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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 (47) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Courage Imperial Russian Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 275 | Hads: 826
Photo of dar482
4.42/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The beer has a wonderful chocolate aroma with a bit of roasted malt and coffee. Hints of dark fruit.

The flavor follows with chewy chocolate, cocoa, some roasted malt and coffee. The dark fruits of plums and figs come back.

The beer is smooth with a medium plus to full mouthfeel. The beer is restrained and well crafted. Incredible attempt at the style.

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Photo of brutusmuktuk
4.94/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a jet black with a small off-white head. Aroma is malts and sweet fruit. Flavor has a strong dose of sweet fruit mixed with roasted malts. There is also a touch of coffee and chocolate, and the smokiness helps balance these flavors out. This has a nice full body a goes down smooth. It is one of the best beers I have had. Everything about it is just pure joy - from the rich aroma to the complex and well-balanced flavors. I will have to get some more bottles to age.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pure black body, topped by two fingers of dense dark tan foam.

Aroma is deep roasted coffee, hint of chocolate, big bouquet of fruits.

Taste starts with coffee, sprinkles in some raisins. Some alcohol, not hot, in the finish.

Smooth and slick, not real thick.

A classic well done.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.67/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

11.2 (I think?) oz bottle poured into my tulip. Really excited that I have a bottle of this legendary brew. Not sure of the vintage, but I know it's newer, probably this year.

Pours a very dark black, basically opaque. Not much light getting through this one. Nice, dark brown head forms, and lasts for a good while.

Smells awesome. Bitter chocolate, roastiness, vanilla, slight bit of hoppiness.

I wish I could taste this over and over again. So sad I only got one bottle. Tons of chocolate and, some tobacco, bit of vanilla, maybe some coffee bitterness, slight alcohol twang, slightly smokey. This one has so much going on. I love it!

Low carbonation, very creamy and smooth mouthfeel. Goes down very easy for the ABV.

A historic, legendary brew that lives up to the hype. I hope to see this again, and I hope to try some aged versions at some point.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.07/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter glass. Vintage 2012 bottle served 02/05/2014.

Appearance: Dark brownish black with ridiculously heavy bubbles on the body. Tan head is almost two finger's length settling slightly uneven before the first sip.

Smell: Light coffee cream scent that feels like the brew has shot of whiskey.

Taste: Has a real bitter coffee bean taste that is pretty addicting. Is you like your coffee without sugar this brew might be for you.

Mouth: Medium and sticky, has a mellow finish considering how bitter it starts.

Overall: Very good brew, has a sour bitter and absolutely complex feel...little pricey but then again it's also a little rare. Grab a glass and indulge. Salud!

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Photo of ricknelson
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Our group of 4 Beer Advocate members did a recent small bottle tasting of high alcohol brews.
Among the 12 brews tasted was; Courage Russian Imperial Stout from Wells & Young.
Courage tied for our 8th highest average score of the 12 brews tasted at 4.06.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

9.3oz bottle (275ml), 2012 vintage. Number 063040 of 210,000. Bottle code says: 16/08/25 A L2229 05:12. Split between two 5oz sampler glasses from Red Hook.

Pours black, almost no head, lots of sediment at the end of the pour (I didn't try to prevent it). Tiny amount of active carbonation. Smell is alcohol, black licorice, chocolate, a little smoke.

Taste is good. Sweet, a little coffee and chocolate, anise, maple syrup, rich, something fatty about it. Roasty bitterness. This is really tasty and interesting.

Mouthfeel is thick, heavy, almost chewy. Overall, this is very good.

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Photo of Dave1999
4.39/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage.

Pours pitch black with a decent sized for the abv tan head.

The smell is dark fruits, plums, figs, prunes and sweet malts. Really a great smelling beer.

The taste is dark fruit up front, finishing very dry with some coffee like bitterness and a little alcohol.

The mouthfeel is fairly thick with medium carbonation.

A very good beer, very different from the American RIS' less sweet and more dark fruits. I'm not sure I'd pick this over ten fidy but an excellent beer non the less.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Wells & Young's Courage Imperial Russian Stout last week for $6.69 at The Lager Mill. I've been wanting to try this beer for a little while now and I was happy to see this at The Lager Mill and I'm interested to see how it stacks up to some of the other RIS's I have had, so lets see how it goes. Best before 16/08/25. Poured from a smaller 275ml brown bottle into a snifter.

A- The label looks nice, it's got a nice old school look to it. It poured a nice dark black color that didn't let any light come through and it had a finger and half worth of dark tan head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and it left some spotty lacing behind. This is a pretty good looking beer and it looks pretty true to style.

