Sunday, 5 December 2010

Open It! My contribution.

So here it is folks, my contribution to Open It! Being my first wedding anniversary and all made it all the more worthwhile. And for this particular beer I have had a few apprehensive thoughts, like why should I open this beer after saving it so long?

It was nearly a year ago now. The flight back from San Francisco, the rushing between terminals at the flight change. Waiting for luggage for seemingly forever at Newcastle before they told us the luggage was missing.

But no, the Russian River!... It... It was in that case!!!... It cost me 26 dollars, this can't happen!

Anyway I got it back in the end and for a while I was stroking it and saying goodnight to it every evening pondering on the day that I should actually open it. So why today? Well let me justify this with a few facts. Firstly it's my first wedding anniversary. Secondly Dredge says to do it, and if someone encourages me to drink a beer or invites me for a pint, I probably will (especially if he's a legend of the the beer blogging scene). Thirdly... Well... live for the day.

I remember a while back in my interview from the Beer Wench that I mentioned that If I could work for any brewery in the world it would be Russian River. Well this isn't strictly true. There are a long list of breweries I would love to work for and RR are in that list and I had to pick one as I didn't have all night to fill in the questionnaire. Plus Russian River make some really interesting sounding beers which I have never tried (until now) a lot of them barrel aged and deliberately infected with specific wild yeast of bacterial strains.

This particular barrel aged beer (as it says) has been aged 6 months in current fruit holding Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. The alcohol content is 10% and the barrels were deliberately infected with Brettanomyces, Saccharomyces, Pediococcus and Lactobacillus. At Heriot-Watt they teach you all about how nasty these organisms can be to your average mass produced session beer so this is crazy stuff indeed.

Anyway, time for the tasting. Given the occasion I thought it would be great to share a few samples around since we were in the company of some of the wife's work associates. I don't really like drinking great beer alone, I prefer having it with someone else. Now for the review...

My first impressions of this beer was  'it's basically kind of like a Lambic', but with a bit of caramel malt influence that really makes it interesting. At first the carbonation is lively, and the character of the beer a bit forward. But giving it a bit of time the aromas emerge more defined. Red grape, berry fruit and a brandy like sweetness. On the palate you get lots of sourness countered by candy sugar and caramelised malt, subtle alcohols and malt depth with complex red grape and berry fruit. The 10% alcohol is well hidden, making it quite elegant.

Overall I would say a good beer. But to be honest, it did fall short of my incredibly high expectations. A good beer, but not exceptional. Mind, if your in the mood for a good sour beer, it's great, but it's not one of those beers that you find are instantly lovable, like an oatmeal stout. It's complex, and takes a bit of time to understand and come to terms with, like some women or progressive metal albums I have known in the past. Once you get into it, you notice it is quite a complex beer, its deep, and that's it's strength.

Maybe I was just not in the right mood and moment but to be honest, the reason I'm happy I opened this beer is because originally I was planning to open it Christmas day. But now I know what it's like I'm happy that I will be exchanging it for some delicious seasonal beers instead, because despite the hype it really isn't that much to rave about, but still interesting.


Leigh said...

Beer aside - Congrats on the old wedding anniversary!

Rob said...

Cheers Leigh

Mark said...

Happy anniversary! One down...

I opened one of these a few weeks ago - I also drank the beer at the brewery earlier this year - and I think it's very good. It's big and bold and there's so much flavour in there, but it's one to share and talk about. I do prefer Temptation and Supplication (both are lower abv and drier) but this is still a nice beer.

I wish I had more Russian River in my life. A constant tap of Pliny and Temptation would leave me very happy...

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