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Temptation | Russian River Brewing Company

1,005 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A blonde ale fermented with a special strain of yeast, then aged in French oak chardonnay barrels. Flavors of wine and oak absorb into the brew throughout twelve months of aging. During this aging process, a secondary fermentation occurs using a yeast strain disliked by most brewers and winemakers called Brettanomyces.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-19-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,005 | Ratings: 3,500
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.72/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

"The only way to handle temptation successfully is to yield to it."

--French proverb

Batch 001. Temptation is precisely midway between lemon peel and ripe apricot. The highest compliment that I can pay the gorgeous, alabaster colored crown is to say that it would look at home on the finest Belgian ale. It becomes even more attractive as it slowly descends, leaving the glass positively coated with delicate lace.

Unlike some Brettanomyces-infused beer, the nose is full of barnyard funkiness without being completely dominated by it. It's easy to appreciate ripe golden fruit and the Chardonnay oakiness that was imparted by 12 month's contact with the barrels. 'Sublime' is the one word that keeps coming to mind whenever I put my nose over the glass.

How does Russian River manage to brew such amazing beer, again and again and again? The fact that Vinnie Cilurzo is the mastermind behind what I consider the best beer the world has ever seen (Pliny The Younger), yet is still able to create a stunningly complex Belgian-style ale like Temptation boggles the mind.

Even without the Brett, this would be an outstanding example of a golden ale. The fact that it's even possible to determine that is further evidence that the wild yeast doesn't steamroll everything in its path, but complements the beer in the best way possible.

The flavor profile consists of barely ripe apples, pears and peaches (complete with their natural sugars), a potpourri of spices (clove and white pepper especially), a surprising amount of sweetgrassy hoppiness and a perfect Brettanomyces puckery tang that wraps things up in a perfect ribbon of drinkability. Why oh why didn't they put this stuff in 750s?

Despite the label's advice to 'allow the natural yeast sediment to remain in the bottle', I'll do no such thing. The final pour clouds things up nicely and puts the already fandamntastic flavor into orbit. I can say without hesitation that Temptation is the best wild ale that has ever entered my glass.

The mouthfeel, while not up to the standards of Belgium's best, isn't far behind. Perfection would be easily achieved with a fraction more expansiveness. It's hard to argue with beer that is this lightly silky and this zestily carbonated.

I don't like to repeat myself, but it's a damn shame that this delicious ale isn't released in bigger bottles (I'm thinking jeroboams at least). It's also too bad that Russian River will no longer ship to us poor souls outside of Northern California who aren't able to otherwise experience the transcendence of their beer. I'm glad that I decided to yield to Temptation today.

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Photo of Damian
4.13/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank from a 12.70 fl. oz./375 ml corked and caged bottle purchased at Toronado, San Francisco, CA
Batch 002

Poured a beautiful, glowing, deep golden yellow with a two-finger, pure white, sea foam head. The head slowly faded to a frothy dollop of foam that sat in the middle of the liquid. Large, bubbly blankets of lacing crept down the sides of the glass.

The aroma was very crisp, sour and a touch musty. Funky Brettanomyces yeast were immediately recognizable, and they lent an earthy and dry quality to the nose. White wine notes (as produced from the Chardonnay barrel aging) also lingered in the background.

The taste was citric, sour and quite funky as well. Once again, the Brettanomyces were ever present. Oaky, earthy and barnyardy notes also came through strong. The Brett yeast gave off strong, slightly acidic, lemony notes. The beer finished remarkably clean, dry and tannic (and surprisingly refreshing).

Body was medium/thin with a spritzy yet moderate carbonation.

This beer was truly everything I anticipated and more. An extreme beer like this begs to be savored with foods equally as interesting. Try pairing it with a plate of raw milk morbier cheese, green grapes and white flesh peaches for the perfect summertime afternoon snack.

