1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Courage Imperial Russian Stout - Wells & Young's Ltd

Not Rated.
Courage Imperial Russian StoutCourage Imperial Russian Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

662 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 662
Reviews: 244
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 10.82%
Wants: 136
Gots: 130 | FT: 7
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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: rastaman on 02-11-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Courage Imperial Russian Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 662 | Reviews: 244 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of babaracas
3.73/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a hazy reddish brown... dark brown in the glass. One of those fancy DFH glasses that turns any beer into a billowing hefe... oh wait, this one manages not even a full fingers of light brown foam. Settles quickly leaving a thin ring and spotty lacing. Zhukov stains the glass brown. I believe that's progress. Smell: toasted buttered brown bread, and raisin-esque dark fruit. Mild earthiness. Taste: french roast coffee, buttered toasted raisin bread, note of dark chocolate. imo, American versions of this style really long surpassed Brit revivals. This is ok, but I'd have been just as ok never trying it.

babaracas, Feb 24, 2013
Photo of constantine_272
4.36/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Served out of a bottle into a tulip. "No. 063233 of 210000."

A: Jet black with caramel foam. I swirled the last third of the bottle to stir up some head but it fades fast.

S: Strong and sweet caramel and chocolate. Hint of alcohol.

T: A huge load of roast coffee and chocolate that quickly turns to a bitter finish. The bitterness of some hops and roasted grain blend well together creating a unique bittering sensation. After a few more sips, I'm noticing some spice notes, maybe nutmeg, it's hard to put my finger on this one.

M: A bit full to sit down and drink more than one of these. The coffee flavor lingers on the back of the tongue long after swallowing.

O: Great stout, it's a concentrated punch of flavor. Even with all that flavor it's not too robust to enjoy. The whopping 10% alcohol is covered nicely here. One of the better stouts out there. 10% is just a tad high for my taste, but I wouldn't have known otherwise. This beer gets good overall marks for its uniqueness and bold, full flavor.

constantine_272, Feb 24, 2013
Photo of GeoffreyM
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

GeoffreyM, Feb 23, 2013
Photo of Devinph
5/5  rDev +17.6%

Devinph, Feb 22, 2013
Photo of DaveAnderson
4.65/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

How does a beer brewed without chocolate taste so much like chocolate?

I wasn't expecting a ton from this beer, and nonchalantly poured it into an Ikea 365 glass. But, BLAM! I was immediately served notice. This beer is all about the roast and chocolate.

It smells like a high-percentage-cocoa chocolate bar. It is off-the-charts chocolate aroma. I have to work hard to identify anything else. Maybe, there's some tropical fruits in there? Hard to say, because the chocolate dominates. There's something unusual right below the surface, too -- like wheat nuts. It is too fleeting to focus on.

The flavor is rich and full of chocolate, but also has some great bitterness. It's softly carbonated, and finished very cleanly. For such a small bottle, it just keeps delivering more with each sip!

I know this is one of those beers that has a claim to be the first of its style. Whether or not that's true, this should be measured against the best of them. It's simply a delight to drink.

DaveAnderson, Feb 19, 2013
Photo of TheBishopco
4.25/5  rDev 0%

TheBishopco, Feb 18, 2013
Photo of TheFightfan1
4/5  rDev -5.9%

TheFightfan1, Feb 17, 2013
Photo of Bouleboubier
4.68/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

(2012 Vintage - poured in a 10 oz snifter)

A: grey-ish, ashy-brown head, welled up good and tall on the pour, creamy, but lots of big bubbles mostly visible on the sides....is this bottle-conditioned? - the last few small pours were a good bit cloudy....very much black...the head has an open structure, breaks apart and leaves chips of lace

S: dark, sweet chocolate - fairly bold....dense cake batter, with a little caramel....decent bit of roasted barley character, some patent as well?...not much alcohol but certainly some dark fruit (prune or fig) or small, bitter shrub berries

T: roasted and alcohol (grain flavor and warmth) notes way more up front....certainly some espresso, but as much if not more of a potent, vinous fruitiness - helps establish some beautiful complexity...bit of an ashy, (vinous-) alcoholic finish, aftertaste....the roast comes back in the aftertaste, long-lasting with an almost juniper-berry-like alcohol flavor

M: kind of a phantom silkiness that vanishes, shifting to a dry warmth...alcohol heat, mellowed by the residual caramel-y, lip-smack-y, gently-syrupy malt body coating the mouth....suggests it's going one way or the other, wonderfully confusing to the palate

O: very damn tasty, rich, and quaffable! and I'm a bit surprised. has a "benchmark" quality to it....seems well worth the money/novelty

