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: 468 | Ratings: 1,213
Photo of brewskifan55
4.04/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter. Thanks, cvm4!

A: Dark brown with a half finger tan head that dissipates pretty fast. Frothy lacing.

S: Dark fruits, particularly raisins, dates, plums. Chocolate. Sweet. Licorice.

T: Follows nose. Smooth. robust. Spices like cinnamon come through. A great chocolate finish.

M: Medium with frothy carbonation.

O: A superb BSDA. One that begs to be sipped and enjoyed. Could enjoy another one soon.

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Photo of phishsihq
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This Russian River Winter seasonal pours a deep, dark brown, and it is capped by a fluffy, off-white head and a good deal of clingy lace. Dark fruit (plum, raisin, and plums), candied sugars, and Belgian yeast create a classic Belgian Strong Dark ale nose. The flavors follow the dark fruit and candied sugar from the nose, with a good bit of breadiness as well. This 9% ABV brew is medium in body with a prickly carbonation.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Should I be surprised how exceptional this was? Reminded me of Unibroue's Trois Pistoles. Supremely easy-drinking. Hard to tell it's 9+% as well - the way it should be.

The billowy, somewhat spongy tan head died slowly and left some suds atop while the murky, brownish-red lacked a little of the glow I would've liked to see, though there's nothing necessarily off about it.

Melanoidin-rich, dark-malty aromas up front, with a subtle red or black grape in the background. No hops but some alcohol that grows in intensity as it warms, but never gets potent. Almost an allspice or nutmeg-like spice set against a cake-like malt.

Very rich, softly-smooth (Munich?) malt flavor, accented by a moderately-complex but subtle and nicely-balanced array of esters and aromatics including flowers/coriander and hints of anise/licorice in the finish. Mostly lightly-sweet malt going on here supported by a medium body with a bit of a chewy-foamy feel. A little bubbly prickliness on the tongue up front, but it does finish medium-light, soft, and fairly dry. Ultra-mellow, slow-rising warmth rises up from the chest/gut area.

Perhaps more depth in the flavor and finish would really knock this out of the park for me - it's almost there! This is definitely something I would love to drink again. Great balance and that's what counts the most!

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Photo of MadScientist
4.53/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: A very enthusiastic head with three finers of light tan foam from a gentle pour. The beer is a dark brown with garnet highlights and great clarity. The head is long lasting and leaves a thick sticky curtain of lacing on the glass.

S: A great balance of dark fruit and tart aroma being mostly plums, prunes and red current with some sour cherries. there is a a moderate malt aroma with a bit of caramel and some toasted grain aroma.

T: Dark fruit and spice with a light sour flavor blended in. Medium-high dark cherry and plum dominate the flavor. The Belgian yeast provides a moderate peppery spice and fruitiness. There is some malt sweetness with a bit of a chocolate flavor. The bitterness is low but there is a moderately-light sour tartness that increases the prescription that is is more bitter than it really is although the alcohol is also countering the malt. The balance is somewhat bitter and tart. the finish is off-dry and the aftertaste is of chocolate and spice.

M: This a creamy, medium-full bodied beer with moderately-strong carbonation. The alcohol brings a noticeable warmth.

O: A great Belgian Strong Dark that isn't very sweet, which I like and has a bit of a tartness which I really like.

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

a beautiful dark brown/red pour with 2 fingers of foamy creme colored head. smells of grapes, chocolate, honey.. kind of a weird faint combination - not getting many scents yet, i'm going to let it warm up and come back to it. the flavor is quite fruity up front.. cherries, grapes, raisins.. with hints of wheat, caramel, toasted grains.. very tasty. medium in body with a high amount of carbonation, slightly sticky residue left behind on the lips. went back to it about 20 minutes later and getting a more profound fruity smell.. very similar o everything i get when i taste it.

overall this is a decent offering from russian river.. one of their weaker beers i've had - hell they're only human!! still pretty high rating for their "decent" beer.. i want to try avery's salvation next since i already had the collaboration ale between them.

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Photo of argock
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 375 cL brown corked bottle into a clear pinot noir glass. Bottled on 04/18/12 date at top-middle of label. Purchased at Olive Tree Marketplace (San Diego, CA) for $5.99.

A: Very dark chestnut brown with 1/2 finger of off-white lace which leaves some scraps of lace around the glass.

S: The aroma is largely yeast esters, nutmeg and clove spice notes, and soft caramel with a little cocoa-fudginess thrown in there. There are some fig and raisin notes too.

