Symposium Sour Brown Ale | Russian River Brewing Company

very good
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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.

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Reviews: 32 | Ratings: 76
Photo of Arbitrator
3.32/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at the brewpub during its anniversary weekend. From notes.

A: Pours a hazy maroon body with a small, off-white head that doesn't rise very high or linger very long.

S: This reminds me of a Flanders Oud Bruin: notes of grain, toast, and an acetic note. It's not particularly complex. Reminds me of a starter sour, and it is more suggestive of a simplistic, broad-appeal Sierra Nevada approach than a Russian River one.

T: This is more complex than the nose suggested. Bits of oak, yeast, spice, and a touch of red wine are found. It's more acetic than lactic, though both flavors are found. Brett is mild. Nuts, grain, toast, and a touch of sulfur. This is like a rough, test batch of Supplication. The flavors aren't quite there; some flaws are found, even.

M: Not as dry as I was hoping. Carbonation is appropriate, but the finish leaves a little acetic sting.

O: Not worth getting a second glass of, or even chasing a bottle down.

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Photo of BearsOnAcid
3.36/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Maroon body. Soft brett in the nose. Light aromas similar to an oud bruin (just a hint of malty sweetness blending with some sour).

Taste is fairly light and crisp. Minimal amount of lactic sourness and malt sweetness that leads into a vegetal bandaid bretty finish. The kellerweis yeast seemed to clean out most of the flavor and left the bugs with nothing to work with. The wine barrel is a little unnoticeable adding a slight leathery vinous and oak flavor.

This beer is pretty much exactly what you'd expect if Sierra Nevada did a sour. A traditional feel that caters a little to the average craft beer drinker. Seems a bit too average for such big name collaboration.

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Photo of HopHead84
3.4/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


Thanks to Jason for opening the bottle.

A: Amber with a frothy white head.

S: Lactic and acetic with a lot of oak. Salty and lemony. Notes of ripe berry with a light earthy funk.

T: Oak and light vinegar. A low acetic acidity with lemon and berry. Finish is oak and fast fading.

M: Upper light body with less than desirable low carbonation. Mouthfeel is a little thin with a stickiness.

Overall: Somewhat bland to be honest, especially considering the two breweries involved. It comes off as rushed. Still, a decent beer.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.42/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to (Jeff) ipa247 for this one. Poured from a 375ml corked and caged bottle into a Duchess oversize wine glass. Shared with schen9303.

A: Standard pour yields a .5 finger frothy, creamy white head with great retention. Beer is a clear brown. Lacing is thin and stringy with good stick. One of the best looking beers of the style I've seen to date.

S: Nose is moderatly funky and simple. Strong Brett presence with notes of pineapple and sour cherries. Not a whole lot going on here but nothing really off either.

T: Opens tart cherries and raspberries with a bit of alcohol towards the middle. Brett presence creates a band-aid and cobweb taste. Plastic at the end with some sour tea leaves and a slight dried leaf bitterness in the aftertaste. Very simple but relatively clean.

M: light to medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Prickly and lively in the mouth with but goes down rather smoothly. Finish is brief with a clean, non-sticky aftertaste. Appropriate.

O: Very simple at the moment but with a lot of potential. Symposium sour needs a bit of time to develop and get rid of a bit of booziness and the dried tea leaf presence at the finish. Can't wait to see what happens with this one.

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Photo of mikereaser
3.42/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thank you Amy Fowler for a chance to try this beer.

A - Pours a dark brown with a few floaties, there is a nice short white foam that left some lacing down the glass.
S - Nice sour aroma, green apple and sour cherry, some oak, like someone else commented, smells like the beginning of consecration and supplication. a mix between the two.
T - Very vinous taste, a very faint version of consecration, light oak and wine flavor but not much more else. Kind of disappointing.
M/D - thin bodied, nice carbonation, this beer seems unfinished, maybe rushed. Its good, but most likely not what it could have been.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle generously shared by Tim. Thanks!

A: The pour is a light brown, call it amber, color with a minimal amount of off-white foam.

S: Really a strange aroma. It's a little bit salty at first, and there's a touch of sulfur. Lots of yeast and a fair amount of oak. Some dark fruit notes and a little bit of wine. There is some acidity, but it's not as strong as I would expect.

T: Really heavy on the oak and yeast. There is a decent enough tartness, and it's mostly green apple with a little bit of lemon. Some miscellaneous dark fruit notes, but they're sort of weak/faint.

M: Medium in body with a very high carbonation and a dry finish.

O: Fairly disappointing. This beer seems sort of rushed. It would be nice to have seen what this could have become with some more time in the barrels.

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Photo of Beerenauslese
3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Body is a cloudy light brown. Poured in a pint glass with not much head, there is just a ring, and slight lacing.

Smells malty and sour. There wasn't a lot on the nose with this, due to being poured a bit cold.

Tastes mildly sour with a bitter undertone. Some wood and vanilla. Has a dry finish.

Body is light and the carbonation spritzy.

Overall, it was not a very impressive collaboration brew between Russian River and Sierra Nevada. IMO, not one of either's better efforts.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Symposium Sour Brown Ale from Russian River Brewing Company
3.89 out of 5 based on 76 ratings.
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