|Russian River Brewing Company
725 4th Street | Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Russian River Brewing Company was originally owned by Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville, California. In 2003, Korbel offered the rights to the brand to the brewmaster, Vinnie Cilurzo and his wife Natalie.
In April 2004, Vinnie and Natalie reopened Russian River as a brewpub in Santa Rosa, CA. In 2008, they opened a production brewery about a mile from the brewpub, increasing production from 3,000 barrels to 14,000 barrels annually. While demand continues to be greater than the supply, Russian River focuses on making better beer, not more beer.
In February 2015, Russian River installed a new 4 vessel 50-barrel brewhouse from AAA Metal Fabrication in Oregon. While the new system was being installed, brewing was halted for a month. In the meantime, Firestone Walker Brewing Company offered to brew Pliny the Elder to fulfill the draft accounts.
Russian River Brewing Company focuses on traditional aggressively hopped California style ales, Belgian inspired ales, and barrel aged beers. During my second visit to the brewpub in Santa Rosa, I sat at the bar and enjoyed samples of the brews on tap.
- O.V.L. Stout – 4.4% ABV Dry Irish Stout on Nitro
- Aud Blonde – 4.5% ABV Blonde Ale
- Gaffers – 4.5% ABV English Pale Ale
- Great Beer Great Wine – 4.75% ABV Wine Makers Session
- S.T.S. Pilsner – 5.3% ABV Pilsner
- Hop 2 It – Tardif – 5.79% ABV Single Hop Pale Ale
- Hop 2 It – Comet – 5.8% ABV Single Hop Pale Ale
- Row 2, Hill 56 – 5.8% ABV Simcoe Hop Pale Ale
- Russian River Porter – 5.75% ABV Robust Porter
- Ales 4 A.L.S – 5.75% ABV India Pale Ale
- Pliny the Elder – 8.0% ABV Double IPA
Belgian Ales/Barrel Aged Beers
- Saison Blonde – 4.3% ABV Saison
- Redemption – 4.8% ABV Blonde Ale
- Erudition – 4.8% ABV Hoppy Farmhouse
- Perdition – 6.1% ABV Biere de Sonoma
- Benediction – 6.25% ABV Abbey Double
- Damnation – 7.25% ABV Strong Golden
- Sanctification – 6.75% ABV 100% Brett Fermented
- Supplication – 7.0% ABV Brown Sour Aged in Pinot Noir Barrels
- Consecration – 10.0% ABV Dark Sour Aged in Cabernet Barrels
It should be no surprise that I enjoyed every beer at Russian River, but I’ll attempt to mention some highlights.
Consecration has always been one of my favorites. The Dark Ale is aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from local wineries for 4 to 8 months with black currants, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus. This complex brew offers rich flavors of chocolate truffle, spice, tobacco, currants, and a bit of Cabernet.
Supplication is another delicious sour from Russian River. The Brown Ale is aged in Pinot Noir barrels from local Sonoma County wineries for about 12 months with sour cherries, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus. Flavors from the cherries, Pinot Noir and oak balance with a little funk from the brett.
The Aud Blonde impressed, too. The easy drinking, low alcohol brew is grapefruity, nutty, and dry. Russian River Porter is full-bodied and dry with clove spice, chocolate and roasted malt notes.
And of course the rock star of the board, Pliny the Elder is brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops offering fresh hop aroma of floral, citrus, and pine. The brew is named after Pliny, the man, who lived during the first century. He is known for either creating or at least writing about Lupus Salictarius, or hops, now known as Humulus Lupulus.
The California Ales can be purchased in pints, half pints, and pitchers. The Belgian Ales/Barrel Aged Beers can be purchased in goblets. A full sampler includes every beer on tap, or you can opt for the California Ales sampler or Belgian Ales/Barrel Aged Beers sampler.
Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig, STS Pilsner, Redemption, Damnation, Supplication, and Consecration were all available in bottles to go. All beers, except for the sours, are available in Russian River branded growlers to go.
Russian River beers can be found in California, Oregon, and Colorado. Thanks to local distributor Origlio Beverage, Russian River brews can also be found in Philadelphia, PA.
The Russian River brewpub is open daily from 11AM to midnight. Last call is at 11:30PM, and the kitchen closes at 11PM. What are you waiting for? Go!