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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

(Read More)
Reviews: 273
Hads: 809
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: 809
Photo of jegross2
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewing the Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Brewing Company. You probably best know this brewery for their flagship beer, Young's Double Chocolate Stout.
Score: 89

Unknown vintage bottle served in an oversized brandy snifter glass. Has what I presume is a "best before" date on the neck: 19/09/24.

Appearance: Pours an opaque black coffee color with brown highlights atop the glass. Pours two and a half fingers of soapy tan colored head that slowly recedes into a thin layer. Excellent lacing. 4.5/5

Smell: Huge aromas of roasted malts and dark fruits. Milk chocolate, prunes, some coffee, and alcohol. Some licorice, mocha and toffee aromas too. Smells a lot like Great Lakes Blackout Stout. 4/5

Taste: Taste follows the aroma. Dark fruits and roasted malts upfront -- figs and prunes are most prominent. Chocolate and alcohol on the mid-palate. Toffee and vanilla on the mid-palate too. Finish is chocolate, toffee and alcohol flavor. I think I detect hints of stainless steel flavor three-quarters of the way through the glass, though I may just be imagining things and confusing the boozy flavor. Honestly, this brew is a little boozy in the flavor (10.0% ABV), but pretty delicious nonetheless. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Thick, creamy mouthfeel. Near full bodied with moderate carbonation -- perhaps a touch too much carbonation. Finish is dry and bitter. If the beer was just a little less carbonated, it would have gotten a much higher mouthfeel rating. 3.5/5

Overall: A solid Russian Imperial Stout that could have been excellent if the booziness was throttled back. For what it is at $6.49, however, this one is a bit overpriced. This beer's best comparable is Blackout Stout, and Blackout Stout is better (and cheaper).

Recommendation: Not a good starter Russian Imperial Stout for casual beer drinkers. Beer geeks should probably enjoy this one, though the booziness is not very balanced.

Pairings: Warm chocolate cake.

Cost: $6.49 for a 9.3 oz bottle.

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Photo of champ103
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a pitch black, opaque color. A massive tan head rises with excellent retention. Spiderweb lace is left all the way down the glass.
S: Roasted malt, coffee, chocolate all intermingle. Dark fruits of cherries and plums. Very nice and well balanced.
T: Lightly roasted malt, some chocolate and coffee. Dark fruits again. Kind of grainy and sugary.
M/D: A medium body and carbonation. A bit on the watery side. Easy to sip on. The alcohol is nice and warming.

This is very welcoming and warming. A nice imperial stout, and obviously has roots as one of the original. Something I enjoy and would recommend.

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Photo of Mississipping
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours extremely dark brown with a one-finger caramel colored head that dissipates slowly leaving behind moderate lacing. 

S: Dark chocolate, roasted barley, and a touch of dark fruit.  A hint of coffee, hops, and booze in the background.

T: A lot of dark fruit (raisin and fig) with some dark chocolate up front.  Some roasted barley and a touch of booze toward the back end, but overall pretty well balanced. 

M: Thicker side of medium with a good bit of carbonation.  Smooth and creamy on the tongue.  Slightly drying at the finish as the hops shine through.

D: Very drinkable, but just a little underwhelming.  It's really neat to get to try this, but it wasn't quite as balanced as I was hoping it would be.  A bit of booze on the back end and a little sweeter than I would have liked.  Overall, though, it's a nice treat.  

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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 SpdKilz
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed May of 2011. 9.3oz bottle.

Appearance – Pours into a tulip with an utter dark viscosity. About a finger of mocha colored head that dissipates slowly leaving a nice coating of lacing.

Smell – Chocolate, roast, slight metallic aromas, cocoa, caramel.

Taste – Similar to the aroma but more vanilla and dark fruits. An apparent plum flavor, cocoa, milk chocolate, and raisins.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, lower carbonation.

Overall – An interesting stout. Heavy in the dark fruits…more so than I have experienced in others. Honestly, not my favorite RIS.

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

Pours black in color with a finger or two of khaki head. Nice dark fruit aromas which offset the roasted malt aroma. Dark chocolate, plenty of coffee, and a hint of licorice. Some nice burnt sugar notes and just a touch of smoke. The flavor is fairly sweet, but still a good roast and coffee character. Some dark chocolate, a touch of toasted nuts, molasses, mild licorice, and some dark fruit sweetness. A well balanced Imperial Stout.

