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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Weird-Ass Beer of the Week: Russian River Sanctification

Posted By on Wed, Jan 21, 2009 at 10:42 AM

As it says on the label, Russian River Brewing's Sanctification "is one of the most unique beers you will ever taste." Inspired by Belgian practices used in making lambic beers such as Mort Subite, this blonde ale is fermented with 100 percent Brettanomyces, a strain of wild yeast best known for contaminating grapes and barrels, producing a usually undesirable barnyard aroma in wines. However, in the hands of the right winemaker, a judicious touch of "brett" can be a plus, most notably in Côtes du Rhône reds.

Even so, the resulting pungent aromas and sharp flavors aren't for everybody, especially in the extreme achieved by Sanctification. I enjoy this tart, bracing beer much as I would a strong cheese such as Limburger or ripe Münster, but none of the three friends I shared a bottle with the other night wanted a second taste, and one described the bouquet as "bad breath."

Sanctification is currently on tap at the Russian River brewpub in Santa Rosa, and available  bottled at The Trappist in Oakland. When the next batch is released, you'll probably find some at Toronado, City Beer, and Monk's Kettle in SF and Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley. In the meantime, these are also good places to find Russian River's other Brettanomyces-fermented brews, Beatification, Temptation. and Supplication, (Thanks to the folks at for the image.)

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Robert Lauriston


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