Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Founders Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
1,845 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,845 | Ratings: 7,712
Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.71/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz. bottle into a Blue Point Snifter

A: Poured a vigorous 1 finger fine, fluffy, toffee colored head with outstanding retention. Brew itself is pitch black and incredibly viscous. Lacing is web-like and impressive.

S: Nose is very strong alcohol and coffee with a mild backbone of hoppiness. Breathing deep, there is a hint of milk chocolate and a trace of sweet soy sauce.

T: So deep and suffocating... initial taste is coffee and this really lingers throughout the whole experience. Middle develops into a sweet alcohol, almost candy-like and little bitterness. End is alcohol sweetness mixed with roasted malts that lasts far into the aftertaste.

M: Incredibly deep and heavy bodied. This looks, smells, and tastes viscous and really engulfs the mouth.

D: Not as sweet as some other RIS's but one of the most deep bodied I've ever had. A unique combination and one that doesn't really work for me. This one is enjoyable, but its still one and done.

 972 characters

Photo of righthereisay
3.39/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Got this is Swansboro, NC at Harrika's Brew Haus. I was looking for some stouts to try. Didn't particularly like the 10.5% ABV on this one.

Poured into a glass, it looked great. Near black. I'm not into labels, but I personally thought the lablel made it look like a cheap beer.

Anyways, it does smell like coffee, maybe some chocolate, but mostly alcohol.

The taste was rather good. Nice blend of flavors. I thought that there may be a little too much carbonation, but that could be a result of the alcohol. I personally didn't appreciate the bitterness at the end, or the lack of a body.

 593 characters

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

Thanks to psprings for the bottle.

Pours like motor oil. Aroma of deep roasted malt and bitter coffee. Dark stone fruits, bitter chocolate, toffee, molasses, and a bitter coffee finish. The body is rich, syrupy, and full. Glad this comes in a 12oz bottle, happier still to be splitting it with a buddy.

Founders Imp. Stout is rich, complex, and true to style. Nice.

 367 characters

Photo of photomike
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Craving an imperial stout all throughout an afternoon in San Francisco, I returned home to this little guy sitting in my beer fridge. Pours black with only a tiny head forced out from my 8 inch high pour. With such little head to retain in the first place, this leaves a surprisingly solid amount of lacing. Little dots all over my glass.

The smell is strong even when served cold. Dark chocolate and cold coffee with a wallop of metal.

Taste picks things up. All kinds of coffee flavors, with some vanilla and plummy notes, this could be mistaken for a (port?) barrel-aged Founders Breakfast Stout. Very tasty, smooth, and not overly sweet. Very bitter finish.

Mouthfeel on this is incredible. Medium bodied with stronger carbonation than I'm used to in an IS. It really works on this brew. The aggressive bubbles accentuate the coffee bitterness that is really on display here. Really oily and smooth with a slightly hot finish that rounds out the flavors nicely. Not as boozy as, say, KBS.

Highly drinkable for a 10.5% brew. Would buy again.

Overall, I'm a bit surprised this beer doesn't get talked about more. A very solid imperial stout.

 1,151 characters

Photo of CHADMC3
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as night with only a thin, brown head that hangs around for the majority of the beer.

Mammoth roasted malt aromas with coffee and chocolate, perhaps a little bit milky, and also a bit toasty. As the beer warms a bit, the hops come forth as well.

Absolutely delicious. Great palate of big roasted/coffee malt, big barley, deep earthy hops, and the sweet chocolate and vanilla show up later.

Medium to full in body with medium carbonation, and just a touch chewy. The mouthfeel is not quite as big as the appearance would suggest, but it certainly enhances drinkability.

This is a great RIS. Tons of big, traditional style flavors and aromas, easy to drink, no unappealing alcohol bite, excellent all around.

 722 characters

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

From sparse notes... oh well. Big fat thanks to Mauerhan for sharing this baby. I had been unsuccessfully hunting for awhile.

Great looking beer. Can always revive the head. Medium shade of brown head over a black fluid. Ridiculously smooth with a big kick of flavor at the end - bunrt coffee. Smells deep of dark fruit - just one though, not all of 'em, maybe brown sugar. Thick kickin chicken.

I guess I was slightly let down because I had this beer terribly built up in my mind. Still very solid.

Overall: crossed off my list

 531 characters

Photo of dqderrick
4.21/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours thick with a nice 1/4" chocolate milk colored head. Dark as motor oil. Swirling leaves a nice trail of carbonation bubbles.

I smell chocolate and sweet roasted malt. The aroma isn't overwhelming... I need to let it warm a bit. I mistakenly served it at about 35 degrees. After warming, I pick up a little vanilla.

