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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.

275 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 275
Hads: 826
Avg: 4.22
pDev: 18.25%
Wants: 155
Gots: 184 | 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 (48) | 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
Reviews: 275 | Hads: 826
Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown but looks black in the glass. A large very frothy tan head tops the beer, takes up 1/3 of the pour and just refuses to recede. Light smells all around. Coffee, roasted malts, and a chalky chocolate aroma comprise the nose. First sip is much more flavorful than the weak aroma indicated. Coffee leads the charge with chocolate that again is slightly chalky. There are some black licorice, vanilla, and dark fruits present too. Very well balanced. What really stands out is the mouthfeel. It is milkshake creamy and is truly amazing. I have not read Catherine the Great’s review but I hope she appreciated it in 1795 as much as I did in 2011.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.46/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

275ml bottle poured into a goblet

A: Pours very dark brown with over 3 fingers of light brown, dense foam. This beer appears highly carbonated. No light penetrates the beer. Retention is very good.

S: Toffee, milk chocolate, light smoke. Some raisin and other dark fruits. After a while, I get some roasted malts as well.

T: Quite nice - much better than the aroma IMO. Lots of roasted malts, quite bitter, with a small amount of toffee sweetness to back it up. I'm surprised how different this is than the aroma.

M: Very nice - thick with good carbonation.

O: I was not impressed at all by the aroma, but the taste is quite nice. The aroma did seem to open up after a while. Not excellent, but a decent imperial stout.

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Photo of Beertracker
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Courage RIS pours up with a light-moderate carbonation that creates a modest, but sustainable dark tannish-mocha colored head that regally crowns the deep mahogony-brownish black body. The heavily roasted aroma is surprisingly complex for such a young beer with notes of chocolate pudding, toffee bits, toasted walnuts, cocoa nibs & freshly perked espresso. A touch of cherry cordial, sweet tobacco & vanilla cream along with a hint of warmth adds to the overall complexity. This one gets even better as it warms in hand. The smooth, rich flavor starts off with a chocolate bar sweetness that gives way to a fully roasted barley character with burnt espresso notes marked by a cross bitterness. The beer continues to grow on the palate, but dries out towards the slightly acrid, bittersweet & cheek warming finish. It's magically delicious! This fine Russian Imperial Stout was once the favorite of Catherine the Great, so that's good enough credentials for me! I'm stocking my cellar full of as many bottles as I can lay my hands on for I know that age makes this one truly magnificant! Here's to Jim Robertson for bringing this one back from the brink and to Well's & Young for recreating a new English classic!

CHEERio! Beertracker

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Photo of DavidST
4.42/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 275 ml bottle into a tulip glass, 2011 version with a date of 9-19-24(?), I do know if this is a best before date or best after, but I doubt I hold onto a bottle for 12 years. This pours a little thinner than expected, but its a hazy yeast filled almost black color with a massive tan head (i had to wait several times for it to go down). The smells are of dark roasted malts, espresso, a little sweet dark fruit, and some alcohol. The feel is medium, a little thinner than some other irs, but still a tad creamy. The taste is pretty great, plenty of bitter hops and malts combined with a little sweetness and then a nice peppery finish, I'll probably get a couple more to save.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wonderful to see bottles of this in Atlanta. A beer I've been wanting to try for a long while. I wondered whether I'd be disappointed after the long wait, but no, this beer is superb. Pours an extremely dark brown, almost black, unless held up to the light. Short coffee crema colored head, but the head clings to the side of the glass in a sheet, not just rings. Smells of Christmas pudding cooked in a coal fired oven- slightly sooty and redolent of fruit and brandied cake. Dry and intense in flavor, tightly wound. Nice lingering, ashy bitterness with dry fruit notes, licorice, espresso, and bitter chocolate. Superb, and surprisingly bracing and dry with a bit of alcohol bite that is nevertheless integrated with the beer in the sense that it underscores the other flavors instead of dominating. A huge beer, and a great pleasure to drink.

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Photo of ADZA
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a dark kola hue which leaves a two finger head and heaps of clingy lacing,beautiful looking almost spot on.

S-Burnt toffee and raisins,rich sticky date pudding,caramel and candied figs.

T-It starts off like a liquid Xmas pudding with tastes of caramel cake and candied fruits mixed with chocolate and chestnuts and finished with a dark fruity hoppy bitterness that counteracts every sweetness first encountered.

M-Full bodied and a touch boozy which finishes bittersweet.

O-This is definately a brew that would age well and im glad ive got more than the one and look forward to seeing how it ages and if you find definately buy more than the one cheers.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in my swanky new Sweetwater snifter.

Nice to hold some brewing history in my hands, even if it isn't from the original re-brewers (read: not Wells/Young). It pours a straight onyx topped by a tall finger of dusty tan foam. The nose comprises dark chocolate, roasted malts, light molasses, and a touch of darkly-roasted coffee. Pretty dern British, so to speak (as far as stouts go). The taste brings in more of the same, with a touch of clove lying near the bottom of things. The body is a light-feeling medium, with a light carbonation and a creamy, smooth feel. Overall, this is a great-tasting stout that drinks way the hell too easily for anyone's own good. If this is anything like the older stuff, I will work my ass off to get a vintage bottle...

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Photo of rmalinowski4
4.55/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in May 2011 and poured into my Darkness snifter

Pours a deep black with a two finger fluffy tan head. The head sticks around forever and leaves tons of lacing on the glass. Looks spectacular. The lacing and head are still around as I reach the bottom of the glass nearly a half hour after the pour.

The smell is dark roast, chocolate, dark fruit like figs and dates. Smells absolutely decadent and enticing, but the fruit undertones seem a little different for the style.

The taste does not disappoint. Dark roast, dark fruit sweetness, chocolate, slight alcohol warmth, and some lingering hops on the finish. Very complex and simply delicious.

The mouthfeel is velvety smooth and creamy with near perfect carbonation. Courage coats the palate, it's thick and creamy like a milk shake, but not cloying. Extreemly well done.

Overall this is an absolutely fantastic beer, probably the best non BA stout that I have had to date. Extreemly well balanced and complexed. Soo glad that they brought this one back and that I got to try it.

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Photo of TenHornsProud
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a solid black with a big tan head that lingers.

Smells of bready, biscuit malt with some roast coming through along with hints of caramel.

Taste is up front caramel/molasses/fig that fades into a big roasty middle and ends with a floral note and coffee and chocolate...really interesting and complex flavor that is subtle.

Medium to heavier body and lower carbonation. The alcohol blends perfectly.

This stout is more subtle than many others with a bigger floral and fruity nose/finish than I'm used to. It is also quite bready and completely delicious.

**Tobacco notes open up as this beer warms. It just gets better and better.

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Photo of coldmeat23
4.51/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Served at approx 45 degrees
Brewed in May 2011 (Printed on neck label)
I'm very glad that this beer is being brewed again (after almost 20(!) years). Otherwise, I (and many others, I'm sure) may never have had the chance to try it.

This one pours black...just as expected, thankfully. The three-finger head of brown foam lasts and lasts. The lacing is awesome!

Notes of coffee and vanilla. Hints of leather and smoke. A subtle presence of a fruity sweetness. Light notes of roasted malts. Mild hints of spiciness.
Not exactly the nose that I expect from a RIS, but it smells very nice and inviting, nonetheless.

Lots of bold roasty notes are smoothed out by a mild fruit sweetness. Light traces of smokiness and coffee with cream and depth and complexity. Hints of milk chocolate. Tobacco. Blackstrap molasses. Subtle notes of dates. The finish has a very light trace of anise.

This is medium-bodied and has a medium level of carbonation, which is comprised of oh-so-tiny bubbles. It has an almost silk-like smoothness to it and a light hint of creaminess.

This is very nice. I want to drink lots of it. More than that though, I want a few bottles for the cellar, because I think that this has some serious aging potential.
Worthy of it's reputation.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Smoky aroma has a chocolate undertone and hints of molasses and coffee. It pours a rich, warm sable just a whisker above black and with a very thick, somewhat fluffy tan head that hangs around for a little bit. Flavor has elements of roast quality coffee, molasses and chocolate with a hint of licorice. There is some subtle sweetness and bitterness that balance each other nicely. Full-bodied texture is quite fizzy and a little syrupy - doesn't get any better. A truly worthy RIS.

