Review Date 11/8/2014
Watch out, Old Rasputin. Theophan the Recluse is hot on your tail. It seems there’s just something about Eastern mystics and Russian Imperial Stout that go hand in hand. The obvious answer is that they both hail from Mother Russia, although they didn’t both originate there. The original imperial stouts, after all, may have been intended to be enjoyed in Russia but they were born and brewed in England.
The story of Rasputin is well known indeed, and in beer circles North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout enjoys equal fame. Much less known, however, is the tale of Theophan the Recluse. Truth be told, I had never heard of Theophan, a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. Wikipedia tells me, however, he is a very important figure in Russian religion. Born in 1815, Theophan predates Rasputin, though their lives intersected from Rasputin’s birth in 1869 to Theophan’s death in 1894.
Would that they could have met for a beer. Being the elder, I submit Theophan might have selected his namesake beer, Theophan the Recluse Belgian-Style Russian Imperial Stout from Georgia’s Three Taverns brewery. I’m going to let the brewery tell you about it, and then I will tell you about it. Sound fair?
Theophan the Recluse was a Russian monk known for the spiritual depth and complexity of his writings. We consider him a perfect namesake for this rich, complex imperial stout, brewed with eight specialty malts, dark Muscovado sugar and a Belgian yeast strain. Deep, mysterious, full-bodied and indefinably exotic, Theophan the Recluse is meant to transport drinkers to a place of deep contemplation, mystical insight and inspired conversation.
Theophan is a mighty beer indeed at 9% alcohol by volume and 60 IBUs. I bought a fresh growler at Stout’s Growlers for just $7.25, truly a steal for 32 ounces of this treat. A 750 ML bottle cost me $10.99. More money for less beer, but hey you can age it in the bottle, not in the growler.
Theophan the Recluse Belgian-Style Russian Imperial Stout pours to a jet black dark as night color with a very light tan head formation and a nose that’s dark as night with burnt roasty notes to prove it. Extra points if you get the funky Belgian yeast in the nose through all of that.
Taking a sip, this one is amazingly rich and thick in the mouthfeel with burnt toast dark maltiness, deep chocolate, licorice, cotton candy, caramel, and harsh nigh astringent roasty notes passing through too. Big alcohol in the finish and just enormous roast with bits of spice and funk poking through. A gentle sourness and such amazing complexity make this one of the best beers ever for me, and that’s saying something.
Only sold in Georgia, but if you don’t live here, it’s worth the trip.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.