Plead The 5th Imperial Stout | Dark Horse Brewing Company

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
924 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Plead The 5th Imperial StoutPlead The 5th Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
darkhorsebrewery.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
924
Ratings:
3,937
Avg:
4.23
pDev:
8.27%
 
 
Wants:
555
Gots:
1,055
For Trade:
117
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 924 | Ratings: 3,937
Photo of justinp444
4.62/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a tulip glass this beer pours a rich foamy chocolate head with a dark black body. Smell is of chocolate and coffee with a large amount of malt and dried fruit. Taste is chocolate with tons of malt and dried fruit, not overly sweet but more earthy hops bitter & malt sweetness on the back end with a sharp tongue coating entrance.

 342 characters

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.87/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass at the South Park Tavern in Dayton, OH.

A - No real head to speak of. Very thin lace across the surface. Tar black and solidly opaque.

S - Light, but consistently present, nose of roasted malts with a bit of dark chocolate.

T - Yummy dark chocolate flavors, well-roasted malts, some hints of dark, dried fruits. Almost reminds me of a Belgium dark ale, but with more dark roast and chocolate and far less fruit. A bit of a boozy backend does give it a hint of having a medicinal quality, like Jagermeister. Not at all smokey or burnt like some stouts.

M - Somewhat creamy, with just enough carbonation to let you know there's CO2 present. Medium body. Good structure and nicely integrated. Moderate finish, but soft. This beer really needs to be on nitro.

O - Take a standard English porter and then intentionally push it toward a stout via the malts. This is that beer. Delicious and very drinkable. I was very surprised to discover its 12% ABV, both because it came in a pint glass and because it's not at all that boozy or big-bodied. If I liked the stout end of porters, I could make this a regular.

 1,142 characters

Photo of bound4er
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Jet black appearance with a thin, tan head. Smells rich, sweet and fruity for an impy stout - dark chocolate, vanilla and bubblegum come to mind. Taste follows the nose with more chocolate, vanilla and tutti frutti sweetness. Both alcohol and hops are well hidden though the former is good but the latter is not in my book. Rich and creamy mouthfeel with almost no carbonation. This beer is rich and tasty but its sweetness and lack of any detectable hops to clean up the finish makes it a bit tiring to finish a 12 oz. bottle in one sitting.

 542 characters

Photo of JamesShoemaker
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a new snifter. My parents got me this bottle for Christmas, thanks!

A - very good looking beer. Forced pour produces little head, foam starts dark brown like an RIS, but lightens as it settles. Bubbles swirl on the surface, making it look alive.

S - phew, not good. I don't know if it's my glass, but it smells sour, almost like a Belgian dark. Not what I expected and totally unpleasant. I can't even stand taking my customary deep whiff.

T - good, creamier than I expected, though my initial expectations were kind of rocked by the odor. I like the milky flavor working with the malts to cover up the alcohol (which is undetectable even at 12%). Not a great big slap in the face like most specialty double stouts from Michigan breweries.

M - the consistency is really interesting because of the aforementioned milky flavor. It's a smooth drink to be sure, and the alcohol is clandestine in a very dangerous way. If this bottle's smell is a fluke, I could drink more than one of these in a sitting.

O - I'd love to try this on tap, but another bottle may be out of the question, assuming it's not my glass making it smell like this. Dark Horse is a great company regardless, I love the sheer variety of stouts they produce.

 1,254 characters

Photo of BeerBuckeye
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Pours a dirty motor oil black, plenty viscous, a nice mocha colored head that fades quickly leaving behind very little lacing.

S - Very chocolatey, hints of dark fruit, licorice, coffee, and oak. Man this is a good smelling brew.

T - Oh man, hits you with a ton of bitter, dark roasted coffee. Nice, bittersweet chocolate, a hint of that fruity sweetness. Touches of vanilla, oak, and almost like smoked charcoal. Delicious.

M - Sticky, full, roasty. Perfect mouthfeel.

Overall - Blown away by this one, truly outstanding.

