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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.

835 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 835
Hads: 3,572
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 8.27%
Wants: 555
Gots: 937 | FT: 110
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: 835 | Hads: 3,572
Photo of SrMonkey
3.15/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an inky black, with minimal brown head despite pouring straight down the glass. Aroma of roasted malts and a hint of baker's chocolate. Flavor starts thin and acidic, like burnt coffee, progressing to herbal hop bitterness and finally a nice smoky malt finish that lingers. For 12% it was pretty watery, maybe had to do with it being undercarbonatef as well.

Expectations given the ABV were that this would be thick, sweet brew. Instead it was acidic, dry, flat and thin. The only aspect that distinguished it for me was the pleasant smoky finish.

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Photo of Thurgoft
3.77/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter into two 6 oz portions. No freshness date to be found.

Pours a very, very dark, opaque brown with a loose mocha head that dissipates pretty quickly. Almost no light penetrates this brew. Nose is pretty hoppy for a stout with a prominent alcohol almost solventy smell up front. After a couple more deep whiffs I get a bit of semi sweet chocolate and a bit of roastiness. Taste is smooth with light roast and chocolate but also some subdued hop flavor in the mix. Loooong bitter finish with a bit of heat from the alcohol. Can taste a bit of the solventy-alcohol that I picked up so much on the nose but not too much. Smooth on the tongue with just a little carbonation but actually sort of light mouth feel for a stout let alone an 11% stout. That being said, it is very easy to drink. Second time having this beer, and I enjoyed the first more than this one. Just had a Founder's Imperial Stout last night and this particular bottle did not even come close (perhaps that's influencing my review?). Gonna try to cellar my other bottle for half a year to see if it mellows out a bit. Pretty good beer, but not in a hurry to pick it up again.

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

This is a great, complex beer. No oats in the recipe that I know of but there's a smoothness that is reminiscent of an oatmeal stout. Big and bold on the nose. Main body of the flavor is bitter chocolate with some coffee. Some sweetness lingers on the finish. Solid offering, I'd like to get the barrel aged version some day.

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Photo of ryanhooks81
3.91/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

poured from bottle into tulip. pours black with a thin tan head. minimal lacing. roasted malts and chocolate and coffee notes. pretty good. i was expecting it to be a bit thicker. im a little disappointed. but its still pretty good.

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Photo of airohead2001
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Special thanks to glazeman for finally getting a hold of this one in Milwaukee.

A - Dark brown with a 1/3 finger head that coats the rim of my Westvleteren snifter for the rest of the drink. No head retention, but nice thick legs that coat the walls of my glass. Nice.

S - Decent smell, but nothing special for a RIS. Coffee, figs, and a touch of chocolate.

T - I expected this to be a tasty beer, but it is FAR more enjoyable than I could have imagined. Nuttiness, vanilla, lactose, mild coffee, chocolate, mild roastiness. In my opinion, it is the harshness and bitterness of coffee roasts that often overpower RISs and diminish their complexity. In Plead the 5th, this is NOT the case. The lightness of the roasts really allow the malty vanilla and cocoa flavors to shine. Just to twist things up a bit, the finish is slightly sour. An excellent tasting stout.

M - Not nearly as viscous as the appearance would lead on. However, for a lighter, milder tasting RIS, the mouthfeel is appropriate.

D - Perfect drinkability. For a RIS, this is as drinkable as it gets. The soft roasts and lack of biting coffee bitterness make this one of the most drinkable beers I've ever experienced. The huge 12% ABV is completely unnoticeable. I could drink this one bottle after bottle until I hit the floor.

This beer is truly an unexpected gem. What an outstanding drink and a wonderfully pleasant surprise. This beer has it all.

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Photo of MammothBrew
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a pint glass on 6/22/11.

A: Pours a burned oil color with tints of ruby(only while pouring). Holding it up, there's no light coming through this beauty. Very thin frothy layer. No head, no lacing.

S: Smokey chocolate malt with a strong coffee/espresso smell. Very faint boozy smell and no hop presence.

T: It's a chocolate attack to the face. Deep chocolate/cocoa flavor with some smooth smokey, roasted malt. Hints of coffee with a very light boozy finish.

