Salvation | Russian River Brewing Company

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Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 05-09-2004

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Reviews: 467 | Ratings: 1,205
Photo of Sammy
4.17/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Peachy orange with some white head.Fruity yeasty aroma. Medium bodied, with good significant carbonation, and sour finish. After several samples, the sourness is comfortably contained in malt. Thanks to Nochum for bringing in.
Another bottle a year later and more mellow. with a big soapy white head and lots of lace.Winey.
A year later bottle just as good, more yeast in aroma and taste. Thanks Crushinat0r for that one.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.06/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: two finger frothy head with excellent retention and nice lacing on a deep mahogany brown body. Beauitful beer.

S: chocolate, raisins, caramel, toffee and light strawberry.

T: palate follows the nose nicely, with sour dark fruit nicely integrated into a chocolate malt base with toffee and slight wood notes. Belgian yeast throughout.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: another nice beer from RR. The Belgian character is excellent and the malt base and dark fruits are well integrated.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.7/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky dirty iced tea color with a 2 inch light tan head that fades to a small cap. Decent rings of lace that drizzle back down into the rest of the beer over time. Smells of dark fruits, spices, Belgian-type yeast, and oddly enough - rubber. The rubber scent I am getting is off-putting and detracts from the overall smell of the beer. Taste is of sweet dark fruits (plums/raisins), spices, and the typical Belgian yeast. Strong carbonation on the beer with a feel of thousands of tiny bubbles washing around in the mouth. A little bit of alcohol warming in the throat. Overall, this is a good beer but nothing too great in my opinion. I am glad I got to try this one as this is the first time I have seen this one in bottles in my area.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

more affordable than some of the othe beers in this series, unless i got lucky. paid just under 7 bucks for a 12.7oz. pours dark brown, thin looking, with a big bubble white head on top with pretty good retention. the nose is like coffee cake or fruit bread or something. lots of interestign spice and fruit from the yeast, which seems to be the dominant smell, in front of a nice chocolatey malt body. the flavor is equally yeast forward, not quite as spicy as the nose, but there is a lot going on here. also quite a bit of sweetness from the malts, roasty and dark, molasses, booze. the mouthfeel is lovely. very active carbonation makes it feel lighter than it is, and the fuller body does not prevent drinkability. i also love the aftertaste on this. overall another real solid russian river brew, but not my favorite from this line.

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Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a 750ml at the brewery with dinner a couple weeks ago. I think I'd like to try this beer again when it's a little colder as this one was probably 50 or 55 degrees F. My only complaint is that alcohol became very present.

It poured a nice dark brown color with some redness showing through, relatively clear. The head was slightly offwhite and had a decent retention to it. The aroma was mostly of raisin and dark malts with some yeast smell. There was some slight spiciness underneath it all. The flavor was very complex. The dark malts, the fruit, and possibly some crystal malts were present. Unfortunately the alcohol came out fairly strong here. This is the reason I only gave the flavor a 4.

The body was medium/heavy which is what I would expect from a RR brew. There was some fizziness to it and some bite from the alcohol. Again, I think I would like to try it a few degrees cooler becuase that may squelch some of the alcohol presence. Other than that its a very drinkable beer.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.17/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Capone's Black Friday event. This poured out as a pretty nice looking dark reddish brown color with a thin white head on top. The smell of the beer wasn't funky at all which I was really happy about. The taste of the beer had some really nice dark fruity flavors with some vanilla in the mix. The flavors that this brew has are rather impressive. The mouthfeel of the beer is pretty thin a but not watered down at all. Overall this brew is great I think. One of the best from Russian River I think.

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Photo of metter98
3.84/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is very dark brown in color. It poured with a half finger high beige colored head that died down and consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are aromas of dark malts and Belgian yeast in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of dark fruits (such as prunes and plums), dark malts and Belgian yeast. The yeast is more promint than the fruits. Slight hints of spices also become detectable in the finish as the beer warms up. No sweetness is detectable, except for some faint hints in the initial taste.
M: It feels medium-bodied and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer has a nice mix of dark fruits and yeasty flavors. No traces of alcohol are detectable.

