Founders Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
75 IBU

Added by mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

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Reviews: 1,868 | Ratings: 7,789
Photo of Pinknuggets
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 bottle into hfs Belgian sniffer

A: black as night in the middle completly opaque but some brown to dark dark red on the outsides next to no head but thin mocha ring and 1 year of aging

S: so I don't understand but even with a year on this it smells of booze which somewhat fades with dome time. there is that of that dark chocolate hint of coffee stout like smell that I expect from stouts

Edit (1/13/13) 2012 bottle: having this fresher the coffee smell comes out much more with a fresher bottle and the alcohol has much less of a presence.

T:so the aging may have made a difference to mellow out the alcohol because I can taste it in the finish but not anywhere else. Upfront the is a lot of mocha coffee flavor with hints of chocolate that fades into bitterness with a tail end of malt the fullness of the flavor lasts for a long time

Edit (1/13/13) 2012 bottle: even with a fresher bottle the coffee flavors are more bold and present while the alcohol burn really isn't that bad but seems like it could once again benefit from age. I like this fresh and aged.

M:it starts off semi harsh but quickly fades into a thick smooth creamy texture that is amazing to sip

O: this is a really good stout, it's well balanced with delicious flavors that mix together but do not overpower each other. It's so smooth and clearly get better with age. Well done founders keep doing what you do

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Photo of Frosty80
4.41/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Color: pours extremely dark brown, almost completely black with the smallest of dark brown rims. sits black with a two-finger, creamy brown/mocha head

Smell: very mellow chocolate and roasted malt in balance as well as some light alcohol presence

Taste: rich, roasted and slightly charred malt with just enough chocolate to round it out a bit. alcohol is only an ankle-biter here but comes through a little more in the finish, which is somewhat dry, lightly bitter and mostly roasted/charred malt with light chocolate notes

Mouthfeel: low carbonation. very full, chewy body

Notes: kick-ass stout. the burnt malt flavors are very welcome as they add character and invoke thoughts of malt and fire

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Photo of IPAdams
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- Pours thick and pitch black with a small tan head that recedes quickly and leaves minimal lacing.

Smell- I get some vanilla and coffee with a background of milk chocolate and caramel. Very sweet smell, almost like French vanilla coffee with a bit of espresso in the back, very nice.

Taste-Can definitely taste the 90 IBU's. First sip is burnt toast and espresso. As it warms the bitterness subsides a little and gives way to notes of chocolate, licorice and some flavors of burnt caramel. I like the flavor but the bitterness and burnt toast take away from the other characteristics

Mouthfeel- Very full bodied and creamy. I like the mouthfeel but again the bitterness is quite drying on the back end.

Overall- Pretty good Imperial stout. Nice flavors, smell and body. I definitely recommend letting it warm up to help diminish some of the bitterness.

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

The look is what I dream about, perfect pitch black like used motor oil. Very dark caramel color head. Has a roasted coffee smell along with some dark chocolate. Very thick with a roasted taste.

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Photo of 11-52_4hops
4.39/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I am not sure how a stout could look any more appetizing -deep black color; thick - I've poured motor oil with less viscosity; nice tan head with significant lacing (or my glass is real dirty -- will give Founders the benefit of the doubt). Subdued nose - dark chocolate and malts. Taste - straight forward excellence -- not a lot of extra frills, but what this beer does, it does exceptionally well; like the nose, dark chocolate and malts, exceptional bitterness (yes the 75 IBU comes through). Mouth feel is silky smooth, nice carbonation, and a lingering bitterness (see 75 IBU again); high ABV masked a bit -- I think this one could catch up with you. Overall -- this is a truly outstanding Imperial Stout. Yet another example of Founders showing their expertise with dark beers.

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

A: Pours motor oil black in color with a chocolate color head. Head retention is moderate with decent lacing.

S: Ground coffee, burnt malt, sweet vanilla, dark chocolate, caramelized raisins. Aroma is strong and a little bitter.

T: Dark coffee, rich dark chocolate, sweet vanilla, roasted malts, slight hop bitterness, it has an interesting burnt/smoke taste to it. The beer is bit hot.

M: Thick, viscous, rich, and creamy, carbonation is on the soft side.

O: Overall an excellent RIS, one of my favorites. I definitely recommend.

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Photo of Chiefy770
4.59/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 Fluid Ounce Bottle
Served in a Snifter
Bottled on November 24th, 2015
Reviewed on February 2nd, 2016

Poured a syrupy dark-brown body. A brown head formed, roughly two fingers thick. Excellent head retention with plenty of sticky lacing.

Roasted malts dominated the overall aroma. Dark roast coffee. Toasted nuts. Dark chocolate. Caramel. Faint hint of alcohol.

Big hit of roasted malts. Dense layers of cocoa, espresso, caramel, and charred toast. Mild hint of bitterness, similar to the acidic bitterness in coffee and dark chocolate. Finished warm.

