Old Rasputin and Old Rasputin XIV…a side by side #beer tasting…

Ever wonder what a $23 bottle of beer tastes like?  Here’s our take on it.  My wife and I were very excited to procure a couple of bottles of Old Rasputin XIV Anniversary, one to taste and one to cellar.  The original Old Rasputin is a fantastic Russian Imperial Stout, and one of my wife’s absolute favorites.  It is also one of the early beers that I reviewed on this blog (https://beerbygarth.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/late-nightearly-morning-entry-old-rasputin-imperial-stout/).  Old Rasputin XIV Anniversary is a bourbon barrel aged version of this masterpiece.  We were intrigued to see how different the beers would be, so we decided to pour a glass of each and alternate back and forth, noting the subtle and not so subtle differences between the two beers.  Our journey is as follows.

We poured the beer into snifters, and it pours a dark brown, almost black coloring, with ruby highlights and a thin, tan head that settles into a sparse, uneven filmy covering.  The beer’s nose is oaky and boozey sweet, with vanilla highlights over a chocolate and mocha backbone.  Flavors are super-smooth, with rich bourbon, black strap molasses, and caramel highlights over woody undertones.  Dark fruit highlights on the palate as well, with a heavy dose of cherry.  The body is thin and smooth, with boozey characteristics thinning out the lacing to the point of very quick recession.  The aftertaste is mostly alcohol and woody/earthy profiles, with a smooth, slick finish.  Delicious beer, and extremely different from its Old Rasputin counterpart.

Compared to its Old Rasputin counterpart, there are many differences that we noticed.  There is much less coffee in the palate, and the beer itself is balanced out much better with the woody and boozey notes.  The barrel-aged version is much more wine-like in character, especially with the cherry flavorings.  The barrel-aged body is much more thinned out due to the higher ABV, leading to a much cleaner finish.  The beer itself is more overpowering and robust in its flavors and characteristics, and can be slightly intimidating to the newer beer drinkers.  There is little to no carbonation in this beer, leading to the increased smoothness in the body, and the richness of the flavorings.  Overall, the changes of the beer can be seen in the look, the smell, the taste, and the overall experience in general.  My wife and I both agreed that all the changes make it difficult to even recognize the original Old Rasputin in the core of the beer.  Absolutely a delicious, strong, unique beer.  Worth buying if you can find it, and if you don’t feel up to the challenge of drinking it right away, it will age nicely, so store it somewhere dark and cool for a special day.

Side by side tastings can be a lot of fun, and do not always have to be with a “same family” beer like we used this evening.  You can do these with similar styles, or even different styles with similar ingredients, or maybe flavor profiles (such as smoke beers, or different fruit beers, etc).  There really are no limits to the possibilities.  These can make for fun and very interactive evenings, and dare I say you may discover certain aspects you truly appreciate, which may lead you on to new and exciting beers.  As always, drink educated my friends!


One Response to “Old Rasputin and Old Rasputin XIV…a side by side #beer tasting…”

  1. These beers sound delicious. I may need to check out this beer family for myself! Great job describing each part of the tasting process.

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