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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
93
outstanding

271 Reviews
THE BROS
99
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 271
Hads: 802
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 6.18%
Wants: 150
Gots: 180 | FT: 13
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.
View: Beers (47) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Courage Imperial Russian Stout Alström Bros
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Reviews: 271 | Hads: 802
Photo of MichaelNeelsen
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle at Brasserie V in Madison, Wisconsin.

L: Very, very black with mild sediment. Thin, brown-eggshell head around rim. Looks bouncy, not oily.

S: Glorious raisins. Dates. Maybe fig. Wonderful.

T: Roasty flavor, earthy finish. Like sucking the nutrients out of a mouthful of soil.

F: Fluffy. My preferred mouthfeel. Like a bouncy, lively cloud.

O: After learning this was the original Russian Imperial Stout, I put off trying it for awhile because I wanted to keep it ahead of me. It did not disappoint. While it's not my all-time favorite, it is damn good and will be a sure bet for me whenever I see it in public or stores, (647 characters)

Photo of thebigredone
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I would never have guessed this beer was 10%. Went down smooth and easy. Nice smoky fruit flavors, my only complaint is the slightly bitter finish that lingers for awhile. Tastes like a more balanced, toned down Dark Lord. Will definitely seek this out it again. (262 characters)

Photo of Kevinpitts
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very nice stout. Lots of coffee & expresso notes. Very flavorful yet smooth. Definitely serve above 55 degrees for best flavor. Would buy for sure if found. (156 characters)

Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

*** vintage 2013 ***
L: black with no head
S: juicy dark fruits
T: balanced dark fruits and dark roast malts
F: thin but easy drinking
O: it's a good stout but nothing to write home about (187 characters)

Photo of Carpentiere
3.61/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

The stout pours close to perfect. Ideal color with a slight head. The smell is outstanding with only a slight hint of something that keeps it from perfect. Not sure what that is. The taste shows something related to the smell that is even more prevelant.....something detracting. A bit bitter. It's a decent Imperial Stout. (329 characters)

Photo of GrahamDN
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2013 vintage; drunk 7.23.15.

Courage appears black, revealing a deep-deep, murky brown in the light. A khaki-colored foam sits on top and dissipates slowly.

The initial nose gives an impression of chocolate cake, and is swiftly followed up by rich fig aromas over a bedrock of base malts.

Flavor is super-smooth. Complex and full-bodied, but somehow restrained. Fruit cake, chocolate, cocoa, strong-brewed coffee silkened with a dash of cream, rum. Sweet enough to amplify the richness of the flavors, just bitter enough to tame the sweetness. On the finish, the bitterness of the hops and the acrid bitterness of the dark malts take over in a duet in which it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

No wonder it's a classic. An RIS done with a high degree of finesse. Absolutely will buy again. (819 characters)

Photo of DerbyDave35
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Quite possibly the greatest drop on the planet ..but only one at a time for me , its special and should be treated accordingly
Find a quiet spot somewhere , and lose yourself in this stunning stout , and do not drink ice cold , or you wont enjoy the incredible flavour (268 characters)

Photo of doktorhops
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I like the look of this Courage Imperial Russian Stout (2013 vintage). It says “Take courage son, you’re about to drink an Imperial Russian Stout”... at least it says that to me. From Wells & Young’s, purveyors that are obviously not afraid to use additives in their brews for banana/chocolate gains, comes this semi-aged RIS that has the beer-world ablaze with claims of awesomeness and much hype heaped upon it... let’s see if the hype lives up to the, err, hype... or whatnot.

Poured from an almost sample-sized 275ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Deep chocolate brown/black body with a dense half centimetre khaki head that sticks around well. The lace in the glass reveals a Bahamas-like island pattern, specifically Eleuthera Island... maybe a bit of Cat Island too. 9/10.

S: Dark chocolate, grandma’s booze (you know the one I’m talking about - the stuff you snuck out of her locked drinks cabinet that was a mixture of brandy and rum, she said it was for the Christmas fruit cake but you knew she really had a drinking problem) molasses and prune/date round out what is a solid RIS aroma. Take courage son, this review will be over soon. 9/10.

