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29th September 2011

Courage Imperial Russian Stout, a beer last brewed in London in 1982, has been recreated by Wells and Young’s head brewer, Jim Robertson, who last crafted the beer in Horselydown, London.

The beer, which has become an iconic and much sought after brew, is being officially launched at the Great American Beer Festival at the renowned Falling Rock Taphouse, Denver, on the 30th September.

The beer has been maturing since May this year and Robertson admits brewing the iconic beer has been a joy. He says: “I was one of the last brewers to produce this beer in London and it has been an honour, a privilege and, I must admit, a labour of love for me. This beer is a real test of my abilities as a brewer – it uses a large amount of raw ingredients and brewing the beer in an automated brewery has been a real challenge. But I’m incredibly happy with the final brew, and can not wait to share it with people at the launch.”

The 10% ABV beer, which is set to be produced yearly by Wells and Young’s, will be available in the US initially, but beer lovers in the UK need not worry as there are plans to make Courage Imperial Russian Stout more widely available in 2012.

Leading beer journalist Melissa Cole has been working closely with Jim and was instrumental in persuading Jim to take on the challenge to brew this iconic beer again. She says: “This beer is as steeped in history as it is in flavour, and I'm thrilled to be just a small part of its story because I personally know of at least three professional brewers that this beer inspired to get into the industry, that's how amazing it is.

"I can't wait to hear what people think of it because Jim has done such a great job of re-creating the unique flavour fingerprint of Courage Imperial Russian Stout, which is so indulgent it should almost be illegal!"

Russian Imperial Stout is a strong dark stout dating back to the 18th century when it was produced at Thrale’s Brewery in London to export to the court of Catherine II of Russia. The high alcoholic strength was necessary to prevent the beer from freezing in the temperatures of the Baltic Sea on its voyage to Russia and along with a high degree of hop it has the keeping quality of a fine wine.

In 1791 the brewery changed hands and the beer became known as Barclay Perkins Imperial Stout. When the brewery was taken over by local rivals Courage the beer was renamed Courage Imperial Russian Stout.

Wells and Young’s Brewing Company acquired the Courage brands in 2007 with Jim Robertson overseeing the transfer of Courage Best and Directors to the brewery in Bedford.

Courage Imperial Russian Stout has a rich, espresso body with pear overtones and an intriguing fresh, smoky, fruity finish. The beer is brewed with chocolate, amber and pale ale malts, Hersbrucker and Styrian Goldings hops and accredited natural mineral water from the brewery’s very own well.

Jim adds: “Although the beer has been maturing since May 2011, if you really have the patience and the willpower, it is best to let the beer mature in the bottle for up to thirteen years!”