Russian River Brewing Company

Russian River Brewing CompanyRussian River Brewing Company

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

725 4th St
Santa Rosa, California, 95404-4407
United States

(707) 545-2337 | map

No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate

View: Beers | Place Reviews | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 377 | Ratings: 941
Photo of craytonic
2.5/5  rDev -44.1%
vibe: 1.5 | quality: 2 | service: 1 | selection: 5 | food: 2.5

Quick drive up from San Francisco once, I think it was about 1.5 hours. Visited another time while vacationing in Napa Valley, drove over from our cottage at the Carneros Inn.

Atmosphere: Crowded and lively, a bit more of the younger "alternative" set in terms of piercings, facial hair. Seemed to mostly be regulars on this weekday night. We were dressed more like a typical Napa pair and stuck out. Actually, my wife and I look like stuck up yuppie/preppy pricks in an unforgiving, unapologetic sort of way which works just fine in Napa where we came from but probably didn't help things at RR.

Quality: Food is barely decent pizza, nothing special. Mellow mushroom, etc do a better job. No one is going here for the food.

Service: Service was horrible. Took us about 15 minutes to order beer, took another 10-15 minutes for it to come. Ordered food and then sat and watched people come in, sit at a table next to us, order food, and get their pizza before ours. I asked and our absent waiter had failed to put our order in. We had to start again from scratch. Not sure how this happened with their fancy electronic ordering system. I asked for some bread to hold us over, which we were charged for (we didn't get any sort of real apology or discount for any of this). My wife actually left, went to the bookstore down the street, and came back a little under an hour later and we still had no food. All told we were there about 3 hours because the service was just horrible.

Selection: Beer selection is amazing, 20-ish RR beers on tap. That said, I prefer tasting them outside the context of the brewpub.

Value: Average, can't really remember the bill but it seemed about right.

 1,687 characters

Photo of SteveTheDog
2.99/5  rDev -33.1%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 1 | selection: 4

I was disappointed by this experience. And I love Russian River beers. They're fantastic. But here's why I was let down by this experience

- website advertised patio that was dog friendly. We got there and the "patio" is just a sidewalk with a fence around it and no dogs allowed
- over an hour wait in the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday for a table, so we just went to the bar to get a beer each
- Took us 10 minutes to get a bartenders attention and order. And there were 3 of us. And we weren't alone - the folks next to us waited about that long to try to get their tab and then eventually just left.
- The beers we did get were great (Pliny the Elder, Shadow of a Doubt, and Supplication), but this isn't a write-up on their beers, it's about the brewpub.

Not even going to try to go back there - i'll just enjoy their beer elsewhere

 848 characters

Photo of Zorro
3/5  rDev -32.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 1 | selection: 4 | food: 2.5

Been sitting on my notes of my trip here with friends on the 23 of January 2008 at 5:30 PM I have a few unkind things to say about the visit.

Not easy at all to get to the place, parking is basically nonexistent.

Nice view of the brewing equipment through a glass window. Lots of wood and concrete floors.

Major crowding and small tables plus quite cold concrete floors. Our group agreed that it was fairly miserable place to bring a group of five people. The crowding was a MAJOR problem trying to eat here, think Japanese hotel type crowded.

Service isn't a word I would use for the experience here. It was VERY apparent that the waitress here didn't give a damn about ANYTHING. She brought the wrong beers to me and really didn't care. Food was good but the hassle and the waitress didn't exactly put me in any mood to enjoy it and I apologized to my group for convincing them to make the trip up from San Jose.

Beers brought in the wrong glassware, major problem for a brewery of this level of reputation.

Huge samplers but the waitress had zero clues about beer.

I can't recommend making the trip from any distance to here and I will never return unless I have to go to Santa Rosa specifically.

The beer IS good, just the place where it is made is pretty miserable. I suggest you consume Russian River beer some other place.

 1,337 characters

Photo of BeerisUber
3.03/5  rDev -32.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 1 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

My problem with RRB is that they refused to fill a growler of mine. I asked them to rinse it out and because I did that they absolutely refused to fill it. I explained that I traveled 3 hours to go there and yet they still said no. I had to wait almost an hour for a seat on a Tuesday night.

Yes the beer is good but after just visiting Seattle and drinking beer up there I felt their beers were over rated and over hyped. Pliny is good but it's not that good.

I just don't understand why they wouldn't fill a growler or even replace it with one of their 30 empty clean growlers that I could see. Last time I checked they are a brewery and must have some star san lying around to re-sanitize the growler I brought. Oh well... They won't be getting any money from me ever again!

 781 characters

Photo of Talisker
3.28/5  rDev -26.6%
vibe: 2 | quality: 5 | service: 1 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2

Comment added on 05-July-2009:

A few months back Russian River switched glassware from standard pints to smaller 14oz "Imperial-style" pint glasses. The prices didn't go down when they did this.

Belgians still served in 14oz tulips, no change.

Again, the beer is amazing. Unbelievably great. But the retail side of the house is downright horrendous - like no one cares about the customer at all. Obviously this doesn't stop my coming - been here dozens of times, and given the consistency of both the beer (great) and service (indifferent on a good day), will continue to come.

What's to say that hasn't been said?

The atmosphere is iffy - strip mall feel, music far too loud, tables poorly situated, bar very often understaffed - even when not crowded it can take forever to get a fresh glass.

Table service is indifferent - many times I've waited more than 30 minutes for someone to take even my drink order. The food menu is spartan - pizza the only choice, edible but certainly not exceptional. I've seen the food sit under the warmer for 15-20 minutes before it gets brought out. Generally it's clear the front of the house is not managed well.

But of course none of this matters, because the beer is sublime. They offer comprehensive samplers of whatever's on tap, and of course none of them miss. Belgian or American ales - every one a sensational example of its style.

If Vinnie or the assistant brewer are around, they'll give a tour of the brewery itself (a small space, occupying about as much space as the restaurant/bar area). One nice touch is that you can see the various cask ales maturing behind the bar.

And they'll sell you a growler of any "regular" beers on tap ($12 for the beer, $5 for the glassware as of this writing).

Sometimes they'll fill a growler of specialty beers like Pliny the Younger or the wet-hopped beer, but their willingness to do so seems to vary, as do the prices. I've paid anywhere from $2 to $10 extra for growlers of these, also had them refuse to fill at all.

Their Belgians tend not to keep well in growlers, in my experience, but prolonging the beer experience is worth it.

My overall score probably comes out low, but a score can't capture what Russian River's about. An absolute must-visit for any beer person in the SF Bay Area or wine country.

 2,312 characters

Photo of schmitter
3.28/5  rDev -26.6%
vibe: 1.5 | quality: 5 | service: 1 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5

Let me start off by stating the obvious: the beer here is world class. My love for wild ales and RR beer in general has never been higher, thanks to my visit to RR. That being said the only reason to go to RR is to drink this excellent beer.

I went two days in a row, once for dinner, the next day for happy hour; in fact, the only reason I went the next day was to be sure that the HORRIBLE service from the night before was just a one time deal. It wasn't....first visit we got a table with some family... the waitress was horribly rude, didn't place 2 of our orders, failed to identify some of the beers in my sampler, and just overall annoyed by our presence. (I'll mention here that the food selection is fairly slim and what I had was just MEH.)

The next day, the same experience but this time at the bar. The bartender acted like it was a pain in the ass to take an order and his shit attitude certainly wasn't conducive of someone willing to answer anything about the beers (other than 'nother pliney?).

I may be ripping the place or being harsh, but I travelled ACROSS THE COUNTRY with RR as one of my very specific destinations and was treated as a nuisance at best. So if your in the santa rosa area, go, the beer is well worth it, but I wouldn't expect to feel welcomed, at least by the employees I dealt with.

 1,327 characters

Photo of remilamy
3.28/5  rDev -26.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Went here 3 times within a span of 3 days.

Thursday afternoon: not crowded, nice and relaxing, good service.

Thursday night: packed, hard to find anywhere to sit, loud, and two bartenders both chided me (separately, at different times) for wearing a Moylan's shirt. Sorry, I like good beer, so sue me. I don't like attitude in my bartenders and that really irked me.

Very meat-market type atmosphere.

Saturday night: even more crowded and loud than Thursday night and very hard to find a place to sit. They also do belly-dancing on Saturdays. It was cute, but I thought it a bit tacky that the belly dancers walked around with baskets after their act, asking for money.

The food is decent. I only had the pizza as it looked like the best thing on the menu. It's typical "California style" pizza and not bad. I have had better but I've had much worse. And I'd rather a brewpub focus on the beer than the food.

The beer is good, there's no denying that. But, I honestly enjoyed Moylan's a lot more. The atmosphere at AleWorks in Santa Rosa is more relaxed and subdued.

If you want loud & crowded and to maybe go home with someone, Russian River in the evening is a good place for you. If you want a more relaxing place, it's best to go during the day.

 1,256 characters

Photo of jvillefan
3.48/5  rDev -22.1%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

A: The atmosphere is a crowded little restaurant that is incredibly noisy. There are constantly trying to sell you their stuff that is hung on every wall while you eat. A tour of the actual brewery is difficult if not, impossible, to do.

Q: The food and beer were very good. The menu is all of the beers that they are currently brewing as well as pizzas, salads, and wings.

Ser: Not great. Very slow and when our party of 8 was at the table for about 45 min (we had just gotten our food) the put a sign that said reserved on our table and told us that the next party would be there soon.

Sel: They had an enormous selection of their own beer there. We got a tasting that consisted of about 15 different beers.

F: The calzone that I had was delicious and everyone else in my party enjoyed their food tremendously.

V: The food as a little pricy but the beer was a steal. To purchase a growler and fill it with Pliny the Elder was only $20 and if I go back it is only $14 to refill it.

 988 characters

Photo of NorCalAussie
3.51/5  rDev -21.5%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2 | selection: 3.75

Their beers are world class. There is in doubt about that, but that may have gone to their heads just a little too much.

The brew pub had a good atmosphere, a busy lunch trade and they had a great selection of beers on tap in bottles and for growler fills. I didn't try the food as I was getting some to-go bottles only as I passed through town. The food did look great though and seemed reasonably priced too.

My problem (and a couple of friends have expressed the same viewpoint) is that the bar tender and even the regulars at the bar seem to size you up as you walk in and treat you like a nobody or a tourist trying to get in on their private little club. Service was very abrupt and unfriendly and fairly condescending.

Great beers but a pretentious vibe that I can do without, I thought the beer crowd was supposed to be less stuck up than the wine connoisseurs? Not in this place.

 893 characters

Photo of BigB415
3.53/5  rDev -21%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Stopped in after my first final was finished. I was hoping to get a Pliny, a small pizza and a pint glass from the gift shop. What should of been 30 minutes to an hour turned out to be almost 2 hours. I stepped inside and waited at the hostess table for about 5 minutes with the hostess no where in sight, it was pretty busy after all. She finally came in and sat me in the room with at least 5 crying babies.

The smallest pizza I wanted was almost 12 bucks and since I only had 20 bucks on me I opted for the Meatball Sandwich which was 8 bucks since I had to get a Pliny and a pint glass to go I didn't want the bill to come to 19 bucks and only give her a dollar tip. The waitress finally showed after 5-10 minutes and took the people who got there after me drinks orders first.

When I ordered I just ordered everything to save time since I knew what I wanted. Beer came several minutes later and food at least another 20 minutes later. Of course the beer was good, I need to get something other than Pliny next time I go. The food was alright, it filled me up which is what I was hoping for. I don't really have meatball sandwiches that much.

I asked for the check and the pint glass together. They spent a little bit looking for some pint glasses since they thought they were out but they finally found some and I was able to leave the waitress with more than a 1 dollar tip so everyone was happy. I got my beer and my pint glass so I have another pint glass to add to the growing collection. Next time I go I'm bringing more than 20 bucks so I can get that pizza. I heard it is great.

 1,595 characters

Photo of DrunkenMonk
3.53/5  rDev -21%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

Russian River is a casual relaxed place with friendly staff and good service. It is clean yet retains its charm as a street-front pub. It is too small for its high following, creating elbow to elbow standing room only situations at times.

The food was good. I had a pizza. The beer selection was good also. They had two sample flights available. I had the hops flight. It was really good. Next time I will have the sour/Belgium flight.

I enjoyed my time and will return.

 473 characters

Photo of Seanibus
3.6/5  rDev -19.5%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Given how great the Russian River beers I have tried have been, I was greatly underwhelmed by the actual brewpub experience. I found the place garishly run down and dumpy, loud, and crowded. The service was friendly but painfully slow and inattentive. And the food was merely OK, though reasonably priced. The beer, however, is still the star, and Russian River beers are by-and-large incomparable, although not particularly subtle. The beer sampler offers 2 oz pours of everything on draft that day, and that can amount to up to 18 beers, including the amazing IPA lineup, including Blind Pig and the Plineys. Be warned, though, that a significant percentage of the pours are likely to be from the extensive sour series, which are a bit of an acquired taste, even for fans of acidic white wines.

 796 characters

Photo of Port_Seat
3.61/5  rDev -19.2%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

A lot of the best beers in the world under this roof, but the brewpub is always a busy shitshow in the evening. To me, not worth the pilgrimage unless there is a major release. If you must come, I'd come in during a weekday afternoon if you want a table.

