Salvation | Russian River Brewing Company

1,241 Ratings
no score
Send samples

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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,241 |  Reviews: 474
Photo of TKEbeerman
3.86/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured into my Duvel tulip this BSDA pours a menacingly deep, dark brown with an equal impressive massive head. I wasn't expecting a BSDA this dark with a name like Salvation.

S: The nose contains notes of dark chocolate, dark plum, bruised apples, and toffee. The noise lacks complexity that I like in my dark Belgiums, but that is what sets this apart from a dark Quad.

T: The flavor has delicious notes of toffee with some clove and fig. Not that complex, but beautiful in it's simplicity.

MF: The mouthfeel can improve with a more fuller, smoother feel.

Overall, this is a great beer and true to the style. A good intro beer for people who want to get into what a Belgium style can offer.

 700 characters

Photo of b3shine
3.51/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle to tulip. Appearance is good; looks like a Belgian strong. Smell is average; nothing special here. Taste is average too when comparing it to barreled brews; slightly above average otherwise. Mouthfeel is its best feature, which let me be clear, is not a good thing. I do love the carbonation of sours though. Overall, an overhyped Russian River brew that's a disappointment - especially for the price tag.

 412 characters

Photo of FosterJM
3.39/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

831st Review on BA
Bottle to Parra Tulip
Batch 10

App- A medium brown with a gigantic three lighter tan finger head. Just sits there. Very slow to recede. A ton of cling and lace.

Smell- Opens with a lot of fruit notes. A bit damp with some great yeast notes. A unique softer aromatic take on a classic.

Taste- More yeasty above all else. Retains all that damp dark fruit notes and adds a bit of spice with some more tart fruit notes.

Mouth- Medium bodied and medium carbonation. A bit of damp darker tart notes.

Drink- This was pretty good. Not the best beer from RR but I liked it. I haven’t had too many of there base series without sour so this was good.

 672 characters

Photo of BeerOnTheWall
3.76/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Been holding this for a few months. Batch 10 poured from a 375 ml into a tulip style glass. Assertive champagne like "pop" when uncorked.

Pours deep brown to chocolate color with a HUGE frothy head that sticks around for a while leaving behind nice lacing. One of the best looking beers I've poured in a while.

Mellow Belgian yeast...plum, clove, a bit "tart" smelling (not sure if this is some burn from the abv or something else). I don't get the dark malt coming through much. Not as rich of a nose as I like with Belgian dark strong ales; although it does show some more dark fruit as it warms.

Faint chocolate with a nice punch of spiciness. Some dried dark fruit. Slight bitterness on the finish. While not overly detectible initially, after about 1/3 of the glass the alcohol is present. A bit metallic. I'd like some more malty sweetness to pull it all together.

Mouthfeel on this is very nice. Prickly co2 persists throughout and makes this beer dance in your mouth. While a bigger beer, it never feels too heavy or syrupy.

Overall I'm perplexed by this. I'm a big fan of the style and the brewery. Carbonation and yeast character seems spot on...but the nose never really developed for me beyond average...and the taste had components I liked but wanted more of. I will grab this one again and take another look at my review after a second tasting.

Note: I had another bottle of this the other night and was still was left wanting more. I edited my original taste rating from 4 down to 3.5.

 1,507 characters

Photo of PaulStoneAnchor
4.56/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a hazy dark brown with a long lasting foam and great lacing.

S: It has a fragrant aroma or raisins and some green apple from the yeast.

T: It has a really nice malty background with an amazing raisin, caramel, and some light molasses-y sweetness.

M: It has a rich, creamy, mouthfeel with a smooth carbonation and full texture

O: This beer is amazing and should be enjoyed now. It is a very sessionable Dark Belgian Quad which drinks like a sweet, raisiny brown ale. This is quite amazing, it has a rich full malty background that is not overly sweet. This beer is amazing!

 588 characters

Photo of Chriscrundwell12
3.87/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

375 ml bottle poured into a Bells Tulip glass.

Batch: 010

A- Huge frothy 3 finger off white head sticky lacing on the side, dark brown color very opaque, nice carbonation coming off the bottom, red hues coming out as well.
S- Big dark fruit aroma, plums, big raisins, brown sugar really fruity and sweet.
T- The alcohol is present in every sip, not enough to make it unenjoyably but it’s a sipper, very complex, dark fruits (plums, raisins, figs) some brown sugar, toffee, pepper spice, nice bitterness comes out as well.
M- Medium/big mouth feel, dry crisp finish, alcohol is present, well carbonated.
O- Complex beer, another solid beer from Russian River, not the best Belgium Strong Dark Ale I’ve had but definitely a quality brew.

 741 characters

Photo of afksports
3.73/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Salvation is a Belgian Strong Dark brewed by Russian River and I don't know what it's saving. Certainly not the world. Probably not even the cheerleader.

At least not for my palate.

Thanks go to this fella "myspoonistoobig" (Mike) for sharing this with me the other day and pouring out a viscous deep brown liquid with a whole slapping of light brown head. That head clings to the glass after a few sips, and the Belgian yeast on thus beast does the same to my nose. The taste is sweet, well-composed with malts, candy, and burnt malts combining, and the finish is just clean enough to keep you drinking.

But it's just that. Those are all the smells and tastes. Belgian yeast, touch of some pine hop, and malt. It's like a boring triple or quad. This is yet another well-made medium to thick bodied drinkable craft beer that says... "Meh" to me. Or perhaps in French... "Le meh."

So I'm scoring it decently, but I'm unimpressed. I can't knock any particular quality but I just don't love, or even really like it. If you're like me maybe you should "save" your money.

 1,070 characters

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

Poured from a 375 Corked and caged bottle into my Mad Elf snifter glass.

A: a dark brownish color with some slight redish tones. A huge head that is 3 fingers and big and bubbly. Bottle was a slight gusher.

S: Dark fruits with some yeast tones. Spice, pepper, slight barnyard and some funk.

T: There is a tartness upfront that mixes with the dark fruits. Cherry, fig, raisin and some prune. The sweetness builds in after the fruit with some spice and yeast. A little funk and barnyard but the fruit stays the main flavors. Finish is drying with a decent alcohol bite. Some slight aftertaste leaves a weird taste in my mouth.

M: Full, coating, alcoholic and slightly dry actually.

O: Ok, I love the RR beers, but this one was a little off for me. Their sours kick so much ass, but this one left a little bit of a bad taste to me. An ok beer, but far from my favorite.

Love RR and most of their beers, wish I loved this one. Oh well, you can't love everything.

 967 characters

Photo of philbe311
3.62/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Batch #010

A - Two plus fingers worth of tightly packed, slightly lopsided khaki colored head... Solid retention... The color is a deep sleek dark mahogany with a faint ruby hue where light leaks in around the edges of the glass... Appears still from a distance, but small bubbled rapid carbonation can be seen rising in the center of the glass upon closer examination...

S - Plums... Bing cherries... Raspberries... Fig... Assorted other dark fruits... A slight Belgian yeast character... Just a slight touch of spiciness... Even slighter notes of wood and smoke...

T - I expected a subtle sweetness which never materialized... Instead there are notes of diet coke, tobacco and very lightly roasted malts... Plum skins... Red grape skins... Some woody earthy notes as well... A bit of booziness...

M - Medium bodied... Loaded with sharp bristling fizzy carbonation which is a tad bit off-putting... The finish is surprisingly dry and chalky...

D - A definite let down in terms of both the style and the continual high expectations of Russian River... Not terrible, but not something I would opt for nor recommend in the future... The 9% ABV is surprisingly well hidden... Far from a drain pour, but I was very happy (and not in a good way) once this one was completed...

 1,279 characters

Photo of ne0m00re
3.76/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

08/20/11- Had a 375mL bottle of this marked 010.
A: Reddish yellow with a nice big cream head.
S: Dark brown sugar and cream and toffee. Pleasant.
T: Molasses cream, nice green character, noticeable vodka alcohol, and caramel.
M: Frothy thick, but with a thinner body.
O: Good, but nothing amazing.

 298 characters

Photo of SFLpunk
2.8/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

375mL brown glass cork and caged bottle. Batch # 010.

Pours a medium dark dark brown with some off-white head. Nice, but nothing special. Nose is fairly simple and smells like belgian yeast, cashews and dark malt grain. Palate is roasty in a weird way. Malt flavor is weird, like maybe the mash was burnt partially. Or maybe the yeast is just odd. There's an unpleasant flavor here. BSDA all the way, but adding this weird flavor makes this seem a little amateur.

As it warms up a bit, I think it's just a weird flavor interaction with the yeast (banana/clove and drying) and the malt (Belgian brown is really more accurate). Not a fan.

EDIT: After rating this one, I felt like maybe I was off-base a little...BUT then I read some of the other reviews below and people said things like "Not my favorite RR brew" and gave it a "B" so I think I'm on par here, maybe just being a little more "honest" with my rating.

