Russel Peaks and Valleys Extra Pale Ale

Russel_peaks&valleysBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Extra Pale Ale
ABV: 5.7%
IBUs: 40

Description: In the tradition of locally-sourced, craft beer, Russel’s Peaks and Valleys (a limited release), is made entirely from malt and hops from interior BC. This includes Centennial hops grown by Chilliwack Hop Farms in Chilliwack, BC, and malts produced by Gambrinus Malting in Armstrong, BC. The end product is an extra pale ale that is dry-hopped and unfiltered, and perfect for summer.

Tasting Notes: This beer was a bit of the light side in terms of malts, and a tad on the dry bitter side, at least as far as extra pale ales go. Nevertheless, hoppy without being overwhelming, and smooth enough to be an easy-drinking pale ale. But most of all, it is a testament to the move towards locally-sourced craft brewing that is sweeping the world!

Appearance: Mild amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt,s dry hop nose, citrus, grass, hint of lemon and pine
Taste: Crisp malt, dry hop bitterness, notes of citrus rind and grass
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, dry herbs and citrus rind
Overall: 7.8/10

Russel 19th Anniversary IP G’Day IPA

Russell_IPG'DayBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey BC
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 53

Description: Brewed in honor of Russell Brewing’s 19th birthday, this India Pale Ale pays tribute to one of their brewers – Scott Bohanna-Martin‘s – Australian roots, This they did by using  Galaxy, Ella and Topaz hops that were grown Down Under.

Tasting Notes: This was a nice twist on the conventional West Coast IPA. In many ways, I was reminded of a fresh-hopped IPA and an ESB, in that it packed some strong notes of herbs, citrus rind, grass and pine, but in a way that slightly dry and subtle. Despite the moderately bitter rating of 53 IBUs, it was quite hop-forward, and had a strong but smooth malt backbone.

Appearance: Dark ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong hop-forward nose, grassy, herbal notes, hint of citrus and pine
Taste: Rich malt, strong infusion of herbal, bitter hops, citrus rind and grass
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and notes of citrus rind and herbs
Overall: 8.5/10

Russel Marzen Oktobefest Lager

russel_marzenBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey BC
Style: Marzen Lager
Alc/Vol: 5.5%

Description: Brewed in honor of Oktoberfest, this seasonal Fall release from Russel is fashioned using traditional German malts and Noble hops. The end result is a beer consistent with this darker, maltier variety of lager made especially to toast the Fall harvest.

Tasting Notes: I am a sucker for Marzen and I’ve come to be a fan of what Russel has been doing of late. And I was an instant fan when I drank this one for the first time. In addition to its lovely dark color, rich malt, and subtle noble hop flavor, it has a smooth, refreshing taste that really won me over. Definitely a drinking experience I hope to repeat during the course of this season!

Appearance: Dark amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malt, syrup, minerality, gentle hop notes
Taste: Rich malt, slight sweetness, nice tang, mild dry, grassy and herbal hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, tang, and mild hop bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Russel Angry Scotch Ale

russel_scotchBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Scotch Ale
Alc/Vol: 6.5%
IBU: 30

Description: As part of Russel’s Brewmaster Series, this beer is brewed in the style of 19th century 90 Shilling Scotch Ales. This entails an extended boil time that intensifies the malt flavor and results in a complex, roasted profile. This strong ale was a bronze medal winner at the 2010 World Beer Cup.

Tasting Notes: This is one of Russel’s limited release beers that I have tried in the past. However, I failed to review it, and couldn’t seem tor recall if I even liked it or not. Having tried it again, I feel understandably ashamed. In addition to be being deliciously malty and complex, its got a fruity and semi-sweet profile that is slightly reminiscent of barley wine – another venerated, British-style ale!

Appearance: Dark brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malt, mild espresso, toffee, sugar and raisins
Taste: Toasted malts, hints of plum, raisins, toffee and citrus hops
Aftertaste: Lingering roasted malt flavor, fruit and mild malt and hop bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Russel Eastern Promises Czech Pilsner,c_limit,q_85,d_beer_def.gif/beer_225646.jpgBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Pilsner
Alc/Vol: 5%
IBU: 35

Description: As part of their Brewmaster Series, this Czech Pilsner is available year round and now comes in both 650ml bottles and six packs. In the tradition of Bohemian-style lagers, this beer is fashioned using Vienna and Munich malts, and then bittered with Noble Saaz hops.

