Russel Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale

russell_happy-jack-pumpkin-aleBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey BC
Style: Pumpkin Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.5%

Description: This is Russel Brewing’s latest seasonal release and is available just in time for the Fall Season and all its pumpkin-related occasions. Brewed from a combination of what I can only assume is Brown Ale malt, pumpkin, allspice, and aged in oak, the end result is a ale that is light and refreshing, but noticeably spiced and varied in taste.

Tasting Notes: As pumpkin ales go, this one was noticeably subtler than the ones I am used to. At first, it seemed on the mild side, but was also quite refreshing. However, the spice flavors and oaky undertones came through in time, as did the lovely taste of pumpkin pie. In short, the subtlety works in its favor and its full body comes through slowly but surely. Definitely one of the better seasonal pumpkin’s I have had of late!

Appearance: Dark brown/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, pumpkin pie, notes of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg spice
Taste: Smooth malt, hint of pumpkin flesh, notes of allspice, oaky finish
Aftertaste: Lingering spice palette, oak, pumpkin and roasted malt flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

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Hoyne’s Gratitude Winter Warmer 2013

slider-gratitudeLast year, the Hoyne brewery was barely out of the cradle when they produced their first-ever Christmas ale, known as the Gratitude Winter Warmer. Now, a year later, they have once again made this limited release available just in time for the holidays. And of course, I felt the need to grab a bottle and see how this year’s vintage compared to last years.

And just like it’s predecessor, this year’s Gratitude lived up to the name. In addition to being very smooth, malty, and balanced, it packed a nice spicy profile that was very pleasing to the palate and very warming to the body. I did note a certain creamy quality that was not there last year, one which reminded me of their Off the Grid Red Lager (which is currently my favorite from Hoyne’s lineup). Pound for pound though, I’d say its just as good as last year’s.

Appearance: Deep red-amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Spicy nose, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sweet malts
Taste: Smooth, spicy start, creamy malts, mild tang, allspice, mild hops
Aftertaste: Lingering tang and spice, enduring malts
Overall: 9/10

I really do need to get back to the brewery and see what they are up to these days. Somehow, this fall season (what with all its sickness) has not been too conducive to growler drinking! But I shall remedy that soon enough. And I’m sure Hoyne is also taking donations of clothes and canned food this year, so be sure to swing by if you’ve got an overabundance of both. Tis the season for good beer and helping out, after all 😉

Russel Naughty & Spiced Porter

russel_spicedpporterJust in time for Christmas, and in the spirit thereof, my neighbor purchases a bottle of this seasonal beer by Russel brewing to thank me for doing him and his family a solid. And I was quite pleased, seeing as how it’s one that I’ve been meaning to pick up for myself. I love it when beer-related plans come together!

And as the name would suggest, this spiced porter is precisely what one would expect from a holiday beer. In addition to some dark, heavy porter malts, which come naturally equipped with notes of espresso and cocoa, this beer also has some discernible licorice flavor, and a palate loaded with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, allspice – your basic Christmas seasonings. It also weighs in at a respectable 6.5% alc/vol and has a

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malt, licorice, mild cocoa and espresso
Taste: Rich, dark malt, licorice, cinnamon, allspice, malt and hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and spice palate
Overall: 8/10

Admittedly, I also wanted to sample this beer because of how long its been since I’ve had a sample from the Russel operation. Give their range of product, this is definitely something I should remedy in the New Year! Peace and happy holidays to you all!

First Fall Beer Review!

phillips_labelsphillips_crookedertoothFall is just around the corner, and it seems the Fall beer is already hitting the shelves. And what better way to start my review of this Autumn’s beer than Phillips latest seasonal/limited release Crookeder Tooth Pumpkin Ale. Building on their success with Crooked Tooth, and in what appears to still be a trend in craft brewing with these folks, Phillips latest incarnation of this pumpkin ale is a barrel aged, stronger variant with some added kick! This comes not only in form of added alcohol (7.3% alc/vol), but in an infusion of bourbon made possible by the barrel-aging process.

And much like their Twisted Oak Red Ale, I highly approve of the end result. Rather than adding a whiskey tang and bite to the mix that did not do it justice, the bourbon flavor adds a very nice, velvety texture and vanilla-like flavor. This is highly complimentary to the beer’s heavier malt, spice palate and pumpkin flavor. All in all, its very much like having a piece of well-spice pumpkin pie. Score one more for barrel-aging done right!


Appearance:
Golden orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Discernible pumpkin flesh, light traces of cinnamon and nutmeg
Taste: Sweet malt, immediate notes of allspice, vanilla, mild bite of bourbon whiskey
Aftertaste: Lingering bourbon flavor and spices, slight alcoholic bitterness
Overall: 9/10

I can recall enjoying this beer’s predecessor when I tried it. And I can honestly say that I enjoyed this one more. In addition to being pleasing without being overpowering, as the last one was, they also managed some dimensions of flavor and strength. It’s a rare thing when an upgraded model can retain the benefits of the old one while adding new ones. Kudos to Phillips, and welcome to the Fall of Beer!