Russian River Brewing Company

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Brown Ale - Belgian Dark
Ranked #14
Ranked #24,177
3.84 | pDev: 9.9%
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States
Very Good
Reviews: 65 | Ratings: 223 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of StonedTrippin
StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

a very tasty belgian style ale, nothing sour or funky about it, just a true belgian, as much a dubbel in its appearance and grain complexion as anything else, and really nicely done overall, if lacking some of the "oh my gosh" elements that make many of their other beers so highly regarded. its got a nice rich frothing head, deep amber to chocolate brown color, crimson in the right light, and pretty lacing as i sip on my tulip. raisin, fig, brandy, plum, molasses and butter cream all come to mind after a deep sniff on this one, what really doesnt jump out at me much is the yeast, its pretty subtle for a belgian strain. lots of caramelization in the flavor, the wort has likely endured and developed a lot during a rather long boil. honey and brown sugar, dried apple, faint cocoa powder, and some strange altbier elements from the grain all creep in. the yeast remains quite mild, although its not bland, it is interesting, just not striding way out in front of the grain base. the lesser alcohol presence is nice too, it tastes bigger than it is, not because its boozy though, but because its densely packed with old world flavor. very enjoyable drink.

Jun 03, 2016
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gandres from Philippines

4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Tap to glass @ Russian River Brewing tap [email protected] Santa Rosa,CA
A: Brown, clearr, big tan head
A: chocolate, roasted grains
T: medium bitterrness, sweet long lasting
MF: slightly creamy
OA: Excellent beer for the style, ok to repeat, look for
Drank April 14, 2016

Apr 20, 2016
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RyanK252 from California

4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Russian River

A: Pours very dark brown, pretty much black, though a dark ruby brown hue does come out as the glass empties, with a creamy light tan head that settles and laces well.

S: Dark roasted malt, coffee, dark fruit, and a touch of smoke.

T: Roasted malt, coffee, a touch of smoke, some pine, dark fruit, cherry and plumb, and a little light bittersweet chocolate.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation, pretty smooth.

O: I can't say much screamed Belgian, but it was a nice change of pace from all the hop bombs consumed before it.

Feb 17, 2015
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elNopalero from California

3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

My friend brought over a growler of Rejection to share, since I had been without a car and unable to make the pilgrimage up north myself in quite a while.

This pours a cola coffee black with big foamy bubbles, even after a day’s rest.

There’s a lightly roasted character with a floral ester quality from the Belgo-inspired yeasties.
This is surprisingly thin-bodied—delicate?—with the roast and a mellow malt finish.

May 24, 2014
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ArrogantB from Colorado

4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa. Brown color, dark looking. Aroma was sweet, chocolate, nice. Flavor was quite good, chocolate, malts, yeast, really a solid offering. I also liked teh bottle cap with the broken heart. Nice stuff and a shame I can't drink this on tap in Denver though I should just be happy to see any Russian River at all.

May 09, 2014
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BMMillsy from Florida

3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Tried this one at the source. Pours brown pour with ruby edges and an off white to khaki creamy head on top. Low aromatics with some dark malts, a little roast, some yeast, chocolate, dark fruit. Very smooth velvety mouthfeel with low carbonation. Flavor is chocolate covered raisins, some yeast spice, very smooth, lightly sweet, no bitter. Pretty solid brew, and seems very similar to Salvation to me.

Mar 05, 2014
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BierJager89 from California

4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Ruby red with a mocha head.

S: Sweet malt, dark fruit, light fruit, citrus in the nose.

T: Dark fruit, plum, malt, tart fruits, lemon and orange.

M: Medium bodied and smooth.

O: This was very good, but far overshadowed by Pliny the Younger, for which I was there that day. Definitely worth a try, but don't use it on valentines day as a coping mechanism for any rejection that might come your way. If you can, use Pliny.

Feb 04, 2014
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deebo from Michigan

3.32/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

On tap at the brew pub. Served in a goblet this beer had a thin topping of tan head that quickly receded. Black. Aromas of dark malts not picking up any yeast. Flavor is indeed malty. This beer tastes like a porter to me. Not sure what makes it Belgian inspired-maybe a hint of esters in there but it is weak. Well carbonated and medium bodied a flavorful beer that is average but solid.

