Courage Imperial Russian Stout | Wells & Young's Ltd

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding
289 Reviews
Courage Imperial Russian StoutCourage Imperial Russian Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Wells & Young's Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by rastaman on 02-11-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
289
Ratings:
885
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
10.43%
 
 
Wants:
169
Gots:
188
For Trade:
13
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Reviews: 289 | Ratings: 885
Reviews by PopGun:
Photo of PopGun
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Jeffsta1
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a fantastic stout, quality through-and-through, really a benchmark.

Fine, thick head. Dark, opaque-ish brown-black color. Dense, rich mouthfeel.

Flavors of smoke, molasses, hint of licorice. A bit sweet but far from cloying. Good bitterness on the finish. Plenty od depth here, but not overwhelmingly intense. Food friendly.

Really fine bubbles. Wouldn't mind if they lasted just a bit longer.

Man, this is just good. So good. Can't think of a better stout for daily enjoyment.

 489 characters

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

Pours a very dark nutty brown, relatively clear, with a nice mocha head; decent retention, setting nicely atop the brew, and leaving behind flat fields of lacing.

Strong, sweet, boozy aroma; reminiscent of a slightly smoother Ten-Fidy. A touch of dark fruit (less sharp than in Old Rasputin); a bit of banana-tinged yeast (less prominent than in FIS); roasty malts coming through as fresh ground espresso beans. Almost a minty, creamy subtext going on.

Flavor follows: it's fairly boozy (but not unpleasantly so), rich, and dark; roasty, with dark fruit, grapes, and a hint of mint; a touch of banana from the yeast. Incredibly strong finish of pure dark chocolate, laced on the edges by espresso. Perhaps the strongest chocolate taste I've had in a brew that didn't add cacao nibs or any other chocolate adjunct.

Full-bodied, but stops just short of chewy. A little bit of alcohol heat, but very smooth.

This is a very, very impressive brew. It's big, flavorful, and strong, while still coming across perfectly smooth. It's what Old Rasputin aspires to be in his journal before he lays his big Russian head on his Communist pillow at night. It's what Ten-Fidy would be if it went to Eleven. It's what Pliny the Elder would be, if Pliny the Elder were a completely different kind of beer and brewed on another continent.

It's really good, is what I'm trying to say.

 1,375 characters

Photo of BBMuffins
5/5  rDev +18.5%

This is hands down the best beer I've ever had. I love a variety of styles, but this beats everything by a tremendous margin. This beer is literally perfection. The beautiful smell, the marvelously delicious and complex taste, the black-as-night look, and not to mention the incredibly smooth texture... This is beer heaven.

I honestly can not believe how good this beer is. I'm not even going to rate it's attributes, it's a solid five through and through. I don't think I was ready to drink this beer. I should have waited until my nose and taste buds are experienced enough to fully pick this beer apart. Then again, I'm not sure I would have ever reached that point as this beer is a labyrinth of flavor and smell.
Byzantinian all the way down.

I'm upset that I can't taste this taste and smell this smell forever.

 821 characters

Photo of doktorhops
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I like the look of this Courage Imperial Russian Stout (2013 vintage). It says “Take courage son, you’re about to drink an Imperial Russian Stout”... at least it says that to me. From Wells & Young’s, purveyors that are obviously not afraid to use additives in their brews for banana/chocolate gains, comes this semi-aged RIS that has the beer-world ablaze with claims of awesomeness and much hype heaped upon it... let’s see if the hype lives up to the, err, hype... or whatnot.

Poured from an almost sample-sized 275ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Deep chocolate brown/black body with a dense half centimetre khaki head that sticks around well. The lace in the glass reveals a Bahamas-like island pattern, specifically Eleuthera Island... maybe a bit of Cat Island too. 9/10.

S: Dark chocolate, grandma’s booze (you know the one I’m talking about - the stuff you snuck out of her locked drinks cabinet that was a mixture of brandy and rum, she said it was for the Christmas fruit cake but you knew she really had a drinking problem) molasses and prune/date round out what is a solid RIS aroma. Take courage son, this review will be over soon. 9/10.

T: From the heady aroma to a very well-balanced flavour. Take the above aromas, to recap: Dark chocolate, grandma’s booze, molasses, prune/date - minus the boozy aspect (you can hardly tell this is 10% ABV) and you are spot on the flavour. Nothing jars or dominates this brew - it is equal parts sweet and bitter with a hint of sourness in the mildly bitter finish. Everything in this brew has reached an almost sublime equilibrium, and for that Courage Imperial Russian Stout deserves a 9 for flavour. 9/10.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with a light but dense and slightly oily carbonation. Not much to complain about here either. 9/10.

