Symposium Sour Brown Ale | Russian River Brewing Company

very good
32 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Symposium Sour Brown AleSymposium Sour Brown Ale

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.20%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by womencantsail on 02-11-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 32 | Ratings: 76
Photo of cbeer88
4.56/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasted blindly courtesy of the Blind BIF. Poured into Lost Abbey teku glass.

Appearance: Pretty amber/brown and a nice fluffy two finger head. Great lacing as the head dies down.

Smell: Oak is most prominent, with some strong fruity balance that I believe is cherry. Definite acetic tart odor as well. Stronger aroma would have gotten this rated higher.

Taste: Fantastic. Oak, vinegar, and fruit all blend together fantastically. The malt body is a perfect balance to carry the rest of the flavors.

Mouthfeel: On the light side of medium, with a nice carb level.

Drinkability: Very high - this beer is the perfect amount of sour for when you're not trying to rip your enamel off.

Overall: This is a great beer. Honestly this is about perfect for the style, and I don't have much bad to say about it at all. I could drink this regularly.

 842 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.42/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Calton for sharing this one at my house on Monday night. Really appreciate it man, loved the vertical/horizontal, whatever we call this.

The winner of the day for me, this one ours out a nice lovely brown color with an off white head that streaks down the sides of the glass,

Lovely aroma is a mixture of sour and sugary malts wonderful dark fruits, caramel, toffee, tart cherries, really the closesst thing I have had to a consecration in a long time. Smooth as silk with a great finish and wonderful back to it.

Sooo far and away the winner of the day, just a great, great beer.

 597 characters

Photo of thagr81us
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Now for the whole reason I traded for the four-pack... Big thanks goes out to chickencoop for sending me this one in a past trade! Shared this one with mikesgroove during a small ticking session at his house last night. Served from bottle into a Russian River -tion chalice. Poured red-orange with a half finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, sour, funk, slight tart, and fruit. The flavor was of sweet malt, sour, funk, and slight caramel. It had a light feel on the palate with high carbonation. Overall this was a great brew. Getting to try this one was definitely worth trading for the four-pack for sure. This one went down nice and easy as the flavors were all perfectly blended together and worked in unison. The aroma was quite excellent and inviting as the fruit touch welcomed you in for more. The slight caramel touch I got on this one was a nice touch with the wild yeast flavors as it added a little sweetness to the line-up. Definitely worth trying if you get the opportunity for sure.

 1,109 characters

Photo of juhl31
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

-dark caramel brown in color. some fog to it, you cant see through it and not just because it's too dark in color. thin white head that leaves pretty quickly

-little bit of a sour note, with some vanilla in there as well. there is some malts that can be reached at the end of the sniff

-good subtle sour taste that doesnt make your teeth melt. can get some of the brown type malts through it all and again there seems to be a faint vanilla accent in there as well

-again, this is a great mouthy sour beer. it is really smooth and it doesnt make you want to lick the inside of your mouth afterwards

-a great drinking sour. it is really good and extremely easy drinking. if there wasnt more beers i wanted to drink at the event, i couldve kept coming back for 3 or 4, easy

 774 characters

Photo of Genghis22
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From Notes, had on tap at the brew pub on Thursday, March 24.

A - Light amber brown, slightly hazy. Thin, off white head, with little lacing.

S - Nutty funk. Roasty brown ale goodness with touches of sour cherry.

T - Cherry up front. Not overly tart. Sweetness washes over the tongue. Then there is a dry nutty finishes. Aftertaste is bitterhops and sourness.

M - Nice full body, not too thick, but certainly not thin. Super tight carbonation, almost champagne like. Very nice.

O - Well made beer. Not as assetive or impressive as Supplication, which this beer reminded me of. Sort of seemed like a lighter version of Supplication. I would drink this again, but wouldn't go out of my way for it.

 700 characters

Photo of jethrodium
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the the Public House in San Francisco. Pours a hazy brown with a small white head that leaves a good amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma is strongly oak and the typical brett funkiness. There is also some red wine and raisin and a little bit of a mineral earthiness. The initial taste is tart lemon with a slight sweetness going into oaky red wine. The finish is acetic vinegar. A little bit more than I would have liked. A little bit astringent. Light-medium body. Medium carbonation. Overall a pretty solid beer. I found it to be similar to Consecration, but not quite as good.

