Russell Punch Bowl North West IPA

Russell_punch_bowlBrewer: Russell Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 65

Description: This India Pale Ale commemorates two styles of beverages that made the crossing between England and India. Whereas IPAs were brewed for export to British troops and dignitaries in south Asia, Punch was a drink introduced to the British Isles from India. This beer is made using generous dose of pale malt, and then bittered with significant quantities of Citra, Mosaic, and Amarillo hops. It was also the Gold medal winner at the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards.

Tasting Notes: This IPA was quite inspired. In addition to paying home to a style of beer that was brewed for transport to India, it also acknowledges a cultural exchange that went in the other direction. As IPAs go, it is quite light and refreshing. The hop flavor, while pronounced, is quite fruity and really not too bitterness. And the malt profile was rather subdued. Perhaps a bit for my taste, but a very pleasant beer nonetheless.

Appearance: Amber/orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt nose, notes of pineapple, tropical fruit, hint of pine
Taste: Smooth, crisp malt, mineral tang, notes of pineapple, hint of passion fruit, pine
Aftertaste:
Lingering minerality, mild hop bitterness

Overall: 7.8/10

Russell 2014 Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale

Russel_Happy_JackBrewer: Russell Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 25

Description: This seasonal release is available only for the Fall pumpkin season. It is brewed single-batch-style, using pale malts, real pumpkin, and then infused with whole spices (what I strongly suspect are cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice) and aged with oak.

Tasting Notes: Compared to my previous samplings of Happy Jack, this one was stronger on the spice palate. These work well alongside the smooth and slightly sweet malt base, which of course benefits from the infusion of pumpkin. So I actually found myself enjoying it more than last year’s offering. Hence I am upgrading it from last years 8.5 to a solid 9. Kudos to the brewers!

Appearance: Dark Ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Pale malt nose, pumpkin flesh, strong notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
Taste: Smooth malt, hint of sweetness, notes of cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg
Aftertaste: Lingering malt sweetness, spices and spice bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Russell Luck of the Irish Red Ale

russel_irishBrewer: Russell Brewing, Surrey BC
Style: Red Ale
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 30

Description: A single batch brew with very limited availability, this Irish-style red ale is brewed in advance of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day. Employing imported roasted malts (Amber I think) and specialty hops (Kent and Golding?), this brew is available on tap and in bombers until supplies run out.

Tasting Notes: This beer was definitely a good example of a malt-forward Irish ale, employing a syrupy malt based, some subtle smoky flavor, and packed with lots of toffee, caramel, and sweet bread flavor. Similarly, it finished clean and was quite refreshing. Definitely a nice addition to their limited release lineup, one which I hope will enter regular circulation.

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Syrupy malt, hint of peat, caramelized sugar, dry hops
Taste: Smooth, creamy malt, hint of smoked peat, sweat bread, toffee, mild hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, peat moss, and baked bread flavor
Overall: 7.8/10

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

Russell Nectar of the Gods Wheat Wine

Russell_nectarBrewer: Russell Brewing
Style: Wheat Wine Ale
Alc/Vol: 10%
IBUs: 70

Description: As part of the brewery’s Specialty Series, this extra strong ale is fashioned using fifty-percent wheat malts and fifty-percent Munich malts. The end product is then aged for four months in Tennessee Bourbon Barrels and is available seasonally.

Tasting Notes: This beer is wonderfully complex, delivering strong fruit esters, notes of vanilla and a smokey, whiskey finish. Wheat and Munich malts provide a smooth, semi-sweet base, while the presence of tannin and fruit flavors provide a lovely complexity. The process is then completed by the presence of vanilla and smokey bourbon flavor, which compliments the sweetness and fruit flavor exceptionally. Definitely one of the best beers I’ve had so far this year.

Appearance: Soft amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Fruity nose, strong esters, cherry, vanilla, oak, and hint of whiskey
Taste: Smokey and sweet start, mouth-popping cherry and oak, strong bourbon
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, smokiness and bourbon flavor
Overall: 10/10