Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Russian River Redemption


You've seen me review three Trappist blonde ales or "Belgian singles" as they're sometimes called, but now you'll get to see me review an American take on the style. Russian River is famous for their hoppy beers, but can they pull off niche Belgian styles like this? Let's see. BTW thanks to Ryan aka http://youtube.com/StumpyJoeJr for sending me this beer.

3.5
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (624) - Albany, USA - APR 5, 2011
If you’re familiar with Belgian beer you’ve probably heard of the styles dubbel, tripel and quad, but have you ever heard of a Belgian single? Yes, such a style exists but is rarely brewed outside the walls of a Trappist monastery intended for the monks’ personal consumption (better known as a "paters bier"). I’ve reviewed three of these rare beers, so I was very eager to try Russian River Redemption - an American attempt at this niche Belgian style. I must say they got the style down pat! Not that it’s the world’s best beer or anything, just a good one.

I poured a 12oz corked bottle into a Trappist chalice.

Appearance: Bright yellow, mostly clear until the yeast slips in then become hazy. Massive carbonation present. Not much head, though - just a thin coating of white soapy suds. No lacing.

Smell: Mild aromatics of green fruits (especially white grape) and peppery yeast esters.

Taste: Upon my first sip of Redemption I was amazed by how well an American brewery has emulated an authentic Belgian Trappist style. Immediately I feel an intense tingling of spices and carbonation dancing on my tongue. The palate is light, but spicy on both halves - grassy hop spiciness across the front, and dry black pepper on the rear. There’s a noticeable tobacco-like flavor as well not commonly found in beers of this range. It could be clove or clove-like flavors from the yeast (commonly found in German hefeweizens), but I’m not sure if that or any other spice is used in the brewing of this beer.

Drinkability: I always find Belgian "singles" of this sort to be a liquid paradox. They’re light-bodied to be sure, but their palates contain the energy levels of much strong beers. Redemption is quite spicy in the mouth and combined with its extremely effervescent body - it’s not a beer that can be slugged down easily. Even though it finishes clean, I wouldn’t call it refreshing since it’s so lively in the mouth. The 5.15% ABV seems right, as this beer definitely has more weight to it than the lighter Trappist blondes that inspired it.

Overall, an impressive beer for reasons (especially considering it’s only a 12oz bottle and it’s caged and corked). Not absolutely delicious, but tasty and satisfying.

Grade: 7/10