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Courage Imperial Russian Stout | Wells & Young's Ltd

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

Brewed by:
Wells & Young's Ltd
England, United Kingdom
wellsandyoungs.co.uk

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:
292
Ratings:
899
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
18.25%
 
 
Wants:
172
Gots:
190
For Trade:
13
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Reviews: 292 | Ratings: 899
Photo of Way2drunk
1.82/5  rDev -56.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

You guys are such liars! This beer is mediocre at best. For a RIS I was very disappointed. Where was the strong finish. Where was the expresso with pear overtones. There was nothing great or even close to outstanding about this beer

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Photo of Sephiroth
2.35/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

1993 Vintage, courtesy of JHop. Pours almost totally still, a thin ring large bubbles remains around the rim, the color is extremely dark brown. Aroma of chocolate,roasted malt, and dark fruits. Slight alcohol presence.

Tastes pretty oxidized. There are remnants of what I am sure was a great beer, but this bottle has turned. Somewhat chalky finish. Bad drinkability. Now that my review is finished, I am dumping the rest.

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Photo of Svyturys30
2.49/5  rDev -41%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This was the first stout that I had ever had. The bottle was 49,096 of 210,000. I didn't really know what to expect when having this stout.

A- Stereotypical stout, dark brown, black.

S- I picked up a hint of cocoa but then the rest of the smell was overpowered by the stoutish smell.

T- I was not a fan of the taste. First taste was alright, but the rest tasted like tree bark. I couldn't finish the bottle.

M- I thought that feel of the beer was alright, just tasted bad.

O- I personally would not recommend this beer to anyone unless they were a stout buff. I don't know a lot about them, so I can't offer a lot of advice, just my opinion.

Cheers!

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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)

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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 Damian
2.95/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Drank from a 9.3 US fl.oz bottle purchased at Berman's Wines & Spirits, Lexington, MA
Brewed in May 2011
Best before see neck of bottle. 19/09/24
Served in a snifter

Thin in appearance for the style yet still rather attractive. The medium brown liquid was topped by a three-finger tall, super tight and foamy, mocha colored crown. With such an enormous head, I was anticipating the beer to be over carbonated. As the head faded, a huge wall of streaky lacing stuck in its wake. With time, the crown settled to a thick, frothy cap.

The nose was really complex and interesting. Sweet and boozy with subtle sherry-like notes. Slight oxidation. Dark fruits were apparent. Plums and raisins came through strong. Moderately smoky. Hint of tobacco. Good dose of dark chocolate. A touch of umami/soy sauce was present. Just enough to lend the beer some additional complexity.

Unlike the aroma, the flavor profile was exceptionally harsh. Dark fruits appeared briefly on the front end before boozy and ashy notes took over. The beer had an overwhelming char-like presence. Notes of soy sauce were apparent. I definitely picked up some oxidation and the tell-take "wet paper" flavor. The beer finished super hot. Dry, bitter, earthy hops were noticeable in the finish as well.

The beer was definitely lighter bodied for the style yet still creamy and smooth. A fine, spritzy effervescence turned the liquid frothy and slick on the palate.

Courage Imperial Russian Stout is a beer supposedly designed for aging, but my three-year-old bottle was a hot, acrid mess. I would love to try another vintage to see if this beer lives up to its heralded reputation.

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Photo of Naugled
3/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I found a 2011 bottle locally and was excited at first. But after drinking it left me flat. Maybe I had a bad bottle but it was very disappointing to me. At best this is was an average RIS. Based on other reviews I plan to try this again to see if it was just my bottle.

Aroma was dominated by treacle. The head was good but had large bubbles like a soda. Body was thin and the flavor was a bit harsh with a late lingering astringency. I do drink quite a few RIS's it's one of my more favorite styles.

I found this to be average at best, but I will try again, perhaps it was a bad bottle.

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Photo of paul_db
3.03/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

vintage 2011 bottle

Poured out jet black with alot of head.

