Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout | Dark Horse Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
901 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Plead The 5th Imperial StoutPlead The 5th Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
2010 and pre: white label
2011: white label OR black label with black no logo cap
2012: black label with logo cap
2013: black label with logo cap, ABV of 11% in the top right corner and new government warning
2014 - white label with black logo cap, ABV of 11% in the top right corner, government warning on bottom right side of label

Added by HopHead84 on 09-27-2008

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 901 | Ratings: 3,854
Photo of tbdkev
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Decided to grab this brew in celebration of the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory!

A: Pours a dark, motor oil brown with a tan head that fades quickly. Thick, as expected.

A: The nose is divided between sweet and dark chocolate malts and coffee.

T: The sweeter milk chocolate notes (lactose) surface immediately and gradually fade to a wonderful dark chocolate/coffee finish. There is an underlying fruit character as well--perhaps raisins. The combination of flavors yields some char character, and oak qualities as well.

M: Milky and somewhat chewy, with mild, fine carbonation that fits the profile well.

O: IPt5 fulfills the criteria for a stout experience, but it provides a complex enough experience to separate from most of the pack. Definitely worth the purchase.

 774 characters

Photo of Reggie1014
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poor so dark. It is black with no light visible through my glass. It left a one finger head of delicious looking tan colored evenly bubbled foam. The lacing was symmetrical, even carbonated bubbles on glass side. This dissipated quickly leaving a small rim on top of darkness. The smell hits me with burnt chocolate/coffee tones. Smoky and sweet smelling. Slight barrel smokiness. Taste is rich chocolate and coffee flavored. Subtle bourbon barrel tone. Very little alcohol burn. The taste is charred, burnt, smoky and sweet all at once. I would like a bit more alcohol bite, otherwise very pleasing to the palate. The mouthfeel is mild carbonation, slightly tingly. A bit flatter than I prefer. Overall this is an exceptional tasting beer! Bravo!!!

 763 characters

Photo of claytong
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

no clue on the age.

thanks doodler. all your extras ive opened have been amazing

appearance - black, viscous. dark mocha head dissipates slowling into thick lacing. i see a butt where my lips once were.

smell - is light...im surprised once i take a sip. alcohol warmth, brown sugar, dark malts and coffee. maple syrup comes as it warms up. nice

taste - beautiful rich coffee, lovely dark malts, caramel, bitter roasted malts, minor maple syrup as it warms. beautiful

mouthfeel/overall - smooth, medium to thick bodied (could use a bit of thickening) and good carbonation. i cannot ask for more out of an imperial stout (besides being thicker). a great body. i wish so bad i knew the age on this one, cause this is damn near perfect for an imp stout.

 754 characters

Photo of Stevedore
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into Bell's tulip and consumed yesterday, 3/10/13 and going off of notes from previous consumption from approx. 1 month ago.

Aroma: Smells great, got a ton of chocolate malt and coffee notes. Roast character typical of big stouts also jump out here. Very pleasing and pungent nose. (4.25)

Colour: Pours thick jet black, really viscous. Not a ton of light gets through when I illuminate. Poured aggressively with a thick, 2cm brown head that dissipates in less than 30 seconds. Laces are thick but don't stick for long. I can recognize that its definitely a RIS for sure. (4)

Flavour: Really, really, really nice. Perfect winter sipper. Strong chocolate and roasted malt giving me cocoa, caramel, and a hint of espresso. Very much full of flavour. Gives off quite a bit of heat as it warms up which can be nice depending on when it's being quaffed. This time, it's perfect for a wet Wisconsin winter evening. (4.5)

Mouthfeel: Thick bodied, one of the thicker stouts I've had- it feels like pure motor oil. Well done Dark Horse. Also, carbonation is solid for the style and it leaves a smooth, resinous mouthfeel as I swish it around and swallow. I really like the feel of this beer a lot. (5)

Overall: Well done Dark Horse. I love the combination of the flavours and the mouthfeel. It really puts the malts out up front, and its still hoppy enough to balance it out while the entire combination goes down smoothly. The appearance and smell take second fiddle to the flavour and mouthfeel for sure. I'd like to try the BBPt5 just to see how much the mouthfeel improves! But in those departments I don't see much room for improvement- it's that good. I want to call this my RIS for the really dark, cold nights while Founders RIS is more of whenever I feel like a RIS. (4.25)

 1,796 characters

Photo of ksimons
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-black in color with a thin dark tan head that disappears to leave a thin layer of lacing around the top

S-dark roasted malt and chocolate

T-taste is of dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, bit of char, and light dark fruits in the finish

M-medium to full body, moderate carbonation

Overall a rich, roasted RIS with just the right amount of sweetness, delicious

 365 characters

Photo of merlin48
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of Plead The 5th, pours a dark and opaque body with a small light brown head that leaves some spotty lacing. Aroma is dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses, coffee, and some dried dark fruits. Full bodied and creamy mouthfeel with a lower than medium carbonation. Taste is complex. Chocolate, strong roasted coffee beans, molasses, caramel, vanilla, leather, anise, and cherry skins. Alcohol is very well concealed but for some mild warmth. Excellent and very well put together. This one belongs in the top tier of American impy stouts.

