Thursday, January 2, 2014

North Coast Brewing - Old Rasputin XV Anniversary Barrel Aged Stout

For the Ninth Beer of Christmas, Russia sends its love ... by way of the northern coast of California.

North Coast Brewing
Old Rasputin XV Anniversary
Russian Imperial Stout
Brewed in the tradition of the English brewers that provided stouts for the court of Catherine the Great, North Coast Brewing's regular version of Old Rasputin is a classic in the Russian Imperial Stout style. This is the first time I've seen their anniversary version.

Darker than a glass of Coca-Cola, this version of North Coast's flagship Old Rasputin imbues the mysterious, glossy black body. The carbonation is low for most beers, but is normal for a imperial stout style. The light tan head foamed up at first but cleared away quickly to become minimal at best and no lacing remained on the glass.

The aroma is that of a strongly mixed Jack & Coke ... very sweet with high alcohol esters. There are also hints of vanilla, cloves, and cinnamon. Of course, I think Coke has vanilla and cloves in its aroma, too, so those seem to fall under the Coke umbrella.

The taste is full of whiskey and coke and coffee and chocolate. Dark, baking chocolate. The mouth-feel is full and rich. Almost like you could chew it. Even though there is no visible carbonation, there's a sharpness similar to a crisp, high carbonated drink such as champagne. The high alcohol comes through in the taste (as the whiskey) and in a warming sensation.

This was a fantastic bottle of beer. Rich and strong. It's a bit much (both in strength of flavor and cost) to be in my regular drink rotation, but it would be a great treat to share on a cold, winter evening.

Brewer: North Coast Brewing Co.
Location: Fort Bragg, California
Style: Imperial Stout
Alcohol Content: 11.9% ABV
Interesting Note: The label around the neck of the anniversary bottle is adorned with the phrase "never say die," which refers to the many attempts on Rasputin's life. On the regular bottles, a phrase in Russian states "A sincere friend is not born instantly."

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