North Coast Brewing: Old Rasputin Imperial Stout


Now I’m approaching the end of my US visit I knew there were a couple of things that I needed to do: One was go to Wal-Mart – just to go and see if it’s as bad as everyone says* and the other was to try as many beers as I could that I just can’t get at home.

(*it wasn’t.  I’m sure I’ve seen worse at home…but some US colleagues told me I should have gone on food stamps day as it’s like a zoo then.  Still, I managed to load up on Jerky, so all is good.)

One style of beer that we just don’t get at home – despite bloody inventing it – is Imperial Stout.  I’m not going to go into the whole story of Imperial stout: suffice to say that England used to ship it to the court of Catherine The Great in Russia, and as we all know shipping beer about in the mid 1700s meant big alcohol and hops in order to preserve it.

Old Rasputin looked to fit the bill exactly and I, for some reason, decided to try and enjoy a bottle of this after a US-sized Chinese meal; which, on reflection, wasn’t the best idea in the world.

This beer pours a solid black.  Blacker than ink.  I swore it landed with a thump into the glass.  An epic, solid, tan head of foam appeared that would have easily won a fight with me should I have decided to pick one.

Aroma was literally streaming out of the glass: intense dark malts, an undercurrent of chocolate and spiciness. all backed up by warming alcohol notes from the extraordinary 9% strength.

There was an absolute landslide of flavour: huge dark malt, an iron fist of alcoholic strength softened by a velvet glove of malt and hops that helped to blunt the background bitterness; dark bitter chocolate and roast barley were easily the most assertive flavours.  The mouth-feel was gigantic, seeming to double as all of these massive flavours stomped all over my taste buds

Lets face it, this is a gigantic, beautiful, over-the-top beer and I can see that it would be something really special when drunk out of doors, winter fishing, or watching fireworks on bonfire night, or at Christmas or anything like that…just not on a warm Dayton evening after a gigantic Chinese meal…

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