The wizened old fellow on the label, presumably Old Rasputin himself, proclaims an old Russian proverb “A close friend is not made quickly“. He’s referring to the beer and warning the drinker that imperial stouts are shy and tend to take some time to form a bond with the drinker. Or just that imperial stouts are an acquired taste.
Well, the old guy clearly wasn’t happy being shipped all the way from America to Australia as the rim of the bottle cracked off upon opening with many small glass fragments being impossible to see in the dark gloom of the stout. Luckily, I didn’t swallow any glass during the review process.
Just like his beard, Old Rasputin is nice and strong at 9% ABV, but certainly well within the expected range for a RIS. The beer shows a nice rich dark colour upon pouring (although I was mildly disappointed with the lack of complete opacity) with mocha-coloured head of fantastic fine texture with good retention. However, the old guy’s age shows a little when it comes to the taste, which is no where near as strong as I was expecting. I believe a good RIS should really knock you over with a freight train of flavour. Despite this, Old Rasputin has a smooth roasted flavour with mild coffee aromas and with very slight input from the hops. The mouthfeel is very malty, but relatively “dry” for an RIS. Due to the less intense flavour, this beer makes a good first RIS to try as it’s far easier to drink that most.
I’d suggest coupling this Baltic gent with a roaring fire, a winter night and a piece of fruit cake.