Beer Wednesday: Damnation by Russian River

I recently tried Damnation by Russian River with our friend Natalie of Meeting Lunch (a sustainable food blog) and enjoyed it. Russian River labels Damnation as a "golden ale" and I see it described by ratebeer as a Belgian Strong Ale and by Beer Advocate as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. It's 7% ABV so strong is a good descriptor; it's also got yeast in it (it's a cork top) so I can see how it's Belgian. It's also golden. I vote for Belgian Strong Golden Ale.

I love how the Damnation smells. My roommate nailed it with banana bread - tons of banana bread. There's also a floral component (hibiscus? which is an underrated flower by the way) and a tropical component (couldn't put my finger on this... pineapple or papaya or guava) on the nose. It also displays a lot of effervescence on the nose, comparable to champagne as Natalie pointed out. Smells really interesting and exotic, like a really delicious candle you might buy from Bath & Body Works.

Damnation surprised my palate right away by having a very dry finish. I also felt a yeasty, bready component that coated my tongue. Between that and the slightly overbearing alcohol on the finish, I thought Damnation was a little awkward tasting. That was my first impression. But after repeated tastings I noticed more of the complex and very interesting flavor, especially in the initial taste through the mid-palate transition.

It tastes a little like just-barely-ripe pineapple, with good acidity. There is also an undeniable citrus component (grapefruit?) and a tinge of sourness that I really enjoy. However, after the mid-palate my tastebuds get overwhelmed by the finish like I said above.

At 7% ABV this is a unique and interesting beer. I definitely enjoyed it, although it's far from a session beer for my palate. I think I paid something like $5.49 for a 330mL bottle, which isn't cheap but is worth it if you want to try an interesting beer style. I'll recommend it for that reason.


  1. Wow, I totally agree with the barely-ripe pineapple description. There is a sourness to Damnation, but I thought it was well suited to the body. I found the nose more interesting than the actual flavor. Definitely the most effervescent beer I have had in recent memory.

  2. Agree about the nose being the most interesting part.

    Looking back on it, that sourness you describe was probably the standout feature of the beer. You don't see sour a lot, and when you do it's rarely done as well as Damnation did it. I am a fan from a "wow that's interesting" perspective.

  3. A lot of what you say holds true for RRBC's Consecration. I have described it to several of my friends (all of who know their beers) as "changing my concept of what beer can taste like"

    What sticks with me is the citrus and the sourness. I think Natalie nailed it with the champagne comparison. Might Russian River be challenging Miller Brewing for having the "champagne of beers"?

    Royce, I like this column. But tread lightly with the Bath and Body Works references, for everyone's sake.

  4. By the way, I definitely had to put "champagne of beers" in the Google before finding out/remembering who holds that claim.

    Fail or not?

  5. Fail

    MP, I have in my fridge a bottle of Russian River Consecration. Apparently each batch is different; I have batch #3. Batch #4 was also on the shelf so I'll have to try that one once I try this one.

    So you have had the Damnation also? Are you a Russian River aficionado? How come you don't participate in Beer Wednesday more if you're a fan of the column? How dare you call out my B&BW reference? So many questions

  6. I also Googled the phrase, hoping to make a point that it hasn't been used as a marketing slogan in the last decade.

    Unfortunately (for both my point and their marketing team), it is currently on every bottle's label.

    I vote fail.

  7. So, what you're saying is, I should be drinking Miller often enough to see it on every bottle? Sounds like a six-pack of fail to me.

    Have not had the Damnation, so I can't compare. I wouldn't consider myself an aficionado of anything beer-related, thus the lack of Beer Wednesdays for me. Dropped some knowledge on this one and the Kona Brewing Company, though.