D: The biggest downside to this beer? The packaging. 275ml is not enough. This is one Russian Imperial Stout that I wanted to keep on drinking, over and over and over and over like a monkey with a miniature cymbal the joy of repetition really is in this brew (to coin some Hot Chip lyrics). Aside from my slight soirée into the world of descriptive Indietronica this is quite the world class RIS that, like it or not, you really should pay your respects to if you ever get the opportunity. 9/10.

Food match: Garlic roasted cigars with nebulised sturgeon eggs and black truffle fennel foam.

 2,399 characters

Photo of kojevergas
2.55/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

BOTTLE: 275ml. Brown glass. Branded gold and red pry-off pressure cap. Classy label art. "No. 079025 of 210,000"

Acquired: At an Austin, TX bottle shop.

Reviewed live at low altitude in Austin, TX. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Vintage: 2012.
ABV: 10%.
Style: Russian Imperial Stout (per the label).
Serving temp: Cold. Allowed to warm over the course of consumption.
Serving vessel: Snifter.
Expectations: Sky high (given its reputation and current high ratings).

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: ~.25 inches wide. Dark khaki in colour. It recedes too quickly for me to note any other characteristics; the retention is pathetic (~8 seconds). Leaves no lacing. It was fizzy (audibly so) while it lasted.

BODY: Opaque ink-black. True to the style. No yeast particles or hop sediment are/is visible.

Overall, it looks pretty basic for a Russian Imperial Stout. Nothing stands out as unique or special.

AROMA: The dark, schwarz, and chocolate malt base doesn't bring the usual sweetness to the fore, and the reticence of the malts lets the espresso and coffee notes take the spotlight. When I look for the pear mentioned on the label, I find a hint of it, but I'd never identify it blind. There're notes of faint fudge and chocolate as well as a kiss of tobacco, and this aroma suggests a rich brew, but I'm not seeing evidence of all that much intricacy considering the style, and I wouldn't even call it a dessert beer. There're some interesting notes of chewy caramelized fruit (perhaps raisin or fig) and grape. I find none of the smokiness promised on the label.

Aromatic intensity is average for the style.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Much more fruit-emphatic than most beers I've had in the style, with suggestions of grape, fig, prune, date, and raisin - all of which are accompanied by a chewy caramelization as well as a touch of rum soak. The malt backbone is standard: schwarz, chocolate, and dark malts, but they don't bring all that much sweetness to the table, and the chocolate is far too reticent and muted. Immediately, it's obvious this isn't a horribly deep or expressive brew, and the balance is a bit rough around the edges. As it warms, its emergent burnt sugars and ashen notes don't do it any favours.

None of the pear or smokiness promised by the label actually comes through in the taste, and I do get the harshness of espresso and its concomitant roast, but none of the flavour. Some might even call it slightly acrid. What does work well is the faint hint of tobacco, which lends it an interesting (and seemingly true to form) character.

Flavour duration: Average.
Flavour intensity: Above average.
Flavour amplitude: Decent.

It has a dragging rough harshness, lending it a dry scratchy extinguishing presence on the palate that doesn't suit the taste particularly well. It's overcarbonated to boot, and certainly full-bodied. Frankly, there's just no harmony of texture and taste. This needs work. Has a stale overall presentation of flavour. Off-puttingly poor execution.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, or astringent.

Faint metallic off-character is noticeable as it comes to temperature.

OVERALL: Maybe this was a classic 10+ years ago, but today its fundamental lack of balance and problematic mouthfeel hold it back substantially. There are far better (and cheaper) beers in the style now, and I see no need to revisit this. I'll enjoy finishing the glass, if only for the worthwhile tobacco and - harsh as it is - roast, but I couldn't recommend this to friends or trade partners and it doesn't live up to its high reputation. Shockingly shallow, and a mess of a build for a Russian Imperial Stout. Is this really what used to pass as a world-class paragon of the style?

Low C- (2.55)

 3,775 characters

Photo of Chico1985
4.08/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Long-time Want finally relinquished, had a couple pours of this on-tap at The Foundry, Northampton MA.

Black pour into a snifter with a half-finger or so of tan head, retention is decent, some lace left. Really cool flavor profile, big dark English-y malts all the way, definitely has a 'classic' feel going on. Great vinous dark fruit flavors of raisin and plum stick out the most and mesh well with dark caramel, baker's chocolate, toast, molasses, tobacco, just a little bit of roast helping to balance out the sweetness. Somewhat reminiscent of old-school English barleywines/old ales. Very smooth malty mouthfeel with pleasant warming alcohol.

