Mothership Series #5: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Founders Brewing Company

Mothership Series #5: Barrel-Aged Imperial StoutMothership Series #5: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #35
Ranked #505
4.49 | pDev: 6.24%
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Mothership Series #5: Barrel-Aged Imperial StoutMothership Series #5: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Notes: It’s hard to imagine our Imperial Stout getting any more complex than it already is. Well, until you introduce it to a bourbon barrel. We did just that and out emerged a gorgeous sipper featuring all the warm and roasted characteristics you love in a thick stout with the added richness of oak and vanilla notes from the barrel-aging. A beautiful beast of a beer.
Reviews: 47 | Ratings: 125 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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5toutman75 from Illinois

4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I’m a sucker for the BA stouts that lean away from being overly sweet. Bourbon county is about the most sweet I can drink with regularity. The reason why I love Founders Imperial or Expedition stout is the bitterness. This BA Imperial sticks with the more bitter and dry feel and I’m loving it. It’s a gorgeous dark beer with lacing that stays forever. The mouthfeel is super full and smooth. I’m getting lots of layers of bakers chocolate and vanilla notes. The flavor just stays in your mouth forever. It could perhaps use more barrel notes as I love the more bourbon forward stouts the best. I don’t get a lot of the barrel on the nose and wish there were more. A superb beer. I wish it were easier to find.

Mar 29, 2020
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AyatollahGold from Indiana

4.12/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pitch black with an oiliness. Pinky worth of mocha colored crown. Dissipates into a ring attached to the glass and a misty island that coats the top.

I’m getting a rum like presence in the nose? Botanical, dark fruit, vanilla, oak and chocolate.

The taste is burnt, bitter chocolate. Baker chocolate, very slight dark fruit.

Touch of bitterness throughout, very dry oak.

Overall, this is good within the dimensions it plays in, but it seems to be a bit limited to those. A little one dimensional, and brings a different presence than anything else I’ve had bourbon barrel aged, but closer to anything I’ve had rum barrel aged. Kinda odd. The bitterness was surprising as well.

Nov 23, 2019
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Buck89 from Tennessee

4.44/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: opaque dark brown with a thick and surprisingly persistent tan head. Nice lacing in the glass.
Aroma: chocolate, slightly charred roasted grains, bourbon, and some vanilla.
Taste: wow. Very rich chocolate notes up front, followed by smooth bourbon, vanilla, and some caramel. Dark bitter chocolate on the finish.
Feel: full-bodied but not overly sweet. Low-medium carbonation.
Overall: just outstanding. Huge flavor that's well-balanced. A winner.

Nov 21, 2019
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EMH73 from New York

4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a thick, well retained inch and a half medium brown head that left the glass covered in lacing. Smells of bourbon, dark chocolate, coffee, dark roasted malts, nuttiness and a hint of vanilla. Tastes of dark chocolate, espresso, dark roasted malts, bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark fruits, char, caramel, toffee and a hint of nuttiness. Medium to full bodied, more highly carbonated that I expected, creamy and lush mouth feel, lingering but lightly dry finish.

Nov 03, 2019
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Harrison8 from Missouri

4.64/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours pitch black with two fingers of rocky, caramel foam that retains well. Aroma is a rich and complex spred of roasty, toasty, nutty, caramely malts with char and barrel adding to the depth. Flavor profile is roasty, toasty, nutty, caramely, bready malts in a complex twister of notes. In addition to malt, toffee, caramel, burnt sugar, char and barrel add to the complexity. Mouth feel is medium-thick and turns more full as it warms. It has a velvety texture that just barely borders on creamy. Overall, heavy malt with barrel use pushing it up a level. Rich and focused. Props for producing so much flavor without flavor additives.

Served in a 15.5oz Spiegalau tulip from a 12oz bottle.

Jun 21, 2019
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StoutSnob40 from California

4.44/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as night, with a dense brown head. Smells of rich, dark chocolate, espresso, charred malts. Tastes of rich coffee and vanilla frosting, and finishes with a bittersweet, baker’s chocolate punch.

