Thursday, September 9, 2010

Russian River Consecration

I used to think that brewers aging their beer in wine barrels was a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, and that the brewers were suffering from wine envy.  Of course I reached those conclusions without actually trying a wine barrel-aged beer.  I have now had several barrel-aged beers and they were good.   In the case of Russian River's Consecration, it was sublime.  It is one of the best beers I have had this year.

Consecration, which is aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, is wine-like in its aroma, but it's clearly not wine, and the first taste lets you know that the brewers were not trying to make it taste like wine.  It is in its own orbit at the outer limits of the beer universe.   The beer was in a corked, 375 ml bottle.  The beer poured with small, thin white foam that quickly disappeared, leaving a clear, deep orange colored beer.  It is a remarkably smooth beer, despite its complexity and forward sour presence.  The finish is hops and alcohol, with the alcohol becoming more prominent as the beer warms, but you'd still be hard pressed to guess the beer had a 10% abv. 

Consecration is delicious.  This is a grown-up, barrel-aged sour and if you have never had a sour, you may need time to let it grow on you.  It is worth the effort.  It is now my sour benchmark, and I'll judge all subsequent sours and barrel-aged beers against it.  For what it's worth, Consecration is ranked thirty-third on BeerAdocate's Top Beers on the Plant list.

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