Hop infused wheat ales seem to be all the rage these days. Seems everywhere I turn I’m seeing them on tap lists and liquor store shelves. I’ve recently reviewed two others: the White IPA by Powell Street Brewing and the Jerkface 9000 by Parallel 49—both very good beers that should both be on any beer fan’s summer drinking list. Today I’ll be reviewing a third: Russell Brewing Company’s White Rabbit Hoppy Hefeweizen.
In the past couple years Russell Brewing has been making a some of my favourite beers. The Blood Alley Bitter has for some time now been one of my main go-to brews whenever I’ve felt indecisive while standing in the aisles of the liquor store. Going to a party and can’t decide what to bring? Reach for a six of the Blood Alley. It’s a proven beer that is pretty much available anywhere in the city.
Earlier this year, at the 13th Annual Canadian Brewing Awards, the Blood Alley won a bronze medal for English Style Pale Ale/Bitter. At the same award ceremony Russell Brewing won a gold medal for the Punch Bowl IPA in the category of Best American Style IPA. Both of these beers belong to their Brewmaster series. That just goes to show you the quality of beers that Russell has been producing lately.
Russell is a large company with over a dozen different kinds of beer being brewed at any one time sold all over the province. Though I’ve only been a fan of theirs somewhat recently, they’ve been in operation for twenty years (since 1994). They didn’t really come to my attention until they started with the Brewmaster Series, which includes the aforementioned Blood Alley Bitter, the IP’Eh, the Eastern Promises Czech Pilsner, the Wee Angry Scotch Ale (another one of my favourites), and of course the White Rabbit Hoppy Hefeweizen.
There’s nothing to complain about with the White Rabbit. It’s another delicious beer for the Brewmaster Series. Though I prefer the Blood Alley or the Wee Angry Scotch, that’s just a matter of personal tastes. In style, obviously the three are nothing alike. Yet again Russell has left me impressed and satisfied.
The usual banana and clove flavours that come with the hefe yeast are at the forefront. It smells sweet and delicious with a little spice at the end. The fruity aroma makes for a very tasty first couple sips. The hops are subtle but present. For something that bills itself a hoppy hefeweizen, though, I was expecting a little more of a hop punch.
As a side note, at the time of writing this the investment company Premier Diversified Holdings had made a bid to buy a controlling interest in the company (51% stake). It’s offering each Russell stakeholder one of their shares for 2.5 Russell shares. If the US-based company takes control of the brewery I’m not sure what changes this could mean for the direction of the brewery. As long as they don’t nix the Brewmaster series beer fans in BC should be pleased.
According to a recent article in Business In Vancouver, US companies taking interest in BC breweries could be part of a new trend. If that is the case hopefully this will only help grow the industry and not hinder its creativity. More people drinking BC beer can only be a good thing, as long as that beer maintains the high standards we’ve all come to appreciate.