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Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Russian River Brewing CompanyRussian River Brewing Company
BA SCORE
100
world-class

612 Ratings
Ratings: 612
Reviews: 311
rAvg: 4.57
pDev: 9.19%
Active Beers: 54
Beer Ratings: 44,689
Beer Avg: 4.06
Taps: 0
Bottles: 0
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

725 4th St
Santa Rosa, California, 95404-4407
United States
phone: (707) 545-2337

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 612 | Reviews: 311 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Cblackmar
1.4/5  rDev -69.4%

Cblackmar, Wednesday at 09:43 PM
Photo of OwenJ
2.36/5  rDev -48.4%

OwenJ, Sep 01, 2014
Photo of craytonic
2.5/5  rDev -45.3%

Quick drive up from San Francisco once, I think it was about 1.5 hours. Visited another time while vacationing in Napa Valley, drove over from our cottage at the Carneros Inn.

Atmosphere: Crowded and lively, a bit more of the younger "alternative" set in terms of piercings, facial hair. Seemed to mostly be regulars on this weekday night. We were dressed more like a typical Napa pair and stuck out. Actually, my wife and I look like stuck up yuppie/preppy pricks in an unforgiving, unapologetic sort of way which works just fine in Napa where we came from but probably didn't help things at RR.

Quality: Food is barely decent pizza, nothing special. Mellow mushroom, etc do a better job. No one is going here for the food.

Service: Service was horrible. Took us about 15 minutes to order beer, took another 10-15 minutes for it to come. Ordered food and then sat and watched people come in, sit at a table next to us, order food, and get their pizza before ours. I asked and our absent waiter had failed to put our order in. We had to start again from scratch. Not sure how this happened with their fancy electronic ordering system. I asked for some bread to hold us over, which we were charged for (we didn't get any sort of real apology or discount for any of this). My wife actually left, went to the bookstore down the street, and came back a little under an hour later and we still had no food. All told we were there about 3 hours because the service was just horrible.

Selection: Beer selection is amazing, 20-ish RR beers on tap. That said, I prefer tasting them outside the context of the brewpub.

Value: Average, can't really remember the bill but it seemed about right.

craytonic, Jun 23, 2010
Photo of wwest
2.75/5  rDev -39.8%

wwest, Mar 02, 2014
Photo of SteveTheDog
2.99/5  rDev -34.6%

I was disappointed by this experience. And I love Russian River beers. They're fantastic. But here's why I was let down by this experience

- website advertised patio that was dog friendly. We got there and the "patio" is just a sidewalk with a fence around it and no dogs allowed
- over an hour wait in the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday for a table, so we just went to the bar to get a beer each
- Took us 10 minutes to get a bartenders attention and order. And there were 3 of us. And we weren't alone - the folks next to us waited about that long to try to get their tab and then eventually just left.
- The beers we did get were great (Pliny the Elder, Shadow of a Doubt, and Supplication), but this isn't a write-up on their beers, it's about the brewpub.

Not even going to try to go back there - i'll just enjoy their beer elsewhere

SteveTheDog, Aug 31, 2013
Photo of Jotora
3/5  rDev -34.4%

Jotora, Jan 09, 2014
Photo of Zorro
3/5  rDev -34.4%

Been sitting on my notes of my trip here with friends on the 23 of January 2008 at 5:30 PM I have a few unkind things to say about the visit.

Not easy at all to get to the place, parking is basically nonexistent.

Nice view of the brewing equipment through a glass window. Lots of wood and concrete floors.

Major crowding and small tables plus quite cold concrete floors. Our group agreed that it was fairly miserable place to bring a group of five people. The crowding was a MAJOR problem trying to eat here, think Japanese hotel type crowded.

Service isn't a word I would use for the experience here. It was VERY apparent that the waitress here didn't give a damn about ANYTHING. She brought the wrong beers to me and really didn't care. Food was good but the hassle and the waitress didn't exactly put me in any mood to enjoy it and I apologized to my group for convincing them to make the trip up from San Jose.

