Plead The 5th Imperial Stout | Dark Horse Brewing Company

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Plead The 5th Imperial StoutPlead The 5th Imperial Stout
4,024 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 4,024 |  Reviews: 941
Photo of CrellMoset
3.75/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from dkachur, who got it in a trade - thanks Dan! Poured into a chalice.

Appearance: Thick, black, like motor oil. No head, but very thin and runny bubbly, tan lacing.

Aroma: Lots of roasted malts - coffee and chocolate, of course - and some earthy, woody aromas. Fruity esters, too - not dark, either, but light, like tannins.

Taste: Very interesting. It's like a tart RIS, but it's not tart - it's just balanced. Lots of those light fruity esters balance a heavily roasted malt backbone - perhaps its citrus hops. Either way, it's unique, and surprisingly refreshing for an RIS.

Mouthfeel: Velvety and even, full bodied, with minimal carbonation. What is there is medium-sized, though.

Drinkability: The tartness/fruity esters keep it light and drinkable, which is good, because otherwise this one might knock you on your butt. It's very balanced, though - recommended.

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Photo of cvstrickland
4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The drink pours a shade of deep ebony with a mocha-colored head that retains great an leaves a bit of lacing on the glass.

Smell is smoky and roasty-toasty with notes of charcoal, coffee, and chocolate.

Taste is roasty, even a bit burnt, with dark coffee and bittersweet chocolate notes rising from the woody ashes.

Full-bodied with nice drinkability.

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Photo of mynie
3.68/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sold to me as "Plead the Fifth" imperial stout. Also it came in a fourpack, not a bomber. And I should mention that I bought it at Eagle River Liquor in Fulton, Illinois. Because that store doesn't sell enough good beer.

Damn fine pour. Damn fine. I'd pit this bad mofo up against Dark Lord and the Abyss. Black as the total absence of colors and then there's a wonderful chocolate brown head sitting on top of it that is just mouthwatering. Seriously--I've been here for like 4 years and I don't think I've ever used the phrase "mouthwatering" before, since it's so cliche. But that's what this is.

Smells very rich and intense. This is a room temp pour but it's still pretty hard to pick out one flavor from another. There's a little bit of smokiness, but that's overridden by chocolate and roughraw porter malts. You also got some bread and nuts in there, too. Not much of the liquor or alcohol burny yeast that you normally expect from an RIS. the taste is solid but still a total letdown. Little dull and watery at first, but that falls into a meaty smoke flavor that runs quickly into a chocolate malt and gives way to some lightly burny yeast. Eh. The blend ain't all the great, the seltzery beginning is nothing short of offputting, and it's not nearly intense enough for the style.

Don't get me wrong: I am by no means the kind of guy who gets down on beers for not being Xtreme enough. But I expect a lot out of an RIS. And this one, while plenty enjoyable, doesn't fully deliver.

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Photo of tpd975
4.85/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got a couple of these recently in trade the most recent being my boy BeerTruth!

A: Pours as black as black can be. A thunderous three finger mocha colored head rises and shows good retention. Spotty lace is noted all the way down the glass.

S: Holy roast batman. This one is roasted to the max. Tons of roasted, almost charred malt. Rich bitter chocolate and over cooked coffee. There is a bit of sweet caramel below all of that though.

T: Insane. What a tasty brew. Tons of perfectly roasted chocolate malt. This one tastes like brownies. There are hints of coffee, vanilla and smoke as well. Hops show up in the finish with a small bitter blast. Damn Drinkable, and oh so tasty.

M: Perfect mouth feel. Big and bold, Rich and Creamy. Gives a new meaning to smooth.

D: Not a hint of the ABV. The taste is off the Richter scale. I reallly like this beer and am glad to have a few more laying around to share with the Tuesday night tasting group.

Plead The 5th = YUM!!!

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Photo of BMoney575
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 6-27-08

Pours a thick black, with just a little red on the outside edge. No head, but short lived rings of lacing.

Smell is very malty, lots of coffee and smoke, with a little anise. Very RIS.

Taste is fantastic. Hugely roasty at first, followed by a fair amount of smoky chocolate. The finish is quite bitter but very smooth.

Mouthfeel is right on for a Russian Imperial.

Drinkability is pretty good, hard to say not knowing the abv.

Overall, a great example of the style, and even better, I'm guessing, with a little time.

