Damnation | Russian River Brewing Company

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Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.75%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,164 | Ratings: 3,889
Photo of MasterfulIdiot
5/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Riedel tulip. The liquid is a cloudy orange with tons of bubbles rising up to form a huge, pillowy four-finger head that rose up instantly upon the gentlest pour I could muster. Leaves a thick sheet of lace down the sides of the glass as you drink it.

Aroma is very Belgian - yeast, dried lemons, grapes, banana, cloves, pineapple, apple cider, light coriander, and just a hint of funk. Plus a lot more that I can't really name. There's definitely a vinous quality to it, and the aroma is weirdly thick, especially when you swirl it around. Really nice and complex aroma - exactly what I would hope for.

Taste hits your mouth like a soft feathery pillow stuffed with bananas and bread (not banana bread), which then explodes with all the other flavors from the nose, with the addition of a spicy, peppery hop character. Finish is raisins, figs, and grapes, with a perfect little alcohol kick. Aftertaste is dark fruit, and incredibly clean - not too sweet or too bitter. Wow - all of the flavors really work together to be maximally delicious. Really incredible!

Mouthfeel is wonderfully pillowy from the generous carbonation, and really silky. Body is moderately thick, but helped along by the carbonation. Works perfectly for the flavors.

Overall, really delicious beer that I wasn't all that excited for, since this is what I got when I passed through Santa Rosa but missed out on Pliny. But I just feel totally blown away by it. Makes me really eager to try some other strong golden ales!

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Photo of keanex
5/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 375ml bottle listed as batch 66 into a tulip glass.

A: Hazy pale golden color with carbonation bubbles rising to meet a thick and creamy looking off-white 1.5 finger head. Very appealing looking.

S: Strong fruity spicy aroma, very pleasant. Banana, strawberry and cloves on the nose. This is just a very pleasing beer.

T: Wonderful fruity taste with a clean malt profile underlying with a clove finish. Same flavors from the nose hit the tongue with a perfect balance and a warming finish.

M: Creamy with light carbonation despite the carbonation bubbles. Goes down very smooth, hard to not drink.

O: Perfect score from me. This beer is not letting me down even in the slightest. If this is what Californians are treated with daily I'm jealous.

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Photo of Ale_Dog
5/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this beer twice at Monks Cafe in Phila. Maybe it was the setting because Monks is one of the best bars you can ever find, but this beer is absolutely fantastic. Great banana esters, some spice, and rounded out with pleasant yeast character. Watch out it has a kick. If your a fan of Duvel, you'll love this.

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Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.97/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a pale, bright, hazy golden color with a creamy white head. According to the wife, the aroma reminds her of champagne - I have to assume that means yeast and candy sugar, and I'll toss in a bit of spice. One sip and...wow. This is awesome, awesome stuff. The best beer I've had in a long time. A perfect balance of biscuity malts and a crisp bite of hops, with a lingering slick mouthfeel. Notes of citrus and spice, too.

This is just...awesome. Perfectly balanced and excellent. It's been a while since I added a beer to my top five, but this one did it.

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Photo of EPICAC
4.92/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Damnation pours a mildly cloudy, golden color. It's topped by a thick, white head that retains well, but eventually fades to a thin layer. The aroma is spot on for the style. There are notes of banana, peppery spice, and yeast above a grassy, grainy undercurrent. Swirling brings out more graininess, pepper, and some alcoholic spice.

There's an initial sweetness that's mild, but builds into a fruity esters in the center: bananas, hints of juicy, tropical fruit, and citrus. The finish has a bite from the peppery spiciness and the alcohol. There are lingering hints of yeast, and a mild, hop bitterness in the aftertaste. Damnation is medium-bodied, but the crisp carbonation, along with a dry finish make this beer seem a bit lighter-bodied.

This beer was excellent. It's probably one of the best examples of the style that I've had.

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Photo of Ninjakillzu
4.91/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Chimay chalice. Bottled 6/10/16, so it's a bit before a year old. The body is cloudy, and a slightly orange/yellow hue. Aromas consist of pear, apricot, apple, strawberry, banana, spices, woodiness, and bready malt. Flavors are the same, and the beer is mildly sweet. It actually tastes a bit like candy. The feel is medium bodied with high carbonation.

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Photo of Zorro
4.89/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured in to my Duvel Tulip to see how it stacks up. Batch 006, which I interpret to mean 2006.

Pours a chill hazed golden colored ale with a smallish white head. I can't discount this for not having a freakish mammoth white head; it is one of the few annoyances that Duvel has.

Smell is quite nice and very fresh. Lots of clean and strong floral scent and a touch of honey pollen. Nice fruitiness, citrus and pineapple mostly. Mildly sweet smelling with no obvious Candi Sugar smell. Nicely spicy coriander and black pepper. Herbal to the point of making rosemary seem like a weak spicy herb. The lack of a trip on a container ship makes a big difference in the smell, simply awesome.