S- The aroma starts off with a very high amount of sweetness that had a molasses like aroma to it and it's followed by loads of malts that impart some caramel, toffee, roasted malts, and chocolate aromas with the chocolate sticking out the most and it imparts a pretty cocoa like aroma. Up next comes a medium dark fruit aroma with raisins seeming to stick out the most with some more sweet malts on the finish with just a slight bit of alcohol that is pretty well hidden. This beer had a pretty nice aroma, but I wish less sweetness came through and more roasted aromas showed up.

T- The taste seems to be fairly similar to the aroma and it starts off with a higher amount of medium sweetness that had a slight molasses like flavor to it and it's followed by a good amount of malts being the first to show up and they impart a nice slightly grainy, roasted, slightly charred, slight caramel, slight toffee, and chocolate flavors with the chocolate still sticking out the most and imparts a nice cocoa and dark chocolate like flavors. Up next comes a somewhat lighter amount of dark fruit with raisins still sticking out the most with some noticeable alcohol that sticks out more then it did in the aroma. Towards the end there's some earthy hops which impart a slightly higher amount of medium bitterness with some lingering bitterness, chocolate and roasted malt like flavors in the aftertaste. This was a pretty good tasting RIS, but I thought the alcohol could have been hidden a little better.

M- A little smooth, rich, slightly creamy, a little sticky, full bodied with a lower amount of carbonation that worked well with this beer. The mouthfeel was really nice and it was very true to style.

Overall I thought this was a good beer and a good example of a Russian Imperial Stout, it wasn't as bold and roasty as some of my favorite American brewed RIS's but it still had that great mouthfeel I would expect and I thought it represented the style nicely. This beer had ok drinkability, it was a little smooth, rich, creamy, filling, a little boozy, and the taste did an ok job at holding my attention, one of these small bottles is the perfect size for me and I don't think I would want to have another one in a row and I think it makes for a nice beer to have on a cold and snowy winter night. What I liked the most about this beer was the mouthfeel, I thought it was very nice and it's just what I look for in a good RIS. What I liked the least about this beer was the aroma, it wasn't bad and it was fairly complex, but it was very sweet and the roasted malts could have stuck out a little more. I don't think I would buy this beer again, it was fun to try, but for over $6 for a small 9oz bottle, it's just too pricey for me and I would much rather have a Founders Imperial Stout, especially for the price. I would recommend this to anyone who like RIS's. All in all I enjoyed this beer, but it isn't my favorite of the style, Founders Imperial Stout still holds that title and I think this beer lacks the refinement that Founders Imperial Stout has and it's for sure more drinkable. Good job guys, I'm glad I gave this one a try.

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Photo of Pintofbrown
4.49/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this in a snifter.

Dark brown body, almost black with a big two-finger head. Not great staying power on the cap, but great ring lacing on the glass.

The scents are as RIS as RIS can be. There is smoke, tobacco, dark fruits, and roasted coffee beans. Very balanced between the char and sweetness. Even some cocoa comes calling as the beer warms.

Flavors on the palate are close to what the nose offered. Mid-palate, Courage was all roast and smoke, tobacco and cocoa powder. However, the finish incorporated a nice, long play of figs and other dark fruits, with coffee roast. Wonderfully complex and delicious.

Courage feels like a big RIS. Creamy and smooth. Still manages to be somewhat dry from all that roast and tobacco quality.

This RIS dominates on all levels. The flavors are complex and deliver new experiences with every sip, especially that long and lingering dark fruit finish. So enjoyable and surprising. The mouth feel makes the beer a real pleasure to drink. I am going to eagerly seek this one out again once I drink down more of my inventory.

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Photo of PaulyB83
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap.

A- Nice dark black with a medium creamy looking latte colored head

S- Chocolate with some dark cherry and some dark roasts

T- Wow, lots of dark cherries and chocolate, like a black forest cake. Getting the darker roasts and some light metallic flavors on the end as well as light alcohol presence.

M- Heavy-medium not too much considering the ABV and all the flavors. Nice and creamy.

O- Really impressed with this beer. I think it's aged a bit at the brewery before bottling but not sure if in barrels or for how long. Very surprised at the pronounced dark fruit, cherry flavors considering there is no adjuncts that I'm aware of. Wish this wasn't as expensive as some barrel aged stouts though.

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Photo of vinicole
4.76/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Wow. I remember having one or two bottles of this back in the 70's because I was young and the alcohol content meant more than the taste.

I have since tried a bottle of the '92 a few years ago before I started reviewing beers. I remember that was good.

This is the first time I have seen the new version on sale in the UK. Bought from Tesco's.

