Its Halloween, and as far as I'm concerned the perfect day to review Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout - the big, dark beer named after the enigmatic Grigori Rasputin whose face also adorns the bottle. Ironically, this highly awarded beer dating back to the mid 90's is produced by sunny California based North Coast Brewing Company of Fort Bragg Ca.
As the Russian Imperial Stout style is new to me, some pre-imbibing research was in order. I was surprised to learn that the style DIDN'T originate in Russia, and less surprised to learn that it DID come from England. It seems that in the 1700's English brewers crafted a beer by request of Peter the Great. When the first batch spoiled in transit they tried again with a spoil proof (high hop, high alcohol) recipe. Peter the Great loved it and his successors and their courts continued the tradition.
It seems to me that the Rasputin name is apt. This is a big, dark, decadent beer recalling an era when the court and rule of Nicholas II fell catastrophically out of touch with the plight of the people. This is no peasants beer. Its a rich black beer with a luxurious, lingering foamy almond head.
Its a fairly dry beer, with burnt, roasted coffee and bitter raw coco flavors. Low carbonation, and a roasted aroma. 9% alcohol by volume. Creamy mouth-feel. Alcohol warmth on the back end.
Musical Pairing: Liki Bessmertnykh Bogov by Russian based folk-metal band Arkona