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Damnation | Russian River Brewing Company

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1,134 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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 1,134 | Ratings: 3,763
Photo of objectivemonkey
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From my notes on recent trip, poured into a sampling glass, arrived with a bit of head and cloudy golden color. Aroma is pretty good, cloves and toasty malts and a twinge of lemon. Taste... holy mother of... lots of it. Malts and cloves and floral hops and banana and spices make this pretty intense, almost out of control, but pretty good. Can sense the alcohol in there, good body, good beer, though not my favorite from here for whatever reason

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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 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 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 brewandbbq
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch #2

Pours clear, pale gold, and lively.
Ambitious head rises 1/3 up the glass with a straight- down pour.
Rocky and somewhat porous, white in color, with clingy retention.
The froth is of average duration, receding to a skim coat with a beaded edge.
Aromatics start off with lemon zest, juniper, and some buiscuity malt.
Further warming brings forth cracked pepper, grains of paradise, and chardonnay- soaked orange rind.
Nose finishes crisp and warming, with an oaky dryness and ginger skins.
On the thin side of medium in the body, with some sharp carbonation notes and mild puckering.
Pallet starts off lemony and spicey, with light malt and assertive bitterness.
Some chewing of the brew highlight a wine-like character, with some light grapeskin astringency.
Warmth and zest brings up the finish, with clove and pepper on the exhale.

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Photo of kmcnair
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch 007

Pours a beautiful deep straw color and wears a very thick and fluffy marshmallow colored crown. Aromatics are a combination of strong bread yeast, crisp malts, lemony twang & coriander spice. Flavors of tart citrus fruit, spicy coriander, clean hoppy bittering, lightly sweetened bready malted finish. Smooth and creamy texture on the palate, silky carbonation, and has a dry ending. This is one fine ale that I will not tire of any time soon, very drinkable. Try it, you won't be disappointed.

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Photo of Foxman
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It came to me a bright, blonde yellow, lemony and well-carbonated. a finger of fluffy white head soon settled to patchy froth. Lacing was delicate and plentiful.

The aroma was a melange of fruity splendor, with banana, pear, tart apple, and passion fruit combining with a spice paiting of clove and coriander. A more distant citrus note lingered along wth a gentle doughiness at the periphery.

Upon sipping, there came a deep toasted malt sweetness, rife with the esters from the aroma, again with banana, green apple, and a general fruity succulence. A quick flash of alcohol came through here, as well as a yeasty bread character. Spices asserted, though more roundly, with clove the standout. The hops were still citrusy, but far less so here, and more bittering than flavorful. The finish was gradually dried by the lingering bitterness. The sensory business was easily outdone by the pleasing blended result.

A bit short of medium bodied, it was lively and carbonated, and the elements all lay slick on the palate before washing away.

It started damned pretty, and I enjoyed it, a lot, to the final drop. It's an interesting twist on a longstanding style, and the personality it exuded kept my attention the entire pint. While the ABV is just enough to demand respect, it was never an issue, and the drinkability is refreshingly high. This is one beer I would gladly pass over others in order to get to for a return engagement. This is the reason I keep a clean, empty growler in my car.

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Photo of Crosling
3.67/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Draught @ Hollingshead in Orange, California. Light dark straw, bordering on orange with a large, frothy and lasting head of foam. An aroma of papaya mostly, with other hints of banana and pear, along with some funky yeast notes and hints of salty pizza dough. Big, doughy, fruity malt flavor with hints of tart passion fruits and grassy and earthy hops. A pretty tasty beer.

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Photo of stacey14
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Although Vinnie's Belgians don't get as much attention as other beers like Pliny and Blind Pig, this one has always been a favorite of mine. The funny thing about this beer is the fact that it looks different every time I have it (from clear to opaque, depending on the batch). The aromas are that of citrus and light, crisp scent that I can't really place. Possibly that awesome Belgian yeast! The taste is also citrusy with hints of tang and spice.

Can't wait to try it from the bottle!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch 003. Ripe lemon chock full of fine particulates and multiple streams of languidly rising bubbles. The head is a thing of near unrivaled beauty. At least half the glass in size, polished alabaster in color, lovely moonscape surface of glittering, diamond-like bubbles. The foam is also impressively sticky, depositing thick patches of abstract-patterned Belgian lace all over the upper reaches of the glass.

