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: 1,868 | Ratings: 7,789
Photo of Risser09
3.61/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter - Fridge temp - 2008

Appearance: Pours a midnight, jet black color with a slight, brown head that goes away pretty quickly. No lace. Not a very lively brew.

Smell: Deep roasted malt, coffee, leather and a pinch of hops. The label indicates 90 IBUs, so they must not have spared. Licorice is in there, too.

Taste: Extremely roasty flavor is indicative of burnt toast, charcoal, and dark espresso. A hoppy bitterness further accentuates the roasty feeling. Mild sweetness and a nice belly warming feeling.

Mouthfeel: Lots of roastiness and warming alcohol. Medium bodied with little carbonation action.

Drinkability: This beer is okay. It's bold and powerful, but feels over-attenuated without much flavor complexity. Worth consuming, but there are better RISs.

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Photo of Drazzamatazz
3.62/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours oily and a deep dark black. Even going straight down the middle foam barely raised only to quickly fade away.

S: Chocolate, dark fruit, sherry, molasses like roasted malts. Slight hop ting.

T: Hello hops! Hello ABV! There's a little bit of coffee picked up here that wasn't in the nose, but the chocolate really comes out along side even more of that dried dark fruit flavor.

M: Its not really as oily as it looks, just a big full mouthfeel with a surprisingly level of carbonation considering the somewhat lame appearance. Lots of alcohol warmth here, certainly not the thing for everyone.

O: I wish I had more of these to age. Its showing a lot of potential but its still quite rough around the edges, I'll have to try and track some more down to see what it becomes as it mellows out. Pretty balanced for what it is though.

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Photo of EvilKeith
3.62/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours thick and viscous, black as night. Starts with a finger of light foam sandstone in color, fades to a cap. Lace is thick and sticky.

Smell is smoky, chocolaty, notes of dark fruit, pine and citrusy grapefruit. Just a hint of coffee bean. Alcohol is well hidden.

Taste is charred, smoky malt, chocolate, and alcohol shows itself.
Aftertaste is burnt or charred, light hop finish.

Full bodied. Oil coated mouthfeel. Minimal carbonation.

A little too thick to be very drinkable. Might work well after dinner or as a nightcap.

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Photo of morimech
3.63/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Black, that is a bit of an understatement when describing the appearance. The mocha colored head did not form big or last long. Spotty lacing is left on the glass. The alcohol plays too large a part in the aroma and really takes away from what could be some excellant malt notes. I am able to pick up some chocolate, espresso, and anise. Nice malt flavor until the alcohol flavor takes over. The malt flavor is more of a roasted character. Thick body with nice carbonation. Texture is smooth and silky. Maybe with some age on this, I would enjoy it more. Reminds me of Expidition Stout with its hot alcohol aspect.

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Photo of beertunes
3.63/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to CaveDave for this one. Poured into 10oz goblet. Poured a solid black color, no translucence at all, and just barely the thinnest cap light brown head that had zero retention and just traces of lacing.

The aroma was mostly roasty malts, but there was a a sweet aspect (a little maple-ish?) and some alcohol. On the tongue, the beer was nearly identical, but there was a slight coffee tone to the roasted facet.

The body was thick and full, as expected for the style. Drinkability was good, for a 10+% Stout, it's a sipper, not a slammer. Overall, a very fine brew indeed. It's not really significantly different from a lot of other big Stouts out there, but it's definitely worth trying when you can.

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Photo of Richardbeerlover
3.64/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours without a head and then a very thin head forms that quickly dissipated. Very thick black color. Smells like a typical dark stout. Nice slightly sweet taste without bitterness. Has a nice thickness to it. The 10% ABV shows up towards the finish. I really like this one.

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Photo of jtierney89
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black, pure black. No color when held up to the light. Has a thin deep brown head.

Coffee and roasted malts on the nose with some charcoal.

Big bitter black chocolate taste up front. Overwhelming yet delicious. Impeccably blended dark malt flavor with incredible hop balance. Bitterness is big and nice. Huge slick mouthfeel. Flavors are abundant with lots of coffee, licorice and dark chocolate along with the oddities brought on by the hops.

