One of my favorite beer types, the stout, can trace its lineage as far back as 17th century London where the strongest or “stoutest” porters earned the nickname stouts. The same qualities that helped this particular brew outlast lighter beers in the days before refrigeration (complex flavor and high alcohol content) now make it the perfect medium for brewmasters to experiment with dark fruit flavors and roasted grains.
I came across Old Rasputin largely by accident. While perusing the Kings Liquor near my home, the image of the mystical figure of Rasputin, emblazoned on the carton, hypnotized me. The next thing I remember, I was back in my car with a four pack of the dark brew in the back seat.
Seconds after pouring my first glass, a golden caramel colored head gave a not-so-subtle hint to the complex bouquet of flavors beneath. Even before my nose reached the glass, the aroma of roasted barley and coffee was readily apparent. My first sip revealed a welcomingly thick body, and the high gravity of the beer warmed my mouth and throat. The most prominent flavors I noticed were the deeply roasted malt flavor. The second experience I had was from the subtle roasted coffee and chocolate notes. There were hints of fruit flavors too, but I wouldn’t dare venture to guess which ones exactly. The beer struck me as being mildly bitter, which means most non-stout drinkers will find this beer to be very bitter. If you’re not acclimated to Imperial Stouts then start with a Guinness, work your way up to a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, then come back to Old Rasputin. Hopefully, the second try will feel like meeting an old friend again.