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: 1,890 | Ratings: 7,837
Photo of glid02
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up at Bruisin' Ales in Asheville, NC.

Pours completely black with a dark brown head - this is one of the darker heads I remember seeing. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of roasted malts, lightly sweetened dark chocolate with hints of roasted coffee coming out more as the beer warms. All aromas are large and in charge.

Tastes very good. Like the smell, roasted malts and chocolate flavors kick things off, with light coffee flavors coming in right before a solidly bitter ending. Real big flavors here without much hint of the ABV.

Mouthfeel is nice - it's got a very nice thickness with subdued carbonation and goes down smoothly.

Drinkability is good. I had no problem finishing off one and could go for a few more, though at 10.5% that may not be the best idea.

Overall this beer didn't disappoint, just a real solid RIS that doesn't do too much with coffee or chocolate. Definitely worth a shot.

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

Reviewed from notes. Thanks to frozensoul327 for this one. It's been so long that we now carry it out here in the CT-MA area... but I still have a bottle of it cellared from 2005, and I am dying to try it soon.

This beer was very dark brown, almost black. Although I could tell it was clear on the pour, in the glass is was pretty darn opaque. What I had hoped for. There was almost no head, and what little there was died away quickly.

Aroma was of intense dark malt, raisins, mild sweet roasted notes, and bitter chocolate. Yum.

Taste was along the same lines. Strong roasted malt, almost burnt, like it had been halfway to charred. It was slightly sweet, and definitely hoppy, although it was hard to pick out hop flavors through the roastiness. Alcohol was definitely present.

Mouthfeel was thick, chewy, somewhat viscous. A beer you could sink your teeth into.

Drinkability takes a little hit, because of the intenseness of the flavors. Although I liked it, and will revisit it again, I couldn't have more than one at a sitting.

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

The people at Founders know something about stouts that the rest of us dont... This one pours a viscous brown/black, only brown when light passes through it, with a very thing dark brown head which settles quickly. Beautiful. Smells quite chocolaty but with no espresso presence really like breakfast stout, a bit of hop is in there for blance. The taste is very dark chocolaty, especially in the aftertaste.. A bit of burnt bread in there as well.. Some caramel-like cola flavor. Its very smooth and has a really good amount of balance (though certainly not hoppy) and it gets AMAZING once it settles around cellar to room temp. The mouth is viscous and thick, coating the mouth with a sweet, dark taste AND feeling which is close to perfect. Carbonation is subtle but present, more noticeable immediately on the tip of the tongue then fades.
Its very smooth and just great.. I really had to search for reasons NOT to give it an A+ (as amazing as it is, Ive had Canadian breakfast stout and that is certainly their crown jewel.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.85/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up in Totowa recently. I love all of the Founders beers that I've had, but this one was a bit different than I expected. Sure, it's a RIS, it's strong, and the alcohol can be felt from a mile away. There's something lacking in the mouthfeel, however, and maybe it's because it's just a bit thinner than what I'm used to for this style. That being said, this was not a bad beer, but it's in a category with some pretty heavy hitters!

The pour was alright - dark, somewhat thick (but not for it's style), with a decent head. The lacing is almost nowhere to be found and as I said before, the alcohol is the first thing that my nose detected. Once this beer warmed up, the flavors started to come through - bitter chocolate, currant, toffee, licorice, and a hint of vanilla. This is probably too bitter in the mouthfeel for my taste, but it's still a good after dinner beer. It could be thinner with a warmer finish to it, but overall, the mix of flavors is nice; even if I'm not used to it!

Of course, this is strong and it won't take much to know ya on your ass. I'd love it if the mouthfeel was a bit thicker and some more coffee and dark chocolate notes could be found here. No matter, I still haven't had a bad beer from founders and if anything else, this proves that not all RIS's are created the same way. Worth a try for those seeking a change from the usual...

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

12 oz. bottle tried 11 Mar 2009. Courtesy of kirok1999, thanks!

Poured in 0.4 L Steiner Pils snifter. One finger dark brown head. Quite viscous as it pours, coats and colors the glass, almost oily. Opaque pitch black color. Moderate carbonation. Smells like lots of dark chocolate and roasted coffee, alcohol. Lots of coffee and chocolate to start, through the middle and to the finish. Coats the tongue with cocoa and vanilla. Lots of deep roasted malt. Finish is warming, hot. Aftertaste is of bitter dark chocolate. Heavy body, good mouthfeel. Alcohol is noticeable but not too powerful.

Tasty and very easy to drink.

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

Thanks Dim I had to crack one tonight.(The label design is awesome ) A fresh Bottle poured into a snifter produced a short lived tan head that settled to a thin ring around the glass. The body of the brew was a typical tar black.

Aromas are nice malty bourbon nose with some alcohol detected. You also get some coffee and chocolate as normal in an IMP stout

Bitter coffee flavor with some vanilla sweetness a little alcohol heat is on the tongue as well. You can tell there is some hops in here as well with a nice hoppy bitter as it finished nice medium feel in the mouth with little carbonation just the way a stout should be.

I had the bottle sitting next to me and figured what the hell so I cracked it open. I was rewarded with a good drinking experience. I think it is a good RIS and worth your while to try

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

Bottle into snifter.

Pours motor oil black with just a bit of translucent brown around the very edges of the glass. A little foaming action going on, but very little.

Nose is dark chocolate and dark fruits, a bit of a roasty coffee note underneath, with a slightly acidic hop character that's floral and just a bit citric. Some alcohol heat comes through. An excellent balance.

Taste is rich and chocolatey - malt forward at the start with a molten super-dark chocolate note that hints at roasty coffee and dark fruit, with a resiny, citric hopping note coming through louder towards the finish, alongside a bit of warming, spicy alcohol. Finish is drying, roasty, warming. More dark fruit. Brash and young, and absolutely full of potential - this would be one of my sure fire verticals if I could get it on a regular basis.

Mouthfeel is slick and viscous, thick, with a light, sharp carbonation underneath that makes an effort at lightening things up a bit.

Surprisingly drinkable, mainly due to the fact that it's freakin' delicious. Top notch stout.

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Photo of NCBeernut
4.87/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Really really black with a big ass creamy 3 finger head - this is the darkest brown head I have ever seen on any beer. It falls to a nice thick layer of foam.

Espresso and cream with a heavy dusting of hop oils turns to a rich chocolate aroma with hints of vanilla and anise. Enough alcohol in the nose to let you know its there. I hope this tastes as good as it smells.

Oaky earthiness - very woody. Plenty of resinous hop oils similar to Storm King only more subdued - not overpowering. Nice roasted barley flavors meld with hints of chocolaty espresso. Words don't do it justice. Ultra smooth and creamy - so chewy and desert-like. Alcohol is dangerously hidden, but still leaves a nice warm feeling.

Just about a perfect RIS. Best I have ever had.

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Photo of timmay41
4.29/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours inky black with a light, one finger caramel-colored head. This quickly dissolves, leaving delicious looking lacing and medium sized carbonation bubbles.

S: Smells of a clean, strong coffee bitterness and smokey roasted barley. Hints of dark chocolate and a touch of alcohol on the nose.

T: Dark, dry, and rich on the palette. Strong espresso flavor that rounds out with chocolate semi-sweetness and a little alcohol heat in the aftertaste. For the first few sips I didn't know what I was tasting; it's an aggressive malty front. But once it warmed up some the taste improved.

M: Full bodied and biting with carbonation up front, velvety in the mouth and down the throat with warming alcohol afterwards.

D: My cheeks are warm and happy. This is a great representative for the dry imperial stout family.

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Photo of gford217
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle of the most recent release poured into a tulip.

Pours a viscous oily black with a creamy one-inch tan head which settles down fairly quickly and leaves good lacing.

