Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout | North Coast Brewing Co.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
3,656 Reviews
Old Rasputin Russian Imperial StoutOld Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 01-18-2001

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 3,656 | Ratings: 11,955
Photo of abcsofbeer
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I am a big fan of the Imperial Stout, so I was looking forward to this one. Pours a dark dark brown with no transparency. The head is tannish and poured to a thickeness of 1 inch. There is a fair amount of sticky lace at the top of the glass that goes away toward the bottom.

The aroma is of strong coffee, a bitter smell. Very malty and toffee smelling as well. The taste is much like a bitter, strong coffee. It is not thick as some stouts I have tasted. The aftertaste is like a bitter dark chocolate. The one thing apparent in the taste is the strong alcohol flavor. At 9%, it is not surprising, although some beers are better at masking the alcohol flavor than others. This one does not hide it, thus the reason for the drinkability sliding down the scale a little.

 774 characters

Photo of rxdrewthejew
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Pitch black and thick appearing. About a two finger tan head with significant retention. A big, heavy looking beer.

S: Huge smell that spreads around the room. Tons of chocolate and coffee, plenty of sweet/syrupy molasses, and a rich burnt finish.

T: Not as sweet as the smell, but a big rich beginning, mostly coffee and malt. A bit of the chocolate in the middle, along with some bitterness, and then a huge toasted finish.

MF: A bit bubbly for a stout. Huge, thick and chewy, but maybe not quite as smooth as others in this style. The alcohol makes its presence known, but doesn't take over.

D: Not my favorite of this style, but a solid brew. The flavor has a nice balance with the slight bitterness which in some ways makes it easier to drink. A bit overcarbonated for my taste. This may be more drinkable than other Imperials because the alcohol isn't as big and the flavor isn't as over the top. For me, though, if I'm gonna drink an RIS, I'd just as soon have the huge alcohol and huge flavor.

 1,010 characters

Photo of JMScowcroft
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

North Coast Brewing Co. - Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, poured into a Craftgeer snifter.

Look - Pours a thinner brown-black and settles black with a good sized soapy head. Sticky chunky lacing.

Smell - Cola, some chocolate and coffee, definite dark fruits.

Taste - Taste is malt with bitter coffee and just a touch of chocolate. A little thin but generally outstanding.

Mouthfeel - Thin but full-medium bodied. Rests dry and bitter. Medium carbonation. Good drinkability.

Overall - This is one of the pioneers of the style, and it's not lacking in flavor or complexity. Still, there are a better RIS out there now. As an intro to the style, this is a great place to start.

 684 characters

Photo of walkinginplace
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Black with a hint of brown head and significant lacing. Pretty cool, honestly.

S: Strong scent of hops with fainter notes of malt, caramel, and dark chocolate

T: The first taste is a sweet caramel and dark chocolate taste. Molasses and general bitterness follow while the malt and alcohol stand out in the aftertaste.

F: Medium to thick bodied. Fairly heavy but smooth.

Overall: Hits all the right notes but the aftertaste is a bit too bitter for my tastes. All in all, I'm a fan and definitely look forward to trying some again.

 536 characters

Photo of salvo
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Old Rasputin Russia Imperial Stout is greatly improved with tap serving. Pitch black; opaque. Darker than Guinness and three times its density, ten times the flavor.

The head retains its shape and tan color for a long time, and I see why this is beloved: complex, roasty, warming, but is just a bit too thin on the palate . Perhaps it's a psychological thing, but I expect a big Russian imperial to coat the tongue like motor oil; like Dark Lord. This is drier and spicier than DL. Spicy and peppery finish, this stout stays on the palate a long time. And for stout lovers, I see the appeal. It's just not my favorite style.

Enjoyed this on tap at the Black Dog in Urbana, IL, which is highly recommended: see my Beerfly review.

 732 characters

Photo of Gobzilla
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: poured black as night with a half finger of brown head and left a little bubbly lacing sticking to the glass.

S: Lots going on here but off the bat i was greeted by coffee and chocolate notes but it also had some nice roastiness too. there was a little oat character and slight booze as well.

T: like the nose a combination of coffee, roastiness, and chocolate flavors strike first alongside oats with a bit of booze that finishes off hoppy bitter.

M: The was full in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a roasty, sweet, slight astringent, boozy, and sticky finish.

D: it drank pretty decent and have not been let down everytime I have this beer. overall a good stout offering from the north coast.

 722 characters

Photo of JBogan
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very dark with a small tan creamy head which disappeared soon after and left little lacing.

Smelled of chocolate and coffee, along with a hint of alcohol.

Tasted as it smelled, although the alcohol was a bit more pronounced, especially as it warmed up. Nicely balanced.

Very smooth mouthfeel, slippery and creamy. Full bodied. You know this one is in your mouth. Very nice.

This is an excellent brew for this time of year, but probably a bit too much for the warmer months (especially here in Vegas). A couple of these will make you feel all warm and toasty inside.

 569 characters

Photo of kylephillips
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle.

Creamy looking head, tannish in color. Good head retention. Lacing sticks to side of glass. Beer is very dark brown, almost solid black, cannot see through it.

Smell is thick with chocolate flavors. Smells like it would be a very sweet drink.

Excellent mouth feel, with a decent amount of carbonation that sort of bites the tongue.

Initial taste is very sweet but immediately becomes bitter as you swallow. Finishes with an excellent roasty flavor that stays on your tongue. Almost has a salty taste that lingers.

Drinkability is good considering the finish leaves you wanting another sip for the initial sweetness.

 654 characters

Photo of SeanChouffe
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is an intense beer. A deep dark red with a yellow/brown head. Sticky lace. The head dwindled quickly. Aroma is of hops, roasted malt and coffee. Tastes of roasted malt, coffee and a biting hop finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied; creamy with a biting finish and a lingering hop representation.

A good Imperial Stout, however, it is not as well balanced as others in its class.

 383 characters

Photo of tewaris
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

9% ABV
75 IBUs
12 oz bottle with no freshness date poured into a big snifter. Although, I am big supporter of bottle dating, I don't criticize North Coast in deeming dating Old Rasputin irrelevant, because it will hold up for years, and yet won't be "too hot & rough" fresh. This is one of my earliest, but still favorite, Russian Imperial Stouts and I am very excited to review this! Let's get down to business!

Appearance 5/5
Pours in a clear and very dark brown stream from the bottle that gives an impression of pitch black in the glass, with a big, dense, dark mocha colored head that receded into a rather thin one but left excellent lacing on the glass. Towards the end, the head was thinner, but still was much more than a tiny collar! The lacing didn't stick around, but that's forgivable for an Imperial Stout.

Aroma 3/5
I have never been a fan of this beer's aroma even though I have had it at innumerable occasions and I like this beer quite a bit overall. The aroma I detect is of sweet malts with no particular character, but just a slight bias towards roast. It has a certain smoothness to it though. As the beer got to room temperature, alcoholic sweetness became obvious.

Taste 4/5
Taste is however, very good, so you may ignore my comments on aroma. Starts slightly sweet with a dark, roasty, richness that takes a dark chocolate character in the aftertaste, along with the persistent roast. Also, they have hopped this one generously, and the finish is quite bitter; the roast and hops make it quite clean for an Imperial Stout. A coffee like acidity is notable as the temperature rises. So is alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel 4/5
More body and lower carbonation would be welcome. Otherwise, it's flawless.

Drinkability 5/5
It tastes good, and finishes fairly clean. I could have another bottle. A RIS that's any more drinkable is doing it wrong!

Never disappointing, amazingly priced, this is a beer I will continue to drink. Never say die!

