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: 7,813
Photo of hooliganlife
3.96/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

vintage 2009/10 release, aged 1 year.

pours jet black with a nice viscosity. chocolate like head that gives way to a light cocoa retention. light lacing.

scent is a bit light. roasted malt, dark chocolate, and a rich toffee dominate. light vanilla bean.

a bit light in flavor, although blended quite well. a nice infusion of robust roasted malt, bitter chocolate, and espresso. very dark but balanced.

very full, chewy, and with a nice moderate carbonation. has some bite to it. gums tingle, could be from alcohol although its well hidden.

this is pretty decent, not a sugary desert bomb that many imperial stouts turn into. has some bite it. i dig it.

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

From notes. 12 oz. bottle on February 6th, 2011 in a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

A - Completely opaque, oily black coloring. No light getting through this one. One finger mocha-colored head. Light brown coating on the sides of the glass.

S - Huge, huge roasted nose. Some booze, caramel malts, some coffee, lots of dark chocolate.

T - Much of the same as the smell. Alcohol is a bit less apparent in the taste. Slight bitterness and more sweetness coming through as well.

M - Body is thick as hell. Oily coating lingers on the tongue for quite a while. Extra chewy. Carbonation is just enough. Really enjoyable in this aspect.

D - Gets knocked here for the abv, just too much detection/presence.

*Having revisited this one multiple times, including in a recent stout tasting, I'm deciding to bring the score up a bit. FIS seems to have my ideal base profile for an imperial stout. I still think it has a bit more heat than I'd like when fresh though.*

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

poured from 2011 bottle into snifter.

pours a gorgeous black with thick fluffy brown head. after a few minutes it settled down leaving no square cm of glass without lacing.

chocolate, roasted malts and maybe even some cherry hit the nose. the high bitterness balances out the sweetness exceptionally. the alcohol is there but blends nicely. it never slaps you in the face like many high abv brews.

nice and creamy with a thick body. in my opinion, simply perfect.

easily my favorite Founders Stout.

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Photo of surlytheduff
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from 2011 release (I cannot for the life of me locate the inkjet bottled on date), drank from a snifter. The beer poured a deep dark piano-black, and initially seemed like it wasn't going to have much of a head. Then it was like a mad scientist's experiment, with black jets of bubbles shooting up towards the surface. After a few moments it settled into a beautiful 2 1/2 finger choclotey-brown head, which left wonderful lacing as it receded.

The aroma was full of sweet and roasted malts, fresh Starbuck's coffee, rich chocolate cake and a little bit of hops. The taste was phenomenal. Bitter dark chocolate, roasted bready malts, a little bit of alcohol, some hop bitterness and iced coffee. It was very well carbonated, a medium to full body and a mouth-coating creaminess. This was the freshest I've ever had FIS, and it was truly a wonderful experience. Three thumbs up!

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Photo of ChadQuest
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Squid Ink. Pitch Black. Head slowly forms into a menacing monster of coffee colored magic.
Aroma of chocolate and roasted malts, downright espresso when you get right into it with your nose. this is one hellava stout aroma. If the visual and aroma presentation doesn't make me wanna get into this, i am a sick person.
This mother is sooo smoooth, such a absolute rich creamy roasted flavor, like milk chocolate with finely ground espresso baked in. Just so deep and dense, endless.
HHmmm...i might go get a case. i could do this again for the rest of winter. no problem.
If this was a Waxed bomber sold one day, it would be massive, but 12oz bottles can't fit much hype inside, just amazing beer.

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

Served on-tap in a 10oz stemmed clear glass snifter at beer Run (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Completely opaque black with burnished cakey brown 1/2-finger of head with good retention and lines of lace sedimenting the glass.

S: Black forest chocolate cake with a light cherry cordial glaze is my best stab and encapsulating the aroma. The dark bread aroma is unique with a delicious bittersweet dark chocolate punch and plenty of cold black coffee to go around. The breadiness is a definite departure from FBS. Hops are tobacco and earthy.

T: Flavor is deep and rich with chocolate and coffee mingling with that same cakey, dark sweet bread flavor that finishes with an ample dose of earthy hoppiness. The dark maltiness is not underplayed a bit, and alcohol is not detected. This went excellently with the double chocolate cake for a wonderful dessert.

