Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

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Imperial StoutImperial Stout
BA SCORE
4.36/5
Outstanding
7,944 Ratings
Imperial StoutImperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
foundersbrewing.com

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
75 IBU

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#580
Reviews:
1,929
Ratings:
7,944
pDev:
8.49%
 
 
Wants:
775
Gots:
2,468
Trade:
136
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,944 |  Reviews: 1,929
Reviews by beagle75:
Photo of beagle75
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Opaque black color with one finger of diminishing beige foam head. Heavy lacing remains on the glass.

S: Nutty dark roast is both unctuous and spirituous. Chocolate liqueur is offset by soft breadiness.

T: Begins barely off-dry, with complex fermented tobacco. Dissonant citric acidity yields to immense dark qualities in the middle. The roast that emerges is principally nutty, matching the smell. New sweetness develops about midway though the flavor profile, leaving an impression of dark bitter chocolate to linger into the finish. No alcohol is detected.

M: Thick viscosity, dense and velvety on the palate, with low carbonation.

D/O: Amidst Founders' limited releases such as KBS and the Backstage delicacies, this much more obtainable beer quietly shines. Huge in its application of sensory qualities, it does not so much err from traditional form as it magnifies and enlarges it. It is an under-appreciated top-shelf contribution to the imperial stout style.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
4.86/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

As I was pouring this beer, I thought to myself - "what beer is more black than this one?" ...and the answer is none. None more black. Not only is it black as can be, it's thicker than you can imagine. It plops into the glass without making a sound. Then, to top it all off, the head is the darkest MF'ing head I've ever seen. This head is darker than most brown ales. Huge, foamy, frothy, two and a half finger head that lasts for a long, long time. I've never been so aroused by just looking at a beer.

The smell is incredible and it hits your nose while you're pouring the beer, well before you bring it to your face. An abundance of roasted malts and barley washes over your senses like nothing else; deep, dark, bittersweet cocoa beans, espresso, molasses, char-broiled smoke, and a wave of leafy hops. The nose is as powerful as this beer is dark, and the only thing left to do is taste it.

FIS hits your palate like a semi-melted milkshake or warm syrup - this stuff is thick, bold, and robust beyond belief. So many traditional RIS flavors clashing, yet executed so elegantly well. Deeply roasted malts, hot molasses, dark, thick espresso - it's all there. Some light hints of sweetness come through; licorice, old figs, anise, dark fudge - but the sweetness is balanced extremely well by a huge wave of hops. At 90 IBUs, this RIS packs a punch in the hop department - slightly floral, leafy, ashy, dry, and a touch spicy, the hop bitterness plays well with the malt bomb and makes this 10.5% stout incredibly drinkable.

The alcohol is present, warming, and adds a bold character without being abrasive or off-putting. A nice smokey and campfire-roasted element can be found in FIS; almost similar to Founder's Porter, only amped up about ten times. A nice woody, charred, and smoked flavor in the aftertaste really adds a great deal to the already massive flavor profile. Coupled with the huge, creamy, and thick body, this beer is one of the most bad-ass things I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. Carbonation was just right, enough to make the body silky and bring out the flavors.

Good god, Founder's knows what the hell they're doing over there in Grand Rapids. For the longest time, I used to rave about FBS, but the FIS takes things to a whole new level. I know they are slightly different styles, but this is a pinnacle in Founders' line-up and really, a pinnacle in RIS's altogether if you ask me. Kind of hard to find, even in season, but worth taking the time to seek out a few 4-packs. This beer is goddamn delicious.

EDIT: recently had a bottle aged two years (bottled Jan 2011, enjoyed Jan 2013). The alcohol was still bold, still assertive, and still mild enough to enjoy perfectly. The smokey, campfire aspect was a little toned down, but this allowed for the chocolate to really jump out. Mouth feel was still silky smooth, and though the carbonation had lost some of its bang, it was still enough to produce that gorgeous, dark tan head. I think I prefer this one fresh, but it's amazing either way.

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Photo of DaddyFist
4.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The beer known as Founders Imperial Stout, pours thicker than an Olympic weight lifters thigh. The sheer mass of this beer pouring into the snifter comes down harder than John Cena's fist on The Big Shows skull at a Texas monster truck rally in July. The color of this beer is darker than the farthest depths of the bayou during the witching hour.

It is by the good grace of the Lord that I survived the interaction between this beer and myself.

