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Russian River Brewing Company | Windsor Porter

Russian River Brewing Company | Windsor Porter
Robert French

Russian River Brewing Company is an iconic brewery, a brewery that started beer trends, even before we knew what beer trends were. They are also a company that methodically moves at their own speed, with their own vision.

Though there’s no question that Russian River could have expanded earlier, they completed their expansion on their own terms, in my mind further proving their dedication to, and love of, craft beer. The stunning new brewing facility is located in Windsor, CA, just about nine miles from their Santa Rose brewpub. The new location includes a multi-room restaurant and a bar, with both indoor and outdoor bar seating, along with separate tasting and gift shop areas.

For the inaugural brew, the brewers at Russian River chose a porter. The label provides a short history lesson, courtesy of the owners.

“In 1997, at our original location at Korbel Champagne Cellars, the very first beer we brewed was a Porter. In celebration of the opening of our new dream brewery, we chose to carry on this brewing tradition in Windsor. Windsor Porter was brewed on September 12, 2018, with our new Ziemann brewhouse and fermented in one of our new Gresser open-topped fermentors – Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo.”

Windsor Porter comes in at 6.23% ABV. This beer is dark brown with highlights of black and red, depending on the lighting. The head is creamy brown and looks like it belongs on your Mocha Java. The head is persistent and stays with the beer as you drink it.

The aroma is full of roasty chocolate, with hints of coffee. This beer has an ample amount of hop bitterness, with little to none of the astringency that can come with roasted malts. The body of this beer is perfect. The mouthfeel is full without being too heavy. This would be a great beer to celebrate the days of cooler weather while sitting by a fire or enjoying a hearty meal. You might want to stock up on this one.

After the initial tasting at the brewpub, I decided to bring a few bottles home. The description of the beer might make it seem that it would pair well with dessert or a hearty stew. Surprisingly, this beer worked so well with spicy enchiladas. The heat from the spices really brought out the coffee and chocolate; it was reminiscent of a coffee chocolate ice cream without any of the sugary sweetness. At the tail end of the bottle, as it warmed up, I got just a hint smoke on the finish.

A porter is a classic beer style that may be overlooked by some beer drinkers. The fact that Russian River chose this style for their first batch will hopefully reintroduce this style to many, in addition to serving as a tribute to their origins.

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