Russian River Brewing Company

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Strong Ale - Belgian Pale
Ranked #10
Ranked #2,769
4.13 | pDev: 9.93%
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States
Notes: Inspired pretty much by Duvel and other strong golden ales of Belgium. It is medium-bodied, has a fruity/banana bouquet, and a dry, spicy finish.

Pub draft and bottles, local distribution draft and bottles, some draft to some distributors, bottles to all distributors, year-round

Original Gravity: 1.056
Alcohol by Volume: 7.5%
Color: Golden
Bitterness: Mild
Reviews: 1,176 | Ratings: 3,923 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Troyone:
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Troyone from California

4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy wheat color with lots of carb action and evidence of yeast. Has a three inch head with some lacing.

Has a cookie and nutty caramel malt smell with a herbal, resin, grapefruit, orange, and lemon hops aroma.

A moderately acidic and lightly sweet and bitter taste with a more pronounced grainy caramel malt. The hops flavor resembles the smell with more grapefruit and orange.

The mouthfeel is a smooth light to medium body, dry slightly syrupy texture, soft and lively carbonation, and a smooth metallic almost chalky finish.

Drinkability is excellent for the style, there are not many American Golden Ales that even come close to this.

May 28, 2005
More User Reviews:
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ccg from District of Columbia

3.96/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Straw-colored with two inches of fluffy foam and tons of lacing. That foam sticks around for several minutes after the first pour. Great-looking beer.
Smells sour and a little citrusy, with some light yeast/bread notes.
Taste is smoother than I was expecting, given the slightly sour smell. A little bit of banana sweetness at first balanced by a hint of spiciness on the finish.
The carbonation gives it a nice, soft feel, but it is a little bit on the thin side.
Overall, it's a beautifully balanced and well-crafted brew, even for a sweet-stout drinker like me who is not generally a fan of this style.

Mar 24, 2016
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ryan1788a5 from Massachusetts

4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

375ml bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Perfectly clear golden color. Creamy, fine-bub led white head retains well at a solid finger. Thick rings of lacing .

S: Sliced pear, and a very mild tropical spritz. Understated pepper, cinnamon, cedar, and vague spices. Clean malt aromas of freshly baked bread.

T: Sliced pear and orange peel. Soft pepper and coriander. Cedar. Mild spicy/herbal hops. Freshly baked bread. Yeasty.

M: Medium bodied and very creamy. Deep crispness from the aggressive carbination.

O: On point. This rivals the best of the style brewed in its country of origin.

Jul 06, 2018
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BlurryVisi0n from New York

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a tulip glass from the bottle.

Appearance: Very hazy gold color with light sediments to the body. Bubbles are medium at best with a white head which initially rose to about one finger's length.

Smell: Yeast scent with touch of floral feel.

Taste: Sweet feel but not sugary, citrus sweet with a touch of breast yeast and touch sour.

Mouth: Medium carbonation with a descent smoothness and overall sticky.

Overall: Good brew, I got hit in the head with it since the place I bought it at was definitely scalping it since it's super rare to find Russian River stuff out here in long island. Salud.

Jun 12, 2018
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kojevergas from Louisiana

4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into Guinness pint glass in high altitude Denver, CO. No goblets were available, regrettably.

A: Pours a brilliant clear yellow-gold with a five finger head of excellent thickness and cream. Amazing retention.

Sm: Clean pleasant scent of barley, ester, spice, hops, citrus, malt, cedar, and pine, all of which are very subtle.

T: Just like the smell - delicious (<insert Chappelle's show joke here>). Excellent finish. The strength of this beer is its subtlety. It's complex but not overdone. Perfect for a golden ale.

Mf: Crisp and smooth, but golden ales require this smoothness. Beer Advocate's classification of this beer as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale is very wrong.

Dr: I'd definitely have it again, especially at its price and ABV. I find myself hitting the bottom of the bottle while it's upside down to make sure I get every drop. You'd never know it was 7.75%. It's pricey but worht it for celebration.

Feb 24, 2011
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iguanodon from Utah

2.98/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

[Original rating 2014-12-31] My first taste of the legendary Russian River. 375 ml bottle from C-mini mart in Dublin, CA. Pours clear gold with a small white head. Aroma is a little fruity, pear / apple. Taste is also pear / apple with a little peppery spice in the finish, faint booze. A solid belgian strong but not quite as awesome as I was expecting.

