Bona Fide Imperial Stout | 4 Hands Brewing Co.

very good
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Bona Fide Imperial StoutBona Fide Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
4 Hands Brewing Co.
Missouri, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bona Fide Imperial Stout is a collaborative effort with Goshen Coffee, a local fair trade coffee roaster. This beer is big, bold, and in your face. Bona Fide pours black as night with a smooth mouth feel. Aromas of espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malt, with nuances of vanilla. Drink now or cellar for up to 5 years.

65 IBU

Added by JoEBoBpr on 02-15-2012

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Reviews: 46 | Ratings: 352
Photo of maximum12
1.9/5  rDev -51.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Picked up during my globe-trotting & jammed into a tiny carry-on that wasn’t meant to be jammed or checked. This, & the others, survived. 22 oz. bottle dated 1/7/16 split with my wife.

Pours “black as night” to quote the bottle, though if there were a full moon & you were lounging out on the prairie with this, it might not be accurate. Smells like rich milk chocolate with lactose layered on top. Roast is light.

Bona Fide isn’t quite right with me. The coffee waxes with an almost meatiness that harks to a Baltic Porter, or a 29 cent hot dog. The coffee itself is like it’s been scraped off the bottom of the break room pot on Monday morning; the vanilla retreats into a chemical haze. The malts are OK, I suppose. Tolerable right out of the fridge, the beer warps into undrinkable within about fifteen minutes.

Not good at all. Not sure if it’s in a weird spot or it’s not my speed, but about 17 ounces of this will end up in the sink.

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Photo of PhillyJ
2.64/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Was expecting so much more.. the smell was almost of sour coffee the taste wasn't to far from the smell but was more like burnt coffee tried hard to find the vanilla but couldn't... it was way better slightly chilled it came to life as it warmed in my hand.. I will try it again and edit where necessary... 4 hands has some great brews but this one left me thirsty...

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Photo of Sean9689
3.11/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle into tulip.

A - Pours black, mocha head, spotty lace, thin collar.

S - Super-hoppy, light coffee, light dark chocolate. Lots of pine/grassy hops, very astringent and harsh.

T - Similar to the nose, overly hopped, and light RIS notes of chocolate, oak, and toffee. Just too much hops for me to really enjoy much else. Finish is bitter hoppy pine...harsh bite.

M - Medium body, good carbonation, oily finish.

O - This thing is hopped to the moon and back. Way too much pine and bitterness to really appreciate this RIS. Perhaps some age will tone this down, but for now, I won't be seeking this one out again.

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Photo of PReust
3.24/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Aye, not a strong spirit taste, heavy on the coffee, It wasn't bad. It was, on the other hand, expensive....extremely so, in fact, for a bottle of beer. It just wasn't worth it.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.28/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

650 mL bottle. Black body. Smells of coffee and vanilla. Some milk chocolate. Taste is less balanced. Strong coffee. Vanilla. Bitter coffee and milk chocolate. Some sort of light sweetness. Lactose? Thin body for what it is. Kinda meh.

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Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.36/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Near black. Aroma is fairly subdued with some roasted malt and Touch of coffee. Flavor is more coffee forward. Heavy malt and dark chocolate. Body is nice and creamy. Not overly complex, but solid

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Photo of chanokokoro
3.39/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a unbranded nonic half pint glass

Pours very dark brown to black capped by a one and half finger dark tan head. Above average retention and splotchy lacing. Bakers chocolate, espresso notes, and hints of vanilla on the nose. Opens with dark chocolate transitioning to pleasant vanilla. A note of dark fruit pokes through slightly and is quickly covered up with acidic coffee. Finishes with bitter roasted coffee notes and further slight accents of vanilla. Heavier side of medium bodied, light for an imperial stout, slick with a fleeting hint of silkiness. Moderate carbonation. Solid, but unspectacular. The coffee in this brew does little to add to it, and in fact, seems to detract from the complexity.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.54/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Brief write-up. The nose is light on coffee and vanilla (though both are still there), instead focusing on general roasted and caramel notes. I even get a touch of umami. Flavor-wise, it seems to come together more cohesively. A gentle coffee-like roast opens it up, and is tempered by soft vanilla flavors. The finish is loaded with roasted malt and almost burnished caramel. It's a touch light feeling, though appropriate for 9%. I do like how clean and dry it is on the palate. It's a tasty imperial stout that's only lacking in complexity....and maybe in more intense coffee/vanilla notes.

