Brewed by Charles Wells
Style: Imperial Stout
Bedford, England
Serve in Snifter


on tap

Broad Distribution

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RATINGS: 500   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.85/5   SEASONAL: Autumn   EST. CALORIES: 300   ABV: 10%
As Originally brewed in 1795 for Catherine the Great of Russia. Enjoy now or allow to mature in the cellar.
Brewed to perfection only once a year, Courage Imperial Russian Stout enjoys a rich, espresso body with pear overtones and an intriguing fresh smokey, fruity finish.

MartinT's rating

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
MartinT (8736) - Montreal, Quebec, - MAY 19, 2013
My Bottom Line:
This dessert of an Imperial Stout joins prunes, milk chocolate, roasted cereals and caramel, leading them to a heavy yet harmonious finish.

Further Personal Perceptions:
-A slim slice of foam garnishes the darkness.
-This lacks hop character in the finish (for my tastes in the style).
-Carbonation is rather low, which makes the sweetness feel heavier.
-The nose is very expressive and predicts the sweet onslaught.
-Unripe pears also appear in the flavor profile.


   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
ClarkVV (4645) - Allston, Massachusetts, USA - NOV 27, 2015
2012 bottle (shelf), drunk 11/25/15.
Opened this at room temperature and it poured an ebony black with a dark tan head. Moderate retention, as the head eventually fades to cover. Clarity indeterminable, but I assume this is filtered.
Prunes, salted toffee, bittersweet chocolate and vanilla in the nose give a very true and classic rendition of the style. Like Harvey’s with some peanut brittle notes, tons of vinousness, light ash and well-controlled alcohol.
So I gotta admit, I was expecting a thin, filtered, fizzily-carbonated, mediocre beer. And I can’t help but say, this stuff is pretty god damned good. Rich flavors showcase a caramel and chocolate maltiness that is chewy and supple, despite being well-attenuated. Lovely prunes, cigars, raisins and salted toffee add tons of complexity and keep things dry but still add a wonderful bittersweet, lightly tart edge. Carbonation is low, but ample and not fizzy or seemingly force carbonated (though I’ve got to imagine it is). Espresso, prunes, cigars, salt and more fruitiness lingers long. Very impressed. Will be buying another bottle soon.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
teorn88 (4734) - London, Greater London, ENGLAND - NOV 26, 2015
33cl bottle split at Paul’s 10k tasting in London. Many many thanks to the beerthday man for this one. It pours a dark brown color with minimal beige head. Aroma is muted with some booze and sweet raisin. Taste has booze raisins rum chocolate and dust. Medium bodied with good carbonation. Overall, meh

