Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Old Rasputin Rocks

By William Brand
Wednesday, October 10th, 2007 at 8:16 am in Uncategorized.

WILLIAM BRAND: WHAT’S ON TAP
Old Rasputin Imperial
worth trip to Fort Bragg
Article Launched: 10/10/2007 03:05:41 AM PDT

There was a worldwide toast on Sept. 30 for Michael Jackson, the English beer author, who died Aug. 30. Jackson — through his books and in person — was a seminal influence in my love of beer, and I wanted to choose a beer that he would have appreciated.
I peered into my beer refrigerator and pulled out a year-old bottle of Old Rasputin X 10th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout (****1/2) from North Coast Brewing, Fort Bragg. It was released in 2006 to mark the 10th anniversary of Old Rasputin ****), their champion stout.
North Coast senior vice president Doug Moody explains that they wanted to mark the occasion with something special. Did they ever. This very special batch was brewed strong, then aged in used bourbon barrels for nearly a year. It came out at 11.6 percent alcohol by volume, more than twice the strength of an ordinary 5 percent beer.
Oh my sweet mama, what a splendid beer: Huge nose, intoxicating notes of bourbon whiskey and dark, roast malts. The taste is smooth, liquid, silky velvet on the tongue, striking a perfect balance between malts and whiskey, leaving a warming tang of alcohol on the tongue.
It comes in a corked 16.9-ounce bottle and costs $9.99. What a deal. It’s easily one of the best beers in America, and it costs less than $10. There’s one problem, and it’s huge. The only place to be sure to find it is at North Coast’s brewpub in Fort Bragg, a 150-mile jaunt up the coast. However, North Coast also sells it mail order, $9.99 plus about $2 for shipping, depending on where you live. The address is http://www.northcoastbrewing.com.
To make it easier, I’m posting this column on my blog (see below), so it’s easy to click on the link and go to the site. You can also order it by phone at 707-964-2739. When the beer’s delivered, you have to show your ID to prove you are 21 or over.
One more hint: A few beer buyers with discriminating taste from small stores have small stocks. So if you’re adventurous, ask around.

ALE TO THE PUMPKIN! It’s pumpkin time again in Half Moon Bay, and there’ll be something special this year at the 37th annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, Oct. 13-14: Alec Moss at Half Moon Bay Brewing has created Mavericks Pumpkin Harvest Ale (HHH1/2). It’s made with 80 pounds of Half Moon Bay pumpkins.
Got out there last week and tried a sample: Orangish-brown color, clean nose with a hint of spice. Faintly sweet with a dry finish and a rush of spice. Moss says the spice comes from the Saaz finish hops. The pumpkin taste disappears in the brewing process, he says. The beer will also be on tap at Half Moon Bay restaurant and brewery until it’s gone.
The fest is on Main Street. Info: 650-726-9652 or http://www.miramarevents.com.
QUAFF FOR A CURE: My hat’s off for Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa. This month is dedicated nationwide to the fight against breast cancer, and lots of brewers and pubs do something to mark the event. The Bay Area even has a “breast fest” in the summer, sponsored by Marin Brewing, Larkspur. But check out Russian River.
Co-founder Natalie Cilurzo says her husband, Vinnie, has brewed a special beer: All Hopped Up for the Cure. All the proceeds go to a local breast cancer charity. There’s also a T-shirt, and Natalie and Vinnie donate $50 for each staff member who dyes his or her hair pink. Donations are also welcome. All the music this month is by women artists. Russian River is at 729 4th St.; 707-545-2337, http://www.russianriverbrewing.com.
DENVER BLOG: As you read this, I’m on my way to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. It runs Oct. 11-13, and has become a gathering for craft brewers of America. The Brewers Association says there will be at least 1,769 beers from 402 breweries. Sponsors expect 40,000 people during the three-day event.
Right now, judging is going on in many beer categories, from herb and spice beer to American lager for gold, silver and bronze medals, which are awarded Saturday. I’ll be blogging about the fest all this week.
LAST NOTE: The annual Bistro Wet Hop Festival, featuring more than two dozen beers made with just-picked hops, is over. It happened Oct. 6. But Jenny Slafkosky and I did a video interview with the festival sponsor, Vic Kralj. It’s still posted on my blog. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Salud.
Reach William Brand at whatsontap@sbcglobal.net or call 510-915-1180 and ask for his 2007 Retail Beer Store List or Good Pub List. Read more by Brand at http://www.beernewsletter.com/blog.

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]