Courage Imperial Russian Stout - Wells & Young's Ltd

Not Rated.
Courage Imperial Russian StoutCourage Imperial Russian Stout

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BA SCORE
93
outstanding

268 Reviews
THE BROS
99
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 268
Hads: 795
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 10.93%
Wants: 150
Gots: 179 | FT: 11
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 268 | Hads: 795
Photo of jdhilt
3.91/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a four-fingered light tan head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving a good lace. Black color, no highlights. Medium carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Light chocolate nose and flavor is chocolate, sweetness then burnt chocolate finish. High ABV is hidden. $7.49 for a 275ml bottle from Julio's Liquors Westborough, Ma. (331 characters)

Photo of Naugled
3/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I found a 2011 bottle locally and was excited at first. But after drinking it left me flat. Maybe I had a bad bottle but it was very disappointing to me. At best this is was an average RIS. Based on other reviews I plan to try this again to see if it was just my bottle.

Aroma was dominated by treacle. The head was good but had large bubbles like a soda. Body was thin and the flavor was a bit harsh with a late lingering astringency. I do drink quite a few RIS's it's one of my more favorite styles.

I found this to be average at best, but I will try again, perhaps it was a bad bottle. (591 characters)

Photo of Greywulfken
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: black beer, doesn't look as thick as some Imperial stouts; with a fat dark head. Thinned and left some lace along a stout flute glass.

S: black and chocolate malts, roastedness, espresso notes,

T: semi-sweet, drying and bitter; lots of roasted malt, some smokiness and plenty of espresso. Some vanilla/molasses sweetness. Deep down, just a hint of dark fruit.

M: smooth, medium body, minimal carbonation, smooth coating, smoky aftertaste

O: what I imagine to be a fairly traditional take on the RIS: the label says, "As originally brewed in 1795 for Catherine the Great of Russia" - no wonder she was impressed. No gimmickry here - a very refined drink - a must-try for all devotees of the style and advocates of good beer.

The 2012 bottling found its way my way, and I found it a much better tasting-beer than the previous bottling I tried (2010? 2011?), and I have adjusted my review/scores accordingly. My previous bottling date had some astringency and seemed a little thin. The 2012 was a fuller and more rewarding drink - outstanding. (1,049 characters)

Photo of Tilley4
4.27/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Score! I knew they were brewing this beer again but I'd never seen it during my travels. I was surprised to see several bottles on a shelf at Tower's in Atlanta a couple of days ago. I picked up two, one to drink now and another to throw in the cellar for a while... Let's see how this is fresh...

Dark bittersweet chocolate aromas are rolling out of the wine glass I poured this in... Huge and pungent... A nice punch of booze... Licorice and a definite sweetness that reminds me of some sort of fruit... This really smells amazing... This smells authentic to me... Old and earthy and dark and rich... Really nice...

Punch of hops right up front that quickly fades out but is followed up quickly by this earthy dark chocolate/roasted malt rush of flavor... Again, this tastes like something I would have had 100 years ago... It's rich and dark and full...Not particularly complex which is ok with me because it's delicious... I'm really glad I got to try this beer and I'm looking forward to seeing how it holds up with several years in the cellar...

A nice treat that I'm glad I got to have... (1,098 characters)

Photo of ncketchum
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Duvel tulip. Brewed in 2011. Good till 2024.

A - pours jet black, aggressively poured so resulted in massive chocolate head, hung around for quite some time, then left a fine lacing

S - molasses and roasted malt. No alcohol to speak of

T - sweet chocolate up front, followed by malt, then a significant hop character. Aftertaste is coffee with hops lingering

M - pretty thick, not too carbonated, not much alcohol burn

O - a great, unexpected find. I was told this was quite limited in this area, a nice big stout that apparently will age nicely, so I'll look for a couple more to put away for a bit. (618 characters)

Photo of julian89
3.97/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank on 3/22/12 two days after having my wisdom teeth removed.