 545 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle. Sampled on July 29, 2016.

This is a near jet black pour with little to no head. I would have given it a 5 but I like some head. Though at 12% ABV, the head is usually hard to come by.

The aroma is sweet, dark, and roasted with raisins and a low to no hop profile. No alcohol.

The body is around medium.

The taste tends to fall onto the sweet dark malt side with a mild bitterness but mostly sweet and dark. Alcohol is beautifully integrated. These kinds of Stouts are high on my drinking list.

 532 characters

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

Lightly chilled and poured into a Duvel glass. A glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: The beer pours out a nice black stout color with a ┬╝" dark brown head that recedes fairly quickly to a ring of foam and a very thin layer of patchy foam on the surface. Sipping leaves some sparse leggy lacing that turns into speckles of foam on the glass. Later in the beer the ring of foam and speckled patterns of lacing from sipping persist.

Smell: Even from a distance the rich dark chocolate aroma fills the air. The chocolate blends nicely with some lightly sweet vanilla, a trace of licorice and some hints of dark toffee. There isn't a hint of alcohol.

Taste: As expected from the nose the flavors begin with some sweet roasted malt flavors of things like dark chocolate, molasses, dark toffee and vanilla. But about midway through the roasted bitterness puts in an appearance without dominating everything else. There is no real hop bitterness in this so I suspect it has long ago faded away. Any alcohol is well concealed here or shows itself only in the early sweetness and in the effects it produces.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is full bodied and silky smooth with some soft persistent, but very light carbonation, especially at the end of the beer. The finish begins with vanilla and sweetness, changes into to dark chocolate and then roasted bitterness. The bitterness slowly fades leaving a light dryness and soft finish of dark roasted malt bitterness.

Drinkability: Although a one a night beer with its 12% ABV, its definitely a wonderful Imperial stout for sipping before the fire while listening to music and/or reading. One of the things I particularly like about this beer is that the flavors changed nicely so that it is not really the same set of flavors that dominate throughout. I'll definitely have this one again, and again now that its available in PA.

 1,906 characters

Photo of --Dom--
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I don't feel like following a format today so: This beer is awesome. Pours with a short dark brown head. Not quite as thick as a yeti or ten fidy. Mouthfeel is spot on, creamy with medium carbonation. Everything is balanced, none of the flavors are too much. Slight alcohol heat but not a predominate taste. Dark chocolates with just a hint of burnt coffee. Amazing stuff, get some if you can.

 393 characters

Photo of Docrock
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

served on-tap at Dark Horse in a snifter:

A - Almost a pitch black body with a half an inch head of dirty brown color. Head disappear very quickly, minimal lacing but nice legs

S - Chocolate and roasted malt, a bit of molasses.

T - Bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee, some vanilla. Starts very sweet and finishes with a dry chocolate finish

M - Moderate to low carbonation. Very warming, creamy and silky. Medium to full body, chewy and heavy, but not too thick. Alcohol is hidden extremely well. You don't notice it until you near the bottom of the glass. minimal aftertaste.

O = Extremely pleasant beer, very drinkable, much smoother as it warmed in the glass.

 670 characters

Photo of c014572
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet black. No light will ever make it through. Extremely dark 2 finger head that faded quickly. This was an extremely balanced and wonderful stout. It does not have that in-your-face burnt grain flavor (that I like) of some other imperial stouts (like Rasputin). This was just extremely enjoyable to drink. Hides the 11% like no other beer I've drank. Seek it out.

 381 characters

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

12 oz bottle, but no date on the label, or any indication of the 12% abv strength.

pours black as used motor oil, with very dark tan head. but the head fades fast to a thin collar. aroma expands and intensifies as it warms - roasted coffee, cocoa power, booze.

taste is rich and bold. bitter dark chocolate, caramel, a little alcohol. lingering charcoal smokiness. definitely a sipper. thick, full body. coats the mouth, but enough carbonation.

overall - I really like, very good RIS.

 490 characters

Photo of ms11781
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed on 06/13/2011. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a medium thick, solid black color. A one and half finger, dark brown head develops, turns tan rather quickly and settles as a soap-like foam ring around the glass. Slight wispy lacing is left on the glass.

