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Founders Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
96
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1,834 Reviews
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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
75 IBU

Added by mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,834
Ratings:
7,612
Avg:
4.33
pDev:
17.32%
 
 
Wants:
722
Gots:
2,373
For Trade:
154
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,834 | Ratings: 7,612
Photo of mfunk9786
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I feel strange reviewing this brew first before reviewing any other Founders offerings, because they really do a great job and I feel like by not giving this an A+ I'm understating how fantastic this brewery is on the whole. But I have to keep the style and other examples I've had of the style in mind, so here's my analysis:

A: Black as night. If you were to deep sea dive into a pool of this beer, you'd feel like you'd died and gone to liquid purgatory. There's absolutely no sight of the other end of the glass. Where the appearance really lets me down is in the head, which is minimal at best. The lacing is fantastic and the head never disappears entirely, but from the time I poured it into my Piraat glass, there was never an entire coating of head over the top of the beer, and that was a little disappointing, and it definitely comes into play when we get to the mouthfeel.

S: The smell certainly improves on the appearance. It smells sweeter than this style usually does, which definitely gives it a distinctive edge in this category. A bit of vanilla on the nose, which I found surprising.

T: The taste was a letdown. Once the beer enters your mouth, it's surprising just how bitter and burnt this beer tastes. Maybe I'm spoiled by Founders various Breakfast Stouts, but I was expecting a bit more dark fruit and chocolate, and was met with the liquid equivalent of an 80%+ dark chocolate bar, that's just far too bitter to enjoy straight-up. I've had Imperial Stouts that are able to represent their individual flavors much better than this one, and it came as a huge shock to realize that this beer is so one-note compared to others I've had. That being said, the alcohol is very nicely hidden, and I certainly didn't pour it out, there's definitely enough to like here if you have some stout experience.

M: For the style, the mouthfeel is about average. Thick; chewy.

D: Like I said, I didn't pour my glass out, but the bitterness certainly starts to take its toll towards the end of the glass. It's not the juicy hop bitterness that comes with a great double IPA, instead it's a burnt cocoa and alcohol bitterness that eventually begins to make your tongue go numb. Although, would a numb tongue improve the drinkability rating? These are the questions that plague us. But I'm going with a completely middle-of-the-road score for this style. Not terrible, but not great either.

There are obviously a lot of admirers of this brew, and perhaps Founders' love of chocolate, coffee, and oatmeal in their other brews have spoiled me (is there any better beer on the planet than Founders Breakfast Stout?) but this one just fell short of my expectations. Buy a single bottle if you can find it before you take the plunge on a 4 pack. Luckily, Founders is spreading ever so slowly across the country, so your chances of locating a bottle will increase every year until they get their due as a nationally available brewery.

I purchased my 12 oz bottle for $4.50 at Pinnochio's Beer Garden in Media, PA. It's worth noting, as I probably will be with every single Founders review, how much I appreciate the 12 oz bottles when compared with bomber-obsessed breweries - it's a lot nicer to spend a bit less to try a beer but still get plenty of it to enjoy - and to have a 4 pack available if you do love it.

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Photo of brobeerbot
4.9/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured vigorously into nonic pint.

A- Poured a beautiful pitch black and was able to get a good two finger tan colored head. Nice lacing throughout drink

S- Coffee, malt, and smoke. One of the better smelling stouts I have had.

T- This one drinks like a dream. Strong taste of malty and smoke. Some hints of bitter chocolate with a small coffee finish.

M- Thick and chewy. You know your drinking a quality stout. Sticks to your mouth and allows flavor to stay in the mouth fo quite a while.

D- This is a fairly strong drink. With the high ABV and the heartiness of this stout it is for sure a one or maybe two during the night.

Overall this is a very very good stout. Has become one of may favorite imperial stouts on the market. Have one in the cellar and will see what we have in a year or so.

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Photo of Genghis22
4.59/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to trading partner extraordinaire, stoufiend27. Thanks Stephen!

A - Pours a thick, oily pitch black. Nicw finger of mocha colored head. Looks absolutely stunning in my Deschutes Tulip.

S - Sweet malt, coffee, coca, vanilla, toffee and a touch of alcohol. This smells absolutely awesome.

T - Much like the nose. Complex flavors, all come together in harmony. There are plenty of hops, my god, there is quite a bit of hops. This is a good thing. It provides balance to a very sweet, rich, beer. Wonderful flavors of coffee, cocoa, toffee. The last taste is wonderful vanilla and the aftertaste is dry hoppy, alcoholic perfection.

M - Textbook RIS. Thick, chewy, wonderfully full bodied. Moderate carbonation. The high amount of alcohol in this brew really helps dry the tongue out at the finish.

D - As much as I would like to drink this all night, it packs quite a punch at 10.5%. The flavors are awesome, and the mouthfeel is perfect. An absolutely great stout.

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Photo of Stigs
4.1/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, served in a DFH signature glass...

A - pours big black and tick like motor oil...leaves almost an in of very tight and frothy, very dark and intimidating khaki foam. again, this is pitch black, absolutely no light getting through.

S - very dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, some fresh coffee, vanilla, dark fruits...successfully runs the gambit of the classic RIS scents.

T - insanely bold with dark roasted malt, bitterness jumps out right away...chocolate, earthy hops, some coffee, oak, malted candy...substantial alcohol punch, warming through the finish

M - crazy thick and syrupy, nice subtle carbonation...everything just coats the mouth and the flavors stick around for quite a long time.

D - great imperial stout, only thing lacking ere is a bit of grace as all the flavors just fight out over who gets attention. this one should age and mellow quite nicely, which ill have to do given the great price and availability of fantastic RIS.

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Photo of Vixie
4.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very deep black. I didn't get much head from it, just a bit of brown lacing.

Smell is a bit candy like. Definite alcohol scent there, along with chocolate and coffee.

Pretty good mix of flavors going on here. There is a bit of a citrus taste, nicely mixed in with chocolate and coffee. Bit of a hops finish, and is on the dry side, but a pleasant dryness.

Feel is very full and thick. I almost gave this one a 5, but it fell just a touch short of the thickest ones I have tried. This is a beer that makes you stand up and take notice.

Very drinkable for the style and strength. This is not a style of beer I could ever drink a lot of at one time, but this one goes down pretty smoothly. The alcohol is fairly well hidden, so may sneak up on you. Great beer for a cold night, this will warm you up quite well.

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Photo of Daniellobo
3.83/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A pretty nice and rich imperial stout.

Presentation: 12 oz bottle. Old fashion design around the illustration of an imperial Russian-eagled emblem mixed with the Founders branding. Shows bottling date (11/20/09), IBUs (90), and Alc. by Vol. (10.5%) Poured into a snifter.

A - Black pour with a small creamy brown head with average retention and tiny lacing.

S - Roasted malt notes, chocolate and coffee, and a bittersweet hint. Pleasing but not half as complex as promised.

T - Picks up the nose and expands it with a rich malty range. Roasted malts, chocolate and coffee notes predominate, with a tiny sour hint.

M - Full body with low carbonation, and a smooth finish.

D - Nice sipper, alcohol nicely integrated and worth the experience.

Notes: Another solid offering from Founders, not tremendously outstanding or complex but does offer enough range for a rather pleasing RIS. Slight disappointment while having it at room temperature and not unfolding a promised complexity.

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Photo of JoePat
4.65/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage
This beer pours a pitch black with a two finger mininmum brown head tha slowly dissipates leaving some of the thickest lacing I have ever seen.
I smell a lot of coffee, chocolate, and some smoked malts.
Huge bitter chocolate, expresso and roasted malt flavor. A little smokey flavors as well and it all melds perfectly.
The lightest mouth feel of any stout like whip cream making me want drink after drink.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass, is pitch black in color with a huge three finger mocha colored head.

Smells of sweet coffee, roasted malt, and a slight hint of milk and vanilla.

Taste is bittersweet chocolate, coffee, dark roasted malt, mild traces of dark fruit (very mild traces), finishes with a hopped bitterseweet bite, more so than most Imperial Stouts I've had. There's also mild traces of caramel.

Mouthfeel is medium heavy body, sticky, and the bittersweet coats the mouth and lingers for several minutes - does not finish clean.

This is a very drinkable stout.

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Photo of xanok
4.27/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The last of a 4 pack that I bought in January. Sad day. This beer is not talked about at all because of their amazing breakfast stouts.
12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A-Black as anything. Duh its a stout. Not much head here, but that's likely because I left it in the fridge too long. Bout a half a finger of brown head. Still leaves respectable lacing despite it being too cold.
In the past, I remember it pouring a much larger head.

S-Fair amounts of chocolate, malts, caramel, and a bit of an alcohol kick.

T-Pretty close to the nose here. Some burnt and roasted tastes. Some bittersweet chocolate as well.

M-I found the carb to pretty a bit heavier than I remember. Thick and full bodied. Leaves a nice aftertaste as well. Nice, warming feeling.

D-Very smooth overall. Has a bit of an alcohol kick so you'll get your buzz goin.

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Photo of jmerloni
3.87/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - jet black in color with nice big brown, creamy head that has very nice retention and laces very nicely on the glass.

S - chocolate, coffee, toffee, alcohol.

T - Follows the nose plus a little brown sugar. More alcoholic than I originally expected, thought the alcohol is detected on the nose. Finishes kind of like a scotch ale and it's a little weird. Not quite as smooth as it looked.

M - Creamy but a real hard alcoholic finish that's not too pleasant. Carbonation is unbalanced, however.

D - Not very drinkable. I'd have a hard time drinking two of these. Every sip is kind of a bitch going down. It's a good beer, but not great. Would be better at like 8% ABV instead of 10.5. Don't think I'd get it again when there so many other great imperials out there.

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Photo of champ103
4.61/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks to Onslow for sharing a bottle with me and some other BA friends.

A: Pours a nearly opaque brown color. A minimal beige head rises to a half finger. The foam recedes in a second with little lace.
S: Lots of roasted malt. Chocolate, coffee, toffee, and sweet vanilla. Doughy and biscuit. Chocolate brownie's and fudge. Excellent.
T: Follows the nose. Lightly roasted malt, but it is not the dominate flavor. Mostly chocolate brownies and fudge. Toffee and sweet vanilla. Light coffee.
M/D: A full body that is low on carbonation. Velvety smooth and creamy. Very easy and smooth to drink. I cannot detect any alcohol.

This is an excellent RIS. One of the best I remember tasting since Old Rasputin. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Nibbley
4.65/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured as black as night into a Holy Mackerel Tulip glass.
As I said,its mighty black with a 1/2 inch of mocha head that disappears quickly leaving a little lacing down the glass.
BIG ole' roasted malt hits your palate with a nice thick, and slightly slick mouth feel.
Good hop bite and alcohol warming at the finish.
Another great beer from Founders, they never seem to disappoint.

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Photo of portia99
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle ('09) received as an extra in trade from homebrew311. Thanks. Poured into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

A - Pours a thick and syrupy totally opaque pitch black color...not a hint of light can get thru this one. A few clumps of yeast rushed out of the bottle during the pour and is a slight detractor from the overall experience of this beer. A thin, dark brown pseudo head forms and drops immediately to a thin collar around the glass.

S - Complex array of aromas: a fair amount of sweetness, fresh brewed coffee, alcohol, licorice and bakers chocolate.

T - Mirrors the aroma pretty closely with some additional nuances thrown in for good measure. Lots of dark roasty flavors - heavy in coffee and dark bittersweet chocolate...some slightly burnt, smokey, woody flavors here too. Nicely bitter - like the strong hop presence in this Imperial. Smooth and very tasty.

M - Very smooth mouthfeel...body is quite full - thick, oily and viscous. Carbonation is low giving a very smooth and slick feel over the tongue.

D - Very enjoyable imperial stout. Hoppier than most other examples (which is a strong positive for me), plenty of dark and roasty flavors and an incredible smoothness to it. The 10.5% alcohol is more noticeable in the nose than the taste. Doesn't seem that strong. Will definitely be grabbing more of this before its gone for the season.

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Photo of THORN
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

11.2 Fl. Oz. bottle poured into pint glass. Served 55-50 F.
A: Dark dark brown. Reddish brown frothy head. Head is quarter inch high.
S: Chocolate, toasted bread, and brown sugar.
T: Wow. Dark chocolate and dark toasted malt. Slight alcohol is noticeable, but finishes with a strong hoppy bitterness.
M: Medium on tongue and slightly syrupy. Warmth sweeps across mouth.
D: Big beer. Heavy malts character well balanced by hops, chocolate, and alcohol. The beer doesn't cover the alcohol, but it makes it taste delightful.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Man I can honestly say this is motor oil in color. I have never been so certain in my life. Little head.
S - I can pick up malts of chocolate and molasses.
T - What a smooth chocolate taste! Very minimal coffee.
M - Creamy. Loved how sipping smooth this beer was.
D - I would drink this again and again. Can't wait to see it cheaper like the rest of the world since it's 4.25 a bottle here. I would gladly pay 10 dollar for a four pack and have no problems saving a couple.

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Photo of Brent
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

When it comes to stouts, Founders seems to have the magic touch. Big and bold, as one would expect, with well-moderated roasted malt flavor and a nice hoppy punch at the end. ETOH lends a touch of pepper at the finish. Stays true to the style while at the same time offering some of the complexity that is customary for Founders.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.53/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep black with a nice beige head and moderate lacing

S: Great aroma of roasted malt, very slight alcohol

T: Absolutely delicious. well balanced. 10.5% masked very well. One of the better imperial stouts I have had. Founders has this whole stout brewing endeavor down pat. This is such good beer.

M: Wonderful balance of carbonation and smooth, easy going beer, especially for 10.5%

D: One of the easiest drinking 10+ % beers out there. Highly recommended.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into glass.

A - Poured a thick oil black with a thin tan head with nice sticky lacing.

S - Chocolate, roasted, malty goodness.

T - The alcohol is very upfront. Has an oaty burnt taste.

M - Silky and smooth. Leaves a bready aftertaste.

D - Dangerously easy to drink. Clocking in at 10.5% you could easily find yourself a bit tipsy while enjoying this one.

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Photo of stakem
4.15/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black in color with more than a finger of severely dark tan head. You can fire up the high beams on this guy and no light is shining through. Fair retension and a decent amount of lace clings to the glassware. Aroma includes hops, coffee, chocolate and alcohol. Taste is bitter upfront from a combo of hops and burnt grain. Body of the beer includes the taste of burnt grains, bitter chocolate, strong black coffee and alcohol. The alcohol plays an interesting role with balancing out the different tastes this beer has to offer and strangely enough doesnt have much "warming" factor. Feel of this beer is thick with moderate carb. Overall quite good.

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Photo of Lunch
4.75/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 12oz. bottle purchased from Julio's Liquors in Westboro, MA into my Brooklyn Brewery snifter at the appropriate temperature (02/25/10).

A: Pours dark black capped off with a tan head that rises about two fingers. Good retention and lacing.

S: Rich bouquet of milk chocolate, espresso, coffee, roasted malt, and dark chocolate.

