Founders Brewing rarely misses with their beers, and they are pretty much flawless when it comes to brewing dark beers. So, when I first tried the Imperial Stout out of a 12 oz bottle in the fall of 2009, I thought to myself that this was as sure of a thing as the sun rising in the east, Jordan dunking, or Katy Perry exposing the top 15 percent of her breasts during a nationally televised awards show. Was I ever disappointed. Make that bitterly disappointed, as in the Imperial Stout was rather bland, chalky, oddly bitter, and grainy. It wasn't bad; it just did not live up to Founders' lofty expectations, especially considering their well-documented dark beer craft genius as expressed in their Porter, Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and the rare Canadian Breakfast Stout (and, as I found out recently, the Black Biscuit, a Baltic porter). So, when I saw the Imperial Stout listed at Local Option recently, needless to say I was not apt to run behind the bar and pour one for myself.
Yet, it turns out that I should have. Perhaps it was something wrong with the bottle I had purchased before but this time it tasted like a whole new beer to me. Of course it was black and did not offer a ton of carbonation but did have some cocoa colored foam on top. What's really jarringly different was the richness of the mouthfeel, the greater clarity of the dark chocolate and roasted flavors, the nuttiness, and the off-sweet finish. This is the kind of imperial stout I would expect out of Founders and it delivers the goods in spades. I had it since at the Long Room and my impressions were confirmed and my palate rewarded. Did they change the recipe or was it just the individual bottle I had, or was it the tap format that made it so different. We may never find out.
This is an outstanding beer to be sought out and enjoyed if stouts are your thing. If stouts are not your thing, seriously consider never viewing this web page again. I imagine that Budweiser has a lovely interactive Facebook page for those of your ilk.
4.6 of 5 stars.