Excellent nose. Huge dark fruit aromas from the beginning. Some nice roasted notes as well as some dark chocolate and a hint of coffee. There is a bit of alcohol as well. Straightforward aromas but they stand blend together well and make for a great nose overall.

Taste is similar to the nose. Some bitterness from the roasted malt plays a huge part, as do the dark fruit notes. Dark, bitter chocolate, some sweet chocolate and a touch of coffee are here too. No detection of the alcohol that was in the nose. As with the nose, the flavors play off each other really well.

Huge, thick mouthfeel. Carbonation, while not high in general, may be a bit high relative to style and the size of the beer. Creamy, thick and viscous. Very smooth.

This is an excellent beer. I find the carbonation a bit odd, it's seems higher than it should be, but that seems contradictory considering the beer is silky smooth. Either way, it doesn't detract from the beer too much. Can't wait to see what age does to this one.

 1,279 characters

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

A good Russian Imperial Stout that somehow keeps me wanting more. Maybe it's because Plead has a balanced and mellow take on the style (Similar to Blackout) or becuase the gravities aren't quite insane as I expected. It's kinda like a big Oatmeal Stout with the creamy texture, slickness, and weight. Lightly carbonated, the beer falls still fairly quickly and doesn't lift off of the tongue the way I like. A balanced roastiness never prefers the char or the toffee malts. Milk flavors and sweetness round out the herbal hops, sharp roasted grains, and alcohols. Still, the coffee, chocolate, anise, blackberries, plubs, grapes and dates are bold and varying and have come together very well. Nice disguise of the abv. With all the compliments, I still want more...

 766 characters

Photo of Qbdoo
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

From a bottle, pours black as night with hardly any head (despite three tries), though what you get is a dark tan.

Scent is not powerful: roasted malt, coffee.

Taste: roasted malt, coffee, a little chocolate, There's just a bit of booze, but not too much. There are Russian imperial stouts that have too much, but this - despite 11% abv, is just right.

Mouthfeel is unbelievable: thick, creamy with a light carbonation. Probably the best mouthfeel of any stout, maybe any beer.

This may be my new favorite beer. Wish it were more readily available.

 553 characters

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

thanks to stx00lax for this extra in an awesome trade. poured into my old guardian snifter.

a-jet black. like a black hole i guess. thin mocha head that dissipates quickly.

s-awesome. lots of chocolatey, coffee, mocha-y goodness

t-rich thick stout, lots of malt, boozy backbone that lingers, but it's a malty booziness that's quite enjoyable, but the initial taste hides the 12% alcohol pretty well. there's a very subtle hoppy bitterness in it too.

m-very full and delightful, not a lot of carbonation, but enough for a stout.

o-quite good. one of the better non-barrel-aged stouts that i have had. i am really enjoying drinking and am excited for the second bottle surlytwinsfan sent me. thanks guys!

 707 characters

Photo of JohnG190
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as pitch with a quickly dissipating dark brown head. Lots of lacing. Aromas of chocolate, burnt sugar, coffee, and dark roasted grain. Flavor follows the aroma with chocolate and roasted grain dominating. Finishes dry with a bittersweet chocolate aftertaste. Full bodied with very little carbonation, this is a very smooth Imperial Stout. Overall, a very well crafted beer that goes down surprisingly easy in spite of the 11% ABV.

 443 characters

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

Presentation: 12oz. bottle into a snifter.

A- Deep and dark...essentially black and opaque. Pours with just a thin cap of dark brown head, which recedes to a thin ring and a few bubbles almost instantly.

S- Dark, roasty, earthy, coffee is the driving force here. Chocolate infused malt sweetness tries to sneak past the coffee as it warms.

T- Roasty, earthy, acrid coffee bitterness. Dark fruit sweetness...smoky notes....burnt caramel...chocolate....a light booziness on the finish. Good stuff...

M- Moderately low carbonation, with a fairly full feel.

O- Good. All the complexity of a well put together 12% beer without being beaten over the head with booziness.

Future outlook: I am duly impressed. Some of these will be socked away in the cellar for future consumption.

 782 characters

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

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: dark brown black with a 1 finger mocha head

smell: oatmeal, roast, cinnamon / nutmeg,

taste: oatmeal, roast, alcohol,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, full body,

overall: this beer was really good. very nice blend of flavors. wish I had access to more of this beer.


 318 characters

Photo of oberon
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Unbelievably this is the first time I have had this beer...crazy.Pours jet black like an oil slich with a thinner beige head atop,like thick crude.Chocolate and black licorice in the nose along roast and sweet alcohol.Heavy roast and earthiness intertwined with alcohol dipped dark druit and deep molasses sweetness with that black licorice coming into play as well,whoo this big and complex.Big and chewey this is a sipper that Iam drinking at 6:00,it could be an early bedtime tonigh because I have three more to drink.