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Photo of TexIndy
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 375ml corked and caged bottle. The bottle is interesting in itself with the odd ml size, dippled bottom like a wine bottle and long slender neck. The label has a story about the beer. Poured into my Chimay goblet. It has a hazy golden yellow color with just a few bits of yeast floating around. It had a small head that turned into a constant partial film that was fed by a carb geyser. The aroma was amazing. I love sour beers and this had a great sour beer smell. It was heavy on the brett but you could also get a good hit of the oak and some lemon in the back. The taste was also exceptional. Nice and sour with a carb attack on the tongue. Reminds me of Le Terrior from NBB. Mouthfeel is great with good sour bite and carbonation. Overall, I loved this one and highly recommend. Can't wait to try it and some other RR wild ales again. (5, RR, T, Y)

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Photo of geexploitation
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours semi-cloudy and bright gold with a creamy, perfectly white head that looks like it came out of a nitro tap. The aroma is dominated by brett and underlaid by lemon/citrus and a light, slightly caramelized sugar smell. On the palate, softly sour at first before it works up in intensity and complexity, with highly acidic brett sourness and light, sweet malts vying for attention. Things dry out completely by the finish, which is full of sourness that lingers for a while on the tongue. Big, soft carbonation and, in spite of the largesse of the acidity, phenomenal balance throughout. Overall this is excellent -- unique, interesting flavors, good integration of the various elements at play, very drinkable. Wonderful.

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Photo of meatyard
4.1/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is an unclear yellow/orange with a considerable amount of carbonation. I poured slowly and didn't develop any head.
The smell is a tart funkiness.
The taste is light malt, a hint of citrus with a slightly bitter and tart funkiness at the end.
Mouthfeel is light bodied, carbonated and has a dry finish.
Drinkability is quite good for those with a taste for this style of beer.

This is an interesting and invigorating beer that is not for everyone. I do like it and wish there were a few more beers of this type available. I wouldn't want to drink it everyday but there are days when this beer will satisfy a certain craving.

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Photo of tgbljb
3.65/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a clear golden color with massive with head. Great retention.
Smell is of tart fruit with distinct wine notes present.
Taste is wine meets beer, with a firm maltiness blended with wine flavors.
Leaves a somewhat tart taste in the mouth.
An OK beer. Did not live up to my expectations (or the price I paid for it)

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Photo of blackie
4.59/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

one of two bottles from my Anniversary Bombing...batch 001

a: The pour into my oversized snifter gives a low white head that soon clears the surface, leaving a ring and a sparse head that reappears when the glass is swirled. The beer is a bright, cotton honey golden in color.

s: Wow. Notes of fresh, crisp white wine with a wonderful bacterial funk. The funk is great in that it is, for lack of a better word, clean...in almost a weak, sweet malt vinegar kinda way. An ever so slight touch of pale grain brings it back from the wine side and gives a perfectly light sweetness. Hints of tart green apple and crabapple, white grape, and much more. Papery, aged hop aroma. Description won't really do this one justice. So good. Really enjoying the barrel influence on this beer. Perfect level of alcohol. Perfect all around and very tastefully done.

m: High though smooth carbonation, with a body on the light side of the medium range that is very clean...and certainly dry in the finish.

t: Beautifully blended complexity. Tart flavors of underripe green apple from the perfect application of bacteria brings to mind, expectedly, white wine. The pale malts take a backseat here, which is all fine and good as the end result is a very subtly rich beer. Low hop profile add just a slight papery flavor. Finish is near perfect, thanks in no small part to the tart character.

d: Very easy drinkability, and definitely a treat. I could sit here for an hour and try to describe this thing to a t, but I'd rather sit back and enjoy it. Gonna age the other bottle another year or more. Get some.

3-6-2007: Second bottle from my bombing, Batch 001. Things don't seem to have changed too much, perhaps more brett tartness...still a wonderful beer. No scoring changes made.

