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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.

640 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 640
Reviews: 241
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 138
Gots: 125 | FT: 5
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
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Ratings: 640 | Reviews: 241 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +17.9%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of gtermi
4.4/5  rDev +3.8%
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

gtermi, Nov 24, 2011
Photo of claytong
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

claytong, Oct 27, 2011
Photo of Doodler
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

Doodler, Oct 06, 2011
Photo of jedwards
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

jedwards, Mar 19, 2011
Photo of koopa
3.6/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

koopa, Feb 26, 2011
Photo of paulys55
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

paulys55, Dec 03, 2010
Photo of bobsy
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

bobsy, Oct 14, 2010
Photo of Bitterbill
4.85/5  rDev +14.4%
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!

Bitterbill, Jan 24, 2010
Photo of hegelec
4.8/5  rDev +13.2%
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.

hegelec, Jun 12, 2009
Photo of weeare138
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

weeare138, Jun 09, 2009
Photo of Traquairlover
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

Traquairlover, May 01, 2009
Photo of smithflipper
3.8/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

smithflipper, Mar 31, 2009
Photo of hopdog
4.53/5  rDev +6.8%
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

hopdog, Nov 05, 2008
Photo of slowhead
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

1992 Vintage

A: Poured from a nip sized bottle into a snifter. Completely opaque with no head.

S: Smells of chocolate with a subtle roast character. Lots of soy sauce aroma. No hops (obviously).

T: Wow...still very sweet. The age has smoothed out the alcohol. Sweet chocolate up front. No hop flavor at all. Very thick, silky and smooth, with a big roast character. Sweet and creamy as it swallows with a balanced bitterness. Evolving as it warms.

M: Almost completely still with a very big body. Sits on the tongue like a grease spot. Very mildly warming.

D: Production stopped in '93 (I believe). Definitely worth a taste, if you can get it. Very smooth beer, however may have been more prime 5 or so years ago.

slowhead, Sep 27, 2008
Photo of mcallister
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1977 Vintage. Sampled on April 8th 2008 for my 31st birthday (damn getting old:()

Pours a shade or two short of black with slight bricking at the edges and with still a nice carbonation pop with the cap and a cascading mocha tan head that fades into a creamy topper. Looks exceptional even for a 31 year old brew.

Some vinegary notes and oxidation. Almost seems like brett in there with some woody undertones. Full of dark fruits, black cherry, currant, boysenberry, dark mollasses, brandy, sherry and on and on. A never ending piece of complex olfactor perfection.

Chiii...rist. The vinegary-ness of the aroma is gone and completely overridden with thick bitter dark chocolate and fudge. Unbelievably malty and creamy thick mouthfeel. I've only had one other beer with malt sustance like this and it was Kuhnhenn (add any K-henn beer and there it be). Oxidation lends to a layer of dark fruit and then the same brandy grape, sherry flavors that prevail in the nose. Prune, black cherry, blackberry, mollasses, earth, manure, and leather and on and on. Immensely complex and very good. Would have loved to tried this 10 years ago.

mcallister, Apr 08, 2008
Photo of johnnnniee
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brewed in 1975 sampled in 2008 at the ripe old age of 33 this is officially the oldest beverage that I have knowingly sampled.

Bottle opened with a nice hiss and poured a solid black with a smallish tan/brown head that lasted forever. I'm really surprised the carbonation has held up so well all these years.
Aroma is heavy with wine/port like smells. A slight chocolate and some band aid in there too. Taste is port or sherry, salty with a bitter aftertaste that doesn't quit. Quite a unique experience. This beer has stood up well, but was obviously better years ago. Definitely a sipper.

johnnnniee, Feb 10, 2008
Photo of basica
3.78/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Courage Imperial Russian Stout (VINTAGE 1993)

One of the much coveted and hard to get beers around. I was pretty pleased to be able to get my hands on 3 different vintages. Cracking open this one, I am getting strong vinous aged aromas fizzing out and also the familiar dark fruits namely dates, plums and raisins. But wait a minute.. this is a stout right? I do not get the roasted malts and stuff instead those aromas are typical of an aged strong ale. The taste starts off with a bitter note and ok now I think I can pick up slight hints of roasted malts but they are just too subtle. The dates, plums and raisins were showing up but without the familiar sweetness in most aged strong ale. There is a slightly sourish and vinous tartness throughout and the finishing was fairly dry and bitter. I am not really picking up familiar stout tastes in general and this taste is not bad but the tartness and sourness is a little on the strong side. Bitterness was significant but still within bounds. The after taste was rasiny and dates; not really lasting though I have some nice aromas on the nose as well. The mouthfeel was fairly thick with syrupy, watery smoothness and practically no carbonation. Drinkability slightly lowered due to the slightly high sour and tartness. Not really impressed but let's see what the other 2 vintages I have can offer.

basica, Jan 05, 2008
Photo of Mandrake
3.85/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage: 1976, making the 170ml nip bottle 31 years old at the time of this review. Served at room temperature in a Duvel tulip.

Sharp hiss as it opens, and a bit of extra work to get the cap off, this baby's on tight. Pours out very dark, with a brownish hint to the usual stout blackness. Not a glimmer of light through the body. Smallish head, very deep tan, about half a finger in height, and dissipates reasonably quickly. Very minimal lacing, but a patch of surfacing carbonation in the middle of the glass. Incredibly thick and viscous.

Smell is noticeably oxidized, but there's still a magnificent beer lurking here. Chocolate, for sure, bitter and dark. Red wine and molasses, and rather medicinal hops. Light breadiness and a hint of dark currants.

Taste is equally affected by the rather extreme age, but still bears up to a degree. Deep chocolate, a touch of licorice, and treacle mix up front. Some coffee and red wine, light hops, and a sour note, likely some wild yeasts that slipped in all those years ago.

