Damnation | Russian River Brewing Company

1,144 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: 1,144 | Ratings: 3,797
Photo of techdiver
4.63/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a very slightly hazy golden yellow with a substantial white head that dissipates slowly, leaving heavy lace down the sides.

Aroma of malt, fruit, and hops.

Smooth tasting with malt and hops predominating. The hops being much more evident than in most other brews of this type that I've tried.

Feels great in the mouth with nice tingling carbonation.

Drinkability is quite good with a more modest ABV and smooth refreshment it offers.

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Photo of bjohnson
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Received in a trade from ClockworkOrange. thanks for the opportunity. 750mL. Batch 011

A: Pours a clear orange golden color with a frothy two finger fizzy head. Big retention of the soft looking head. A current of bubbles stream to the top from the middle base of the glass. Soft sticky lacing.
S: Fruity with a sugary presence. Pears, apples, cotton candy, spices, orange peel. Lots of sweetness in the nose, but not overpowering.
T/M: Pears and apples with a spicy characteristic to them as if they've been drizzled with some godly spice. Slight peppery twang on the sides of the mouth and on the tastebuds. Bready yeastyness without any of that chalky mouthfeel. Soft and smooth on the palate. Slight leafy hop twang makes an appearance towards the finish. Slight wine like notes.
D: A pleasure to drink this. Excellent example of the style. Quite crisp and surprisingly easy drinking. Nice and complex with a decent body.

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Photo of mmcave
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received in trade with cooperrip thanks again. Batch 003 chilled and poured into tulip glass. Its worth noting my bottle had a bit of dirt or residue from the cork on the inner part of neck, which I did my best to wipe away. All the same pours a clean pure white head about two centimeters thick with lots of little bubbles supporting it, lacing is sparse, but present. The body is a golden straw color, with almost peachy tones. The nose is quite complex and fresh with subtle hints of spice (coriander, maybe a tinge of pepper), wonderful pale esters juicy pear, a tinge of banana and fresh strawberry. The hops are there, and provide subtle balance, yet its hard to detect their exact character. Just the same this beer has such great aromatic balance its not so important to me to parse them out. The taste is great crisp and fresh, as mentioned before a very tasteful balance of pear, strawberry and banana esters, with a slight spiced character. There is a delightful tartness that comes in the midsection, which is steadied by a mild sweetness, that pulls your taste buds right a long. That balance between the smallest hints of something like raw sugar and a tasty fruity tartness, coupled with that dry finish make this just too good. This is my first Russian River and I am so impressed and happy with it.
As I suspected this is a great food beer I can just image a midday snack with some peppered crackers and aged cheese huh so good. I’m so depressed; I can’t get this stuff in Chicago looks like I might have to trade for a case. Needless to say this is an excellent Belgian style strong pale, if you can get it you will not be disappointed.

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Photo of dfried
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first beer from the storied Russian River. Batch 016.

Pale straw in color, large frothy white head eventually dropped to a film. The aroma was full of yeasty bready fruit, bananas and pears just as it said on the bottle, there was also some spices and some candy like sugar. The first thing I noticed in the taste was a lot of spicy and citrusy zest, and fruits galore, mango, melon, tropical but not over the top. Much more than just banana and pear.Kind of dry mouthfeel, but enough almost sparkling carbonation from the bottle conditioning to keep it lively. Delicious and easy to drink, the aftertaste lingers forever in your mouth.

Verdict: lived up to and exceeded my expecations. I really loved the as I put it in my notes "tropical but not quite" flavors of many different fruits, that were kept in check by the yeasty flavors. Outstanding.

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

Batch 011.

Enjoyed this evening with akorsak, bookert and phnphilly.

This is a decent easy drinking Belgian Pale Ale but with some of the other impressive beers from RR, this one is somewhat typical. That said, it is still quite enjoyable.

Appearance: Pours a luminescent gold with a large majestic white head, partly cloudy body and spotty lacing.

Smell: Certainly honey with hints of lemon lime and melon. I can detect a little alcohol. I have a cold and I can smell this beer so it must smell pretty darn good.

Taste: Smooth approachable and fruity. The flavor starts off with a grain attribute that carries some sweet sugars and honey yeast flavors along with other spices. There is a suggestion of banana and grapefruit and hops in the back end.