 521 characters

Photo of Beerandboards
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle received in a trade with brees. Not sure on vintage but looks to be a couple years, judging by looks of the label.

A - pours inky thick black. Very little head, but expected.

S - lots of chocolate, dark and milk varieties, little bit of roasty/coffee type notes. Some darker ripe fruits.

T - leads with the dark fruit and almost a black licorice type note. Coffee and chocolate back this up. Mild sweetness. But loads of complex dark fruit/licorice is the main element.

M - thicker, low carb. Could have used a tad more carbonation to liven up the flavors a bit. But quite good.

O - my best comparison would be a better version of TenFidy. The flavor profiles are similar and I think Pt5 is a little more refined. Overall an outstanding stout. I prefer a little more coffee and chocolate in my stouts, so the only demerit from anything higher is based purely on personal preference.

 899 characters

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dark Horse Plead, bottle bought at Nejaime's in Lenox, Massachusetts, as part of a 4-pack. Who knew you can find Dark Horse in New England??

Appearance: Oily and thick like Gaddafi's reserves before the Allies' strike. Only Marshall Zhukov comes close to being this thick. Whatever head is there comes and goes like a quickie, and only a coffee-colored rim remains around the glass. This is one thicj, black muthafuckin' Imperial Stout!

Smell: Roasty-toasty, lotta coffee, a bit of soil and gasoline. Umami and war!

Taste: Country ham, smoky bacon (rauchbier), coal, raw coffee beans. Complex and beautiful. Molasses, brown sugar. Floral, hoppy finish. Chimney. Small town in the Midwest and/or New England.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, leathery, rich. Chewable! Great carbonation, full body, bitter dry finish that lingers.

Overall: This is probably my favorite Imperial Stout "in a bottle from the shelf" (not counting barrel-aged and specials). First time I had it on tap at Radio Maria in Champaign, I thought I would faint. Gorgeous all around, and drinkable too, despite the ABV and huge body!

 1,097 characters

Photo of tut2528
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: pours jet black, in very minimal head formation. giving it a couple of swirls it elicits an very dark tan almost brown head. big alcohol legs are noticeable.

S: roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, slight fudge sweetness, big dark fruits (predominately plums and figs), slight tart cherries as well. just a slight touch of coffee grounds

T: pretty similar to the nose. chocolate fudge, plums, figs, and cherries. but in addition, I pick up on a big black licorice, a slight hint of hops, and a vanilla cream finish. i find no alcohol presence and this one is going down

M: full bodied that coats the mouth with a nice bitter chocolate and sweet dark fruit characters

O: extremely smooth beer. and i must say that at the alcohol is almost undetectable. just a freaking fantastic RIS. definitely need to get my hands on the BA version, bc I can't imagine how fantastic that one would be!

 894 characters

Photo of sholland119
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewpub.

A-Beautiful. Dark and rich with a thick, dark mocha head. My favorite loon in an RIS. A beer that looks like this rarely disappoints.

S-Nicely complex. Lots of bourbon and alcohol, vanilla, dark chocolate and milk chocolate.

T-Caramel and dark chocolate in the front with lost of vanilla. Then a hint of maple, then some bourony notes in the finish. Quite hot in the finish, but it's fresh and 14% so no huge surprise there.

M-Medium bodied but rich and coating.

D-14% so proceed with caution (duh!). A little hot (again, duh!) but really delicious and enjoyable.


 595 characters

Photo of VncentLIFE
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

What a beauty of a stout. Looks like pitch. No carbonation and no head.

Smell is a lot sweeter than I expected. Thick roasted malts, a bit of cream, Balanced and thick. somewhat spicy and a hint of leather. all odd combination i know. I cant really figure out why it smells like kind of spicy. Maybe vanilla.

Exceptionally roasty and robust, Burnt espresso, black bitter chocolate, and barrel pitch. I know its not BA, but I get that burnt wood kind of charcoal character. Thick creamy milk chocolate comes in somewhere in the middle. Finishes very bitter, with the heavily roasted malt dominating late. Theres this kind of spicy thing going on that I cant figure out. Its like a hint of cinnamon, or some kind of pepper spice. it goes very well with all the chocolate flavors. Hints of vanilla as well.

Feels so thick. Dark Horse had to use lactose somewhere in this. While it still feels overly bitter, th e underlying caramel sweetness is really good.

If it wasnt for Siberian Night, this would be my favorite RIS.

 1,022 characters

Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
4.23 out of 5 based on 3,854 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest┬« Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!