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Salvation - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.

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1,068 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,068
Reviews: 457
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 9.78%
Wants: 349
Gots: 244 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: xlperro on 05-09-2004

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,068 | Reviews: 457 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of paytoplay
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tough to judge appearance because it doesn't matter. This might be the worst looking beer I've had. But the smell taste and moutfeel were all superb. I prefer this from bottle than keg. It was intense and more focused. Seemed to need to be aged more, thus my 2nd bottle will be hidden away for a year or 2, well thats the plan anyways.

Great balance and clean mineral taste that is something I find unique in this brew. Drank from a pint, was on the road so no tulip which would of helped. Some dry herbs, almost fig / blueberry type flavors also. Didn't get banana like others, some spice and anise and vanilla. Very interesting and a great and memorable brew.

Photo of deanhead
4.57/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Nice Deep rich Ruby color with more then adequate carbonation.

Aroma is rummy with currants, raisins coffee and Kaluah.

Taste is fabulous. It's very complex tasting malt backbone, lightly hopped for bitterness. WoW!

This is a full bodied dank beer with big mouthfeel. Highly drinkable. This beer certainly has some legs to it. Well done. It has this voyeuristic alcohol presence. It is so well hidden that it is scary.
Hard to believe there is so much alcohol in this relatively easy drinking strong dark ale.

I really enjoyed drinking this beer and would recommend that you try it if you can get your hands on it.

Photo of lightindarkness
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 006, courtesy of swnicholson. Thanks!

Pours a full dark black tea colored brown with very nice gleaming ruby highlights. Sandy ivory colored head climbs fully and settles slowly, fed by some very active carbonation. Nice sticky gobs of lace.

Smells nicely of banana, fig, slightly sour yeast, dough, and bread crust. Fruit and grains are very nicely balanced.

Much less fruitiness in flavor than I anticipated, balanced rather delicately into the overall taste. Bright malty notes of toasted bread crust meet some easy mingling of soft banana nut bread, dull spice, and faint fig. There's a mildly bitter spicy overtone that seems to sheer off some of the expected sweetness, replaced with a little more dry tangy yeast and freshly harvested grain.

Medium body with a relatively clean feel. Slight film at the finish and a nicely playful carbonation throughout.

Based on the nose, I think I was expecting this one to be slightly sweeter and fruitier, as I sometimes prefer in this style. This one, however, achieves a very nicely constructed balance of mild fruit and grains with a distinctly Russian River yeast binding. A very pleasant ale that's easy to drink and seems to grow assertively in character with each sip.

Photo of ccrida
4.51/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750ml (batch 7) poured into my Russian River tulip (one of their 3 tacky glasses I for some reason bought), Salvation is a really dark garnet with an off-white head that's long lasting and leaves heavy chunks of foam.

Smell is pretty muted, from the 55F serving temp through the hr+ it took to finish the bottle, it picked up more sweet caramel and vanilla, creme brulee like. Mostly soft cocoa, some molasses and malted milk.

Taste is rich and very smooth, lots of chocolate gives it a porter/old ale like smoothness, probably some oats, some caramelized sugar and spicy esters, with the creme brulee on the finish. This is fantastic, with just enough sweet dark sugar tang to anchor it in the style.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, oatmeal stout like, with an only slightly heavier body (then a beer normally 1/2 it's strength). While I really love the melding of styles in the taste, the mouthfeel is sublime.

Drinkability, like this beer, is just great. I really love this beer, but it's an obtuse take on the style, a very hybridized strong dark. I normally grade more within style, but this is too enjoyable to be a stickler - killer! Not that it's a score factor, but this glass is lame, and after just picking up the fat Lost Abbey glass, I'll probably not even bother using this for my next standard issue RR...still, I wish I didn't just get a 2nd bottle from the brewery, but they say this one should be available around here soon - in which case it will be a cellar staple!

Photo of HalfFull
3.77/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap, pours a ruby brown color with a translucence indicating its light viscosity. Thin head dissipates quickly and stays away sans any disturbance.

Smells a bit of fruit, banana and dried fruits, and offers a definite yeast sourness, particularly as the beer warms up a bit, and a bit of spicy earthy hops. Taste is refreshing and follows the nose, adding a light touch of candi and a positive malt close. The malts hide the ABV well which only becomes apparent, or more apparent, as the carbonation settles.

Decent feel and drink. Rather light bodied for the style

Photo of Mauerhan
4.57/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

pours a nice darkish brown with rich ruby highlights, has a bit of head on the pour but ut fades rather quickly. thin to no lacing. smell is great. tons of malt. practically no hint of alcohol

GREAT TASTE! full flavored and rich. big malty presence light sweetness. I get no sign of the alcohol for a 9 abv you can't tell.

mouthfeel is plesant. medium carbonation. it tickles my tounge. leaves a great aftertaste. very smooth. a medium body that goes down easy.