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
HappyHandsClub (27) - Iowa City, Iowa, USA - NOV 26, 2015
Basic, natural, no frills simple over 200 year original recipe brew yet tailored & balanced, about as mid-weight & charactered as Mikkeller Black without over the rainbow abv. In that, this is a sipper, whereas, Evil Twin’s I Love You With My Stout is prone for inhalation. There’s enough going on holistically in this original recipe imperial stout to tell the brain take it easy & get a tan slowly without getting sunburned. Roast barley/hoppy front end transitions to hoppy back end with interesting transitions through the middle. Could have been a bit more bodied & less dry. U.S. distributor lists the beer but apparently there’s a corporate change since Wells & Youngs website is now just Wells.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
RLiddell (79) - Valrico, Florida, USA - NOV 22, 2015
Bottle 2013 vintage. Pours a deep, rich coffee color with a small tan colored head. Aroma is that of coffee and bitter chocolate. Taste is coffee forward, chocolate, with a medium bitter finish. Mouthfeel is a tad lighter than I prefer for an imperial stout. Overall, this is a very good stout.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Alengrin (3684) - BELGIUM - NOV 21, 2015
Bottle bought at the Great British Beer Festival. I have tasted the previous John Smith version on several occasions, but always vintages of considerable age, and I was curious to find out how it tastes (relatively) fresh, assuming Charles Wells has maintained the same recipe, which I cannot assess at this point. In any case I find it very useful that this stout is still continued albeit by someone else as, after all, this is a beer with an impressive pedigree, in representing a direct lineage to the first Russian imperial stouts in history (at least in England - I read Ireland used the phrase "imperial stout" even before the export to Russia started). Pale greyish beige, irregular, very creamy head leaving membranous lacing on the edge of the glass, colour is a very dark reddish mahogany but this is only visible on the edges, otherwise this beer is ink black. Powerful and enticing aroma of all the classic ingredients: cold black coffee, bitter chocolate, toffee, bayleaf, pipe tobacco ashes, cinnamon, dry cocoa, damp earth, ’haemoglobin’ iron, freshly ground black pepper, dried leaves, subtle hints of soy sauce, smoked pork, burnt wood, vanilla and beef jerky. Intense and rich in the mouth but very well ’controlled’, with a restrained dried fruit sweetness (raisin, dried plum) at first glance, surrounded by a deep basic grain sourishness for balance and a light meaty umami flavour; soft carbo, thickly oily body, deep and rich, layered maltiness, caramelly and nutty, but very (bitterly) chocolatey as well, with coffeeish roasted bitterness towards the end, filling the mouth cavity in a soft, mild but thorough way; finish is a wave of this toasted and roasted bittersweet maltiness, gliding down the throat like warm chocolate sauce, along with warming, faintly rhum-like alcohol built in very cleverly and providing only structure, which goes for an earthy, slightly peppery hop bitterness as well. Delicious, bittersweet chocolate maltiness is the last thing that remains along with the alcohol warmth. Clearly this has remained as noble and classic as I remember it - this is the archetypical RIS everyone venturing into the style, should start with. Absolutely lovely.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
hotstuff (4531) - Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA - NOV 15, 2015
Rated on 6-23-2015 (Bottle) The appearance of this beer is a small tan head that is mostly lasting, opaque dark brown body, slow rising carbonation observed on the sides of the glass, and a fair amount of lacing. The aroma is roasted malt, chocolate, some coffee, fruity, and alcohol. The flavor is moderately bitter, roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, smokey, semi-sweet, fruity, and boozy. The mouthfeel is moderate carbonation and this beer is medium bodied. A very good sipping beer with a very good flavor. This beer is worth trying and a beer I would partake in again.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
HogTownHarry (6371) - Toronto (Harbourfront), Ontario, CANADA - NOV 14, 2015
October 19, 2013 - at Cask Days 2013. Black pour, nice frothy light brown head. Aroma is treacle, molasses, coffee and quite bitter - alcohol too. Taste follows - molasses, alcohol, coffee and baker’s chocolate - almost intensely bitter. Slick, sort of syrupy, surprisingly light body; mild carbonation, leading to a boozy, charred cloying finish. Not amazing, but quite good.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
Cousin_Larry (719) - - NOV 1, 2015
Great looking beer - jet black, tan/brown head. Aroma is a little unusual - chocolate, caramel and plum. Flavor just isn’t there; but the feint hint I get caramel fruit. I drank this right after I had the Ridgeway imperial so I could re-use my snifter; Ridgeway was far better and flavorful in my opinion. Surprised to see Courage rated so much higher by my fellow beer snobs.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Martinus (4285) - Baarle-Nassau, NETHERLANDS - NOV 1, 2015
Dark brown colour, off-white head. Aroma of caramel, chocolate, soy sauce, brown sugar, hint of coffee. Sweet flavour, caramel, coffee. liquorice and brown sugar. Finish liquorice, roasted malts and caramel.
(from 275mL bottle @ ZZT XII, ’Getting Joes’d to this’, Oirschot. Thanks for sharing, joes!)

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Benzai (11361) - Oirschot, THE NETHERLANDS, NETHERLANDS - OCT 24, 2015
Bottle @ ZZT XII. Opaque pitch black color, medium sized brown head. Smell and taste malts, some liquorice, dark chocolate, nice bitterness. Quite good! Nice one!

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