Appearance: Dark brown light foam, quarter inch head with no lacing.

Smell: Coffee, pear, apricots, and raisins, all singled out in an excellent aroma. Molasses and brown sugar smell and color as well.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and light carbonation. Weird mouthfeel due to my wisdom teeth removal.

Taste: Bitter on the front end. The taste compliments the smell quite well.

Overall: A good strong stout with excellent flavors. I will have to return when I don't have holes in my mouth from having my wisdom teeth removed. (585 characters)

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.12/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter. Brewed in May, 2011.

5.0 A: Dark brow color. Aggressive pour gave two fingers of creamy/frothy tan head. Retention is very good as it settles down to a very creamy half finger, which persists quite long. Lots of lacing. Damn fine looking.

3.0 S: Surprisingly earthy. Smells like a forest stream that someone dumped a bunch of roasted barley in. Mineral, moderate roastiness, anise, "woodzy freshness", light burnt notes, and moderate herbal hoppiness. It's not bad, it's just not what I'm fond of in an RIS.

3.0 T: Tastes as it smells for the most part. Earth tones of mineral, mountain stream, moss, burnt wood, char. Moderate roastiness, anise, a touch of smoke, and herbal hops.

3.0 M: Heavier medium body. Carbonation level is fine, but it feels strange. It's like a creaminess, but it isn't. Too hard to explain, so I won't anymore.

3.0 D: Earthy, "farmhousy" RIS. Not a big fan, but it might interest those looking for a "natural tasting RIS," whatever that means. (999 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottling.

Dark brown body nearing black; opaque in the center with translucent edges. Pours with a voluminous head that takes a good 15 minutes to settle.

Heavily roasted, malt forward nose. Notes of toffee and black licorice with hints of charcoal, mineral, bittersweet chocolate. Smells nicely balanced between roasted, burnt malt flavors and sweetness.

Really nice on the palate. Roasted grain, butterscotch and toffee, dark chocolate. Slightly metallic and mineral, from the water perhaps? Licorice comes out more in the finish, leading into a combination of toffee, burnt malt and resinous hops.

I've been wanting to try this beer for years and was glad to finally see a new batch. It's very enjoyable stuff, but I wouldn't say it's worth drinking more than once at $7 for a 9.3 oz bottle. (803 characters)

Photo of Brad007
4.01/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a bog standard pitch black with a two-finger head that parts not too long after.

Aroma is strong on alcohol with a sweet, creamy backbone. Not much else here.

Dark fruit, roasted coffee and cream stand out as the dominant flavors, followed by the alcohol itself. A bit more aging will bring out the bouquet of flavors obscured by said alcohol.

Mouthfeel again is warm from the alcohol, resulting in an unpleasant dose of carbonation.

Again, there is hope for Courage if aged for a sufficient period of time. (518 characters)

Photo of horshack7
4.92/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: From a 9.3oz bottle is a black abyss of darkness. On top the head is dark beige three fingers tall and very frothy. As the head thins out thick lacing is left behind.

Aroma: Large amounts of espresso, dark chocolate, with cocao undertones that carries a light bitterness. Dark fruits, very dark roasted malts as well as hops. Notes pear, minor burnt hops.

Taste: Espresso notes in the front followed by a huge rush of milk and dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is smoother than melted chocolate. Hops and malts are roasted so very dark with a floralness and bitter sweet chocolate tones. Some dark fruits with some pear notes to finish it off.

Notes: Dam this one freaking amazing almost an adreniline rush. Cheers. (726 characters)

Photo of Drinkerofales
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was talked into this buy the guy at my local bottle shop, and was glad he did that. While expensive for this tiny brew, the size makes for a very easy sampling.

Bottled May 2011

There is some brown in the pour, this ends up being black with no light penetration. A huge mocha head leaves some light lacing, but stayed until the finish.

Smell is fruity, chocolate, roasted malt, and booze. Holds up to the label description, but I am missing some coffee.

Taste follows closely with malt, chocolate, bitter and sweet, a bit of fruitiness, and a hint of char on the finish.

While the beer is not quite thick, it's definitely not thin. It is however smooth as can be and I definitely liked the beer.

What a treat, I might go get some more for aging and comparison. The price tag is hefty at 8 bucks for a 9oz beer, but I have paid worse ratios, so I can't complain. Very solid and nicely complex. It seems light from the fruitiness, but all other parts make this a great stout, perhaps some coffee, and a bit heavier feel would be the only improvements.

DOA (1,062 characters)

Photo of DefenCorps
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Brewed May 2011, best by 19th Sept 2024, consumed 25 March 2012. $7 or so from the Village Pump. Served in John's Thomas Hardy's tulip

A very dark brown/black with a dense, dark brown head with excellent retention and gorgeous lacing, this is a top notch stout. The nose is pretty excellent as well. Plenty of heavily roasted malt lending lots of bitterness, smokey notes, burnt sugar, dark caramel (minus the sweetness), a touch of ash and (welcome) acridity, as well as unsweetened cocoa and some coffee. Wow, this is one beautifully complex beer. Is the dark malt here exclusively black patent? Anyway, there is also some hop character, earthy and green with a touch of eucalyptus. Excellent stuff.

The flavors on the palate are stunning. Heavily roasted with plenty of grainy bitterness along with an herbal, minty hop character up front. The palate expresses, in order of strength (to my palate, at least) dark chocolate (70%, mildly sweetened), coffee (a nice creamy espresso), smoke (smoldering briquette)and peat. The peat lingers on into the finish, lending an aggressive but refined smoke note. The mid-palate is surprisingly fruity as wellAll sweetness that's present does exhibit a bitter side as well (burnt sugar, black licorice, buckwheat honey-like grainy character). Medium-full in body with moderate carbonation, this beer has a wonderful finish, with the aforementioned bitterness and sweetness, along with some char, a moderate fruit character and a touch of alcohol. Pretty excellent stuff IMO, I will have to buy a few more to cellar, despite the price. (1,577 characters)

Photo of jlindros
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to shibbypwn for adding this to a nice trade.

Pours a huge 2.5 finger fluffy and darker colored head that fades fairly slowly, with some lacing but less than I expected, the beer is not quite pitch black but close, with some light sneaking through.

Nose has nice stout tones, plenty of chocolate, dark chocolate, powdered cocoa, hot cocoa, some baker's choc, hint of roast, some light caramel and dark malts, a nice creamy coffee like aroma with that, and a light toasty bready like malt aroma.

Taste is similar, dark malts but adds some extra roasty malts this time, more coffee and espresso, but think and gets a bit syrupy and over roasty, not quite acrid but more like over roasty. Then chocolate with a nice dark chocolate, cocoa powder, baker's, etc. and a bit of caramel. Some hops I think add some earthy bitterness but could be more of the roasty malts adding it, which get slightly soy sauce like but not quite. A chewy over spicy earthy hop comes through a bit more as it goes towards the finish. Then finishes fairly bitter, a bit salty almost briny with over roasty malts, roasty malts, and a bit of chocolate linger, with an over dry finish, and a light booze.

Mouth is fuller rich bodied, fluffy, decent carb, bit of warming booze.

Overall pretty good, quite big and probably needs a couple years to settle the large overroasted malt flavors, but nice chocolate, nice bitterness, dry finish, quite a bit beer, much bigger than I expected from a U.K. beer. (1,482 characters)

Photo of Kromes
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into a tulip glass. Pitch black with a huge tan colored head. Reminds me of a root beer float. I had to wait a good 5 minutes for the head to die down an inch to get to the beer. Sheets of lacing on the glass.

S: The first thing that you notice is the grassy hop and then the roasted malt and chocolate aromas fill the nose. Very, very nice.

T: A little bit of booze up front with a sweet roasted malt flavor. The hops then kick in with a nice grassy flavor to balance out the beer. The finish is sweet and a tad bitter and then the mouth dries out. Sweet chocolate and roasted malt flavors linger.

M: Medium-full body with a smoothness to it. There is a slight chalkiness in the finish when the dryness hits.

O: A bit more balanced and smoother than it's American brothers. It's what I would expect a Russian Imperial Stout to taste like. It's not oak aged or brewed with chocolate or coffee....it's pure RIS. Love it. (933 characters)

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

9.3 oz. thick black pour, thin layer of off white.

Aroma, a load of chocolate and roast malt. Light coffee and cream.

Taste, very malty, roast malt, espresso. Dark chocolate. Peaty, just faint herbal hop notes. Very nice.

Just to the right of medium bodied. Almost creamy. A nice sipper not overly bitter. Just a faint warming. Old school without being acrid or overly hoppy. (378 characters)

Photo of Lemke10
4.78/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A friend picked a 9.3oz bottle of this up for me at Everett’s in South Beloit, IL in Early 2012 for $6.

Pours a very dark brown/black color with a thick light brown head. Pours beautifully into a glass and expands like a mushroom cloud. Heavy scents of cocoa, caramel malts, and burnt sugars. Taste is bold and full of flavor. I think this is as about as close to a “perfect beer” as I have ever had. Great robust taste with complex ingredients that compliment each other perfectly. Smooth as silk texture with sweet after taste. A fantastic sipping beer! (562 characters)

Photo of claaark13
4.39/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1993 nip poured at 55 degrees into a Darkness snifter. Opens with a squeal.

A - Very dark. Sticks to the side of the glass a bit. Bubbles around the side, but no real lacing.

S - Dark malts, raisins and figs, bits of caramel sweetness, slight chocolate. Upon sifting, the aroma blends so well.

T - Dark chocolate and malts begin with an almost immediate influence of the brett. Frutiness comes out, then a slight backbone sourness that stays through the finish. Clears the nostrils a little, but there is not actual flavor evidence of the ABV%. The flavors are port-like with the exception of the brett. The brett actually seems to add a citrus note to the middle. Very unique.

M - Medium, which seems much thicker without any carbonation. About what I'd expect from a IRS this old.

O - I found it to have aged remarkably well. I think the slight sourness that adds some fruity components to the flavor may be off-putting to some. I, however, enjoy it a lot. It has developed very well and held its ground. I had a sample of one from the 70's not too long ago and remember having a similar experience. (1,107 characters)

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.94/5  rDev +17.3%
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. (2,246 characters)

Photo of homebrew311
4.31/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into Great Lakes snifter.

This one pours like a delightful imperial stout. A little lightish on the pour, but as it collects in the glass, it takes on the black opaque appearance that I know and love. Velvety, creamy looking head of the dark brown persuasion, excellent retention and heavy lacing. The smell of this thing is deep and dark with a healthy dose of hop bite. Plenty of baker's chocolate and dark fruit along with a hint of molasses. The herbal bite at the end is swift and strong. The taste is similar to the smell. Very robust in the malt department with bitter chocolate and some dark fruit sweetness. The hops are tame but definitely make an appearance to smooth out the intense malts. The mouthfeel is creamy and heavy with low carbonation. Overall, this is a damned good imperial stout. A bit on the spendy side @ $7 for a 10oz bottle, but I'm glad I gave it a go. (898 characters)

Photo of Jwale73
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to NewBrewBB for the birthday surprise. 275ml bottle served in my Old Stock snifter. 19/09/24 indicated on the bottle. Brewed in May 2011 indicated on the label on the neck of the bottle. Pours slightly darker than cola with a loose, dense, half-inch, khaki-colored head that exhibits excellent retention. Thick arcs of lacing are exposed on the tilt side of the glass with each sip. Nose reveals cocoa, a trace of char, dark fruit, brewer's licorice and a suggestion of ethanol towards the back. Taste follows nose; however, there actually seems to be some slight oxidation present in the flavor profile as well as a hint of soy sauce behind the char. Mouthfeel is medium-light in body with an even carbonation that falls just short of lively. There's also some residual acidity at the finish. Overall, I have to say that I was a bit let down by this beer, especially given the $7.95 price tag. I don't even think this is a beer that will stand cellaring. Pretty much a swing and a miss for me. (1,006 characters)

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

Poured into a snifter: Inky black body, looks like highlights are trying to poke through, under a dusting of khaki head that leaves thick legs.

Sharp dark fruit with alcohol in the taste. Rum-like, with a graham cracker & mild cocoa undertone once it clears. Complex, & kind of seesaws btw. varying levels of easy-going pleasantness & booze.

Dark chocolate, espresso bean, with a nice pear or baked apple fruit flavor just at swallowing, then comes with some intense alcohol dryness. Creamed coffee aftertaste that unfolds & gets better & better. A little tart flavor there too, like dark chocolate-covered cherry.

I seldom make a big deal about mouthfeel, but this is both full-bodied & kind of buoyant - just floats off, doesn't coat or weigh down. Awesome feel.

Fight btw. dark & light, good & evil, tasty but challenging at times. (838 characters)

Photo of tremotrav
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

9.3 oz bottle, May 2011 batch, poured into a tulip glass.

A: Pitch black in color, nice think light brown head.

S: Full aroma of roasted chocolate, malt, and coffee.

T: Can really taste the roasted flavors and smokiness. Ends with a bitter aftertaste.

M: Full and heavy yet smooth across the mouth with a nice bite on the finish. Definitely thick and feel it coat the mouth.

O: Been wanting this for a while. Perfect for the winter season, it would be more of my "go to" beer however it is a bit pricey per bottle to stock up on it at $7.99, so I can only buy a few at a time. I wish it was the same cost as Old Rasp. (623 characters)

Photo of Dope
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pitch black with an enormous medium brown head. Retention is stellar, barely seems to fade. Lacing is solid.

S: Big, rich, hearty roasted malt. Some bittersweet chocolate and a touch of coffee. A little dark fruit in the background, cherries and figs maybe? A little earthy. Smell is surprisingly mild for such a big RIS.

T: Huge amounts of bitter char from the roasted malt and coffee up front. Turns into a wonderful semi-sweet chocolate (almost like a truffle). Touch of dark fruits here and there but it's mostly the malt. Wonderful transition of roasted malt flavor from bitterness to borderline sweetness.

M: Oddly thin, especially for a 10% RIS. Expected this to be much thicker and creamier.

O: An interesting RIS. A bit thin and a bit subtle on the smell, but wow did they hit the taste just right. Really showcases the malt bill and doesn't require any additional flavors or barrel aging to make it delicious. (927 characters)

Photo of WillCarrera
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

9.3 oz bottle, May 2011 batch, poured into a snifter.

A- Pours an opaque black color, topped with a massive, thick tan head that has pretty good retention, leaves good lacing.

S- Lots of roasted aroma, chocolate, coffee, some smoke, also has a distinct pear aroma.

T- Similar to the nose, has a big chocolate center, some coffee, charred grain. Again there's a pronounced crispy pear flavor that blends into the background, surprisingly this actually works pretty well. Finish is roasted and dry, sweetness is kept to a minimum.

M- Medium-bodied, lots of carbonation produces a pretty smooth feel. Alcohol is warming but doesn't show up too much in the flavor.

O- A very tasty stout, the fruity aspect is interesting and done pretty well. (743 characters)

Photo of CrazyDavros
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours black with a large, lasting head.
Nose shows cocoa, dark chocolate, oatmeal and a fair bit of earthy hops. Pretty nice stuff, very interesting.
Flavours are incredibly rich. Chocolate truffles, espresso, sultanas, prunes and booze. A bit too full on.
Nice thick body, could use more carbonation though.
A nice array of flavours but too sweet and boozy for me. (365 characters)

Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
93 out of 100 based on 268 ratings.