Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

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
93
outstanding

270 Reviews
THE BROS
99
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 270
Hads: 800
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 6.18%
Wants: 149
Gots: 179 | FT: 11
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Courage Imperial Russian Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 270 | Hads: 800
Photo of tronester
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
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. (460 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
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. (811 characters)

Photo of jdhowe
4.19/5  rDev -0.5%
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. (1,573 characters)

Photo of hardy008
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
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. (591 characters)

Photo of PhillyStyle
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
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. (324 characters)

Photo of soulgrowl
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
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. (354 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.44/5  rDev +5.5%
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 (1,053 characters)

Photo of SpruceMoose
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
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. (2,103 characters)

Photo of Slatetank
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
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 (1,210 characters)

Photo of MrKennedy
4.25/5  rDev +1%
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. (1,018 characters)

Photo of Sarlacc83
4.04/5  rDev -4%
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. (693 characters)

Photo of SLeffler27
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
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 (751 characters)

Photo of Gmann
4.16/5  rDev -1.2%
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. (899 characters)

Photo of ngeunit1
4.16/5  rDev -1.2%
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. (548 characters)

Photo of 05Harley
4.04/5  rDev -4%
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. (1,395 characters)

Photo of Scotchboy
4.16/5  rDev -1.2%
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. (714 characters)

Photo of wisrarebeer
4.16/5  rDev -1.2%
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 (422 characters)

Photo of IronDjinn
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
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. (956 characters)

Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.95/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Courage Russian Imperial Stout (9.3 oz. bottle) has a thick, creamy, tan head and a very dark brown appearance. When one swishes the bottom contents and pours it in, then a heavy, grayish cloud descends into the glass. Good lacing is left around the glass as well. The aroma is rich, with raisin, dark-roasted barley malt, black cherries, chocolate powder, and black bread crust. Taste is of rich, sweet malt, dark fruits, chocolate, dark-roast coffee, brown sugar, lots of bitterness, and fudge. The mouthfeel is velvety, thick, and heavy, and Courage Russian Imperial Stout finishes semi-dry, rich, and dense. Overall, this is a world-class beer, and I give it an extremely strong recommendation. Please try it!

RJT (718 characters)

Photo of bashiba
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a thick and creamy dark brown with a long lasting dark brown head, nice lacing and good retention.

The smell is dominated by sweet caramel malts with hints of roasted barley and smoke.

The flavor is very full, big roasty malts, smoke, dark chocolate with a big blast of hop bitterness breaking through the malty sweetness bringing into a nice balanced state for a beer of this enormity.

The mouthfeel is very creamy and rich.

A great imperial stout, pretty much spot on benchmark quality. (499 characters)

Photo of chinchill
3.85/5  rDev -8.6%
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. (588 characters)

Photo of Muhly
4.27/5  rDev +1.4%
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. (875 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
4.16/5  rDev -1.2%
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! (509 characters)

Photo of BradenMK
4.07/5  rDev -3.3%
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! (835 characters)

Photo of barnzy78
4.46/5  rDev +5.9%
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! (751 characters)

Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
93 out of 100 based on 270 ratings.