Sanctification - Russian River Brewing Company

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600 Reviews
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Reviews: 600
Hads: 2,551
Avg: 4.29
pDev: 9.09%
Wants: 1,164
Gots: 822 | FT: 60
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Wild Ale |  6.75% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bierman9 on 10-27-2004

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 600 | Hads: 2,551
Photo of heliosphann
3.61/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

64oz Growler. Shared and provided by my main man Infestaxion. Thanks Daive. Served in my Ithaca Tulip.

A: Bright golden pour with almost a two finger fluffy white head. Disappeared fairly quickly, but lacing is very nice. Looks as good as many other RR offerings I've had.

S: Slightly acidic sourness, with some sweet lemon. Small amount of barnyard funk and Brett. Kind of muted however.

T: Surprisingly almost no sourness whatsoever. There's some citrus and lemon paired with bready yeast. Bitter hops, Brett, and some barnyard funk provide a little tartness. Finally some spices and pepper kick in towards the finish.

M: Light to medium body. Very nice carbonation. Nice and dry on the end.

D: Not bad, but I'm still waiting for the sour and tartness that I felt should be there. It feels a little unbalanced to me.

I was to say the least, confused after drinking this. I was under the impression this was going to be a sour offering like many of the other -tion brews. It was very much more like a funky saison/farmhouse ale with Brett. A few days later trying this, I even had a friend sample it who's had Sanctification in a bottle. He thought it was very different and lacking the big sourness that's mentioned in many reviews. I wanted to get to the bottom of this, so I e-mailed Vinnie at RR. He awesomely responded within a few hours in response to my inquiry. Here is his response:

"Regarding the Sanctification, I am taking this beer in a different direction now days. What you tasted was the first or second batch where I switched strains of Brett and am using less Lacto and Pedio in the beer. This is what I always intended this beer to be, but, over the years it always went
to the sour side. The new strain of Brett is more to my liking and it worked better with less bacteria as well."

Thanks Vinnie. Still a very solid offering from Russian River. I actually enjoyed it more the 2nd time I had it when polishing off the Growler.

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Photo of koopa
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch #2 750ml caged and corked bottle sampled at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia. Good call on ordering this one deliriumfest...

Appearance: Classic RR straw yellow that borders neon in brightness. Fairly cloudy body with a nice 1 finger white crown that shows a small touch of retention and some lace.

Smell: A good dose of brett yielding in a moderate amount of barnyard funk, a touch of sweet lemon, and perhaps a small apricot note.

Taste: Beautiful melding of green apples, green grapes, lemons, brett, a controlled amount of funk and a touch of vinegar. No alcohol presence. Nice!

Mouthfeel: Crisp and light bodied but satisfying too.

Drinkability: The abv isn't an issue, nor is the flavor, but the sour citric notes will be the first thing to get to you if you are lucky enough to be drinking ample amounts of this delicious beer.

One of the only things I enjoyed more this weekend than this brew was the company I was with. A big thanks to beerloco, mrs. beerloco, deliriumfest, ms. deliriumfest, and dbhog for a fine time!

- Much more tame
- Needs time
- I recommend not drinking your batch 4 bottles for at least another 1-2 years

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle generously shared by PWoods.
Pours a light gold in color that is see thru. Nice bubbly white head forming on top.
Smell is all glorious brett. Some nice spice and some light fruit.
Taste is even more of the light fruit. Nice. Some nice white grape like characteristics. This is a very good beer. Perfect carbonation and too easy drinking.
Excellent beer. It's too bad it's very hard to come by.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, this beer has either improved a good bit since I last reviewed it 3 years ago, or its better on draft. Had this at the RR pub. Pours a pale golden with a thin head that sticks around as a thin swirl. The smell is sour, but there are also notes of wintergreen, lactic aromas, some earthy hops and some slight barnyard, and some lemon. Tastes tangy and a bit sour, but with some distinct earthy hops and some funky barnyard. Tart and refreshing with some lingering bitterness from both the hops and the barrel.

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Photo of craytonic
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Light golden-sun-lemon-yellow with a slight haze. Nice head and lacing.

Smell: Great citrus/lemon funk on the nose - barnyard, hay, wood, etc. Also white fruits like pears, apples, and white grapes

Taste: Lemongrass, peach, orange and pears with the barnyard funk described above. Very dry, nice sourness.

