Courage Imperial Russian Stout - Wells & Young's Ltd

Not Rated.
Courage Imperial Russian StoutCourage Imperial Russian Stout

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268 Reviews

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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 BARFLYB
4.44/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a few bottles of this for $5 a pop. Been wanting to try this for years now, and I could not pony up for the 20 year old aged bottles at Monk's. Poured into my TJ'S Everyday 7th Anniversary 'gold' rim plated snifter.

Courage pours out the dark red/brown/black mix when in mid air. When in the glass all nestled, Courage is a black looking stout, with a creamy froth of beige/tannish foam with legs and stick.

Smell is very inviting and bold and layered. Im really digging the smell. English qualities with the signature coffee, chocolate, roasted malt of an IRS. The english yeast provides an extra layer while there is a nice burnt/smoky/ash quality as well. Dark fruit with significant warming.

Taste is pretty exquisite. At this young stage Courage jumps out with roasted malt, milk chocolate, coffee beans, slight vanilla, a burnt English Baltic Porter quality with some smoke on the end. Layered is an understatement. As with the smell, dark fruits jump out at the end.

Feel is approaching full, this for sure coats the mouth on the way down with a slight warming quality without being hot. I cant taste the alcohol. Carb is light but present. Im sure this will smooth out even better with time.

This went down the hatch very easy like and I was surprised at the depth of this RIS. Im not a huge RIZZ guy, but I can appreciate the nuances of this beer. I have another bottle and it's taking a ten year dirt nap. I'll update then. (1,448 characters)

Photo of champ103
3.98/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a pitch black, opaque color. A massive tan head rises with excellent retention. Spiderweb lace is left all the way down the glass.
S: Roasted malt, coffee, chocolate all intermingle. Dark fruits of cherries and plums. Very nice and well balanced.
T: Lightly roasted malt, some chocolate and coffee. Dark fruits again. Kind of grainy and sugary.
M/D: A medium body and carbonation. A bit on the watery side. Easy to sip on. The alcohol is nice and warming.

This is very welcoming and warming. A nice imperial stout, and obviously has roots as one of the original. Something I enjoy and would recommend. (612 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

9.3oz bottle poured into a snifter. Brewed May 2011.

(A)- Pours a pitch black color. Produced a giant frothy tan colored head with enormous spots and rings of lacing. A ridiculous retention that is lasting forever.

(S)- A nice mild roasted bread component with bits of raisin and a cocoa-like yeasty dry finish. Lots of dry roasted bread components actually.

(T)- Again, a deep and dry roasted bread/grain profile. Plenty of cocoa, raisin, and coffee with subtle spicy grain kick.

(M)- A smooth carbonation level and a great balance. A great combo of roasted grains, dark fruits, and a dry finish. Sure doesnt feel like its 10%.

(D)- This one has been on my want list for quite some time now. Very happy it was brought back out of retirement. I look forward to seeing how this ages in the coming years. A great stout that I think can definitely improve with time. (868 characters)

Photo of sdsurfer217
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brewed May 2011

Poured into a Brooklyn Tulip

A: Dark Chocolate brown, with no light passing through. Has a cappuccino brown head that started as 3 fingers worth of foam and laces the glass as it dissipates.

S: Smells a little boozy, but also has the bittersweet chocolate notes as well as some coffee. Maybe even a touch of hazelnut aroma to it. There is also a floral/fruity note, maybe pear or apple, but it’s not very strong.

T: The taste follows the aroma, except there is no alcohol burn. Chocolate and coffee dominate the palate, with an exceptional roasted marshmallow finish. Very little smooth RIS, with just a touch of bitterness

M: Rich mouthfeel, feels slightly heavy on the tongue and coats my mouth completely. Not very much carbonation.

O: Great beer that is balanced and delicious. Perfect cold weather beer as it hits very well on all the roasted flavors, and after half the beer, I feel the warming sensation from the 10% alc, although I can’t detect the alcohol except through my nose. A great example of what a RIS should be. (1,056 characters)

Photo of woosterbill
3.45/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2011 bottle into a medium-sized Duvel tulip. Thanks to whoever shared this.

