple 12's but i'm not to much of a stout fan to begin with.

Overall- this stout is defintitely one for the stout fans. the 12abv is subtle. not to much carbonation and wasn't to much of a head but still good.

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Photo of westweasel
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours out a super thick, motor oil like liquid with a faint ring of tan bubbles on the edge of the surface and a small spiral like rorschach figure of bubbles in the middle of the surface.
The beer has great "legs" as you move it around in the glass.

The aroma is filled with thick, rich dark chocolate, and dark bing cherries. There is a slight bit of coffee-like roastiness that becomes much more prominent as the beer warms.

The mouthfeel is full and thick with very little carbonation.

The flavors are a mixture of sweet dark roasted grains and coffee, dark chocolate, and dark bing cherries. There is just enough bitterness and roastiness to keep the beer from being cloying. It's kinda of close though.

This is a very drinkable and enjoyable beer. As it warms, it becomes sweeter and more coffee-like.

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

Thanks to ejyoung for this.

A: dark brown with a dark brown head.

S: dark brown sugar, toffee, dark chocolate, molasses, dark fruits like raisins. nice amounts of roasted malt.

T: there is a bit of alcohol. lots of chocolate, molasses, burnt sugar, toffee. there is a slight sweetness at first, and then it finishes with a roasted malt bitterness.

M: smooth, creamy, thick with low carb.

O: this is a very good beer. wish I had more of this.

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Photo of Janderson91
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received this as an extra twice in one week from SpdKilz and LusciousJackson so thanks to both of them! Can't find a bottle on date. Enjoyed on 07/16/11.

A - Poured from a 12oz bottle into a goblet. This thing is seriously motor oil. Pitch black and thick with no head at all. Only a small ring of brown bubbles around the edge of the glass. Great legs with no lacing.

S - Alcohol, chocolate syrup, robust coffee, roasted malts. This thing is going to be quite rich.

T - Dark chocolate, alcohol, coffee, some dark fruits, roasted malts. Thick and rich. Finishes with a nice bitter coffee flavor balanced by some sweet chocolate syrup. This thing is quite hot at the moment though.

M - Mouthfeel is quite good. Very very thick with hardly any carbonation. This is a sipper for sure.

O - Overall, this is an excellent imperial stout. However, it's a little hot at the moment, but I'm sure after about a year or so, it will be sublime. Good job, Dark Horse.

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Photo of Wadsey
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Plead the Fifth

Served in DFH signature glass

A: Pours black with minimal, light brown head. Typical looking imperial stout, in other words. 

S: Dried dark cherries and star anise or licorice. A floral note that borders on perfume keeps flaring up. Additional aromas include light roasted chocolate, peat, smoke/soy sauce and solvent. The last two notes are subtle enough not to hurt the beer. 

T: The tongue follows nose, and all notes are superbly integrated into a whole. Roast is stronger in taste and balances the dark fruitiness of the beer quite well. Medium-high bitterness. A little alcohol. 

M: Big body and medium-light carbonation. Mouthfeel is oily and coating. Somewhat warming. 

O:  Plead the Fifth rightfully belongs to the trilogy of Michigan Russian Imperial Stouts, which also includes Bell's Expedition Stout and Founder's Imperial Stout. It is more daring and complicated, though. Not as traditional. 

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Photo of jdhowe
4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into Lost Abbey teku. No evident date on the bottle.

Thanks to Greywulfken for providing me with two bottles of this... like he knew what I was about to experience and wanted me to be able to revisit it.

A: Pours a still black allowing just hints of light through the edges before a light, mocha-colored head of 1 1/2 fingers emerges and dissipates to a ring. Sediment is left in the bottle, reminiscent of a mug of hot cocoa.

S: Sweet, chocolatey, slightly roasty. Creamy. A little bit of astringency from coffee. No alcohol evident. Smells delicious... like a good chocolate.

T/M: A nice, thick, slightly oily feel dominated at first by chocolatey sweetness. Nicely carbonated and a little chewy. A little bit of overly astringent coffee character shows, but not too much. Finish is smooth with very little alcohol showing. Aftertaste swells with roasty coffee bitterness and it's almost as if I have little bits of coffee left behind, but in the best way.

