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 Pintofbrown
4.49/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this in a snifter.

Dark brown body, almost black with a big two-finger head. Not great staying power on the cap, but great ring lacing on the glass.

The scents are as RIS as RIS can be. There is smoke, tobacco, dark fruits, and roasted coffee beans. Very balanced between the char and sweetness. Even some cocoa comes calling as the beer warms.

Flavors on the palate are close to what the nose offered. Mid-palate, Courage was all roast and smoke, tobacco and cocoa powder. However, the finish incorporated a nice, long play of figs and other dark fruits, with coffee roast. Wonderfully complex and delicious.

Courage feels like a big RIS. Creamy and smooth. Still manages to be somewhat dry from all that roast and tobacco quality.

This RIS dominates on all levels. The flavors are complex and deliver new experiences with every sip, especially that long and lingering dark fruit finish. So enjoyable and surprising. The mouth feel makes the beer a real pleasure to drink. I am going to eagerly seek this one out again once I drink down more of my inventory.

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Photo of PaulyB83
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap.

A- Nice dark black with a medium creamy looking latte colored head

S- Chocolate with some dark cherry and some dark roasts

T- Wow, lots of dark cherries and chocolate, like a black forest cake. Getting the darker roasts and some light metallic flavors on the end as well as light alcohol presence.

M- Heavy-medium not too much considering the ABV and all the flavors. Nice and creamy.

O- Really impressed with this beer. I think it's aged a bit at the brewery before bottling but not sure if in barrels or for how long. Very surprised at the pronounced dark fruit, cherry flavors considering there is no adjuncts that I'm aware of. Wish this wasn't as expensive as some barrel aged stouts though.

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

Wow. I remember having one or two bottles of this back in the 70's because I was young and the alcohol content meant more than the taste.

I have since tried a bottle of the '92 a few years ago before I started reviewing beers. I remember that was good.

This is the first time I have seen the new version on sale in the UK. Bought from Tesco's.

All previous superlatives about this stout I thoroughly endorse.

Wonderful absolutely wonderful.

So when oh when should I drink the 1972 bottle I have in the cellar?

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Photo of HopHead84
4.17/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25


Best before 19/09/24

Bottle from BucketBoy almost two years ago. This has been sitting in my on-deck fridge for that long. I guess that fridge isn't being used as intended. Anyway, thanks! Snifter. Black with a billowing light brown head with impressive retention. Lacing forms thick sheets on the sides. Fine looking beer. Lots of chocolate and roast in the aroma, with blackstrap molasses, licorice, and a bit of coffee. Some earthy, woodsy notes as well. The flavor is quite roasty and dry with a moderate level of earthy bitterness. Strong chocolate profile with evident coffee, molasses, and licorice. The bitter/roast combo borders on acridity but just manages to avoid that pitfall. Alcohol is really well hidden. The body is full. Upper moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is chewy, sticky, and silky. A good, well balanced Russian Imperial Stout.

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Photo of ThomasMetal75
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

*-Brewed in May 2011

A- Black as night. Has a nice 1 finger kaki head with great retention. Lots of small bubbles within the head.

S- Chocolate! So much rich, dark chocolate! Dark fruits. The malted barley really comes though nicely. Alcohol is present, but but not terribly strong.

T- Big dark chocolate bar taste! You also get a dark fruitiness as well. Finish is very roasted, and that is also where the alcohol starts to show itself. It creates a mild bitterness. Sugary overall, but not sickly sweet at all. Great as a winter warmer for sure. This is awesome!

*-As it warms, the chocolate taste and alcohol notes are more prevalent.

M- Mouthfeel is medium to full. Very carbonated. Bitterness and mild alcohol create a nice finish in the mouth. Slowly coats the mouth for many seconds until it smooths out and dries. This style in general makes for a better sipper than something that can be gulped down, and this one fits the bill perfectly.

*-Overall this is freaking awesome! This like an imperial version of Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Great stuff to have with a cigar or by the fire as a winter warmer. THIS IS THE BOMB!

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

A - Jet black pour but what makes this one different is the consistently thick, toffee colored creamy layer of foam on top, incredibly sticky on the sides of the glass too, like cotton candy.

S - Dark roasted milk chocolate aroma with a perfect balance of coffee and light smokiness.

T - Evenly balanced across the palate with dark chocolate coffee roast, cream, dark fruit, some smokiness, and a lingering dark roast chocolate bitterness. Alcohol presence is ever so slight for a beer of this ABV making it a dangerous sipper.

