Courage Imperial Russian Stout - Wells & Young's Ltd
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Ratings: 628 | Reviews: 239 | Display Reviews Only:
5/5 rDev +17.9%
Presentation: 170ml nip-sized, thick brown glass bottle. Unlike the BA Avatar in the Database, the sample I was holding had the more classic presentation. The dark black background of the main label sits well against the dark purple ringlet that has the words Imperial Russian Stout in a rather simple looking Arial-like white font, with Originally brewed for Catherine II, Empress of all the Russias in smaller gold font. Inside this there are some Russian words, whilst inside that a Regal Crown has the scripted white letters O.G. 1098 underneath. Outside this royal paraphernalia, the words Brewed in the UK, Courage Ltd., Staines, Middlesex sits above and As Brewed for Over 200 Years below. Right at the bottom of the label, it is dated Brewed In 1993 in simple but prominent white text. Listed as Alc. 10.0% Vol. The simple brass crown cap had a slight speck or two of rust, but nothing to worry about. Firmly applied 11 years ago, it took some removing. A little escape of gas eased my initial fears that a flat dead sample could have been lurking, a ridiculous concern, as I knew that this had lived a good life in the English Yorkshire Countryside before coming Stateside at Easter.
Appearance: Hmmm, what glass to use? Well, I opted for the largest Goblet I had in my armory, a Duvel vessel, freshly washed, cleaned, washed in clean hot water again and then rinsed in cold water and left to its own devices to dry naturally. What a superb choice it turned out to be for it allowed the full glory of the nose to present itself whilst I closely inspected its sheer brown naked body in the hourglass sides of the Duvel Glass. The perfect body has nothing to hide, dark black, almost tar like at first; it takes a powerful light to reveal its dark brown luscious strong body. Pellucid and exotic, like a classic edition of Playboy it begs to be inspected closely, again and again, except that this is most definitely not airbrushed.
Shite!! .I could sit all night and slowly swirl the smallest quantity of this goliath beverage in the forgiving oversized Duvel glass. Presented as such like a fine Brandy, it looks simply fucking marvelous, quite incredible that a beer with no carbonation has such an impressive quality about it, but somehow it does.
Nose: Blackcurrants, and lots of them, I immediately detected dark berried fruits mixed into a thick mélange of currants, molasses, freshly baked spotted dick, alcohol soaked plums and amontillado sherry. There is a hell of a lot going on here and I am far from proficient enough to dissect it all, suffice to say the nose is a meal in itself and exhilarating & invigorating enough to be taken through a freshly rolled up crisp banknote.
Taste: Immensely complex, superbly smooth, Teflon like silky flavors slide over the oral cavity and coat it like a high performance lube oil, embracing the tongue in an orgasmic orgy of mature delight. Sensual and sexy, this releases itself oh so slowly, allowing you to genuinely bask in all of its glory. Dark fruits, plums soaked in alcohol for so long the skins fall off, dark raisins, rich currants, blackberries, blackcurrants, Garibaldi Biscuits and malt soaked molasses. Light sweetness cantilevered against this humongously well aged body makes this a real treat.
I swear the aftertaste will last for another 11 years. Long lingering tasty solute that lays a complex carpet of experiences on the cheeks, tongue, throat and stomach. I could still taste this 15 minutes after the last swallow, which truly helps you to savor the small bottled sample that much more. Mind blowing!!!
Mouthfeel: Smooth, sophisticated, suave this is the James Bond of Imperial Russian Stouts, a sort of from Russia with Love. Age merely adds massive levels of maturity to the confidence of this British Agent. Brandy like it needs to be sipped and slowly savored.
Drinkability: Fantastic, sampled alone at first, but I chose to finish the last 50ml of this with some big chunks of 5 Year Old Aged Sharp English Cheddar that I had been saving. An absolutely incredible mix. I so want to give a 5 for Drinkability, but I suppose that the sheer complexity and richness may prove a tad too much, it certainly deserves a 4.5, but could so easily be a 5.0 for me.
Overall: Damn, this is one fine brew indeed. 11 years after it was brewed, this one bottle has most certainly stood the test of time incredibly well. A World Classic for sure, but moreover this is really a Highly Educated Gentleman of the English Bottled Beer Aristocracy.
A Huge Thanks to fellow BA and Yorkshireman BSF for this one, delivered whilst we shared a brew at the Doncaster Beer Festival during my Easter trip to England. I am truly indebted to you for this master libation. Thank You, Thank You Sir; it has matured extremely well, no thanks in part to your master cellarmanship. I owe you a few Gallons of Timothy Taylors Landlord next year!!!
08-04-2004 05:01:38 | More by TheLongBeachBum
5/5 rDev +17.9%
1993 six-ounce bottle served this evening at room temperature at Monk's Cafe. Next to no carbonation, and a few large chunks of sediment slip past into the belgian chalice glass, but sink to the bottom and do not mix. I end up drinking them when I finish the glass but they don't even impact the already hyper-intense taste.
Huge odor of alcoholic sweet fermeneted raisins. Even my nose can get this one. If I was smelling/tasting this beer completely blind I would have guessed it was a port.
this is one of the most complex beers I have ever had (rivals any lambics or westvleteren 12's no matter how old) and I am debating on what does not deserve a '5.'
Taste is the most port/wine-like beer I have ever had. Tremendous complexity, and the lack of carbonation make this feel like a very raisiny port wine. It is without a doubt magnitudes better than any other imperial stout I have ever had and really makes the rest of the genre pale in comparison. It is a terrible shame this is not available (I have not seen this or any vintage retail in almost a decade of looking). I don't feel the 10% when drinking this beer.
I have never had anything like it, and quite possibly never will again. At 12+ years old, it is afaik the oldest beer I have ever drunk as well.
03-15-2006 00:04:52 | More by dogfooddog
5/5 rDev +17.9%
1983 vintage sampled at the Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium. $4:-) From the mangled bottle pours forth one insanely good beer! Deeply dark and opaque with no hints of light showing through! A HUGE head of tan foam, that leaves excellent lacing, even after 21 years in the cellar. The aromas are heavenly, as this is the ultimate imperial stout. The aromas are all across the board and consist of currants, dark chocolate, pure cocoa, strong french coffee, pure unadulterated alcohol vapors, deeply roasted malts, lightly medicinal (orval-like) hops and more! The taste is so rich, so deep, and so endless, that it is hard to describe. The first thing that hits tongue is the deep coffee flavor, than the chocolate and malts come in with a one-two punch, than the hops and other herbal flavors come and linger on your tongue for an eternity. 21 years old and this is not oxidized one freaking bit. This beer is so old, that IT can legally drink itself in the states! The mouthfeel is so thick, creamy, and smooth, with no loss of texture after all of these years, and the drinkability is simply amazing. 10%+, you HAVE to be kidding me. Wow, i've always loved imperial stouts, and I thought that I have had some of the best imperial stouts out there....than, I had this. This is without a doubt the perfect imperial stout (and one of the oldest recipes is used as well). A classic amongst classics, and perhaps the best beer that I have ever had in my life...(it gives the St. Lamvinus a run for it's money, and this one was only $4!!!)You simply have to find a way to try a well-cellared example of this beer. I see them on eBay ocassionaly, so perhaps it is worth a try. If not, do have one when you get to the little piece of heaven that is the Kulminator in Antwerp. No wait, don't have any, save it all for me...PLEASE!
03-30-2004 21:43:14 | More by francisweizen
Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 628 ratings.