M: Full body with little carbonation. Coats the mouth in a really, really chocolaty milk kind of way.

O: It's like a chocolate dessert drink for adults. This has become my favorite Imperial Stout, hands down. It's not very complex but it's straight to the point. Also, the high ABV is hidden pretty well. Nice job Dark Horse!

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

I poured this into my new Sam Adams perfect pint.

A: This beer pours a deep black, with subtle dark brown hues, a head slowly forms into a nice dark deep, and robust tan.

S: I get some vanilla, and coffee, with good chocolate presence.

T: Taste is pretty good: It starts off with a nice chocolaty and robust coffee taste, the finish is spot on, nice and bitter, with dark fruits.

M/D: Nice creamy and thick. The carbonation seems pretty low on this one, but in a nice way. Overall, this is a great stout, I've hit a brick wall with DIPA's, so I switched to stouts, this is a good way to start off. I would definitely check this one out again, almost wish I would have got a 4 pack...

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Photo of travMI13
4.46/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage. 12 oz. bottle poured into a Founders snifter.

A: Pours thick and black as night. A finger of mocha head dissipates very slowly, leaving great lacing and nice retention. Outstanding.

S: Roasted malts, a lot of coffee, and hints of dark chocolate. Maybe a touch of toffee.

T: Toffee, chocolate, maybe some licorice on the finish. There is a nice dark chocolate bitterness on the finish, yet the beer stays creamy throughout. There might be a touch of coffee flavor, but it is largely absent for me. This is wonderfully balanced. By the way, where is the alcohol?

M: Thick, creamy, and a touch of dryness on the finish. Really tough to beat for an imperial stout.

O: This is a fantastic imperial stout. The Bourbon Barrel version is great because this is the base beer. A smooth, rich, and complex imperial stout. A truly great offering from Dark Horse.

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Photo of xpdrinker
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 12oz bottle picked up a few months ago via trade. No noticeable date stamp until after the pour - it's on the underside of the bottle and only visible if looking at it from inside and against the light. Also noticed some light-colored sludge peering through the bottom of the brown bottle. Poured into my Bruery snifter, pitch black with thin, burnt orange head that dissolves into a thinner ring. Zero lacing.

S - Slight burn at first, lots of vanilla, roastiness, chocolate and dark fruit. 

T - Varying styles of chocolate at first, lots of dark fruit and finishes really roasty and deliciously bitter. An overall cola sweetness hangs over the entire taste.

M - Medium bodied, low carbonation. Sticky cola sweetness.

O - I've had this one cellared for a few months and it's quite enjoyable. There's a cola-like sweetness throughout that at times is tasty but at other times annoying. Would kill to get my hands on the barrel-aged version.

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Photo of dc55110
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black, with very little head... but tons of lacing. This stout is pitch black, held up to a light, none makes it through.

The smell is of dark rich dried fruit, figs, prune, raisin. There is also hints of bitter sweet chocolate, molasses, roasted coffee. In the background there is the presence of alcohol.

Rather sweet; the bitter sweet chocolate and dried fruit follow through from the nose. Coffee and alcohol are on the finish.

For as dark as this stout is, it is on the thin side. It doesn't give you that velvety feel as it goes down. Leaves a slightly chalky after taste/feeling in my mouth after the finish.

A nice stout, I'd be very curious to compare to the barrel aged version. I'll continue to pick this up every year upon its release.

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

Pour is pitch black and started with no apparent head but towards the end of the pour, a very attractive tan head bubbled up. Nose is of roasted malts and bits of bitter chocolate and a touch of booze. Taste is of roasted malts and grain, chocolate and again some booze. Thick body that coats the mouth. Pretty nice brew overall that seems to be improving as it warms.

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Photo of Steasy66
3.91/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A Dark with dark head, no head retention
S Roasted malt
T Sweet, roasted malt, caramel, a bit boozy, but masks the 12% well
M Fairly thick, low carbonation
Overall, a very nice imperial stout, masks its high ABV well even without aging. Wouldn't mind some more roasted flavor and a bit of carbonation.

