Salvation | Russian River Brewing Company

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1,253 Ratings

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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,253 |  Reviews: 476
Photo of s1ckboy
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of zeledonia
3.46/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Batch 10, bottled 15 Feb 2011.

Pours a very deep yellowish brown, clear at the edges but dark enough that little light passes through. Appears almost black without light behind it. A massive, frothy, firm light tan head last forever, leaving big clumps of lacing. It really doesn't get much better.

Smell is, as expected, rich sweet fruity malts. Dark fruits like prunes and figs, with some spice on top. Quite sweet, with brown sugar notes. Clean, with a fairly light, rather than rich, sweetness. Has some light spicy yeast notes as well.

Taste is a bit of a disappointment. It starts out similar to the smell, with dark fruits and sugary sweetness, and some jittery yeast. But then an odd, pasty, papery taste comes on. It starts out like a nice BSDA, then turns south. Not sure what the issue is; hoping to try another to see if it's the beer or a handling issue. Regardless, it's not great.

Mouthfeel is good. Medium-bodied, a touch on the light side for a beer this sweet and solid, but good. Medium-high carbonation keeps things afloat.

It's strange. Everything about this beer is strong, except for that odd taste that comes on half-way through. But that takes it down a huge notch for me.

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Photo of JustinMatthew
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Wonderful corked and caged bottle. Pours a dark umber with a fingers thickness worth of white head. Smells faintly of spicy Belgian yeast, brown sugar and alcohol, out of the tulip. I'm getting the same spicy yeast through out each sip with hints of dark fruits, grapes, and strong alcohol. There is no mistaken this a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. Very good.

"Batch: 010"

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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 Phelps
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Batch 10, a 375ml bottle sent by inlimbo77 and poured into Lost Abbey stemware.

As soon as it touches the glass, the beer erupts. Head and liquid are inverted; I get about two fingers of brandy-colored brew and four fingers of wet beach sand foam. Given time, the head eventually subsides to a manageable level, depositing pockets of large-bubbled froth.

Black pepper spice paves a path through the nose upon the first whiff. Behind it, waves of sun-soaked red grapes, figs and toffee can be picked up before just a bit of teriyaki tang. A touch of smoke dances on the palate before a spicy, drying finish.

Brown sugar, clove, and touches of cinnamon meld in the flavor with crumbled chocolate. Rich, figgy, pruny fruitiness offers balance to black pepper that carries into the finish, making each sip culminate in a perfect blend of sweet and spice.

With the ginormous head, I expected the carbonation to be knocked out of this brew somewhat, and it has been. No complaints here: the medium body has a gloriously soft, silky feel as a result. Enough bubbles remain to keep the tongue excited, and some alcohol fumes flame up the mouth and through the nose.

Salvation may not have the depth of some of the classic Belgian dark strongs, but it boasts a straightforward flavor and mouthfeel that brings an irrepressible smile to my lips. Quality stuff.

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Photo of sholland119
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours an opaque dark brown with a great pool of tan head that has awesome retention.

S-Sweet caramel and brown sugar, dred sweet fruit.

T-Very nice candi sugar notes with brown sugar, raisin and some fig. Delicious.

M-Medium bodied, nicely coating.

O-Really nice, as one would expect from RR.


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

A: Deep brown pour with a huge creamy off white head. Retention is phenomenal and the vast majority of it sticks to the side of the glass.

S: Toffee, caramel malts, booze, dark fruits, earthy. Not quite on the level of a Quad in terms of complexity and fruitiness, but still good.

T: Caramel malts, toffee, and booze dominate the taste. Very malty and dry. Am I getting faint hints of chocolate? Perhaps.

MF: Heavy body, medium carbonation, and the booze warms the body as you sip.

O: This is tasty, but by no means the best BSDA I've had. It defines the style pretty well though.

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

On tap at the RR brewpub. Pours a dark brown with a decent amount of head (fingers worth). The aroma hits you with lots of dark fruits (mostly raisin), along with some malts and slight notes of chocolate and coffee. The taste echoes the aroma with lots of dark fruits, along with caramelized malts and candied sugar. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation, and leaves smoothly with a touch of dryness.

A very solid beer, while it didn't blow me away like some other RR beers, it is quality.

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

A: Very deep brown color. Cola like. 3 fingers of head upon an even careful pour. Quite a bit of lacing as well.

S: Sweet malt. Toffee. Caramel. A touch of burnt sugar. Just a hint of warming alcohol. Great nose for a BSDA.

T: Not a lot of sugar in the taste which kills the style for me. Lots of malt complexity. Toffee. Even a touch of coffee roast. Little burnt cola.

M: Super dry. Well carbonated at first but it falls off quickly. Medium bodied.

D: Vinny don't play. Every style he makes well. Really impressed with this one and I have waited a long time to try it. Very nice.

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Photo of tempest
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had a bottle at the Spinnerstown Hotel. It poured a deep reddish brown with a tall tan head. The beer was a touch overcarbonated off the bat, but it eventually settled down. It had big fruit up front that reminded me of Unibroue's dark offerings with a rich fig and berry taste. The beer feels light though, and is backed by smooth, dry caramel. I'd like a bit more complexity, but this is still one of the best American-made Belgian-style ales.

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

12.68oz bottle poured into tulip. Batch 010.

A - Dark muddy brown with a huge 2" tan head. Excellent retention.

S - Delicate sweet aroma of fruit and yeast. Also picking up some spicy and earthy notes.

T - Subtle flavors of sweet dark fruit, yeast, and roasted malt. Peppery spices come in towards the end. Nicely balanced.

M - Medium to full bodied with high carbonation. Smooth and slightly creamy in texture.

D - Very mellow, easy drinking Belgian dark ale. The alcohol however is well hidden and sneaks up fast. Although the flavors are rather subtle, I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and is a fine example of the style. It leaves you wanting more after every sip.

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Photo of Spider889
3.58/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 10. This is probably the least involved batch number I have yet seen on a Russian River bottle. Per the website this was bottled on 2/15/2011.

Thanks Robert for this one. Poured into a Lost Abbey tulip.

There was some sticky caramelized-looking goo around the lip of the bottle and the cork. I assume there was just some overflow or something from the filling, otherwise this cork has some problems.

Upon popping the cork, I see that the lower half is a dark reddish color. Looks like it was soaking up some brew. Maybe this was stored on its side at one point?

Either way, once I actually poured this sucker it revealed a nice looking beer. A short head began to form slowly, so I changed the angle of the glass and suddenly a flash of foam enveloped the glass - easily three fingers tall. Excellent retention; the vigorous carbonation didn't stop roiling up from below.

Amazing lace as well. My only qualm is that is is over-carbonated.

Smells nice for a BSDA, normally a style that I dislike. Dark tannic leather notes dominate. This is accompanied by lots of dry earthiness. Hardly sweet at all compared to some of its brethren.

Tastes sweeter than the aroma lets on. Brown sugar and dates. There's some caramel undertones and a slight bit of char which I find appealing. The finish has a bit of a mineral-like quality, which I want to blame on the carbonation.

Dry finish. The carbonation is overwhelming for me.

Overall I can see where this gets its accolades, but it is also my least favorite Russian River offering to date. Ohh wait a tick... I still need to review Blind Pig. Erm, tick Blind Pig ;-)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Salvation from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.09 out of 5 with 1,253 ratings