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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,253 |  Reviews: 476
Photo of Reagan1984
3.73/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up on my recent Northwest trip.

Interesting beer, not sure what to make of it.

Pillowy light tan head that has great structure and fades to a skeleton before falling on itself. A touch of lacing remains. Burgundy to milk chocolate brown in color.

Aroma is sherry like, with some oak, yeasty with a brown sugar/date aroma to it.

I get date in the flavor as well. Moments of chocolate but they don’t stay. Yeast and spice are prominent. The brown sugar sweetness makes itself known towards the end.

Very delicate carbonation, medium bodied.

It’s pretty good, but I would not say it’s near my favorites of the RR line.

Well built.

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Photo of KAP1356
4.12/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375 ml Bottle from Batch 10 into a Russian River cervoise...

A - Pours a super dark, almost opaque brown and murky brown with some reddish highlights when placed near light. A big fluffy 2 finger tan head forms and retains quite well. Nice lacing.

S - Candy sugar, belgian spices and loads of dark fruits. Yeasty and bready with some slight licorice in there as well. Really nice nose.

T - Caramel, dark fruits and lots of Belgian candy sugars. Some toffee and booze on the back end. Flavors are a little subdued from the nose.

M - Quite carbed, a little too much, and is a bit prickly on the tongue. Medium bodied.

O - Really nice offering and it was nice to try another Belgian style offering from Vinnny and the crew. Passed this one so many times, I'm glad I finally picked it up.

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Photo of zaphodchak
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Creamy offwhite head over a dark golden body with faint garnet highlights. Laces a bit, retains excellent memory.

Smells-- surprisingly bretty, faint licorice.

Taste. Wow. Smooth, incredibly balanced, and very subtle. Faint vegetal note, and incredibly smooth drinking. This would be... a Flemish stout? Faint root beer/sassafrass. This really defies description, but is fantastic.

Mouthfeel is a bit frothy... could stand to be toned down a bit.

Incredibly drinkable, probably incredibly well-pairing.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber to black, with a tan head. In the aroma, white grape sourness and some candi sugar. In the taste, dry candy sugar, a small tartness, and with hints of fruit. A sour bite and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry candi sugar and small tartness in the aftertaste. Nice tart, but candi sugar overrides it, hides 9%, quite nice.

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Photo of WillCarrera
4.34/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Pours a nearly opaque dark brown with some reddish hues when held to light. Produces loads of thick tan head that stays at around a finger and doesn't go anywhere, good lacing.

S- Dark fruits and yeast are big here, lots of plums, dates and figs and some spice.

T- A perfect blend of spice, sweet dark fruits, bready, thick malts, and sweet rum-like alcohol. The flavor is dark, warm and inviting. There's something hidden in there that almost reminds me of a wheat beer, with banana esters and cloves. Layer after layer of complexity on this one.

M- Full bodied with medium carbonation and a smooth, creamy feel.

O- A truly outstanding Belgian style ale. The flavors are just incredible, it gives some of the best abbey beers a run for their money.

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

A-dark brown with a reddish tint and a lot of light tan head with good lacing

S-very dark belgian sugars. spicy and full flavored smelling. pumpernickel and some licorice in there as well.

T-comes in and immediately fills the mouth with carbonation and a taste of caramel and dark belgian malts. it transitions in to a slight taste of pumpernickel. the flavors aren't real strong

M-a whole lot of carbonation with a dry finish

O-a very decent stab at the belgian tradition from a great american brewery. i still personally prefer the belgians themselves was fun to drink but i would only drink this as a cheaper alternative to Chimay.

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Photo of cetherid
3.78/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured into a tulip


Beer pours a dark plum color with slight ruby highlights when held up to the light. A gigantic amount of frothy light khaki colored head that slowly disappears leaving a little lacing around the glass.


Belgian yeast really shines in this. Get aromas of spicy banana bread with small amount of dark fruit like plums/raisins with a little sugar. Digging my nose deeper some of the booziness comes out, however it's expected for 9 ABV.