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Photo of Czarkazm
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from 4/2/2013. Pours a deep, dark brown with absolutely no light shining through. Opaque body with a thin mocha colored head and lots of alcohol legs inching down the sides of the glass. Roasted nutty aroma, with good amount of dark chocolate, bitter coffee grounds, molasses, prunes, dried fig, cherry cordial fruitiness, burnt brown sugar, and an earthy hoppiness. Thick, chewy mouth feel with good carbonation still and slight booze warmth going down. The flavor is very rich, roasty and not too sweet. Dark unsweetened cocoa, umami, smoked ash, brown sugar, charred marshmallow, raisin, and mocha.

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Photo of ryanmextorf
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very good offering here. Very reminiscent of a fresh Founders Imperial Stout for me. Gonna put a good year or two of age on this and see what it does.

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Photo of Adamdc
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into nonic pint glass.

A: Jet black body topped by 1/4 inch head of dark brown foam. Beer seems to 'glug' out of bottle--very thick.

S: Molasses, dark fruit, caramel, malt and some alcohol.

T: Bitter chocolate, coffee, malt, some bitterness and it's pretty hot, possibly a little too hot.

M: Mouthfeel is very full-bodied and heavy just how an RIS should be.

D: Not too high only because of the 'heat'.

This is a pretty solid RIS. It's my first brew by Dark Horse and I'm looking forward to trying some others.

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Photo of otto251068
3.58/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Chimay chalice. No freshness date on the bottle.

Appearance: Very dark. This one is as dark a beer as I can ever remember seeing. When held up to the light, there is only a faint dark brown around the edges. A very hard pour only produced a half fingers worth of head, which looked great by the way. Very dense with a milk chocolate color, made my mouth water. It does fade quickly to only a few wisps and a ring hugging the glass.

Smell: Dark chocolate out in front, between bitter and sweet, this is more on the bitter side of the spectrum. Roasted flavors also come out. A sweet cream aroma comes out more as it warms, along with some very faint and pleasant vanilla. After the pour some serious vodka comes out.

Taste: Smooth cocoa with some smoke is the main attraction. Intense dark chocolate comes out for a final kick at the end. extremely dark and very rich. A charcoal bitterness and heavy clear alcohol aftertaste on this one.

Mouthfeel: Big body with medium carbonation. This beer is thick and chewy, but with a nice carbonation level that perks this one up a little.

Overall: Lots of heavy lingering flavors, but this is easily drinkable and very enjoyable. The 12% ABV, while very evident in the aroma, is well hidden within all the heavy chocolate. While the chocolate is on the bitter side, there is a bit of sweetness for balance.

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Photo of natemort13
4.59/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A hard jet-black pour gives a minimal dark mocha head that dissipates quickly into a ring.

Deep roasted malts with a bunch of coffee right up front on the nose. Dark chocolate undertones with some smooth vanilla as well. This is an incredible, big, and balanced nose.

Taste is smooth espresso with a hint of milk chocolate. Roasted malts are still dominant but dont even approach astringent. Mid palate is big chocolate malt. Lingering coffee on the finish.

Mouthfeel is full full bodied with enough carbonation to back it up. Slightly oily but not too much.

Overall this beer is fucking big and incredible without overdoing it on anything. Big and balanced.

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

A- Exactly how a RIS should look, dark almost black color with a thick but short dark brown-reddish head on it.

S- Dark roasted malts and grains with a bit of smokey and dark fruit scents.

T- Toasty and burnt malts are the first flavors to hit with a creamy chocolate sweetness. Hops are there but not overpowering.

M- Thick and creamy with moderate carbonation. Alcohol warming is there but not nearly as much as you would expect from a 12% abv beer.

O- Good beer from a good brewery. This is one of the first darker beers I have had from Dark Horse but after tasting it I think I will need to try a few more :)

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Photo of brock146
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Dark black with nice chocolate hued head

S - Alcohol and dark chocolate

T - Black coffee, sweet and malty, a bit smoky, definite yet subtle kick of alcohol

M - Silky smooth, low carbonation creates a soft of "milk shake" consistency. Keeps your palate warm after it goes down

O = Very tasty and surprisingly [ and dangerously :) ] drinkable for being such a high gravity beer

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Photo of dgugliuzza
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a SA pint glass

A- Pours midnight black with 1/2 inch thick brown head. Great color contrast between the head and body.