Bouleboubier, Feb 14, 2013
Photo of acevenom
4.78/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass. Pours black with a thick, tan head that dissipates slowly. There are some visible bubbles collecting on the underside of the head. Some lacing is left on the side of the glass as the head recedes. There are aromas of dark roasted malts, dark fruits, coffee, alcohol, and chocolate. The roasted malts are very forward in the flavor, bringing some roastiness and smokiness to the palate. I also get the coffee and chocolate notes. The dark fruit flavors are also there, but the other flavors are the star of this show and the fruit plays on the back end. The alcohol can also be tasted as well and there's plenty of roast in the aftertaste. The body is full with moderate carbonation. This is an excellent beer.

acevenom, Feb 10, 2013
Photo of Woodysbeard
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

Woodysbeard, Feb 09, 2013
Photo of mitch3114
4.61/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage 9.3 oz. bottle, #43,151

Poured into a Belgian globe

A- This is a very dark brown brew with a surprisingly bubbly head that rose at about 2 inches after a vigorous pour and lasted a bit longer than most beers of this strength. The head was really bubbly almost like a Belgian. Nice lacing. Sticky.

S- The aroma of this beer takes you on a full journey. First it smelled like a rich chocolate shake and then morphed into a fermented fruity bouquet of goodness with hints of toffee, candied dates, raisins and figs. A slight hint of roasted coffee beans, molasses, a subtle gingerbread scent and finally finishes with some alcohol esters to clue you in that this brew means business!

T- Nice thick chocolatey taste with a hint of coffee. Also, some of those fruits cut through the dark and at last, that alcohol shows itself, but not in a bad way. Nothing bad here. Even though the alcohol is present this is a nice malty, well balanced beer.

M- The mouthfeel really shines on this one. It is thick, but not too thick... it's just right and it compliments the taste quite nicely.

O- "O" is what I felt when I drank this beer! This is a very well balanced, great tasting, very fragrant beer. Hurry up and try it this year before all 210,000 of them are gone! And if you can, pick some up to hold on to as I could see this beer aging really well.

mitch3114, Feb 07, 2013
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.59/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Courage Imperial Russian Stout, Vintage 2012. Alc 10% Vol., 9.3 fl. oz. "brewed to perfection only once a year. Enjoy now or age up to 13 years." Clearly, I've chosen now.

Solidly Stygian hue, with a slim cocoa-tan hue, thin but for the center, a creamy nucleas adrift in a sea of black.

Aroma: roasted malt, molasses, char, smoke. Dark, deep, devilish. Even demanding.

Taste: Dark roasted, toasted malt, thick, rich, a little viscous. Dark fruits abounding, fig and raisin, ultimately dry, no sweetness, with minor bitterness, just a touch of hops. A torrent of flavor, wave after wave, depth of taste returning, nothing but darkness, ending dryly. Quite complex, rich and rewarding.

What else does the label say? "Enjoys a rich, espresso body with pear overtones and an intriguing fresh smokey, fruity finish." Don't know about the pear (?), but the rest sounds pretty close. Also, "No. 70, 610 of 210, 000."

Is this truly the original Russian Imperial Stout, or Imperial Russian Stout? I thought that was Le Coq? This one claims it was originally brew in 1795 for Catherine the Great of Russia. Who knows for sure?

It definitely tastes like an original article. Fruity flavors are becoming more prominent through and through, halfway into the bottle. More chocolate, more coffee, more of everything you want from an Imperial Stout, with less of the hops you get from American versions, and much less sweetness. This is almost perfect, actually. Too bad it's so small, rare, and expensive. Alas and alack.

feloniousmonk, Feb 07, 2013
Photo of buckyp
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

buckyp, Feb 07, 2013
Photo of bca115
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

bca115, Feb 06, 2013
Photo of vkv822
4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

: tulip

Black with a thick, dense, creamy dark brown head with great retention and nice lacing.

Big bold cocoa predominately, with some dark fruit and light booze notes.

Again more cocoa and some bitter coffee, with light notes of dark fruit and a faint boozy warmth in the finish.

Full body, low carbonation, slightly viscous.

A very well done RIS, big bold flavors without becoming overwhelming.

vkv822, Feb 04, 2013
Photo of rangerred
4.64/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

275ml bottle into a snifter. Bottled in May 2011.

Pours pitch black with a dark tan half finger head that is pretty fizzy and quick to fade. Head retention and lacing are both lacking with just a ring left around the top of the beer.

The aroma has much more of a fruity character than other RIS I have had. Lots of dark fruit and licorice that really reminds me of many English ales, just on a stronger level. Really not much roast at all just a lot of fruit and yeasty esters. It works, though, and nothing is offensive whatsoever.

