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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Russian River Supplication

I arrived at Belmont Station within twenty minutes of the Supplication tapping and thought it was going to be standing-room only. Fortunately, there were a couple spots at the bar (Sally was with me), which had the added benefit of giving me a front-row view of all the people coming in and placing their orders. Not that I'd flatter myself that this lil' ol blog spread the word--but something did. The Supplications were flying.

As you can see from the picture, it's not an oud bruin--or any brown, for that matter. It is rather a golden-red, and captured the refracting August sun beautifully. This concludes the criticism portion of the review.

It has an extremely tart, lactic nose, and the cherries are more suggestive than overt. So intense is the aroma that you reflexively brace yourself. Wisely, it turns out, for this beer bears more resemblance to a lambic than a sour brown. There are two axes for sour beers, sour and funky, and Supplication is all sour. It is an intense and dry beer, tart and sour, and the cherries accentuate this. They also provide a nice sweet note in the middle, though it's also suggestive. Finishes bone dry, with an alkaline quality and a goodbye pucker. Long after a swallow, though, a strange thing happens: a dry-cookie, biscuit flavor pervades my mouth. I can't account for it. If there's pinot in the palate (it was aged in noir casks), it eludes me--subtle flavor components would be necessarily flattened by this tour de sour.

I loved the beer, and it was very much an authentic Beligian. Host a sour beer tasting of only Belgian-brewed beers, and this one would never be exposed as an imposter. It's aggressive but rewarding and to my palate, delicious. If I were the brewery, I'd dispense with the crazy "brown" descriptor (it's about half Rodenbach Grand Cru and half Boon Kriek, and no Liefman's) and call it a red or something that won't indicate any precursor--"sour" ale or something like that. Otherwise, thumbs way up (an A-, if you forced a judgment from me).

[Update: I have included the sour-o-meter reading for Supplication: a 4.5. Mmmm, puckery.]


  1. Thanks for the heads up about the Supplication, it was fantastic and my favorite beer of the puckerfest celebration.

    I'm just starting to get into sour beers and I'm sure this is an amateur question, but why do sour beers become less sour as they warm in the glass? (In Supplication's case, this was a nice feature as my amateur taste buds were able to decipher a few more aspects of the beer but no one at our table could figure out why). We’ve also noticed this trend with some of Raccoon Lodges beer as well as Cantillion’s.

    Thanks again!

  2. Turns out that while I might like the lactic acid, the lactic acid doesn't like me so much… my stomach started turning sour toward the end of my Supplication - though it wasn't nearly as bad as after a pint of New Belgium's La Folie (oh, the pain…).

    Walking Man's Blootvoeste Bruin agreed with me much more effortlessly. In addition to being one of the best browns I've tried (never having been particularly fond of brown ales in general - always considering them watered-down Porter's), the Kombucha actually gave it a smooth sour character, which seems like such a contradiction but somehow this beer pulled it off. Hats off to Walking Man…