Russian River Brewing is probably one of the hottest names in the American craft brewing scene. Vinnie Cilurzo has reached the status of a cult personality mainly because of his double IPA, Pliny the Elder. This beer, which is next to impossible to find, has become the holy grail for many beer enthusiasts, almost to the point of idiocy. While it is a truly fantastic beer, I personally think Russian River’s real brewing prowess can found in their sour beers. Fortunately for me, the brewery continues to dedicate more space and time to their barrel-aging and sour programs. They’ve stated repeatedly that they don’t wish to become the “Pliny the Elder Brewing Company.”
Sanctification may be the most experimental of their experimental beers. It’s 100% fermented with the wild yeast strain Brettanomyces, both primary and secondary. Brettanomyces is a very slow fermenter. As far as I can find, I don’t believe this beer has seen any wood time. To keep other forms of yeast/bacteria from contaminating the beer, they fermented it entirely in stainless steel.
Appearance: A clear, bright, pale straw with a thick, white head filled with tiny bubbles. Constant, tight streamers of tiny bubbles (This is a sign of quality bottle condition often associated with better sparkling wines and Champagnes).
Aroma: sour, funky, light notes of “barnyard,” lemon zest.
Taste: sour, acidic, tart, melon, tart apples. The mouth-feel is light, and refreshing. The finish is long and powerful, which allows you stretch this rare beer to its last drop.
Overall Impression: This is an amazing beer. It’s a master class in Brettanomyces. The beer continues to evolve as you drink it. Try it cold and it becomes intensely tart and refreshing, like a lemonade. Let it warm up, and it softens but deepens into a work of beauty. This beer is an absolute must if you like sour beers. If you like guezes, this is your beer.
Availability: Infrequently released, highly limited in a few cities in the west and Philadelphia. Click the label to view their website which shows their availability map.