Saturday, February 23, 2013

A TRIP TO RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING

Five happier words than the title of this blog post cannot be found in the English language. You know, for having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area as long as RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING CO. has been on this planet, I've actually not been there all that often – and not at all the past three years. Yeah, it had been a while. After a visit to my 96-year-old grandmother this past Sunday, I had an opportunity to get over there and do some damage. My past trips to what might be the United States' finest brewer have blown me away on several levels; first, the knockout quality of every beer I tried (though that wasn't really a surprise); secondly, how few people are actually at the pub (sidle up to the bar and order a pizza and a glass of Temptation in 30 seconds); and finally, how CHEAP the beer is to buy on premises. Seriously, considering the handcrafted, best-ales-in-the-nation quality of RR's Belgian-style and non-Belgian beers, to grab a full glass or pint for $3 or $4 is nothing short of amazing.

It's obvious the legend has spread in the intervening three years. At 1pm on a sunny Sunday, with no Pliny The Younger on tap, the place was absolutely packed. Even though I was solo on this jaunt, it was a 45-minute wait for a table, and far longer for larger parties. I reckoned this was a day for a couple of beers at the bar only – but jeez, Sunday has happy hour ALL DAY, and every beer is only $3.25. Pourings of Consecration, Supplication, Temptation, Pliny The Elder and so on are exceptionally generous. I may not have had any of their food, but I did have some of their beer. And that, as they say, is what matters.


RUSSIAN RIVER - "REJECTION": This draft-only "Belgian-inspired black ale" is one of the first beers I ever wrote about on my old Hedonist Beer Jive blog since 2006…..and I hadn't had it since then. It's really what they say it is, a yeasty, hoppy black ale with 6.3% alcohol and an abundance of freshness making it smooth and pillowy. Licorice and hops are doing battle in this one, and the hops are winning. Excellent. 8/10.

 
RUSSIAN RIVER - "SAISON BLONDE": Also a pub-only only beer (and pictured above), it's a creamy farmhouse ale and not dry in the least. Super cloudy and super yeasty, it could be said to be a "yeast bomb" the way some IPAs are characterized as "hop bombs". Only 4.5% alcohol, and one of the best RR beers I've had in a while – absolutely a go-to next time I make it to the pub. 9/10.

RUSSIAN RIVER - "PERDITION": This one's cheating a bit, as I didn't drink it on my trip to the pub – but I did fill up a 64-ounce growler with it. Yeah hup! Finished it off last night; it held up well over two nights of quaffing. They call it a "Biere de Sonoma", which is their way of saying it's in the French farmhouse biere de garde style. Quite carbonated and, again, yeasty – it's full of flavor and mild funk, with a dankness combined with citrus (grapefruit) and grain. I guess I kinda forgot this can be had in bottles from time to time, but I haven't seen one of those in a great while. You? 7.5/10.

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