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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:
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Reviews: 1,843 | Ratings: 7,681
Photo of PicoPapa
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle with Bottled 12/20/12. Pours a viscous black color with a 1/4 inch of brown head. Lots of lacing. The aroma is of chocolate, black licorice, earth and roasted malts. The taste is smokey chocolate and earth upfront followed by bittersweet dark chocolate. Warming alcohol presence. Chocolatey, malty, and earthy with a nice amount of smoke. Heavy mouthfeel. This beer reminds me of Ten Fidy. Overall, a boozey rich Stout with a lot of flavor that is worth seeking out.

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Photo of portia99
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle ('09) received as an extra in trade from homebrew311. Thanks. Poured into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

A - Pours a thick and syrupy totally opaque pitch black color...not a hint of light can get thru this one. A few clumps of yeast rushed out of the bottle during the pour and is a slight detractor from the overall experience of this beer. A thin, dark brown pseudo head forms and drops immediately to a thin collar around the glass.

S - Complex array of aromas: a fair amount of sweetness, fresh brewed coffee, alcohol, licorice and bakers chocolate.

T - Mirrors the aroma pretty closely with some additional nuances thrown in for good measure. Lots of dark roasty flavors - heavy in coffee and dark bittersweet chocolate...some slightly burnt, smokey, woody flavors here too. Nicely bitter - like the strong hop presence in this Imperial. Smooth and very tasty.

M - Very smooth mouthfeel...body is quite full - thick, oily and viscous. Carbonation is low giving a very smooth and slick feel over the tongue.

D - Very enjoyable imperial stout. Hoppier than most other examples (which is a strong positive for me), plenty of dark and roasty flavors and an incredible smoothness to it. The 10.5% alcohol is more noticeable in the nose than the taste. Doesn't seem that strong. Will definitely be grabbing more of this before its gone for the season.

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Photo of JackieTH
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Rob for the share!

Poured oily black with a thin skein of dark tan foam. Smell was roasted malts and semi-sweet baker's chocolate. Taste is all about heavily roasted malt, more semi-sweet chocolates, and a mild espresso. Bitterness is apparent within the heavy roast. I get no impression of the 10.5% ABV. Mouthfeel is medium-heavy with a nice texture due to lower carbonation.

Note that this sample had been cellared for 1 year.

Its very good quite roasty.

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Photo of BeerFiend2002
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass:

A- Motor oil black body with a one-finger, frothy, mocha colored-head.

S- Roasted, smoky almost burnt-smelling malt, hints of dark chocolate, and the ever slightest hint of coffee. Smells like a good RIS.

T- The first thing I noticed was an in your face deep roasted and smoky malt followed by dark chocolate and coffee that comes mostly on the finish. The big malt dominates. Quite bitter for a stout. Bitterness is lingering in the back of the throat. Get a little bit of the alcohol, but not at all overpowering.

M- Big thick heavy body with an oily feel that coats the mouth and throat with each swallow. A big beer like this needs body and it has plenty.

O- This is a very good take on a RIS. If the smokiness in the malt was toned down, I would like it better. Nonetheless this keeps the streak alive of never having a Founders beer that sucked.

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Photo of ikonoklast7
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out like black cough syrup from the bottle to the pint glass. Very, very small head of dark brown foam. When I poured it and shook out the remaining droplets from the bottle, they swam and then sank to the bottom like little black, oily pearls. As far as looks, this is probably one of the most eye-catching beers I've ever drank...and it had an aroma to match. The scent was a melange of baking chocolate and an almost chocolate liqueur/baking vanilla type scent, like sweetness with a distinctly alcoholic edge. Felt thick in the mouth, almost syrupy, and the taste was exceptional. Lots sweetness in the mouth and then a finish like Irish coffee, bitter with a nice alcohol bite (and considering its 10% ABV, no wonder!). Hanging around in the background was a very nice hoppy character that the bitter finish tempers well so it doesn't become to overwhelming. Overall, a wonder class beer from Founders.

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Photo of BigB415
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: pours pitch black with medium head into my Bruery snifter. Heavy lacing with heavy retention.

S: heavy roasted barley. The roasted smell reminds me of a goo cup of coffee.

T: smooth taste. It goes down very smooth and easy once it warms up. A lot of chocolate taste and more of the barley taste.

MF: heavy mouthfeel. A lot of the chocolate stays on my tongue and lips.

O: a fine example of an imperial stout. I like with this one how powerful the roasted barley is and how thick the mouthfeel is. Founders makes great beers and this is just another example o how strong their portfolio is.