First thing I notice in the taste is VERY spicy bread with a little sweet dark fruits (not as dominant as in the nose)....finishing off pretty boozy. Spice and booze/heat are the dominant flavors in this brew. I would've liked less spice and more sweetness. Maybe a little too boozy for the modest 9% ABV in this as well.


medium bodied with loads of carbonation...maybe a bit bit TOO much carb. A nice prickly feel to the mouth and tongue when it first hits your mouth.


A decent belgian strong ale...Id prefer a little less spiciness, carb and alcohol taste but still a solid overall beer. I expect nothing less than "solid" from RR and this delivers, but regardless it might be my least favorite brew I've had. I'd rather stick to their hoppy IPAs or sours.

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Photo of CaptainTripps
4.62/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

375ml bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. Served slightly chilled.

A: With the pop of the cork, the beer poured a dark brown with red/ruby hues. A massive off white/tan head came with the pour that left a beautiful artwork of lacing down the glass.

S: Amazing. Candied surgar blended brilliantly with dark fruits -plums, figs, and raisens. Belgian yeast is present along with some chocolate, plums and a small amount of cherry.

T: Following the nose with the same brilliance, the perfect blend of candied surgar and dark fruits makes you want to sit back and repeat oh my god. A breadiness comes throught that wasn't in the smell but very welcoming.

M: The body is hard to put on a finger on due to the large amount of steady carbonation. I would have to say it is medium bodied to be on the safe side. Alcohol is present but perfect.

O: I would have to argue this is one of the best Belgian strong dark ales/Quads produced in America to date. Everything flows amazingly together to produce one awesome ride.

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Photo of thagr81us
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Massive thanks goes out to billinlafayette for sending me a bottle of this in a past trade as it is another tick on my Russian River -tion Quest! Batch 006! Served from bottle into a Russian River -tion Chalice (how appropriate). Poured a deep red brown with a two finger cream colored headed that subsided to one finger slowly. Maintained phenomenal lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, spices, dark fruit, and dark chocolate. The flavor was of sweet malt, wood, spices, dark fruit, and dark chocolate. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this wasn't a bad brew at all. If I'm honest my palate went into shock on the first sip as it was a little harsh. It started to 'adjust' after about three sips and the beer became much more palateable. This one was quite complex and everything blended quite well together. The spices were definitely present and reminded me of a Saison only not as harsh. But the dark fruit and dark chocolate helped to tone the spices down quite a bit leaving a nice sweet/bitter combo going on. Definitely worth trying if you get the chance.

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

batch 10 in a snifter i found at a second hand store

appearance - crazy head, 3 inches and it got bigger after 30 seconds i swear. dark brown with a dark ruby red when put thru light. looks black if you dont have light behind it.

smell - candi sugar, light belgian yeast, sour fruits minor, dark malts

taste - the same with the yeast coming out more, bubblegum coming from it

mouthfeel - smooth, medium to light body, good carbonation, leaves mouth pretty wet

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Photo of Allpe45
4.23/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375ml bottle served in a tulip, carefully decanted
Batch 10

Appears pitch black with a billowing whiteish tan head. Tons of carbonation, requires a gentle pour. Great head retention and lots of sticky lacing.

Smells like rich dark fruit, earthy hints, some fruity esters, spicy belgian yeast, and a faint alcohol aroma. There is also a bit of roastiness.

Tastes like belgian candy sugar and dark fruits up front, very sweet. At first the finish is full of roasty malt flavor but it takes a sweet bready turn as the beer warms.

The carbonation is very active in the mouth. Chalky feel. Body is on the fuller side of medium, with medium-high carbonation.

Delicious but I think I would prefer an older bottle.

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Photo of bennetj17
4.46/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

375ml Batch 010. The cork pops loudly and the beer foams up immensely as it's poured, I have to pour very slowly. The color is a deep brown, with a ruby glow when held up to light. The head is a massive 3 finger thick swath of light tan froth. Lingers nicely. Dry, ripened fruit nose with a slight tart/spiciness. It doesn't smell very sweet for what I expect, intriguing.

