Russian River’s Velvet Glow pours a crystal-clear pale straw color into the pilsner flute, showcasing an impressive high carbonation that creates a robust eggshell foam head. The label breaks away from the traditional Russian River design, featuring a vibrant harlequin pattern without the usual monochromatic background seen in their other offerings.


Contrary to expectations, the aroma of Velvet Glow leans more towards malt-forward notes. The scent is reminiscent of fresh yeast rolls and white sugar, creating an overall impression of a powdered doughnut. A bright lemon aroma adds a layer of freshness, resembling baked lemon squares, with a subtle hint of candy corn lingering in the background.


Velvet Glow presents a malt-focused profile with a noticeable yet not overpowering hop bitterness. Unlike typical Helles lagers, it surprises the palate with a substantive grassy hop bite that balances the rich maltiness, creating a distinctive “bread in a glass” flavor. While not overtly dry, it still manages to deliver a relatively dry experience for a Helles lager. Subsequent tastings reveal an understated herbal bitterness, enhancing the overall complexity.


The mouthfeel of Velvet Glow is nothing short of spectacular. Sparkling with high carbonation, it combines a delightful coating oiliness with a snappy, quick finish. The beer’s evaporative quality after each sip positions it as an excellent session lager, leaving a desire for more. A slight downside, however, is the longing for a more accessible packaging format, such as 6-packs of cans, in line with market trends.


In conclusion, Velvet Glow stands as a world-class Helles lager, showcasing a malt-focused yet snappy and endlessly refreshing character. Its nuanced aroma, moderate hop bite, and exceptional mouthfeel contribute to its overall appeal. However, the hefty price tag of $6.50 per large-format bottle may deter some, especially considering the beer’s low gravity and sessionable nature. Additionally, the labeling choice of “Pale Dry BEER” may lead to expectations misalignment, potentially disappointing consumers anticipating Russian River’s iconic hop-forward offerings.

Similar Beers

The American craft beer scene is gradually embracing Helles lagers, with notable entries like Firestone Walker’s Firestone Lager and offerings from Great Divide and Sierra Nevada. Mexican-style pale lagers are also gaining popularity, as seen in 21st Amendment’s El Sully. Other outstanding, low-bitterness pale lagers include Upland’s Champagne Velvet, Hardywood’s Richmond Lager, pFriem’s Mexican Lager, New Glarus Totally Naked, and Surly Hell.

Review Philosophy

Reflecting on the broader perspective of beer reviews, it’s essential to strike a balance between usefulness to consumers and constructive feedback for businesses. Critical reviews, when thoughtful and diagnostic, provide valuable insights that can be a form of quality control for producers. Producers should view such feedback not as sabotage but as an opportunity for improvement and increased consumer satisfaction. Instant feedback in today’s landscape serves as a boon for producers, guiding them in maintaining and enhancing product quality. Readers, too, should approach reviews with respect for diverse opinions, understanding the subjective nature of taste preferences and the variability in beer quality across batches.