Damnation | Russian River Brewing Company

1,137 Reviews
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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:
No notes at this time.

Added by beerguy101 on 09-19-2003

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Reviews: 1,137 | Ratings: 3,778
Photo of jamescott
2.2/5  rDev -46.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Batch 056x2.

Opened the bottle. Cork popped off by itself moments later.

Taste was sour and gross. Everything else was fine!

Had to pour.

I have had many of these, first time with the small bottles. Usually, a great beer (A+), but this one clearly went bad.


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Photo of sfprint
2.5/5  rDev -39.3%

Batch 71

A: Beautiful orange color, with very little visible carbonation. Cloudy with little fish pellets of yeast on the bottom.
S: Mild heavy honey.
T: Pretty sour in not a particularly pleasant way. Sour and slightly heavy. Underneath that there's a nice
M: Slightly astringent with basically no carbonation
O: Disappointing. But would be pretty good if the sourness didn't ruin it.

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Photo of matty
2.68/5  rDev -35%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pale yellow colored beer with a quickly fading head that laces the glass.Aroma is spice.Taste is pretty gross mix of fruit,coriander and some other garbage spices.I would have been angry if I had spent two dollars on this but the fact that I spent 15.00 makes me feel like I was robbed.Total rubbish!!

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Photo of Mark
2.69/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I'm trying real hard guys, I really am. This belgian style ale was had at the fun Russian River pub. This beer poured a cloudy pale gold, head was pure white and retained well, lacing was good. Banana notes dominated the aroma and taste profiles, the usual yeasty characteristics were also present. This Belgian strong golden checks in at 7% I'm glad I tried it, upset I didn't like it. I would like nothing more to report one day that I had found one I do like. Suzanne liked it though! I almost fell off my stool. I'll bet most if not all lovers of Belgians will like it, seems well made.

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Photo of Damian
2.83/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Drank on-tap at Toronado, San Francisco, CA
Served in a tulip

It was rather fitting that Damnation happened to be review #333 for me (half way to the Number of the Beast). Quite ironic.

Poured a crystal clear, pale straw yellow with a one-finger, bright white head that quickly faded to a lasting ring. Disappointing head retention (particularly for the style) and no lacing whatsoever.

The aroma was practically non-discernible initially and came out only slightly toward the drink's end. Slightly musty (from the yeast) with semi-sweet, honey-ish notes lingering in the background.

The taste seemed to be a very watered down interpretation of a Belgian strong pale ale. Crisp, citric and tart with some spicy, slight musty notes. Hoppy throughout (piney, dry, citrusy hops) with an especially hoppy finish that was super dry, bitter and rather tannic. The beer left my palate feeling like a piece of sandpaper.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied with a very fine and mild carbonation. Toward the drink's end, the liquid turned completely flat. Once again, off for the style.

The folks at Russian River definitely tried to put an American twist on a Belgian style ale and they did it very poorly. This beer lacked severely in almost all categories. Definitely one of the most disappointing brews I have tried in a while.

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Photo of vinny21bal
2.87/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Russian River is one of my favorite Breweries out there. It could be the fact that I love sours but this beer did nothing for me. I think it is stylistically correct. But a over rated beer just for the fact that it is Russian River must help it get better ratings. I am not saying it is a bad beer at all. i personally would not buy it if it was only $2.00.

Russian River puts out so many great beers, this seems to me like a session beer there trying to make and it just lacks a lot.

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Photo of 4thelvofbeer
2.88/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Average, at best. Drinking a bottle of RR Damnation batch 74 as I write this review. This beer is ok, having a nice yellow, straw/hay appearance--thin one finger head quickly fades. Flavors of grass and hops are muted behind a smooth almost watery taste. A very, very average beer for something that comes from Russian River. Not a complete let-down, but nowhere near outstanding. Mouthfeel is ok, sudzy, not bad. Overall, a little bit disappointed...

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Photo of bruachan
3.02/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

coriander, coriander, coriander
smells like a sweet, fruity wit with a floral element. the coriander aroma is big but reasonable, but upon examination by my tongue...too much. i think they bittered the beer with coriander. mixed with the oversweetness, the coriander is especially unsavory

poured a hazy, light orange/apricot color. no lacing

sweet, yet prickly. too sweet, actually

thought it was decent in the bottle, but the sweetness and over-the-top coriander just blow it here

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Photo of alexhahn82
3.07/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance is golden with a light birch/milk shade that compliments the gold.