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Photo of Sweasty
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I am stoked to see that Courage Imperial Russian Stout is being brewed again. It was the original Imperial stout, and am glad its no longer lost to history. Courage pours a dark, near black color. Things are topped by a couple of fingers of light khaki head. Head falls to a ring. Plenty of lace is left in its wake.

The aroma is on the sweet side of things. Sweet chocolate stands out first. Some light roasted coffee hits next. More sweet roastiness comes into play. Some faint fruit notes present as well. A light touch of alcohol spice rounds out the nose.

Courage hits the palate packed with complexities. The chocolate in the aroma takes on a milkier quality. Sweet milk chocolate melds with roasted coffee notes. Beneath the coffee, some light tobacco notes hit. A bit of fruitiness comes into play as well. Some dark malt twang helps round things out. The finish is somewhat short lived, with more roasted notes, and a light alcohol bite.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin, but doesn't detract from the quality.

Getting to enjoy a glass of Courage Imperial Russian Stout was treat. I can definitely see what Katherine The Great saw in this fine brew.

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

A: The beer pours very dark with a very thick tan head.

S: The beer has a lot of roastedness, a good amoutn of some sweetness and a little chocolate.

T: The taste is just amazing. The roastedness is just amazing and the coffee after taste just hits the spot. I am also getting some tobacco and alcohol. Maybe I am crazy, but the first sip, I taste a good amount of fruit.

M: The beer is pretty crisp and sort of burns going down.

O: This was just a great beer. I wish I could find this beer more often and cellar a few. This is amazing

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Photo of claytong
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1978 vintage. wow thanks bill

so this beer is 10 years older than me and will judge it lightly as it seems it was probably more than ready to be opened

appearance - not as viscous as i would expect. black with mahogany borders. no carbonation to speak of

smell - dark roasted malts, wood, oxidation, tobacco, fig

taste - dark roasted malts, wood, salt, old molasses, tobacco, minor fig

mouthfeel - surprised about the thinness, smooth, no carbonation, nice in the mouth

overall - hopefully ill get to try one about my age to compare, hah.

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Photo of Doodler
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

93 Vintage bottle at Falling Rock this past Saturday during GABF. Had one along with Bardwashrind. Enjoyable brew. Pours a serious dark brown with a tan foamy head. Nose of cocoa, caramel, and dark fruits. Taste is similar to the nose with figs and dark chocolates wandering throughout each sip. Slightly sweet fig flavors on the backend. Light carbonation and oily mouthfeel. A nice stout for sure. Glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of jedwards
4.46/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

1993 nip bottle poured into my Duchesse de Bourgogne glass. There is a very slight hiss when I pry off the cap -- the pour is dead flat, a few large bubbles appearing from agitation and quickly vanishing.

The beer is dark and cloudy, a deep mahogany brown at the edges and opaque in the glass. The smell is otherworldly -- musty oak, soy sauce, brown sugar, figs, balsamic glaze. The taste is surprisingly bright and tart, a sweet beginning transitioning into a chocolatey, vinous finish. Standard tobacco/leather/dark stone fruit mixed with a huge port/sherry component. Soy sauce is present but muted, blending well with the vinous notes. Finish has some coffee and astringency. Astonishingly quaffable.

Mouthfeel takes a hit for thinness, though it's not at all watery and would be difficult to have it be much thicker and work with the wine elements. This beer is a masterpiece. My only regret is that there's one less bottle in the world.

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Photo of koopa
3.64/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

93' Vintage thanks to the fine folks (Zach and Jenn) at Tap and Table.

Appearance: Pours dark dull brown (at least by candlelight) with zero head, no retention, and no lace.

Smell: Truly my favorite part of the brew. Hints of oxidation, soy, light sherry like vinous notes, and a hint of roast malt. Complex and recommended.

