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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 901 | Ratings: 3,854
Photo of orangesol
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got this one as an extra in a recent trade with spycow. Poured into a dogfish imperial pint.

A - Pours jet black with a big two finger tall tan head leaving small wisps of lacing down the glass.

S - Smells of dark chocolate, dark roasted malt, molasses, vanilla, oak, and some light hop bitterness. This is what you expect when you hear RIS.

T - Starts off with a big dose of dark roast quickly giving way to a mix of sweet dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses, and the faintest hint of hop bitterness at the very end. The creamy feel really helps to bring it all together. The finish is a mix of chocolaty sweetness and dark roast, lingering for some time.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Rich, creamy, feel with plenty of dark roast in the finish. The booze begins to creep in more and more as it warms to room temperature.

O - I really liked this one. It had all the typical flavors you would expect from a RIS but what really made it better was the creamy feel as it really helped to bring it all together. Good stuff.

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

Poured into my new Cigar City snifter! Big thanks to Jparkanzky for this bottle.

A: Pours an oily black color, extremely dark. Despite a rather forceful pour, only a very little bit of tan foam formed and quickly dissipated, leaving behind a ring of foam around the outer edge. Some lace forms when I take a sip, but is gone just as fast.

S: Lots of rich dark chocolate upfront, very sweet and inviting. There are hints of vanilla, caramel, and some molasses.

T: Again, lots of dark chocolate, which dominates the flavor profile. It is not as sweet as the aroma, which I am actually happy about. Underneath the chocolate there is a good bit of molasses, a little vanilla, and slight roasted malt flavor.

M: Medium to full bodied, rich and creamy with a nice level of carbonation. No sign of 12% at all, very well hidden.

O: A really nice RIS, very drinkable for the abv. A very tasty beer, well done Dark Horse.

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Photo of smcolw
3.45/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Modest starting head--dark, dark tan color. Surprisingly little stability; this dies to only rim bubbles. No lace. Dark brown where no light shines through.

Overly mild aroma, most notable appearance is the alcohol.

Good burnt malt flavor, but it is compromised by the thinner body. This may be because of the very high alcohol. Elements of coffee and nearly no notable hop bitterness.

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Photo of billab914
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Portsmouth tulip glass. It poured pitch black with one of the darkest chocolate heads I've ever seen on a beer. The head retreated to the edges of the glass where it left just a bit of lacing as I drank it.

The aroma has a big dark chocolate and brown sugar presence to it. Roasted malts with a touch of burntness come through in it as well. Very flavorful and appealing beer overall.

The taste shows more bitterness with bitter chocolate coming through at first. It turns to more of a roasted, burnt bitterness towards the finish. It leaves a nice bitter-sweet, dark chocolate lingering after the finish. Very nice flavor overall.

The mouthfeel is thick and heavy with low carbonation. Pretty much exactly the way I like my big stouts. Drinkability is good, it had some great flavors to it and was a pleasure to sip on this evening. A very enjoyable beer overall.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my Duvel tulip. Received as an extra from wunderbeer in a trade, big thanks Ron, I've been wanting to try this one!

a - Pours a jet black color with one inch of tan head and light carbonation evident. No lacing and the head only lasts for a minute.

s - Smells of cocoa, bitter chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, and roasted malts.

t - Tastes of bitter chocolate and coffee, dark fruits, roasted malts, vanilla, and a little alcohol.

m - Full bodied stout with moderate carbonation, this beer is very smooth and creamy; goes down great.

d - A very good RIS. I really liked the smell and mouthfeel. Wish the taste was a little less bitter but still very good. Would definitely like to try it again and would love to try the barrel aged version.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black absolutely sucks up all the visible light spectrum in my glass, big tan head after a vigorous pour. Aroma has dark licorice or pitsella (anise notes) with big ripened fruit notes,and an awesome roasted malt dark chocolate strong coffee combo. Big creamy toasted marshmallow experience this beer is extreme and awesome with a touch of soy sauce. Flavor is completely different than the draft sample I had much more rounded dark fruit sweetness in the flavor in the draft. This one is aggressive needing some age yet still a necessary drinking experience for any beer lover. I used to not be able to get any Dark Horse now that it's distributed in Ohio I've seen most of their beers come through, I really like their standards and their limited releases have been outstanding. Extremely sweet creamy sweet it could use a bit more hop balance than this, really it has anise (black licorice) a touch of soy sauce tones, and some dark fruit with soothing alcohol tones...strong espresso and dark chocolate this is one big ass stout. There's nothing here screaming hop bitterness I just wish it had more of that. Body wise this beer borders chewy full bodied stout with strong residual finishing characterisitcs and a strong soothing alcohol burn in the finish. Drinkability overall is a one and done type of affair, I liked it on draft much better. Challenging huge flavors going on but the balance could have been much better.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On draft at Capone's in Philadelphia.