Smell is very yeasty! Smells like you stepped into a brewery in Belgium, but has a nice sweet after smell to it.

Taste is average, not below average, but definitely average. This tastes to me like a very nice session beer.

Mouthfeel: light and airy, with rich golden malty tones on the end.

Overall: Nice beer, very drinkable, but not very memorable. I see this beer as either a nice ABV session beer, or an entry level micro that packs a punch for beginners*, keep in mind I am a hop head, and love flavors and bourbon barrels.

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Photo of Buttermaker
3.07/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Let me start by saying I hold Russian River to a higher standard. They are absolutely one of the best craft brewers out there. So my relative disappointment with their Damnation should be taken in context. It starts off well with lots of fresh citrus on the nose and a nice golden orange hue and lingering head. But taste and mouthfeel are heavy handed and not nearly nuanced enough to stand up next to the best Belgium golden ales. Too bitter (and not in a good hoppy way) with an almost medicinal finish. Russian River can do better.

Recommended music pairing: Neil Young - After the Goldrush

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Photo of Tupperwolf
3.08/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a glowing, slightly hazy gold with a frothy rising head that fills half of my tulip glass in true Duvel style; It doesn't hang around in the same frothy, rocky lemon meringue way as Duvel, but fizzes very slowly down over several long minutes, leaving intricate lacing. Tiny bubbles slowly rise through the depths of a carefully decanted pour - what seems like an eighth of an inch of yeast is on the bottom of the bottle.

Smells of honey, lemon, and citrus peel; a tang of cloves; A warm kind of smell, fruity and sunny.

The taste is hard to describe; It's got equal parts fruit and spice, but they are intertwined with a lot of dusty, musty taste, like the smell of your great-grandmother's Victorian house's root cellar. A vague alcohol, and a kind of smoked salmon aftertaste. There are notes here that do remind me of Duvel (the standard by which all belgian-style golden ales should be judged, in my opinion) but this isn't a copycat by any means; it has its own things going on.

Medium body, fizzy carbonation, and a lingering tree-sap aftertaste.

I'm really not sure that I like this beer as much as I had been anticipating, but give it a shot and see if RR lives up to the hype for you.

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Photo of markaberrant
3.1/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - light orange, slight haze, big fluffy white head with very tight bubbles.

S - crisp, pear esters, light floral/lemon perfume, was expecting a more distinct hop character, but aroma mainly seems to be yeast derived

T - overall taste is quite light, bone dry, sharp/crisp spice, almost no malt character, some light fruit (pear again), but not enough sweetness to bring it out,

M - very airy/light, high carbonation, seems a little over the top, excessively dry, alcohol is not hot but has a bit of sting due to the carbonation and dryness

D - wish there was a little more flavour, ridiculously dry and overcarbonated, devoid of any dynamic malt/hop character

I don't like fresh Duvel, so it aint a surprise that I don't really like Damnation fresh either. I just don't see the point. I'd take a Westmalle Tripel any day over this. Still looking forward to trying my other bottle in a year or two, as I do in fact enjoy aged Duvel.

Update: After the carbonation drops out, you can actually taste a lot more in the beer. But I'm still not adjusting my scores.

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Photo of porcelli426
3.15/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a tumbler

A: Fuzzy golden with little head retention

S: Bland, a little bread yeast-like smell

T: yeasty and malty. Some fruit

M: Not bad, medium mouth-feel

D: Very drinkable. Could easily drink another if it had a little more flavor

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Photo of CharlieMurphy
3.17/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: Looks like a dirty aquarium. Golden yeller with solid dark orange yeast spots immersed throughout and some clingy lacing tan... I mean tan lacing

S: Smells more wheat and white than pale. Some orange mint comes through.

T: More balanced, mellow pale ale characters combine with the apparent belgian whiteness of this beer. Thin - Alcohol is pretty non-existent, I was definitely not thinking this was 7.75%. No hop presence and virtually no carbonation tingle/bite.

