Russell Happy Jack

Reviewed by on October 28, 2014 in Autumn Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Russell Brewing Company

  • Origin: Surrey, BC, CA

  • Rated On: October 27, 2014

  • Best Before: July 25, 2015

  • ABV: 5.5%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: Pumpkin Ale

  • Rating: OKAY

The Review

Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale has been produced in the past at Russell-owned Fort Garry Brewery in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but now it seems that Russell Brewing’s Surrey, BC operation is making it, as all the label says is ‘small batch craft brewed right here in British Columbia’.  At any rate, it’s a pumpkin ale, infused with various seasonal spices, and oak – format unspecified.

This 650ml bottle pours a clear, dark orange-brick amber hue, with a single measly finger of loosely foamy, and mostly bubbly beige head, which leaves some random spectral lace around the glass as it duly recedes.

It smells of sharp cinnamon, more restrained nutmeg and allspice, chummy caramel malt, vanilla-heavy oaken wood notes, staid pumpkin meat, and mild earthy, leafy hops. The taste is more of the same, with the edgy cinnamon, mixed n’ matched n’ muddled seasonal pie spices, thinned-out barrel staves – no more vanillan than they are woody – subtle pithy drupe fruit, and weak earthy, weedy, and astringently leafy hops. The carbonation is quite involved in its pervasive frothiness, the body medium-light in weight, and generally clammy in its various attempts at smoothness. It finishes off-dry, barely, as that initial stripped-down cinnamon apparently has some healthy (?) metallic staying power.

Not altogether different than what I recall of the Russell East version, in that the spices overtake, the wood treatment underwhelms, and the whole thing generally seems cracked at the seams. If it’s a rounded pumpkin ale experience ye be searchin’ for, I’m sorry to say, you might want to keep your quest alive a while longer.

Brady White



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