Russian River Salvation
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Serving Type: Bottle
Purchased at the brewery
Aroma: Light sour cherries first come to mind when smelling this beer. Intermingling are some light oak notes and a definite touch of some characteristic Brettanomyces “horse-blanket”. The Brett isn’t overwhelming or dominating, but enough to let you know it’s there. Malt aroma is hard to find but there may be a hint of caramel and some earthy hop spice as well.
Appearance: Pours a nearly opaque walnut brown with light haze. Looks like yeast haze. Ruby highlights try to push through the edges. Head forms easily with a light pour and retains very well with off-white to tan, with creamy texture. Some light lacing.
Flavor: Light sourness hits the tongue and palate with surprisingly roasted, but not burnt, caramel malt flavor becoming quite prominent. Rich dark biscuit and light bread play together to create an incredibly smooth malt profile while the alcohol provides just a hint of spice toward the finish. Sourness comes back just for a moment then the beer finishes lightly sweet but with a cleansing alcohol spice. I can't say enough about the malt here, caramel and dark honey on freshly baked bread. Delicious.
Mouthfeel: Full body with high carbonation. The balance of carbonation and body create a creamy-smooth texture on the palate. Malt richness makes the beer feel like you could almost chew it. Sour character is light but noticeable and tickles the jaw muscles at the first few sips. Finish is bready and sweet but the alcohol cleans out the mouth nicely.
Overall: It seems I am often complaining that a beer lacks malt character or richness. Not today. Huge bread malt profile in this beer seems perfectly offset by the sourness and alcoholic strength. Aroma with cherry and “Brett” sourness is complex though is lacking nearly all of the malt found in the flavor, surprisingly. I wouldn’t say it detracts from the beer however. My only suggestion would be just a hint more sourness as it would blend well with all that chewy barley.
It should be noted that this beer went directly from the “cellar” (read closet) into my glass. Drink this beer too cold and I think you’ll miss out on a lot of the malt complexities.
I rated this beer an “A” on BeerAdvocate.