Courage Imperial Russian Stout | Wells & Young's Ltd

299 Reviews
Courage Imperial Russian StoutCourage Imperial Russian Stout

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

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: 299 | Ratings: 918
Photo of FBarber
4.54/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a viscous black as night color with a thin mocha colored head. Head dissipates leaving a tan oily slick on top of the beer.

Smell is the most remarkable part of this beer. The instant I opened it I was hit with a pungent aroma of dark fruits, roasted malts and rich chocolate. The pungency was comparable to a "hop bomb" IPA. Just incredibly aromatic. Brown sugar, molasses, rich ripened stone fruits and cocoa also come through on the nose.

Taste follows the nose with a lovely array of chocolate, roasted malts, cocoa, prunes, dates, brown sugar, and molasses. on the back end you get some oaken notes, giving way to a mild earthy hop character. Provides a nice balancing bitterness on the finish. The flavor is so rich and deep that its as good an complex as any bourbon barrel aged stout.

Feel is thick and viscous yet completely drinkable. Mild carbonation. Slightly dry finish coats the mouth.

Overall this really is the standard for Russian Imperial Stouts. Just incredible. Put this on the list of beers that you must try before you die. If not for the price tag, this would be the only Russian Imperial Stout I'd ever drink again.

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Photo of Abinlp
4.85/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a memorable beer. Quite expensive in the bottle, about $8 for 10 oz. Yet I've never so willingly spent that money. Its got as luxurious a mouthfeel as any beer I can think of, but its the taste that leaves you so impressed. I don't know if I can say its the best beer I've ever had, but I can't really think of more than a couple that I'd put in its league, of any style. I was a bit surprised to see it listed at 10%, as I've had maybe 5-6 bottles of this and never recall an strong alcohol note with it. Heading to the UK in November of 2016 and I intend to find this on tap there.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.54/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

$6.99 for a 9.3oz bottle at Binny's in Chicago. 2012 Vintage, No.106675. 10% ABV.
Pours out to a cloudy inky black, forming a modest espresso like head with good retention and average lacing. Carbonation is light, about 2.0 carbs or so. Nose of soy sauce, black walnuts, dark chocolate. Mouthfeel is rich, silky, dense bodied, lightly acidic, finishing lightly dry. The taste is a recap of the aroma, however there is a very interesting balance here between the roast, the hop bitterness (which is earthy, and I think absolutely perfectly balanced), prune juice, rum soaked raisins, figs, dates and soy sauce. I don't get the typical English yeast esters. No oxidation or harsh alcohols, thankfully.

A really nice Russian Imperial stout, considered by many to be the benchmark of the style. I would agrees that's its definitely up in the top 5 that I've had, however considering it's poor availability and price, I'll stick with my Founders.

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Photo of Act25
4.26/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Amazing 2012 sourced in Banff Canada.

A: A single finger thick tan head on a jet black body with only modest lacing.

S: Starts with oak and raisiny dark fruit, then vanilla, dark chocolate, roasted malt.

T: Starts with inky dark chocolate, leaning on bitterness, char, roasted malts, cedar wood, vanilla, espresso, toffee. Complex, twisted, licorice, a dark winding path of flavors. Among the best for intensity

M: Intense. full body and moderate carbonation, lingering licorice feel.

Overall: Rare, full flavored, excellent balance and licorice with dark bitter chocolate.

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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 gshak
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 edition, with a best by date of 8/162025. Imbibed on 4/18/2016.
A - Pours dark brown, not nearly opaque, but thereabouts.
S - Rum-soaked raisins! Very significant dark fruits - raisins, prunes, dates, figs on the nose, liqueur-like even. Makes me wonder if it was aged in sherry casks.
T - I'm getting oak, chocolate fudge, charred malt, ashes, and leather. Pretty sure much of that sounds unappetizing, but believe me, it seems to work for this beer!
M - Full, and the low carbonation provides a creamy mouthfeel, with just enough burst of flavors.
O - Fantastic IRS that definitely seems to gain in complexity as it ages. I wonder what 13 years in the cellar might do to this beer. I think it's drinking great at 4 years.

