Jan 9, 2019

North Coast Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin XXI

North Coast’s Russian imperial stout, Old Rasputin, is one of my favorite beers. It was one of the first readily available stouts that was on store shelves those many moons ago when I first oozed from the primordial gunk that was macro-beer. It will forever hold a spot in my heart as a result.

It wasn’t until years later « roughly 2011 — that I became aware of a Bourbon barrel-aged variant of Old Rasputin. And it wasn’t until another year after that I finally got my greedy hands on several bottles of XIV. That big beer, much like the standard iteration was robust and a bit rough around the edges. I’ve always liked that about Old Rasputin, but I personally like a bit more refinement to any brews aged in barrels for a spell.

With Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin XXI, North Coast have provided that refinement in a stellar example of how a balanced barrel influence can create one hell of a drinking experience. This 12.2% ABV stout certainly drinks big and does carry a measure of robustness, but unlike prior releases it’s down right decadently smooth.

A mellow bourbon and wood presence wash effortlessly over the tongue as vanilla, a roasty char, hint of cocoa and coffee quickly follow suit. A moderate amount of bitterness keeps any sweetness in check. The full-flavored and full-bodied imperial stout finishes wonderfully warming with a light dryness.

Barrel-aged variants of a favorite beer are always tough to gauge. You really don’t want a brewery tainting or fucking up a good beer, especially one as personally attached to my beer identity as Old Rasputin. But with XXI, North Coast have themselves an incredible stout. That roughness has been sanded smooth while still retaining the essential essence of the base beer. Outstanding.

This is a review of a promotional sample.