Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Founders Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
1,845 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,845 | Ratings: 7,712
Photo of bubseymour
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Black. It's Black. With a brown head. Nice to look at.

Smell - Chocolate and smokey. Quite smokey.

Taste - Dark chocolate up front followed by smoke followed by bitter hop finish. As the beer warms the bitterness fades giving a much better flavor profile of dark chocolate and smoke.
Minimal booziness and its well disguised for a beer at 10.5%. I'd have thought it was 8%.

Mouthfeel - Rich but actually for the style and alcohol level its a tad thin. I'd expect this one to be a little more creamy and sticky.

Overall - A very fine Russian Imperial sampling. Got to let this one warm up to balance and remove the bitterness from the hops, then it really dials in nicely. If you like RIS's like Old Raspy, you'll very much appreciate what Founders has made with this version.

 792 characters

Photo of obrike
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A gem of a Russian Stout...and to think I had this in Puerto Rico on a business trip. God bless beer. Now that I see it in Texas all the time, it's become a staple. I like this one better than the breakfast stout, and that's saying a lot.

 238 characters

Photo of LagerCognoscenti
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Jet black with thin head.

Rich aroma of coffee, bitter roasted malt, dark chocolate and booze.

Taste is bitter dark chocolate, treacle, marmite, dark cherries, tobacco, charcoal and goodness knows what else. Its very complex and very flavourful but very well rounded and a pleasure taste.

Overall, a fantastic Russian Imperial stout.Hard to find and slighly pricey in the UK but well worth seeking out. Right up there with Founders Breakfast Stout and Yeti Imperial Stout as a world class beer of this style from our American friends.


 546 characters

Photo of sjccmd
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured at essentially "cellar" temperature which turned out to be pretty perfect. Pours oily black with amber highlights. 1 finger dark tan head similar to espresso creme. One of the darkest heads I've seen. Head retention is fairly good considering the ABV. It has a good amount of legs and a super sticky lacing.

Smells of rich dark chocolate and dark roasted coffee. Tobacco, dark fruits, and raspberries come out but are more subtle. Subtle warmth from the alcohol. Molasses and syrupy sweetness.

Deep roasted malts and burnt sugar in the taste. Lots of coffee...reminds me of french pressed coffee that has steeped for a tad too long. Raspberries come in both at the beginning and finish, but the finish is mostly dominated by bitter roasted malts and molasses.

The mouthfeel is thick and silky, but there's a surprising amount of carbonation. It's not an interference, but it's a little different for the style and ABV.

I'm surprised to see how quickly this beer is going down. It has such a massive flavor and body, but I can't stop drinking it. But, not being too heavy of a drinker, I believe one 12oz is all I'll need.

Another very pleasant offerring from Founders. Can they do no wrong?

 1,202 characters

Photo of movingtrain
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Piraat glass.

Appearance is dark...black and very opaque. There is a nice creamy tan head, about half a finger, sitting on top.

The aroma is quite sweet...smells of sweet brown sugar, molasses, wheat bread, caramel, dark chocolate, and vanilla.

The taste is good...hints of vanilla in the background, and molasses. These give way to some serious chocolate notes. There are some spices in there, as well. Cinnamon, nutmeg. I absolutely love the dark, bittersweet roasted coffee notes in this beer. This, combined with the other flavors here, make this a wonderful treat for the palate--balanced, intense, and delicious.

Overall, this is a solid Imperial Stout...one I've grown quite fond of. I'm glad this has been put back into Founders's rotation. It has some excellent flavor, and great body.

 829 characters

Photo of KarlHungus
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This brew pours a motor oil black with a small brown head. The aroma is of coffee, chocolate, crackers. The taste is like the aroma. Rich and complex. There is absolutely nothing that hints at this brew's high ABV. The mouthfeel is full bodied with ample carbonation. Overall, this is a really good brew.

 304 characters

Photo of cambabeer
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours slow and thick like engine oil. Beautiful deep brown red head on a totally black body. Lace clings to the glass nicely. Smells sweet and fruity, very cherry-like along with the dark chocolate and coffee and other mixed berries. Toasted malts and obvious alcohol in the nose, especially with bigger whiffs. Certainly a strong smelling brew, warms to the core.