T: From the heady aroma to a very well-balanced flavour. Take the above aromas, to recap: Dark chocolate, grandma’s booze, molasses, prune/date - minus the boozy aspect (you can hardly tell this is 10% ABV) and you are spot on the flavour. Nothing jars or dominates this brew - it is equal parts sweet and bitter with a hint of sourness in the mildly bitter finish. Everything in this brew has reached an almost sublime equilibrium, and for that Courage Imperial Russian Stout deserves a 9 for flavour. 9/10.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with a light but dense and slightly oily carbonation. Not much to complain about here either. 9/10.

D: The biggest downside to this beer? The packaging. 275ml is not enough. This is one Russian Imperial Stout that I wanted to keep on drinking, over and over and over and over like a monkey with a miniature cymbal the joy of repetition really is in this brew (to coin some Hot Chip lyrics). Aside from my slight soirée into the world of descriptive Indietronica this is quite the world class RIS that, like it or not, you really should pay your respects to if you ever get the opportunity. 9/10.

Food match: Garlic roasted cigars with nebulised sturgeon eggs and black truffle fennel foam. (2,399 characters)

Photo of coltonbrimhall
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

- perfect separation that stays, black and brown foam
- smell is all roasted grain with burn scents amazing
- hands down the best classic tasting Russian imperial
-feel is the smoothest beer i have had to date
- best beer to date.... (235 characters)

Photo of Darkmagus82
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from bottle into a snifter

Appearance – The beer pours a pitch black color with a one finger head of a cream colored foam. The head fades rather rapidly leaving a trace of foamy lace on the sides of the glass. Upon swirling the brew in the snifter, thick fingers of beer cling to the sides of the glass, very slowly receding to the bottom of the vessel to leave some bubbly and sticky looking lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is huge of a sweeter smell of chocolate mixed with caramel. Along with these aromas are some nice notes of a roasted malt smell as well as a nice expresso aroma. Other lighter notes of darker fruits of cherry and raisin are there as well, with these also being accompanied by some sweet vanilla. With a little bit of grain and a light booze there as well the smell is overall quite warming.

Taste – The taste begins with a nice drier roasted malt taste mixed with a decent showing of some coffee. A lighter sweet flavor of caramel and some chocolate are at the front with these growing stronger as the taste advances and with them being joined by some light fruit tastes of raisin and plum. The coffee seems to dwindle as the taste advances all while the caramel, chocolate and fruit sweet flavors get stronger and stronger. A light bit of a boozy taste as well as some flavors of vanilla work their way onto the tongue at the end, and with a little resurgence of the coffee, end up leaving one with a dark and robust roasty flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is quite thick and chewy with a carbonation level that is on the slightly lower side. For the dark roasted flavors mixed with the blend of sweet and the higher abv. the feel is right on and makes this one a slow sipper as it is meant to be.

Overall – A quite tasty and enjoyable Imperial stout. It has a good blend of sweet, roast, and booze to maintain a good drinkability but yet keep you in check all while bathing the tongue with a whole lot of flavor. (2,033 characters)

Photo of JoeBond
3.53/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2012 Vintage bottle

Pours dark with a thick head, aroma is strong on the fruit as advertised on the bottle itself.

I'll just say that personally, the fruit aroma and aftertaste were too overpowering to me. (208 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
2.55/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

BOTTLE: 275ml. Brown glass. Branded gold and red pry-off pressure cap. Classy label art. "No. 079025 of 210,000"

Acquired: At an Austin, TX bottle shop.

Reviewed live at low altitude in Austin, TX. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Vintage: 2012.
ABV: 10%.
Style: Russian Imperial Stout (per the label).
Serving temp: Cold. Allowed to warm over the course of consumption.
Serving vessel: Snifter.
Expectations: Sky high (given its reputation and current high ratings).

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: ~.25 inches wide. Dark khaki in colour. It recedes too quickly for me to note any other characteristics; the retention is pathetic (~8 seconds). Leaves no lacing. It was fizzy (audibly so) while it lasted.

BODY: Opaque ink-black. True to the style. No yeast particles or hop sediment are/is visible.