The aroma is big and roasty. Tons of dark chocolate malts and roasted coffee with a balancing sweetness of licorice.

The taste is definitely sweeter than the aroma with lots of licorice, vanilla and dark fruit that balances with the huge dark roasted malt base and then, interestingly, a bit of hoppy bitterness leading into a dry finish.

The mouthfeel is fantastic and super creamy with some soft carbonation which leaves a very nice coating on the palate.

Another great beer from Founders and a very good example of an RIS all the way around. Excellent!

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Photo of prototypic
4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: This one's a very dark, chocolate brown color. Not an ounce of light is slicing through. It's nearly black. The head is a very attractive dark mocha color. It only reached a finger or so deep and didn't last very long. Lacing was on the lighter side. Not a huge surprise given the high abv.

Smell: The nose is extremely impressive. Chocolate malts are at the forefront and have a very sweet, fudge-like quality to them. Roasted malts aren't too far behind and only add to the brilliant malty aroma. Roasted coffee/espresso aromas follow and are enough to entice any coffee fan. There's a bit of a barley aroma that gives it a nice earthy vibe. Alcohol is surprisingly faint.

Taste: The flavor profile is even more impressive than the nose. Founders has crafted one delicious beer here. It's very malty. Chocolate malts are the primary variety and have more of a bitter chocolate flavor than I anticipated from the nose. Not as sweet as I was expecting. Fear not, it's not at all disappointing. Roasted malts and barley complement the chocolate flavor very well. The coffee/espresso flavor is really what drives this one home for me. It's stronger than I expected. Much to my surprise (and delight), there's a nice little hop surge to this one. Oh yeah, that is in addition to a spicy element I also didn't see coming. Alcohol is noted, but it doesn't present itself as a 10.5% abv beer. Finishes a little spicy and bitter.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: As expected, this is a very thick, lush beer. It's smooth as silk. Carbonation is light enough to give it a nice creamy feel. Drinkability is good. Surprisingly good for the size. But, I can't get that 10.5% number out of my head. It goes down easy. Nice sipping beer. But, respect the strength.

There's no question that Founders makes excellent, world class beer. Imperial Stout is one fine example that stands near the front of their lineup. I can't constructively criticize this beer in any way. It's just too damn good. I hate that this beer isn't more widely available. It was extremely tough to come by this year. Hopefully Founders will ramp up the production on this more in the future. Highly, Highly recommended.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Like friggin clumpy oil into the glass. Opaque and then some. Dark mocha head, reduces to ring. Lacing is thick, almost gooey. It's going to be hard to clean this glass...

S - Roasty malt, solid cocoa underbelly, lots of coffee. Bitter and sweet and powdery.

T - Wow. Gigantic cocoa presence. Huge coffee and huge toasted malt. Overload. Danger Danger Danger.

M - Very heavy, thick, wonderful. Awesome balance, as something so heavy handed could have come out cloying or nastily bitter. It's quite the knack that it came out so balanced.

D - I like it, but man, too boozy and the coating glues itself to your mouth. I bet I wake up tasting it.

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Photo of craytonic
3.55/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Typical motor-oil black, big head and some lacing.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee/espresso, roasted malt, malts, some grapefruit hops, some random dark fruits

Taste: Chocolate, coffee/espresso, roasted malt, some grapefruit/pine hops

Mouthfeel: Not as thick as I expected for a RIS. Alcohol is noticable

Drinkability: Decent, was a little disappointed in this one, won't try it again - very ho-hum for a RIS.

Part of my darkness, dark lord, kate, sexual chocolate, RIS tasting, and near the bottom of the stack.

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Photo of BigIrishman
4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into pint glass

Appearance: Thick black with cappuccino colored head, not much retention.

Smell: Coffee and chocolate overload the nose, very malty base to it as well.

