Jun 21, 2009
When I first moved to Santa Rosa almost 15 years ago, I was not much of a beer drinker - I spent most of my time in coffee shops working on my writing and artwork. None of the local watering holes appealed to me, nor did the sloppy people that frequented them.
One day a friend took me to a coffee shop called Higher Grounds, and my life was changed forever. They had microbrews on tap there - something that I had never seen in a coffeeshop before, even in Berkeley! From a tap handle labeled Old Rasputin Stout, a pair of Svengali eyes beckoned me hypnotically. The forces of destiny pushed me forward, and I was handed a glass of deep darkness so dense it distorted daylight. The first cold sip glowed warmly to my fingertips. I felt every strand of my DNA undergo a subtle change. And it tasted good, too!
I was soon introduced to a drink called Anastasia's Revenge - a pint of Old Rasputin fortified with a shot of espresso. I found this was the perfect way to prepare for my typing class - it perked me up in a very soothing way. Sadly, Higher Grounds stopped serving beer, and finally disappeared altogether, leaving only the shadowy trace of a doorway, over which letters glowed faintly: "Magick Theatre - Not for Everybody: For Madmen Only!"
Years later, I was enjoying a Pliny the Elder at Russian River Brewing Company with my friend Randell, and listening to a band. A voice said, "Hey Randy, you've got to try this. Oh, and since you are Randy's friend, let me pour a glass for you, too." I looked up to see those same hypnotic eyes again, this time on a t-shirt, and another magickal glass appeared in my hand. I didn't know what to expect, but what I tasted was an improvement on perfection - Old Rasputin aged in a bourbon barrel, Special Edition XI. That was when I first met Ken from North Coast Brewing Company.
I ran into Ken again at the Face to Face Brewfest last weekend, and he had brought a couple bottles of Old Rasputin XI from his own personal cellar. He was kind enough to allow me to hold the bottle while we posed at the Russian River booth for a photo (seen above). Several people told me that Russian River's Consecration was the best beer there, but clearly none of them were fortunate enough for a small sip of this special cellar selection.
- special thanks to Rasputin and Ken.
- apologies to Herman Hesse.