Collaboration not Litigation Ale
Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Bottled February 2014
Salvation. The name of two intricate Belgian-style ales, created by us, Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing and Adam Avery of Avery Brewing.
After becoming friends a few years ago, we realized we both had a Salvation in our lineups. Was it going to be a problem? Should one of us relinquish the name rights? “Hell, no!” we said. In fact, it was quickly decided that we should blend the brews to catch the best qualities of each and create an even more complex and rich libation. In April 2004, in a top secret meeting at Russian River Brewing (well, actually it was packed in the pub and many were looking over our shoulders wondering what the hell was going on), we came up with the perfect blend of the two Salvations.
Natalie, Vinnie’s much more significant other, exclaimed, “We should call this Collaboration, not Litigation Ale!” “Perfect,” we shouted! We celebrated deep into the night (or is that morning?). Fast forward to November 14, 2006. After talking about it for over two years, we finally decided to pull the trigger and Vinnie made the journey to Avery Brewing to brew his Salvation exactly as he does in his brewery.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did expect it to be big, Its a Belgium Strong Ale for Piet’s Sake. It was not that big of an aroma after all. It has a clean Belgian style yeast smell, with light cloves. It was not overly aromatic…I had to take some big whiffs to really get a feel for it.
Nice looking light caramel color. It was right in between the two possible extremes of light and dark that I expected it could be. There were what some would call ‘floaters’ I like to call them ‘yeast in suspension’ This is more common in the homebrew world, however it does happen when commercial beers are bottle conditioned.
It starts out smooth, like the aroma hinted. Soon after, you get the Belgian yeast flavor, which is a great representation of the style, with cloves and black berries. There is some more caramel flavor than expected and I do taste some more floral hops. I’d say this is the West Coast twist. There is sweetness that balances it out. While there are many positive aspects of the flavor, nothing really wowed me.
Nice and smooth on the palate. Good amount of carbonation, Medium body.
First of all for full disclosure, the first reason I bought this beer is Russian River. They make some incredible beers, but unfortunately they only distribute to the West Coast (and Philadelphia, go figure) One of the best Imperial IPAs that I have ever had is Pliney the Elder by Russian River. Thier involvement peaked my interest. It was cool to kinda buy one of their beers in Ohio. The reason for the distribution in Ohio, is that Avery is distributed here, and this beer is bottled at Avery.
Now down to the beer itself. It is certainly a good American take on the Belgian style. It comes off as true to the style but there is enough character with a nice color and smoothness to attract the non Belgian beer lover. I did deduct a few points in this category simply because this is not a favorite style, and there was no one thing in this beer to overcome that. I will say that it works as a Collaborative effort, it comes off very cohesive and you are not left wondering ‘what were they thinking?’ Still, I do not think it is up to the standard of the other Russian River offerings that I have tried. All of this said; this beer is worth a try. If you are able to pick some up, let me know your thoughts.