Plead The 5th Imperial Stout | Dark Horse Brewing Company

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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

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Reviews: 924 | Ratings: 3,937
Photo of Czequershuus
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a rich black with a huge, light brown head. The aroma starts with coffee and chocolate, as well as maple syrup, brown sugar, and hickery smoke. The flavor leads with chocolate and maple, as well as hickoery, and something floral and bubblegum like. The mouthfeel is fairly dry, excellently light for how powerful this beer is. Overall I love the complexity and unexpected flavors here, as well as the lighter mouthfeel. Really good example of an imperial stout.

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Photo of pezhead_79
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is about as smooth as an imperial stout can get, while still having bite. There is definitely a strong finish but it mellows as it should. I may try storing longer next time. This one was 8 months old.

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Photo of FBarber
4.26/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a viscous opaque shiny black with a thin mocha head. Head dissipated down to a think film that stuck around throughout.

Smell had aromas of cocoa, milk chocolate, and roasted malts tinged by a light smoky char. Undertones of slight nuttiness and some espresso tones. Very rich and decadent aromas. This smell lets you know this is a rich beer.

Taste follows the nose with notes of cocoa, milk chocolate and a nuttiness (not sure which nut, but more like an almond) that is very pleasant. Rich roasted malt backbone gives way to a slightly bitter cocoa finish. Vey chocolatey in nature, but supremely tasty.

Feel was thick and velvety but not overly hefty. Its still very drinkable and in spite of the high ABV is not at all overwhelming.

Overall a top notch Russian Imperial Stout.

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Photo of 4ElfJoe
3.26/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


Until this brewer makes the effort to bottle it properly, I will not discuss Pt5th's attributes. Instead, I'll express my disappointment for what could very easily be a first-class brew.

This beer has so much potential. I've purchased six 4-packs at various liquor stores and only one lived up to its potential, just as it's on tap at the Dark Horse brewery. I know Dark Horse can do it right because I've enjoyed fifteen 2015 BARREL AGED Plead The 5th beers have been solid 4.75-5 ratings. But in the bottle, the non-aged Plead the 5th becomes various sour degrees of bitter garbage. I give up.

I will never waste my money on this beer again and instead opt for any other brewer that brews a consistent and solid Russian Imperial Stout. If this was a consistent beer as it is on tap and as I've tasted in only 1 out of six 4-packs I've had, it would easily get a 4.25-4.5+ rating from me. It can be delicious but Dark Horse must be cutting corners somewhere in the bottling process.

Others I've discussed this with concur: don't waste your money on the bottles but don't pass up this on tap at the brewery.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - nice dark brown/black beer that's opaque and had a mocha head that dissipates quick
S- dark chocolate, roasted malts, milk chocolate, cookies, burnt marshmallow, slight smoke
T- same as nose, dark chocolate, roasted malts, umami, cookies, burnt marshmallow, slight smoke
M- heavy mouthfeel, alcohol covered, aftertaste is a roasty smore, dark chocolate, kind of smokey
O- real solid Michigan impy stout.

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Photo of Beginner2
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I get why Plead The 5th is ranked in the 60s out of the top 100 with the highest rankings.
I like it primarily because it hides its alcohol. That shows craft.
It has many of the other flavors associated with a good RIS, but it works because it doesn't hit you over the head unless you drink it all at once... which I did not.
I Had 3/4 of it to relax after some lousy Chicago spring weather, then waited 30 minutes before I ate dinner and saved some Plead the 5th for dessert. It went well with chocolate cookies.

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Photo of LaurenZ
4.16/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

very very dark pour and has a slick looking head that doesn't last. the aromas are of chocolate and nutty, slightly roasted notes. The flavor is also complex with nuts, chocolate, with a medium mouthful and slight bitterness and low in carbonation. good beer overall.

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Photo of joe1510
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz Bottle
Four Seasons Liquors

Plead the 5th glugs from the bottle pouring like 10w30. It's black. No light passes through whatsoever and as a matter of fact, I think it actually swallows light. The foam is easy to conjure and grows to a couple fingers in height. the head is dark beige, so dark in fact that it seems to sport a nearly purple hue. The foam eventually settles to a thin cap while leaving respectable velvety lacing down the sides of the glass.

The nose is packed full of rich stoutiness. Big and bold. The roast is on the heavy side of the spectrum with a touch of char. Walnut pith and black coffee are bold through the middle. Macadamia nuttiness adds both character and brightness. There's a noticeable alcohol presence but it's clean and appetizing in the form of a blackberry brandy. Dark berries play a nice role along with cocoa powder that verges on slightly bitter. This beer is a monster.

