Founders Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Imperial StoutFounders Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

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

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
75 IBU

Added by mjohn27603 on 01-13-2003

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,837
Ratings:
7,637
Avg:
4.34
pDev:
17.28%
 
 
Wants:
725
Gots:
2,378
For Trade:
153
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,837 | Ratings: 7,637
Photo of coachdonovan
4.21/5  rDev -3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter from a 12/22/11 bottle, it's obviously pure black. One of the darker heads I've seen in a while too; it starts out about an inch thick and fades to a thin layer of mocha foam, solid lacing. This is the picture you find in the dictionary next to "Imperial Stout."

Nose is equal parts coffee and unsweetened chocolate. A little tingle of alcohol is there, but just barely. The malt brings to mind the aroma of roasted chestnuts on a New York City autumn afternoon.

First pull from the glass is smooth and viscous. The aroma themes are still there - roasted coffee and bitter chocolate - but this flavor profile goes much deeper. There is a juicy fruitiness that balances all that darkness, and now I find the 90 IBUs referenced on the label. The roasty notes come through again in the finish.

I'm taking my time with this one because I want to enjoy all the flavors, not because the 10.5% abv is obvious. This is simply really really good. If the coffee flavor was dialed back just a bit, it might be perfect.

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Photo of WorldWideStout
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a rich, thick, warm dark brown. I made sure to observe it in good light, and it definitely wasn't as dark as most others seem to say. Interesting. Barely any head. Lacing holds on pretty well, and there is a bit of a foam that hangs around the side of the snifter.

S: Rich, dark coffee, but muted compared to the Breakfast Stout. A little bit of charred malts, a little bit of hops, and a little bit of chocolate.

T: Coffee is the main flavor. More bitterness than in the smell. Some semi-sweet chocolate in the middle.

M: Lovely. Just the right thickness. Sort of creamy, without being too heavy.

D: Pretty high. I don't taste the alcohol, and it doesn't have any jarring flavors or mouthfeel that weighs you down.

This seemed like a less bold, more balanced version of Founder's Breakfast Stout. Reminded me of Ten Fidy in many ways.

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Photo of TCHopCraver
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes made on 1/9/11. This was bottled in 11/09 and I had to hold the bottle right up to a light because the date had become so faded.

Whoa, this beer is so dark. This is right up there with the blackest stouts I've seen, if not the blackest. After a medium-hard pour into a snifter, a one and a half finger dark mocha head rests on top. There is some deep red color at the edges, but the body is quite opaque. Thick clumps of froth drip down the glass post-sip and leave small dots and swirly streaks of vertical lacing.

Roasted malts, espresso, bitter cocoa, molasses, vanilla - every aroma you could possibly want from a Russian Imperial Stout exists in the bouquet. When swirled, roasted malts and nuttiness take over the profile. Conversely, when at rest the coffee and chocolate aromas dominate. Way back in the bouquet are some dark fruit scents.

The flavor brings big time roast notes at first, with anise and molasses supporting. As the beer mellows over my tongue, bitter chocolate, espresso, and creamy vanilla coat, followed by a roasty malt and earthy hop finish. Throughout the sip, there is certain acidity that complements the roasted flavors.

The mouthfeel is rather forward and biting at times. The acidity makes for a puckering feel for the whole sip, while a creamy medium to full body takes the reins in the middle. The finish is quite dry and does a nice job of cleaning my palate.

Founders IS is a delicious slow-sipper and is a damn fine interpretation of the style. The taste is maybe just a tad bitter and acidic, but is also big, bold, and flavorful. This is one of which I will always pick up a four pack each year it comes out and enjoy the bottles over the course of time.

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Photo of rundocrun
4.11/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Body is pitch black. Two fingers of brown head form which fades slowly. Lots of lacing. Great looking stout.

S - Cooked fruit and rich cocoa. Mild black pepper spice and some spicy hops.

T - Tons of sharp, bitter roasted grains. Intense french roast coffee, unsweetened cocoa, and mild underlying caramel malts. Finish is semi-sweet and quite rich. Booze is just detectable as the beer warms. This is an imperial stout in every sense of the words. Not for the faint of heart, that's for sure.

M - Thick body. Balanced carbonation. Finish is semi-dry with residual burnt sugar flavor/feel.

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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

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

12oz bottle poured into snifter. Thanks StayWhatYouAre2 for sending this in a surprise box, along with a dozen other midwest brews.

A: Pours quite viscous, like unused motor oil, and is just about as black as well. It actually "glugs" a little coming out of the bottle. It settles as a completely still black body of liquid with almost no head at all; just a spotty film and thin ring of tight brown/mahogany bubbles. Moderate lacing is left on the glass after rolling it a bit.