The first thing to hit the palate is toasty malt bitterness, which is followed by a sweet and very creamy berry dark chocolate taste. Heavy on the malt body with the toasted bitterness from that overshadowing and mild hop taste that might be there, but both are balanced if not controlled by the sweet and creamy character or the malt. Alcohol obviously noticeably and warming.

Mouthfeel has a nice simple carbonation that doesn't do anything to mask the ultra creaminess provided by the malt.
This beer is delicious, a great wintertime stout to be sure.

 923 characters

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. 2008 bottle.

A- Motor oil black, 1 finger tan head.

S- Chocolate and coffee

T- Very similar to the smell. Chocolate and coffee. Not bitter chocolate, but more sweet.

D- oily and slick in the mouth. Still a thick mouth full. I love this 2008. I will be looking for some more of the recent release.

 306 characters

Photo of elektrikjester
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 Founders Imperial Stout (bottling date of 12/15/2014) consumed on 3/16/2015. Served in small snifter over two pours at 50-55 degrees F.

Appearance - Pours almost pitch black with a thick, dark tan head about two fingers thick. Settles to a thin cap that remains throughout. When held to the light, beer remains practically opaque.

Aroma - Initial suggestion of licorice that gives way to roasted malts. As one inhales more deeply, roasted malts become more prominent. There is a hint of dark chocolate, but only a hint. Slight woody smokiness.

Taste - Mildly sweet. Despite first impressions of licorice and chocolate, roasted malts really do emerge to the fore and drive the flavor. Smoky notes of oak and char linger in the background and add a briny note that seems to complement the sweetness. Alcohol is well hidden but not completely gone. Some hop bitterness at the end to provide balance.

Mouthfeel - Thick mouthfeel that borders on oily. Creamy yet just enough carbonation. Despite well-hidden ABV, alcohol does burn a bit.


 1,050 characters

Photo of Pinknuggets
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 bottle into hfs Belgian sniffer

A: black as night in the middle completly opaque but some brown to dark dark red on the outsides next to no head but thin mocha ring and 1 year of aging

S: so I don't understand but even with a year on this it smells of booze which somewhat fades with dome time. there is that of that dark chocolate hint of coffee stout like smell that I expect from stouts

Edit (1/13/13) 2012 bottle: having this fresher the coffee smell comes out much more with a fresher bottle and the alcohol has much less of a presence.

T:so the aging may have made a difference to mellow out the alcohol because I can taste it in the finish but not anywhere else. Upfront the is a lot of mocha coffee flavor with hints of chocolate that fades into bitterness with a tail end of malt the fullness of the flavor lasts for a long time

Edit (1/13/13) 2012 bottle: even with a fresher bottle the coffee flavors are more bold and present while the alcohol burn really isn't that bad but seems like it could once again benefit from age. I like this fresh and aged.

M:it starts off semi harsh but quickly fades into a thick smooth creamy texture that is amazing to sip

O: this is a really good stout, it's well balanced with delicious flavors that mix together but do not overpower each other. It's so smooth and clearly get better with age. Well done founders keep doing what you do

 1,397 characters

Photo of Stevedore
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from the 2012-2013 winter season (the yellow bottling date is smudged off), probably about 8 months from the bottling date. Poured into a Bell's snifter glass on 7/20/2013. I've had this a whole bunch of times but not recently, so this is the first time I've gotten around to reviewing this beer.

This beer smells incredibly roasty. Dark chocolate, roasty marshmallow and a nice sweet molasses taste to it. The nose itself is thick and pleasing. Smells fantastic and perfect for a winter night. Too bad this is a summer night, but I do have the air conditioning on full crank so this is close enough. As it warms up, it reminds me a little bit of fresh Bourbon County but without the complexities of the bourbon barrel aging process, e.g. no vanilla, oak and decidedly less sweet.

