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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.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

278 Reviews
THE BROS
99
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 278
Hads: 852
Avg: 4.22
pDev: 18.48%
Wants: 165
Gots: 184 | FT: 13
Brewed by:
Wells & Young's Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

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 (49) | 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: 278 | Hads: 852
Photo of Axnjxn
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275ml bottle into a tulip. 2012 vintage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Stunmai
2.76/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

The bottle says it is 2012 vintage so it has been aged less than a year. There were some really nice molasses, licorice, and fruity tones to this beer. Parts of it were good, but most of the taste is nothing but a strong taste of alcohol. I haven't had this before, aged or otherwise, but it was way too hot for me. Maybe if I saw another bottle for sale, I'd buy it and age it for 3-5 years, but as it was, I just wasn't impressed for what you pay for it.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Paccamacca for the extra!

vintage 2012.

poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: light black to dark brown bodied beer with 3 fingers worth of medium khaki colored head. Head has good staying power and is thick and frothy with lots of big bubbles. As the beers head drops it leaves a decent amount of lacing; its better than spotty, but not quite heavy lacing.

Smell: roasty malts and dark fruits with molasses and brown sugar. A ton of black licorice notes as well.

Taste: A short lived note of sweet milk chocolates and molasses that is quickly inturrupted by huge black licorice notes and super roasty malts that are best described as char and ashen flavors. The flavor is very robust and takes you by surprise because the nose does not lead you to think that the beer would have this intensity. Hint of soy sauce. Earthy hops, smoke, peat moss in the aftertaste with even more black licorice. Char and smokey flavors linger for a long time in between sips.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Creamy and smooth body with a spicy slightly boozey kick.

Overall: Really surprised that this RIS is so robust. Took me back a little bit at first. I am not a huge fan of black licorice in my dark beers so I didnt love it, but it was still surprisingly an enjoyable beer for me despite the unpleasantries of the black licorice notes. I think that this beer has really nice cellar potential; if I were to run into a bottle of this again I would drink one with somewhere between 3-5 years on it.

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Photo of raleigh_blue
4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2010 vintage (aged 3 years).

250 ml poured into a Founders tulip. Dark brown/black and a little translucent when held up to the light. A thin head (2-5 mm) appears and dissipates rapidly with persistent clinging to the sides of the glass.

Smells of coffee, chocolate and malts. Nothing surprising here. It's the archetypal imperial stout.

Taste is very similar to the nose. Less coffee, but full of darkness-molasses, licorice, malty yumminess and chocolate. Refined and sustained flavor.

Near perfect mouthfeel for the style. Viscous and lingering.

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Photo of SeanDonahue
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The appearance on this beer is as dark as night. There is no chance of being able to see through it in the light. When I poured this into a tulip glass, it produced a very little head. I have read past reviews saying that it had a head and wonder why mine might be different.

The aroma is very powerful. There is a big hint of alcohol with this tiny beer being at 10% ABV. I'm also getting some bready qualities mixed in with some caramel notes.

The taste on this beer is extremely thick. Right in the beginning you can taste the alcohol and that taste sits in your mouth for the aftertaste. I'm picking up on a bit of a caramel taste in this. There is also a big coffee quality as well to the taste.

Overall, this is a very powerful beer and I would advise those venturing out into the imported beers for the first time to drink with caution.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

275 ml bottle into tulip glass, best before 9/19/2024. Pours nearly pitch black color with a 2-3 finger dense and fluffy tan head with incredible retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Nice soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, light char, coffee, dark bread, and roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark and roasted malt notes; with good strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, char, coffee, dark bread, light raisin, licorice, and roasted earthiness. Lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, char, coffee, dark bread, licorice, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Excellent balance and complexity of dark and roasted malt flavors with light fruitiness; with big robustness and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a creamy, slick, fairly chalky, and lightly prickly mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming noticed after the finish; very smooth to sip on for 10%. Overall this is a highly excellent imperial stout! Great balance and complexity of big dark/roasted malt flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of tronester
4.54/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black color with a thin creamy tan head. Lacing clings to the glass quite well. Aromas of some oatmeal and freshly broken chocolate bar. Taste begins with a very slight hint of vinegar, then a lucious dark chocolate flavor, then some toasted bread. An herbal, resinous hoppy flavor finishes the flavor, along with some wood aged character and pine. Mouthfeel is extremely rich. Overall a superb Russian Imperial Stout. One of the best I have had.

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

(Served in a snifter)
Brewed may 2011
Drank summer 2012
A- This beer pours a jet black body with a deep cocoa creamy head that is thick and long lasting.

S- The char black malt aroma is rich with some dark cola notes and a slightly earthy dark graham sweetness in the finish.

T- The roasted black malt has some brewer’s licorice to it with a dark toasted malt note in the finish with just a touch of fruity ester. There is some green bitterness that comes through in the finish and a nice roasted deep flavor that lingers after each sip.

M- The medium mouthfeel has no alcohol heat and a slightly slippery texture.

O- The dark rich black malt flavor is full but lagered clean with a little bitterness and just a bit of sweetness that enhances the malt flavor. This is a classic and I loved every drop.

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Photo of jdhowe
4.19/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

275mL bottle poured into a tulip. Brewed in 2011, provided courtesy of Greywulfken.

A: Pours a dark brown, opaque in the glass, with two fingers of mocha-colored head dissipating quickly to a ring and mottled film. Plentiful lacing is left down the side of the glass while drinking.

S: Deep syrupy sweetness is cut by a few sharp notes and a vinous aroma that finishes almost like smelling a red wine tinged with espresso. A little smokiness, but nothing overwhelming. Lots of fruit. Not sure this is the stout for me, since I tend to stay away from the fruitier and prefer the chocolate and coffee notes, but certainly complex and not bad. A little alcohol is evident.

T/M: Strong sweet body with nice, smooth, oily and thick mouthfeel and good carbonation. Notes of coffee more evident in the taste than the nose. Finish is first of sweetness from fruity vinous character, which is then muted by swelling coffee bitterness. Again, a little alcohol shows through. Much more complicated than I expected in the delivery of the flavors, and quite nice. Mouthfeel is very appropriate, and plentiful carbonation adds a nice eventfulness to the early sip before some of the flavors show.

O: I'm really enjoying this beer. I was a little doubtful when fruity character dominated the nose that it would be a good beer that just wasn't as much my thing, but I'm happy with this one. In a world of many imperial stouts, I don't know that I can see myself making efforts to revisit this one, but the long history of the brew is certainly cool, and this is absolutely a good beer.

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Photo of hardy008
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage.

Pours dark black with a two finger mocha head, with nice retention and lacing. The aroma has bittersweet chocolate, cocoa, dates, figs, and raisins. Smells very sweet and very nice.

The taste is sweet with some bitterness for balance. There is bittersweet chocolate, cocoa, figs, dates, raisins, roasted malt, and molasses.

Medium to full bodied with average carbonation. The alcohol is very well hidden, and I would not have guessed 10.00 % abv. I would have guessed lower, maybe around 8.00 % abv. Very nicely made. Too bad this beer appears to be heading for retirement.

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Photo of PhillyStyle
4.08/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle #44024:

The beer was cola black that produced a nice tan head that was well retained. It gave off a coffee aroma, which followed through to the taste, which was also accompanied by a slight alcohol taste and chocolate. The beer had a good thick feel to it. I would be very interested to try this on tap in the UK.

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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 brentk56
4.44/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in May 2011

Appearance: Pours out with a thick (but not massive) tan head; what it lacks in vertical dimension it more than makes up for with lacing action; the beer itself is not as dark as some of the American versions, appearing more as a fudge brown

Smell: Rich chocolate, with coffee, tobacco and dark fruity undertones

Taste: In the flavor profile, this beer shows its old world muster, bringing a subtle blend of chocolate, coffee, pipe tobacco and dark fruit; compared to a lot of the domestic RIS brews, this is like an old world Cabernet vs a California, with incredible subtlety and refinement; after the swallow, instead of walloping the tastebuds, it finishes rather dry - surprising but well-appreciated

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation; hides the ABV incredibly well

Overall: So glad I had the opportunity to try this beer as it shows off quite a different dimension for the RIS style than I have had before; I still like the powerful, big American versions very much, but this is a different pathway

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

As always, it's stout time. After hearing about this little ditty on the grapevine (and I do emphasise the 'little'; the bottle's only 275ml!), I decided to pick up three bottles of Courage's allegedly stellar effort in stout brewing; one to savour and review, and two to cellar for approximately 10 to 13 years (which the bottle boastfully states it's capable of). I went into this review with pleasant memories of the Director's Ale, and fortunately my expectations were matched. "As originally brewed in 1795 for Catherine the Great of Russia", the bottle states with pride. If we are to accept this statement, it would become obvious that Cathy had some bloody brilliant taste in beer.

Serving type: 275ml bottle poured gently into a 330ml Zwyiec glass.

Appearance: The body itself is incredibly opaque - holding it up to the light yields absolutely no brightness whatsoever, and this density is further highlighted by the tan head which does not hang around for very long. Oh well, suppose it is an imperial stout after all.

Smell: Hints of plum, caramel, chocolate, chicory, coffee and those ever-so-characteristic roasted malts waft up towards the senses. The smell is strong yet not overwhelming. Magical.

Taste: The taste compliments the smell almost flawlessly, with less coffee and more of a plum, caramel and even nut flavour sitting on the tongue. Despite CRIS' 10% ABV strength (once again, it is an imperial stout after all), the alcohol does not leave a burn or even taste in the mouth; the delicate balance of flavours masks it flawlessly.

Mouthfeel: Thick, creamy and hearty. Classic stout body. Carbonation is very light (must I say it again? It's a bloody imperial stout after all!).

Overall: Courage's fine effort at a warm, hearty stout certainly lived up to the hype I had witnessed. This beer, whilst packaged in a peculiarly small bottle, contains all the character one would expect from a large 750ml bottle. This is imperial stout at its most unique, balanced and flavorsome. It could potentially even reach the dizzy heights of five-dom after a few years of maturation.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

I enjoyed this in a snifter chilled purchased from Half Time.