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Photo of Reed415
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a light amber color with a thick head that maintains

S - Very sour smelling, tart, fruit

T - Very tart sour, fruity, very smooth but is very tart throughout

M - Medium bodied, Smooth, Puckering

D - Excellent beer, very unique experience but also very tasty

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Photo of BeerTruth
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to barleywinebrewer for this treat!

375 mL bottle, Batch 002, poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a murky bright corn yellow with a fluffy two finger white head that seems to stay forever, and I mean forever. Lacing is great, nothing to complain about here. Smell is of very light fruit odors; apple, pear, lime, white grape, and some apricot. Very faint vanilla oak flavors in the nose as well. Taste starts off with a lime tartness blended with a dirty earth hop flavor. Definite metallic notes linger on the lips from the frothy head that just won't go away. Vanilla like alcohol presence in the aftertaste from the wine barrels with a nice bready malt smoothness. Such a complex flavored brew. Mouthfeel is light bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Very clean and fresh from start to finish. Drinkiability is pretty good, I could share these with friends for a night. My first Wild Ale, can't wait to try the Supplication next!

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.47/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to melbatoast. Pours a lighter color, a straw golden color. I can smell the aroma from down the street. Huge sour grapes smell. In the taste, wow a bit sour, then it just goes away. Nice how it does not cling to the palate. Light body, but very bold taste. A truly great beer.

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Photo of mymrnngjckt
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I finally pulled a bottle of this out of my cellar. Amazing beer. Poured it into a Russian River glass and enjoed.

The color was darker than I thouht it would be. Golden brown/red color. The smell was amazing. You could smell the tartness of the beer. The beer tasted awesome. It had a crisp tartness too it not too overpowering like a Cantillon but more crisp like Flemish Sour. The tartness stayed on the tounge but disappeared quickly.

I wish ther were more of this around because I would drink it every day.

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Photo of peabody
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a beautiful straw yellow with two fingers of small white suds. Not much lacing.
You can smell this one from across the room. Sour grapes and pungent yeast with slight sugar.
Taste is sour right up front. This was well worth the troube to acquire. Lemon peel and alum. Just a good sour white wine like Katz just not as sweet.
Mouthfeel is very clean. Bursts of flavor keep the palate enthused and ready for the next drink.
If I could get this one and it wasn't so expensive it would be a great session brew. This would go good with seared tuna steaks over garden greens. mmm

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Photo of Beerzebub
4.47/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

375 ml, labeled Batch 002, barrel aged 16 months. Served in a Riedel Vinum Extreme flute.

Straw color, fairly clear, a finger of whitish head. Some classically lacy looking lace.

Big bretty and fruity smell - barnyard funk, pineapple, white grape juice, lemon, grassy hops. Hints of rosewater, honey and shortbread.

Tastes mainly of sour fruit, particularly pineapple, but not overwhelmingly sour, and spicy funky yeast. Some restrained grassy/herbal hop flavor and bitterness. Some discernible sweetness, quite restrained and well balanced. White wine character. Some oak, but restrained and well integrated. The sweetness disappears and the tartness picks up. Long dry finish, spicy yeasty pineapple, with astringency like black tea. Refreshing, balanced, wonderful.

Extremely fine carbonation, with acidity and astringency adding to the impression of substance.

Very drinkable, refreshing.

Very nice beer, well worth seeking out.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.73/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured a clear pale amber with a nice thick white frothy head. Carbonation was insane, tons of visible bubble streams coming off the bottom. Almost looked like, well it really did look like champagne. Bubbles everywhere.

S - Very strong pungent aroma comes off of this one. Huge smell of grapes, with a hint of alcohol. Maybe a hoppy presence trying to come through. Smells like wine.

M & T - First impression was very sour, and it tasted like a nice white wine. Lots of carbonation and great feel, very light, again almost like champagne.

D - Overall this was very intresting and a good one time try, but not really my cup of tea. Would not turn it down if it was offered, but would not go out of my way to purchase it, a nice novelty at least for me.

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Photo of CharlieMopps
4.49/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Order this one up at the Brickskeller in DC. My first run-in with an American Wild Ale.

A: Poured a tawny amber hue topped by a quaint half-inch head that dissipated rather quickly.

S: Pale malt and Brett smell, rather yeasty and sour. The winey Chardonnay oak came through, mixing with what basically smelled like a pilsner gone bad. Damn interesting though, unlike anything I've ever smelled.

T: A somewhat unassuming taste at the very front, but the smooth malt flavor is replaced by a yeasty and sour Brett-flavored bonanza. Oaky characteristics present, and this does resemble wine. Finish yields an ultra dry ending, with a hoppy and yeast-filled lingering flavor on the palate. The complexity is insane, and I actually found myself enjoying the sourness.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a lighter body to it, but still retains a fullness of flavor. The mouthfeel brings out the array of tastes.

D: A bit of a challenge at first, but a very enjoyable offering once you get into it and really seek out the different flavors. Sitting back and soaking in the complex nature of this really contributed to another awesome time at the 'skeller.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
4.03/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 002.

Pours a clear gold color with a light and fluffy head reasting on top. Second pour was a tad murkier from some yeast sediment. Nose is light and sweet. Slight citrus tang to it.

Solid flavor. Great beer to enoy all night long. Light citrus tartness hangs over this beer and comes out more prominently as it warms. Littls bits of pepper. Also, I can pick out some oakiness but honestly I am not sure what it brings to this beer. Maybe a bot more smoothness and body. Light mouthfeel and quite vinuous.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one pours from 375ml caged and corked bottle(batch 002)..ooops! I turned the bottle sideays to read some of the info and when I popped the cork, the beer shot out of the bottle big time. My bad. :^(

Anywho, it pours a cloudy straw yellow with a large head of foam that shrinks slowly leaving a solid layer with plenty of lacing.

The smell is all fruity, and yeasty, and funky. Fruit wise, I can smell lemon and some apricot and it's very inviting indeed.

The taste on first sip has a BIG sour punch and a ton of citrus flavours. Lots of grapefruit, apricot and lemon tartness permeate my every taste bud and I can *only* smile. A very BIG smile. Swishing the Ale in my mouth, it gets even more complex. Big yeast notes, strong representation of funk, and a never ending stream of a variety of fruit...man, the flavours are simply outstanding. Yum. Talk about a Wild Ale, in the future, when I see or hear that term used, I'll instantly think of RR Temptation.

The mouthfeel is superb, the carbonation is light, the drinkability is through the roof...I kid you not. The finish is very lemony and you just want the aftertaste to *never* end. And as far as the 7.25%abv comes in to play, there's no evidence of it in the tasting and there's almost no warming as it goes down. An amazing brew.

Bottom line: Yet another fantastic brew from Russian River. If I ever visit California again, visiting RR Brewing would be a must. My BA hat is off to them!

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Photo of stereosforgeeks
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy yellow orange in a goblet. A nice one finger white head that fades quickly and forms a nice retention.

Smell: Major notes of citrus tart, musty, and oak. The citrus seems to be of grapes and pineapple and banana. There are some spices, but I can't put my finger on it.

Taste: It starts off a bit strange due to an initial vinegar taste. The fruit really balances well with the more wine like qualities of the beer. There is some nice breadiness that provides the backbone here and some sugary notes as well. This warms beautifully and you can really taste all the subtle nuances of the flavors.

Mouthfeel: Lively and active. The sour and oak lingers nicely.

Drinkability: Absolutely wonderful. Refreshing and moderate alcohol content.

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Photo of atsprings
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured a hazy straw yellow with a beautiful frothy head that lasted and left great lacing. The aroma was of strong hefe-weizen characteristics, only stronger than any hefe I've ever encountered. As far as the taste, if you can take the sourness, as I could, this is one of the most complex beers I've ever encountered. Once you look past the sour, there is an interesting blend of German hefe and Belgian Tripel characteristics. In the mouth, the sourness is a bit overbearing, but I'm able to appreciate that it goes with the style. This is certainly a beer that takes some effort to appreciate, but I must say, it's worth the effort. This is the first beer of this style I've ever had, and it certainly leaves me wanting to try more.

