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Bona Fide Imperial Stout - 4 Hands Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Bona Fide Imperial StoutBona Fide Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

33 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 33
Hads: 288
Avg: 3.95
pDev: 29.11%
Wants: 25
Gots: 64 | FT: 9
Brewed by:
4 Hands Brewing Co. visit their website
Missouri, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: JoEBoBpr on 02-15-2012

Bona Fide Imperial Stout is a collaborative effort with Goshen Coffee, a local fair trade coffee roaster. This beer is big, bold, and in your face. Bona Fide pours black as night with a smooth mouth feel. Aromas of espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malt, with nuances of vanilla. Drink now or cellar for up to 5 years.

65 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 33 | Hads: 288
Photo of russpowell
4.09/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottled on 12-02-14

Pours ebony with 2 fingers of mocha colored head. Great head retention & lacing

S: Cocoa & dark fruit, some figs & cherry

T: Follows the nose, dryness as well, roastyness as well up front. Chocolate & some caramel, plus more dryness as this warms, faint coffee notes lingering on the edges, plus just a bit of charred grain, slight lactic sourness as well. Finishes dry, slightly roasty, with cocoa

MF: Lively carbonation, medium bodied, carbonation pushes the flavor profile up

Drinks too easy, well put together & very approachable, maybe a little too sweet for the style

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Photo of smakawhat
3.97/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

A good looking creamy slightly taller than one finger tan like head. Espresso brown in its make up, and some good staying power as it slowly seeps down. Classic dark walnut brown, even a little bit blood red to it as well. Good looking brew.

Good solid aroma. Hints of dark chocolate, with a milky tone but with a bitterness behind it. An interesting light and almost milky char angle too which is real interesting and different, getting towards tobacco slightly also. Waffery dark biscuit like grain in a sense which is a real unique sensation.

Palate becomes much more obvious on the coffee angle. Light bodied roast with a hint of thick milk flavors in the mid palate. Roasted bean and hinted latte like milk qualities, with a bit more charing thickness to match. Interesting light bodied profile for easy drinking coming with a good mix of chocolate and coffee.

Overall a solid fun imperial flavored stout.

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Photo of Tone
4.01/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a black color. 1/2 inch head of a tan color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of roasted malt, sweet malt, hint of oatmeal, slight alcohol, hint of coffee, and a hint of hop. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of roasted malt, sweet malt, hint of hop, hint of coffee, and slight alcohol. Overall, great appearance, good aroma, body, and blend.

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Photo of rudzud
4.19/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Received as an extra in a trade and poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a dark dark brown nearly black hue with a good one finger mocha head that fades down to about a quarter inch and that's it. Light side lacing too.

S - Aromas of dark dark chocolate, coffee/espresso beans, roasted malts, nice vanilla notes as well.

T - Taste is roasted malts, faint caramel, bitter dark chocolate, hard roasted coffee beans, super super faint vanilla. Pretty straightforward. Tasty, but straightforward.

M - Mouthfeel is awesome. Alcohol hidden wonderfully, smooth and creamy. Very nice.

O - Overall this was a tasty RIS. Wish the vanilla came out more in the taste but all around very nice.

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Photo of jbaker67
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer smells like coffee, roasted malts, booze, and a slight hint of vanilla, and the color of this beer is an opaque black color with a small brown head that fades to and stays at a ring. The taste is mildly bitter andmildly sweet, which is complex and well-balanced, and the palate combines as full body, thin yet creamy texture, soft carbonation, and a warming bitter finish, making for an overall great beer.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap served in a tulip

Pours an ink black with a one finger mocha colored cap. Some spider web lacing as the head recedes to a thin layer. Viscous liquid.

Huge hop aroma up front, pine needles and fresh cut grass, maybe even a little mint. Behind the hops is a bold nose of dark roast, espresso and milk chocolate. What gets me most about this nose, is how compact it feels. All of these aromas aren't layered, but rather greet you all together.

Up front, a wave of deep roast, fresh espresso, milk chocolate, and vanilla before the hops begin their assault. Fresh cut grass and pine resin, lend an earthy bitterness that comes in mid-palate, and extends out into the finish.

Full bodied, bold, assertive, and hoppy all while being smooth and lush. Velvety, creamy smooth.

