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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.

273 Reviews

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Reviews: 273
Hads: 810
Avg: 4.22
pDev: 18.25%
Wants: 154
Gots: 181 | FT: 14
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
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Reviews: 273 | Hads: 810
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 sommersb
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted On: 09-18-2012
Freshness: May 2011 vintage
Packaging: 275ml brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Pint glass
Purchased: Single from Colorado Liquor Mart, Denver

A: Pours with a big, rocky tan head on a black and opaque beer. Very good retention and lacing.

S: Coffee and espresso aromas, plus vanilla, dark roasted malts and a woodsy character. Also get some booze in the nose.

T: Bold dark roast flavors, plus coffee, licorice and bittersweet chocolate. Quite the strong brew here, with a good amount of alcohol warmth.

M: Body is thick, full and chewy with a moderate amount of carbonation. Finish is of chocolate and coffee-like bitterness.

O: This beer is delightful and packs a punch. The bottle is only 9.3 US ounces, but this is more than enough for a taste on this strong ale!

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Photo of smakawhat
4.31/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.31/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into Great Lakes snifter.

This one pours like a delightful imperial stout. A little lightish on the pour, but as it collects in the glass, it takes on the black opaque appearance that I know and love. Velvety, creamy looking head of the dark brown persuasion, excellent retention and heavy lacing. The smell of this thing is deep and dark with a healthy dose of hop bite. Plenty of baker's chocolate and dark fruit along with a hint of molasses. The herbal bite at the end is swift and strong. The taste is similar to the smell. Very robust in the malt department with bitter chocolate and some dark fruit sweetness. The hops are tame but definitely make an appearance to smooth out the intense malts. The mouthfeel is creamy and heavy with low carbonation. Overall, this is a damned good imperial stout. A bit on the spendy side @ $7 for a 10oz bottle, but I'm glad I gave it a go.

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Photo of rastaman
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gravity cask GBBF 2003- present vintage, this is definitely worth the bloody price. So rich and chocolatey, rich, yet smooth, very long finish. Really good stuff. wasn't as vinous, and salty as the 1985 bottle i had gad a week or so earlier. Less porty aged characters aswell. probably one of my favourite beers of the GBBF in 2003, extra special that it was on cask aswell, very exciting.

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Photo of StaveHooks
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A little 275ml served in a snifter
2012 vintage

A - Pours the darkest of browns with a thin mocha head morphing into a thin wispy ceiling of micro bubbles.

S - Yeasty dark breads, pumpernickel, raisins, fig jam,

T - Roasted creamy malts, toasted cocoa, firm woody bitterness, brown raisin bread, roasted figs, smoked malts, molasses, cold espresso, finishes with a nirvana mix of fruit bread, caramelized brown sugar, bitter hops, espresso, anise, doughy brown bread.

M - Low carbonation, dense creamy feel, medium weighted body.

Very complex and delicious. The roast takes a backseat and lets the raw heavy malt play out with the yeast. Very raw, bold flavors delicately interweaved together. Wish it came in a bigger bottle.

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Photo of IronDjinn
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From a 275 ml brown bottle. Pours out a dense opaque black hue, thin tan head that dissipates to an even thinner sparse cap.

Rich espresso and molasses on the nose, some woody licorice, dried figs, and faint dry cocoa as well.

Burnt dark malt up front in the flavour, some cocoa and coffee follows, finishing up with dry cocoa and spicy, herbal hops melded with some alcohol heat.

Full-bodied mouthfeel on the lighter end, texture is slick yet residual sugars get sticky on the palate, with low carbonation.

Pretty solid offering for the style, pretty much hits all the right notes. While the hop content is certainly present it still doesn't prevent this RIS from being a bit cloying at first, however it still manages to take the palate on a bit of a ride through some different terrain when all is said and done. Based on that I have to keep reminding myself this is an English rendition, which makes pretty much par for the course in that light.

