There has been some talk about the price of beer on this blog, the ascent of beer to a luxury status, and the proper place of beer. For me $9 for a 4 pack is in the realm of luxury, a special occasion beer or a once a month type of beer. Unfortunately I find a lot these beers are over-hyped and are on equal grounds with or surpassed by other beers that cost around the $8 or $9 a 6 pack range. North Coast's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout and Terrapin's formerly known as "Wake and Bake" stout but now simply known as their Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout are worth every penny of $9 in taste.
Old Rasputin is an emperor among beers. This beer's aroma is chock full of spicy alcohol over rich notes of coffee, cocoa, and burnt cherries. It wears a thick tall cocoa head over an impenetrable black base. The beer is unexpectedly dry which allows the beer’s balance to swing more towards bitterness. Powerful cocoa, roasted grains, and charcoal like flavors dominate. At 9% ABV and 75 IBUs this beer fills your mouth with a thick bubbly body but it goes down easily with scarcely any notice of the alcohol. In my opinion its many awards are well deserved.
Terrapin's Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout demonstrates how two beers can both be the same style but remain very different. The aroma of this one has a fairly strong coffee not that still feels like it is a lighter note riding the heavier wave of big stout rich burnt cocoa goodness. Once again the thick body that fills your mouth so wonderfully in the wintertime is present. The difference in these two beers is that the Terrapin comes across as fairly sweet though both beers run at 75 IBUs. There's no apparent hop bitterness in Terrapin's Imperial Stout, there is a touch of alcohol poking through, and a bit of chewy malt underneath the roastiness. The aftertaste contains the bitterness of strong coffee and more roasty grains. I only wonder why they dropped the fun name, "Wake and Bake" and why my local store only stocked it for one week.