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 gskitt
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a ink black with a very dark brown head. Scent is not overpowering, but the roasted malts, chocolate and coffee notes are there. Taste is a deep, rich balance of those roasted malts and bitter chocolate. Very little carbonation, thick and creamy mouthfeel. This a really nice RIS. Founders rarely disappoints.

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Photo of Gear54
4.99/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From a bottle into a pint glass. Had this one about a month. I wanted to wait until I could enjoy it for a while after the kids went to bed. Here goes

A: absolutely pitch black. A thin layer if dark brown head that sticks around for a while. Thin lace as the foam recedes.

S. An absolutely mouth watering combo of dark chocolate, malts, and raisins. I could literally smell this beer all day. I can't wait to get that first sip.

T: I had this beer at 59 degrees out of my beer cellar. The tast follows the smell exactly. The best I can say is Hershey's dark chocolate and an oatmeal raisin cookie all in one!

M: full flavor coats the mouth completely but still really easy drinking!

O: the only markdown I gave this beer was in appearance because I like I bit more head on my beer. Honestly after drinking it I feel guilty for even that small markdown! Bottom this beer!

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Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to czoch for this bottle. It is from 2005 so it has already cellared a bit. I don't understand why Founders uses a cryptic way of dating their bottles; if this was a beer that was meant to be drunk fresh then I would want to be able to tell that easily.

This is a solid imperial stout. Not much head. Great malty nose. Not even a hint of booziness can be found. Since I am from SE PA, it reminds of a less hoppy Storm King which is a compliment IMO. Highly recommended.


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Photo of BrownAleBollocks
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours like motor oil, with a two finger chocolate mouse head. Aroma is dark fruit, chocolate. Taste is chocolate, light roast, and light dark fruit on the back end. Mouthfeel is creamy and heavy, but smooth. Overall a great imperial stout, one of the best I've had.

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Photo of OldManMetal
4.56/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The 2016 release of this seasonal Russian Imperial Stout is visual perfection: a giant, sticky, pebbly dark-brown head looms atop a viscous, effervescent, impenetrably black body that is completely devoid of highlights; head retention is very good and lacing is excellent, consisting of thick slabs and cavelets. The medium-large nose is a delicious blend of black-strap molasses and cocoa with a more subtle chocolate ice cream character and hints of toffee and bitter coffee; it presages a balance between sweet and bitter and lies about the ABV, alcohol overtones being deceptively modest. The palate, as promised, is pretty much exactly in balance: a dark, seamless blend of molasses, rich semi-sweet chocolate and dark, bitter toffee, with modest smoky topnotes and a significant alcohol undertow. The finish is a surprisingly modest hit of smoky chocolate, and is pretty boozy; the linger is a moderate chocolate rebound bitterness that lasts for awhile. Mouthfeel is on point for the extra-full body, and is warming; the texture is sticky/thick, velvety smooth, and slightly peppery from the well-expressed carbonation. (12 oz bottle, 40 days after pkg)

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Photo of SaucyA
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours an impenetrable black/brown with a quick-receding tan head. Teeny tiny bits of lacing. No crazy legs. Boring.

S - Booze, sweetness, chocolate, mocha, fresh ground coffee, molasses. Hops on top of all that.

T - Extremely hoppy, but it's great. Basically starts with a sweet, boozy, malt presence, and finishes dry, hoppy, and bitter. Lots of chocolate, lots of coffee. Normal Imperial Stout affects and thensome... the huge hops remind me of fresh Expedition. Love it. Only thing that slightly detracts is the booze, but it pretty much adds another level of complexity.

M - Slightly thinner and a little more carbonated than I prefer my stouts, normally.

D - Do you like hoppy stouts? If so, it's extremely drinkable.

Notes: This is a beer I've been waiting a while to try, and it's with great pleasure I'm able to find this in stores, finally.

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Photo of MarcatGSB
4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2013 poured into Founders snifter.

A: This puppy has an amazing appearance. Deep, rich black with a very frothy brown head. The head seems to hang around for ever, and the lacing is amazingly thick. Sticks to the side of the glass and almost appears to not move at all. Very, very impressive.

