North Coast Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin XVII

Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin XVII 12.1% ABVBarrel-Aged Old Rasputin XVII
Russian Imperial Stout
North Coast Brewing Co.

1:47am:  I roll over and look at the clock.  “It should be at least 6am by now.” I think to myself.  “This night will never end.”

2:32am:  I try hard to keep myself from looking at the clock.  Though my eyes are closed, I am wide awake.  I didn’t have a late cup of coffee, it’s not any substance or ailment that keeps me awake, it is merely excitement.  I look at the clock.  In near despair, I quickly close my eyes again.  It will be morning soon, it has to be.

3:54am:  “You have got to be kidding me!” I yell to myself.  The day will never come.

10am:  I wearily open my eyes, there appears to be sunlight infiltrating the room.  Could it be, is it possible, has the dawn finally broken, is it truly the day, the day I’ve been waiting and longing for?!?  I check the clock, I check my phone.  Yes, Yes! The day is here!

While this may sound like the anxious restless sleep of a young boy on Christmas eve, it was just my night and morning in anticipation of the day I get to drink beer 500 on my Countdown to 500 unique beer check-ins on Untappd.  Which also happens to be my final post of Russian Imperial Stout Week on 365 Brew.  It’s like I planned this out or something.

Knowing that the day was finally upon me, all the anxious excitement and nervous anticipation turned into calm joy.  I drew out the next few hours.  I could drink the beer at any time now, there was no need to rush it.  Also it was only 10am, I wasn’t about to drink this high octane beer before noon, before I had some food in me, before I had properly washed my large Waterford Brandy Snifter glass, and before I had gone through my pre review ritual.

Enough foreplay, lets get to the actual beer.

I pour the beer into said brandy snifter glass and can already catch inviting wafts of aroma.  My hand slightly quivers as I bring the glass up to my nose and deeply inhale.  I bask in the intense bourbon aroma which makes my mouth water.  I also can’t help but notice the amazing “head retention” on this beer.

Now to bring my true longing to an end, I take my first sip.  “Ohh…Mmm,” an audible moan of pleasure escapes my lips immediately following.  This beer is quite simply the perfect balance of my two favorite styles of brew, Russian Imperial Stout and Bourbon Barrel Aged.  There is no undue bitterness, no sharp changes in flavor.  From front to finish, a consistent complex flavor of beer is bestowed upon my palate.  It is so well balanced, artfully crafted to meld and maximize the best parts of the stout with the soaked up bourbon flavor.  The flavor of the Old Rasputin, merely builds upon the flavor of the bourbon in the right proportions.

Any slight anxiety I had of hyping up this beer too much in anticipation are completely alleviated.  I care not that I spent such a high price for this brew 1 , I care not that I only have this single bottle, I merely sit and savor each and every drop.  The contents of this bottle and the time I spend consuming and enjoying it, bring one simple thought to mind, “It’s good to be alive.”

I’m so happy that I drew out this endeavor, that I forced myself into putting time and effort into my choices for beers 491-500.  Round numbers are arbitrary figures, that seem to make us humans smile.  While I generally am one to be a contrarian and fight against these human impulses, I am slowly coming around to embracing and enjoying them.  It’s what makes life a bit more fun and interesting.  Though a simple gimmick, this has brought me much joy, and hopefully provided some worthwhile reading your way.

I am more than proud that this was my 500th beer.  Thank you all for indulging me in this endeavor.  I must give special thanks to Phillip Walter, or Pdubyah.  He not only has had 500 beers, he has done over 500 beer reviews.  He provided the inspiration for my Countdown to 500 and continues to inspire me with his beer blog “A life just as ordinary.”

I have achieved “Legendary” status on Untappd.  A feat many before me have reached and many after me will reach 2.  I sought this “honor”, in haste at times, consuming less than ideal beers, only to get another “unique check-in.”  I have learned it’s not a competition but a process through which to appreciate craft beers more and more.  I am not one to listen to when it comes to advice, though I freely give it without instigation.  All I know is that on my path to “Legendary” status I have found a community; a group of people whom I understand and who understand me.  We all have our areas of expertise, or lack there of.  I learn everyday that I know next to nothing about beer, and yet those who know so much more, only want to teach and help those like myself who crave not just beer, but knowledge of beer and the craft beer industry.

Here’s to 500 more unique beer check-ins over the coming years.  One day I will reach “Extraordinary” status, for my liver’s sake I’ll need to make sure I have at least 5 times as many glasses of water.  If you have reached “Legendary” status or beyond what was your 500th beer? If you are currently on your way to beer 500, what is on your wishlist 3 ?


  1.  $19.99 
  2.  I anxiously await Kraft’s entrance into this club, which he will surely reach by year’s end. 
  3.  Special thanks to Chris Babb, who back in middle school showed me writing was something that I could do.  Also special thanks to Kraft who bought this domain name and gently pestered me to get off my ass and write.  Love both of you guys. 

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