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Photo of cetherid
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured into a tulip


Beer looks like your typical imperial stout. pitch black with about a fingers worth of light brown head...it dissipated after about two minutes. some light lacing on the glass but nothing crazy.


big time dark and roasted malts. Aromas of coffee, molasses, bitter chocolate, perhaps a hint of licorice. A little smokiness and booze comes out as it warms up.


similar to nose but some sweetness as well as bitterness really comes out... I guess bitterness should be expected checking out the IBUs of this brew. Get some sweet chocolate and roasted coffee at the beginning, moving on to some smoky flavor and bitterness before you get that nice warming booze flavor.


almost perfect for the style. Full bodied beer with a creamy mouthfeel. A slight warming booziness in the mouth. Maybe needs a slight more carbonation but can't see many other flaws.


A solid RIS. Unfortunately it was kinda difficult to get and I would imagine from years to come will get even tougher to get that I'd probably just grab some old raspy as it's much easier to get and pretty damn good itself.

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Photo of sonicdescent
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black with a thin tan head. Leaves a residue down the side of the glass. This stuff pours thick as oil.

Smells of an above average RIS, chocolate, toffee, roasted coffee, you name it, it's here.

Tastes very good and not very overpowering. The tastes from the scent are here and very balanced. This is a slightly less sweet FBS, and it is very good.

Mouth is thick and low/med carbonation. Works well.

If I could pick one company to be distributed here that isn't already, I would likely pick Founders. They have yet to disappoint.

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Photo of TTAmod
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into pint glass.

A: When pouring, it's very, very dark brown. Once it was all in the glass, it was pitch black. Even when held to the light, nothing shoes through.

Head is two-finger chocolate milk colored with ruby hues. Retention is really damn good.

S: Deep waft brings heavy bitter chocolate, a bit of coffee (but not as much as Breakfast Stout,) roasty malts, dark fruits, bit of hops, and a touch of alcohol.

T: Starts off with subdued roasted malts. Picks up steam midway with some dark fruit (plum) flavors. This beer finishes really damn good. There is coffee, hops, and bitter chocolate. Leaves a lingering, mocha aftertaste with a bit of an alcohol burn.

M: Honestly more carbonation than I'd like. The body is creamy and heavy, which is good for the style, but I feel that the carbonation takes away from the taste a bit.

O: A good RIS. The taste is nice and complex. The mouthfeel is a little bit off for me, but everything else is a prime example of a great RIS.

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Photo of Malt_Man
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Served slightly cool of room temperature from 355ml bottle into saison glass.

A) Ink black, slight reddish tinge. No head or film. Light carbonation.

S) Rich aromatic dried fruit. Alcohol!

T) Rich fruity malt. The bitterness hits first, balanced by rich fruit that follows. Chocolate hovers around the middle but is soon blanked out by the roast coffee bitterness. You can have five sips of this and pick up on different flavour combinations each time, so very rewarding in that respect.

M) Not overly heavy for the ABV, the slight fizz gives it another pleasing aspect.

O) Awesome strong stout; for me Founders Breakfast Stout just edges it as the chocolate brings better balance, but this is still one of the best.

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Photo of bound4er
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A. Pours black and thick - the high viscosity actually muffles the sound as it is poured into my glass. A firm pour produced about one finger of dark tan head.

S. Rich roasted malts, creamy vanilla, a hint of booze, coffee and herbal hops.

T. A nice blast of roasted malts and coffee (much like the aroma) starts things off. Then a big hit of piney hops takes over and just expands across your palate. The bitterness here is nicely done. I really like the dryness of this beer - it offers a nice change of pace over many of the sweeter style RIS's on the market.

M. Full bodied and very smooth. Low carbonation.

D. I really struggled with the bitterness of 2008 Breakfast Stout. This is much more to my liking - the high ABV (though well hidden) and overall heaviness keeps this to a "one-and-done" sipper category but it is very tasty none the less. Another 4-pack is definitely in order.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the 2009 release - the recipe must be slightly different, as it lists 10.5% ABV and 90 IBUs. Served in a pint glass.

A - Looks like a good stout should. One finger of mocha foam that dissipates and leaves a ton of lacing. It's pitch black (not even brown at the edges), and there's a bunch of bubbles at the bottom of the glass.

S - Coffee, bittersweet chocolate, roast malt, some dark fruit sweetness as well - plums, currants, etc. There's some hop flavor as well, in a similar vein as fresh Darkness. It's really delicious, but not huge.

T - There's a lot of bitterness in this one - coming from the coffee, bitter chocolate, and even the hops. There is some residual sweetness on the edges of my tongue, but the taste is pretty consistent. Even the aftertaste is kind of bitter. I'm curious to see if this mellows out and sweetens up as it ages.

M - Medium-bodied, with a surprising amount of carbonation tingle to it. Leaves a sticky coating on the inside of my mouth.

D - The surprisingly refreshing mouthfeel and well-hidden ABV make this a very (and dangerously drinkable) stout. I should probably be sipping it, but instead I'm hitting it like an IPA. I'd definitely bring a 4-pack to a party.

It'd be nice if this was made more often than every three years, although it's not like Founder's has any bad brews to displace (they seem to have given up on that quad they made).

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

Pours really dark with a large chocolate head. Smells of burnt coffee and burnt caramel. Tastes are complex, burnt coffee and caramel. Almost has a tobacco or licorice aftertaste. Little syrupy with some carbonation. Overall a great stout!

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter. Thanks, cvm4

A: The darkest brown imaginable. Slightly lighter ring around the glass. A tan, half finger head that left in the blink of an eye. Thick lacing.

S: Licorice, burnt malts, dark chocolate. Figs.

T: Very light coffee that morphs into toffee. More chocolate as it warms. Rich, robust, smooth. Heavy coffee finish.

M: Thick, chewy. Medium carbonation.

O: One of the smoothest stouts I've tried. Even better towards room temperature. Perfect with Monterey Jack cheese. Very nice with spicy chicken tenders.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Passed along to me via kp. Thanks, kp! The age of the bottle is unknown to me.

Appearance: Pours a deep, heavy, black body with a thin, brief, dark tan head.

Smell: Bold, assertive roasted malt aroma layered with rich, yet slightly sweet-smelling notes along with a particularly fruit background scent of plums and prunes.

Taste: Why, it's a whole myriad of malt flavors: bittersweet chocolate, dark caramel, blackened grains, espresso-flavored oatmeal, licorice, and molasses. Again, there's a big pop of fruitiness, now followed by a drizzle of sherry. Slight roasty, earthy bitterness midway. Pinch of Latakia pipe tobacco. Minor hints of peppery alcohol. There's a pleasant interplay of concentrated fruit and roasted malt flavors prior to the drying, roasty finish. A taste of charred sugars lasts into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium-low carbonation. Smooth, tongue-battering mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Dense, succulent malt flavors and pleasantly warming throughout, though, for the most part, the alcohol content remains rather well-hidden. It would not be advantageous at all for you to pass up this one.

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Photo of nomad
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a clown car of an Imperial Stout - if there's a flavor well-known, or even loosely affiliated, with this dark style then it has been squeezed into this beer.

From cool to warm this beer shows an impressive range of flavors - ready for the list? - chocolate, vienna roast coffee, dark caramel, subtle figs and black cherries, pine, citric hops, biscuity malt, slight oxidative sherry notes, simple molasses sweetness, and a tinge of earthy bitterness. Overall effect is extremely balanced with little lingering hop bitterness in the finish, only espresso-like dryness of the roast malts. At times, once my palate adjusts to its girth, this beer even tilts toward sweetness. In fact, over a few slow nights with this brew the seeming lack of attenuation got to me - is it possible to also ask for a little more hop bittering in this already big boy?

On the nose its a little quieter with many of the same tones mentioned above but a bit more demure and definitely tilted more toward the roasted and dark scents. As usual, the appearance is black with a dirtied head that stuck around well-enough after a nice and thick reverse cascade on the pour. Mouthfeel is thick and near-syrupy smooth although aiding to the sweet shading of the beer.

A fine Impy that is ready-to-drink, no aging necessary and, to my tastes, not preferred. Nonetheless, an enjoyable though diabetic pint.

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Photo of bierbrauer
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle purchased locally, ($12.00/4). Bottled on 12/15/11, 21 days ago. Poured into a tulip glass.

A: Very dense, dark brown with 3/4" dense, light brown head that settles slowly and leave irregular lacing. No visible effervescence.

S: Roasted coffee and malts, with bittersweet chocolate; some earthiness and licorice.

T: Chocolate, caramel/toffee and coffee; molasses; some alcohol and lingering bitterness.

M: Low carbonation and heavy body; very rich, smooth and creamy; somewhat viscous; dry finish; slight alcohol heat.

O: Another delicious, amazing stout from Founders. Right up there with their other offerings.

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Photo of BobZ
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz. bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Pitch black with a nice 2" tan head that leaves nice curtains of lacing.

Smell: Roasted coffee and bitter dark chocolate are immediately noticeable.