Taste is barely sweet and nice floral tastes and coriander. Fruit flavors kick in on the second sip and I start to realize how complex this beer really is. Mild herbal bitterness here is just right to balance what sweet there is here and let all the more subtle flavors dominate. Spices are mainly coriander here and this is too smooth for black pepper to dominate. Superior to Duvel as it actually is made in the USA.

Mouthfeel is very good.

Awe inspiring drinkability is in my glass here, makes Dom Perignon taste like rotted grape juice. I could see drinking this all the time if it was more available, but even in California you can only get this when you see it. Well Hennepin and Duvel are almost as good; a lie I can believe after a few weeks of convincing myself.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.88/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750ml bottle from ClockworkOrange via I Want That BIF 3. Batch 027, corked and caged.

Pretty much same experience as previous review. Still damn good stuff.

(5/4.5/5/5/5, 10/15/07)
750ml bottle from unknown trade or BIF. Batch 016, corked and caged.

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed a 1 1/2" bright white head above the effervescent, cloudy golden brew. Head escalades up and over the rim before settling over time. Lace is thick and coating. Aroma is pale malts and spices, which is replicated in the flavor as well. Mouthfeel is oh-so smooth, and drinkability is tantalizing, always glad to revisit. This one hasn't lost much if anything in its later iterations. Try if you can.

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Photo of BeerKnower
4.87/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I just had this beer on tap. Overall this beer is very good. There are no detectable Lance Armstrong - cheating - aspects about it. Rusian River makes some quality stuff. FYI, adding sugar is cheating when you enter your drink in the real beer category.

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Photo of blackmagik2272
4.87/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This was the only Russian River I'm able to find in my area. Of course, you pay through the nose for it, but I didn't factor the price paid into my rating. It was every bit as delicious as my high expectations demanded. I'm not going to pay $130 for a case, but it was an excellent treat.

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Photo of david18
4.85/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As much as I love the trappist ales, Duvel is still my favorite Belgian Ale and possibly my favorite beer altogether. Damnation is the only beer that I think is as good as the beer it is styled after. Everything about it is similar. Great carbonation, outstanding flavor and aroma, perfect belgian mouthfeel. The only difference is that Damnation may be a little bit fruitier. I had this instead of bloody mary's this morning and it was a great choice.

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Photo of LuckyBrewer
4.83/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Style: Belguim Strong Pale Ale
Brewery: Russian River Brewery Company
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Website: http://www.russianriverbrewering.com/
Serving Type: 750 mL
ABV: 7.74 ABV

Pour: Smooth pour with a thick head that shows even legs.

Smell: This beer has a great Belgium yeast smell to it, with a hint of clean crisp malt.

Taste: This an exceptional example of an American attempt at a Belgium golden ale. The taste is well balanced, most Belgium's are a little too sweet for my liking, but not this one. The taste was so well balance and dynamic that I feel they have out done themselves.

Drinkability: I usually can not drink this type of beer for more than one 750 mL bottle, however for this brew I could drink about two bombers.

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Photo of corby112
4.82/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served on-tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.

Pours a hazy golden color with huge foamy white head. Aroma is of crisp fruits like apple, banana and pear as well as hops and alcohol. Very crisp quaffable beer. Lots of citrusy lemon and orange as wll as apple, pear and banana. Finish is slightly hoppy and dry. An amazingly smooth wonderful tasting beer!

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Photo of ikantspel
4.82/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12.68 oz bottle served into a tulip

Pours a citrus orange. Carbonated with a finger head.

Smells of fruits and candy. Yum

Wow. Knocked me off my feet. Very sweet with a carbonates mouthfeel. Sweet spices little clovey aftertaste. Not astringent in the least. Cannot belive this is damn near 8%. This slightly edges pranqster as the best american made bspa. Good job russian river

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Photo of dpgoblejr
4.81/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Cloudy dark yellow color with fizzy and foamy off white head that reduces down to a ring around the edge. Smells of tropical fruits and clove spices. Tastes of bananas and spices with some breaded malts mixed in too. Well carbonated with some bite when finishing. Really enjoyed this RR take on a Belgian Strong Dark Ale!

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Photo of xymyl
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
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!

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Photo of SteelKettle
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Hazy golden color with a seafoam head with nice lacing on glass
Smell:yeast and sweet malts with fruity hints of pear and apple maybe slight lemon
Taste: spices bready malts with the pear and apple coming out with a nice hop finish
Mouthfeel: medium bodied with great carbonation and soft feel
Drinkability: very drinkable enjoyed very much. Russian River does it again with another great beer.

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Photo of kimd03
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

If you're a member of the clergy, have small children around or generally abstain from cursing, I would steer clear of this beer. The moment you sip it, you will say OMFG out loud. Something about the Damnation label name and pitchfork will bring it out as guaranteed as the fact that this beer is brewed in Santa Rosa. After I had it, I had to buy the Damnation t-shirt at the brewery too. My parents hate it.

Onto the beer. It pours perfect with a nice thick white head. We drank a bottle while camping in the Redwood Forests with a pelt of rain coming down on our heads, but the taste just washed away all worries about wet clothes and catching pneumonia.