Jun 14, 2019
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2beerdogs from California

4.65/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to @foundersasap for this beauty. Record in NBS BIF #9
Pours the deepest possible brown, without surrendering to the black. A meaty, froth of dark cocoa colored bubbles, packed together, pushing up assertively over the rim. Retention to die for. We have a breach. Rich cocoa foam meets the counter, and I'll be damned if it's not already sticky. She's a rich one.
The aroma pounced before the head reached the rim. Rich, deep, roasted malts. Chocolate, dates, earthy barrel notes, bourbon, brown sugar, subtle vanilla, and an overall creamy delivery of all of these notes.
Taste follows with a decadent, sumptuous smorgasbord of all I mentioned in the nose, but dialed up, rounded out, and like a full symphony, all is happening at once, and through its complexity, all components get to meld their solos into the grand scheme.
Mouthfeel is chewy and full, somewhat creamy. A cozy warming that is gentle considering the ABV. The sweetness is slightly tamed on the finish with an earthy dryness.
Overall, world class. More please.

May 27, 2019
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Dragginballs76 from South Carolina

4.61/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours jet black with a big mocha colored head that settles to a thick cap considering the alcohol. Sheets of lacing.

Aroma - Big bold notes of chocolate, oak, bourbon, vanilla and roasted malts.

Taste - Initial charred oak, tobacco, bitter chocolate, bourbon light vanilla. Really balanced and super smooth.

Feel - Creamy thick warming, lightly dry finish so smooth.

Overall - This is money, great flavors and crazy easy drinking.

May 25, 2019
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Jimmy_Kneecaps from Tennessee

4.78/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance is pitch black with a medium amount of dark tan colored head which leaves tons of lacing behind.
Bourbon, dark chocolate, fudge, and roasted malts on the nose. Taste starts off with some roast, smoke, some pine, chocolate, some dark fruits and molasses which give it a sweet characteristic and an espresso finish. Mouthfeel is oily slick and pretty full. Overall this is fantastic

May 19, 2019
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JBowenGeorgia from Georgia

4.68/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

One of the sexiest stouts that I have poured in awhile. Two fingers of mocha head sit atop a pitch black pour.
Aromas of dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, charred barrel.
Taste follows, chocolate, dark roast, soft barrel notes, hints of vanilla.
Medium to full body, seems a bit thinner as it warms. Good carb levels. No alcohol presence, quite smooth.
Overall a world class BA stout in my book!

Mar 18, 2019
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.46/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a fairly dark black color, dark and ominous, with a small persistent head, and lots of lacing.

This smells like heavily roasted malt, spicy oak, licorice, dark fruit, vanilla, and dark chocolate.

This is quite burly and quite old-school. There's very little sweetness. The base imperial stout is so roasty and chocolatey, and the barrel-aged version retains this, with light bourbon soaking into that roasty blanket, along with a touch of spiced vanilla coming through, and a big spicy oak bite on the finish. I get some other dark and un-pastry flavors as well - raisin, smoke, licorice, etc. This is great.

This is medium bodied, slightly creamy, and just a touch boozy on the finish. It's definitely a slower sipper.

This is a beer that I was kind of hoping they'd make for years now. It stands up to my hopes.

Mar 07, 2019
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Sparty1224 from Michigan

4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving: 12 oz. bottle poured into a Founder's CBS snifter. Bottled on 1/14/19, making this nearly 7 weeks old at this point.

A: I haven't seen a Founder's BA stout pour this thick and dark since pre-expansion KBS. This thing is oily slick and it's gorgeous. Back to the good ole' small batch days.

S: Not huge, but still very nice. Oak, chocolate, bourbon, some vanilla.

T: Very roasty up front, charred oak, fresh bourbon. Follows with a very bitter chocolate and cocoa finish.

M: Back to the appearance, I can't remember the last Founder's beer to be this thick and full since maybe my first Imperial Stout or KBS. The barrel-aging definitely thins it a bit, but overall good balance here.