 916 characters

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

We pop the cage and cork on this guy and pour a deep brown brew, on the level of a stout. It holds a towering head of three to four fingers. This is beige and has outrageous retention, leaving thick patterned lacing around the snifters. The bubbles are lofty and airy, lending to the high retention. No sediment is noted and carbonation appears active. The nose presents in a characteristically Belgian manner, with steely and bready yeast. This is perhaps the most dominant aspect of the aroma. This mixes further with some banana esters, creating a simultaneously biting but smooth vibe overall. The malts are darker-end and roasty, but not to the point of a big stout or porter. The malts have a buttery, sweet quality, and give a bit of dark booze-soaked cherries and hints of vanilla. There is a faint hop slickness to smooth things over, but this is light. Once the head finally recedes and we can get close enough to it to take a sip, the flavoring presents with sickly sweet malts up front. They have a darkness of brown sugar, but a sweetness of white sugar, oranges, and strawberries. The middle peaks with a slightly more bitter flavoring, of citrus rind, steely malts, and huge yeast. The sweetness remains, but here it is much more balanced out. The finish is with fusel alcohols infused into more sweet, caramely grain. Again, the balance is imparted by a bittering aspect, with black peppercorn, an undefined woodiness, and alcohol. The aftertaste breathes of more of the finish, with booze, vanilla esters, and serious malt. The body is medium and the carbonation is medium. The feel to each sip is soft and coating. There is a nice slurp and froth with each, and the mouth is left satisfied. The abv is appropriate and the beer drinks very easily.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was its sweetness. Although at first the flavoring appears to be almost too sweet, as the tasting progresses and things meld together what is presented is a supremely well blended and balanced beer. Even more surprising is how successful this rendition of the style is coming from an American brewery. This brew stays wonderfully to the style, but is quite fresh and impressive.

 2,190 characters

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

Review #667, poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a snifter, batch 10. The pour is murky brown with a fizzy 2 inch white head, leaves pillows of lace. The aroma sweet dark fruit. The flavors of dark fruit are prevalent, some alcohol, finishes dry. The body is medium, good carbonation. Decent ale, there are better ones available

 327 characters

Photo of biglobo8971
3.36/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from bottle into RR tulip. The color is a rich burgundy with a nice 1/2 inch head with a little bit of lacing present. Took several drinks before I could describe the taste. Tobacco and dark fruits are the most prevelant taste. Very bubbly, almost dances off the tounge. Faint alchohol resonance. NOt my favorite, a well put together beer, just not one for me.

 367 characters

Photo of harrymel
3.58/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Batch 010

A: Pours a rosy dark brown with three fingers of vigorous tan head. This falls slowly to a quilt of the same. Cobweb lacing. Excellent clarity; would expect a little more turbidity.

S: Yeast, clove, allspice, tea-tree oil, toasted cereal, sugar and prunes. Interesting and pleasant.

T: Extra cloves! Wowza! Some sweet malts and gunpowder. Again, interesting and pleasant, so unexpected.

M: Moderate body with lively carbonation and an off-dry finish.

O: I like this beer, I'm interested in the prospect of aging this beer. Interesting little bugger.

 565 characters

Photo of dgilks
3.9/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear dark copper colour with a moderate tan head. Nice and creamy.

Spicy and fresh aroma with a touch of earthiness. Quite smooth. Nice.

Dark, dry fruits with some fresh stonefruit flavours and alcohol. Mild spice. Good balance.

Medium body with crisp, fresh carbonation. Good.

A smooth yet strong dark ale with nice esters and malt character. Well balanced.

 363 characters

Photo of AleWatcher
3.34/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Batch 10 served in my -ation glass.

A reddish mohagonay body with a fluffy tan three finger head comprised of loose and lazy bubbles. Nice thick legs like a milkshake. Awesome retention.
Smells... Well, it smells quite a bit boozy. Behind the booze lies something... But it is mild compared to the alcoholic phenols here. I detect some spicy notes, seemingly black and white pepper and Belgian yeast.
The taste has a strange green apple jolly rancher vibe going on... With a malty base and a dry spicy boozy yeast finish. A tartness seems to increase as this warms, but with it cones more booziness.
The body comes across as over-carbonated and a bit watery.
I love Russian River-- but this is officially the worst beer I've had from them. They have a stellar lineup of beers, and the -ation beers are particularly enjoyable... This one however is just barely drinkable by comparison. This is am average beer from an outstanding brewery. Perhaps it is my fault for having set the bar too high...

 1,001 characters

Photo of HosP
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch 010 poured into Jackie O's snifter.

A- pours dark brown with hints of red around the edges. Very fluffy off white, light brown head.

S- dark fruit comes through mostly in the nose. Sweet malts tucked in the back along with some spicy notes.

T- very nice smooth taste. More mellow than expected. Plums, raisin taste up front. Sweeter at the beginning. Middle comes through with some roasted flavors, still pretty subtle. Spices, clove come in at the end and finish nicely.

