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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 (48) | 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 chinchill
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Small bottle served in a small nonic.

Appearance: Pours hazy and dark brown with dark tan head. Meager lacing.

Smell: Roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits and booze, in that order.

Taste: Well-roasted malts impart hints of coffee, dark chocolate and licorice. Mildly bitter. Slightly tart; a bit more than I'd prefer up front but better balance by the finish. A hint of smoke in the roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Full body. Medium carbonation. Fairly smooth. Some harshness from the 10% ABV.

O: more rustic than expected, and with the high ABV more apparent. Good but not world-class.

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Photo of Muhly
4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 275 bottle into snifter. Slightly higher than cellar temp.

A-Black and almost completely opaque save for some brown highlights. Some foamy brown head forms on pour with low retention. Some spotty lacing.

S-a metric ton of toasty malt comes rushing right at you. Almost like smelling a mash tun on brew day. Slight hints of alcohol.

T-sweet dark malts followed by bitter dark chocolate and molasses. Minimal hop presence.

M-moderately full mouthfeel. Finishes with some molasses sweetness on the tongue.

O-this is an intensely malty beer. In a world where hop driven beers are the norm, this reminds you that flavour and conplexity can be entirely malt driven. This would be a great beer to sip with a nice chocolate gelato or a tiramisu.

Wish that there had been a bit more hea initially, although low head retention is considered within the style for RIS.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer poured out as a deep black color with a brown foamy head on top. There is a moderate lacing and pretty good retention as well. The smell of the beer is rich and roasted with a sweet berry aroma coming off of it also. The taste is chocolatey with a roasted malt and coffee, there is also a strange fruity flavor in the finish. The mouthfeel is smooth and very rich. Moderate carbonation and smooth. Overall this is a very good Russian Imperial Stout. Very rich and very enjoyable. Worth checking out!

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Photo of BradenMK
4.07/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was a near-perfect beer that I had warm just because I wanted to try it, and I had no expectations. I would like to try it cold, on tap, and any way I could get it, because as a stout-lover this is one of the best.

Also, I want to let the Bros know, Todd who reviewed this last in 2011 (I think?), this apparently is still being brewed, or has been started up again (or something), because I found it today in a 9.3oz bottle in Columbus, OH at The Anderson's general store and there were a few others there. I want to go back and get more. So, since you guys seemed to like it so much, if you don't know already, you can still find it in some places. It's amazing.

Sorry I'm not doing a full review with the right paces and all of the bits in the right order, but I wanted to make sure it was known that this is still out there!

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Photo of barnzy78
4.46/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

275mL bottle, dated 16/08/2025, presumably bottled in 2012, #049313 of 210000

Pours black with tons of yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle (I left almost all of it in the bottle), tan colored head fades quickly to nothing leaving some lacing on the glass on its way down. Much more appealing aroma with rich, sweet, decadent dark chocolate and malt, faint anise, smoky roast, and booze. Very sweet and rich, with both dark chocolate & baker's chocolate, caramel, dark fruit, smoke, roast, booze, there actually is pear on the finish as the bottle states. Smooth, chewy, and full bodied mouth-feel. Overall, I poured it and thought it was going to be a disappointment, but I standcorrected - it was a world-class quality Russian Imperial Stout!

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Photo of babaracas
3.69/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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

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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 DaveAnderson
4.64/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.66/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

(2012 Vintage - poured in a 10 oz snifter)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of mitch3114
4.48/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage 9.3 oz. bottle, #43,151

Poured into a Belgian globe

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of vkv822
4.26/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

: tulip

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

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

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

Full body, low carbonation, slightly viscous.

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

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Photo of rangerred
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Rutager
4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 MusicaleMike
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 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 imscotty
3.77/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled May, 2011

A: Poured a nice foamy head that died off after a minute, little lacing. The color is dark dark brown, I see other reviews calling it black, I don't know why. Ten Fidy is black; this beer is brown.

S: Caramel, malt, dark fruit.

T: Caramel, strong roast, coffee, malt, dark fruit. This beer has a long bitter finish. I like the bitter finish but there is a bit of an off taste at the end that I cannot quite name. I do not taste the complexity that others say is there. The alcohol is fairly well hidden.

M: Fairly well carbonated, medium mouth feel. Not very viscous or heavy.

O: I love RIS; this is not my favorite.

Note: I have had this beer fresh, this bottle has been aged for almost two years. I do not think it is benefiting from aging, I thought it tasted better fresh when it was still had some sweetness. I plan on finishing these off (I bought a case) and probably will not buy again. I see that some people have loved this beer, not sure if they are drinking the pre Wells & Young version or if I am just missing something.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of Quackershnoc
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: this is BLACK, really dark stuff; about a finger of khaki head that looks thick and creamy and is not going anywhere
Aroma: wow, this smell great; huge malt and fruit aroma, definitely get some pear in there and maybe some others; coffee; a bit of chocolate
Taste: just wonderful; big coffee flavor up front; a little dark chocolate; pear and other fruits sneak in here; morphs into a malt bomb-strong, dark, rich, roasty/smokey; dry, malty, fruity finish that lingers awhile
Mouthfeel: thick and creamy, almost chewy; coats the whole mouth and does not let go; perfectly carbonated
Overall Impression: fantastic, this is fit for royalty; huge bold flavors; very rich, almost a meal in itself; this will keep you warm!; I love it and cannot wait to try one after it’s been in the cellar awhile

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Photo of avalon07
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a black color and a thick texture. There was a half inch of tan-colored, foamy head that lasted an average amount of time. Below average lacing.

S: A big aroma of malt, coffee, and a lot of dark fruit.

T: Tasted of coffee (a lighter amount than I expected), roasted malt, dark fruit (plums, raisins), and hint of chocolate. A complex, inviting flavor. Not as overpowering as you might expect considering the style, but still a fantastic flavor.

M: A fair amount of carbonation with a silky smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

O: An excellent example of a Russian Imperial Stout. Well made, subtle, and very drinkable.

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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 tectactoe
4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Review #200! Pours a deep, jet-black color with a khaki colored head, thick and bubbly with reasonable staying power. Nose contains a powerful amount of dark chocolate and cocoa beans, roasted, nearly burnt barley, and a slight alcohol character. This beer has an incredibly body - viscous, rich, silky, creamy and chewy - everything an RIS should be. Flavors are an excellent combination of bitter cocoa beans, dark roasted coffee, sweet licorice and tobacco, heaps of roasted malt, big roasted and charred profile, a slight hint of smoke, faint nuttiness, a touch of molasses, and lots of underlying sweetness in the dark of dark fruits; dates, currants, blackberries. The hops aren't exactly vibrant in the taste, but are still necessary for their bittering element; somewhat ashy and herbal to provide a good counterbalance to the sweetness and richness of this beer. Alcohol warms and adds character without being abrasive or rough. Huge body, low-medium bout of carbonation.

Had this beer once before and it was just as great as I remembered. Makes me wonder why I don't get this more often. Truly a fine example of a Russian imperial stout done right.

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