The nose is excellent and contains all of the requisite elements of the style. The most striking thing is how well-balanced it is. Nothing is permitted to overplay its hand. The centerpiece is golden fruit (pear and green apple especially) with a complementary amount of warm, spicy clove and cardamom. It's also reminiscent of white wine.

Damnation is a good version of the style that doesn't quite deliver the everlasting depth of flavor that the best 'bona fide' Belgian ales do. That's not to say that it's anything other than wonderful beer, just that it has some seriously tough competition. The fruit is less prominent than the nose suggested and the spice is a little more prominent (white pepper especially). The beer is also much more dry than anticipated.

The white wine character isn't so much Chardonnay (no oakiness) as it is Sauvignon Blanc (acidic, crisp, tongue-tweaking). I'm sure the bitterness of the hops is contributing mightily to the anti-sweet nature of the beer; it's a saliva sucker of the highest order. Great use of floral, grassy noble hops. Gotta be Saaz.

The mouthfeel suggests that the beer contains a pretty fair amount of malt, which makes the lack of sweetness all the more surprising. This may be the most lush, mouthcoatingly sticky, dry-bitter beer that I've ever had. The finish is anything but clean, a characteristic that I think makes for a much better mouthfeel. The amount of carbonation is on the high end, in accordance with the style.

This is unquestionably good beer from what is clearly a world-class brewer. I can't wait to try whatever other Russian River offerings I can lay my hands on. Damnation's only 'fault' is that it doesn't fit my preferred profile for a BSPA. Make no mistake, though, it's a very nice domestic version of a sometimes hard to duplicate style. Authentic and enjoyable.

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Photo of joecast
4.62/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

ahh. what a relief. ive been staring at this beer in my fride for about six weeks waiting for a good time to enjoy it. after a long hard week a work and a hot day outside, seem like as good a time as any.

750ml bottle. great looking, informative label. batch 003. lively POP when finally working the cork loose.

pours surprisingly clear golden (considering how loose the sediment seemed at the bottom of the bottle) forming a 1-2cm white head settling to a thin lace. medium, even carbonation.

seriously appetising aroma. enough of everything not too much of anything.
yeasty, spicy, doughy, and a touch of alcohol kick.

gives a tingling sensation in the mouth. probably a mix of the carbonation, and alcohol. finish leaning on the dry side, well, more than leaning really.
alcohol presence is fairly upfront though the abv is on the low end of the scale for this style. not in a bad way as it meshes well with everything else. the same spiciness from the aroma gives the mouth a hit before giving way to a combination of yeast and alcohol before the dry finish cleans it all up.

begins to mellow as i make my way through the 750 (hey, it takes a while), but still a pleasure.

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Photo of jaluria
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a cloudy, yellow-orange color with rust highlights and a moderate level of carbonation with big bubbles. A nice thick, white-colored head devleoped and left behind loads of lacing. Aromas of honey, yeast, grains, and dried fruit came out nicely. A bitter taste with fruity tones; dried apricot, pears, mellon, and white grapes. Rich and fruity with a sweet finish that is long and mellow. Highly addictive with a creamy texture that just rolls into your mouth and leaves behind intense flavors. This is a wonderful beer; one of the best examples of its style and well worth the $10 I paid for the bottle.

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Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle provided by the impenetrable beermanbrian.

Pours a clear golden color with a huge white head. Lots of bubbling action. Thick lacing on the glass.

Smells malty and bready with a slight fruitiness. Very inticing.

Nice breadiness upfront with a slight fruity taste. A bitter hop bite kicks in and it washes down bready, bitter, and slightly dry. The bitterness lingers.

Good carbonation, body still seemed slightly thin.

Nice drinking brew, as I expected it would be.

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Photo of ggaughan
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 003, served from a 750 ml bottle. When I took the cage off the bottles, the cork flew out of the bottle neck without any agitation. Nice presentation. The beer poured a golden yellow color with a thick white head, good lacing. The beer had an aroma of of citrus and bananas, a bit acidic. The taste is a good balance of spice, citrus and carbonation. As with most RR beers, there is a good balance in the beer so that the higher ABV is not overally noticable.

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Photo of Sephiroth
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BeerBeing for the trade. This one was a gusher, not too bad, though. Pours with lots of foam, leaving rings of lace. Nose is complex, with spices, banana, some citrus, and grassiness.