M - Rich texture and full medium body with light carbonation, border line silky.

O - A great example of the style and perfectly executed - this beer is a benchmark. A definite try.

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Photo of Danny1217
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

May 2011 date. This bottle is 2 and a half years old.
Pours dark, murky, black. Nearly completely opaque. Lots of light brown foam for a 10% ABV imperial stout.
Smell is a touch oxidized, but underneath that there is some dark chocolate, dry fruits, toffee, anise, and a lot of booze.
The taste is very fruity, roasted, bittersweet, anise. The oxidation doesn't come out in the taste the way it does in the aroma, and neither does the booze. It goes down quite easily for its strength, actually.
Full bodied with carbonation that is a bit higher than a lot of other takes on the style.

Considering how well this beer is supposed to hold up with time, there is a lot of oxidation in only two years. Other than that, this beer is amazing. However, at the price it goes for, I don't think I will be trying this one again.

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Photo of RickS95
4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pretty stellar. Extreme dark brown, not quite black. Looks menacing. The head is huge. I mean huge. Different sized bubbles...frothy, meringue, creamy. Tan color. Thick gooey lace.

Very boozy nose. Coffee and expresso. Bittersweet chocolate. Slightest bit of vanilla.

Extremely impressive flavor. A malt bomb with notes of chocolate, caramel, expresso, vanilla, oak and bourbon. Kind of a fruit cake taste, but in a good way.

Sure, it's got a booziness to it, but it never crosses the line. Full of flavor. Sweet and thick. Not much in the way of hops. Full bodied. Faint chocolate bitterness and a kick of heat in the finish.

Overall, it's an amazing beer. It's darned near perfect for the style and one of the best beers I've had regardless of style. Easy to drink and with the high ABV, it can sneak up on you.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.56/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

What a great beer, this one is extremely balanced and is typifying of the style, amazing that it is the original recipe as well. Tried this at the Queen Vic in Washington DC.

The look is very close to black with a nice ring of tan head with some nice sticky lacing. Totally solid look.

The smell is subdued but nice notes of roast, earth, fudge, vanilla and maybe a touch of anise and other warm spice. The taste opens up to a world of flavors that are right on to the RIS style. Huge roast from start to lingering finish, powdered cocoa, savory and sweet barley, slight bitter hop, creamy overall lactose like sweetness. Chicory coffee. Just a huge and yet supremely balanced RIS. Layers of decadent flavors and ripe dark fruits.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth, perfect carbonation and great overall palate of flavors, hitting on front, middle and aftertaste.

A wonderful beer, and an education for anybody who loves stouts! Beautiful.

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Photo of xk6m6m5x
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage

A- pours black with a small mocha head that quickly disappears into a thin lacing, there was either yeast or left over malt in the bottom of the bottle, it looked like un-dissolved coco, tasted pleasant thought

S- smell is huge coffee and chocolate with nice smokey note

T- lots of roasted malt with chocolate caramel and coffee on the back with a bitter smokey finish

M- creamy with little carbonation, nice and thick like an oil

O- Yes, this beer is great everything I want out of a beer

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

On cask during Cask Days 2013.

Beer is black with a minimally-sized tan head.

Nose contains anise, molasses and roasted malt. Quite a strong and pleasant scent.

The roasted malt is strong in the flavour. Anise and a bit of a marshmallow flavour are present. Grassy hops, a slight bitterness. A burnt flavour.

Full bodied, low natural carbonation. Smooth.

Overall, a really good RIS. Nice stuff.

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Photo of Ryan_Graham
4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours dark black. Almost no head. Maybe a centimeter of light brown foam at the top. The smell is very welcoming. It smells a bit like wine-- there are certainly some fruity notes there. At first sip, I found the taste a bit overpowering. However, it eventually grew on me. This is a sit-down beer for sure. It's thick. Very malty. But surprisingly smooth for how much alcohol it has in it. The aftertaste is about as close to perfect as you can get. It hangs around for a good 20 seconds but doesn't leave you running to the sink to rinse out your mouth.

Overall, this is a real beer, I'll give you that. It's solid in almost all areas-- from first appearance to the final aftertaste. I don't know if the taste does enough for me to call this a world-class beer-- but it's certainly right on the border.

I would recommend giving this one a go.

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Photo of pknyc
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is 2012 vintage with a bottle date of 16 Aug 2012. Opened 03 Aug 2014.

A: Mocha head that quickly subsides to nothing. The body is black with a high viscosity.