I get a nice roasted taste. Very strong roasting really. Its not as sweet as I anticipated. The slight chocolate undertones are just what the doctor ordered.

Mouthfeel - slightly more carbonation that I expected but I don't mind it. In fact I'd say it complements the beer very well.

I could drink a lot of of this Impy Stout. Too bad I can't get my hands on Founders here in SoCal.

 706 characters

Photo of Jmoore50
3.96/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Highly anticipated but not meeting expectations.

The appearance is amazing, black with a great brown head. Light lacing all up and around the glass. Medium body, would like a little thicker.

The smell is faint, dark chocolate malt. Small alcoholic smell. Burnt coffee.

The taste is good, but not great. This is an even RIS. This means that there are no outstanding flavors that blow up. It tastes good, mild coffee chocolate alcohol flavors. Nothing spectacular. The credit I do give it is that it covers the ABV very well. It is a session RIS, which is dangerous at this ABV. Good, but not great. I want an overwhelming characteristic, this is all around mild.

I recommend to anyone who has access to it. I would love to drink a four pack of this in a session, and I easily could. Just not outstanding.


 815 characters

Photo of jdklks
4.01/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

nice looking RIS. the usual... black with a nice medium-brown head that laces the glass thickly. smells overly hopped, though there is a nice chocolate malt smell that equals it out.

a nice, mellow roasted malt/chocolate flavor that lasts throughout the sip and lingers well into the aftertaste. possibly some caramel and coffee. not extraordinarily complex, though there are some nice things going on. sweet dark fruits, especially blueberry. alcohol is well disguised.

mouthfeel is slightly thinner than desired from an imperial stout, but the drinkability is great.

 570 characters

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

Pours like oil and a three finger brown head that fades slowly leaving some lace. Pure black color no highlights. Light-medium carbonation and heavy bodied. Almost a caramel nose. Flavor is smokey caramel. Mild bitter aftertaste. High ABV totally hidden. Nice IS. $3.50 for a 12oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

 320 characters

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

12 oz bottle. I really hate the pictures on their bottles.

Appearance: Ummm. Black. How much more black could it be? The answer is none. None more black. Short lived brown head. Leaves a little lacing, but it doenst stick around long in my big wine glass.

Smell: Give it a swirl and the first thing I smell is sweet smelling alcohol. Its got some bittersweet chocolate too. And there's hops too-- its almost floral. Weird, but good.

Taste: Is the 10.5% well hidden? No. There's a lot of booziness. That doesn't really dominate though. There's bittersweet chocolate, coffee/espresso, and surprising hoppiness which is almost balanced by the stouty backbone and some mild sweetness. Overall though, bitterness dominates the taste and aftertaste. Much more bitter than what I normally expect/want in a RIS, but its really quite good, an interesting beer.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thick, smooth, and rich. Not perfectly creamy and milkshake like in the way that my favorite RISs are.

Drinkability: This is really a hoplovers stout. Its nice, but not really my idea of a perfect RIS. This is the last one of a sixer, and I've enjoyed each one.

Two years later, the actual last beer from this same four pack is amazing. Soft and smooth with a bit of oxidation. Pretty awesome.

 1,269 characters

Photo of meich75
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Very dark almost black.

S: Slight coffee smell over the roasted malt smells.

T: A little bit of coffee and chocolate taste. Very good Imperial, one of my favorites so far.

M: Smooth and viscous, feel adds to the flavor.

D: Easy to drink, especialy for an imperial.

 305 characters

Photo of stoutfiend27
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into my brooklyn tulip

a-pitch black with a nice one and half finger head that stuck around for a while...tremendous lacing

s-coffee up front and sweet chocolate and prunes...

t-bitter chocolate and coffee up front with some roasted notes...nice toffee finish and nutty in the end

m-thick, oily, and viscous just like i like perfect

d-2 per night due to the abv but i would want to drink this all night its impecable

overall top notch another nice one from founders...i constantly impressed by those folks...one of my favorite ris

 556 characters

Photo of mralphabet
3.36/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Black, black, black very little dark tan head, but it leave a very nice ring around the glass thought out the session... Great lacing...Wonderful looking brew.

S: The normal Imperial Stout smells here... Chocolate and coffee with hints of dark cherry and malt... With a touch of bitterness... nice mixer of all.

T: I'm getting a strong coffee and alcohol mix.... the chocolate is a there but overwhelmed by the bitter coffee and alcohol. Little to hot for my taste.

M: Med to full bodied, with a sharpness, due to the bitterness... the finish is over all dry and a little chalky.

