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Salvation | Russian River Brewing Company

463 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 05-09-2004

User Reviews
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Reviews: 463 | Ratings: 1,174
Photo of BobZ
4.34/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

375cl bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Dark reddish brown with a nice 2" head that recedes to a healthy cap.

Smell: Lot of dark fruit (mostly raisin and plumb) with a hint of molasses.

Taste: All of the proper components of a true Belgian strong dark ale. Dark fruit (again mostly raisin with some plumb) sweetness with an almost almond-like nutty flavor throughout. Depth of flavor without every becoming overly sweet.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth on the palate with a very nice clean finish.

Overall: The single best BSDA made in North America, delicious. If you like the style this one is a must try.

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Photo of Seanniek91
4.16/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a 375ml C&C bottle from Batch 11. Around 50 degrees.

Appearance- Dark, hazy greyish/brown with two fingers of off-white head that left gorgeous lacing.

Smell- Sweet, boozy raisins, candy sugar, dark caramel malts, prunes, bready yeast. Very much quad-like.

Taste- Raisins, pipe tobacco, plums, earthy/bready yeast. No real booze presence. Mildly sweet, not as much as it smelled.

Mouthfeel- Rather heavily caarbonated. On the thiner side. No mouth coating.

Overall- Another winner from Russian River. Haven't had a bad beer by them yet!

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Photo of kevanb
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

375ml bottle, batch 011, poured into a Russian River "Tion" stemmed glass.

The beer pours a deep burgundy color, touches of garnet and amber with a fluffy 2 fingers of off white head that has very good retention and leaves just a spot or so of lace behind. The aroma is fairly tame, dark pitted fruit, raisin, clovey yeast with some tannins and tobacco with some pepper on the finish, alcohol is masked nicely. Lots of plum and raisin on the tongue, backing dark grainy malt and cracked peppercorn with a bit of chocolate and leather at the finish. The body is nice, rich yet silky with a moderate level of carbonation that is just lively enough to dance on the tongue and it finishes with a nice smooth creaminess and warms slightly as it goes down.

Verdict: A nice Belgian Strong Dark Ale from Russian River that vastly improves as it warms. It does lack the deep complexity from a more authentic Belgian Dark, but this is one of the premier examples made domestically and a worthy brew for any Belgian lover.

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Photo of mxchap
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Overall [4.25]: Cohesive and delicious. This beer doesn't break any barriers or feature any gimmicks; it just is. And it is great.
Look [3.75]: Deep, dark brown. Not much in the way of head with a straight down the middle pour. Minor lacing. Tight ring of bubbles around the rim.
Smell [4.25]: Follows the taste closely.
Taste [4.5]: Spice and dark fruit (plum and raisin). Malt flavor tends towards caramel (as opposed to bready or roasty). Little bit of fusel.
Feel [4.25]: Fairly acidic. Well carbonated. Slightly chewy. Goes down nice for the style and abv, maybe a little too easily.

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Photo of GuzzLah
3.67/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - pours a dark brown with almost no head and poor retention. No lace. Light bubbles.

S - low intensity until swirled. Raisin, bready malt, chocolate malt and cherry ester.

T - is similar to the aroma. Mostly raisin and mild chocolate.

M - medium-full body. Oily. Warming, boozy finish, but not harsh.

O - a well made BDSA that is relatively conservative in flavor and aroma. Not nearly as impressive as Rochefort, etc.

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Photo of mikem0487
3.72/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

375mL bottled filled on 04/13/2012. Served into a Wicked Weed tulip glass.

A-A deep dark mahogany with a pinkies width off white head.

S-Rasberry, raisins and prunes for the estery nose. Some black peppery notes as well.

T-Dark fruits dominate the taste. Prune and raisin with a finishing spice. Some roasted/chocolate malt taste. Get some heat from the spice and the alcohol is hidden well. Dark cherry licorice is all over the palate.

M-Highly carbonated with a medium body.

O-A good beer for the style. Not my favorite however. To much licorice/prune taste that does not leave a pleasant after taste.

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Photo of stephenjmoore
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A- Cola colored body with some amber and ruby highlights. Tan head that lingers around as a layer of thin bubbles with good lacing.

S- Bready Belgian yeast, faint caramel and chocolate, raisins, slight hint of cherry, hint of pear.

T- A lot of unexpected Tripel flavors come through, with just enough darker malt flavor to let you know this is a dark ale. The darker flavors include the malt along with raisin bread, while some pear and spicy yeast flavors come through as well.

M- Medium to full bodied, but extremely drinkable. Not alcohol presence in the feel and good carbonation.

O- A very good offering, like all of the Russian River -tions. Solid and worth a try.

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Photo of JimTeal
5/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just trying to keep it within the lines. This is one hell-ova beer. Served fresh at the wonderful Russian River Brewery pub, only one word for this, if you understand Belgian Style Dark ale, excellent. Perfectly balanced, subtle but substantial. Sweetness controlled by excellent malts and the background caramel simply teases the taste buds for a smooth finish that lingers on a tantalizing thread of wonderful elegance. Word association: chocolate, molasses, cherry, black grape. One review of this Salvation said this is not an everyday beer, it's a very substantial 9% ABV, lets hope it doesn't get to be too everyday. It is a sip and enjoy a beautifully crafted jewel from RR Brewing Co.

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Photo of brodericksloth
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

tasted on tap at RR and from bottle at home

thick creamy three finger head; deep brown color; good carbonation from refermentation in bottle. Nitro look

molasses with black fruit and plum scent

COFFEE with subtle chocolate, cherry and toffee. becomes figgy with time

no hop or alcohol noticed; very well balanced with enough dark fruits and all full palate secondary flavors of such complexity that you keep looking for more

Not a overly malty flavor; fruits carry it. Go ahead and pour the dregs; no yeast taste everything else covers it up

tastes a bit overcooked in the bottle; odd aftertaste; bought at RR; shouldn't be cooked. will try to age and see what happens; may mellow out

on tap a much nicer brew; not so figgy fruitcake

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Photo of TheSixthRing
4.23/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - Pours a near black, deep cola brown with a light tan, 3 finger head. Phenomenal retention, leaving behind a thick layer of bubbles on the surface. Lacing is spotty, with fair stick.

Smell - Dark sugared sweetness and an equal note of sourness, like black cherry.

Taste - Follows the nose- moderate dark sugary sweetness, also touching on chocolate, coffee and toffee, mixed with a light cherry sourness. Wonderful balance, finishing a touch more sweet than bitter, and with a bit of sourness too.

Mouthfeel - Medium in body with live, but fluffy carbonation, leaving a light, dry finish.

Overall - A lovely beer. Nice, complex flavor that, unlike several of it's Dark Belgian counterparts, doesn't fall victim to an oversaturation of sugary sweetness. Great balance. This is one I'll definitely have to revisit when I make it up to the RR pub.

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Photo of dwagner003
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer is dark. Like, stout dark. It has an incredibly tight head that could leave a foam mustache. Not my favorite look, but impressive for the style.

Deep roasted malt smell, with a subtle sweetness. Almost has a little bit of a spicy caramel aroma.

The taste is of dark sweet fruits, with a slight coffee, boozy finish. The flavor hangs on your palate and gets sweeter as it subsides. It's heavy. Drinking more than 2 of these could be tough.

The mouthfeel is great. Slight carbonation, with a nice, smooth texture.

Overall, excellent beer. Perfect balance of sweet and roasted. Huge fan.

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Photo of garuda
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Nearly black body, thick tan head has good retention and lacing.

S/T - Candied dark fruits, light roast, dark chocolate powder. Subtle spice.

M - Medium body, high, yet delicate carbonation level. Mostly smooth, with a bit of boozy heat.

O - I feel like this is a very good representation of the style with good depth of flavor. However, style is just not for me.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.88/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a vibrant red colour, hints of floaties and haze. Head is beautifully dense, foamy and nicely packed with great retention. Specks of lace left around the glass; good.

Smells quite pleasant, but a little subdued. Malty, with some peppery spice, toffee, bourbon and a slight acetyldehyde maybe. But quite sweet, yeah, hint of cinnamon, which I could use more of. What's there is nice.

Taste is quite sweet mostly, with toffee and caramel malt, a touch of tartness - just a hint - that turns it slightly fruity on the mid, then finish is a little bit toasty, and still sweet, with characters of coconut, vanilla and crême brulée, but also a hint of burntness late, like overcooked toffee. Slightly nutty, yeah, it's a mélange of flavours I like, but it doesn't quite reach the heights of sweetness, roastiness or anything, and so it seems a little directionless in some ways.

Decent body, bit of foamy texture to it, slight boozey sharpness on the back. Yeah, alright.

Quite a subtle brew in some ways, and well balanced. Yeah, everything gets a look-in here, and it's very nicely crafted. Doesn't really sing to me, and yet I feel like there's a lot of love in this beer.

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Photo of deebo
3.97/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery this beer is served in a goblet with a thin skimmed layer of tan head. Clear and garnet. Aromas of rich toasted malt and hints of estery banana belgian yeast. Taste is decidedly Belgian. Rich malt backbone with a sturdy enough yeast character to carry the flavors thru. The malt is s bit heavy on the dark barley malt which has plenty of roast and slight chocolate flavors. Smooth in body with the alcohol well hidden into the finish of this brew. A nice beer. Better than many of RR other ventures into the world of yeasty Belgian beers this beer has some character and decently complex flavors.

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Photo of TotallyHosed
3.7/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Stogies.

Large tan foam sits atop a very dark red color. The carbonation is evident in the appearance despite the nearly opaque brew. There's lots of lacing around the glass.

The nose is largely sweet dark fruits, such as raisins and figs, when the head is dominant. As the head dissipates to a veil, there is much more of a toasted grain aroma mingling with the dark fruits.

The flavor begins with a typical Belgian yeast flavor found in strong ales and dubbels. In the middle is a bit of an alcohol burn that does not last more than a few seconds. Finally, the flavor ends with a combination of toasted grains and slightly sweet figs.

The feel is right in the middle and does coat the mouth. There's just a little bit of tingling from the carbonation.

Overall, this is a solid example of the style. What I enjoy the most about this brew is that it has better than average balance. For example, the Belgian yeast does not overpower. It's great to be able to taste the malt backbone. My only critique is that I would like the alcohol to be better hidden. At the same time, it's not as off-putting as I have experienced from other Belgian Strong brews.

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Photo of Lucho
3.76/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served into RR tulip

Appearance: dark but translucent when held to light

Smell: some dark fruits but mostly malts and Belgian style yeasts

Taste: similar to the nose with sweet malts with a good amount of carbonation and medium bodied mouthfeel. There are some fruits, maybe figs or dates/grapes.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied with good carbonation.

Overall: A good beer for the style. not my usual but a good all around beer.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

In a trade from a very generous trader. Batch 11 printed on the corked and caged bottle. Poured 1/25/13. Dark brown with very little light coming through. Very very creamy kahki colored head. Aroma of raisins, cherries, and possibly a hint of smoke. Belgian yeast comes through and this gives of fruit qualities of a dubbel or quad. Some prickle up front from the carbonation and spice as a blast of fruit heads down your throat. Plums and berries all over. Very smooth. Finishes with a burst of unexpected chocolate and a lingering nuttiness. Chocolate really starts coming out with some more sips. Pretty thick mouthfeel, bigger than a porter but less than an impy. So creamy. I liked this!

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Photo of metter98
3.84/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is very dark brown in color. It poured with a half finger high beige colored head that died down and consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are aromas of dark malts and Belgian yeast in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of dark fruits (such as prunes and plums), dark malts and Belgian yeast. The yeast is more promint than the fruits. Slight hints of spices also become detectable in the finish as the beer warms up. No sweetness is detectable, except for some faint hints in the initial taste.
M: It feels medium-bodied and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer has a nice mix of dark fruits and yeasty flavors. No traces of alcohol are detectable.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.71/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a slightly hazy but opaque dark amber in color with some light orange, ruby red, and amber highlights as well as a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The beer has a half finger tall dense foamy beige head that slowly reduces to a thick film covering the entire surface of the beer with a couple of small patches that are slightly thicker and a thin ring at the edges of the glass.

S: Moderate aromas of dark fruits and dark malts - plum, raisin, and date. Light notes of roasted malts, candi sugar, and Belgian yeast.

T: Moderate flavors of sweet dark malts with some dark fruit notes (raisins and dates) and light to moderate amounts of candi sugar. Light to moderate amounts of alcohol are present in the aroma and there is very little bitterness. The sweetness fades as you drink it with some Belgian yeast and light amounts of spices.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Slightly creamy.

O: This is an interesting beer but not one of the best examples for the style in my opinion. I was hoping for a little more sourness in this brew but it did not come through for me in this one. Not the easiest to drink, more of a slow sipping beer.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.04/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter. Thanks, cvm4!

A: Dark brown with a half finger tan head that dissipates pretty fast. Frothy lacing.

S: Dark fruits, particularly raisins, dates, plums. Chocolate. Sweet. Licorice.

T: Follows nose. Smooth. robust. Spices like cinnamon come through. A great chocolate finish.

M: Medium with frothy carbonation.

O: A superb BSDA. One that begs to be sipped and enjoyed. Could enjoy another one soon.

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Photo of phishsihq
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This Russian River Winter seasonal pours a deep, dark brown, and it is capped by a fluffy, off-white head and a good deal of clingy lace. Dark fruit (plum, raisin, and plums), candied sugars, and Belgian yeast create a classic Belgian Strong Dark ale nose. The flavors follow the dark fruit and candied sugar from the nose, with a good bit of breadiness as well. This 9% ABV brew is medium in body with a prickly carbonation.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Should I be surprised how exceptional this was? Reminded me of Unibroue's Trois Pistoles. Supremely easy-drinking. Hard to tell it's 9+% as well - the way it should be.

The billowy, somewhat spongy tan head died slowly and left some suds atop while the murky, brownish-red lacked a little of the glow I would've liked to see, though there's nothing necessarily off about it.

Melanoidin-rich, dark-malty aromas up front, with a subtle red or black grape in the background. No hops but some alcohol that grows in intensity as it warms, but never gets potent. Almost an allspice or nutmeg-like spice set against a cake-like malt.

Very rich, softly-smooth (Munich?) malt flavor, accented by a moderately-complex but subtle and nicely-balanced array of esters and aromatics including flowers/coriander and hints of anise/licorice in the finish. Mostly lightly-sweet malt going on here supported by a medium body with a bit of a chewy-foamy feel. A little bubbly prickliness on the tongue up front, but it does finish medium-light, soft, and fairly dry. Ultra-mellow, slow-rising warmth rises up from the chest/gut area.

Perhaps more depth in the flavor and finish would really knock this out of the park for me - it's almost there! This is definitely something I would love to drink again. Great balance and that's what counts the most!

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Photo of MadScientist
4.53/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: A very enthusiastic head with three finers of light tan foam from a gentle pour. The beer is a dark brown with garnet highlights and great clarity. The head is long lasting and leaves a thick sticky curtain of lacing on the glass.

S: A great balance of dark fruit and tart aroma being mostly plums, prunes and red current with some sour cherries. there is a a moderate malt aroma with a bit of caramel and some toasted grain aroma.

T: Dark fruit and spice with a light sour flavor blended in. Medium-high dark cherry and plum dominate the flavor. The Belgian yeast provides a moderate peppery spice and fruitiness. There is some malt sweetness with a bit of a chocolate flavor. The bitterness is low but there is a moderately-light sour tartness that increases the prescription that is is more bitter than it really is although the alcohol is also countering the malt. The balance is somewhat bitter and tart. the finish is off-dry and the aftertaste is of chocolate and spice.

M: This a creamy, medium-full bodied beer with moderately-strong carbonation. The alcohol brings a noticeable warmth.

O: A great Belgian Strong Dark that isn't very sweet, which I like and has a bit of a tartness which I really like.

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Photo of facundoCNB
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a beautiful dark brown/red pour with 2 fingers of foamy creme colored head. smells of grapes, chocolate, honey.. kind of a weird faint combination - not getting many scents yet, i'm going to let it warm up and come back to it. the flavor is quite fruity up front.. cherries, grapes, raisins.. with hints of wheat, caramel, toasted grains.. very tasty. medium in body with a high amount of carbonation, slightly sticky residue left behind on the lips. went back to it about 20 minutes later and getting a more profound fruity smell.. very similar o everything i get when i taste it.

overall this is a decent offering from russian river.. one of their weaker beers i've had - hell they're only human!! still pretty high rating for their "decent" beer.. i want to try avery's salvation next since i already had the collaboration ale between them.

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Photo of argock
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 375 cL brown corked bottle into a clear pinot noir glass. Bottled on 04/18/12 date at top-middle of label. Purchased at Olive Tree Marketplace (San Diego, CA) for $5.99.

A: Very dark chestnut brown with 1/2 finger of off-white lace which leaves some scraps of lace around the glass.

S: The aroma is largely yeast esters, nutmeg and clove spice notes, and soft caramel with a little cocoa-fudginess thrown in there. There are some fig and raisin notes too.

T: The yeasty nature comes through in the flavor as well with a bunch of interesting but smooth and flavorful esters, clove, nutmeg. The dark fruitiness comes through with more fig and purple grapiness given the slightly tannic finish. There is a hint of vanilla but finishes with subtle caramel and fudge flavors. Interesting -- it reminds me a chocolate tinged Ommegang Abbey Ale with less clove. I didn't really pick up on the sourness until near the end of the bottle, but the more of it you drink, the more sour it becomes in the finish.

M: Exceedingly smooth beer with creamy texture and low carbonation. Body is medium but the ABV is virtually undetectable.

O: I liked this beer except for the price tag. It is moderately flavorful and has an incredible feel but the muted aroma and heavy yeasty nature keep it from being top-tier.

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Salvation from Russian River Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 463 ratings.