I am impressed with how they managed this level of complexity while being so well blended together. The flavors are in one big bundle and unravel nicely on the palate. I like this better than some of the other hoppy stouts out there.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.54/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Brief write-up. The nose is light on coffee and vanilla (though both are still there), instead focusing on general roasted and caramel notes. I even get a touch of umami. Flavor-wise, it seems to come together more cohesively. A gentle coffee-like roast opens it up, and is tempered by soft vanilla flavors. The finish is loaded with roasted malt and almost burnished caramel. It's a touch light feeling, though appropriate for 9%. I do like how clean and dry it is on the palate. It's a tasty imperial stout that's only lacking in complexity....and maybe in more intense coffee/vanilla notes.

3.54/5: I like it...too bad I'm sampling it shortly after a bona fide stunner named 4Beans

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Photo of Sean9689
3.11/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle into tulip.

A - Pours black, mocha head, spotty lace, thin collar.

S - Super-hoppy, light coffee, light dark chocolate. Lots of pine/grassy hops, very astringent and harsh.

T - Similar to the nose, overly hopped, and light RIS notes of chocolate, oak, and toffee. Just too much hops for me to really enjoy much else. Finish is bitter hoppy pine...harsh bite.

M - Medium body, good carbonation, oily finish.

O - This thing is hopped to the moon and back. Way too much pine and bitterness to really appreciate this RIS. Perhaps some age will tone this down, but for now, I won't be seeking this one out again.

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Photo of 57md
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark brown with ruby edges. Nice roast on the nose. Chocolate is the most dominant flavor as the roasted malt profile takes a backseat. Smooth and creamy.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from an awesome looking 22oz bottle.

Poured a very nice dark black with some caramel edges. A nice latte colored head forms with some awesome dense bubbles. The head is pretty retentive and it recedes down to a nice thin film.

Notes of vanilla starts off with some nice slight sweet chocolate. Nice dark roasty malt notes. Very strong coffee notes come up quick and stay for a bit. Definitely some nice grassy hop notes.

Flavor starts off with some strong coffee and dark malt notes. VEry roasty. The grassy hop notes are very nice and give the beer an interesting earthy and grassy finish. All to an awesome intense espresso background. The vanilla notes are slightly felt on the back end and behind the scenes. SOme nice strong coffee notes and nice dark bitter chocolate. Very nice. Very nice and velvety.

Overall this is a good stout by the 4 Hands guys. Cant wait till the Barrel Age this one. The coffee flavors are intense and the nice dark chocolate notes are also very nice.

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.21/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very dark brown, far from the "black as night sky" claim. Little head and looks viscous.

Tons of vanilla in the front of the nose, also a hefty dose of coffee. It has a strong aroma, but basically is comprised of those two.

The taste is majority coffee, then that vanilla. Dark roast malt, light Hershey syrup.

Soft but thick body. Smooth. Low carbonation.

It's a two trick pony, but both tricks are done well. It drinks easy for an impy. If coffee's your thing, give it a ride.

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Photo of richj1970
4.08/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz bomber into snifter.

A: Pours pitch black with one finger mocha colored head that settled fairly quickly to a thin ring around the edge.

S: Espresso and roasted malts with subtle chocolate and vanilla notes.

T: Rich roasted malts embedded with strong black coffee. Bitter sweet dark chocolate and a touch of vanilla.

M: Full bodied with a creamy texture but a slightly dry finish.

O: Very enjoyable coffee stout. I would love to get ahold of a barrel aged version of this one. I think a bourbon influence would fit in nicely.

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Photo of bnes09
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Jet black and completely opaque. Pours a thick, tan colored head which retreats to a thin film and coats the glass in foamy lace.

Rich, complex aroma of toffee, brown sugar, prunes, coffee and vanilla. Sweet overall.

Flavor begins with assertive roasted malt bringing coffee and dark chocolate nuances to the brew. Dark fruit sweetness mixed with toffee and molasses balances out the roasted bitterness. Hops are subtle with an herbal, leafy tone. Exceptional balance.

Full bodied without the syrupy texture. Has a well rounded malty feel on the tongue. Smooth, creamy finish with lingering coffee flavor.

Wow, there's a lot going on with this one. Tons of complexity with the roasted and sweet flavors battling for dominance. Despite all the levels to this beer, the roasted finish reminds you you're drinking a stout and that's what I love about it.

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Photo of larryi86
4.19/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thannks bstyle for this!
22 oz bottle, dated 3/18/14, poured into a teku

A- Black with a two finger mocha head.