O: Really impressed by this one. It summons up alternately smooth, creamy milk chocolate and coarsely ground roasted coffee. For 11abv it is amazingly easy drinking and doesn't show any of its alcohol. A definite contender for my favorite non-BA stout. The coffee does add just a little astringency to the nose and taste, but otherwise I have very little negative that I can say about this beer.

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Photo of Sensaray
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aggressive pour produces 1/4 inch brown head with deep dark brown approaching black body. Head looks creamy.

Chocolate, dark fruit, alcohol vanilla, coffee hints of caramel in smell. Some hops in the bunch too.

Chocolate with a coffee that's more present than the smell suggests. Vanilla still dark fruits, almost cherry like. Good bitter presence here, especially in finish.

Warming alcohol in the mouthfeel. Smooth creamy carbonation.

Definitely good. Not top tier, but high up there.

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Photo of ravot
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a Plead the 5th, 2013 vintange, into a Bells Brewery snifter.

Pours of motor oil. Jet black. Minimal lacing on the glass. Head was minimal if any. The pour seems as if it were thick like oil.

This bottle immediately smelled of chocolate, dark roasts of coffee. More chocolate.
Some cocoa, coconut.

Dark roast malts, chocolate. Some slightly alcohol tasting, very good. Definitely sweet as you drink it. Some hops are hiding in there. Bitter chocolate notes in there. Being that it's ABV of 11%, hard to tell.

Creamy, refreshing like a milk stout. Dessert like feeling.

Man this is a great stout. Aged for a year. I feel this might better aged than fresh but now i need to take another test and get some fresh since coincidentally, distribution is right about now.
Get your hands on this, fresh or aged, you won't be disappointed in an overall solid Imperial Sout

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Photo of smooth_aleing
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into over-sized wine glass.

Pours coal black with a thin head the dissipates to a fine mocha ring. Lacing dissolves quickly.

The nose is a bit lacking. Expected big chocolate malts and espresso, but they were faint to the nose. Suggestions of smoke and dark cherry liquor. Alcohol is certainly detectible at 11% ABV.

Taste - immediately roasted chocolate and bitter coffee (in a good way). Smokiness and light bitterness throughout the tongue. Dark, roasted malts, and cherry/brandy-type liquor.

Mouthfeel is good, decent carbonation. Well balanced throughout the tongue.

Was excited to try this beer, since it's so highly rated on B.A. A great stout, but not the best. But, maybe the expectation let me down slightly. Would still drink it again, tough.

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Photo of xpimptastikx
3.76/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark and viscous with a thick sheet of chocolate head. Cocoa, tobacco, and light alcohol make up the nose.Taste is more of the nose with a long charred tobacco finish and noticeable alcohol. A near perfect thick and creamy body still make this beer enjoyable.

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Photo of nickadams2
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A_ Pours black with a small burgundy color head that dissipates quickly. Very little lacing.

S_ Lots of dark fruits and dark chocolate. You also pick up on the booze. Very fruity though more so than most other RIPs.

T_Tastes great. Dark fruits and chocolate mix together perfectly to give this a nice rich taste.I can also taste coffee in the after taste that gives it a nice bitter finish.A little alcohol burn too.

M_ Thick and full bodied. Goes down pretty smooth and coats the mouth nicely.

D_ The high ABV limits the drinkability but these go down very easy. Could enjoy a couple in sitting but I think these are best savored. Besides two of these and just about anything will taste good

MaCain likey

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

Pours a dark black, very thick pour with a paper thin mocha head. Aroma of roasted malts, dark chocolate and a vanilla oaky note. I had to check to make sure this wasn't the bourbon barrel version because it has hints of bourbon. Taste follows the nose, so delicious, heavy but delicious. The nose is intensified with the taste. Mouthfeel is very thick but in a great way. This is a wonderful stout, I will be seeking out this beer!

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

12oz bottle poured into a a New Glarus taster glass and enjoyed side by side with the BB version.

