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Courage Imperial Russian Stout | Wells & Young's Ltd

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291 Reviews
Courage Imperial Russian StoutCourage Imperial Russian Stout

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

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

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Reviews: 291 | Ratings: 893
Photo of mdagnew
3.89/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

175ml bottle given to me by a friend... 1993 vintage... Had this for my 30th birthday...

Poured a deep dark murky brown colour with loads of floaties... Dirty brown head poured loose and bubbly then faded almost instantly to the faintest ring around the edge... No carbonation or lacing at all..

Aroma - Rich dark alcohol soaked fruits (raisins, strong blackcurrents, prunes), strong toasted bread, deep chocolate maltiness, fruit cake / malt loaf notes, molasses / toffee sweetness, definite portiness, red wine, burnt wood, peppery / spicy hops, some faint honey traces... for a 13 year old beer this smells pretty damn good...

Taste – Sadly a bit of a let down considering the heavenly aromas !!! Quite strong spicy fruitiness (definite blackcurrents, red grapes, some prunes) - maybe a little on the watery side though... some vinegar (cider) notes, alcohol still pretty noticable and warming, definite wine / port notes, light chocolate maltiness, some spicy hop bitterness still comes through, no real sweetness, strong toasted bread notes...

Feel - Pretty smooth with some syrupiness.... medium / full bodied (definitely not as full bodied as i expected)....

Overall - Unfortunately this bottle was slightly past it's prime - maybe 2 or 3 years ago it would have been at its peak but this one just seemed a bit washed out... bland even. Glad i tried it though - especially to breath in the amazing aromas...

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this brew at Kclingers in PA. This review is a 1993 bottle.
I am sampling a cold bottle poured into a snifter. The brew pours a dark soy sauce brown, the color is supported by absolutely no head on the pour. There are some dark brown chunks floating in the brew as it is poured.
Aroma is strong with molasses, brown sugar, dark fruit (raisins and plums) some soy sauce but in the background.
First sip reveals an average to thick body with chewy texture. No carbonation.
Flavor is big malt with molassess and chocolate dominant but also some soy sauce on the finish. Also a smoky, peaty, roasty lingering finish is present. SImilar to a glass of scotch. The brew is easy drinking with no hint of the ABV anywhere. Quite a nice score on the last weekend of a good beer bar. If you see it try it!

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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 dogfooddog
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1993 six-ounce bottle served this evening at room temperature at Monk's Cafe. Next to no carbonation, and a few large chunks of sediment slip past into the belgian chalice glass, but sink to the bottom and do not mix. I end up drinking them when I finish the glass but they don't even impact the already hyper-intense taste.

Huge odor of alcoholic sweet fermeneted raisins. Even my nose can get this one. If I was smelling/tasting this beer completely blind I would have guessed it was a port.

this is one of the most complex beers I have ever had (rivals any lambics or westvleteren 12's no matter how old) and I am debating on what does not deserve a '5.'

Taste is the most port/wine-like beer I have ever had. Tremendous complexity, and the lack of carbonation make this feel like a very raisiny port wine. It is without a doubt magnitudes better than any other imperial stout I have ever had and really makes the rest of the genre pale in comparison. It is a terrible shame this is not available (I have not seen this or any vintage retail in almost a decade of looking). I don't feel the 10% when drinking this beer.

I have never had anything like it, and quite possibly never will again. At 12+ years old, it is afaik the oldest beer I have ever drunk as well.

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Photo of AlexJ
4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1993, black label, thanks to Bruno for sharing!

Very dark pour with some crimson highlights and a thin beige head comprised of tiny bubbles. Nice legs, but no lace.

Aroma is an interesting medley of port wine or sherry, anise, milk chocolate, dark, over-ripe fruits, grapes, pumpernickle bread, and a hint of roasted coffee.

Flavor is equally intriguing, with semi-sweet red wine and port notes, a comglomeration of chocolate, coffee, and anise that is all muddled together, light oxidation notes, toffee, and a mildly sweet finish with just a hiny of alcohol.

Body is medium, very slick and smooth mouthfeel, with a slippery, viscous texture.

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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 MrNuggets
4.97/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Never has a beer smelt like this before! Strength is not surprising, what gets me is what builds it.
Flavors leave me at a loss for words. Many tastes from my past mold into something new and unusual. Fruit? You bet, and they're dark. Dark as all hell. A noticeable coco presence picks up in the finish. Who would have though a stout of such an imperial nature could go down so smooth?
A great drinking experience.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1989 bottle – drank in 2004: Very dark beer with no head or carbonation. Aroma is mostly comprised of alcohol and a subtle smell of coffee. Taste can be described as a mix between roasted malts, coffee, subtle chocolate and ends with some bitterness and a warm alcohol taste. Very intriguing beer, it almost feel like a mix between an old ale (Gales Prize Old Ale) and a Russian Imperial Stout without extreme hops (Sam Smith Russian Stout) without any carbonation but with a good warming feeling from the alcohol as you drink this. I feel lucky I had the chance to taste this but a vertical tasting of this beer would be paradise…

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Presentation: 170ml nip-sized, thick brown glass bottle. Unlike the BA Avatar in the Database, the sample I was holding had the more classic presentation. The dark black background of the main label sits well against the dark purple ringlet that has the words “Imperial Russian Stout” in a rather simple looking Arial-like white font, with “Originally brewed for Catherine II, Empress of all the Russias” in smaller gold font. Inside this there are some Russian words, whilst inside that a Regal Crown has the scripted white letters “O.G. 1098” underneath. Outside this royal paraphernalia, the words “Brewed in the UK, Courage Ltd., Staines, Middlesex” sits above and “As Brewed for Over 200 Years” below. Right at the bottom of the label, it is dated “Brewed In 1993” in simple but prominent white text. Listed as Alc. 10.0% Vol. The simple brass crown cap had a slight speck or two of rust, but nothing to worry about. Firmly applied 11 years ago, it took some removing. A little escape of gas eased my initial fears that a flat dead sample could have been lurking, a ridiculous concern, as I knew that this had lived a good life in the English Yorkshire Countryside before coming Stateside at Easter.

Appearance: Hmmm, what glass to use? Well, I opted for the largest Goblet I had in my armory, a Duvel vessel, freshly washed, cleaned, washed in clean hot water again and then rinsed in cold water and left to its own devices to dry naturally. What a superb choice it turned out to be for it allowed the full glory of the nose to present itself whilst I closely inspected its sheer brown naked body in the hourglass sides of the Duvel Glass. The perfect body has nothing to hide, dark black, almost tar like at first; it takes a powerful light to reveal its dark brown luscious strong body. Pellucid and exotic, like a classic edition of Playboy it begs to be inspected closely, again and again, except that this is most definitely not airbrushed.

Shite!!….I could sit all night and slowly swirl the smallest quantity of this goliath beverage in the forgiving oversized Duvel glass. Presented as such like a fine Brandy, it looks simply fucking marvelous, quite incredible that a beer with no carbonation has such an impressive quality about it, but somehow it does.

Nose: Blackcurrants, and lots of them, I immediately detected dark berried fruits mixed into a thick mélange of currants, molasses, freshly baked spotted dick, alcohol soaked plums and amontillado sherry. There is a hell of a lot going on here and I am far from proficient enough to dissect it all, suffice to say the nose is a meal in itself and exhilarating & invigorating enough to be taken through a freshly rolled up crisp banknote.

Taste: Immensely complex, superbly smooth, Teflon like silky flavors slide over the oral cavity and coat it like a high performance lube oil, embracing the tongue in an orgasmic orgy of mature delight. Sensual and sexy, this releases itself oh so slowly, allowing you to genuinely bask in all of its glory. Dark fruits, plums soaked in alcohol for so long the skins fall off, dark raisins, rich currants, blackberries, blackcurrants, Garibaldi Biscuits and malt soaked molasses. Light sweetness cantilevered against this humongously well aged body makes this a real treat.

I swear the aftertaste will last for another 11 years. Long lingering tasty solute that lays a complex carpet of experiences on the cheeks, tongue, throat and stomach. I could still taste this 15 minutes after the last swallow, which truly helps you to savor the small bottled sample that much more. Mind blowing!!!

Mouthfeel: Smooth, sophisticated, suave – this is the James Bond of Imperial Russian Stouts, a sort of from Russia with Love. Age merely adds massive levels of maturity to the confidence of this British Agent. Brandy like it needs to be sipped and slowly savored.

Drinkability: Fantastic, sampled alone at first, but I chose to finish the last 50ml of this with some big chunks of 5 Year Old Aged Sharp English Cheddar that I had been saving. An absolutely incredible mix. I so want to give a 5 for Drinkability, but I suppose that the sheer complexity and richness may prove a tad too much, it certainly deserves a 4.5, but could so easily be a 5.0 for me.

