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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 1,845 | Ratings: 7,712
Photo of DefenCorps
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The most recent release. Thanks for grabbing me a bottle, John. I thought tonight would be my date with Mirror Mirror, but I'm a little too tired for 22oz of a 11% after two nights of sleep deprivation, so I settled for 12oz of an imperial stout instead

A: Jet black with a dark brown head, thick and gorgeous. Retention is excellent, and the delicate lacework, quite outstanding. A great looking beer

S: Big and roasty, this smells pretty good right off the bat. Rich, dark chocolate, cocoa and a little dark fruit, to start things off. There's a rather thick, creamy aroma that comes out the more I swirl this, it's intoxicating. I get a bit of bitterness, but that bit about 93IBUs can't be right, there's just some mildly pine-like bitterness that isn't aggressive by any stretch of the imagination. As it warms up, there's a delicate spice note, almost a combination of anise and cinnamon.

T: The hops do make their presence felt on the palate. The combination of biting bitterness and roasted malts make for an intense beer. The bitterness is balanced by a gentle chocolate sweetness, along with some mild cream-like character. Along with the coffee character, this beer really is a treat. The anise character is quite excellent, and the richness is incredible. Finishes bitter, leaving the entire palate on edge, craving for more.

M: Full in body, with a soft carbonation, this beer is excellent. The finish is excellent, with the contrast between the hop character and the sweetness being notable

D: This is dangerously drinkable. The few months have done this beer plenty of good, as the bottle I had fresh didn't wow me as much. For hoppy stouts, it doesn't get better than this, unless your name is Yeti.

**Edit 27 April 2012**
I'm drinking one of two remaining bottles of the Jan 2009. Still hoppy and bitter, not as aromatic as when fresh. Tons of roast, a nice char, no real oxidation (no dark fruit) despite being a screw top. A little bit of stale coffee, a little cream. Palate has a nice blend of robust roast, a little char, a nice grainy bitterness, and a little bit of fruitiness as well. Nice, medium-full body, though the mid-palate seems to have lost a little bit of heft. Thinned out a little, this has changed but not improved. Either I like this better fresh, or the 2012 release is amazing (or both). 4/4/4

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Photo of aubuc1
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured in to a snifter.

Pours a pitch black with a sticky tan head.

Smell is roasty, earthy, and a whiskey like strong aroma.

Taste is a smooth, warm, roasty with a light alcohol warming.

Very creamy mouthfeel and smooth drinkability.

This is a great stout. Not pure coffee, but plenty of richness.

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Photo of colts9016
4.39/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this bottle from a BIF, thank you.

Poured into a nonic at 51 degrees.

Appearance: A one finger dark tan head taht is creamy and foamy. The body of the beer is jet black. The clarity of the beer is opaque. The retention on the head didn't last long.

Nose: A very nice deep roasted malt, dark chocolate, molasses, espresso, wood, citrus, floral esters, and the burnt character.

Taste: A very rich deep roasted malt. The flavor in the beer are the burnt character, molasses, espresso, oaky, citrus, floral esters, molasses, it has a little phenol, and solvent

Overall: The body of the beer is thick and chewy. The mouth feel of the beer is creamy, smooth, and rich. The finish on the beer is almost full. I really like a good RIS and this beer has it. I love the chewiness, the thick full body, and the creamy smooth finish.

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Photo of illidurit
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy bulletrain76. Pours pitch black with a beige lasting head. Graham crackery sweetness in the aroma with milk chocolate and cocoa powder. No indication of what's to come in the flavor, which is massively roasted with notes of the darkest chocolates. Highly bitter and slightly ashy. Surprisingly dry on the palate with no trace of the high alcohol. Medium-heavy body, smooth and drinkable.

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Photo of danielharper
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark, black, with a thick tan-colored smooth head. Head sticks around and leaves significant lacing.

Smell: Sweet, malty, chocolatey, but with a bit of a fruity undertone. Hints of chocolate-covered cherries and... grapes. Very nice aroma.

Taste: Highly astringent, very strong with the alcohol. Underneath the astringency is a strong malt presence and a touch of breadiness. Finishes dry. It's pretty unbalanced for my palate -- I'd prefer this with either a stronger malt to overcome the astringency or less alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Thick, velvety. Leaves the tongue coated. No significant carbonation.

Drinkability: A good RIS, but not quite a great one. Maybe if I let one cellar for awhile...

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

12 oz. bottle into a Brooklyn snifter / tulip. 90 IBUs? Is that not high for the style? I like how Founders makes it apparent at the top what the IBUs and ABV are.