Mouthfeeel is thick, almost syrupy, but still carbonated well. Remarkable, the aftertaste goes on for ages. Unfortunately it's dominated by the telltale salty oxidation, but I know this would have been a hell of a treat in years past. Drinkability is hampered by the off notes, but still better than most. Knowing that I'll likely never have another bottle of this it can't possibly last long enough.

I'd have loved to try this while it was still in production, and whoever made the decision at Scottish Courage to stop production should be shot. Magnificent, but I can't help but reflect with incredible sadness upon the dwindling supply of this stuff in the world today, and the gradually declining quality of most of the bottles left. Get it now, it won't be here much longer.

Mandrake, Feb 12, 2007
Photo of beerdrifter
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1983 bootle which was given to me as a gift from a fellow BA. Extremely unique in every way. Oldest beer I've had to date. Poured a deep dark brown, almost black with little head and not much lacing. The smell is powerful and complex as is the taste. Bitter chocolate, rasins, molasses, alcohol, coffee and a very pronounced red wine taste help make this easily the most complex beer I've had. Once you try it you won't soon forget it. Thanks Smalls!

beerdrifter, Feb 01, 2007
Photo of rayjay
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brewed in 1970, making this 36 year old beer officially the oldest I've had the pleasure of. The most carbonated one I've cracked open, too, which by normal beer standards would be completely flat, but it's as lively as can be for a beer this old, and of this strength. Frothy chocolate capuccino head, as thin as it may be, and complete with chocolate lace.

This beer is very unique, and one tiny sniff is unmistakable for anyone who has had this before. This vintage shares many traits with other examples I've had, but this one features a very predominant butterscotch note, along with an equally dominant baker's chocolate note. The aftertate is bitter, and doesn't last as long as some other vintages (although still a very long and complex fallout). Slightly chalky mouthfeel; everything is just perfect. Brilliant compromise between heavy and light; everything is so subtle yet right to the point. Out of this world.

If beer were meat, IPAs would be spicy chicken, stouts would be steak with A1, and this beer would be wild game in a rich demi-glaze sauce.

If you have the chance, do not pass the opportunity to sample this great beer. Simply my favorite of all time. Cheers!

rayjay, Jan 10, 2007
Photo of Sammy
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

1978 170 ml. Dark reddish to black with small ring of mocha head. Aroma of chocolate and sharp alcohol on the nose. Some smoke when drinking. Sweet,cocoa chocolate smokey, a slow sipper. Warming alcohol, like a 40 or 50 proof. Surprisingly not thick, but rich. A cognac.There is still some carbonation there.Worth its weight in cognac price.Cigar tobacco and scotch aftertaste. Barleywine taste day after.
Thank you Hopdog.
After 5.5 years had a fresh bottle(so cognac ageing not there yet as only year old) courtesy of Gary. Very creamy, light chocolate and roast. Very good, and uncomparable to the US versions.

Sammy, Nov 30, 2006
Photo of Sephiroth
2.28/5  rDev -46.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

1993 Vintage, courtesy of JHop. Pours almost totally still, a thin ring large bubbles remains around the rim, the color is extremely dark brown. Aroma of chocolate,roasted malt, and dark fruits. Slight alcohol presence.

Tastes pretty oxidized. There are remnants of what I am sure was a great beer, but this bottle has turned. Somewhat chalky finish. Bad drinkability. Now that my review is finished, I am dumping the rest.

Sephiroth, Oct 20, 2006
Photo of mdagnew
3.83/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

175ml bottle given to me by a friend... 1993 vintage... Had this for my 30th birthday...

Poured a deep dark murky brown colour with loads of floaties... Dirty brown head poured loose and bubbly then faded almost instantly to the faintest ring around the edge... No carbonation or lacing at all..

Aroma - Rich dark alcohol soaked fruits (raisins, strong blackcurrents, prunes), strong toasted bread, deep chocolate maltiness, fruit cake / malt loaf notes, molasses / toffee sweetness, definite portiness, red wine, burnt wood, peppery / spicy hops, some faint honey traces... for a 13 year old beer this smells pretty damn good...

Taste – Sadly a bit of a let down considering the heavenly aromas !!! Quite strong spicy fruitiness (definite blackcurrents, red grapes, some prunes) - maybe a little on the watery side though... some vinegar (cider) notes, alcohol still pretty noticable and warming, definite wine / port notes, light chocolate maltiness, some spicy hop bitterness still comes through, no real sweetness, strong toasted bread notes...

Feel - Pretty smooth with some syrupiness.... medium / full bodied (definitely not as full bodied as i expected)....

Overall - Unfortunately this bottle was slightly past it's prime - maybe 2 or 3 years ago it would have been at its peak but this one just seemed a bit washed out... bland even. Glad i tried it though - especially to breath in the amazing aromas...

mdagnew, Oct 16, 2006
Photo of sulldaddy
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this brew at Kclingers in PA. This review is a 1993 bottle.
I am sampling a cold bottle poured into a snifter. The brew pours a dark soy sauce brown, the color is supported by absolutely no head on the pour. There are some dark brown chunks floating in the brew as it is poured.
Aroma is strong with molasses, brown sugar, dark fruit (raisins and plums) some soy sauce but in the background.
First sip reveals an average to thick body with chewy texture. No carbonation.
Flavor is big malt with molassess and chocolate dominant but also some soy sauce on the finish. Also a smoky, peaty, roasty lingering finish is present. SImilar to a glass of scotch. The brew is easy drinking with no hint of the ABV anywhere. Quite a nice score on the last weekend of a good beer bar. If you see it try it!

sulldaddy, Jul 07, 2006
Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 640 ratings.