D: It is a 1 session beer, sip and enjoy. Gets better as it warms...

This is not my favorite Imperial Stout... this is my first Founders Brew, so I'm curious ... I'm up for more.

 803 characters

Photo of wagenvolks
4.59/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. No age date, but the beer is reportedly 1-2 years old according to hopsleeroy (oh, and thanks for the hook-up, Lee!)

Pours a murky, seal brown body with burnt sepia edges. Resinous-looking, and almost entirely opaque. A thin cap of dusty ochre foam recedes to a wispy patch of bubbles surrounded by a ring at the glass' edge. Exceptional aroma of burnt Earth, Baker's chocolate, coffee liqueur, toasted caramel malts, and hop brownies.

Lots of roast in this one: dark chocolate-covered coffee beans and caramel malts slowly burnt to a delicious crisp. Mocha-rich booze and black patent malts square off with some earthy hops on the finish, although I do remember the hops being much more prominent in a fresher bottle I had a while back. Raisin and candied fig show up as the beer warms, and I can still taste the coffee and cocoa minutes after each sip. Medium-thick, luxurious mouthfeel with a sticky, boozy finish...could stand to be a bit creamier, but that's a minor knock. Besides, the lowered viscosity provides a boost in the drinkability. All in all, a superb Russian Imperial by the abnormally consistent Founders Brewing team. Cheers!

 1,180 characters

Photo of mjl21
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired via trade...thanks Josh! 12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. No bottling info is given. Comes in at 10.5% and 90 IBUs.

A-Pours black with a dark sandy head which fades rapidly to a smallish ring encircling a tiny bubble island. As the beer is consumed, the ring gets frotheir and the small island streaks out into a nice filmy layer. Leaves decent streaky and spotted lace.

S-Lots of roasted aroma and chocolate. As it warms it has an aroma that reminds me a lot of a freshly opened Coca-Cola. While coffee is there, it reminds me more of a mocha with the chocolate aromas.

T-It has a decent amount of roast that kicks in early. Bittersweet chocolate flavors abound giving it a roasty mocha taste. It finishes with a nice roasty aftertaste that my wife thought was too ashy; it worked well for me. While there is some lingering bitternes, the 90 IBUs are vell blended.

M-It is thick, but not motor oil heavy. It is smooth with perfect carbonation.

D-The high abv is well hidden. A great nightcap.

This is another great one from Founders. It has the perfect level of roasted malt to sweet malt combined with all of the hops to help make it a very tasty beer. Would gladly have this one again.

 1,209 characters

Photo of drgonzo3705
4.06/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very nice deep black with a prominent mocha colored head. Sticky lacing left behind with good head retention. It settles to a nice film and perks back up with a quick swirl of the glass.

S: Bitter chocolate and coffee dominate the nose that's followed by a soft undertone of sweet molasses.

T: Big roasted coffee with a touch of chocolate and a pleasant bitterness.

M: Full bodied, barely adequate carbonation, and a nice slickness left behind.

D: A very easy drinking RIS. The ABV dampens the sessionability of the brew but a couple glasses wouldn't be a chore.

 572 characters

Photo of association330
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle featuring a royal crest, "90 IBUs" bitterness statement, and "10.5% ABV" marking.

A - Pours like motor oil - jet black with a creamy pinky of milky coffee-colored head. This drops to a thin film with a modest ring of bubbly foam. There is some lacing, and the liquid itself has enough weight to cling to the glass in tantalizing fashion.

S - The usual burnt malts going on. Good quality French roast coffee, toffee, hints of dark fruit and bitter chocolate. Some clean hoppiness and just a touch of alcohol. Intense, smoky, rich, and mouthwatering. I spent five minutes just inhaling this brew - it practically begs to be consumed.

T - It's all here. The dark roasted coffee dominates, but you've also got the desired bitter chocolate and dark fruit characters (dark fruit comes out more as the brew warms up). An appropriate toffee sweetness balances the coffee/chocolate bitterness. Hop spice and bitterness hit on the swallow, while a delicious smoky, slightly sweet, burnt malt aftertaste finishes out the experience.

M - Mouthfeel is rich. Superb smoothness, with soft carbonation, especially as the beer approaches room temp (alcohol tingle becomes more noticeable as well). Alcohol warms the back of the throat.

D - Founders hits a home run with this one. If it wasn't 10.5%, I'd session it again and again. A perfect "one and done" nightcap brew, since your tastebuds will be done after a bottle of this.

 1,431 characters

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

12 oz bottle poured into Chimay gobblet.

