Another from my old blog. Not distributing to Washington? Say it ain't so! In January, Russian River sent out a letter to their customers in Washington letting them know that they would be pulling out of the state. There were people who were angry and there were people who understood. It reminds me quite a bit of the kerfuffle that happened when Dogfish Head pulled out of four states. I'll admit, I was pissed at the time. I swore I'd never buy another Dogfish Head beer, but I caved. Their beers are just too damned good for me to avoid. We in Tennessee are about to get Dogfish Head beers again. They've recently completed an upgrade to their capacity, and they're going to be returning to the four states they left. We still can't get Russian River though, and now I've lost my Washington connection too. (For those who don't know, my entire immediate family lives in the Seattle area) Have no fear though. My brother-in-law travels to Portland semi-regularly, and they're still going to be getting Russian River. I just have to hit him up to grab a few Plinys for me every once in a while. (You hear, meOogie? I'm talking about you!) So, as I mourned the loss of my connection while I was databasing my cellar today (Not even close to finished yet. 1 shelf done. 7 to go, plus two fridges) I decided to dig into the Russian River stash. Taunting me in a dark corner of the closet was a Damnation. My friend Chris, also known as Tiki 65, (Who is an incredible tiki artist. Do yourself a favor.) picked it up for me when he was at Tiki Oasis 12 last August and I promptly stuffed into a dark, cool corner of the hoard. Bottled on 8/7/12, this one has had about a year to mature, and in its maturation I'm not sure it did as well. I had previously rated this beer as a 5, but I'm rating this one as a 4. It could be that my palate has matured (unlike me) or it could be that I used to give a lot of stuff a 5 and have changed my grading since I returned to Untappd. I don't know. This beer wasn't disappointing, but it wasn't a 5. I love the ritual of cork and cage, so long as I can get the damned cork out. Russian River corks have always been easy. I untwisted the cage from the cork, leaned a little on the edge of the cork and *pop*, it opened without drama. The artwork on corks fascinates me. I have hundreds of wine and beer corks, and as a general rule every vineyard or brewer does different artwork. Russian River's is no different. I love the suggestion to not use a shaker glass but instead pour it into a tulip. I took their advice and snagged a tulip from the overhead glass storage. As I poured the contents of the bottle into my Sweetwater 15th Anniversary glass I was rewarded with a golden, semi-cloudy liquid topped by big bubbles forming a 1" head which hung around forever, like groupies by the tour bus after a Kiss concert. It took forever to dissipate. As the head settled down the aromas of the beer changed. Early on I got hops, pears and Belgian funk, but as the head finally decided to call it a day I began getting more the aromas of bread baking and rock candy, with perhaps a hint of bananas, though part of that may just be that I was hungry. I tipped the glass up and took a tentative sip, swirling it around in my mouth like I was some kind of wine/beer expert. I'm not, but I like to play one on TV. The taste was decidedly mild and the mouthfeel was crisp. Citrusy bitterness with a bit of peppery spice and grass. As it lingered on the tongue it became earthy and piney. That faded a few minutes later and left me with a mild sweetness on the tongue. Bubbles? We have plenty of them. Nice and full carbonation without being overpowering. Overall, all the flavors played nicely with each other, but as it warmed up it just became boring. I hesitate to say it, but the warmer it got the more it tasted like a basic mass-produced lager. I got so into the glass that I almost forgot to give Mrs. Traveler a taste. She got the last bit that was in the glass. Enough for about three or four tastes, which unfortunately was pretty warm. Her words? "Eh. Not something I'd seek out. It's not bad, but it's not good. Maybe my tastebuds are dying." I wish she could have tried it colder. Maybe I can get another bottle or three at a later date. It's not going to happen for a while, though, since my Washington clan can't get it for me anymore. I guess I'm just going to have to keep hassling Oogie to hit the bottle shop.