Feb 19, 2013
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jvillefan from New York

4.31/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark black/brown with a very white head.

S: Highly Belgian in quality with sulfur notes throughout the aroma.

T: Black licorice with spices is dominate in the front of this beer. The Belgian character comes through very strongly.

M: Great mouthfeel. Nice body with the perfect amount of carbonation.

O: If you are within a couple of hours of the brewery, this beer may be worth the trip if you like belgian beers.

Feb 18, 2013
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UCLABrewN84 from California

3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at O'Brien's Pub in San Diego, CA.

Pours an almost opaque super brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and some char aromas. Taste is much the same with a mild amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

Jan 21, 2013
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ngeunit1 from Massachusetts

4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Served a dark black with a touch of brown and a finger of frothy tan-brown head. The head fades slowly leaving behind some good lace.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted sweet chocolate malt with some bittersweet chocolate, Belgian yeast, dark fruit, and a touch of burnt caramel.

T - Starts off with some roasted milk chocolate with some deeper cocoa and Belgian yeast character. Through the middle, more roasted and lightly burnt malts come through with some more chocolate flavor, yeast, and some dark fruit. The finish is a mix of chocolate malts with some vanilla and Belgian yeast flavors.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet and roasty finish.

D - Very drinkable. Really nicely balanced Belgian dark ale.

Jul 31, 2012
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thagr81us from South Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another tick on the Russian River –tion Quest that I started quite awhile back! Big thanks goes out to estocker for sending me this one a LONG time back! Shared this one the day after aasher’s wedding while the entire wedding party was hanging out by the pool in the Destin, FL sun! A growler gusher!?!? Served from growler into a Boulevard tulip. Poured a massively dark brown (almost black) with a two finger light khaki colored head that subsided to a half finger extremely slowly. Maintained phenomenal lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, banana, roasted malt, bread, and dark fruit. The flavor was of sweet malt, cream, banana, fruit, and bread. It had a light feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a good brew. I was really surprised that this one held up as well as it did after over a year of being stored in my fridge. Surprisingly there were quite a few non-craft beer enthusiasts at this pool party and a lot of them really liked this brew upon sampling it. This was a good thing as it would have been hard for aasher and I to pound the entire 64 oz growler. There were lots of nice notes going on here that kept your palate guessing on each sip which was a nice aspect. It was also refreshing making it easy to drink out in the extremely hot weather. Definitely a must try.

Jul 03, 2012
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aasher from Indiana

3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wedding beer courtesy of thagr81us. Thanks Calton!

This one gushed a bit out of the growler. It pours a medium bodied cola brown in color with a two finger, creamy beige head. The nose is smooth and creamy with dry dark malt character and a touch of Belgian yeast. It's light and dry, somewhere between a Belgian Brune and an Irish Dry Stout. It's pretty mellow yet sessionable. It's a nice Belgian dark ale, just nothing crazy.

Jun 22, 2012
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Jugs_McGhee from Colorado

3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served on-draught into a 2 oz sampler at Russian River's tap room in Santa Rosa during their Pliny The Younger release in 2012. Reviewed from notes. Note that the vessel was 2 oz, not necessarily the total amount ingested, as I ordered samplers repeatedly if I required more to review accurately.

A: Pours a half finger had of slight tan colour, pretty decent cream, good thickness, and awful retention. Colour is a dark caramel-brown.

Sm: Caramel, nuts, and smoke. A moderate strength aroma.

T: Some smoke - more as a tone than a flavour. Dark malts form the foundation. Some milk and cream. Some chocolate. Balanced and pleasant, if simple. Enjoyable. It could use some layering, but that would require more notes and depth of flavour.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Could use more cream. Not too thick nor too thin.

Dr: Very drinkable, but simple. I'd have it again, but Russian River has far better brews.


Feb 17, 2012
Photo of HopHead84
HopHead84 from California

3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4


On tap for O'Brien's TION weekend.

