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

I like the look of this Courage Imperial Russian Stout (2013 vintage). It says “Take courage son, you’re about to drink an Imperial Russian Stout”... at least it says that to me. From Wells & Young’s, purveyors that are obviously not afraid to use additives in their brews for banana/chocolate gains, comes this semi-aged RIS that has the beer-world ablaze with claims of awesomeness and much hype heaped upon it... let’s see if the hype lives up to the, err, hype... or whatnot.

Poured from an almost sample-sized 275ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Deep chocolate brown/black body with a dense half centimetre khaki head that sticks around well. The lace in the glass reveals a Bahamas-like island pattern, specifically Eleuthera Island... maybe a bit of Cat Island too. 9/10.

S: Dark chocolate, grandma’s booze (you know the one I’m talking about - the stuff you snuck out of her locked drinks cabinet that was a mixture of brandy and rum, she said it was for the Christmas fruit cake but you knew she really had a drinking problem) molasses and prune/date round out what is a solid RIS aroma. Take courage son, this review will be over soon. 9/10.

T: From the heady aroma to a very well-balanced flavour. Take the above aromas, to recap: Dark chocolate, grandma’s booze, molasses, prune/date - minus the boozy aspect (you can hardly tell this is 10% ABV) and you are spot on the flavour. Nothing jars or dominates this brew - it is equal parts sweet and bitter with a hint of sourness in the mildly bitter finish. Everything in this brew has reached an almost sublime equilibrium, and for that Courage Imperial Russian Stout deserves a 9 for flavour. 9/10.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with a light but dense and slightly oily carbonation. Not much to complain about here either. 9/10.

D: The biggest downside to this beer? The packaging. 275ml is not enough. This is one Russian Imperial Stout that I wanted to keep on drinking, over and over and over and over like a monkey with a miniature cymbal the joy of repetition really is in this brew (to coin some Hot Chip lyrics). Aside from my slight soirée into the world of descriptive Indietronica this is quite the world class RIS that, like it or not, you really should pay your respects to if you ever get the opportunity. 9/10.

Food match: Garlic roasted cigars with nebulised sturgeon eggs and black truffle fennel foam.

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

- perfect separation that stays, black and brown foam
- smell is all roasted grain with burn scents amazing
- hands down the best classic tasting Russian imperial
-feel is the smoothest beer i have had to date
- best beer to date....

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from bottle into a snifter

Appearance – The beer pours a pitch black color with a one finger head of a cream colored foam. The head fades rather rapidly leaving a trace of foamy lace on the sides of the glass. Upon swirling the brew in the snifter, thick fingers of beer cling to the sides of the glass, very slowly receding to the bottom of the vessel to leave some bubbly and sticky looking lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is huge of a sweeter smell of chocolate mixed with caramel. Along with these aromas are some nice notes of a roasted malt smell as well as a nice expresso aroma. Other lighter notes of darker fruits of cherry and raisin are there as well, with these also being accompanied by some sweet vanilla. With a little bit of grain and a light booze there as well the smell is overall quite warming.

Taste – The taste begins with a nice drier roasted malt taste mixed with a decent showing of some coffee. A lighter sweet flavor of caramel and some chocolate are at the front with these growing stronger as the taste advances and with them being joined by some light fruit tastes of raisin and plum. The coffee seems to dwindle as the taste advances all while the caramel, chocolate and fruit sweet flavors get stronger and stronger. A light bit of a boozy taste as well as some flavors of vanilla work their way onto the tongue at the end, and with a little resurgence of the coffee, end up leaving one with a dark and robust roasty flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is quite thick and chewy with a carbonation level that is on the slightly lower side. For the dark roasted flavors mixed with the blend of sweet and the higher abv. the feel is right on and makes this one a slow sipper as it is meant to be.

Overall – A quite tasty and enjoyable Imperial stout. It has a good blend of sweet, roast, and booze to maintain a good drinkability but yet keep you in check all while bathing the tongue with a whole lot of flavor.

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

Mine's a 2013 vintage.

A: Black with a creamy beige head. Very creamy lacing.
S: Vinous, with loads of black chocolate and espresso.
T: Holy cow, it’s a cracker. Incredibly smooth and chocolatey, with dried fruit. Espresso coffee and amazingly creamy. A touch of oranges in Cointreau. Slightly bitter in the finish. Medium sweet. Slightly fruity finish. Just a touch spicy.
O: I feel like I've just drunk a milkshake. Amazingly creamy. A superb beer.

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Photo of mabermud
4.52/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 Bottle

The darkest brown you can imagine, that's the body. Quickly retreats to a fine film of darker brown lather, that's the head. As the liquid is swirled around, the lather easily melts from the sides of the brandy snifter.
Sweet and deep, rich malt. That is the smell. Very rich aroma.
Hmmmm. Maybe a little oxidized, or maybe not, since this is the first time I have had this beer. The usual start of a rich stout, interesting finish. Chalky dark chocolate. Dark bread and leather finish. There is a dry, cognac aftertaste left in the mouth that soon goes away.
Nothing to write home about, but everything melds together well. Low carb, fuller body. The feel.

Overall: Nothing traditional here. At last, something not too sweet. People in the US are addicted to sugar. This is not what to expect from what is currently going around the US as a Russian Imperial Stout. This is down to earth and not overly built. It tastes raw, like something made in the 1800s. I dig it.

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Photo of marieli
4.67/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. Brewed May 2011. Started at 54 degrees. Poured like a dark brown espresso, not much head, could have been my fault. Smelled terrific. Nice blend of malt, coffee and chocolate. There was no one dominant flavor for me. I thought it came together nicely with malt and coffee more present, a hint of chocolate. I didn't get fruit, but something was managing the bitterness very well. Medium body. Would have preferred a little more creaminess, but still a great beer.

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Photo of papat444
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

***2012 Vintage (bottle No. 046094 of 210,000)***
Best before 16/08/25

Very thick black pour, good lacing despite ABV. Flavor is espresso, bit of cherry and burnt chocolate. Major roasted bitterness in the finish but doesn't impede on the drinkability. Nice gem.

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