3.54/5: I like it...too bad I'm sampling it shortly after a bona fide stunner named 4Beans

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Photo of Ego
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

literally stuck indoors for 4 days now while 20+ mph wind and rain roar outside on the Chesapeake bay here in Scientist Cliffs MD, what a vacation...
So I picked up what looked to be most interesting from Nick's of Calvert (great selection for out of towners)

pretty dark, some ruby hue when looking through the pour, chocolate ring of foam circles the glass and sticks around for the long haul, decent amount of carbonation gurgling up from the bottom, looks impy like an impy should

light roasted coffee with cream and then a slap of vanilla on top, some chocolate notes with traces of bitterness, a little too much sweetness takes away from the coffee factor imo. not bad through, more like pretty good

taste etc...
coffee flavor is somehow... almost chemical at first, takes some getting used to, once you are in you get really super strong coffee notes, almost bottom of the grind bag flavor (it is really strong), this is almost an unabridged love affair with coffee BUT (you knew there had to be a but in there)... I think the vanilla ruins it, that is the chemical-ish flavor I was sensing earlier, as soon as I am in my coffee nirvana this other flavor bumps me out of my bliss, this has decent weight in terms of mouth feel... and has the right carbonation (almost feels more like a baltic stout), all around this is a good beer if not just a touch off

drop the vanilla. is that racist ? I don't know anymore... but seriously stick to the coffee, those notes were the highlight here

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Photo of Big_V
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Very well balanced stout but what could've made this beer much better to me was the mouthful for one could have been just a little fuller and two the coffee and vanilla never really stood out and were not dominate, it was just 'meh.

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Photo of cvm4
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled Dec. 2, 2014

L - Pours a black body, doesn't seem super thick or very thin, and a dark khaki one finger head. Not much retention or lacing.

S - Nice vanilla notes on the nose as well as semi-sweet chocolate and light roasted malts. I'm not picking up much in the way of coffee.

T - Now I get the coffee! Semi-sweet chocolate, coffee and vanilla all intertwined together with the roast malt base.

F - Medium to full bodied with medium carbonation. Smooth and velvety body.

O - Not a bad offering here. As an American or double stout, this would be on the money. But, it's great and easy to drink, just not on the RIS level, IMHO.

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Photo of sphmiel
3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours very black, quickly fading pale head. Roasty, toasty aromas, initial tastes of bittersweet chocolate followed by lingering espresso. Not quite an imperial, but beyond the typical coffee stout.

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Photo of 57md
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark brown with ruby edges. Nice roast on the nose. Chocolate is the most dominant flavor as the roasted malt profile takes a backseat. Smooth and creamy.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.89/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Black as night with no penetration to light. A fingernail of beige is around the rim but is otherwise absent. I smell coffee, vanilla, and loads of roasted barley. The aroma is still on the sweeter side. I taste vanilla, coffee, and roasted barley. Like the aroma, the taste is more sweet than bitter. The mouth is exceptionally silky smooth.

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Photo of bryanbullock
3.9/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Best Midwest beer I have had since I got to KC a month ago

A dark hue but clearly lower viscosity caramel lacing

S my biggest critique is the smell is lacking only detect hints of chocolate and malt

T super complex taste getting liquor ice caramel light chocolate and small undertones of bitter roast.

M smooth and lower viscosity, slightly bitter on finish

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
3.94/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

BOTTLED 1.16.15
A year in the cellar

S: sweetness, some chocolate.
T: sweetness, but muted flavors. It like the milliseconds before a great beer saturates your tastes buds. The flavors on this one don't develope.
F: medium thickness, coats well and it's smooth
O: good, but lacks explosive flavors

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Photo of THSdrummer
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2017 version. Pours black with a finger of caramel-khaki head foamy up on top. Head retention is moderate, with little to no lacing left behind. A whiff of this beer provides a blast of vanilla bean, with notes of coffee, roasted malts, with a sweet hearty ice cream note to it. Despite having sugary sweet notes and leaning towards having a dessert smell, it remains balanced and approachable. The flavor profile features very similar notes, with vanilla bean still coming to the forefront. Coffee is present, but less-so in the flavor profile. A little green olive seeps into the flavor profile, robbing away some of the experience. It has a rich, creamy taste similar to quality vanilla bean ice cream. Mouth feel is smooth and creamy, with no graininess. It has a filling and thick consistency. Overall, a sublime RIS. It's rich and creamy, with sugary sweet qualities, while remaining both easy to drink and savor. A fantastic RIS out of Missouri.

2016 version drank alongside 2017. One year in the cellar. Head forms slightly larger, and is further evidenced by caramel colored foam forming around the edge of the glass when swirling the glass. Vanilla still pops in both the aroma and flavor profile. A little green olive and green pepper show up in both the aroma and flavor profile, as the coffee flavor has faded away some. Overall, it ages very well over a year. Vanilla is still playful and energetic, with coffee still remaining present. Nice.

