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 tdm168
4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - pitch black with a thin, dark brown head that has little retention

S - chocolate, anise, black licorice, roasted malts, coffee

T - coffee, roasted malts, chocolate, coffee-like bitter finish

M - full bodied, smooth, well carbonated

This is a really complex, intricate, and delicious beer. Each sip showcases its depth. You can taste each flavor distinctly in each sip, but they also come together in a great balanced flavor. This is definitely one of the more complete Imperial Stouts on the market. This is most certainly worth a try.

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

Happy to at once get my hands on this. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

Pours like oil out of the bottle... borderline black. No head to speak of but perhaps 2 millimeters of dark mahogany bubbles. Slowly falls. Body is dark as night.

A good solid nose of faint chocolate with malt character. Simple roast too. Slight sweetness, cloyingly feels deceptive. Unfortunately there isn't much else to it than that. Strangely a smell of a hard boiled egg.

Taste is just a solid malt, with a simple good tobacco. Some carbonation though but a huge aerated mouthfeel of tobacco and whisps of dark bitter chocolate. Has borderline milk/cream stout fizzyness on the end but dark chocolate comes out in the swallow. Mouthfeel has lots of silk, but would be silkier if it wasn't so carbonated. Carbonation tingles on roof mouth long after beer has been consumed also. ABV is also very well hidden and masked.

Still another great beer from Founders what can I say, I get more and more impressed with these guys every time.

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Photo of jwc215
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaque black with a brown head that becomes a wisp. Some dots of lacing, along with "legs" stick.

The smell is of dark chocolate, coffee, some molasses and some licorice blend, with a whiff of alcohol.

The taste is of coffee and chocolate, some licorice. Roasted malt is balanced by earthy, slightly citric, bitterness. It's a bitter interpretation of the style, though some sweetened dried fruits (plum-like) come through well into the progression/warming. Finishes very dry.

It is full-bodied and creamy/velvety. It has a stickiness, though not cloying.

Drinks very well despite obvious intensity and alcohol. A very nice brew that makes for a tasty, strong sipper. A powerful, bitter/dry, yet drinkable, version of the style. I have to say that this was enjoyable, but I enjoyed the complexities and overall taste of the Breakfast Stout more (though I do understand that it is a different, though related, style).

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Terminal blackness describes the appearance, full-on ebony, covered by a toasted brown cap.
Aroma is all things you want in an Imperial Stout, mollases, carob, anise, mostly chocolate, with undertones of coffee, rich, complex and deeply dark....a tickler for the nostrils, there's a fullness of flavor in the smell of this, that simply must be savored at length. I want to stave off the sipping, just to bask in this olfactory delight.
On the lips and off the tongue, it's a thick, rich sensation...a fullness in the mouth, comes in grand force and takes over the cavernous reaches of the mouth...sits in command on the palate, as excess dark deliciousness drips over...a kingpin of the Imperial Stout variety, though certainly no Dark Lord...I don't taste any 12%, but it's making it's way assuredly onto my system, I can nice drinkability on it, too, despite the high octane doesn't feel too bad on me, at least, not until I try to stand up...whoop=wha---whoa!!

much thanks to Chaz for the bottle...a happier day will fall when Founders is available locally!

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

12 ouncer sampled w/o any freshness dating. Founders continues to blow me away, when will these fine brews be available in the northeast??
Pours Jet black, stately mocha head, leaving fine lacing. Nose is big and loaded with chocolate, smoke and coffee grinds. Full bodied brew, alcohol present. Complex flavor profile, including lots of expresso coffee, dark chocolate, smoke, alcohol, rum soaked brownies, yum yum ...big bold, full bodied sipper. Seek---age/enjoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poured on-tap and served in a snifter, the beer is jet black, with a great looking consistency, and a thick, foamy, dense, creamy, milk chocolate colored head. Aromas are rich and deep, with a good blending of chocolate and coffee, as well as some roasted qualities and a slight boozey kick. Flavors are robust and full, with a heavy roasting, almost to the point of char, carrying a solid dark coffee backbone, with some bitter cocoa nib and sweet molasses and vanilla highlights. Very well blended, and extremely smooth despite the bitter coffee and chocolate notes. The aftertaste is more of the smokey/roasted character, with a touch of the bitter chocolate and coffee once again. This full bodied brew leaves a trail of rings around the glass, and is insanely smooth leading to a velvety soft, creamy finish, with a touch of drying bitter left behind for just a moment. Tremendous beer!

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Photo of GClarkage
4.71/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

07/19/06- Aquired via trade with Irishsnake.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with no freshness info listed. Poured into my Stone RIS tulip.

Appearance- Black as motor oil. Very slight head, almost non existant. Dirty brown light rim of a head that erodes quickly. Some, but light whisps of lace left behind.

