Courage Imperial Russian Stout - Wells & Young's Ltd

Not Rated.
Courage Imperial Russian StoutCourage Imperial Russian Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

774 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 774
Reviews: 270
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 10.59%
Wants: 147
Gots: 172 | FT: 9
Brewed by:
Wells & Young's Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: rastaman on 02-11-2002

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 774 | Reviews: 270
Reviews by mrfrancis:
More User Reviews:
Photo of Jeffsta1
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

This is a fantastic stout, quality through-and-through, really a benchmark.

Fine, thick head. Dark, opaque-ish brown-black color. Dense, rich mouthfeel.

Flavors of smoke, molasses, hint of licorice. A bit sweet but far from cloying. Good bitterness on the finish. Plenty od depth here, but not overwhelmingly intense. Food friendly.

Really fine bubbles. Wouldn't mind if they lasted just a bit longer.

Man, this is just good. So good. Can't think of a better stout for daily enjoyment.

Photo of Chico1985
4.08/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Long-time Want finally relinquished, had a couple pours of this on-tap at The Foundry, Northampton MA.

Black pour into a snifter with a half-finger or so of tan head, retention is decent, some lace left. Really cool flavor profile, big dark English-y malts all the way, definitely has a 'classic' feel going on. Great vinous dark fruit flavors of raisin and plum stick out the most and mesh well with dark caramel, baker's chocolate, toast, molasses, tobacco, just a little bit of roast helping to balance out the sweetness. Somewhat reminiscent of old-school English barleywines/old ales. Very smooth malty mouthfeel with pleasant warming alcohol.

Russian Imperative Stout is more like it.

Photo of BBMuffins
5/5  rDev +17.6%

This is hands down the best beer I've ever had. I love a variety of styles, but this beats everything by a tremendous margin. This beer is literally perfection. The beautiful smell, the marvelously delicious and complex taste, the black-as-night look, and not to mention the incredibly smooth texture... This is beer heaven.

I honestly can not believe how good this beer is. I'm not even going to rate it's attributes, it's a solid five through and through. I don't think I was ready to drink this beer. I should have waited until my nose and taste buds are experienced enough to fully pick this beer apart. Then again, I'm not sure I would have ever reached that point as this beer is a labyrinth of flavor and smell.
Byzantinian all the way down.

I'm upset that I can't taste this taste and smell this smell forever.

Photo of rudzud
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

So, these were shared with JLindros and Threelions at my birthday celebration. a 2011 and 1972 vintage! Yes, 1972....bought it online a long long time ago from someone in the UK. Reviewed side by side:

A - Both have a very dark dark black body, with the 2011 having a thin mocha head that fades to leave a thin halo, whereas the 1972 has nice legs by clearly no carbonation. Combined, evens out to a 4.

S - Aromas are much better in the 2011 vintage with nice molasses, chocolate, sweeter malts, faint dark fruits. The 1972 is light touches of chocolate and dark fruits, along with a fair amount of oxidation. Combined, evens out to a 4.

T - Taste is, to be expected, far superior with the modern vintage. Very nice chocolate, coffee beans, roasty char. The 1972 version is incredibly oxidized. Light soy sauce and vinegar notes, but once you get past that there are some nice fainter chalky chocolate notes. Not the worst tasting oxidized beer I've ever had. Combined, evens out to a 3.5

M - Mouthfeel is better on the 2011 version, good light creamy carbonation whereas the 1972 is thin with no carbonation. Combined they even out to a 3.5.

O - Overall this was a fun experience and I've been waiting to drink the 1972 Courage stout for close to 4 years now. Incredibly oxidized, but, I expected that to a certain degree. Was a good time.

Serving Type: Bottle

Photo of ThomasT
4.85/5  rDev +14.1%

Poured into a whisky tulip glass (I know, sacrilege). 2012 vintage.
Appearance: As black as beer can be. Nice, dark brown, two finger head that was super thick, but actually dissipated a bit. A thin, iridescent oil on the surface and some lacing, but not a ton (probably due to the glass I used).
Smell: Strong smell of overripe fruit and deep coffee roastiness. Hint of chocolate
Taste: Powerful and rich. The body is almost oily and seems to coat your entire mouth with even a small sip. Several different fruit can be tasted, all of which taste slightly to significantly overripe. I detect dates, fig, and plum especially. Moves from fruit into a prominent espresso, almost as strong as espresso itself. Finally, the finish is a rich, dark chocolate the likes of which can only be beat by the absolute richest fancy deserts. Slight, mellow warmth in the throat, but no alcohol taste detected.
Body: Extremely full-bodied
Overall: An incredible beer that clearly lives up to its reputation. Each sip tastes like you are indulging in every item on the desert tray in a grand feast. Cannot recommend enough.

