Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Russian River Salvation

It's kind of funny that the last two bottles I have of the Russian River Belgian series are Salvation and Damnation. I decided to go with Salvation first. I thought this would be RR's take on a Belgian quad or "strong dark ale," but this beer isn't soured or barrel-aged like the other two I've had. How would it stack up?

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (585) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 6, 2011
I received a 375ml caged and corked bottle from a friend in California. I poured it into a Trappist chalice.

Appearance: Extremely dark opaque maroon/purple hue. Forms a large, khaki, thick soapy head which retains quite well.

Smell: Strong Belgian notes of yeast, fruit, and some alcohol.

Taste: Belgian strong dark ales tend to be great beers, or at the very least very good beers. But Russian River Salvation is probably would I would consider the least best of the style I’ve ever had and yet it’s still a pretty decent beer. It’s just surprising how simple and bitter the palate is for the style.

Beers of this style tend to be very fruity, malty and sweet, but Salvation is something else entirely. It’s dry and bitter from beginning to end, which a significantly sharp bitterness with an astringency on the finish. While most beers of the style tend to taste like a fruit basket, this is a much more earthy, rustic palate of tobacco, leather and dry spice not unlike black pepper or even peppercorn. There’s a very general dark fruit taste, but I wouldn’t call the palate fruity per se, nor can I pick out an individual flavors. Usually, beers of this sort have palates of the opposite variety with fruit first and earthiness second. That’s not to say this is a bad beer, just a little surprising considering the style.

Mouthfeel: Extremely lively with fizzy creaminess due to the Belgian yeast. Dry, bitter, smoky aftertaste that takes some getting used to.

Drinkability: One reason I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Belgian beers is because of their low drinkability and Russian River Salvation plays that role perfectly. With an extremely effervescent body I find myself burping mid-swig! The 9% ABV body seems about right, though, as there is a lot of energy here. Fortunately it’s been brewed well enough to make use of that alcohol so there’s only a mild warmth and alcohol presence throughout.
Grade: 7/10

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