Thursday, December 23, 2010

Courage Clone Tasting 2010

I can't believe this big funky stout is already three-and-a-half years old.  I've been drinking just one bottle every winter when I visit my parents for Christmas, a nice treat after the long drive up from DC to Massachusetts.  Luckily I've got enough left for another few years.

Stout foreground on a Christmas tree background.Courage Russian Imperial Stout Clone

Appearance -Pitch black, and opaque unless held right up to a light.  The tan head is pretty thin, with tight bubbles and decent retention. A longer lasting head would certainly be nice, but the beer still looks like a winter night.

Aroma - Over-roasted coffee, cocoa nibs, and starting to develop some tobacco.  Behind the dark malt there is some damp basement/oak.  A toasty character from the amber malt adds complexity to the dominant dark malts.

Flavor - Smooth dark malt roast, with some vanilla (I assume from the oak).  There is some alcohol in the finish but not too much for a Christmas beer. The combination of oak/vanilla/ethanol gives the impression of smooth bourbon.  The hop bitterness has fallen off over the years, but the combination of roast/oak/alcohol are still enough to balance the residual sugars (the better than average attenuation from the Brett A helps the balance as well).

Mouthfeel - Moderate body for such a big beer with a bit more carbonation than I like in a substantial beer like this,  I get a bit of drying tannins from the oak.

Drinkability/Notes -Getting to a very enjoyable point, but it still tastes like it can take some more age.  As it warms I get more complexity and the the body smooths out, I like this beer more every year.


jedwards said...

Very cool! I brewed a hopeful Courage clone going off the brewsheet you posted way back when... with a few modifications for the malts/hops I had around. It's been in secondary on oak for three weeks now and tastes quite promising. I skipped the brett on this to get a base flavor, and intend to brew it at least once a year if it turns out well.

Have you tried the 2008 batch of A. Le Coq that recently came into the states? It's capped instead of corked, so hopefully won't suffer the oxidization fate of the previous batches. Does remind me of the all-too-few bottles of Courage I've had over the years.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad to hear, hope it turns out well. I saw the "new" Le Coq, but haven't bought a bottle. I'll pick one up if I see it again.

Unknown said...

In university days in Devon, England, the Courage Imperial Russian Stout was stocked by my favourite campus bar, and was a beer I enjoyed on many occasions. I only wish I'd laid in stocks back then... they'd be 35 years old now, and probably none the worse for it. Just before Christmas I found a local store selling the 7% Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout; it's not exactly as I remember the Courage beer, but it's a pretty fine drink all the same. And now, on the day after Boxing Day, I've discovered your website, and a recipe for making my own brew of this black beauty. Something tells me 2011 is going to be Imperial Russian Stout year!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I have a couple regrets of seeing beers available and not stocking up. Hope your brew comes out close to the original.