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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Ratings: 7,870 |  Reviews: 1,902
Photo of ypsifly
4.02/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz with no dates into a pint glass.

As black as it gets with a small, dark tan head that falls to a veiled ring within a few minutes.

The malts make up most of the nose. Has a nice roasted aroma that is slightly smoky with notes of chocolate, cocoa, good coffee, and just a whiff of dry hops. There is no alcohol to be smelled.

The taste follows along just as the nose, with the exception of some alcoholic heat towards the finish which is quite bitter for an instant, then fades into the sweet/roasty malts.

The mouthfeel is thick and oily. While this is a complex and tasty brew, just what I needed after todays freakish late April snowstorm, it doesn't get many points for drinkability. This one's a sipper. I have a four pack in the cellar. Can't wait to see what she does over time.

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Photo of jp32
4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I tried this one on-tap at the Founders Brew-Pub in Grand Rapids, MI. These guys make a lot of very fun and interesting beers, I'm sure I'll be back there again soon.

Appearance : Very dark brown to black. It sort of looked like a really thick cup of coffee. Not much of a head, but the bit of foam that did work its way to the top of the glass was an orange-brown color.

Smell : Coffee and chocolate. I'm not sure what else I'm smelling but there is a lot more going on. Maybe molasses, and a tiny hint of some vegetable scent? I can also smell the alcohol... an awesome 12.00%

Taste : The taste is surprisingly very sweet at first, tasting like chocolate, caramel, and raisins. This is followed by a bitter coffee-like presentation that finishes quite nice.

Mouthfeel : VERY Heavy-Bodied. Might be the thickest beer I've had.

Drinkabiltiy : This beer is exceptionally smooth and easy to drink. Surprising, considering the high alcohol content and the style of this beer. Very easy to drink.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A review of the 2005 version of this beer, updated from my previous review. Claims to be 12% ABV, but the bottle clearly states it is 10%, despite the new blue-ish label. 90 IBU's, although you never know what Nate and Jeremy actually put into this beast. Pours out black, forming a modest cocoa-powdered head. The lacing is amazing and the retention is mind-blowing, seemingly taking forever to settle down and remaining creamy to the last drop. The aroma is uniquely rich with oily, rotting black walnuts, sweet and oily crema-laden espresso, burnt grains, beautifully sweet skunk-weed hops, pipe tobacco, alcohol, and dirty blue-jeans . Founder's Impy Stout is Mmmm, mmmm good. What a mouthfeel...amazingly smooth, like liquid velvet with a big, oily, chewy body...Lick your teeth and get more Impy. Nice. Taste starts with a brisk menagerie of hops and burnt, sticky malts, forming a conglomerate akin to motor-oil and scotch. Sweetness is perfectly balanced with the zesty, skunky just can't get much better than this. There is a definite whisky/scotch taste in here with lots of nutty notes. I'm not picking up on any metal or off-alcohol notes, which I am very sensitive to. The finish is delectably smooth, with a moderately astringent roasted character complementing the surprisingly modest and restrained bitterness. The alcohol is expertly hidden, with only a faint wisp alerting you to it's presence in the finish. Amazingly drinkable at 10% (ahem,12%) ABV. Be forewarned, this packs a wicked buzz. A beer karma meal...

Founder's never ceases to impress. What an amazing beer! This is one of the finest Imperial Stouts I have had (next to Dark Horse-Do try it!). Cheers!

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Photo of MrSeth
4.31/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Whooa! No light gets through this stout. It pours an uncanny black.. like something out of a movie.. unreal! A very rich brown head finally forms . Impressive. It settles into a tiny ring around the glass. The taste is a savory malt, complex without mimicking other flavors. I like things that taste like what they are. This is a very big stout, and beside some estery tones that don't really resemble any particular fruits to me, this is a very clean malty tasting stout. At 10% ABV this stout also has a strong presence of alcohol without being offensive or oppresive.

I also would like to thank John at Federal Wines in Boston for donating a bottle of this Limited Edition Stout. I haven't had anything this nice this since the Rochefort 10!