As in your face as the nose happened to be, the flavor profile comes along with even more precise, hit you in the mouth, interpretations of each aspect I mentioned above. The roast, again is on the heavier side with the slight char but that whole aspect sort of cradles the rest. Dark berries soaked in a neutral spirit kick it off. It's spicy and rich. Straight cocoa powder adds a touch of bitterness and molten brownies bring along a huge dark chocolate character. Black dark roast adds character and there's a touch of earthiness as well. Whew! This guy is slam packed!

The body is amazingly easy to handle for the immense size. Weighing in at 11% the body somehow manages to sit between moderate and heavy. It doesn't reach that viscous quality like you'd expect which helps and hurts. The drinkability is higher but the luxuriousness falls. The roast leaves behind a dry finish with a good amount of bitterness, and I can get behind that with such a hefty libation. The whole thing works.

This beer has been a favorite of mine for years now. With that said, I haven't drank a bottle in a long time. Revisiting opens my eyes up to its greatness again. This beer is not to be trifled with. It's big, bold, and mean. Old school in nature and it won't take no shit.

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Photo of THSdrummer
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a thin, motor oil head. Head retains okay, with no lacing left behind. Molasses, dark chocolate, and strong roasted malts give this one dark, but sweet aroma. Molasses, toffee, dark chocolate, and roasted malts make up a dark, complex flavor profile. Mouth feel is bold, and filling. Overall, a fantastic rendition of the Russian Imperial Stout. Mighty and powerful, and yet easy to drink considering the complexity and alcohol percentage.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

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Photo of WertMaker
4.76/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This bottle, a 2013... Black label, 11% ABV in the upper right, logo crown.

L: Opaque black, it poured like syrup into the tulip glass creating a light brown, thin and somewhat rocky head that dissipated quickly to form a foam ring at contact with the glass.
S: Dark chocolate and black coffee beg you to take a sip.
T: Leading with dark Dutch chocolate with black coffee and leather undertones, hints of currents and raisins along with ripe figs fill out the profile with a finish that lingers long after the sip.
F: Silky slick as syrup, this beer sticks around allowing you to savor the finish.

Dark chocolate, coffee and a pleasant bitterness finish this beer, and; Wow!

There was some sediment in the bottom of this three year old, but it laid up well.

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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!!!

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Photo of q33jeff
4.52/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Oh my, this is tasty. Bottle to tulip glass. Picked up a 4pack today, Southampton, PA. Plan on aging the other 3, but not sure how long I'll actually be able to keep my meat hooks off of this as it is delish.

Dark black pour, oily, solid tan head....fades.
Aroma is roasted malt and Chocolate. Taste: dark chocolate, licorice, plus something lingering, lerking, almost spicy, maybe cinnamon or nutmeg. Smoky.

Feel; Medium carb, thick body.

Nothing terribly complex, but extremely delicious. Dark Horse has a new fan.
Bottle (from March 2016) to snifter.
With pizza before new years party.
Still awesome. Like a slightly sweeter and smoother NC Old Rasputin.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

On-tap 3/20/2016 at Natty Greeneā€™s Tavern in North Attleboro, MA, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a thin beige head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains chocolate, roasted malts, licorice, dark fruit, coffee and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with sweet flavors of chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and licorice. Then an alcohol sting comes in along with a touch of smokiness. The malt character is hearty and the hops presence is very mild but there is not much balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: A little crisp and a little smooth, medium-to-heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, slightly filling, strong kick, decent representation of style, there are definitely better available big stouts than this one.

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Photo of thorkelson
4.48/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Finally getting into the whole imperial stout thing after 2 years of drinking craft. Enjoyed literally every other style before the imperial stout but wow, was I missing out. Im excited to start this journey. Picked this up in a mix 6 at total wine. Lovely oily thick appearance from the pour and an awesome mocha minimal head. Nice notes of chocolate and malty sweetness. roast is minimal. awesome beer.

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Photo of Phigg1102
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pitch black and opaque. About a half finger of mocha foam that settles into a thin cap. dark chocolate and light cherry hits the nose first, the roasted malt character isn't overpowering and marries nicely with the beer. moderate sweetness in the taste, with the roasted malt again not overpoweringly bitter. a touch of dark fruit with dark chocolate and roasted coffee. medium full mouthfeel and a sweet finish.

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Photo of slusk
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours black with a long standing brown head.

S: Dark fruit, currants, mild chocolate, black bread, burnt caramel, gingerbread, Some black coffee, Musty undercurrent.

T: Black coffee, dark chocolate followed by black currant. Musty, smokey, starts out sweet but slowly transforms into a nice dry, bitter finish. Warming alcohol.

F: Full bodied, velvety mouthfeel. Low carbonation. A little acidic, a little astringency, very little. Doesn't detract.

