Russell Naughty & Spiced Porter

Reviewed by on November 28, 2014 in Holiday Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Russell Brewing Company

  • Origin: Surrey, BC, CA

  • Rated On: November 27, 2014

  • Best Before: N/A

  • ABV: 6.5%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: American Porter

  • Rating: OKAY

The Review

Russell Brewing comes to us from Surrey in suburban Vancouver, BC, and this is their holiday seasonal ale – made with various spices, aged on (not in, on) oak, with a few vanilla beans added for good measure.

This 650ml bottle pours a solid near-black, with thorough cola highlights, and two chubby fingers of puffy, rocky, and rather bubbly beige head, which leaves some stellar cobwebbed lace around the glass as it slowly ebbs away.

It smells of sharply metallic ginger, clove, and nutmeg spice, a husky men’s deodorant muskiness (for reals, and not in a particularly bad way, either), bittersweet cocoa powder, bready caramel malt, ethereal cheap wooden notes, and muddled boozy vanilla. The taste is still big on the overwrought seasonal spices – clove and nutmeg smacking me over the palate, in the manner of walking too near a trendy coffee shop right now – semi-sweet grainy caramel malt, subdued crackery toffee, chalky mocha, dry vanilla-tinted wood chips, and a lurking alcohol astringency. The bubbles are held pretty tight to the virtual chest (and more validly, the palate) in their peppy fizziness, the body just a tad on the lee side of medium weight, and a bit too acrid to be deemed particularly smooth. It finishes dry and metallic, like that time when you were too into the spirit on St. Patty’s Day to realize how much spice you were giving the stew (and how much wood you were doling out elsewhere, amirite?).

Yeah, this isn’t all that, to use a pithy phrase, as the spice, wood, and maybe even the vanilla, are employed with not enough thought given to blending and harmony, concepts I thought had a lot of mileage right about this time of year. Anyway, anything porter-like gets lost in the mire, the same one that gives numerous Christmas-themed offerings a bit of a bad name – not all, but they should know who they are.

Brady White

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