Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Russian River Brewing Company - Sanctification

And now for something completely different...

Yesterday, Toronados had a Russian River showcase, so I went with my girlfriend and another friend to check it out. I've really been wanting to try more of Russian River's sour beers ever since trying Supplication (a sour beer that is brewed with cherries and aged in pinot noir barrels) a few months ago. Officially, these beers are called American Wild Ales, due to their use of a strain of yeast called Brettanomyces ("brett" for short). This strain of yeast is particularly hard to control and many brewers refuse to go into other breweries that use brett because they're afraid that they may bring it back with them in their clothes and contaminate their beers. But used correctly, brett can impart a characteristic tartness and funk that many beer lovers can't get enough of.

Sanctification pours an extremely hazy straw color that seems to glow in the glass. It kind of looks like a lighter apple cider. The haze is so thick that there's no way to tell what's going on in the beer, just a lot of chaos. The pour left no sign of a head, so the entire goblet seemed to glow. It was a pretty crazy looking beer.

The smell is pretty much what you expect from a sour beer. It smelled earthy and pungent. I picked up a lot of funk, a bit of lemon-like sourness and a sort of chlorine-like smell.

When you take a sip of Sanctification, the sourness hits you like a punch in the mouth. It's like biting into a lemon-sour. The brett is definitely a huge factor in the taste and there's a lot of funk going on along with the sourness. There is a hard peppery bite to the beer to along with the sourness. As the beer warms, more flavors come out and I could definitely taste some tart green apple and lemon. The finish is long and dry, almost like a dry white wine. It lingers on your tongue and leaves that wonderful sour taste on your mouth. Russian River nailed it with this one. Can't wait to try more of their beers.

Final Grade: A

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