The beer is black with a thick, beige head that plasters the glass in lacing. Can't ask for more than that. The aroma is of roast, oak, chocolate, and alcohol. The flavor is extremely roasty, with a slightly burned malt character. The feel is full bodied, with alcohol presence there, but not overwhelming. Good stuff.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.82/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Based on the site's "Notes", this is a 2013 bottle, but I do not know whether it was purchased at The fridge or at The Friendly Greek Bottle Shop. Either way, it is part of the great Bottle Purge of 2014 here at Chez Woody and I raise a toast to "Dark Horse Nation", which will debut on History Channel next Tuesday, 29 July 2014. Skoal!

I could see some lees at the bottom of the bottle, so I employed a very gentle pour to get things started. I still got a brief finger of deep-tan head with limited retention, quickly falling to wisps. Color was a deep, dark-brown (SRM = 44), allowing zero light penetration. Nose smelled of molasses or medicinal cough syrup from when I was a kid. It had a vegetal, root-like quality that also put me in mind of my grandparents' Geritol. I am not trying to be funny or anything of that nature, either. That is just what comes to mind. Mouthfeel was big, dense, thick, chewy. There was an initial, immediate fusel alcohol burn that slowly died down, allowing for flavors of burnt charcoal, dried dark fruits, anise, and molasses to come forth and be recognized. Whew! This was definitely a no-playing-around beer. Finish was dry, mainly due to the alcohol heat, with a lingering smoky chocolatiness that began to put me in mind of brownies. It was a good beer and I am sure that it is an excellent example of the style, but a) I do not really dig the style and b) it could have aged a while longer to reduce the heat.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.81/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I think at this point, I've had so many different really superb beers of this style that my expectations, and the overall standards, are quite high. This ris comes across as fairly one dimensional. Lots of molasses. More of a punch in the mouth than an interesting ride.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Inky black pour with almost nothing of a head. When I finish pouring, there are some mocha bubbles, but nothing else. A swirl produces decent legs, but it doesn't look that viscous.

Smell - Hops. Lots of hops for a stout. No real sweetness in the smell. Booze is the second most predominant smell. Chocolate malt in the back, but it's a lot of hops and alcohol.

Taste - Wow, it tastes amazing. Hops temper any sweetness that's there. Behind that is all chocolate and coffee. Maybe even some plum flavor. Delicious. Bitter finish, but it's appropriate and nearly perfect. Boozy finish.

Mouthfeel - Not as thick as I'd expect. I enjoy a chewy stout, but this isn't quite that. It makes it easier to drink in regards to the body. The booze is still apparent, but I suppose it's tough to ignore 12% ABV.

Overall - I love this stout. The flavors are nearly perfect. Looks awful and doesn't smell anywhere near as good as it tastes, but damn it's good.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Saw a four pack of this the other day and it jumped into my lap and rode home with me.
Pours a solid black with a minimal tan head that dissipates quickly a leaves no lace. Smells of licorice, molasses, bitter dark chocolate, dried dark cherries covered in vodka, a bit earthy herbal hops in there somewhere too. Taste is tart dark fruit drenched in dark chocolate and dipped in rum or vodka. Espresso and an earthy hop bit round this one out. Leaves a lingering roasted grain char mixed with some sweetness that linger long after every sip. I'm kind of amazed that the depth of flavors in this brew meld together so well. Sweet sticky almost syrupy mouthfeel. Light level of carbonation and a thick body. I really enjoyed this one. Really thick and sweet but incredibly tasty. Shit I'm thinking about pouring this over some vanilla ice cream in a few.