A: Black with brown highlights; on top is a light brown head that settles into a ring. Ok.

S: Super roasty, ashy, and flinty. High minerality, light chocolate. Good, but a little restrained.

T: Tasty roastiness Dark chocolate, coffee, char, ash, and supper-bitter hops. Very, very intense. A bit harsh.

M: Medium body, prickly carbonation. Meh.

O: I'd heard a lot about this one, but it really didn't impress me. Maybe with a bit of age the rough corners might smooth out, but as it was I didn't find anything too enjoyable about it.

Cheers! (623 characters)

Photo of srandycarter
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed May 2011

A - Very dark brown, but not so dark that you can't see the brown through the upper edges. Small head quickly runs to ring. Some cling.

S - Cocoa and soy sauce permeate the nose.

T - Taste follows smell completely. Gobs, yes gobs, of soy and hersheys syrup. Toasty malt is an afterthought in finish.

M - Medium body, creamy texture, good carb, enjoyable balance.

D - Did not perceive much heat, so ABV well hidden. A nice beer. (449 characters)

Photo of jpbebeau
4.22/5  rDev +0.2%
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. (863 characters)

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

I first had the pleasure of trying John Courage Russian Imperial Stout in 2003, during a visit to Antwerp. My friend Francis (francisweizen) and I were presented with a 6oz nip bottle with a faded, curling black label. The words “Brewed in 1983” were printed beneath the circular red white and gold design. I was thrilled at the opportunity to try something that was brewed the year I was born. I was also skeptical that it wasn’t past its prime. The bottle opened with a faint hiss. The nearly flat, coal black beer swirled into our snifters with an oily brown sheen of thin bubbles. It was nearly ten years ago and I still remember the aroma. Candied cherries, fruit cake, blackstrap molasses. Faint, vinous sharpness added a dimension to the cherry aroma that was unlike anything I’d experienced from a non-lambic or fruit based beer. The mouth-feel, though thinner than a fresh imperial stout, was rich and lush, with flavors of black currant, coffee, caramel and dark chocolate. Six ounces between two people usually wouldn’t last very long, but we nursed our 3 ounce samples for about half an hour. The next time I got to try John Courage was two years later. It was a 1993, the last year it was brewed before it disappeared from the market. The experience was no less immersive or memorable. I've been excited about this release for months now, and it's finally here. I've never had the beer fresh. I expect it to be a very different experience.

A-Courage Russian Imperial Stout pours chocolaty brown with a fluffy coffee-colored head that leaves behind an intricate web of spidery lacing as it dissipates.

S- The chalky dry aroma just barely conceals notes of cocoa powder, pear juice and baker’s chocolate. Mild, grassy hoppiness peeks through.

T/M-The first sip is roasty and dry. Not nearly as sweet as the average English Imperial Stout. Bitter chocolate dominates the flavor profile, with dark fruit notes creeping in towards the back end. Very different. The finish is dry with a faint, sticky fruit juice sweetness and a warming quality on the back of the throat.

O- An elegant, gorgeously structured stout that has earned its reputation as a classic. A proven winner in the cellar. (2,214 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
3.81/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Just something to put me to bed. From a tiny 275 ml bottle from May 2011, on to the beer:

This imperial stout foamed up much more than anticipated. Black bodied as expected, with tanned colored foam that is thick and leaving lots of whispy lace going down. The aroma leans towards the charred side. There's a little fruit and licorice coming to its side.

The focus in the Courage Inmperial Stout's taste is less about the malt than I've encountered in most Imperial Stouts. Straight up cherry syrup and dribbling of bitter chocolate makes up the initial flavor. Some pine and vague star fruit pop out of their shells. That big malt body only really shows itself off in the body, which it is big and smooth, and the 10% ABV hidden well. Further time in the glass crates an overall profile that becomes more mellow and melds better, enchancing the taste score a notch.

While I was happy to try this classic, it fell just a little short of my high expectations. But it still ends up a good beer, and a good nightcap to my long day. (1,033 characters)

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.72/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours very dark brown, appearing black. Nice two finger light brown head with medium bubbles and massive lacing. Good aroma of roasted malt, chocolate, sweet dark fruit. Flavor is exceptionally well integrated, with slight dark malts to start, but other flavors opening up in the middle. Roasted and sweet malt, dark fruit, bitter coffee and chocolate. Finishes with coffee and a well tuned hop bite. Excellent heavy, creamy body is noticeable from the very first taste. A very nice, complex and well done imperial stout. These guys have obviously have kept the craft of imperial stout making alive. Exceptional. (646 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in May 2011.

Best before 9/19/24.

Pours an opaque black with a 2 inch foamy dark khaki head that settles to a thin cap. Thin foamy rings of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark malt, dark fruit, bittersweet chocolate, and some alcohol. There is a distinct cinnamon aroma that comes out as the beer warms. Taste is of dark malt, dark fruit, cocoa powder, and roasted coffee beans. There is a mild roasty bitterness and alcohol warming in the back of the throat with each sip. This beer has a lower level carbonation with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good RIS with a nice historic element to it. I am very happy I was able to find a bottle of this after reading it was coming to the US. (741 characters)

Photo of jmdrpi
3.86/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle, May 2011. served at cellar temp.

black, thin tan head of fine bubbles. nice lacing. aroma of coffee grounds, black cherry, slightly metallic. taste is a bit of bitter cocoa, booze, wood. acidic aftertaste. thick, viscous, mild carbonation.

overall - good, but not sure why it's considered a classic. (318 characters)

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

275ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer.

Pours a disappointingly light brown colour, only opaque due to the density of the beer in the glass. When tilted and held to the light, it's certainly a translucent weedy brown. Head is fine enough, leaving thick lacing and a solid persistent half-centimetre of off-white foam.

Nose is very odd indeed. Very crisp and bright—very oddly so. Along with some faint hints of dark grains, there are big fragrant hints of appleskin and cinnamon, and a sweetness reminiscent of fairy floss (possibly the Brett, which I believe is used in the process). There are some deep boozy hints, but they're not framed in a consistent way, leaving the sweet, anarchic brightness to take over. Hmm...

Taste is better, leaving a smooth, if lacklustre roasted sweetness along the front palate. Some mild chocolate, and a hint of coffee come through, but both rather weak, and only leaving a faint impression on the finish, which is dominated by ground earth and a lingering roasted character. The feel is smooth, but far lighter than I expected. In some ways, I'm impressed at how well the booze is hidden, but to be honest, in a beer like this, at this volume, it could stand to be far bigger.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this. No, it's not a bad beer (in fact I can see why others love it), but it's amazingly bland for a 10% ABV beer in this style. I understand the push behind it, but it's not a particularly interesting RIS for me. (1,471 characters)

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

Brewed in May 2011. Served in a Surly Darkness glass.

A - Two-plus fingers of creamy light mocha foam that slowly settles to a meringue-like cap. Intricate glass-coating lace patterns linger on the sides of the glass. The body is an extremely dark brown that could be confused with black in low light.

S - Massive milk chocolate, toasted biscuits, roasted malt, hint of Whoppers, mild dark fruits, light smoke and char, and a bit of musty and fruity brettanomyces. The brett imparts a hint of playdough, but otherwise this is quite enjoyable.

T - The taste has less brett presence to it, and more in the way of cocoa and chocolate syrup, raisins, dark fruits, and a mild amount of licorice, char and espresso bitterness. The brett adds a hint of leather and a faint medicinal flavor in the finish, but this is more traditional English stout than the aroma suggests.

M - Carbonation is surprisingly zesty, with a mix of dryness and stickiness to the texture. Medium-full body, chewy and viscous., with a hint of warming alcohol after 6oz or so.