Appearance: Good qualities all around. Jet black. Frothy and thick mocha-colored head that leaves some nice bubbles. Also some tipping of the glass reveals the coating carbonation nicely leaving its trail. A good sign.

Smell: Dark fruits, and maybe some sweeter maraschino cherries, and sweetened, roasted malt flavors are at the forefront here. Some charcoal, some wood, mild chocolate. Caramel drizzle, a bit of vanilla and toffee. The whiff of alcohol as it warms is visceral and warranted and nice.

Taste: Let this warm to room temperature, as a bit too much bitterness can creep in once it's cooled. There's a lot of roasted, charred, dark malt on the forefront, with the mild chocolate and coffee flavors going on. Dark fruits in there also, some cherries and weirdly, some apples, which are there for the long haul. Then the bitterness and charred flavors seem to dominate, letting some caramel and vanilla float in before the ground coffee bitterness and charred malt flavors linger on the tongue in their finality.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and chewy, with not a lot of carbonation and a great coating, viscous effect that really lets the flavors come through well.

Drinkability: Another solid effort from Founders, though to me it's nothing that's transcendent, and reminds me of many others. Certainly worth a shot, though, as it's much better than average, and takes the visceral to a high level with good bitterness and roasted malt flavors.

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Photo of aewinte1
3.85/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to GREGER for hooking me up with a bottle.

A- pours jet black with 1" head. Minimal lacing. Carbonation appears standard for a stout

S- Coffee and alcohol. I couldn't really detect and hops or hints of other scents due to the overpowering coffee and alcohol smell.

T- Nothing terribly special about this beer. That is not to say it was not good, but there was nothing that really jumped out at me about the flavor. There was lots of coffee and the alcohol was not that well hidden and was quite up front on the palate. No real smokey flavors to speak of.

M- Was so-so in the mouth. It felt smooth, but the alcohol made it have a little sting in the mouth. Again, a good beer, but nothing spectacular about it

D- for the ABV, it was about average drinkability. The coffee hid some of the alcohol, but most was up front on the palate

Overall, a good beer, but not an epic beer. I would have liked a little smokey/woody flavor and possible some chocolate accents like I was expecting.

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Photo of midnite2sixman
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful pour. Tar black with a seemingly everlasting head of brown sugar colored foam.

Mad coffee beans on the nose, backed by notable caramel and toffee aromas. Roasted malts and hint of sweet rice.

Smooth and oddly refreshing, loads of coffee on the tongue, bitter chocolate, and toffee back it up.

Full bodied but it won't coat your tongue, post-quaff you are left with slight bitterness and a roasted coating on your tongue.

Is it possible to get a bad beer from Founders? Cynics, please remain silent, for this beer is a delight.

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

Serving type- 12 ounce bottle poured into a Surly pint glass.

Pours a jet black with a tan head that disipates quickly. There is no visible carbonation and no cling after the pour. Good Russian Imperial Stout but does not have any qualities that might seperate it from the others. This is my second offering from Founders and I can sense a theme going on, that being of a solid brew that doesn't exactly who you but does bring a good solid beer to the table. I enjoyed this beer but would probably pass it up for other RIS's if available.

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Photo of m2paulun
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. The darkest brown it can possibly be, it is basically black. There is no way to see through the glass. Very thin brown head that goes away quick.

S - The smell is nice and sweet. There is a balance between chocolate and vanilla. There is also an aroma of roasted coffee.

T - It is pretty sweet, but the chocolate is wonderful. There is some nice roasted coffee/malts in the back. I get just a touch of alcohol.

M - Nice thick feel, very creamy. Mild carbonation.

D - I love this beer and it is a great stout to drink. The ABV is pretty high, but you barely notice it. Founders is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries.

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

I can't comprehend how this beer is so overlooked. Founders has their Breakfast Stout and Kentucky Breakfast, which get all the credit. Lets see how this one fares:

A: This is dark. Really Dark. No light penetrates the beer even as I poured it. Pitch black, super thick, foamy brown head that leaves chunky lacing on the glass.

S: Smells a little sweet. Caramel, roast, coffee, and chocolate. Smells like a good mix of flavors.

T: This has got an awesome taste. Massive complexity and strong flavors. First off, there is a big roast flavor going on here. Its a little sweeter than some Imperial Stouts. Then a wave of milk chocolate and roasted coffee intermingle on your taste buds. A little caramel malt as well. This, Expedition Stout, and the Yetis are in the top tier tasting Imperial Stouts. Excellent.

M: Super creamy and thick. Coats the mouth and actually makes your tongue turn brown it is so thick. Excellent mouthfeel.

D: Drinkability is great for an Imperial Stout. The flavors keep you coming back for more. Plus the creamyness is just a pleasure to endure. It is kind of high in alcohol, however, you do not taste it at all. Very well hidden.

You can probably tell that I love this beer. Great flavor and mouthfeel put this beer up to the top. I do prefer this to Breakfast Stout and KBS. Its just that awesome. Might be in my top 10 beers of all time. When it comes out, be on the lookout for it. You won't regret it.

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

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into my church brewworks sifter.

A: Pours midnight black like used motor oil, builds a thin brown head which quickly dissipates.

S: Smells like burnt coffee.

T: Rich, bittersweet chocolate. A slight touch of hops on the back. Practically burns the tongue, burnt...ground....everything....

M: Thick and chewy like a RIS outta be.

D: Very rich, hides the alcohol well. I could put a few of these away in a sitting.

Another OUTSTANDING offering by founders. These guys can do no wrong.

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Photo of merryjoulton
4.51/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a thick deep dark black with a thin film of brown that sticks around til the bitter end. Smell is very malty, roasty, toasty, hint of coffee and chocolate, vanilla and smoked bacon. Taste is clean, crisp, malty and dark--much cleaner than I expected as this style tends to be a bit rough around the edges. Mouthfeel is thick and juicy, drinkability is great.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was provided to me by two excellent traders. Paco & fiver29 Good guys!

Pours with the classic tan head that is creamy and rises from within the beer. Deep brown almost black. Yep, motor oil look.

Aroma is slightly sweet. Sweetened iced coffee perhaps. Some fruit actually. Roasted tones, of course, but fairly mellow....

Hmm, very nice. A touch sweeter than I would have expected. Deep roasted flavors and again almost like Cuban coffee. Rich and yet sweet. Nice balance between sweet/bitter roasted. Slight charcoal. More vanilla than chocolate. But not much of either.

Very creamy and silky.. Subtle carbonation.

Nicely drinkable.

A good Imp Stout. But not a classic.

Not as complex as some of the others.

Always enjoy Founders though...

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

This beer pours a thick deep black that has slight ruby highlights when held to the light. A small one finger head of thick, creamy beige-colored head that disappears all too quickly. The nose is of chocolate, roasted malts, a touch of licorice, caramel malts, and the alcohol can be detected. The flavor is of sweet chocolate and caramel malts, alcohol is apparent in the taste but begins to ease as the beer warms. Espresso/coffee notes finish up the taste leaving a bit off bitterness mixed with some licorice in the finish. Thick and creamy mouthfeel to this beer, very low carbonation.

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Photo of OlieIPA
4.46/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A very gracious offering from Mauerhan...and here we go.

A: Looks black and viscous...perfect for an Imperial Stout. On the other hand, the lacing and head profile was not just lacking...but basically missing.

S: A strong mixture of coffee, dark chocolate, brown sugar, molasses, and slight fig quality...beautiful!

T: The coffee and chocolate definitely comes through to dominate the flavor profile, but the sugary and fruity qualities put a nice touch on it as well.

M: Perfect! Coats the mouth great...slightly creamy, with the right amount of carbonation to bring out the flavors.

D: Great...didn't think it was going to be this good; very easy stout to drink.

Overall: Another must try! Cheers!

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

On tap at UJ's on the Manatawny on 5/17/09. Served in a snifter.

A - Deep black body with slim tan head that reduced to a patchy film but left a pretty thick coating of lace around the glass.

S - Bitter chocolate and cocoa notes with a slight burnt caramel aspect. Hops display an earthy, somewhat woody character.

T - Rich chocolate notes with a heavy nutty astringency that lasts well into the finish. Concludes with an earthy hop bitterness. Alcohol presence is quite tame overall for an Imperial Stout.

M - Warm and softly carbonated, Founders Imperial Stout is full bodied with a rich, fairly chewy texture. Finishes with moderate bitterness and quite a bit of astringency on the palate.

D - Even though I nursed this bad boy for about an hour, this remained quite drinkable throughout. While I prefer Breakfast Stout, this is certainly no slouch.

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Photo of Pencible
3.85/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This poured a nearly opaque dark mahogany with a bit of dark tan head. It smelled like burnt coffee and brown sugar, with a bit of smokiness and alcohol. It tasted like bitter coffee and burnt dark chocolate, with molasses and charred oak and alcohol. It was fairly thick with some carbonation, and had a strong bitter aftertaste. Overall this had a very strong bitter, and dry flavor, but was still enjoyable. It had good body too. Definitely better for sipping, as the alcohol was definitely hot. It would probably mellow out and improve with age. This wasn't as good as the Breakfast stout, and not even close to KBS, but that still leaves it better than average.