O: Wow, lots to say about this beer, so strap in. For starters, this is beer review #200. My very active days on BA have dramatically waned, and I doubt I'll ever reach 300 (or even 250), so this beer had to be special. And what better way than back to my roots (Founder's my first craft brewery experience, lived in GR for 4 years) with a Founder's beer, and probably one of their bigger whales to date. For years, people demanded BA Imp Stout, and Founder's was reluctant for some reason. CBS and KBS could never be traditionally compared to BCBS or Parabola or Plead or Black Note, given they weren't Imp Stout bases. But people, including myself, loved their regular Imperial Stout. Big, full, rich, an amazing beer. Imagine throwing that in the caves and coming out half as good as CBS or KBS. People dreamed! And now, we have it. Is this what I imagined this beer would taste like? Nah. Is this up there with BCBS? Heck no. Is this an all-time Founder's beer that lives up to the hype? You bet. It's them getting back to their small batch roots. Back when KBS was meticulously made, super thick, flavorful. They've gotten away from that with their expansion, and this brings it back. I love this beer, it's old school, it's what Founder's does best. Hopefully this Mothership series can continue to do that, and reward the locals with amazing beer.

Mar 04, 2019
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superspak from Michigan

4.38/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 1/14/2019. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1-2 finger dense and rocky dark brown head with amazing retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Thick soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of steaming carbonation. Fantastic appearance. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toffee, vanilla, cream, bourbon, toasted oak, roasted nuts, biscuit, and dark/brown bread/crust; with lighter notes of coconut, licorice, raisin, prune, fig, date, smoke, char, herbal, grass, pepper, and yeast/roast/toast/oak earthiness. Slight booze in the aromas as it warms. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/black/roast/bready malts, bourbon barrels, and light fruity yeast/earthy hop notes; with great strength. Taste of huge dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toffee, vanilla, cream, bourbon, toasted oak, roasted nuts, biscuit, and dark/brown bread/crust; with lighter notes of coconut, licorice, raisin, prune, fig, date, smoke, char, herbal, grass, pepper, and yeast/roast/toast/oak earthiness. Mild herbal, roast, char bitterness; and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish. Lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toffee, vanilla, cream, bourbon, toasted oak, roasted nuts, biscuit, dark/brown bread/crust, coconut, licorice, dark fruit, light smoke/char, herbal, grass, pepper, and yeast/roast/toast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Amazing complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/black/roast/bready malts, bourbon barrels, and light fruity yeast/earthy hop flavors; with an awesome roasted bitter/sweet and bourbon/oak spiciness balance; with no cloying, acrid, astringent flavors after the finish. Lightly increasing dryness from lingering hop/roast bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness. Medium carbonation and full body; with a very smooth, creamy/silky/velvety, and lightly slick/sticky/chalky/tannic mouthfeel that is amazing. Mild increasing warmth of 12.8%, with minimal lingering barrel booze after the finish. Overall this is an amazing barrel aged Russian imperial stout! All around incredible dark/black/roast/bready malts, bourbon barrels, and light fruity yeast/earthy hop flavors; very smooth and dangerously easy to sip on for the huge ABV, with the mildly bitter/tannic/drying finish. Way more mellowed out on the bitter hop/char character than the base beer from barrel aging. Insanely rich malt complexity, with perfect barrel presence/integration. Not overly sweet/heavy from lingering dryness. A highly amazing offering, and world class style example as expected.

Feb 22, 2019
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TreyIsWilson from Michigan

4.58/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours motor oil black with a one finger dark brown head. Tons of soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is dark chocolate, dark fruits, roasted malts and bourbon.

T - The taste is dark chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits, caramel, roasted malts and light bourbon.

M - Full body with medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a soft dry finish.

O - Incredible. The depth of flavor is amazing with the alcohol being very well hidden.

Feb 17, 2019
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CanConPhilly from Pennsylvania

4.46/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L - 2-finger mocha head atop a pitch black body.

S - bourbon, caramel, chocolate, vanilla.

T - follows the nose. Mild barrel, chocolate, roast, vanilla. Barely taste any alcohol. Low bitterness. Low sweetness. Low booziness.

F - medium-full body with average carb.

O - amazing.

Feb 15, 2019
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Wolvmar from Michigan

4.03/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Crowler purchased at detroit taproom by Alan. Thanks! Poured in highball glass.

Pour: dark brown, no head. Minimal lacing.

Nose: nothing distinct. Some chocolate, coffee, sweet malt/bourbon.

Taste: dark, semi-sweet chocolate. Bourbon, sweet malt, dark fruit.

Mouthfeel: pretty thick but mild carbonation keeps it feeling less than expected.