O: A very complex and flavorful brew. The flavor profile transforms many times as you taste and as it warms. A phenomenal Russian imp. stout. Definitely a sipping beer.

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Photo of cyguyjg
3.96/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured to a milk chocolate head typical of a CO2 bottle. But the head quickly dissipated to only ring the inner walls of the glass. Color was black as black can be -- no translucence or opaqueness. I really tried but the only smell I noted was a hint of caramel. Rich chocolate was the immediate and welcome taste followed by a hint of coffee. However, it was also followed by the biting, bitter feel of hops along both sides of the tongue. That did not work for me as I prefer my hops further back in the mouth and during the finish. I like Stouts, especially Imperials, and Baltic Porters but I'm sorry to say that, although this is a well made ale, it is not among my favorites.

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Photo of hardysf
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Really excellent imperial stout. Dark, dark pour with nice mocha foam. Smell is of chocolate/fudge with hints of toffee and caramel. Taste is well balanced and complex. Lots of types of grains were used. Predominant taste here is chocolate/fudge. Other malt sweetness comes in the form of caramel. There is a hint of coffee to be found. This beer is not overly sweet and actually has some nice bittering aspects to it. THere is almost a hint of some hops/grassy notes. Very full bodied that coats the mouth and leaves a nice flavor in the mouth.

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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.

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Photo of AdamAlway
3.69/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

L: Very dark brown; black in low light. Dark dark tan head with little retention leaving the slightest ring around the edge.

S: Sweet coffee and dark chocolate dominates. Smokey malt, raisins and molasses.

T: A quick hit of dark chocolate upfront, but is quickly dominated by bitter roasted coffee. Finishes sweet with milk and chocolate, but doesn't last long.

F: Oily and thick which really causes the flavors, especially the coffee, to linger. Smooth and creamy throughout.

O: In all fairness, I don't usually like Imperial stouts. I enjoyed the coffee and chocolate combination. A little too thick for my palate. I appreciate receiving this as an extra and broadening my horizons.

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Photo of bushbeer75
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz brown bottle purchased 3/19/2014

Dark Horse Plead the 5th Imperial Stout poured out a clean but opaque black that produced a thin reddish tan head that dissipated quickly to a collar of foam. The nose is dominated by roasted malts and a hint of chocolate. At first taste there is a strong flavor of dark roasted malts followed by a moderate flavor of chocolate, coffee, and dark toffee. The Ale has enough hops to keep it balanced with a pleasant warming alcohol finish. The mouth feel is smooth, creamy and high-medium bodied.

Plead the 5th is very drinkable for such a high abv. Well done Dark Horse.

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Photo of Invinciblejets
4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Thick deep black with noticeable sediment in the bottle and in the glass when put up to light.

S: Burnt sugar roasty malts some dark fruit. Bit of dark chocolate.

T: Roasted malts up front smooth dark chocolate hints of wood...Some hop bitterness.

F: Oily thick sticky velvety. All that fun stuff.

O: Above average stout id say. Really good stuff. Odd to see so many floaties in a stout tho.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black hole pour with an awesome one finger tan head. Hoppy chocolate malt bomb smell and taste. The chocolate malt has a little smoke and the bitter hope is definitely there. Wonderful thick , warm mouthfeel. Very good, but I still give ten fidy the nod but in the same ballpark!

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Photo of OldManMetal
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a black hole of a beer; it is completely impervious to light and contains no highlights. The pour shows a slight appearance of viscosity and generates a thin, brief-lived creamy tan head that leaves sparse, fine-grained streaks of lacing. The nose is medium-big: a bitterish blend of coffee, milk chocolate and toffee with very prominent alcohol overtones. The palate is smoother and sweeter than the nose would lead you to expect: a rich range of chocolate notes backed by bitter toffee and booze. A strong roast character provides enough bitterness to largely balance the sweetness of the malt; the net result is just a bit on the sweet side. The finish is chocolate and booze, followed by the onset of a slight chocolate bitterness that lingers for a few minutes. The mouthfeel is biggish for the full body, and the texture is viscous, creamy, and just slightly peppery from the nicely restrained carbonation; all told, just about optimal for a big stout. While boozy, this beer drinks quite smoothly for the ABV. (12 oz bottle, 119 days after pkg)

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Photo of MikeWard
3.86/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a half pint glass.

looks superb, jet black body, off white head, looking forward to getting into this.

aroma is a little underwhelming. getting some faint chocolate, and a touch of roasted malt.

well, although its enjoyable, was really expecting a lot more. its a solid imperial stout, but doesnt smack me in the mouth the way the way i thought it would. not overly roasted, faint chocolate. not much else.

mouth is a tad over medium, overall an enjoyable beer, but my expectations were much higher.

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
4.23 out of 5 based on 3,937 ratings.
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