Edited by Cory Smith (Hey, I’m an English teacher. Doesn’t that warrant self editing?)
This is a beer I’ve been waiting to try for over a year now. I used to work at a bar with 32 beers on tap, and every time I wanted to sample Old Rasputin it was sold out. Well I finally got my hands on this black beauty and am excited for my first swig.
O.R. was brewed in 18th century fashion, just like the beer they used to serve the Russian court. At 9% alcohol, I wonder if their judgement was ever slightly impaired… Anyway, on the the review!
Appearance: First I just want to comment on the pour. You can see in the picture that (unlike many imperial stouts I’ve tried) this pours with a thick, frothy, tan head that lingers in the glass. It is jet black and opaque, even when I hold it up to light, yet around the edge of the glass you can see plenty of carbonation ascending to replenish the head.
Aroma: The first thing I get is a big whiff black malt. It smells dark and roasty, though seemingly dry. On second smell, I get notes of chocolate and alcohol. On third smell I get a slight but pleasant coffee aroma. As much as I tried, I couldn’t get any hops aroma, and that’s perfect in my eyes. Ok, If I smell any more I’m going to faint, let me drink it already!
Mouthfeel: Old Rasputin has a big, chewy mouthfeel. I assume there were a lot of flaked oats in this recipe because it is about one step in viscosity below a melted chocolate milkshake. But that is by no means a bad thing; the extreme creaminess is welcome for this style of beer. As I mentioned in the appearance section, this isn’t your typical flat stout either. While it would be rated on the lower end of the carbonation scale, CO2’s presence is noted and appreciated.
Taste: Unfortunately I feel like Old Rasputin is a little too warm going down. The high alcohol content is not hidden in any way and it takes away from the initial taste. Though, once the taste of alcohol dissipates, I’m left with a great example of an Imperial Stout — intense dark burnt malt flavor and slightly sweet chocolate,
The more I sip the more coffee comes out and makes this great and complex beer. This is a big beer with bold flavors that become addicting in the same way a potato chip is addicting. You think you’re done, but you just can’t help but have some more. .(Side note: if you read that and DIDN’T go get some Ruffles, you are not human.)
Final Thoughts: This beer was well worth the wait. Sometimes when you pine for something long enough it ends up letting you down, but Old Rasputin surpassed my expectations. I love the lacing it leaves behind in the glass, the roasted flavor it leaves on my tongue, and the buzz it leaves in my head.
This is one of the top 5 Russian Imperial Stouts I’ve ever had, and for that I’ll give it 4.5/5 or a solid A rating. As I mentioned, the only thing I wish it would have done differently was mask the high alcohol content in the first sip. Once you push past that warmth, this is a world-class beer.