Russian Imperative Stout is more like it.

 694 characters

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

The pour is viscuous and black with a mocha head of foam that is creamy and lasts well . The beer has excellent clarity and although it is truly black as you drink it will show you honey hues from deep within. head refreshes on each tip. The beer is 10 percent.

Nose is sumptuous with earth and roast. Caramel is strong but soft. Bitter chocolate. There is a dark fruit presence but it's like it has sunk in to the beer because of age and has become a sweet part of the earth in this beer. It remains vibrant though. Powerful and edgy with hints of smoke and char but nothing to show for them really.

Drinks full and creamy with an undeniable smoothness. No alcohol on the palate. This malt is like pillowy softness meets dramatic flavor. The drink follows the nose to perfection except for a brief bit of nut. This beer is foreboding and jolly. I have never used the word jolly for an RIS before but it is. Dry roast lingers bitter in the finish as the palate dries out to show you espresso in the aftertaste.

Complex and wonderful.

 1,036 characters

Photo of rudzud
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

So, these were shared with JLindros and Threelions at my birthday celebration. a 2011 and 1972 vintage! Yes, 1972....bought it online a long long time ago from someone in the UK. Reviewed side by side:

A - Both have a very dark dark black body, with the 2011 having a thin mocha head that fades to leave a thin halo, whereas the 1972 has nice legs by clearly no carbonation. Combined, evens out to a 4.

S - Aromas are much better in the 2011 vintage with nice molasses, chocolate, sweeter malts, faint dark fruits. The 1972 is light touches of chocolate and dark fruits, along with a fair amount of oxidation. Combined, evens out to a 4.

T - Taste is, to be expected, far superior with the modern vintage. Very nice chocolate, coffee beans, roasty char. The 1972 version is incredibly oxidized. Light soy sauce and vinegar notes, but once you get past that there are some nice fainter chalky chocolate notes. Not the worst tasting oxidized beer I've ever had. Combined, evens out to a 3.5

M - Mouthfeel is better on the 2011 version, good light creamy carbonation whereas the 1972 is thin with no carbonation. Combined they even out to a 3.5.

O - Overall this was a fun experience and I've been waiting to drink the 1972 Courage stout for close to 4 years now. Incredibly oxidized, but, I expected that to a certain degree. Was a good time.

Serving Type: Bottle

 1,367 characters

Photo of ThomasT
4.85/5  rDev +14.9%

Poured into a whisky tulip glass (I know, sacrilege). 2012 vintage.
Appearance: As black as beer can be. Nice, dark brown, two finger head that was super thick, but actually dissipated a bit. A thin, iridescent oil on the surface and some lacing, but not a ton (probably due to the glass I used).
Smell: Strong smell of overripe fruit and deep coffee roastiness. Hint of chocolate
Taste: Powerful and rich. The body is almost oily and seems to coat your entire mouth with even a small sip. Several different fruit can be tasted, all of which taste slightly to significantly overripe. I detect dates, fig, and plum especially. Moves from fruit into a prominent espresso, almost as strong as espresso itself. Finally, the finish is a rich, dark chocolate the likes of which can only be beat by the absolute richest fancy deserts. Slight, mellow warmth in the throat, but no alcohol taste detected.
Body: Extremely full-bodied
Overall: An incredible beer that clearly lives up to its reputation. Each sip tastes like you are indulging in every item on the desert tray in a grand feast. Cannot recommend enough.

 1,107 characters

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

Poured into a snifter a deep cola brown with deep ruby hue,roasted malt,bitter chocolate,and alcohol soaked fruit in the nose.Rich tasting with a decent amount of booziness,highly roasted with chocolate undertones.A great imperial stout from an old school brewery in England,nice job here.

 289 characters

Photo of DanGeo
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

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.

 1,159 characters

Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of tbryan5
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of FadetoBock
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of NWer
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

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

I'm still shuddering from excitement and respect after sampling this beer @ Redbones tonight. What a treat! I mean seriously, this is the first and last time that I'll ever taste this beer. It's the last time it was brewed, and this is the last round to hit us in the US. Very well matured, extremely smooth and palatable. An absolute classic, with a lot a kick after all these years.

Our pile of samples still had dust on them ... from like 10+ years ago.

 459 characters

Photo of alarmclock314
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of bobcathokie
4.36/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Beerhunter247
5/5  rDev +18.5%

Photo of Magister_Beav
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of JakerLou
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of megamass
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of macbethkid84
4.93/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 289 ratings.
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