Old Rasputin is a manly beer…or so it would appear
Sometimes a man just has to have a beer that will put hair on his chest. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is one of those kinds of beers. It will warm the soul on cold winter days, but will also offer some respite from the fizzy little fruity beers of summer. Big, bad and bold, Rasputin stout could seem to be a bit too scary for some beer drinkers. It’s all a matter of context, though. This bear of a beer is really a teddy bear. Meant for desserts and quiet, introspective times -- not chugging contests.
This is not a beer for those not sure if they like stout. This isn’t some bridge from the usual macro-lagers to something towards a stout. This is stout. Imperial stout. Stout in all of its dark and dense glory. If you’re one that thinks Guinness is a bit on the rough side, this isn’t the beer for you. North Coast Brewing Company from Ft. Bragg, California cranks out this stuff for people who like their beer thick and heavy, and make no apologies.
None are needed. Rasputin could be considered the benchmark for stouts. It pours like oil. Syrupy. Impenetrably black with a tinge of red if you hold it to the light. The tan head fades rather quickly. The aroma is all coffee and chocolate and sweet malt.
What’s not to like?
The taste is just like the smell. Like espresso with a chunk of chocolate melted in. As you’d imagine with those flavors, it is best served a little warmer than usual -- about cellar temperature. It is thick, almost chewy, and creamy. Every bit of the 9% alcohol is noticeable, but not unpleasant in the least. It goes down all warm and tingly. This is not your girlfriend’s Bud Light.
Imperial Stouts aren’t the beers you want to knock back one after another. If your idea of ’drinkable’ is something you can happily pound all night, then these aren’t. If drinkable means very enjoyably finishing one, Rasputin definitely is.
This stout is more of a dessert beer to sip after dinner. It’s that rare beverage that will go well with the cake. Especially anything chocolate. I probably wouldn’t want one with the main meal, though, whatever I was eating. It’s also a good fireside beer, if you’re only looking to relax with one leisurely drink. I think many people try to go overboard on the stouts -- one is good, so eight must be better. While that could be used as a general rule of thumb for other beers, it doesn’t usually work that way with heavy duty stouts. That mistake seems to put people off the whole genre for life. A shame, that.
Rasputin is a great Russian Imperial Stout. It’s not for the faint of heart, though. It’s about as strong, black and thick as beers come. There’s no reason that should scare anyone. Coffee and chocolate are the predominant flavors, after all. What’s so scary about that? It’s not an everyday beer, but it’s perfect to wash down the dessert. It might look mean and nasty, but underneath it all it’s just a sweetheart.