Review: Russian River Brewing Company Blind Pig IPA

By Emily Brightman

While the title “Blind Pig” sounds like the basis for a nursery rhyme, the flagship Indian Pale Ale (IPA) of the Russian River Brewing Company is in fact a crisp and flavorful beer and not the bespectacled farm animal its name suggests.


Once owned by a branch of Korbel Champagne Cellars, the Russian River Brewing Company makes its home in Guerneville, Calif. near the river for which it is named. RRBC originally started as a brewpub, a typical launchpad for microbreweries. Brewpubs are a restaurant or pub that brews and sells its own beer on the premises. Increase in demand for RRBC’s tasty brews eventually led to the building of an off-site brewery in 2008 that now distributes the company’s products nationwide. While Blind Pig IPA is their largest selling beer, RRBC offers a slew of uniquely named brews available seasonally and year-round.

Superficially, a 12 ounce bottle of Blind Pig is rather ordinary looking. The caricature of a dapper looking swine in sunglasses and a bow tie superimposed on an orange background is hardly an artistic masterpiece, but there is something charmingly simplistic about this packaging that makes it intriguing. I may be a sucker for a good label, but this brew is proof that you can’t properly judge a beer by the plainness of its label (though I am admittedly guilty of this offense many times over).

While Blind Pig’s label may have left something to be desired, its taste certainly didn’t.

As I poured the drink into my trusty pint glass, Blind Pig streamed out a dark copper color that was remarkably clear. The inch-thick white head that left behind a notable amount of lacing shows evidence of good retention that is unaffected by the beer’s strong yet satisfying carbonation. The first sip boasts large notes of pine and citrus, but with a subtle hint of apricot laced with grassy undertones.

While a big hop taste is typical of IPAs, Blind Pig seems to focus more on the composition of its hop content rather than quantity – the distinct taste of hops is evident in the beer’s finish, though not so strong that it overpowers the complexity of the other flavors. There is some bitterness in the finish, but the taste overall is slightly sweet with a malty background. There is no mistaking that Blind Pig is an IPA, but it presents a surprising combination of sweet and tart that I find is atypical of most beers of this ilk.

IPAs in general are a flexible beer when it comes to food pairings, but I would recommend pairing a bottle of Blind Pig with smoky-flavored meats. This beer could serve well with Italian or Mexican dishes, but if you’re like me and live on a tight college-oriented budget, fear not, for Blind Pig tastes just as good with a bowl of Ramen noodles as it does with a fancy steak or pasta dish.

We beer geeks choose our luxuries wisely; we may not eat like kings, but our liquor cabinet is always top notch.

If you’re in the market for a non-threatening IPA that humors your secret love of well-dressed farm animals, indulge your inner child and go for a six-pack of Blind Pig. The cheery pig on the label may be the hit of your next shindig as even if no one else is, he will certainly be dressed for the occasion.

Emily A. Brightman can be reached at [email protected]