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

Unconciously black piled with equally insane dark brown.
Scented of espresso, milk chocolate, rum cake, pinot noir, and charred pine cones.
It's not as immediately mouth-encompassing as it may appear and present itself in the nose. Though it is still huge, no question. Molten baker's chocolate, mocha, and a lightly spicy dark breadiness that makes me think that Founders may have snuck some rye in here. It lives and breathes fudge throughout its middle, as pinpricks of red grape and plum are noticed. Roastedness resumes control late, full of burnt malt and ash. A minor liquorice twang precedes a spiced rum and barbed wintergreen hop closure.
Fattened, and nearly obese in the mouth. It feels like liquidized suede through the canals.
If not the most dynamic or diverse Imperial Stout, this is nevertheless a very good portly and immense American version of drinkable dessert.

Two plus years in the bottle (2005, tasted in 2007). It's hasn't gone very far. The head is barely present. The infantile Pinot Noir traits have blossomed into fully-realized Sherry. The malt leans more towards fudge than roast, but both are present in buckets. Hopping has fizzled somewhat but still has pine cones to spare. The bitterness now just offsets the gluttony. Alcohol is perhaps more of a factor than ever, or at least more than I realized. In many ways, this seems to separate with time rather than congeal.

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Photo of granger10
3.61/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at the brewery. Pours very dark, no light penetration. Good sized tan head that sits nice and tight on top. Tons and tons of sticky lacing. Beautiful! Aroma is residual sugars and alcohol combined with a thick coffee roastedness. Taste is simply too strong on the alcohol though for me to fully appreciate this beer. It's good. Nice thick chocolate malt syrup taste then a slight hoppiness but not quite enough. Alcohol is very apparent and there's a bitter espresso taste in the finish. Finish is acidic and lingers with espresso beans and alcohol. Surely a sipper. Body is very thick. Not a real complex beer but I think time might help both the complexity and alcohol intensity. I think this might be kick-ass in a year, but for now its just decent.

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A huge thankyou to kmpitz2 for this bonus.
I can locate quite a number of their brews in my area...unfortunately, this one did not make the shelves.
Pours like as night w/ just a thin layer of cocoa colored head. Lacing is thin, but has nice cling.
Aroma is filled w/ chocolate malt, coffee, rum raisins.
Taste is just what I expect from Founder's...a style pushed to the extreme.
Filled w/ coffee (no Breakfast Stout mind you), semi-sweet cocoa, with a nice balance of hops to finish off. Alcohol is so well hidden until it works its way to room temperature. Smokiness flavor works its way out after warming up as well.
Mouthfeel is a thick, but refreshing feel...a little bitter, but finished slick and sweet.
Can't say drinkability is up there as this baby is 12%, but I would enjoy a couple in an evening. Thanks again me a chance to try this one.

Edit: Had one of these with a year on it and it would score just shy of a perfect 5!!

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Photo of mattcrill
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. stubby twist-off bottle.

Appearance: Pours black adn thick with a nice two finger pancake-like tan head. Looks pretty menacing in the glass.

Smell: Vanilla, dark fruit, alcohol, raisins, and some woody/earthy notes pop up here and there.

Taste: Complex mix of licorice, vanilla, plums, raisins, and cocoa. A "classic" dry imperial taste. Spot on for the style. Leaves a dry finish with hints of alcohol although in general, the alcohol is hidden remarkably well.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied and creamy. Carbonation hits and makes it interesting.

Drinkability: Dangerously high for the ABV. It definitely can sneak up on you. Great as a dessert, apertif, or heck, any time of the day. This one's a keeper. Founders doesn't do much wrong in my opinion.

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

I think I may have gotten the old version of this one from my buddy. The bottle looks like the 2004 and older, but it was recently purchased, so I am going to rate the mug. Anyway, this baby was like thick dirty motor oil in appearance. Beauty personified. Good and dark approaching blackness. No real head, just a ring of cocoa coloured froth to rim the glass. This froth looked almost ruby toned in some segments and cocoa coloured in others. This rim work produced some lacing down the stretch.

The smell was alcoholic above all else at the onset. Smelled nearly like Tequila at first. A few sips down and after a good mixing of characters, the dark malt and caramelesque tones came through. Weakly coffee tinted, but mostly roasty and chocolate scented. Very pleasing to the sniff.

The mouthfeel is what I noticed first during the taste test. Splendid creaminess followed by a bite. Well full and mildly carbonated. The taste was chocolate with a pinch of Juan Valdez. Appealing sweetness paired up with the slightly hop bittered finish to round out the flavor. The alcohol was imperceptable under the robust flavor. The richness seemed to increase the deeper I plunged into the glass. The chocolate goodness in the last swallow was like the peaking of the experience. I immediately wished I had another bottle to rip into after this one was gone. It was surprisingly delicious. Way better than I had anticipated. Once again the Founders throw me a succulent beverage.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a black amber with a one finger head. Aroma is of caramel and chocolate and the smell resonates throughout the body, giving a warm feeling. The taste is great. A smooth, warm taste of caramel and malts. This is a great beer. I enjoyed mine while moving residences on a cold NC night.