Overall, it looks pretty basic for a Russian Imperial Stout. Nothing stands out as unique or special.

AROMA: The dark, schwarz, and chocolate malt base doesn't bring the usual sweetness to the fore, and the reticence of the malts lets the espresso and coffee notes take the spotlight. When I look for the pear mentioned on the label, I find a hint of it, but I'd never identify it blind. There're notes of faint fudge and chocolate as well as a kiss of tobacco, and this aroma suggests a rich brew, but I'm not seeing evidence of all that much intricacy considering the style, and I wouldn't even call it a dessert beer. There're some interesting notes of chewy caramelized fruit (perhaps raisin or fig) and grape. I find none of the smokiness promised on the label.

Aromatic intensity is average for the style.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Much more fruit-emphatic than most beers I've had in the style, with suggestions of grape, fig, prune, date, and raisin - all of which are accompanied by a chewy caramelization as well as a touch of rum soak. The malt backbone is standard: schwarz, chocolate, and dark malts, but they don't bring all that much sweetness to the table, and the chocolate is far too reticent and muted. Immediately, it's obvious this isn't a horribly deep or expressive brew, and the balance is a bit rough around the edges. As it warms, its emergent burnt sugars and ashen notes don't do it any favours.

None of the pear or smokiness promised by the label actually comes through in the taste, and I do get the harshness of espresso and its concomitant roast, but none of the flavour. Some might even call it slightly acrid. What does work well is the faint hint of tobacco, which lends it an interesting (and seemingly true to form) character.

Flavour duration: Average.
Flavour intensity: Above average.
Flavour amplitude: Decent.

It has a dragging rough harshness, lending it a dry scratchy extinguishing presence on the palate that doesn't suit the taste particularly well. It's overcarbonated to boot, and certainly full-bodied. Frankly, there's just no harmony of texture and taste. This needs work. Has a stale overall presentation of flavour. Off-puttingly poor execution.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, or astringent.

Faint metallic off-character is noticeable as it comes to temperature.

OVERALL: Maybe this was a classic 10+ years ago, but today its fundamental lack of balance and problematic mouthfeel hold it back substantially. There are far better (and cheaper) beers in the style now, and I see no need to revisit this. I'll enjoy finishing the glass, if only for the worthwhile tobacco and - harsh as it is - roast, but I couldn't recommend this to friends or trade partners and it doesn't live up to its high reputation. Shockingly shallow, and a mess of a build for a Russian Imperial Stout. Is this really what used to pass as a world-class paragon of the style?

Low C- (2.55) (3,775 characters)

Photo of Hoppsbabo
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Mine's a 2013 vintage.

A: Black with a creamy beige head. Very creamy lacing.
S: Vinous, with loads of black chocolate and espresso.
T: Holy cow, it’s a cracker. Incredibly smooth and chocolatey, with dried fruit. Espresso coffee and amazingly creamy. A touch of oranges in Cointreau. Slightly bitter in the finish. Medium sweet. Slightly fruity finish. Just a touch spicy.
O: I feel like I've just drunk a milkshake. Amazingly creamy. A superb beer. (453 characters)

Photo of mabermud
4.52/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 Bottle

The darkest brown you can imagine, that's the body. Quickly retreats to a fine film of darker brown lather, that's the head. As the liquid is swirled around, the lather easily melts from the sides of the brandy snifter.
Sweet and deep, rich malt. That is the smell. Very rich aroma.
Hmmmm. Maybe a little oxidized, or maybe not, since this is the first time I have had this beer. The usual start of a rich stout, interesting finish. Chalky dark chocolate. Dark bread and leather finish. There is a dry, cognac aftertaste left in the mouth that soon goes away.
Nothing to write home about, but everything melds together well. Low carb, fuller body. The feel.