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Photo of gordavidson
4.46/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Absolutely pitch black and thick looking. A nice, creamy mocha head forms and had excellent retention.

S- Lots of chocolate and coffee. Some anise and smokiness are in there as well. Smells wonderful and balanced, but it is pretty subdued.

T- The perfect balance of all the flavors. There is a ever so slight hop presence on the tail end, but I love how it is not in your face at all. Very clean and enjoyable.

M- Very creamy and ridiculously smooth. It doesn't get much better than this.

D- A tasty pick. I could really sip on this for awhile. Much better than I expected. Dark Horse really knows what they are doing with stouts.

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Photo of iconoklaztor
4.6/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a nice black color with virtually no head. I love the smell though. Coffee and chocolate make up the smell of this brew.

The taste is awesome. I really this this brew and for 10 a four pack I cant complain. Its rich and full of coffee and malts. MMM!

Overall, what a great find and very flavorful! I really enjoy this brew!

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Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle received in trade from iceicebaby. Served in my DFH snifter. Poured an opaque black with a quarter-inch mocha-colored head with copious ringlets that eventually settled into an inconsistent slick before finally congealing around the perimeter of the bowl. Lots of tiny bubbles lined the walls of the glass below the surface. Some bands of watery lacing, but poor adherence. Scents of dark fruit and chocolate malt. Flavors of roasted coffee, chocolate malt and dark fruit (perhaps cherries). Mouthfeel was very lively with a light carbonation burn across the top of the tongue. Body was a little thin for the style. Good drinkability; somewhere between an RIS and a foreign export stout. I have to say that I continue to be impressed by this brewery.

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Photo of tedpeer
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce received in trade with hophobo, thanks. Poured into a chalice.

A - Pours black. No head. No lacing.

S - Chocolate and roasted.

T - Roasted malt and chocolate, coffee.

M - Very smooth, creamy, full body.

D - two or three of these would be wonderful.

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Photo of ncvbc
3.95/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours basically black with little to no light coming through. A thin tan head slowly rises from the pour. Smell is much more sweet than the taste to come. Some dark fruits, milk chocolate, light caramel and of course hints of roast. Taste brings the roasted flavors full force. Char and smoked flavors come out. Very interesting and deep. Some sweetness again and a little bitter toward the finish. Not a bad mouthfeel, just not as big a body as I'd hoped. Overall a good drinker and brew.

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Photo of ejquin
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep dep black with 2 finger brown head that fades to leave just a little lacing.

S: Chocolate milk and coffee with a hint of raspberry and malts. Smokiness there as well. Smells nicely milky sweet, like vanilla pudding.

T/M: A bit lighter in body than it appears. Creamy smooth. Had a nice milk chocolate taste up front which fades to malt and then spice. Alcohol comes through slightly on finish. Bitter espresso lingers.

D: Fine.

Ovr: Good stout. Nice vanilla/milky notes to it and really smooth. Dark Horse knows what their doing. Every one of thier brews I've had to date have been very solid.

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Photo of pwoods
4.66/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz. brown bottle of Plead the 5th thanks to SPLITGRIN at DLD.
Poured into a snifter.

A: Pours pitch black, no visibility. A very short head after a vigorous pour dies to a thin skim. A couple spots of lacing here and there.

S: Alcohol is very present. Lush dark fruits and light meaty and smoky aromas remind me of good Old Ales.. and make me want one, lol. This dominates most of the smell. There's a good sweetness as well as some charred, sooty malts.

T/M: More of a coffee and chocolate flavor comes out that I couldn't really pick up in the nose. There's still a great alcohol line throughout the entire drink. Whatever the ABV is, I'm sure it's very high but masterfully controlled. It really adds a huge depth. More of the sweetness, leaning towards vanilla but with strong oak and woody notes, as well as a very tasty smoky, sooty character. Body is medium full but very smooth and silky, not heavy, rough, overly dry.

D: Way too easy to drink. I'm sure the ABV is up there but I really want to continue drinking this. I'll actually have to watch myself from wasting this.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.27/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I received this lovely 12ounce bottle of Plead the 5th in a great trade for the Dark Horse stout series a couple months back. I have made my way through most of those, but last night I wanted to really give this one a try. Service at cellar temperature I poured it into a UK pint glass.

