When this beer first hit the market 2 years ago I was very curious how it turned out. Russian River is best known for their wild and sour beers, while Sierra Nevada makes some of the more hopped up beers on the market. The fact that Russian River isn't available nearly anywhere outside of California, it was also exciting to see a bottle with their name on it sitting on the shelf.

The beer was not as expected, but sort of made sense. It wasn't really sour but had that lighter, wild ale quality to it, and it had a bit of a bitterness to it that was a bit surprising for a wild ale. It literally felt like these two brewers took what they were known for and poured one beer each into a bottle. Since brettanomyces bruxellensis (wild yeast strain) is well known to continue to develop over time, I was hoping that some time in the bottle would mature this beer into something a little more expected.

Even though the cork popped, the carbonation looks low, with a very thin head and no action in the glass. The beer is clean and relatively clear with a golden orange color.

The smell has a bit of funk to it, showing some signs that the brett might be doing some work. It is faint though, not really making a big declaration. There is a fair amount of sweetness, sugar, and yeast. After some agitation, you can pick up a bit of light acidic fruit like pear or green grape, but it's fleeting. Nothing seems to dominate past the malts and nothing really stands out.

The taste follows the nose. There is confusion in the flavor and lacks a dominant force. The Brett isn't really doing much to bump up the funk or the tart. There is a slight bitterness that catches you at the end but it is very weak. Malted grains of a pale ale or weak saison paired with the fight between sour and hops where both are beating each other to the ignore. The lack of carbonation isn't helping and the beer seems lifeless and lacks brightness.

This beer seems incomplete and like it can't make up its mind on what it wants to be. Not quite saison and not quite a sour. It's like a kid off at college for 2 years that has changed his major four times already and still doesn't know which direction to head. Especially for Russian River being involved, I had high hopes for this brew and expected a little greater wild aspect. This is a bit of a let down, as far as an aging experimentation is concerned, and if there is one word to describe it, I would say underdeveloped. Perhaps a few more years on this will see one side prevail and this beer will take shape.


Our CELLARED series aims to explore the world of aging beer and sharing the effects of time in the bottle. Bottles have been kept away from light and at temperatures between 44-60 degrees. Individual experiences may vary depending on storage environments.

Posted on June 13, 2014 .