Inspiration is a funny thing. My beer tasting schedule is pretty set in stone. Fridays I try to do one of the 750 ml bottle, and either Tuesday or Wednesday I do a 120z bottle. This results in getting about two reviews a week to post on here. The only thing to really decide is which beer to have on those days. I have a bunch of 120z bottles, so that tends to be the harder decision. Well, Tuesday evening a good friend sent me a picture of the Old Rasputin Stout they were consuming. Having not yet cracked open the beer I would be reviewing that day, I immediately knew which beer would be tasted that night. Really, to be more specific, it was the plentiful head of the beer that had me wanting.
A Russian Imperial Stout is a little different from just your typical stout. Of course anything imperial will be considered the heftier version of the initial product. So you can imagine that an imperial stout will be rather heavy and dark. Additionally, the Russian aspect means they produced it in the tradition of 18th Century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia’s Catherine the Great. Therefore, this one has some really great history to it too.
The other thing that really interested me in picking up this bottle is the great label and name attached to it. Rasputin’s name of course only helps further connect this to its Russian origins. This picture shows Rasputin as some strange healer, which he was considered to be. However, it’s the definite creepy aspect that really helps make it interesting.
As I was expecting from an imperial stout, this one pours out as black as midnight. There is virtually nothing that can be seen in or even through it. You can’t really see anything to really talk about clarity, and you can’t even see if there is carbonation in there either. This of course is the first really good sign of a tasty beer (for my tastes); however, the second is the aspect that got me to it want to drink it in the first place. There is a ton of thick foamy brown head that develops on even a moderate pour. This head doesn’t fade very quickly either. It continues to last even till the end of consuming the beer. Just like the plentiful head, there is also a lot of lacing. I was actually kind of reminded of drinking a glass of oj with pulp in it. The remnants of the head stay in the glass for quite a while.
Fairly expectedly, the coffee smell is the smell that takes over most everything. As I have said before, I love coffee. Therefore, the smell of coffee is a great sign for me. Backing up the coffee is an ample supply of toffee and chocolate. The roasted smell is also there. However, at the very end, you can pull out a little of the earthy hoppy smell. Of course, the combination of both hops and coffee is an amazing blend for me.
I can definitely say that the taste here can be summed up as bold. It really hits you in the face and lingers for a while. Tasting first results in a quick clean malty flavor. This is met by a quick little hit of the sweetness that comes from the toffee and caramel. The full coffee flavor quickly comes in after that and smacks you in the face. Really coffee is the longest lasting and most prominent flavor in the whole profile, but before it all comes to a finish, the hops combine with the natural bitterness of the coffee to give a really strong bitter end.
The mouthfeel here is a really nice blend of coffee, sweet chocolate and caramel, and some well placed hops. I like the high amount of carbonation. This imperial needs the high carbonation to really help mellow out a little bit of the strong bitterness of the coffee and hops. However, swirling the glass and letting it warm up allows the carbonation to mellow a little, and you can also get a better hit of the bitterness if you want. Thankfully, this has a super rich and bold flavor without coming off as syrupy.
I had heard people mention this one before, but I had never managed to actually have it. Seeing the single 12 0z bottle available, I knew I had to give it a try. Now that I’ve had it, I need to pick up a few more bottles of this. I have a feeling this could be a really nice addition to my attempts at cellaring. If you see this one out there, definitely pick it up. You won’t be disappointed!
(Side note: I kicked the lovely glass in the picture at the top of the page off my coffee table after drinking this one. RIP Sierra Nevada glass)
Teacher Grade: A+