Pitch black, with a decadently brown, 1/2F head fading slowly to skim w/out much lacing.

Smell is rich and inviting. Bitter bark, english toffee, and milk chocolate.

Taste is fantastic. Sweeter than the aroma - leading with concentrated cocoa, half & half, followed by black licorice, molasses, and espresso.

Mouthfeel is the real winner here - creamy and smooth up front, but finishing with a tight, dry bite that keeps it from being too rich.

For a RIS over 10%, this is among the best in terms of drinkability. Highly recommended.

 582 characters

Photo of jjayjaye
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pour an opaque darkness with a fairly shallow dark brown foamy head that fades fairly quickly. Spotty patterns of Belgian lacing left behind. The smell is amazing! Rich sweet Tootsie Roll-like milk chocolate. Lightly carbonated, the mouth feel is full bodied and ultra creamy with a solid coating character, almost oily, helping the roasted coffee note linger really nicely. Full flavored, the choco-latte taste is world class. No way that i'd guess any where near 10.5% ABV!! An amazing beverage! The sight of the bottom of the glass brought a tear to my eye. Highly recommended.

 580 characters

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

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter. No bottle date present, but I know it was bottled sometime in January of 2009 considering its a specialty brew Founders bottles.

(A)- Pours a thick opaque black color. 1 finger head dissipated down to a layer of light brown bubbles. Some lacing present.

(S)- Rich, roasted coffee malts with dark chocolate and molasses. Kinda has a cola smell to it. And call me crazy, but I also smell hickory smoke amidst the roasted malts.

(T)- Tons of roasted coffee and dark chocolate (Mocha anybody?) Its got a serious bitter hop finish (90 IBUs !)

(M)- Its thick, rich, sweet, bitter, and dry all at the same time. There is plenty of carbonation. The 10.5% abv is integrated very well. The strength of this brew is really potent! Considering it was bottled about 6 months ago!

(D)- A classic RIS in my opinion. Definitely a sipper to be savored and enjoyed, then agian, show me a RIS that isnt a sipper!
Plain and simple; buy a bunch of these, drink one or two now and save the rest for 2+ years. By then, this will rock your socks off!

 1,073 characters

Photo of hike20
4.36/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a Duvel tullip. Pours completely black with a nice brownish tan head. Smells like coffee and alcohol. Taste is very rich and warm. Tons of complexity and depth, yet well balanced. So many flavors its hard to separate them. Esspresso roast coffee with a bit of chocolate and alcohol and a hint of smokiness. Rich creamy mouth feel. Another great stout from Founders. This brewery fast becoming a favorite of mine.

 430 characters

Photo of bunnyhustle
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from glass into a snifter. Dark as night with a mocha colored head. Good head and some retention and lacing. Looks like a good stout. Smell is rich of chocolate (not too sweet), coffee, and burnt grain. A touch of alcohol as well. Taste is similar. A very creamy dark chocolate with a little coffee and toasted grain tastes as well. Alcohol is suprisingly well hidden. Mouthfeel is thick and full, but very smooth. A great beer. One of the smoother RIS's I've had in a while. Enjoy warmer and slowyly, the ABV is well hidden and can catch up with you.

 558 characters

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

pours absolutely black with a tan head, but even with a jhard pour i can only generate about a 1/2 inch of head. Some lacing as well. The aroma has lots of licorice, some chocolate, and a touch of espresso. Rich flavors that are seemlessly integrated and very smooth and silky in the mouth. Nice flavors of licorice, chocolate, fresh cream, and some lovely roastiness. I love the superb silky, creamy mouthfeel. This one is a winner. Maybe the creamiest of all the RIS.

 469 characters

Photo of Gtreid
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks go out to headyhops81 for this one. Poured into my Stone RIS tulip. Notes from Friday night BBQ.

A: Pitch black. The pour produces two full fingers of light brown head appears and retains well. The lace is sticky and spidery.

A: Right on par with the sytle. I get chocoltae, coffee, molasses, roasted nuts, and licorice. Very nice earthiness to it.

T: Just a touch let down here. Don't get me wrong, I think it tasted very good, I was just expecting a little more from a big Founders brew. Coffee and chocolate shine, but there is a distinct bitterness from the earthy hops that do balance the beer.

M: Heavy body, good amount of carbonation give it a little bite on the back end.

D and overall impression: At 10.5% ABV this one's a sipper. Overall, this is a very good beer, I'm just not blown away with it. There is not much originality here. One par with the style, I just wanted more. Maybe a little age would do this one some good. Skal.

 954 characters

Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
4.34 out of 5 based on 7,712 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer FestĀ® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!