While pouring this beer, the aromas spill into the air like the Exxon Mobile Oil spill back in March of '89. The abrupt force of raisins, and dark matter explodes like an atomic bomb and wipe everything out in its path. My humble abode, now turned into ruins. Ashes scatter, teeth chatter, children yelping, ears ringing. Slowly going in and out of consciousness. Instant headache, and incredible pains pulsing through my bones. The Apocalypse has finally arrived. "DEAR GOD! SAVE THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN!"

It was as if I had been taken back in time and placed right in the heart of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. I had been dropped in at peak action in the destruction of Pompeii. History is always doomed to repeat itself, but who knew that it would be brought on by this almighty beer? Not I! For only an evil, wicked mind, could conjure such a concoction, and have the meat to release it!

I search for direction but the mighty ash has blocked out the sunlight. I look to my left, and far in the distance I see the chalice of beer that single handedly brought forward this madness! There is only one way to stop this. I must consume it.

Forward I run! "Faster! FASTER!!!" I scold myself to get ever nearer towards this drink. 78 paces I glide! Weaving through the chaos of falling structures I reach the vessel. I aggressively grab the glass. Splashes of the unholy liquid fall to the ground, poisoning the Earth for eternity. With the most stoic of hearts, I take one for the universe. The fate of all mankind grasps me by the shoulders and performs a death roll, taught by the ancient crocodiles from the times of old. Ripping me limb from limb I continue to drink this beer. Like the heart of Jeffery Dahmer, this beer begins to consume me!

Gasping for air I know it is too late to quit. I reluctantly tip the chalice ever so slightly to finish the last soul devouring drop! Instantly I collapse. Begging for the Lord to save me, a silence falls over the town. The ash begins to settle. The cries of children deplete. Now laying face down, dirt begins to cling on to my stout thickened lips.

Just then, THE ALMIGHTY LORD SWOOPS DOWN playing a drum set made of FIRE that burns from the evil souls of those he has conquered! Neal Peart stands behind the Lord coaching him in his drum solo techniques. Landing next to me like the Apollo 11 from 1969, God, and Mr. Peart wave their drums sticks around creating a tornado of dust, ash, and flame around us. With one gentle tap of the drum sticks to my lips, I am born again. I have a new lease on life!

I am carried skywards towards the heavens! Forgiven and thanked for taking on this mighty task, the lord, Neil Peart and I perform a trifecta of a High-Five! The shock wave from this, spreads throughout the land and wipes away all wreckage, and destruction from the Earth's crust.

That. That right there. Is what it is like to consume this beer.

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Photo of dee4maine
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Is there a better decadent stout, when it comes to plain (I can't even use that adjective) ol' RIS, than Founders?? No Sir! This is the stuff stout dreams are made of! Rich, fudgy, loads and loads of dark fruits, smoooth dark chocolate.
Umm,ummm.

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Photo of RacerX5k
4.76/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Best brewery in the world, by far. Had a whole book typed out, hit some stupid fucking key and lost my entire review. Possible improvement to website, auto save your work? Don't know if that's possible but now I'm fucking tired. Great beer, 2016 version obviously has gotten (much) better with age as, years ago, I had this beer 1 years old then fresh the next year and hated both. So there are some examples of (highly hopped) beer improving with age by mellowing a bit. Please don't get me started that, sorry guys, your beer did not get better with age, just older.

Founders had the two best beers of 2017 that would be DKML and Doom, now the two best beers of 2018 KBS and Barrel Runner. And, again, don't get me started on the recent mediocre Barrel Runner reviews. My gosh people, if you don't like big boozy (but not harsh) rum barrel beers then don't drink them. Probably the same idiots who love Sunday Morning Stout (that is a horrible beer and I'm a local). Now this masterpiece, tried on draft last week at the bar, thought it was my hot wings but the beer tasted so good I seeked out a 4 pak. And now I'll get the other 4 sitting there wasting away on the shelf.

Masterpiece at 18 months of age the bitterness has faded into a perfect non barrel aged imperial stout. One of the thickest, most flavorful regular beers I've ever had with no bitterness or off flavors. Flavor profile includes chocolate, vanilla, heavy malts, molasses, pine, and a tiny bit of black licorice which is ok. Really very complex, which I'm sure I'll get more into over the next 3 nights while this 4 pak dissapears like my business.