Photo of oberon
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter a deep cola brown with deep ruby hue,roasted malt,bitter chocolate,and alcohol soaked fruit in the nose.Rich tasting with a decent amount of booziness,highly roasted with chocolate undertones.A great imperial stout from an old school brewery in England,nice job here.

Photo of tectactoe
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Review #200! Pours a deep, jet-black color with a khaki colored head, thick and bubbly with reasonable staying power. Nose contains a powerful amount of dark chocolate and cocoa beans, roasted, nearly burnt barley, and a slight alcohol character. This beer has an incredibly body - viscous, rich, silky, creamy and chewy - everything an RIS should be. Flavors are an excellent combination of bitter cocoa beans, dark roasted coffee, sweet licorice and tobacco, heaps of roasted malt, big roasted and charred profile, a slight hint of smoke, faint nuttiness, a touch of molasses, and lots of underlying sweetness in the dark of dark fruits; dates, currants, blackberries. The hops aren't exactly vibrant in the taste, but are still necessary for their bittering element; somewhat ashy and herbal to provide a good counterbalance to the sweetness and richness of this beer. Alcohol warms and adds character without being abrasive or rough. Huge body, low-medium bout of carbonation.

Had this beer once before and it was just as great as I remembered. Makes me wonder why I don't get this more often. Truly a fine example of a Russian imperial stout done right.

Photo of Todd
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm still shuddering from excitement and respect after sampling this beer @ Redbones tonight. What a treat! I mean seriously, this is the first and last time that I'll ever taste this beer. It's the last time it was brewed, and this is the last round to hit us in the US. Very well matured, extremely smooth and palatable. An absolute classic, with a lot a kick after all these years.

Our pile of samples still had dust on them ... from like 10+ years ago.

Photo of kingcrowing
4.05/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

275ml bottle poured into a Hill Farmstead tulip.

Pours a pitch black color with a small dark brown head along with some light brown lacing. Nose is sweet, chocolate and vanilla.

Taste is rich and smooth, there is a light bitter coffee bite that's there and is crisp on the finish. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy. Very delicious beer.

Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

This is vintage 2013 and its good until 12-09-26. The nose is chocolate, dark dried fruit with a touch of fruit cake. It pours deep chestnut under a finely bubbled tan head. The palate begins with rich chocolate backed by light coffee that blossoms into dark dried fruit and then fruit cake and hints of molasses. It dries on the finish with a slight astringency and a suggestion of chalk. The carbonation is very fine and soft - almost nitro quality. The body is chewy and the beer is slightly warming. Everything is very well balanced. An outstanding beer.

Photo of chinchill
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Small bottle served in a small nonic.

Appearance: Pours hazy and dark brown with dark tan head. Meager lacing.

Smell: Roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits and booze, in that order.

Taste: Well-roasted malts impart hints of coffee, dark chocolate and licorice. Mildly bitter. Slightly tart; a bit more than I'd prefer up front but better balance by the finish. A hint of smoke in the roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Full body. Medium carbonation. Fairly smooth. Some harshness from the 10% ABV.

O: more rustic than expected, and with the high ABV more apparent. Good but not world-class.

Photo of jpbebeau
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

275ml bottle, brewed May 2011, to tulip. (Best by...19/09/24.)

A: Pours a little thinner than I'd expect of the style, from the look of it—distracted my pour, so I produced a four-finger fluffy mocha head. Dark, but not quite black. Nice lacing and impressive legs.

S: Great nose of chocolate, dark fruits, smoke, and leather.

T: Sweet fruits and dark chocolate. A bit of roasted malt bitterness at the end—just enough for a nice drawn-out aftertaste. No hint of the 10% ABV.

M: Not thick (as I expected from the pour). Finely carbonated (as I expected from the pour). Really pleasant. The carbonation seems to hide a bit of the flavour initially, less so as it sits and warms.