Taste: Kind of fell flat compared to the wonderful nose. Not much roastyness left.

Mouthfeel: Very thin, low to no carbonation, and just not that desirable.

Drinkability: Can't score it any higher due to the taste and mouthfeel.

I feel that this bottle wasn't aged as well as the 1983 vintage I had at Kulminator in 2008, although I liked the nose better.

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Photo of paulys55
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

1993 vint. poured carefully into snifter. No head whatsoever. Tart, dried fruit up front with hint of sweet chocolat and molasses coming through. Soy and toasted oakiness on the way down as the booze warms the finish. Not much experience with beers half as old as myself but I really enjoyed the complexity of this treasure.

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Photo of bobsy
4.42/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1975 nip bottle, shared with my good friend Troy to celebrate all the hard work we put into planning Toronto's first beer week.

Some rust on the exterior of the bottle cap, but otherwise its in good nice. Its very reassuring that upon cracking the crown there's an audible hiss of carbonation. 35 years and the bubbles are still there! A thick residue similar to brown cocoa butter is clumped on one side of the neck.

The pour results in a dark brown liquid that verges so closely on black that it might as well be. A very fine whispy head takes up residence and slowly fades. As expected, there'snot really anything in the way of lacing. The nose has strong vinous notes - strong red wine, some soy sauce, bitter chocolate and tobacco. Certainly an old school RIS. Much the same can be said if the flavour, which has held up incredibly over the past three and a half decades. Stong tobacco notes and a resilient bitter chocolate. Red wine mixed with soy sauce and fleeting coffee notes. More going on than I can really put my finger on... Light carbonation, but its still there!

An extremely interesting brew. I've always wanted to try something older than me, and this one has me beat by seven years! Not only has it held up well, but its actually a very pleasurable example of the style, and its neat to see a traditional take along the lines of the A LeCoq stout. Worth the expense.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.82/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a brewed in 1976 edition bottle, 6oz(170ml)

I've always wanted to try a Courage Imperial Russian Stout ever since I read about it many years ago. Here is my chance.

I remove the cap, which isn't a crown cap...kind of surprised me given the age of the beer, and give it a vigorous pour into my NB Goblet. A few bubbles show up and then a light sheeting of foam appears and then disappears almost immediately. There are still *some* bubbles in the middle and around the edge of the glass. Oh, forgot to mention, there was a decent hiss when I popped the cap.

Zooming my nose over the glass, this smells very strong. Strong as in strong dark fruits, very sherry like notes, some caramel sweetness and good doses of chocolate. And a huge presence of alcohol. Just by the smell alonge I know this one is not for the faint at heart.

First sip and...the sherry like nose is there in the flavour. Wow. What a punch it delivers! The chocolate I mentioned in the nose is here and is rather big and bold bring lots of sweet tones..the dark fruits, not so much.

Seeing as this is a RIS and they are known for roasted malt goodness, I was worried as I didn't sense that in the smell at all. The taste, happily, shatters that worry. Very nicely roasted malt flavours are exploding every which way but loose and the alcohol? Wow. What a difference between smell and taste. It pretty much dominated the smell but the taste doesn't expose the 10%abv at all. Yeah, there's plenty of warming after the swallow, which is where I prefer it, but it sure isn't noticeable in the taste at all.

Cool, I just noticed that after a few sips, the foam makes a comeback of sorts. Big old island off center and now a complete ring around the glass. That surprised the hell out of me.

Big bodied and silky smooth with a surprisingly nice tingle of carbonation periodically during the session. 6oz?? I want more, damn it.

Drinkability? For a ~34 year old brew...absolutely incredible! Hell, if this was still being brewed and a fresh bottle is what I was drinking right now I'd say..absolutely incredible!

Bottom line(I haven't one of these in a while):
What can I say? I'm going to do my best to seek out more as this is one of the finest drinking experiences I've *ever* had. I'd LOVE to see Wells and Young's bring this beer back!

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Photo of hegelec
4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Without doubt the tastiest beer I have ever sampled. Nothing else I have ever had tastes quite like it, so bear with me as I try to put this touching experience into words.

