Friday, December 30, 2011

Visit to Russian River Brewing - The "fight or flight" Flight

Jen and I went down to visit her family in the Bay Area over the Christmas holiday and scheduled a trip to Santa Rosa to visit Russian River Brewing's brew pub. You've heard me rave about their sours and their famous IPA's that both Mark and I love. Check out what happens when you ask for a flight at their brewpub.The walkthrough after the break.

The place was packed and overcome by their own popularity. It's not a sleepy place where you can walk in and talk to the brewer. They make some of the best beer in the world and people know it. Plan ahead and make sure you carve out some time to wait for a table. after a bit of a wait some of the best beer in the world awaits.

If you are just visiting GET THE SAMPLER. It's the deal and really you want to try anything anyway. It was $15 for tasters of everything they had on tap! When you look at the monstrosity of that challenge on your own your "fight or flight" reflex kicks in. That is a lot of 3 ounce pours of very strong beer. Do not plan on driving home if you try this alone. Lucky for me we had a DD and my wife was eager to help me overcome this formidable beer challenge.

We had to wait for the backlog of flights to get filled before we got ours and the staff took a while to make the rounds. So we ordered lunch and a pint of FRESH PLINY THE ELDER on tap. Ordering a pint before embarking on such a crazy flight may seem like a bad idea on the surface, (and it pretty much was) but this was the only time you can get one of the best IPAs in the world on tap fresh from the brewer. And if you get the chance to get a pint of fresh IPA from the brewer at their pub, you take it. It's that much better.

Pliny did not disappoint. More on that later.

Lucky for us we had most of our lunch before the flight arrived giving some resistance to the alcohol we were about to consume. To preface the flight, Russian River is famous for their amazing IPAs and Belgian style beers. Their sours are the stuff of legend. Their flight focused on these attributes offering many variations on those styles with something for everyone. The malty porter and stout were represented but only as a token.

On to the flight...

Lighter clean and  clear. A light white ale flavor. Refreshing on a hot day. Lots of coriander dominate the flavor. A nice Belgian style session beer.

Gaffers ale
This is their English Style Bitter. It is Redemption plus hops. A little hop bite and clean finish. I like this better than the Redemption.

Beer De Sonoma style. I haven't heard of the style. Amber color, lighter on malt with the Belgian yeast fruitiness and some piny hop notes. Not quite a pale ale or amber not really a fan. This goes back to what I was saying about their range. This is something for the folks who are looking for Amber.

Light like redemption but less white ale coriander taste. An interesting progression but I prefer the Redemption given the choice. The flight is interesting in that they have so many shades that you can almost dial in the exact Belgian style you want by the time you're done. One of these will be your favorite.

The Hoppy Belgian golden we all know and love.

Damnation 23
Damnation aged on oak chips. Sweetens and mellows the damnation. A great side by side. A bit more balance. The oak chips flavor help smooth the hop bite you get at the end of Damnation. I like this beer.

Malty with some alcohol notes at the end. Very much a Belgian brown. Not really a favorite but good to try side by side with Supplication. I believe this is the base beer used for it.

Now we're talking! This aptly named beer beguiles you with the aroma and slightly sour taste. It is a gateway sour beer. It says, it's okay, don't worry nothing can happen to you, everyone is drinking them...

YUM! I've had this before and was a little overwhelmed by the lactic sourness and heavy chlorine nose. Not this time. It was a perfect balance of sour cherries, Brett, and Pinot Noir barrel to give it a smooth, complex and wonderful sour beer. A growler of this would be awesome, if they would only do it.

Before I taste this I need to tell you this is my quintessential sour beer. Just enough of everything. It was what sold me on sours. And it doesn't disappoint. This Cabernet barrel aged dark beer blend always delivers. The nose is huge, the taste is huge but manages to balance on a knife edge between that sour overload and something that is just showing off. This beer, like the wine that was in the barrels before it, is the alpha of sour beer.

Their Belgian quad. Yum. Lots of spice and malt flavor. this is an excellent representation of a Belgian quad.

Strong, Dark, and bitter, the way valentines day really plays out. If you like brown ale and want more from them get this. More hops!

Aud Blonde
As the title says, for blondes just getting over Budweiser. A lovely beer but not really that bright.

Ovl Stout
Lightly carbonated. Very Guinness in its dry Irish stout style. Coffee flavors abound abound but not overly bitter. An excellent sessionable stout.

Happy Hops
So...juicy. It's fruity citrusy and wonderful. A great hoppy pale ale. Showing off all that is great in pale aledom. This may be an alpha king or zombie dust competitor. It's dying to be your pint glass go-to beer.

Russian River Porter
Thin and Coffee with a slight crystal malt bitter. A decent porter but you can tell its not what they spend their time on.

Russian River IPA
I thought Pliny or Blind Pig was their IPA? :)
Herbal and resinous without so much bite. I know where Pliny gets his roots from. If he's not around this is a great alternative.

Blind Pig IPA
Definitely more piny and bitter but no Pliny. This goes back to the earlier analogy where there is a shade for everyone. If Pliny is too much and RR IPA is too fruity then Blind Pig is just right!

Pliny The Elder
There can be only one. And this is it. Until his son decides to make an appearance and usurp the crown this is the king. It is all that is great about West Coast Double IPAs and the yardstick that anyone who makes a double IPA should be measured against. It is excellent every time. There are herbal notes fruity citrus notes, pine notes and earthiness all in abundance. It is as close to everything for everyone that you can get with a double IPA. Long live the king.

Amazingly enough we managed to get through the flight and the pint of Pliny. It was a heck of an afternoon and one that I highly recommend for any beer enthusiast.

Happy New Year All!

No comments: