Le Coq Imperial Extra Double Stout | Harvey & Son Ltd.

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Le Coq Imperial Extra Double StoutLe Coq Imperial Extra Double Stout
482 Ratings
Le Coq Imperial Extra Double StoutLe Coq Imperial Extra Double Stout

Brewed by:
Harvey & Son Ltd.
England, United Kingdom

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
The style “IMPERIAL RUSSIAN STOUT” and the name “ALBERT LE COQ” are synonymous. In the early 1800’s the Belgian A. LE COQ exported Imperial Stout from England to Russia and the Baltic area.

After the import traffic increased dramatically in the early 1900’s, A. LE COQ was invited by the TSARIST government to brew his legendary IMPERIAL EXTRA DOUBLE STOUT within the Russian Empire. In 1912 the first Imperial Extra Double Stout left the Brewery in TARTU, the former province of LIVONIA, now ESTONIA. World War I and the Russian Revolution, however, brought a dramatic end to A. LE COQ’s venture. Production ceased until 1921 and his brewery was nationalized by the BOLSHEVIK government. The facsimile label on each bottle of Imperial Extra Stout pays homage to A. LE COQ without whom this classic style would never have reached its legendary place in the world of beers.

Added by OldFrothingSlosh on 02-19-2001

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Ratings: 482 |  Reviews: 403
Photo of JudgeRoughneck
5/5  rDev +45.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 Vintage Sampled August 29 2012.

Appearance- Jet back with a copper-colored head with a texture like velour. It only gives a thin surface cap but hangs around the edges of the glass waiting to reclaim thick legs that take entire minutes to fall. Opaque.

Aroma- sweet dried fruit, very vinous, suggestive of a brett character... getting chills and visitations from memories of thomas hardys. Flowery, earthy, leathery. Center of the aroma is well-fermented molasses, sour cherrys, faint metallic odor, baking bread, hint of ash, ..definitely some funk running up in here. I could smell this forever.

Flavor- Wow. Where to start? A little sour as anticipated, but grounded in a deep, rich, dark syrupy malt base with peppery alcohol dropping the bottom out for a roasty finish. Flavors and sensations pass in waves. Notes of baked apple and fig. Just bitter enough. Lovely fennel/ caraway dimension. Candied plum coming out with warmth. Chocolate-covered strawberries. At times begins to impersonate a well-aged fruit forward / jammy red wine. Hey rides into the sinuses. A little nut and mocha coming out in the finish. Amazingly the classic stout points of roast, chocolate, coffee, etc are basically the last thing I notice when drinking this beer. That stuff is really mellow and there is just so much else going on.

Mouthfeel - This beer makes love to my mouth. It is velvety, creamy, heavy, smooth, fluffy, oily, full-bodied, all at the same time. Carbonation is on the low side but certainly present even at this age. There is virtually nothing bracing going on at all. Smooth all the way down. Sourness and alcohol only tease the palate and tickle the senses making me want to keep this beer in my mouth as long as possible.

Overall - I don't know what to say. My mind is totally blown. I feel guilty I opened this without other people around. Why does nobody talk about this beer? It is literally the awesomest thing I have drank in my life. Why does this beer not have a higher score? Fine by me, I'll be buying it up every chance I get.

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Photo of putnam
4.87/5  rDev +42%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I poured it. I didn't read any other reviews. I stuck my nose in the glass. A little Flanders-brown-ale yeat speaks up at first. All cherry and raspberry confit. Chocolate covered red sour berries. Chateauneuf du Pape with cinnamon sticks in the glass. This stuff smells cool and refreshing as well as cthonic and gut-filling.
Burnt Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez syrup is exaggerated on the ooze-like texture. This is serious, alive, Imperial. Think: the power of Rogue's Russian I.S. combined with the soul of Sam Smith's combined with the unruly, sour yeast of Goudenband, and you have this beer. Hardly drinkable...but seductive. Note to self: must make all efforts to stock this.

