Thursday, March 22, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Temptation Wine Barrel Aged Wild Ale | Russian River Brewing | Santa Rosa, CA

... no I've never met anyone quite like you before ...
Would you, dependable reader, like an alcohol-filled grin on your booze-relaxed face?  When you consume intoxicants, do you wonder how you can negotiate both wine AND beer into a common glass?  And finally, do you love fun, use your phone's camera on landscape view, and enjoy passing out like your mother in a rain of nickels?

Then, Russian River Brewery is just the kind of natural progression you need to make into the twenty-teens era of boozing.  Its like, the future and shit.

As you might already know, Russian River is responsible for the majority of the beer-loving country losing their beer minds once a year -- and then also responsible for maintaining that momentum in the form of the country's most stalked beer, and in between that madness, rousing everyone up in a heap of laundry with their -tion series, which is what we have here.

I've avowed my love for the Russian River -tion series on this weblog before, and Temptation is just another in the collection that makes me wonk out with my mouth agog, like a southern baptist in the Big City.

This particular rendition, Temptation, is an American wild ale that has been aged in French oak Chardonnay barrels collected from the very wine-fertile region of Northern California.  Wild ales are like a sub genre of craft brewing -- as in, a more customized, unpredictable, and delicate beer brewed in the smallest of batches -- all the while produced by industry that prides itself on limited product anyway.  In other words, making this stuff takes a lot of time, patience, risk, and knowledge in order to squeeze even just a little bit of blood from the turnip.

Wild ales are manufactured by storing an unfermented base beer  in vessels -- like an oak wine cask -- for an extended period of time and allowing it to spontaneously ferment by introducing wild yeasts and bacteria, giving it its distinct sour profile.  The level of talent required to produce this style are almost immeasurable.  There is no real way to control a beer that is essentially spoiling with bacteria, therefore, there is a ton of artistry and knowledge (and a lot of luck) required to not only make it consumable, but also consistently consumable.  Russian River wrote the later chapters in the book of Sours and Wild Ales, right where the Belgians and their lambics left off; and Russian River's skill is truly unrivaled in the brewing community.

As for Temptation specifically, well, it sings.

The beer spends a full year aging in its wooden home, infusing all of the vanilla and fruit notes of the oak. Its dry and crisp and not at all buttery the way a glass of California Chardonnay might present itself typically.  This particular -tion is not as sour as, say, Consecration, but it definitely has a nice brett back.  As it warms, it gets a bit denser in flavors and loses a bit of its tart while a smooth funkiness emerges. 

While not my favorite in the Russian River wine-barrel series, Temptation is so far and away superior to the "best of" anything any other American brewer is putting out in this category.  If you can find it -- actually, if you can find ANY Russian River wherever you may be looking -- grab it.  It will never disappoint.

ABV: 7.25%
Acquired: An Austin Bar

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