Mouthfeel: Quite dry with a certain hop aftertaste that is a bit distracting, still, an adequate body.

Drinkability: I enjoyed sharing one. I do not need more at the moment.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of akorsak
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 750 mL corked and caged bottle shared with Phatz. Labelled as batch 011, if I remember correctly.

A: The ale pours a brilliantly clear golden color. The only obstruction in the glass is a constant stream of bubbles from the center of the glass. The head is sufficiently thick and soon dissapates to a white ring at the top of the glass.

S: The aroma has a nice spicy edge, with honey and a subtle alcohol being the primary character.

T: The flavor is a nicely spiced body, showing off some tripel-like spices including coriander and honey. The malts provide a nice chewy grainy base that do not interfere with the golden spicy character. The taste is pleasant and forthright without being too dominant.

M: The mouthfeel is full of spices, delicious without overloading the palate.

D: I was very pleased with this ale, the spices are well-done, delivering a flavorful beer without overdoing the alcohol or sweetness.

EDIT: I originally labelled the batch as 002 when it really is 011. It has been updated accordingly.

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

750 ml courtesy of DrJay!

Pours a clear golden, huge white head, nice lacing and excellent retention, what I like to see from a Belgian style. Smell is sweet, honey, yeast, citrus, very nice, lots of complexity. Taste is honey, toffee, bready yeast, spices, some vanilla, bit of funky goodness, nice clean finish. mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation. Nice shot at the style, enjoyed more than most Belgian Pales. Thanks for hooking us up Jay!

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

Poured from a corked and caged 750ml bottle into a tulip glass.

The bottle states that this is from Batch 008.

Appearance - Pours with a huge, four-finger creamy white head taht lingers for quite a while, eventually (after about 10 minutes) settling at a thin cap of very creamy white head. It is a pale straw color with some orange tinge to it. The beer is quite clear, with little to no haze in it. There is lots of carbonation activity seen within. Sticky/full lacing is left all the way down the glass as you drink this beer.

Smell - This aroma reminds me a lot of a good wheat beer mainly due to the fact that there are obvious aroms of banana. Also some lighter fruit smells are present such as peach, pear, and white grape. Flowery and sweet herbal notes from the hops tie it together nicely. There is mild alcohol detectable off the nose.

Taste - Definitely bananas again, pear, peach, apricot, white grapes. Flowery and herbal notes as well all behind a somewhat bittering sourness balancing flavor. There is also some lemony citrus in the background of the flavors. A mild bready malt forms the foundation for this beer. A warming alcohol comes through in the finish and there is moderate earthiness with some lingering sourness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Lots of tingly carbonation, but it doesn't have that unpleasant bite to it that a lot of beers of the style tend to have. It complements the beer very nicely and doesn't interefere with the ability to fully taste and comprehend the flavor. This holds well and doesn't cause the beer to foam to much in your mouth as you taste it. This beer is medium-bodied.

Drinkability - The flavors are nice and present, but not what I would consider strong (at least not in the manner that an imperial stout is). It has an overall refreshing quality to it.

A very good Belgian golden here. I love the banana and peach flavors in it. Also, the carbonation isn't overkill, which was a pleasant surprise. Too often beers of this style have far too much carbonation which intereferes with tasting it properly. A recommended Belgian-style golden ale for sure!

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

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip glass (why not?) and got a huge foamy head to rival Duvel. Broke up very very slowly. Glaciers melt faster than this head. Color is a simple golden yellow. Whole lotta lace goin' on.

Aroma is two things, and BIG: candy sugar and hops. Almost smells like wet hops, they're so fresh and assertive. But they're tempered a bit by that cotton candy sweetness. It's hard to detect anything past those two aromas, perhaps some fruitiness once it starts to warm, but basically the sugar and hops characteristics mingle to make one intense smell.

Flavor is unsurprisingly balanced between candy-like sweetness and full, fresh hops. Honey and gentle dessert spices creep up as it warms. As the bottle is poured a 2nd and 3rd time (this is bomber size), nuttiness from the yeast enhances the beer and gives it the depth it was lacking on the first pour.

Finishes crisp, and the sweet element turns just a little sour and funky in the aftertaste.