Earthy, not too sweet but not tangy. I don't know what this is. I guess it has a bit of vinous character, some dark fruit essence, some herbal flair. There are just so many layers, including a slight touch of alcohol that is perfectly balanced. Finishes leaving a soft bitterness which is almost tangy. The complexity leaves me guessing after each sip. Foamy carbonation, it feels silky and light across the palate.

I can't believe it took me so long to finally try this beer. For $5 it's a steal. The sours always get more hype but beers like this are why Russian River is the best brewery in the U.S.

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Photo of Dope
4.27/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 10, bottled 2/15/2011.

A: Huge pop when removing the cork. TONS of carbonation results in a huge, huge fluffy beige head. I tried to pour it gently and 3/4 of the glass is still foam. When it finally settles down it likes to stick around (and to the sides of the glass). Dark brown pour with a bit of red in it?

S: A treat for the nose. Typical belgian yeast, like spicy bread and some banana? Sweet fruit (grapes and plums mostly it seems - maybe a little cherry?). Aroma is literally mouth watering.

T: Sweet brown sugar, plums and banana. Some raisin/date too. Very yeasty as you would expect. A tiny bit of cherry sometimes. A little bit of tingly alcohol on the back end.

M: High carbonation keeps this beer from being too heavy from all the complex flavors and decently high ABV. A bit dry on the aftertaste.

O: Very nice belgian strong dark beer. Sweet but not overly so. Alcohol well hidden except for the drying aftertaste.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.73/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 10 bottle into my trusty RR 'Tion' tulip type glass. Had this before on tap and liked it, let's see how a bottle stacks up.

A loud pop when the cork came up, Salvation comes in the glass a burnt redddish dark copper color like rust. Slow pour yielded a nice sustaining dark tan/brown head with pillow appeal. Great lace, great retention, perfect.

Smell is a heaping of candi sugar plus brown sugar and a whole lot of dark fruit. Ripe grape scents, a bit of chocolate, plum, and some Belgian yeast like baked bread. A nice malting thats different than the usual caramel.

This is str8 up BSDA, it pulls no bells and whistles, what you taste is what you get. Belgian to the core, candi suga and brown sugar galore. Dark fruit melds with plum flavor and ripe grape. A hit of chocolate in the middle with some warming alcohol, yet not hot on the end. The yeast works it's magic throughout.

Feel is restrained, at 9%, i thought this would be a hot monster, yet the heat is tamed and muted. I drank a bottle when this batch 1st hit shelves and it was noticable, funny what a few short months can do. The body is a small step above medium and it's carbed up perfect enough to keep a head, yet not bite the mouth. A small twang towards the back in true RR fashion.

Overall, Vinnie does not make a bad beer, while some may be better than others, they are all to style and fit perfectly. Salvation is no different, it sets out what it wants to do, and that is be a BSDA. I need to track down a bottle or two more for a two year nap in the basement because this will do wonders with some time, like most RR bottles. I just need more restraint so I don't open it up, this is too good.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.56/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

375ml corked and caged bottle from batch 5. this was traded to me from user G311. thanks vince! into the appropriate russian river "tion" glass it goes.

A- the pour yields a murky body that is decently dark brown. a khaki colored head sits on top. the head has excellent retention and leaves behind a solid wall of lacing.

S- the nose is heavy on the yeast. bananas run wild. after that i pick up some candi sugar and brown sugar. decently fruity. figs, dates, and a hint of cherries.

T- the taste starts out with belgian candi sugar and bananas from the yeast. a brown sugar and fruity sweetness moves in towards the middle. cherries, figs, raisins and dates. a little bit of alcohol shows up at the end.

M- the body is on the upper side of light. the carbonation is pretty high. a mild warming from the alcohol.

O- overall, i find this to be an acceptable example of this style but not the most complex. good for an american effort, which is not the typical russian river result.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to someone for sharing this at the most recent Freetail bottle release party. Sorry for not remembering who provided it.