T: The yeasty nature comes through in the flavor as well with a bunch of interesting but smooth and flavorful esters, clove, nutmeg. The dark fruitiness comes through with more fig and purple grapiness given the slightly tannic finish. There is a hint of vanilla but finishes with subtle caramel and fudge flavors. Interesting -- it reminds me a chocolate tinged Ommegang Abbey Ale with less clove. I didn't really pick up on the sourness until near the end of the bottle, but the more of it you drink, the more sour it becomes in the finish.

M: Exceedingly smooth beer with creamy texture and low carbonation. Body is medium but the ABV is virtually undetectable.

O: I liked this beer except for the price tag. It is moderately flavorful and has an incredible feel but the muted aroma and heavy yeasty nature keep it from being top-tier.

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Photo of MarioM
4.41/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

330 ml poured into RR Steamed glass

A: Dark brownish read with a light tan head made, medium sized bubbles with a creamy looking surface. Good lacing lingers after head is reduced from around two inched down to roughly a quarter inch. Doesn't look too carbonated and slightly cloudy with tiny bubbles constantly rising from the bottom of the glass which created a nice, very creamy island looking patch of foam over the larger bubbled left over after pouring.

S: Wow, this beer smells amazing. Slight chocolate notes with dark fruits as well as some espresso.Alcohol notes are also present but definitely compliments the sweeter fruity, chocolate notes described earlier. I would say this beer has a more roasted character than a dark sugar or molasses like profile common in other dark ales.

T: Very mild and drinkable. Low carbonation makes it seem very subtle and surprisingly smooth. I would have expected more fruit or chocolate since that is the first thing that comes to mind on the nose. To me its almost like I'm drinking a completely different beer than what I smelled, not a bad thing just unexpected. Regardless of my expectations, this is a very balanced beer. Not overwhelmingly sweet or fruity but just right, very drinkable considering its abv of 9%. I'm really enjoying the bitterness and mild overall character.

M: Warm aftertaste with a pleasantly, surprising bitterness for this style. A tad of fruity and sweetness lingers along with the bitterness but it all works out lovely.

O: To my surprise but in a good way, this was totally different than what I was expecting. Low carbonation, great great aromas, and mild smooth taste made this RR brew quite enjoyable. I might have to get a growler next time instead of just a single 330ml bottle.

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Photo of KajII
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

[Suggested Glassware; Tulip Glass]

The pour was a murky dark brown with some red highlights around the edges and an average (1-2 finger) light brown foamy head that reduced to a thin cap with simply awesome thick foamy sticky lacing.

The aroma was a tad sweet of a dark bread malt and a earthy Belgian yeast with notes of chocolate, caramel, dark fruit (raisons and prunes) and a mild alcohol tinge.

The taste was lightly sweet and extremely malty with a note of caramel and a light fruity ester early on, becoming quite a bit yeastier with a large dark fruit presence and a strong chocolaty alcohol ending. The flavor stuck around for an average time following the swallow, with a decent yeasty, chocolate taste and a mild alcohol warming sensation left behind.

Mouthfeel was medium in body with a dry, creamy texture and a strong lively carbonation.

Overall this was an exquisite tasting brew with a creamy chocolaty, fruity flavor and one hek of a kick. I just love everything this brewer puts out and can't wait till I can sample something else from them...

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

Bottled on April 18, 2012.

Beer is dark brown with reddish hints. Moderately-sized off-white head. Very good retention- head sticks around.

Dark fruit in the nose, plum, prune and raisin. Bready. Brown sugar. A bit drier than the style often is. A bit of spice.

Taste is like the nose. Dark fruit, plum and fig, but fairly dry. Pepper and other spices. A bit of chocolate and candy sugar. Alcohol is noticeable but not overly so.

Full bodied, moderate to high carbonation. A bit bready.

Overall, quite good. Not amazing, but very tasty.

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Photo of cvm4
3.65/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch #11

A - Pours an opaque brown. Literally can't see through it. There's a hint of plum on the outer edge if the light hits it just right. Head is tan & frothy.

S - Smells like the pit of a plum that isn't right, which comes across as sour. Dark fruits & malts compliment this.

T - Brown sugar, caramel, purple grapes & spices.

M - Lighter than most dark ales I've had & somewhat high carbonation.

O - It's great in its own right but I'm just not feeling this. I definitely appreciate Russian River sours a lot more.

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Photo of korguy123
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 11 into tulip.

Opaque brown with red highlights. Dinner and a half creamy light tan head. Lacing is good.

Brown sugar, vanilla, dark stone fruits, some cinnamon slight pepper spice.

Dark stone fruits, slight alcohol cinnamon, brown sugar, slight burnt toast and caramel.