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Photo of brentk56
4.94/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch 004

Appearance: Pours a hazy dark brown color with garnet highlights; nice head drops quickly to a murky film but leaves a dancing pattern of lacing

Smell: Crème Brulée, banana pudding, malted milk, rum raisin and some alcohol

Taste: Starts out with a milk chocolate and vanilla pudding aspect that grows spicy by mid-palate, with dark fruit and prickly cinnamon; after the swallow, the malted milk flavors make an appearance and are joined by banana, vanilla, and an earthy hop element that blends to the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with prickly carbonation

Drinkability: Truly extraordinary; why this isn't in the Top 100 is beyond me

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Photo of largadeer
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Fresh from the brewery, half-gallon growler purchased for $13.

Appearance: Chestnut-colored, perfectly clear when held to the light. Pours with a big frothy tan head, nice retention and plenty of sticky lace.

Smell: Cocoa, roasted barley, a trace of alcohol. Lightly fruity and spicy. Less yeast character than the bottled version, but more roasted and bitter.

Taste & mouthfeel: An even mix of chocolate, dark fruit (figs and banana) and molasses. Heavier on the roast and bitterness than most dark Belgians. Medium-bodied, quite drinkable for the ABV and pleasantly dry in the finish, leaving a lingering note of bittersweet chocolate on the tongue.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.35/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a three finger head of beige colour, fair cream, good thickness, and good retention. Colour is a very dark amber. Nontransparent. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Yeast, nice hops, and mild cream. A mild strength aroma.

T: Biscuity yeast, some dark malts, notable spice (even heat spice!), some caramel, and cream. A fairly simple beer, but pleasant and enjoyable. Not particularly complex or subtle, but I like it. The spice is quite nice.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Nicely thick. Good carbonation.

Dr: Drinkable and enjoyable, yet simple. It's not Russian River's best brew, but I do like it. I might get it again on-draught, but it isn't horribly impressive.


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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.06/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle (Courtesy of Jimbowood): Poured a dark brown color ale with a huge foamy head with great retention. Aroma of spices with strong malt presence and funky yeast. Taste is at first dominated by some spices with some semi-sweet dry fruits. There is also some subtle sourness, which doesn’t dominate but is very enjoyable. Body is above average and alcohol is well hidden. Another winner from this great brewery who in my mind is probably currently doing the best Belgian in North America.

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Photo of emerge077
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 004

Poured slowly into a Caracole tulip. Nice lacing, a good amount of tan foam. First impression is that it looks like a trappist ale. Deep mahoghany tone, ruddy brown.

Burnt caramel, molasses, nutmeg & other spice. Later has a solvent alcohol note at room temperature. Faint wildflower and mild citrus. Residual earth and bittersweet cocoa tones, very malty. Suggestion of raisin, or similar dried dark fruit. Complex, but not over the top. Very smooth and mellow. Good level of carbonation. Long aftertaste of caramel, banana, and possibly aged hops. Marshmallow softness.

The abv limits this to one bottle in a session, it's easily enjoyed though. It's good, but not as unique as RR's barrel-aged offerings. Still leaps and bounds over any other American BSDA.

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Photo of oline73
3.85/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy mahogany with a finger of off white head and great retention.

Smell: Sweet chocolate and raisins with some brown sugar. I'm getting some caramel with yeast spice and mild alcohol.

Taste: Not quite as good as the smell, malty but not too sweet. Some yeast spice with a slight bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with carbonation that is a bit more aggressive than I would have wanted for this beer. The finish is dry.

Overall: This is a fantastic smelling beer. I felt like the flavor lost some of the complexity that was showing up in the smell. Good and I would have another but not spend a ton of time searching it out.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Russian River in August 2009.

A: Pours a moderately-dark brown with some orangish hues. A good tan head.

S: Lots of dark fruits with some raisins, candied sugars, and Belgian yeast.

T: Lots of breadiness to go with the dark fruits and yeast.

M: Medium body and quite smooth.

D: Quite drinkable, and one of the most drinkable of this style that I've had.

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Photo of mothman
4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Darkness snifter.

Pours 1/2 finger of light tan head. Amazing retention. Very nice lace. Color is a dark cherry hued bark brown.

Aroma: A lot of wild yeast, chocolate, banana, clove. Very funky, but sweet.

Taste: Wow, the yest in this beer is crazy. Reminds me a lot of a brett beer. Chocolate, cocoa, bananas, and cloves. Very unique.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. Wow, it is smooth. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends with some funk and sticky aftertaste.

Overall, a really nice beer. A little too much funk for me, but so smooth and I really like this part of the beer.

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Photo of jlindros
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch 10, thanks to THECPJ.