 531 characters

Photo of angelmonster
3.92/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this in the RIS BIF

Pours a solid pitch black body, dark chocolate 1 finger head, prolly the darkest head i've seen. Too bad it disappeared almost instantly :( . Head retention wasnt very good and lacing was above average. Appearance gets bump in score for such a nice looking head, enough though it didnt last long

Smell is of rich, roasted coffee beans covered in dark bitter chocolate. There is also some dark dried fruit similar to the ones found in a doppelbock. Ends with some sweet soy sauce and alcohol. Hops arent really in the mix

Taste is of strong, roasted, burnt malts. Very strong coffee is also present. Lots of sweet malts offset the alcohol which is definitely present at 12 percent. Hops are moderate.

Mouthfeel is good. Carbonation is on aggressive side but livens up the thick consistency of the beer. Love a nice creamy head on a beer and sadly this one had none what so ever.

This beer was overall a sipper but the drink ability was good. Could prolly finish more than one but it would take awhile. Kinda reminded me of Mephistopheles from Avery. Prolly wont have another opportunity to try this beer but glad I did

 1,148 characters

Photo of PeterIngemi
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a duvel glass.

A: pours black with 3/4 of a finger of chocolate colored head.... Head hangs around for a min before dissapating into a film, not much lacing. Looks delicious!

S:chocolate and sweet dark malts a bit of roastyness... Notes of caramel, vanilla and alcohol.... The aroma here is delicious. And very well rounded.

T: wow... This is delicious, taste is like a
Beautifully amplified version of the nose, chocolate and roasty notes, toasty caramel and a touch of vanilla... The alcohol is here, but considering the 12% abv it is very well hidden... All the flavors work so well together here and are very Nicley rounded. As the beer warms I start to get notes of dark cherries.

M: heavy bodied a slick, on the thick side with tight medium carbonation.... Dry and nivley bitter on the finish very nice.

O: another one of my favorite IRS this one does a great job of hidding it's abv with loads of roasty and toasty delicious chocolatyness.... Awesome!

 995 characters

Photo of Jmoore50
3.86/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another beer that looks like melted rubber, this one is thick. It pours and practically doesn't move. It produces a two finger brown head that has very fine bubbles. This thing was a bit overcarbonated because when I poured with a medium technique, it foamed like it was a straight down the middle. The head left in the end and all I was left with was this tar that barely resembled beer.

The smell was of dark burnt earth and roasted espresso. Lots of bitterness with some chocolate and light fruit notes.

The taste was pretty dark, in terms of dark fruits and malts go. Some earthy bitter espresso with characters of cherry. Not a lot of coffee, but what there was tasted like espresso.

The mouthfeel was astringent, and the beer felt heavy on the tongue. It was bitter and earthy, and overall enjoyable. Some roast and some burnt flavors that produces an interesting mouthfeel.

This was a good beer to have, and I am glad I got the opportunity. It did not use the usual characteristics that I love in RIS, but went with a darker roasty spin.

 1,052 characters

Photo of kels
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to bamadog for throwing this in a care package for me! Review is on the bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours the deepest, darkest black and looks very flat and watery. There is a very fast-fading foamy hot-chocolate brown head, which leaves a slight tan ring that floats atop the beer along the walls of the glass. A milky looking swirl sits in the center of the surface. Beer is completely opaque. Very little, thin, watery washes of lacing hang around momentarily before slipping back into the liquid while I drink.

Smell: Smell is a really nice blend of chewy, roasted malts and sweet, milky chocolate. The alcohol hints at itself in the nose, but overall the aroma is strong without being too strong, sweet without being too sweet and roasted without being too roasted.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Taste is full of slightly bitter, slightly sweet chocolate, roasted malts, and a maple syrup-like presence. A little bit of hops show though in the aftertaste kind of like green apples. The taste is moderate to mild for the style, which isn't a bad thing. It's balanced and flavorful. The feel is moderately full, with fairly low carbonation as indicated by the appearance on the pour. It leaves a pleasantly sticky and heavy feeling on the palate.

Drinkability: Pretty high for this style, as it's not too overpowering.

 1,335 characters

Photo of jpmclaug
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into my Founders snifter. Got this bottle in a trade with mothman.

