Plead The 5th - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Dark Horse Brewing Company

Plead The 5th - Bourbon Barrel-AgedPlead The 5th - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #5
Ranked #101
4.55 | pDev: 7.69%
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Plead The 5th - Bourbon Barrel-AgedPlead The 5th - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Notes: This beer is a big and full bodied imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with lots of roasted malts, but very balanced with heavy hops. Brewed with a top secret root, this beer has an amazingly complex flavor that you must wait for.
Reviews: 478 | Ratings: 3,351 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of firesidewithphil
firesidewithphil from Illinois

4.25/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Plead the 5th barrel aged variant is a fantastic stout from Michigan. It is well rounded, comes in 12 oz cans, and heavy on the bourbon. Super sticky and a lot of fruit notes. Impressive from Dark Horse.

Aug 14, 2021
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mjvlasic from Michigan

4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

It’s really difficult to get better than this when it comes to Russian imperial stouts. You can see why this is listed as such a respected brew. One I would get again for sure.

Aug 07, 2021
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EMV from Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 edition. Poured from a wax-topped 12 oz bottle into a Dogfish Head tulip

L: Inky black pour with a finger of mocha colored head. Solid lacing.

S: Rich and roasty... big time cocoa , coffee, and grains plus bourbon/booze.

T.F: Just like it smells. Loads or roasted malts and burned sugars. Vanilla/bourbon... dark chocolate, espresso, and chicory. Toffee and molasses with a bit of oak and earth. Dark fruit and a hint of licorice. Medium to thick bodied... warming... boozy but not as much as expected. Super smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

O: An elite BBA RIS. Fantastic flavor... and a great sipper. One to seek out.

May 22, 2021
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DrDemento456 from Pennsylvania

4.68/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Quite a good Bourbon barrel aged beer if anything I guess it could use a touch more barrel character but it really did round out the aggressive hops and roast that the base beer has. Plus I think people are also forgetting how affordable this beer is I picked up a couple cans for under $4 each and that is quite a steal for such a treatment. Sure it may not be 100 out of 100 but it is still a very smooth easy drinking bba stout.

Apr 07, 2021
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Bhubbard34 from Pennsylvania

4.44/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 Vintage, 12oz waxed bottle

L - Appearance is a deep dark brown, nearly black.
S - Very sweet aroma of chocolate, molasses, and possibly root beer?
T - Not at all like it smells, and I can’t quite put my finger on the flavors. Mild carbonation, and I like it better as it warms. Not at all sweet, maybe even a bit bitter. Root beer? Char? Can’t quite tell, but unlike any barrel aged stout I’ve had.
F - Smooth, creamy, moderate thickness
O - Enjoyed this one because it’s different than any stout I’ve ever had. Def not your typical dessert stout

Mar 20, 2021
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BB1313 from Ohio

3.81/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz can poured into a tulip. Pours almost black; creamy khaki head that fades leaving solid retention and lacing. The aromas are malt forward. Hints of chocolate and cocoa. Some cherries and dark fruits. Mild hints of vanilla. The bourbon is pretty subtle in the aroma department and almost goes unnoticed. The flavors are balanced. More chocolate leading the way. More hints of vanilla coming from the oak. More cherries and dark fruits. Some raisins too. Some molasses. Subtle spiciness. Possibly some hints of rye and black pepper in the mix. The bourbon is subtle but noticeable and blends well with everything. Subtle sweetness. Low bitterness. Solid malt backbone. Subtle alcohol flavors in the finish along with an enjoyable warmth, but it's not hot or boozy at all. Mouthfeel is very nice. It's full-bodied with moderate carbonation. It's fluffy, velvety, creamy and smooth.

This is a pretty solid barrel-aged stout. It's subtle and bold at the same time. I always liked Plead The 5th, but never tried the barrel-aged version so I'm glad to have finally tried it after all of these years. It's simply enjoyable and fun to drink. Not bad at all. I like it.

Mar 02, 2021
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rand from California

4.33/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage
12 oz wax-tipped bottle, into a snifter.

Crude-oil brew, viscous as hell. No apparent carbonation, no head. Nose is anise-forward, with notes of molasses and oak at the edge of the bouquet. Flavors are full of licorice and root beer. Molasses, tobacco, hints of coffee and leather. Mouthfeel is lighter than expected given the lack of carbonation. Medium finish (for the style), sweet with lingering residuals.

Wonder is the ‘top secret root’ is sarsaparilla?