 594 characters

Photo of rfgetz
4.09/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky dulled penny color, moderate cap of khaki head, gone quickly with little lacing. The sscent is a wonderous blend of tart and sour, earth and wood, dried plum and currant, light brown sugar. Expected taste to be big and bold based on look and scent, but fairly straightforward blend of muddy earth, brown sugar, light tartness and fruityness. Medium bodied, slightly high carbonation. A nice sour all around, but the boldness expected was not present.

 464 characters

Photo of patm1986
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Notes from the final course at Monk's RR Dinner 7 June 2011

Cream filled donuts with local rhubarb

mud brown with a red base hue with an inch of tan head.

smells like soured malt, wood chips, a little honey, and some, just a light amount, molasses. smells much like a starting point for consecration.

reallly niiice. not as intense as consecration, but it has most of its characteristics: mild cassis, oak, cherry, bread. smooth, mild funk in comparison. the donuts were a miss unfortunately, but it is incredibly difficult to make donuts to order for 75 ppl, so it was understandable. the rhubarb was brilliantly paired. this beer is a course good enough on its own.

some bite that numbs the mouth, but, overall, thicker than most sour brown ales with some creaminess to balance the whole palate experience.

thank you, monk's, as always. this was one INCREDIBLE experience.

 887 characters

Photo of DovaliHops
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap last night at Russian River (so happy to see try this!). Pours a somewhat-murky brown color with a very small, off-white head. Scent is very delightful, with some great oak aromas. I get some tart cherry aromas as well as some red wine. The taste is very oaky and not as sour as I was expecting. Very delicious, however. The great oak flavors blended well with the red wine and tart brett flavors. There were some nice cherry flavors as well as some surprising nuttiness. Mouthfeel was nice and full bodied with some acidic, crisp qualities. I feel this was a good beer for a cold night, just as well as for a hot day. Drinkability was high. Overall, this beer was very tasty and I'm fortunate to have gotten to try it.

 730 characters

Photo of hobojon
4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Russian River, this is the third time I have had it. On the chalkboard as CBC Sour Brown. OG: 1.048 ABV 6.2 BU 18

Aroma: mild sourness, some toasty malt with hints of chocolate. mild brett character, but has the house Russian River funk aroma. some tropical fruit.

Appearance: hazy brown with a small layer of off white foam that dissipates. laces a bit.

Taste: mild sourness, but assertive enough. tropical fruit (pineapple, mango) and citrus. citric and lactic sourness. some hints of berry. nice -bal character with vinous qualities. some tannic dryness.

Mouthfeel: dry, med high carb (good for draft). drying with some tannins or slight astringency. makes this beer more drinkable. smooth alcohol. unique for a beer because it is so dry and vinous.

Overall: I keep ordering it despite the Pliny or other -tion beers, so I must like it. It is complex in a way that is different that other Russian River beers, with more tannins, and less sourness but nice tropical brett funk. I would really like to try the bottle conditioned version to see how the carbonation difference effects the beer.

edit: After reading other reviews, I agree that this beer could have used more time (but not in the wine barrels).

 1,224 characters

Photo of FosterJM
4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

527th Review on BA
Draft to Tulip
@Toronado San Diego

Consumed 5/29/11

App- A murky light brown, a little bit hazy and only a ½ in head. No cling in the glass as well.

Smell- A nice soft sour. Its got a mix of some dampness to it, a little musty funk, its a bit of a citrus lemon peel tart and a little candy sweet

Taste- This was quite a bubbly sour. Little pockets of flavors popped. It was sweet like candy a little citrus tart. Not mouth puckering. Nicely composed. Nice light flavors.

Mouth- Light bodied and medium carbonation. Residual sweet/tart flavors.

Drink- Very tasty. A fuller sour that was too sweet/tart either way. I would like to have this again.

 671 characters

Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Monk's. Thank goodness for leftovers!

A: The wild ale is dark, a caramel brown color that is opaque. A thin head came with the glass.

S: The nose is funky, tart with lemony citric acids. The horseblanket funk really stands out, the wildest of the RR ales on tap today.

T: Darker caramel malts, horesblanket, lemony citrus. Six words succinctly cover this ale. More in depth, the acidic bite has a soft acetic underside, vinegary in just a small dose. The darker malts don't make much of a difference, allowing the brett to control the ale with plenty of tart funk flavors. Very dry in the finish with just enough of a pucker factor.