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

I was talked into this buy the guy at my local bottle shop, and was glad he did that. While expensive for this tiny brew, the size makes for a very easy sampling.

Bottled May 2011

There is some brown in the pour, this ends up being black with no light penetration. A huge mocha head leaves some light lacing, but stayed until the finish.

Smell is fruity, chocolate, roasted malt, and booze. Holds up to the label description, but I am missing some coffee.

Taste follows closely with malt, chocolate, bitter and sweet, a bit of fruitiness, and a hint of char on the finish.

While the beer is not quite thick, it's definitely not thin. It is however smooth as can be and I definitely liked the beer.

What a treat, I might go get some more for aging and comparison. The price tag is hefty at 8 bucks for a 9oz beer, but I have paid worse ratios, so I can't complain. Very solid and nicely complex. It seems light from the fruitiness, but all other parts make this a great stout, perhaps some coffee, and a bit heavier feel would be the only improvements.


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

Poured from bottle into a snifter

Black like coffee with nearly six ounces of light brown head. The head is like a cloud as it floats atop the body. Great sticky lacing along the sides.

Burst of roasted malts followed by chocolate and dark fruits. Has a toffee like sweetness that lingers in the back of the nose, but still manages to finish quite bitter.

Dark, bitter chocolate flavor followed by roasted malt. The sweetness is secondary, but is flawlessly integrated with bitter notes. Finish hot and bitter with hints of plum and fig.

Medium-thick mouthfeel with strong, prickly carbonation. A bit unusual for a stout of this magnitude. This one's a sipper as it has plenty of heat and strength.

Courage is a superb RIS. I'm grateful that it is being brewed again. It was great to try a classic that I thought I would never have the chance to. Definitely worth picking two up. One for now and one for later.

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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 kylehay2004
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: single finger thick light tan head on a jet black body. thick lacing.

S: vanilla, milk chocolate, roasted malt, oak and raisin for dark fruit.

T: lots of dark chocolate throughout with right amount of chocolate sweetness and bitterness, middle of the road roasted malts, toffee, wood, vanilla and espresso.

M: medium to full body and moderate to high carbonation.

Overall: full flavored, excellent balance and nice dark chocolate flavors which I really enjoy in this style.

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Photo of joeseppy
4.34/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Extremely dark brown with obvious sediment. Wafer thin beige head and a nice wispiness throughout.

Aromas leading of molasses and figgy pudding. Later turning into prune juice and raisins almost like a mincemeat pie. Dark chocolate and burnt sugars.

Tastes of molasses and more dark chocolate covered raisins maybe chocolate covered blueberries with the tartness that is everso evident. Dark sugars, fruit and cocoa qualities.

Mouthfeel has sufficient carbonated coverage. Medium body and cocoa powder dryness. Some sugar stickiness.

First bottle of liquid of liquid Courage I've tried. Imperial made for the Tsars of olde. Very delicious and should not be passed on if you have the chance.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.34/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of constantine_272
4.34/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of draheim
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
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?

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A 1983 vintage I scored off ebay-'Not for consumption" my ass!!!Great sounds of carbonation when I opened it.Poured jet black with a very slight head that remains all the way down.Extremely vinuous aroma.Plenty of black currant and raisens going on.Theres a slight metallic odor-while not unpleasant its right there in front.Some great port like flavor-a slight sourness throughout.Very grape like.Very bright and lively mouthfeel.Even with the sourness its quite smooth.Overall a fantastic beer.Even after 21 years its still quite something to behold.If you can find a bottle treat youself.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

275ml bottle poured into tulip 30/11/12 bottle #6255 2012 vintage from notes

A shes pretty dark alright both the liquid and the foam, the head lasts for few sips leaving a little soapy lace

S dark roasted espresso with some bakers chocolate and licorice, faint fruity notes but I'm not getting the pear the bottle suggests but I do get some of the smokey notes and just a little booze

