I was at the Active 20-30 International Convention in Santa Rosa, CA last week. Northern California is a lot of fun - lots of breweries and wineries, plus I've got a bunch of family and friends out there. I had heard about Russian River Brewing, and was glad to actually get a chance to visit it. I got to go there twice, so instead of a buttload of posts, we'll just consolidate into one fat post.
The brewery itself is a chill place - could tell that there were some definite regulars who frequent there. The first night we swung in, I got a pint of their Consecration - a 10% ABV American Wild Ale (i.e. sour style). Thursday, we came for my buddy's birthday and had some tasty beer bites as appetizers and started off with a pitcher of the Little White Lie, their Belgian White Ale. Followed that up with a pint of Pliny the Elder, then got a mega-sampler of beers that we ended up sharing with the table.
Pliny the Elder was probably one of the best beers I've ever had. I had heard a lot about both this one and Pliny the Younger, so definitely had to try it.
Appearance - A creamy head with medium carbonation and a golden amber color. Pretty standard looking for the IPA style. 4.0/5.0
Smell - Lots of piney hops - definitely the most definite feature of the aroma. 4.5/5.0
Taste - Hoppy, but not bitter. Some citrus and a lightly bitter aftertaste. The mix of the malt and hops are perfect. As mentioned in previous Imperial IPA posts, I get the impression that Imperial IPAs are either over the top or delightfully subdued. This fits into the latter. The hops are flavorful and the bitterness is perfect - 5.0/5.0
Feel - Extremely smooth, not as bitter as I would expect. Aftertaste is refreshing and has a good amount of flavor. 5.0/5.0
Drinkability - I think I would have this thing on tap at my house at all times. 5.0/5.0
My notes for the other two beers aren't terribly complete - talking with friends and family precluded good note taking! But here's the brief on them:
Little White Ale - a Belgian style White Ale. Refreshing with a nice kick of spice that you would expect in any Belgian style beer. I would say that the amount of spice and coriander in this beer is more than most other Belgian beers I've had. Definitely drinkable - if you like a lighter beer, try this one.
Consecration - an American Wild ale. If you are wanting to try something...unique, I would suggest grabbing a pint of this one. Sour...but not so bad as the Lips of Faith that I had from New Belgium. I think one pint was enough of this, but was worth a try for sure. At 10% ABV, will definitely kick you in the butt. The local guy who suggested this called it their "weird beer" - can definitely see why.