Beer Review 0122: Founders Imperial Stout

Complete honesty to start with: This website has reviewed a bunch of Founders Brewing Company beers already. We’ve done so many that I will skip the traditional history lesson before this review, because I feel like I’ve already presented it in too many ways.

But here’s why I choose to review so many Founders beers: they are always impressive. I can’t think of a bad Founders beer I have ever had, and they are among some of the highest rated beers on this website.

The beer I am looking at today, their Imperial Stout, is a beer that I have held off drinking for a couple of months simply because I think I publish too many Founders reviews. However, after looking at it sitting in the fridge for that long…eventually the cap had to be busted.

Founders Imperial Stout is a limited release beer from the Grand Rapids, Michigan brewery, brought forth to the world every January in four packs. They claim this is the ultimate “winter warmer,” and I decided to reach for this one because today is the first day in a couple of weeks I found it cool enough to wear a long sleeved shirt. Eighty degrees in March is simply not correct, even for North Carolina.

The pour on this one dumped out a thick, muddy, solid black beer topped by a small dark khaki head, creamy in texture and of lasting quality. The starkness of the color as this one poured was something to behold, and I have to admit feeling a slight bit of intimidation as it collected in the glass. While pretty much opaque, I did notice just an ever so slight glint of a ruby edge at the bottom of the glass. And the lacing — the suds left behind on the glass, dark brown, coated the vessel in a thick layer. Founders Imperial Stout is a gorgeous beer.

On the nose, there were dominant notes of chocolate and coffee, along with general roasted and toasted malts. This one had a very earthy aroma to it, with hints of smoke and licorice. And despite the high ABV (alcohol by volume, this beer comes in at 10.5%), there is no alcohol scent whatsoever. What was here was subdued, and has got me wondering about the flavor…

WOW. There are some hops up front, which verge on the pine territory, but this opens up to be a complete chocolate and coffee bomb — fresh roasted coffee, and dark, bittersweet chocolate. Is there a more heavenly combination? These flavors lead to a finish that just goes on and on — bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter, with a nice healthy alcohol warmth. And as the finish carries on further, this beer makes you feel as if you have placed an entire bag of high end chocolate chips in your mouth and let them slowly melt.

Alright, so you might have read that last statement and rolled your eyes, but I’m not lying to you. Mouthfeel on this Imperial Stout was extremely thick and creamy, with a soft carbonation, which is to say that aspect of the beer was hardly there at all.

My fellow beer lovers, this is a world class beverage. This is one you drink tonight, and think about all day tomorrow. As I type this, my glass has fully warmed and I’m getting close to the last sip and I don’t want it to be over. The flavors have just gotten bolder as it has warmed, and what is here isn’t very complex, but it is rich and damn tasty.

Founders have outdone themselves with this one. Again.

I can’t wait to see how this ages…

Founders Imperial Stout, 98 points. Price: $9.99 for a four pack. And worth every penny.

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