journal of a self proclaimed beer connoisseur

Russian Imperial Stout

North Coast – Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Brewery: North Coast
Beer: Old Rasputin
Category: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV:
9.00%
Brewed in: United States

Old Rasputin pours an extremely deep and dark brown. One finger of brown, frothy head was produced from the pour that has moderate to long retention. Substantial lacing occurred on the glass as the head slowly eased back into the beer.

The aroma is very robust and almost screams with a sharp and bitter chocolate mixed with dark roasted coffee beans. I can detect coffee in this brew but I wouldn’t call it a coffee beer. They are subtle given the strength of the other layers. I can smell the slightest hint of hops and of alcohol.

The taste of this beer really shines. In order of prominence I am getting astringent roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, hops, some dark fruits, and molasses. The aftertaste lingers for minutes after and is dominated by dark roasted bitterness. The flavors both balance each other out and conceal the alcohol. It is clear to see why this beer has such a cult following (either that or everyone are just fans of the lover of the Russian queen).

The mouthfeel is smooth and full. It almost feels thick and coats your mouth as it goes down. The beer isn’t “sticky” and finishes quite dry.

I had purchased and drank this beer on the recommendation of Jim Pettinger (Purchasing Manager at Sherbrooke Liquor in Edmonton) when I went in for some Guinness for Halloween a few years back. So I already knew it was good. The interesting thing about giving it a real in depth look this long after is how much my beer tastes have changed. Back then, when I had not sampled many world class brews, this beauty almost seemed just overly alocoholic. I remember being shocked by the 9% and flavor but feeling tipsy after a bottle.

Ahh, how times change. Memories aside – if you consider yourself a fan of Stout or Russian Imperial Stout and you haven’t tried this brew, go get in touch with your Russian mystic as soon as possible. It may even kick start your love of Russian Imperial Stouts as it did for me.

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Mikkeller – Beer Geek Brunch (Weasel)

Date: Saturday, January 15, 2011
Brewery: Mikkeller
Beer: Beer Geek Brunch (Weasel)
Category: Imperial Stout
ABV:
10.90%
Brewed in: Norway

Pour is onyx with virtually no light penetrating the beer. The head developed about one finger thick and was a tan brown color. Head retention is short as it quickly fades back into the beer. Trace amounts of lacing occurred.

The aroma from this brew is absolutely mouth-watering for anyone who likes coffee (or chocolate or beer for that matter). The immediate and dominant smell is of potent coffee but the beautiful thing is that despite the potency a myriad of other aromas still break through. It took me near 20 sniffs to identify what individual notes I could but I believe I smell dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, molasses, dark fruits, licorice, and a light hoppiness.

Tasting the beer reveals an immensely complicated grouping of flavors. Coffee, dark chocolate, and dark malts are at the forefront. These three stick out and dominate the first touch of the beer to the tongue. It is very well-balanced. The initial tastes yield to more subdued notes of dark fruits, nuts, and oats. The finish is a touch acidic and the coffee aftertaste lingers long after the swallow. The quality of the world-class coffee used is evident.

This beer has the most impressive mouthfeel I have yet experienced. It is very smooth and almost creamy. It can only be described as thick as it feels as if your mouth is both filled and coated with beer simultaneously. The carbonation is very fine. The mouthfeel compliments the tasting but allows the tasting to shine – as it should.

The alcohol content of 10.9% is amazingly well hidden; however, I could feel its presence after having had to consume this beauty in a fairly short time. This isn’t a session beer but goes down easy enough.

This is the best beer I have tried to date. I feel privileged to have been able to even have a bottle. I am afraid this is a must-buy whenever I see it. The journey of flavors this beer took me on left me sitting on my couch with my empty glass in hand feeling content, relaxed, and sporting a goofy smile. If that isn’t a summary of what a brewer should be aiming for, I don’t know what is.

Rating: