It seems the theme in BC this month is barrel aged beers, starting earlier this month with beers from Phillips (Hammer) and Driftwood (Singularity) then this past week R&B (Double Devil) , Tree Brewery (Serendipity No.4) and Russell Brewing (this review). Unfortunately my current attempts to acquire the R&B and Tree beers has proven unsuccessful but I did managed to find the Russell Brewing Nectar of the Gods Wheat wine. A wheat wine is a variation of a Barley wine style which contains 50% Wheat malt mixed with Pilsner and Munich malts and to add more complexity the beer has been aged 4 months in Tennessee whiskey barrels. Will this beer be able to hold up to the standard of the Gods or will it be banished to the depths?
The bottle 650ML has some interesting artwork. It looks like a Greek god holding a golden goblet above their head it also mentions that it’s a 2010 vintage and comes in at 10 % alcohol with 70 IBU’s. Pours a deep copper colour with mild carbonation which creates a medium size head with good retention and a nice lacing. Strong wood oak aroma which gives it a distinct vanilla notes take over most of the aroma but a light whiskey fruity esters are also noticeable. The first couple of sips are very sweet and has a significant oaky vanilla flavours with noticeable booziness coming through. As it warms, a bit of fruitiness of black currants comes to the front and finishes with a well-balanced bitterness. Overall the oak whiskey barrel seem to be the main flavours, but are a little over powering and take away from the natural beer qualities which do come through once it warms up.
First some etymology, “nectar” literally means “death overcoming” in greek. The supposition being that this honey fermented beverage the gods consumed (nectar or ambrosia) made them immortal. While I don’t feel bulletproof, this 10% brew certainly has some kick to it and after finishing a 650Ml bottle to myself I am certainly feeling good.
It pours a chocolatey amber hue with a thick creamy head. the first aroma I pick up is a heavy bread-dough yeast scent with slight fruity esters present layered with vanilla oak tones. My first sip is somewhat chalky. There’s lots of oak and vanilla and a dry fruit presence. The bottle says black currant flavor, but I liken it to mangoes: dry, tart and a little citrusy and finishes hoppy in the mouth. I think it would have been neat if Russell’s incorporated some honey malts into the flavor profile as the namesake suggests. And perhaps backed off on the barrel aging a little bit, however all in all this is a great brew. Find it while you can.
One final question: what’s up with Orewellian “The Ministry of Beer“? (website coming soon). I suspect this will be the new name for their Brewmaster Series limited releases.