S- Smells of dark roasted malts with heavy amounts of cocoa. Some coffee is also present. Smells very similar to a freshly baked batch of chocolate chip cookies.

T- Tastes of sweet roasted malts with plenty of chocolate and coffee to back it up. Not only does it smell like a cookie, but it tastes like one too! Has a nice subtle bitterness at the finish which brings it all together. This is tasty beyond words.

M- Creamy and chewy as it should be for the bold imperial stout that it is. Sits much like a desert on the palate.

D- Fantastic. One of the more tasty imperial stouts I've had the delight to drink. The alcohol is hardly noticeable. This could have a 20% abv and still be delicious.

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Photo of MBrausen
4.77/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was poured from a 12oz bottle into a Town Hall sniffer.

A. This pours like used motor oil. A very thin head, with very minimal carbonation.

S. Smells of milk chocolate, light toffee, mild smoke and coffeee.

T. A extremely pleasing coffee taste. A little bit of bitterness with a sweet finish. Noticeable toffee in the initial taste, that fades to the smooth coffee.

M. A very smooth taste, that goes down easy. There is a very nice mixture that doesn't boarder on any extremes. There is a very nice dry finish to the taste.

O. This beer has a great balance between the thickness I expect in a Imperial Stout, and being easy to drink. It doesn't feel overly filling, but has lots of bold flavors that really tingle the palate. I really enjoyed this beer, and am adding it to my list of "to buy" next time I'm at the store.

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Photo of nerdrocker101
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours solid black with a small, tight tan head. The head quickly dissipates to a solid ring with mediocre lacing.

The nose is made up of chocolate, coffee, and a just a touch of dark fruit.

Flavors of roasted malts, bitter chocolate and coffee burst up front. Toffee and nutty flavors linger toward the back end.

Full body with a smooth, silky texture. Lower carbonation.

Very good. I need to try the rest of the series.

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Photo of Bills453
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Appearance - poured from a bottle. dark black in color. dark brown head.

Smell - This beer smell likes something was roasted inside my class. I smell cocoa and a hint of anise or something like that as well.

Taste - very good. What you would expect from a RIS. Cannot tell at all that this bad boy is 11%.

Mouthfeel - smooth and silky

Overall - an amazing stout. Not my top ever, but very very good.

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Photo of biga7346
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Brewed dark roast coffee in appearance, totally dense black with chocolate colored foam that dissipates quickly, very flat and syrupy.

N - Nice collection of dark malts, cocoa nibs, a little soy sauce like character, molasses, roasted coffee beans, brown sugar.

T/M - A milky, velvety texture, lots of toasty and choclatey malts up front, port-like maybe? More of the soy sauce follows along with a nice suggestion of sugary fruit or sweetness i can't quite place. A warming bourbon whisky burn in the finish. Reminds me a tiramasu.

D - Well balanced example of RIS, not cloying anywhere and I didn't find it chewy at all compared to some other big stouts. Alcohol is totally masked.

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

355mL bottle into a Founders snifter.

A- Pours completely jet black with a 1 finger mocha brown head. Pretty decent retention. The color on this is impressive; easily the blackest stout I've seen in a while.

S- Big whiffs of chocolate and malts come through immediately, followed closely by very subtle coffee notes and a hint of fusel alcohol. Reminds me a lot of Founders Imperial Stout, which is a good thing.

T- Fantastic chocolate and malt immediately, followed by more malt and a hint of hops. Dark fruits also come into play as it warms. Alcohol heat is present after swallowing, leaving a nice burn in the throat that makes me want another sip. A little one dimensional, but it executes in that dimension flawlessly.

M- This is the part that impresses the most. Completely smooth, creamy and thick from start to finish, with the perfect amount of carbonation. Coats the mouth and throat and lingers there long after my last sip with faint alcohol. Incredible.

O- A fantastic Imperial Stout that is a little one dimensional in taste, but completely makes up for its shortcomings with a mouthfeel that is one of the best I've had in a long while.

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 835 ratings.