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

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Reviews: 1,879 | Ratings: 7,811
Photo of alarmclock314
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, dated 12/2/15. Pours jet black with a above average sized dark brown head; some lacing. Smells of complex roasted malt, earthy hops, and some char. The taste follows closely with roasted malt, char, hops, and cocoa; good intensity and no dark fruit flavor. Moderate bitterness and light dryness. Above average body and carbonation. Overall, this is a straightforward and well done RIS; very fitting of the style.

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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 wingman14
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a thick black tar with a very small chocolate colored head. Smells sweet and strong with mocha and chocolate tones. Very inviting. A very strong taste with immediate flavors of mocha, and roasted malts. A strong aftertaste that is bitter and leaves you wanting another sip. A smooth mouthfeel, you can tell this beer packs a punch with its ABV. This is a beer that I can't see anyone drinking in mass quantities considering its thick character and ABV. Considering the price I don't think anyone would want to drink many of these in one sitting. A good offering from founders, but not as good as their breakfast stout, but still very enjoyable. They consistantly produce great beer that is head and shoulders above many breweries. This beer is definitely worth a try! Enjoy!

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

A - Pours a rich thick black with a bubbly, moderately sized, dark tan head. Good sized lacing on the glass.

S - Rich chocolate smell with sweet roasted malts and coffee

T - Wow, again with the rich big chocolate, like a bittersweet cocoa powder. Sweet roasted malts and roasted coffee. This time, the taste really hits you. Very powerful stuff. Nothing subtle about this one, a lot more defined then the smell.

M - Moderate carbonation, nice and smooth, creamy, velvety. But also. quite thick!

D - Quite an exceptional example of style with in your face flavors. This one was almost a year old I think, so hopefully it's as good as this one was when it's fresh.

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Photo of CraigP83
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black, huge 2 finger mocha colored head. Smells like nesquik chocolate milk. Hops come through on the flavor, mouthfeel is silky smooth for the style but finishes dry.

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

2012 Release. Poured into a snifter.

Appearance. So dark that when you pour it it looks as if it were solid. Pours with a finger of dense light brown head, which slowly dissipates to a nice think layer on top of the beer. Lacing is simply amazing, leaving a mosaic of clusters of tiny bubbles permanently on the side of the glass.

Smell. Huge smells of dark roasted fresh coffee beans. There is a definite presence of some sort or dark berry or even raisin scent. Also some nice hearty rye or wheat bread notes in there as well.

Taste. Hits the palate with a quick burst of roasted malts, again with the flavor of hearty rye or wheat bread. The berry and coffee notes detected in the nose come next to do a beautiful dance on your palate. Some bitterness comes in along with they roasted character noted before. Chocolatey sweetness leads into a wonderfully fruity and roasty finish.

Mouthfeel. Heavy body with just enough carbonation to give it a bit of creaminess.

Ho-ly shit. This beer simply blew me away. It is hard to say a bad thing about it. Up until now, this is the best imperial stout I have ever tasted. So much complexity already. I can't wait to age the rest and enjoy at a later date. Highly recommended.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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?

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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 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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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

355ml bottle poured into an imperial pint glass, served chill not cold.

Pitch black in color, the pour forms up majestic creamy dark tan head that stands proud with remarkable strength of retention before slowly subsiding to a forever effervesce layer on the surface and leaving numerous of sticky lacing web all around. I can even see the cascade effect of the head sip by sip, so gorgeous showcase.

The aroma is dominated all over by roasted malt, chocolate, coffee (just slight sour), and cocoa. There are also other varieties of scent as a complement ranging from creamy, charred nut, dark bread, vanilla, caramel, toffee, butter, licorice, and mild leafty hop.

So intense wave of chocolate, cocoa, and coffee sweeps throughout the taste buds and coats the palate for quite some time before roasted, charred nut, some smoke, vanilla, caramel, toffee, butter, licorice, and dark bread following closely together with a bitter kick from both hop and roasted malt to add more depths. It is sweet overall but not cloying being leverage by the greatness of chocolate, coffee, and roasted profile.

The body and palate sensation in term of feeling is nearly flawless, high viscosity, sticky, very full, slick and super velvety smooth through the mouthfeel. Carbonation is pretty low but still has some crisp that is enough to carry all the things well. Finish is pleasantly dry.

This Imperial Stout is a beast. It is tasty as hell and perfectly concealed its alcohol. My recommendation is to enjoy it slowly and only chill not too cold in order to let all the characters disclosing in full scale.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

I first reviewed this from memory, which is never a good idea.
I purchased one bottle the other day and returned to one of my favorite styles of beer to see if my opinion had changed.
Well clearly I had screwed up my original rating .
Founders has another masterpiece here in this Russian Imperial Stout .
Pours a pitch black with a nice thick foamy head that leaves tons of lacing .
The smell is loaded with rich flavors of roasted malts, coffee , chocolate and others.
The taste that follows is just as delicious as the smell. This was nothing like I had remembered from 1-2 years ago .
It was absolutely like "Mothers milk" as another member described it .
I could easily have one of these in a coffee mug with breakfast .
Mouthfeel is slightly lighter than say something thick as their Breakfast stout or a Ten Fidy.

Overall I was blown away and sad I only purchased one bottle as I couldn't even make it last as it was so tasty .
I can't wait to purchase some four packs of these if they are still available.
Again it was nothing like I had remembered, so I'm glad I gave it a return try .


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
4.34 out of 5 based on 7,811 ratings.
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