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Damnation - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.

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3,343 Ratings
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Ratings: 3,343
Reviews: 1,088
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 368
Gots: 771 | FT: 51
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:
Beer added by: beerguy101 on 09-19-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,343 | Reviews: 1,088
Photo of Wisconsinality
3.62/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

375mL poured into Bruery tulip. Beer #2 of our RR tasting. Thanks to beerwolf77.

A- Pours a nice golden straw with enough haze so that you can;t completely see through it. A half finger worth of head but leaves no lacing.

S- Very fruity and floral. Some grassy notes add to the floral. A big helping of Belgian yeast. maybe a little grape in there as well.

T- A big helping of Belgian yeast right off the get go. Some grassy notes and maybe some straw. A little bit of candy sugar.

M- Medium bodied with a nice carbonation. A tad dry on the finish.

D- Easy drinking and totally can't detect the 7.75% ABV. Just a little lacking in the flavor profile. The first RR beer that hasn't wowed me. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Photo of GarrettMD
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a very golden yellow with 1 finger of fluffy white head. Great head retention and lacing as well. Bubbles are non-stop from the high carbonation.

S - Various fruit aromas I can't quite place along with a bready yeast aroma.

T - Taste is very much like the smell, same fruits with a light malty aftertaste.

M - The mouthfeel is more comparable to a champagne than any beer I have had because of the light body and full carbonation. The tingle of the sweet fruits coupled with the carbonation were continuously described by those tasting it with me as "too much going on" but don't take that as a bad thing.

D - Very good drinkability given the ABV. The carbonation and light body make this a very easy beer to drink.

Photo of andyfrancis
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

very light straw color with a good amount of visible carbonation. snow white head that settled quickly, but the bubbles are accumulating and hanging out around the edges.
I poured with reckless abandon, so the yeast is fully mixed in. Gonna be a farty morning.

Notes of pale malt, clove, wood, and banana on the nose. very nice.

Tasty. Much like the smell, it's a bundle of flavors. The cedar really stands out.

Crisp, astringent mouthfeel. slight lingering yeasty aftertaste. pretty easy drinking though. especially for 7.5% abv.

Not quite as good as consecration or temptation in my opinion, but still a tasty, interesting brew.

And I'll also add that while people seem to be going nuts over sofie and matilda from goose island, damnation has been around and is just as good of an example of the style.

Photo of Reaper16
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375mL bottle - batch 55 x2 - served into a tulip glass

Pours a straw yellow body, golden tinted and clear. Superbly crafted head crowns this beer with a three finger tiara. Dense white foam composed of small bubbles. The lacing goes everywhere in sinewy ropes. It is a head worthy of Damnation's obvious inspiration - Duvel.

I expect a decided fruitiness from a Belgian Strong Pale Ale and Damnation delivers. Pear, lime and cactus, mixed with an herbal (thyme) undercurrent. Just a trace of wood - the label mentions cedar and it does smell like cedar chips, like the cedar used in Boulevard's Seeyoulator Dopplebock - floats around, showing itself when the beer warms a bit.

Taste follows the nose but less interestingly. Damnation tastes of Five Alive brand juice drink blended with some honeydew melon and flowers. Some wood-accented biscuit malt peeks through on the finish. This is pretty straightforward. Very good, but missing a level of complexity.

Balanced carbonation levels meet a medium-thick body; plenty good enough to carry the beer's flavors. The flavors are very drinkable, though a slightly too-much amount of perceptible alcohol (at only 8% ABV) hinders its score in this category.

Is Damnation as good as Duvel? Not to me. But that's a hard standard to live up to. Damnation is one of the finest Belgian Strong Pale Ales I've ever had. I like that it is available in smaller bottle size. I'd buy it for meal pairings if it were available in my area.

Photo of rawthar
3.74/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Hazy, hefe-like, golden yellow with some thin but very active white head.

S- Very bready and yeasty with a tad of rye, some very ripe apples and fall spices, and slight hint of booze

T- Dry, spicy, tart cherries and old apples, if not for a grainy backbone and a slightly pilsy finish, I would compare to champagne

M- Active yeasty carbonation, rich and full

D- Light and thirst quenching, easy to drink, better to appreciate the nuances slowly

Not my style, but good

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottles provided by several generous East and West Coast BAs... thanks guys.

A - Pours a brassy gold, slight haze, big fluffy white head, settles in to a blanketing bit of froth.

S - The aroma is mostly pilsener/pale malt and grassy hops, with nuances of lemon-coriander, leather, red apple skin. Interesting.

T - The brew is a very solid representative of the style. Clean, slightly astringent malt fuses with earthy and herbal hop flavors and is rounded out by lightly spicy and vegetal notes. On the downside, I feel like this beer would register higher on a breathalyzer than the average 7.75% brew would; there is a slight lingering alcohol burn, and I initially feel like I am exhaling booze.

M - Due to the not-so-well-hidden booze, the feel is not quite there.

D - This is a good beer, but it is certainly no Duvel.

Photo of axeman9182
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Cheers to psiweaver for the 750 ml bottle. Damnation pours a nice looking, nearly opaque, tangerine. A voluminous, frothy white head forms and lingers, but the lacing (or lack thereof) is a bit of a letdown. The aroma is good, clove and some sweet fruits, but I'm hoping the taste has a little bit more to it. My prayers are answered, as in addition to the flavors present in the nose there's a distinct lemon-grass flavor that works well for the beer. It's still not quite a 5 in terms of flavor, but warrants a bump from the smell score. Vinnie and co. absolutely nailed the mouthfeel, flawless. I can't speak an ill word towards either the body or the carbonation. Damnation tastes good enough that I'd like to sip and savor it, but the otherworldly mouthfeel makes it hard to restrain myself and do so. Just more evidence that Russian River is one of the top breweries in the country.

Photo of beerwolf77
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes to arbitrator for another RR beer.

Spilt and poured into my tulip the beer is a murky golden yellow. About a fingers worth of white head fades and leaves soapy lace.

The aroma is nice mix of yeast, black pepper and candied fruit. Hints of tart fruit are noticeable but not super strong. I would be hard pressed to nail this style on smell alone. It's got a few different asspects from several styles going on.

The flavor is a bit subdued. Yeast and black dirt are the main things I get out of it. There's a sort of sour/sweet thing that plays out over my tongue. Neither really winning the battle.

Medium to light body. Bone dry with mild carbonation.

Overall this is a fine beer just not really up to the standards I have come to expect from RR. I could easily finish a whole bottle myself though.

Photo of berpwillie
3.92/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours a slightly hazy yellow color with good frothy head, good lacing, and lively carbonation. belgian yeast and spices in the smell. taste was much the same with some citrusy lemon hints. light bodied, with a thin slick texture. moderately sweet finish with short flavor duration. good but not great.

Photo of Pencible
3.7/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: I've been intending on drinking this for a while, but I'm just getting to it now that it's nearly a year old. It poured a hazy light gold with a little white head.
S: It smelled like sour Belgian yeast with lemon zest, and some salty clove and earthy malt.
T: It tasted like lemon zest and sour yeast, with waxy hops and honey malt and a bit of candi sugar. It had a lasting dry aftertaste that was a blend of bitter and sour.
M: It was oily with moderate carbonation, but still somehow quite smooth.
D: This was a very delicate but flavorful beer that was fairly easy to drink, but better to sip. I honestly wasn't a big fan of the flavor, with the waxy character, but it was still very well brewed and mostly enjoyable.

Photo of sweemzander
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375mL corked and caged bottle split and poured into a tulip. Batch #5. Huge thanks to beerwolf77 for sharing this one!

(A)- Pours a cloudy pale golden yellow color that produced a good pure white head that stuck around for awhile. Left some bits of lacing behind.

(S)- A crisp yet dry hay and straw grassy funk with bits of lemon, banana, and clove.

(T)- Same as the smell. A very dry yet crisp hay/straw profile. Almost has a bitter background, but with good fruits.

(M)- A crisp carbonation level with a good balance to it. Dry, and a little funky with a tiny grassy bitterness. Has some good fruits too.

(D)- A solid beer that is great and refreshing for the warm summer months. Crisp, yet has a good dryness and fruit to keep it interesting.

Photo of markaberrant
3.1/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - light orange, slight haze, big fluffy white head with very tight bubbles.

S - crisp, pear esters, light floral/lemon perfume, was expecting a more distinct hop character, but aroma mainly seems to be yeast derived

T - overall taste is quite light, bone dry, sharp/crisp spice, almost no malt character, some light fruit (pear again), but not enough sweetness to bring it out,

M - very airy/light, high carbonation, seems a little over the top, excessively dry, alcohol is not hot but has a bit of sting due to the carbonation and dryness

D - wish there was a little more flavour, ridiculously dry and overcarbonated, devoid of any dynamic malt/hop character

I don't like fresh Duvel, so it aint a surprise that I don't really like Damnation fresh either. I just don't see the point. I'd take a Westmalle Tripel any day over this. Still looking forward to trying my other bottle in a year or two, as I do in fact enjoy aged Duvel.

Update: After the carbonation drops out, you can actually taste a lot more in the beer. But I'm still not adjusting my scores.

Photo of RomaniIteDomum
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally getting around to reviewing this one. Thanks to all the traders that have sent me bottles in the past.

Pours golden with a great fluffy white head that lasts for quite some time. Nice lacing, too.

Smells of bananas, sweet citrus, sugar, and a little pine and spice.

Tastes much like the nose, but with a little more spice in the finish. Great balance of flavors with nothing hiding and nothing trying to steal the spotlight. The finish isn't as cloying as some of the style can be.

This is a very creamy brew. Great body.

I'd say this is one of my favorite beers of the style. Great balance, refreshing, and a good complexity.

Photo of portia99
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle (batch # is damn near illegible, but I think it is 043) poured into a Russian River stemmed Belgian glass.

A - Pours a beautifully clear pale golden color with 2 fingers of thick, dense white foam which has excellent staying power. Head is thick and creamy in appearance and when it finally dies down a bit some nice spiderwebs of lace are left behind on the glass.

S - Up front, I'm struck by a huge hit of apples, a bit of cinnamon, some cloves and some light bready malt. Nice.

T - Spicy up front...cinnamon, cloves, a bit of black pepper, some light lemony citrus - very good Belgian yeast flavors. Some light phenolic flavors and a noticeable alcohol presence too. Bitter hoppiness and an underpinning of mildly sweet and bready malt.

M - Medium bodied with a very firm carbonation that is fizzy and leaves a nice prickly feeling on the tongue. Lingering spiciness left behind after the swallow. Mild alcohol warmth that feels just about right here - complements the beer and does not distract.

D - A very good Belgian strong ale. Good complexity with light alcohol warmth. Not too heavy, but definitely not one you can down easily. Enough strength of alcohol and flavors to keep it a nice, somewhat slow drinker...one to be savored.

Photo of appenzeller
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Chimay chalice. Thin and dissipating head. Light orange, opaque color, almost like a hefe.

I fear this may be a bit too cold. Feint and pleasing aroma, apples, honey, slightly cidery

Hits the mouth as crisp and refreshing. Pleasing bite up front, tastes as it smells, apple (almost cidery), this beer has outstanding balance between malts and hops for the style. Finish is a lingering bite and carbonation very evident. In summary, an excellent brew that is true to the style.

I often fear with American craft brews, especially "specialty" ones that I'll get something that's way over the top. This beer's not that way at all, subtle, complex, balanced, big thumbs up for Russian River here.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

375 ml bottle split and poured into a Duvel Green tulip. 7.75% ABV, Aging and glassware instructions. Batch 056x2.

A - The lightly hazy golden yellow beer pours with a ton of effervescent white head but is poorly retained and leaves little lace on the way down.

S - Light spicy Belgian yeast creates a fantastic, inviting aroma with indescribable spices, lemony citrus, and light, floral hops. I just want to dive right into the glass!

T - Light, spicy Belgian yeast with touches of earthy clay and black pepper starts it out and is followed by a touch of sweet honey that compliments the lemony citrus finish.

M - Majorly carbonated with a sharp crisp finish, Damnation is light-bodied and dry to the finish with a citrus bite.

D - I wish I would have sprung for the 750 or a few more 375 ml bottles of this. It's a fantastic beer with even better drinkability. Trade anyone?

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of BDJake
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of laituegonflable
3.62/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of trevorjn06
3.42/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of katan
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of david131
3.44/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of jdense
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of impending
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5


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


Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Damnation from Russian River Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 3,343 ratings.