Courage Imperial Russian Stout | Wells & Young's Ltd

Courage Imperial Russian StoutCourage Imperial Russian Stout
BA SCORE
92.2%
Liked This Beer
4.24 w/ 925 Ratings
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
Ranking:
#892
Reviews:
305
Ratings:
925
Liked:
853
Avg:
4.24/5
pDev:
10.38%
Alströms:
4.47
 
 
Wants:
183
Gots:
194
Trade:
12
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 925 |  Reviews: 305
Photo of essie
1/5  rDev -76.4%

Photo of Way2drunk
1.82/5  rDev -57.1%
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 Rons35
2/5  rDev -52.8%

Photo of liverdamage
2.16/5  rDev -49.1%

Photo of Sephiroth
2.35/5  rDev -44.6%
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 -41.3%
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 Raziel313
2.5/5  rDev -41%

Photo of kojevergas
2.55/5  rDev -39.9%
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 cknoch
2.65/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Photo of Stunmai
2.76/5  rDev -34.9%
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 -30.4%
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 lefty418
2.97/5  rDev -30%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Didn't taste anything like what a RIS should. Completely disappointed since this beer came so highly recommended.

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Photo of LadyOfMuchBeer
3/5  rDev -29.2%

Photo of Jobin_24
3/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of jmryan8
3/5  rDev -29.2%

Photo of Naugled
3/5  rDev -29.2%
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 Rollzroyce21
3/5  rDev -29.2%

Photo of paul_db
3.03/5  rDev -28.5%
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 -28.1%
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 -26.4%
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 -25.7%
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 ofYYC
3.17/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a solid blackish brown without any real head. Smells quite sour, poisonous even. A high proof smell, to say the least. Taste is very similar to the smell, powerfully sour, with bold flavors of bakers chocolate and black coffee. Not necessarily a bad tasting beer, but definitely not something I'll be purchasing again any time soon, unless, perhaps, I come across a fresher bottle. Maybe I just got this one at an odd point in the aging process. Definitely an interesting experience, though.

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Photo of akorsak
3.18/5  rDev -25%
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 -25%
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 mquartuccio87
3.25/5  rDev -23.3%

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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
Beer rating: 92.2% out of 100 with 925 ratings
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