The color is dark mocha with thin sandstone cap with ultra fine bead with webbing of lace sticking to the glass and retention is very good. The smell is dark chocolate, molasses, plum, currant, prune and light biscuit odors with a mild toffee and vinous element. The feel is great with slight fruit tinge and dark toasted texture with moderate bitterness and carbonation with sublte sweet edge and semi-dry finish with alcohol well hidden.

This taste is familiar yet fresh with dark currant flavors and subtle dark sugar and molasses taste with some vinous and sweet toffee flavors side by side with slight toasted malt, cocoa and a pine-like hop echo with mild dark cocoa essence and very light alcohol. The great thing about this russian imperial stout is how drinkable it is. I have tried the original courage and this bottle which is over 2 years old still has a vibrant fresh taste even though it has some age. I love how the yeast fruitiness mixes with the rich malt and the alcohol does not even really makes an appearance til it nears cellar temp. I love this and would recommend it to anyone interested in a traditional Imperial Stout

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Photo of MrKennedy
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

275ml bottle from Cellarbrations Carlisle, into a Lost Abbey Teku.

Matt black appearance with a lovely tan had that looks more rich the more you swirl it. Great foam retention and a lovely distinction between the black base and the tan foam.

Smells of milk chocolate backed with some licorice and a touch of roasted malt. Basic, but well integrated and really well done.

Licorice and chocolate, pretty much how i remember it from a year ago, just with the chocolate a touch more noted, balancing it out a bit more. I recall this being a licorice bomb 12 months ago.

Bitterness from the licorice upfront and turns smooth mid-palate. Finishes full but with some bitterness to keep you coming back.

Enjoyed this more after a year or so of holding onto it. Less licorice dominated and more integrated with the chocolate. A lovely beer that is fun to drink and something i need to remind myself never to pass up when i see it in the shops. Exudes quality. Good value, even taking into account the smaller bottle size.

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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 SLeffler27
4.54/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A dense, creamy chestnut head is long lasting as it leaves a thick coat of lace over a silky black (SRM 40+) Stout.

Roasted malt dominates from within a Dogfish Head snifter while coffee and chocolate submit. Light caramel and prunes can be found over alcohol fumes.

The roasted, almost burnt, malt is quite bitter from beginning and long into a lingering finish. Molasses and licorice develop as greater depth comes out with warming.

The texture is similar to a thick mousse, while light carbonation lifts the dense chewy body. Alcohol is present but well controlled for 10% abv. Residual sugars stick to the lips.

This is a luscious and mesmerizing Stout to be enjoyed for its opulence and richness while sitting and relaxing.

Bottle No. 042140

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Photo of Gmann
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a murkey black/deep deep brown color with small yeasties floating about. The creamy light brown head was short and settled into a light ring.

The aroma is of a smooth roasted malt, a touch woody. A hint of chocolate and toasted pumpernickle. Some anise. Overall aroma not all that strong.

Big roasted malt flavor. Lots of burnt toast and a good amount of dark fruit. The roast is heavy with lots of char. There is a caramel sweetness that transitions into a slightly sour dark berry flavor. Dark chocolate and anise round everything out. Pretty much the definition of a RIS here; big, bitter, and malty.

Thick feel with semi-soft carbonation that leads to a mostly smooth flow. Sweet and bitter on the palate; good initial balance but the finish is a bit bitter. Sticky finish as you would expect.

A good traditional RIS. I imagine more of the dark fruit flavors would come out as it ages.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark black with a big finger of frothy chocolate-khaki head. Fades fairly slowly.

S - Roasted chocolate and a bit of caramel malts, some dark fruits, molasses, black licorice, vanilla, earthy hops, and a touch of booze.

T - Dark chocolate and caramel malts, some plum and other dark fruits, molasses, black licorice, roasted coffee, cocoa, earthy hops, some bitterness, and some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth and almost creamy with a sweet, roasty, and warming finish.

D - Great RIS. Great balance and complexity.

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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 Scotchboy
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into a Hair of the Dog tulip -

A: Relatively dark and opaque body - creamy brown head, some lacing.

S: Heavy malt base, less hopping that usual for a RIS (I would expect this out of a Brit). Dark roast, hints of sweeter malt, dark caramel, hints of coffee and licorice.

T: There is a hint of leafy hop here; dominated by roast, coffee, caramel, moderate dark chocolate, and a hint of licorice again.

Not quite as robust as Americanized offerings but a solid, pleasant drinker.

MF: Creamy body is more medium than full - hides the alcohol very well on the plus side. Dry finish.

O: Decent, more than decent really. Its a good RIS, with no trace of the 10% anywhere, and solid roasty, malty characters.

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

Bottled May 2011

A: black, opaque, poured a beautiful thick creamy head with a tan color
S: mild but very pleasing, some burnt licorice and malt, treacle undertones
T: creamy, full-bodied, some heat in finish, deep roasted/burnt malt, this is the type of IRS I like where the hops are not over the top and dominating but the malt takes center stage, a little bit of astringency in the finish
M: very satisfying, well-made

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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 278 ratings.