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: 914 | Ratings: 3,893
Photo of Leif_Eriksson
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: pours pitch black, with a cherry red head and light carbonation.

Nose: milk chocolate, cherries, old wood smoke.

Taste: creamy, chewy, woodsmoke, chocolate milkshake, dark cherry character. Huge beer!

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

Pours jet black, small dark brown head leaves an oil slick on the side of the glass. Awesome appearance!
Aroma is heavy on roasted malt, coffee and ash. Ya just gotta love the aroma, almost like burnt stale gas station coffee at 4am.
Tastes are quite similar, hints of dark fruit in the finish.
Thick and oily on the tongue, goes down smoothly.
This is one terrific beer, incredible flavors and aromas make this another super RIS outa Michigan.

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Dark dark brown...almost black, with just a wisp of a head.The smell is of cocoa, coffee and smoke. The taste is somewhat sweet but not cloying, cocoa and fruit with just a hint of booze. The overall impression is of a beer that demands attention, but savoring its complexity is worth the effort. It packs a strong punch at 11%, which for me makes it a "one-and-done," but also one I'd like to come back to.

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Photo of Meyers1023
4.46/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours completely dark with light brown head. Aroma is full of chocolate, caramel, and dark fruits. Flavor is raisins, chocolate, a little bit of roasted coffee, and some alcohol. The feel is a little thicker than medium, more carbonation than expected, and goes perfectly with the beer. This is a great stout! I've heard so much about it and I'm glad to finally be trying it.

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Photo of jlindros
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Looks like my review for this was lost, so luckily doing it side by side with the BBA verison, this one has some age on it, white label with no logo cap, must be 2011.

Pours a small darker fizzy head that fades quickly, super dark pitch black beer with looooong legs.

Nose lots of dark malts, plenty of roasted malt barley, char, roasted coffee, some fudgey chocolate, dark roasted cocoa and a little fluffy nougat, some baking spices, that nougat and chocolate bring candy bar sweetness, a creamy note, coffee syrup, chocolate syrup.

Taste brings plenty more dark roasted malts, charred barley, a little burnt coffee, coffee beans, coffee syrup, super dark chocolate, into chocolate syrup and some fudgey chocolate cocoa, a little fluffy nougat and baking spices again and maybe faint anise, mild caramel and syrupy flavors in general, with some spicy bitter hops kicking in late. A little booze warmth, little creamy and fluffy, a little fusel alcohol flavor on the back end.

Mouth is med to fuller bod, a little creamy and fluffy, decent carb, some hot tingly booze.

Overall not bad, better than I remember, less anise and I think there was smoke before, or too much burnt char, but a pretty good beer, feels a touch thin for what it is.

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Photo of jzlyo
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aroma is chocolate/dark chocolate, dark malts, coffee and a hint of dry earthiness. The flavor is chocolate/dark chocolate, coffee, dark malts, mild dark fruit/fruit and a mix of big acidity and slight spiciness/alcohol in the finish.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle no date, but bought from the worst craft beer store in Ann Arbor so it might be a year or more old (other bottles were). Michigan craft pint glass.

A: pours a completely opaque black with a quarter finger tan head. Not really any visible carb at the glass rim. No lacing, modest retention.

S: raisins, molasses, dark chocolate, prunes, caramel, honey, needless to say - sweet, with loads of dark, dried fruit.

T: arrives sweet, and develops into cascading layers of the aforementioned prunes, molasses, dark chocolate. Syrupy molasses sweetness lingers. A little alcohol as it warms.

M: full bodied and slick, very slick. Relatively high carbonation keeps it just on this side of cloying.

O: wow is that a big, sweet beer. This is my first RIS in a long time, and it's a bit too sweet. A real sipper. Not my fave RIS.

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Photo of Dragginballs76
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours black off white head great lacing

Aroma - Dark chocolate, caramel, tobacco, cocoa and roasted malts.

Flavor - Flavors are well balanced, bitter chocolate, vanilla , cocoa and roasted malts.

Feel- Pretty full mouthfeel coats the mouth very smooth and velvet feeling.

Overall - Very solid beer, great flavors and very smooth feel.

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Photo of basaywhat
3.94/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours black with low brown head. Aromas of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits. Nice creamy rich and full bodied stout with loads of coffee, chocolate and vanilla.

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Photo of The_Snow_Bird
4.92/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Very dark beer with no head on top. Can smell dark fruits along with something sweet. Tastes like how a dark beer should taste, roasted malts and coffee.

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Photo of descobar
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Vintage: 2011 - Intense black in color with a reddish tint. very light brownish head. aromas are roasted malts, chocolate, nuts and dark fruits (plum mostly). this is a full bodied beer, with a rich texture and moderate carbonation. astringency insignificant. flavors are all roasted malts, no sweetness, dark chocolate, hints of coffee well balanced by bitterness. some alcohol warmth is present. after 5 years of ageing, I'd have thought it would have mellowed a bit more. it finishes very dry and with lingering alcohol. overall a very good beer that shows no negative off-flavors from cellaring.

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Photo of Bruno74200
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L - Black, no Head

S - Chocolate and coffee, somewhat acidity (oat?)

T - very complex, chocolate, plum, roasted, light oat acidity, a bit of brown sugar, earthy hops

M - The alcohol makes it heavy but not boozy, quite light mouthfeel, a bit astringent

O - A deep RIS. Actually more of an imperial oatmeal stout but with a good earthy hop RIS profil. It's balanced and complex. Great stuff

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Photo of zac16125
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a wine glass
No bottling date. Label looks old as shit, but bought off the shelf approx 6-8 weeks ago so have to assume its most recent vintage.

A: Opaque black, 1+ fingers width of dense mocha colored head, dissipates at a moderate rate and leaves only a few small patches of lacing. 4.25

S: Huge nose, tons of roasty notes and big leathy/tobacco, significant cocoa. The chocolaty sweetness balances out the roast nicely. A really great aroma. 4.5

T: Taste is good, but doesn’t quite live up to the nose. Huge roasty characters are still present, as are the leather and tobacco notes. There is a sweetness, but the nice chocolatey notes present on the nose don’t come out as well in the taste. Its also a bit booze (but not overly so), and has a biting bitterness that detracts a bit from the other flavors. Still very good though. 4.25

M/D: Mouthfeel is fully bodied, but not thick, carbonation is on the higher end for the style and combined with the bitterness give it a bit more bite that I prefer and detract from the smoothness. ABV is noticeable but there’s no burn or harsh booziness. Drinkability is average for a large IS. 4

O: Overall, a very nice beer. Id gladly drink it again, but with all the high quality IS’s out there I would necessarily seek it out. 4.25

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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.

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

Dark Horse Plead The 5th Imperial Stout. 11% ABV, 41 IBU. Pours medium thickness, black, with two fingers of brown head, left light lacing. Nose is coffee and licorice, taste follows plus chocolate, with coffee bitterness on the close. Good mouthfeel, overall excellent.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle served in a tulip. Can't find any dates on it.

Pours black, almost still, with a small brown head. Smell is strong anise and a little chocolate.

Taste is surprisingly hoppy, strong bitter coffee and chocolate notes, still heavy anise (but luckily offset by the other flavors), some cherry.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly light and smooth. Overall, excellent beer.

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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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Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company
4.23 out of 5 based on 3,893 ratings.
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