23
Dec
07

Beers of Milwaukee, vol. 14

I’m going to have to expand my standards.

The last time I wrote on this matter, I declared Flying Dog Brewery’s Gonzo Imperial Porter to be my favourite beer ever.  I’m pretty sure that it’s my favourite porter of those I’ve sampled in the last, say, twelve months, but my favourite beer of all time?  That’s a rather hasty conclusion to which to jump.

That’s funny; my grammar may improve when I’m drunk.

In the future, I shall be more cautious.  For instance, since I have no Gonzo I.P. with which to compare it, I shall not immediately declare North Coast Brewing Company’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout to be my favourite beer — as the kids say on Facebook these days — ev4r.  In fact, if you were to force me to choose between Old Rasputin and Gonzo, I’d probably alternate happily between the two, never managing to decide on a favourite, until I passed out.

(The festivities may end rather more quickly than I’d like; Old Rasputin is 9% alcohol by volume.  Nonetheless, we could resume the next morning… or perhaps the next afternoon.)

I didn’t expect to find a Russian Imperial Stout, but NCBCo. claims to produce Old Rasputin “in the tradition of 18th Century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia’s Catherine the Great” — and that much I’ll believe.  This beer tastes very much like most beers that happen when American microbrewmasters consider a British beer type and think to themselves, “This is pretty good… but it needs more balls”.  When you cross that tradition with a ruler who, though female, is reputed to have more balls than all of her male contemporaries put together, you make great things happen.

Old Rasputin has the sort of intense almost-sweet bitterness that I’d usually associate with very dark chocolate (90% or better cacao), but with more of a burnt caramel taste to it than any notes of chocolate.  It hits you like a sledgehammer full of love right in the front of your palate, but finishes with a mild aftertaste.  This makes it hard to stop drinking: the flavour vanishes from your mouth too soon, so you take another sip.  Suddenly, your glass is empty, as are the eight bottles on the table before you.

Of particular note to people who don’t live in Milwaukee is the fact that I found this delightful ambrosia in a fucking Sentry supermarket, next to a giant stack of cases of Miller Genuine Draft.  This, friends and gentle neighbours, is how the free-market economy is supposed to work.

Since I seem to pair beer more with music and literature than with such mundane things as foodstuffs: Old Rasputin goes well with dark and moody industrial, like Sephiroth and Gridlock and Godflesh — and oddly enough, also with prog-rock.  It is also an excellent accompaniment to the works of Robert Anson Heinlein.

Even the crusty residue that Old Rasputin’s head leaves on the lip of the glass tastes good.  Have you ever licked a pint glass clean?  I just did.


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