Russian River Brewing Company
725 4th St
Santa Rosa, California
Visited in July 2007
The magnitude of my visit to Russian River Brewing Company was completely lost on me in my youth. It was one of my first 40 or so brewpub stops and I hadn’t yet immersed myself into the beer world as much as I have now. I had no idea that Russian River was such a well-known and respected brewery. They had Pliny the Elder – in two different forms – and I had a sample of it.
I have yet to see it again.
I really liked the place though, even without any expectations going in. It’s sort of rustic and local despite being such a national powerhouse. My sister, brother-in-law and I put down a gigantic wheel of samples. There had to be at least 16. They were all good, but I think we all settled on one of the Belgians as our favorite.
A wonderful, small bar feel to a large operation. Russian River brews can be bought throughout the Northwest, and for good reason. The local features a large chalkboard proclaiming the dozens of homebrews currently on tap. There are obvious regulars, and they are obviously treated well. Decorations are a very tasteful local feel with a flair for brew signs.
I didn’t eat here, and I’m still kicking myself for it. The pizza looked amazing, and if it was anywhere close to the location and the beer, it was.
Speaking of the beer, it was quite good, but what sets this place apart is the selection of Belgians. There are easily eight at any given time along with at least eight non-Belgian homebrews to try. And when you order a sampler, it comes out in an ingenious twirly cart with a bottle cap that identifies each shooter. Definitely worth the trip for the sampler alone! From what I remember, the Pliny the Elder, Damnation, Salvation, and Aud Blonde were the best.
As for the staff, they were nice and obviously knowledgeable people that help you make your selections, which is important, because there’s just so many damn variations to try!