S- Rich dark chocolate, coffee, some milk chocolate, some vanilla.

T- Roasted coffee, some chocolate, vanilla, hints of dark friuts

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- A really nice coffee stout, nose made me think this would be bigger. Very happy I got to try this.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.89/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Black as night with no penetration to light. A fingernail of beige is around the rim but is otherwise absent. I smell coffee, vanilla, and loads of roasted barley. The aroma is still on the sweeter side. I taste vanilla, coffee, and roasted barley. Like the aroma, the taste is more sweet than bitter. The mouth is exceptionally silky smooth.

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Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.36/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Near black. Aroma is fairly subdued with some roasted malt and Touch of coffee. Flavor is more coffee forward. Heavy malt and dark chocolate. Body is nice and creamy. Not overly complex, but solid

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Photo of LambicPentameter
4.04/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed out of a 22 oz brown bomber with no dating to be found on the label or glass. That said, I'm pretty certain this is the 2013 release, which puts it at about 3-4 months old. Poured into a large snifter glass.

Appearance - Pours a rubber tire black body with no light able to penetrate. Most stouts have a brownish twinge to them, but this one has no such component. Atop the pitch-colored body sits a half-finger head the color of toasted marshmallow, mostly fine, smaller bubbles, but with a few larger bubbles from my pour. Retention is slight, quickly fading to a rim of foam around the edge and an uneven filming across the top of the beer. Lacing is nowhere to be found.

Smell - The roasted coffee beans are front and center, dominating much more bashful notes of charred malt and some faint vanilla sweetness. Some fainter hop elements, but more on the earthy side of things, which is good. The malt and coffee are definitely the frontrunners here. Just a tad simplistic, but that can happen with a coffee-infused beer, I've found.

Taste - There is more complexity now than hinted at by the smell. Yes, the roasted coffee bordering on that great espresso pungent bitterness is still present, but now I get more of the sweet profiles as well, with vanilla bean, lactose, sweet roasted malts and even some notes of black strap molasses.

Mouthfeel - Full-bodied with moderate carbonation and a surprisingly smooth mouthfeel for an RIS, which I occasionally find to be a little overly prickly. Bittersweet finish rounds the experience out.

Overall, a quality beer that has me curious to sample the barrel-aged variants. There are other, similar beers that I'd choose first, but the fact that this one is pretty easy to get is a huge plus in my book. One of 4 Hands better offerings.

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Photo of cvm4
3.82/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled Dec. 2, 2014

L - Pours a black body, doesn't seem super thick or very thin, and a dark khaki one finger head. Not much retention or lacing.

S - Nice vanilla notes on the nose as well as semi-sweet chocolate and light roasted malts. I'm not picking up much in the way of coffee.

T - Now I get the coffee! Semi-sweet chocolate, coffee and vanilla all intertwined together with the roast malt base.

F - Medium to full bodied with medium carbonation. Smooth and velvety body.

O - Not a bad offering here. As an American or double stout, this would be on the money. But, it's great and easy to drink, just not on the RIS level, IMHO.

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Photo of kemoarps
3.98/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bona Fide pours out thick and sticky and I can already tell I'm probably going to like it. Obsidian black with just a patchy brown ring to assure me that yes there is some carbonation here... This is what I want to see when I look at my glass.

The nose is rich and dark. I get a decent amount of molasses and coffee grounds, maybe a hint of a rich round sweetness (ostensibly the vanilla bean, though less pronouncedly vanilla-ized than I expected). There's something there that I can't quite put my finger on that's a bit unexpected. Definitely roasty.

The flavour shies further away from the vanilla and instead pours its heart into the coffee and bakers chocolate. This is ok by me, as I enjoy vanilla, but love the velvety chocolate and coffee that so many large stouts embody. Roasty chocolate/coffee is balanced in the back end by a bitterness that flits between the coffee/dark chocolate and a definite hop presence that offers a juicy roundness that helps fill out the body.
At the pour I was expecting something thick and syrupy that oozes down the back of the throat. This is not as big bodied as I had anticipated, and is carbonated higher than I prefer. It's not a BAD thing by any means, but I was just expecting (hoping?) for more of that motor oil consistency.
This is a very good beer, from a company that I've decided can be hit or miss for me. I've had better RISs, but I would reach for this one again in a heartbeat. Would love to try one of the BA varieties, but alas, I think they were both one-offs.
Curious about what it would do with time, though the big coffee presence inclines me to shy away from stashing one for a year or two. We'll see...