Appearance - I poured it very forcefully and was able to muster up about a half inch or so of tan and chocolate colored head off of this one, which quickly faded and left behind only a small crown of lace and some decent side glass presentation. The color was very nice, a rich dark brown, nearly black, save for a few glimpses on the corners. Overall though nice look and presentation to this one, albeit a little slim on the head.

Smell - The aroma was rich with dark chocolate, amazingly sweet smelling it really had a nice depth to it. Some hints of vanilla at first, and they really came up towards the end when it started to warm. Some slight touches of woody aromas coming off of it and a touch of caramel and coffee, but this was one sweet smelling stout for sure.

Taste - The flavor was very nice, and absolutely full of chocolate flavored malts. It was a deep, sweet chocolate flavor that was dominating this one. Rich and sweet, like Hershey's syrup, this was coming across very nice. Deep rich molasses like sugar flavors now coming into play, and this was turning out to be one of the sweetest stouts I have had in a good long while. Not sure what the percentage was here, but there was virtually no alcohol present in this one. Really just remarkably well done. Long lingering flavor of rich dark chocolate and the perfect sweet coffee flavor just made me want to rush back in for another sip.

Mouthfeel - Very rich and creamy with a nice amount of carbonation, which to be honest surprised me due to the lack of carbonation of the pour. Nice full bodied feel with a great texture going down, pretty much classic for a big stout.

Drinkability - Outstanding ability to put this one down. Just ridiculously smooth and a great amount of flavor in this one. No detectable amount of alcohol, just a super smooth delivery with a great flavor and good carbonation. Could have sipped it all night.

Overall I thought this one was really great. A solid imperial stout that hid the alcohol very well and leaned heavily toward the side of chocolate with the flavor. Quite solid in both appearance and profile, this is one I would love to go back to and try again. Definitely very good.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, "Plead the 5th" Imperial Stout. Served in a chalice, the beer pours very dark brown/black with a very small brown head which goes away quickly. The aroma is roasted malt, dark fruit, milk chocolate, coffee and molasses. Taste is similar to the aroma, there's roasted malt, milk and bittersweet chocolate, molasses, vanilla, coffee, dark fruit and a bit of soy sauce. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full. Not as thick as I expected it to be (but there's still plenty of substance to this beer), but it's very slick and smooth with low carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good, it's not hard to drink at all. Overall I think this is a pretty good RIS, I'd definitely buy it again given the chance.

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Photo of merlin48
4.42/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.89/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer pours an opaque used motor oil black color. The head is half an inch in height, and recedes quickly into a ring of lacing. The aroma is of milk and dark chocolate, graham cracker, toffee, vanilla, and is rather prominent. The taste is full of roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, toffee, graham cracker, and hints of coffee. The mouthfeel is full bodied with appropriately low carbonation, and a velvety texture. Overall, this is one of the best RIS I have had. I really like the fact that it isn't overly hoppy the way a lot of American made RIS tend to be. If this were available to me locally it would be one of my go to stouts.

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Photo of warmstorage
4.03/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, acquired in a great trade with jw347. Thanks!

Appearance: Deep opaque black, with moderate to solid medium brown, moderately dense head that leaves significant lacing. Beautiful.

Aroma: roasty boozy deep stonefruit tangy.

Taste: cherries coffee roasty toasty grain, some nuttiness, with a distinct bitterness, almost a sourness, on the finish. Hints at cherries.

Mouth: Very smooth, almost slick, full, moderately warm.

Overall: Very tasty and very drinkable, and something I'd like to have again.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter at Map Room 4/27/08.

A: Pure, black evil. Dark khaki/espresso crema colored head that didn't leave too much lace.

S: Huge aromas of blackened malt, raisins/plums, dark & milk chocolate, burnt toast, and a molassas reduction drizzled over cherry.

T: Slightly boozy rum-soaked raisin, dark chocolate covered cherry, espresso, cocoa, toasted oats, burnt white bread, plum bread pudding with a coconut glaze.

M: Silky smooth. A great mixture of sweet, boozy, and spicy.

D: What an awesome RIS. Hopefully this becomes easier to find in IL.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.78/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to tytoanderso for the "Plead the 5th imperial stout," 12 oz bottle.

This beer pours a deep dark black with hints of purple and a dark tan collar.

Smells of dark fruits, baking cocoa, sour wheat, older coffee and dehydrated apricots.

