Russian River Brewing Company
from United States (California)
2nd highest rated brewery (of 635)
Highest RatedConsecration (97 / 100) Average score77 / 100 (Excellent)
Lowest RatedBenediction (64 / 100) Number Tried38
Salvation
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 21.03.13 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a vibrant red colour, hints of floaties and haze. Head is beautifully dense, foamy and nicely packed with great retention. Specks of lace left around the glass; good.

Smells quite pleasant, but a little subdued. Malty, with some peppery spice, toffee, bourbon and a slight acetyldehyde maybe. But quite sweet, yeah, hint of cinnamon, which I could use more of. What's there is nice.

Taste is quite sweet mostly, with toffee and caramel malt, a touch of tartness - just a hint - that turns it slightly fruity on the mid, then finish is a little bit toasty, and still sweet, with characters of coconut, vanilla and crême brulée, but also a hint of burntness late, like overcooked toffee. Slightly nutty, yeah, it's a mélange of flavours I like, but it doesn't quite reach the heights of sweetness, roastiness or anything, and so it seems a little directionless in some ways.

Decent body, bit of foamy texture to it, slight boozey sharpness on the back. Yeah, alright.

Quite a subtle brew in some ways, and well balanced. Yeah, everything gets a look-in here, and it's very nicely crafted. Doesn't really sing to me, and yet I feel like there's a lot of love in this beer.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Little White Lie
Reviewed by Jez on 18.07.12 on tap
Overall:
83 / 100
(Exceptional)
On-tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa.

Pours a fully hazed yellow-white hue, with a soft, light weight to the body. Head is full and solid, and so white that it's straining blue. Lace forms in patchy sheets. Looks good.

Nose is great: peppery with a touch of acid. Some Belgian yeastiness comes through giving it a roundness and supporting the spicy, zesty characters, but the tartness is very welcome. It's bright, clear and fresh. Lovely stuff.

Light, clear entry on the palate, before the peppery spice pops in again, giving a really fresh and fragrant flavour. The finish is rounded off with a touch of witbier yeast, slightly earthy, organic and rustic. This is the real deal. Feel has a touch of astringent bite, otherwise pretty light.

Supremely drinkable and lovely: this is one of the best witbiers I've had. Great job, RR.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 5.0
Russian River IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 18.07.12 on tap
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
On-tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa.

Pours a very clear, light golden colour, with a firm, slightly sticky body. Head is a solid white crown, that leaves some mild, sheeting carbonation. Carbonation streams in fine rivulets. Looks good. Reminds me of Blind Pig.

Nose is sweetly citric, with lemon sherbet coming through along with a hint of stonefruit. Some crushed leaf to give it a greener, more vegetative aroma, but mostly it's just sweet and fragrant.

Light leafiness on the front of the palate leads to more of that fruity lemon sherbet sweetness, before a clear bitterness comes through at the end. The sweetness clings on until the finish however, when a slight tang of pepper finally manages to make it lose its grip. Feel is bright, alive and fresh.

Nice beer, but Blind Pig is better as an IPA, in my opinion. The lemon sweetness is a nice touch, and delineates this from their others. Overall: solid.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Redemption
Reviewed by Jez on 18.07.12 on tap
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Had on-tap during a visit to Russian River in Santa Rosa.

Such a light yellow colour that it's almost colourless, and perfectly clear, with zero haze: this is an interesting beer from the get-go. Head is white and a touch too coarsely bubbled, which is a shame, because otherwise it looks phenomenally interesting.

Round Belgian aromas constitute the nose, with a big-ass yeast note walloping everything into order. Slight pepper spice and a hint of astringency. But that's about it. It's nice in the style, but it leaves me a little empty.

Very light entry on the palate, with almost nothing until near the back. Even the mid palate only picks up a little earthy yeast. On the finish, we get some roundness, peppery earth and a hint of astringency like rosemary. But it's a little bit like too little, too late. No, that's not true, it's nice enough, but just not as exciting or spectacular as I'd expected.

Feel is light and clean: again, it's fine, but I want something more.

Overall, yes it's good. It's light, truly Belgian in style, and drinkable. But it's not that complex, and has a few things that I'd personally change.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Perdition
Reviewed by Jez on 18.07.12 on tap
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
On-tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa.