M: Mild, carbonation is soft and paralyzed. its foamy in a kind of chewy way.

O: Very drinkable and a good beer, however not at all special. Corking this was wasteful.

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Photo of s8bored
3.19/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured out of bottle into tulip.

This beer had decent nose with hints of papaya and pineapple. A bit of pepper.

Taste followed the nose with the tropics and then had a pepper bite ending with the hoppiness. A touch of malts are the backbone.

Overall I wasn't overly impressed with this beer but it fit the category quite well. I would take the peppery funkiness of a Saison over the peppery hoppiness of Damnation.

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Photo of crossovert
3.2/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

375ml corked and caged bottle.

It pours a pretty clear deep gold with a big foamy white head that slowly recedes with some nice lacing.

The smell is pleasant. It is mostly yeast dominated. It has an almost sulfuric glassiness to it. There is a ton of ripened almost rotting light fruits. Some spiciness. The malt comes through with a bit of breadiness.

The flavor is also super yeasty. It has a sharp phenolic character and some vegetal flavors at first sip. But then it mellows out. It is spicy with a decent malt baking that adds some basic honey/sugar flavors. It is fruity like the smell, mostly banana and citrus.

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Photo of davey101
3.21/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 077, 375ml into a tulip glass.

A - Murky dark amber body. Massive fluffy off whit head. Great lacing and retention.

S - Massive vegetal notes. Coriander, lemons, hay, grass, spices, Belgian yeast then...BAM...celery or something. Just has a very soup like aroma.

T - Lemons, hay, and coriander spice with a large Belgian yeast spiciness. I'm still getting a large vegetal quality to it. Alcohol is noticeable. Mouth feel is spritzy and dry with a medium slightly coating mouth feel.

O - I think its just the freshness of this beer. I was getting more vegetal and hard spice notes than anything. Hopefully I can try an aged one at some point.

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Photo of zhanson88
3.24/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Cork comes out with very little pop. Pours out a pale straw color with only 1/4" of white head. Carbonation seems very low, and very little retention.

Smell: Smells pretty good. Citrus and yeast. Esters form and combine for a light, refreshing smell.

Taste: Citrus, yeast, light phenols present, but with a really odd, twangy aftertaste. I'd call it metallic more than anything else.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Light mouthfeel. Again, the carbonation seems low. Not bad though. Overall, wasn't a huge fan of this. May have been an off bottle.

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Photo of beertunes
3.25/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

After years of hearing about RRs beers, we've recently started seeing them in stores up here in the Fourth Corner. Let's see if they live up to their reputation, shall we? Poured into chalice. Poured a clear, bright golden-yellow. Poured with about an inch of bright white head that quickly settled into a thin solid layer that stuck around for the duration. A moderate amount of lacing. A fairly high level of carbonation (which is apparently an issue with some RR brews). A nicely subtle spice and fruit aroma. The typical spicyness of this style is quick on the tongue, with a slight clove note on the finish. The body is light and refreshing as usual for the style. Nicely drinkable. While not on on the level of Chimay White or Duvel, this is an acceptable version of this style which I will probably try again. Overall an average example of this style.

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Photo of zac16125
3.26/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

375mL bottle poured into a snifter
Batch 071

A: Slightly hazy golden yellow with 1 fingers width of bright white colored head. Tons of carbonation bubbles rushing to the top of the glass like champagne, and allowing the head to have great retention with just under ½ a fingers width remaining throughout the entire drink. A good amount of lacing. Pretty beer.

S: Strong fragrance from the moment you open the bottle, but the aroma is not all that great. At first it smells pilsner-esque, then other flavors start to come out. A peppery spice, some booze, some mild banana and a touch of clove. Aroma is strong, but not all that great. You really have to work the snifter to get the belguim aromas to come out, otherwise it’s pretty bland.

T: A peppery spice, a kind of bland malt flavor that I can’t quite place, a touch of clove (maybe), but the peppery spice is the predominant flavor. The only other flavor I get is a kind of bizarre sweetness mixed with a cutting bitterness that is reminiscent of lemon rind. Not much going on in the palate profile. This beer really just isn’t that good.

