The Beer Nut: Hooked on Courage After a Single Sip

Written by Norman Miller for

Inspiration for the weekly Beer Nut column can come from many places.

It can be a new brewery that made its debut in Massachusetts, or it can be something I read about a particular brewery, or it can even be something that I pulled from my head.

Or, it can be a single sip of a fabulous beer that blew my mind. That is the case this week. I recently took a sip of Courage Imperial Russian Stout and immediately said I have to write about this beer.

The Courage Imperial Russian Stout is a legendary beer in England, but it had not been brewed since 1982, until this year.

The Wells & Young Brewing Company, the largest brewery in England, purchased the Courage line of beers in 2007 from Scottish & Newcastle (brewers of Newcastle Brown Ale).

Wells’ head brewer, Jim Robertson, who used to brew Courage, brewed the new version, which debuted in the United States Sept. 30.

In 1982, I was 8 years old, so I have no way to compare the 2011 version of Courage Imperial Russian Stout to the original version. But what I can tell you is it is one of the best stouts I have ever tasted.

The beer itself is dark as night, with a strong espresso-like taste. There are also hints of chocolate and smokiness. It also has a lot of fruity flavors such as berries and pears.

At 10 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), it is a big beer, but it has no alcohol burn at all. It is one of the best imperial stouts being brewed today and worth seeking out.

The only negative is the cost. An 8-ounce bottle will cost you nearly $8. I typically do not recommend a beer that costs $1 an ounce, but I will make an exception for this beer. It is too good to miss.

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