Pours a golden hue, with a touch of amber to it. Some haze forms in the glass, but it's a mildly lustrous effect. Head is firm and white in colour, forming a very solid ring. Some patchy lace, and not much carbonation.

Nose pronounced a hint of acid as a first impression, along with softer, rounder Belgian phenols and some grainy, rustic savoury tones. It's nice, and firmly in that rustic, semi-sour bière de garde style.

Light grain on the front of the tongue before the phenols ramp up a lot, giving almost a roasted, spicy astringency mid-palate. Finish is clean and crisp, with the phenols trailing off to almost drift into the realm of true bitterness. Aftertaste is slightly appley, but with a big bite, like strong scrumpy.

Solidly in style. It reminds me of some of the classics like 3 Monts. It does end up being a little harsh on the finish, but even that is acceptable for a BdG. That criticism is probably just prejudice on my part.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Noble Experiment - Saison Blonde
Reviewed by Jez on 18.07.12 on tap
Overall:
69 / 100
(Very Good)
On-tap at the brewery in Santa Rosa.

Pours a light yellow hue, with solid haze leaving the beer rather translucent. Light body, with only a ring of clear white foam around it. Minimal lace. Decent, but not spectacular.

Nose is excellent, however. Round Belgian tones, with a genuine hint of funk and some sweet acidity that gives hints of balsamic vinegar. It's sweet, full and oaky, with a directness of acidity that's very pleasant and very welcome in a saison, in my opinion.

Light crisp entry on the palate, but a lot blander than I expected. There's a rounded smoothness through the centre, and a touch of funk, but not a lot of complexity. Finish is funky, meaty and a little coarse, with gritty yeast bringing up the rear.

Feel is light, but liquid and smooth.

It's not bad all up, but I feel like it could have delivered more. The harshness on the back palate builds, and the overall character gets skewed from what it feels like it wants to be. There are some nice motifs here, and a lot of interest to be had. It just feels a bit wayward.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Benediction
Reviewed by Jez on 18.07.12 on tap
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
On-tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa.

Pours a... amber hue, surprisingly light (the "..." illustrates how surprised I was at this colour), with very little haze. Body is full and firm, as is the head, which forms an off-white crest for the beer. Some partial lacing, and some slinky, hiding carbonation. Hmm...

Round on the nose, with a touch of spice and phenols. There's an earthy sweetness, almost like chocolate, but that's about all it gives up. It feels a little like it's going through the motions.

Light characters on the front of the palate, with a touch of nuttiness, before some smoother, boozier elements come through later. However, the booze rises up and mingles with some phenolics and spice to create a sense of harshness on the finish.

Feel is smooth, but light. Suitable.

Eh. Overall, I'm unimpressed. This is a dull example of a dubbel, and even taken on its own without the repertoire of the style to compare it to, it's not that interesting.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Row 2/Hill 56
Reviewed by Jez on 05.07.12 on tap
Overall:
83 / 100
(Exceptional)
Had on-tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa, CA. I'm not a huge fan of Simcoe, so I was interested to see if Russian River could turn my head.

Pours a quite light yellow colour, with some mild hazing to the body. Weight is solid but not overpowering. Head is filmy, patchy, but solid enough, and it leaves great lace. Overall, it's a pretty good-looking beer.

Nose is just lovely. Bright, punchy citrus like lemon and mandarin comes through strongly along with clean, fresh elements like passionfruit and lychee. Wow, this is Simcoe? It is, but not as I know it, obviously. This is powerful, sharp, fragrant and gorgeous.

Light clean entry on the palate, leading to more of those spicy lychee characters with deeper leafier hop characters. There's a slightly savoury note on the back with just enough bite to sharpen it, but no overt bitterness. Very clean and light feel, which is suitable.

OK, OK, Russian River. I give up. How did you perform this magic trick with Simcoe? This is gorgeous stuff, like no Simcoe I've ever had before—to me Simcoe was flabbily and lazily hoppy, giving citrus and oily pine with residual sweetness that always detracted from the beer. This is fragrant, juicy, tight and delicious. I'm just going to put it down to your skill.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 5.0
Aud Blonde
Reviewed by Jez on 04.07.12 on tap
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
On-tap at the brewpub in Santa Rosa.