Medium body, slightly creamy, good lively carbonation.

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

12.7oz bottle into a Hopleaf tulip. Bottled 6 months ago.

A: Pours a slightly purplish dark brown with an awesome spongy light tan head. Amazing lacing and retention.

S: Very yeasty, estery aroma. Banana, raisin, fruit cake spice, vanilla.

T: Dry dark fruits (heavy on the grape), dark candi sugar, a bit of earthy hop leaf, caramel, slightly phenolic finish. Very nicely balanced.

M: Medium-bodied with slightly frothy carbonation.

O: Great balance going on here - not too dry yet not too sweet.

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Photo of reto21
3.92/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch 10 poured into a tulip.

A- pours a dark dark brown with a khaki head.

S- Dried fruits, caramel, pepper, smoke,

T- bananas, dried fruits, caramel, dark chocolate, alcohol, mild coffee, molasses, and pepper.

M- Medium bodied with nice carbonation.

O- A great beer from RR! It's a nice change to see some darker beers in bottles from them. I plan on snagging a few bottles of this soon!

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Photo of elNopalero
4.62/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at the brewery. Direct from the source.
This poured a rich malty dark hue with creamy foam. There’s aromas of plums—stone fruit, really, followed by a flavor with hints of tobacco & plum. I get some coffee as it warms, a light molasses, and leather mixed in with the stone fruit. There’s a sweet tinge to this and a delicate malt characteristic. Terribly enjoyable.

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Photo of jaasen64
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375 cork and caged bottle. Batch 11. Thanks to DeanoMac for sending this one. Split with Auror. Poured into Jackie O's snifter.

A- Pours a dark reddish/purplish brown that is mostly opaque, but definitely slightly translucent especially around the edges (slightly more translucent then your average dark ale). About a quarter finger of slightly off-white head that receded pretty fast. Leaves some layered lacing that slowly recedes back into the glass.

S- Dark fruits, plums, cherries, light spices, malts. Everything is well balanced but not the strongest aroma.

T- Dark fruits, light tastes of plums, some cherries, light spices, finishes with a very light tartness and bitterness.

M- Smooth, abv very well hidden, fairly light. decent carbonation.

O- This definitely wasn't my favorite beer from Russian River, but it was fairly well done even though the tastes weren't exactly to my liking. There was a decent amount of dark fruits balanced with some light spices rounded out with out with an almost candy like sweetness. Everything was fairly well balanced, but I wasn't a huge fan of the dark fruits. I enjoyed this but I probably wouldn't try to get it again.

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

A - Pours a dark, reddish brown with a thick, bubbly head and pretty good lacing.

S - Somewhat sour with nice hints of raisins and dark fruits. A bit of alcohol as well.

T - Dark fruit, chocolate, raisins, almost a soda-y taste (without the sugar) but in kind of a good way. A little yeasty.

M - Medium bodied, great carbonation. A bit bubbly in the mouth and pretty smooth drinking.

O - Salvation is a pretty enjoyable beer - not one of the best Russian River beers I've had, but proof positive how great a brewery they are.

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Photo of BuckyFresh
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to zoso1967 for supplying this brew!

Appearance: Poured from a 375ml bottle into a large snifter. Color is ruby brown with a one-finger head that dissipates rapidly. Lacing is decent. No carbonation is visible, but lots of happy little yeasty chunks swim throughout the glass.

Smell: The aroma is very mineral-like with a touch of sour influence and white pepper. Some raisin, fig, chocolate, and yeast in the mix as well. Very earthy.

Taste: Very dry and bitter with not a ton of depth of flavor. Almost reminds me of tonic water. Some of the dark fruit elements are there, as well as the funky yeast and maybe some leather, but the non-bitter characters are fairly concealed.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with lots of dryness and bite from the carbonation. Not a whole lot of sweetness or complexity.

Overall: I thought there was some interest in the smell and some complexity as well, but the taste really didn't match up. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure it lived up to the hype Russian River typically garners.

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

375 ml bottle into pint glass. Bottled April 22, 2012.

A: Pours with a large creamy head, takes a while to dissapate. Leaves a cap. Beer is dark, dark brown.

S: Chocolate, roasted malts, some alcohol. Quite pleasant, very complex.

T: Roasted malts, hints of chocolate, leather, maybe raisin. Definite alcohol heat after flavors.

M: Thick, pretty carbonated. Dry finish due to carbonation and ABV of 9.5%

O: It's a Russian River bottle-aged ale. What are you waiting for?

