Beer Talk – Old Rasputin Imperial Russian Stout

By on Apr 24, 2018 | 0 comments

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I love synchronicities. I love learning a new idea or concept and then have it appear everywhere. Chekhov’s gun is a good example. Chekhov’s gun is a beautiful illustration of how to tell a story. It is simple enough in concept that it can be easily applied to many situations therefore lending itself to synchronicity.

I have been listening to the Mysterious Universe podcast for years. It was one of the first podcasts I listened to. It is well produced and always was. Unfortunately it ran into a bit of a rough patch where the host, Benjamin Grundy, slowed production and eventually stopped releasing episodes all together. He restructured, hired a co-host and relaunched the podcast. I love the podcast because he deals with high strangeness but unlike most podcasts dealing with the same subjects the podcast sounds amazing. If you like the X-Files this is the podcast for you. Actually many of the conspiracies in the X-Files were covered on MU at one time or another.

I was listening to the podcast the other day and they were talking about synchronicity. In the discussion they mentioned the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and how individuals get mixed up in the course of history. That got me thinking about Rasputin. In high school, influenced by the X-Man Colossus and the song Aqualung, I developed a mild fascination with Rasputin. He always seemed out of place to me. He seemed so modern in some of his behaviors while so ancient in his mysticism and place among the Russian monarchy. Reading about him I constantly had to remind myself that it all took place around WWI. After finishing MU I moved on to the new Last Podcast on the Left where it just so happens they are starting a series on Grigori Rasputin. While wonderful, I thought that was a little strange. After finishing I moved on to another of my current favorites and I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone but Rasputin showed up again. That was a wonderful surprise.

The next day after work I decided to pick up some beer for the weekend. We have our standbys, Spotted Cow and MKE’s Louie’s Demise, but I also like to pick up a special to try. I was browsing the seasonal/special section when I saw those infamous eyes looking back at me. It was a sign… Ok probably not but I grabbed a four-pack of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewing.

I have to admit, I normally wouldn’t go for this kind of thing. The branding just seems a little too “on the nose.” There was a reason I was obsessed with Rasputin in high school and the marketing of this beer illustrates that perfectly. He was this spooky mysterious mystic with powers that may or may not have been true. The beer’s packaging plays with this, telling of his love of their beer ending with a – well probably. I find more often than not a product with this much effort put into the marketing is not very good. This one turned out to be an exception.

The 4-pack wasn’t refrigerated so I put it in the refrigerator as soon as I got home. I wanted to try the first one a little warmer to see if the flavors would be more pronounced which is something I’ve heard over the years about dark beers. “Europeans don’t drink cold beer,” is the mantra I’ve always heard but I’ve never been to Europe so who knows. After a couple hours I decided to try the first bottle.

It poured black as Rasputin’s soul…ok enough of that. It was really really dark. and the head was a nice brown. The carbonation was nice, I would say about middle ground. It still had some foam after the first few drinks and never went flat. Perhaps it is just me but sometimes I have a problem with darker beers going a little flat by the final quarter. This was smooth throughout. As an imperial stout the alcohol content was high, 9% ABV, but not as high as some others I’ve seen. It wasn’t boozy at all. The rich coffee and roasted malts made it enjoyable and complex. It isn’t easy to nail down one specific flavor. It was well balanced and flavorful. This was so much better than I was expecting. After finishing I held off on having another to see how it was a bit colder. It too was amazingly delicious. For all of its overhyped package design I was pleasantly surprised by how good it actually was. I’m really looking forward to getting another four pack.

I recommend checking out Last Podcast on the Left’s series on Rasputin while enjoying this beer. Both are silly in their presentation but far more substantive than they first appear.

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