 1,965 characters

Photo of Beersignal
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very seductive stout that pours dark and rich like cocoa. Difficult to judge the clarity due to its obscure nature but the head left me wanting. Not as abundant as I would have expected with no lacing and almost no retention.

Aromas were pleasing and beautifully harmonized. A well balance marriage of fruits and malt open the nostrils to let in heady vapours of alcohol. Quite nice.

The beer is medium in body despite its rich texture and provides a warming alcohol reflux after being swallowed. Soft malt up front is followed by fruitiness reminescent of black berries and currants. It finishes with a decidedly alcoholic bitterness supported by hoppy burnt character which hangs around for some time.

For me this is a solid imperial stout. It has an enticing character but is not too powerful. Complexity develops as the beer warms which keeps me interested and wanting another.

 892 characters

Photo of schro126
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle on the recommendation of the clerk at my local beer store. It pours opaque with a nice dark tan head. The aroma is full of dried fruit and bitter dark malts with chocolaty undertones.
The mouthfeel is thick and velvety everything you are looking for in a RIS. The taste starts with roasty malts and smooths to a clean finish with a residual sugar that lingers. After half a glass the alcohal starts to make an appearance with a warming sensation in the chest.
Overall this is a good RIS, nothing mindblowing but a good example of the style.

 562 characters

Photo of mjtiernan
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter

Bottled 2011?

A: Beer is completely black and with a tan two finger head. Foam reduces gradually leaving plenty of cap and extensive lacing behind. There’s just something about the appearance of an Old Raspy that makes it look more appealing than most other stouts. Beyond inviting.

S: Chocolate, roasted black malt, nuttiness, some grassy hops and a touch of phenol.

T: Nutty and roasty up front. Transitions to dry semi-sweet chocolate and hops. Roasted malt returns and pairs with the alcohol for a bitter, warming finish.

M: Just the way I love my stouts....creamy (not oily or syrupy) and perfectly carbonated. I don’t see much room for improvement here.

O: A great affordable, readily-available beer for the winter months. Very drinkable, but also flavorful and warming. Seems like a great beer to experiment with food pairings.

 878 characters

Photo of augustgarage
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I normally steer clear of nitro taps, but curiosity got the better of me last night at the Library Ale House. Served in an Old Rasputin nonic, which was a nice touch.

Thoroughly opaque black hole of a body crowned by two fat fingers of light tan, thick mocha fizz. Perpetual retention, cake-batter-like lacing, though no real legs to speak of.

Almost sour roast malt, lightly burnt bread, subtle esters from the alcohol, and a touch of weeds and citrus from the hops.

Over-roasted coffee, bread crusts, and a pungent mineral note that seems to be emphasized with this serving type. Unsweetened baker's chocolate and scalded milk lead into the surprisingly dry, almost dusty finish (vaguely brings to mind river stones, cheap hotel ice, old carpets, and other assorted phantoms). While strongly bitter, the hops don't jump out at you - a very carefully balanced beer.

Thick, soft, uniform body though a bit "artificial" in its presentation especially considering the purity of ingredients and skill in craftsmanship - I'd much prefer to see this on-cask. If I'm going to abandon my (perhaps idealized) notions of product integrity, why not go all the way and head down to The Golden State for one of their Old Rasputin beer floats?

A clean, rich, strong, yet subtle brew - highly drinkable especially considering the robust ABV and IBU.

 1,340 characters

Photo of drunkenmess
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Looks, smells, tastes, and feels like one of the better imperial stouts I've tasted in a long time. Very impressed, the name was kinda intimidating. But sooo glad I finally tried it. Superb

 191 characters

Photo of AmorousAngel
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured opaque black with a small brownish head. Small brownish ring remained around the glass for most of the life of the drink.

Predominantly coffee and alcohol aroma with hints of chocolate.

Lovely roasted malt flavor and coffee followed by stong hops. The flavor really lingers for a while after each sip.

Very smooth feel, with just a bit of a burn from the alcohol.