Dense. Full-bodied. Chewy at times. Low carbonation.

Remarkable RIS. Founders did an excellent job of showcasing the naturally sweet characteristics of an imperial stout without making the brew a sugar bomb. I cannot recommend this beer enough!

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Photo of Masonz223
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottled: 12/10/15

Smell: Camp fire smoke smoked meat tobacco dark chocolate fudge hints of dark fruits

Taste: upfront dark chocolate dark fruit sweetness raisin middle of the mouth big smokey notes camp fire smoke smoked meat jerky tobacco milk chocolate in the finish you get a big pop of pine bitterness that lingers on the tongue.

Feel: full body creamy. A beer that you definitely want to sip on.

Overall: this is a huge beer. Big smokey notes make this beer unique and very complex. A really good beer that I imagine will get better with age.

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

12 oz. bottle

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

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

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

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

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

poured into a tulip


Beer looks like your typical imperial stout. pitch black with about a fingers worth of light brown dissipated after about two minutes. some light lacing on the glass but nothing crazy.


big time dark and roasted malts. Aromas of coffee, molasses, bitter chocolate, perhaps a hint of licorice. A little smokiness and booze comes out as it warms up.


similar to nose but some sweetness as well as bitterness really comes out... I guess bitterness should be expected checking out the IBUs of this brew. Get some sweet chocolate and roasted coffee at the beginning, moving on to some smoky flavor and bitterness before you get that nice warming booze flavor.


almost perfect for the style. Full bodied beer with a creamy mouthfeel. A slight warming booziness in the mouth. Maybe needs a slight more carbonation but can't see many other flaws.


A solid RIS. Unfortunately it was kinda difficult to get and I would imagine from years to come will get even tougher to get that I'd probably just grab some old raspy as it's much easier to get and pretty damn good itself.

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

A: Dark brownish black, with a modest head that nevertheless leaves nice lacing behind.

S: Molasses, fruits, burnt roasted aromas.

T/M: Rich, layered flavors, the sweet of the molasses and fruit notes blended seamlessly with bitter, toasted flavors, some coffee, subtle nutty accents, so much going on here. And yet it all goes down really smooth.

O: This is just amazing and delicious.

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Photo of E-McFarden
4.61/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Black as night, but with a taste that cannot be ignored. Apparent but not overbearing in the toasted flavor, and a pleasant undertone of cherry and chocolate. What a good beer.

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Photo of fastsrt
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

poured 12 ounce bottle in a snifter.

A: tried to entice a head, but it came out like oil and left a thin deep brown head that lasted for a few minutes.

S: roasted malts, alcohol, citrus, mellow.

T: russian imperial stout at its best.

M: smooth creamy, rich, lingering.

D: this beer leaves an impression, it is perfect. this is a must try for people who somewhat like this style beer, I had this one draft as well the head was better, and had more carbonation. The bottle is better.

This beer is an A+ but, it didn't look as sexy as others.

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

A: Viscous black with almost no light even coming through the edges. Pours the consistency of cough syrup and has about a two finger dark tan head

S: Very, very roasty. I'm getting a bit of caramel and burnt hazelnuts. Also getting a little bit of coffee and dark chocolate

T: Very chocolatey, very rich and full of roasty nuttiness. I also got a bit of a hop bitterness right at the back and the aftertaste leaves you feeling like you just had a triple shot of espresso straight

M: Ultra smooth and creamy, super full body and is almost close to being a solid. Just a super, super thick beer

Overall this was excellent. Very aggressive in some aspects, but well balanced overall. Awesome stuff, Founders!

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Photo of Lolli1315
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours and opaque black, can't get any darker than this. About a finger of head, maybe a little more that is dark brown. Nice lacing as this is sticking to the entire glass.

S- Roasted malts slightly overpowered by the smell of alcohol, certainly not unappetizing though. A dark chocolate aroma tends to sneak through before being squashed out by the malt and alcohol.

T- The roasted malts jump around for around a couple of seconds before a dark chocolate bitterness kicks it of the way. The alcohol taste is hidden initially, but towards the end of the beer it leaps out almost unexpectedly and sticks to the palate for quite a long time.

M- Very chewy and thick with a smooth carbonation that makes this a smooth the entire way down.

D- The lingering taste of alcohol in this beer is the only real thing detracting from the drinkability. If you look past that and understand it is something to be expected out of a bigger beer, then this beer will be one you keep reaching for.

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

Pours a thick, I mean petroleum thick (you can't even see through the pour), pitch black and viscous liquid with a nice chocolate color head that recedes fairly quickly leaving a thin foam cap on the surface. Mighty lacing.

Aroma is strong and full of roasted malts, espresso and mild bitter chocolate. Floral hops come through very lightly towards the end giving a nice perfume touch.

Taste is a malt bomb with roasted dark malts, espresso, chocolate, mollasses and very faint herbal hops. Lots of bitterness towards the end as well as coffee and bitter cocoa.

Mouthfeel is silky and creamy with lots of viscosity. Body is very heavy and thick and carbonation is medium. The alcohol is not overly apparent but you can definitely tell that it's there. Finish and aftertaste are very powerful, a combination of strong coffee notes and hop / roasted malt bitterness making the drinkability not that high, which I guess it's ok and expected, given the style.

A solid Imperial Stout from Founders, undoubtedly one of the best breweries out there. I still prefer the Breakfast Stout over this one but it is still definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Prufrock
3.45/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

pours pitch black with a touch of brown head that falls quickly to nothing.

coffee, raisins, molasses, and a touch of soy sauce in the aroma. smells very sweet and dark, if that makes sense.

heavy but smooth mouthfeel with just a touch of carbonation. raisins and a vinous sweetness dominate the flavor with some coffee-like bitterness and alcohol. touch of soy sauce lines the throat and the finish, which along with the alcohol limit the drinkability.

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Photo of bigaltemple
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 12/20/12

Good pour of motor oil. Black and viscous. No real head, but wasn't really expecting one. Dark, caramel ring supplies some small spots of lace.

Nice and toasty, almost smokey. Good amount of bitter chocolate and fresh roasted coffee. As it warms, get some sweeter/vanilla notes.

Initial taste is all espresso before the char and chocolate show up. Very thick and coats the entire palate. Warming even with the alcohol being well hidden. Like the nose, vanilla and caramelized sugar show up after some time.

Highly enjoyed this and would love to have more to enjoy on a cooler evening.

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Photo of BloodSoakedAleMug
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: Pours a pitch black color with a dark tan two finger head. Laces the glass very well.

Aroma: Dark chocolate, espresso, rich tobacco, biscotti, mild notions of smoke, caramel and butterscotch.

Taste: I'm getting cherries, dark chocolate, creme de cocao, vanilla, coffee, espresso, charcoal, black licorice, hazelnut, caramel and even gentle hints of resinous piney hops.

Feel: Mouthfeel is full bodied and creamy. Low carbonation. Sweet and dry throughout.

Overall: Top shelf stuff. Really complex but effortless and harmonious flavor profile. A must try if you're a fan of Russian Imperials.

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

Managed to snag a few of these from the good people at Crown Liquors.

Appearance: This beer glugs into my pint glass and settles into a jet black body with a small mocha colored head that quickly dissipated, but it did leave some spotty lacing on my pint glass.
Smell: The nose is a rich combination of roasted malt and coffee with an almost grassy hop scent as well. There is a hint of alcohol and chocolate at the back end of this offering as well.
Taste: The flavor profile is amazing complex with flavors that outshine the nose on this beer. The main flavors are of the rich and roasted malt, but as the beer warmed past cellar temp I began to get currants, plums, dates, espesso beans, caramel, chocalte, and anise. There are many flavors, but all combine so well on the palate to make a very pleasurance workout for your taste buds.
Mouthfeel: This beer is smooth as silk with the alchol only barely noticable on the mouth. It has good carbonation for a RIS, and it leaves an overall dry sensation in my mouth.
Drinkability: This beer is dangerously good, and I wish I had the opportunity to purchase much more of this amzing beer.

Just an awesome beer. Well done again Founders.

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

Really excited to finally get my hands on these this year.

Pours midnight black into a Duvel snifter - what seems like lack of head turns into a half finger of dark dark brown head with nice clingy lacing. So far so good.

The taste? The taste. Warm coffee, chocolate, dark malts and some fruit, some molasses and vanilla. Beautiful mouth feel - thick and smooth and just the right kind of slick with the carbonation only present at the end. Virtually no unpleasant bitterness to speak of, just creamy deliciousness.

This is exactly what I expected from Founders and I'm again staggered by how on point their brews are. I'm happy I have a few bottles so I can let one mellow out a bit; I can only anticipate this beer getting better with time.

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

Poured into a tulip.

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of RozzieBoy
4.44/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L - Dark brown/black pour with a thick tan head. Great, thick lacing get throughout.
S - Smell of chocolate the entire way through.
F - Nice and smooth.
T - Wow. Followed the smell all the way.
O - What a tasteful beer. Really enjoyable beer.

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

reviewing the last bottle of a 4pk -
pours opaque brown/black into a pint glass and puts up a 1/2 finger of rich brown head - leaves rings of lacing from top to bottom - i can smell roasted barley, coffee and and a slight wiff of alcohol - bitter and prickly on the tip of the tongue - tastes of roasted grains and coffee, bitter chocolate and then some vanilla - I don't really taste the alcohol - this is a good beer to end the night with - tastier as it warms -
the bitter chocolate taste lingers on nicely in the finish - mouthfeel is thick at the beginning and soon thins to a nice creaminess - goes down easy -
really good stuff !

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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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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
4.34 out of 5 based on 7,789 ratings.
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