A - Pours thick like motor oil. Not any motor oil but I don't feel like going to the mechanic so I'll push it another couple thousand miles motor oil. Menacing dark brown head rests on top for a bit before running off.

S - Nice roast flavor with a hint of sweetness. Some vanilla notes and a bit of booze.

T - Again some roast with a good bit of chocolate malt. Some boozy notes mixed in as well. More and more chocolate as this sucker warms.

M - Thick body with a light carbonation.

D - A sipper for sure. A nice dark chocolate flavor dominates this one on top of all the other normal flavors you will find in a RIS. I would pick this up if I saw it on the shelves just to see how it aged. Certainly a solid RIS as is though.

 821 characters

Photo of mchegash
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - 3.75/5
Pitch black, very little head however, just a very thin layer of medium brown head which almost immediately dissipates down to a thin ring around the edge of the glass

Smell - 3.75/5
Alcohol is the dominant scent, with some dark malts, chocolate/cocoa notes. Dark fruits, perhaps a bourbon-esque alcohol quality.

Taste - 3.75/5
Smoky, sweet, earthy malts. Strong cocoa notes in the aftertaste. Some dark fruit, a little metallic tinge and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - 4/5
Medium-full body. Medium-light carbonation. Smooth and crisp.

Overall - 4/5
Overall this was a decent beer. I liked the cocoa notes and the smooth feel. I would have liked more foam, for the aroma to be less boozy, and for the taste to be less metallic and earthy.

 755 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 WeedKing4
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pours a dark black with a decent amount of caramal brown foam forming the duvel glass. The taste is of very subtle dark chocolate with a hint of espresso like coffee. Very damn smooth and no indication of the 12% at all. Very nice beer and easy to drink. Glad I have another bottle of these left. Dark Horse is impressing me a lot so far.

 345 characters

Photo of mhksuccess
4.31/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

poured from bottle into founder snifter glass
dark no head just a little line
smell is malt and heavy chocolate
taste is so smooth nice slight chocolate not as much as the smell would indicate
nice mouthfeel not super thick or thin great consistency
little lacing on the glass
would definite get again this is a class stout very nice

 334 characters

Photo of drunkenmess
4.73/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Damn good stout. Pours super super dark like a thick oil. Dark brown head with beautiful lacing thru out. Smells of coffee, malt, and burnt goodness. Taste is even better than anticipated! Smokey dark chocolate, burnt malts with hints of coffee. Superb beer.

 258 characters

Photo of Pourharddrinkslow
4.26/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours black in color with a brown head that is almost non existent but stays present the whole drink. Smells of dark chocolate, tobacco, cherries, and malt. Taste is slightly sweet and molasses like. Bitter coffee and chocolate are both present with some dark fruit. Feel is what I hope for in an 11% Imperial stout - thick and rich. Overall this is an awesome stout. Thick, flavorful and fulfilling.

 406 characters

Photo of OakedCanuck
3.62/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into cervoise. from notes

A - Pour an inky black with brown edging. Zero head whatsoever or lacing.

S - Roasty, chocolate, some leather and molasses

T - Very good roast coffee with helping bittersweet chocolate. I pick up some pepper and a hint of orange bitters. Some charcoal on the back end.

M - Medium to heavy, flat, could be a touch thicker

O - A good beer, not overwhelming but solid. It is a bit harsh/hot but some age might help that. No vintage dating I could find on the bottle. I'd have it again but won't be actively seeking it.

 558 characters

Photo of biglite351
3.71/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - black as tar, tall dark thick head.

S - heavy dark roasted malts, raisins, chocolate, not bitter but very inviting.

T - heavy deep roasted malts, raisins and a bit of sweet chocolate.

M - thick but not much tingle in the mouth. Burn in the throat from the alcohol.

D - the heaviness of the flavor and feel, plus the brim from the alcohol make this a short drinker.

 373 characters

Photo of sleuthdog
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage from bottle to Kuhnhenn glass

Pour: Oh so black with minimal half finger dark milk chocolate colored head. Falls to a fairly large collar along the edges.

Smell: Dark roasted and bittersweet cocoa. Some black licorice and dark fruit/fig notes. A touch of caramel sweetness and a fairly big hit of booze.

Taste: Intriguing in that there is a push and pull between big roasty notes and sweetness that compete with each other at the front end. I've actually never had a stout that had this initial complexity at the very front. The roasted bitterness wins out taking hold and continuing through the swallow. There are some of the dark fruits mixed in but this is a very big well balanced beer.

Mouthfeel: Super creamy and smooth. Not as viscous as the dark appearance would suggest but yet still somewhat palate coating. A little sticky.

Overall: I have not had anything like this. It is quite complex and a well crafted big complex RIS. The BA version of this is simply outstanding while this is highly enjoyable.

 1,030 characters

Photo of dlello2
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Super dark and viscous. Dark dark brown with just a hint of red head.

S - Roasty. Definitely dark fruit.

T - Very nice. Chocolate, not as much fruit, almost no alcohol for 12%. Some signature dark horse smokiness shows up at the beginning and end.

M - Viscous and smooth. Good amount of carbonation.

 306 characters

Photo of joberlander
4.46/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Awesome appearance, pitch black with rich mocha colored head. Get a lot of dark chocolate on the nose along with roasted malt. The taste follows the nose perfectly, lots of dark chocolate. Full mouth feel and great finish with a hint of alcohol (which I personally love in imperial stouts. Really great example of an imperial stout. Definitely just became a go to when I want a traditional IS. This and Ten Fidy are the benchmark IMO.

 440 characters

Photo of NoLeafClover44
4.48/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to michibrew for this one. 12 oz. bottle poured into a Weyerbacher cuvee.

A - Pours a viscous black color with a one finger dark mocha head. The head lasts for a while and leaves a great lacing down the glass. Impressive retention for a 12% beer. Perfection for the style.

S - Rich aroma of dark fruits, licorice, roasted malts, coffee and vanilla.

T - Begins with toasted, charred malts up front accompanied by some toffee and dark fruit sweetness. This is followed by some bitter dark chocolate and roasted coffee beans. The aftertaste is primarily of charred oak and a little bit of booze.

M - A little bit chewy with light carbonation. Smooth and enjoyable.

O - I have heard good things about this beer and finally got a chance to try it tonight. The aroma is impressive and strong, the way an RIS should be. Great roasty aromas, which carry over into the flavor. Taste is bold and powerful, with just a touch of booze. I was impressed by the beer as a whole and look forward to trying the Barrel aged version I have in my cellar. I wish we got Plead the Fifth in my area and if we did, I would get it often.

 1,130 characters

Photo of djmichaelk
3.64/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle courtesy of vinyljunkie (thanks Tom!), into a snifter.

A - Midnight black, with a thin ring of head around the edge of the glass. No retention (obviously, nothing to retain) and no lacing. It's not flat, but looks like it.

S - Heavy oat aroma, like a bowl of Cheerios. Some anise and black licorice, along with brown sugar in the background.

T - More oats all up in your face. I feel like I'm drinking cereal. Caramel and a hint of dark fruit. Lots of roast. And I'll say this -- for a 12% RIS, this disguises the alcohol REALLY well. I'm drinking this and having no idea how high the abv is.

M - Thick and chewy. Low carbonation. Not bad but not great, either.

D - Nice beer, but the abv kicks you in the behind before you know it. I couldn't taste it but I got warm pretty quickly. I doubt I could go through more than two of these in a sitting.

O - I want to love this one, but like almost everything I have from Dark Horse, there's always something getting in the way. It just seems heavy-handed to me. Nothing subtle in this one at all. I had a KBS immediately before this one, and while that might be setting the bar a little high, it reminds me what a world class stout tastes like. This isn't it.

 1,228 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 plaztikjezuz
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this beer was tasted at the michigan brewers guild winter beer fest.
from my notes i was served a jet black sample with a fluffy brown head.
the aroma was rich with cohoclate and roasted malt.
the flavor was very roasty, chocolate, bit of smoke, hop spice.
the mouthfeel was very full coats your mouth and throut as it goes down.

 333 characters

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

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe