Wells & Youngs (Courage) Russian Imperial Stout


22007487_753004418217039_8198147773603105582_n“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.”

Served in a snifter. It hits the glass with a black that is literally blacker than midnight. It aroused a short brown cap which deposits a consistent set of rings down the glass.
Wow, lovely aroma, very well composed but also bursting with rich dark chocolate, coffee, dried dark fruits, cocoa, treacle and roasted malt leading out. Certainly getting that subtle pear/apple note that is prevalent in these old school English porters and stouts. Getting hints of booze coming through but for 10% it’s very nicely contained.
It’s pretty full on upfront. Not sharp or aggressive but just packed with rich roasty flavour such as bitter dark chocolate, coffee, earthy malt, raisin, peat, tobacco and a subtle spicy aniseed/licorice accent. The booze does come through but it also brings a hint of Sherry and rum with it. A touch of crusty bread before a roasty finish with a bit of dryness rounding it out.
It’s not overly heavy in the mouth. It’s dense but progresses well over the tongue. A bit of warmth and a bit of drying bitterness developing late.
Flavor and aroma-wise this RIS sits quite high on the list but historically this beer is somewhat of a trail blazer. There wouldn’t be such a thing as Russian Imperial Stout if this particular beer was never brewed. Respect to Barclay Perkins and Courage who now brews the exact same recipe that was brewed for Empress Catherine II back in 1781. Incredible.