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: 7,785
Photo of rwf08
3.61/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Viscous, black syrup. Looks like black strap molasses. 1/4 inch thick mocha head. No lacing. This beer looks awesome.

S: Pretty basic Impy Stout smell. You got your dark dried fruits, dark chocolate and some roast. And the faint warming alcohol.

T: Seems to have more unfermentable sugars in it than most. Almost cloyingly sweet. For me this is close to nauseating.

M: This is the thickest fullest beer I have ever had. Almost too much. Carbonation is high enough to keep a good head and bubbly body. But this is thick and kind of gross. I loved this in 09, but now not so much.

D: So as I said in 09 this was my fav Impy Stout, now I really don't like it. I feel sick to my stomach from it and it is just way too thick and sweet, I can't call this bad because it is probably just me at this time, but goodness, so sweet.

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

A. Thick, opaque black with minimal chocolate colored foam that dissipates quickly into a ring around the inside of the glass with a bald spot in the middle.

S. Caramel, coffee, and burnt sugar layered between malt sweetness and the scent of dark chocolate.

T. Smoky roasted malt with hints of chocolate and licorice and maybe even a little vanilla. While the malt sweetness dominates, there is a hop bitterness in the finish.

M. Chewy and thick but also creamy and rich. Exactly what you expect from the style.

D. A real treat, a great beer to help wind down and eventful day or as a desert.

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Photo of IPAescotch
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer poured a thick syrupy black into a stange glass. Like a cloudy moonless night on a desert island in the deep pacific. Moderate to no head, what little head exists looks like a chocolate milkshake, makes me giddy. Lacing is there but not prominent, still clings to the glass.

Smells very alcoholic, not much to mask the abv. Chocolatey and rummy. My first thought was definitely towards the rum due to the high alcohol content, but some coffee and flowery scents subtly prevail.

Tastes biscuity and, yes, dark as deep space. Alcohol taste is actually well masked compared to in the scent. Lots of chocolate and coffee. I could go for a more hoppy taste, alas.

Thick as a milkshake, if not more so. Full-bodied and bitter in the aftertaste. Seriously like dark chocolate anise-laced, bitter cake. A dessert-y beer.

As said above, a dessert beer. I wouldn't drink more than two at a time unless i was really enjoying myself. The strength of character makes one plenty enjoyable.

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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 WVbeergeek
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This has been an elusive beer for me I've had many of Founders specialties and rarer brews but I have had trouble tracking down the Imperial Stout until I stopped in at D's this past week. I love anything dark they make especially their porter I wish they would make a standard stout as well because their porter is world class.

Appears a deep dark black hue with a big mocha tan head forming thick in my Sierra Nevada chalice. Fine even seckled lacing all around this black beauty.

Aroma has big dark chocolate and espresso bean freshly roasted tones with big vanilla and slight anise edges to it. Dark fruit hidden in the dark roasted malt character, almost a wine like nose in the finish.

Flavor is creamy roasted malt ridden with bitter dark chocolate and heavy espresso notes. Heavy hops hit the palate with a sharp creamy milk chocolate syrup finish this stuff is classic and should be a friend of any craft beer fiend.

Mouthfeel is full bodied coats the palate from the front to the back, I can't get enough of this style of big beer from Founders just tell them as they get it it's okay to send it to the Pittsburgh market.

Drinkability overall is incredible the best heavy dark beer I've had whilst living in te ohio valley for quite sometime.

Update version bottled on 12-15-11

Appears so dark that it absolutely absorbs all degrees of the visible light spectrum, big dark tan head almost a leathery brown thick soft textured head creamy billowing just outright beautiful. Fine speckled lacing dances around the sides of my Samuel Smith imperial pint glass. Aroma has earthy herbal hops big loads of dark chocolate notes, something soy sauce about this batch that works into an imperial stout profile, dark fruit hints of anise black licorice. Flavor is full of dark fruit big blast of coffee dark espresso grade strength, creamy dark chocolate bitterness just an aboslute excellent interpretation of an imperial sout. Full bodied stout that coats the palate from every angle the most filling beer around, even smooth carbonation not a cloying bone in this beers body. Supreme being of imperial stout in the world there's really not a better beer out there even compared to KBS, CBS, or Breakfast Stout this beer is the base example of all of those beers.

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Photo of mgbickel
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Perfect Pint glass. The aggressive pour yielded a tiny layer of foam that grew to a ½ finger when agitated. The dark caramel head receded quickly; moderate lacing. The body is thick, black and dense...I failed to force light through this one...

The nose has lots of roasted coffee beans, chocolate and molasses. Some toasted malts and caramel are hiding in the background.

Oh yeah...the flavor sticks true to the nose and is wonderful!! Tons of sweet cocoa and caramel malts hit up front. The middle turns a little smoky and the finish finds the rich coffee and toasted malts. Complex and flavorful with a little boozy aftertaste.

