Damnation Batch 23 is the latest periodical release of the ramped up version of Russian River's year-round Damnation. Damnation is a Belgian Strong Ale and Batch 23 is Damnation on steroids. Strong is the key word, as it has an 11% abv compared to Damnation's 7% abv. Batch 23 is scary smooth, the most drinkable "big" beer I have had in recent memory. It is yeasty and fruity at the front, with a balancing hop bitter finish. It is a rich, full-bodied beer. As you can see in the attached picture, Batch 23 is highly carbonated, and the intense bubbles give the beer a welcome creaminess. It is worth finding this infrequently released beer.
I am continuing my quest for good sours. As noted in the previous blog post, I went to Pizza Port Ocean Beach's sour and rare bottle night as part of San Diego Beer Week last Friday. I stayed long enough to pick up my food and drink an Allagash Confluence. Confluence made the fifteen minute wait in line seem short. As I took my first taste of this wild American ale, the roar in Pizza Port faded and I heard a chorus of angels sing, "Hallelujah." Confluence is an excellent sour. It helped cement my preferred flavor profile for sour beers - strong sour initially and through the middle followed by increased bitterness, and minimal sweetness all around. Confluence's yeast gave it a funky sour flavor, and it had a nice hoppy bite in the finish. There was a faint note of sweetness that served to balance, not distract, and it is in no way a sweet beer. Too much sweetness diminishes a sour beer. Confluence had a strong body that supported its complexity. I would have had liked more time to savor this distinct beer. Like with Batch 23, you'll be doing yourself a favor trying Confluence.