Friday, March 23, 2012

Annual Visit to Russian River

It's been a little over two weeks since our visit to Russian River, but that's not going to stop me writing about it. Last year, I was lucky enough to go to the brewpub when they had Younger on draft but this year I just had to settle for all of their regular stuff. Luckily their regular drafts are pretty amazing so it's not like I was disappointed or anything. The brewpub itself is actually pretty small with a long bar running the length of it and tables lining the walls on the right. We ordered some food this year and it turns out their pizzas are quite good. But, really, you aren't going here for the food so don't fool yourself. You're going for the beer.
See, look at all those beers! And on the bottom right you can see all of their sours which is of course where I started.
In this flight, from left to right, is Damnation 23, Sanctification, Temptation, Supplication and Consecration. As usual the latter three were all nice and sour and tart in different ways though the Temptation seemed a little weaker than usual. The Damnation 23 is Damnation aged on oak which made it, well, a bit oaky. I thought it was a bit sharp, but I had a cold though so the flavors were a little muted.

After that I got a bitter flight but since I'm an idiot I forgot to get a picture. Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig are both things most people have had, but they also have a regular Russian River IPA which is pub only. I didn't get to try the IPA last year since, well, I got too drunk on Younger to order it but this year I did and found it to be a bit bitter for me. I thought Blind Pig had just a bit more maltiness which I liked.

After lunch was finished and we decided what to get in our growlers (Elder and Segal Select), my wife went to the grocery store with her sister and they left me at the bar for a while. Great wife, I know. I ordered a Consecration (which was delicious) to bide my time and chatted with the bartender a bit which led to him showing me their new coolship room.
In the barrels I believe is the newest batch of Beatification which will be released in like two years and this time was made using the metal tub (aka their coolship) on the left. Apparently, they used to just fill the barrels and leave the plugs out and that was their spontaneous fermentation. However, as I said already, they filled the tub on the left (you can actually see the water line if you expand the picture) and left the wort in there for 24 hours then filled the barrels. This means more critters from the room should have been able to enter the beer but we won't really know for a few years.

While I'm not sure two years is enough to call something an annual visit, I'm going to pretend it is so that I can use that excuse next year. Going to Russian River is definitely one of the highlights of going to San Francisco and this year was no exception. Getting to check out the barrel room first hand was pretty sweet too. So if you are ever in San Francisco and have access to a car, be sure to take the hour trip up route 101 to Santa Rosa and visit the pub. It'll be well worth your time!


  1. We'll be there in June and I cannot wait. Any advice on other breweries or restaurants or sights to see would be appreciated!

  2. Inside San Francisco, most people would suggest the Toronado. It's a nice place if you go mid-afternoon when it's not too busy. I recently went to the Monk's Kettle in the mission and it was pretty cool too. Really pleasant staff which was great. Another mid-afternoon spot though since it's tiny as hell. Other people would tell you to look up Beer By Bart but I haven't done it so can't really offer opinions.

    Outside the city, other than Russian River, Lagunitas was pretty awesome. I think it's only open Thursday - Sunday or something so make sure you check. I wrote about it last year: There's also Drake's Barrel House in Oakland but haven't been there yet so don't know what it's like. I can't imagine it's not awesome though considering the beers offered.

    There's also Sonoma and Napa for wine which we do every year and enjoy quite a bit. We've rented a VRBO the past two years and used that as a base of operations for touring those areas.

    That's about it though there's a ton more. There's brewpubs in the city too obviously. We liked Thirsty Bear when we went there a couple years ago. And I liked Social Kitchen last year though it doesn't seem to have a super reputation on BeerAdvocate.