Pours a ridiculous fizzy head that fades at a med pace, with lacing, dark rootbeer brown color.

Nose has some malts, med darker malts, light almost wild like dry rustic farmhouse Belgian yeast aromas, spices, nutty like sweet Belgian malts, light sweet syrupy sugar.

Taste has Belgian malts, hint of darker malts, dry almost wild Belgian spicy rustic Farmhouse dry yeast again, dry and bitter, effervescent, light fruit.

Mouth is med bodied, crazy carbonation.

Overall not bad, dry and malty, lots of dry belgian crazy yeast flavors and aromas, and light spices.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.36/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A creamy head of light tan rises steadily, and with presence, as you pour. It never fades, and rests gently in the glass that way for several ticking minutes, ever so slowly decreasing in size. Solid walls of lace are left behind. To have that kind of head retention in a beer of 9% alcohol is impressive. When held to the light, the body beneath is mostly clear with reddish chestnut highlights glowing inside its very dark, almost black robe.

Inside the nose, delicate notes of sugar and candy dance with wafts of banana and hints of dark fruit skins amidst a lightly chalky yeastiness before a background of shimmering cocoa powder. It's not bold, but it's certainly bright enough, and very enticing!

In the flavor there's a distinct note of chocolate at the first sip that's almost fudge like. It's not bitter or raspy, but also not sweet, although beyond that the beer is sweetish, fruity, and candyish. It's just that the chocolatey side doesn't seem so. Crossing the palate, the dark fruitiness appears next, and it's juicy, but it also displays some edgeiness. I'm thinking of black cherries, dried prunes, a bit of fig, and some dark-skinned bitterness. Some tropical fruit appears... mainly banana, but perhaps a hint of pineapple as well? A fair amount of yeast character is present, candyish and chalky with a light phenolic side that gives some spice (and the banana). It's overall a bit sweetish, but not lingering; and the bitterness is always right there, backing it stiffly... for all it's whimsy chocolate, candy and fruit, it's certainly well reigned in. The yeasty spiciness, and probably a bit more from the alcohol lend a hand, and it finishes dry, and lingering, with more dark-skinned fruit bitterness as the sweetish malt and yeasty fruit and candy quickly fade. A complete turn about! Very nice!

It's rich and enticing, involving you in each sip - but not so overly complex that you can't just enjoy it straight out. It's more of a sipper that you can enjoy slowly after a good meal. And I'd imagine it might be a good cigar beer, although I'm not sure. Highly recommended!

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.71/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a slightly hazy but opaque dark amber in color with some light orange, ruby red, and amber highlights as well as a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The beer has a half finger tall dense foamy beige head that slowly reduces to a thick film covering the entire surface of the beer with a couple of small patches that are slightly thicker and a thin ring at the edges of the glass.

S: Moderate aromas of dark fruits and dark malts - plum, raisin, and date. Light notes of roasted malts, candi sugar, and Belgian yeast.

T: Moderate flavors of sweet dark malts with some dark fruit notes (raisins and dates) and light to moderate amounts of candi sugar. Light to moderate amounts of alcohol are present in the aroma and there is very little bitterness. The sweetness fades as you drink it with some Belgian yeast and light amounts of spices.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Slightly creamy.

O: This is an interesting beer but not one of the best examples for the style in my opinion. I was hoping for a little more sourness in this brew but it did not come through for me in this one. Not the easiest to drink, more of a slow sipping beer.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 002. Dark tawny with bright orange accents. There are very few breweries outside of Belgium that can pull off a Belgian-quality head. Russian River seems to do it with ease. The expansive, golden beige crown possesses every positive quality you'd care to name. And a few more besides.

The nose is a fraction more sour than it should be. Having said that, it's still wonderful and makes me want to take that first big gulp. Bruised banana and fig are nicely complemented by English toffee and a warm clove spiciness.

It's probably being too nitpicky, but there's still too much sourness. Salvation tastes like a BSDA (70%) and a Flanders oud bruin (30%) hybrid. Although there's nothing inherently wrong with that, it isn't what I expected. I like my BSDAs to favor sweet over bitter over sour... assuming they're all present.

The flavor profile pretty much mirrors the nose (with the addition of Granny Smith apples and a hint of cocoa powder). Unfortunately, the depth and complexity that are usually a given in Russian River beer aren't present. Don't get me wrong, a less than stupendous beer from these guys is still better than most Belgian-style ale brewed by their American competition.

