809: Temptation

809 - TemptationName: Temptation
Brewery: Russian River Brewing Company
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Santa Rosa, California
Style: American Wild Ale
Alcohol Content (ABV): 7.2%
First Brewed: 2000
Price: $15.99

Tasting Notes
Golden in the glass, with an abundance of tight bubbles. Initial white grape and citrus (particularly pineapple) aromas are followed by earthy, musty, wild notes. More of the same on the palate: orchard fruits blending with grapes, oak, and vanilla on the fore. Crisp, acidic finish.

Ricky’s Thoughts

I have to thank Jeff Bull for this beer. He actually sent us the final three Russian River beers on our list. We sort of lucked into the other one, finding the Pliny the Elder at a small bottle shop when we were in San Diego for Thanksgiving. I wasn’t impressed with that, for an IPA, and sat down with a bottle of Blind Pig last night. Also, thanks to Jeff. It was a good trade, and I am excited to drink all of these “-ation” beers. Oh, and speaking of the Blind Pig… cool story behind the name/meaning. The beer smells WAY better than it tastes, but is still better than Pliny in my opinion.

Today we are drinking the Temptation, our first in this line of beers. I was excited until I read, “Brettanomyces”. I HATE that yeast strain. I mean, HATE with a passion. Every beer I have had that uses that wild yeast has tastes the same. But, words like, “pineapple”, and, “citrus” are helping me stay positive about this bottle. If nothing else, it’s a beer from a good brewing company with a lot of history. Time to drink. Cheers!

In the Glass: If I didn’t know any better, I would think this was a wheat beer. An unfiltered wheat beer, but a wheat beer nonetheless. It pours a thin pale yellow in the glass, and has a nice white head on top. The head is more impressive than I originally would have guessed. I will say, as I was pouring this, I thought I could smell some nice wine notes… but I don’t want to get excited, as I am sure the yeast will overpower and spoil this beer for me.

Nose: Whoa, did NOT expect that. It smells like a sour. I mean, more sour than a typical sour. I am getting, toward the finish, some drying notes that are coming from the barrel that this beer was aged in. Considering the cost and the story behind this entire series, I am stoked to see what this tastes like. Man… what a great aroma. The bros on BeerAdvocate rate this beer 100… and that has got to be rare from them. They don’t ever give a beer that high of a rating.

Flavor: Oh. My. Goodness. That is SO sour. I mean, lip sucking face sucking sour. I did NOT see that coming at all. But I am glad that it did, as I am a big fan of that style. Considering I hate the Brettanomyces yeast strain, I expected this to be pale in comparison. I am not getting much of the wine flavors that I expected to find, but I am sure they are hidden behind the sheer sourness this bottle is presenting. I wasn’t a big fan of Russian River until this beer… and that sip has me wanting to take a trip to California!

Mouthfeel: There are a few bubbles dancing across my tongue as I swallow, but not too many. It’s not enough to really notice because of how simply sour this beer is. I am curious to see what Sheryl thinks… I am not sure she likes that style. I hope, because this is amazing! As you finish, a drying flavor would be nice, and the sour flavors are quickly gone… but the mouthfeel is, quite honestly, pretty boring. I am focused on the flavor.

Aftertaste: The sour sticks around for a few minutes, but not as long as I would like. That might actually be a typical experience with sour beers… I haven’t had a sour beer that the aftertaste has lasted more than a few seconds. People are always asking me, “What is your favorite sour beer?” That is tough for me, because there aren’t a lot of these out there and the style is not popular among domestic brewing companies. But if I had to pick, from this moment forward, I will be picking this one!

Why can’t Russian River ship their beers to me? I want more of this! We have two more bottles from the “-ation” series in the fridge. Can’t wait to see what those taste like. I now see why the bros rated this so high. Bravo, Russian River. Cheers!

Temptation – The bottle says: “temp-ta-tion, n 1. something that seduces or has the quality to seduce. 2. the desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid.”

“Is it beer, or is it wine? ‘Aged in French oak wine barrels with distinct characteristics of fruit and subtle oak’ sounds more like a description of wine than beer. But of course, Temptation is indeed beer. Actually, Temptation is a blonde ale, after the primary fermentation it is aged in used French oak Chardonnay barrels. Flavors of wine and oak absorb into the brew throughout the barrel aging. During this time, a secondary fermentation occurs using a yeast street disliked by most brewers and winemakers called Brettanomyces. The addition of Brett along with two good bacteria gives Temptation intriguing characteristics and pleasant sourness.”

“Temptation is refermented in the bottle to create carbonation – a process commonly used to make fine Champagne and sparkling wine. Spent yeast forms a thin layer of sediment in the bottle, adding yet another later of complexity and flavors. Pour slowly as to allow the natural yeast sediment to remain in the bottle.”

Oh, by the way… they use Comic Sans on the label. Not sure why… but I did notice that!

Rating: 5/5 (Again, I wish I could go higher! This beer is fantastic.)

Sheryl’s Thoughts

I’m in the mood for a good beer today, so I hope this one doesn’t disappoint.  I’m not sure what kind it is, but let’s check it out.  It looks kind of like a wheat beer in the glass.  It’s a golden yellow color, and looks really thick – thicker than most wheat beers, honestly.  There are a few tiny bubbles floating to the top, so maybe it’s more carbonated than a wheat beer.  The beer had quite a bit of head when Ricky poured it out, but I’ve let it sit for a while, and most of that is gone now.  It smells kind of spicy, not really like a wheat beer at all, so it must be something else.  (I know, I am pretty horrible at telling what kind of beer we are drinking just by looking at it or smelling it, right?)  It does seem to have some kind of citrus smell to it as well.  Guess it time to take that first taste.

Wow.  This beer is extremely sour.  That is by far the first thing that hits you when you take a sip.  It’s like drinking a liquid Lemonhead.  You remember, those candies that you had when you were a kid?  That’s pretty much exactly what this beer makes me think of.  It’s such a sour taste with that first drink that I’m almost afraid to take another one.  It doesn’t taste very carbonated at all, but it’s hard to taste much past the sour.  If you are a fan of sours, definitely give this a try.  We recently started trying to introduce a friend of ours here to the world of craft beer, and his tastes seem completely unlike mine (he hates porters and stouts) but more like Ricky’s (who loves IPAs and sours).  I think he would definitely like this one.  And while I actually like sours, this one is just too sour for me.  It’s almost undrinkable for my palate, but I bet Ricky loves it.  Oh well, that’s the thing about craft beer – to each his own, because there’s always something for everyone.

Rating: 2/5

808 bottles of beer on the wall…

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