Ahhh… a bitter sweet (and sour) moment. The last of the Russian River is finally uncorked. This guy has been sitting in the fridge for over a year, and it was calling my name. After a short hike, a lawn mowing, and watching the Open, it needed to be done. Russian River, out of foggy northern California, brings us one of their many sours, barrel aged for up to 8 months is Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, called Consecration. SPOILER ALERT: A fitting name as I would devout myself, or sacrifice many things for this beer. Let’s see how it stacks up. The numbers:
Appearance: Dark amber, brownish red in color. Head was off white (what I remember of it at least) because it dissipated quickly (10% ABV will do that to any brew). Looks good and has some character as some sediment settled at the bottom of the glass. (I love bottle fermented brews!)
Smell: Chocolate winey, acidic, tannins, raisins, currants, figs, a little oak.
Taste: Here we go! Good Lord. I’m middle school giddy about this… it’s sooOOoOoOOooooO gooD!! It hits you with a very sour kick up front and tastes shockingly similar to a rich red wine (I guess it’s not that shocking). I’m sure the brettanomyces and lactobacillus used in making the brew adds to the sourness of the beer, however the orange-peely-ness of the brett and the sour yogart taste of the lacto really don’t stand out (which is a hard thing for any beer to accomplish). The main sourness comes from the oak and the wine. The smells of the currants and the other dark fruits is really blurry in the brew, I cannot seem to find it over the aggressive wine taste of the beer. After 1/4 way through you get somewhat used to the sourness of the beer and the finish really stands out. It finishes with a rich, oaky, red wine kick with the slightest taste of a dark pitted black olive. It leaves an oily finish on the back of the tongue, which is cleaver (and cruel) because it make you yearn for another sip once after you just guzzled. The only presence of the 10% alcohol is in the back of the throat, which pleasantly warms you until the stomach.
This is a really smooth, really well done beer. I had a similar tasting brew not too long ago which definitely had red wine hints, however the off flavors of propane and basement really doomed it. Consecration has no sign of such off flavors at all. Big brother ordered this fresh from the brewery over a year ago and it tasted just as perky as I drank it present day. I was worried that it might loose carbonation after aging for so long, but not to worry; mouthfeel was full bodied and perfectly carbonated. There are really no knocks I can give from this beer. If you like sours or Cab, then get your ass to California to get your hands on this. If you see it online, buy as many as you can, however after searching for it for a half hour on the web, that is a monumental challenge.
Overall: The brew gets and A+, no doubts about it. It joins Westvleteren 12, Russian River Supplication, and Lady of the Woods as my top favorite beers of all time. Hall of famer for sure. It’s really smart of Russian River to get some of their brews in wine barrels; they taste so good and I’m sure that’s because of its location. Nappa wine barrels to age some of the best beers in the world in? A more successful combo than Aikman to Irvan, Salt ‘n’ Peppa, and Chad Johnson and marriage counseling. Looks like I’ll have to make another trip out west soon.