Sunday, December 25, 2011

Beer Review: Barrel Aged Old Rasputin XIV

Reviewing the Barrel Aged Old Rasputin XIV from North Coast Brewing Company. I am very excited to crack this one open. Barrel Aged Old Rasputin was the beer that got me into imperial stouts, and I have not had this brew since 2008 (the XI anniversary batch).
Score: 96

2011 vintage bottle served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Pours a completely opaque, ink black color with one-plus finger of creamy mocha/brown colored head that slowly settles in to a thin layer, leaving lots of residue on the side of the glass in the process. Excellent lacing. 5/5

Smell: Mellow bourbon, prunes and chocolate up front. Also detecting brown sugar, roasted marshmallow, and oats. Hints of nut, fig, and dark fruit. Some oatmeal. Hints of booziness. 4.5/5

Taste: Very balanced and nuanced with complex flavors. You can easily tell that this is an Old Rasputin brew, but with extra layers of complexity from aging in bourbon barrels. Mellow bourbon up front with lots of roasted malts. Toasted marshmallow, a little vanilla and unsweetened chocolate on the mid-palate. More chocolate comes through as the beer warms/layers on the mid-palate. Also detecting increasing amounts of prunes, figs and dried semi-sweet dark fruits. Prunes, raw chocolate and bourbon in the finish. A little nuttiness comes through in the finish as the beer layers. The bourbon characteristics of the beer also grow as the brew warms and layers. There is a touch of booziness the finish. Excellent linger. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Just shy of full bodied with minimal carbonation. This brew absolutely coats the palate with delicious flavors that really linger. Finishes slightly sweet. 5/5

Overall: This beer is just as delicious as I remember it being. A true top flight Russian Imperial Stout. At $25/bottle, the price tag on this brew is a bit high -- especially when you consider the regular Old Rasputin, at $7.99 a four pack, is one of the best year-round bargains in craft beer. Alas, this is one of those few costly brews that is well worth the high price.

Recommendation: A must try beer for casual beer drinkers and beer geeks alike. This brew is revelatory.

Pairings: Warm chocolate cake.

Cost: $24.99 for a 16.9 oz bottle.

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