Friday, October 31, 2008

Old Rasputin

Name- Old Rasputin
Brewer- North Coast Brewing Company
Country- United States
Type- Imperial Stout
Alcohol Content- 9%
Summary - Strong, even for an Imperial Stout. A little too strong, in terms of taste and character. Head is thick like a well-poured pub draught of Guinness. However, it needs refinement, lots more complexity, and in that sense, it lacks character.

Pouring this beer got me excited- I remember when I had my first properly poured Guinness at a pub in Gainesville (not the one I worked at, hehe) years ago, and I was impatient with the bartender because it took forever. But I remember seeing (as I would many times again) the head on the beer- echelons of cascading layers of foam, slowly falling until it was at a proper point to either pour more or serve and consume. The head on Old Rasputin quickly brought me back to that moment in time (and any experience that can bring you back to a sweet memory is worth mentioning.) I had recently been recommended Old Rasputin, so I thought that I was in for a real treat. I felt that I would be plunged into a beer that would satisfy my cravings for complexity that are sometimes missing in some Imperial Stouts.

I was wrong. It's bold, very bold, and you can almost taste the alcohol in it. This is in spite of it (here we go) only being 9% ABV. That's right, 9% and I said "only." Normally I would expect the hint of actual taste of alcohol for a stronger beer (not that this is weak by any means), but for some reason, I can almost taste it here. The temperament of roasted malts isn't missing, but considerably weak, IMHO. And any complexity of fruit flavors is all but missing for me.

It's not that I enjoy being harsh when commenting on beers that I try and feel do not hit the mark, but I suppose that Old Rasputin was a bit of a disappointment for me. It's not bad, but to be frank, it's not as good as I expected. Before you get the wrong idea, I realize that Imperial Stouts (and any Stouts or Porters for that matter) have a longer ladder to climb in terms of "ease of drinkability" (I just coined that term, thank-you) but I've had better. It's not a standard-bearer.