I am a fan of this beer. I just can't get enough

Photo of IgotsHops
4.62/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was my third R.R. experience after damnation and Pliny the elder. Appearance was nearly black with some plumb and raisin color coming through on the edges. A thin lace head stayed in on the top. Smell was of dark fruit, some vegetal or peanut butter, sweet dark candi sugar, and some dark toast.
Tasted extremely clean, with roasted sugar, dark fruit, again the strange peanut butter flavor in the background, and some warming alcohol.
Mouthfeel was syrupy and thick. Coated the palate just right, and cleared away when you wanted it to.
Overall this was very drinkable for a strong dark, but almost too clean. I would have liked to have more esters and phenols (not too many more) on the nose. It could have also been served a bit too cold.
Overall a great beer and I would definitely get it again.

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

A good-looking dark ale. The foam sits on the brown ale pleasantly. The smell and the taste are both sweet and somewhat spicy, but the spice favors the tongue while the sweet favors the nose. The beer has nice carbonation but gets a bit sticky. I would like to try an aged bottle, but this new one lacks a bit in complexity and finish. I'm a little bit disappointed because I was expecting even more, but it's still a pretty great Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

Edit: I tried this beer on tap at RR (10/19/08) and liked it even more, so I've raised the scores somewhat. This is an absolutely delicious beer with some of the best coloring that I've ever seen. It's brown with golden highlights at the edges. The flavor is complex, and it succeeds marvelously as a BSD. Wonderful.

Photo of Douglas14
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, dark brown with an awesome head that has great retention and lace. The smell is sugary and malty. The taste follows the smell. Very rich malt and brown sugar. God this beer is awesome...ridiculously awesome

...poured at the Stone Brewery.

Photo of Halcyondays
3.09/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours a dark brown, with a medium white head, which leaves pretty good lacing.

S: Smell was quite faint and hard to find at first. Peppery smell, molasses, bananas.

T: Strong taste of dark malt, light molasses and charcoal. Light bit of fruity ester, but doesn't have the overall complexity I like in the style.

M: Lighter on the body than I expected, feels more like a 5-6% beer, mild carbonation, relatively smooth.

D: An OK beer from Russian River, not one of their best IMO, but I'm glad I finally found it to try it, all right drinkable dark ale.

Photo of sleazo
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A_Pours a dark chestnut brown with a fluffy two finger light tan head. The middle of the head recedes a little but leaves a a sort of crater with sheets of lace absolutely coating the sides of the snifter.

S_The aroma leans towards candi sugar and caramel at first with a good dose of alcohol. As it sits there coming to room temparature a spicy bouquet of cloves, cinnammon, allspice and a plum comes through.

T_The flavour is more of the same as the smell. There is more of a caramel taste that shines through rather than the candi sugar though. The alcohol is felt on the way down. There is a healthy yeast thing going on here that releases the aforementioned spices. Cloves are the dominant spice, perhaps a bit too much so.. A nice bitterness in the background and at the end prevent this from being too sweet. A Slight acidity is also present as well

M_The feel on this is real lovely. Slightly thick and syrupy but with a good dose of soft but active carbonation. This sort of sounds contradictory but it sort of combines different styles well.

D_Another winner from RR. The alcohol is really the only thing I find off here but they could ave been going for that. Well worth seeking out.

Photo of Goliath
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown with ruby hues. A large off white head forms and sticks around with decent retention and spotty lace.

Aroma holds dark fruits, caramel, and banana. It's slightly sour. A little yeast and spice. Really nice.

Taste is quite nice. Loads of caramel, dark fruits, banana, and some yeast. Simple but nice.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a bright carbonation tingle.

Drinkability is fairly high. Nice flavors and the alcohol is hidden very well. Really enjoyable.

Photo of ArrogantB
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle batch 006 courtesy of swnicholson, thanks! Dark brown color with red tints where the light hits the edges with a solid foamy head. It smells like a fruity Belgian dubbel,apples, nice. Wow, the taste is malty, fruity and very delicious. This is complex much like the other RR beers I've had yet still easy to drink.

12/21/08 batch 007

nice, heavy black licorice at first, good flavor, I wish we got this and perdition in addition to the beers they currently distribute to Colorado.

Photo of MisterClean
4.63/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Growler from RR. So rare I head up that way, had to buy a growler.

A - Deep black, mocha head, dissipates slow, nice legs.

S - Honey, dark candi sugar, dates.

T - Ditto.

M - Esters, very, very, smooth, might be brett?