And this beer was retired? Could've scored this one easy 5's across the board. Wow.

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Photo of Chris1907
4.51/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Sorry to hear that this is being retired very good imperial stout. I would love to see this recipe be brought back to be bourbon barrel-aged. Do it Founders, please!

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.26/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Wow, I don't think you can make a better looking stout, this dare I say might be perfect. Deep as 3am black, giant brown head on it, 1". Aroma hits all those familiar chocolate and coffee malt notes, with a decent hit of alcohol.

Taste reveals a decadent amount of rich chocolate, coffee, smoke and hops, the latter two in a much more restrained amount compared to the first two. Very smooth, makes you think there is oats in here, but manages to still bring the hop presence and bitterness around at the same time. Very restrained in the alcohol's pronouncement.

Great format, great consistency, great price. Elite 1st tier world class stuff.

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Photo of don1481
4.21/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into Ol' Trusty Pint Glass.

Appearance: Holy blackness. I hold this up to the light and NOTHING gets through. And with a chocolate-colored head. Wow. This clearly means business.

Smell: Lots of coffee here. Some hints of chocolate, smokiness. I don't really smell alcohol here.

Taste: Tastes like coffee with hints of chocolate coming through. I'm not really tasting any of the alcohol, which is surprising. None of the flavors are particularly overpowering - it's a little more... subdued... than what I expected from other reviews. I expected to have to sip this one a little more, but it's going down MUCH more quickly.

Mouthfeel: Pretty clean. Taste doesn't linger at all. Not sticky afterwards.

Overall: Ohhh boy. This is dangerous - I can drink this MUCH faster than the other stouts I've recently reviewed. I'd say that this goes down almost too easy, but since when is that a bad thing when in the confines of one's own home and not driving back from a bar?

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Photo of Duff_Light
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A liquor store by my house had a few 4-packs of this on sale for 5 dollars each. I bought them all. I mention this because the bottled date is 11/24/15 so they were trying to move older stock. This stout still tastes incredibly young and will age extremely well. Much like everyone else has said:
Jet black in color with an awesome chocolate colored head
Aromas of chocolate and coffee, creamy, rich, thick and I'd even say decadent mouth feel.
Wonderful finish that lingers
You can tell some of the alcohol is taming down and the malts are blending together nicely.

Best Imperial Stout I've had.

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Photo of Premo88
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into snifter
("14213399131226B" printed on bottle; courtesy of @cavedave)

L: classic black-and-tan look with a thick head of beige/tan foam about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick; no major lacing/sticking; keeps a soapy bubbled collar of foam, the bubbles big and loose in cool patterns

S: chocolate, milk chocolate, very sweet but with a background floral note ... perhaps a hint of the load of hops in there? vanilla extract, sharp ... as it warms the floral note grows

T: chocolate, red wine and an earthy/woody almost bitter flavor that bites midswallow and hangs on through the aftertaste, the bitterness smoothing out and the wood flavor taking over ... can you rate *just* the aftertaste? It'd be a 5 ... the hops truly are kicking and at times produce a bitter floral bite right up front, then linger as the malt flavor takes over; the wood flavor midswallow ranges from almost raw oak to full-on charred BBQ wood, almost carbon

F: up front it's big and bad, heavy, thick, almost milk stout lumpy, but it smooths nicely into a silky finish; the beer is at least a couple years old but hasn't lost much carbonation, perhaps a little ... there's enough to offer a light tickle that lightens it into that silky feel

O: the load of malt and hops in this sucker is formidable; at times it's as sweet as a stout with chocolate added, other times it tastes like a fresh West Coast style RIS with hops nipping and bitting and generally causing a ruckus; I get why so many pledged allegiance to this brew ... it's as good as any raw RIS I've tried if not better; if Founders brings it back, I'll be first in line to get some ... until then I got two more bottles and will enjoy each and every sip (thanks, Dave!)

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Photo of micada
4.54/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Does Founders even make a bad beer? I haven’t had one yet. Found a small stash of these 2016 bad boys just sitting on a big retail bar/restaurant chain’s shelf, evidently for years. The barkeep didn’t even know they had them, despite being prominently displayed. That’s ok...I bought all seven to take home. Poured assertively, cellar temp to a tulip glass. Huge dark brown, three finger head. Lots of carbonation, fizzling down to moderate lacing. Nose is dark chocolate, roasted malts, light vanilla. First sips are ridiculous. Bursting with malty goodness, dark, sinister roasted. After a few seconds, you get a heavy hit of bakers chocolate. Entirely balanced. Alcohol bite is nonexistent, just all smooth flavor. Mouthfeel is creamy, heavy, full bodied. What a delicious treat as I sit on my back deck, listening to the wind in the trees, snapping branches, enjoying my good fortune to have found these and to be in a content point in life. It would be nice to see a reprise of this!