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

I poured from a 275 ml bottle, 2012, into a snifter. The pour is inky black, light tan head. The aroma is more fruity than expected, notes of coffee and chocolate. The flavor is rich with chocolate, coffee, and some fruity notes. The finish lingers with a mix of chocolate and fruit. The beer is smooth, light carbonation, no dicernable booze. Interesting beer, IMO it should improve with some age on it.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 01/08/12 notes. Shared by Huhzubendah; thanks Matthew.

a - Pours a pitch black color with one inch of medium tan head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, dark fruits, and light coffee. Pretty nice and roasty.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, milk chocolate, sweet vanilla, and dark fruits. A tiny step up from the nose.

m - Medium body and moderate to high carbonation. A tiny bit overcarbonated, but nice.

o - Overall a very nice RIS. Very roasty and the taste has some nice vanilla to it as well. Would like to have it again.

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Photo of emerge077
4.01/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Brewed May 2011, BBD 19/09/24... 13 yr., 4 month shelf life?

Thick layer of mocha foam, leaving striated layers of lace all around the glass. After 15 minutes or so the foam recedes into a floating island, but the skim remains unbroken.

Very mellow chocolate aroma, slight roast, also something vaguely acidic, sweet and ashy.

Creamy and smooth milk chocolatey feel, pleasant residual mild hop bitterness in the background. Definite sipper, very smooth and easy drinking in small sips. Slight nuance of fruity plum in the aftertaste. Cocoa nibs and mild char. Rich and exceptionally smooth as mentioned before. Residual chocolate and dry ashy elements. Pretty nice stuff, glad it's seeing a new revival.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.01/5  rDev -5%
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.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.01/5  rDev -5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been waiting for this one to come around. Finally popped the top tonight and have another 'on age'

Pours a black/brown/ruby body. Big off brown head, tan, thick and rich. Nice lacing. Darn thing looks great

Aroma isn't unique and is very nice. Black currant, cocoa, burnt toast, leather, plum and raisin.

Taste falters a bit, partly due to the drinkability and feel. Flavors are black fruit and red plum. Leather here and there. Soft raisin and hints of melon. But there is something thin going on here. Just when I think it's going to be thick and chewy, it dissipates. Tannin on the end. Bites without a dryness. Alcohol is high. Hoping age will make this beer better than good.

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Photo of Brad007
4.01/5  rDev -5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a bog standard pitch black with a two-finger head that parts not too long after.

Aroma is strong on alcohol with a sweet, creamy backbone. Not much else here.

Dark fruit, roasted coffee and cream stand out as the dominant flavors, followed by the alcohol itself. A bit more aging will bring out the bouquet of flavors obscured by said alcohol.

Mouthfeel again is warm from the alcohol, resulting in an unpleasant dose of carbonation.

Again, there is hope for Courage if aged for a sufficient period of time.

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Photo of jlindros
4.02/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to shibbypwn for adding this to a nice trade.

Pours a huge 2.5 finger fluffy and darker colored head that fades fairly slowly, with some lacing but less than I expected, the beer is not quite pitch black but close, with some light sneaking through.

Nose has nice stout tones, plenty of chocolate, dark chocolate, powdered cocoa, hot cocoa, some baker's choc, hint of roast, some light caramel and dark malts, a nice creamy coffee like aroma with that, and a light toasty bready like malt aroma.

Taste is similar, dark malts but adds some extra roasty malts this time, more coffee and espresso, but think and gets a bit syrupy and over roasty, not quite acrid but more like over roasty. Then chocolate with a nice dark chocolate, cocoa powder, baker's, etc. and a bit of caramel. Some hops I think add some earthy bitterness but could be more of the roasty malts adding it, which get slightly soy sauce like but not quite. A chewy over spicy earthy hop comes through a bit more as it goes towards the finish. Then finishes fairly bitter, a bit salty almost briny with over roasty malts, roasty malts, and a bit of chocolate linger, with an over dry finish, and a light booze.

Mouth is fuller rich bodied, fluffy, decent carb, bit of warming booze.

Overall pretty good, quite big and probably needs a couple years to settle the large overroasted malt flavors, but nice chocolate, nice bitterness, dry finish, quite a bit beer, much bigger than I expected from a U.K. beer.