Not as heavy as some imperial stouts I've tried. Very good for sipping. I would probably rate this higher if the hops were a little less apparent.

 529 characters

Photo of samie85
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.

A- Black as night with a cratery, khaki-colored head.

S- Roasted coffee and dark chocolate malt aromas are heavily present as well as a slightly bready aroma.

T- All roast upfront just like the smell. It has also has a slight alcohol taste towards the end, yet not an unpleasant one.

M- Not as thick or oily as I'm used to with other RIS's. It's a little too thin for my taste and the carbonation contributes to this. After excessive swirling, it feels a lot smoother.

D- Pretty high for a RIS. I think the alcohol would catch up to me after a few of these.

 585 characters

Photo of zac16125
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Old Rasputin RIS
12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A: Pours out an opaque jet black with 3+ fingers of light creamed coffee colored head. Head is very dense and takes forever to dissipate down to a 1 fingers width that hangs around for the rest of the drink and leaves massive, heavy lacing.

S: Milk chocolate is the most prominent aroma, along with strong scents of alcohol and roasted malts. Hints of caramel malts as well.

T: The first sip is big roasted flavors with lots of chocolate sweetness as well as a strong citrus hop character. There are subtle coffee flavors in there as well. However, for most of the drink, the most prominent flavor is the citrus hop bitterness. I found the taste to be pretty unique for a stout, especially the strong hop characters and what for most of the drink was a lighter although still present malt character. The alcohol character that was prominent on the nose is almost completely masked in the taste, which is nice. I like the taste, but could see how others wouldn’t as the flavors aren’t as strong as many other RIS I have had.

M: Really light bodied for a stout, and slightly over carbonated which decreases its smoothness. It is easy to drink though, and as above, the alcohol is masked very well. It also has a nice warming character to it.

O: Overall, quite a good RIS. Its different, with the light body and high hop presence, but I really enjoyed the taste, and for the price (under $3 for a 12oz) you really can’t go wrong.

 1,495 characters

Photo of Reaper16
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottle poured into pint glass.

Super-dark, just the tiniest hint of brown at the very bottom of the glass. Otherwise, its entirely black. Two-finger head like a tan colored leather car seat that dissipated relatively quickly. Lacing was incredible, though. A beauty to look at.

Wasn't blown away by the aromas. Chocolate malt with a roasted character, sure. Small hint of coffee. A bit of alcohol. Some raisin, but I had to hunt for it.

Taste is a different story. What was fleeting in the smell is assuredly there on the tongue. Chocolate washes over the mouth in waves. A surprising floral hop character says 'hello' for long enough to kiss the sides of the tongue and linger until the beer finishes strong with toffee and dark fruit. None of the flavors, except for perhaps chocolate malt, were as strong as desired, but everything was quite lovely and balanced.

The first sip had an heavy alcohol note, but the 9% ABV was hardly noticeable after that, especially as the beer warmed. There is a strong temptation to drink more than you should. Mouthfeel was pretty good, not too awfully thick but still with a desirable stickiness.

Old Rasputin probably deserves its canonical spot as a point of constant comparison, a standard-bearer, for the style. It seems impossible to be displeased by it.

 1,305 characters

Photo of dauss
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 fl.oz. brown bottle. Picture of Rasputin on the label, with Russian words. No freshness date or stamp. Says it is 9% ABV, even though on North Coast's website it says its 8.9%.

Appearance: Pitch black. Small and thick tan head. Good retention with a lot of lace.

Nose: First whiff and it is full of alcohol, almost burns the nose. Chocolate and burnt and acrid roasted malt smell. Probably has a lot of Black Patent.

Taste: Starts with sweet maltiness. Upfront alcohol bitterness. Very roasty, tons of chocolate and some coffee. Light bitterness throughout, and sweet finish.

Notes: Tasty, a little solventy alcohol flavors, definitely needs some cellaring.