It pours into a thick black body that comes with a solid 2cm mocha head that slowly dissipates into a thin film and thick collar on the snifter glass. It is incredibly dark and opaque. Lacing is thick in spots. Very much a "Russian Imperial Stout" looking beer.

It tastes very sweet yet hoppy. A strong dark malt contribution gives me dark chocolate, burnt molasses and toffee; I think the flavour I describe as burnt molasses is the dominant one. And then there is still a solid hoppy bitterness on the back end; it's more or less the same as it was fresh. A bit of dark fruits here perhaps, nothing like Bramble Rye but certainly hints of it are present. Very tasty, very complex and very pleasing brew.

The feel of this beer as I drink it is perhaps the only characteristic that doesn't quite keep up with the others. It's definitely a thick bodied brew, but it feels a bit chalky. Carbonation is par for the style and the finish is a bit dry. Makes me want to take a swig of water in between each sip of this beer. It's smooth and full bodied indeed but I think the finish could be a bit better. The aftertaste is primarily the hop bitterness integrated with a marshmallowy sweetness.

One of the best non-barrel aged Russian Imperial Stouts out there. Some other RIS's it compares well to include Storm King, Ten FIDY and Plead the 5th. If this one got barrel-aged, I dare say it could hold up very well to some of the big barrel-aged imperial stouts out there. Anyway, the price and quality of this beer makes for a fantastic value here. If you see this sitting on the shelf even now, I would still recommend picking it up.

 2,426 characters

Photo of THORN
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

11.2 Fl. Oz. bottle poured into pint glass. Served 55-50 F.
A: Dark dark brown. Reddish brown frothy head. Head is quarter inch high.
S: Chocolate, toasted bread, and brown sugar.
T: Wow. Dark chocolate and dark toasted malt. Slight alcohol is noticeable, but finishes with a strong hoppy bitterness.
M: Medium on tongue and slightly syrupy. Warmth sweeps across mouth.
D: Big beer. Heavy malts character well balanced by hops, chocolate, and alcohol. The beer doesn't cover the alcohol, but it makes it taste delightful.

 522 characters

Photo of doktorhops
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Well this is it [insert a Huey Lewis and The News "doo-wap"] Founders Imperial Stout (or FIS for short) finally on the drinking block or chopping block however you view my reviews. I wanted to buy some more Founders Breakfast Stout at Plonk! However it has now become so popular I had to put my name on a list of people who want to buy the next shipment. I blame myself. My review for FBS declared it "the best Stout ever". Now everyone in Australia wants it. Oh well, I have some FIS now to console me.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Chimay chalice.

A: "I've never before seen head this brown" I thought to myself, which could of course be misconstrued in a variety of ways. With a jet black, impenetrable murky body and a chocolate brown head that soon reduces to a faint ring around the glass this is one damn imposing Ale. An Everest of Ale in fact.

S: Whereas FBS was all about espresso coffee, FIS is all about dark chocolate. In fact it draws a favourable comparison to Amager & Cigar City's Xiquic: A mighty powerhouse of dark chocolate, vanilla, roasted cacao (minus the tobacco leaf). Every breath you take [every move you make?] gives another hint of the chocolate that awaits.

T: Smoke notes precede a dark chocolate, vanilla, earth and roasted cacao feast. There is a slight unwarranted metal twang as well, most unusual for Founders to have made a rookie mistake like that. Finishes with a dark herbal bitter character. This is a mammoth Ale that hides the booze like the always-tipsy-when-you-visit-her grandmother - and at 10.5% I've got to know how they've done it.

M: That classic heavy "founders body" rich with some creamy carbonation. These guys must use oats in all their brews. Damn I have big respect for that (using oats in the mash is quite a laborious task).

D: Not quite as good as the Xiquic I must say up front... it is a very close contest though, and this is a well-crafted antithesis to Founders Breakfast Stout (coffee vs chocolate) - they really know how to cover their bases Founders - not a single brew I've tried of theirs tastes like any other. They really put care into the way they brew and for that there can be no higher praise.

Food match: Founders Breakfast Stout, cigars and foul language.