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Photo of tdm168
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to jtd1969 for sharing this one with me

A - pitch black with a short, brown head that has good retention

S - licorice, anise, chocolate, roasted malts

T - roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, licorice, dark fruit, mildly bitter, warming alcohol

M - full bodied, smooth, well carbonated

This is a fantastic beer that has an immensely deep, complex flavor. I am really impressed with this one. Each sip offered just a little something more from the great malt character. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer, and I look forward to trying it again.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Fresh off the tap, in a St. Bernardus goblet. Cause that's how I roll, yo.

Dark as sin, black as all the wrongs in the world, huge tanned brown, cocoa head standing firm above. Beautiful. Amazing. Gorgeous. Outstanding.

Aroma: Oatmeal? Hmmm? Well, it's creamy, ...there's chocolate. Not too sweet. Roasty, but not too much. Creamy chocolate. Let's stick with that.

Drinking it: Big, fat, fantastic, delcicious. Rounds around the mouth, and sticks with it. Very well rounded, all together. What we seem to have is an RIS that is not outrageous in any degree, not overly out-there with any particular element.
Big, thick mouthfeel, long cocoa and coffee finish. Mmm, just right.

Very tasty, and not really easy to read the 12% abv, until, what, wait a minute, ...there it is...whoa-oh...

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Photo of smakawhat
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass.

Comes out just jet black. Sits on a very dark black body. Leaves some dark cocoa powder like bubbles of a small head but doesn't stick around. Manages to leave a collar and lots of leg action on the glass.

Bouquet is a very barleywine like with sweet raspberry fruit. Small hints of dark chocolate in the back, and some powdery dry arid sensations.

Taste is a real soft berry and chocolate. It feels like berry chocolate. This is very light bodied too and feels incredibly balanced. Slight tinges of tobacco on the swallow also with a good deal of masked abv quality. Kind of a dry finish also sort of hinting that at first from what the nose felt like. A little thin but surprising. Hints of smoke and chocolate too.

Overall it's quite enjoyable actually, interesting take for such a big abv.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at Sheffield's for the Dark Side of Oz event. Served in a half-pint glass.

A - A half finger of dark mocha foam with good retention and lacing. Tar black with no hints of color at the edges (although it was pretty dark in the bar, so I could be wrong).

S - Roasty bitterness, boozy. This brew had a surprisingly small bouquet, even after I let it warm up a bit. It just did not smell all that interesting.

T - The taste is huge - loads of roast malts, dark fruits, and chocolate. Nowhere near as bitter as it smelled, although there is a mounting bitterness in the aftertaste. The half-pint serving kept it from getting to be too much. Not boozy in the slightest.

M - Medium body, lighter than I expected. Low carbonation, with lots of residual stickiness. It needs a little more viscosity to support such an otherwise big beer.

D - Surprisingly drinkable for a 12% brew. I can see the bitterness getting a little overwhelming, but otherwise it's pretty easy going - low carbonation and well-hidden ABV.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.66/5  rDev -13.5%

A - Coffee body with thin cola highlights. Ok retention and low lace on a light tan head.

S - Roast nose with a light edge of booze. Cocoa, burnt toast, touch of caramel and dark fruits. Fairly light.

T - Caramel, barley, and molasses. Dusty center with just a hint of balsamic vinegar. Astringent burnt toast finish.

M - Smooth, but a little light for an RIS.

O - Not bad, but a little disappointing given the hype.

3.66 Plead the 5th
--- -Jay- -Jon- -Anth- -Vin- -Avg- Weight
A - 4.00 4.00 ------- 4.00 4.00 10%
S - 3.50 3.75 ------- 3.25 3.50 20%
T - 3.75 3.50 ------- 3.50 3.58 40%
M - 4.00 3.25 ------- 3.50 3.58 10%
O - 4.00 3.75 ------- 3.75 3.83 20%

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

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a very dark, oil-like black coloring with a thin, low profile, dense, light tan colored head. Aromas of dark, bittersweet chocolate, black cherry, peat and earthy tones, and a touch of ginger. Pretty interesting nose. Flavors are heavily roasted, with a warm, cocoa and sweet chocolate backbone supporting a touch of bitter coffee and some subtle fruit sweet highlights. Rich and smooth in mouth...almost creamy. Bitter and creamy aftertaste, with hints of baker's chocolate and a hint of booze. Rich, smooth finish, with a slight bitter linger. Very solid, robust brew.

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

12 ounce bottle - 2014 version

Pours near black, lasting dark mocha head

Black coffee and chocolate all over the nose

More of the same as this crusher flows over the palate. Waves of dark chocolate and coffee. Dense and flavorful. I'd like to dry it with a chocolate dessert. World class night capper

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Photo of drabmuh
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared by yourefragile recently along side the bourbon barrel plead the fifth, these beers don't especially resemble each other.

Beer is black, with a thin lazy head of small tan bubbles, halos the snifter, no lacing, low carbonation.

Aroma is mildly sweet, mildly bitter, mildly ashy, a little roast.

Beer is medium in body and quite bitter on the finish. Not as sweet as I thought it was going to be on the palate from the nose, the lead off is a little malt syrup, medium body, the beer thins at the back and finishes moderately bitter from the roast. Nice beer overall though.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ Dark Horse. Listed ABV wsa 14%.

Served in an 8 oz snifter.

A - Pitch black with a small amoutn of light brown head.

S - A big chocolate aroma up front that compliemnt a robustr roasted malt profile. A big sweetness is present throughout and some molasses flavours in the background. Bittering is light. Extremely smooth for the ABV. The finish has a big roasty malt presence.

M - Med to full body. Silky and somewhat viscous.

O - A superb example of the style. Dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of tempest
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Liberty St for $5/pint. Appeared pitch black with a brown cascading head. Damn, this is rich stout. Still, it wasn't cloying or too thick to have more than a few ounces like DFH World Wide Stout. It has a big chocolate cake taste that reminds me of 3F Dark Lord - though smoother and not quite as complex. This beer might benefit from a little more cellaring, it's just not as flavorful as the great imperial stouts. Still, it's fairly drinkable for the style and makes for a good dessert beer. Vanilla ice cream anyone?

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle courtesy of bwd110 thanx for this extra playa

A: poured a very dark brown with brown highlights that had a super thin head and alomost left no lacing sticking to the glass.

S: right away I got this nice aroma of coffee and roastiness with some booze notes, chocolate showing up too but I could spot a little oatmeal and faint dark fruits as well.

T: upfront on the palate the chocolate was more potent than in the nose along with coffee, roastiness, and oatmeal accents but the booze was not as strong on the taste like the nose; very tasty RIS.

M: the brew was full bodied with a very low amount of carbonation which had a sweet, roasty, boozy, and chewy finish.

D: it drank really good and was very tasty I hope I can get my hands on some more of this delectable beer.

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Photo of Tone
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%

Pours a black color. 1/4 inch head of an off-tan color. Decent retention and decent lacing. Smells of alcohol, roasted malt, sweet malt, hint of caramel malt, slight hop, and a hint of oatmeal. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is sharp and clean, with an average carbonation level. There is a noticeable dryness. Tastes of roasted malt, sweet malt, slight caramel malt, alcohol, hint of hop, and a hint of oatmeal. Overall, decent appearance, good aroma, decent feel, good body, and decent overall.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A fine beer from Dark Horse right m'here. Thanks to gklover1 for this baby.

Looks fantastic. Just about black, rich pour. Off-brown, dark milkshake, coffee head. Looks a bit like BA Yeti.

Pleasant rounded aroma of black leather, some nice soy, coffee beans, toasted caramel, baked chocolate. Some dark fruits and toffee.

Flavor follows the aroma . Well balanced between the coffee, chocolate, toffee and black fruits. Some grassy hops and soy underneath. ABV is well hidden here. This a rich, but not overwhelming, beer. Slight bite on the end that lets the fruits snap away and the malt to linger a bit. Somewhat smoky.

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Photo of Duff27
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage

A- Thin but there *very* dark mocha head on a black beer. Leaves some lacing, not much head retention.

S- Big coffee and chocolate whiffs, mmm.

T- More chocolate, not as much coffee. Above average hop presence per style. Almost a minty aftertaste thing going on from the boozy sweetness. Doesn't drink its 12%abv.

M- Thick mouthfeel but good carbonation.

D/O- Woo! A sure-fire winner here. No wonder why the BA faithful regard this as one of the best (relatively) mass-produced Russian imperial stouts. First Dark Horse beer I've had that's been well above average. Thanks MammothBrew!

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