Oct 24, 2018
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Mlkluther from Canada

4.7/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the most complex beers I have ever had. Truly outstanding. If I could get this in Canada I would drink this as often as possible. It is one of the best beers I have ever had the pleasure of drinking.

Dec 16, 2015
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Autumn_Lucia from California

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

med-high carbonation. Pretty light gold color and a sweet floral, musty scent. Taste is floral, sweet, fruity and yeasty. mildly bitter but not close to that of an IPA. Very refreshing, and the cork is always fun, isn’t it?

Nov 27, 2018
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xymyl from Arizona

4.8/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Color is medium/light gold, clear with slight cloudiness (seemingly just from yeast due to too much movement. High carbonation at first and a fluffy white head that lasts and lasts.

Nose is full of floral, herbal, citrus, spice and sweeter apple and pear notes. There is so much going on here that it is too much work to sort it all out. I just want to enjoy it.

Taste is at first sweet, then balances to a spicy/fruity middle, depending on what you're having with it (sweet foods) it could really clamp down toward the finish. It has some serious hop bitterness at the end that won't fully express itself unless you are eating the right (or wrong) thing.

Overall: Medium bodied beer that is way too complex to be this drinkable. This beer is dry but the hops really amplify that dryness. But I didn't notice anything bad about these hops, this was super clean all the way around. It has a great fresh hop character as well. I could have said much more about this beer if I wasn't enjoying it so much. They must have used a Saison yeast for this, but it covers a range far broader than Duvel to Dupont to Symposium, I loved 2004 Symposium, but this is far better in my book. Enjoy!

Feb 05, 2008
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microbrewlover from Pennsylvania

3.38/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This brew pours a solid cloudy orange with a two finger head and light lacing which lasts until the end. Low carbonation. Note: the bottle was cage corked and the label stated that the beer fermented in the bottle.

The smell is of many fruits. It was hard to pick out any one fruit but I would say orange and bananas were present. The brew almost smelled like flowers; this was likely the hop influence in the smell. There is also a strong yeast smell.

The taste was very fruity, the alchohol is well masked. There is also a yeasty, grassy taste. There is a bready taste on the back end followed by a light hop taste. Possibly some vanilla, when the brew warmed up.

The mouthfeel is simply smooth and creamy with just a little bit of bready feel.

Overall this is a well balanced brew. I am not a big fan of Belgian beers but I would have this one again. I believe the strong fruit and low hop presence makes this a good beer for a hot day. I would drink it again.

Apr 16, 2012
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DmanGTR from New York

4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this earlier this evening at Monk's Cafe in Philly. On tap review from notes.

A - poured a pale yellow, quite clear, with decent specks of lacing and a nice fluffy 1" white head that diminished shortly into a bubbly ring in a tulip.

S - Pilsener malts, a slight citrusy zest and a mild fruity hoppiness with acidic tones. A pinch of yeastiness/breadiness too. Alcohol is not apparent.

T - Tangy citrus up front, followed by a light malty sweetness and grain. Ends with a linger of hops and mildly warming alcohol spice.

M - light bodied and well carbonated. Very crisp and refreshing.

D - quite drinkable, probably the best aspect of the beer.

Overall - This is my first offering from Russian River and I was indeed pleased. I ordered this only knowing that it was from RR and nothing else. This reminds me a little bit of Duvel but toned down a notch. Could use a touch more in flavor but it paired nicely with a grilled chicken sandwich with cheese and portobello mushrooms.

Jan 29, 2009
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snatch210 from North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Sep 23, 2012
FeDUBBELFIST from Pennsylvania

4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

10 oz. pour into a tulip.

A: 1 finger head was bone white, frothy and creamy. Diminishes rather quickly but a quick swirl ruffled its feathers. Lacing was spare. The body was a clear and sparkling, yellow to light orange in color.

S & T: Up front aromas are undoubtedly candied banana and pear. Very sweet. Average grainy malts come through followed by earthy and light citrusy hops and fruit & spice esters. A doughy yeast is present. Mid to back end palate flavors include bubblegum, cardboard and spices that I can't discern. Definite warmth here.