The flavor is where this beer really shines. Much like the aroma, dark fruity esters dominate at first. Somewhat sweet with quite a bit of yeast character. Not extremely impressive but about halfway through the taste, something magical happens. Almost out of nowhere tons of roast comes shooting in along with some coffee and dark chocolate. This marries magically with the dark fruit leading to an intensely complex finish. Moderate bitterness with a lot less sweetness than many other RIS with a pretty dry finish.

Overall, probably the best RIS I have had. Extremely complex flavors and an absolutely amazing mouthfeel with alcohol being extremely well hidden. A definite world class beer.

rangerred, Feb 01, 2013
Photo of Rutager
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

275ml, May 2011, BB 19/9/24.

Appearance. Pours black with just a bit of light coming through at the edges. 1.5 fingers of tan head.

Smell. Dark ripe fruits; plum, dates, raisins and cherries with a bunch of semi-sweet chocolate, dark malts and a bit of smooth booze.

Taste. Semi-sweet chocolate, dried dark fruits, a drop of espresso and a bit of alcohol that has a slight floral/perfume quality.

Mouthfeel. Fairly full body with smooth, medium-low carbonation.

Overall. A very nice beer with nice flavours going on in. Big but goes down pretty easy. Nice stuff, I'll buy it again.

Rutager, Jan 31, 2013
Photo of draheim
4.36/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

275mL bottle (19/09/24) a L1262 21:05) into a tulip. Pours a deep chocolate brown w/ a monstrous head that slowly settles to a dense pillow, leaving behind a tan web of lace.

Aroma is raisins, figs, molasses, chocolate. Rich and complex.

Taste is roasty, bitter, balanced. Dark chocolate, dark fruits, molasses. Everything works in harmony. 10% ABV completely hidden.

Mouthfeel is smooth and balanced. Surprisingly light on the palate with a dry finish.

Overall a solid imperial stout. I'm hard-pressed to find any flaws here. Just a tasty, rich, complex beer in a conveniently small-format bottle. What's not to like?

draheim, Jan 26, 2013
Photo of discdueler
4.25/5  rDev 0%

discdueler, Jan 26, 2013
Photo of MusicaleMike
3.88/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Had the original a few years ago, the 1993 vintage, and thought I would give this re-make a chance. For the record the '93 original was delicious, if a bit oxidized, and still had some carbonation.

Pours a very dark brown, which appears black in the glass. Big, two finger thick tan head that dissipates rather quickly to thin lacing on top and that leaves streaky lacing on the glass.

Aroma is deep and complex with notes of espresso, pear, yogurt, alcohol, raisins, and nougat. Pretty bold aroma and definitely unique. Very successful and I could smell this beer all night.

The flavor is not quite as amazing but pretty decent. Roasted malts, smoky, dark alcohol soaked cherries.

Decent carbonation, pretty full body, and a somewhat boozy finish.

This may not be the same experience as the '93 that I had, but this is certainly a beer in better shape. Really liked the aroma, and I would possibly be interested in trying one of these beers many years from now.

MusicaleMike, Jan 25, 2013
Photo of smakawhat
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass. Vintage May 2011.

A real big head is produced on the pour but in control. Light tan, with a creamy top, and a sort of soapy middle, but with huge staying power. Body is classic walnut dark brown, and you can not see through this thing at all.

Nose is very fruity, I'll take a sense of pear on this, but a good dose of fleshy apple as well. Hints of roast and dark cloves. Quite a unique smelling Imperial Stout, I am liking this angle.

The palate hits with classic porter roast, but it's larger and fills with lots charring carbon on the finish, with bitter milk chocolate. Feel has an interesting malt angle, with lots of thickness but flows through your palate without sticking. Fruit hits in the middle with dark berries sensing, and a warm sense of cherries and chocolate.

Overall a real impessive brew, and real enjoyable. Probably not as big or as bold as some people might like, but stands up with the rest easily, and can knock down plenty of others too.

smakawhat, Jan 20, 2013
Photo of bluejacket74
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

275 ml bottle, 2012 vintage, bottle #053469. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about a half inch tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. The brew smells like dark fruit, dark bread, molasses, chocolate, and some coffee. The taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also some woodiness, toffee, and a bit of anise noticeable. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's creamy with moderate carbonation. I think it's a good overall brew, and I'd like to try this again in the future.

bluejacket74, Jan 19, 2013
Photo of profondo
5/5  rDev +17.6%

profondo, Jan 18, 2013
Photo of Kelp
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Kelp, Jan 17, 2013
Photo of IcemanCometh
4.25/5  rDev 0%

IcemanCometh, Jan 17, 2013
Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 662 ratings.