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Photo of StoneTSR
4.02/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

APPEARANCE: Nope. No light is getting through this beer...it's just black. On top of that motor oil-like beer sits a solid, light beige head. In the three minutes since I've poured this beer it has probably faded from a full finger to about three quarters of one. Excellent retention with very strong lacing as well...in fact, the lacing is gorgeous; nice, heavy layers cover the whole back of the glass. As good as it gets for an Imperial Stout.

SMELL: A light, chocolatey, coffee aroma wafts up from that impressive head. Some bitter hop smells lurk beneath, but they are just barely detectable.

TASTE: This is a very different type of RIS. Yes the coffee/espresso flavor is there, along with a touch of dark chocolate. Where it gets a little different is the slight tart, fruit flavor at the finish. It's almost a tart apple, but not quite...and just a touch. The finish is a little roasty, but pretty clean for a Russian Imperial Stout.

MOUTHFEEL: This is a velvety, smooth beer that goes from pleasantly sweet at the start to a nice, dry finish. The body is big, but not overwhelming. Very well put together.

OVERALL: It's a shame we don't see this beer more often in Colorado, but it truly is a wonderful Russian Imperial Stout. The intensity of the fruit and the subtle hint of tartness serve to set this beer apart from the rest. It may not be the Russian Imperial Stout I'm used to, but it is undoubtedly delicious.

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Photo of rarbring
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A brown and black colored beer. A high tan head with good lacing and good curtains.

Smelling of sweet dark bread, dates and figs, dark coffee and chocolate.

Tasting of sweet bread, grown sugar, dark coffee and grape-fruit zest.

Medium carbonation, a soft and sticky texture. A big body with a very dry finish.

Crammed with lots of taste. Not bad at all :)

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Photo of tobelerone
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I know this beer was out of production for quite a while and was a favorite of many in years past but I found it to be merely good, not great. Perhaps the quality was a little higher in earlier years or the standards for this style have risen, or both. Needless to say it's a nice imperial stout but it didn't knock my socks off.

The appearance is right on; black bodied, with a big rocky tan head that has strong retention and nice lacing. Aroma is quite roasty and bitter, with notes of anise, plums, and baker's chocolate and hints of booze.

The flavor follows suit; it's complex and tasty and comes in decidedly on the less sweet side. Strong roasted malt and bitter qualities; anise and chocolate/cocoa powder, again some booziness is detected; dark fruity notes of plum and raisin; a touch of herbal hops detected in the aftertaste. Some charred smokiness and molasses notes also emerge. The finish is fairly dry for this style.

Medium-full body; medium carbonation; reasonably smooth overall feel. Worth a try for sure; this beer has a reputation for being a great cellar candidate but I couldn't resist drinking mine after only about a year in the bottle. Will return in the future and take another look, I think.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Do beers get any more regal? With tried-and-true, time tested recipe and fantastic brewing technique; it shows that we just don't make'em like they used to... or do they?

Same as it ever was, this true imperial Russian stout boastfully displays his masculine dark side with slight-of-black coloration, complete opaqueness with a slight haze that's noted by it's less than mirror sheen. But its billowing tan head shows exuberance and puts on quite a show as the foam builds and then recedes, leaving silhouettes of lace behind.

Strong French-pressed coffees, cocoa, burnt fruit and molasses starts the show with a rich and luscious aroma that swirls around rummy alcohols for a slight plummy vinous scent. Brown sugar, apples, and pears join in the fun but only in background notes.

As delicious as the aromas seem, the flavor spread proves equally as rewarding. Bittersweet chocolate wraps around a strong coffee taste, deeply caramelized sweetness, heavy toast, and creamy smoke. Roast and fruity tartness take turns as roasted barley alternates with slight vinous wines, grape skin, green apples, and blackberries. Low in hops, only a shadow of bitterness follows the complex malt and ester display and does so with a supportive wood taste-turn-bitter in finish.

Full bodied, but not overtly sweet or sugary, there's a right amount of malt and residual sweetness that weaves into the dry roast texture and full carbonation. A long draw into the finish results in firm alcohol warmth, slight burnt grain astringency, and tart wine-like tannin that provides a slightly powdery yet powerful finish.

This is a tremendously respected beer that defies style, prescription, or expectation. It's effortless and gentlemanly personality exudes the notion of tall, dark, and handsome.

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Photo of callmemickey
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

May 2011 bottling

A: Deep brown-black body. A massive pale khaki head leaves behind a nice coating of lacing.

