Style Challenge

North Coast Old Rasputin vs. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

3 Comments By Blake November 24, 2009

North Coast Old Rasputin vs. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

To be the best you gotta beat the best. – “Nature Boy” Ric Flair

Old Rasputin is the quintessential American take on the Russian Imperial Stout, the standard by which all others are judged. We thought it would be fun to see how other acclaimed Imperial Stouts stood up to a taste test with Rasputin. Ten Fidy is a new beer in the area from Oskar Blues, the quirky Colorado brewery that distributes great craft beer – in a can.

Both beers are widely acclaimed. They both rate a 100 on Rate Beer and both have been awarded an A at Beer Advocate, but the real test is what does our panel think? I put together a panel of my beer buddies Paul and Jay, myself and my wife Alexis. The concept is a fun one. We each get two glasses and two whole beers poured simultaneously into pint glasses. With Imperial anything, I would expect this to result in slighly more lucid observations at the beginning than nearer the end of the pint glasses, but the taste test is designed to allow the beers to open up as they warm. Sometimes your opinion of a beer is quite different at the bottom of the glass than nearer the top.

They both pour jet black into the glass. The Fidy is visibly more viscous and pours almost little or no head in any of the glasses whereas the Rasputin has a good centimeter or so of thick brown foam. Alexis smells coffee and chocolate in the Rasputin.  Jay says the Fidy smells like molasses, but I smell licorice and cocoa.  Either way they are both enticing.

The Fidy is dense and sweet, I taste licorice but can’t say whether it’s at the power of Jay’s suggestion. The Rasputin is decidedly less viscous and has more of a roasted coffee flavor and some surprising hop bitterness in the finish I don’t think I’ve ever noticed before. Paul took one sip of each and declared Rasputin the winner, so much for the rules.  Jay noticed that the Fidy changed the most as it opened up and warmed. The licorice flavors changed to toffee and dark chocolate.

Paul:  ” I know its a good beer, but the Fidy’s not working for me. Something in the finish is bothering me and it must be something about drinking them side by side. Its no contest. Rasputin hands down.’

Jay:  ” I love the mouthfeel of  the Fidy. Its rich and thick and amazing. I would order it any chance I get, but when compared to the Rasputin it seems like it has two separate flavors.  The intense sweetness when it first hits your tongue and then the bittersweet finish that lingers after its gone down, whereas the Rasputin feels like a more complete beer. Its more of a smooth transition from aroma to taste to finish that makes it feel like a more finished beer.’

Blake: ” I like the mouthfeel of the Rasputin more, it carries more carbonation and is fuller even though the Fidy is more viscous. I’m also struck by how strong the hop profile is in the Rasputin. I taste them much more than in the Fidy where I mostly just taste the bitters. The Fidy is great but in comparison it comes off as overly sweet and just not quite as balanced.”

Alexis volunteers for an impromptu blind taste test. She is not a huge fan of Imperial Stout and we decide that this makes her the best candidate for the idea.  She doesn’t hesitate to name a winner;

The winner and still undisputed champion of the style is: North Coast Old Rasputin

“It was like Ali vs. De La Hoya. Fidy is a great figher but is outclassed by the opponent.” – Jay

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Your Comments

3 Comments so far

  1. Alexis says:

    So, the question remains…which of these would the Nature Boy like best?

  2. Lauren Penner says:

    While I respect Oskar Blues for what they have accomplished (i.e. making a kick-ass double pale ale and starting the “candemic”), I agree that North Coast has this style in the bag.

  3. Daniel says:

    Yep, Old Rasputin gets my vote. It doesn't hurt that it can be about half the price of Ten Fidy in some markets.

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