There’s been oodles written about Russian River Brewery’s beer by those with more qualified palettes than mine. I’ll let you google the recipes and beer-speak reviews at your leisure. Last post I talked about the community I’ve found here. This week, I’ll will give a few tips and share my favorites from the menu.
Plenty has been written about Russian River brews, and for good reason. Vinnie Cilurzo, Co-Owner and Master Brewer is once again a semi-finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award.
So, while no one complains about the beer, the objection I do hear about Russian River Brewery is that it’s too crowded. Well, it is often crowded; much like my favorite mechanic’s shop, the crowd is a consequence of exceptionalism. For less busy times, try for Monday through Thursday before happy hour (4-6:30) or late night on weekdays. Monday or Tuesday happy hours can also be relatively mellow, but no promises. If it’s too busy for you, pick up a few bottles to take home from the dedicated to-go line.
If it’s your first time, consider a half or full taster set. Bring a friend to help you finish it. You can choose either the Belgium or Californian styles, or taste everything on the board. There are currently about 20 beers being served; the bartenders will make suggestions based on your tastes. I drink the super-popular Pliny the Elder, and a new favorite, Tempo Change. Some of Russian Rivers beers are brewed regularly, others are seasonal, like Dead Leaf Green and Rejection, which are also personal favorites.
You can also order half-pints, just ask for a Tiny Pliny or Piglet (for Blind Pig). Oh, and if you like Porter, help me out, I’m trying to get “Shorter Porter” into the pub vernacular. Note that during happy hour, the pints are the same price as the half pints. Don’t leave out your wine drinking friends, the bar does a nice pour on a variety of red, white and sparkling wines.
The Pizzas are a thin crust (dough made freshly with their beer), with some of the most unique (and yummy) combinations of ingredients I’ve seen. The kitchen is quite accommodating if you want to leave an ingredient off or add one on. In fact, employees’ and regulars’ creations have at times made it onto the official menu. My favorites are the Excel (add mushrooms) and Pazzo pizzas, and the Columbus Calzone. I also love all their salads, the Veggie sandwich and The Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, which was recently upgraded from a Monday special to the regular menu.
If you like a more doughy crust, check out one of the four versions of beer bites. These are especially popular for small children with their little hands. My favorite is the Drew Bites; I recommend a side of pesto with any of the bites.
The baked Chicken Wings are also tasty, take note that the Savage Sauce is aptly named; many people order the wings mild with the Savage Sauce and Ranch on the side. For a smaller snack, try the Cheesy Garlic Bread, which is exactly as it sounds. For little ones, they have juice and milk on the menu. For older kids, check out the selection of natural sodas.
Pop on over to Russian River Brewery and see what all the fuss is about! In upcoming posts, I’ll talk about several other fine tap rooms and restaurants in downtown Santa Rosa. Thanks for reading.
Hope to see you downtown!