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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:
900
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
18.25%
 
 
Wants:
172
Gots:
190
For Trade:
13
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Reviews: 292 | Ratings: 900
Photo of bark
3.71/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The colour is pitch black, the liquid might be clear. Or hazy. I don’t know as the liquid is totally bloody black. There is quit a lot of yeast in the bottle, though. The finger thick head is warm brown, it sinks slowly leaving no lacing.

The smell got notes of liquorice, dark chocolate, Irish whiskey and alcohol. It is smooth and a bit sharp at the same time.

The taste is very much the same: Raw and smooth at the same time. Lots of sharp alcohol, some solvents. But also smooth delicate notes of fine milk chocolate, plums in Madeira, coffee and sweet liquorice. Full body. The aftertaste got lots of warming alcohol, some cocoa and distinct notes of black coffee. The long finish got some notes of dried fruits and salt liquorice.

The carbonation is smooth, the bubbles few and small. The liquid is quite light and semi-smooth.

This one is way too young now. I have tasted an 18 year old bottle of Courage Russian Imperial Stout from 1993, and that was a much more interesting experience. I really hope this one will age as well as the previous vintages.

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

275ml bottle, a limited quantity special happy-time goodness event for we here in Wild Rose country, it would seem, according to the rep, at least.

This beer pours a solid, oily black abyss, with ever so slight reddish highlights, and one finger of foamy, puffy, and fizzy mocha head, which leaves a thorough, yet loosely webbed pattern of lace around the glass as it quickly settles.

It smells of sweet roasted caramel toffee, treacle, thin black licorice, aged dark fruits, soft saccharine booze, and musty, dusty hops. The taste is lightly roasted caramel malt, a touch of soaked brown bread, bittersweet dark fruit, some lighter drupe fruit frivolity, molasses, gritty dry chocolate, a bit of sooty ash, singed brown sugar, leafy, weedy hops, and a simmering alcohol warming.

The bubbles are fairly sedate, and innocuous, the body a more or less sturdy medium weight, a touch hollow, with a bit of astringency maybe screwing with an unjustly expected smoothness. It finishes just off-dry, the bitter cocoa, muddled tart fruit, and straining booze all pitching in to proffer their two-bits towards the overall effect.

An interesting, and heady affair, to be sure, but kind of lacking the gravitas of those New World upstarts, unfortunately. The sly tugging of the booze, while not actually hot, does soon aggravate to a certain degree, even over such a small serving size. Quite nice to try, sure, but probably meant for a more reserved, Old World stout aficionado, than this otherwise biased camper.

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Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.52/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This years release. Grabbed two more to sit on. Pours out deep brown to black, small mocha head, very little lace.

Chocolate, coffee and liqorice start the smell off. Fruit, earth and booze come out as it warms.

Chocolate, earth and expresso beans make a very rich start to this brew. Alcohol and fruit back it up with molasses and a hint of smoke at the finish. The aftertaste is a slight coffee and anise. So smooth and creamy going down that its hard to just sip it.

Damn, that was a great brew!

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Photo of tobelerone
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I know this beer was out of production for quite a while and was a favorite of many in years past but I found it to be merely good, not great. Perhaps the quality was a little higher in earlier years or the standards for this style have risen, or both. Needless to say it's a nice imperial stout but it didn't knock my socks off.

The appearance is right on; black bodied, with a big rocky tan head that has strong retention and nice lacing. Aroma is quite roasty and bitter, with notes of anise, plums, and baker's chocolate and hints of booze.

The flavor follows suit; it's complex and tasty and comes in decidedly on the less sweet side. Strong roasted malt and bitter qualities; anise and chocolate/cocoa powder, again some booziness is detected; dark fruity notes of plum and raisin; a touch of herbal hops detected in the aftertaste. Some charred smokiness and molasses notes also emerge. The finish is fairly dry for this style.

Medium-full body; medium carbonation; reasonably smooth overall feel. Worth a try for sure; this beer has a reputation for being a great cellar candidate but I couldn't resist drinking mine after only about a year in the bottle. Will return in the future and take another look, I think.

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Photo of metter98
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is close to being jet black in color. It poured with a finger high tan head that died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are aromas of roasted malts and licorice in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste has flavors of roasted malts along with notes of licorice and hints of cigar smoke. The roasted malt flavors linger though the finish.
M: It feels nearly full-bodied and a little dry on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is a very good representation of the style and hides its alcohol very well, making it easy to drink but pleasant to sip.

Note: 2010 vintage

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed May 2011

A: Pours an opaque jet black in color with some dark amber highlights and light amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a finger tall tan head that slowly reduces to a very thin film covering the majority of the surface if the beer and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of dark roasted malts, licorice/anise, pine/resin hops, and just a hint of espresso/coffee. There is also a very light presence of dark fruit.

