Courage Imperial Russian Stout can trace its history back for over 2 centuries. Wells & Young’s Brewing Co. decided to revive this brand in 2011 after prompting from an English beer writer. The original Imperial Russian Stout had been brewed by Thrales Brewery in London for export to Catherine II of Russia. Thrales was bought by Barclay Perkins which in turn was taken over by Courage. Courage stopped brewing this beer in 1982. In 2007, Courage was acquired by Wells & Youngs.
After such a long history, I’m glad to see a beer with such heritage revived for the modern beer loving world to try. As best as I can determine, the current beer is brewed either with the original recipe or based off of it. Obviously, even if you brewed it with the original recipe, materials and brewing methods have changed so that you can’t truly recreate the original beer, but you can get close! The first vintage released was in 2011. The 2012 marks the first time this beer has made it to the Pacific Northwest.
Appearance: Deep, murky black with a tan head. Ok head retention.
Aroma: Rum, espresso, roasted grain, dried figs and dates, with a touch of smoke and anise.
Taste: Espresso, cocoa, dried figs/dates. Grainy mouthfeel with a touch of fusel alcohol. Rich, full mouthfeel.
Overall Impression: This beer has a touch of “roughness” to its strong elegance. This isn’t a negative trait in an Imperial Stout. I think this beer could age very nicely (as advertised on the label). I’m going to need to get a few bottles to add to my cellar. Fortunately, they’re small bottles at 9.3oz and won’t take up much room.
Notes: Bottle 032832 of 210,000
Availability: Limited and rare at better beer shops.