M: Full-bodied without being overly viscous or oily. Rich and creamy it has a palate-coating quality that flows seamlessly.

D: A fantastic imperial stout. Without a doubt, I will have to find some of these bottles when they come around and stash them away. Compares very closely in quality to Bell's Expedition Stout, but Founder IS definitely lands on the sweeter, breadier side of the style versus more roasted and hop-aggressive.

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Photo of herman77
4.68/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Jet black with a bubbly, muddy colored dark brown head. Decent head retention and nice lacing.

S: Sweet dark chocolate, lots of roasted malt, molasses, coffee and a bit of anise.

T: Wow. So rich yet so smooth. Tons of deep roasted malt, dark bittersweet chocolate, dark fruits and a bit of coffee. Lightly smokey and woody notes. There is a good amount of hop bitterness on the backend to clean out the palate from all the richness. Its got a perfect balance of roasted malt, sweetness and bitterness. Has a long semi-sweet and roasted malt finish that is not dry like some imperial stouts. Some smokiness in the finish as well. Delicious.

M: Fuller body. Soft carbonation, nice mouth coating thickness, but not too sticky.

D: Amazing drinkability for a 10.5% imp stout. There is a touch of booziness, but its so smooth, tasty and balanced that it doesn't even matter. Can't find a bottle date, but its gotta be from this year.

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Photo of boralyl
4.97/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage. Served at 50F in a tulip glass.

A - Produces a 1/4 inch of dark brown head that fades pretty quickly but leaves a thick ring of lace. The beer is black and completely opaque.

S - The aroma of this beer is off the charts. I can smell it from a mile away. There is sweet chocolate paired with roasted malts. It's all melded together very well. No hint of the 10.5% alcohol contained within.

M - Full in body with light carbonation. Extremely creamy and silky smooth, coats the inside of your mouth.

T - Molasses and dark chocolate make their appearance first followed by a warming alcohol flavor that grows before being overtaken by a roasty, coffee like bitterness that lasts into the aftertaste.

An absolutely outstanding imperial stout. There are so many other imperial stouts that get hyped up that fall below the level of this beer. I wish I would have found out about this one sooner, will definitely be re-visiting it again.

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

12oz bottle poured into snifter glass

Pours a pitch black, inky color with a bubbled dark brown head. Fades into swirled, patchy film while leaving spotty lacing on the glass.

Strong scents of roasted malts with a flair of hops. Dark chocolate with hints of coffee and caramel.

Slightly bitter up front with a dash of dark chocolate and cocoa. Roasted malts create warmth with slight booziness. Caramel with molasses, very slight suggestion of licorice. Warm and hoppy towards the finish with slight sweetness.

Full smooth body with decent carbonation, a little chewy. Drinks really slick and easy, pleasant on the palate, solid flavor and the alcohol is in check considering its over 10%. Another great beer from Founders.

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

Pours a thick, I mean petroleum thick (you can't even see through the pour), pitch black and viscous liquid with a nice chocolate color head that recedes fairly quickly leaving a thin foam cap on the surface. Mighty lacing.

Aroma is strong and full of roasted malts, espresso and mild bitter chocolate. Floral hops come through very lightly towards the end giving a nice perfume touch.

Taste is a malt bomb with roasted dark malts, espresso, chocolate, mollasses and very faint herbal hops. Lots of bitterness towards the end as well as coffee and bitter cocoa.

Mouthfeel is silky and creamy with lots of viscosity. Body is very heavy and thick and carbonation is medium. The alcohol is not overly apparent but you can definitely tell that it's there. Finish and aftertaste are very powerful, a combination of strong coffee notes and hop / roasted malt bitterness making the drinkability not that high, which I guess it's ok and expected, given the style.

A solid Imperial Stout from Founders, undoubtedly one of the best breweries out there. I still prefer the Breakfast Stout over this one but it is still definitely worth a try.

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Photo of PreacherBrewer
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Pours dirty motor-oil black with a pinky sized head that quickly dissipates. As I swirl the beer around in my guinness pint glass, it leaves a syrupy layering on the sides. Never seen that before!

S - Malty-Caramel, hot cocoa, chocolate, and fresh brewed coffee, light alcohol.