Overall: Damn, this is one fine brew indeed. 11 years after it was brewed, this one bottle has most certainly stood the test of time incredibly well. A World Classic for sure, but moreover this is really a Highly Educated Gentleman of the English Bottled Beer Aristocracy.

A Huge Thanks to fellow BA and Yorkshireman BSF for this one, delivered whilst we shared a brew at the Doncaster Beer Festival during my Easter trip to England. I am truly indebted to you for this master libation. Thank You, Thank You Sir; it has matured extremely well, no thanks in part to your master cellarmanship. I owe you a few Gallons of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord next year!!!

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Photo of Crosling
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at the Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium.

Vintage 1983.


Mellow and pleasant, obviously effected by its age, with notes of blackberries, dark malts and molasses.

Lovely. Aged and molded. The flavor profile mainly consists of chocolate, cocoa and coffee. Dark fruits as well with notes of purple grapes, red apples and maple.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A 1983 vintage I scored off ebay-'Not for consumption" my ass!!!Great sounds of carbonation when I opened it.Poured jet black with a very slight head that remains all the way down.Extremely vinuous aroma.Plenty of black currant and raisens going on.Theres a slight metallic odor-while not unpleasant its right there in front.Some great port like flavor-a slight sourness throughout.Very grape like.Very bright and lively mouthfeel.Even with the sourness its quite smooth.Overall a fantastic beer.Even after 21 years its still quite something to behold.If you can find a bottle treat youself.

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Photo of francisweizen
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1983 vintage sampled at the Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium. $4:-) From the mangled bottle pours forth one insanely good beer! Deeply dark and opaque with no hints of light showing through! A HUGE head of tan foam, that leaves excellent lacing, even after 21 years in the cellar. The aromas are heavenly, as this is the ultimate imperial stout. The aromas are all across the board and consist of currants, dark chocolate, pure cocoa, strong french coffee, pure unadulterated alcohol vapors, deeply roasted malts, lightly medicinal (orval-like) hops and more! The taste is so rich, so deep, and so endless, that it is hard to describe. The first thing that hits tongue is the deep coffee flavor, than the chocolate and malts come in with a one-two punch, than the hops and other herbal flavors come and linger on your tongue for an eternity. 21 years old and this is not oxidized one freaking bit. This beer is so old, that IT can legally drink itself in the states! The mouthfeel is so thick, creamy, and smooth, with no loss of texture after all of these years, and the drinkability is simply amazing. 10%+, you HAVE to be kidding me. Wow, i've always loved imperial stouts, and I thought that I have had some of the best imperial stouts out there....than, I had this. This is without a doubt the perfect imperial stout (and one of the oldest recipes is used as well). A classic amongst classics, and perhaps the best beer that I have ever had in my life...(it gives the St. Lamvinus a run for it's money, and this one was only $4!!!)You simply have to find a way to try a well-cellared example of this beer. I see them on eBay ocassionaly, so perhaps it is worth a try. If not, do have one when you get to the little piece of heaven that is the Kulminator in Antwerp. No wait, don't have any, save it all for me...PLEASE!

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Photo of rastaman
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gravity cask GBBF 2003- present vintage, this is definitely worth the bloody price. So rich and chocolatey, rich, yet smooth, very long finish. Really good stuff. wasn't as vinous, and salty as the 1985 bottle i had gad a week or so earlier. Less porty aged characters aswell. probably one of my favourite beers of the GBBF in 2003, extra special that it was on cask aswell, very exciting.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage bottle 1983, Sampled September 2004.
The cap pops off of this beer with a bit of a hiss. There is some light carbonation left, and the beer itself is pitch black in color. The nose has notes of cherry, thick rich plum, molasses, sherry, and malt in the background. Surprisingly there is only a hint of dark malt left after all this time. There is some acidity left here from the dark malts, it is not roasty up front, but there is a nice long finish with solid notes of coffee. The fruit notes are not as evident in the taste as in the nose. The acidity definitely dominates up front, but this is not an acidity from an infection.

Sampled in Oct 2002:
This was a 6-pack of the 1983 picked up from the Kulminator in Antwerp, for $7! Thick black and wonderful looking, even after all these years. Tasted of sherry, burnt caramel, and raisin. Very full mouth feel, yet you could tell that the body has thinned noticeably with age. This beer has held up very well, despite being obviously oxidized. This in my opinion just added to the character and complexity of this beer.

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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 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.

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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
4.22 out of 5 based on 893 ratings.
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