Rereviewing after receiving another sample in a beer trade. A wonderful beer. Looks like motor oil coming out of the bottle. Thick and apaque. A huge, mocha colored head forms and stays the entire time. Lots of lacing down the glass. Deep aromas of chocolate and coffee, mollasses, raisins. Nice full body. The alcohol seems to be well hidden given the 10%abv. I could drink this all night. My favorite Impy to date.

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Photo of RedBaron
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasty imperial stout; good for those cold late winter/early spring grey, still-chilly days. Got chocolate?

Appearance: Jet black, with a nice, dense brown head. Carbo sustained nicely. This is the look I expect from an imperial stout, and it didn't disappoint.
Smell: Nice chocolate and alcohol aroma. However, together they seem to produce an almost 'windex' aroma. Almost. Unique, not necessarily bad but different, just not my fav.
Taste: Heavy chocolate and roasted malts up throughout, but a nice suprising hoppy, dry finish. Way to go! Good marriage of malt and hops here.
Mouthfeel: A warming, big-body friendly alcohol presence is what the palette is left with. That, and a nice thick coating of baker's chocolate!
Drinkability: Try this beer with a rich chocolate mousse, or perhaps a great piece of a dark, boutique Mexican chocolate candy. I think the Aztecs would recognize this beer as a direct malty descendant of their ancient cococa drinks.

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

12oz. Superb aero chocolate bar head dominates my large snifter. 30 minutes later, there’s still a good 2cm well laced foam. How many imperial stouts can do half as good? Opaque tar appearance. Very well balanced chocolate milk and coffee nose is backed up by a hefty dose of vinous fruits. Rich malt profile. Licorice reminiscent flavors emanate as the beer warm together with a mellow alcohol kiss. Apparent oatmeal character, velvety texture with extremely mellow carbonation enhancing the silky creamy feel. Understated foresty hops blend with the heavy roasted malts in elegance and taking good care of avoiding acidity. Stunning take on the style, possibly the best looking impy, superb texture and solid flavor balance makes it a real winner.

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

After taking the bottle out of the fridge, I let it sit for about 10 minutes. I can smell the vinous tones before I even pour it out of the bottle. Black in color with a thick creamy tan head (after a hard pour). Aroma of malted barley, and chocolate. Mouthfeel is full-bodied, coating and extremely smooth. Things start off with a dark choclate flavor and move to a rich vinous taste in the middle, somewhat reminiscent of raisins. Hops make their presence known just before the finish. Bitterness seems appropriate and builds on the dark roasted barley and vinous flavors. Alchohol is not overpowering at all for a 12% Imperial Stout and the drinkability is remarkable. It goes down dangerously smooth. Nicely done!

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a jet black color with a ring of head around the top. The nose is roasty and dark, with big bits of chocolate and slight dark figgy sweetness. The flavor is mocha, starting more coffee bitter and moving towards the chocolate sweetness. Very nice. I like it. The feel is thick and syrupy, but not big thick like the breakfast stout. For a big beer, the alcohol is only present when the glass is swirled. There is a nice warming after a few sips. Very nice. I like it.

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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 walleye
4.26/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

from the bottle poured black with a brown head and a lot of lacing. aroma, chocolate, molasses, cherries, coffee, coco, cola,plums, roasted malts, alcohol. flavor bitter sweet chocolate, coffee, malts, alcohol, some smoke, a nice bitterness, and smooth mouth feel. like this one

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Photo of marburg
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Blackish beer with a viscous, paste-like consistency. An extremely hard pour brings forth only about a third of an inch of head, which from the top looks like a smooth, slightly pock-marked, rich chocolate mousse. Possibly the darkest head I've ever seen on a beer.

I decided to start this one a bit cold and let it warm up. Smells a bit sweet when colder. Chocolate and hints of liqueor -- Amaretto? Kaluha? -- are dominant with hints of caramel. Lots of coffee and grainier, roastier aromas as it warms up.