Overall: really good but slightly lacking relative to others like BA Expedition Stout. But enjoyable and definitely worth trying.

Feb 02, 2019
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Masonz223 from Michigan

4.75/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Smell: Rich, decadent barrel notes. Sweet creamy vanilla, toasted coconut, light oakiness. Fine dark chocolate, dark chocolate brownies, espresso, Dark roasted malts, coffee. Mellow bourbon notes underneath all of that.

Taste: The barrel and bourbon really shine and come through strong in the taste. Also some of the familiar tasting notes that are in the base beer aren’t lost, and work in sync with the barrel. There are some of those rich decadent notes upfront that were present in the nose. Coconut, dark chocolate, creamy vanilla. The vanilla adds a sweetness that is present in the mid palette. The mid pallet is where the base stout comes through and shows it hasn’t been lost in the barrel aging process. Dark fruit, umami qualities, smoked meat, the smokey savory quality blends really well with this sweet vanilla and really rich dark chocolate notes. The dark chocolate notes add a dessert brownie like quality to this beer, which is something I don’t experience this intensely in the base beer unless it’s been aged for at least three years. The bourbon also starts to become rather present. The finish adds a warm, smooth bourbon presence, along with smoked oak, dry wood, espresso, and a moderate hop presence.The bourbon is warming and can be felt in the chest and throat.

Feel: Medium to full. The beer is creamy, but also its feels big, intense and has a noticeable warming quality to it. This is a beer you sip on.

Overall: The thing that is so impressive about this is that the base beer isn’t lost, but there is a big, bold barrel presence that enhances the best qualities of the base beer. It makes it feel like your drinking the base beer with age on it, which I absolutely love. It really is impressive what founders did with this beer. You can drink this now or age this. The beer will definitely age well.

Jan 29, 2019
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beersampler6 from Michigan

4.34/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Wow this is a hell of a beer. Big, bold, complex, heavy, fairly boozy. A great modification and aging of the original Imperial Stout. Tried this one on tap at Founders. Pours a deep, rich opaque black with a little nice tan head and smaller sheets of lingering lacing. Smells of bourbon, oak, dark roast coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, nuttiness and caramel. Taste follows the nose, along with some malt, roasted nuttiness, brown sugar and some raisin and molasses. Smooth, rich, thick, almost syrupy, moderately creamy, decadent, coats the palate. Good amount of carbonation. An outstanding beer and although the high ABV is fairly well hidden, you’ll definitely want to slowly sip and savor this one.

Jan 24, 2019
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kevanb from Illinois

4.72/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

32oz howler, filled on 1.25.18, poured into a stemless wine glass. Enjoyed on 3.1.18, reviewed from Tasting Journal.

The beer pours a jet black color, incredibly thick and viscous with a thick brown head that has excellent retention and wonderful lace. The aroma is fantastic, tons of roasted grain, super smooth barrel, tons of charred oak, light spice, huge burst of bakers chocolate, light vanilla and caramel with a nice smokey finish. The flavors are impeccable, super rich, bursting with bittersweet chocolate, rich and decadent with an incredible amount of barrel, smooth bourbon, charred wood, light smoke with dark roasted grains, light stone fruits, vanilla and caramel and a light heat lingers. The mouthfeel is perfect, coating, sludge like heft, thick heavy body that is so smooth and viscous yet with a delicate finish that is lightly warming.

Verdict: An incredible barrel aged stout from Founders. The balance is amazing, it's rich, it's decadent, it's one hell of a sipper that is so complex and offers so much character. One of the best barrel aged stouts on the planet for sure.

Mar 12, 2018
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sweemzander from Illinois

4.23/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

8oz. tap poured into a snifter @ Founders Black Party

(A)- Pours a pitch black color. Produced a light layer of tan foam that dissipated after a minute.

(S)- A rich roastedness with some vanilla & brown sugar. Some molasses & raisin.

(T)- A light booziness that follows into a decadent vanilla butterscotch-like sweetness. Ends with some raisins & molasses. Bits of cocoa.

(M)- A good carbonation level. The only thing throwing off the balance is the potent level of booze-like alcohol heat from the barrel aging or something.

(D)- An interesting twist on their regular imperial stout. Tastes good, but I think their normal imperial stout is more successful particularly in the mouthfeel and drinkability department. I am glad to have tried this variation of it though.