Overall I'm reminded again of Duvel, this time because the taste seems to recall a wilder, freaky, inbred third cousin of that beer. It does seem to lack that certain something to push it over the top into the realms of the Belgian ales it aspires to (like a wilder yeast strain?), but it's still good stuff, and being my first Russian River beer, I'd easily buy more from these folks.

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Photo of RidiculedDisplay
3.92/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance: Cork comes off with a friendly pop, no spill-over. Pours with a, as the previous reviewer mentioned, active fizz. The head is about a finger and half to two fingers thick at first, settling into a half-finger head after some serious bubbling. Lacing is very full and settles over the entirety of the glass area you happen to swirl the beer over before dissipating fairly quickly. The body is a dark, cider-like amber, perhaps a little too on the light side to be considered anything but pleasant looking. Still, for a Belgian Pale, the body color manages to not be tremendously boring.

Smell: A yeasty funk hits the nose on the front end. Delving deeper, one can find apple, pear, banana, followed by a slight alcohol, candy sugar, bordering on mango, some floral qualities, light hay, and a slight hint of pine. It seems that, perhaps, some hops shine through on this one from the floral and pine aromas I pick up, but they seem to marry themselves to the more familiar Belgian esters in such a way as to suggest they come from the other ingredients. Really, a very complex, and very fresh aroma. The other Belgian pales I've had could learn a thing or two from Damnation's vivacity.

Taste: A little alcohol"ey" up front, a bit too much so, unfortunately. It isn't a hot brew by any means, so I find my ability to detect the alcohol so easily a bit disconcerting. Besides that, light hints of orange, apple, some vinous qualities.

Mouthfeel: Seems to "shoot its load" a bit upon pouring, apparently, since the beer settles, after all the bubbling commotion at the beginning, into something quite tepid. Still, it is full and almost chewy. A little astringent.

Drinkability: Very sippable, despite the alcohol detection. Overall, a good go for my first-ever bottled RR brew. I've heard so much about Vince's ales, and considering this is the most readily available and, arguably, one of less favored of his offerings, I must say it's pretty darn impressive.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a super clear very active with bunches of bubbles rising to keep the head frothy for quite some time. Even after a couple minutes it still has oodles of bubbles rising, and the head doesn't look like it will be letting up any time soon.

Aroma: The aroma is really faint and it is almost hard to pick out anything. There is a little bit of a wheaty graininess here as well as a subtle citrus. I get a bit of dryness that seems that it may be attenuation.

Taste: The flavor is much bolder than the aroma suggested. This is actually a pretty complex beer for being so light. I definitely get some citrus in here as well as a sweet malty backbone. This beer is really attenuated and has a bit of a tartness to it that reminds me of a Brett addition like Orval. The flavor is very clean and dry with only a tad of sweetness to linger on the throat for a while. Late after the sip, there is a subtle warming that sets in, but it is very subtle. The finish is clean and refreshing.

Opinion: This is a really good beer. I would certainly put it in the category with Orval. The flavor is mild and clean with a wealth of complexity deep within the beer, that certainly becomes more noticeable as it warms. I am enjoying this beer, and I would certainly try it again if I get the opportunity.

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

Batch 007

Pours yellow golden color and I swear as it was coming out of the bottle there was a pink color to it like a blush wine. Small white head but it maintains nicely. It's bolstered by the steady flow of carbonation off the bottom of my Chimay glass. Smell and taste are full of apple. Very faint pepper taste that becomes more prominent as it warms. Very dry finish. From what I recall, not as bold and fruity as the other Russian River's I've had but certainly very enjoyable. A RR is always worth trying and I've never been disappointed. Have a Happy New Year!