The beer pours a deep brown color with a tannish head. I get a lot of spice in the aroma with some dark fruit notes. A very enticing aroma that also has a nice Belgian yeast component to it.

The flavor is very similar. I get a wonderful mix of Belgian candy sugar and spice notes in the flavor. I also get some nice Belgian yeast notes as well as some raisins, cherries and other dark fruit. The alcohol is very well hidden and allows the complexity of the aroma and flavor to really come through.

The carbonation is perfect for the style and the beer is extremely drinkable. Proof that Russian River is one of the best breweries in America when it comes to brewing Belgian-style beers.

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Photo of axeman9182
4.54/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

375mL bottle of batch 010 (bottled in February of this year) from FunkyMacGroovin. This one was allowed to warm a little bit before being poured into my Duvel tulip.

Salvation pours a rich, deep plum color, with some very attractive cherry highlights shining through and tracing the outer edge of the glass. There's a voluminous, dirty ivory foam crown topping the beer. It gets up to about 4 fingers in height before very slowly creeping down the glass. Lacing is very spotty though. The nose is pungent as all hell, and is everything I'd want in a BSDA. The dark fruitiness is what shows up first, figs and plums and a little bit of bruised banana abound. A solid clove spiciness comes in to act as a counterpart, and I can't imagine a better balance between the two. The flavor brings more of the same, though everything doesn't quite pop as much as in the aroma. The body is picture perfect, remarkably creamy for what really is a dry beer. The carbonation isn't quite expansive and active enough to match with the best Belgian style brews though. Despite one or two minor missteps, Salvation is one of the absolute best dubbels/BSDAs/quads I've ever had. I was quite shocked to see it's 9%ABV, as it drinks a bit smoother than that. I'll definitely be seeking out more of this.

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Photo of boomer31
3.84/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Batch 10. Huge thanks for the extra Beerdy!

A - Huge pop, no spillage though. Pours a deep brown, transparent with an off white head. Huge head that sticks to the glass and remains about and inch thick. TIght head, quite beautiful.

S - Nice spicy nose, dark fruit and very yeasty. The spice really sticks out. Bready, yeasty and intruiging.

T - Taste up front is spice and fig with molasses and yeast in the back. Very interesting taste, a nice dark belgian ale.

M - Rich and full bodied. Highly carbonated. A bit sweet overall and very yeast heavy.

O - A nice Belgian Strong Dark Ale, interesting flavors, rather complex. Nice

I'm happy to have tried this, especially as an extra!

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

A fountain of foam as soon as the cork is removed.

Dark chestnut body with a light tan head.

Dark stone fruits, spices, and brown sugar on the nose.

Brown sugar, dark cherry, nutty barley, plumb, and a spicy, yeasty finish. Sweetness is their, but its not cloying. More balanced than other BSDAs.

Medium to full body with a creamy feel.

Salvation is further proof that Russian River can make good beer that is neither sour nor hoopy. If you hadn't seen the bottle, you might have thought this was from a traditional Belgian abbey.

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

A - Slightly hazy reddish brown with a long lasting whitish head. Little lacing.

S - Sweet caramelly malts with dark fruity aromas, similar to prunes and raisins. Big estery profile.

F/M - Rich, sweet malts, light caramel and dark stone fruit flavors. Again, the ester profile is dominant. Bready and lightly toasty malts. Medium-low bitterness helps to dry out the finish. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

O - Ok, but a little too sweet, almost on the verge of being cloying. One glass was enough.

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Photo of bamadog
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to beerman207 for bringing this one back from a recent trip to Seattle. Review is from notes and poured from the bottle (Batch 10) to a tulip.

Appearance: Pour is a pretty mahogany brown with some nice ruby highlights to it; starts with a massive 4 finger, light tan head with massive retention that looks rocky as it slowly dwindles down to a thick, 1/4 finger cap that lasts throughout the drink; body is dark, but very clear and it shows moderately strong carbonation bubbling up; bit patches of pillowy lacing are left behind

Smell: Sweet and dark Belgian candi sugars; some dark spiciness as well; definite presence of alcohol; bit of a dank, musty basement smell; despite being good, the nose isn't as robust as I was hoping from this one -- I typically get a really good sense for the taste of the beer form the smell and this one doesn't give me too much so I feel like I'm taking my first sip with a big question mark in my mind.

