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.