1975 vintage, 180 mL bottle that has spent the last 34 years in the cellar of a beer collector in England. Acquired privately at an amazingly cheap price.

Pours a thick, syrupy, opaque black with a finger of tan head. A FINGER OF HEAD! The carbonation here is remarkable given the age.

Smells ... so unique. Fruity, woody, funky, meaty ... a hint of roastiness. Will this taste anything like a stout?

Yes! Sweetness envelops my tongue as I take a modest sip, followed by a slightly roasty astringency, and a sharp bitterness lingers long after I swallow. The stout backbone is very apparent from beginning to end, but the flavours have evolved dramatically. Honey, fig ... a faint saltiness ... soy, meat, tobacco -- but these are really well-integrated into the whole ... woody sherry-like notes, lightly oxidized. Absolutely heavenly: words fail me.

The mouthfeel is luxuriously full, syrupy, and with a creamy carbonation that is astounding after all these years. I am floored.

This beer is simply overwhelming. The drinkability is only hurt by the fact that I could only ever have one in one sitting.

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Photo of weeare138
4.44/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 1993 bottle from Union Jack's on the Manatawny...
Appears a syrupy dark brown, nearing black when poured into the brandy snifter. Tiny whisps of tan, soapy bubbles quickly dissapear into nothing. Large chunks of protein are left in the bottom of the nip sized bottle after a slow, careful decanted pour.
Smell is of raisins, cocoa, caramel, madeira, and port wine with perhaps a mild touch of tart, black cherries, and a splash of salty soy with molasses.
Taste is of the aromas with the raisin, and cocoa dominating the flavors and a touch of the tart cherries coming through on the finish.
Mouthfeel is warming, viscuous, relatively devoid of any carbonation, making this a smooth, after dinner sipper.
A hefty price to pay for such a rare treat...worth it.

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Photo of Traquairlover
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

170ml bottle of the 1992. I have more bottles from many different vintages and will update this review as warranted.

A = Dark mahogany liquid with light layer of orange brown misty tracing on surface, thin perimeter of orange bubbles around rim.

S = Tar, hot rubber, wet clay, worked leather, light hint of sharp cheddar but tempered by chutney and pure cane syrup with the burnings left in the odor. Well underneath are strong scents of treacle, molasses and soaked oak and hickory chips. A little too plasticine though.

T & D = Oh my, this is one of the best tastes I have ever had in my mouth. Tobacco flavor (light though, as of the more mild pipe tobaccos), raw maple syrup, walnut paste, bitter herbs. Very complex. I'm sure this was much fuller bodied and flavored in its youth, but at 19 y/o it is a superior aged beer and I think if it were younger though good it would be more simple. That said I cannot think of any IRS produce in the USA in 2009 (i.e., today) that could hold up this long. Indeed they are generally not as good fresh, but many will be gone in 10 year. This beer could last another 20 or 30 years.

M = Full bodied,excellent mouthcoating, light carbonation but present.

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Photo of smithflipper
3.76/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

170ml bottle marked 1974.

opened with a hiss, thats promising, and there is still liquid in there. We are off to a good start.

smells slightly brandy like, some chocolate and salt, well to be expected considering it is older than i am.

First thing i taste is soy sauce, but it fades quickly for chocolate, lots of chocolate and maybe some spice (like spiced rum) with a brandy warmth. The choclate fades to leave an oaky almost red wine like lingering flavour. all i can say is wow.

Mouthfeel is fantastic, thick and smooth, soooo smooth.

A classic, a true classic. Yes it is past its best. But it's still great. Damn you wells and youngs for retiring this beer.

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Photo of hopdog
4.52/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared with egajdzis (thanks!). Vintage 1981. I've also had various other vintages, but this one was by far the best I've had to date.

Poured a dark, dark reddish brown color with a smaller sized off white head. Aromas of chocolate, smoke, and light coffee. Tastes of dark fruits, coffee, chocolates, and brown sugar. Light vinous quality as well. Sweet and smooth body. Lightly spicy.

Notes from and tasted on 5/6/05

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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 275 ratings.