It’s only fitting that the inaugural beer chosen for the “Beer for the Weekend” series is North Coast Brewing Company’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. It’s only fitting because it’s hard to find a beer more wonderfully representative of its respective style than Old Rasputin. And, it’s a beer that is poured and enjoyed in my house on more weekends over the course of the year than any other beer. When people ask me for Stout recommendations, I begin with Old Rasputin. If someone has been over to my place more than once, chances are I’ve served them Old Rasputin. But anymore fan-boy gushing and the following review may be superfluous.
Stouts weren’t necessarily built for winter, but the rich, creamy and dark style may as well have been and most beer drinkers consider Stouts essential winter drinking. Thick and creamy, the toasted malt that characterizes much of the flavor profile of a Stout pairs well with a roaring fire that’s taking the bite out of winter’s chill.
AROMA: As soon as the bottle is opened, the delicious, wonderful aromas from the roasted barley tempt you to skip the pouring and go straight to the drinking. Don’t give in. Take the time to pour this Stout, and allow the rich aromas to add to the overall aesthetic experience. Like the excellent Russian Imperial Stout that it is, Old Rasputin has plenty of chocolate, coffee, and toffee, as well as nuts and juicy plum. The aroma indicates the complexity that is possible in a Russian Imperial Stout; while definitely malt-centric, the Old Rasputin does not neglect the hops – light floral teases the heavily roasted malts. 12/12
APPEARANCE: Old Rasputin pours thick and syrupy. The beer is dark black with a luscious tan head that has great retention and leaves sticky, beautiful lacing on the side of the glass as you drink it. When you finish Old Rasputin, it’s obvious that the glass had held beer. 3/3
FLAVOR: Old Rasputin showcases its roasted barley throughout the entire drinking experience. Big coffee and chocolate flavors dominate, but there is plenty of dark fruit laced throughout the espresso and cocoa notes, too. Also, unlike many other Stouts, Old Rasputin doesn’t give short shrift to the hops; florals provide a fresh contrast to the malt characteristics, and excellent and enticing hop bitterness provides balance. The finish is all rich toastiness and deep satisfying bitterness with hints of chocolate – full, delicious finish. 19.5/20
MOUTHFEEL: A full body with lots of creaminess and warmth. The carbonation is medium, and balances out the astringency. The high abv, 9%, means that Old Rasputin is best enjoyed slowly, but who is in a hurry while escaping from winter’s harshness or while drinking this delicious beer? 5/5
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Old Rasputin is exactly what a Russian Imperial Stout should be – rich, dark, flavorful, and complex. 9.5/10
Outstanding (45-50), Excellent (38-44), Very Good (30-37), Good (21-29), Fair (14-20), Problematic (0-13)
One of the problems with reviewing Old Rasputin from North Coast Brewing Company is that most people who love craft beer and, hence, who love Stouts are probably already familiar with this outstanding Russian Imperial Stout. But, if that applies to you, don’t become victim of taking Old Rasputin for granted. Whether you’re stuck indoors or not, pair this winter weekend with the delicious creaminess of Old Rasputin.
 No beer is perfect; just because I don’t notice any problems, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any. Besides, if I gave Old Rasputin a perfect score, what happens if I find a better beer tomorrow?