An Open Love Letter to Russian River Brewing Co.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways… Okay so perhaps this is a touch melodramatic but I have developed a rather one-sided infatuation with Russian River Brewing Co.  Reflecting back to an earlier review of Supplication, which I then proclaimed in earnest to be the best beer ever, I now must revisit this rather bold proclamation in light of the fact I have had the exquisite pleasure of sampling even more of Russian River’s line-up.  At a local Whole Foods I found a bottle of Temptation (rather fitting for the tone of this review me thinks) blonde ale aged in French oak chardonnay barrels. Noticing my exuberant death grip on a bottle the nice beer guy let me in on a well-kept store secret, bottles of Pliny the Elder were tucked away in the back for VIP’s and beer connoisseurs.  I had no idea what this beer was but I said I would take it; turns out Pliny the Elder is a double IPA.  Finally, I picked myself up a bottle of Consecration, ale aged in oak barrels with currants added, to accompany me home to Canada.

Now down to the good stuff.  I will start with Pliny since he stood out a little from the rest.  This is the most unique beer I have had in a long time; it looked like an IPA and smelled like an IPA but wow it tasted like a pine tree or possibly a pine tree air freshener for your car – albeit I have never actually distilled and drank one.  Anyway, I was not sure I loved this ale but it really grew on me.  The hop flavour is so distinctive that it makes the drinking experience memorable.  It is somewhat strong but overall quite crisp and clean to drink.  Pliny pours a nice golden colour with a fair amount of carbonation.  There was also something appealing about being allowed to try this highly coveted ale –the cashier gave me the third degree on how I was actually able to secure a bottle.  I tried the Temptation next and it was fantastic, wonderful, orgasmic… my vocab fails me here for I cannot find the words to say how much I loved this Belgian.  This ale is crisp and dry like a chardonnay, it has a hint of sourness that does not overwhelm the beer, it is very bubbly and the ale literally tingles as you drink.  I bought a second bottle to ensure I was not delirious and guess what the repeat experience did not disappoint (contented sigh).  Finally, I tried my much anticipated bottle of Consecration the other evening.  This ale is quite sour with a pronounced currant and red wine elements.  It pours a rich dark red colour and has a fruity nose.  Sour beers are a somewhat acquired taste, personally I really enjoy them, they can be tricky to pair with food and you have to judge them for the type of beer they are…they probably won’t be serving this at your local hockey game.  To be fair I am not a big fan of currant or cassis so this was not my favourite sour ale, I prefer the cherry tinged Supplication, but it was still great.  Based on my samplings I would never hesitate to pick up anything from this brewery’s line-up.  I have no other but a woman’s reason…

FYI – Pliny the Elder was a Roman author, naturalist and philosopher.

Out of a possible five I would give Pliny the Elder a 4.5, Temptation a permanent place in my home I mean a 5, and Consecration a 4.

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2 responses to “An Open Love Letter to Russian River Brewing Co.

  • Lee

    No mention of the price? At $13/bottle is it worth it?

    • Sara

      I guess this becomes a question of the conviction to embrace the small and the unique, to support quality over mass marketing, to savour something special once in awhile acknowledging that you are not just buying a beverage but showing a kind of solidarity with those who truly endeavour to keep the craft in the craft beer. This may sound a little flighty but I really believe in the ideals of a brewery that creates for the sake of creating not for the sake of consumption.

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