Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Founders Brewing Company - Founders Imperial Stout

If you're looking to get in on the non barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout game, you have some pretty stiff competition. As of last week, my favorite was Bell's Expedition Stout, but you also have to consider the classics like North Coast's Old Rasputin, Stone's Imperial Russian Stout, Great Divide's Yeti and Oskar Blues' Ten FIDY. And that's without considering a huge one that I have yet to try, Surly's Darkness (soon, my friends, soon). Even with all of those beers to compete with, one name I constantly hear in the greatest Russian Imperial Stout discussion is Founders' Imperial Stout. I was skeptical it could be better than any of the others, but I grabbed the first bottle I could get hold of to give it a shot. At #110, Founders Imperial Stout.

Founders Imperial Stout pours a dense and pitch black color with a heavy, one-finger mocha colored head. Each sip leaves some pretty intense, sticky lace spackled on the glass. This beer is a babe. No way around it. I can't think of a better looking Russian Imperial Stout I've come across. True to the style, the nose is rich and roasty. Mocha, heavily roasted malt, char and light roasted coffee are the first things that I thought of when I smelled it. As it warmed, it started to sweeten up and I started to get toffee and some Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. I hadn't even taken a sip yet and it was obvious the hype around this beer was not misplaced.

Every once in a while, you come across a beer where the smell is so good, there's no possible way the taste can compete. I thought that would be the case here. It wasn't. The beer opens with a ton of espresso and dark chocolate-covered espresso beans. The middle sweetens up a touch, with some sweeter toffee, milk chocolate and dark fruit notes. Then the finish hammers you with a sharp kick of anise, tobacco and heavily roasted malt. The mouthfeel is full and lush and offers just a touch of carbonation to break up the heaviness lurking in here. No way around it, this is an incredible beer. It's easily the best Russian Imperial Stout I've come across and maybe the best stout I've tasted, period. Bell's finally made their way to San Diego and I'm seriously hoping Founders is close behind. I must get more of this beer.

Final Grade: A+

Top 250 Beers Tasted: 130

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