Tastes very good, some yeasty notes, along with the flavors noted in the aroma. Mouthfeel is good, well carbonated and smooth. Drinkability is high, if only I could buy this in IN.

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Photo of mattcrill
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to cmaruschak for sharing his BA karmic love. Batch 003

Appearance: Pours a cloudy light straw in color with little floaties throughout the body. A diffuse white cap develops.

Smell: Belgian yeasty funk, oak, green apples, and a flowery melon aroma.

Taste: A puckering sourness, fruity (melons and tart apples), clove, and all-spice.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium and crisp.

Drinkability: Very sessionable. Unique, interesting, and enjoyable. A nice American take on a Belgian style.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to cmaruschak for sharing this bottle. Batch 003: Lightly hazy straw color with a medium thick off-white head that dissipates quickly. Small particles floating freely, and thin sheets of lacing. The aroma is potent fruit (banana and melon) and yeast. Medium-bodied and tart with fruit and peppery spices, along with some hops and malt. The finish is spicy and short with a lingering sweet aftertaste of banana and clove. Very drinkable, and the cacophany of flavors seem to be on the verge of chaos. However, the complexity is restrained enough to be rather enjoyable.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch 006.
(Brewed on 17-Jul-05 and Bottled on 12-August-05)
Primary: R.R. Belgian Ale Yeast 1
Conditioning: White Labs Wine Yeast

Presentation: 750ml brown glass bottle. Unmarked champagne cork caged with a white steel cap which has the words ‘Russian River Brewing Company” in red text. Black label with a church window centerpiece which has a three-pronged fork with the number 23 at its base and the words ‘Golden Ale’. The word ‘Damnation’ is writ large in red text across the three-pronged fork. A small white rectangle has 3 Egg-Timers which signifies that this can be aged for up to 3 years, along with the words ‘Batch 006’. Listed at 7.0% ABV. Appropriately served in a freshly rinsed Duvel Glass, I note that the label recommends not using a Pint glass but a Duvelian shaped one. Refermented in the bottle.

Appearance: Faded golden body, straw tinges and a lone streamer laden milky torso support a feisty white head. A bit paler than I recall. Awesome looks nonetheless. A gentle swirl however reveals a large bubbled conditioning that seems a little restrained. Final top-up introduces a turbid finish to this one, not that I am bothered about this though.

Nose: The nose is exquisite, just like the first time I tried this beauty. Nothing new here, just plain old same old…not that anything here is plain. Wheaty bananas blend with skinned apples, baked pears and spicy freshly baked bread tones. Drops a half click in strength though.

Taste: Holds out well, a little more depressed than I recall, but not by much. The Banana aspects are low key, wheat remains and the taints of bubblegum from Batch 003 have completely disappeared. The malts play a bigger part. Spices and wholemeal wheat-bread factor higher than usual. Good stuff but lacks the sparkle of the Batch 003.

Mouthfeel: Oh my, this is where it dips here “big style”, way low in the feel, almost watery, hard to tab a great looking and tasting beer with such a low Mouthfeel, but honestly as hard as it is for me to admit this has a very low end feel, it is true. It just scrapes a 3.5 thanks to the pertinent conditioning more than anything else.

Drinkability: Loses something somewhere. The watery feel definitely detracts from my pleasure though my own internal bias is fighting this; I don’t want to admit that this doesn’t taste as good as the other Batch 003’s that I have had.

Overall: Up to press I have only had the Batch 003 RR Damnation which I dearly loved. It seems that the big difference between the R.R. Wine 1 Yeast from Batch 003 and White Labs Wine Yeast from Batch 006 is definitely more noticeable in the Drinkability and Mouthfeel. I so wish I would have stocked up on the Batch 003 moreso now. Oh well, when the Batch 007 arrives in LB (back to the R.R Wine 1 yeast for conditioning) I’ll hoard those instead. Batch 006, bit of hiccup, but nothing that hasn’t been addressed. As Lemmy would say……Rock On.

Music: Motörhead – Iron Fist.

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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 DogFood11
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750 corked and caged, batch 003. Poured with the utmost care it forms a highly carbonated body underneath a vibrant white head that laces throughout. Crystal clear pale yellow. Slight skunk but nothing that detered the taste, just faint in the nose.

Unique in a way for this style in that I noticed more of a spiced apporach than most I've tried. Very nice. Some light fruitiness, maybe some pear or the like followed by a peppery ending. Super fine carbonation makes this one elegant mouthfeel as the tastes roll around leaving no uncharted territory. Alcohol is well hidden yet the warming is excellent and invited.