T: Similar to the smell, there is a moderate to strong flavor of dark roasted malts with some lighter notes of dark fruit sweetness. There are notes of espresso/coffee and licorice/anise which lend a light amount of bitterness in addition to light amounts of pine/resin hops.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: The classic example of the style (Russian Imperial Stout)... Very enjoyable, with well hidden alcohol that makes it pretty easy to drink. Nice complexity to both the flavor and the aroma.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

You kind of have to take this one for what it is, and not what you'd want it to be (present day). There is something about this beer that definitely strikes me as an old world version of the style. Which makes sense, since this is an older recipe and basically what they were going for. Intense in its own way, but of course nowhere near a Dark Lord or anything like that. An interesting ris worth trying out to see what it used to be like.

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Photo of BrewerB
4.68/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Cheers to Healthy Spirits for including this in their March 2012 Beers of the Month selection. Label indicates this was brewed in May 2011 and has a best before date of 9/19/2024.

Pours a dark roast coffee black with a finger or two layer of medium tan foam. Bittersweet chocolate, light charcoal smoke, and a touch of fruitiness round out the initial aromas with a cinnamon stick spiciness coming through as the beer stands. Roasty malts and scantly sweetened cocoa entice the palette first before bitter chocolate takes over. Smoky, dry with a bit of blackberry on the backend. Thick mouthfeel seems appropriate for beer of this caliber and is akin to a well-pulled espresso shot. Well-crafted in every aspect, one to sip slowly. I'll definitely be picking up some for the cellar next time I see it.

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Photo of draiiinage
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

May 2011 vintage

275mL bottle ($5.99) poured into a snifter

A: Black, medium viscosity, 3 fingers of espresso foam head

S: Strong dark fruits and rummy aroma, perhaps a hint of oak? Almost reminiscent of a barleywine.

T: Dried fruits, vinous, warming smooth alcohol with a light chocolate coffee on the back of the palate. Aftertaste of bittersweet chocolate.

M: Pleasant tingle from a combination of strong alcohol and medium high carbonation. Carbonation is borderline high for the style, but I think it works well in conjunction with the smooth backing of malty sappy coffee.

O: One of my favorite imperial stouts. I'm going to have to go back to the package store and get the remaining 3 bottles to age and see if another year makes any improvements.

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Photo of bifrost17
4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The bottle date says "bottle May 2011"
poured into a brandy snifter.

A: It pours exactly how you'd expect it to, jet black, viscous, motor oil. Once it's in the glass it's beautiful, opaque, when I hold the glass up to light nothing comes through, I can see my reflection in the glass. The head is surprisingly big for the 10% abv.

S: The aroma is spot on for what I like in Russian Imperial Stouts. Huge chocolate, dark fruit, bitter espresso, roasted malt, a slight sweetness, and big alcohol.

T: The taste is awesome, but not quite as good as it smells. Up front you get an initial bitterness, then it gets really sweet in the middle of your tongue and almost tastes like cola, this beer is extremely carbonated for the abv. Definitely warming as it goes down. The finish is pretty bitter and dry. All the qualities I just listed are things that I love in Russian Imperial Stouts. The 10% is hidden very well, the nose suggests that it's going to be pretty boozy, but that doesn't come through in the taste all that much.

M: Mouthfeel is full bodied and surprisingly carbonated. Not too sticky or viscous.

O: I've heard a lot about this beer and just happened to stumble across it at the bottleshop today. This beer, for me, is a perfect example of the style. Everything that I want in a R.I.S is in this beer. The Courage Imperial Russian Stout is worthy of all the hype and respect that it gets. If you haven't tried this then seek it out. I recommend getting a few bottles for the cellar, I know that tomorrow I'll be heading back to the bottleshop to pick up a couple more for sure.

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Photo of sommersb
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted On: 09-18-2012
Freshness: May 2011 vintage
Packaging: 275ml brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Pint glass
Purchased: Single from Colorado Liquor Mart, Denver

A: Pours with a big, rocky tan head on a black and opaque beer. Very good retention and lacing.

S: Coffee and espresso aromas, plus vanilla, dark roasted malts and a woodsy character. Also get some booze in the nose.

T: Bold dark roast flavors, plus coffee, licorice and bittersweet chocolate. Quite the strong brew here, with a good amount of alcohol warmth.

M: Body is thick, full and chewy with a moderate amount of carbonation. Finish is of chocolate and coffee-like bitterness.

O: This beer is delightful and packs a punch. The bottle is only 9.3 US ounces, but this is more than enough for a taste on this strong ale!

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle poured into a CCB snifter. May 2011.