Fresh stock. 4.28.2004
Much creamier, more slick and densely chocolated than the last sample. I've been experimenting with Dutch process cocoa, brown sugar and whole cream, trying to combine them with just enough sugar to make it edible and just enough cream to create a pasty texture. This approximates that. Bitter fudge in a semi-liquid state that melts even more on the palate.
Also found in this challenging, mind-boggling liquid: creosote, tar, rum, pepper, nutmeg, raisins, Domecq Venerable PX, roasted branches, burnt apples, leather, black oil, laquer, grease, dates, tamarind paste and kirsch.
Probably underrated at 4.85

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Photo of Sephiroth
4.87/5  rDev +42%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

1999 Vintage: I have poured this into a tulip. It is possibly the blackest beer I have ever seen. Totally still. The nose is of dark, roasted malt, and dark fruits.

The taste is of chocolate, then a vinous quality, and then smooth, roasted malt. There is a bitter coffee flavor at the finish. This has aged well. The mouthfeel is quite light for such a big beer. The lack of carbonation is not an issue. As for drinkability, I am compulsively sipping this beer to death. I have never had any other vintage of this.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.84/5  rDev +41.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2001 Vintage

Pours black as the night with just a ring of brown carbonation around the glass. The aroma is almost like a Belgian beer. It has an herbal/medicinal aroma, with dark fruits, and an oaky, vanilla smell. You cannot forget the alcohol in the aroma as well. A very complex aroma. The flavor starts out dry, it then flows to dark fruits, medicinal, wine-like, chocolate and coffee, and just a tad bit of roastiness. It then goes to a sweet, bready middle. It finishes with a slight bitter chocolate cake taste. What can I say, complex from beginning to end. A wonderful full-bodied beer. I love this one!!

Sampled 11/19/03

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Photo of coldmeat23
4.83/5  rDev +40.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

GLASS: Imperial Pint Glass
TEMP: Cellared @ Approx. 50 degrees

Let me begin by saying that for me personaly, this is almost a perfect beer. I love big, thick, dark, heavy beers and this one definitely falls into that category.
The bottle and packaging themselves bring about a very nice (old-style) presentation. Being a package with a cork is also a nice touch. Now, on to the beer!

When poured into a glass the first thing you will notice is the color: Black. This is one of the blackest beers that i've ever poured.
Secondly, you notice the minimal head it produces (almost none at all). The darkness is just the way I like it. Don't be afraid of the dark.

The smell is good overall but slightly off-putting. Just a bit of alcohol on the nose that turns me away slightly, but I press on.

The mouthfeel is silky smooth and almost (unexpectedly) light. Don't get me wrong here, it is a heavy taste, just not as 'in your face' as I was expecting.

The taste is phenomenal: dark coffee, light notes of chocolate covered cherries, and smoke.
Quite a bit of smoke in the taste, but not overbearing. (I think this beer would make excellent beef jerky because of these flavors.)

Finally we come to drinkability, and I think this beer is exceptionally drinkable. It only took me four pulls to quaff mine down and that was while trying to savor it's flavor and prolong it's life in my pint-glass.

While I don't kid myself into thinking that everyone loves 'dark beers' or stouts, if you do, I can't recommend this beer strongly enough.
It is truly an experience not to be missed.
I look forward to my next one.

EDIT:I have had several different bottles of this beer, over the years, since this first review. Multiple different sources and vintages.
Their bottling seems to bo very subject to overly oxidizing....but only in a random sense.
When you get a 'good' bottle, this beer is absolutely awesome. Unfortunately, when you get a 'bad' one, it can range all the way down the scale to 'undrinkable/drain-pour'.
I stand by my review, because the bottle(s) that led up to it were awesome....and I still get an amesome one, every now and then.

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Photo of Trueant1
4.8/5  rDev +39.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

From a 11.2 oz bottle with a cork. 2001 vintage.

Pours no head. Just a ring of bubbles around the edge of glass. No lacing. Looks extra thick like used 10W40 oil.... Even befor I finish the appearance...A heavenly smell is FILLING the room of Chocolate and dark fruits... (without my nose near the glass).

OK...now to put my nose IN the glass...First smell....believe it or not...Worcestershire sauce! After that chocolate and wiskey.
This Worcestershire smell is really prompting my curiosity!
Taste is extremly bold. Smoky malts that give way to chocolate..and of course, worcestershire. Many many differnet dark fruits including cherry and rasberries are in here.

Mouthfeel is so thick it is like you are drinking used motor oil. As you sip this, sip it like a fine wiskey. A 11.2 oz bottle can be shared by 3 of your other friends for this treat of a stout. I would not want more than half a bottle of this at a time.

This stout will put extra hair on your body. If you can drink a whole bottle, you are part of the special "extra double stout" club. I want to eat this with a steak marrinated with Lea and Perrins, would be a GREAT paring! This stout is not for everyone...only the few brave enough to actually like a stout that drinks like old motor oil. I can see most of my friends giving this one all 1's and sticking to Guiness.
For me, it is interesting and YUMMY! Exceptional Stout!!!

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Photo of geexploitation
4.78/5  rDev +39.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I ran the gamut of emotions on this one. Bought it with great excitment, read some reviews on here with a creeping concern... then opened it, tried it, and felt sweet vindication.

1999 vintage, pours jet black with a dark tan, sticky and voluminous head. The smell is heavy with brettanomyces, but opens up as the beer warms, giving off espresso and vanilla cherry aromas. The taste of this beer evolves constantly. It opens with a bite of carbonation, then silky, fruity sweetness. The hops and roasted malts provide a bitter backbone to the fruits, which morph into espresso flavors before fading mostly, but not completely, from the palate. Throughout, there's a slight acidity (from the brettanomyces, perhaps?) that would allow this beer to pair with the gamiest of meats. Wow. Mouthfeel is round, substantial, oily, slick... like quicksilver. I could run out of adjectives. That smoothness helps the beer's drinkability, which is extraordinarily high for a beer of such strength and intense flavors.

I'm not sure I can find a single flaw in this beer. It's one of the best imperial stouts I've had; it could pair well with certain foods, and stupendously well with certain desserts. Its tastes are both broad and deep. This is simply a wonderful beer experience. Highly recommended.

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Photo of GreenWBush
4.78/5  rDev +39.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Since I often proclaim 'Russian Imperial Stout' to be my absolute favorite beer style, it seems fitting that I give this originator a shot. I've seen it rotting away in the cooler at my local store, skeptical about it because of all the bashing reviews given due to the very real possibility of being corked. To be fair, getting limpid soy sauce for $8 a bottle does suck. But my fears were completely unfounded as this was a reveletory beer-experience on a beer I consider in the lower tiers of 'holy grail beers'.

2001 vintage.

Aftering peeling back the plastic adorning the top, I popped the cork expectantly but frightfully when nary a sound followed. Fortunately this beer was still in remarkable condition: it had a significant dirty, multi-stacked head of about 1.5", leaving a fantastic trail of lace.

The nose of this beer is spectacular and seems to be the blueprint for the formulation of our ideas of the style. Molasses, treacle, espresso, sizzled fruit (plums, grapes, dates). Not particularly roasty, which surprised me. Belgian candi sugar also seems to creep through, which I was not expecting.

The taste of this beer is like a RIS wet-dream with each sip. Has the classic 'bitter-chocolate meets prunes' stamp with more molasses and treacle. More of a burnt flavor than a rich roastiness. Tartness touches the sides of the palate. Floods the mouth with a gorgeously bittersweet flavor that lingers and lingers. Just amazing.

The mouthfeel of this beer is about as perfect as I can imagine. No interference with carbonation like many beers suffer with, and a heavenly addictive flavor that builds and builds to a harrowing crescendo that keeps you coming back. Even as a 2001, i'm already on the prowl for more for the cellar. A fantastic experience.

EDIT: I know understand why this beer is rated so [relatively] low for how amazing I thought it was. I bought two bottles after finding this one, and they've both been rotten liquid vinegar.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.77/5  rDev +39.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

*1999 Vintage*

As per the BA Database picture. 1999 Vintage, corked. Cost me $5.99 for the 11.2 ounce bottle. Thankfully, the cork was in excellent condition & had preserved this beer well, which is not always the case I hear.

Solid black mass, a semblance of deep brown bubbles formed when poured, not really a head, more like a “washing up liquid” froth. These bubbles soon burst to leave just a very thin brown halo ring that clings to the edges of the glass. This beer has no head whatsoever, which is no surprise at all, in fact it is to be expected for the style. Anyone who has ever had a Courage Imperial Russian Stout, especially those of 10+ years old, will be very familiar with the appearance of this beer – they are incredibly similar. Each top-up quickly releases carbonation & forms a short lived brown head.

Slightly vinous at first, but nothing to be concerned about, especially when the dark fruits, figs, molasses, dark treacle syrup & plums even, break through. What an incredible nose. The way the dark fruits, the Flanders Red sourness & a rich deeply exotic luxurious powerful dark stout ‘kick’ – are all wrapped up with a semblance of aged oak wooden casks soaked in Port – is quite incredible. I must spill some of this my Pillow to remind how good it was when I wake up tomorrow.

A very strong Port like entrance, rich & voluptuous it warms the inner mouth a little as it smoothly coats the cheeks & tongue with raisins & other dark fruits, like Cashmere on the naked body of a Supermodel, it feels good. Imperial & Imperious with a stunning complexity.

Huge mouthfeel, just fucking huge. So Big, it’s the Galaxy C-5 of the beer world.

You’re never going to take a 6-Pack of this to your Neighbors BBQ, but I found it to drink relatively easily, mainly due to the fact that the alcohol is well controlled & your concentration on the recognition of all the complex tastes distract you from the mere act of imbibing. Even though the 11.2 fl.oz were sipped, it soon disappeared. I must get some more!!

Enjoyable. Whilst this is a very good attempt at recreating an Imperial Extra Double Stout, it lacks the fine refinement of say a Courage Imperial Russian Stout twice its age. Aging may well improve this one a little bit; I would certainly risk aging this '99 sample further.

Like an old dialect of a modern day foreign language, many people may not understand, recognize or even appreciate this quite marvelous complex beer style – but this really is what an Imperial Stout should be like.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.75/5  rDev +38.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

Bottle purchased at Beers of the World in Henrietta, NY.

This one pours a pretty deep dark black, with a small quarter inch creamy looking head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like earthy roasted malt, tobacco, raisin, plum, red wine, and slight tartness.

There is quite a lot going on here in this one. This might be the biggest gulf in expectations vs actual taste in a beer I've had- this one of the best stouts I've ever had. I had fairly low expectations for it. The slight tartness- much less pronounced than people are saying in other reviews- gives a wonderful counterbalance to the other flavors, and seems to make them even more pronounced. It's like a chocolatey red wine, with heavy roast, vanilla cream, leathery tobacco, slight soy sauce, and dry smoke. It's quite dry, but not bitter. This is a superb sipping beer.

This is medium bodied, with a pretty low level of carbonation. It is quite creamy.

This was quite a revelation- it was a highly enjoyable way to end this evening. One of the most complex beers I've ever had.

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Photo of PorterLambic
4.72/5  rDev +37.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

One discrepancy: my bottle said 9% ABV, not 10.

Pours pitch black. Black like the night sky without any stars, like tar on a hot roof, the absolute lack of any, ANY light at all. No light penetration at all. This brew sucks up light. No head, no lace, no film.
Smell is malt, smoke, oak, peat, dark fruit and whisky.
Taste is malt, smoke, molasses,oak, dark fruits soaked in whisky and alcohol. Oh, yeah, it has ABV, baby.
A medium-full body, smoooth, creamy, with no, NO carbonation at all. This is what I would expect from a great sipping whisky (if I were wont to look for one).
This is a near singular experince. Think of this as a drinkable Samiclaus or Sam Adams Triple Bock without the killer, over-the-top ABV. Absolutely amazing complexity and balance throught this brew.

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Photo of cokes
4.7/5  rDev +37%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1999. The definition of black. Very small, wispy tan head. Staring into the glass filled with black ether, and specks of foam, mixed with tiny round bubbles, I feel like I am at the edge of existance, exploring a map of the cosmos.
Mindbending aromas of ripened fruit, dark and otherwise. Plums, prunes, cherries, raspberries. Heavy port and sherry aromas as well.
Taste is all of the above and more. Hugely vinous. With the port and sherry flavors coming to the forefront. Ventures through a range of fruits. Too many to possibly descipher. So cryptic and mysterious. Cherry and berry hues betwixt the plum syrup. Mangos and anise dance forbiddenly, with molasses cutting in. Liquorice shows up and strikes up a conversation with the heavy oak tones. An absolute melee of flavors. However, roastedness is oddly excluded. Present only in the periphery. Finish dries out, and leaves you wanting to revist the place you just left.
Moderately thick, viscous mouthfeel. Null carbonation.
With a touch more roastedness, I doubt I could even fathom how good this would be. I can barely fathom it now.

Oynx under a wispy and short-lived tan lace.
Burnt cedar, sherry, candied yams and pine bark aroma.
Smoky up front. Teryaki glazed cigar ash. Light, dry toffee sweetness with some molasses. Immensly woody with sour oak and dry, spicy cedar characteristics. Earthy as hell too. The vinousness traits are unmatched. Grape, plum, raisin, raspberries port, brandy. Damn.
So very, very bold and complex. Thick palate paint. A beer that takes an entire evening to drink. Smiling all the while.

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Photo of rtepiak
4.7/5  rDev +37%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

DRINK IT AT CELLAR TEMPERTURE... about 55 degrees.

i have had some bad bottle so i guess i'll give it the average of my experiences. at its best its something that seems to span multiple beer worlds.

a more traditionally formulated RIS. opaque with absolutely no foam. brown ruby at the fringe of glass. porter like smell. sour staleness, grape, soy sauce, wood finish. taste is all that. yet bloody, but not metallic quality. wood earthy. apple hop fruit quality. goes down fantastically. thick in taste no alcohol overpowering, smooth. fantastically smooth. light smoked sour. has a lot of old ale qualities. a true english RIS. green pepper hop finish. not for those that dislike old ales or expect a hard american RIS.

had a 2001 again about a year and a half later. same look but with more lingering film on the glass... thick and robust nose of flemish tang at first that subsides to dark fruit and tobacco. some coffee and chocolate in aggitation. sour leather with smokey wood nature of ash. black currant, black berry, stale grape, plum. mild metallic and balsamic way to it also. no alcohol what so ever. get better with age.

this is not a beer that is simply delightful and to be had as a dessert... "wow its so chocolaty and the drinkablity is like a 6 percent not an 11." this is a dense beer. its extremely complex... and its not about the sweet... its about flavors that have withstood time and expanded... and slowly.

had the 1999 bottle and it was definitely something incredible.

it seems to blend the quad and the new russian imperial stout fantastically. it was a bit more carbonated this time. reminded me of the black albert. beligan sugar esters, earth, soy sauce, and liver blood. amazing. a beer to have before you die.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.69/5  rDev +36.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2000 Vintage. Pours completely black without the slightest trace of carbonation. The aroma is chocolatey with hints of prune and toffee. A slightly sweet toffee comes out in the flavor as well, and nicely compliments the taste of dark, bitter chocolate. Dark figgish fruit flavors emerge mid-palate, leading into a spicy alcohol finish, and a really wonderful burnt malt flavor that lingers subtly into the aftertaste. Thick and chewy in mouthfeel, with a slightly dry finish. Really, really nice.

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Photo of rkhaze
4.67/5  rDev +36.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1999 vintage. Didn't appear to be any leakage in the cork. Pours thick and an absolute black. No hints of any color escaping the sides. Small dense creamy dark brown head that dissapated to a collar that lasted throughout. Not much lace and a mild carbonation. Definite vinuous notes in the aroma. Port sweetness but also the woody barrel character of a sherry. Chocolate and red fruits(plums,raisins) are also present along with some alcohol.
Sweet malt and sticky red fruit flavors upfront. Chocolate, molasses sweetness and a hint of licorice. A dry woody/oaky vinuous alcohol aftertaste with mild tartness(yeast?) good bitterness and a bit of salt. The flavor profile sort of reminded me of the first year of Samuel Adams Triple Bock I tried so many years ago. Outstanding!
Rich viscous mouthfeel. Definitly a sipper, but I'd have another one if it was here.
From reading other reviews, this vintage seems to be hit or miss. I'm glad I got a bottle in good condition. Great stuff.