A: Near black with some crimson near the edges.

S: Roast blends with chocolate. Pine accompanies earth, floral notes, and a faint fruitiness. There's a light spiciness.

T: Roasted grains with notes of dark fruit and some chocolate. Upper low earthy bitterness with a restrained spiciness.

M: Medium body with upper low carbonation.

Overall: Another pretty good TION beer, but not a terribly interesting style. I'm not sure of the style of this one, but it seems like a Belgian Black Ale

Jan 30, 2012
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scottfrie from California

3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Growler purchased at the brewery, poured into a snifter.

A: Pours near black with two fingers of dense and very creamy looking light tan head that slowly faded into a thick collar. Sheets of lace were left down the glass after every sip.
S: Fruits including raisins, red grapes, apples, and coriander, and Belgian yeast flavors cinnamon, nutmeg, with a hint of grass, leather and wood come through. Spicy and fruity overall.
T: Much more roasted than the nose suggested. I mostly get flavors of roasted malts, chocolate and wood, but in the finish I get a touch of sweet fruits and earthy hops. I even get a bit of banana and brown sugar. Good flavors, not too complex though. Maybe could use more strong of a flavor profile.
M: Clean medium body, soft carbonation that is a little fizzy, with a slightly sharp mouthfeel. Easy to drink overall though.
O: An easy drinking dark Belgian. Relatively low alcohol makes this quite quaffable. Not one of my favorite RR beers, but I’d never turn this down.

Jan 17, 2012
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patm1986 from New Jersey

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

Notes from the Monk's Cafe Stuff-if-I-Cation dinner 7 June 2011.

Killer lamb stuffed wildly foraged mushrooms over goat cheese polenta, a little coffee brined lamb and onions.

black pour. just black. thick, foamy head. not very viscous, as it swirled rapidly in the glass.

roasted malts and belgian sugars dominated the nose, bringing out aromas of coffee and chocolate, some coconut and ginger, and a little bit of toffee.

the plate was very intensely earthy: lamb, wild mushroom, goat cheese, polenta, coffee brine. the earthy flavors combined well--which could've been overkill and muted as a whole-- and comparably attributed to rejection's flavors of espresso, chocolate, ginger, molasses, and biscuits. the goat polenta was a knockout taste to taste.

it was thin, as thin as you'd expect from a belgian dark ale, but it was nicely carbonated, so it really helped in cleansing out your mouth after so many deep, earthy flavors.

really nice belgian dark: not too sweet, roasted-malty, and had a subtle enough bitterness to make it drinkable on its own, but i've yet to have it again without these foods or food at all.

Nov 02, 2011
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notchucknorris from California

3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Pizza Port Carlsbad

A: Pretty much a black color with a 1/2 finger tan head. When held to light, it's really more of a dark maple syrup color.

S: Roasted malt and some coffee with some floral hops, a little Belgian yeast and a touch of dark fruit.

T: Floral hops upfront followed by some day old coffee and roasted malt. A hint of dark chocolate and anise as well. I didn't get much of a "Belgian" feel from this at all and I feel like a touch of Belgian yeast could have given this one a little more depth, which it needed.

Sep 12, 2011
Photo of ehammond1

3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On Tap

Belgian Beer Festival 2011
Pizza Port
Carlsbad, CA

Dark brown with dark ruby highlights. Thin light brown head. Specked lacing down the glass.

The aroma is a combination of sweet and roasted malts. Some dark fruits and perhaps chocolate make for a very inviting aroma.

The flavor is a bit simple and, in that respect, surprising: a mainly bitter flavor along with roasted malt, perhaps some dark fruit, but relatively simple and average. I hoped for more.

Thin to medium bodied. Easy drinking. Appropriate.

A relatively simple Belgian dark (porter?). Good, but not great. Glad I got the opportunity to try this on-tap only treat.

Aug 03, 2011
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corby112 from Pennsylvania

3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draft at Monk's Cafe.