Beers brought in the wrong glassware, major problem for a brewery of this level of reputation.

Huge samplers but the waitress had zero clues about beer.

I can't recommend making the trip from any distance to here and I will never return unless I have to go to Santa Rosa specifically.

The beer IS good, just the place where it is made is pretty miserable. I suggest you consume Russian River beer some other place.

Zorro, Mar 03, 2008
Photo of BeerisUber
3.03/5  rDev -33.7%

My problem with RRB is that they refused to fill a growler of mine. I asked them to rinse it out and because I did that they absolutely refused to fill it. I explained that I traveled 3 hours to go there and yet they still said no. I had to wait almost an hour for a seat on a Tuesday night.

Yes the beer is good but after just visiting Seattle and drinking beer up there I felt their beers were over rated and over hyped. Pliny is good but it's not that good.

I just don't understand why they wouldn't fill a growler or even replace it with one of their 30 empty clean growlers that I could see. Last time I checked they are a brewery and must have some star san lying around to re-sanitize the growler I brought. Oh well... They won't be getting any money from me ever again!

BeerisUber, Oct 21, 2013
Photo of WMBGALE
3.2/5  rDev -30%

WMBGALE, Sep 27, 2014
Photo of Talisker
3.28/5  rDev -28.2%

Comment added on 05-July-2009:

A few months back Russian River switched glassware from standard pints to smaller 14oz "Imperial-style" pint glasses. The prices didn't go down when they did this.

Belgians still served in 14oz tulips, no change.

Again, the beer is amazing. Unbelievably great. But the retail side of the house is downright horrendous - like no one cares about the customer at all. Obviously this doesn't stop my coming - been here dozens of times, and given the consistency of both the beer (great) and service (indifferent on a good day), will continue to come.

--
What's to say that hasn't been said?

The atmosphere is iffy - strip mall feel, music far too loud, tables poorly situated, bar very often understaffed - even when not crowded it can take forever to get a fresh glass.

Table service is indifferent - many times I've waited more than 30 minutes for someone to take even my drink order. The food menu is spartan - pizza the only choice, edible but certainly not exceptional. I've seen the food sit under the warmer for 15-20 minutes before it gets brought out. Generally it's clear the front of the house is not managed well.

But of course none of this matters, because the beer is sublime. They offer comprehensive samplers of whatever's on tap, and of course none of them miss. Belgian or American ales - every one a sensational example of its style.

If Vinnie or the assistant brewer are around, they'll give a tour of the brewery itself (a small space, occupying about as much space as the restaurant/bar area). One nice touch is that you can see the various cask ales maturing behind the bar.

And they'll sell you a growler of any "regular" beers on tap ($12 for the beer, $5 for the glassware as of this writing).

Sometimes they'll fill a growler of specialty beers like Pliny the Younger or the wet-hopped beer, but their willingness to do so seems to vary, as do the prices. I've paid anywhere from $2 to $10 extra for growlers of these, also had them refuse to fill at all.

Their Belgians tend not to keep well in growlers, in my experience, but prolonging the beer experience is worth it.

My overall score probably comes out low, but a score can't capture what Russian River's about. An absolute must-visit for any beer person in the SF Bay Area or wine country.

Talisker, Feb 03, 2007
Photo of schmitter
3.28/5  rDev -28.2%

Let me start off by stating the obvious: the beer here is world class. My love for wild ales and RR beer in general has never been higher, thanks to my visit to RR. That being said the only reason to go to RR is to drink this excellent beer.

I went two days in a row, once for dinner, the next day for happy hour; in fact, the only reason I went the next day was to be sure that the HORRIBLE service from the night before was just a one time deal. It wasn't....first visit we got a table with some family... the waitress was horribly rude, didn't place 2 of our orders, failed to identify some of the beers in my sampler, and just overall annoyed by our presence. (I'll mention here that the food selection is fairly slim and what I had was just MEH.)

The next day, the same experience but this time at the bar. The bartender acted like it was a pain in the ass to take an order and his shit attitude certainly wasn't conducive of someone willing to answer anything about the beers (other than 'nother pliney?).