Once the head settled, not really a pronounced smell that would indicate what you're about to sip on.

The taste followed just that, not alot of flavor at all. Slight bitterness and a bit of malt character but i felt like i was drinking cold coffee mixed with alot of water.

This had to have been a bad bottle/batch i had.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.05/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

It is with sadness that I write this review. It doesn't appear that the '93 Courage Imperial will be able to age for 10 years. Hopefully, my bottle was an exception and there are still some quality bottles left. The appearance and aroma were fine, as I remember them from previous tastings, but the flavor has deteriorated greatly. The unique "burnt currant" has been replaced by a more acidic note. The complexity of flavor has dwindled into a single, basic flavor. There's not much left at all.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.12/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter. Brewed in May, 2011.

5.0 A: Dark brow color. Aggressive pour gave two fingers of creamy/frothy tan head. Retention is very good as it settles down to a very creamy half finger, which persists quite long. Lots of lacing. Damn fine looking.

3.0 S: Surprisingly earthy. Smells like a forest stream that someone dumped a bunch of roasted barley in. Mineral, moderate roastiness, anise, "woodzy freshness", light burnt notes, and moderate herbal hoppiness. It's not bad, it's just not what I'm fond of in an RIS.

3.0 T: Tastes as it smells for the most part. Earth tones of mineral, mountain stream, moss, burnt wood, char. Moderate roastiness, anise, a touch of smoke, and herbal hops.

3.0 M: Heavier medium body. Carbonation level is fine, but it feels strange. It's like a creaminess, but it isn't. Too hard to explain, so I won't anymore.

3.0 D: Earthy, "farmhousy" RIS. Not a big fan, but it might interest those looking for a "natural tasting RIS," whatever that means.

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Photo of viverlee
3.15/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

All-world compared to their Banana Bread Beer. But still like a first rounder who makes a few pro bowls as an alternate and never realizes his full potential.

STYLE: Russian Imperial Stout

ABV: 10%

LOOK: Pours like chocolate syrup. Decent body that’s actually lighter than it looks at first. Can’t get a head to stick, and there’s medium-low lacing and retention.

NOSE: Campfire, figs, and roasted apples. Espresso and bittersweet chocolate dominate.

MOUTH: Purple grapes and dark fruit accent the wood-burning fire thing going on. Not that I’ve had ‘em this way, there’s some roasted Nutty Bars too. Unusually, I like it less as it warms, sitting here waiting for the balance to shine only to take astringent gulp after astringent gulp with a cayenne gloss halfway down my throat.

Beeradvocate Rating: 93

Hayward Abbey Rating: 78

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Photo of akorsak
3.18/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a bottle of Courage RIS brewed in 1993 and served at Kclinger's Publick House in Etters, PA.

Appearance: The stout is a dep brown/black color. There is a clearly visible flotilla of yeast in the glass. There is little, if any, head.

Smell: The stout has a deep rich chocolatey taste that has withstood the years...

Taste: ...unfortunately the taste has not. There is a definite flatness to the ale. It has lost something over the past 13 years. What I do taste (that is positive) is a nice chocolatey roast flavor that masks the 10% abv very well. I think that this have been around 2-3 years too long.

Mouthfeel: The metallic taste is a bit of a downer, but the thought of a 13 year old stout have certain romantic qualities associated with it.

Drinkability: With this ABV and price tag ($45 for a 170 mL bottle), the drinkability is tough. As I stated though, I would have loved to have tried this 2 years ago.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.18/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2013 vintage dates 02/09/26 at 45 degrees into snifter
Aroma of roasted malt
Head small (2 cm), light brown, creamy, quickly diminishing to 2 mm ring
Lacing poor – very small islands with small bubbles
Body black to very dark brown, opaque
Flavor starts slightly weak bitter chocolate; no alcohol, no hops, no diacetyl; slowly fades away
Palate full, watery, lively carbonation

OK – this is drinkable but not desirable – if this is as originally brewed in 1795 as the label says then I don’t see how RISs became popular. It is singularly lacing in flavor other than the initial weak bitter chocolate taste. Lacing is poor, head is small, and aroma is weak. To add insult to injury, it comes in a 9.3 oz bottle – might as well by on an airplane.