Smell- Wonderful scent of roasted coffee beans and quality dark chocolate.

Taste- Tastes just as good as any other RIS I have tasted. Dark chocolate flavors mixed with a heavily roasted malt base. Coffee flavors come in hard in the beginning and make way for the chocolate as the beer warms. Incredible meld of flavors.

Mouthfeel- Light carbonation (just the way I like an RIS), creamy, thick, viscous and gooey.

Drinkability- The abv comes into play quickly. This one is so thick and chewy that it becomes a chore (a good chore) to finish if it's room temp. Becomes super sweet...almost like drinking a melted candy bar that's been left in the sun. Overall though, it's probably the best tasting stout of any kind I have tasted...better than Stone and better than Speedway...super quality brew here....high recommendation! Thanks much John!

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Photo of Tone
4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a black color. 1/4 inch head of a tan color. Decent retention and slight lacing. Smells of alcohol, sweet malt, yeast, chocolate, hint of wheat, hint of wood, slight dark citrus, and a hint of hops. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. There is also a slight dryness. Tastes of alcohol, roasted malt, sweet malt, slight hop, wood, slight yeast, hint of wheat, hint of licorice, and a hint of dark citrus. Overall, a good RIS. Great blend, good body, aroma, and complexity, but weak appearance.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An awesome unexpected extra sent by JohnQVegas, one of my all time favorite RIS, Founders. You are the man.

Beer is black and has a brown head with tiny bubbles that disappears quickly. Minimal lacing on the glass.

Beer is roasty and sweet in the aroma, inviting me to drink.

Beer is sweet and mildly roasty without an aftertaste. Lots of coffee flavors, no ash. Medium body, easy drinking, beautiful. Mildly sweet in the front overall very nice. So drinkable, great feeling in the mouth too. I love this beer. Next opportunity I'm buying a case of this.

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

12 oz bottle
Served into a tulip glass

A: Motor oil black pour from the bottle with a huge frothy, foamy and creamy looking brown head. Huge amounts of lace rings around the glass, as well as a retention ring. Simply put this beer is absolutely killer looking. Deserving of the high score for the category.

S: Bitter dark chocolate, whole roasted coffee beans, chocolate malt, caramel and a bit of nutty sweetness. Really a very well done, straight-forward Imperial Stout.

T: Wow. I don't normally get "excited" for regular Imperial Stouts but this beer is on an entirely different level. A semi-sweet/bitter dark chocolate is up-front and quickly moves into a very balanced roast flavor. There's hints of coffee, smoke and just a bit of sweet caramel on the back end. This is incredibly layered and just a simply superb drinking beer.

M: Great coating feel and just a bit of warmth in the chest from the alcohol, but it's not noticeable in the taste at all. Almost there with a completely full body but there's just a bit of thinness as it sits in my mouth.

Completely blown away and surprised by this beer. It drinks so easily and the taste is incredibly balanced. There's tons of flavor going on here without barrel aging or adding any additional flavoring. Probably the best straight-up Imperial Stout I've had to date.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.39/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: poured a very dark brown in color with brown highlights that had a thin head and left a little amount of lacing sticking to the glass.

S: some milky lactic character stood out on the first whiff and had lost of chocolate, roasty notes, a tad of maple syrup, slight coffee, and some malty sweetness.

T: the chocolate character was more intense on the palate alongside roasty malts, coffee, slight lactic milky notes, and sweet accents.

M; the brew wsa meduim to full in body with a fair amountof carbonation which had a sweet, roasty, milky, and silky finish.

O: I would for sure get more of this elixer and was solid all around. founders kills on them stout brews.

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Photo of Gavage
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: black in color with a short 1/2" head that falls to a thick surface foam. Some mild lacing develops.

Smell: chocolate, roasted malts, and espresso comes from the glass easily into the nose.

Taste: roasted malt profile is big along with dark chocolates, espresso, and hints of alcohol. Bitterness is perfect in balancing out the sweetness here. There are also some prunes and red grapes here too.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp to start, smooth and a bit dry at the finish. Aftertaste is long as the flavors seem to stick to the tongue. Heavy in body.

Drinkability: very nice flavor profile screams for you to have a few of these, but the alcohol level and heaviness knocks it down a notch. Great beer overall.

