Hello fellow Beer Junkies! Our friend Frank brought us some excellent beers from his trip to California. He helps keep our Russian River addiction at bay, and for that we are thankful. For this tasting, we had the following beers:
- Mind Circus – Russian River
- Blind Pig – Russian River
- Jannemie Saison – Russian River
- Pliny the Elder – Russian River
- Blueberry Cobbler – Catawba Brewing
- Trappist Westvleteren 12
Mind Circus Russian River – 7% ABV
Russian River never disappoints, and Mind Circus is no exception. It is a hazy IPA coming in at 7% abv. It has a beautiful golden color with nice haze. The citrus and tropical notes dominate the aroma, with hints of mango, pineapple, and grapes. The flavor is very similar with citrusy notes of pineapple, mango, tropical fruit, and a slight hint of grass. It has the nice, mild bitterness you want with the use of Nelson and Strata hops. Overall, it is an above average hazy IPA that we would both drink again.
Overall: 4 / 5
Bling Pig Russian River – 6.25% ABV
Blind Pig is another one of Russian RIver’s well known IPA’s. West Coast IPA’s are not our favorite, but this one is solid for the style. It has a brilliant clear gold color with a white head and good retention. Bling Pig is very hoppy, with a funky, citrusy aroma. There are strong piney and fruity characteristics in the flavor with a dry, bitter finish. It is medium bodied with nice carbonation. Overall, it is a solid beer but we think it tends to get rated higher due to its reputation and exclusivity.
Overall: 3.67 / 5
Jannemie Saison Russian River – 5.9% ABV
Next up, the Jannemie Saison is made using a farmhouse yeast and finished with adding Brettanomyces. There was a little bit of haze in this beer and it had a straw-like color. It was definitely funky and spicy, with unmistakable pepper. Along with the spice were floral and fruity notes. It had a dry finish, but overall was pretty mild for a Brett. We enjoyed our sample, but would probably not have this one again.
Overall: 3.33 / 5
Pliny the Elder Russian River – 8% ABV
There are not many beers as well known as this one, and for good reason. Even though we are not the biggest IPA fans, as stated above, we always appreciate a good one when we have it. Pliny is a DIPA that uses Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops. Pliny the Elder has a nice malt character that balances nicely with the citrusy, piney, and floral hop characteristics. It does not have an overpowering bitterness, but plenty to counteract the malt sweetness. We do think it is slightly overrated, but it is one of those beers that can back up its reputation. If you come across this beer, we recommend you try it. Even if it’s for no other reason than to say you tried Pliny the Elder.
Overall: 4.08/ 5
Blueberry Cobbler Catawba Brewing – 5.8% ABV
Switching it up from our Russian River lineup, the next beer we had was the Blueberry Cobbler Smoothie Sour from Catawba Brewing. This beer is part of their Queen City Series, which is a part of their small batch program that is only released at their Charlotte tasting room. Right away it had a beautiful red color and a very sweet aroma. It has lactose, cinnamon, blueberry, and vanilla, and they managed to get every flavor to come through. There a thick, smoothie-like mouthfeel with a strong berry flavor. It also has a graham cracker crust flavor on the finish, which we love. There is plenty of fruit added to this beer at 50 pounds per barrel. If you like smoothie sours and manage to find this beer, we highly recommend you try it.
Overall: 4.25 / 5
Trappist Westvleteren 12 – 10.2% ABV
There are not many beers that we can, without hesitation, give the highest rating to. Trappist Westvleteren 12 is fantastic in every regard. Right away, the color is a beautiful dark amber with a white head. The aroma is sweet with notes of dates, raisins, and plums. The flavor is deep and rich with notes of figs, raisins, and sweet bread, with some light caramel and chocolate. The richness is nicely balanced with a mild bitterness, and is insanely smooth at 10.2% abv. Unfortunately, this beer is very difficult to get. You can only get it from the brewery itself in Belgium, and you must register in advance for the sales moments. They sell out fast, and the maximum you can get at each sales moment is 3 crates of beer. If you come across this beer either in Belgium, or through a beer snob friend like we did, I cannot recommend it enough.
Overall: 5 / 5