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Photo of MDekker
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours out solid black. A layer of light brown head oozes to the top and then recedes, leaving a rim of head around the edge. Basically, it looks like it should.

S: Rich, of dark coffee, dark chocolate and other dark roasty things. The alcohol is there too. This comes the night after I had Sam Adams Imperial Stout, and this one is winning so far.

T: All the roasted flavors are there, but some rich fruit notes come out as well, and then the hops kick in to finish it off, with their own sizable punch, which makes for a really nice balance. The alcohol is there too. I'm just so pleased, that I'm going to go and give it a 5 on taste, which is rare for me. It's...really good.

M: This is good too. I could ask for a smidge more carbonation, but then I'm just being fussy.

D: The serious alcohol and hops were wear me out, but this sure is good. So, screw it, this gets a 5 too.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.96/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours so thick and syrupy and black, I thought I was changing my oil. I thought I would find chunks in this thing, it was so thick. Decent tawny brown head on top. Excellent sip rings stick to the glass as well. Smells of deep chocolate tones and heavy coffee. Some sweet creamy bready scent in there as well.

Mouthfeel is very thick and creamy. This thing leaves a film on the tongue. I felt like I could chew this. Flavor is of wine, grape juice, alcohol, and finishes like bitter black coffee. This is crazy good. Very impressive stout. I've been hanging on to this for a few months and it did not disappoint.

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Photo of gameface23
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: It looked like I poured motor oil into my glass - it "glugged" from the bottle in a similar manner. Completely opaque black. Not much of a head, but what is there is as dark as any head I've ever seen.

S: Chocolate, slight hops, dark fruit, and must.

T: Roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits, and a slight alcohol burn.

M: "Viscous as shit" comes to mind. I seriously think if one of the trucks that are used to distribute this ever broke down on the highway, they could pour a bottle of this into it instead of oil and be on their merry way. I had to look in the mirror to see if it was still coating my teeth.

D: For a 10.5% beer, this thing is a champ.

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Photo of srrn
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a great beer. Pours the deepest brown/black with a deep brown head. Smell of chocolate and faint hops. Taste is sweet chocolate, followed by dark fruit and a nice bitter coffee finish. This is a great RIS I will seek out often. A nice complex sipper.

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Photo of JonMich13
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A= Pure oily black like a good stout should. Even a hard pour produced a minor brown head. It thinned quickly and left only a little lacing on the glass.

S = Not a huge aroma here. Actually I'm getting more of a hoppy waft than anything else. Roasted malts there as well. Strangely smell hints of Belgian yeast. Interesting.

T = Taste is huge up front with big thick roasted malts. Almost a rum taste in there with some super dark fruits. Bitter dark chocolate is also present. A bit of hop bitterness kicks in with some boozy alcohol and the rum presence lingers in the aftertaste. An exceptional tasting RIS.

M = Just about perfect. Thick, coating and viscous in the mouth. With each sip you do not get cheated. Not quite as creamy as the Breakfast Stout, which I consider my perfect beer. But this is darn close.

D = For a RIS, this is extremely drinkable.

Wow, Founders is definitely becoming my go-to for stouts. These guys know what they're doing.

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

Thanks to leftmindedrighty for hooking this up in a BIF box.

Pours a thick impenetrable black with a very nice tan ice cream head that retains forever and leaves very nice lacing.

Nose is full of roasted malt and a bit of a chocolate profile. Mild alcohol, but roasted malt defenitely dominates.

Big and thick. Roasted malt jumps out of the gate. Some deep chocolate appears in the beginning as well. As a minimal coffee presence peaks out a touch, the roasted malt really amps up and some bitterness/slight hoppy flavor accentuates a fairly dry finish. Aftertaste is lingering roasted malt and a bit of an alcohol heat.

Mouthfeel is right where you want it. I think this one could just a tiny touch more viscous, but the carbonation is fine.

Drinkability is quite good for the style, but nothing particularly mindblowing. Certainly not a hot beer though.

Overall a very nice and well made imperial stout. With a few minor improvements, this one could be one of the best out there. A great beer.

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

Picked up a single at Abe's Cold Beer for $3 a couple months back. Poured pitch black with a tall light brown head. Man, this is pretty bitter. It's also a little more drinkable, which I also like from the big stouts. The beer tastes like extra thick dark chocolate cake, like flourless cake. There's a also a slightly tangy citrus bitterness, that while you can feel, struggles to overcome the massive dark malts on your tongue. Overall a fine RIS and certainly worth my three buck.

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