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Rasputin: Stout Man, Stout Beer

With the departure of the much-loved Kern and his Brewhaha blog, someone had to step in and taste beers for the good of Davis.  I felt compelled to step into the void and be of service to the city I love – so here I am, ready to give of myself and drink beer for my fellow Davis residents.

A note about the title of this new blog: no, we aren’t deficient in our spelling.  I’m a pastor.  Beer is pasteurized.  Thus – pastorized.  You can thank the clever (and cheesy) editor of DLM for the title.

Lest you are tempted to think that being a pastor and drinking good beer might be in conflict with one another, a brief lesson in history is in order.

Our hero: Martin Luther

The immutable Reformer, Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a connoisseur of beer in his own right.  His wife was a supposedly fantastic home brewer, and he is said to have loved beer so much that he was occasionally paid in beer for his services as a pastor.  As a matter of fact, monks, priests, pastors and theologians have been at the fore of brewing quality beer for hundreds of years.  Personally, I’m not at the fore of any quality brewing, but I do enjoy the spoils of all this beer making.

This segues wonderfully into my first tasting for DLM:  Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout from the North Coast Brewing Company in Mendicino County.  This beer was given to me, via a recommendation from the good folks at the East Covell Nugget, from a lovely Davis couple whose wedding I recently officiated.  Any couple that gives a gift of fine beer to the pastor who officiates their wedding is off to a running start, in my humble opinion.  A side note about the Nugget: the new bride describes herself as “knowing nothing about beer” but the beer guy at the Nugget pointed this one out to her as especially good and even went so far as to recommend that she pour it into a glass before drinking it.  That might seem like a small detail, but its the sort of thing only a beer lover would bother telling a customer.  Kudos to the Nugget Beer Guy.

The beer itself is as the name implies: stout.  In other words, not for the faint of heart.  If you don’t love beer, chances are pretty good you won’t be into Old Rasputin.  Then again, if you don’t love regular beer, you might just love stouts.  Like all good craft brew varieties, there are multiple types of stouts.  They are black, thick, sometimes sweet with hints of chocolate, and sometimes have coffee influences.  Stouts don’t taste like…well, they don’t taste like Miller Light, so you just might like them.  This beer is of the Russian Imperial Stout variety, and it’s name is taken from a Russian mystic theologian who, as the legend goes, was a tenacious and sassy fellow (a stout man in his own right), who loved this type of beer.

Contrary to the name, this type of beer actually evolved in 18th Century England and was exported to Russia.  You can see and taste why.  This is a beer to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night.  It is very black with a thick velvety head when poured into a glass – again, nice work Nugget Beer Guy.  It sticks to the sides as if to prove just how stout it is, but drinks incredibly smooth – even creamy.  It’s very chocolaty with a hint of espresso. This is a beer best savored, either immediately after a meal or as a winter’s night treat.  That said, it tasted pretty darn good on an early fall afternoon in Davis as well.

Generally, I think of a good stout as a destination beer – something you love to visit, but not a place to live.  Many will disagree with me and gravitate towards a stout as their “go-to” beer variety.  Not me.  Still, this was a fantastic beer that has a cult following and thankfully, lives up to the hype.  It is widely distributed and can be found at many Davis beer haunts.

Rasputin: our other hero

It is said that Rasputin the theologian (1869-1916) was the ultimate downfall of Czar Nicholas II in Russia.  Drink the beer named after him too quickly, and at 9% abv, you’ll have the courage to take on an empire yourself.  Davis city council, be warned…


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