Pours a deep dark brown color that's almost black with faint mahogany edges and a one finger light beige head that quickly settles into a thin lasting ring. Minimal spots of lacing left behind.

Roasted malt aroma with faint spiciness and dark fruit notes. Slightly toasty with lots of dark chocolate along with hints of toffee and caramel.

Medium bodied with lots of roasted dark malt as well as some zesty spice and sweet dark fruit notes. Lots of dark chocolate malt flavor along with hints of toffee, coffee bean and caramel countered by peppery spice, candy sugar and dark fruit which provide subtle sweetness. Still the dark malts dominate the flavor, lingering into a dry finish.

Jul 05, 2011
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Tschnab from New York

3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Monk's

A- Served in a pint glass, comes to my table with an amost black color, but held to the light shows some dark red. An inch of tan head, and a little lace on the glass.

S- good smell, really unique and I am digging it. Porter-like roastiness and semi-sweet chocolate, but something distinctly Belgian about this. Yeast and slight funk.

T- yep, belgian yeast with coffee, chocolate, dark fruits, candy sugar, toast. It's pretty watery though.

O- mouthfeel aside, this is a strong offering that is different than any other belgian dark I have had, but hey, different is good! Solid offering from RR.

Jun 13, 2011
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akorsak from Pennsylvania

3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

At Monk's Cafe. She loves you...

A: The dark ale looks more like a porter or black ale, coming out with a full body that comes close to blackness. A mocha head rests atop the beer.

S: Dark roasted, burnt with plenty of chocolate aromas. Darker fruits linger below the surface, sweetening the otherwise roasted body up nicely.

T: Very much a Belgian style porter, dark and well-roasted with toast and chocolate in spades. Darker sugars, including brown and candi sugars, linger with a sweet bitterness. It's bitter, heavy on the darker chocolate flavors, but the yeast saves the day, lightening it up. Hops aren't much of a factor, enjoy the burn though.

M: The porter-like Belgian ale surprised me, dark and forboding but quite drinkable. Plus, I'm never one to turn Russian River down.

Jun 11, 2011
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Retsinis from Arizona

3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A friend who just got back from Napa Valley had visited "Russian River" Brewing Co (among others,) and brought back some beers to try. This was one of them, and of the three growlers he brought back (all from three different breweries) this one was the best in my humble opinion.

Poured from a Chilled Growler into a Bruery tulip glass

The beer pours a murky, hazy dark amber brown, almost black, but light does penetrate when you hold it up to the light. A nice and fluffy tan colored head rose about 2 inches on the initial pour, which retained a bit, then settled to just about a quarter inch of head. No notable lacing.

Diving in the glass, I get aroma's of smoke, brown sugar, coco and coffee. Some yeasty esters in there too, but just a bit.

The flavors in the taste have a nice earthiness, probably from the yeast. Notes of chocolate, roasted malts, toffee, caramel, and some smoke. These flavors are in proportion, and blend together well.

Mouth feel has a medium to high body with generous carbonation for the style that does not get in the way of the flavors. Easy flavors on the palette. Only 6.10% ABV, so you can have a few, though they could sneak up on you, since you can't really detect the alcohol.

The overall, and drinkability of Rejection is good. It has a fairly unique flavor profile. Not something I personally would crave, but I would not turn down another taste. Since it's a limited yearly release, it's worth a try though, and I was glad that I got the chance to taste this years.

Feb 24, 2011
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benclimbs from California

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

had on tap @ RR brewery
This is a solid adaptation of a porter/black lager with belgian yeast.

pours black and beautiful with a slight head and a bit of lacing in the glass

spicey chocolatey off yeasty notes in the nose

taste is more chocolate, spice and light espresso

a very nice valentines day special beer from RR

Feb 17, 2011
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impending from California

3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

At the source. Poured an opaque black, minor head, great lacing.

Aroma is subdued yeast and dark bread lightly spiced.

Taste is roasted malts but not to the point of bitterness. Significant hop flavor. Hint of smoke in the finish. Medium bodied and creamy. Overall this brew has a quiet flavor. Warms well.

Jan 18, 2011
Rejection from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 223 ratings