M- medium body with good carbonation. Smooth to drink.

O- very nice beer. Good flavors that balance well. Would drink this again for sure.

 621 characters

Photo of QuadLover
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes taken on 5/30/11

A ~ Deep cloudy brown with hints of reddishness. Nice solid head.

S ~ Plum, raisin, malty blends, hint of vanilla and alcohol.

T ~ Sweet, dark fruits, roasted malt coffee, earthy – nice complexities.

M ~ The mouth feel is full bodied with moderate to medium carbonation. Very drinkable for an Belgium strong ale.

O ~ Smooth and warm with abundant tastes and smells Would enjoy with a nice juicy steak. Especially grew on me towards the end. Will definitely enjoy this beverage again!

 528 characters

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

got this beer as an extra from Beerdy! Thanks Brien!

drank it past this saturday with friends and reviewed from notes.

Appearance: Brown bodied beer with reddish highlights and nice off white head.

Smell: mainly dark fruits and booze. Decent malt profile in the nose.

Taste: Raisins, plum, figs. Heavy bready malt taste and a decent hit of booze.

Mouthfeel: This beer drinks like its a light bodied beer, but its more like a medium bodied beer with lively moderate carbonation.

Overall: Nice beer from Russian River. Wish that the carbonation was a bit much, but I would not change to much else here. Solid brew!

 619 characters

Photo of prg1976
4.83/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Batch 010 - poured into a big old red wine glass.

Pours a deep, murky brown with a super fizzy off-white head. A decent amount of lacing, with about 1/4" of head that sticks around the whole time.

Smell is prunes, raisins, alcohol. With hints of vanilla and chocolate.

Taste is fruity, earthy and hot. The 9% is right there. I think a few years in the cellar would turn this into a much different beer.

Mouthfeel is medium body, with a good bit of carbonation.

Overall, I love this beer. I want to try some with some age on them to see which flavors start coming out as the alcohol fades into the background.

 614 characters

Photo of jtingue
4.58/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 010 poured into a snifter.

Appearance. Deep reddish brown in color. Clear, but too dark to see all the way through. Pours with a huge 3 fingers of light fluffy head. Appears to have a lot of carbonation.

Smell. Clearly brewed with brettanomyces, as there is a distinct sourness on the nose. Behind that there is a nice malty sweetness as well as notes of raisin and dark fruit.

Taste. Very complex all the way through. Starts out malty and sweet with some sweeter, just ripe fruits. A moderate sourness takes over, which is very reminiscent of freshly picked cherries. Sweeter, darker fruits once again take over, specifically dates and prunes. The finish is reminiscent of a sweet white wine (riesling, etc.) with a lingering fruity sweetness.

Mouthfeel. The body is moderate, but an excess in carbonation makes up for this. The mouth is completely coated with tiny delicious bubbles of beer, which really helps distribute the complexity of the beer evenly. The finish is slightly dry.

Unlike the other RR sours I've had this is not dominated by the sourness, rather, it is balanced by the dark fruits normally found in a belgian dark ale. The sourness blends well with the fruits to give a completely different character to the beer, which is defined less by dark, ripe fruits and more by fresh, unripe fruits.

 1,326 characters

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

RR Salvation, batch 10

Served in DFH signature glass

A: Pours almost pure foam, which is light brown and leaves big loops of lacing sticking to glass. The beer itself appears clear, dark amber and plays host to streams of bubbles that feed the  giant head. 

S: Clove, banana, flowers and dark bread. Additional aromas include light coriander and white pepper. More integrated amd subtle than I described. I get the impression that this beer will be sweet. 

T: Malty sweetness up front, followed by spices, especially clove and pepper. Next come bready notes that read almost like rye, perhaps because of strong spice. Medium-light bitterness. In the finish, malts become more toasted, almost caramelized.

M: Medium-heavy body with medium carbonation. Mouthfeel is  big but super creamy. 

O: I have not been particularly fond of BSDAs, so I tend to avoid them. Still, I enjoyed Salvation and find it to be a well-made beer. 

Thanks to hurfer for the opportunity. 

 977 characters

Photo of rlee1390
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Dark brown while being poured but more black in in the glass. Massive tan head that leaves behind no lacing.

S-Coffee, molasses, brown sugar

T-Roasted malts, brown sugar, there is some bitterness. Dark fruits, mainly raisins. Light notes of coffee and chocolate are present as well.

M-Medium bodied and highly carbonated.

O-An amazing beer. Not the most overwhelming in flavor but full of nuanced flavors.

 411 characters

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.

 1,037 characters

Salvation from Russian River Brewing Company
4.09 out of 5 based on 1,241 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.