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Photo of SaulFox
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep black with dark mocha head. Elegant lacing.
Dark chocolate, roasty malt, very light espresso.
Roasted espresso bitterness, rich chocolate.
Rich heavy mouthfeel.
Very nice winter brew....glad us Californians are included in Founder's distribution.

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Photo of RickyS
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I think I never saw a thicker and creamier head, of pure chocolate brown, on top of a darker liquid. The smell is fantastic: chocolate, vanilla, hints of peat, espresso. Kind of a drying aroma. The taste diverges heavily toward tobacco and cocoa powder. A hint of licorice in the long finish. Very thick, oily and heavy but no alcohol around. One of the best imperial stout I have ever had.

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Photo of McStagger
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 12/02/15. Poured into a wine glass.

A: Black. Opaque with brown tinges. Espresso crema colored head. About a finger's worth. Excellent, excellent retention with pockets of sticky lacing left onto the glass.

S: Dark roasted malt, malted milk chocolate, dark chocolate, brown sugar and soy sauce.

T: Big roastiness leads. 75 IBU's flexes even after a year. Mid palate takes on some dark fruit characteristics, with intermingling layers of baking cocoa. Not as sugary tasting in the mouth as on the nose. Mid palate picks ups some oiliness and smokiness. Aftertaste of ground coffee beans and slightly sticky sugar.

M: Medium/full bodied. Thick, pretty luscious, with carbonation there to balance out the massive dextrin.

O: Great big bodied Imperial Stout. At a year it's still pretty aggressive. I bet this one would lay down wonderfully. Might have to throw a few down and revisit in a year or two.

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Photo of Chandango
4.07/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter at a bit below room temp. pours thick and viscous, with a dark brown half inch head developing and lingering. Looks jet black and delicious. The nose is full of roasted malts and chocolate, a bit of burnt brown sugar, and even a hint of dark fruit. The taste hits hard with those roasted malts, a bit of the chocolate comes through. It finishes with a slight bitterness that rounds out the overall taste very well. Mouthfeel is thick, carbonated and milky. I paired this banana bread and went bananas (sorry about that). A delightful pairing for a fantastic beer.

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Photo of NOOGIE
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent beer, excellent flavor, with a bit of alcohol burning in the end.

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Photo of Uscjojo
4.56/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This stout pours thick oily and black. I had a 2 finger head that eventually turned
into a dark brown ring. The smell is chocolate, coffee, a hint of dark fruits, and malts.
The taste is a strong chocolate with a bitter hop finish. There is also a sweet molasses taste
upfront as it warms up. The feel is thick, chewy, and clings to your mouth nicely. Overall, this is
a nice stout to sip on and enjoy as it warms up. I am not too keen on hop bitterness, but this stout
blends it in very nice. This stout will never get old.

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Photo of Thomguzow
4.57/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From draft, pours an exceptional black liquid with a tan cap that remains. Aroma is of chocolate, coffee, and oak. It's texture is creamy and thick, like melted ice cream. It's taste is full of dark chocolate nibs and cocoa. A truly exceptional example.

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Photo of josanguapo
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From Mikkeller Shop. In Teku glass. Watching Looper. Amazing in all aspects. Thick, with a delicious dark fruits profile. I found myself drinking it in small sips so that it never ends

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Photo of Lingenbrau
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another knock out from Founders. Just what you would expect from an Imperial stout. Rich, dense, chocolate, roasted, sweet and bitter...and delicious. Cheers!

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Photo of HorseheadsHophead
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a wine glass

LOOK: Pours a midnight black with a small brown head that leaves some scattered bits of lacing. It looks majestic. You can tell immediately that this is going to be an experience.

SMELL: Lots of strong chocolate upfront, followed by charcoal, coffee, roasted barley, burnt sugar, and a smattering of vanilla, soy sauce, and tobacco smoke. This beer smells so complex!