Apr 25, 2010
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BeerFMAndy from Wisconsin

4.37/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

8 oz tap pour into a snifter and shared with Sweemzander at Founder's Black Party 2010.

A - The tap pour comes out completely black with a low dark tan head with fairly low retention. A thin coating of foam and small spots of lace coat the glass.

S - Huge bold aroma of dark roasted malts and wood barrel with almost zero hop scent. The aroma is incredibly sweet and not too heavily boozy but has a far amount of bourbon going on.

T - Bold roasted malts with hints of coffee and molasses that hide behind the powerful bourbon barrel flavor. It's not an overpowering bourbon flavor though, its actually well-balanced with a good flavor of the wood, not just the bourbon.

M - Full-bodied and smooth with a rich mouthfeel and creamy, smooth finish. Low bitterness from the roasted malts is set back from a warm, boozy sensation.

D - Boozy but not overwhelming, its a nice sipping RIS with a kick. The flavor blends well and results in one hell of a tasty treat.

Apr 19, 2010
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boatshoes from Massachusetts

4.77/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Found this much to my surprise on tap at Brews Cafe in Granville. Couldn't wait to give it a shot.

Appearance- Comes off the tap the usual opaque black with a thin sheet of dark brown head across the top. This sheet sticks around for the entire drink too. Not bad.

Smell- Wow, really rich. Lots of strong chocolate comes of this one. Complemented with lots of vanilla, deep roast, and perhaps the slightest bit of coffee.

Taste- Huge notes of cocoa powder, rich bitter chocolate, and fudge really strike me. Incredible chocolate flavors that come out unlike most other barrel-aged beers that I've had. On top of the chocolate, there is more vanilla and bourbon, a little bit of tobacco, and again the slightest bit of burnt coffee. Absolutely no trace of alcohol either. Amazing and in the league of the best bourbon barrel imperial stouts that I've had to this date.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Mouthfeel is rich and silky with enough carbonation to keep it moving. Really easy to drink. Though this was a heavy beer it went down absolutely fantastic and for the ABV, the alcohol was completely undetectable.

Overall, one of the best barrel-aged stouts I've had. And for the record, I had this against a bottle of KBS and hands down preferred this beer. Absolutely try this if you get the chance.

Mar 27, 2010
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ThaBobfather from Ohio

4.45/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Checked out B-B Imperial Stout Keg Tap @ The Comet in Cinci..

Pours a black opaque color like a brick of motor oil but with a thin ring of chocolate head
smell is heavy of bourbon and smoke and roasted malts
taste is heavily whiskeyed with a great woody roasted malt quality and a heavy bitter chocolate through the middle and a roasted finish.
Finish is flavorful and wet with whiskey malt taste but doesn't stay long enough.
Drinks great not perfect as many may get hung up on the boozey bourbon flavor.

Feb 11, 2010
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mwa423 from Ohio

4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hitting the keg of this at Comet, decided to come out to try it.

A - Black as night with a dark tan sticky head

S - Lots of bourbon, sweet rich chocolate and coffee.

T - Bourbon hits first and lots of it, then the flavor of the beer hits. Lots of coffee and chocolate with a hint of dried fruit in the aftertaste. Very thick and full bodied.

M/D - Mouthfeel is as full as it gets, rich and creamy. There is a bit of alcohol burn but that's not surprising. This is quite drinkable for the thickness and abv.

Feb 11, 2010
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punkrkr27 from Michigan

4.38/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tap at Founders. Jet black pour with a dense, lasting, 1-finger, tan head and good lacing on the glass. Lots of bourbon in the aroma. So much so that it sort of burns and lingers after you take a whiff. The aroma also has oak, burnt coffee beans, molasses, rum, alcohol, some ripe dark fruit and milk chocolate. In the flavor the bourbon really comes out first again followed by burnt, bitter coffee. There's a subtle earthy vinousness to the flavor as well as notes of milk chocolate, candied dates, a lasting bitter finish and some vanilla that start to come out as the beer warms. Oily full body with moderate carbonation and lots of alcohol burn. I love how this beer manages to bring out such big bourbon character without covering up the subtleties of the great base imperial stout.

Dec 22, 2009
Mothership Series #5: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 125 ratings