Taste: Wow -- while the nose doesn't give away much IMHO, but the taste brings quite a big blast of flavors; lots of big sweet caramel/butterscotch maltiness with dark ripe fruits (figs, raisins, perhaps even some dark cherries) with the standard Belgian spiciness (cardamom, cloves); definite presence of alcohol in this one, and it seems bigger than even the 9% that it clocks in at.

Mouthfeel: Body is of medium weight, and the carbonation is strong, but it seems even stronger when it's mixed in with that big and warming ABV that leaves the whole mouth tingling; a thin, dry stickiness all over the roof of the mouth; the belly is left exceptionally warm.

Overall: Most definitely a sipper and a beer that would be better in the winter as opposed to the warmer humid night (but that's my fault, not the beer's); great flavors and a big warming presence of alcohol, this would make for a great after dinner treat, or split it with a friend for a nice night cap. While I'm definitely enjoying it, this one would have be had in strict moderation due to the warmth and ABV. Nice offering from Russian River, as I've come to expect from them.

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Photo of kaseydad
3.87/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Should have this on tap at the brewery but bought a bottle instead and here goes....Pours a dirty brown with a nice off-white foamy head. Fruity aroma with apples, pears, bananas, figs, slight coffee and slight leather....and a whiff of chocolate. The taste is way too carbonated with bubbles taking over the entire sip but after the bubbles die down there is a dark fruit taste with a tobacco-like swallow and almost a cigarette taste. Mouthfeel is lower as too much is going on to really enjoy the drink as much as possible. Overall I wasn't too impressed with this effort. Too much carbonation was happening to enjoy the experience. I will definitely try at the source and see if this is a bottle issue. Worthy but just a little disappointed.

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Photo of riored4v
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 5/6/11

Poured in to a tulip. 4 finger head lead me to believe it might be a bit over-carbed. Off-white head. Dark brown body. Slightly opaque. Nice lacing.

Smell had sweet caramel, brown sugar and molasses. Mild fruity aroma. Slightly earthy and spicey.

Taste had good sweetness. Earthy hoppiness with a mild finishing bitterness. Molasses and caramel present. Slight roasty flavor as well. Notes of clove and a light fruitiness. Belgian yeastiness as noticeable as well.

Mouthfeel had medium body, medium/high carb and a nice dryness.

Overall it had good drinkability. No signs of ABV.

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Photo of CruisaC
3.83/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch 10, courtesy of LesleyH via the nOOb BIF 4---thanks again

pours a dark brown, initially appearing opaque but some cranberry highlights visible when held up to the light. Several inches of head, so much so that I've got to chill a minute to fill my glass up.

smell is a little disappointing, not much there...some roasted malts with a hint of yeast.

Slightly sweet, but that's not the dominating flavor. Some raisins, with some yeast. Finishes with a bit of booze as well

A little thin on the mouth, but finishes nice enough.

This is my second Salvation in about a month or so. Overall a quality beer but I have other belgians I'd go to first, as well as other RR offerings.

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Photo of oregone
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep brown with solid carbonation and persitent thick head. Ringing the glass with continual bubbles.
S: Dark chocolate and anise/licorice dominant with chocolate/coccoa taking the lead as it warms. Some belgian yeast notes involved.
T: Same as aroma. Yeast flavors come out here more pronounced though with some Bubblegum (mild) and fruit (banana) playing very subtly in the mix.
M: Worst point here. With the flavor character I would like to see a slightly lower level of carb. Very spritzy, and while it's a great mouthfeel, I think it slightly detracts from the appreciation of the dominant flavors. Nothing wrong here, and very good though.
O: Excellent. Highly recommended. The sum is certainly greater than the parts and I wish that I had more than one more bottle. Could drink a couple slowly consumed bottles happily over the course of an evening.

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