North Coast, Fort Bragg, CA; 11.2% ABV, Russian imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels, 16.9 oz corked bottle ($21)
Served cool, not cold. The cork really popped loudly – my anticipation building even higher than it already is. I pour gently into a snifter. Old Rasputin XII wears an impenetrable black robe topped by a warm tan head that falls to a mixed layer of dense foam and small-to-medium bubbles. The aroma is rich and luscious; dark, molassesy malt, roast coffee, cacao nibs, with hints of vanilla and oak and alcohol evident. Big, lush mouthfeel with a velvety texture. Carbonation is very fine and restrained. Wow! Jam-packed with complex flavours. Coffee, rich cocoa, hints of baked prunes, dates & figs, a fleeting specter of vanilla and oak & subtle bourbon, and noticeable alcohol. Plenty of malt but well attenuated, giving it a dryish edge. Lingering, lengthy finish rounds back to a dry roasty note and pleasant bitterness. This is seriously good! Bits of foam remain all over the glass by the time I've finished.
Superbly done! They didn’t leave it in the barrels too long; just enough to enhance Rasputin’s character, not overpower it. Every aspect of the brew is a marvel. Worth the price of admission, and a most worthy birthday present to myself!