S: Chocolate stands out immediately ... rich semisweet chocolate. Coffee and roasted malts are also prominent. The dark fruit aroma is a little less subtle than I was expecting, which is fine by me. There is definitely a good amount of alcohol in the aroma. This really smells a little hot and could probably use some age.

T: Chocolate and coffee are, again, prominent. Typical. There is a pretty strong presence of dark fruits (fig and plum) that last from the beginning to the end. Roasted malt, providing a subtle smokiness, sneaks in near the end. The contrast between sweet chocolate and fruit, and roasted malts and hops, would provide a well balanced finish if it wasn't for the booze. The alcohol isn't hidden very well at all and leaves a bit of heat and a burn in the throat.

M: Although it doesn't have the fullest body, it's pretty viscous and slightly sticky. Coats the mouth and tongue nicely. Very little carbonation adds to the creaminess. Finishes slightly dry.

D: Drinkability isn't very high at all as it is right now. Viscous stouts rarely are, and this one is just a bit to boozy to put down easily. I think with some age this could mellow out and become a very nice stout. That isn't to say that it's not good now, it's just a touch hot. Overall, it's still quite enjoyable.

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

Pours black with thin tan head in Stone IRS tulip. Lots of lacing considering such a small head.

Smell is heavy with dark chocolate and coffee.

Taste is nice toasted malt and dark chocolate. Good coffee flavor in aftertaste. Much better than Breakfast Stout.
.
Mouthfeel is very rich and creamy. Full bodied. Not a lot of carbonation.

Overall this is a pleasant sipper.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of BreakfastStout
4.94/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So excited when the local store called to let me know the 2014 FIS was delivered today. Ran down there to pick up my 4 packs when they called. Pours black as oil from the bottle into my Founders Snifter. Excellent dark blackish brown head the subsides ever so slowly. Coffee, raisin, roasty, caramel notes dominate the nose. The first sip tells me I'm in for a treat. There's a lot of stuff going on here. This beer is incredible. Fantastic finish, with an incredible chewy mouth feel. I can't wait to see how this beer tastes with some age on it.

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Photo of NoLiberty
3.73/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours rich, thick and chunky into the glass. It feels almost heavier than a standard 12 oz. Color is absolutely black with no color coming through at all. A light half finger cappuccino colored head froths up on the pour and settles into a light spotty covering, like the skim on top of a simmering tomato sauce. Strong edging with high droplets of lacing

The aroma is rich roasted sweet malt and boozy alcohol, which actually gives a nice balance of seductive, deep, warm and refreshing. A bit deeper down are coffee and chocolate notes with some subtle yeast-like qualities that add a nice spicy intoxication.

Nice, almost lacto-like sweetness up front that moves to a roasted bitterness that tingles the back outer tongue. Nice alcohol lingers on top making the flavors of coffee, roasted malt and toast come to life. Finishes out with a smooth swallow followed by hop bitterness aftertaste and a lingering burnt breath. The flavors are all there but not entirely blended. The finish is odd and the pacing of the drink seems slightly too front forward.

Mouthfeel is lighter than I anticipated for the thick appearance. Carbonation seems spot on. Real viscous feel to the beer, it's slippery and moves at it's own pace; not too fast not too slow. A good sipper but not unpleasant to pull hard on.

I like this beer despite some quirks here and there. The overall experience is pleasurable and something I'd come back to from the Founders folks.

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Photo of AJacob81
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This made my winter. Poured into a snifter on 2-16-11. From notes.

A - Jet-black, hint of deep mahogany. Dark mocha head of 2 tightly-packed fingers forms, recedes to a tobacco-stain ring and leaves generous lacing that coats the glass. Fantastic.

S - Aromas of fudge cake, fresh-ground coffee, and soft dark fruits overwhelm, aromatic spicy hops, caramel malt, and English toffee pitch in, and an incredible bouquet is released. Great nose on this beer.

T - Deep, roasted grain, brownies, port wine present up front, strong coffee, caramel and anise in the middle, hops and dark chocolate and pleasantly warming alcohol lingers in the finish. This tastes absolutely incredible.

M and D - Thick, viscuous, chewy, moderate carbonation in support. Drier than expected after the swallow, which actually helps keep this compulsively drinkable. Dark Lord-levels of palate-coating going on here. Gorgeous.

This is a rich, complex, decadent RIS. This will be a must for me every winter from now on.

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Photo of mjohn27603
3.7/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours black in color with a light brown head. Smells strongly of coffee. Taste is like coffee also which some metallic notes. I'm marking it down a little for the metallic taste. Not as much flavor of dark fruits like other Imperial Stouts. Bitterness in the low to middle range for this style. An OK version.

