Review: Russian River Temptation

In Beer Reviews by Ryan

Russian River Temptation, with its vibrant carbonation, barnyard funk and discreet oak and wine grape notes, lives up to expectations.

Publications have been pigeon-holing sours as “the New IPA” for what seems like years. Every year, some writer says “the style is poised to explode this year!” …and never quite does. Or maybe it did and I just missed it.

I’ve been intrigued by the style for a while now — particularly the science behind it — however, I typically walk away underwhelmed and left wanting. This certainly doesn’t apply to New Glarus, and the likes of its Wisconsin Belgian Red, Raspberry Tart and Enigma, along with beers from that Midwest OG of sours, Jolly Pumpkin. However, this is more the exception than the rule.

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It probably doesn’t help that I have a really hard time paying more than $9.99 for a bomber of anything, pricing me out of most sours that I imagine are really good.*

My general malaise towards sours has grown over the last several years, although a hearty pour of Russian River Temptation may have gotten me out of my funk.

Temptation is different. It’s multidimensional, teetering from sour to sweet, with barrel-aging depth and delicate wine notes. The blonde ale aged in chardonnay barrels pours out a golden straw in color with a frothy head and vibrant carbonation. The nose is full of pineapple, mango, horsehide, oak and white grapes.

On the palate, you’re greeted with an acidic tartness that quickly fades to caramel and passion fruit sweetness before blurring to a woodsy finish. There’s a certain depth to the tail on Russian River Temptation, where the oak character really shines alongside must, white grapes and dark fruits.

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Fresh out of the fridge many of the aromas and flavors are muted, so allowing this to warm is critical. As a quick aside, I’m a firm believer in giving most beers at least a few minutes to warm — although it seemed essential with this one.

Russian River Temptation may have restored some interest in sours and has certainly been added to my literal short list of sours I’ve walked away wanting more of, joining the likes of Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada¬†Obscura, Goose Island Lolita and the aforementioned New Glarus beers.

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*A neighbor who routinely travels to California recently shared this bottle, for those wondering how I broke my self-imposed $9.99 rule.

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About the Author



Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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