N: The nose is chalf full of dark, almost burnt malt with a touch of smoke and hops. Very dark chocolate followed by a wonderful balance of vanilla and cream.

T: Roasted malt are ever prominent on the tongue, followed by rich chocolate, bitter molasses and marsh mellow sweetness. There is a touch of alcohol on the back of the tongue, but is well hidden by the complex layers.

M: Inky, squidy, oily texture, that coats the mouth, yet washes away clean. It's actually a bit "thin", but doesn't lack by any means. The carbonation is right on, and is lively in the mouth.

D and O: Founders Imperial Stout fresh, Expedition Stout with a year on it. That's how I feel. This beer is the definition of the style, IMO. It's absolutely fantastic, and does not disappoint on any front.

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Photo of SaulFox
4.46/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep black with dark mocha head. Elegant lacing.
Dark chocolate, roasty malt, very light espresso.
Roasted espresso bitterness, rich chocolate.
Rich heavy mouthfeel.
Very nice winter brew....glad us Californians are included in Founder's distribution.

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

A: In a tulip glass this bad boy was pitch black. The most stunning feature was the head which looked just like a chocolate muffin. It was certainly dark unlike any stout I've ever had. (or any beer for that matter)

S: Rich and chocolaty. Also creamy. Like creamy chocolate ice cream. Mmmmm...

T: Tastes like you're drinking creme. Super thick and smooth. Tastes of chocolate and coffee.

M: Sits heavy and nice. My problem here was I could really feel the bite of the alcohol. It didn't seem to fit in well with the rest of the flavors. I had a second go at it in the bottle and for some odd reason it actually came out better. The alcohol was still present but it didn't overpower the other flavors.

Overall an exceptional beer. When it came out I just about lost it because it looked like liquid chocolate cake (although I don't like chocolate or cake...) It smelled wonderful and the first many sips were mind blowing. However as time when on the alcohol reared it's ugly head and that's what really brought this brew down in my book.

On a second go (this time a bottled version) I thought my original review was spot on other than I had to bump up the mouth feel. The alcohol was present but it was more complementary this time. A great brew.

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Photo of smonice
4.41/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A – Motor oil black with dark caramel color head. Solid lacing.

S – Bold Coffee, chocolate, and roasty smell

T – Does BOOM goes the dynamite describe it well enough...really smooth taste, chocolate, coffee, little bitter finish instantly make this one of my favorite RISs.

M - Thick and creamy.

O – This is an insanely rich and full bodied RIS that hits the mark perfectly on all aspects. Will def but more of this!

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Photo of gregshead
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to johndoe8 for sharing this one. Enjoyed on 4/3/11, reviewed from notes:

A: Pours a thin jet black with minimal head

S: Roasted smells dominate. Some tobacco and coffee aromas. More bitter smell that other Imp Stouts.

T: Sweet chocolate taste up front. Roasted grains blended with a hint of coffee taste makes for a very dry finish. Taste flows together very nicely.

M: Smooth and dry. Almost chewy feel but not quite.

O: A really well constructed and all around great imp. Stout

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Photo of jwhawkins81
4.02/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma - Roasted malts and a hint of hops

Appearance - Dark, dark brown with a thin light brown head. Not much carbonation from the pour at all really which is a slight let down in the appearance.

Taste - A ton of roast with hints of chocolate and a kicker of hop bite at the end. While this is still one of the better Russian Imperial Stouts I've had I would have preferred something a little sweeter.

Notes - A solid RIS that I will cellar. This one was served at 53.5 degrees.

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Photo of emyers
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Founders snifter. Bottled on date 12/07/12.

Appearance: Pours black with a half-inch dark brown head., which dissipates quickly into a thin lacing. Leaves lacing down the glass.

Smell: Dark chocolate, roasted malt, maltose.

Taste: Once again, very strong with the dark chocolate and roast flavors. Herbal, earthy hops come through along with a nice bittering hop presence. This is definitely on the bitter end of the imperial stout spectrum,and I love it. The bittering hops definitely help keep the strong malt base in check. Excellent.

Mouthfeel: Nice and thick, appropriately low carbonation level. Bittering hops have a drying effect on the palate.

Overall: Excellent imperial stout. Packs in a ton of dark chocolate/roast flavor.

