Tuesday, November 17, 2009

140. North Coast Old Rasputin XII

This is our second beer from North Coast; our last beer was Cru d’Or Organic Belgian Style Ale. North Coast’s Old Rasputin XII is an oak aged version of Old Rasputin made to celebrate their twelfth anniversary. Elli was initially skeptical about this beer—as she informed me, “I don’t drink beer to get flavors like this; I eat ice cream to get flavors like this.” She did modify her initial response as we progressed, but not completely. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself here...

Old Rasputin XII is a deep chocolate brown color in the glass; there are red highlights when held up to the light, although you have to work a bit to see them, and a creamy tan head that laces the glass nicely. This beer also has some legs to it; it gathers and runs down the side of the glass when swirled much like wine, pointing to a higher alcohol content. The nose confirms this: with the oak and wood aromas comes a distinct warm alcohol aroma that marries nicely with the fresh rich vanilla from the oak. Old Rasputin XII begins with a chocolate & dark roasted malt sweetness in the front, moves into a big oaky middle with rounded wood and vanilla flavors, and then finishes dry with some alcohol warmth on the tongue. There are also some cocoa and chalky/alkaline flavors starting in the middle that follow on through the close and mix well with the dryness at the end. The body is medium with some slickness and stickiness in the mouthfeel, although Old Rasputin XII is also very creamy, a creaminess that mixes well with the oak and wood flavors to create some pleasant tannic puckering that, while revealing the youth of the beer is still enjoyable right now. The big oakiness also probably contributes to the dryness at the end of the beer; the nose does get noticeably oakier as the beer warms. A well crafted beer overall; the oak adds a nice complexity to this beer, although, as noted above, it does taste a bit young—when the oak, vanilla, chocolate, and alcohol all marry in a couple of years, this beer is going to be delicious.

From the North Coast website: “For the past few years, barrel-aged Old Rasputin has been released in such limited quantities that it has been available only at the brewery retail shop. However, we have received so many requests for this beer that for the 12th anniversary, NCBC produced enough Old Rasputin XII to put into broader distribution. There’s certainly not a flood of it, but it is available in select areas. We guarantee that the Old Rasputin XII will be worth the search. It is amazing stuff. Aging in oak whiskey barrels adds a level of complexity that amplifies the espresso/chocolate notes in the flavor profile and takes this unique beer to new heights.”

ABV: 11.2%


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