Mouthfeel: Very dry with a light, champagne-like carbonation. I wish it had a bit more body, finishes a tad thin.

Drinkability: Off the charts for a wild ale, this one disappears.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.15/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

I'm not one to go for the tick, but this is Vinnie's recently reformulated recipe that I was lucky to get a growler of thanks to Chris. Split this with a few friends as a precursor to a gueuze tasting.

The pour is hazy yellow-orange with good retention and mild lacing. On the nose, this reminds me of my friend Mike's homebrews in a good way. Plenty of clean citrus aromas, with mild lactic character. When revisited after a real gueuze, it reminds me of a hoppy beer, that's how bright the citrus/pineapple character is. Pretty awesome, it's radically different from past incarnations, but still very,very good. On the palate, the gamut of citrus fruit flavors with orange and pineapple are replicated with a moderate, spicy funk with lemon pepper. The finish is dry with more citrus. The mouthfeel is rather surprising, with a definite "ropiness" leading to a slick palate that's out of touch with the bright citrus and light body. Carbonation is solid, but all told, the finish is a little disappointing. That said, I did not have a problem revisiting this beer 5 separate occasions tonight, each time being a different experience. Highly recommended

**Edit 16 Mar 2014**
Bottle, batch 003 that I received in separate trades from Faro and largadeer. Thanks, guys. This particular batch got a 4.95 from me back in 2008. Let's see how it's coming along.

A clear golden amber with a thin, wispy head that falls off to a ring leaving little lacing, this looks solid. The nose has a beautiful melony funk, mildly earthy, a little dusty, nutty ( almonds) , honeydew melon, a tartness reminiscent of Meyer lemons. The palate is similarly delightful. A light yogurty lactic tartness, a clean citrus note, a brightness that has flavors of white peach, cantaloupe and honeydew melon. A mild Brett note- a touch of clove, a wisp of bandaid, are also present. Drying on the finish with a soft, buttermilk-like lactic tartness, along with a touch of honey, this is exquisite. Carbonation is moderate, lending a mild carbonic mineral bite, beautifully so. Still spectacular. 4.5/4.75/4.75

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Photo of callmemickey
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 002

A: Bright golden yellow-orange body. Slightly hazy. Thick fluffy white cap with good retention and light, spotty lacing.

S: Bursting with aroma. From the second the cork was popped the semi-sweet tartness of the beer wafted from the bottle. Bright lemon-orange citrus notes. Earthy, almost farmhouse funk from the brett.

T: Delicious. Semi-sweet lemon-orange notes up front. Puckering sour and tart funk in the middle and a nice clean slight bitterness in the end. Slight oak character that complements the brett nicely. Some pepper and coriander in the background.

M: The sour and tartness lends a great deal to the flavor, but I didn't find my self puckering after each sip.. Lightly effervescent and refreshing.

D: A wonderful compliment to my dinner. I think this might be my favorite non-Pliny Russian River brew.

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Photo of benclimbs
4.32/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Awesome sour ale had on tap @ city beer store

Golden yellow opaque with nice head

Smell is sour cherry and yeast

Taste is lemonade, more cherry with some wheat and a clean bitter finish

Awesome effervescent mouthfeel

A very refreshing complex sweet, fruit sour bitter beer so good

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Photo of ffejherb
3.88/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Russian River on 7/17/09.

A - Cloudy pale golden body with half inch of bright white fluffy head that settled into a patchy film and deposited some intricate lace around the glass.

S - Sweet candi sugar with only a hint of sourness and Brett character, surprisingly. Aroma was not as sour as I was anticipating. A slight lemony character also emerged as it warmed up a bit.

T - Slight boozy character akin to a strong white wine with mild sour fruity notes reminiscent of green apple or tart grapes. Mild spicy notes also emerge with hints of pepper.

M - Light to medium bodied with a slight syrupy texture and only a hint of carbonation. Dry finish with a subtle tart, sour tingle on the palate.

D - This was definitely not as sour as I was expecting, especially given the "100% Brett" slogal associated with this wild ale. However, I found this to be quite drinkable and not too over-the-top, as some other heavily Brett-ed brews. Too bad there were no bottles available.