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

Picked up a single at Abe's Cold Beer for $3 a couple months back. Poured pitch black with a tall light brown head. Man, this is pretty bitter. It's also a little more drinkable, which I also like from the big stouts. The beer tastes like extra thick dark chocolate cake, like flourless cake. There's a also a slightly tangy citrus bitterness, that while you can feel, struggles to overcome the massive dark malts on your tongue. Overall a fine RIS and certainly worth my three buck.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.39/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours pitch black, appearing opaque in the glass, with a half finger, ight brown head that dissipates to patches, leaving light lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, coffee, chocolate and hint of vanilla. Flavor is rich dark toasted malt with slight char, dark chocolate, molasses with smoky char developing into a smoky malt finish with light hop bitterness. Medium to full bodied, nice mouth feel. A rich, full flavored stout with great chocolate and toasted malt flavors and good char. Flavor is full throughout the taste, starting mostly malty and then revealing smokey and chocolate elements with hop bitterness in the finish. Really nicely done and balanced. Deserves its reputation.

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Photo of aasher
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The Imperial Stout pours an oily, very viscous, lifeless black sludge with no head, just slight dark khaki bubbling. It smells of both bitter and sweet dark chocolate and features freshly ground coffee bean aromas. It tastes of both bitter and sweet chocolate with good roastiness with a touch of alcohol on the backend. It's very, very thick and coats the mouth like cough syrup. It's very good and has excellent flavor but the thickness is a little over the top, even for an imperial stout. This beer is definitely a sipper.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Poured jet black with one finger of foamy coffee-coloured head that stuck around for a while.

S - The nose is full of chocolate and coffee with roasted malts and a hint of licorice.

T - The palate is bitter chocolate with some coffee and an overall roasted malt flavour. The hops are apparent here in the bitter finish and they act as a great compliment to the chocolate turning it in to a bitter dark chocolate palate. There is also a sweetness - maybe some molasses and caramel that compliments the bitter chocolate malts. This is an incredibly complex stout. The alcohol is somewhat present but not overwhelmingly so - after all it is 10.5% ABV.

M - Medium body with some chew. Smooth and silky.

D - This is the best imperial stout I have had. It is incredibly complex and perfect for a cold winter night.

I will definitely buy this stout over and over again. incredible!

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

Glad to have a couple of bottles of this from BitterBill. Pours a black color, nice carbonation, nice creamy tan head, lots of lacing afterwards. Scents of roasted malts, toffee/caramel, slight spices. The taste is awesome of sweet roasted malts, and a deep toffee/caramel flavor. Medium body well balanced brew. Very drinkable, no hint what so ever of being a 10% ABV brew. What a delicious beer.

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Photo of WesWes
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a big time black color with a 1/4" brown head that fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a killer black malt bitterness up front as well as some warmth and a bit of chocolate malt sweetness. The taste is great also. It has a rich, earthy, black malt flavor that goes down extremely smooth with a bit of warmth in the finish. It is bitter with a ton of roasted barley. Wow, this is a smooth beer. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a very well brewed IS. It's simplistic, but full flavored and damn enjoyable.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Bottle purchased from AJ's Beer Warehouse in Rochester, NY.

Pours a deep, dark impenetrable black. As opaque as they come. Mocha-colored 2 inch head rises up mightily, to recede 5 minutes later to nothing. Small amount of lacing.

Smells like dark bitter chocolate, vanilla, licorice, and espresso.

Incredibly roasty malt in the flavor, delicious. Bitter dark chocolate, licorice, fudge, vanilla, slight smoke, dark fruits, slight pine from the overwhelmed hop profile. Just one of the richest, most complex stouts on the market. It's amazing how good this is and how easy it is to find.

Full, creamy mouthfeel, incredibly drinkable for the ABV. You don't feel the alcohol at all. It's mind-blowing really. Full bodied. Thick as hell.

One of the best Imperial Stouts, for sure. This one flies under the radar between the other Founders stouts, but it's just as good, if not better. Near perfection.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to slasher007 for sharing this bottle.

Pours black with a brown head. The aroma is a mix of smoke and roasted malt. The flavor is more of the same with smoke and malt as well as some coffee and possibly some vanilla. Thicker mouthfeel and lower carbonation. A very good imperial stout but in my opinion not as good as some of the top level beers in this category.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears dark blackish black. Nice head full brown and lacing. Aroma is strong of roasted malt, double strength coffee, chocolate and alcohol. In the taste, deep roasted flavors. Black coffee, charred malts and some booze as it warms. Clean alcohol. Dark chocolate. Very tasty. Mouthfeel is full bodied and fairly smooth. Medium carbonation. A big beautiful beer and Im glad I have a few more to set aside for a while. Im sure the booze will mellow out alot but it was not distracting here. Certainly worth the purchase, but damn the 4-pack I could have went with 6 for sure.

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

12oz bottle into a regular snifter. 08-09 winter release. 10.5 %, 90 IBU's. I've been waiting for this for two years & it's finally here, I'm in heaven.

A- Founders IS comes out black from the bottle and is even blacker when condensed in the glass. A very thick looking brew with some tannish bubbles trying to form a head but fail. Just traces of foam here and there condensing towards the middle. Some dots of lace are seen on the glass. Again this is very dark and deep, no getting around it. If i wanted to get even with somebody i would pour this on their favorite garmet.

