Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of North Coast Brewing Co. beers

Indiana Beer Group Tests Five Top Rated Russian Imperial Stouts: And the Winner is…Old Rasputin

We don’t mean to brag…well, maybe we do. So we’re sharing a recent blog from the Indiana Beer group. You are welcome to read the entire article, but what follows is a summary, paraphrase and direct quotes of some of the text. You can also read about this particular tasting panel on the Indiana Beer Group.

Old-Rasputin-Brand-Image-(w)2012We didn’t mess around with the lineup for this tasting – each of these beers rates at least a 92 on Beer Advocate and they come from highly respected breweries: Bell’s Expedition Stout, North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout, Sierra Nevada Narwhal, and Three Floyds Dark Lord. With this lineup of heavy hitters, a blind tasting was administered by our lovely hostess Poppi Rocketts. The beers were served in a random order to our tasting panel, and the identity of each was not revealed until after the panelists had finalized their individual rankings. Joining me, Nathan Compton, on the panel were IndianaBeer reporters Dave Allen and Jason Wilkerson and guest reviewer Tim Palmer.

And the results are in…….To determine the overall results, we used a model where the lowest number of points would win (a 1st place vote = 1 point, a 2nd place vote = 2 points, etc.). After tallying up the scores, our collective rankings determined the final order:

Fifth Place: Three Floyds Dark Lord (19 points)
Fourth Place: Sierra Nevada Narwhal (16 points)
Third Place: Bell’s Expedition Stout (11 points)
Second Place: Oskar Blues Ten Fidy (10 points)
First Place: North Coast Old Rasputin (4 points)

Russian-Imperial-Stouts(w)

What follows are direct quotes from the Tasting Panel about Old Rasputin:

Dave: “Our tasting panel all came to the same conclusion that this one was, hands down, the best beer on the table. To my palate it was complex, balanced, with flavors of both chocolate and roasted malt, hints of coffee and apparent (but not dominating) alcohol. When I conjure up what RIS should be in my imagination: this is it – delicious without being overpowering in any of the handful of typical flavor profiles one might expect. Great beer. And readily available locally all year round at a competitive price point. What’s not to like? Would I Drink Another: Absolutely.”
Dave’s Rank: 1st

Jason: “The aroma of chocolate was a welcome sign as it reminds me of this category of beer. Thicker than Beer #1 (Narwhal) but still not the texture I’ve come to expect, which is not a bad thing. Great flavor. This beer throws a knockout punch on your tongue from the start to announce its presence. Rich in color, flavor and texture, the bold taste follows from the front of your mouth to the back. A great Russian Imperial with good balance of bitter and sweet.”
Jason’s Rank: 1st

Nathan: “Less head retention than the first beer (Narwhal), but the level of roasted malt character has increased and nicely balances the chocolate notes. Wonderful flavor complexity: chocolate, coffee, raisins, figs, and hints of citrus hop character. Thick mouthfeel with a fairly dry finish and lingering bitterness the complements the intense malt character. Moderate alcohol warming in the aftertaste, but never harsh or distracting from the other flavors. This beer almost perfectly embodies the best qualities I associate with Russian Imperial Stouts. Outstanding!”
Nathan’s Rank: 1st

Tim: “Let’s just say that I can’t see through the beer as it is dark as night with a small dark tan head. The first hints of the aroma immediately hit me as this wonderful blend of rich malt (bready, hint of fruit), roast and chocolate character followed by a low earthy hop nose. The first taste filled my mouth with this full bodied, rich, more roast (not acrid) than chocolate, complex delicious beer that finished dry leaving me asking for more. Even with the low head, it had plenty of carbonation to support this big beer. The alcohol was pleasantly warming and not hot at all. This was solid all the way through! Can I have another? This is what I was expecting from a Russian Imperial Stout.”
Tim’s Rank: 1st

