Wells & Young, Thrale’s Anchor Brewery Stout Thrale's Anchor Brewery

Tasting: November 2, 2012
Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Thrale’s Anchor Brewery

Wells & Young Courage
(c) 2012 popsonhops

Hurricane Sandy knocked out our power for a couple of days and considering the footage from our shore and stories of our neighbors — we consider ourselves very lucky. Five days later and still so many people are without power. I drove through town yesterday and saw quite a few trees and utility poles snapped like twigs. Lines for gas are hundreds of cars long. This has been an amazing and historic experience and one we’ll certainly all remember for the rest of our lives.

Honestly, I haven’t been thinking about pops on hops very much lately. I just spent the afternoon cutting up a tree that had fallen on a neighbor’s yard. The top branches were on his grass and hadn’t caused any inconvenience, yet for some reason, he and his wife felt it necessary to drive to our house and ask when I intended to remove my tree from his yard. Really, I guess he didn’t notice the hardships all around us? Anyway, instead of making an issue, I decided to bite my lip, take care of it and treat myself to a beer I’ve been saving. It’s an historic beer for an historic occasion.

In 1795, Thrale’s Anchor Brewery of England exported stout to Russia’s Catherine II. The British brewer jacked up the alcohol content to act as antifreeze for the long voyage and the style “Russian Imperial Stout” or “RIS” was born. Thrale’s RIS was taken over by Barclays Perkins and the lineage passed to Courage in 1950. Courage closed its doors in 1982 and was brewed under new ownership until 1993. Wells & Young purchased Courage and reintroduced the legendary stout in 2011. I’m not sure how close this is to the original recipe but I’ll imagine this one as the closest specimen.

First impression is that it’s a bit boozy (10% ABV) and has this flinty mineral undertone. It has a nice rich mouth feel with harmony of roasted grains and dark fruit (raisin) and espresso. Has some cherry on an extremely dry finish. This one would benefit from some age and I’m going to have to get a couple of bottles to let sit for a few years. This one can’t compare to the legendary stouts of today but it’s no wonder that the royal court had a standing order. I’ll put it at 93 points.

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