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Photo of CoreyC
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2013 vintage
A - nice dark black/brown with good tan head
S - very light, some dried fruit
T - bitter dark chocolate, somewhat smokey, too bitter of a finish for me
M - nice and thick
O - ok stout, but not great for me. Too bitter (even at 3 years old) and not a lot of depth of flavor

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Photo of sjccmd
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage

Dark fruit and licorice in the nose. Toffee and burnt caramel with some spices. Pumpernickel bread. A subtle minty note. Some tobacco and earthy notes. Rich and sweet smelling.

Pours black as black with just a tinge of brown highlights. Small tan head with decent lacing and retention.

Rush of dark fruits and toast, finishing surprisingly dry. Berries and raisins give way to burnt sugar and hearty rye bread. A subtle green hop character is noticeable with a balancing steely bitterness. Espresso with pear and some honey. Smoke lingers on the palate.

Full body with low carbonation. Silky with just a tinge of bubbles.

Much more balanced though not lacking in intensity than many of the American counterparts of this style. Even with 3 years age there's enough roast and hop bitterness to balance out sweetness.

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Photo of Derek
4.36/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Highly desired for some time... perhaps a bit anti climatic.

Pours with a very thin head, shows some leg.

Really nice aroma: Huge Chocolate, some roasted nut, coffee, light liqueur.

Taste: Rogue chocolate stout comes to mind, it doesn't seem any bigger, very drinkable.

Fairly full body, but not much residual sweetness or booze; roasted acidity is certainly subtle as well.

I expected this to be big and bold, but it's remarkably balanced and drinkable.

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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.

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Photo of ChrisCage
4.76/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is the 2012 vintage..Best before date of Aug 25/16....within the recommended usage timeframe!

A- This pours an oily thick black color with a coffee colored head that looks very thick and creamy....the resiliency of the head is quite good, keeping in tact for a long time after the initial pour and without having to swirl. The lacing is also outstanding....tons of circular specimens of foam are heartily sticking to the side of the glass and from what I can see, the carbonation appears to be tight and smooth.

S- The aromas are amazingly good and surprising in nature! Initially, there are heavy dark dried fruit....raisins and prunes to be exact.....after this on the forefront, lingering semi-sweet dark chocolate, molasses, rummy oak, OKA cheese and burnt sugary caramel....delicious on the nostrils!

T- WoW! Heavy cocoa, scalded semi-sweet dark chocolate, espresso, dried black cherry and figs, raisins, smoked cheddar tones, black malt with burnt caramel sweetness, Earthy near the finish, with lingering rooty/licorice flavors....extremely well balanced between booziness, sweetness and dryness....just awesome!

M/O- This is heavy in a milkshake but it's beer! Over time, this has smoothed out very well and the carbonation is velvety on the palate! Highly drinkable and the alcohol is super well hidden for the content! Even with this said, this is most definitely a sipper and I think is probably one of the nicest Imperial Stouts one could find on the market! Will absolutely purchase this one again and I highly recommend this to the masses!

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Photo of Andrewharemza
4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From bottle, pours black with A ring of foam that circles the glass. Aroma of caramel, chocolate, soy sauce, brown sugar, hint of coffee. Taste Sweet flavour, caramel, coffee, dark fruit, vanilla. Alcohol very well hidden.

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Photo of Hat_Fulla_Beer
4.34/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

275ml bottle poured into tulip. 2012 vintage.

Pours a perfect black with a thin head of loose mocha bubbles that leaves a ring of distant raincloud lace as it recedes.

Smells of melted black chocolate, candied dark fruit, licorice root and fresh coffee grounds.

Tastes of dried cherries coated with black chocolate, dark bread dusted with brown sugar, campfire smoke and warming alcohol.

Feels big and silky. Full bodied with smooth carbonation. Finishes dry with baker's chocolate and dried fruit.

Verdict: Highly recommended. A nice big stout with lethal drinkability. I have a couple more of these, so I'll see how they handle some further aging.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.11/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Donated to my cause by my younger brother. Thanks buddy.
Classic looking with a darker head covering a black body with some highlights.
For a 2013 this still has some fresh, rich bite to it. Aroma is a little flat and not all that interesting, but the flavor is quite nice. However, this changes in time as it opens up to an enjoyable fruit rich pleasure.
Smooth all around (except for the before mentioned richness) with a nice blending of flavors of roast (a little coffee and hints of chocolate) and darker fruit. For this size the alcohol is well hidden, very well hidden, except for the impact. "Ping!"
Body is lighter than Am. typical. That also makes it more dangerous (bigger faster takes). However, a nice soft fullness from the carbonation presents very well.
This is nice and should be respected for what it represents. I enjoyed it and can see a time in which I will enjoy again.

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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.

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

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle dated 2012 vintage, into the rusty modified tulip glass.
A - A gentle pour yields a black hole opening up in my kitchen. Carbonation struggles through the viscous
matter, a mocha cap stay, thins with time.
S - Black strap molasses, pine boards, coffee, and bakers chocolate start things off. An increase in temp releases
dark berries, cigar outer wrap tobacco, and interestingly a wonderful sweet fig marmalade.
T - Remarkable, date, fig, cocoa, toffee. Alcohol hidden well, adds a mint component as it clears out.
F - Full in body, a bit slippery, the palate fully coated and bathed in a flavorful bonanza. The finish is
long and elegant, an incredible feel.
O - The offering is exquisite, on every front. The nose, palate, body all delightful and quite
rich, developed for royalty , that is certainly how I feel after enjoying this.

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Photo of Briken
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black and good brown head with good retention. Light roasted malt, licorice, and dates. Roasty up front, light chocolate, and notes of fruit and licorice. Dry finish, light booze and bittering lingering. Velvety feel.

Clear presentation in look and great aroma. Good subtle flavor with nice booze brings extra notes of flavor. A really velvety feel but the overall dryness makes it a little more difficult to look forward to the next sip. Otherwise, a very elegant sipping beer.

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Photo of lochraneg
4.74/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 Brew

Look: Typical Imperial Stout. Head was not impressive, dissipated quickly.
Smell: Subtle, but evident aromas of fruit
Taste: Good body, but not drinking a milkshake, fluffy
Feel: Smooth on the tongue, went down great
Overall: Def would buy again… if I could find it

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Photo of MichaelNeelsen
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle at Brasserie V in Madison, Wisconsin.

L: Very, very black with mild sediment. Thin, brown-eggshell head around rim. Looks bouncy, not oily.

S: Glorious raisins. Dates. Maybe fig. Wonderful.

T: Roasty flavor, earthy finish. Like sucking the nutrients out of a mouthful of soil.

F: Fluffy. My preferred mouthfeel. Like a bouncy, lively cloud.

O: After learning this was the original Russian Imperial Stout, I put off trying it for awhile because I wanted to keep it ahead of me. It did not disappoint. While it's not my all-time favorite, it is damn good and will be a sure bet for me whenever I see it in public or stores,

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Photo of thebigredone
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I would never have guessed this beer was 10%. Went down smooth and easy. Nice smoky fruit flavors, my only complaint is the slightly bitter finish that lingers for awhile. Tastes like a more balanced, toned down Dark Lord. Will definitely seek this out it again.

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Photo of Kevinpitts
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very nice stout. Lots of coffee & expresso notes. Very flavorful yet smooth. Definitely serve above 55 degrees for best flavor. Would buy for sure if found.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

*** vintage 2013 ***
L: black with no head
S: juicy dark fruits
T: balanced dark fruits and dark roast malts
F: thin but easy drinking
O: it's a good stout but nothing to write home about

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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 GrahamDN
4.42/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2013 vintage; drunk 7.23.15.

Courage appears black, revealing a deep-deep, murky brown in the light. A khaki-colored foam sits on top and dissipates slowly.

The initial nose gives an impression of chocolate cake, and is swiftly followed up by rich fig aromas over a bedrock of base malts.

Flavor is super-smooth. Complex and full-bodied, but somehow restrained. Fruit cake, chocolate, cocoa, strong-brewed coffee silkened with a dash of cream, rum. Sweet enough to amplify the richness of the flavors, just bitter enough to tame the sweetness. On the finish, the bitterness of the hops and the acrid bitterness of the dark malts take over in a duet in which it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

No wonder it's a classic. An RIS done with a high degree of finesse. Absolutely will buy again.

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Photo of DerbyDave35
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Quite possibly the greatest drop on the planet ..but only one at a time for me , its special and should be treated accordingly
Find a quiet spot somewhere , and lose yourself in this stunning stout , and do not drink ice cold , or you wont enjoy the incredible flavour

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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
4.22 out of 5 based on 918 ratings.
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