Pours a clear yellow colour, very light-bodied, with a fine mild head of white. It looks really light overall, leaving no lace, but forming tight and fine carbonation, especially when tilted. Looks good.

Not much on the aroma. There's some mild grain notes and a touch of phenolics, but it's very light overall. Not unpleasant, just... mild.

The palate is better: light entry with decent grain notes, before a smoother sweetness on the mid-palate, balanced with a husky, coarser grain character. Bitterness comes through on the back, but the finish is spectacularly clean, meaning it ends up feeling really light and drinkable.

Light but very clear feel all over.

It's dull, but very solid. I guess Russian River can't be all oak-aged Wilds and hopped-up Insanity.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Happy Hops
Reviewed by Jez on 04.07.12 on tap
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
On-tap at the brewery's outlet in Santa Rosa.

Pours a clear pale golden colour, with a very light body to it. Head is a fine ring of persistant white bubbles. No visible carbonation or lacing. Decent enough, if not exciting.

Nose is bright and clear, with appleskin coming through on first whiff, but revealing other characters of herbs and pepper on the revisit. There's also an underlying note of savoury grain giving some depth and complexity to the aroma. It's light overall, but quite nice stuff.

Taste continues some of these themes: apple comes through with a crisp cleanness on the front, followed by some grain that mingles nicely with some slightly earthy, slightly nutty hop characters. Mild, moderated bitterness comes through on the back, with a touch of fragrant herbs. It's very clean, and really very pleasant. Feel is light but consistent with the structure of the beer.

Super-drinkable brew. It reminds me of the balance and coherence of Blind Pig—again, not a huge beer, but a very enjoyable one.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Porter
Reviewed by Jez on 04.07.12 on tap
Overall:
81 / 100
(Exceptional)
On-tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa, CA.

Pours a really nice amber-brown hue, with a touch of red when held to the light. Body is relatively light. Head is amazing, a solid firm but clear, persistent beige. Lace is incredibly solid. It's a pretty amazing looking porter.

Nose is something of a disappointment, truth be told. There's some mild grain notes with a touch of sweetish biscuit or graham cracker. There's an odd hint of savoury fruit, a little like stewed tomatoes.

But it's uphill from there (and how). Mild, smooth chocolate entry on the palate leads to a gorgeous, roasty warmth on the mid, giving smooth hazelnut overtones. Finish has a slight bite of subtly bitter roast along with more cleansing, mellow nuttiness. Finish is capped with a clean bite of roast. Awesome stuff.

Feel is surprisingly light, but with a slight tingle to energise the palate.

Lovely. Just lovely stuff. Smooth and drinkable but with stacks of complexity and richness. Love it.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
O.V.L. Stout
Reviewed by Jez on 04.07.12 on nitro tap
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
On-tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa, CA.

Pours a bronzey, brown-black colour, with relatively little haze—indeed, light permeates it even despite its colour. Head is a milky mocha-brown colour, with a gorgeous silky consistency from the nitro-pour. It also leaves amazing lacing. Really, it's a great looking beer.

Aroma contains everything you'd expect: mild roasted notes, a touch of coffee, a slight sweetness which gives a hint of unfermented wort, crushed, brittle chocolate and a milkiness throughout. It's very pleasant, if in some senses just ticking the boxes.

Taste is unexpectedly different, however. There's almost nothing on the front, leaving everything to roar up on the finish, with clingy, watery coffee filling out to a roasted astringency on the back, leaving dollops of husky bitterness and roasted tobacco. Everything forms on the back, and it feels a little undeveloped as a whole. Feel is good, but less exciting than it should be.

Drinkable enough at the start, but with the build up of ashiness on the back harms it. I'm surprised to say I didn't find this as good as I'd hoped. But then, maybe I just have unreasonable expectations.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Salvation
Reviewed by Jez on 10.12.11 in bottle
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
Purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco, brought to Sydney and shared with @LaitueGonflable.

Pours a dusty, almost dirty brown colour, with a slight yellowish grey tone to as it enters the glass. Head persists with a little of that colour, turning out a slightly greyed-out beige colour. Not a bad look.

Nose is pleasantly Belgian, with a nice round funk and hints of sweet-savoury yeast. Under this is the very faint touch of roast, which gives it depth and interest. It's not as complex as some, but it's still quite pleasant.

