Friday, July 21, 2006

RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING – TOP OR SECOND TIER?

Yep, now that’s the sort of debate that the chicks dig. I ask the important question because the RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING CO. of Santa Rosa, CA have a reputation as one of the nation’s top craft brewers, committed to such a high level of quality and inventiveness that their beer routinely wins award over award, and each new formulation is eagerly anticipated by beer dorks across the US. As I got deeper into aggressively checking out obscure beers & brewers earlier this year, all the hype was around these guys, DOGFISH HEAD & STONE BREWING, and I’m slowly trying every beer I come across from all three outfits (still have yet to find any of the fabled Dogfish Head on the west coast!). Right now I’d have to give the nod to Stone, but my taste tests are by no means over nor even truly begun.

A couple weeks ago I came across Russian River’s REDEMPTION Belgian-Style Ale. Here’s what the brewery has to say about this one:

This is the sister beer to our award-winning ale, Damnation. Fashioned after a Belgian-style “single”, this ale is rarely brewed in America, let alone Belgium. Typically, “singles” are brewed only at the Trappist Monasteries for the monks to enjoy with meals. They often drink only half of a bottle with lunch and the rest with supper, despite the beer’s low alcohol content. Redemption is modest in strength, robed in warm golden hues, and soft on the palate with a smooth dry finish.

I agree for the most part, and will add that the beer had a definite citrus tang and that cloying but ultimately satisfying “yeast” taste. It has some pretty intense carbonation going on, sort of like a soda and maybe that’s not so great. For the first Belgian “single” I think I’ve ever had (could be wrong on that), it was pretty all right. I gave it a 7/10 there on the barstool. That’s a pretty damn good beer & I’d like to try it again – actually I need to have the Damnation, still waiting to try that – but I can think of other breweries (Moylan’s, Stone) with consistently better beers across the lineup. Please discuss!

4 comments:

ReDave said...

Russian River
Stone
DFH
Moylan's
Bear Republic

All upper tier.
Trader Joes has "occasionally" had 60 min IPA delicious!!
I was lucky to visit Florida and Kingdom liquors, and they almost every DFH known to me
all but their various "... minute" IPA's [all three excellent] are some what over-rated IMHO
Of course you look at that list and you see they are all hoppy heave great IPA makers,
I've been told Vinnie "invented" the dIPA

tedo said...

Well why you are waiting on getting your hands on Dogfish, we in Texas have yet to see the Russian River Brews head this way so its nice to be able to read your reviews.

Bryan said...

Ugh, I wish I would have seen this before my trip to SF this week. I would've been happy to bring along some DFH from the east coast.

I should be back in a few weeks or so and will try to get in contact with you before then. Would love to meet up for a brew or two (maybe Magnolia? my fav in SF).

Btw, trapped in SFO as I type this because of "weather" back east. Guess things could be worse, I had lunch at Gordon Biersch and now am thinking about dinner at Anchor!

cheers,
Bryan
http://www.brewlounge.com

Jay said...

Just let me know how we can get in touch. I would love to get my hands on some Dogfish Head beer....jayhinman@hotmail.com.