Tasting Notes: It took me some time to review this beer, and I’m rather sorry I didn’t try it sooner. True to its roots, the beer is both crisp and slightly sweet, owning to the combination of Vienna and Munich malt, which also impart a slight, grainy texture to it. The addition of Saaz hops provides a slight bitterness which rounds this out nicely, leading to an all-around flavorful, but clean and refreshing, drinking experience.

Appearance: Light gold, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Grainy malt, crisp hops, hint of skunk
Taste: Crisp, grainy malts, mild tang, hint of sweetness, herbal and bitter hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering hop and malt bitterness, refreshing and balanced
Overall: 9/10

Russel White Rabbit Hoppy Hefeweizen

hefeweizenBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Hefeweizen
Alc/Vol: 6%

Description: A seasonal beer brewed for summer, this German-style wheat ale is brewed with a significant dose of Citra hops to give it a Pacific Northwest flavor. The result is a hefeweizen with an IPA-like twist.

Tasting Notes: Like a proper hefeweizen, this beer is light and refreshing, and the mild malt and yeasty backbone provide a nice clean flavor with a spicy finish. The addition of a generous dose of Citra hops manage to augment this with natural grapefruit and peach flavors, adding to the summery feel.

Appearance: Golden-orange, cloudy and opaque, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malt, yeast, citrus hops, coriander and clove spices
Taste: Mild wheat malt, yeast, notes of citrus, hints of peach and clove spice
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast, citrus and cloves, clean and refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

Russel Blood Alley ESB

bloodalley_esbBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Extra Special Bitter
Alc/Vol: 5.5%
IBU: 50

Description: This beer is named after the historic and notorious cobblestone laneway in Vancouver’s Gastown District where numerous butcher shops were located. Apparently, the laneway was also known for its many robberies, muggings and murders. As part of Russel’s Brewmaster Series, it only recently became available in six packs as well as 650 ml bottles.

Tasting Notes: Though it has a slightly higher IBU rating than most ESBs, the Blood Alley has the same subtle hop flavor due to the fact that they are added post-boil. They are also clearly local – most likely of the Cascade or Centennial variety –  imparting a slightly floral, citrusy flavor. The deep amber malts balance this out nicely and lead to an all around stronger, but faithful example of an ESB, albeit with a Pacific Northwestern twist!

Appearance: Deep copper/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Deep, roasted, and syrupy malts, floral, citrusy hops
Taste: Smooth malt, hint of sweetness, baked bread, dry hops, subtle citrus bite
Aftertaste: Mild, lingering bitterness and dry hop flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

Russel Hop Therapy Double IPA

Hop_Therapy_Press_ReleaseAdmittedly, Russel brewing is one operation I don’t get around to sampling much. In the past, I have had their Angry Scotch Ale, their IP’eh, their Blood Alley ESB, their VCBW Cascadian Brown Ale, and most recently, their Naughty Spiced Porter. However, very few of these beers ever got a review, and I would be lying if I were to say that I recalled what more than half of them tasted like. However, with few exceptions, I have had nothing but good things to say about this brewery. And after looking through their extended lineup and seeing what they have to offer, I have to say that I’m pretty eager to expand on my sampling repertoire.

And I’ll start with this example of their Brewmaster Limited Edition series – the Hop Therapy Double IPA – a beer that more than lives up to its name. In addition to weighing in at a hefty 9% alc/vol, the beer boasts three American hop varieties (Amarillo, Cascade and Columbus) which were added a total of six times during the kettle boil, and then twice afterwards as dry hopping. This brings its bitterness to a threshold of 100 IBUs, which is well balanced by some seriously sweet and syrupy malt flavor.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong bouquet of floral and citrus hops, slight piney nose
Taste: Sweet, coarse malt, viscous and chewy, citrus and pine hops, resiny
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and hop bitterness, slight feeling of residue
Overall: 9/10

Basically, I would say this beer is not for the faint of heart. But it is definitely for people who insist that their beer be chock-full of flavor or just don’t mind a beer that pushes the envelope in terms of malt and hop strength. For me, it a very fitting example of a double IPA and an enticement to try more of what Russel has to offer.

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!