Near the end of the blog, Nathan wrote about rediscovering Old Rasputin:
“There was a stage in my craft beer drinking evolution where Old Rasputin was a beer I commonly sought out, and an Old Rasputin sign proudly hangs next to the pool table in our basement. But as the number of craft beer options has exploded, it’s very easy to get caught up in constantly trying new things and taking some of these old favorites for granted. I can’t remember the last time I purchased this beer off the shelf, but it certainly won’t take that long again. Along with the straight tasting results we always try to include cost analysis at the end of these because the highest ranking beers are often the most expensive. But at the relatively low price (for a Russian Imperial Stout anyway) of $10.99 for a 4-pack, this aspect only bolsters the case for Old Rasputin in this lineup…But if you’re looking for a great Russian Imperial Stout to enjoy in the near future, we can’t recommend Old Rasputin strongly enough. Buy up a good portion of that beer and horde it for yourself.”

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PranQster Has a New Admirer

NCBC-PranQster-750ml-(w)

 

 

Beer blogger Better By You Asking recently had the opportunity to try PranQster and she waxes poetic about its eyes, nose, tongue and overall feel. “This is a beer lover’s beer,” she says, “and I love this beer.” Read the entire blog here.

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Claire Daly Quartet Shines at Saturday Afternoon Concert at 2013 Monterey Jazz Festival

Clare-Daly-2013-MJF(w)

Richard Scheinin, music reviewer and critic for the San Jose Mercury News, thoroughly enjoyed the Claire Daly Quartet’s afternoon concert at the 2013 Monterey Jazz Festival, featuring selections from the Baritone Monk album and sponsored by North Coast Brewing Co. He wrote about the many choices of concerts he could attend, and decided he wanted to hear the music of Thelonious Monk. He was not disappointed! Read the complete article here.

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Why Pilsner is the Best Craft Beer of All Time: So Many Reasons to Love Pilsners

Published in The Daily Meal Jul 23, 2013
By John Verive of Beer of Tomorrow for Menuism Beer Blog

Scrimshaw-Pilsner-Pour(w)As craft beer gains popularity, tap lists grow longer, and beers become more creative and extreme, it sometimes seems that a craft beer fan can have too many options. It may be a wonderful problem to face, but if you’d rather not struggle deciding what beer to try there’s a simple solution. If you just want a satisfying and restorative beer, try a pilsner. The classic golden lager makes for an excellent start to a session, is great before a meal, and pilsners pair wonderfully with many foods. It’s an easy call; try one and see why the pilsner is considered by many brewers to be “the brewer’s beer.”

If you’re not yet a convert to the well-crafted and balanced pilsners, forget your preconceived notions about the style. Pilsner, or simply pils, is known for its delicate color, sparkling carbonation, bready malt body, and spicy and herbal hop character and aroma that is highlighted by a dry, crisp finish. The style was so popular after its invention in 19th-century Bohemia that it swept through Europe before it was taken across the Atlantic by brewers immigrating to America. The American pilsner started off like its continental counterpart: balanced, dry, and with an assertive hop aroma, but American breweries diminished the beer to appeal to a wider audience, and soon the American Pilsner developed into the bland, insipid beer that many people think of today.

Scrimshaw-Brand-Image(w)When first arriving at a bar, I’ll often skim the tap list for a craft pilsner instead of suffering through the analysis paralysis that an impressively long and varied beer list can induce. Once the aromatic pils is in hand, I can more carefully review the menu and tap list for perfect pairings while I enjoy the crisp, refreshing qualities that the pilsner is prized for. Starting off the night with a pilsner works well for a few reasons. It’s commonly recommended to begin a tasting session with a beer that is comparatively light in body and flavor. This allows you to experience the beer’s more subtle flavors before your palate becomes fatigued, and pilsners make excellent “warm-up beers.” The lager’s lively carbonation awakens your taste buds, and the delicate flavors of the signature pilsner malt and European hops are best enjoyed before your palate has been assaulted by massive double IPAs. Picking out these flavors from such a balanced and nuanced brew is a great way to prepare yourself for tasting other brews, and the clean, ester-free finish leaves your palate primed for another sip (or another pint).