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Photo of blackie
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

appearance: Fluffy, long-lasting white head with some raised "islands." The beer is a deep golden color with some sediment settled on the bottom of the glass.

smell: Clean pale malts, sweet orange, light coriander, white grape, and white pepper. Very well balanced with nice, delicate aromas. Papery hops.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is on the higher end of the medium range, and very smooth. The body is light without being thin. Delicate.

taste: Clean pale Belgian malts supporting light to moderate spices and fruits with an aged, papery noble hop flavor. Notes of coriander, banana, and pear (label). The gentle bitterness cleans up the finish really wall. A very well built beer with great balance.

drinkability: ez

bottle split with dirtylou on my 3rd stay in Mad Town

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Photo of dirtylou
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle split with blackie, obtained a few months back in a trade from maybe clickpush. batch 009

appearance: pours into wide mouth wine glass...glowing apricot-golden body, big white foamy head with great retention/lacing. solid appearance in all aspects

smell: fresh and zesty, apricot/peach, well spiced but not an extraordinarily overpowering aroma

taste: very nice balance of fruit and spice...apricot/peach/white grape, lightly syrupy, white pepper and zesty spicing...light citrus, sweet toasted malt, light banana. pretty tasty

mouthfeel: well balanced, creamy smooth

drinkability: high

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Photo of dherling
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured out a golden yellow, about 90% head at first, with a white chunky bubbly white head. mmm. Lacing like crazy, all over this house. The nose is malt and Belgian spice. A bit of citrus, even some hearty yeast. The taste had hops, alcohol, pine, yeast, spice, light fruit, malt, and honey. Has a slick mouthfeel with a very tiny prickly bubbly sensation.

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Photo of DrJay
4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nearly clear straw yellow colour with a dense white cap of foam. The fine bubbles clung to the glass, producing thick lace, and the head retention was quite good. The aroma was mostly sweet malts with notes of citrus, bread, and spice. Mild flavour with a low bitterness, spicy sweet malts and lemony citrus. Low carbonation, medium bodied, with a creamy texture. Very tasty, mellow, and very easy to drink.

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Photo of isaac
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750 ml bottle to snifter.

A - Golden, hazy body with visible carbonation. One-fingered, off-white head that sinks to big bubbles and clumpy lacing.

S - Malts! Belgian yeast, sweet pears, and spices.

T - Malty breadiness, again, some pear with added banana. Dry hops finish with notes of the citric, american style.

M - So. Very. Smooth.

D - Delicious. Amazing. Could have this every day.

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Photo of grub
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pre-holiday tasting at my place attended by me, DrJay, Viggo, biegaman, and northyorksammy. DrJay contributed this bottle. thanks jay!

pours a pale yellow with a huge white head. drops slowly and leaves lots of lace.

aroma is nice. bit of funk. light cracker malt. bit of vinegar. light citrus. bit of spice.

taste is great. nice crackery malt. light sourness. mild bitterness. light citrus. just a bit of spice.

mouthfeel is good. nice carbonation level and good body.

drinkability is great. well balanced. this is a very interesting and tasty beer.

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Photo of weeare138
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Capone's in Norristown...
Appears a light gold with a small, soapy white head that quickly fades out. Small spots of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of light fruit highlighted with mild banana esters and spice. A remnant of doughy yeast comes through with gentle pepper aromatics and a touch of earthy spice.
Taste is similar to the aromas with a large base of pils malt filling out the flavor that's complimented by light fruit and spices.
Mouthfeel is smooth, semi-sweet for the most part with a light, mild bitter bite at the end.

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Photo of HossMcGraw
3.64/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Finally tried a bottle of this a Monk's Cafe in Philly. Pours a golden hue with ample head and generous lacing.

The aroma is odd. Reminiscent of a typical Belgian pale, but with some serious hopiness. Taste follows suit, as this reminds me of a Californianized version of a Belgian beer, which I suppose is exactly what this is. Very hoppy and dry finish. Not unpleasant, but unexpected and strange.

Mouthfeel was full and rich, but the drinkability was hindered by the strangeness of the brew. I applaud the brewers' tenacity, but for me, the hoppiness and the Belgian sweetness did not mesh.

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

Labeled batch 13, and 7.75% ABV.

Golden color. Fluffy white head like marshmallow, looks good. No amazing staying power, frequent swirls are in order. Nice lace.

Smells mainly of fruity and solventy esters. Sweet golden apple, white grape juice, banana, peach, solvent, coriander, clove. Appetizing.

Taste is fruity, somewhat sweet, with some warming alcohol and solvent. Some acidity. Hints of coriander (leaf plus seed), green apple, honey, clove. A little mild hop bitterness and flavor. Fairly long finish, getting drier, more acidic, more alcoholic.

