Remember early this season -- and countless other times during Ron Rivera's time in Carolina -- that we would joke about the Panthers "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory"? It seems a lifetime ago that the Panthers were losing those close games. They've now won seven straight. Some were absolute blowouts, but the last three have been uncomfortably close.
This team is one that will never say die.
Old Rasputin - North Coast Brewing Company
North Coast Brewing Company is located in Fort Bragg -- not NC, but California. They've been brewing craft beers since 1988, and you can find most of their beers all across the country.
Not only is it North Coast's most well-known beer, but Old Rasputin is also a hallmark of the Russian imperial stout style. These bigger-than-your-average stouts were brewed in England but found favor amongst the court of Russia's Catherine II, hence the name. If you've yet to try the style, this is a perfect starting point.
Old Rasputin pours as black as the NFL's greatest uniforms, with a tan head forming its crown. It is simultaneously rich and roasty, a complex stout with intense flavors of espresso, molasses and bitter dark chocolate.
How it relates to the game
North Coast's Old Rasputin is named after Grigori Rasputin, a mystic and advisor who became so influential in the royal court he was targeted for assassination (in 1914 and later 1916). He was given poisoned wine and cake at dinner but proved immune to them. He kept pounding. He was then shot, and though he collapsed he mustered enough strength to get up. He kept pounding. He mad it to the courtyard once more, but still he continued on until the men apprehended him and threw him into a river. Finally, he quit pounding.
At least that's how the legend goes. The Panthers, too, have been near death in their last three games against the 49ers, Patriots and Dolphins, only to get back up when you least expect them to. This tenacity to fight 'til the bitter end is one that they lacked early on in the season, but now they have proven they can win those close games as well as the landslides.
Will they eventually go the way of Old Rasputin? That remains to be seen, but I don't think it will be at the hands of the Bucs -- even though this Bucs team is markedly better than the one they played earlier this season.
Price Point / Availability
You can find Old Rasputin at most beer stores for $8.99 a four-pack, which makes it one of the best values in the imperial stout category.
Looking to drink craft beer at the game? Here's a list of craft beers in Bank of America Stadium.