Russian River Brewing Company originated in Guerneville, California, sponsored by Korbel Champagnes. The beers proved popular, and the company took off. These days, it is in the city center of Santa Rosa, California. When it was still under Korbel control, the head brewer was Vinnie Cilurzo, who later bought the brewery from Korbel, and is still the owner. Mr. Cilurzo and Russian River are known for producing ales with a very high content of aromatic hops. For a hophead like me, this is great news. In fact, Mr. Cilurzo is often credited with inventing the double IPA, which is an India Pale Ale wine twice the hops of a standard one.
Russian River Supplication (7% ABV) is billed as a sour brown ale aged in Pinot noir barrels with sour cherries. The company describes it thus:
Brown Ale aged in used Pinot Noir barrels from local Sonoma County wineries. It is aged for about 12 months with sour cherries, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus added to each barrel. Flavors from the cherries, Pinot Noir and oak balance each other nicely with a little funk from the brett.
As an ale, it is top-fermented and warm-fermented. The refermentation with yeast and bacteria make it sour, while the aging (about 12 months) in wine barrels should impart tannins, structure, and complexity.
Everything On Tap Review: Russian River Supplication:
Bottle: The bottle, like all bottles from Russian River, is elegant and charming. Close to the shape of a Burgundy wine bottle, and of very dark brown glass, the bottle is sealed with a Champagne-style cork and retainer. The label is rectangular and royal blue, on which is the image of a rather bizarre-looking (and painful-looking) Medieval device that was either used for agriculture, or monastic pious discipline.
Pour: Like a good wine, the color is a rich amber-red with hints of ruby garnet. The color is hazy. The head is two fingers thick, off-white, dense, and foamy. It dissipates quickly, leaving a small ringed lacing.
Aroma: The aroma is very sour at first, then transforming into hints of sweet roasted grains, cherries, blackberries, and a touch of earthy oak.
Flavor: The flavor is rich, complex, sophisticated, and mature. It begins with sour cherries, sour blackberries, and currants. Then a hint of malted grains appears, followed by some nicely-floral hops. This is then tempered with tannic, earthy oak with some balanced acidity. The finish is sour and crisp.
Mouthfeel: The body is medium-light, sharp, crisp, and refreshing. Carbonation is light to medium.
Structure: The structure of this ale could be compared with good wines. It is broad, stable, balanced, and complex.
Food Pairing: Pair an ale this beautiful with food equally beautiful, complex, and rich, like French sauces with organ meat such as kidneys, ris de veau, or foie gras. It would also suit very high-quality pasta with rich wine sauces. Pair it with high-quality Stilton, Camembert, or Grand Vieux de Boulogne, escargots with garlic butter, or even a rich New Orleans gumbo.
Overall Rating Out Of 5 Possible Beer Mugs: