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 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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Photo of Sam21
3.94/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle. Bottled on 12/07/12. 

A- Dark black oily body with a fluffy and be to creamy brown cap. Solid staying power. I could eat the foam with a spoon. 

S- Strong aroma. Rich quality single origin chocolate. Deeply sweet malt with fruit that cut through the wall of chocolate and thick sweetness. Light note of char and a touch of anise. 

T- Huge. Huge. Huge. Thick waves of roasty malt sweetness. This sweetness is deep and enveloping. There are balancing notes of char that add an edge to the sweetness. The beer transitions into a very long, pungent, and bitter finish. Resinous hops seem to just pour out of the bittersweet chocolate flavor of the malt, which cut through and compliment the roast character. The finish clings to the palate and simply does not let go. It's a symphony of bittersweet dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, and dark chocolate dipped fruit. The 90IBUs show. As the beer warms, the hops begin to dominate the malt a bit too much. This beer is trying to be a hop forward stout and they have done a great job with that. That said, I prefer more malt centered stouts. 

MF- Thick and full. Oily even. Really filling and sticky as you let it roll around. Finishes dry as the hops dominate. 

O- This is a big stout with a huge hop presence. I can see it doing really well with age. A big stout with a lot to say. 12oz is plenty for me!

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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 johnnyd10vt
3.78/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

High grav American stout with dried fruit overtones. Perfectly black with a pretty dark brown head that is very thick. The smell and taste both feature that heavy dried fruit essence which, while I appreciate the complexity, isn't entirely my bag, baby

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Photo of CharlieMurphy
3.98/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Split 2 ways

A: Pours like clingy motor oil. You can tell it has a certain viscosity to it yet it is silky and thin on the pour. In the half pint it fills and sits like a double dutch chocolate muffin frosted with a caramel mocha brown from the head. There's a fucking muffin in my glass.

S: This smells like a double dutch chocolate muffin frosted with caramel mocha espresso coffee. Significant alcohol underlies this in a way that almost makes you think there's the faintest hint of oak. Tremendous aroma. Some words spoke: "it smells like dessert!... and vagina!" Faintest whisper of hops.

T: Just incredible. First taste echos the smells. I fear as though I was overzealous and shouldn't have double gulped this though, for after the first big taste each subsequent one is a shadow of the fleeting ecstasy I experienced initially. The latter tastes are muffled by the slightly excessive burnt notes of the roasted malts. The whisper of hops briefly amplify this at the end of the taste.

M: Not too drying for being so burnt tarnishing. Tastes light for being up there in ABV and having a hefty dose of dark specialty malts. Low on carbonation.

O: Was giddy at the beginning of this tasting experience, but it slipped away. Will definitely revisit and re-review, slightly colder

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Photo of hops202
4.64/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Stone Snifter.

Initial appearence looks great. Nice thick chocolate moch head. Aroma has roast, espresso, booziness, cocoa, dark-bitter chocolate. Taste is very complex with dark chocolate, molasses, espresso, with a dry and burnt bitter ending - as to be expected at 90 IBU. Quite unique and definitely one of the best RIS out there.

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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 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 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 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 HopsAreDaMan
4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Edit 2/26/2016: Incredible! I am increasing taste, feel & overall.

12oz, bottled 12/2/2014, snifter used. Pours dark like any other stout, with a small but robust light-chocolate colored head, nice lacing, and good body when swirled. Aroma is strong on the booze but complex with chocolate and some port wine notes. I taste LOTS of chocolate, some burnt/roasted notes, and again, booze, although it is quite smooth on the finish.

I started writing this review when I first tried this beer, and finished the review as I sipped on the last of it (hours later). I expected a lot out of the beer, and it delivered: it is one of the best RIS I have had, with plenty of complexity. I hope to buy some to lay down and see how it fares with a couple of years age on it.

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Photo of DevWand
4.27/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Looking forward to this for quite some time...Another solid beer from the company!

Pours a midnight black, bitter sweet malty nose.
Tastes of bittersweet chocolate, and malts. Mouthfeel is rich and decadent... Stellar beer!!

I have to say, I do prefer the Breakfast Stout, but that's only because I love coffee notes in my porters/stouts.

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