Taste: Huge coffee/espresso base, similar to the breakfast stout but not quite as much as the BS. Absolutely wonderful finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy, just the way I like my RIS's.

Drinkability: The 10.5% alcohol is completely unnoticeable, I could pound these down all day.

Notes: Founder's never disappoints, this beer fits perfectly into my RIS gap right now, absolutley wonderful.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

G: 18-ounce glass snifter.

A: Pours a thick, dark, opaque liquid, reminiscent of Hershey's syrup in color. Starts off with about a finger-and-a-half of head that is nutty in color. There are a decent amount of carbonation bubbles visible on the top of the head, and the head recedes quickly to about half a finger. Decent amount of lacing as it goes down.

S: Very smeet malt smell from the start, fading into a calming alcohol presence. Hints of dark, unsweetened chocolate and a subtle whiff of coffee. Little to no hop presence, although I cannot be sure how old this beer is, as I don't believe it has any sort of bottled-on date.

T: The initial taste first brings a sweetness that hits the back corners of the mouth--reminds me of the feel of green apple Jolly Ranchers in the mouth, though with much less pungency. A mild caramel biscuit flavor underneath the sweetness.

M: Medium-bodied and crisp. Mild carbonation on the tongue and crisp as it goes down. Maybe just a little bit hot in the mouth--I'd bet the mouthfeel would be sublime with a year or two on it.

D: Quite savory. Not quite as complex as Expedition, although it'll definitely factor into the rotation. I'll definitely lay a couple of these down to see how the flavor profile develops over time.

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Photo of TheDoorman
3.95/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a thick black with a thin coffee head, evincing minimal carbonation. Aroma is big roasted malt flavors, roasted coffee beans. Taste follows the nose. Roastyness galore. Not oversweet like some RIS can sometimes be. I'd actually say this could use a touch more sweetness, which is out of character for me to say. The flavors are big and roasted, but not sugary. Hops are present to cut the big roasted flavors and provide a nice bitter finish. Definitely very hoppy for the style. A touch short of thick and creamy, but still a very nice smooth mouthfeel, with carbonation kept to a minimum. It could use a touch more body though. Alcohol is barely perceptible. A very nice RIS overall.

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Photo of genog
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Bodega in Columbus. I was shocked to see it on the menu, since I have never even seen it in bottles. It was brought to the table in a 10 oz small, sample type glass. Black as night with minimal brown head that disappeared soon after my first sip. Aroma was very malty, cocoa, and licorice. Plenty of licorice in the first sip from the beginning to the lingering after effects. Sipped on this one as it was incredibly filling. Glad I finally got to try this great founders beer.

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

Dark raw cocoa at its unprocessed best. Light scent, pitch black still oil with thinnist beige lacing. Light scent of cocoa and expresso. Bit of a bitter chocolate tang that lingers. The ABV is hidden well, though it's definitely present. A dry tannin appears for a moment, but not disturbing the melody. Thick and slick, the mouthfeel is velvety bliss. Reminiscent of RISs that recreate the ancestors of the style. A real treat.

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

2 12oz bottles into a Duvel snifter, pours a deep opaque black with a thin tan head that lasts as a thin layer and leaves great lacing. Aroma is loaded with roasted malts and cocoa with hints of fresh ground coffee. The taste is a nice plethora of roasted malts with cocoa subdued in the finish. The beer is somewhat heavy, but the alcohol is fairly well hidden. This is certainly an exceptional Imperial Stout.