The mouthfeel is *merely* good. It doesn't have the creamy, silky expansiveness of the world's best BSDAs, but it's still pleasureable. Alcohol hasn't been mentioned yet because it's nowhere to be found.

I'm not sure if I caught Salvation too early or too late. This bottle is about 18 months old and the brewery says that it can go 4 years at least. Alternatively, maybe it was never destined to be one of Russian River's masterpieces.

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

Thanks to papollo for this one!

A: Upon pouring, a massive head forms, taking up the majority of my DFH signature glass. After it settles down a bit, I am left with a dark brown colored beer with two fingers of foamy, beige colored head on top.

S: Some grapes and fig as well as a bit of toffee and some light spices in the background. Slight hint of banana as it warms.

T: Opens up with a good bit of dark fruit, figs, prunes, and raisins. There is some candied sugar and brown sugar and a slight alcohol presence. A little bit of chocolate right on the finish.

M: Medium bodied, not as carbonated as the massive head led on. Drinks pretty smooth.

O: Pretty good beer. Probably not something I would go to often, but done well with a solid flavor profile.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.96/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one has been sitting around in the fridge for a couple months waiting for me to try it, so last night was the night as I was in the mood for something different. Poured a very deep dark and hazy brown with a huge tan head of gooey and foamy lace. Lots of visible carbonation throughout the session. A nice concentric ring of side lace was left throughout and some sediment was visible. The smell was interesting, lots of yeast and spice, but for some reason seemed muted, and at the same time kind of sweet. The taste was very full and robust. Lots of flavors with hints at dark fruits and a nice rounded earthy back. There was a slight tart like twang in the bite and a short finish that I thought could have been more drawn out.

Overall this was an odd one, there was nothing really bad at all about it, but it just did not really stand out to me as anything fantastic other the very smooth nature of it. Almost silk like it was solo smooth. This was definitely a nice triple, but to be honest I have had better. Thats ok though it is still a very good beer and something I would say you should definitely try if given the chance.

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Photo of billab914
4.39/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch 3 poured from a 750ml bottle into a tasting glass. The color was more of a dark amber, caramel like tone with a thin white head clinging to the edge of the glass.

The aroma had a big raisin and dark fruit presence to it. I get some sweeter, caramel and brown sugar notes mixing with a slightly boozy, almost rum like flavor to it. Just a little bit of spice to it as well. Excellent aroma overall with some great depth and complexity to the maltiness.

The taste is sweet at first with a big dark fruit profile right off the bat. Midway more of the raisins, caramel and brown sugar start to come out along with just a hint of some alcohol and spice. The malty, dark fruit and raisin flavors are really excellent in it overall.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being moderate. Overall this was an excellent beer that aged very nicely. I really loved the dark fruit, raisin flavors to it. One of the better versions of the style I've had and probably the best American brewed one that I can remember having.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Churchill's

A: The pour is dark brown with a fluffy off-white head, leaving some sticky lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is full of sweet malts and dark fruits. I pick up notes of plums, raisins, and maybe dates as well. There is also a touch of roast and candi sugar, along with some yeast.

T: Following the nose, the flavor opens up with a bit of roast followed by some sweet sugar and malt. The fruit character is not quite as intense as in the nose. There's also a noticeable alcohol presence.

M: The body is medium to full bodied with an almost creamy level of carbonation.

D: One of the better Belgian styles from Russian River, but the alcohol presence in the flavor was a bit of a downer for me. Still a nice beer, however.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 7/11/10 notes. Batch 7 from 2008.

a - Pours a murky nut brown color with no head, light carbonation, and some sediment evident.

s - Smells of dark fruits, yeast, spices, alcohol, and caramel malts.

t - Tastes of brown sugar, dark fruits, spices, yeast, and alcohol. Some caramel and fruity malts as well.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - A pretty nice Belgian dark ale. Lots going on and nice balance in the smell, would definitely try again.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle graciously gifted by Darrell. Thanks man!

The beer is chestnut / mahogany in color, with a full figured head that leaves a healthy amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma consists of yeast, malt, dark fruits, spices. The flavor is well balanced and pleasant. This doesn't quite measure up to the great, authentic versions of the style, but is quite enjoyable nonetheless. The feel is really smooth on the palate, with alcohol content well hidden. Overall, another solid effort from one of America's finest breweries.

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Salvation from Russian River Brewing Company
4.09 out of 5 based on 1,205 ratings.
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