M: An honest to goodness sour at PBW? Nice! Plenty of brett to go around, a nice sharp bite in every sip.

 752 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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

2011 vintage.

Pours a murky brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Foamy streaks and dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is sour and tart with some fruity and sugary aromas. Taste is much the same with a slight vinegar and acidic flavor on the finish. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

 498 characters

Photo of oglmcdgl
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at monks.

A- a small finger of light tan head that holds for just a bit before settling with no lace. Deep red brown in color and rather murky.

S- sour and vinous right away with a deep earthy funk and dark fruits. The barrel give a lot of funk and over ripe berry notes. Lighter tartness not the sharp acidic type. Malts give a good backbone and lend a dark bread and sweetness to things.

M- a touch above medium in body and a touch lighter in carb. Very smooth mouthfeel and lightly tannic.

O- a good sour and the cab barrel does show nicely. Deep and earthy. I'm interested to see what this does over the next few years.

 638 characters

Photo of nickfl
3.99/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours with a small, off-white head of foam on top of a hazy brown body with amber highlights. The head settles rapidly and leaves little lace.

S - Deep funky wild yeast character with notes of wet dirt, balsamic vinegar, and burning gunpowder. There is also a bit of caramel and toasted malt in the background to play counterpoint to the phenolic craziness of the bugs.

T - Surprisingly light up front with a little bit of thick toffee and just a hint of lemony tartness. Some acetic acid comes out in the middle with a bit of caramel. The beer finishes with peppery acidity and a bit of earthy funk hiding in the background.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a dry, somewhat astringent finish.

D - Interestingly it has a very wild aroma but a surprisingly mild flavor profile. The malt is rich and the beer thick bodied, but it finishes quite dry with an astringent, chalky mouthfeel. The acidity is moderate; not puckering, but significant enough to let you know that there were bugs and time involved in the production of the beer. Not bad overall, but something about the taste is flabby and a bit disappointing and I am not particularly broken hearted that this was a one time brew.

 1,210 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On Tap at Monk's Cafe for beer week, what a place.

A- Poured in the tulip, Symposium is a ruddy brown color with some spots of faint red. A bit of suds on top toffee colored, ok retention, no stick.

S- Very winey, cab barrel influence with some brett and funky yeast. Oak comes through but does not overkill. Malt from the brown base.

T- A winey brown ale with some malt backing. Getting the cab up front here, wine is apparent with brett and tannin quality, slight lactic tone and light yeasty bread.

M- Feel is about less than medium it's kinda spritzy off the tap, oak stays with me and the tartness is not so much. I can taste the base as much as the bell's and whistles.

O- I really enjoyed this, easy enough to drink and it lives up to it's name.

 759 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Amber, copper mix with a single finger head.

S: Definitely sour and tart dark fruit, mostly cherry.

T: The taste comes on sour but moderately so and not quite as strongly as the aroma. Also tart with dark fruit and earthy notes.

M: Light to medium bodied, surprisingly smooth and mild to moderate carbonation.

Overall: More drinkable than the aroma forebodes. This is my first from Russian River as I live in Florida. Very drinkable sour brew.

 450 characters

Photo of glid02
3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Simon - much obliged!

Pours a hazy amber-brownish color with a cream-colored head that leaves solid lacing.

Smells of medium malts with good amounts of lightly tart berries and currants with hints of darker raisins. Also present are mild amounts of funk.

Tastes substantially less complex than it smells. Moderately dry medium malts up front are joined by subtle funk and lightly tart currants. The fruits carry through to a mildly tart ending. Mouthfeel is OK, the body is a bit on the thin side with prickly carbonation.

Overall I was impressed with this beer after the first sniff, but the flavor department let me down. Perhaps more time will add complexity, it's worth sitting on if you have a bottle.

 727 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Funky aroma, light brown coloured body with little head. Tasty,mild cherry, malty Worcester sauce, very drinkable. Nothing exceptional to report as I was expecting more from RR, just very nice and earthy that I would have again. Thanks for sharing, Jon.

 253 characters

Photo of levifunk
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

375ml bottle shared with the usual suspects.

a - cloudy brown with off-white head.

s - nose is pretty sour. reminds me a lot of la folie actually, but with a kick of funk.

t - green apple tartness and a white wine dry finish. not as big as i was expecting....but still good

m - a little light on the body. good carbonation. dry finish

overall a solid brew, but nothing special imo. always fun to tick.