 2,245 characters

Photo of eternaljester81
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Pours nearly pitch-black, with some some brownish-red hints at the edges when held to light. The head, while thin, is also a brownish red, but dissipates quickly. Lacing is minor.

S - Dark-roast coffee is the first part of the nose, followed with some bitter dark chocolate scents. The back-end is full of alcohol, which had me a little nervous for the taste.

T - Pretty amazing...I could leave it at that. I was surprised after the smell just how well hidden the alcohol is. Actual, this is quite similar to Founders Breakfast Stout (one of my favorite beers ever), only with more bite. This brew just tastes explosive with bittersweet chocolate and espresso notes, and just enough hop bitterness to balance out the impressive malt presence. All in all, this is the smoothest Imperial Stout I've ever tasted.

M - This feels incredibly smooth in the mouth, with a decent tingling from the alcohol. Maybe not quite as thick as I expected, but by no means watery. In fact, I'm most reminded of those bottled/canned cappuccino drinks you can find at most gas stations, which is in no-way meant as a slight.

D - At 10.5%, this is deceptively drinkable. While the flavors are huge, this is also an impressively smooth beer, which could easily get away from anyone.

I have to add that I'm a bit of a Founders fan-boy, as they are without-a-doubt my favorite brewery. Regardless, I feel they've earned my love by producing some of the finest beers in the world. The Imperial Stout is absolutely no exception.

 1,510 characters

Photo of LI_PO12
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into snifter

Appearance- Jet black small tan head

Aroma- Deep roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, some dark fruit, a piney hop, licorice, alcohol present

Flavor, big roasted malt and coffee, chocolate, up front bitter but a sweetness comes in at the end. finishes dry. slight piney hops, alcohol warmth

Mouthfeel- Full and thick medium carbonation

Overall- Wow very good, one of my favorites of the style. This is a pretty fresh bottle, I have had a 1 year old bottle and the pine fades as the roast and dark fruit deepen.

 532 characters

Photo of Shroud0fdoom
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

*12 oz. Bottle*

Look: Black body, 1 1/2 finger deep mocha frothy head.

Smell: Huge roasted barley, nice toffee sweetness, espresso hints of oats.

Taste: Burnt coffee, sweet roasted malts, smooth chocolate, bittersweet finish, alcohol is not present in the flavor but you can feel the heat.

Feel: Almost syrupy smooth body, soft carbonation.

Overall: For this being at 10.5%, it is incredibly drinkable to the point that it should be illegal. Smooth body, balanced between bitter and sweet that aches for constant gulps. This is a prime example of what a great Imperial Stout should be. Highly recommended.

* Originally Reviewed on 7-11-2013

 650 characters

Photo of chilidog
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked thisone up at the brewery as I heard it was available bottled again. Its been awhile since i've seen it.

Pours very dark, motor oil thick, full bodied. The head is awesome. Milk chocolate color of thick. pillow-like foam that maintains well. Lace is brief but web like.

Aroma is dark bakers chocolate, coffee bean and a smokey char of alcohol.

Taste carries those same qualities but with a dark fruit hint of overall intense flavor.

The mouthfeel does it for this beer. Very smooth with enough carbonation to soften the strength of this beer making very pleaseing to drink. No strong bitter over the top dry bean aftertaste. Just good stout imperial goodness.

 670 characters

Photo of ChugginOil
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Pours very dark brown and settles pitch black. Less than one finger worth of dark mocha colored head fades fast.

S- Big time chocolate notes up front followed by some caramel/roasty malt.

T- Scent amplified x 10. Cocoa up front with very roasty but sweet malts. The 10.5% is a bit noticeable at the finish but doesn't turn me off at all.

M- Thick, full bodied and rich....Filthy rich to say the least. This brew coats the palate. Yum. I'll swirl this around throughout my mouth all day long.

D- The ABV is very well hidden behind the delicious complexity of dessert style malt.

 585 characters

Photo of Mr1derfulComic
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2 Complaints - Only served in 12 ounce glass. Availability. Founders has yet to disappoint me. With ABV this high one might expect this might not be smooth, aou contraire (probably spelled wrong) Yummy and very drinkable! Car service should be included with purchase of 3 or more.