Mar 01, 2021
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Brutaltruth from Ohio

4.59/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 oz can (!?!) in a snifter. This solid imperial pours a rich
coal black with a very nice head of light brown foam that dissipates
to a thick ring, thin swirling pool, and shows some nice lacing. Nose of
bourbon, vanilla, oak, dark coffee, dark chocolate, balanced char and
roast, and loads of warming, astringent booze. Flavors exceed by a nice
presentation of brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, rich oak, warming booze,
dark chocolate, faint tobacco, dark fruit notes of black and blueberry,
and a nice dash of cream. Nice mouth feel; full body, rich, smooth,
lightly creamy, coating, light carbonation, and a warming boozy finish
with a bitter malt end note.

A wondrous symphony of malt and barrel in perfect harmony!


Feb 23, 2021
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PapaGoose03 from Michigan

4.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This 2021 release tastes a bit young when compared with prior years. Some 'heat' from the alcohol is evident in the first sips, and the overall taste is not as rich as I remember in prior years. Maybe this one needs some aging to reach its potential., but it's a very good beer now.

Feb 03, 2021
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bret27 from California

4.56/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of JohnnyHops.
Unsure of bottling date.
Black, almost no head.
Aromas of vanilla, bourbon, licorice, roastiness, maybe dates and chocolate.
Taste similar. In addition maybe raisins.
Syrupy mouthfeel. Warming finish.
Overall very well done.

Dec 26, 2019
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Sandis from Minnesota

4.1/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2016 version poured into a snifter. There is a nice booziness in the aroma however it is more subdued in taste. I enjoy the mouthfeel a great deal. I was anticipating this being a little sweeter with less char and bitterness in the finish.

Jul 15, 2019
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thebeers from Pennsylvania

4.13/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Dark-stained chestnut with a finger of mocha head. Spotty, short-lived lacing.

Big brownie chocolate and bourbon in the aroma. Hints of vanilla, cherry, wood and root beer.

Nice depth of flavor: chocolate, roasted malts, gentian, root beer, vanilla, nuts, earthy hops and alcohol burn.

Smooth, slick feel — a touch on the light side for the style — with plenty of carbonation.

Plenty of barrel presence in this with a nice root beerish twist. Very enjoyable.

May 12, 2019
Photo of Oh_Dark_Star
Oh_Dark_Star from Washington

3.43/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A big-bodied dark brew pour. Smells of all the chocolate, molasses, toffee, and roast you would expect, but taste mellow as if I overaged it (in under a year). I will drink fresh next time.

May 04, 2019
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NathanBeets from South Dakota

4.58/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Jet black beer in a glass. Small tan head.

Sweet vanilla booze, chocolate, lots of dark fruit, coffee on the nose and taste.

Only complaint which is a minor one is the mouthfeel. An absolute stunner of a stout although.

2016 version

Dec 25, 2018
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CanConPhilly from Pennsylvania

4.48/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L - 1-finger dense mocha head atop a pitch black body.

S - oak, raisins, chocolate, vanilla. Not even a hint of booze.

T - tons of dark fruit, smoke, chocolate, roast, vanilla, then some bourbon on the finish. Low bitterness. Moderate-low sweetness. Low booziness.

F - medium-full body. Carb has held up well (2014 bottle)

O - superbly well balanced and dangerously drinkable for 11%.

Dec 09, 2018
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Tshane from Michigan

4.44/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

I've kept this aging in the bottle about a year I think. It needed aging because it first tasted somewhat raw, not as good as the regular Plead the Fifth.

Appearance: brownish black with a very short head, hints of copper and dark red when strong light is shined through the head.

Aroma: sweet light molasses and sugar

Taste: pronounced molasses and malt notes with counter-balancing, almost appropriate bitterness.
Lingering bitter and burnt aftertaste almost ruins the overall effect. I prefer the beer without charred bourbon barrel aging.

Mouthfeel: towards heavy-bodied.

Overall: Delicious, but I could do without the barrel char and bitter character. A little goes a long way, and this offers too much.

Oct 31, 2018
Photo of RaulMondesi
RaulMondesi from California

4.49/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sweet hell. Like Karl Malone in the 4th quarter, this one delivers. Think of your darkest moment, think of your darkest fantasy, think of your darkest memory... and then bottle that in a 12 ouncer and Plead the 5th Barrel Aged is what you have. The most beautiful, the most visceral, the most wild moment of your life... Think and dream. And in this beverage, I do.