Appearance - Pours a sedimenty black with an ample head. I chose this glass because I thought it would all fit. Barely does. Retains magnificently with lacing all over.

Smell - This is what an RIS should smell like. Chocolate roast. Booze, but appropriate to the style. Bitter coffee that is amplified by a grassy hop aroma.

Taste - Maybe not as good as the nose. The hops are dominant throughout, masking some of the malt complexities. Chocolate is secondary to a deep coffee roasted malt flavor. Finishes quite bitter, as I would expect. Unlike many American RIS's, the hops are purely bittering, but the flavor is still pretty extreme.

Mouthfeel - Just a touch abrasive from the bitterness. 275 mL is a good serving size for this. As it warms, it gets more hoppy and bitter. The carbonation is remarkably high, which makes it seem even more abrasive.

Overall - Wonderful example of the style. Surprised to find a true English RIS exhibiting such American characteristics. Maybe I'm just confused as to what I should be expecting. It's extremely hoppy, but on the bittering end at least. I'd go for it a little more if it weren't as palate-crushing, but I suppose it needs all of those hops to survive the long journey to Catherine the Great.

 1,300 characters

Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black in color with a finger or two of khaki head. Nice dark fruit aromas which offset the roasted malt aroma. Dark chocolate, plenty of coffee, and a hint of licorice. Some nice burnt sugar notes and just a touch of smoke. The flavor is fairly sweet, but still a good roast and coffee character. Some dark chocolate, a touch of toasted nuts, molasses, mild licorice, and some dark fruit sweetness. A well balanced Imperial Stout.

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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 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 Stinkypuss
4.55/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Courage Russian Imperial Stout
Wells & Young's Ltd
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.00 %

Appearance: Dark brown bordering on black. Poured into a snifter with a few inches of soapy off white froth. Leaves spotty lacing on the glass. Looks like a tasty beer.

Smell: Chocolate pudding, cake-y malt, malted milk, vinous alcohol character. There are also some roasted notes with hints of coffee.

Taste: Roasted touches and a hit of alcohol upfront, giving way to a velvety chocolate finish that is complex and delicious. Coffee flavors emerge with a woodsy, earthy hop character to provide some bitterness. Suggestions of yeast tartness, raisin fruitcake and even port wine. Ample flavors with a sizable yet well integrated strength. Exquisite.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied but surprisingly light on the feel for a beer packing as much strength and flavor. Lingering chocolate and malt flavors in a creamy eloquent finish.

Overall: A world class stout. Recently revived after several years of retirement, this Russian Imperial stout can be aged for many years with little ill affect. For the purposes of this review this bottle was aged for over a year.

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Photo of drpimento
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Heavy hitter. Poured at a good temperature with a super size tan, foamy, frothy, fluffy head that settle very slowly and some lace. Color is a very dark, almost opaque, but clear amber brown with lots of bubble trails. Aroma is malt, dark, ripe fruit, yeast, wine. Flavor's like nose with subtle sweetness, soft carbonic tang, roast/yeast/hop bitter and a little clashing between some of those qualities. Body is soft and full; ditto carbonation. Finish is like flavor, long, and quite boozy. Big beer. Neat that Courage is able to come back with a beer like this.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Do beers get any more regal? With tried-and-true, time tested recipe and fantastic brewing technique; it shows that we just don't make'em like they used to... or do they?

Same as it ever was, this true imperial Russian stout boastfully displays his masculine dark side with slight-of-black coloration, complete opaqueness with a slight haze that's noted by it's less than mirror sheen. But its billowing tan head shows exuberance and puts on quite a show as the foam builds and then recedes, leaving silhouettes of lace behind.

Strong French-pressed coffees, cocoa, burnt fruit and molasses starts the show with a rich and luscious aroma that swirls around rummy alcohols for a slight plummy vinous scent. Brown sugar, apples, and pears join in the fun but only in background notes.

As delicious as the aromas seem, the flavor spread proves equally as rewarding. Bittersweet chocolate wraps around a strong coffee taste, deeply caramelized sweetness, heavy toast, and creamy smoke. Roast and fruity tartness take turns as roasted barley alternates with slight vinous wines, grape skin, green apples, and blackberries. Low in hops, only a shadow of bitterness follows the complex malt and ester display and does so with a supportive wood taste-turn-bitter in finish.

Full bodied, but not overtly sweet or sugary, there's a right amount of malt and residual sweetness that weaves into the dry roast texture and full carbonation. A long draw into the finish results in firm alcohol warmth, slight burnt grain astringency, and tart wine-like tannin that provides a slightly powdery yet powerful finish.