This is a kick ass brew. With every drink this beer got better, that is a testament to a fine offering.

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Photo of SteveO1231
4.56/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy golden yellow with an awesome head of white foam, I need a knife and fork to cut through it. Huge chunks of white foam lacing cling to my glass.

Smells great, aroma filled with coriander, citrus fruits and light malts. Very yeasty smell too.

Taste so good, great malty/cadi sweetess, with a yeasty sourness and a pineapple, citrus fruit tartness. Very smooth, drinkable and delicious.

Awesome beer, I really enjoyed t his one.


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Photo of beergeek279
4.48/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 750 mL corked bottle into the trusty 'ol DFH snifter. The color is golden with a wonderfully vigorous bubble cascade rising up to the thick, foamy white head that refuses to disappear. The smell has a very strong apple estery character to it with a good candi sugar base to it as well. The taste also has that estery, candi sugar quality to it, but has a remarkably un-tripel-like bitterness to it that adds a wonderful musty complexity to the normally sweet style, leaving a wonderfully lingering bitterness in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is well-carbonated, with the volumes of CO2 about where they'd expect. As for drinkability, this is a nice one and is too damn deceptive.

Thanks to BigLove for finding this brew for the Secret Pumpkin '05. This is the last brew of 2005, and I had to end it with fireworks, so what better than one of the highest regarded beers on BA? Cheers to the Russian River crowd for making a beer that sticks to style and yet goes far beyond and puts its own stamp on it. Very nice, and hopefully I can get my hands on much more Russian River, including this one, in the future!!!!

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Photo of sacfly
4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had at the Brickskeller in DC
batch 003

Poured a hazy yellow with a thick everlasting head. You could see chunks of yeast/protein in suspension. Smell was rather metallic and light… in a good way? Spicy… light pepper.

Taste is a very complex blend of light sweet fruit, pepper, honey, an almost tea like quality. All blended into a tight, light package.

Great Mouthfeel and drinkability. My first RR product and most certainly not my last!

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Photo of RedDiamond
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Starts with a violent BANG of an uncorking. Some brewers use heavy corked bottles for their marketing effect, but here the explosive charge clearly needs reinforced containment. Advice #1: don’t let that cork get away from you. It will cause serious damage to eyeballs, light bulbs, AMWAY salesmen.

All that volatile carbonation produces an exuberant surge of light airy foam. I got five full inches of it in a seven-inch glass. Advice #2: to avoid a cumbersome head, serve in a wide mouthed glass such as a chalice.

Damnation shows fine particulate matter suspended in a piss yellow brew. The crisp Belgian aroma is earthen, peppery, and defining, with a bit of hay bale in the mix. Big clumpy lace adorns the glass. The taste is smooth and graceful with a gentle, rustic bite towards the finish. Damnation’s temperament is not altogether distinct and conveys a sense of tradition moreso than innovation. Still, its drinkability is inviting and intact. A refined and respectable tribute to the style.

Batch 004. Special thanks to Brewbacca for the trade.

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Photo of Bierguy5
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml corked and caged. Batch 006. Pours a pale golden color, slightly cloudy. High amount of carbonation. Thick, fluffy egg-white like head. Good head retention. Aroma of apples, pears, and some spices. A very nice fruity aroma. Pale malt flavor, followed by fruit flavor and ending with a good amount of earthy, Belgian-like hop flavor. Bitterness is not overwhelming, but certainly present. Higher carbonation makes this pretty refreshing. Alcohol is not very noticable. Thank you to EyeChartBrew for bringing this one to me.

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice 2cm cover of pure white lace, regular bubbles covering a cloudy pale gold pour. Spicy and slightly phenolic nose has a mild hay-like propensy, its dry yeastiness offering plenty of tea-like tannins and candied fruits (pineapple, sprucey orange skins etc.), like a less nutty chardonnay. Even for a belgian ale, it is pretty spicy, though balanced and you’d have a hard time picking dominant tastes. Certainly herbal, honey geared malts, tannic and yeasty. Medium carbonation, medium bodied, slight astringency. Quality, friendly and accurate artisanal farmy belgian ale, if not managing the extra steps to scar our imaginary world.

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Damnation from Russian River Brewing Company
4.12 out of 5 based on 3,763 ratings.
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