I recently took a sip of Courage Imperial Russian Stout and immediately said I have to write about this beer.
Inspiration for the weekly Beer Nut column can come from many places. It can be a new brewery that made its debut or it can be a particular brewery I read about, 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 that 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, 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.
Wells & Young also brews some other worthy beers, so don't forget to try their other beers.
The Young's Double Chocolate Stout is another classic. I know several people who say they do not like beer but really like this one. This is a full-bodied stout, but unlike many chocolate stouts this is not an imperial. The 5.2 percent ABV will allow you to have more than one beer during the night. The flavors are really well balanced.
The Double Chocolate Stout is brewed using real dark chocolate. The dark chocolate adds a slight bitterness to the beer. The chocolate flavors really come through, but it is not overly sweet or syrupy like many chocolate beers.
Another interesting beer from Wells & Young is the Wells Banana Bread Beer. If you like banana bread, this is the beer for you because it lives up to its name –– it tastes like liquid banana bread. It's is a pale ale with tons of banana flavor. If you do not like sweet beers, this may be too much for you. Overall, I think it is a tasty beer.
Want a treat? Pour about a quarter glass of the Banana Bread Beer and then fill the rest with the Double Chocolate Stout and you've got yourself a chocolate-banana dessert beer.
Not all of Wells & Young's beers are flavored.
Wells Bombadier Ale is an English bitter. It has a great malt body, with enough peppery hops to give it a well-balanced flavor. The beer comes in both bottles and cans. The beers are slightly different for some reason. The bottled version is 5.2 percent ABV, while the canned version is 4.3 percent ABV. The taste differences are slight, so if you like one, you will like them both.
Young's Special London Ale is a 6.4 percent ABV Extra Special Bitter. It is a nicely carbonated beer, where the bubbles are almost dancing on your tongue. That helps bring out the bitterness, and some yeasty/bready flavors make this a nice beer to drink.
Wells & Young beers are definitely worth seeking out.
Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/ or follow the Beer Nut at his Twitter page at www.twitter.com/realbeernut.