Both served in a 12oz snifter. Ratings based on current 2017 edition.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

A good looking creamy slightly taller than one finger tan like head. Espresso brown in its make up, and some good staying power as it slowly seeps down. Classic dark walnut brown, even a little bit blood red to it as well. Good looking brew.

Good solid aroma. Hints of dark chocolate, with a milky tone but with a bitterness behind it. An interesting light and almost milky char angle too which is real interesting and different, getting towards tobacco slightly also. Waffery dark biscuit like grain in a sense which is a real unique sensation.

Palate becomes much more obvious on the coffee angle. Light bodied roast with a hint of thick milk flavors in the mid palate. Roasted bean and hinted latte like milk qualities, with a bit more charing thickness to match. Interesting light bodied profile for easy drinking coming with a good mix of chocolate and coffee.

Overall a solid fun imperial flavored stout.

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Photo of kemoarps
3.98/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bona Fide pours out thick and sticky and I can already tell I'm probably going to like it. Obsidian black with just a patchy brown ring to assure me that yes there is some carbonation here... This is what I want to see when I look at my glass.

The nose is rich and dark. I get a decent amount of molasses and coffee grounds, maybe a hint of a rich round sweetness (ostensibly the vanilla bean, though less pronouncedly vanilla-ized than I expected). There's something there that I can't quite put my finger on that's a bit unexpected. Definitely roasty.

The flavour shies further away from the vanilla and instead pours its heart into the coffee and bakers chocolate. This is ok by me, as I enjoy vanilla, but love the velvety chocolate and coffee that so many large stouts embody. Roasty chocolate/coffee is balanced in the back end by a bitterness that flits between the coffee/dark chocolate and a definite hop presence that offers a juicy roundness that helps fill out the body.
At the pour I was expecting something thick and syrupy that oozes down the back of the throat. This is not as big bodied as I had anticipated, and is carbonated higher than I prefer. It's not a BAD thing by any means, but I was just expecting (hoping?) for more of that motor oil consistency.
This is a very good beer, from a company that I've decided can be hit or miss for me. I've had better RISs, but I would reach for this one again in a heartbeat. Would love to try one of the BA varieties, but alas, I think they were both one-offs.
Curious about what it would do with time, though the big coffee presence inclines me to shy away from stashing one for a year or two. We'll see...

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Photo of stouts4me
3.99/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours jet black, coffee aroma is very distinct.Medium mouthfeel, taste is better than most but not over the top. Very good representation of the style from a newer brewery, would like to see this barrel-aged in a quality brand barrel. Was served on tap at the 4 Hands tasting room on a May 4, nobody here cares about horses. This place is very popular.

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Photo of Braseltonage
3.99/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. Bottle, Teku glass. No bottle date, but I've had this for about a year in the cellar.

A: Moderate pour leaves very clean black beer with a latte level of frothy head. Pretty nice lacing elegant looking beer.

S: Rich coffe aroma, dark chocolate. Toasted marshmallow, somethig almost resembling coconut.

T: Espresso with cream & brown sugar upfront. Some vanilla sneaks in, dark choclate. Some toasted nuts, again with the toasted marshmallow. Seriously, there's a little s'more like quality to the middle of this BUT... The coffee kicks in late. Dries it out, nice finish. Surprised this amount of coffee remains in something with a bit of age on it.

M: Smooth carbonation. Medium/full body.

O: Best I've had from 4 Hands. In a crowded category of great beers, it might not be at the top but it's a really good one.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown body with a thin, beige collar that faces to nil. Aromas of coffee, followed by roast and chocolate. Vanilla character emerges in the flavor profile. Nice coffee character. Good balance. That said, this is a notch or more below the big players of this genre.

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Photo of TX-Badger
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque dark brown color with khaki colored head. Coffee, roasted malts, chocolate, and some molasses on the nose; follows onto the palate. Full bodied. Finishes with coffee and dark chocolate.

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Photo of Tone
4.01/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a black color. 1/2 inch head of a tan color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of roasted malt, sweet malt, hint of oatmeal, slight alcohol, hint of coffee, and a hint of hop. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of roasted malt, sweet malt, hint of hop, hint of coffee, and slight alcohol. Overall, great appearance, good aroma, body, and blend.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.02/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Minimally impressive imperial stout
A - nice dark brown/black beer with no head "dough" (as the retards say now)
S - milk chocolate, coffee, bready malts, vanilla, cream
T- roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, bready malts, vanilla, cream
M- medium to heavy, alcohol covered, aftertaste is cloying bready sweetness/chocolate
O - No. I would not buy again. Is it a horrible impy stout? No, but
Keep in mind the standard here. This is far below the par for the course. The barrel aged version that I've had on her other hand is a different story.

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Bona Fide Imperial Stout from 4 Hands Brewing Co.
3.93 out of 5 based on 352 ratings.
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