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Photo of Franz4
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, 2011 version, pulled from the fridge and let warm for ~15 minutes.

A- pours dark, with a 1 finger dark brown, slick, creamy head that settles to just a thin cap quickly. Lacing is present, but not sticky, slides back to the cap quickly.

S- roastiness, slight peat scent, a dark chocolate/cocoa bean is there with just a slight bitterness, no coffee present.

T- 1st impression is dark chocolate with some dark fruit. Roasted malts become dominant quickly, come through with peat and smokiness. As I drink more I notice less of the dark fruit and more malt. There's a sweetness present that balances the dark chocolate nicely

M- slight carbonation on the tongue, just enough to bring out the flavors, feels very slick, satin-like going down. Oh-so-slight warming in the back of the mouth/throat.

D- Highly drinkable, I keep going back to the glass faster than I intend to. Lots of good roasty flavors make this a joy to drink and keep it interesting throughout the glass. I'm glad I was able to grab one of these, and I look forward to enjoying them in the future.

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Photo of Cory_Brown
4.59/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Wow.. This ones amazing. The taste is bitter chocolate and cocoa. Dark malts and some dark fruits. The mouthfeel isn't too thick which is making this go down really easy. If this beer was limited, it would receive hype similar to some of the barrel aged beers that people are crazy about.

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Photo of cjacobsen
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2009 poured into a snifter. Thanks to sweemzander for thinning his supply and cellar cleaning and tossing one of these my way.

(A) Pours black and opaque. Sits pretty thick in the glass. Some brown head upon pouring but it quickly diminishes to just a light ring around the edge of the glass.

(S) There is a decent amount of dark fruits and black cherry. Biscuit. Some decent coffee aromas and some cocoa.

(T) Cocoa and coffee are quite pronounced. Dark and chocolate malts mix with a roasted character to blend in with the dark fruits and sweetness you get in the end of the taste and into the aftertaste. Some licorice.

(M) Somewhat dry. Full body. Smooth. Really fills the mouth and sits with substance on the palate. Coats your throat.

(O) Good solid stout. Seems like this would be the base beer for the KBS, CBS, and FBS. Has a lot of the same qualities with the exception of the added flavors in the other blends.

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Photo of timc100
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2012 bottle

Pours an incredibly rich dark brown/black and leaves a dark, burnt mocha head - incredibly creamy, fantastic thick retention and lacing - incredibly beautiful looking beer. Aroma is huge! Sticky browny batter, burnt caramel and toffee notes with the chocolate. Big boozy dark fruits - raisin, fig, dark cherry. Heavily roasted acidic espresso and light sweet notes of vanilla. Taste is just as vibrant and rich. Dark bitter chocolate and espresso collision with bold notes of dark fruit, espresso bitterness and some remnant ash. Incredibly smooth - full body, soft carbonation, velvety mouthfeel. A little alcohol warmth at the finish.

Absolutely incredible beer. Would love to try a straight bourbon barrel aging of this. With age the vanilla and milk chocolate pop.

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Photo of chaz410
3.89/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this lovely beer at the Common Market in Charlotte, NC.
Pours jet black with a thin mocha colored head.
Smell is roasted, malted, slightly caramel and coffe hints.
Taste is roasted and toffee like malts. Chocolate and burned coffee are throughout the palate. Good hop finish, better than expected.
Good beer overall, kinda wanted more from founders, but I can't complain, they have so many specialty stouts, it's nice to see a good solid standard.

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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 da_beers
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Got this for my wife for mother's day (her favorite beers are Stouts and Porters) and I had to get one for myself.

A - Poured a gorgeous dark black with a beautiful tan head of about a finger. Poured thick like a syrup almost (exaggerated), was beautiful in the snifter.

S - Smelled of molasses, dark chocolate, and a nice smokey/roasted malt.

T - Exceptional. Warmed the body on its way down. Had obvious chocolate and malt flavors through and through, as well as that molasses again. Was pleasantly surprised at the hop bitterness with this stout coming it at 90 IBUs.

M - Was definitely full bodied and a meal. Every glass has a sandwich in it! Very full flavored and buttery, coating the palate with its components.

O - Overall a great stout, Founders nailed this one. One of my top stouts for sure.

