I remember the first time I ever drank an Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout on Thanksgiving Day in 2002 at my friend Morgan Brown parents’ house in Corvallis, Oregon. They have this amazing property just outside of town with several acres, and a creek running right by their big farm house. We drank a couple of Old Rasputin’s on a walk around the property, and I don’t think I had ever had an imperial stout before — I was only 22 years old. Needless to say, the decadence of this beer blew my mind!
Fast forward 16 years (no I am not bringing Old Rasputin to the table today), but last week I drank the 22 oz bottle pictured in this painting with Maria in McCarthy, Alaska. I had a flashback when I was walking around the ten acres out there that took me right back to Corvallis. A bit different weather, as I remember blue skies and yellow leaves in Oregon, while in McCarthy we had snow and freezing rain. I also thought about what to include in the painting to show off the Russian qualities. Rasputin was in favor with the Czar living in St. Petersburg, but he was victim of a nasty coup and was poisoned, shot and drowned. This reminded me of this iconic cathedral known as the Church of the Savior Built on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg. Last year I went on a tour of this building, which is spectacular inside and out. It has a ton of history: the square it is built upon is a historic site where Alexander II was blown up in his carriage in 1881. His son commissioned this amazing cathedral designed by architect Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, and it was built from 1883-1907. Completed by Nicholas II. So when Gregori Rasputin was hanging out with Nicholas II in 1916 when he was murdered, this cathedral was probably an important spot for the religious mystic.
Russia is a fun, but dangerous place. Watch yourself when you are hanging out in St. Petersburg. The same level of safety consciousness we are used to here in America just doesn’t exist in Russia. For example, the Metro car doors slam shut with no warning, and could easily break your arm. Also when crossing the street use extreme caution as a crazed driver might just be driving on the sidewalk. You just never know what might happen in Russia!
Cheers to Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, keeping the memory of Rasputin alive. As the label on the bottle says in Russian, “A bosom friend is not born suddenly.”