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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 Matthew
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is from 2004 vintage bottle.
As it poured down the side of my glass it was clear that this beer is opaque inky black and very viscous.
Immediately there are big notes of dark chocolate, hints of ripe currants, a big sweetness and very light hints of dark roasted coffee. The aromas in this beer are very perceivable and fill the area around the glass.
Big flavors of dark chocolate and currant up front complimented with a slight sweetness. There is a bit of bitterness followed by alcohol in the end. This beer has aged very well, very smooth and incredibly drinkable. The mouthfeel is exceptional. Big rich, smooth and velvety over the palate. Very thick and promotes the richness of the deep chocolate and sweet notes. For a 10% abv imperial stout, this is so incredibly drinkable its scary. A truly exceptional beer that has aged very nicely for me.

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Photo of Scrapss
4.79/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured straight down the middle of a Turbinator

A: Black as night. Thick 2 finger dark brown head. no active up-carb or down-carb on side of glass. head subsides to a 4 mm disk all the way down to empty. Deep brown at edges.

S: Deep roasted mats, chocolate, coffee, huge phenolics, just a touch of pleasant campfire.

T: As expected, giant wallop of very intense and deeply roasted malts. A touch of smoke butts in, with that campfire bitter voting its share very modestly. I have had a lot of porters and this rendition just seems to be incredibly well constructed and geared for taste.

M: Creamy as can be. Roasty notes yield to that light smoke/fire. Bitterness comes from over-roasted malt and campfire smoke. Pleasant levels of each. Slight chalkiness at ultimate finish as it warms past cellar.

O: Imperial porter has met its match. All other comes, beware. You'd be hard pressed to improve upon this. I am left wondering what a few years aging could even do for this brew.

Anyone who says that stout and porter is the same style needs their head examined. And drink an FIS.

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Photo of degerbah
3.81/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque blackwith very little milkshake colored head.Smell is slightly of coffee with a lot of malt and a hint of something botanical. Perhaps hops. The taste is initially less complex with the smell. Primarily tasting of coffee, with a heavy licorice after taste. Not nearly as sweet as I'd hoped and very very boozy towards the end. Perhaps should be left to cellar for some time as it tastes a little raw, like it needs to mellow a bit. For my money I'd rather have KBS, Breakfast Stout, Backwoods Bastard, or really most of their other beers. Too much licorice for me.

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Photo of ahq514
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into NB globe glass. Bottled on date has worn off, but I bought it in Jan 2011, so about a year old.

Pours a thick, black color, with a very light, brown tinted head. Appears to have low carbonation. Light lacing.

A bunch of things going on here. Typical chocolate and coffee notes, leaning more towards milk chocolate. A fair amount of smoke in the aroma as well. Some earthy hops, and lastly alcohol.

Starts out with roasted coffee notes and milk chocolate. Transitions to a bitterness from the hops. Finishes pretty smoky, peppery, and dry. Good amount of warming alcohol as well.

Thick and full bodied, low carbonation. Even with the amount of alcohol present, it is fairly drinkable, although I will enjoy this over the next hour or two.

A good RIS, if you like them smoky. I love beers with a great smoke complement to them, but I think it could be dialed back a bit to get the roasty and chocolate profiles more to the fore. Still a great beer and would recommend everyone who likes imperial stouts to give this one a go.

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Photo of matttttYCE
4.02/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Poured into my Deschutes balloon glass/snifter, this one has a nice dark mocha colored head, a little more than 1 finger high. Head fades pretty quickly to a thin covering of bubbles and a ring around the edges. Color of the beer is motor oil black.

Smell - Aroma is not as intense at first as I expected for a 10.5% RIS. As I pick through this, I get notes of deep roasted malts, smooth and silky dark chocolate, some hints of coffee, subtle vanilla notes, also some light smokiness and char and hints of dark fruit and tart cherry. After a while, as this warms up more, more flavors come out and I get licorice and what I assume to be anise notes. Probably one of the first times I've been really been able to identify anise.

Taste - Tons of roasted malt flavor, lots of very dark chocolate taste like I just bit into strong dark chocolate, more smoke and charred aspects to the taste than I got from the nose (but not too much that it's offensive), just a dash of vanilla in there, some of the licorice and anise from the nose, and notes of dark fruit/cherry closer to the end.

Mouthfeel - Quite a nice feel. Thick creamy consistency (almost chewy), carbonation is pretty light, basically full bodied, with a finish that is pleasant, subtle, moderate in length, and a bit dry.

Overall - At first I really wasn't getting much in the aroma (even after it warmed a bit from cellar temp ~50 degrees), and I thought it was just the brew, so I started drinking it. Then I didn't get all that much from the taste either. So I let it warm further and finally got the characteristics to shine through. So you know, you might want to let this one warm a little more than usual. Anyways, a very nice example of an RIS. This isn't my favorite of the style, but still one I'm quite glad to have tried. Thank you very much for this one McNuts!

