North Coast Brewing: Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Hope everyone is having a great Thirsty Thursday and if not, lighten up and grab a brew. This week I’m reviewing one of my favorites, the Old Rasputin by North Coast. I’m not a big fan of stouts or Commies (metric is for spuds), but this beer is worth the hype Comrade. I was able to pick this up at the liquor store we always got beer from (and paid the underage tax) my first few years of college, and I was happy to see them beginning to stock something other than the old standby Busch Light. Don’t get me wrong, there are fewer things more enjoyable than being a Busch Pilot (phrasing?) but this is one of them.

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Appearance: This stuff is darker than molasses deep in the swamp at midnight with no moon. Seriously, I held it up to my light and couldn’t see through it. Super dark with a killer head that lasts forever (the best kind, right?).

Smell: Almost as pungent as the man this was named after. Leading notes are coffee, toasted malts, and sweet sweet booze.

Taste: I would suggest serving around 45 degrees or 7 degrees Celsius for those still stuck in the USSR. But after a few sips, allow it to warm to about 55 degrees (google the conversion, I’m too lazy) and this is when the flavors really start to change and meld into a very different tasting beer. When it’s cold, it’s a bit biting with burnt toast and coffee coming through. As it starts to warm however, strong hints of oatmeal, toffee, caramel, and malty sweetness come through very well balanced with the nice hop profile. On the backside there is a tinge of alcohol, which at 9% is to be expected, but it leaves a nice warm feeling as it goes down.

Mouthfeel: Starts off a bit thin and watery with a lower level of carbonation than the head belies. Again as it warms, the mouthfeel becomes very full and smooth. It’s almost like velvet in your mouth (make whatever joke you please). One of the most interesting beers texture-wise as you can chew on it, but there’s no issue with how drinkable it is.

Value: At $10 for a 4-pack, it’s on the more expensive side of things for those of us ballin’ on a budget. The alcohol content is a pretty good value for what you get, and just because you’re all about those Roosevelts, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t splurge every now and then.

Overall: I give this a 9.5/10, the highest rating I’ve given to date. This is very high on my list because of the complexity of flavors, aroma, appearance, mixed with the relatively easy drinkability. If there’s anything Communist that this blue blooded ‘Merican can support, its definitely this crazy Russian.

Note: Yes I am aware Rasputin was part of Tsarist Russia, not Communist.

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