D - Very good. Going to be hard to limit as this tastes better than most session beers.

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

On tap at the RR brepub

A: Very deep brown with ruby red highlights. Thin, tan head

S: Intense deep roasted caramel malts. Rum, plums and a little bit of sugar. Alcohol starts to appear as this warms up.

T: Very brown ale-like up front with caramel, milk chocolate and a fruity finish with plums and raisins. Just a hint of some spice too - anise? Sweet finish

M: The carbonation is great for the flavor profile.

D: This is very tasty and I'm glad i have a bottle.

**Edit 5/25/2013**

Five years since I first had this beer, five years since I picked up a bottle of this at the brewpub on my first trip ever. How things have changed since then. Batch 005, bottled 16 Nov 2007.

A gorgeous pour, this is a mildly dull dark brown with reddish brown highlights, excellent retention and gorgeous lacing.The nose is great. Quite fruity with dark fruit (date, raisin), mild oxidation, candi sugar as well as some spice. The spice character is mildly annatto-like, seedy and faintly astringent. Toffee, buckwheat honey, cocoa, a touch of molasses, and a mellow yeast character are all present. Quite complex and pretty well integrated.

The palate opens quite fruity, with candied and poached pears, some raisin and a very complementary date-like oxidation. A blend of cola, cocoa, toffee and dark honey follow. Really well-integrated here. Drying on the finish, mildly yeasty, mildly spicy, this is excellent. Medium light in body with a high level of carbonation that's mildly fluffy, this is really pleasant on the palate as well.

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

Batch 005. Purchased from City Beer Store a few months ago.

This is a very nice looking beer - dark reddish brown with a creamy off-white head. Smells quite fruity - dark fruits - with some sweet Candi sugar sort of elements thrown in.

Pleasant taste. Lots of dark fruits mingling with cane sugars and touches of molasses. Very slight (and I mean very slight) sourness in the background that I am not digging. Nice yeasty qualities. All in all, one of the better American-made BSDAs I have had.

Mouthfeel is relatively rich but with appropriate carbonation. Drinkability is good - but this is one beer you do sip on.

Recommended. A very solid BSDA from Russian River.

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

Thanks to Tangfoot for this bottle, Batch 003.

A: The ale is a dark burnt siena color, showing off touches of both brown and ruby red colors. A thick, dense white head arose on pour and is nicely lacing the sides of the Russian River tulip glass.

S: The nose is all over the place, with candi sugars (dark), dark fruits and some pepper. Even a touch of sourness (not tart bretty aromas) emerges.

T: Nice Belgian with lots of flavor. Strong alefruits dominate the opening sips, with figs, green grapes, green apples and raisins adding a broad spectrum of sugary sweetness. The fruits are fortified with dark candi sugars that add a caramelized brown sugar blast. The yeast strain quickly dries out the mouth, causing a reflexive reach for another sip. The sour notes that I noticed in the nose are not present in the taste.

M: The ale doesn't skimp on big flavors, keeping the tastebuds happy with new sensations throughout the bottle.

D: It's been ages since I've had a non-Hop Bomb or Barrel-aged Sour from RR and I like the change of pace. This is the kind of beer that you sit and nurse for several hours, enjoying each sip.

Photo of Bubba83
4.58/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml corked bottle into a snifter at 50 degrees. This is labeled batch 006.

Normal pour provided 2.5 finger widths of head, the head looks pillowy, and is a few shades off bright white. Cola colored with a little bit of purple fig color added. Highlights of soft ruby at the outer edge. Good spider web lacing after the head dissipates fairly quick but leaves a healthy ring that sticks around.

I get fig and pepper in the nose, with some alcohol character as well. There are more complexities here but I'm not great at describing what I smell...

I started out with a 4.5 on taste, and bumped it up to 5.0 by the time I was finished. When the beer was colder it tasted of fig, and black currants, followed by pepper and an alcohol spicyness that was subdued... As it warmed, plum, raisin, and other dark fruits shined and complimented the spice perfectly. I also got faint hints of banana and chocolate. I can't say enough about the flavor, this is an outstanding beer.

Mouthfeel is spot on, Russian River never seems to fail in this department. Feels really smooth and creamy at first, probably from the thin ring of head, but it tickles the tongue increasingly, hits a peak, and then dies down. As far as viscosity goes, it seems medium-thin.

The drinkability is also outstanding, not much alcohol presence at all for a 9% beer and the mouthfeel is not overly heavy so it's really a thrill to drink. Had no problem dusting this guy off myself in an hour.

Thank god for Vinnie...

Photo of jeonseh
3.63/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From a caged and corked bottle from Batch 006 poured into my crystal snifter

A - A very, dark plum that just borders on almost being black. Pours a very nice head creamy head that sits on top and composed of a ton of little bubbles and leaves a nice lacing. Really see nothing at all getting through this and has a reflective quality to it.

S - Smells a bit like a Hefe at first as I get a big whiff of candied bananas. However, also get the scent of brown sugar and also dates that adds some complexity to it. Terhere also seems to be a hint of lemon peel.

T- The first taste is banana but a lot sweeter than usual as it reminds me a bit of a candied banana. After that, the beer becomes a bit tart as I get a taste of apple. There is also a port like characteristic to it and also a hint of port. Rather complex but on the whole the apple and plum seem to be the flavors that dominate and stick around in the end. There is a bit of alcohol that also comes through and creates a nice warming quality in the beer and think that it makes its presence known in a good way.

MF - Overall a lot of carbonation on this one which makes it at first seem kinda harsh. However, after that rough initial burst, it starts to smooth out a bit but not enough to fight off the carbonation. Even after drinking it and letting it sit for awhile, it just tingles in my mouth almost uncontrollably. I think on the whole that it was a bit too carbonated for my taste.

D - Overall, an okay beer from RR. It was my first experience with them and have to say I felt a bit disappointed. The falvor was good but the carbonation mixed with the taste was just a bit too much for me. I really had to think hard about whether I wanted to have the rest of the bomber or not. Still want to have some other beers by this brewery just not this one.

Photo of Kemmerlin
4.57/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Dark brown color like coca-cola with 1 finger width head that dissipates within seconds. No lacing down the glass.

S: Seriously it has Caribbean spices and roasted banana chips in the smell with slight caramel and brown sugar mixing with the alcohol.

T: Has a similar taste to a flat coca-cola with some spices and molasses. The slight taste of alcohol blends well with the spice tastes to enhance them adding a great taste to the beer.

M/D: Goes down really well and is very drinkable considering the alcohol level. Has some carbonation in there do to the bottle fermentation and be careful for the yeast cake at the bottom of the bottle it comes out quite easily.

Photo of ChazMania
4.82/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled from batch 005. I bought this at Ledgers in Berkeley while on a trip to N. Calif.
Really tight cork, could not twist it off, I needed to use my wine opener! Pours really nice and the spicey aroma made my nose happy and I knew I'm in for a treat. The flavor is huge, malty and just enough dark fruit. It's a very complex beer and I'm not sure I can label all that I'm tasting but it really lasts for a long time. If this had good availability in my area, I think it would enter my regular rotation! Great beer.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark ruby brown with a nice espresso like frothy head. Smell is wonderful dark fruits and some belgian yeast. Taste is more, plump, juicy dark fruits. The label dictates banana, but I'm getting some juicy plums, grapes, and possibly even blackberries. This is a real gem. Creamy with the perfect amount of carbonation. This is a winner.

Photo of Mudpuppet
4.63/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Batch #005

A- Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Riedel snifter. Pours a amber-brown with a little lacy head on it.

S- Nice belgian yeasty nose on it. I get a little sweet toffee and spices on the nose also.

T- It begins with an almost root beery flavor followed by a balanced malt and yeast backbone. I get a lot of yeast notes in this with hints of bread and spices including coriander and cloves. Some Belgian candi sugar/molasses comes out in this too.

M- This is a perfect Belgian dark ale here. Not overly thick but it sticks around in your mouth long enough. Nice natural carbonation that you really feel on the sides of your tongue as you drink it.

D- This would be a five except for the alcohol in the equation. I could have a few glasses of this (and I will!) but the alcohol catches up quickly. Another great one from Russian River!

Photo of triplecoil
4.42/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a snifter.

Appearance is amber-ruby with amber highlights with a very thin head that sticks around leaving a full, if fleeting, lace as the beer cascades down the glass. A good amount of carbonation is apparent without tasting. The nose is ripe fruit and coriander with a touch of alcohol and a hint of funk and milk chocolate. Taste is full of more fruit--raisins, some banana, etc.--spice, bread, and milk chocolate. Mouthfeel is smooth and viscous with a nice amount of carbonation.

This is a keeper, without a doubt. Will definitely seek this out whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Photo of rkuhnel
4.83/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ah timing is everything. Stopped by RR Brewing on my way home from San Francisco and there was Salvation. While I waited for them to fill my Growler with Pliny the Younger I pleasured my way through a glass of this sublime brew. In the glass it sat a beautiful ruby that was so dark is looked almost brown, and had a small but attractive head and good lacing. Nose was of ripe fruit and flowers, Rich mouthfeel. Flavors are ripe fruit with raisins and plums, and some spices hanging in there at the finish. Delectable brew.

Salvation from Russian River Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,068 ratings.