M: Medium body for a pale ale but huge mouthfeel with a slick, very mineral-y texture. The lively carbonation and malts can't quite mask the alcohol completely.

D: I crave this beer and order it whenever it pops up in my area. I would not recommend it as a session beer, but 1 or 2 in a sitting is perfect.

Nov 08, 2009
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scottiethebody from California

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oct 26, 2015
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notyourdadsbeer from Colorado

4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 375ml bottle into a tulip at Euclid Hall.

A: Perfect bright golden and crisp straw color. Head is prominent stark white, touch under billowy, fades moderately fast but has fantastic lacing.

S: Spice, wild yeast, biscuity malts, and a range of tropical fruit. Lemon and citrus notes prevail but touch of pineapple lends itself to the sweetness present in the aroma. Big spices dominate with floral notes wafting in and out.

T: Bright and clean flavors immediately. The malts are very balanced to the hops. A touch of citrus- lemon and acidic fruit follow through to hints of spice. Super long finish that keeps you sipping.

M: Medium to full bodied. Great carbonation and a clean coating of the palate. Doesn't weigh overly heavy and the alcohol is extremely well hidden.

D: Fantastic Belgian Golden style ale made for the perfect summer day or the coldest of winter nights. This is the most perfect representation of a Golden from the U.S.

Mar 29, 2011
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browniewithnuts from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -3.1%

Apr 22, 2013
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RichD from Rhode Island

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Sep 23, 2013
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drewfromboulder from Colorado

4/5  rDev -3.1%

Nov 05, 2012
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Eziel from Ohio

4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Apr 01, 2015
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Hterrell from Arizona

4.5/5  rDev +9%

Jun 26, 2013
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PaleAndBitter from Virginia

4/5  rDev -3.1%

Sep 08, 2014
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zachthelaxer93 from South Carolina

4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Jan 11, 2016
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J_K from California

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smooth, but nothing impressive. Expected a little more out of this.

Apr 14, 2015
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mmmbeer from Massachusetts

4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cork-n-cage 750 ml bottle - batch 12. Brewed 6/1/06 with abbey ale yeast, and bottled on 6/27. Instead of conditioning with wine yeast like most batches of Damnation, they finished this one with the same abbey yeast. It pours a nice, solid gold hue and appears unfiltered, but it could just be some yeast particulates. The beer has adequate carbonation and is capped with three fingers of slowly-receding head that deposits lots of lacing. Sweet and toasted malts in the nose, sprinkled with flashes of orange, banana, and perhaps some pineapple. On the palate, it's the same toasted maltiness, along with grassy/spicy hops that impart a mild bitterness (25 IBUs). The beer has a slightly musty character, along with some yeast, a touch of clovey phenolics, apples and a late citric quality that imparts oranges and light lemon. Medium to full body, with tingly carbonation and a dry, lingering finish. This is a beer that is way too easy to drink and quite tasty, which is great for the palate, but at 9 bucks a bottle is a pain on the wallet. Although I haven't tried this beer fresh, I feel the aging has had a positive effect on this brew. Definitely a brew worth visiting and revisiting.

Feb 27, 2008
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Slatetank from Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at Teresa's Next Door at the Beer Geek Brunch. Served chilled in a tulip.

A - Golden w/ amber lowlights, minimal white cap w/ a fine bead, the clarity is excellent.

S - Lots of dry yeasty and fruit aromas -subtle pineapple and light hop notes which are peppery. The yeast adds a subtle bready note to the mild grain aromas

M - A dry and spicy feel throughout w/ a strong nutty accent. There is a mellow alcohol element in the back w/ a spicy dry finish

T - A mild malt crisp flavor w/ toasted taste and slighthly bready element is mixed w/ tropical fruit like dried pineapple and spicy, leafy hops that verge on grassy, but aren't bitter at all. The alcohol is noticeable in the flavor but doesn't overpower the flavors the yeast gives off. A niced dry herbal hop taste stays consistent into the dry finish w/ a mild honey like malt effect.

D - Very great drinkability, perhaps one of the best Belgian Golden strong's made in America, a quality brew. I enjoyed this much more on draft than the bottle, but that speaks to the style generally.

Aug 25, 2009
Damnation from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 3923 ratings