S: Wow. Lots of dark fruit, almost quad-like. Boozy, with massive raisin, figs, plums. Some minor molasses notes. Its really nice to see a Russian Imperial Stout shine like this and not be covered by coffee or oak/bourbon.

T: Dark fruit, roasty malt. Some dark chocolate. Its very well balanced, as the dark fruits are less than the nose, but are still the significant note. Boozy, but not overly so and reminds me of fruit cake a little bit.

MF: Medium. It is only a little bit coating.

O: If this was rarer, people would be all about it. Its very good.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275ml bottle into a tulip. 2012 vintage

Pours a pitch black with a big inch and a half thick, lasting beige head with terrific lacing. BIG chocolate and boozy notes on the nose as well as a lot of dark fruits, impressive! The taste isnt like a lot of american RIS', you get some chocolate but a lot of malts and a ton of dark fruits. Very flavorful and not viscous or creamy at all. The body is much lighter than i expected, i wouldnt call this full bodied. A bit light for my liking when it comes to stouts. Mild carbonation.

Overall great flavors and aromas from this one, but the body leaves something to be desired.

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

Poured from 275mL bottle into a tulip. This is the 2012 vintage.

Appearance: extremely dark brown, though not quite black, with no light let through at all. Head is a finger of frothy dark tan foam which stuck around for a little while.

Smell: extremely rich and roasty, although not astringent. There's a fair amount of chocolate aroma as well as a rich, dark fruitiness that reminds me of raspberries. Very enticing indeed!

Taste: a strong alcoholic taste is present right up front, but this mellows into a very rich malt flavor. There's smokiness, chocolate and a fig or date like fruitiness that works well. Very sophisticated; I love it.

Mouthfeel: medium-thick body with a decent carbonation and a nice, smooth creaminess. I am surprised there's not more body, but there you have it.

Overall: a very rich and satisfying beer. I like the sophistication of the flavor.

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Photo of Suds
3.94/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An utterly black beer, this brew is a moderately sweet, heavy, classic example of the style. Not overly hopped, yet still bitter, it has some fruit notes in the smell and foretaste. Lots of malt and huge roasted notes. Coffee, chocolate, and raisins. It has a thick, but not quite syrupy character. This is a fine beer.

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Photo of Stunmai
2.76/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

The bottle says it is 2012 vintage so it has been aged less than a year. There were some really nice molasses, licorice, and fruity tones to this beer. Parts of it were good, but most of the taste is nothing but a strong taste of alcohol. I haven't had this before, aged or otherwise, but it was way too hot for me. Maybe if I saw another bottle for sale, I'd buy it and age it for 3-5 years, but as it was, I just wasn't impressed for what you pay for it.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Paccamacca for the extra!

vintage 2012.

poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: light black to dark brown bodied beer with 3 fingers worth of medium khaki colored head. Head has good staying power and is thick and frothy with lots of big bubbles. As the beers head drops it leaves a decent amount of lacing; its better than spotty, but not quite heavy lacing.

Smell: roasty malts and dark fruits with molasses and brown sugar. A ton of black licorice notes as well.

Taste: A short lived note of sweet milk chocolates and molasses that is quickly inturrupted by huge black licorice notes and super roasty malts that are best described as char and ashen flavors. The flavor is very robust and takes you by surprise because the nose does not lead you to think that the beer would have this intensity. Hint of soy sauce. Earthy hops, smoke, peat moss in the aftertaste with even more black licorice. Char and smokey flavors linger for a long time in between sips.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Creamy and smooth body with a spicy slightly boozey kick.

Overall: Really surprised that this RIS is so robust. Took me back a little bit at first. I am not a huge fan of black licorice in my dark beers so I didnt love it, but it was still surprisingly an enjoyable beer for me despite the unpleasantries of the black licorice notes. I think that this beer has really nice cellar potential; if I were to run into a bottle of this again I would drink one with somewhere between 3-5 years on it.

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Photo of raleigh_blue
4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2010 vintage (aged 3 years).

250 ml poured into a Founders tulip. Dark brown/black and a little translucent when held up to the light. A thin head (2-5 mm) appears and dissipates rapidly with persistent clinging to the sides of the glass.

Smells of coffee, chocolate and malts. Nothing surprising here. It's the archetypal imperial stout.

Taste is very similar to the nose. Less coffee, but full of darkness-molasses, licorice, malty yumminess and chocolate. Refined and sustained flavor.

Near perfect mouthfeel for the style. Viscous and lingering.