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Photo of Sigmund
4.65/5  rDev +35.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cask conditioned at the 32nd Cambridge Beer Festival, as "Harvey’s Double Extra Russian Stout". ABV was 9.5%. Gravity dispense. Pitch black colour, low head. LOVELY complex aroma, surprisingly fruity: Plums, cherries, oranges. Roastiness, oak and cigars too. Flavour is extremely roasty and bitter, but also elements of oak and dark fruits. Warming mouthfeel, as expected from a 9.5% ABV beer. The roasty and bitter aftertaste lasts "forever", making it difficult to move on to another beer. Belongs in the top division of beers.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.62/5  rDev +34.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2001 - 11.2 oz bottle, thick silver foiled neck and top which is corked, no cap. Pours a inky thick dark brown and settles black as a moonless night in the glass, hazy thin tannish head with some loose bubbles that stick around nearly the whole glass through, lace is in minimal oily thin spots. Aroma is heavenly, dark chocolate covered cherry bon-bons dipped in brandy; very port like, vicious and pungent. Alcoholicly big and darkly wine-like, oaky sweet, notes of dark cherry, plum, and chocolate cake. A nice wiffer. Taste is quite complex; layered full with lots of goodies, very chocolatey, deep dark cherry sweetness, lightly oaky sweet, mildly roasted maltyness, smooth dark caramel, notes of vanilla, molasses, plum, raisin, chocolate candies, cake, and cookies. A wonderful display of chocolatey sweetness and dryness with some oaky tartness, sea salt/salty ham lingering in the finish. Close to port-like in its character. Feel is quite full with a thin start that builds quickly, staying fairly creamy, smooth, firm, and lasts with a nice complex candy sweetly tart and cake/waffer-like dry finish. Beautiful! A nice sipper, the 10% is hidden well, only detected in the nose, which tends to fade as it warms as does the mellowing power of this serving. Its very calming and warm as it does the same. A nice Imperial Stout!

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Photo of SteveP
4.62/5  rDev +34.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As with IPA, Imperial Stout developed its strong flavours in order to survive long journeys. During the 18th century reign of Porter, the stronger ("stout") version was exported to the Baltic region. It was given extra hops and a higher abv in order to survive the journey. A Belgian, A Le Coq, was the man in charge of these exports. Thrale’s Anchor Brewery Entire (the contemporary name for Porter) was the one chosen by A Le Coq to send to the Empress of Russia. The brewery was eventually bought by Barclay Perkins, and then in 1955 by Courage. The Courage Imperial Stout is rarely made these days - it hasn't been brewed since the 1990's, and may never be made again. Bottles that do exist can fetch high prices.

However, A Le Coq was also responsible for another Imperial Stout that does still exist. Because of the high import duties on the beer, A Le Coq had arranged to have a version brewed within Russia. Brewing began in 1912 in what is now Estonia. After a few ups and downs brewing of this famous Stout ceased in 1969. However, during the 1990's, when it became clear that production of the Courage Imperial Stout had ceased, the Lewes brewery Harvey & Son, with the supervision of the Estonia brewery, revived A Le Coq's Imperial Extra Double Stout. Only brewed once a year, and then allowed to age for a couple of years before being released, this is the only authentic Imperial Stout still being made (Sam Smith's version is not bottle conditioned, and is too low in abv to qualify).

The 2001 edition is now available. It has a Flemish nose: oaky mature balsamic vinegar and minced pies. The mouthfeel is slightly rough and heavy. There are flavours of soy sauce, chocolate, port, ripe plums and wine soaked oak. There is a long, dry finish. It feels old which flatters the mouth into believing this is a beer of distinction.

The roughness and imbalance suggests that this is a little young to be drunk right now. The 2000 edition however was much smoother. The plums were fresh tasting, there were also fresh figs, and the chocolate was finest Belgian mixed with prune juice. A huge, complex and divine brew.

When compared with other Imperial Stouts (Sam Smith's, Old Chimney's Good King Henry or Bell's Expedition Stout) Harvey's comes out a very close winner to Good King Henry, but does show up Bell's and Sam Smith's for the court jesters they are. However, it has to be drunk when ready. Search out the 2000 or the 1999, and leave the 2001 for another year.

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Photo of purplehops
4.62/5  rDev +34.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was vintage 1999 at 9% abv. This stout poured a rich black with a cocoa colored head that only lasted for 20 seconds at most. The aroma was alcohol and fruit with a touch of molasses. The taste starts with a bold warmth of alcohol like a Calvados and finishes with a thick malty after-taste with hints of dried apricots and plums. Each sip brings more and more complexity of flavors to you taste buds. I'm glad a bought a few of these because I think it will age for a few more years to come. Here's hoping.