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Photo of ilikebeer03
3.37/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2012 bottle opener 9/6/16
Dark with a tan head, which disappeared quickly.
Nose is very heavy on coaco. Slight oxygenation. Sherry. Taste follows, a lot of chocolate and oxidized fruit. Raisins. Some roast comes through as it warms.

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Photo of woosterbill
3.45/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2011 bottle into a medium-sized Duvel tulip. Thanks to whoever shared this.

A: Black with brown highlights; on top is a light brown head that settles into a ring. Ok.

S: Super roasty, ashy, and flinty. High minerality, light chocolate. Good, but a little restrained.

T: Tasty roastiness Dark chocolate, coffee, char, ash, and supper-bitter hops. Very, very intense. A bit harsh.

M: Medium body, prickly carbonation. Meh.

O: I'd heard a lot about this one, but it really didn't impress me. Maybe with a bit of age the rough corners might smooth out, but as it was I didn't find anything too enjoyable about it.

Cheers!

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.46/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

275ml bottle poured into a goblet

A: Pours very dark brown with over 3 fingers of light brown, dense foam. This beer appears highly carbonated. No light penetrates the beer. Retention is very good.

S: Toffee, milk chocolate, light smoke. Some raisin and other dark fruits. After a while, I get some roasted malts as well.

T: Quite nice - much better than the aroma IMO. Lots of roasted malts, quite bitter, with a small amount of toffee sweetness to back it up. I'm surprised how different this is than the aroma.

M: Very nice - thick with good carbonation.

O: I was not impressed at all by the aroma, but the taste is quite nice. The aroma did seem to open up after a while. Not excellent, but a decent imperial stout.

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Photo of siege06nd
3.5/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

A. Trying to think of another way to say "black" as this is exactly what this looks like...you know, just like every other Russian Imperial Stout out there. A finger of white sand colored head slowly settles to a half finger. The head is surprisingly tight, consistent, and creamy. The lacing is similarly so.

S. Fudge, coffee, hints of smoke and anise, even some mild pine needle aromas from the hops.

T. Baking chocolate, crispy brownie edges, coffee grounds. A big, dry, ashy finish, which is equal parts smoke-infused cacao as it is cigar.

M. Somewhat high in carb for the style. The finish is also way too dry, dominating the rest of the flavors.

O. This is alright. Probably truer to the style from hundreds of years ago, but things evolve for a reason and the modern RIS has made this obsolete. Plenty of nice chocolate notes here, but the ashtray flavors dominate on the finish and leave a bad taste in the mouth. This is just OK...nothing more.

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Photo of JoeBond
3.53/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2012 Vintage bottle

Pours dark with a thick head, aroma is strong on the fruit as advertised on the bottle itself.

I'll just say that personally, the fruit aroma and aftertaste were too overpowering to me.

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Photo of SomethingClever
3.57/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: dark black color no head almost whatsoever

S: lots of licorice a little roast

T: I'm getting a little old age beer taste but it's pretty good

M: thin

O: I think this beer is a touch oxidized the underlying beer is quite good but I'm getting a little green apple taste very faint but it's there. I think this beer would be amazing fresher

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.58/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into snifter glass. Pours a deep brown-black body along with a thick khaki head that leaves behind a nice coating of lacing throughout. Aromas of cocoa powder, espresso, roasted malts, lightly fruity hops, and some caramel. Flavors of cococa, espresso, and a dose of roasted malts. The hop presence provides a pinch of bitterness which was somewhat off putting for me. Smooth mouthfeel and evenly carbonated. Semi-dry finish. Lightly bitter in the finish. I can understand the British character here, but I do not see why this beer should be rated so high here. I've had numerous RIS brews worthy of much higher marks. Otherwise, a solid RIS for those looking for a nogstalic British character.

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Photo of heygeebee
3.58/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

BB Aug 24(!)

Pours a black body. Very coarse tan head. Clumpy lace.

Aromas of bitter roast malt, burnt coffee.

Taste is quite sharp. Very bitter, and roast/burnt coffee and dark chocolate flavours feature. Hollow mid palate, moderate palate length overall. Opens up more as it warm and the flavours get softer, however, all in all , far too young.

Mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied. Light carbonation.

Suspect needs a year or two in cellar.

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Photo of Carpentiere
3.61/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

The stout pours close to perfect. Ideal color with a slight head. The smell is outstanding with only a slight hint of something that keeps it from perfect. Not sure what that is. The taste shows something related to the smell that is even more prevelant.....something detracting. A bit bitter. It's a decent Imperial Stout.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.61/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2013 vintage.

Pours a very dark brown color. It doesn't have the pitch-black opacity of more modern imperial stouts, as expected. The head is three fingers high (poured aggressively) and mocha in shade. While the retention fails to impress, webs of lacing manage to stick to the glass.

The age has done this very well. In addition to notes of sherry oxidation appearing vividly, there's a very powerful aromatic note of dark chocolate. Of course, I pick up nice amounts of dark fruits - when combined with a touch of non-harsh alcohol presence ringing distinct, I'm really reminded of rum-soaked raisins. Err, make that rum-soaked raisins coated in chocolate. Some smoke appears as it opens up, as does some caramel. Needless to say, the aromatic complexity is endlessly intriguing, helped by the world-class balance and boldness of notes.

A bit of a letdown next to the nose. It opens up with some espresso and dark chocolate, before trailing off into notes of dark fruit and rum. It finishes somewhat charry and acrid. The notes seem a lot more muddled tasting them compared to smelling them. And that's where the disappointment sets in: it tastes similar to the aroma, only it's far more indistinct and undefined.

I really enjoy the initial feel - creamy, soft, and full. The finishing feel, however, is wanting. It has the dryness I want, but affects the palate with too much astringency (thanks to all the char). It's still a sipper, natch, and it still coats the mouth like a big, rich imperial stout should.

I've always wanted to try this, but after hearing how this directly inspired Stone's IRS (an imperial stout I'm not particularly thrilled by), it gave me a little pause. I still picked up a bottle the minute I found it, and I'm here to report it's just decent. Not amazing, not great, just solid. I'm glad this was pre-aged, because I don't think it would be very good fresh. I would be intrigued to try this with, say, 10 years of age on it however.

3.61/5: An interesting history lesson, but not quite as fulfilling as some my favorite imperial stouts

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.64/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1989. Ebony pour, calm, still. Extremely oxidized nose, woody, vinous. Very complex fruitiness, plenty of grapes, marshmallow sweet aspects, mushroomy vegetal damp earth undertones. Very salty, soy-lkike. Sourish vinous palate, once again very salty, very woody, intense vegetal aspects. Surprisingly still some hops in there, powerful smoky oxidized finish. Medium bodied, rather slick. Interesting, I don’t think this is one of the great vintages, but I’d love to try one with less oxidation.

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Photo of koopa
3.64/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

93' Vintage thanks to the fine folks (Zach and Jenn) at Tap and Table.

Appearance: Pours dark dull brown (at least by candlelight) with zero head, no retention, and no lace.

Smell: Truly my favorite part of the brew. Hints of oxidation, soy, light sherry like vinous notes, and a hint of roast malt. Complex and recommended.

Taste: Kind of fell flat compared to the wonderful nose. Not much roastyness left.

Mouthfeel: Very thin, low to no carbonation, and just not that desirable.

Drinkability: Can't score it any higher due to the taste and mouthfeel.

I feel that this bottle wasn't aged as well as the 1983 vintage I had at Kulminator in 2008, although I liked the nose better.

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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
4.22 out of 5 based on 899 ratings.
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