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.43/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours thick and dark as night with a pretty good sized head. Head is very frothy, with tight bubbling that is a medium tan in color. Lacing and retention are both tremendous.

S- Big, bold, and dark coffee right up front. Coffee is fairly dark and bitter on the scent. Just a slight hint of vanilla mixes in with the dark coffee. Under both the coffee and vanilla are some quality burnt malt scents.

T- Dark and bold coffee is the dominant flavor throughout. Drinks like a slightly burnt cup of dark, cold coffee because of the dark malt base. Not really any of the vanilla flavor mentioned on the label comes through the coffee flavor. The bite of dark roast coffee ends the drink and lingers for a bit afterwards.

M- Low in carbonation and pretty thick and smooth across the tongue, this beer drinks just plain smooth. The alcohol is undetectable. Full, dark flavors make this one a slower drink, but it's so delicious, you want to drink it faster.

Overall, a very good imperial coffee stout. Ranks right up there near Imperial Biscotti Break. 4 Hands has done it again, making a quality beer that delivers right on point with its style.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.17/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Pours super thick dark black in color with a good one and a half finger dark tan head that retains nicely. No light makes it through this beer.

Smell is great. Rich cocoa aromas forward before more chocolate malt and a small amount of coffee come into play. Very mild vanilla aromas are present along with a slight tang that is hard to categorize.

Taste is also really good. Chocolate malt is forward ad much more dominate then in the nose. There is a slight roasted flavor before some very faint coffee flavors come in with mild cocoa also there. Mild roasted bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is great. Huge body, mild carbonation. Great creamy feel and mild bitterness, this is a really smooth sipping beer.

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Photo of Ego
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

literally stuck indoors for 4 days now while 20+ mph wind and rain roar outside on the Chesapeake bay here in Scientist Cliffs MD, what a vacation...
So I picked up what looked to be most interesting from Nick's of Calvert (great selection for out of towners)

pretty dark, some ruby hue when looking through the pour, chocolate ring of foam circles the glass and sticks around for the long haul, decent amount of carbonation gurgling up from the bottom, looks impy like an impy should

light roasted coffee with cream and then a slap of vanilla on top, some chocolate notes with traces of bitterness, a little too much sweetness takes away from the coffee factor imo. not bad through, more like pretty good

taste etc...
coffee flavor is somehow... almost chemical at first, takes some getting used to, once you are in you get really super strong coffee notes, almost bottom of the grind bag flavor (it is really strong), this is almost an unabridged love affair with coffee BUT (you knew there had to be a but in there)... I think the vanilla ruins it, that is the chemical-ish flavor I was sensing earlier, as soon as I am in my coffee nirvana this other flavor bumps me out of my bliss, this has decent weight in terms of mouth feel... and has the right carbonation (almost feels more like a baltic stout), all around this is a good beer if not just a touch off

drop the vanilla. is that racist ? I don't know anymore... but seriously stick to the coffee, those notes were the highlight here

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Photo of chanokokoro
3.39/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a unbranded nonic half pint glass

Pours very dark brown to black capped by a one and half finger dark tan head. Above average retention and splotchy lacing. Bakers chocolate, espresso notes, and hints of vanilla on the nose. Opens with dark chocolate transitioning to pleasant vanilla. A note of dark fruit pokes through slightly and is quickly covered up with acidic coffee. Finishes with bitter roasted coffee notes and further slight accents of vanilla. Heavier side of medium bodied, light for an imperial stout, slick with a fleeting hint of silkiness. Moderate carbonation. Solid, but unspectacular. The coffee in this brew does little to add to it, and in fact, seems to detract from the complexity.

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Photo of Big_V
3.8/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Very well balanced stout but what could've made this beer much better to me was the mouthful for one could have been just a little fuller and two the coffee and vanilla never really stood out and were not dominate, it was just 'meh.

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Photo of Jonny41
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

poured deep black with thin tan quickly disapating head,
smell went from slight coffee notes to deeper rich aroma as it warmed
taste smooth slightly bitter flavor, definatly coffee forward beer, as a blackk coffee drinker it was much appreciated.
The dark chocolate was faint but notable and blended nicely.
overall a solid coffee stout much enjoyed.

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Bona Fide Imperial Stout from 4 Hands Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 33 ratings.