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Photo of UncleFlip
4.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

OK, I love this beer even before trying it. It's mainly because of the label. During a visit to Russia (my first overseas trip, no less), I became quite enamoured of the double headed eagle, complete with St. George on the shield. It's a nicely rendered version on this bottle.

Now...on to the brew itself.... :)

Appearance takes a hit because of the head- or lack thereof. A nice, deep, rich black liquid hits the glass- but only the scantest of brown heads froms. Let's hold this up tot he light. light. Yow. None coming through the glass at all. I can't even see coloured fringes around the edges. That's a good sign, to me!

The smell is lovely, deep and pungent- velvety with qualities of black licorice, ancho chilis, raisins, and coffee.

The flavour is roasty-sweet up front, morphing into more bitter roastiness. Along the way, the flavour has some of the same qualities in the aroma. Just past the midway point, som snice hop bitterness creeps, runs in. I like this one. I like this one a lot.

Nice and thinck- the mouthfeel only takes a half-point hit because the carbonation (which is low and very tight) burns a little more than I like in a stout.

Very drinkable to me- but very intense. It only misses the mark in drinkability in that it's so intense, it may put some people off.

Be well

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Photo of chilly460
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Completely black and opaque, looks thick as it's poured. Nice dark brown mocha head, this looks like a RIS should.

S - Lots of roasted coffee, anise, licorice, and big malt background. Lots going on here, very warm aroma.

T - Slight roasted bitterness but not overboard, big chocolate coffee flavor. Some "woody" flavor, maybe some leathery tones. Finishes vanilla and roasted malts. Really liked this one.

M - Founders does it again, this is oily thick with chewiness and minimal carbonation. Just like a RIS should be.

D - I like that it's not over-hopped like a lot of American RIS, this one is drinkable as a true RIS style comes.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of abuliarose
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

09 vintage. Poured into a snifter, revealing rich black body under a thin finger of tanned head. Decent looking, thick looking. Smells rich and roasty with a slight, bitter-metallic charredness, cherries and dates. Some vanilla.

Tastes smooth, a little sweet and with a bitter slightly ashy finish. Some vanilla and a charred wood presence that neither makes nor breaks the flavor. Mouthfeel is creamy, a light-heavy thickness with tiny, barely volume-adding carbonation to move it off your tongue. Decently drinkable, neither cloying nor abrasive.

Overall it's a decent representation of the style. I may have liked it when it was a little more fresh.

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Photo of tjthresh
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque oily black with the slightest brown ring around the edges. Aromas of coffee, bakers chocolate, licorice, anise, burnt sugars, and tobacco spit. Strong cup of coffee, chocolate concentrate, spicy hops, chewing tobacco, and cooked raisins. Medium body. Light carbonation. Dry finish. Thin and oily.

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Photo of eclipse54
4.36/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 12 ounce bottle from fvernon; thanks man! Bottled 12/22/2011, and poured into a DFH signature glass.

Pours black, very black, and develops a thin layer of dark mocha-colored head. Retention is minimal, though not unsurprising given the alcohol content. Small, individual bubbles scatter across the glass as lacing.

The aroma is of roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, raw cacao, some caramel and toasted sugar sweetness, and some boozy dark fruits. For the last item, I envision a chocolate coated date that's been injected with Kahlua (yeah, it's pretty inviting). Touches of coffee grounds push through as well, especially as it warms.

The flavor follows suit, with the roasted malt, coffee ground, bitter chocolate and cacao being quite prominent. Sweeter notes of caramel, cane and brown sugar, some toasted malt (toffee?), and hints of sweet vanilla do a great job of balancing things. Again, there is a bit of boozy fruit towards the end, but it's not offputting in any way.

The mouthfeel is, as one could probably guess, very thick and rich. It quite readily coats the tongue and palate, and gives a dry finish as the palate slowly cleanses. The sweeter notes seem to disappear from the aftertaste first, while the more bitter and roasted elements linger slightly longer.

Overall, this is one big, delicious brew. Perhaps eclipsed by the overwhelming success of KBS and CBS, this brew should not be scoffed at, deemed inferior, or passed over. This is a great example of an RIS that can hold its own without any barrel treatment.

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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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