Overall: Nothing traditional here. At last, something not too sweet. People in the US are addicted to sugar. This is not what to expect from what is currently going around the US as a Russian Imperial Stout. This is down to earth and not overly built. It tastes raw, like something made in the 1800s. I dig it. (1,001 characters)

Photo of marieli
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. Brewed May 2011. Started at 54 degrees. Poured like a dark brown espresso, not much head, could have been my fault. Smelled terrific. Nice blend of malt, coffee and chocolate. There was no one dominant flavor for me. I thought it came together nicely with malt and coffee more present, a hint of chocolate. I didn't get fruit, but something was managing the bitterness very well. Medium body. Would have preferred a little more creaminess, but still a great beer. (480 characters)

Photo of papat444
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

***2012 Vintage (bottle No. 046094 of 210,000)***
Best before 16/08/25

Very thick black pour, good lacing despite ABV. Flavor is espresso, bit of cherry and burnt chocolate. Major roasted bitterness in the finish but doesn't impede on the drinkability. Nice gem. (263 characters)

Photo of SomethingClever
3.57/5  rDev -15.2%
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 (348 characters)

Photo of Way2drunk
1.82/5  rDev -56.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

You guys are such liars! This beer is mediocre at best. For a RIS I was very disappointed. Where was the strong finish. Where was the expresso with pear overtones. There was nothing great or even close to outstanding about this beer (233 characters)

Photo of Sathanas
4.9/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

With an extremely balanced amount of dark fruit and chocolate to contrast the coffee tastes and aromas, Wells and Young create a perfect example of an Imperial Russian Stout. (174 characters)

Photo of thegodfather2701
4.1/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had a 2012 and a 2013 bottle given as part of a gift pack. This review is based upon those two bottles. In general, the 2012 was slightly more mellow than the 2013 but both were great.

A-dark, nearly pitch black with a mocha head. This is not one of those thick and chewy stouts that pour like motor oil-it looks more like a porter when pouring.

S-coffee, roasted malt, dark chocolate, hint of smoke

T-essentially the same as the nose-coffee, lots of roasted malt, dark chocolate, hint of smoke, but also some alcohol and alcohol sweetness. Again, the 2012 was more mellow than the 2013. I was surprised by the taste- I expected a very mellow and soft beer, but it was very flavorful and strong. It reminded me much more of a typical American style RIS.

M-not as thick as American versions of the style, but still thick and creamy.

D-Easy to drink despite the high abv. and complexity.

Overall, I'm glad I was able to try this. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to lovers of the style. (996 characters)

Photo of Linus_Oberg
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Opaque lacquer black, golden foam
Smell: Bitter chocolate, tobacco-pipe, raisins, roasted coffee, hint of cognac.
Taste: Complex palette. First A Bittersweet chocholate, dates or dried plums. Then warm spices, cinnamon or cloves. Last a lingering nuttyness and bitterness as well as a wonderful afterwarmth.
Feel: Silky smooth and creamy. Surprisingly light. A bit on the dry side. Low carbonation
Overall: This is one of the best RIS:s I've ever tasted.
However, something that I find unfortunate for the style in general is that the hops tend to get shadowed by the massive amount of dark malts. Aside from that.
So. much. taste. just... wow!
It's like a great mass of melodies intertwining. Without a single discord they come together, to form this enormous, harmonious symphony . It is really, truly a pleasure for the taste buds. Just needs a bit more strings ;) (875 characters)

Photo of patre_tim
3.94/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black. When held to the light, 1 cm of amber yellow is near the edge of the glass. Topped with 3 fingers of ashy beige head with large and small bubbles, looking like chocolate milk. The lacing is a labyrinth of holes.


S: Chocolate, black licorice, tar, tobacco, a rusty quality, garlic, umami.


T: Starts with a porter like leathery quality, dark burnt toasted malts, a balancing sweetness. The alcohol is present on the back and sides of the tongue, and in the throat. Black coffee.


M: Thick but velvety body, slightly oily, little carbonation.


O: Pumped to have found this brew in Chiang Mai. A classic. Smooth, well done. History in a cup. Aside from that, the heavens did not open, but I will enjoy sipping the rest of this tonight, Dec 21st, 2014 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (797 characters)

Photo of Jeffsta1
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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. (489 characters)

Photo of BBMuffins
5/5  rDev +18.8%

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. (821 characters)

Photo of rudzud
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
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 (1,367 characters)

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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
93 out of 100 based on 271 ratings.