Write up of Russian River Brewing tasting from Friday Sept. 10, 2010

Today I’ll be posting my comments from Friday night’s Russian River Brewing tasting from The Blue Dog Pub (September 10, 2010).

With 4 great beers available, I didn’t think it very wise to have a full glass of each.  So the first review is a “One Sip” Review.  Not to be taken too seriously, of course…

Blind Pig IPA- In One Sip, I will describe the major qualities of this very good IPA.  Keep in mind, this is just so I make sure I taste everything, but still have the ability to get home legally.  Always an important consideration.

So, Blind Pig is a single IPA with lots of piney hop flavors.  There is a small malt flavor, as well, but the main focus here is the hops.  There are a ton of them!  The flavors are very fresh, and that freshness is one of the best qualities of this beer.  It leads to a bright, crisp flavor that is a huge asset.  It has a light golden color.  Mouth feel is medium to light bodied.  Really nice IPA. 

Quick Score for Blind Pig – A-

Second on the list of excellent beers tonight is a full glass of Pliny the Elder.  Rated by many beer websites and aficionados as one of the best beers in the World.  High praise, indeed.

Elder is a Double IPA and it made sense to drink one of these after the single IPA.  My glass arrived and I could smell the aroma emanating from the tulip glass filled to the brim with this luscious elixir.

The aroma is actually a bit more subtle than Blind Pig- a bit of a surprise.  The first sip revealed a really complex flavor that had a very good balance.  It was much harder to pick out every separate flavor, as the hops and malt were so well balanced.  Basically, it has tons of piney hops with a strong malty backbone.  The freshness here is amazing, too.  There are underlying flavors of grapefruit, both the sweet and bitter aspects.

This is a beer that is very high on the IBU scale (the IBU scale is a measurement of the level of bitterness in a beer – International Bitterness Unit).  Definitely for the Hop Heads of the world.

The mouth feel is particularly amazing.  It’s full bodied, and thicker than other IPAs that I’ve had.  There is a nice level of carbonation that combines with the thickness to give it a very silky feel.

Overall, Russian River Pliny the Elder is a delicious Double IPA.  I mean… Really Good! 

Is it a fantastic Double IPA?  Yes!  Is it my favorite Double IPA?  Nope, see previous review for Flying Fish Exit 16.  As far as being the best beer in the World, I would put it in my top 10.

It still gets an A+.  Good Stuff!

Next on the list is Supplication.  It happens to be the main reason I came out tonight.  I’ve enjoyed this beer in the past and wanted to write some things about it.

Supplication came served deliciously cold in a tulip glass.  This is one beer that I much prefer cold.  The color is reddish purple and is very reminiscent of a glass of wine.  Convenient, since it’s aged in wine barrels.  There is zero carbonation and just a thin coating of bubbles at the top of the glass.  It doesn’t have any head to speak of.

The aroma has lots of cherries, sourness and wine notes.  It definitely has a unique aroma for anyone who has never tried a sour type of beer.  They are in a class of their own.  The sourness usually comes from an addition of bacteria to the brewing process in addition to the yeast that is used.  Very interesting stuff.

The flavor is incredibly complex!  The first thing that you taste is a kick in the face with sourness.  Not bad, but very different from what people normally consider beer.  It’s like the taste of “Sweet Tarts” candy with Pinot Noir wine and berries.  It’s actually amazing that you can still call this beer.  There are lots of berry flavors including cherries, grapes and blackberries.  Think of taking a handful of sour cherries and eating it all at once.  You’re probably going to get tons of sour followed by sweet cherry juice.  There are also wine flavors involved.  I can taste the grapes from the wine barrels this was aged in.  I can also taste a little bit of the wood from the barrels.  It’s nice, and the wood flavor is there on purpose.

The mouth feel is on the thinner side with lots of carbonation.  There are lots of tannins.  It bites the back of the throat with astringency, making this beer very refreshing.  Similar to lemonade… sour, but refreshing.

One negative about Supplication is that I like it much better when it’s cold.  It gets some strange flavors as it got too warm that I didn’t like.  It just reminds me to savor it, but not too much.

Supplication is an amazing beer.  It’s very different and I would say it’s definitely a “Must Try”.  The first time I tasted it earlier this year, I compared it to the “Best Wine Cooler You Could Imagine” (If there is such a thing).  I believe the wine cooler analogy is still accurate for a beginner to understand what it tastes like.  It’s difficult to come by, but whenever it’s in the area, I’ll probably be around for a glass.

Russian River Supplication gets an A+!

Finally, on the list of things available tonight is Russian River Consecration!

Having had this on numerous occasions this year, this seems to be the first opportunity I’ve had to sit down and write what I think about it.  I would start by saying that Consecration is to Supplication, as Elder is to Blind Pig.  Similar, but more complex.  Kind of like Supplication’s older brother!  Since they are similar, I’ll probably compare it to Supplication quite a bit.

Again, this arrived in a tulip glass and was ice cold.  It’s reddish-brown in color and it doesn’t have any head either.  There must be something about sour beers having no head.  More research is needed, but that’s a post for another day.

The first thing I noticed is that the aroma is much more subtle than Supplication.  There is both sweet and sour, but much more elusive to the nose.  Maybe it was served a bit too cold, because cold suppresses aromas.  I could also smell a bit of red wine.

The flavor is darker and even more complex than Supplication.  It’s sour, but not as much as Supplication.  It’s smoother tasting with strong carbonation.  The tartness is present, but it’s very balanced and more full-bodied.  There are more malt flavors present, too.  Some of the same flavors are present including: berries, red wine, wine barrels, but this time there is that sweet malt backbone supporting the sourness.  The sweetness makes the sourness a little less “in your face”.  The benefits of the flavor balance are pretty impressive.  This seems more “mature”, more a “sum of the parts” instead of all the parts individually.

Russian River Consecration is also an amazing beer.  I’m going to go with a Solid “A”.

Overall, this was a great evening.  These really were some of the best beers I have yet to taste and I can’t wait to have each of them again.  Incidentally, Earlier this year, I had acquired a bottle of Consecration and Supplication for the beer cellar.  They both have lots of potential to improve with age- just like the wine whose barrels these were aged in.

I encourage everyone to seek out these beers.  The quality of each of these is amazing.  The freshness of each was one of the best points of each of them, a big benefit.  And tasting a Sour beer would be Worth the Price of Admission, if there is a price…  They weren’t charging admission last night.  It’s just a figure of speech.

Thanks for sticking with this very lengthy post!  See you soon.

Published in: on September 11, 2010 at 9:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Beer Review #1- Russian River Brewing: Registration Ale

Russian River Brewing Company.  Santa Rosa, CA.  www.russianriverbrewing.com

Registration Ale.
American India Pale Ale. 7.5% ABV. 

On tap at Via Marconi’s Pizza Pub in Lansdale, PA. Served very cold in a thick, heavy chalice. $5.75.

There is a bit of back story that goes with this beer. A few months ago in March 2010, Russian River was shipping one of their world renowned beers named “Pliny the Younger”. Allegedly, since the beer only arrives in Pennsylvania once a year in such small quantities, Russian River rarely goes to the trouble to register the beer with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). Well, this year, the PLCB decided to actually raid bars in Philadelphia and confiscate kegs and bottles from various breweries that weren’t registered at each drinking establishment. So, Russian River decided to create this brew to poke fun at the PLCB: hence, the name- Registration.  At least, that’s how the story goes…

Anyway, my glass of Registration arrived and I was able to begin the process. For those of you who may not be familiar with reviewing a beer, I’ll pass on a few basics that I’ve learned over the past few months.

The first thing most reviewers do is to observe the beer and describe how it looks. Registration has a crystal clear golden color almost headed toward orange. There is minimal visible carbonation and very little head.

The next step is to smell the beer and try to grasp some of the aromas that it resembles. When I inhaled, the only aroma I sensed was that of hops, hops and more hops. Very fruity varieties with a minimal bitterness in the aroma.

After sniffing the beer, which must have looked silly in the bar, I took a sip and was a bit surprised by the amount of pine flavors. The primary flavors were the fruity hops that were suggested in the aroma, but there was a strong presence of pine with a bit of fresh cut grass in the flavors. Despite the apparent lack of bitterness in the aroma, the finish was bitter as any good IPA would provide. This is a very good IPA.

Following the first taste, I usually take a few more sips to describe the mouth feel of the brew. Here is an IPA that has a bit more body than I would normally expect. Thicker than water, but not quite as thick as their Double IPA “Pliny the Elder”. Carbonation was less than expected, but still present.

Finally, a reviewer would normally make a few notes on how “drinkable” the beer is. I would have to say that Registration is high on the list of drinkable beers. It would be particularly refreshing on a 90 degree day like today. Enjoyable and easy to drink, I could definitely have a few if I had a designated driver. The alcohol comes in at 7.5% ABV, and while delicious, I’m a bit of a lightweight when it comes to the bigger beers.

Overall, I think Registration is another excellent beer to come from Russian River Brewing. I was very happy to have an opportunity to taste it because there were very few shipments of it to Pennsylvania. I might find an excuse to have another sometime this week before the keg kicks. Good job, guys!

Final Rating- A-

Published in: on June 26, 2010 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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