Last Sunday we headed to downtown Santa Rosa to spend a couple hours at Russian River Brewing Company’s (RRBC’s) brew pub. We were already in Healdsburg celebrating Jack’s birthday, so it was an easy 15-20 minute drive from the square.
We had tried several of the beers from RRBC over the years, but we had never visited their brew pub in Santa Rosa. We arrived at noon (it opens at 11am) and had to wait about 15 minutes in a line outside. Then we were allowed to enter the pub and start drinking at the bar while we waited an additional 30-45 minutes to be seated at a table. I was impressed by how organized the bouncers and hosts were in this process. Overall, I thought the wait wasn’t a big deal, but I hear it gets a lot more crowded as the day goes on (or when they release the coveted “Pliny the Younger” beer on the first Friday of February – it’s only available for two weeks).
Once we were seated, Jack and I shared the beer sampler, which included 18 different two-ounce portions of beer to try. It was a great way to familiarize ourselves with the many beers on the menu. Here are our favorite beers (with descriptions from the menu):
O.V.L Stout: Dry Irish stout “named for the loyal bar patrons who frequented The Old Vic,” which was previously located where RRBC is located now. Tastes like Guinness: “very dry with notes of chocolate and roasted nuts.” ABV 4.4%.
Aud Blonde: Blonde ale, “easy drinking, medium bodied, low-alcohol.” “It has a grapefruit aroma, with a crisp and dry finish.” ABV 4.5%.
Session Beer: “Bright citrus and peppery hop aroma and flavor, with a clean dry finish.” This is my friend Marc’s favorite beer when he visits from Seattle. ABV 4.5%
White Beer: “Unfiltered wheat beer brewed with orange peel, coriander, and cumin.” “Mildly tart with a spicy aroma and flavor and a light bodied finish.” ABV 5%.
Perdition: Biere de Sonoma, inspired by a Belgian beer, “has nice malty and spicy characteristics throughout.” ABV 6.1%.
Defenestration: Hoppy blonde ale, “very dry, bitter, hoppy, and full-bodied.” ABV 7.25%.
Damnation: Golden ale, “inspired by Duvel and other strong golden ales of Belgium.” “It is medium-bodied, has a fruity/banana bouquet, and a dry, spicy finish.” ABV 7.75%.
Supplication: Sour brown ale, aged for 12 months with sour cherries, brettanyomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus in Pinot Noir barrels from local Sonoma County wineries. “Flavors from cherries, Pinot Noir, and oak balance each other nicely with a little funk from the brett.” ABV 7%.
We ate lunch at the brew pub. We ordered an antipasto plate, house green salad, and a pizza. Nothing was particularly memorable, but I hear the “Pliny bites” (pizza dough topped with mozzarella, garlic, white cheddar, and jalapeños) and the meatball sandwich are the standout items on the menu.
I’m glad we finally got a chance to check out RRBC. Given the long waits, mediocre food, and forgettable ambiance, I don’t think it will become a regular activity on our visits up north. But we did really enjoy the beer; I definitely plan to stop in to buy a few growlers and bottles next time I’m in town.
Russian River Brewing Company: russianriverbrewing.com 725 4th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95404. (707) 545-BEER. Open daily 11am – Midnight (last call at 11:30pm), kitchen closes at 11pm. Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 4-6:30pm and all day Sunday. Street parking and plenty of parking lots nearby.
Do you have a favorite beer from Russian River Brewing Company? What other local breweries do you prefer and why?