D - Tragically, I think the 275ml serving size is a bit too small. I savored this for roughly a half-hour, but would have gladly appreciated another few ounces. I'm curious how the brett manifests over time, as it's already quite present. In any case, I'm glad they've resurrected this beer as it's quite unique and unlike almost anything I've had in recent memory. (1,414 characters)

Photo of SpdKilz
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed May of 2011. 9.3oz bottle.

Appearance – Pours into a tulip with an utter dark viscosity. About a finger of mocha colored head that dissipates slowly leaving a nice coating of lacing.

Smell – Chocolate, roast, slight metallic aromas, cocoa, caramel.

Taste – Similar to the aroma but more vanilla and dark fruits. An apparent plum flavor, cocoa, milk chocolate, and raisins.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, lower carbonation.

Overall – An interesting stout. Heavy in the dark fruits…more so than I have experienced in others. Honestly, not my favorite RIS. (573 characters)

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

9.3oz nip that I'm pouring into a snifter glass.

2011 vintage (they brought this one back to life).

Boasting two-fingered tan head on this baby. Hardly any light getting through this one, although it looked dark brown on the pour. The oils are almost sticky enough to keep a lace.

Aged oily hop aromas fuddle with deep complexities from the dark roast. Tree bark, dark chocolate, maybe even a little peach. Any coffee implications are muddled and masked by strange fruits. There's some cherry notes and a hint of evergreen.

A nice charcoal smoky roastiness with a deep, poignant chocolatey character. Some sweetness coming from the grains, and some lovely fruitiness coming from... the yeast strain? The alcohol is riding even saddle with me here, too, but I pay him little mind. Molasses, creme brulee, sea salt/salty caramel, and a slight capsaicin-like burn on the bitter finish.

Hefty, but manageable. Lively bubbles on the tongue. A tad thin of appropriate.

Hey there! Took me by surprise! Seriously! This is one amazing RIS! Great heat, delicate complexities, unfettered brand. (1,089 characters)

Photo of russpowell
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had a dust covered bottle of this 20 years ago from the original Courage Brewery. I really didn't know hat to this of it as it was my first ever RIS & I was fairly blasted, I just remember how damn chewy it was. Obtained this bottle from the Biergarten in Jenks, OK

Pours an effervescent ebony with 3+ fingers of mocha head. Great lacing with good head retention

S: Deep choclate notes, dark fruit, some oaky notes, serious boozeyness in harmony with the style

T: Follows the nose, & vanilla notes with a kiss of booze up front, serious dry notes as well. Carob, a bit of sour cherry & cask sherry notes all mix as this warms, plus so much pkummyness . Finishes dry, boozey, plummy with choclate & roasted malt notes

MF: Chewy as all get out,sticky, warming with slight carbonation, thins out a bit as this warms

A very nice RIS, Wells & Young have reignited the flame. This one will age nicely, there are still a few semi-rough edges to smooth out (956 characters)

Photo of ms11781
3.91/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

9.3oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a solid, ink black. The beer actually looks pretty thin and deep brown going into the glass but once it settles in the body seems fuller and it's definitely solid. A massive tan head develops and it's very active. Only about 3 or so ounces make it into a 10oz tulip before the head reaches the top of the glass. A considerable amount of time passes before more beer can be poured into the glass. An impressive thick cap of creamy foam stick around for the duration. Nice soapy lacing is left on the glass.

The nose is a bit subdued. There are some nice aromas but nothing is too strong or stands out above the rest. Some nice roast and more subtle bitter chocolate are present along with a bit of some dark fruit.

The taste asserts itself considerably more than the nose. There is a very nice bitter coffee-like element that comes across first and is complimented by a touch of dark chocolate. The finish is pleasantly smoky and somewhat acrid. Really nice.

Despite looking thinner going into the glass this beer has a full mouthfeel. It definitely feels full but not too heavy. Low carbonation that is surprisingly lively, especially as the beer warms.

This is a really good RIS. The nose was lacking just a bit but the flavors were really bold. Definitely a beer that seems like it would benefit from some age. (1,363 characters)

Photo of B33R501
4.41/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours beautiful, huge creamy mocha head, what a beer should look like. tastes huge chocolate malt bomb, incredible roast with perfect bitterness. yes a little smoke, amazing fruity finish. strong, smooth, rich, satisfying. the one was enough, but i could have had several. only drawback is the price. (300 characters)

Photo of oberon
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
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. (289 characters)

Photo of emerge077
4.01/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Brewed May 2011, BBD 19/09/24... 13 yr., 4 month shelf life?

Thick layer of mocha foam, leaving striated layers of lace all around the glass. After 15 minutes or so the foam recedes into a floating island, but the skim remains unbroken.

Very mellow chocolate aroma, slight roast, also something vaguely acidic, sweet and ashy.

Creamy and smooth milk chocolatey feel, pleasant residual mild hop bitterness in the background. Definite sipper, very smooth and easy drinking in small sips. Slight nuance of fruity plum in the aftertaste. Cocoa nibs and mild char. Rich and exceptionally smooth as mentioned before. Residual chocolate and dry ashy elements. Pretty nice stuff, glad it's seeing a new revival. (708 characters)

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

I've been waiting for this one to come around. Finally popped the top tonight and have another 'on age'

Pours a black/brown/ruby body. Big off brown head, tan, thick and rich. Nice lacing. Darn thing looks great

Aroma isn't unique and is very nice. Black currant, cocoa, burnt toast, leather, plum and raisin.

Taste falters a bit, partly due to the drinkability and feel. Flavors are black fruit and red plum. Leather here and there. Soft raisin and hints of melon. But there is something thin going on here. Just when I think it's going to be thick and chewy, it dissipates. Tannin on the end. Bites without a dryness. Alcohol is high. Hoping age will make this beer better than good. (689 characters)

Photo of flannelman808
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2011 vintage...

A: deep dark mars brown with a tan head. An enormous amount of light-medium tan head forms with a gentle pour (one to age for sure). Sea foam style, with a silly web of lacing clinging to the glass. This is quite opaque.

S: Brandied bing cherry and lope (honeydew) are subtle but present not unlike Sumatran coffee. oh and there is some of that Sumatran coffee quality as well.

T: Milk chocolate malt ball and a shove of citrus pith bitterness jump out in front. All of this quickly followed with a café au lait like quality along with a finishing bitterness reminiscent of powdered dark chocolate. As we warm up this begins to show more fruit... bosc pear and the green near the rind of a cantaloupe.

M: Rich and long finishing and at the same time there is an abundant amount of carbonation.

O: Fantastic stuff, this beer incorporates an incredible depth of flavor. I will be buying as much as I can find and cellaring for as long as it stays good. 3-10+ years and I'm guessing it may go well further. (1,027 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Geist. Served in a SAVOR wine glass.

Pours a very dark brown with a good light tan head and a nice cap and collar. The nose carries a good dose of chocolate and mild roast. A bit of malt sweetness then comes through in the flavor. Very nice for an English version of an RIS. Good creaminess throughout the feel. Quite chewy. Moderate alcohol. Winner of a beer. (380 characters)

Photo of CuriousMonk
3.58/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into snifter glass. Pours a deep brown-black body along with a thick khaki head that leaves behind a nice coating of lacing throughout. Aromas of cocoa powder, espresso, roasted malts, lightly fruity hops, and some caramel. Flavors of cococa, espresso, and a dose of roasted malts. The hop presence provides a pinch of bitterness which was somewhat off putting for me. Smooth mouthfeel and evenly carbonated. Semi-dry finish. Lightly bitter in the finish. I can understand the British character here, but I do not see why this beer should be rated so high here. I've had numerous RIS brews worthy of much higher marks. Otherwise, a solid RIS for those looking for a nogstalic British character. (713 characters)

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