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Photo of SeanDonahue
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The appearance on this beer is as dark as night. There is no chance of being able to see through it in the light. When I poured this into a tulip glass, it produced a very little head. I have read past reviews saying that it had a head and wonder why mine might be different.

The aroma is very powerful. There is a big hint of alcohol with this tiny beer being at 10% ABV. I'm also getting some bready qualities mixed in with some caramel notes.

The taste on this beer is extremely thick. Right in the beginning you can taste the alcohol and that taste sits in your mouth for the aftertaste. I'm picking up on a bit of a caramel taste in this. There is also a big coffee quality as well to the taste.

Overall, this is a very powerful beer and I would advise those venturing out into the imported beers for the first time to drink with caution.

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

275 ml bottle into tulip glass, best before 9/19/2024. Pours nearly pitch black color with a 2-3 finger dense and fluffy tan head with incredible retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Nice soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, light char, coffee, dark bread, and roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark and roasted malt notes; with good strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, char, coffee, dark bread, light raisin, licorice, and roasted earthiness. Lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, char, coffee, dark bread, licorice, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Excellent balance and complexity of dark and roasted malt flavors with light fruitiness; with big robustness and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a creamy, slick, fairly chalky, and lightly prickly mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming noticed after the finish; very smooth to sip on for 10%. Overall this is a highly excellent imperial stout! Great balance and complexity of big dark/roasted malt flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of tronester
4.54/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black color with a thin creamy tan head. Lacing clings to the glass quite well. Aromas of some oatmeal and freshly broken chocolate bar. Taste begins with a very slight hint of vinegar, then a lucious dark chocolate flavor, then some toasted bread. An herbal, resinous hoppy flavor finishes the flavor, along with some wood aged character and pine. Mouthfeel is extremely rich. Overall a superb Russian Imperial Stout. One of the best I have had.

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

(Served in a snifter)
Brewed may 2011
Drank summer 2012
A- This beer pours a jet black body with a deep cocoa creamy head that is thick and long lasting.

S- The char black malt aroma is rich with some dark cola notes and a slightly earthy dark graham sweetness in the finish.

T- The roasted black malt has some brewer’s licorice to it with a dark toasted malt note in the finish with just a touch of fruity ester. There is some green bitterness that comes through in the finish and a nice roasted deep flavor that lingers after each sip.

M- The medium mouthfeel has no alcohol heat and a slightly slippery texture.

O- The dark rich black malt flavor is full but lagered clean with a little bitterness and just a bit of sweetness that enhances the malt flavor. This is a classic and I loved every drop.

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Photo of jdhowe
4.19/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

275mL bottle poured into a tulip. Brewed in 2011, provided courtesy of Greywulfken.

A: Pours a dark brown, opaque in the glass, with two fingers of mocha-colored head dissipating quickly to a ring and mottled film. Plentiful lacing is left down the side of the glass while drinking.

S: Deep syrupy sweetness is cut by a few sharp notes and a vinous aroma that finishes almost like smelling a red wine tinged with espresso. A little smokiness, but nothing overwhelming. Lots of fruit. Not sure this is the stout for me, since I tend to stay away from the fruitier and prefer the chocolate and coffee notes, but certainly complex and not bad. A little alcohol is evident.

T/M: Strong sweet body with nice, smooth, oily and thick mouthfeel and good carbonation. Notes of coffee more evident in the taste than the nose. Finish is first of sweetness from fruity vinous character, which is then muted by swelling coffee bitterness. Again, a little alcohol shows through. Much more complicated than I expected in the delivery of the flavors, and quite nice. Mouthfeel is very appropriate, and plentiful carbonation adds a nice eventfulness to the early sip before some of the flavors show.

O: I'm really enjoying this beer. I was a little doubtful when fruity character dominated the nose that it would be a good beer that just wasn't as much my thing, but I'm happy with this one. In a world of many imperial stouts, I don't know that I can see myself making efforts to revisit this one, but the long history of the brew is certainly cool, and this is absolutely a good beer.

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Photo of hardy008
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage.

Pours dark black with a two finger mocha head, with nice retention and lacing. The aroma has bittersweet chocolate, cocoa, dates, figs, and raisins. Smells very sweet and very nice.

The taste is sweet with some bitterness for balance. There is bittersweet chocolate, cocoa, figs, dates, raisins, roasted malt, and molasses.

Medium to full bodied with average carbonation. The alcohol is very well hidden, and I would not have guessed 10.00 % abv. I would have guessed lower, maybe around 8.00 % abv. Very nicely made. Too bad this beer appears to be heading for retirement.

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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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