Today’s Year of Beer painting is of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, California. First, let’s just say that this beer is neither Russian nor a stout; it is actually strong London porter invented before people used the term “stout” and was never brewed in Russia, but has become a colloquial term for this rich style of dark beer, because it was Catherine the Great’s favorite import brew. According to Pintwell.com, the original 1851 recipe of this Imperial Stout calls for 63.6% pale malt, 23% brown malt, 10.8% amber malt and 2.6% roasted malt for an original gravity of 1.085 and a hop rate of 9 lbs per barrel. That would give you a possibility of 9.8% alcohol by volume. 9 lbs per barrel is more hops than most American IPAs. Let’s just say this was one strong ale!!!
So how does Rasputin come into the picture? Gregori Rasputin (1869-1916) was neither a saint nor a monk, but a pilgrim from Siberia, regarded as an elder by the Imperial court of Russia. A faith healer and mystic, Rasputin was hired to heal Tsaravich Alexei who suffered from Hemophilia. Rasputin became very controversial with the Russian court due to his religious affiliation and his influence over the Empress. The beer label says in Russian, “A sincere friend is not born instantly.”
The murder of Rasputin has become a legend, there are very few facts, but according to Wikipedia, the story goes like this: first he was poisoned, then he was shot, then strangled, shot two more times, then clubbed severely to make sure the deed was done. Then he was driven to the middle of the city and dumped into the river from a bridge. The body was found and hell was to pay, as the court knew that foul play was evident. Basically, Rasputin was nearly impossible to kill and has become an icon for being nearly superhuman. How much is true, I don’t know. But I know this, North Coast Brewing has made one hell of a brew. If you have not sipped on this particular Russian Imperial Stout go out and buy a four-pack tonight. To Rasputin and his ability to heal, may you discover the joy of Russian Imperial Stout in its finest form!