Thursday, August 4, 2011


When first confronted with RUSSIAN RIVERBREWING’s sour cherry ale “CONSECRATION”, I took the stand-offish view that no beer was worth paying $24 for. I’ve not only subsequently and regrettably loosened that restriction, Russian River went me one better, and stopped bottling their high-alcohol wares in giant & expensive 22-ounce bottles. I missed the memo on the transition, but now each of their beers is available in a normal, albeit corked-and-caged, 12-ounce bottle. Price points have been halved. I then tried this much-adored beer on draft for the first time about 18 months ago, and thought it to be a little too much & a departure from RR’s high quality control standards, and made it pretty clear that I didn’t like it. What a doofus, right? I’m here to tell you that I was wrong.

I bought one of the new little bottles of these, ostensibly for a friend whom I was going to deliver it to while on a work road trip. He and I never met up for the handoff, so I reckoned I’d drink it myself instead. CONSECRATION out of the bottle is fantastic. It glows in the glass like a murky cherry/pomegranate stick of beer dynamite, and just look at it – you know it’s going to be a wild one. It is indeed sour, and has the toasty taste of the oak barrel from which it was begotten. Cherries – sour cherries – are dominant, as is the musty and phenolic taste of wine, maybe a cabernet perhaps. With every sip-n-gulp I marveled at my first reaction to this one. I blame unclean tap lines – out of the bottle, this beer is very nearly world-class. 8.5/10

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