 686 characters

Photo of civilizedpsycho
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a solid black color with a fair, tan-colored head.

Smell: Strong roasted smell, but the alcohol gave it a bit of a medicinal smell that was a bit of a turn-off for me.

Taste: It has a roasted malt flavor with hints of chocolate, but the alcohol flavor is still perceptible, and that was a slight turn-off on the first few sips.

Mouthfeel: Has a good full body without being too thick.

Drinkability: Upon the first few sips, I did not care for this one and I felt the alcohol was too noticeable. However, as I finished my glass, this grew on me with each passing drink and now, I'm a fan.

 646 characters

Photo of DaverCS
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours black with 1 1/2 fingers of a light caramel colored head that lingers. Great lacing as well!

Aroma is primarily roasted malts, kiss of caramel, a bit of dark fruits, and I do get some alcohol.

I'm disappointed for the associated rating on here. Highly carbonated, relatively dry, and rather bitter. The high carbonation creates a lighter feel. The flavor is not complex -- primarily a very heavily roasted malt. The malt is not sweet; in fact it's so heavily roasted, it contributes to the bitterness. The beer transitions from a carbonation tickle, to roasted malts, to a dry bitterness with a finish of some alcohol.

Overall, it didn't hit the spot. Not complex; pretty one-noted. I see it pairing well with a coffee ice cream and a freshly baked dark chocolate brownie. It gets an 80/100.

 802 characters

Photo of phideltashaggy
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a recently cleaned standard pint glass.

(note) this is my first RIS, so keep that in mind.

A-Beautiful beer; black as night with a thick, brown head.

S- The nose is mainly chocolate with some molasses and a little hoppiness

T- Lots of bitterness. A little chocolate and a little alcohol. A roastiness stays on the palate long after the sip is through.

MF- This is what I expect from my stouts, the feel is thick as can be without being too creamy.

Overall, I like this beer. I live in Memphis, so I'll wait until winter to try it again, but it's a really good beer.

 600 characters

Photo of beachbum1975
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz brown bottle poured for me at Fox and the Hound in Mason, OH. No freshness date.... I love the packaging, very noble and almost ominous.

An easy pour produced a nice, creamy, tan 2 finger head. Highly active, frothy bubbling on the head for a few minutes. Nice and sticky lacing remained through the glass. Color is black with the slightest dark brown and possibly ruby hues when put up into the light. Viscosity is high on this one - not a sludge bomb. Looks like a nice example of a Russian Imperial Stout.

Sniffing on this guy reveals a delightful blend of dark chocolates, coffee grinds, lactose creaminess and molasses.

The taste is what you'd expect after smelling it, no surprises. To summarize the taste, this is a richly flavored, heavily roasted coffee, roasted grains, bittersweet chocolates, a healthy dose of smoke and charcoal finishing with some crisp (non-floral) hops. Flavor is nice because it doesn't linger in my mouth forever. I got very little alcohol in the taste, as the prominent roasted flavors hid it well.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly light for the menacing color and creamy head of this beer. Very drinkable and enjoyable, but don't let the 9% ABV creep up and kick your ass.

 1,211 characters

Photo of chaz410
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I've had this a many a time but got this specific bottle from the flying saucer.
Pours jet black with a kakhi colored head that's a lot more aggressive than I would have thought for a RIS. Froathy head stays througout the drinking.
Smells of rich mocha, coffee, chocolate, charred malt and slightly burnt biscuits. A nice caramel background smooths over the harsh dark characters of the smell.
The taste is upfront and unapologitic. It is dark, roasted, coffee with almost a peppery finish. Some hops make there way in mostly as a balance and a bittering enhancer. There's a fair amount of cocoa flavor but it's more dark and roasted than it is sweet and rich.
A thick mouthfeel and surprisingly drinkable for the upfront character.

 732 characters

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewing Co.
4.28 out of 5 based on 11,955 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!