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Founders Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
75 IBU

Added by mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,843 | Ratings: 7,681
Reviews by midnite2sixman:
Photo of midnite2sixman
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful pour. Tar black with a seemingly everlasting head of brown sugar colored foam.

Mad coffee beans on the nose, backed by notable caramel and toffee aromas. Roasted malts and hint of sweet rice.

Smooth and oddly refreshing, loads of coffee on the tongue, bitter chocolate, and toffee back it up.

Full bodied but it won't coat your tongue, post-quaff you are left with slight bitterness and a roasted coating on your tongue.

Is it possible to get a bad beer from Founders? Cynics, please remain silent, for this beer is a delight.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
4.86/5  rDev +12%
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 don1481
4.21/5  rDev -3%
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 SaulFox
4.46/5  rDev +2.8%
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 DaddyFist
4.59/5  rDev +5.8%
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 RickyS
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
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 Jeffreysan
4.99/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 edition, 12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with absolutely no head what-so-ever, except an extremely thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Massive aroma of roasted malt up front! Some notes of roasted coffee, a touch of smoke, and tons of brown sugar!

Taste: Wow!! Tons of roasted malt up front, imparting strong notes of roasted coffee beans, a touch of smoke and tons of dark chocolate. The beer is beautifully balanced with tons of brown sugar-like sweetness and finishes with a touch of dark chocolate-like bitterness! Absolutely delicious!

Mouthfeel: Very chewy and smooth as silk, as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 10%, there’s a very pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: Jesus, what a beer! Big, bold, beautiful flavors of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate all wrapped up in a silky smooth beer! Outstanding!

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Photo of brother_rebus
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

jet black.
Few bubbles.
Smells like chocolate.
Flavored like bacon.
Feels like engine oil.
Overall very delish.
Would certainly buy more later.

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Photo of HorseheadsHopHead
4.99/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.75 | 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 BuccoFan
4.64/5  rDev +6.9%
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 Catracho5
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Belgian style tulip glass bottle 12/01/2014

A: Pitch black with a brown creamy head that dissipated after about 7-8 minutes, not a whole lot of lacing, very little carbonation, looks pretty viscous as I swish the beer around in the glass, very nice.

A: Big roasted malt, coffee like aromas, chocolate, picking up a slight hint of that soy sauce smell, very slight, picking up some slight alcohol aromas, very nice aroma.

T: Big chocolate, coffee, roasted malt aromas, right up front, slight soy sauce, some bitterness, slight alcohol on the finish as well as a dry finish. Very smooth drinking for 10.5% ABV.

M: Motor oil, dry, has that smooth creamy imperial stout mouthfeel, really nice, very thick.

O: Definitely world class, big chocolate coffee roasted malts, easy drinking and smooth, wonderful mouthfeel, has that slight Expedition Stout soy sauce like flavor, world class, can't wait until Founders is available in CA, really good. This beer also ages really well. I had one with two years on it and it's mellowed out yet had kept a lot of flavor.

 1,090 characters

Photo of PostRockandCats
4.44/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a heavy, black liquid with a creamy, dark khaki head and a thick layer of lacing on the sides of the glass. It really is pitch black; you can almost feel the light being sucked into it. It smells of dark, toasty malts and mocha with a lovely burnt note at the end.

It tastes like a good Imperial Stout should: dark, smokey, slightly bitter, a bit creamy and rich. No dark fruits as some IS's have. Nice hit of umami unctuousness.

The feel is rich, thick and heavy; my mouth was coated thoroughly.

Overall, this is a wonderful beer that's a prime example of the style. I'll look forward to it coming out next winter as well!

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Photo of Uscjojo
4.56/5  rDev +5.1%
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 TheKlevin
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Textbook definition of an imperial stout. Amazing beer fresh or aged, I have bottles going back to 2011 and they all taste amazing. Extremely under hyped beer, and my favorite non adjunct non barrel aged stout.

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Photo of TKaten
3.83/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful thick pour, looks like shiny motor oil streaming out of the bottle. Nice feel, creamy and viscous like a good stout should be. Only complaint is that it's a bit too sweet on the palate for my taste. But overall a very enjoyable experience.

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Photo of NOOGIE
4.6/5  rDev +6%
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 uvachief
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft from a 32 oz grunt. Pours dark black with 2 fingers of tan mocha colored head. Significant lacing throughout the drink. Aromas of coffee and chocolate with a hint of dark fruit. Nice heavy body in the mouth with a rush of chocolate, vanilla, roasted malts and coffee (not espresso). Extremely smooth and well balanced. Aftertaste is much the same on the back end with maybe more coffee. Extremely smooth and drinkable. 32oz gone in a flash. Well hidden abv. This was 2013 so aged at least a year. Very smooth.

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Photo of REGreenBTRB
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
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 Vader444
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle pour into tulip.

My first full house! This is simply incredible stuff. Easily the most flavoursome luxurious tasting stout that I have ever encountered. Trying hard to find a reason to take off a mark or two as I don't really believe in perfection but this really does tick every box for me. A regular buy for sure.


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Photo of Tuck_leepulin
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into a snifter bottled on 12/02/2014

Appearance: Black as midnight with a dark tan head

Smell: Dark roasted coffee and chocolate

Taste: Bold and complex with tons of roasted malt flavors along with chocolate and coffee-like bitterness

Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy, just what I desire from an imperial stout

Overall: This is one hell of an RIS. Complex malt flavors and probably the best mouthfeel of any stout I have had thus far.

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Photo of Chandango
4.07/5  rDev -6.2%
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 GPayne757
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of my absolute favorites. What is not to like! World Class is an understatement!

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Photo of leantom
4.59/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, this is a beer that I've been waiting to try for a while. Founders has been disappointing me lately, but I still haven't lost hope. Here goes:

A: Beautiful. Motor-oil black, one-inch black head that leaves a ton of lacing. Simply beautiful.

S: Exquisite. Lots of roasted malt impart smells of coffee and dark chocolate. The coffee isn't bitter, however; in fact it's quite rich and creamy smelling, almost as if there's a bit of lactose in here as well. Very fulfilling.

T: Follows the nose, with a faint hint of dark fruit at the back of the palate. Initial taste is one of rich coffee and decadent chocolate - perfect. This is followed by some dark fruit (e.g., raisins, figs, plum), but this taste is rather subtle compared to the dark chocolate and coffee. Lingering bitter coffee taste.

F: Thick and creamy. Great.

O: Great beer. Dark fruit detracts from the taste somewhat, but the coffee and chocolate simply overpower this minor inconvenience.

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Photo of Lingenbrau
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
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 maedhros09
3.93/5  rDev -9.4%
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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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
4.34 out of 5 based on 7,681 ratings.
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