Russian River Damnation – Belgian Strong Pale Ale – ABV: 7.00% – 7.75% – IBU: Not sure. Probably around 20.
For the second week in a row I can thank my good friend the doctor in California for another high quality brew from Russian River Brewing. Thank you, Doctor Stefon. You really know how to treat your patients with TLC. Your beer prescriptions have made me a healthier, happier man.
“Damnation” is a fairly simple and straightforward Belgian ale, as most are. These are somewhat similar to the Belgian tripels, but a little less complex. Duvel is considered the golden standard in this style, and I recommend it to anyone, but I enjoyed the flavor of Damnation a bit more. It is a delicious and classy brew. This is not a party beer. This is not a “by the pool” beer. This beer makes me want to sit up straight and play chess, or drink it with a candlelit dinner including lobster and scallop fettuccini alfredo. It only loses points on its alcohol content. This style ranges from 7% – 12%, and at around 7% Damnation is a bit of a lightweight.
Damnation is an orange/gold, opaque, beautiful beer. The head is strong and will build up with a mild pour, so be careful with this mysterious cat. It is foamy, bone white, and gently settles down to a one-finger thickness and remains so for a quite a while. The aroma is faint, but delightful as it stings the nose with spiciness, booze, and a tad of sweetness.
Clove, pineapple, grapefruit, sugary oatmeal, mild ester, and a slight bitterness are what this ale has in store for your taste buds. The mouth-feel is a strange, lively, pleasing combination of cream and tickling carbonation. The lacing is fairly thick, splattered, and cool to look at. This ale is all about grace and style. I almost can hear Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” as I sip this beer. The aftertaste retains some of the sweetness and clove, and also adds buttery biscuit and finishes with a rather surprisingly strong degree of bitterness.
This is not my favorite style of ale (I prefer the complexity and strength of tripels), but the flavor and texture is as good as it gets for a Belgian strong pale ale. I only wish it had a little more muscle to it. Then, instead of “Madame Butterfly” I might hear Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci”. You probably think I’m some sort of snobby prick with my opera references, don’t you? If so, you can have a nice tall tulip glass of FUCK OFF. Opera rules, and the next person who tells me I’m creepy for listening to it while I do naked push-ups is going to end up a dismembered corpse in my crawlspace (just kidding, United States FBI).