All previous superlatives about this stout I thoroughly endorse.

Wonderful absolutely wonderful.

So when oh when should I drink the 1972 bottle I have in the cellar?

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Photo of HopHead84
4.17/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25


Best before 19/09/24

Bottle from BucketBoy almost two years ago. This has been sitting in my on-deck fridge for that long. I guess that fridge isn't being used as intended. Anyway, thanks! Snifter. Black with a billowing light brown head with impressive retention. Lacing forms thick sheets on the sides. Fine looking beer. Lots of chocolate and roast in the aroma, with blackstrap molasses, licorice, and a bit of coffee. Some earthy, woodsy notes as well. The flavor is quite roasty and dry with a moderate level of earthy bitterness. Strong chocolate profile with evident coffee, molasses, and licorice. The bitter/roast combo borders on acridity but just manages to avoid that pitfall. Alcohol is really well hidden. The body is full. Upper moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is chewy, sticky, and silky. A good, well balanced Russian Imperial Stout.

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Photo of ThomasMetal75
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

*-Brewed in May 2011

A- Black as night. Has a nice 1 finger kaki head with great retention. Lots of small bubbles within the head.

S- Chocolate! So much rich, dark chocolate! Dark fruits. The malted barley really comes though nicely. Alcohol is present, but but not terribly strong.

T- Big dark chocolate bar taste! You also get a dark fruitiness as well. Finish is very roasted, and that is also where the alcohol starts to show itself. It creates a mild bitterness. Sugary overall, but not sickly sweet at all. Great as a winter warmer for sure. This is awesome!

*-As it warms, the chocolate taste and alcohol notes are more prevalent.

M- Mouthfeel is medium to full. Very carbonated. Bitterness and mild alcohol create a nice finish in the mouth. Slowly coats the mouth for many seconds until it smooths out and dries. This style in general makes for a better sipper than something that can be gulped down, and this one fits the bill perfectly.

*-Overall this is freaking awesome! This like an imperial version of Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Great stuff to have with a cigar or by the fire as a winter warmer. THIS IS THE BOMB!

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Jet black pour but what makes this one different is the consistently thick, toffee colored creamy layer of foam on top, incredibly sticky on the sides of the glass too, like cotton candy.

S - Dark roasted milk chocolate aroma with a perfect balance of coffee and light smokiness.

T - Evenly balanced across the palate with dark chocolate coffee roast, cream, dark fruit, some smokiness, and a lingering dark roast chocolate bitterness. Alcohol presence is ever so slight for a beer of this ABV making it a dangerous sipper.

M - Rich texture and full medium body with light carbonation, border line silky.

O - A great example of the style and perfectly executed - this beer is a benchmark. A definite try.

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Photo of Danny1217
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

May 2011 date. This bottle is 2 and a half years old.
Pours dark, murky, black. Nearly completely opaque. Lots of light brown foam for a 10% ABV imperial stout.
Smell is a touch oxidized, but underneath that there is some dark chocolate, dry fruits, toffee, anise, and a lot of booze.
The taste is very fruity, roasted, bittersweet, anise. The oxidation doesn't come out in the taste the way it does in the aroma, and neither does the booze. It goes down quite easily for its strength, actually.
Full bodied with carbonation that is a bit higher than a lot of other takes on the style.

Considering how well this beer is supposed to hold up with time, there is a lot of oxidation in only two years. Other than that, this beer is amazing. However, at the price it goes for, I don't think I will be trying this one again.

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Photo of RickS95
4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pretty stellar. Extreme dark brown, not quite black. Looks menacing. The head is huge. I mean huge. Different sized bubbles...frothy, meringue, creamy. Tan color. Thick gooey lace.

Very boozy nose. Coffee and expresso. Bittersweet chocolate. Slightest bit of vanilla.

Extremely impressive flavor. A malt bomb with notes of chocolate, caramel, expresso, vanilla, oak and bourbon. Kind of a fruit cake taste, but in a good way.

Sure, it's got a booziness to it, but it never crosses the line. Full of flavor. Sweet and thick. Not much in the way of hops. Full bodied. Faint chocolate bitterness and a kick of heat in the finish.

Overall, it's an amazing beer. It's darned near perfect for the style and one of the best beers I've had regardless of style. Easy to drink and with the high ABV, it can sneak up on you.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.56/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

What a great beer, this one is extremely balanced and is typifying of the style, amazing that it is the original recipe as well. Tried this at the Queen Vic in Washington DC.

The look is very close to black with a nice ring of tan head with some nice sticky lacing. Totally solid look.