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Photo of Thickfreakness
4.75/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 010

A- Pours a ruddy, dark raisin brown into my Bruery tulip. A somewhat thin kahki head fades rather quickly, but leaves little bits of tan lacing grabbing on, and holding onto the sides of the glass. Fairly lively carbonation for a Dark Ale.

S- Dark cocoa sheets wrapped around figs/dried cherries/coffee beans... subtle hints of banana mixed in beautifully as well. Lovely hints of horsey funk lays silently beneath the huge chocolate/dried fruit. Really earthy... you can almost breathe in the terrior that everything was grown in!

T- Dark chocolate covered coffee beans, dried mission figs, raisins, pipe tobacco, leather horse saddle, dried cherries. It has a nice little bit of funk lying beneath all those fantastic flavors. Little touches of lemony citrus, black pepper, fennel and clove. Friggin' brilliant!!!

M- Silky, fruity, and full of deep dark fruit! Chocolate covered raisins, subtle hints of bitter coffee/citrus. Absolutely not one hint of the 9% alcohol.

O- Rediculous! Enough said!

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

Bottle into Duvel tulip on Aug 05, 2012

Appearance: 4.5
Dark brown, nearly opaque, with red highlights in the body where the light breaks through. 1 inch slight brown- white head that fades to thin covering over next few mins. Good, soft lacing of head.

Smell: 4 Notable presence of spicy, flinty hops as well as milk chocolate, faint raisins and molasses. Maybe a bit of hazelnut mixed in with the chocolate? Moderate intensity of aroma. Overall, nice balance of roasted malt elements taking the lead.

Taste: 4
Starts with soft, bready malt with notes of chocolate and rye pumpernickel mixed in with a spiciness typical of a Belgian yeast, coming softly across palate. Initially, a thin, very faint bit of dark fruits is detectable too. Then that more roasted malt notes assert their dominance in the across the back of palate. Mild,semi-crisp hops with notes of faint citrus, grassiness, and spice offer contrast to malt. Finishes with lingering bitterness and slight sweetness of malt, with notes roasted malt, chocolate, and bread.

Mouthfeel: 4.5
Soft pillow carbonation offers just enough cleasning of the palate to be refreshing in the face of the malt presence. Mild crisp hops add nice balance as well. There is a just slight thickness to the overall body, likely reflecting the higer abv of 9%, that makes the beer quite enjoyable.

Overall: 4
Again another solid offering from Russian River shows the juxtaposition of complex with great balance, as is with so many of their beer. There is a nice semi-rich malt presence with good chocolate and bready flavours that is well balance with the use of hops. Add the additional dynamic of the yeast to the mix, with mild ester presence, and you have a refreshing, but still interesting beer that is along the lines of Belgian dark ale. Even though not as hyped as the sours and IPAs, this is still a strong offering.
Recommend to try.

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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 DrinkSlurm
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into pint. Pours a dark brown with crazy head. I really had to let this one sit for the head to go down. Slight belgian sweet malty hop aroma.
Taste is sweet belgian malt and dried fruit, corriander, banana, and chocolate flavors. Really nicely mellow and balanced...just a good all around beer. Worth a try and then another!

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Photo of brystmar
4.12/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for sharing, Denise!

Loud POP from the cork. Brown body, nearly black in the center. Plenty of white and lace among the active body. Rich, malty, yeasty, spicy aroma of distinctly Belgian origin. 4.5 on aroma only because I wanted to give 4.25 on taste.

I like this flavor profile much more than expected. While the aroma reminds me of Belgium, the taste exhibits a distinctly American twist on the style. Sweet and spicy first; fruity with some booze and hop bitterness in the middle; yeast, chocolate, figs, raisins at the end. Hoppy at the end with lingering bitterness and spice. Tasty!

Only problem with this beer is its massively overcarb'd body. Really distracting initially, so I sent it into timeout for ~10min before proceeding. Much better!

Russian River doesn't make bad beer; Salvation is further proof of this.

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

Thanks to KevSal for this and the countless other RR brews sent my way over time.

A - pours very dark, almost black in color with a huge, billowing head that eventually settles down to a nice one finger head

S - nose is a bouquet of spicy tobacco and rum, dark fruits, caramel and cookie malts

T - taste starts off sweet, darker fruits (plum, especially). These move to some caramel malts and give way to a spicy and bubblegum yeast flavors. Ends with some slightly toasted dark fruits.

M - creamy, full, and smooth - nice

D - This one has a lot of really nice complexity and was fun to drink. Really rich and full of nice flavors that weave in and out of one another gracefully. Great BSDA from this side of the Atlantic.

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Salvation from Russian River Brewing Company
4.09 out of 5 based on 1,213 ratings.
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