Thursday, June 24, 2010

359. Russian River Temptation

temp-ta-tion, n. 1. something that seduces or has the quality to seduce. 2. the desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid.

Our third beer from Russian River, and since this one starts with a definition, you know it has to be good. Plus, unlike the last two beers (Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig), which emphatically warned us on the label to not age the beers, this one is in a different category. Go oak-aged wild beers!

Pouring a brilliant straw, Temptation has a bright, tart, and minerally nose with possibly some light fruitiness—something like a light yellow raisin—and a light white head that quickly disappears. The front is dry and tart, moving into a lightly sour profile in the middle with a bunch of vitamin C tablet tartness—the tartness actually put a wisp of perspiration across my cheeks. There is also just a bit of brettanomyces funk hidden in the tartness of the middle. The finish is dry, minerally—almost a bit chalky— and rather clean. Temptation has light body with a puckering and dry mouthfeel across the profile; the carbonation is bright and effervescent on the tongue. Coupled with the oak and citric tartness, the puckering factor on this beer is off the charts—see my previous note about my flushed cheeks. As well, this beer has a high level of attenuation—there is not much in the body in the way of anything fermentable. At the same time, this beer is damn good; the dryness is well balanced, and the sour tartness makes it refreshing and crisp. While this is not the funkiest or sourest beer we’ve come across, the strength is in the subtlety and smoothness—there is not a hint of alcohol, and the brightness of the beer makes it very, very quaffable. If it weren’t so damn expensive and hard to procure, this would be an excellent beer to introduce people to the possibilities of barrel-aged wild ales; as is it is still something to hang onto for that special occasion.

From the bottle: “Is it beer, or is it wine? ‘Aged in French oak wine barrels with distinct characteristics of fruit and subtle oak’ sounds more like a description of wine than beer. Actually, Temptation is a blonde ale, after the primary fermentation it is aged in used French oak chardonnay barrels. Flavors of wine and oak absorb into the brew throughout the barrel aging. During this time, secondary fermentation occurs using a yeast strain disliked by most brewers and winemakers called Brettanomyces. The addition of ‘Brett’ gives Temptation intriguing characteristics and a pleasant sourness. Temptation is refermented in this bottle to create carbonation – a process commonly used to make fine champagne and sparkling wine. Spent yeast forms a thin layer of sediment in the bottle, adding yet another layer of complexity and flavor. Pour slowly as to allow the natural yeast sediment to remain in the bottle.”

ABV: 7.25%
OG: 1.062
IBU: 27
Batch: 004X3
Brewed: 5/25/2008
Bottled: 6/2/2009
Primary Yeast: Abbey Ale
Conditioning Yeast: Rockpile & Brett Wyeast 3789 Blend


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