Taste: Coffee is noticed first as dominant but as the beer warms it transforms nicely, next the dark bitter chocolate merges and blends into a very pleasant mocha. Then as it continues to warm some vanilla comes through. This is another beer that I enjoyed more as it reached room temperature. There is a lot of rich roasted flavor in this RIS.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth with a bitter finish that cleans the palate.

Overall: Another delicious offering from Founder's and an excellent version of a Russian Imperial Stout.

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Photo of ffejherb
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at UJ's on the Manatawny on 5/17/09. Served in a snifter.

A - Deep black body with slim tan head that reduced to a patchy film but left a pretty thick coating of lace around the glass.

S - Bitter chocolate and cocoa notes with a slight burnt caramel aspect. Hops display an earthy, somewhat woody character.

T - Rich chocolate notes with a heavy nutty astringency that lasts well into the finish. Concludes with an earthy hop bitterness. Alcohol presence is quite tame overall for an Imperial Stout.

M - Warm and softly carbonated, Founders Imperial Stout is full bodied with a rich, fairly chewy texture. Finishes with moderate bitterness and quite a bit of astringency on the palate.

D - Even though I nursed this bad boy for about an hour, this remained quite drinkable throughout. While I prefer Breakfast Stout, this is certainly no slouch.

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Photo of ummswimmin
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I received this bottle from a friend at work. I kept missing it every time it would show up in the store.

I poured the Stout into a snifter to best hold in the aroma coming off this beer. I received no foam over a very dark beer.

I really enjoy the richness coming off this beer. I definitely pick up coffee and a ton of roast. At the edges I feel like I smell a little bourbon.

The flavor is equally rich. This is a very tasty, challenging stout.

More props to Founders... this is another great stout among many I've had by them.

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Photo of GOBLIN
4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black . . . Black . . . Black. Smells insanely delicious. As should be expected from any Founders stout. Typical roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, vanilla . . . but this one seems to hold a candle to other RIS's. This is one terrific RIS ! So tasty. Better than most. Why did I pass this one by for so long ? Oh, now I remember . . . A little pricey. But now that I've had it it is head and shoulders above ( now listen ) other good to great RIS.

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Photo of oldn00b
4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Ours near black, thin bubbly dark tan head forms then quickly recedes.

Very typical Imperial stout nose, hints of chocolate come through but toasty malt bill is big with bit of alcohol coming through.

Flavor is deep, bittersweet - typical but nicely rounded stout flavor.

Finish is drying and sweet with the chocolate notes lingering.

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Photo of TheBullsHorn
4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

It's hard to try and find something wrong with this ale. Complex combination of flavors intertwine into this silky mouthfeel that begs you take another sip. The long lingering after palate is complemented with dark roasted malty bitterness. Perfect beer for a night cap.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle from by secret bunny poured into a snifter.

A-Body is a thick, viscous, opaque dark brown hue. Pours with a small medium brown foamy head that quickly fades to a very thin collar. Some traces of lacing remain at the top of the glass.

S-Potent. Phenols come through over a deep, complex RIS nose. I pick up anise, raisins, dark chocolate malt, and a touch of roastiness. All well balanced but the phenols are very much upfront and the highlight of the nose.

T-Upfront is a mix of dark fruit and anise upfront with a thick roasted dark malt backbone. The flavor gets slightly bitter for the finish as the roasted component of the malt comes through more but all the complexity remains all the way through. A big warm alcohol blanket lingers and wraps the initial flavors.

M-Medium to high prickly carbonation and smooth, thick viscous body underneath.

D- This brew certainly lines up with RIS and is a good example of the style. Exactly what I think when I think of RIS's. IMO, its also a step up from the other Founders stouts. This is good, but a pretty typical example of the style. ABV is high and somewhat prominent. Good beer overall that I would not hesitate to have again.

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Photo of mdcrouser
4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm reviewing beer number two of the four pack - poured from the bottle to a standard pint.

Brown on the pour, deep black in the glass, with a half-fingers' worth of foam - not as heady as I might hope. Delicate lacing follows each drink.

Big malts, like a melting pot of chocolate, some coffee, dark toffee, and a bit of smoke - that's a great smell this time of year. ("These are a few of my favorite things.")

Crisp and dark roast coffee-like bitter, this is truly one-of-a-kind. Just a bit of alcohol peeks through toward the end, but hardly noticable.

Wet and a bit sticky, it settles in at the back of the mouth, taking up office for many minutes. Recycling the taste in the mouth is as simple as inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Enjoyable to just sit back and circulate.

Easily drinkable, but I'd suggest doing so at a relatively slow pace, given that there's nothing small about this beer, especially if you're working on a bomber.

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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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