North Coast Old Rasputin 12th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout
In an exciting development, I am writing up this beer procured not on a trip to the United States, but rather on a trip two blocks away from my work at a local beer speciality shop. That’s right, a true blue bourbon barrel aged stout has made it across the border and into our stores. I’ve been ranting about the beauty of wood aged beers ever since I lived down in California where such things are not strange oddities but much loved companions. If the recent shipment of this rare beer from North Coast is any indication, we may be able to begin moderate rejoicing here in British Columbia.
Not only is this a proper wood aged stout, it’s an absolutely fantastic one, made using the standard Old Rasputin IRS, an outstanding ‘standard’ version of the style, as the base. The Old Rasputin has been available in this market for at least a year, and that was exciting enough in itself for BC beer lovers. The 12th anniversary, however, takes the joy to the next level.
This beer smells like goodness: vanilla, biscuit, nuts – all very clear bourbon notes. However, you can also smell the nice roasty elements of the malt through all this. And, unlike some beers made in this style, the Old Rasputin 12th Anniversary is balanced and does not hide the stout beneath the wood. The palate is out of this world yummy: hazlenuts, candied almonds, vanilla, biscuits, and roasted coffee and dark chocolate from the malts. While this will definitely get better with age, it’s also drinking great right now and is smooth and creamy and hides its 11% booze very well. An impeccably balanced beer and one of the best barrel aged stouts I’ve had the fortune of tasting.
The one downside here is the price of this beer in this market which is more than double what you would pay for this in the U.S. – of course due to the high markups and taxes from our ludicrous liquor distribution and regulation system. However, even at the crazy inflated price, this beer is a must buy for any beer lover in the province. Get it for a christmas gift if you have to, but do yourself a favour and drink this beer. There is a reason I’m giving it my highest rating.
$26 at Viti and Brewery Creek
NB: I have to apologize for all the superlatives, but this is truly both an exciting beer and an exciting moment for the BC craft beer community. I plan to help support this movement by attending tomorrow’s Winter Caskival at DIX in downtown Vancouver. I hope some of you can join me.