Oct 11, 2018
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SHODriver from North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Batch

A: Poured into a snifter to a black beer topped by a finger of dense tan head which fades slowly to a collar around the edge of the glass with minimal lacing
S: Smells of intense chocolate and roasted malts with some hint of vanilla and a touch of coffee. Slight malted milk ball aroma
T: Taste is chocolate and roasted malts with some coffee. Charred wood and burnt sugars with some slight caramel, oak and vanilla. Nice roasted undertones throughout with that slight malted milk ball flavor going on. On the swallow this beer is malted milk balls, chocolate, espresso beans, and roasted malts with some lingering vanilla.
M: This beer is on the heavier side of medium in body with carbonation that is on the low end but adequate for the style. The style and ABV ensure that this beer has a drying finish.
O: Overall this is a really well crafted beer. The flavors are impeccable and it has held up surprisingly well to the time. Definitely worth trying if you like the style and can find it.

Oct 04, 2018
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Zach_Attack from Massachusetts

4.46/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

02/2016 - vintage 2015 - a lot of brownie, fudge, nice tobacco notes, smooth bourbon on the nose; slightly sweet, a bit creamy too, rich chocolate, bourbon on the palate; the body is to be desired, but overall it's tasty.

Oct 03, 2018
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Snowcrash000 from Germany

4.25/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a pitch black coloration with a tiny, fizzy head. Smells of dark chocolate, coffee and vanilla, with a lightly boozy bourbon note. Taste follows the nose, with strong notes of chocolate, coffee and vanilla and ligher notes of toffee, dark fruits, tobacco, charred oak, bourbon and a hint of a certain musty earthiness. Finishes with a light bitterness and booziness. Thick, creamy mouthfeel with a rich body and low carbonation.

This is reasonably complex and quite well-balanced, although the barrel-character is not that much at the forefront. Still, all the different notes intermingle harmoniously without anything standing out too much. Remionds me a little of KBS, actually.

Jun 28, 2018
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PicoPapa from Connecticut

4.29/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle with no date on it. Pours a viscous black with no head. Zero lacing. Boozey aroma with vanilla, molasses, caramel and chocolate syrup. The taste is the Bourbon up front followed by dark chocolate, roasted malts, earth, tobacco and espresso. Woody, Bourbon finish with some cocoa. About as much alcohol heat as expected. Very low carbonation with a mouthfeel that is slightly lighter than expected. Overall, a great variant of an already great RIS.

May 18, 2018
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larryarms847 from Illinois

4.4/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours midnight black and thick as motor oil, with a plump head of off-white foam.

Deep roasted malt lends coffee like aroma, dark chocolate, bourbon, vanilla and oak barrel notes.

The base beer actually stands out in flavor tremendously, while the barrel character adds vanilla, oak, bourbon, and toffee notes.

Full-bodied, medium carbonation, thick, chewy, delicious.

Overall, a smooth but heavy sipper and one to enjoy every sip of!

Apr 15, 2018
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buschbeer from Ohio

4.28/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a snifter

This beer pours black in color with just a light film of head that leaves some nice lacing for as little head as it has.

I smell chocolate, vanilla, and caramel.

The taste starts out with anise and hints of alcohol. It has some dark chocolate with a little vanilla and caramel. I taste black coffee in the finish that provides a lingering bitterness.

Full, pillowy mouthfeel

I like it a lot better on draft. I have tried this beer three times and had three different experiences. My first draft was far superior. Maybe I should have drank this one more timely.

Mar 22, 2018
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RAFH from Michigan

4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally got a four pack for $22 from Liquor Cabinet on Hilltop Road in St. Joseph, Michigan on February 18th, 2018. Was worth the wait! Outstanding beer very near as good as the great ones like KBS, Goose Island BCBS, and Bells Black Note.

Feb 19, 2018
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Wolvmar from Michigan

4.03/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Recent vintage although I forgot to tlook for a date. Poured into tulip glass.

Pour: deep black with some brown hints. Well used motor oil. Surprisingly, absolutely no head no matter how I tried. Really thin collar but no lacing at all. Maybe a bad bottle?

Aroma: dark dried fruits, some mellow bourbon, Oak, chocolate. Really nice. Balanced with nothing dominating but all working well together.

Taste: surpringly sweet upfront, almost sugary. Definite hops bitterness on backend with chocolate and bourbon in the middle. Bitterness lingers a bit more than I would like. Aftertaste reminds me of pot a little (which I haven’t had in 30 years!). but, still a very good beer.

Feel: very little carbonation. As with the lack of head, maybe a bottle issue? But nice viscosity and very smooth. Not a milkshake but closer to that than water.

Overall: it’s really good beer that probably ages well. Have one in the cellar to try in a Year or two. Really like it but the lingering bitterness is a slight turn off relative to BBA stouts like CBS and Bourbon County. But that’s a high standard!

Jan 21, 2018
Plead The 5th - Bourbon Barrel-Aged from Dark Horse Brewing Company
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 3351 ratings