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Photo of jneiswender
3.88/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this beer in a 2oz sample glass at the brewery as part of a sampler.

A-almost skim milk color, one of the whitest beers I have ever seen.

S-lemon smell,

T-tastes like a lemon smoothie

M-medium somewhat slick

D-Odd tasting at first but when you get used to it the "smoothie" flavor, its not bad.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.58/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle. Batch 002. 100% Brettanomyces fermented.

Pours into my tulip glass a beautifully vibrant clear golden orange that reminds me of a fall harvest. Two fingers of creamy white foam sits atop the brew and the plentiful active carbonation makes it linger on. Can't ask for much more looks wise, downright enticing. Aromas start with fresh pale malts showing a bit of sweet grain scents. Fruit, lemon and honey come through with a bit of a floral accent. Tartness and a barnyard hay backbone emerge with the Brett. Lovely.

First sip brings wonderful sweet and tart malt upfront with a mix of fruit flavors including peach and lemon. Barnyard funk, honey and hay flavors roll through with a bracing tartness that engulfs the mouth. Woody oak tones along with a bit of dryness. The flavor lingers on after each sip of this tasty Brett enhanced golden ale.

Mouthfeel is smooth, velvety and effortless with an effervescent carbonation throughout. This beer is simply amazingly crafted and downright delicious. I would drink this constantly if it was more available. A tart, funky, beauty in a bottle. Russian River knocks it way out of the park once again.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.42/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch 003. Brightly buffed lemon with light showers of yeast and near Champagnesque carbonation. The upper third of the glass is occupied by a thick slice of alabaster colored foam that has good (not great) texture. More rockiness while melting would have helped. Small sheets of sudsy lace don't affect the appearance score in either direction.

From a Brettanomyces standpoint, the nose is neither subtle nor bombastic. Proportions of Belgian blonde and barnyard funk are juuust right. Each sniffs delivers lightly spiced golden fruit and the pungent horse blanket muskiness that lovers of this type of yeast... well... love. Mixed microorganisms (bacteria presumably) were used as well.

Sanctification is beautiful, beautiful beer. That's no surprise at all, considering the brewery and the brewer. Blonde ale is probably technically correct (I'll take Vinnie's word for it), but it tastes like more like a lemony, summertime saison. This American wild ale may not be the most complex ale on the planet, but it's as delicious as they come and is insanely drinkable.

Pale and/or pilsner malt provides no flavor and no appreciable sweetness. Contributors include yeast (and other assorted bugs) and hops. Specifics: lots o' lemon zest, snappy pears, white grapes, a wee splash of apple cider vinegar and bitter grasses. Maybe it's pretty complex beer after all.

The finish is downright Saharan and is pleasingly puckery. After each mouthful, it feels as though my mucous membranes are being drawn toward the center of my mouth as a screw in the center of my tongue is being tightened. Tart, tangy and terrific. Sauvignon Blanc is an apt comparison if you're an oenophile.

The mouthfeel doesn't quite have the expansive creaminess of a world-class Belgian ale. Even though that wouldn't necessarily match its flavor profile, the next highest score can't be granted without it. Kudos to Mr. Cilurzo for creating beer that is perfectly carbonated after having spent 2 years, 4 months and 28 days in the bottle.

Sanctify (verb): to entitle to reverence or respect. Sanctification and Russian River are worthy of both. This is a tremendous American wild ale that deserve to be brewed again and again. If you're cellaring a bottle, it's drinking great right now.

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Photo of 0110x011
4.23/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - pours a slightly hazy gold with a fluffy two-finger head. Not much staying power, but some very nice lace is left behind.

S - lemony citrus first, with some bready yeast and mushroom. Barnyard funk for sure, but more in the style of a Brett-spiked saison than a sour. Big yeast in the aroma, but not in the expected lacto sour way.

T - lemon first, followed by the same bready/earthy/funky yeast flavors. Some peachy stone fruit comes through, but the flavor stays in the more saison area, with a light dash of tartness. Sour would be an incredible overstatement.

M - soft and creamy. Light bodied, with a crisp, clean finish.

D - very, very high. This would be a great intro to this style of beers, before moving to more extremes in sourness.

Quite unlike the other RR sours. Not nearly as tart, with more earth and bready components. Infinitely drinkable, a fine beer, even if it doesn't rely compare with it's brethren.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.47/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The pour is a slightly hazy golden yellow color and a fluffy white head.

S: The nose was not quite as funky as I was expecting. That said, there was some nice lemony acidity and notes of green apples and perhaps grapes.

T: Again, not nearly as funky as I would have thought. Lots of fruit, but primarily green apples and maybe some green melon.

M: On the lighter side of medium bodied, good carbonation with a dry finish.

D: A very good beer and one that I wish was more readily available. I'm new to the world of sours at this point, but I like where things are going.

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Photo of akorsak
4.47/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A corked and caged 750 mL bottle of Batch 003. I've had this one for almost 2 years.

A: The ale pours with a pale peach color that exists somewhere between light brown and turbid yellow. The fullness is accentuated by sediment, yeast suspended mid-glass. Two fingers of head don't leave much lace in their wake.

S: The nose is rich, heavy with green grapes and apples. The tartness is profound, sour beyond description. The oak is evident, buttery with a strong vanilla presence. A very intriguing nose that doesn't hide what's in store.

T: The first sip reaffirms the delicious tartness, almost making me recoil at the strength. Behind, or perhaps mixed with, the bitterness, green fruits lurk with a sweet dryness. Seems like all possible sugars have been sucked out of this ale, it is bone-dry. The oak has left vanilla and boozy sweetness in its wake, flavors that struggle at first to emerge before blossoming later in the glass. As the ale warms, citrus flavors become more evident amongst the sourness, accentuating lemon and orange among others. Mid-sip, the tartness leaves a heat that lingers until the end of the sip. Even bready malts don't stand a chance against the tart and bold flavors. A standout sour ale.

M: I'd use the term vinous but it doesn't do justice as no wine has nearly this much going on. The sourness is mouth-numbing, challenging each sip with a tartness that leaves fresth citrus in its aftermath.

D: The sour, despite its boldness, is very approachable. The booze never asserts itself and the range of flavor that emerges from this simple ale is exemplary.

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Photo of rhinos00
4.18/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So I was going through my old notebook and realized that for some reason I never recorded this. Had at DLD 09. Poured out of a growler from a very generous gentleman.

A- Golden yellow with a decent amount of clarity. Two fingers width of white head. Some lacing as the beer was consumed.

S- Tart and sour. Getting lots of citrus in the nose. Not as potent as I was hoping for.

T- Very much like the aroma. Lots of citrus. Getting some lemon zest and sour grapes. Not as sour as I had hoped for. The flavors were there, but a little more of the lacto flavor would have added a lot to this beer.

M- Light bodied and well carbonated.

D- While it was not as sour as I had hoped, that factor really added to its drinkability.

Overall, another solid sour from Russian River. I wish I had access to this beer on a daily basis.

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Photo of gford217
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle, batch 003, courtesy of connecticutpoet poured into a tulip.

The cork popped out with some force and it pours a bright, cloudy yellow orange with a one-inch creamy white head that recedes to a small cap and leaves good lacing.

The aroma has lots of light tart fruits, with lemons, and a slight vinegar acidity. The brett funk is present but not predominant.

The taste has the big lemony tartness up front but the sweetness of the fruits and yeast are more prevalent than in the aroma. The finish is dry and slightly funky.

The mouthfeel is lively with plenty of carbonation and dry and vinous in the finish.

This is one of the more drinkable sours I've had as the tartness and funk is perfectly balanced with the underlying sweetness. A great beer.

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Photo of willjschmidt
4.27/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle (Batch 003) into a Russian River barrel aged glass.

A: Pours a bright golden color with a nice sized white head.

S: Lemon, bardyard funk, tart fruit.

T: Light fruits in the form of green apple, melon, lemon, and a hint of citrus. Layered over that is the funky brett flavors. It's tart, slightly sour with a dose of bardyard funk.

M: Very fine carbonation over a medium bodt.

D: One of the more drinkable and approachable of Russian River's wild ales, due to the beer being not as sour as some of their others. Really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of brdc
4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to sykdoc for sharing this one. Poured from a growler into a tulip.

Golden color, no haziness to be mentioned, small white head that goes away quickly, with little lacing.
Aroma is delicate but pleasant, sour and tart, acidic, with fruity notes.
Medium bodied, holding carbonation nicely for a growler, quite refreshing. Again delicate, but has fruity notes, white grapes and lemon, sour and acidic components, but not very tart. I prefer added punch with more acidity and/or tartness, but this is still a very refreshing beer.
Cannot argue with the high drinkability having downed a growler.
Another solid Russian River.

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Photo of SykDoc
4.7/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this originally from the tap at the brewery and then purchased a growler and brought it back to Wisconsin, fortunately getting to share it with brdc.

Poured from the growler into a tulip and a goblet. It pours a nice golden color and is clear with a <1/4 inch white head that reduces to minimal lacing. Carbonation is noticeable.

The aroma is primarily a sour/tart cocktail that includes some notes of lemon and a spicey/herbal component. Minimal acidity.

The taste is quite sour and tart. This is remniscent of lemon rind. There is a mildly sweet/fruity component and almost like a good white wine.

The mouthfeel sealed it for me because it combined with the taste very well. Light/medium bodied with a mouth puckering sour. A significant dryness lingers and the carbonation highlights the flavor.

I was not expecting to be floored by this beer. The initial drink sent me for a loop but as I drank a little bit more, the complexities and pleasantness of the taste definitely came out. This is a very easy beer to drink once you get started and will continue throughout.

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Photo of mjl21
4.41/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the brewpub. Poured into a RR Belgian glass. This version comes in at 5.67%.

A-A beautiful gold color and is very clear. Has a one finger head that reduces in half and results in a really nice foamy ring. Lots of lace is left on this one.

S-Tart and sour thanks to the brett. Funk and notes of lemon are present.

T-Sour and tart, but not so much that it wrecks the palate. Has definite notes of lemon and funk. There is a sharp citrus aftertaste that reminds me a lot of a well aged bleu cheese.

M-Medium bodied, smooth, and very dry. As previously mentioned, it is sour and tart, but not overwhelming in either category.

D-About as refreshing as possible from a sour. Tasted great on a beautiful 80 degrees day.

One of the more accessible sours that is out there. A great beer that I would like to see reappear in bottles.

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Photo of bulletrain76
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Draught at the brewpub, 5.67%abv. Light straw with a white head. The aroma is floral, and quite lemony-tart, with maybe a light acetic touch. The flavor is sour, and a little funky, with some lemon, leather, and light fruitiness. Light-to-medium bodied with crisp carbonation. After the last two all-brett beers I've had (proef and avery) I wasn't expecting that much acidity in this, but this guy is pretty damn sour, with great leathery, funky tastes going on.

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Photo of treyrab
4.85/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to the one and only Dyan for this gem. Long story short, I should have tried this before, but never did, so I'm glad I finally got to try this one!

A: Pours a hazy glowing orange/yellow with a nice white head. For a blonde ale turned Bretted ale this sure looks fantastic! Ample carbonation!

S: Wow, not incredibly complex, but for a blond ale spiked with Brett, this really shows how Russian River mastered the style. Nice dry white grapes and chardonnay followed by a nice lemony funk.

T: Very refreshing and tart with lemon juice, yeast funkiness, white grapes and chardonnay. Not the most complex, but incredibly flavorful.

Overall, easily one of the best wild ales I have had. Incredibly drinkable and flavorful!

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Photo of xhcadamx
4.42/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at RR

A - cloudy honey with a bubbly head and surprisingly leaves some lace

S - Sour (brett) lemons and a bit of spice. mainly pepper.

T - A very tart beer indeed. An array of sweet / tart fruit flavors.

M - carbonated well with a dry finish

D - sours are a "one and done" beer for me. Very tart. I will get this beer as my first beer from now on.

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Photo of FirstMan
4.95/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

At Russian River Brewing. Oh yes.

Beautiful golden wheat color. Clear. Really surprising that such a lovely beer could live behind such a plain cover.

Smell is sour mash. Bright with slight molassas elements.

Tartness of sour pears presents itself up front, then lingers on the tongue for an eterinity. Very little hop character or malt. Sweetness like a cider, without the fruitiness.

Crisp, light.

I could drink this all day.


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Sanctification from Russian River Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 600 ratings.