Appearance: Black pour with a nice mocha rim to it that bubbles. Bits of lacing.

Smell: Burnt malts, rich brown sugar, and chocolate are all very distinguishable. Smells rich.

Taste: Lots of chocolate which makes for a sweet flavor on the palate. The sweetness is paired with dark roasted malts and some booze heat to not make it overly sweet.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, alcohol doesn't burn too much, and little carbonation.

Overall: Maybe a tad on the sweet side for some palates. Lives up to the reputation and great to have alongside the BB version to see what that did to the base beer.

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Photo of newk340
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: inky black pour, line of lacing indicating level of first pour, no head otherwise.

S: caramel and bitter chocolate evident, hints of coffee and oats.

T: heavy chocolate forefront, smooth accenting hints of caramel and coffee as the liquid settles in the mouth.

MF/D: light tingling sensations with each sip, increasing boozyness as it warms. could've/should've cellared longer.

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Photo of beatenbyjacks
4.63/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - dark oil pour, rich caramel head, and great lacing!

Smell - roasted chocolate caramel with a barrel aged smell that is great.

Taste - rich frothy chocolate boozy greatness.

Mouthfeel - frothy smooth delicious feel

Overall - wow I am glad I got this beer in a trade. Such a great beer. Imperial stout done right!

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Photo of barhoc11
4.77/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Darkest of dark, looks like used motor oil but in a good way. little to no head on the beer.

S: Sweet roast smell, one of the best smelling RIS's I have had

T: Just as it smells, very sweet with the roasted malt finish. As with most RIS's, this gets better as it warms

M: Nicely carbonated and thick in your mouth, just as it should for this style

O: This is one of my favorite RIS's, it pushes the limits of the style but in a very good way. It is hard to tell this is 11% abv

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Photo of --Dom--
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I don't feel like following a format today so: This beer is awesome. Pours with a short dark brown head. Not quite as thick as a yeti or ten fidy. Mouthfeel is spot on, creamy with medium carbonation. Everything is balanced, none of the flavors are too much. Slight alcohol heat but not a predominate taste. Dark chocolates with just a hint of burnt coffee. Amazing stuff, get some if you can.

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Photo of BruceBruce
4.69/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A. Solid look and nice 1/4 inch tan head

S. Amazing, I cant convince myself that this isn't BA, it must be the strong alcohol presence. Booze at first and then some coffee and then alcohol then a bit of roasted malts and then way more booze, LOVE IT!!!

T. Alcohol up front and very present, then coffee and maybe a hint of chocolate, the presence of booze is amazing hits you first and last. I love this beer!!!

M. A bit thin for me but not bad 3.5

O. I love it, great taste, a smell that I seriously put my nose to the glass until the last sip. I love this beer so glad I got one in, ISO: again for sure.

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

Not many beers pour as dark and thick -- beautiful from my perspective. The first taste is good, but some unusual flavors are present which caused me to ponder if I was going to like it. After a sip or two, the taste buds get acclimated and the unusual flavors recede into the background. Overall I'm still left with a bitterness which I don't care for. I don't think it's a coffee bitterness ... seems like the hops are shouting out.

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

12 ounce received in trade with hophobo, thanks. Poured into a chalice.

A - Pours black. No head. No lacing.

S - Chocolate and roasted.

T - Roasted malt and chocolate, coffee.

M - Very smooth, creamy, full body.

D - two or three of these would be wonderful.

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Photo of beertooth
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a goblet. I am unsure of the vintage on this one.

This beer is an oily black liquid with a very thin mocha color. It coats the sides of my glass.

The nose is burnt sugars, dark malt, coffee, alcohol, dark dried stone fruits like prunes, some raisins as well. I'm also picking up on some black licorice and molasses.

The first sip follows the nose and is very rich with burnt malts, coffee, there's a lot of alcohol warmth as well. The licorice I picked up in the nose is coming through again along with a bit of smoke as it warms and follows through the finish.

The mouthfeel is full and somewhat slick with low carbonation.

An excellent RIS from a great brewery that doesn't get a lot of hype. This is just what I needed on this chilly fall night. I just wish I could find more around Chicago.

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