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Photo of khiasmus
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Randy stumbles down the corridor, his gas lantern glistening off of the black walls. Covered with soot after a long day in the mine, everywhere his eye turns reveals only more blackness. "Used oil" is all he can think of, even as he splashes his face and attempts to smudge the grime away. He glances in the mirror and sees a few spots of his face through the blackness... Spotty lacing on the sides.
Lunch of coffee, always coffee, he can smell it from down the hall. Dinner of coffee, breakfast of coffee. It's always dark, so always coffee. Dark roasted grain of black currant bread, a hunk of chocolate. The earthiness of the walls blends too, almost a hop note, but it fails to surface. A faint aroma of alcohol... I suppose it's not always coffee.
The flavor, then... sweet. Surprisingly sweet. Sugar-oil. Strong both earthy hop and roasted grain bitterness, some alcohol, carob, chocolate, espresso. Reminds me of Fat Dog, in some almost fake sweetness notes, almost artificial... but doesn't seem too bad. The mouth is coated with the stuff, thick and oily, heavy, very nice.
He must have dozed off. He looks at his watch... back to work, he's slept far too long. He staggers back down the hallway. Can't wait for the weekend, I'll have it again... seems so far off...

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Photo of uno99
2.76/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Guinness glass. serving temp is fairly warm. left outta my fridge for a couple hours.

A: looks appealing but no head to speak of which is to be expected in this 10.5ABV monster.

S: very boozy and slightly sour.. do I have a bad bottle?

T: sour and boozy again upfront but nice chocolate and malt mid sip. then sourness returns. damn I think it might be bad... :(

M: nice thick and moderately carbonated.

D: well since this is so sour gonna have to dock some points here..

Not sure if this is a bad bottle, but I'll edit my post if I revisit this beer.

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

pour is how it should be. quite smooth without that much head. medium to heavy body in pour. a gentle smell of chocolate and roasted malt. earthier than most. tobacco bitter with a slight sourness. not on the sweeter side. but backed by the body so its not abrasive. a good beer. a bit pricey but another solid beer by founder's for sure.

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

Poured from a bottle (courtesy of ralflord -- thanks again, man!) in a pint glass. Wicked black with a thin brown leather head that quickly dissipated. A little lacing.

Very dark chocolate notes in the aroma, the smell is really enticing. More chocolaty than the Breakfast, even. Bread, coffee bean, maybe a little anise.

The taste is all that plus a bracing bitter presence. Some good, gooey dark chocolate syrup in the flavor, that turns into an unsweetened cocoa powder taste when the bitter hits.

The bitterness kind of lingers on the tongue, I find it almost abrasive. Almost. It kind of "stings" (for lack of a better word) in the way that other super hoppy IPAs do.

I'm into it -- not my favorite RIS, but I'd have another for sure.

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

Pours an opaque black with cinnamon head that fizzles away quickly. This brew has an enticing aroma: dark chocolate, malty, alcoholic booze, and slight raisins. Whew! Amazingly smooth taste of dark chocolate, touch of cinnamon, and roast. Alcohol is deviously hidden behind full flavor. There's a wonderful spice aftertaste that lingers which seems to be the standout characteristic that makes this a world class stout.

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Photo of jdg204
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After two very successful Founders offerings in the past few months (B-Stout and Porter), I had to made the call to get a 4pk of Impy Stout as my next acquisition.

A: Extremely black in color and thick in texture with a dark mocha head which is a bit thin. So dark you can't see light through the glass, an impressive sight.

S: Strong roasted coffee and dark chocolate aroma dominates with some strong citrus hop in the background.

T: Taste is deeply of Dove dark chocolate and dark roasted coffee malts. Evern as the impressive hops kick in as backbone this isn't that bitter as the malts really stabilized the product. Has an amazing aftertaste that makes you save the moment.

M: Incredible thickness and gravity to this product make it easy on the palate and the savory sensation is impressive.

D: This was quite a beer and may be the best RIS I've had to date (and I've had quite a few of the best: Storm King, Stone, BBCS, Yeti). Once again I'm humbled by the guys at Founders, they've clearly found a niche in dark beers and they're not 3 or 3 with 4.2+ beers in my book. I'm excited to see what their non-Dark offerings are now. Go to any lengths to try this beer, I'm guessing it's gotten lost in the Breakfast Stout hype at Founders but this is just as deserving of great praise!!

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
4.34 out of 5 based on 7,837 ratings.
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