T - Dark Chocolate, Caramel, truffle, fresh ground coffee beans, woody character from hops, warming alcohol.

M - Maximum Full-Bodiedness. Syrupy in a good way. Carbonation is just enough but not too much. It's a slow drinker, as it should be. Very filling and satisfying. leaves a coating of syrupy malty goodness on your palette.

O - This is a big ass stout that demands respect from the moment you pour, to the last bit of thick syrupy malt that is left on sides and bottom of your glass. A maximum bodied malt-bomb. A newfound legend.

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

From bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 2/8/11
I should note that this is my 25th review

A: Molasses in a glass. It's viscous and coats the interior of the glass like few other beers I've seen. A semi-forceful pour offers a 3+ finger head that dissipates without leaving signifigant lacing. It actually looks like a frothy chocolate milkshake.

S: Thie initial nose immediately reminds me of Founders Breakfast Stout - roasty coffee and German chocolate. Upon further investigation, I am able to detect minut traces of alcohol, but more then anything I smell freshly baked ginger snaps right out of the oven.

T: Robust and unsweetened dark chocolate punch me in the mouth. Imagine falling down a dark hole with no floor in sight. That is what this beer is: massive amounts of complex malt melding ever so perfectly with charcoal smoke and alcohol.

M: Your wife ever force feed you one of those Slim Fast shakes? Yeah - this beer is kinda like that. Velvety thick and rich with luxurious carbonation. You could have one of these bad boys for lunch and walk away content.

O: Just an awesome, complex and rewarding brew. I really wish this Imperial Stout got as much recognition, distribution and push as their Breakfast Stout, as this may be the unsung hero of their lineup. One of the better RIS's I've had.

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Photo of harrymel
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 11/20/09
Poured to SA sig glass.

A: Beautiful three finger deep mocha head rains through itself into the beer to leave a single finger. Thick and resonant, the head sticks to the glass and shelves the length. Very attractive for an Impy Stout.

S: Coffee, chocolate, leather, cream, caramel, licorice, molasses, herbal hopping, hints of citrus (so subtle). This is gonna taste great.

T: See above. Add bittering of the hops, roasty effervescence to the profile. Just a hint of metallic flavor (copper)

M: Thick, slick, sexy velvet. Heavy body, medium carb. Superb mouthfeel. I can swish this about my mouth and roll my tongue around the beer poking toward the different nuances of the flavor collage.

D: I could drink this beer all [email protected] night. This is outstanding. Just outrageous I don't have more.

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

90 IBUs
Bottled 11/27/2009; Sampled 12/28/2010; 12 oz bottle poured into a 25 oz snifter.

Pours thick and tar black with an excellently formed very very dark brown head. The head retention is great and the lacing is fantastic too. Looks just as good as any other, or better!

Molasses, sweet alcohol, roast, and massive coffee notes stand out; it should be noted that the coffee, although strong, is nowhere as strong as in the Breakfast series.

Coffee forward taste with a very bright & coffee-like acidity. Bitter on the palate, and with good amount of roast too.

Silky mouthfeel. Carbonation is appropriately low; full of roast but still not harsh; finishes sweet but can't be called cloying over a reasonable serving size; and warming.

In my memory, fresh Founders Imperial is more coffee forward and in that sense it has aged for worse.

Overall, an excellent stout and it's tough to choose any other over this, within the same style.

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Photo of jjanega08
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A= This beer looks thick when it pours. Totally black in color even somewhat suprizingly black. The beer looks flat at first before there is a nice dark brown head rising out of it. It comes up to a thin skin before falling to a ring around the glass. As I mentioned it looks thick. Some pretty decent legs on it.

S= Pungent. I was getting wiffs of this right when I opened it up. Smells of a typical impy stout until you really dig in that you start to realize there is a sort of dark fruit dried prunes smell in it. The roasted barley comes through but the dark prunes set this one apart. A bit unusual.

T= The taste is a tasty treat. Tons of nice roast. The dark prunes and fruit that I smelled sort of take the back seat on it and let just an intense roastyness come through. The roast is on a coffee level almost. With a bit of the oily coffee taste I would believe this was a coffee stout.

