Style: Sour Beer / Lambic
Some beer is almost too good to review. Sometimes I will crack a bottle of beer and think, "I just want to sit here and enjoy this. Why do I do this to myself?" Fortunately for you, Dear Reader, I (usually) persevere in the name of blogging.
While I've tried a number of Russian River's other sours, Beatification is the first sour of theirs that I've had the chance to review. The bottle, a generous gift from my generous friend Travis, is from January 2012, so it's got a little bit of age on it — not even counting the fact that Beatification is already a blend of 8 month to 24 month old beer. Russian River's sours, in my experience, have a very bright, very clear, lemon-forward sourness, a very special sort of "pucker" that's incredibly drinkable while still leaving room for background complexities. Beatification is all that and more: extra funk, extra tart, extra levels of complex, over-ripe fruit notes dripping through the background. I've never used the word "tangy" to describe a beer before, but suddenly, it seems incredibly apt. The pucker starts halfway through the mouthfeel and clenches you for a full minute afterward, intertwined with a super-dry, tannin character in the finish that gives the beer a more earthy, gritty character. Beatification is as light and zippy as most pale sours, yet almost equally aggressive in its funk.
The fruit character starts out, and ends, with ripe notes of tart pear, white grapes, lemon, grapefruit and cider, but the mouthfeel is like sucking the juice out of some other-worldy ambrosia. How anyone can not instantly fall in love with sours after trying a beer like this is beyond me. It's certainly intense — more biting and acidic than many other sours — but never to the point where the flavor seems washed-out, or unbalanced. This beer is crammed full of character; you want to hold it in your mouth until it just evaporates. And then you anxiously check your glass and wish there was more of it.
You guys should totally keep your eye on this Russian River brewery. I'm calling it now: they're going places.
Availability: Apparently pretty hard to get? 375 ml "Vinnie" bottles.