 

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Old Rasputin Imperial Stout: “This beer is really something."

(We enjoy finding unsolicited reviews of our award-winning ales. The following tribute to Old Rasputin was posted on March 27, 2013.)

From the blog of Michael A. Jazayeri, M.D., board certified plastic surgeon

Old-Rasputin-Pour(wpng)As many of my regular blog readers know, I am passionate about wine. But recently, I have been exploring beers as well. Once or twice a month, when we have casual get together with friends or family and casual food is eaten (pizza, etc.), beer just seems to hit the spot. Recently I came across Old Rasputin Imperial Stout Beer by accident. I have to be honest, most beers just don’t “do it” for me. Perhaps it is because I am used to the complexity and sophistication of wine. But this beer is really something. It is made in Fort Bragg, California and is NOT where Fort Bragg Army base is (it is located in North Carolina). Fort Bragg is located in Mendocino County, north of Napa and Sonoma.

This beer is complex, with aromas and flavor of coffee, chocolate and brown sugar, with a warm finish. Most imperial stouts have a bitter finish, but this beer is balanced. I describe it as a pleasant bitterness, almost earthy. It has 9% alcohol by volume, which is almost twice most pale beers, but still less than the 12-14% alcohol content of most wines. I also like the cover: very dark and mysterious. I have not been able to find a translation of the Russian writing on the bottle. Even Google search failed! So if anyone speaks Russian, please let me know.
After doing some research, I found this beer has been consistently rated 95 or higher (out of a 100 point scale) and has been rated as one of the best beers ever made. The great thing about beer is its quality to price ratio (QPR). One can purchase a four, 12 OZ pack of this beer at Total Wine and More for less than 8 dollars. In other words, 24 OZ (equivalent to a bottle of wine) of this beer will set you back only 4 dollars. I challenge anyone to find me a 4 dollar bottle of wine which has rated 95 points or higher. If you do, please deliver it to me riding a unicorn!
Stout beer should be served much warmer than pale beer, around 58-65 degrees Fahrenheit, otherwise the flavors will be muted and the beer will taste bitter.
So next time you desire a beer, pass up the insipid, commercially made Coors and Budweiser, and purchase some Old Rasputin.

 

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It’s the Grand Cru: the Champagne of Beers!

Although Miller High Life has “Champagne of Beers” printed on the cans, the title truly belongs to North Coast Brewing Company’s Grand Cru. At almost $15 per bomber, a limited release, and 12.9% ABV (alcohol by volume), you really will be living the “High Life.”

The Grand Cru is one of many examples of a forward-looking brewery blurring the lines between traditional brewing styles. The Cru makes use of the widely available, yet typically uninspiring, pilsner malt, common in pale lagers and generally sold with 29 other companions. However, North Coast dresses up the modest malt by finishing the beer with agave nectar prior to aging it in bourbon barrels. The brewery then ferments the Cru with the same Belgian yeast strain used for their tart, fruity Saison. The combination of fruit/tart from the yeast and the muted sweetness of the agave gives the Cru its crisp, champagne-like flavor.

The beer pours a beautiful, slightly hazy gold color so perfect it made my mouth water. The head is a true-white and well-structured one, but it dissipates quickly, leaving a little white halo atop the glass. If you haven’t already noticed, this beer is quite aesthetically appealing.

Leaning in for the smell, I immediately notice cinnamon apples. Every whiff I took smelled like Mott’s applesauce dusted with cinnamon sugar. This was by no means a bad thing; cinnamon sugar apple sauce is a staple of any solid childhood (or mine at least).

