North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
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North Coast Brewing's Old Rasputin is produced in the tradition of the 18th century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia's Catherine the Great - hence the style being known as Russian Imperial Stout. In those years, there were many types of stouts and porters being brewing within the United Kingdom, the primary variance among them being strength and sweetness. The Russian imperial stout was intended to make the long trip across the cold north and thereby needed a great alcoholic strength and voluminous hopping in order not to spoil. Consequently a beer was created that warmed a person from the inside out when enjoying the libation in the frozen cities of Moscow or St. Petersburg.
Old Rasputin is a rich and intense brew, drawing on the tradition established in England all those years ago. At 9% alcohol, it's recommended to be poured into a small tulip shaped glass as a bit goes a long way. The beer is black as a cold Russian night, highlighted by a viscous, soot brown head. The aromas that arise from the use of roasted barley and chocolate malts are that of espresso grounds, bittersweet chocolate bars, burnt haystacks, and rich molasses. Similarly deep and toasty, the flavor notes dark roasted coffee, grandma's homemade chocolate fudge, slightly overdone toast, and seared dark fruits. The body is just as rich as the flavor, thick, creamy, and surprisingly delicate.
North Coast's Old Rasputin Imperial Stout is not a beer for the uninitiated. It is a stout for true stout drinkers, for those who appreciate a bold, bitter, roasty beer that packs a wallop. As ideal on a cold winter day, seated by a fire, a lengthy book by Tolstoy or Dostoevsky in hand as it is on a cool fall evening out on the porch with a favorite cigar. Pair it with big sugary desserts like a flourless chocolate cake or a heap of fresh peaches with cream.