I may be ripping the place or being harsh, but I travelled ACROSS THE COUNTRY with RR as one of my very specific destinations and was treated as a nuisance at best. So if your in the santa rosa area, go, the beer is well worth it, but I wouldn't expect to feel welcomed, at least by the employees I dealt with.

schmitter, Aug 27, 2009
Photo of remilamy
3.28/5  rDev -28.2%

Went here 3 times within a span of 3 days.

Thursday afternoon: not crowded, nice and relaxing, good service.

Thursday night: packed, hard to find anywhere to sit, loud, and two bartenders both chided me (separately, at different times) for wearing a Moylan's shirt. Sorry, I like good beer, so sue me. I don't like attitude in my bartenders and that really irked me.

Very meat-market type atmosphere.

Saturday night: even more crowded and loud than Thursday night and very hard to find a place to sit. They also do belly-dancing on Saturdays. It was cute, but I thought it a bit tacky that the belly dancers walked around with baskets after their act, asking for money.

The food is decent. I only had the pizza as it looked like the best thing on the menu. It's typical "California style" pizza and not bad. I have had better but I've had much worse. And I'd rather a brewpub focus on the beer than the food.

The beer is good, there's no denying that. But, I honestly enjoyed Moylan's a lot more. The atmosphere at AleWorks in Santa Rosa is more relaxed and subdued.

If you want loud & crowded and to maybe go home with someone, Russian River in the evening is a good place for you. If you want a more relaxing place, it's best to go during the day.

remilamy, Oct 23, 2008
Photo of jvillefan
3.48/5  rDev -23.9%

A: The atmosphere is a crowded little restaurant that is incredibly noisy. There are constantly trying to sell you their stuff that is hung on every wall while you eat. A tour of the actual brewery is difficult if not, impossible, to do.

Q: The food and beer were very good. The menu is all of the beers that they are currently brewing as well as pizzas, salads, and wings.

Ser: Not great. Very slow and when our party of 8 was at the table for about 45 min (we had just gotten our food) the put a sign that said reserved on our table and told us that the next party would be there soon.

Sel: They had an enormous selection of their own beer there. We got a tasting that consisted of about 15 different beers.

F: The calzone that I had was delicious and everyone else in my party enjoyed their food tremendously.

V: The food as a little pricy but the beer was a steal. To purchase a growler and fill it with Pliny the Elder was only $20 and if I go back it is only $14 to refill it.

jvillefan, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of NorCalAussie
3.51/5  rDev -23.2%

Their beers are world class. There is in doubt about that, but that may have gone to their heads just a little too much.

The brew pub had a good atmosphere, a busy lunch trade and they had a great selection of beers on tap in bottles and for growler fills. I didn't try the food as I was getting some to-go bottles only as I passed through town. The food did look great though and seemed reasonably priced too.

My problem (and a couple of friends have expressed the same viewpoint) is that the bar tender and even the regulars at the bar seem to size you up as you walk in and treat you like a nobody or a tourist trying to get in on their private little club. Service was very abrupt and unfriendly and fairly condescending.

Great beers but a pretentious vibe that I can do without, I thought the beer crowd was supposed to be less stuck up than the wine connoisseurs? Not in this place.

NorCalAussie, Aug 01, 2013
Photo of BigB415
3.53/5  rDev -22.8%

Stopped in after my first final was finished. I was hoping to get a Pliny, a small pizza and a pint glass from the gift shop. What should of been 30 minutes to an hour turned out to be almost 2 hours. I stepped inside and waited at the hostess table for about 5 minutes with the hostess no where in sight, it was pretty busy after all. She finally came in and sat me in the room with at least 5 crying babies.

The smallest pizza I wanted was almost 12 bucks and since I only had 20 bucks on me I opted for the Meatball Sandwich which was 8 bucks since I had to get a Pliny and a pint glass to go I didn't want the bill to come to 19 bucks and only give her a dollar tip. The waitress finally showed after 5-10 minutes and took the people who got there after me drinks orders first.