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Photo of WeisGuy
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch 002 bought from the RR website a few months ago. Poured into a wine glass.

a - bright golden/amber color, nice haze, big white head with good retention and lacing

s - aroma is very similar to champagne, big sour notes with some apple and pear, some funk from the Brett, only slight alcohol, hints of oak

t - slightly yeasty right up front before a big sourness evolves, lots of sour apple and lemon, big Brett notes that just sit on the tongue for awhile, nice hints of oak, finish is fruity, lemon mostly with some other citrus, no alcohol whatsoever in the taste, just a lingering sourness/funkiness and fruit along with some oak, awesome

m - lots of carbonation, light-bodied, finish is more sweet than dry

d - I couldn't believe that I went through the bottle so fast, I would have thought the sourness would limit the drinkability more than it does

It's hard for me to choose a favorite between this and Supplication...both are amazing. Hopefully Vinnie still has some Temptation on hand when I'm at RR in a few months.

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Photo of FlyFisher2782
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy. cloudy almost straw like pale yellow in color. Brilliant head and carbonation kept a 3 finger head around for quite a while.

First whiff reminded me a lot of french champagne, deep woody notes followed by a hint of alcohol and almost leathery scent.

Taste was a very dry malt backbone balanced by tart fruit, hints of apple, cherries, lemon and a puckering finish with the brett aftertaste.

From its smell I was expecting this beer to be unbalanced by the heavy brett and alcohol but found it to blend together quite well and the alcohol to be unnoticeable once I drank it. Mouthfeel is light and crisp making this a fantasticly drinkable beer, except for the pricetag.

Overall, very pleasing, not unlike a fine champagne.

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Photo of BlastTyrant
4.48/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Batch 001 bottle. A nice pop greeted me upon the removal of the cork. Poures a hazy golden color with a thin head. Tart Bret character in the nose, along with ripe apples and a gentle woodsiness. Flavor is spot on - Bret does not overpower, it is about as subtle as Bret gets, in my experience. Vinous character gives over to a light oak and lemon zest finish. Had this and Supplication in the same day, my first brews from RR, and they have immediately become one of my favorite brewers.

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Photo of badbeer
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Batch 002. Bottle has tendency to foam over.

Hazy yellow color with a white head, decent retention. Smell includes some lemon, soft sourness, oak, and there seemed to be a very light spice that I'm unable to name. Taste has sour oak, lemon, and some other citrus flavors, slightly acidic, with a fairly dry finish. Not as sour as others I have enjoyed, but still quite good. Mouthfeel had high carbonation with a light body. Light body and dry finish to this, paired with its excellent taste make this one highly drinkable. I wish I had plenty more; would be great for special occasions.

Update: This beer has gotten better and better. Just marvelous.

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Photo of travolta
2.69/5  rDev -39.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: A hazy straw color. A little cloudy. The lacing is minimal but defined. Head retention is thin.

Nose: Crisp chardonnay with hints of lemon, citrus, melon, mineral, and alcohol.

Taste: Very crisp on the mouth. Very bitter, a crisp yeasty taste throughout. Very oaky, lots of citrus, bitter.

Notes: Great concept, great presentation, execution was disappointing. Vinnie, bring back some Blind Pig brews through Russian River!

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Photo of BillyB
4.32/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap from Monk's.

Aprearance is a hazy golden yellow. Thin whispy white head but not much.

Aromas of white wine, spices, pepper, lemon, grassy, wet hay, buttery oak.

Taste is light biscuity, cookie-like malt with strong citrussy, lemony, white wine character. Buttery oak and cookie flavors blend well with the sharp sour chardonnay character.

Mouthfeel is light, sharp and carbonic.

A very interesting beer. Quite drinkable.

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Temptation from Russian River Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 1,005 ratings.