M= Not as thick as I expected but still thicker than most Impy stouts. The finish is dry from all the roast. Long lasting finish.

D= This was a tasty treat for sure. Worth checking out and worthy of some of the praise it gets. While I don't think it is the best imperial stout I've ever had it is better than some of the more hyped impy stouts.

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Photo of SpdKilz
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

[edit] Currently drinking this again thanks to Kevin (kzoobrew). I am upping my ratings because holy cow, maybe I wasn't taking accurate notes last time but this is utterly damn tasty.

First of all a big thanks to Abel (abecall98) for sharing this beer with me while he let me crash at his place the day before going to Russian River for the PtY release! Cheers buddy!

Appearance - We all agreed, this pours just a massive dark black color that coats the edges of the glass...thickly hanging against them. Slight tan head is achieved but overall, little lacing. Very ominous.

Smell - Heavy sweat malts, molasses, chocolate, roasted malts, and slight alcohol.

Taste - Similar to the aroma, though I get more sweet chocolate up front, then come the roasted malts and sweet brown sugar/molasses flavor. Cocoa, vanilla, and some dark fruits make themselves known later on, and just a hint of alcohol.

Mouthfeel - Fuller bodied, lower carbonation, creamy. Appropriate.

Drinkability - For what this beer is, it is damn drinkable. Very glad I was able to try this seeing as I have missed it every time I am back in the Midwest. How odd I have to drive up to Nor Cal to try this! Thanks again Abel.

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Photo of headbucket
3.46/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased around december 2009.decided to let them sit after the first one I tasted was a bit too intense for me, a big russian/imperial stout fan.

A:pours with one of the darkest heads I have ever seen. A nice head a little less than an inch forms after a vigorous pour. The head lightens a bit after sitting, to a very dark tan/singed paper color. Nice lacing left on the glass. Dark black beer.

S: dark malts,roasty, and a bit of chocolate and smoke.

T:semi-sweet and dark, chocolate, roasty bitterness similar to a coffee flavor, a little leather flavor maybe, then the smokiness comes in and takes over. There is a weird mix of bitter and smoky/burnt flavors on the end and throughout the aftertaste. The strongest smoke/burnt flavor I have encountered in an imperial stout and I'm not a big fan of it. It overpowers and just doesn't
do it for me here, would rather be tasting the chocolate and bitter flavors more.

M: thick and smooth. Very nice. Along with appearance, the best parts of the beer.

D: great mouthfeel and the abv isn't too apparent so that is good, however the odd bitter/burnt aftertaste doesn't do it for me. Would be a little lower but the glass is going down pretty quick despiter the smoky finish.

I really like fbs and kbs, cbs is up there too but the smokiness/ burnt bitterness of this beer just isnt somethin I can get into. Will be sitting on my last two for atleast a few more years in hopes that they turn into something I can enjoy more

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

Served from a 12 oz bottle

A: A rich deep brown with a little bit of red on the lining of the head with lacing.

S: Smells of coffee and roasted malts. Dark fruits in there too.

T: Starts off with a hoppy and roasted coffee bean kick that melts away into a sweet dark chocolate and malty finish that hangs on the back of the palate. Some definite smokieness in there that lingers.

M: A truly wonderful mouthfeel. Rich and complex that compliments the flavors involved. Thoroughly enjoyable.

D: A superb beer. Founders does it again.

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Photo of SeaUrchin
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

reviewed from notes, had this years release during the supper bowl, 12oz bottle poured into duvel tulip

appearance - black, held it to a light and only the edges lightened to a dark brown, a nice brown head about 2-2.5 fingers high, moderate carbonation running up the sides of the glass

smell - the smell is up front with chocolate and roasted malts, then a medium(compared to founders breakfast stout) coffee smell, this moves into a slight scent of dark fruits, maybe raisins

taste - opens up with a dark roasted coffee that is not overpowering in the least, then a nice dark chocolate quickly takes over, this melds into a sweet roasted malt and finishes with a bitter coffee kick, no where near FBS as mentioned but still delicious

mouthfeel - thick, almost like milk, but a bit lighter due to the carbonation, would have enjoyed this to be slightly "slimeyer" because i didnt have the after feel on my tongue that i remembered from last years(i enjoy the feeling)

drinkability - this is a sipper but something that i could sit and drink many of them over a night, possible my next candidate for a poker game, one of(if not) my favorite russian imperial stouts

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

Purs thick and dark, dark, dark brown, with a bit of mocha head that quickly thins to a tiny ring with a bit of lacing.

Smells like big burnt roasted malts. A hint of leather, and maybe a tiny bit of chocolate/sweetness.

Taste is quite good - more complex than the nose would lead you to think. Roasted, almost bitter malt is the dominant flavor, then it mellow into a bit of sweetness before finishing with a smooth burnt bitter flavor.

Mouthfeel is perfection. Thick and viscous, nicely carbonated, creamy, but not sticky. Delightful.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours super black looking very thick with an excellent tan-brown head and lacing, though the head subsides semi quickly.

The smell has to be one of the most burnt, roasty IRS smells I have ever smelled. The smell also has some sweet dark chocolate cherry aromas, big brownie smells, and theres also something very succelent/savory like a cut of brisket to this beer. Very enjoyable.

The beer has a very nice taste of coffee roast, barley, fudge, a little alcohol complexity at the back, and some of the savory smokiness you get in the nose. Nice but could be more complex with the flavor arrays.

The Mouthfeel is absolutely amazing. It has to be the creamiest beer out of the bottle I may have ever had. Totally coating, and great level of carbonation.

D: This is a very awesome beer from Founders, maybe one of my favorite offerings they have. At 10.5%, you can barely tell. If this beer had a little more flavor packed into the taste it would maybe be a top 5% RIS for me, and it's easily top 10%.

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

12oz bottle into Duvel Green tulip. Bottled 11/09.

A: Pours black with a billowing dark reddish-brown yielded from a rough pour. The head took forever to fade into a thick collar that left a network of delicate lacing down the glass. Just outstanding looking.
S: Chocolate-coffee ice cream and maybe a few hints of rich dark fruits.
T: Rich with more coffee than the nose. This first thing I notice is how bitter this beer is, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's got big flavors of chocolate malt and coffee, with slight hints of vanilla and burnt flavors. Aftertaste has a touch of smoke and a punch of coffee bitterness.
M: Alcohol is just barely noticeable, and most of the warmth is gone. Body is on the fuller side of medium but could use a little more. Carbonation is just right for the style though, and the mouthfeel is pretty darn nice.
D: A pretty impressive beer and one that I would buy now and then if it were available to me. I love that it's in a 12oz bottle since I don't know if I'd want to drink any more than that by myself. Cheers!

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Photo of dc55110
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to wkcyr4 for including this awesome extra!

2008 Vintage

Pours thick! Nice dark mahogany head, dissipates as expected. Small amount of lacing.

Smell at first was a bit off, hard to place the source, just something not right. As it came up to room temperature the aroma be came quite pleasant with hints of malt, raisin, tobacco, slight booze.

Age as done quite well for this beer. Fresh Imperial Stout is very good, but the years have added a bit more complexity to the flavors. It starts out slightly sweet with hints of raisin, fig and malt. The finish has as slight bitter chocolate/molasses taste.

It coats the mouth nicely, without being to thick. Very good sipper, but that doesn't mean I couldn't see myself having two or three in a sitting.

Overall this another wonderful stout from a brewery that knows what they are doing when it comes to stouts... and just about any style they choose to brew.

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

Inky oil-slick jet black in color. Solid layer of tan foamy head that leaves behind spotty lacing.

Aroma has a very pleasant mild chocolate aspect alongside the more standard roasted malt & bitter coffee elements of a stout.

Flavor follows along the same lines as the aroma, but the roasty aspects really dominate here. The beer finishes with a nice bitter coffee flavor.

Mouthfeel is excellent - super silky smooth and oily. The high abv is almost totally hidden making this one dangerously drinkable.

Another top quality beer from Founders. Highly recommended.

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Photo of rka758
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into Westy goblet.

A: Poured black as night with no head...sheet black.
S: Strong roasted malts with a bit of chocolate.
T: Roasted malt, smokiness and dark chocolate.
M: Nice and chewy.
D: Very good and very dangerous. I put this in the same ring as Bell's Expedition and GI BCS.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
4.34 out of 5 based on 7,813 ratings.
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