S- Wow at the malts giving off a creamy vibe with some coffee/chocolate mix following. A lot of roast coming from the malt and coffee as well. Was not expecting any hops but are noted in the smell. Out of all the dark brews founders releases this imperial stout takes a backseat in terms of over-exposure & a nice change. Very mellow nose for such a number of ingredients & IBU range.

T- The roasted and charred character is ever present with the coffee and malt mix. This is evened out with the chocolate malts & others while the hops come through leaving some bitterness taste. Some oatmeal as well. Seeing this is at 90 IBU's i can understand. Some woody character and slight dark fruits on the end. This stout also is on the hot side initially but it adds to the appeal. I know the alcohol is there but I cant pick it up at all giving IS more pluses.

M- Coats the mouth is an understatement, as this glides throughout leaving a slickness & some hottness which i'm diggin at the moment and that's unusual.. Leaving this around for a while is no problem to absorb all th flavors. I'm liking the slight tingle the hops give off. Medium to full bodied for sure, i drank this one way to quick as it's not to sweet or overbearing amazingly. Alcohol does not get in the way although it's felt.

D- With all the complex flavors and a 10.5 ABV this is will be an occasional rarity for me as one was enough. Don't get me wrong as I could drink 2 or 3 but I would rather savor it as this is quite limited. I could see FIS aging nicer than it's family members Breakfast & Kentucky as it's brewed with more of the conventional ingredients without the coffee or bourbon profiles to keep up.

Another one out of the ball park for Founders as they keep it coming with stellar releases. I suggest if you have the access to this seek it out immediately. Now Black Rye is the only release i need before I complete their bottled line up, here's to hoping.

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Photo of biegaman
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Founders Imperial Stout has a head darker than coffee - heck, most chocolate isn't this deep, dark brown in colour. And though it's hard to imagine, the liquid is even deeper and darker yet; I doubt even the most powerful bleach would be enough to get a stain this inky and black out of a shirt. And while the foam may disappear like dandelion spores in the wind, the opacity is steadfast.

This is an aroma that will be savored by coffee aficionados, chocoholics, cigar expects, sommeliers, and stout fanatics alike. It is at once rich, roasty, and lush, brimming with cocoa, coffee, and smoke flavours. There's enough character for 3 stouts in this glass - even someone with half a nostril could appreciate its power and profundity.

Founders Imperial Stout tastes like a coffee liqueur-filled dark chocolate truffle made by an incredibly master artisan chocolatier. In fact, it's like a sample of said chocolatier's entire lineup, combining hints of biscuits, mocha, hazelnut ganache, nuts, caramel, candied citrus, and baking spices, all dusted in pure, unrefined cocoa powder.

Though richly flavoured like a cheesecake, the mouthfeel is oily and roasty in the middle and dry with lingering coffee-like bitterness on the finish. There's also a trace of herbal hoppiness sprinkled throughout. It's also ultra-smooth for something this strength; it has an opulent, velvety texture normally equated with a priced Bordeaux. Put another way: it can't get much better.

Founders Imperial Stout is a beer that reminds me of why I got into craft beer in the first place and of just what makes these offerings so special; this is a world-class beer that will impress even the most skeptical drinker whether he even actually likes it or not. Its rich but soft profile balances intensity and refinement in an undeniably impressive manner. Right up there with the bests.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a frothy, dense, creamy, one-finger thick brown colored head. The beer is an opaque black color that shows a full, clear, dark chocolate color around the edges when held up to the light. The aroma is intensely roasted with a back drop of burnt raisin that peeks through in the finish. Notes of dark chocolate and coffee liquor comes to the fore as I take my second draught of the nose. The alcohol really becomes prominent as time goes on and my nose gets use to the other aromatic notes. The burn, roasted malt notes remain full strength throughout though. The aroma is quite nice, it is only if I smell too long that the alcohol becomes noticeable; so don't linger to on to the drinken.

Ah, this has the proper mouth coating, palate consuming heft to it that I crave in a proper winter whether Imperial Stout. ON top of this the beer is the most well balanced and flavorful big beer I have had from Founders; and by flavor I mean ones of the good tasting variety. The alcohol, while here, is quite subtle and relegated to being noticed only in the finish underneath a roast espresso acidity that lingers along with he creamy, mouth coating dark chocolate notes. I really like the balance between rich dark chocolate flavors, smooth coffee cream, and roasted espresso notes. The roast character is restrained enough that it is not harsh and acrid.

As the beer warms up it even becomes more balanced and rich, with the roast burnt notes balancing even a step more. It still finishes with that bit of roast acidity, which helps to balance the mouth coating thickness; making you to want to take another sip that much sooner.

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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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