TASTE: A truckload of bittersweet chocolate up front; sweet dark chocolate and a dusting of more bitter baking cocoa. Burnt sugar, toast, caramel, and a bit of coffee and vanilla. It's very savory, with an umami aspect that merits a soy sauce comparison. It's slightly warming on the swallow, but the alcohol is very well hidden for being 10.5% abv. Finishes fairly dry with another wave of dark chocolate.

FEEL: Full-bodied. Thick, rich, and creamy. Like chocolate syrup but not at all cloying. Perfectly balanced. A light carbonation just tingles the palate.

OVERALL: This beer blew my mind the first time I had it, and it continues to do. This is everything you could want in an imperial stout. In my opinion, this is a world-class beer.

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Photo of maedhros09
3.93/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look: Pours petroleum black, with a couple fingers of brown head.

Smell: chocolate, roasted coffee beans, and dark fruit

Taste: Starts with sweet chocolate bread, roasted malt, and dark fruit, finishing with a lingering herbal hops bitterness. Some tingling sensation towards the end which I assume is the alcohol.

Feel: Thick body and fairly smooth

Overall: If your taste buds are severely dulled and you want to experience an imperial stout, I would recommend Founder's. It could almost be described as a distilled imperial stout, with all the flavors magnified beyond the usual imperial intensity. The hops definitely make a very strong appearance at the end - this more than anything else spoils the experience a bit for me. I wonder if it would mellow out a bit if you cellared it for a few months. Also, the malt end definitely falls on the sweet side even for the style. Overall I prefer a little more subtlety and balance in an imperial stout (both the Old Rasputin and the Narwhal accomplish this), but it's worth it to experience Founder's version.

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Photo of REGreenBTRB
4.52/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: 5 - Menacing. Pitch black with this mean-looking cinnamon head than thins out.

Smell: 4.25 - Malt and a super dark chocolate; like one of those 85% dark chocolate bars or something. Smells nice.

Taste: 4.5 - Holy smokes! This beer is absolutely loaded with flavor. That super dark chocolate on the nose is there on the taste and stays there. BIG beer. Not overpowering with alcohol like a 10.5% could be, but this is obviously a sipper. There are some coffee notes on the back end, and a mild smokiness to it as well.

Mouthfeel: 5 - This things is the creamiest beer I've had yet. Silky smooth, creamy, thick, AHH! This beer reminds me of a Rolls-Royce Phantom. You see one of those things "driving," i.e, sailing on the road, and you just know that it's the smoothest ride of your life. Well, yeah. This.

Overall: 4.65 - A solid A beer. This isn't something I would drink but maybe once a month. It's so good, but so massive I feel like I'd overwhelm myself with more frequent consumption. Badass brew.

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Photo of BuccoFan
4.64/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

As I score this, I'm realizing that I'm giving this a higher score than Expedition stout, which I've generally labeled my favorite non-BA stout. Well, so be it.

Bottling date is 12-22-14. Aged eight-plus months in my basement. Pour is of a serious motor oil quality. I mean that. That character seems to too frequently get thrown around for RISs, but it's not always true. This is a thick pour, period. Body matches. Taste is roast, malt, with chocolate undertones.

Ultimately, I think this is far superior to the KBS and is very underrated. This is a beer that needs several months of aging though, so one should give this time when it is attained. It is everything an RIS should be.

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Photo of Mindcrime1000
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a single-serve into a stout goblet.

The beer pours with a viscosity that deserves a motor-oil-like designation and that's high praise for the style. An espresso-brown head that dies somewhat quickly, but gives way to as persistent a lacing as you could ask for. Such a dark brown that were it not for the tan head, it would look black. Exceptionally opaque. I rarely give "5's" on anything. This is a brutally beautiful beer.

Dark coffee/espresso and bitter chocolate rule the nose with boozy/fruity sweetness in the background. Well balanced.

Flavors, like the nose, are bold and straightforward. Classic bitter coffee and dark chocolate with a little bit of cherry and dark-fruit sweetness in the background. Excellent char flavors without getting to toasty. Astringent at the finish but not in an off-putting way.

As full-bodied and chewy as you could ever ask for, the carbonation and booze (which is well-hidden by-the-by) help it from being undrinkably heavy.

I've had this brewer's Breakfast Stout many times, and passed this one by because of how much I liked that offering. Big mistake. You must try.

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Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.36 out of 5 with 7,944 ratings