This is a tremendously respected beer that defies style, prescription, or expectation. It's effortless and gentlemanly personality exudes the notion of tall, dark, and handsome.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle of the May 2011 vintage pours a light black color with a rising, rich and frothy brown head. Retention and lacing are both phenomenal. This is the best looking beer I have seen is a long while.

Nose is fruity, chalky, alcohol and dark chocolate. Very nice, very British smelling beer. Love it.

Taste is a little on the hot side right now, I definitely will look for a couple of these for the cellar. The potential is there but does not seem fully integrated yet. Lots of raspberry and figs with a burnt sugar malt with a fair amount of chocolate and roast. Mouthfeel is a little on the thinner side of impy stouts and the sweetness is pretty low. It opens up more as it warms, and gets better. I like it quite a bit now and like the cellaring potential even more.

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

Poured from a 9.3 oz. bottle into a 10 oz. nonic half pint glass

Pours pitch black with a beige half finger head, considerable lacing present. Aromas of roasted malt with espresso undertones dominate accented with pleasant inviting booziness. Creamy, smooth, and full-bodied the flavors of roasted malt, espresso, dark fruit, all accented with notes of apricot, pear, and apple. Very complex and satisfying this brew justifies its historic status.

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.07/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

HUGE thanks goes out to Bitterbill for sharing this with mkorpal and myself at the Library Bar in Laramie, WY. 1971 (!) bottle. (short review)

Opens with a surprising hiss, pour yielded a nice cap of foam with nice lacing, definite legs. Nose was the highlight of the beer, huge sherry, toffee, and caramel are dominant and can be smelled from some ways away. Taste was much of the same, nutty, buttery, and toffee like, but beginning to start to show it's age a bit. A little soy sauce, but definitely not SATB style. Mouthfeel was surprisingly full, and still surprisingly warm, maybe even a touch hot, incredibly carbonated for the beer's age.

Side note: after the tasting had mostly concluded, we poured out the last 1/4" in the bottle to see what was left. There were some chunks, and a very slight brettanomyces profile (VERY SLIGHT), and that may have contributed to the lively carbonation.

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

Brewed in May 2011. Thanks to spry for this. Tulip glass.

A: Pours black with three fingers of Coke float-ish head. Quite good retention. Leaves a few streaks of lace.

S: Dark, espresso char, some dark fruit (black cherry and blackcurrant).

T: Heavy roast, dark coffee, and a hint of cherry.

M: Medium full body, creamy, very well supported by medium light carbonation

O: Superb example of the style: big and roasty, with nice fruit to provide some complexity.

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Photo of maximum12
4.44/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to dlello2 for this bottle in a large-format trade involving massive quantities of beer, er, yeast samples moving through the mail. Quaint 9.3 oz. bottle poured into a miniature snifter.

Pours black with a cockamamie, stink-eye of a head that overwhelms my little glass. Stands tall for a while, if anyone cares. Has one of those noses on it that say 'Don't drink me, I'm too good smelling to go away!' The smell is classic big stout, plus. Lovely malts, sweet, nice hoppy bite, dark fruits. Melded together like a Jason Bourne roundhouse.

Courage Russian Imperial Stout is deserving of its street cred. Great dark malts dominate with only the barest crack of smoke. Rich deep chocolate of course, with a dose of bitterness that might stem from the chocolate or leaf from hops. Flashes of peat. Smooth. Smooth & creamy, almost to the level of a cream ale. Lovely to drink; this bottle is too small by a factor of six.

A beer this legendary is often a let down, but that's not the case here. This beer excels in almost every category, but is a standard bearer in the nose & mouthfeel. Excellent. Love to see this one show up locally.

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Photo of shand
4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 9.3oz bottle into a snifter.

This beer pours black with a fairly sizable head for the style, that quickly drops down to a decent foam on top of the brew. The aroma is rich and roasty, with toffee, dark chocolate, burnt coffee, and a nice, mineral earthy quality. The taste is also very good, it comes on strong with the coffee flavors at first, but then gives way to a great mix of fruit and roasted malt. The fruits aren't dark like in most RISes, these are bright fruits that are quite delicious and make this a unique drinking experience. The mouthfeel is lighter than the average RIS, but it works great with the fruit flavors. The drinkability is exceptional, it doesn't feel anywhere close to 10%. Overall, this is an amazing and unique imperial stout. The fruit flavors that this beer has fresh are really quite unique. I wish I had another to put away for longer.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.91/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a four-fingered light tan head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving a good lace. Black color, no highlights. Medium carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Light chocolate nose and flavor is chocolate, sweetness then burnt chocolate finish. High ABV is hidden. $7.49 for a 275ml bottle from Julio's Liquors Westborough, Ma.

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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
4.22 out of 5 based on 900 ratings.
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