S: Cocoa powder, espresso, roasted malts, lightly fruity hops, and some caramel.

T: The flavor lacks the fruitiness and sweetness that was in the nose. Cocoa, espresso, and a healthy dose of roasted malts. The hop presence provides a pinch of bitterness.

M: Smooth, evenly carbonated. Semi-dry finish. Lightly bitter in the finish.

O: A nice imperial stout that is clearly British in character. Glad this has been revived and I hope it's offered for many years to come.

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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 soulgrowl
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Black licorice in appearance and aroma. Not much head; what's there is camel coloured and nougaty. Same with the smell; molasses, prune juice, good port.

Beefy flavour with loads of date syrup, black olives, espresso, etc. Dark chocolate. Everything you'd expect from a Russian imperial stout. That's it. Nearly perfect, nearly boring. Typic. Very good.

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Photo of nickfl
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with a healthy head of off white foam that receedes slowly and leaves nice, thick lace. The liquid comes out of the bottle a clear, reddish brown, but fills the glass with an opaque, black body.

S - Roasty malt with lots of caramel and dark fruit.

T - dark chocolate up front with candied cherries and figs. Some orange and more dark chocolate in the middle with a finish of licorice, mint, anise, and light char.

M - Medium thick body, moderate carbonation, and a balanced finish.

D - Nicely made, it has a really nice balance of dark fruit and chocolate malt with almost no coffee like roasted character. Spicy and very seasonally appropriate for winter.

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Photo of 05Harley
4.04/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage
Estimated calories - 300/12oz

Purchased through Let's pour

Price - $9.75/9.3oz bottle

One inch lite tan head covers this near pitch black jem. Foam bergs float effortlessly along a thin veil of silk. Sticky with great legs and plenty of lacing. With each sip a rejuvenation of bubbles adds to the head, nice...

Aroma is roasted malt, raisins, licorice, sweet molasses, chewing tobaco and leather. I'm actually frightened that I picked up the last two ingredients. The nose is perfect in strength to read.

The tastebuds have nothing to complain about with the usual expectations for the style. Un-sweetened chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and a hint of smoke. A big blast of black licorice though in the finish was a surprise. I'm a fan of licorice but this is much more prominent than I've experienced.

Mouthfeel is extremely well balanced between sweet and bitterness which makes this on the smooth side. Carbonation is all but non-existent. The hops are kept in check as expected with a UK brewed Impy Stout which is why I wanted to review this as fresh as possible. There is enough hops to offer that pleasently dry finish I look for.

Overall a quality representation of the style from an American point of view. The 10% alcohol strength is well hidden and makes this somewhat smooth if you can overcome the extreme licorice flavor and metalic aftertaste. Over priced IMO.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
4.04/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

275mL bottle from By the Bottle. May 2011 bottle date.

A: Pure ink black with a dense creme head. Pour is quicker than I might expect. Legs are noticeable.

N: Intense, smoke, leather, and tobacco. Prunes and raisins and rye bread. Very peppery. Dense and rich with a notable essence of dark fruits. Hops show up with the earth and peppercorn.

T: Bitter hops and baker's chocolate dryness. Very very spicy in a black pepper way. Very much in the vein of the hopped-up stout.

M: Oily and medium heavy body. Very prickly. Could use some more heft, but the alcohol is well-hidden.

O: really good stuff. It's well balanced and deft of hand. I want to buy more and age it for the long haul.

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

275ml bottle poured into a Hill Farmstead tulip.

Pours a pitch black color with a small dark brown head along with some light brown lacing. Nose is sweet, chocolate and vanilla.

Taste is rich and smooth, there is a light bitter coffee bite that's there and is crisp on the finish. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy. Very delicious beer.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1989 bottle – drank in 2004: Very dark beer with no head or carbonation. Aroma is mostly comprised of alcohol and a subtle smell of coffee. Taste can be described as a mix between roasted malts, coffee, subtle chocolate and ends with some bitterness and a warm alcohol taste. Very intriguing beer, it almost feel like a mix between an old ale (Gales Prize Old Ale) and a Russian Imperial Stout without extreme hops (Sam Smith Russian Stout) without any carbonation but with a good warming feeling from the alcohol as you drink this. I feel lucky I had the chance to taste this but a vertical tasting of this beer would be paradise…

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