 406 characters

Photo of MasterSki
3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Toronado. Served in a tulip.

A - Plum brown body, with a finger of white foam that quickly settles to a thin collar and minimal lace.

S - It's a sour brown alright - lactic acidity, dry oak, green funk, some vinous and sour cherry character, and a bit of malt character.

T - Green funk, sour cherries, lactic sourness, some oak, over a light brown ale backdrop. The finish is a bit weak.

M - Medium body, pleasant carbonation, smooth texture, and no obvious alcohol. Surprisingly little tannic presence here.

D - Good stuff, but nothing special. I thought the additional age might help this beer, but it's a somewhat underwhelming offering from Russian River. With so many better offerings this was one and done.

 727 characters

Photo of DefenCorps
3.65/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Huge thanks for sharing this rarity yesterday, Mike.

Pouring a clear mahogany with reddish brown highlights, this beer is capped with a dense, light brown head. I guess this beer's benefited from time in the bottle, because to me, this smells great. A rather big vinous character is present, with fruity red wine, a touch of sweetness and a moderate acetic sourness. This is unusual for a RR sour in that the sourness here leans more heavily on the acetic and less on the cleaner lemony sourness. A moderate lactic character is present as well. Simple, but pretty nicely done, at least on the nose.
The palate opens with a moderate red wine character, with the light fruit character of a good rose and the more assertive berry character from a big Zin/Pinot Noir. A little thin on the finish, there's a rather scrubbing lactic sourness that doesn't entirely work with the flavors on the palate, causing this to feel a little underdeveloped. A touch too tannic as well, especially for the finish. Medium light in body with moderate carbonation, this is a good sour, one I'll drink again, but one not on the same level as some of Vinnie's other beers.

 1,150 characters

Photo of scottfrie
3.65/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for sharing MrFootstones!

A: Pours a clear amber brown with a quarter inch light tan head that faded to collar. Spotty lace.
S: Clean brown ale nose with the addition of tart citrus. Light scents of raisins and red fruits come through beneath.
T: Like the nose, smooth brown ale flavors blend well with dry and tart flavors of citrus and apple juice. Raisin, amber malts, citrus juice, berries and a little bit of cherry and oak are present as well.
M: Bubbly and tingly carbonation, lightly greasy mouthfeel, mild tartness.
O: A bit underwhelming but there are no bad flavors to this beer, just muted. A very easy drinking and mild sour.

 650 characters

Photo of corby112
3.65/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draft at Monk's Cafe.

Pours a dark golden copper color that's almost brown with golden mahogany edges and a 1.5 finger off white head. Good retention, slowly fading into a lasting ring.  Streaky spots of lace left behind.  

Slightly funky aroma with lots of sweet vinous dark fruit notes.  A good barrel character with hints of earthy oak and subtle creamy vanilla.  Slightly funky with Brett but pretty tame.  More vinous red wine notes than funk with lots of dark berries.  

Medium bodied and puckering with a nice tart presence that lingers into a slightly acetic dry finish.  Not as funky or sour as I expected.  The brown ale notes are almost completely overshadowed with only a faint malt presence.  Funky dry brett/bugs and lots of vinous dark fruit/red wine notes.  Lots of dark grape, sour cherry and other dark fruit.  Sweet with subtle funk without being overly sour.  Decent but the notes from the base beer are complety absent making it a bit one dimensional.

 987 characters

Photo of largadeer
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Hazy brown with purple highlights. Little head or lacing.

Smell: There's a huge cab barrel character to the noise. Very vinous and fruity, brett-heavy with a touch of lacto beneath the funk. Surprisingly, Sierra Nevada's kellerweiss yeast is very noticeable too, lending a little sulfur and spice.

Palate: Crisp, mild lactic sourness up front. Some bready brown malt, tons of cab barrel providing vinous fruitiness, and a hint of weissbier yeast. The kellerweiss yeast strain may not have been the best choice here, it's somewhat at odds with the bacteria and wine barrel. Very oaky, tannic finish, quite dry. Tastes a bit young, another 6 months in the barrel probably would have produced a better beer, but it's still very enjoyable.

Overall: Good, but not one of Russian River's better sours. It comes across as a rushed effort.

 846 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Symposium Sour Brown Ale from Russian River Brewing Company
3.89 out of 5 based on 76 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

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