The smell is subdued but nice notes of roast, earth, fudge, vanilla and maybe a touch of anise and other warm spice. The taste opens up to a world of flavors that are right on to the RIS style. Huge roast from start to lingering finish, powdered cocoa, savory and sweet barley, slight bitter hop, creamy overall lactose like sweetness. Chicory coffee. Just a huge and yet supremely balanced RIS. Layers of decadent flavors and ripe dark fruits.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth, perfect carbonation and great overall palate of flavors, hitting on front, middle and aftertaste.

A wonderful beer, and an education for anybody who loves stouts! Beautiful.

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Photo of xk6m6m5x
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage

A- pours black with a small mocha head that quickly disappears into a thin lacing, there was either yeast or left over malt in the bottom of the bottle, it looked like un-dissolved coco, tasted pleasant thought

S- smell is huge coffee and chocolate with nice smokey note

T- lots of roasted malt with chocolate caramel and coffee on the back with a bitter smokey finish

M- creamy with little carbonation, nice and thick like an oil

O- Yes, this beer is great everything I want out of a beer

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Photo of jrenihan
4.26/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On cask during Cask Days 2013.

Beer is black with a minimally-sized tan head.

Nose contains anise, molasses and roasted malt. Quite a strong and pleasant scent.

The roasted malt is strong in the flavour. Anise and a bit of a marshmallow flavour are present. Grassy hops, a slight bitterness. A burnt flavour.

Full bodied, low natural carbonation. Smooth.

Overall, a really good RIS. Nice stuff.

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Photo of Ryan_Graham
4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours dark black. Almost no head. Maybe a centimeter of light brown foam at the top. The smell is very welcoming. It smells a bit like wine-- there are certainly some fruity notes there. At first sip, I found the taste a bit overpowering. However, it eventually grew on me. This is a sit-down beer for sure. It's thick. Very malty. But surprisingly smooth for how much alcohol it has in it. The aftertaste is about as close to perfect as you can get. It hangs around for a good 20 seconds but doesn't leave you running to the sink to rinse out your mouth.

Overall, this is a real beer, I'll give you that. It's solid in almost all areas-- from first appearance to the final aftertaste. I don't know if the taste does enough for me to call this a world-class beer-- but it's certainly right on the border.

I would recommend giving this one a go.

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Photo of pknyc
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is 2012 vintage with a bottle date of 16 Aug 2012. Opened 03 Aug 2014.

A: Mocha head that quickly subsides to nothing. The body is black with a high viscosity.

S: Wow. Lots of dark fruit, almost quad-like. Boozy, with massive raisin, figs, plums. Some minor molasses notes. Its really nice to see a Russian Imperial Stout shine like this and not be covered by coffee or oak/bourbon.

T: Dark fruit, roasty malt. Some dark chocolate. Its very well balanced, as the dark fruits are less than the nose, but are still the significant note. Boozy, but not overly so and reminds me of fruit cake a little bit.

MF: Medium. It is only a little bit coating.

O: If this was rarer, people would be all about it. Its very good.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275ml bottle into a tulip. 2012 vintage

Pours a pitch black with a big inch and a half thick, lasting beige head with terrific lacing. BIG chocolate and boozy notes on the nose as well as a lot of dark fruits, impressive! The taste isnt like a lot of american RIS', you get some chocolate but a lot of malts and a ton of dark fruits. Very flavorful and not viscous or creamy at all. The body is much lighter than i expected, i wouldnt call this full bodied. A bit light for my liking when it comes to stouts. Mild carbonation.

Overall great flavors and aromas from this one, but the body leaves something to be desired.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 275mL bottle into a tulip. This is the 2012 vintage.

Appearance: extremely dark brown, though not quite black, with no light let through at all. Head is a finger of frothy dark tan foam which stuck around for a little while.

Smell: extremely rich and roasty, although not astringent. There's a fair amount of chocolate aroma as well as a rich, dark fruitiness that reminds me of raspberries. Very enticing indeed!

Taste: a strong alcoholic taste is present right up front, but this mellows into a very rich malt flavor. There's smokiness, chocolate and a fig or date like fruitiness that works well. Very sophisticated; I love it.

Mouthfeel: medium-thick body with a decent carbonation and a nice, smooth creaminess. I am surprised there's not more body, but there you have it.

Overall: a very rich and satisfying beer. I like the sophistication of the flavor.

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Photo of Suds
3.94/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An utterly black beer, this brew is a moderately sweet, heavy, classic example of the style. Not overly hopped, yet still bitter, it has some fruit notes in the smell and foretaste. Lots of malt and huge roasted notes. Coffee, chocolate, and raisins. It has a thick, but not quite syrupy character. This is a fine beer.

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