Shame it's so expensive for such a small bottle...wouldn't mind drinking more of it! Can't justify it, though. Glad to give it a try and look forward to having it another time.

Photo of rastaman
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gravity cask GBBF 2003- present vintage, this is definitely worth the bloody price. So rich and chocolatey, rich, yet smooth, very long finish. Really good stuff. wasn't as vinous, and salty as the 1985 bottle i had gad a week or so earlier. Less porty aged characters aswell. probably one of my favourite beers of the GBBF in 2003, extra special that it was on cask aswell, very exciting.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.6/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(Served in a snifter)
Brewed may 2011
Drank summer 2012
A- This beer pours a jet black body with a deep cocoa creamy head that is thick and long lasting.

S- The char black malt aroma is rich with some dark cola notes and a slightly earthy dark graham sweetness in the finish.

T- The roasted black malt has some brewer’s licorice to it with a dark toasted malt note in the finish with just a touch of fruity ester. There is some green bitterness that comes through in the finish and a nice roasted deep flavor that lingers after each sip.

M- The medium mouthfeel has no alcohol heat and a slightly slippery texture.

O- The dark rich black malt flavor is full but lagered clean with a little bitterness and just a bit of sweetness that enhances the malt flavor. This is a classic and I loved every drop.

Photo of 05Harley
4.04/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage
Estimated calories - 300/12oz

Purchased through Let's pour

Price - $9.75/9.3oz bottle

One inch lite tan head covers this near pitch black jem. Foam bergs float effortlessly along a thin veil of silk. Sticky with great legs and plenty of lacing. With each sip a rejuvenation of bubbles adds to the head, nice...

Aroma is roasted malt, raisins, licorice, sweet molasses, chewing tobaco and leather. I'm actually frightened that I picked up the last two ingredients. The nose is perfect in strength to read.

The tastebuds have nothing to complain about with the usual expectations for the style. Un-sweetened chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and a hint of smoke. A big blast of black licorice though in the finish was a surprise. I'm a fan of licorice but this is much more prominent than I've experienced.

Mouthfeel is extremely well balanced between sweet and bitterness which makes this on the smooth side. Carbonation is all but non-existent. The hops are kept in check as expected with a UK brewed Impy Stout which is why I wanted to review this as fresh as possible. There is enough hops to offer that pleasently dry finish I look for.

Overall a quality representation of the style from an American point of view. The 10% alcohol strength is well hidden and makes this somewhat smooth if you can overcome the extreme licorice flavor and metalic aftertaste. Over priced IMO.

Photo of biboergosum
4.11/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

275ml bottle, a limited quantity special happy-time goodness event for we here in Wild Rose country, it would seem, according to the rep, at least.

This beer pours a solid oily black abyss, with ever so slight reddish highlights, and one finger of foamy, puffy, and fizzy mocha head, which leaves a thorough, yet loose webbed pattern of lace around the glass as it quickly settles.

It smells of sweet roasted caramel toffee, treacle, thin black licorice, aged dark fruits, soft saccharine booze, and musty, dusty hops. The taste is lightly roasted caramel malt, a touch of soaked brown bread, bittersweet dark fruit, some lighter drupe fruit frivolity, molasses, gritty dry chocolate, a bit of sooty ash, singed brown sugar, leafy, weedy hops, and a simmering alcohol warming.

The bubbles are fairly sedate, and innocuous, the body a more or less sturdy medium weight, a touch hollow, with a bit of astringency maybe screwing with an unjustly expected smoothness. It finishes just off-dry, the bitter cocoa, muddled tart fruit, and straining booze all pitching in to proffer their two-bits towards the overall effect.

An interesting, and heady affair, to be sure, but kind of lacking the gravitas of those New World upstarts, unfortunately. The sly tugging of the booze, while not actually hot, does soon aggravate to a certain degree, even over such a small serving size. Quite nice to try, sure, but probably meant for a more reserved, Old World stout aficionado, than this otherwise biased camper.

Photo of joeseppy
4.34/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Extremely dark brown with obvious sediment. Wafer thin beige head and a nice wispiness throughout.

Aromas leading of molasses and figgy pudding. Later turning into prune juice and raisins almost like a mincemeat pie. Dark chocolate and burnt sugars.

Tastes of molasses and more dark chocolate covered raisins maybe chocolate covered blueberries with the tartness that is everso evident. Dark sugars, fruit and cocoa qualities.

Mouthfeel has sufficient carbonated coverage. Medium body and cocoa powder dryness. Some sugar stickiness.

First bottle of liquid of liquid Courage I've tried. Imperial made for the Tsars of olde. Very delicious and should not be passed on if you have the chance.

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.94/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1977 Vintage(31 years old) THANKS Rayj! 170 ml, 6 fl oz. brown bottle > Postel chalice

Once the cap was pried off a wonderful, black and totally opque syrup oozes out of it's home after 31 years. The head is simply amazing after all of this time, it's a dark brown, creamy color crowing at 1" deep with moderate to quick dissipation and plenty of foamy coverage left over.

The aroma is of old chocolate, with a "wild" ale scent and some "brett" like whiff's. Oily alcohol and tangy fruits with only mild "off" aroma's of wet carboared.

This is a chalky, smokey malt and plenty complex after all of these years. Worcestershire sauce, figs, peanutbutter, smokey barley, peet moss and a wonderfully thick chocolate current that features subtle raspberries. The hops add a decent dry-bitter effect and the heat is pretty hot and reminds me of vodka going down. Later, there's syruppy molasses and only a slight "off" flavor of the classic wet-cardboared effect.

The feel is oily thick, more like slick actually with no carboantion at all.

This was a very nice treat to have a beer brewed from before I was born. Much respect.
---cont...
This is my second bottle, a fresh bottle from may 2011 so i will base my scores on the fresh bottle not the 31 year old vintage i had back in 2008.

The look is just perfect, chunky, dark and opaque with a dark brown head. Fresh and heady look!

The aroma is huge, tones of dank chocolate, balanced with a unique earthy, musky English hop aroma with dark wheat, oats and vanilla to top it off. complex and inviting.

The flavor and balance sets the standard IMO. The first of it's kind and still proves to be one of the best, and from my point of view, the single best RIS you can get. multi-layered malt flavor's, thick and heady, smooth, grainy and a bit earthy in flavor's and feel. The full feel is also insanely drinkable with layers of vanilla, slightly sweet chocolate, graham crackers, musty-earthy, hearty hops and yeast, all very English really makes this classic work. the hops are not bitter or anywhere near 100 IBU's but the hop flavor is classic English with it's highly effective flavor within this complex classic beast.

If you love IRS or RIS you simply must try this one.

Photo of SpruceMoose
4.6/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As always, it's stout time. After hearing about this little ditty on the grapevine (and I do emphasise the 'little'; the bottle's only 275ml!), I decided to pick up three bottles of Courage's allegedly stellar effort in stout brewing; one to savour and review, and two to cellar for approximately 10 to 13 years (which the bottle boastfully states it's capable of). I went into this review with pleasant memories of the Director's Ale, and fortunately my expectations were matched. "As originally brewed in 1795 for Catherine the Great of Russia", the bottle states with pride. If we are to accept this statement, it would become obvious that Cathy had some bloody brilliant taste in beer.

Serving type: 275ml bottle poured gently into a 330ml Zwyiec glass.

Appearance: The body itself is incredibly opaque - holding it up to the light yields absolutely no brightness whatsoever, and this density is further highlighted by the tan head which does not hang around for very long. Oh well, suppose it is an imperial stout after all.

Smell: Hints of plum, caramel, chocolate, chicory, coffee and those ever-so-characteristic roasted malts waft up towards the senses. The smell is strong yet not overwhelming. Magical.

Taste: The taste compliments the smell almost flawlessly, with less coffee and more of a plum, caramel and even nut flavour sitting on the tongue. Despite CRIS' 10% ABV strength (once again, it is an imperial stout after all), the alcohol does not leave a burn or even taste in the mouth; the delicate balance of flavours masks it flawlessly.

Mouthfeel: Thick, creamy and hearty. Classic stout body. Carbonation is very light (must I say it again? It's a bloody imperial stout after all!).

Overall: Courage's fine effort at a warm, hearty stout certainly lived up to the hype I had witnessed. This beer, whilst packaged in a peculiarly small bottle, contains all the character one would expect from a large 750ml bottle. This is imperial stout at its most unique, balanced and flavorsome. It could potentially even reach the dizzy heights of five-dom after a few years of maturation.