 254 characters

Photo of mbunje
3.65/5  rDev -18.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I was here for lunch on a Thursday while recently visiting Sonoma area

Appearance: This place needs some work... easy cleanup, though
Smell: A bit of malt in the air, pizza oven, maybe a bit of fresh air
Taste: The beer here is unbelievable. Pliny, Salvation, Damnation....awesome.
Mouthfeel...the floor looked dirty, I'll skip this part.
Drinkability....I think I passed out here. is pretty darn good for a Brewpub. I didn't have the pizza but it looked good. The beer is the attraction here.
If you are anywhere near Sonoma....MUST have beer fresh on tap here. Not much variety, but everyone is first class quality and unique.

Can't wait for the Pliny's to be bottled....

 694 characters

Photo of PDXHops
3.65/5  rDev -18.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 4

After an earlier visit to Bear Republic (exceeded our expectations), we headed south to Russian River. It was a mild disappointment, in part because our expecations were so high.

Not sure I can explain exactly why, but it seems more like a popular drinking spot and restaurant than a Beer Mecca. The staff, while efficient and polite, weren't exactly friendly and the bartender seemed a little put off by my request to get a certain t-shirt in a certain size (it was the middle of the afternoon and not busy). I didn't run into any staff members who really wanted to talk beer, either- they could have been imported from any random restaurant.

The beer itself, though, that's another story. Hard to beat a pint of great beer right from the source. Excellent quality, nice variety (focusing on Belgians, wild ales and hoppier American stuff). I could have sucked down fresh Pliny the Elders all afternoon.

A very mixed experience overall. The beer was excellent, but pretty forgettable otherwise.

 998 characters

Photo of olympuszymurgus
3.65/5  rDev -18.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | food: 3

Been in here three times. the first bartender was a rockstar, a big guy with wispy facial hair and a command of the bar to be rivaled by few. We drank, relaxed, and got the hell out of this beautiful town.

The second time we were tired, hungry, and ready for a sunday of adventure. The server was basically the worst server I have ever had. A thin guy, short dark hair, around 6 foot. He was slow, unresponsive, forgot the order, and after asking twice still screwed it up. It's cool, because the beer was amazing, and the food decent, but jeesh, don't show up that high man.

The third time we had a new bartender. He was in his mid thirties and looked like he was ready to box a hobo. He was fast, kind, and oddly insightful. He was a winner, through and through.

Overall, I would go back, but I would definitely sit at the bar where the winners work.

 858 characters

Photo of Ann-lise
3.65/5  rDev -18.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 3

I used to go here a lot when I was in college and it was a fun place to grab a bite and a beer with a friend. Since Pliny has gained in popularity I only stop in to fill a growler or grab some bottles. It's always packed and the service has never been very good. But you're not going to the Russian River for the service or the food, you're going for the beer.

 360 characters

Photo of clickpush
3.65/5  rDev -18.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 1.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Finally! I made it to the brewery! Pretty cool atmosphere and overall experience, but I did have the worst waiter of my life. He didn't get a flat out 1 because he was actually nice, so he gets a 1.5. There's a very long bar here, kind of a narrow squeeze getting by, and two big chalk boards with the beers of the day. Looks like they also have a nice wine selection (they are in the heart of wine country) but I didn't really pay any attention to it. On a Sunday night this place was packed and my friends and I had to resort to a table in the back room. Actually, it was probably a good idea, because it was open mic night or something and most of the singers really sucked. Sundays are all day happy hour so $2.75 drafts of whatever they have. They had over 10 beers on draught and the selections were split between the Belgian styles and their domestic ones. The food (pizza/salad/wings) is pricey, but very good.

Gripes about the service: 1) had to ask a bartender to send a waiter to the table after waiting 10 minutes 2) waiter had no idea what was on draft and made us individually walk to the bar to see 3) waiter took half our orders then turned around and walked away and had to be chased down in the other room 4) brought one entree 10 minutes before even bringing the apps 5) brought all entrees without ever bringing silverware 6) took 7-8 mins to return with silverware 7) left all plates from appetizers to build up in middle of table after bringing entrees 8) brought our requested glasses of water after we'd all completed our meals.

I would go back on another Sunday for cheap beer and good food, but if I owned this establishment I would fire this specific waiter.

Also, bottles sold on location are no cheaper than in beer stores which is a rip, IMO.