Intense, concentrated liquid. Starts with sweet chocolate-covered raisins that really give a syrupy, sweet roundhouse to the taste buds. Rounds out with a coffee bitterness. Warmth really begins to bring out a bit of a hop presence that accentuates the bitterness and some alcohol and punches up the sweetness. Very oily and slick; combined with the thickness, this screams "imperial."

Definitely a nice, worthwhile effort from Founders here. For a "big" beer, it's got some nice characteristics. A bit hoppy, but not terribly so.

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

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

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Photo of Skidz
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Purple label = 2005, as I am told. 10% ABV is also supposedly not true, as that is what is printed on the label. Here goes.

Pours out a viscous motor oil black, each last drop clinging to the neck of the bottle like it didn't want to come out. Sits a forbidding black in the glass, lets no light shine through. A good sized dark brown head is formed, and slowly fades to a light skim, leaving some lacings around the glass.

Smells full and roasted, burnt coffee edges and a chocolate interior. No escaping the espresso filled, sweet malty core that puts out raisins and dates to boot. Charred caramel drips over top of overripened apples.

Flavors bend all around the malts, it's a relatively sweet build. Dark chocolates melt on top of a bed of coffee beans which dry the tongue and begin the onset of bitterness. Sharp and grassy hop bitterness bites down with a squirt of lemon rind oil. Extra rosted flavors continue and paired with a thick stream molasses and caramel. Some fruity esters are present; apples, rasins, dates and plums. Finish is well bittered and dry with a nice warming glow of alcohol.

Sickly smooth in the mouth, reminiscent of vegetable oil, though not as upsetting. Full, thick and sticky with extra fine carbonation.

A very nice Impy indeed. Maybe a bit high on some hop flavors, but this is still young! Given proper time, this should mellow out to a mouthful of chocolately malt flavors. As of right now, it's still a fine beer and quite easy to handle.

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Photo of deejaydan
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A nice Impy stout from Founders. Pours thick and viscous, like Motor Oil. Minimal head and lacing. Dark as night. Smells collide of sweet yet roasted malts and alcohol. Taste and mouthfeel come together. This is tastes as thick as it pours. The Alcohol is present in the taste, and there's not a ton extra, other than the roasted malts playing along. It's a solid example of the style, but not quite nailing it for me.

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Photo of rajendra82
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one year old bottle was personally aged and sent to me by my Secret Santa. The beer poured opaque reddish brown-black with an inch thick brown head. Lacing was solid despite the high strength.

The aroma was a blend of roasted and fruity flavors like coffee, chocolate, raisins, and figs. The taste was bitter at first sip with unsweetened espresso flavor being at the forefront. As I let the sip linger on my tongue, chocolate, grapes, toffee, and soy sauce made a brief appearance, before being washed away in the herbal hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel was thick, sticky, and smooth. The 10% ABV was not a major detractor from drinkability, except in the mild afterburn in the stomach.

Not quite as intense as other American Imperial Stouts that I have sampled, but rather more in line with the English varieties.

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Photo of findlayfan
3.98/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle.

Poured an absolutely opaque black (NO light coming through, even when I held it up to a clear 100w light bulb!).

Creamy, 3/4" head was medium brown - one of the darkest I've seen.

Roasty aroma, with plenty of coffee/chocolate notes. Substantial mouthfeel, leaving a slight coating. Warm, malty aftertaste with a touch of molasses. Nice brown lacing on the glass as well

The 10% ABV was not at all noticible - since it wasn't listed on the label, my first impression was that this might be an underpowered Imperial Stout. This could indeed be a "dangerous" beer, one best consumed on a chilly winter evening when you're in for the night!

I bought this as a single - but look forward to picking up another four or six or eight or ...

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.97/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Pours a thick dark black liquid. No highlights at all, this is nothing but black. Nice creamy tan head, however it disappeared very quickly. There was not much lace on the glass at all either. Smells of dark roasted coffee and molasses. Also notes of dark fruit and alcohol. The taste is a rich deep dark malt, with some notes of chocolate syrup. Slight astringency. Espresso-like aftertaste, some moderate hop bitterness. Alcohol is not as noticable as the nose would indicate. Full body, somewhat creamy mouthfeel, and low carbonation. Overall, a pretty good drinkable Imperial Stout.

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Photo of DrewBeechum
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 StuFox
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is probably one of the few beers than can stand up next to the Bell's Expedition Stout. It has a good array of spice and chocolate flavors as well as a very smooth, creamy texture. Not as flavorful as the Expedition, but a better feel going down.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
4.34 out of 5 based on 7,870 ratings.
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