Taste is also good, with the darker malts coming through to give some grainy biscuit characters, but no roasted bitterness or astringency. Finish is slightly tainted with a vague RR funk (in the best possible way, you understand), which cleans everything up, and also makes the feel much much lighter than its 9% would suggest.

Decent brew, with some interesting things going on. Not one of my absolute favourite from their range, but another solid beer, no doubt.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Sanctification
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.08.11 in bottle
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a very pale, almost dayglo straw colour, with mega-opaque haze and mega-fluffy head, white and dense the consistency of lightly whipped egg whites. Nice sheets of lace, looks great.

Smell is very pleasant. Lots of funk to it, with a lovely tart edge of lemon zest, a touch of guava and some underlying barnyard characters. Touch of vanilla and even meringue on there, really lovely and refreshing nose.

Taste knocks your socks off. Mega, uber sourness with vinegar from the get-go and develops into a strong, puckering lemony flavour. Bit off-putting at first, but it does develop some lovely complexities and smoothes out by the mid-point. Still very tart but with a touch of cinnamon, underripe raspberries and some cake batter malt underlying. Bit too tart for the "wow! Drinkable!" factor, but still very good.

Yeah, tartness really comes through as puckering and sharp on the feel. Feels like this would cut my mouth up if it went unchecked and unshared.

A bit overdone just in parts, but I do like a good sour beer, and this is definitely a good sour beer. Maybe some more age on this would mellow out the sharp edges.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Sanctification
Reviewed by Jez on 30.07.11 in bottle
Overall:
86 / 100
(Exceptional)
Ah, a Russian River sour. Always a great privilege to review a new one, although it does mean that there's one less still waiting for me out there. I think this indeed might be the last widely available example I've yet to try. How sad.

Pours a bright hazed yellow golden colour, with a frothy and relatively fine head of white, that leaves rigorous and webby lace down the inside of the glass. Looks the business.

Nose is fresh and redolent with tart citric fruit and a oak-fermented vanillin character that smooths this out. Under it all is a big earthy, funky depth that gives whiffs of organics and odour. It adds such an awesomely weird complexity to the nose. Love it.

Taste is tart and rich, with a clean feel and profile that allows the vinous acidity and smooth oak characters to meld into something that is funky and weird, but also remarkably crisp and drinkable. Green apple tinge, white grapes, earthy funk and pleasant dryness on the finish. Oh lovely.

Top-notch brew. It's remarkable how clean, drinkable and refreshing this is—usually the RR sours are about depth, complexity and mind-blowingness—this is perhaps the perfect summer drinking beer. Crisp, refreshing and biting. Lovely beer.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Blind Pig IPA
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 23.12.10 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a pale gold colour with a saffron tinge. Head is modest, with off-white hue, sinks to a thin film and leaves a few light trails of lace. Slow bead and light cloud in the body. Looks alright, nothing particularly special.

Smell is lovely and sweet with a great fresh hoppy edge. Very cakey malt with caramel and a lot of citrus tang and pineapple. Orange/lemon zest in mild intensity, but lots of it. Very appealing aroma indeed.

Taste is slightly disappointing after that. Fair cake batter malt on the front, with nice fresh hops backing up immediately on the mid, giving citrus and some rubber notes. Bitterness starts midway and is a bit dour, lacking in the freshness suggested by the nose. Definite rubbery edge with some soil notes and pine resin as well. Also feels a bit un-nuanced, so it just sort of falls flat, almost like a deflated hop flavour giving dull, blunted bitterness without a lot of complexity. For its flaws though, not bad.

It doesn't help that the texture is a bit thin overall. Picks up towards the end with a gently massaging fizz, but not enough for me to forget the thinness.

Pretty good drinking beer, but could have been better.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Supplication
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 01.10.10 in bottle
Overall:
83 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours a vibrant orange colour with delicious dense head, about 2cm thick, retaining well with craters bubbling on the top. Stunning ring of lace is left behind. Slight haze shows a slow but steady stream of bubbles. A few floaties chunks which are a bit unnerving, but otherwise damned nice.

Smell is very funk-é, with a lot of tart yeast aromas coming off that, hints of cranberry and citrus zest with a slight paw-paw note as well. Slight brassy fragrance as well. Seems a bit simple, but decent, yeah.

Taste starts out sour, stays sour. Kind of vinegary on the front, with more of that brassy metallic character, then gets really pleasantly sweet actually, early on the mid, with a sweet-and-sour-sauce flavour and maybe some lemon squash. Lemon juice is the dominant flavour on the back, lots of citric acid with a very slight rubbery character as well. Nice fresh zest on the very back kind of clips off the sourness so there's isn't much tartness left lingering. Yeah, very nicely done - potentially repellent but is made crisp and refreshing. Good sipper for flavour but also very good for just throwing back - again, like lemon squash.

Good body to it, and no harshness from the wild yeast. Pretty damned nice texture, actually.

Yeah, I like this a lot. It's sour and interesting, but really nicely quaffable. A very steady and skilled brewing hand is behind this. Great Summer or Spring quencher.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Supplication
Reviewed by Jez on 18.09.10 in bottle
Overall:
88 / 100
(Superb)

Pours a deep light golden-brown colour, with a fine bubbled and incredibly dense head of white foam. Lacing is superb. Not just patterns, but full sheets of bubbling sticking to the edge of the glass. Odd, slightly chunky static carbonation as it's swirled, as though the bubbles get caught in clumps. Really lovely looking brew.

Very full and very lovely nose of oak, acidity, crushed vegetation, sour fruit, wood shavings... I could go on. Very sharp, extremely oaky and wine-like and extremely intense. Lovely complexity.

Immediate acidity on the front palate, but it mellows just divinely to earthy wood characters, with a hint of cherry pip, green apple skin and a resinous hint of rubbed lemon rind. I love the way it just relaxes on the tongue, giving you the full force of the acidity straight up, before almost melting to something soft and supple. Mouthfeel is crisp and subtle, but it gives this three-dimensional dance throughout, starting rigid and sharp and finishing languid and soft.

What a lovely drop of beer, and a truly excellent wild ale. There are reasons this is rated as highly as it is. In terms of straight complexity, I think I actually prefer RR's Consecration, but this is probably a more true, more pure and more raw example of the genre.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Damnation
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.06.10 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a slightly cloudy pale yellow colour. Head is snowy and densely packed, not a lot of bubbling on the top, sinks a little, leaving a thin crown, and some nice trails of dense lacing. Looks quite nice, would like more head.

Nose is a little bit sour, very Belgian actually with nice orange peel notes and a nice dry spiciness on there. Notes of caramel sweetness on there, but mostly that nice piquancy, a hint of cinnamon and stewed apple with some citrus as well. Pleasant, if a bit 'mainstream' Belgian.

Taste is a little bit more sour. Hints of green vegetation, a kind of floral nectar note on the front, descends into more green apple and orange peel flavour with a richness behind it; tart but fairly malty overall. Has a green grape skin flavour at the back, and a bit of brassy, metallic hop. Yeah, tastes a bit raw and underripe; Belgian in character with a hint of spice on the back. Not bad but a bit impudent on the back with that sourness, and has a bit too much skew to the 'green'.

Feels a bit foamy, a little bit of sizzle and quite dry on the back. Decent for the style but doesn't amaze me. Overall it feels a bit harsh at times, drinks almost like a lemon slice has been dropped in, but not overall offensive. A decent beer.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Damnation
Reviewed by Jez on 29.05.10 in bottle
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)

Uncorks with a sucking thunk. Very impressive and noisy.

Pours a lovely slightly cloudy gold yellow with a foamy and thick head of white bubbling. Lacing is sticky and impressive. Overall a very nice looking brew.

Very round sweet Belgian characters on the nose, with a bit of pepper and a crushed savoury note reminiscent of Sao biscuits. The savoury character is lovely, adding a lightly grainy counterpoint to the sweet and robust Belgian notes.

Taste is a little light, some freshness around the ends and a little tobacco tannin coming through. Peppery characters leaven it a little. Very nice, and very true to style. Mouthfeel is crisp, lacks a little smoothness, but otherwise pretty good.

A very drinkable beer; ABV is hidden well. It's not the most complex or adventurous RR beer I've tried, but this is a great example of just how solid Russian River's brewing expertise is. This could easily be confused for a genuine Belgian.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Consecration
Reviewed by Jez on 12.02.10 in bottle
Overall:
95 / 100
(Best of the Best)

Brought back from California wrapped safely in my luggage, cracked open with my bro @LaitueGonflable to celebrate his 500th review on BeerAdvocate.

Pours a dark deep blood red colour, dark grape-juice with a filmy tan head that collapses very quickly. Lots of carbonation swirling up through the depths, which makes the beer look alive, with a nice bead. Looks very heavy in the glass as well, although the carbonation is large-bubbled. Looks very decent.

Big vinous notes on the nose - lots of tannic red wine, tobacco leaf, dark curranty fruits and a hint of musty oak. Slight funk coming off it as well - although the acidity isn't present here, there's a whiff of barnyard and ripe cheese on the nose. Altogether, it's a wonderfully refined nose, sweet subtlety bouncing off rambunctious wildness.

Extremely long and full palate, starting with vinous acidity backed with earthy oak and tannic tobacco leaf. Port like heat seems to well slightly as the palate continues, leaving a warm booze note. Just when you think that's the end, up comes the berry-like currant note flushing its sweet-sour finish like warmed Christmas pudding over the palate. It is ever threatening to burst to extremes, but everything holds everything else together and it just rampages down the middle ground, never veering too far one way or the other. Coupled with this is the complex mouthfeel, that lingers through crewy and ripe at the start, almost touching harsh heat as the alcohol note comes through, before finishing with a cleansing, slightly puckering note. I've possibly never had a beer with a longer and more expressive palate - the fact that long after the beer is gone, there is still a dance of different characters developing is absolutely sublime. The complexity is amazing - the way the palate develops after each sip is absolutely stunning.

This is an absolutely exceptional beer. There's no getting around it. This beer proves why American Wild Ale is a unique style, and why it is such a well-regarded one at that. It also cements in my mind Russian River as an exceptional brewery. The complexity is incredible - I can't believe how much there is going on. Let's just put it bluntly, this is a really, really, really good beer.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 5.0 | feel: 5.0 | drinkability: 5.0
Consecration
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 12.02.10 in bottle
Overall:
97 / 100
(Best of the Best)
Pours a murky, Hellish red colour, brown mostly but with an ominous red tinge. Modest beige head sinks to a rim at the top. Lace is fairly nice, sticky sheets but not very clingy. Bit of cloud in the body. Nice colour, otherwise fairly impressive.

Lots of character on the nose - mostly sweet, with lots of fruit, berries and currants on there. A very sweet, almost creamy character comes up behind, a bit of caramel sweetness, some light toffee and some light milk chocolate notes. Also on there is funk, a hint of leather, pongy brie, barnyard animal notes. Lots of oak as well, and even some vanilla. Funk is slight - just a nice whisper lingering at the back of the nose, which is not just very nice - it's divine in fact. Superbly complex but balanced, just gives a lot without demanding. Incredible.

Taste is sour all over that. Starts off quite acidic, with a sharp citric twang to it, and the flavour of that continues to the mid without ever going overboard and being puckering, or painful. It's almost like the mid is 'cut off' by the flavour of the currants, which comes through fairly late but just in time it seems to clip off the puckering sourness. Really impressive effect with tart, underripe berries on the front, really seems painful, then a sweet-but-tart currant character and plenty of rich, fruity flavours on the back - prunes and currants and a big brandy alcohol warmth. Hints of oregano and other mixed herbs as well complete a really excellent, interesting palate profile. It gives you all the power of the funk but without the intensity or harshness. A challenging brew, but very, very enjoyable.

Slick and dry on the feel, really. Lots of body but never thick or syrupy, goes down well and although the puckering flavour is so expertly cut off, the sensation is still there, and the mouth feels a little sucked dry at the end. Good for the style though.

An excellent, extremely thirst-quenching, interesting, pleasant, beer. I could go on. An excellent choice to be my #500 review.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 5.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 5.0
Blind Pig IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 07.06.09 in bottle
Overall:
83 / 100
(Exceptional)

Pours a very clear, very light amber gold, with a huge and frothy head of yellow-white bubbles. Lacing is good, and the head retention is quite incredible. I'll have to chew through some suds to get to the beer, no doubt.

Deliciously hoppy nose - massive sweet fruit backed with gritty, resinous hops. Hints of bitter cherry, apricot and plantain, with pine resin and sawdust over the top. Extremely fragrant, and powerful.

Palate is less robust, with a subtle, but pleasant hop character riding over the top of a smooth, buttery sweetness. Some pepper mid palate, with a light, sweet afterpalate. No grittiness on the back. Mouthfeel is deliciously smooth, adding to the soft, comforting nature of this IPA.

Not an extreme IPA - certainly not packed with bitterness on the palate. My guess is the hop quota in this brew is used up late, imparting massive fruit aromas, but little bitterness. This leaves it extremely drinkable - very smooth and refreshing. An excellent and tasty little IPA.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Temptation
Reviewed by Jez on 13.02.09 in bottle
Overall:
84 / 100
(Exceptional)

It was quite a trek around the Bay Area for me to find one of these. Well, it was a profitable way to spend a Saturday.

Uncorks with a massive "thok". No gush, fortunately. Slightly cloudy with a little disturbed sediment, a nice yellow gold colour, with a wonderful thick head. Excellent lacing. Looks great.

Nose is redolent of white wine, massive oakiness and light sour overtones of must and fermentation. So much oak though - I love it. Deep and earthy, but with lighter fruitier notes shining through. Cherries, citrus and kaffir lime. Great. Just great.

Taste is huge, with a massive tongue-slicing of organic acidity. Green apples, young sauvignon blanc grapes, even tending towards the sourness of lemons and limes. Mouthfeel is quite smooth and full, lending some gravitas to the enormous spike of puckering acidity.

What an amazingly flavoursome beer. It sure packs a punch; easily as good as some of the Belgian Geuezes I've had the pleasure to try.

Amazingly drinkable and refreshing with a quite incredibly powerful taste profile. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Temptation
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 13.01.09 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Pale golden colour, cloudy appearance with steady bead feeding a decent snowy head that isn't hanging around for encores but is leaving a deliciously fragile lacing cradle. Great, for the lacing. Otherwise nothing exciting.

Really very delicious nose. Champagne characters with a slight sour fruit element but a lot of pleasant grapey aromas. Slight hint of a tang, not quite sherbety but sherbety is the closest I can come, linguistically.

Wow. And...wow. Okay, that taste really surprised the arse off of me. (If I'd known what this was, perhaps not quite as much, but still) Very, very mouth-puckering sour palate, but yes I was dead right about the tang because there it is loud and clear. It's very citrusy really, like lemon squash that's leant too heavily on the lemon. At the same time, a very rich, robust mid-palate, rather (I'd say) champagney again. Like the tang on the nose, it's kind of like poorly-hidden alcohol, only without the alcohol intensity. Just a rich billowy palate, like a cloud of octopus ink. Full marks, beer, for the surprise factor. And a fascinating palate to boot.

Not an everyday chugalug beer but an interesting, bold palate that grabs you by the balls and spits in your face "I am an interesting, bold palate." Mouthfeel is very puckering. I feel it killing my tastebuds with its acidity.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Pliny The Elder
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 26.12.08 in bottle
Overall:
86 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours an orangey amber colour with a thin, pockled off-white head. Not much carbonation, bit of a lacing cradle but slides quite steadily down the glass. A bit dull and lifeless-looking, really. Disappointing.

Holy shit that nose peels a layer of skin off your nose. I mean really, that smells like hop pellets smell. Very strong and herbacious with little else to it. I like it, not all that complex but impressive.

Wow, again intense hoppiness on the palate that's like rubbing basil leaves against the inside of your mouth. Intense hop hit - cascade maybe - on the front palate that is like a miniature Everest of hops rising on the flavour. Mid palate is a bit more mild with nice malty characters and it lingers for the back palate to create a delicious bittersweet finish. Palate is very well constructed to hit you hard with hops, then pull back to leave you with a very, very pleasant, satisfying aftertaste. Mouthfeel is smooth and basically, the more I drink, the more I want to drink. That finish is just immaculate, and the alcohol is hidden beautifully.

Delicious. Intense on first drinking but just really nice and pleasant.
appearance: 2.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 5.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Pliny The Elder
Reviewed by Jez on 11.10.08 in bottle
Overall:
89 / 100
(Superb)

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5.0 | drinkability: 4.5