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Photo of DagFishHead
4.61/5  rDev +34.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2001 edition.
Appearance: Ink black, with dark ruby-brown highlights where it's edge meets the glass. No head, no lace.
Smell: Oak, port wine, licorace, deep roasted malt, plums, over-ripe cherries... incredibly complex. Pleasing alcohol nose-tingle.
Taste: Beautifully balanced oaky port wine, plum and syrupy sweet malt start, then smokey, espresso, date/raisin at the top. Alcohol warmth swells then relents leaving a semidry version of all these flavors lingering in the aftertaste. Super!
Mouthfeel: Sinfully rich, chewy malt. Mouth-tingle from absolutely minimal carbonation combined with high alcohol level.
Drinkability: Incredible in spite of being almost completely flat. I will try this again and re-rate if the next sample has better carbonation.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.6/5  rDev +34.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(2009 bottle, kept in cellar temps presumably since obtained - drank it Dec 2013)

A: syrupy, black.... mocha head 3/4", thick foam.... head peters out fast.... small sheet of dark cap lingers long.... bunch of medium-sized bubbles

S: funky-sour.... sweet cherry, chocolaty-roasty.... raspberry and confectionery chocolate glaze.... dark caramelized sugars sneak through

T: wowww!... roasty as heck with a strong vinous undercurrent, but not so much fruity or bitter.... borders on sherry, but tempered enough by the malt and roast flavors.... super dry finish as in sweet aftertaste being nil, at first.... later, a sweetish, sherry-like, high-fruity finish - nearly red-wine vinegary

M: beautiful but brief initial silkiness up front, slips over a slightly powdery-roast dust into the supremely dry finish without desiccating... slow and soft release

O: this was absolutely wonderful.... better than the Courage Imp. Stout.... so much more complexity.... likely the best British imperial stout I've come across - what an imperial stout should taste like - tastes like history

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Photo of Bierman9
4.58/5  rDev +33.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow...interesting bier! Jet black color and nice creamy mocha-colored head. Nose hits you with fruit (choco-covered cherries?). Wonderful mouthfeel with the same choco-cherry woody flavor. Nice brew! Thanks VENOM!

overall: 4.65
appearance: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 5 | drinkability: 4.5


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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.57/5  rDev +33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm reviewing an English bottle of this beer that a colleague brought back from London. I've had other bottles of this before that were purchased in the States, but I've never bothered to review it because I kept thinking I'd gotten a bad or old bottle. One was most definitely leaking, and the others always seemed sour- and not necessarily in a good way. I was always intrigued by the history of this beer and so kept giving it a go with no success. This bottle is an entirely different story and goes a long way toward showing me what all the fuss is about. Pours black with brown highlights and little head. Smells quite complex. Rich, smokey, a trifle tart, woody, roasted grains, stewed fruit, and chocolate notes. The taste has even more depths to plumb. Bitter, racey, slightly funky, nice deep chocolate and coffee flavors, and a port wine finish. The sourness is still here, but so well integrated and complementary to the other flavors you know it belongs- you don't think "spoiled", you think "wow". Smooth and warming in the mouth, this is a great beer- I just wish every bottle was this good.

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Photo of marburg
4.57/5  rDev +33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


Blacker than black. Devoid of all light. Completely opaque. Zero head, save the small population of 4 -- oh, no, 3! -- bubbles clinging to the side of the glass where it meets the surface of the beer.

Aromas of raspberry chocolate truffles, chocolate covered cherries with liqueor, alcohol. Smooth, powerful, bittersweet chocolate flavors. Is that roasted bitterness? Brief and cleansing finish. Mouthfeel moves from silky to syrupy.

Powerful and impressive.

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Photo of Gusler
4.53/5  rDev +32.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

{2000 Release}: Let me say you must like any beer that goes to the trouble to cork and wrap their beers so tightly.
The beer pours my benchmark for stouts and porters, “Jet Black”, the head planetary in size, creamy in its consistency" and the residual lace glutinous sheets that weld themselves to the glass. The aroma of black strap molasses, caramel, coffee, chocolate and even Hickory smoked bacon also comes to mind, but then food and beer are always on my mind, not necessarily in that order, quite complex nose and beer for that matter. Ambrosial start, the top is rich and thick, chewy, full as mere words does not do it justice. Hop spicy bite, moderately acidic, bittersweet chocolate dry and one hell of a fine "Stout" in my book.

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Le Coq Imperial Extra Double Stout from Harvey & Son Ltd.
Beer rating: 3.43 out of 5 with 482 ratings