M/D: Bubbly almost stinging mouthfeel , fuller body that I was expecting, heavily carbonated, relatively easy to drink in terms of it hiding a pretty high ABV, but the palate profile isn’t appeal to me so I don’t think I’d have more than 1.

O: Overall, I consider this one a miss. Maybe I just had a bad batch, but my assumption is this beer is so highly rated because it’s a Russian River product. Now don’t get me wrong, RR makes some fantastic brews. However, this is not one of them. It’s not in the same league as Duvel, hell its not even playing the same game (and Delerium Tremens remains my favorite in the style). Cannot recommend, and won’t buy again.

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Photo of zeledonia
3.27/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Batch 060. Second RR brew for me, following a Redemption earlier this evening.

Pours a crystal clear golden yellow with a substantial white head that lasts, but leaves little lacing. Tons of little streams of bubbles rising up. Looks like sparkling apple juice.

Smell is strong yeast aromas with a bunch of sweet fruit: apples, pears... yum. Quite nice, and the highlight of the beer for me.

Taste: yeast up front, without a ton of character to it, and a hint of fruit, followed fairly quickly by a sharp spicy dryness that reminds me of chardonnay. That about sums it up. It finishes really quickly and really dry. Not my cup of tea.

Mouthfeel is light and well-carbonated. Quite nice, actually, but it doesn't hold onto the flavors the way I'd like it to.

I may give this another shot, but I wasn't impressed. The flavor is dominated by a very quick, dry, sharp finish. As I said before, it's a bit like chardonnay in that sense. An experience I haven't had before with any beer, and not really one I want to repeat.

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Photo of Dukeofearl
3.32/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear golden with an active stream of carbonation in my Duvel glass that feeds a nice white cover over the beer, keeping that damned beer in the glass.

Aroma is not strong even in a big tulip- surprising. Slight spiciness, slight fruit, slight sweetness. But not interesting at all.

Flavor dominated by sharp, slightly bitter spiciness. Some fruitiness (tart lime?), but strongly overcome by the sharp tones. Nothing interesting to me.

Moutfeel on the thin side of moderate. Not something that I care for.

EDIT: How's this for weird- I burped later on, and guess what I tasted? Banana. Sure didn't taste it going down!

SECOND EDIT: Two days later, I had left about 1/3 of the 750 sitting in my fridge- not sure why, I didn't really want to finish it, but I didn't want to be unnecessarily harsh in my review either. So I poured the rest in a glass, yeast and all, and tried again. Now that it has "aged" a bit, and it includes the yeast, I get a solid banana-pineapple-clove nose, and the peppery-dry sharpness has mellowed a bit, but it still dominates. Still not something I am real excited about, but I did up the ratings somewhat.

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Photo of Johnct
3.32/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

Eh... just a typical wheaty belgian ale. Don't shell out money for this. Probably the worst of the ---ation beers from RR. I'll have to try the higher-rated ones

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Photo of BHopp12
3.33/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12.75oz bottle into chalice

A: Clear golden yellow colored body with a big white head that leaves its trail throughout

S: Kind of get the scent of a pilsner which is not very exciting, then some pepper, booze and a mild banana smell afterwards. Not a great smelling beer

T: Very peppery, spicy taste is the most prevelant. Get a little fruity banana flavor or a little lemon zest coming through.

M: Very bubbly almost like a champagne very highly carbonated and very full body.

O: I was expecting more from this beer but not at all a bad beer. Probably will not have again but definitly worth a try.

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Photo of mschind
3.33/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle dated 5-22-12

A- Great looking beer, poured into a snifter producing a fluffy white two finger head with excellent retentiion and nice lacing. A virtual storm of bubbles in the glass. Color is a slightly hazy medium gold.

S- Bananas and pepper with some distinctive Belgain yeast in the background.

T- Not quite enough sweetness to balance the dry finish. Maybe a bit too subtle for my palate but I was expecting something with more flavor and richness.

M- Carbonation is right for the style but it's still on the thin side.

O- A good effort but all things being equal, I'd rather have a Duvel.

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Damnation from Russian River Brewing Company
4.12 out of 5 based on 3,778 ratings.
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