Photo of SomethingClever
3.57/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: dark black color no head almost whatsoever

S: lots of licorice a little roast

T: I'm getting a little old age beer taste but it's pretty good

M: thin

O: I think this beer is a touch oxidized the underlying beer is quite good but I'm getting a little green apple taste very faint but it's there. I think this beer would be amazing fresher

Photo of Sammy
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

1978 170 ml. Dark reddish to black with small ring of mocha head. Aroma of chocolate and sharp alcohol on the nose. Some smoke when drinking. Sweet,cocoa chocolate smokey, a slow sipper. Warming alcohol, like a 40 or 50 proof. Surprisingly not thick, but rich. A cognac.There is still some carbonation there.Worth its weight in cognac price.Cigar tobacco and scotch aftertaste. Barleywine taste day after.
Thank you Hopdog.
After 5.5 years had a fresh bottle(so cognac ageing not there yet as only year old) courtesy of Gary. Very creamy, light chocolate and roast. Very good, and uncomparable to the US versions.

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.05/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

It is with sadness that I write this review. It doesn't appear that the '93 Courage Imperial will be able to age for 10 years. Hopefully, my bottle was an exception and there are still some quality bottles left. The appearance and aroma were fine, as I remember them from previous tastings, but the flavor has deteriorated greatly. The unique "burnt currant" has been replaced by a more acidic note. The complexity of flavor has dwindled into a single, basic flavor. There's not much left at all.

Photo of RickS95
4.6/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pretty stellar. Extreme dark brown, not quite black. Looks menacing. The head is huge. I mean huge. Different sized bubbles...frothy, meringue, creamy. Tan color. Thick gooey lace.

Very boozy nose. Coffee and expresso. Bittersweet chocolate. Slightest bit of vanilla.

Extremely impressive flavor. A malt bomb with notes of chocolate, caramel, expresso, vanilla, oak and bourbon. Kind of a fruit cake taste, but in a good way.

Sure, it's got a booziness to it, but it never crosses the line. Full of flavor. Sweet and thick. Not much in the way of hops. Full bodied. Faint chocolate bitterness and a kick of heat in the finish.

Overall, it's an amazing beer. It's darned near perfect for the style and one of the best beers I've had regardless of style. Easy to drink and with the high ABV, it can sneak up on you.

Photo of MrKennedy
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

275ml bottle from Cellarbrations Carlisle, into a Lost Abbey Teku.

Matt black appearance with a lovely tan had that looks more rich the more you swirl it. Great foam retention and a lovely distinction between the black base and the tan foam.

Smells of milk chocolate backed with some licorice and a touch of roasted malt. Basic, but well integrated and really well done.

Licorice and chocolate, pretty much how i remember it from a year ago, just with the chocolate a touch more noted, balancing it out a bit more. I recall this being a licorice bomb 12 months ago.

Bitterness from the licorice upfront and turns smooth mid-palate. Finishes full but with some bitterness to keep you coming back.

Enjoyed this more after a year or so of holding onto it. Less licorice dominated and more integrated with the chocolate. A lovely beer that is fun to drink and something i need to remind myself never to pass up when i see it in the shops. Exudes quality. Good value, even taking into account the smaller bottle size.

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.13/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle poured into a CCB snifter. May 2011.

Appearance - Pours a sedimenty black with an ample head. I chose this glass because I thought it would all fit. Barely does. Retains magnificently with lacing all over.

Smell - This is what an RIS should smell like. Chocolate roast. Booze, but appropriate to the style. Bitter coffee that is amplified by a grassy hop aroma.

Taste - Maybe not as good as the nose. The hops are dominant throughout, masking some of the malt complexities. Chocolate is secondary to a deep coffee roasted malt flavor. Finishes quite bitter, as I would expect. Unlike many American RIS's, the hops are purely bittering, but the flavor is still pretty extreme.

Mouthfeel - Just a touch abrasive from the bitterness. 275 mL is a good serving size for this. As it warms, it gets more hoppy and bitter. The carbonation is remarkably high, which makes it seem even more abrasive.

Overall - Wonderful example of the style. Surprised to find a true English RIS exhibiting such American characteristics. Maybe I'm just confused as to what I should be expecting. It's extremely hoppy, but on the bittering end at least. I'd go for it a little more if it weren't as palate-crushing, but I suppose it needs all of those hops to survive the long journey to Catherine the Great.

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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 774 ratings.