When I ordered I just ordered everything to save time since I knew what I wanted. Beer came several minutes later and food at least another 20 minutes later. Of course the beer was good, I need to get something other than Pliny next time I go. The food was alright, it filled me up which is what I was hoping for. I don't really have meatball sandwiches that much.

I asked for the check and the pint glass together. They spent a little bit looking for some pint glasses since they thought they were out but they finally found some and I was able to leave the waitress with more than a 1 dollar tip so everyone was happy. I got my beer and my pint glass so I have another pint glass to add to the growing collection. Next time I go I'm bringing more than 20 bucks so I can get that pizza. I heard it is great.

BigB415, May 24, 2011
Photo of DrunkenMonk
3.53/5  rDev -22.8%

Russian River is a casual relaxed place with friendly staff and good service. It is clean yet retains its charm as a street-front pub. It is too small for its high following, creating elbow to elbow standing room only situations at times.

The food was good. I had a pizza. The beer selection was good also. They had two sample flights available. I had the hops flight. It was really good. Next time I will have the sour/Belgium flight.

I enjoyed my time and will return.

DrunkenMonk, May 23, 2013
Photo of Seanibus
3.6/5  rDev -21.2%

Given how great the Russian River beers I have tried have been, I was greatly underwhelmed by the actual brewpub experience. I found the place garishly run down and dumpy, loud, and crowded. The service was friendly but painfully slow and inattentive. And the food was merely OK, though reasonably priced. The beer, however, is still the star, and Russian River beers are by-and-large incomparable, although not particularly subtle. The beer sampler offers 2 oz pours of everything on draft that day, and that can amount to up to 18 beers, including the amazing IPA lineup, including Blind Pig and the Plineys. Be warned, though, that a significant percentage of the pours are likely to be from the extensive sour series, which are a bit of an acquired taste, even for fans of acidic white wines.

Seanibus, Feb 20, 2011
Photo of Port_Seat
3.61/5  rDev -21%

A lot of the best beers in the world under this roof, but the brewpub is always a busy shitshow in the evening. To me, not worth the pilgrimage unless there is a major release. If you must come, I'd come in during a weekday afternoon if you want a table.

Port_Seat, Aug 07, 2014
Photo of mbunje
3.65/5  rDev -20.1%

I was here for lunch on a Thursday while recently visiting Sonoma area

Appearance: This place needs some work... easy cleanup, though
Smell: A bit of malt in the air, pizza oven, maybe a bit of fresh air
Taste: The beer here is unbelievable. Pliny, Salvation, Damnation....awesome.
Mouthfeel...the floor looked dirty, I'll skip this part.
Drinkability....I think I passed out here.

Seriously....food is pretty darn good for a Brewpub. I didn't have the pizza but it looked good. The beer is the attraction here.
If you are anywhere near Sonoma....MUST have beer fresh on tap here. Not much variety, but everyone is first class quality and unique.

Can't wait for the Pliny's to be bottled....

mbunje, Apr 22, 2008
Photo of PDXHops
3.65/5  rDev -20.1%

After an earlier visit to Bear Republic (exceeded our expectations), we headed south to Russian River. It was a mild disappointment, in part because our expecations were so high.

Not sure I can explain exactly why, but it seems more like a popular drinking spot and restaurant than a Beer Mecca. The staff, while efficient and polite, weren't exactly friendly and the bartender seemed a little put off by my request to get a certain t-shirt in a certain size (it was the middle of the afternoon and not busy). I didn't run into any staff members who really wanted to talk beer, either- they could have been imported from any random restaurant.

The beer itself, though, that's another story. Hard to beat a pint of great beer right from the source. Excellent quality, nice variety (focusing on Belgians, wild ales and hoppier American stuff). I could have sucked down fresh Pliny the Elders all afternoon.

A very mixed experience overall. The beer was excellent, but pretty forgettable otherwise.

PDXHops, May 15, 2009
Photo of olympuszymurgus
3.65/5  rDev -20.1%

Been in here three times. the first bartender was a rockstar, a big guy with wispy facial hair and a command of the bar to be rivaled by few. We drank, relaxed, and got the hell out of this beautiful town.

The second time we were tired, hungry, and ready for a sunday of adventure. The server was basically the worst server I have ever had. A thin guy, short dark hair, around 6 foot. He was slow, unresponsive, forgot the order, and after asking twice still screwed it up. It's cool, because the beer was amazing, and the food decent, but jeesh, don't show up that high man.

The third time we had a new bartender. He was in his mid thirties and looked like he was ready to box a hobo. He was fast, kind, and oddly insightful. He was a winner, through and through.

Overall, I would go back, but I would definitely sit at the bar where the winners work.

olympuszymurgus, Mar 07, 2010
Photo of clickpush
3.65/5  rDev -20.1%

Finally! I made it to the brewery! Pretty cool atmosphere and overall experience, but I did have the worst waiter of my life. He didn't get a flat out 1 because he was actually nice, so he gets a 1.5. There's a very long bar here, kind of a narrow squeeze getting by, and two big chalk boards with the beers of the day. Looks like they also have a nice wine selection (they are in the heart of wine country) but I didn't really pay any attention to it. On a Sunday night this place was packed and my friends and I had to resort to a table in the back room. Actually, it was probably a good idea, because it was open mic night or something and most of the singers really sucked. Sundays are all day happy hour so $2.75 drafts of whatever they have. They had over 10 beers on draught and the selections were split between the Belgian styles and their domestic ones. The food (pizza/salad/wings) is pricey, but very good.

Gripes about the service: 1) had to ask a bartender to send a waiter to the table after waiting 10 minutes 2) waiter had no idea what was on draft and made us individually walk to the bar to see 3) waiter took half our orders then turned around and walked away and had to be chased down in the other room 4) brought one entree 10 minutes before even bringing the apps 5) brought all entrees without ever bringing silverware 6) took 7-8 mins to return with silverware 7) left all plates from appetizers to build up in middle of table after bringing entrees 8) brought our requested glasses of water after we'd all completed our meals.

I would go back on another Sunday for cheap beer and good food, but if I owned this establishment I would fire this specific waiter.

Also, bottles sold on location are no cheaper than in beer stores which is a rip, IMO.

clickpush, Aug 14, 2006
Photo of Michael0421
3.68/5  rDev -19.5%

Michael0421, Aug 25, 2014
Photo of RodBurg
3.7/5  rDev -19%

The wife and I went to stay with some friends this past weekend in Santa Rosa. You can imagine how stoked I was when I found out they lived not even a quarter mile from Russian River. We hit it up on a Friday night around six and it was already packed. Luckily they had one table left so we happily took a seat. There was lots of beer décor on the walls and windows showing some of the ales barrel aging. The service was pretty average, not overly fast or friendly but nothing to complain about either. I was there for the beer anyway so I wasn't too concerned. It was pretty disappointing to hear that my first choice was tapped out, but no big deal. Food was decent and reasonably priced. Apparently it was happy hour because our beers were a lot cheaper than I expected. Nice little surprise. The brew did not let me down. It was frickin delicious. Not a bad place, but the beer was definitely the highlight.

RodBurg, Sep 02, 2008
Photo of ritter57
3.73/5  rDev -18.4%

I finally got the chance to visit this place after doing business nearby for many years. RRBC has been on my wish list for a long time. I've tried PtE a couple of times and although I have been underwhelmed I have always wanted to try fresh beer on location. I love big West Coast beer. This brewery makes great beer but their stuff IMO is not on the sublime level oft attributed to them. I enjoyed my visit to RRBC but I was hoping to be blown away - I was not. The waitstaff was competent but a bit cold and too hipster for me. The beer selection was good, the food was boring. There was really nothing wrong with this place but I will not go out of my way to go back. If it were located anywhere else and if it were not overhyped it would be largely ignored like any other little towny brewpub.

ritter57, Oct 02, 2010
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Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA
100 out of 100 based on 612 ratings.