In the meantime, I want to find a way to bring this beer to Houston so I can offer it to Joel Osteen and put him on YouTube saying OMFG!

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Photo of SeattleAdam
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Batch #42. Popped the cork and shared the 750ml bottle with my roommate. Poured into New Belgium "Worthy Glass" at 45 degree angle first time and straight down the second time.

A- Beautiful and hazy between gold and yellow. Dramatically lighter when held to the light. My 45 degree pour did not yield as much head as some other reviewers said they were getting but the second pour, straight down, produced a good 2 fingers. Head retention is not great.

S- The Belgium yeast can be picked up through the nose and so can quite a bit of zest. Lemon peel and pears come through too.

T- The fruits really come through in the middle and the head adds just the right zesty kick. The finish is incredibly clean.

M- Between medium to light but it's perfectly carbonated. The beer is the farthest thing from heavy but has enough body to warrant complexity.

D- Move over blondes...I have a new summer ale. I can't imagine a more perfect beer on a hot day. The flavors aren't too overwhelming, it's great cold, it doesn't leave your mouth dry nor fill you up and the finish is remarkably clean.

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Photo of bosco7
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Cork finished bottle purchased at the brewpub a week prior. Batch 021.

Satisfying pop after the cork was removed. Big ass frothy head sits a top glistening golden liquid. Exceptional clarity.

Big spicy hop aroma. Some lemon zest, esters and alcohol present as well.

A flash of earthy and spicy hop flavors are present upfront. This is followed by banana, lemon zest, some mild pine, and some soft mineral-like flavors. Medium bitterness (maybe high for a Belgian). This is very complex.

Soft mouthfeel that seems to lingers gracefully on the tongue.

Exceptional American brewed Belgian ale, definately one of the best. Complexity and drinkability make this a pure pleasure to drink.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got this at New Beer Distributors in Manhattan.

The pour reveals a glowing orange liquid with an immense ivory head. The head lasts for hours and completely drapes the glass in foam. Very impressive. A plethora of fruit, most notably lychees fill my nostrils on my first sniff. Bready malts and a pleasant estery yeast add more to the great nose. The taste is a mix of peach, pears, green apples, banana, lychee, mango and even more fruit flavors I cant put my finger on. Cookie dough malts and a very pleasant Belgian yeast character add to the tremendous amalgamation of flavors. hops are modest but not lost in the mix, providing a pleasant herbal, earthy distraction. The mouthfeel is incredible. Perfect balance between smooth carbonation level and creamy mouthfeel. Alcohol is completely hidden, its uncanny.

This is a benchmark BPA. As good as if not better then the ones from Belgian I have tried. Such wonderful, sweet complexity that constantly evolves with time. I wish this was accessible in Ontario.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a C&C 750 to a snifter glass the liquid is gold with a light yet expressive carbonation, The head is tall and light bodied, off white and leaves some lace.

The smell is very good light fruits, well seasoned grains and a hin of oak.

The taste is fantastic and I am not really big on this stlye. RR hit a home run on this brew, The taste is outstanding, so glad I got more then I wanted at first. The woodsy oak notes are what make it.

The mouthfeel is very good a nice better then medium body and a very nice carbonation.

The drinkability of this must try brew is outstanding, I look forward to hording this beer.

Prosit und Zum Wohl, MK

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Photo of Bulabeers
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L: Pours a hazy gold with one and a half fingers of snow white head. Tiny bubbles stream up in the glass and the head remains as you drink. Lot's of lacing on the glass
S: Clove, sweet banana, Belgian yeast, herbal and spicy hops
T: Clove, pineapple, no banana, hop bitterness is strong but not overpowering
F: Crisp and refreshing. perfect carbonation
O: Russian River nailed it here. This one is easier to come by in stores than their other beers. Usually only costs 4 or 5 dollars a bottle in stores. It tastes better than many that go for twice that price. This beer has all the flavor of a 10% triple in a more affordable and drinkable format.

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Photo of JimTeal
4.79/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Despite being abused with poor storage in a non-climate controlled garage for 4 years, this fine beer survived shockingly well. We prepared for the worse, but were delighted when the nose and mouth confirmed that this beer withstood years of poor treatment and thrived. Given the mildness of the taste, Russian River made a fine brew and deserves acolades. The finish is remarkable, just right for a rainy afternoon, dry and hints of citrus waiting in the background. I would suggest this beer to anyone who is impressed with the finished product of the best ingredients.

I just returned from a day, April 2013, at the Russian River Pub where I was delighted to experience a fresh Damnation draft. Forger everything I said before, the fresh draft is nothing short of wonderful and a real flavor experience. So I bought a case of mixed bottles including Damnation (of course a few Pliny Elder to share with friends), but the fresh bottled Damnation is splendid. My regret, why didn't I buy 2 cases?

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.78/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look: One finger white head, hazy yellow body.

Smell: Same as below.

Taste: Banana, pear, apple, clove, slight yeastiness. Almost tastes like a Belgian version of a hefeweizen!

Feel: Medium body and carbonation, balanced. Mildly dry.

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Damnation from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.12 out of 5 with 3,889 ratings