 280 characters

Photo of bnuttz
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a most viscous and opaque black color. This stuff is thick and no light is going to penetrate this beer. A respectable, for imperial standards, dark brown head forms. Smells very burnt and full of flavor. Some chocolate enters the nostrils followed by a showing of undeterminable hops. Taste is of burnt malts. Sweet, yet harsh. Coffee, espresso, chocolate are all here and rolled up into one big stout. The hop bitterness doesnt shy away at all either. It hits you nicely, with a grassy hop flavor that rounds out the profile. The alcohol is there, but well hidden for being a supposed 12%. This stuff is thick and literally coats the mouth. This is how an imperial should be as far as mouthfeel. This one is top notch. Another winner from Founders. More and more each day these guys are proving to me that they are one of the best in the country.

 854 characters

Photo of TequilaTom
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle that I nitrogenated with the NitroBrew I got as an Xmas present and poured into a snifter. First thing I noted was how viscous this monster of a stout is! Poured a thick, deep, dark brown with a 1-2 finger dark tan head. Smells of roasted malts (duh). Thick and creamy on the palate. Took my time drinking this one as it is VERY filling. Felt pretty good once the 10.5% ABV kicked in. A good brew to enjoy on a cold winter's eve. Thanks Founders!!

 461 characters

Photo of siradmiralnelson
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into Tulip.

A. Pours thick out of the bottle. Got about 3 fingers of very dark tan colored head. One of the best heads I have seen on a stout. Retention is prety much forever. Thick chalky milk shake lacing. Color is pure black. Great appearance on this beer.

S. Roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, milk chocolate. Really nice smelling Imperial Stout. Nice balance, between roastiness, coffee, and sweet malty chcolate aromas. Just a hint of alcohol. Its no secret Founder's can make an Imperial Stout.

T. Coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malt, a little bitterness from the coffee. Finishes with some pretty smooth milk chocolate flavor. No trace of alcohol. Very smooth and easy to drink.

M. Medium full. Could be a little chewier for me. Medium carbonation. Finishes with bitter sweet coffee and chocolate flavor. You would have no idea it was 10.5% if it wasnt printed on the bottle.

O. Very good RIS. Super smooth. Incredibly easy to drink. Might be a strong contender for the basis of the style.

 1,033 characters

Photo of divineaudio
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz dated bottle into a tulip.

pours black as night and forms a thick, chocolate brown head that hangs around. nice chunky lacing too.

smells of molasses, raisin, alcohol and roasted deliciousness. taste is similar but much more complex. i'm picking up mostly roasted malts, but also some coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, raisin and apple. a dry, bittersweet hop finish gives this one great balance. alcohol content is noticeable, but not overpowering.

mouthfeel is heavy, but also incredibly smooth and creamy with a little bit of alcohol warming.

this beer is quite drinkable for being so strong and rich, bit i couldn't see anyone having more than 2 of these at any given time. fits the style perfectly, and is yet another star in the founders lineup.

 762 characters

Photo of mjw1200
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lots of different aromas. some espresso and chocolate. Its a roasted smell.

Flavor is what separates this beer. Impressive hop flavor in an RIS. Love that it takes more than one drink to take in the different flavors. love the dark chocolate and roasted coffee.

The end leaves a good flavor, the beer is so smooth it does not hang around as long as some. Also a good pucker at the end, almost too much sourness.

great beer. glad I found it. Excited to see how it develops with time.

 486 characters

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a luscious opaque sable, just a hair above jet black, with a thick and fine-bubbled tan head. Rich aroma is strongly of fine coffee with hints of cocoa and molasses. Flavor is like a good mocha, quality coffee with an undertone of dusty cocoa, a little oily, slightly bitter and just a bit sweet. Texture is smooth and just a little tingly, and has a good bite to it. Recommended to all stouties.

 402 characters

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
4.34 out of 5 based on 7,712 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer FestĀ® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!