Touches of charcoal and leather come through on the taste as well. Flavors can be a bit harsh and undesirable at times. Smooth velvety texture of the brew is nice though.

Hop presence is pretty killer (in a good way, but at times in a bad way)

The beer is big and complex but doesnt beat the beauty of breakfast stout. Still a great easy drinking RIS though. Alcohol is incredibly well hidden with only hints of it on the breath.

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Photo of claspada
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review for a bottle that once I removed the cap I saw the old twist off cap style bottle. (Courtesy of HimerMan.) Must be at least 3 or 4 years old because I believe they changed bottles a decent time ago.

Pours a thick, dark, opaque liquid, reminiscent of Hershey's syrup in color with a super tiny head that is nutty in color that immediately dissipates. Carbonation is super low but I am guessing that is because of the age factor.

Aromas begin very sweet and caramelly to the start, fading into a calming alcohol presence. Hints of dark, unsweetened chocolate and a subtle whiff of coffee. Zero no hop presence and an emerging soy sauce molasses astringency that can only come from a super old beer.

The initial taste first brings a cornucopia of flavor to the palate all at once. Bitter dark chocolate, milk chocolate, bitter coffee and a that odd astringent twang I got in the aroma. Aged hops, doubt it. Must be the super oxidated dark malts creating a slight stale coffee grinds, soy sauce astringency.

The mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied with medium to low carbonation. Finish is super syrupy and neither to sweet or too dry.

Overall this is a super complex beer that I believe this vintage I possess is slightly passed it's prime. Too much sweetness and deteriorated dark malt soy sauces flavors. Not sure how this is fresh but this is a testament to not waiting too long.

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Photo of Trilogy31
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pitch oily black with a fleeting finger of coffee brown/copper head into my duvel tulip. Nose shows hints of toffee almonds, semisweet chocolate, roasted mocha notes, movie theatre popcorn butter as well along with slight alcohol notes. Taste is rich bitter chocolate, bitter espresso, finishes with a dry somewhat metallic note. Very nice beer though i would take a breakfast stout/ kbs anyday though that doesnt diminish this beers quality.

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Photo of Jacobob10
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottled on 12/2/2014.

Poured into a snifter. Black as midnight with one of the darkest brown heads I have ever seen. The head is small but leaves some nice lacing on the glass as it goes down. Legs on the glass as well when you swirl it around. Nose is filled with chocolate, vanilla, port, coffee, and booze, although the sum is not great as its parts. It falls apart a bit upon tasting. Way too heavy on the burnt malt. Big espresso notes as well as bitter dark chocolate. Very bitter in fact. Full bodied with a chewy texture. Booze remains prevalent throughout the beer. I put one of these bad boys in the cellar to revisit in a year. Hoping some of the burnt flavor will mellow out. Hate to say it but I don't get all the Founders love. I've been generally disappointed with most of what I've tried.


Cellar Review (1 Year):

Opened up a bottle dated 12/2/2014, exactly one year on it. The heavy burnt malt and booze flavors that I didn't enjoy the first time around really mellowed out. The chocolate, vanilla, and port were more pronounced. I thought it really improved with a year on it, the aroma was especially enjoyable. Really wish I had set aside another bottle or two instead of drinking them fresh.

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Photo of pentathlete
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark dark black/brown with a thin ring and some stray bubbles, like oil floating in water. Burnt caramel, dark roasted malt, some molasses soaked dark fruits in the nose. Astringent backed sweetness, the hop bite is subdued by the charcoaled grains. Plenty of flavors, but are they enjoyable? The mouthfeel is medium, the finish is astringent. High ABV and the lack of any overarching pleasant flavors make the drinkability on this one suffer. Not bad, not great.

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Photo of drewbage
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled from a nice clean bottle that was hand traded. Thanks craig.

Poured into a nice clean pint glass.

Beer is reflective of bourbon and vanilla and coffee in the aroma with a strong roasted barley flavor giving a more acrid approach to the middle of the brew, but the body is such that the finish is really clean and smooth to the next sip.

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Photo of NYCWheatFanSC
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a thick, oily black with a deep reddish mocha head

S - Dark roasted malts and coffee. Hint of hops.

T - Pretty hoppy for the style, but mixes well with notes of dark chocolate, burnt black coffee, and an acrid afterbite of smoke. Maybe a bit too ashy, rather than smoky. Alcohol is very well concealed.

M - Very thick, viscous, and oily - even for the style. A tad higher carbonation would go a long way.

D - Not very drinkable, would not seek out again. If I'm having a beer sandwich, its gotta be worth it!

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Photo of shoky01
3.67/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Serving type, 12 oz poured into stemless red wine glasses.

A: Dark brown almost black. Brown head if there is any at all. Light carbonation with tiny bubbles.

S: Chocolate and molasses are strongest. Some spice and alcohol.

T: Strong sour and bitter. Don't know if its gone bad or not. The chocolate is more cocoa and there's alcohol behind the bitter. Its very much like a strong coffee or espresso.

MF: a bit sticky and a little foamy.

OA: Caught me off guard. Gotten used to chocolatey stout and sweeter stuff. This reminds me how the world of stouts still varies.

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Photo of wspscott
3.68/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle in Duvel tulip
(bottled 11/20/09, I think, there is some smearing)

A: A very vigorous pour yields a very thick, very impressive 2-finger mocha colored head, that unfortunately, drops very quickly, but leaves a lot of lace. The color and texture is very much that of motor oil (a cliche, but very apt).
S: A lot of chocolate (more than I expect for a RIS) along with roasted malts and some dried fruit. No hint of hops which is a little surprising since the bottle mentions 90 IBUs.
T: The roasted malts dominate, along with some very dark caramel, a bit of residual malt sweetness makes this very easy to drink. Absolutely no hint of alcohol. There seems to be something missing, this comes across as "simple" where I want complex.
M: Nowhere near as cloying as some RISs, the yeast did a very good job in eating the sugars, still has a "richness" that makes this a sipper vs. a chugger. A low level of carbonation is completely within range of the style.
D: An almost too drinkable version of the style, the lack of alcohol combined with the attenuated mouthfeel makes this a very easy drinking beer. Ultimately, this comes across as a "simple" version of what the style can be. I am happy to have a couple more in the basement and will probably buy more in the future, but there are better examples of the style out there. Recommended.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.68/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle thanks to vwcraig. Dark black with an especially dark brown head. Smells like roasty thick stout goodness. It tastes like your standard regular imperial stout. This was good but nothing really jumped out at me to make this beer special. Oh well.

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Photo of CowsandBeer
3.69/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Bruery tulip glass. Bottled on 12/02/2014.
Appearance: Pours a half finger of dark brown head with a reddish tint. Body is completely black as expected with nice creamy lacing on the sides. Not unlike Yeti.
Aroma: Lots of burnt black malts, brown sugar, super dark chocolate, some roasted coffee and cream, and a slight vinous note.
Taste: Burnt black malts, bitter coffee and cream, and a warming spike of booze in the middle with a bitter green finish.
Mf: Starts with a creamy and heavy mouthfeel and ends on a dry and chalky note.
Overall: A big hefty American stout that I struggle to drink. It’s got nice notes of dark roasted coffee and cream but these are overtaken by lots of burnt black malts and a bitter finish. As it warms it does mellow out a bit and becomes more enjoyable. Imagine chocolate covered espresso beans, awesome for some, too much for others.

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Photo of Zbyler
3.7/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- Pitch black. Couldn't see any light shining through when held up to the light. Nice tan finger and a half of head.

S- Roasted malts, Charcoal, chocolate, I get a whiff of beef jerky or smoked meat in there as well.

T- Rich roasted malts up front. Dark chocolate notes, nice smokiness to it. Burnt caramel notes in there as well. Hints of coffee too. Slight roasty bitterness on the finish.

M- Thick mouthfeel, very smooth and not much carbonation.

O- Another solid offering from Founders. Not as good as the Breakfast stout but its a whole different animal. Much more of a smokey stout here. Great none the less.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.7/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours dark black with very little mocha head that dissipated almost instantly.

S: Aromas of roast malts, cocoa and a hint of figs... the alcohol content is detectable in the nose.

T: The alcohol overpowers a little bit in the taste of this beer though I can also detect dark malts, chocolate, and some bitterness.

M: Full bodied with light to no carbonation and some dryness.

O: A little too intense to have multiple of these in an evening... I was slightly disappointed as I had high expectations from the brewery that brought me KBS & CBS. Not as smooth as I would have liked though I could see it pairing well with a dessert.

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Photo of mjohn27603
3.7/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours black in color with a light brown head. Smells strongly of coffee. Taste is like coffee also which some metallic notes. I'm marking it down a little for the metallic taste. Not as much flavor of dark fruits like other Imperial Stouts. Bitterness in the low to middle range for this style. An OK version.

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Photo of SheepNutz
3.7/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep black color with half a finger of coca-cola colored head that dies away slowly. There is just a tad bit of lacing on the glass. The smell is of roasted coffee with a hint of mocha. The smell fills the nostrils nicely. The taste starts out with burnt malt, a little espresso, and leads to a trace of hops. A bit of smoke to the finish, but with a salty aftertaste. The mouthfeel is fairly thick, and pretty smooth too. The drinkability is a little low due to the 10% and aftertaste. You sure can't beat it for being free. Thanks to brewdlyhooked13 for a great present!

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Photo of kmcnair
3.7/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aroma - Very rich and complex, roasted chocolate malts, a bit of burnt caramel, black licorice, coffee.

Appearance - Pours a blackened crimson color, opaque and wears a deep tanned crown of tightly packed bubbles that fades into a fine ring. Low head retention. Quite viscous and visible legs stream down the glass.

Flavor - Rich, dark chocolate and burnt malt flavors dominate. Hints of coffee and burnt tarred caramel linger in the background. Some figgy dark fruit-like esters.

Mouthfeel - Creamy and velvety, medium to light in carbonation. Full bodied.

Overall - this is a good beer. Has many fantastic qualities with no faults. It is not my favorite for the style, but it is certainly a strong representative. I would try it again sometime for sure.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.71/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz. bottle into a Blue Point Snifter

A: Poured a vigorous 1 finger fine, fluffy, toffee colored head with outstanding retention. Brew itself is pitch black and incredibly viscous. Lacing is web-like and impressive.

S: Nose is very strong alcohol and coffee with a mild backbone of hoppiness. Breathing deep, there is a hint of milk chocolate and a trace of sweet soy sauce.

T: So deep and suffocating... initial taste is coffee and this really lingers throughout the whole experience. Middle develops into a sweet alcohol, almost candy-like and little bitterness. End is alcohol sweetness mixed with roasted malts that lasts far into the aftertaste.

M: Incredibly deep and heavy bodied. This looks, smells, and tastes viscous and really engulfs the mouth.

D: Not as sweet as some other RIS's but one of the most deep bodied I've ever had. A unique combination and one that doesn't really work for me. This one is enjoyable, but its still one and done.

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Photo of pants678
3.71/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Black with a dense, single finger dark brown head.


Roasted malts make for a robust, semi nutty profile. No vanilla notes, alochol's not hidden and is a bit of a bother and doesn't give off dark fruit. Missing sweetness but does have an earthy, smokey, coffee base.

Thick and too sharp for my liking.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.71/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks for the hook-up fogdog! You're one helluva trader!

Appearance: Pours pitch black, thick, and oily. Head is slow-forming, dark brown, tight and creamy. Only reaches about 1/4 inch in height, but retains well. Head is pretty sticky, and leaves spotty lace.

Smell: Loads of malt, dark chocolate, dairy, roasted aromas, and MAYBE some hops. Surprised I didn't get more of a hop-oriented aroma. 90 IBUs, where you at?

Taste: Dark chocolate, molasses, loads of malt, charred wood, big pine, and tons of bittering hops and burnt, smokey notes in the finish. This is the bitterest RIS I've ever had. With that said, it's still balanced! Just a huge beer - big malt, big hops!

Mouthfeel: Rich, malty, smooth, and robust. Finishes very dry and bitter. Attacks the mouth with bitterness and heat, but malt provides some cooling comfort. Creamy when swished.

Drinkability: Big, robust, strong, and mean. Very mean. This is a good RIS, but one of the toughest drinks I've ever come across. Not because it sucks; it's just a handful. Be careful.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
4.34 out of 5 based on 7,789 ratings.
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