I have already logged one Imperial Stout entry on this blog when I reviewed the Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. That beer is one rock ’em sock ’em concoction that sends my taste buds reeling. I gave Ten Fidy a rating of six out of five stars (as if that’s even possible) and it is certainly in my top three of Imperial Stouts that I have tried. We come today to what I consider to be the finest Imperial Stout that has crossed my lips and a strong contender to my favorite beer ever: Old Rasputin by North Coast Brewing Company. It is unquestionably my choice for the most affordable Imperial Stout (only $2.69 at my local bottle shop).
Old Rasputin has all of the same flavor characteristics as Ten Fidy — chocolate, coffee, and caramel — except in the Old Rasputin they are more refined and slightly better balanced. In fact, of all the Imperial Stouts I’ve tried, Old Rasputin seems to strike the perfect feng shui of all of those important flavors. I do notice that Old Rasputin gives off a slightly vanilla aroma in the glass. Also, the beer has a more bitter flavor than other Imperial Stouts I’ve tried. But it is a completely pleasing bitterness that does not detract at all from the beer’s taste.
The North Coast Brewing Company is one of that small handful of breweries that consistently reward my patronage of their products. If their name is on it, I’m going to give it a try and will probably love it. The Fort Bragg, California brewery brews a delicious Abbey style ale, a really good pilsner, and a seriously sumptuous farmhouse ale. If their name is on a bottle of beer, it is a quality product that deserves your attention.
I’m not sure that I would recommend Old Rasputin to a beer novice. In fact, the whole Imperial Stout style would seem too, um, stout for the casual beer drinker. These are not beers you want to pound at a kegger in order to hasten the onset of intoxication. These are artful, mysterious beers that reward thoughtful sipping and paying attention to the flavors in one’s nose and mouth. So if you are ready to step up into the Imperial Stout category of beers, consider Old Rasputin. It is truly the Rolls-Royce of the genre.
Beer prayer: Gracious God, we give thanks for another great Imperial Stout in Old Rasputin. This is the kind of drink that deserves our undivided attention while drinking because it is made to be savored over time instead of thoughtlessly consumed. To paraphrase Psalm 104:15, it is the sort of beverage that gladdens the heart, makes the face shine, and strengthens a man’s heart. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen!
My Untappd rating for North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout: 5/5, but I would give it 7/5 stars if I could.