Tastes of prunes, Wheaties, maple syrup, chocolate pudding and sour coffee for balance.

Felt big, thick and sticky with a light carbonation.

the sweet and sour dryness was an odd take on the style, but nice nonetheless.

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Photo of EliteDigger
3.9/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle of "Plead the 5th"
A-Forceful pour yields almost no head at all. Small amount of tiny bubbled, dense light brown foam appears around the edge of the glass, but that's it. However, when taking a sip, there's enough carbonation to leave a bit of lacing on the sides and rebuild the bit of foam around the edges. Body is dark, basically black with virtually no light peeking through the edges.
S-Not a large amount of aroma here, but I pick up a bit of molasses, dark chocolate, and earthy roasted grains.
T-Subtle flavors in this one, growing stronger the more it warms...very subdued coffee shows through, with more dark chocolate. Tastes of molasses, dark fruit, more roasted grain, and a bit of hops shows up.
M-Nice thickness, creaminess, and although the head was non-exisitant, the carbonation is adequate to give this one a very pleasant mouthfeel.
D-Decent drinkability taking into account the ABV but I'm not sure I'd want more than a couple.
Overall a decent RIS, but not outstanding. I'm glad I got to try it and I threw a couple down in the cellar to see what some age does to this one.

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Photo of ILhophead
4.18/5  rDev -3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$2.50 12 oz. bottle of Plead the 5th (winter 07-08)

A: Bottle pours a thick black liquid with a thin brown head of foam. A little swirling in the glass shows that this beer really sticks to the sides and runs down in legs.

S: Big roasty aroma with a bit of molasses and a hint of alcohol.

T: Taste kind of matches the smell. Big roasty flavor with a bit of sweet molasses. A touch of alcohol comes through in the finish but the roastiness maintains the lead throughout.

M: Coats the tongue with a slick viscosity. Not quite as thick as I expected from the appearance but enough to make the flavors linger in the mouth for a good minute.

D: Drinkability is good for an impy stout. I could probably put down a couple of these but it's better as a one timer at the end of a session or as an after dinner treat.


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Photo of DavidEddie
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of "Plead the 5th".

Appearance - Black with a tan head, and a nice ring of lacing.

Smell - A nice mix of milk chocolate, coffee, hint of dark fruit, and burnt marshmallows.

Taste - A blast of chocolate, old black coffee, brown sugar, smoke, and burnt toast. Finishes with some mildly bitter piney hops and booze.

Mouth feel - Lightly carbonated and coating.

Drinkability - Incredible. My new favorite stout! IMO similar to Surly Darkness and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. Definitely recommended!

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Photo of Derek
4.17/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle of "Plead the 5th".

A: Dark black with a dark, tan head, very little retention, slight leg.

S: Big aroma of bittersweet chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, warming alcohol and a hint of fruity esters.

T: Dark chocolate, black strap molasses, sherry, burnt/roasted acidity, salty licorice and a hint of soy sauce. Solid bitterness. Very nice.

M: Moderate to full body is very creamy; well-attenuated, alcohol leaves a dry finish.

D: Bold & Beautiful.

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Photo of bashiba
4.02/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a 2008 plead the 5th Imperial stout in a 12oz bottle.

Poured a thick dark black with no head to speak of.

The smell had a very full coffee and smoke aroma with a bit of molasses.

Taste is a huge blast of burnt and smokey black malts, a bit of sweet alcohol and chocolate manage to sneak there way through.
Leaves a big bitter burnt black flavor that mixes with a strong blast of pine and lingers forever.

Mouthfeel has a slighlty sticky and oily body that leaves a warm coating.

A nice Hoppy Imperial Stout, will enjoy this one again soon.

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Photo of largadeer
4.37/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle; Plead the 5th Imperial Stout. No date or ABV on the label.

Appearance: Pitch black with no head, just a thing ring of foam around the glass.

Smell: Vanilla and milk chocolate, fresh bread, almost doughnut-like. Great aroma.

Taste & mouthfeel: Gentle and sweet with roasted/burnt flavors taking a back seat to notes of caramel, vanilla, molasses and bread pudding. Thick and rich, dessert-like, with very little carbonation. Licorice in the finish with a milky sweet aftertaste.

Notes: This one reminded me a lot of Dark Lord.

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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.31 out of 5 with 4,024 ratings