I recently had a chance to revisit Russian River Brewing when some friends and I decided to take a trip to Northern California to visit a few breweries. For those of you who are not familiar with the Russian River name, they brew such popular craft beers as Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Blind Pig, Beatification, Consecration, Supplication and Sanctification. In the craft brewing world they are perhaps the most highly regarded US brewery and for good reason.
In my opinion what makes Russian River so great is their uncompromising commitment to making the best craft beer possible. What I just stated above sounds like something you would read on any brewery’s marketing material, but in this case I truly feel that that the statement is true and deserved. Consider this, Russian River servers up flights of beer that consist of up to 16 beers on tap. As you make your way through the overwhelming diversity of styles and variations, in addition to becoming intoxicated you are awe struck at how one brewery could master so many styles. Not one of their beers are good, they are all either great or exceptional. Sure, you may not be a fan of a few of the styles, but it is still a great beer for that type. One of my friends ordered a porter for his second beer and I remember thinking, you are at Russian River, home of the best IPA’s and Sours in North America, why in the world did you just order a porter. So I asked him if I could try it before I passed judgement on his sanity and I was shocked by how fantastic it was. If they make mistakes, they certainly do not serve the questionable beer to their customers. I have never received a beer from them that was cloudy when it should have been clear, a beer that was still when it should have been carbonated, a beer that was bitter when it should have been subtle or a wild ale that was more skunk than funk. That is what I mean when I say that they do not compromise when it comes to their beer.
If you are ever in the Santa Rosa area and love beer, you really owe it to yourself to stop by the Russian River Brewing Company. There will be more than likely be a wait, parking will probably be difficult to find and the bar will probably be crowded, but it will all be worth it!