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Photo of schwaeh
3.85/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 bottling.

A: Pours totally pitch black with 1/4" of brown head that fades into a thin ring. Lots of sediment.

S: The stand outs are hops, roasted malts, and espresso. Dark chocolate, yeast, and cocoa come out as well. This still smells bitter ~5 months out.

T: Yes, still very bitter. Hops, charred malt, and espresso are still leading this several months after bottling. Bakers chocolate and some yeast are present, must be those floaties. The alcohol is present but blended into the flavor well enough.

M: Thick and somewhat grainy. Coats the mouth and leaves a lingering bitterness.

O: I remember my jaw hitting the floor when I first tried this last winter. I think I may have gotten pickier or maybe its the weather, but I think the bitterness is slightly over-the-top. I do like hops and espresso so I can enjoy this, but this may be a little harsh for many people. All in all a solid RIS that I look forward to trying at a far advanced age, much like Storm King.

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Photo of rodney45
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Completely opaque. Espresso colored small head that with a 10.5 abv, im really impressed by how long it stays around. Not big, even with a vigorous pour. Very representative of the style.

S: Burnt toffee, espresso, semi sweet chocolate, and crystal malt.

T: First notes are huge bitter espresso flavors, with cacao, and kaluha. Secondary flavors are of a hodgepodge of multiple different malts, dense and indiscernible. Third flavor profile is of English style porter hops, with a very american/west coast style yeast character.

M: This beer is as thick as old used motor oil. Imagine 5 shots of espresso left to sit and evaporate for a week, this beer is as thick as the remainder of what would be left. Low carbonation, very bitter (more from the coffee than the hops), low alcohol ethers, very heavy, and more or less dry towards the finish.

O: Wow, this beer blew me away. Very reminiscent of the breakfast stout, except on steroids. Again, great fare from founders. Have not been disappointing by even one of their beers. Keep it coming.

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

Nabbed this bottle from DLD and am ready to indulge, thanks to ThomasHardy.

A: Pours nice and silky. An aggressive pour yielded a small 0.5cm head. Nice coffee saliva-like froth. Lacing persists through what I have drank so far.

S: Coffee, molasses, malts, chocolate, and love.

T: Much better than anticipated, like the breakfast stout with less coffee like bitterness. Up front coffee and malts, followed by sweetness, and a dry mildly bitter finish with chocolate goodness left on the tongue. ABV becomes hidden in this guy or maybe I have just been drinking too many big beers?

M: Silky smooth, vicious, perhaps the beers best quality.

D: Regret that I only traded for one bottle, but it's a great single taste. Will have to search out when more trading or when founders is available in Minneapolis.

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Photo of 1up
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Spiegelau tulip from a 12oz bottle.

A- Opaque dark brownish black. No light gets through. A vigorous pour yields a 1.5 finger head. Looks like motor oil which indicates a lot of flavor to come.
S- Aroma isn't too powerful but I can detect lots of roasted malt and dark chocolate.
T- Coffee, heavily roasted malt, and chocolate dominate the flavor profile at first followed by an extremely bitter finish. Make no mistake, this is one of the most bitter finishing dark beers I've ever had. No alcohol taste which is impressive for a 10% beer. Very smooth.
M- Extremely smooth mouthful, full bodied, and perfect amount of carbonation. Not as full bodied as Ten Fidy but also not terribly far off. Carbonation consists of small bubbles that complement the brew and blend in well rather than standing out.
O- Wow this is an excellent flavorful imperial stout, one of the best I've had.

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Photo of Shroud0fdoom
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

*12 oz. Bottle*

Look: Black body, 1 1/2 finger deep mocha frothy head.

Smell: Huge roasted barley, nice toffee sweetness, espresso hints of oats.

Taste: Burnt coffee, sweet roasted malts, smooth chocolate, bittersweet finish, alcohol is not present in the flavor but you can feel the heat.

Feel: Almost syrupy smooth body, soft carbonation.

Overall: For this being at 10.5%, it is incredibly drinkable to the point that it should be illegal. Smooth body, balanced between bitter and sweet that aches for constant gulps. This is a prime example of what a great Imperial Stout should be. Highly recommended.

* Originally Reviewed on 7-11-2013

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Photo of lou91
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

All imperial stout lovers should witness this pour – dark as night and even though it looked like it was going to pour still, a thick dark creamy head came throught and it was there to stay. The nose also makes you say God Damn! It smells like you walked into a chocolate coffee factory. Wow this is a damn good IS. It is so good that it took me an hour to drink 12oz. Thick, bittersweet and with enough alcohol to remind you that beer is good. Today I am an initiate and my mug is back. Thank you founders and buckeye nation.
.

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Founders Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,837 ratings.
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