Great mouthfeel. Creamy carbonation, fine and well controlled. The acidity also influences the mouthfeel.

Damnably drinkable.

Good beer, and interesting. Aggressively stylized, this is no Duvel copy.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.68/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Boolshot for this bottle.
Drank from my Duvel chalice. Pours a golden color with a huge head. Took a while for the head to recede enough to drink.
Has a somewhat fruity/wine like smell in the nose.
Taste is very good. Smooth and creamy, and you can taste the vinous, wine like characteristics. This is a very good tasting beer. Very enjoyable and I hope that most of the Belgain Pale Ales that I have yet to try are this good.
If you haven't tried this one, It's worth getting your hands on one.

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Photo of goschool
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 14 (There's no description for 14 on the website). 750 ml bottle from Whole Foods in Woodland Hills, CA. The cork has a, don't use a shaker pint glass, sketch on it.

Appearance: The pour is bright orange with a white head that fades to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: The nose is very yeasty. There is light fruity notes, namely green apple, lemon, and peach, as well as something that may or may not be coriander, spicy hops, and a bit of funk.

Taste: The taste brings everything in the nose together and calms it all down for better or for worse. Belgian-style yeast, spicy hops, citrus, peach, a sour funk, warming alcohol, and sugary sweet malts, which come out every so often. Part of this beer is having an identity crisis and wants to be a saison.

Mouthfeel: It's very dry and medium-bodied with lightish carbonation.

Drinkability: I haven't had a Duvel in while, but this has to be at least fairly comparable and it was more than a dollar fifty cheaper (I know. Now I can get that Ferrari I've been wanting).

Music: Bette Middler. I'm not joking. I had "Wind Beneath My Wings" stuck in my head after hearing it on a TV show.

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Photo of neonbrown82
3.82/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Interesting, but not really my cup of tea. Under the assumption that this is supposed to be something like Duvel, it sure is much more complex, but not nearly as smooth and refreshing. As such, it is not devilishly drinkable like Duvel.

The beer looks good enough. Pale golden with an amber hue. Decent carbonation supporting a thick white head. Retention leaves something to be desired, but lacing is decent.

The smell is probably the best part. Complex yeasty aromas of banana and pear with a rich hay-like malty aroma. Has quite a complex spiced aroma as well. Light hint of candi sugar.

The taste is good. Much like the nose, but the barnyard hay-like flavor is much more intense, and not quite as pleasant. Has a dry and spicy finish with a touch of candi sugar. The hay flavor lingers long into the finish. Meh. A little disappointed in this one despite the wonderful things I've heard about Russian River. It would make a decent saison, but the fact remains that the hay flavor is too over-powering in the taste, and it doesn't seem to mesh with the rest of the flavor profile.

I am still very much looking forward to the other RR beer I still have in my cellar, however. This one just didn't live up to my expectations. It was alright, but kind of a chore to get through.

Thanks to dogfooddog for sending this. I am very thrilled to have been able to try it, among other quality California brews.

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

This is my second beer review ever, and I will always put out a disclaimer that I review beers for my own benefit and in my own words, so I can remember each beer and how I felt about said beer.

Only having tried one other Russian River beer - Pliny the Younger, which was not the best experience for me as I do not like very bitter beers..so needless to say, I was a bit afraid to try Damnation because of that experience. Good thing I don't judge a book by the first page because this beer was a great surprise!

I've had this bottle for months now, and finally decided to take the plunge. Poured into a tulip with a nice, 1/2" frothy creamy head - one point for Damnation! I am still developing my senses to pick out smells and tastes in beers, and trying to pick out the smells in this one proved difficult for me. Nothing hits you in the face as far as smells go, a nice mild aroma of maybe banana? Very, very slight citrus, but not like grapefruit...hard to describe, as you can see. No strong yeasty smell either. Very nice!

Okay, when I finally take a swig..same thing..very mild, smooth, not overwhelming in one taste or another. But don't get me wrong, it's definitely NOT boring either! It's got a complexity to it that keeps you interested.

This may be one of my favorite Belgians to date! I could drink many of these!! Well, maybe not MANY as the ABV is kind of high for me..around 7%.


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Damnation from Russian River Brewing Company
4.12 out of 5 based on 3,797 ratings.
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