As you may have noticed already, Whitehorse has some new beer in town.
Our friendly neighbours at Yukon Liquor Corp have sourced four offerings from Russell Brewing Company: Blood Alley Bitter, Black Death Porter, Main Street Pilsner, and Wee Angry Scotch Ale.
Three of these (all but the Main Street Pils) are part of the Russell Brewmaster Series – a chance for Russell to explore less common styles and get ‘crafty’.
Russell Brewing Co. is a Surrey-based brewery owned by Russell Breweries Inc. (the latter also owns Winnipeg-based Fort Garry Brewing).
Russell Brewing has been around since 1995, and is now one of the fastest growing breweries in Western Canada. You may know them for their Russell Cream Ale, which is a standard offering throughout the lower mainland of BC.
We wanted to test-drive one, and we eeny-meeny-miny-moe-ed it down to the Wee Angry Scotch Ale. It is marketed as a small-batch, craft-brewed ale in the style of a 19th century 90 Shilling Scotch Ale.
A wee bit of history: Scottish beers used to be taxed by strength, and 90 Shillings would have meant that it was a pretty strong beer.
Characteristics such as a dark appearance, strong and malty flavour, and just a small amount of bittering hops for balance are typical for this style.
For accolades, this beer already has a couple of ribbons. It earned a bronze medal in the Scottish-Style Ale category at the 2010 Brewers Association World Beer Cup in Chicago, a competition that included entries from 44 countries.
Later that year, it took home a silver ribbon at the 8th Annual Canadian Brewing Awards (CBA) in Toronto. With 31 different style categories and every Canadian brewery you can imagine, the competition at the CBAs is stiff.
So as you can see, we were pretty impressed, and by the time we sat down to do our ‘job’ for What’s Up Yukon our hopes were high. And this, friends, is what happened.
When we poured this, we were amazed by how dark the beer was. The head was thick and creamy, and it was delicately carbonated. So let’s dig in.
He said:Smells very malty and sweet, and slightly fruity. The taste has a bit of roast in it, but it’s mainly sweet – toffee? – malty, and smooth. It’s got a great balancing bitterness to keep the malt in check. It ends clean, and almost tastes like it’s on draught. Overall impression: I really enjoyed this beer.
She said:I am not a huge fan of Scottish ales but I really like this beer. I normally find them way too sweet and way too thin. Wee Angry has a wonderfully sweet aroma of toffee and burnt caramel, with a thick creamy head. The body is full and sweet with a fantastic bitter finish. It tasted just like a pulled English bitter to me, and took me right back to my childhood. I mean youth.
We paired our tasting with aged cheddar, Branston pickle, and olive bread, but any savoury snack and a camping chair will go beautifully with this beer. $7.45 for 660mL gets you a perfect beer for May’s almost-hot days.
Sigh: And Rachel really wants to tell you it has a wicked-cool label.
Please enjoy this article responsibly.
Michael Kulachkosky and Rachel Finn are avid homebrewers who delight in social, trivial and all other non-presumptuous aspects of beer enjoyment.