 1,781 characters

Photo of RodBurg
3.7/5  rDev -17.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

The wife and I went to stay with some friends this past weekend in Santa Rosa. You can imagine how stoked I was when I found out they lived not even a quarter mile from Russian River. We hit it up on a Friday night around six and it was already packed. Luckily they had one table left so we happily took a seat. There was lots of beer d├ęcor on the walls and windows showing some of the ales barrel aging. The service was pretty average, not overly fast or friendly but nothing to complain about either. I was there for the beer anyway so I wasn't too concerned. It was pretty disappointing to hear that my first choice was tapped out, but no big deal. Food was decent and reasonably priced. Apparently it was happy hour because our beers were a lot cheaper than I expected. Nice little surprise. The brew did not let me down. It was frickin delicious. Not a bad place, but the beer was definitely the highlight.

 912 characters

Photo of ritter57
3.73/5  rDev -16.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

I finally got the chance to visit this place after doing business nearby for many years. RRBC has been on my wish list for a long time. I've tried PtE a couple of times and although I have been underwhelmed I have always wanted to try fresh beer on location. I love big West Coast beer. This brewery makes great beer but their stuff IMO is not on the sublime level oft attributed to them. I enjoyed my visit to RRBC but I was hoping to be blown away - I was not. The waitstaff was competent but a bit cold and too hipster for me. The beer selection was good, the food was boring. There was really nothing wrong with this place but I will not go out of my way to go back. If it were located anywhere else and if it were not overhyped it would be largely ignored like any other little towny brewpub.

 797 characters

Photo of bsnone
3.73/5  rDev -16.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Was here last summer, sat at the bar. The bartender was a flat out jerk to my wife and me. Of course the beer is fantastic, wish the service matched

 150 characters

Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.75/5  rDev -16.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.75

Stood in line for about 30-40 minutes on a weeknight. That was annoying and unexpected. Set the tone for the visit a bit I guess.

And then so damn crowded once I got inside. Couldn't even find a seat at the bar so I ended up requesting a table just so I could sit down and drink beer. I prefer generally to sit at the bar chat with the bartenders and other patrons and more easily order beers. This too put a bit of a damper on things.

I didn't find much in the way of beers I hadn't had for. Another disappointment but given how awesome their beers are it was nice to try Blind Pig and Supplication on tap.

Biggest bummer was that by the time I had my beers and wanted to grab something to go from their shop, it was closed. Womp womp. Can't win 'em all.

 760 characters

Photo of kaidasz
3.75/5  rDev -16.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

in town for last part of vacation w/non BA family members.

we had a bit of a wait for 6+ people but no prob as i enjoyed a blind pig RR IPA, neither were familiar to me. what happened next was somewhat comical as we had multiple food order problems that with patience were not big deals. the beers were great and overall was satisfied, the 'mecca' came through. my wife did ask if 'svc was bad like tonite, whaddabout fri/sat'? i do not care as we are not talking about GUY whatever in Paris, i want great beer and some decent food alongside. the pizza was better than decent, maybe even great for us thin crust fans, yes!

 624 characters

Photo of IRONRakkasan
3.8/5  rDev -15%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Being a local, I've walked past the restaurant forever it seems until finally making a point to visit it. The beers are legendary, as is the lack of service.

Well the place was packed as usual, but in the end the food was good (damn the jalapenos!) and the beer excellent. Since it was so busy (again as usual) I could understand the slow service.

It was loud, very loud there, but the brew trumps it all. Now, if only they'd expand the dining area!

I haven't seen it, but have heard that many famous musicians who now make Sonoma County and nearby their home will hop up on the stage and jam sometimes.

if just only for the beer from this legendary brewery...check this place out.

 685 characters

Photo of SRossman
3.85/5  rDev -13.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Russian River makes some of my favorite beers. Supplication and Consecration both make my top 10 easy, so naturally I was very pleased to get an opportunity to stop in on a road trip.

I wasn't as blown away as I thought and hoped to be. The food was unanimously (I was with 4 others) mediocre. Not offensive but definitely lacking. That's fine, I was mainly there for the beer. I wanted to make sure that I try beers that I don't have access to at home in Seattle and that I haven't already tried. I opted for the Porter and Salvation although Supplication, Temptation, Consecration, Pliny and Blind Pig all sounded delicious. Neither of my beers were anything to write home about and the Salvation definitely left something to be desired. I tasted the temptation my friend was sipping on and I have to say that a bottle is most definitely the better veseel for that beer and likely most of their other belgian styles as well.

I still love Russian River and would definitely stop in again in the unlikely event I find myself in Santa Rosa again, but I won't driving out of my way to get there again anytime soon.

 1,114 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA
4.08 out of 5 based on 59,579 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.