T the flavors similar to the nose but the intensity of the dark roast is upped a fair bit, some char and more smoke with even stronger espresso and I get some faint creme brulee and even some earthy hops shine through, its pretty intense and I'm loving it

M feels solid, well not quite solid but its pretty thick liquid, a little slick with some faint heat and an aftertaste I'll be enjoying tomorrow at this rate, very nice

O this ones a hit, rich and dark with no real flaws anywhere, just a little booze here and there but that's to be expected in a fresh 10% RIS

for 5 bucks I'm going to throw a few away for aging, strange the bottle says it can be kept for up to 13 years, seems random and unlucky

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Photo of Bfarr
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black and good brown head with good retention. Light roasted malt, licorice, and dates. Roasty up front, light chocolate, and notes of fruit and licorice. Dry finish, light booze and bittering lingering. Velvety feel.

Clear presentation in look and great aroma. Good subtle flavor with nice booze brings extra notes of flavor. A really velvety feel but the overall dryness makes it a little more difficult to look forward to the next sip. Otherwise, a very elegant sipping beer.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage bottle 1983, Sampled September 2004.
The cap pops off of this beer with a bit of a hiss. There is some light carbonation left, and the beer itself is pitch black in color. The nose has notes of cherry, thick rich plum, molasses, sherry, and malt in the background. Surprisingly there is only a hint of dark malt left after all this time. There is some acidity left here from the dark malts, it is not roasty up front, but there is a nice long finish with solid notes of coffee. The fruit notes are not as evident in the taste as in the nose. The acidity definitely dominates up front, but this is not an acidity from an infection.

Sampled in Oct 2002:
This was a 6-pack of the 1983 picked up from the Kulminator in Antwerp, for $7! Thick black and wonderful looking, even after all these years. Tasted of sherry, burnt caramel, and raisin. Very full mouth feel, yet you could tell that the body has thinned noticeably with age. This beer has held up very well, despite being obviously oxidized. This in my opinion just added to the character and complexity of this beer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 No. 071562

Pours a very deep mahogany body bordering on black with yeast dancing about beneath the mocha colored, foamy tan head which very slowly cascades to a close leaving a dense lacing clinging to the glass.

Quite a unique aroma, as advertised there is certainly coffee and espresso among the roasted malt as well as fruity notes as it warms a bit. Surprisingly the fruit notes are that of peach or nectarine just as advertised. Not expected from the style.

The flavor offers robust roasted malt and espresso with a hearty smoky finish. There is also a woody hop presence mid palate and less fruit notes than the aroma, yet present nonetheless. That smokiness really comes forward as it warms as well, bordering on charred as it coats the palate, but there is also a currant or berry like sweetness that lingers at the finish as well.

The mouthfeel is robust yet silky smooth with medium carbonation and again that nice smoky finish.

This is really a great beer. Just plain tasty with abundant character all around. Different than a lot of the other RIS’s on the marketplace now.

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Photo of claaark13
4.39/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1993 nip poured at 55 degrees into a Darkness snifter. Opens with a squeal.

A - Very dark. Sticks to the side of the glass a bit. Bubbles around the side, but no real lacing.

S - Dark malts, raisins and figs, bits of caramel sweetness, slight chocolate. Upon sifting, the aroma blends so well.

T - Dark chocolate and malts begin with an almost immediate influence of the brett. Frutiness comes out, then a slight backbone sourness that stays through the finish. Clears the nostrils a little, but there is not actual flavor evidence of the ABV%. The flavors are port-like with the exception of the brett. The brett actually seems to add a citrus note to the middle. Very unique.

M - Medium, which seems much thicker without any carbonation. About what I'd expect from a IRS this old.

O - I found it to have aged remarkably well. I think the slight sourness that adds some fruity components to the flavor may be off-putting to some. I, however, enjoy it a lot. It has developed very well and held its ground. I had a sample of one from the 70's not too long ago and remember having a similar experience.

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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 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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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 273 ratings.