1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Damnation - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,977 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,977
Reviews: 1,062
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 336
Gots: 600 | FT: 47
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Pale Ale |  7.75% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: beerguy101 on 09-19-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,977 | Reviews: 1,062 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Bouleboubier


4.18/5  rDev +1.5%

Served in a 5-lb crystal goblet. I don't know if it was the glass or the pour, but there wasn't much of a head - a feathery swirl of bubbles hung around for a minute, then just about vanished. The earthy bright gold color was very attractive, though, illuminated by the meager surrounding light, revealing a still haze suspended in the liquid. Looked like a heavy hitter.

Estery would best describe the aroma - and it's funny - I detect this general aroma in the best and the worst of higher-alcohol brews 'reminiscent' of the Belgian Strong style. Carlsberg Special Brew and any of the Molson XX numbered 40 ouncers in Canada have a similar spicy, sort of phenolic, sort of perfumy nose to them. I've found it's best to look past that because, considering from where the beer hails and/or what kind of drinkers the labeling seems to target, you can often safely anticipate the quality of what you're about to drink. It's still interesting though.

Anyway, the aroma is very nice - not overpowering or off-putting. The taste is superb. Well-balanced with nary a sting of alcohol. Compared to the aroma, the flavor backs off a bit. Choice hop character, mildly sweet and fruity - I hesitate to say citrusy - RR says banana and pear. I taste more of the pear and banana only in essence.

My god does this beer drink smooth! Based on mouthfeel and drinkability alone, second maybe only to Duvel, this might be the best of this style I've ever had. RR good.

06-06-2010 22:59:42 | More by Bouleboubier
Photo of BDJake


4.18/5  rDev +1.5%

A- This beer was significantly different here pouring the first of it into my Duvel tulip than the second pour. First pour was clear, golden and topped with a crown of white head that retained and laced wonderfully. Second pour, including the yeast and sediment led it to be much hazier and slightly richer in hue with chunks of yeast floating throughout.

S- Spicy notes of clove and banana, earthy hops, and a bit bready to the nose as well.

T- It had a slightly wooden touch to it, a very well compliment to the hop presence, clove, yeast and bready malts, with an overall tartness.

M- Mildly carbonated, with a lighter body than it's abv suggests, all while leaving a smooth dry finish.

D- It was great to sip on, but I couldn't wait to enjoy every last drop. It's only drawback is that it makes you just want it too quickly.

06-02-2010 09:23:41 | More by BDJake
Photo of laituegonflable


3.6/5  rDev -12.6%

Pours a slightly cloudy pale yellow colour. Head is snowy and densely packed, not a lot of bubbling on the top, sinks a little, leaving a thin crown, and some nice trails of dense lacing. Looks quite nice, would like more head.

Nose is a little bit sour, very Belgian actually with nice orange peel notes and a nice dry spiciness on there. Notes of caramel sweetness on there, but mostly that nice piquancy, a hint of cinnamon and stewed apple with some citrus as well. Pleasant, if a bit 'mainstream' Belgian.

Taste is a little bit more sour. Hints of green vegetation, a kind of floral nectar note on the front, descends into more green apple and orange peel flavour with a richness behind it; tart but fairly malty overall. Has a green grape skin flavour at the back, and a bit of brassy, metallic hop. Yeah, tastes a bit raw and underripe; Belgian in character with a hint of spice on the back. Not bad but a bit impudent on the back with that sourness, and has a bit too much skew to the 'green'.

Feels a bit foamy, a little bit of sizzle and quite dry on the back. Decent for the style but doesn't amaze me. Overall it feels a bit harsh at times, drinks almost like a lemon slice has been dropped in, but not overall offensive. A decent beer.

06-02-2010 03:41:34 | More by laituegonflable
Photo of trevorjn06


3.38/5  rDev -18%

Poured into a Unibroue tulip glass.
Pours a lovely golden color, clear with a thick white head. As I pour I can smell malt.

Sticking my nose in it I get yeast, malt, a bit of spice (clove) and a hint of fruit. After reading the web site and seeing that it mentions a pear aroma I must agree, though it's not very intense.

Taste is dry overall. Rolls onto the tongue with malt and fruit flavors, then transitions into an earthy and fruity flavor. Finishes with dry, tart flavors and a bit of bitter orange taste and tannin. This beer improves as it warms, the finish gets a bit more smooth, but it never reaches the balance that I expected it to have.

Overall this beer is fairly bland and the finish is unpleasant. After drinking Pliny The Elder I was very excited to try this beer and I am quite disappointed with it.

06-02-2010 02:34:22 | More by trevorjn06
Photo of katan


3.98/5  rDev -3.4%

375ml into a pint

A - Pours a light golden to almost straw color. Incredible head formation, very carbonated. Bright white in color, sticks around at 1-2mm. Lots of haze - a bottle conditioned style beer.

S - An assertive belgian yeast - lots of pepper, spicy notes. Some wild notes in the background. After decanting, some light pilsner like malts come through.

T - Starts off with a light malty sweetness, some 2-row, some pilsners. Sweet, but a hair grainy. Mid-stream gets much spicier, lots of yeast wild notes. Light white pepper. Finishes very clean, with just a little bit of belgian yeast fruitiness.

M - Moderate beer body, but an incredible amount of carbonation. Very stinging, very effervescent.

D - Moderate drinkability. Very filling from the extreme belgian carbonation. ABV is solid, but manageable. Flavors are well integrated, and smooth.

I've had this beer on tap in the bay area dozens of times, and I found it to be so much better. Perhaps the carbonation was dialed in by their taps for our benefit. The carbonation is not unreasonable for the style.

06-01-2010 03:54:27 | More by katan
Photo of david131


3.45/5  rDev -16.3%

A- A hazy orange yellow liquid with a thin and creamy white head that has some good retention.

S- Very light with some lighter fruits and white bread.

T- Bananas, clove, white bread, and pepper. The alcohol is barely noticeable, but does provide a bit of a warming aspect.

M- Very light and highly carbonated. Keeps it light and clean.

D- Interesting but a bit light on flavors and a bit over carbonated. The alcohol is well hidden though.

06-01-2010 02:24:29 | More by david131
Photo of jdense


4.1/5  rDev -0.5%

On tap at Toronado $.3.00 happy hour, 12 oz pour 5.29.2010.

1/2 finger light golden clear body, minimal visible carbonation, with decent lacing. The nose is big banana and clove hit, with the taste more clove than bananas. Tart dry finish with good effervescence, good attenuation. Be careful re drinkability high ABV creeper. Worth seeking out for fans of the style.

05-31-2010 04:19:47 | More by jdense
Photo of impending


4.71/5  rDev +14.3%


at the source

One finger dense puffy head, slowly dissipates, lace trailing behind. Superb golden straw hue, pure. When at the bottom, lacing ran the glass.

Complicated nose. Wonderful aroma. Sense it yourself.

Any brew with this level of carbonation has a great mouth feel, worthy of swishing around your mouth :)

Imparts a fine hop flavor, minor bitterness trails off quickly leaving a quiet echo. Alcohol becomes slightly more evident as it warms but then buried in the flavors.

my go to

big difference between bottle and tap - bottle preferred as minor aging tamps the hops

Absolutely Outstanding


05-30-2010 22:02:47 | More by impending
Photo of lacqueredmouse


4.1/5  rDev -0.5%

Uncorks with a sucking thunk. Very impressive and noisy.

Pours a lovely slightly cloudy gold yellow with a foamy and thick head of white bubbling. Lacing is sticky and impressive. Overall a very nice looking brew.

Very round sweet Belgian characters on the nose, with a bit of pepper and a crushed savoury note reminiscent of Sao biscuits. The savoury character is lovely, adding a lightly grainy counterpoint to the sweet and robust Belgian notes.

Taste is a little light, some freshness around the ends and a little tobacco tannin coming through. Peppery characters leaven it a little. Very nice, and very true to style. Mouthfeel is crisp, lacks a little smoothness, but otherwise pretty good.

A very drinkable beer; ABV is hidden well. It's not the most complex or adventurous RR beer I've tried, but this is a great example of just how solid Russian River's brewing expertise is. This could easily be confused for a genuine Belgian.

05-29-2010 08:39:17 | More by lacqueredmouse
Photo of womencantsail


4.03/5  rDev -2.2%

Finally getting around to reviewing Damnation. How it's taken me so long, I'm not sure.

Batch 053

A: The pour is a nice looking golden color with a massive white, pillow like head.

S: A distinct Belgian yeastiness with plenty of spice--mostly coriander and pepper. Plenty of fruitiness in the form of apples and pears, and a nice bit of honey to provide some more sweetness.

T: Up front, this one is definitely sweet and malty. The apple and pear flavors show themselves, but are a bit subdued. The finish has a light floral hop bitterness to contribute a touch of balance.

M: The body is medium and slightly sticky and sweet. The carbonation is moderate and, despite the sweetness, is actually a bit dry.

D: Sort of the flagship of Russian River's Belgians, and with good reason. A well balanced and really flavorful beer.

05-25-2010 22:14:18 | More by womencantsail
Photo of wspscott


4.18/5  rDev +1.5%

750ml bottle in Duvel tulip (batch 51)

A: A huge fluffy white, meringue-like head is the result of a gentle pour. Even after 20 minutes, there is still a half finger head. The beer is crystal clear, golden color.
S: Very Belgian yeast along with some black pepper.
T: The spice of Belgian yeast is very apparent, as it warms, there is a little fruitiness as well. A little bit of graininess and a hint of hops bitterness is in the background.
M: Very crisp, lots of carbonation. There is a bit of "creaminess" which prevents the beer from being too drying. My guess is there was quite a bit of sugar used in this beer given the dryness combined with slightly "round" mouthfeel.
D: This is spot on as far as a Belgian golden ale is concerned, an excellent example of the style. Highly drinkable, crisp, no hint of alcohol makes this a damn good beer. Highly recommended.

05-21-2010 23:54:35 | More by wspscott
Photo of WYVYRN527


4.38/5  rDev +6.3%

Poured from a 375 ml. bottle, batch# 055x2 into a bottom-etched New Belgium tulip.

A: Damnation pours a very clear gold color with some slight chill haze. Head is white in color and huge. Rentention is right on for the style. It does not go away. Sticky lacing coats the glass walls.

S: Floral, fruity aromas, with a hint of lemon pepper. Some biscuity, sweet undertones also hand arond in the smell.

T: Very crisp, clean taste. Sweet biscuity malt, with hints of citrus and pepper. Hops lend floral, grassy character with just a hint of earth. Finish is dry, and just slightly bitter.

M: Light bodied, yet flavors coat the palate and remain for some time. Very silky mouthfeel.

D: This may be better than most of the Belgian brews of the same style. It's vibrant, flavorful, and extremely easy to drink. If I were to have tasted this blind, I would have sworn it was from Belgium.

05-21-2010 04:33:43 | More by WYVYRN527
Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne


4.33/5  rDev +5.1%

Poured from a 12oz. corked bottle into a Duvel tulip. Amazing head on the pour, three and a half fingers of it. Rich golden color with moderate carbonation, slightly hazy. Smells like bread and earth with some citrus notes in the background. The taste mirrors the smell, the yeast is sedated but adds a nice sour bread note to the whole deal. Nice medium body, very easy to drink. I'll have to go find it on tap and give it another go.

05-20-2010 15:17:13 | More by OBeerMeGreatOne
Photo of Beerenauslese


4.55/5  rDev +10.4%

Bottle opens with a champagne pop, but this is not a gusher. Pours a clear gold, yet, with very careful pouring, is producing a voluminous head. Nevertheless, I managed to pour the whole 375 ml bottle into my tripel karmeliet glass. I had to bite some of the head off to keep it from overflowing the glass, which it did just sitting there on its own. Cappuccino-like suds, they last quite awhile and are producing lace and cloud chunks on the glass. Probably more head and retention than any Belgian pale I have seen.

Aromas of malt and perfumy floral, fruity aromas and brown sugar notes, this smells divine.

Tastes malty with some brown sugar upfront, then very fruity with toffee and spicy, with a dry finish.

Body is medium, and with good carbonation and foam, makes it almost creamy, but also light. Excellent mouth texture.

Very drinkable beer, very Belgian in style, very nicely done. I'll be damned!

05-20-2010 04:01:29 | More by Beerenauslese
Photo of twiggamortis420


4.58/5  rDev +11.2%

Big thanks out to cmurren25 for this one in a recent BIF, thanks Chad! 750 mL bottle with a batch number of 054. Pours a pretty clear light gold color with a quickly-receding fluffy white foam. Decent lacing. I am surprised at the clarity of the beer, looks like a nice Belgian golden.

Nose is tart Belgian yeast, pretty classic for the style and reminds me of Duvel. I would have guessed this is from the mother country had I had it blind. Peppery spiciness with a bit of grass and floral aromas. Lime peel is in there in lighter quantities. Yeast seems to do most of the work here.

Taste is nice and delicate, moreso than I thought it would. Yeast spiciness and esters come through first and are finished off nicely with a hoppy bite. There is some sweet grains in the middle and a touch of alcohol but overall it is very well balanced. Very soft beer, and oh so drinkable. Not as highly carbonated as perhaps a Duvel, but the carbonation is so fine that it is very silky going down the hatch. I split the 750 with a friend and my half disappeared with astonishing rapidity. I'd probably say that I like Duvel better, but not by a whole lot. This is a very nice beer and a good example of the style. Makes a perfect first beer of the day.

05-19-2010 22:27:05 | More by twiggamortis420
Photo of DeanMoriarty


4.72/5  rDev +14.6%

Poured from the tap (Toronado's on Haight) into a tulip glass.

A: Nice golden colored ale. Pours a solid head that settles but remains for the entire beer.

S: Yeasty apple smell that starts sweet and finishes sour.

T: Real fruity and champagne like at moments. There's a similar flavor to some Belgian tripels i've had. There's also a little spice and peppery aspect to it but balanced so perfectly you barely notice it.

M: Light to medium bodied - plenty of carbonation but not overwhelming; exceptionally creamy and light.

D: These are deceivingly high in alcohol content and too many of them will get up on you. Real easy to throw these back.

Another example of incredible beer from one of the finest breweries in California - keep up the good work !!!

05-19-2010 04:17:52 | More by DeanMoriarty
Photo of timholio


4.3/5  rDev +4.4%

This compares to Duvel which is probably smoother than this. However this is a very easy to drink for such a high ABV. I think this is currently in my top 10 favorites. It seems to taste fresher than the Duvel and have a bit more zing to it.

This beer seems far easier to find in the stores than Blind Pig or PtE both of which are fantastic.

05-14-2010 00:31:15 | More by timholio
Photo of KAVSE


3.98/5  rDev -3.4%

Served from tap into 8oz. glass.

A: 1mm of head that clung to rim of glass. The center of the top is almost see through. Very light lacing. Faint carbonation bubbles up through light gold liquid.

S: Smells indicate biscuit and malt backbone. Surprisingly, no hop/floral scents. The smell masks the depth of the taste.

T: Tastes very similar to a Belgian Tripel style. Fruits immediately jump out: citrus peel, pear, and apple are balanced by the malt. A delicate apple and apricot after taste is complimented by fading earthy notes. The hops are well-hidden and seem content to be the understudy in this beer theater.

M: Does not wrap the tongue like other Russian River brews, but coats the top of the tongue only. Very delicate, balanced, and drinkable.

D: At 7.75% ABV I can see why the restaurant was pouring 8 oz. drafts but this one is deceivingly drinkable. A great springtime/summer brew.

05-10-2010 21:57:02 | More by KAVSE
Photo of westweasel


4.28/5  rDev +3.9%

From my sister-in-law in CA.
Thanks Nor!!!

Poured from a 350ml bottle into a New Belgium goblet. The beer pours a hazy golden yellow with a large, bright white head. Oodles of carbonation bubbles are rising from the center of the glass.

The aroma is filled with a hay-like barnyard scent along with apples and pears.

The flavors in this beer start with bready, white dinner rolls and pears, followed by hay and a peppery spice and a dry, refreshing finish.

The mouthfeel is medium with high carbonation and that dry finish.

Especially with the soft, dry finish - this is one extremely drinkable beer.

05-09-2010 21:36:27 | More by westweasel
Photo of Chizoad


3.9/5  rDev -5.3%

On tap @ the Trappist in Oakland.

Nearly no head, but a persistent lacing on top of the beer and on the glass. A clear, vibrant yellow color without much carbonation.

A nice aroma that reminds me of some other beers, like the Hennepin from Ommegang or the Delirium Tremens. Yeastiness? Probably some citrus too.

The taste evokes much of the same, although I picked up a not unpleasant metallic twang now and again. Only the faintest hops. There's some depth in it that is a little surprising, like it hinting at something great ... but never really gets there.

Low carbonation, fairly light in body, and thus pleasant enough to drink. I could definitely have more than one of these, although this time around it was only one.

05-08-2010 07:29:08 | More by Chizoad
Photo of TheJollyHop


4.33/5  rDev +5.1%

Loud pop upon uncorking signaling a healthy amount of carbonation.

A beautifully clear, golden amber pour with two fingers worth of thick, fluffy head; not dense. The head also leaves behind plenty of sticky lace as the steady streams of tiny bubbles continue to ascend from the depths of the tulip glass.

Aroma is packed with tropical fruits and yeast spiciness. Funky and definitely musky/earthy, but in a good way. However the musk does blanket some of the less assertive aroma compounds.

Honeydew melon flavor hits right at the beginning of the sip. Oranges, sweet grain backbone, and a semi-dry finish with some earthy hop flavor, straw and subtle biscuit notes. The bitterness tingles on the tongue. Very crisp flavor with good balance.

Light bodied and acutely creamy while being mouth coating. Medium to high carbonation.

Flavors work well as none are competing with each other (good harmony). The tropical fruit flavor burst is delicious and the mouthfeel accentuates the taste. Highly drinkable and very well crafted.

05-03-2010 03:31:08 | More by TheJollyHop
Photo of LuckyBrewer


4.85/5  rDev +17.7%

Style: Belguim Strong Pale Ale
Brewery: Russian River Brewery Company
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Website: http://www.russianriverbrewering.com/
Serving Type: 750 mL
ABV: 7.74 ABV

Pour: Smooth pour with a thick head that shows even legs.

Smell: This beer has a great Belgium yeast smell to it, with a hint of clean crisp malt.

Taste: This an exceptional example of an American attempt at a Belgium golden ale. The taste is well balanced, most Belgium's are a little too sweet for my liking, but not this one. The taste was so well balance and dynamic that I feel they have out done themselves.

Drinkability: I usually can not drink this type of beer for more than one 750 mL bottle, however for this brew I could drink about two bombers.

05-03-2010 00:42:55 | More by LuckyBrewer
Photo of AgentZero


3.95/5  rDev -4.1%

A - Bright golden color, yellowish, nice retention on the white head that left a bit of lacing.

S - Malty, yeasty, some apple, banana, fruity, quite belgiany.

T - Pretty solid take on this style. No overpowering yeast or phenol notes, somewhat fruity but not too sweet. Bit of clove, some pear.

M - Slightly syrupy in a medium bodied beer with a dry finish.

D - Easy enough drinker, nice tasting, wouldn't mind this one again.

04-27-2010 19:10:09 | More by AgentZero
Photo of DoubleJ


4.08/5  rDev -1%

I've passed at least one hundred opportunties to buy and try Russian River's original flagship beer. Funny what a smaller 375 ml bottle does to me. On to the beer:

A perfect pour into my Stella Artois chalice yields a big, whipped head and a beautiful goldenrod color. It is sexy looking, yeah! Hoppy in the nose realtive to the overall picture. Also hints of Belgian candi sugar, bubblegum, and apricot as well.

First impression leads me to believe that this could be a Belgian IPA, but as I learn it isn't quite hoppy enough. Light waves of canided apricots hit the palate with earthy malt. Notes of aspirin. And yes, there are faded hops hitting. Squint your eyes (or in this case, your palate) and you'll find it. Damn, where's the alcohol? Finishes dry with a little yeast and hop bitterness leftover. Light and airy in the mouth, nailed it and then some.

Here's a "lighter" strong Belgian pale for you aficionados of Belgian-styled beer. Just be aware that the 375 ml bottle may not be enough for some.

04-25-2010 05:00:24 | More by DoubleJ
Photo of BigMike


4.1/5  rDev -0.5%

Ive been holding on to this one for a little while and I decided to bust it open and christen my RR glass. This bottle is from batch 54.

Poured a glowing straw yellow color with tons of effervesence. A puffy white head of about 1 finger. Tremendous lacing on the glass.

Smell is typical Belgian all the way. Lots of yeast and clove and spice. Maybe a touch of lemon zest but not much else.

Taste is the same. Belgian yeast and clove.

Very carbonated but smooth and clean finishes. A nice tang at the end and the alcohol is completely hidden.

Overall this a a nice beer. It's a notch or 2 under Duvel for the style but very drinkable.

04-24-2010 20:51:36 | More by BigMike
Damnation from Russian River Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 2,977 ratings.