Thursday, May 12, 2011

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout (2011 original review)

After 463 episodes and 2 1/2 years, I'm FINALLY reviewing a beer that is by far the most requested by fans - North Coast Brewing Company's "Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout". This is a pretty famous beer and is consistently ranked among the best RISs and beers overall. I don't know why I kept putting off reviewing this one. But recently Gary was in town and he gave me a complimentary bottle so I KNEW the opportunity to review Old Raspy was finally here! Thanks Gary for the beer!

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (627) - Albany, USA - MAY 12, 2011

I poured a 12oz bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Body is black proper, forms a surprisingly huge, frothy head for such a strong beer. Very good retention and lacing.

Smell: Typical imperial stout with roasted malts, hint of chocolate and noticeable alcohol which grows stronger and more fusel-like as it warms.

Taste: The palate starts off very strong with a robust flavor of deeply roasted malts. So roasty, in fact, it’s akin to a straight-up burnt flavor (especially burnt popcorn). There’s a strong coffee-like bitterness as well, so bitter in fact it borders on salty. The beer seems to foam up in the mouth. The second half is quite pleasing with a baker’s chocolate taste. This helps to accentuate the bitterness while at the same time imparting a rich, syrupy sweetness. The chocolate seems to fade quickly as the beer’s palate becomes drier and more bitter as it warms. I was hoping for more complexity, but this is still satisfying as is.

Mouthfeel: Not as thick or sticky as you’d expect. Feels like a much smaller beer than it is, almost to the point of being medium bodied. Significant bitter aftertaste, though.

Drinkability: For a 9% ABV, Old Rasputin wears it well. While I do notice a boozy smell, there is little warmth in the palate and it goes down very smooth. It is NOT a sipper, actually. Not quite a special occasion beer, but not something I’d want multiple servings of, either.

Overall, one of the most reliable imperial stouts on the major craft beer market. I can see why it has the reputation it does. I wouldn’t consider it an elite beer, but definitely a commendable one.

Grade: 9/10

NOTE: Read my 2015 re-review here:

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