Russian River Consecration – American Wild Ale – 10.0% ABV
There are two things in life that make me one sour son-of-a-bitch. The first and most prominent is that I am a Purdue football fan. If I shaved all three of my cats and counted each individual cat hair I would come up with a number almost as high as the amount of reasons why my beloved Boilermakers suck a canyon full of throbbing hard monkey boners. Yes, I have three cats, so fuck off and die you presumptuous assholes. The second thing that sours me is that Russian River does not distribute in Chicago (nor did they distribute in Atlanta when I lived there). They have a reputation for being one of the finest producers of high quality craft beer in the nation. So they have been on my radar for a long time. And speaking of being sour, Russian River’s “Consecration” is a sour ale. I admit I do not like sour ales particularly, or sour anything in fact. I refuse to eat sour candies. I make a finger-crucifix at the sight of vinegar. If Olga Kurylenko’s vagina tasted like a lemon rind I would hesitate for AT LEAST 1.5 seconds before going down on her. So, imagine my surprise when I enjoyed (more than I anticipated) Consecration. It is a Belgian-style American wild ale brewed with currants, and aged in American oak cabernet sauvignon barrels. Doesn’t that sound delightful? It is, if you’re prepared for the strange, funky, sour flavor of a wild ale.
How did I get a Russian River selection here in Chicago? Fortunately for me, I have a friend in California who was kind enough to send me some of their selections in the mail. Included in my care package of beer was a “to-do” list, which directed me to “drink beer”, “avoid being a fucking pussy”, and “recycle responsibly”. My friend is a doctor. And who am I to disobey a doctor’s orders? I gleefully untwisted the cage and popped the cork off my bottle of Consecration.
The color of the beer is not very pretty, but not bad. It is cloudy, maple brown with a reddish hue. A thick head builds quickly and dies quickly. It contains large, animated bubbles like a hot tub. This beer has a very high amount of carbonation and sounds like a waterfall, hissing noticeably throughout most of the drinking experience. The aroma is noticeably sour and funky with the odor of sour grapes, currant, tobacco, and yeasty beer. It’s quite strong and interesting. Between the aroma, the lively bubbles, the loud hiss of the carbonation, and the heavy-duty and elegantly decorated bottle the overall presentation of this beer is regal, haute, and memorable.
The flavor, in case you haven’t guessed, is overwhelmingly sour. The tongue’s “sour” senses are on the sides, toward the back of the mouth, and this beer will remind you of that for sure. It made me salivate. To me that was slightly unpleasant but fortunately this beer has a lot more in store than just sourness. It has a dry, red wine flavor with a slight hint of oak, yeast, funk, and malt. Swirling within all of this is a sweet and spicy berry flavor. It feels very watery and wet in the mouth, but leaves stickiness behind. The carbonation is intense and loose, making it go down like champagne. After the beer is halfway finished the carbonation calms down a bit and the beer becomes creamier, which I really like. Since the head dies almost instantly there is no foamy lacing; however it does contain a noticeable gooey, glassy, lacing that is fun to watch slide down the glass like a wacky wall-walker. Remember those things? They were great! Time to do some shopping on eBay…
And here is where this beer really impresses me: the aftertaste. The sour sensation dies down and leaves a fresh French bread flavor. Then, it opens up for a sweet candied berry flavor. It is sweet and tart like strawberries. It’s amazing. Letting the aftertaste do the work is actually an experience in itself just as much as the actual drinking. I never had a beer with such personality in its aftertaste.
I hate to end this review on a sour note, but this is a sour beer, so suck it and pucker up. It is extremely expensive. One 12-ounce bottle is approximately US$11. For me, it’s not worth the price. But if you are a lover of sours then I wouldn’t hesitate to give this one a chance. I’ve had a few sours, but not many (because they do not agree with my palate). But I can say that this is one damned stellar brew. If not for the price tag I actually would drink this again… probably while I watch the Purdue football team getting fucked across their home field like Jodie Foster on a pinball machine.
Overall: 7/10 (I just don’t like sours so to me this is an above average beer in flavor, but gets a bonus point for its layers, the amazing aftertaste, and the presentation)