T: Truly and exceptional flavor profile that is incredibly rich and well balanced. Decadent milk chocolate and cocoa start things off and the are followed by some roasted malt and some espresso. Some slight bitterness from the dark chocolate is apparent in the finish.

M: Great amount of creaminess and fullness with appropriately low carbonation. Silky, smooth and heavy.

D: This is a beer I could drink all day but unfortunately it is not available in my area. The 10.5% is hidden completely.

Overall I this is yet another wonderful and well-crafted Imperial Stout from Founders. Great depth of flavor and perfectly thick and creamy. Highly Recommended.

 1,004 characters

Photo of donkeyrunner
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sipped fireside with John L. Parker's "Once a Runner." How's that for classy?

Pours oily black and gives rise to a 2 finger mud brown head. Horseshoe collar surrounds a pool of skim retention. Leaves lacey plaster at regular intervals like lines on a page.

Rich and sugary aroma: robust espresso, chocolate syrup, dark fruit, brown sugar and molasses. A rich and sugary aroma deserves a rich and sugary aroma and FIS did not disappoint. Dark milk chocolate, sugar cane, and molasses messengers all sent forth upon a vessel of warming alcohol...ah l'amour. Roast fade. Mouthfeel is...I can actually feel it caressing my mouth.

Gets kinda blah and monotonal as it warms which is a bummer because this is definitely a sipper.

via duffextracold

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Photo of BehindtheFinBrew
4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle to tulip
No freshness date

A: Pours like a cold coffee. Thin carbonation with a milk chocolate head that dissipated quickly. Some lace clung to the glass.

S: Bittersweet chocolate and roasted malt dominate the smell. Alcohol twinge is there as well but not with an astringent character.

T: A beautiful smooth alcohol warming on the finish. Sweet raisins and roasted malt with the overlying bittersweet chocolate flavors. There is a lot of residual hop and malt bitterness. The flavor is clean, bold and sweet.

M: Low carbonation. Thick and slick yet crisp on the finish. Often Imperials can be overly thick with a syrup texture, but this one did not go that way.

D: Definitely a short session beer. It was a meal and a dessert in one ha! Not to mention the 10.50% ABV. A great treat though.

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Photo of WesWes
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
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 WeimtimeBier
4.87/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Thin dense mocha-brown head. This guy was creamy looking and smooth from the start of the pour. A pitch black motor oil body.

S- Dark rich chocolate and sweet alcohol notes. Behind that was a coffee and tobacco smell and maybe some black licorice.

T- Best tasting Imperial I have had. Dark cocoa and sweet creamy malt. Also some coffee in back and a slight wooded aftertaste (although it was not oak barrel aged). A balanced hop bitterness. Smoothest stout I have ever tasted. The alcohol was so sweet and subtle it was astounding.

M- Thick and creamy with moderate carbonation. The beer is like the best dessert in your mouth without leaving the sugary candy feeling where you just need to go brush your teeth after.

D- Being so smooth and creamy, this high gravity stout is very drinkable dispite having complex and robust flavors.

A beer you will remember

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Photo of AdamGarcia
4.08/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours absolute black. Motor oil. Small dark khaki head makes a brief appearance and quickly retreats to leave just a ring of froth.

S: I noticed the high ABV with my first sniff. Hints of cola. Over-ripe dark fruit. Alcohol is quite noticeable.

T: Big and delicious. Near perfect balance of huge malt and big hops. Wonderful deep, dark, almost charred flavors. Just a faint indication of nuttiness. Bitter chocolate & just a hint of black coffee in the finish.

M: Carbonation is just about right for the style. Full and slick. Lingering finish.

D: Dangerous. I notice heat in the smell but alcohol is not as present in the flavor of this beer as I would have expected. Isn't overly filling or heavy.

I've always liked Founders and the Imperial Stout certainly hasn't changed that. The breakfast stouts get all of the hype, but this is the real deal. Grab one if you get the opportunity.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,834 ratings.
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