Medium-thick body, creamy yet slick and mildly carbonated.

Drinkable...hells yeah! This is right up there with all the big boys! Is there a stout from Founders that isn't superb??

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Photo of Adamdc
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into tulip

A: Jet black pour with half inch of brown head with lots of lacing.

S: Milk and dark chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and molasses! Amazing!

T: Very similar to aroma with bitter hop finish.

M: Mouthfeel is medium. Hops gives it a lively finish.

D: Highly drinkable. Goes down smoothly.

This is my idea of a great 'standard' RIS.

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

Poured into a tulip.

A: Pours an oily thick black with a nice 1 finger head. Very viscous looking stout. Brown head leaves lacing all over the glass. The legs on this one are thick!

S: Roasted malts upfront, with a rich coffee and chocolate scent on the back. Also hints of oatmeal play into the nose. Not overwhelming, but very hearty smelling.

T: Tastes like it smells, but much more complex. The beer also gets noticeable better as it warms. Strong roasted malts with a touch of chocolate. A nice sweetness is here that becomes more apparent with warmth. I'm getting no heat at all with this big of ABV.

M: Rich in flavor and body. Moderate carbonation. Not as creamy as I might expect.

D: Great RIS. I will have to stock up on this one when I get the chance.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Strangely, it took the BS and KBS to lead me to the IS, rather than the other way 'round (I assume that's the more conventional route, anyway). Finally. The pour results in a black soup usually reserved for coating pelicans and other wildlife during ecological disasters, topped by about a finger of burnt sienna froth. I miss crayons... The nose comprises roasted and toasted malts, molasses, chocolate, maple syrup, and a nice hint of vanilla. Yum so far. The taste holds notes of dark, smokey, roasted malts; dark chocolate; a tiny bit o' vanilla; and a slightly surprising hint of bourbon. The body is Kingpin heavy and coats the mouth with thick, chewy goodness. As much as I want to guzzle this beast, the thickness, richness, and relatively high ABV make this an impossible dream (though, like Quixote, that hasn't stopped me yet). Another fine example of tasty darkness from the boyz in Grand Rapids.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to a bunch of generous BAs who throw me these as extras, y'all keep me stocked up with delciousness.

A - Deep, shiny black hue; like a fresh-polished bowling ball or perhaps a sliver of obsidian. Capped with a mocha-tan frothy head, leaving some clingy lace.

S - Very, very delicious; along the same lines as cousins KBS and FBS in terms of the sheer amazing delectability of the aroma. Whereas KBS and FBS are like Kahlua and fudge brownies, respectively, FIS evokes impressions of a rich desert based on espresso and Sambuca.

T - Coffee, anise, chocolate, black cherry, vanilla, various huge roasted tones; this has it all. The flavors are rich dynamic and sublime, as well as being very suitable for aging. And the brew is big, very big; but it is also so well-balanced and deliciously palatable that it is never overwhelming, hot, or harsh. Perhaps it is outshined or out-hyped by its various Double Stout cousins, but this beer is among the finest of its style, just as KBS/FBS/CBS are among the finest of the 2xIS.

M - Very smooth and velvety in texture, a tad thin in the viscosity deparment though.

D - As is the case with all Founders brews I've had to date, this is an absolute pleasure to drink.

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Photo of Dubber55
2.88/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours pitch black. The head is the color of coffee with cream and it quickly settles down to a thin collar around the beer. Very little lacing and retention

The aromas include coffee, chocolate, ethanol, maybe some licorice, and smoke

Initially, I taste mostly coffee up front. Then I get chocolate, roasted malts, smoke, and alcohol. You can really taste the roasted grains. There is a pretty big burnt/char character in this beer. The finish consists of lots of roasted malt. Its dry and bitter.

This is a viscous, thick, and chewy beer. Pretty creamy mouthfeel with low carbonation

The drinkability is below average in my opinion. Its just too bitter, burnt, and dry for me. The alcohol kick at the end of each sip doesnt help either. After a few ounces, I know what this beer is about and dont feel the need to drink anymore

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.34/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours very thick and dark with little brown color around the edges (when in the light). VERY little carbonation. I must have expected much more carbonation because of all the Stone IRS I've been having lately. Very strong chocolatey smell to this one. Strong chocolate and sweet sugary scents. Taste strong dark chocolates and black licorice. A bit of hoppy bitterness at the end as well. Sort of a chewy mouthfeel, great for dessert. This is a very rich imperial stout...I could only image having one of these in a single sitting.

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Photo of levifunk
3.82/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a - black. very low carbonation, but doesnt pour as thick as I expected.

s - black licorice, chocolate, roasted malts.

t - chocolate. smoke. a sizable bitter bit in the middle. some booze.

m - milky creamy mouthfeel. almost no carbonation.

o - decent beer, but too bitter for my taste. I think 1 is all I'd ever want....not very drinkable.

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Photo of jt31914
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle

A: Black with thin chocolate head and no lacing (hardly carbonated).

S: Not much smell, maybe some licorice and dark malt, but not much more.

T: Molasses, chocolate, dark malt, and licorice with a smoky flavor. Fairly balanced.

M/D: Not overly drinkable, but pretty smooth and thick feel.

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

After successfully completing a number of trades for KBS and Breakfast stout, it never occurred to me to try and pick up this one. Received as an extra, and luckily so. Pours a deep, midnight black color, topped by nice half inch or so of brown foam, which quickly recedes, becoming a light collar of lace and a few random bubbles. Aromas of good dark chocolate covered espresso beans, dark roast malt and a hint of young port. A little bit more wine on the palate initially, a metallic note, then lots of espresso and dark chocolate with some warming alcohol late. Definitely need to seek some more of this one out.

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

A- Poured from the bottle with a medium/dark foamy head, which quickly receded to a haze layer and collar. Little bits of lacing. COMPLETELY opaque dark brown body.

S- Smells of rich roasted and stewed malts, slight boozy aroma along with impressions of dark fruit. Simple yet elegant.

T- Very complex and rich. As anticipated, the stewed and dark malts are up front, which are quickly met with the dark fruity esters on the midpalate. Some moderate hop bitterness comes into the finish which lingers on the palate with some slightly roasty and estery notes.

M- Thick and chewy- slightly textured from presumed unattenuated sugars. Immense body overall. Delicate carbonation and low astringency.

D- Very quaffable, given the high ABV.

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

A - Black as night with no light shining through. A decent espresso head goes down to a nice half finger pancake on top.

S - Bakers' chocolate, toffee, molasses, roasted malt, and coffee.

T - Chocolate covered espresso beans off the bat, with more chocolate rounding it out. This is an extremely delicious brew.

M - Good carbonation, nice and chewy, creamy, full bodied.

D - Drinks extremely nice. Not even a sipper at 10.5 abv. Even though it's summer time I'm going to have to go pick up more of this stuff.

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.53/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter on 5/14/10

Bottled on 11/27/09

On the pour I can see faint traces of scorched brown; once in the glass however, this beer is jet black. This actually has to be one of the most viscous beers I have poured. So thick, it was almost a drizzle. The head is solid two fingers of milk chocolate colored foam of small, densely situated bubbles. Reduced to about 25% retention after several minutes, it has left good lacing so far. Thin but good retention & spotty lace throughout.

Despite being a tad restrained the aroma is good. Licorice is notable upfront & quite prominent. Following are notes of sweet chocolate, roasted malts & hints of toffee. Maybe a spot of caramel & molasses. Not too much in the way of appreciable hops. A little booziness is also to be had.

This is a big, malty critter. Moderately sweet chocolate, caramel & licorice hit upfront, leading in to drier, roasted malts. It seems roasted coffee is a faint part of the equation. In any case, the finish is very dry. As with the nose, hops are minimal at best; not exactly a problem though. Come to think of it, hops may account for a portion of the bitterness that embodies the finish. Honestly though, something about the taste isn't quite working for me. Something is missing, possibly distinct burnt characteristics.

Very full bodied; this is a thick, chewy brew for sure. Carbonation is low; smooth & creamy, just like it should be. As mentioned above, the finish is very dry. Lots of roasted bitterness lingers on the finish for quite some time. At 10.5% abv, the alcohol is well-hidden.

Regardless of the fact that something about the taste doesn't fully jive with me, this is a really solid Imperial Stout. It's otherwise very impressive. More impressive is how easy of a drinker it is at the aforementioned abv. I would have no reservations about giving it another shot next time around, especially if I found it on draft. Don't let me discourage you from giving a try.

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Photo of nickadams2
4.73/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A_Pitch black with a thick dark brown head that quickly dissipates. Thick lacing.

S_Smells roasty with chocolate,espresso,and alcohol.

T_Roasted malt and dark fruits up front. Bitter dark chocolate and espresso round it out. Very tasty. Alcohol very well hidden with a gentle warming effect.

M_Very thick and very,very cream. Usually dont get too worked up about mouthfeel but this is great.

D_Buy a case.

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

12oz bomber poured into a snifter.

A: Black and totally opaque. Nice 1 finger tan head. The head fades fairly quickly into a swirly thin membrane with a nice collar.

S: Not as an intese of a smelling beer as I had expected. Smells fairly sweet, almost like peanut butter.

T/M: Something was missing here for me. This beer was quite a bit more bitter than I expected. It has a nutty/boozy flavor with hints of chocolate. Has a sticky feel and is slightly hot on the palate.

D: Alright, but doesn't really leave me yearning for more.

It was nice to try this beer, but I definatly prefer Goose Island's Night Stalker or Bell's Expedition over this beer.

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Photo of Espenoza
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It poured a pitch black and glugged out of the bottle the way I like it. There was a thing dark tan colored head the disappeared as fast as it came.

The nose is very impressive, strong roasted malts and strong sweet notes of molasses an caramel.

I am very impressed by this stout. Amazing chocolate and roasted malts are the first things that register with my tongue. Then a caramel and molasses like wave coast the tongue.

This stout is Chewy, amazing mouth feel. Not as great a mouth feel as KBS but still freaken thick.

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

Chilled bottle into a glass. 2009 vintage.

A: Pours motor oil black, with a finger of dark tan colored head that retains very well for a stout of this ABV. It doesn't leave much lacing down the sides, but it does maintain a fairly thick collar that looks very appealing.

S: Tons of roasted grain, bittersweet chocolate, molasses, caramel, anise, and a hint of dark fruit. Espresso is subdued but definitely there.

T: Fresh, this is very roasty, then chocolate-forward. Molasses and burnt caramel enter the fray. There is a delicious dark fruit undercurrent throughout (prunes, figs) that complements a flavorful burst of anise. The finish has tons of roasted grain and a light espresso component. There is a drying hop bitterness that linger well into the aftertaste. Quite complex, and a top-notch imperial stout.

M: Full-bodied. Creamy due to the low carbonation. Well-masked ABV, although it is lightly warming. Nicely rounded out when served just below room temperature. Overall fantastic, but I start to feel the sugar after working on a 12oz bottle alone.

D: Very high. I prefer Old Rasputin and Bell's Expedition, but this is in the next tier of imperial stouts.

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Photo of TK5150
4.41/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I should really be studying for my International Business Law final I have tomorrow (considering I haven't read any of the chapters yet), but I'm an outlaw. I'm going to drink a beer instead.

A-Pours black with a one finger dark brown head. No light penetrates even when held up to the light.

S- Lots of malty sweetness. Caramel, molasses, barbecue smokiness, licorice, roasted malt.

T- Big caramel, tons of molasses, cocoa, chocolate cake, and lots of licorice. Lingering bitterness from the roasted malt/90 IBU's. The only drawback is the finish is a bit acrid.

M- Full bodied and smooth. Coats the mouth very well.

D- I'm drinking this bottle too fast. Hope is slowly fading away on the studying front.

I love this stuff; you people that get this easily are lucky. A tremendous go-to Imperial stout. Maine has awful beer for the most part...I wish breweries like Founders would distribute here. One of the best imperial stouts for sure.

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

A: A super dark thick frothy head rises up 1 finger and slowly fades over pitch black and super thick beer.

N: Lots of roast, chocolate, hops, dark malts, with some bittering hops. Mostly dark malts, crystal, roasted, chocolate, etc. That adds some sweet aromas and syrupy too. THen come bitter hops with some earthy and spicy hop aromas. A little coffee too.

T: Pretty rich, lots of malts again, with lots of roast, a little chocolate, crystal, etc. This time some smoked malts too with some smoked flavor and even smoked gouda cheese or smoked cured meats. Chewy malts with all that. Touch of chocolate, some good roast and coffee. Some bitterness as well, some from roasted malts but quite a bit of hops too. Hops come in the earthy spicy variety. Semi smooth and a little creamy, but thick and chewy at the same time.

M: very thick and chewy, somewhat smooth and a little syrupy with decent carbonation.

F: Bitter! It has quite a bit of bitterness, mostly from the charred malts. WIth that is a touch of minerality and little soy sauce but not much. THere are also some hops that come in the finish adding more bitterness and earthy flavors. Lingering roast and some coffee, as well as perhaps black patent malt dark flavors. A little stickiness, but not as much as I expected for how thick and chewy it is. It also hides the booze well and drinks more like a 7-8% rather than 10.5%.

I love this stout, lots of dark malts, chewy, bitter, hoppy, and overall pretty drinkable. A nice roast, coffee, and chocolate addition as well but not over the top in any. Best of all is the price landing this at about $4 for a 12oz which is much more affordable than most great RIS beers.

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

Bottled. Black pour, brown head. Roasted coffee, alcohol, and soy sauce nose. Roasty, coffee, bittersweet chocolate, smoke, and alcohol in the flavor. Bitter finish, slightly astringent. Excellent, but not as "imperial" as others in this category. I think their KBS or standard Breakfast Stout are both better, but it is definitely a contest between superlative examples of the genre.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
4.34 out of 5 based on 7,785 ratings.
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