The taste is crisp and dry, fruity and slightly tart with many small bubbles. The mouth feel is quite light and slightly sticky as a result of the agave nectar added near the end of the boil. Surprisingly, I failed to notice any bourbon or oak attributes throughout my tasting. Perhaps it served to mute the sweetness of the agave nectar, but otherwise I cannot find its fingerprints anywhere in the Grand Cru.

In all, the Grand Cru is a wonderful beer, but without its appearance, you might not even be sure it’s a beer. It could just as well pass itself off as a hearty cider or some strange champagne.

I shared the beer with several friends and roommates, and asked them to tell me what style of beer they tasted. I received a few tentative replies, but most people said they were unsure. The high alcohol content and light color suggest it may be some sort of Belgian quadruple ale but bourbon barrel aging is more common in heavier, maltier beers. This beer defies traditional brewing styles and can only be understood by a personal taste test. It’s not a quadruple, it’s not a Pilsner; it’s the Grand Cru: the champagne of beers.

from The Catalyst, the independent student newspaper of Colorado College

by staff writer Nate Childs

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Reviewers on Old Rasputin

North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout“It’s just a flavor explosion…
big…bold…amazingly delicious.”
Brew Chief

“91 Points. Exceptional.”
Beverage Testing Institute, Chicago

Rate Beer score: A perfect 100

“Best in the World…in my eyes.”
–Bill Owens, President, American Distilling Institute

“Very big, very bold, and downright kick-ass.”
The Brew Guide

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Reviewers on Le Merle

“More than a serious beer, it is outstanding….
North Coast Brewing Le MerleDizzying, appetizing, refreshing.”
–The Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson

“Congratulations, your beer is really amazing and you deserve your gold medal in a truly classic Belgian style.”
–Luc De Raedemaeker, co-founder and tasting director, Brussels Beer Challenge

“A heavenly American Saison—Highly Recommended”
Celebrator Beer News

“Best Cult Brew”
SF Weekly

RateBeer Score: 96

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Beer Review: Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale

From a wonderful review of Brother Thelonious on Black Metals and Brews:

Brother Thelonious Brand Image“Much like the remarkable pianist this beer shares a name with, Brother Thelonious is more complex than any easy description will permit. To call Monk’s music “jazz” is to sell him short, packaging him besides easy listening artists and not the kinetic and soulful madness that jazz once represented. To give this beer a simple title is also inappropriate. While the beer pours a dark amber with a nice thick head, and has an absolutely captivating scent, it’s not an experience that can be understood with one or two sips and a glance at the glass. This beer is something you understand more deeply as you near the bottle’s end. Crisp flavors of caramel and raisin play on my tongue, while the liquid itself slides across my palate more smoothly than a beer this rich normally would. Drinking Brother Thelonious is like a slow and playful seduction, with each sip lingering just enough to create a tense anticipation for the next.  An experiment I recommend (and how I first was introduced to this beer) is to try drinking this at room temperature. I first learned of this beer at a traditional pub, where none of the beers were served at the icy temperatures many of us Americans are accustomed to. While I was initially confused, I still was blown away by how incredible this beer tasted. That was four years ago. I’m still finding new excuses to lose myself in Brother Thelonious, and I hope this review will encourage you to do the same.”

Read the whole review here.

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Old Rasputin Wins Gold at the Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival

North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout won Gold at the 2012 Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival. The international event, in its 21st year, took place over two weekends in September and October, and saw a record number of more than 1,500 beer entries, from which Rasputin stood out, placing at the top of the Porter/Stout 6% och över category.
Rasputin Bottle with Stockholm Beer Fest Logo
Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is produced in the tradition of 18th Century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia’s Catherine the Great. This ground-breaking beer seems to develop a cult following wherever it goes. It’s a rich, intense brew with big complex flavors and a warming finish. We’re gratified that the judges in Stockholm agree.

Visit our Rasputin Distributor in Sweden: Great Brands AB

Click here for a printable PDF of this press release.

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