Drink this: Farm to Table by Russell Brewing

The local food movement is impacting craft beer in a big way, with many breweries choosing to set their beers apart by using local ingredients such as hops and fruit, as well as barley and yeast, to a lesser extent.

While there’s no shortage of local malting barley grown in B.C., single origin barley is pretty much unheard of. That’s because the barley that gets grown here generally gets mixed with barley grown all over Western Canada and malted at one of few malting houses, such as Gambrinus Malting in Armstrong, to produce a consistent product. Phillips Brewing and Malting in Victoria does some single origin custom malting, but unfortunately its capacity is pretty small.

But Origin Malting and Brewing, next door in Strathmore, Alberta, is doing it all under one roof: growing the barley, malting the barley and brewing with the barley for a true “farm to table” beer.

Surrey’s Russell Brewing teamed up with Origin to brew a double IPA that highlights Origin’s Chinook malt, which is billed as a slightly darker, sweeter pale malt. While the barley takes a back seat to the Vic Secret, Ekuanot and Simcoe hops, there’s still lots of malty goodness in this beast of a beer. Weighing in at a chewy 9.0 per cent ABV, a sturdy malt backbone supports all that booze and hops, with some residual sweetness to take the edge off the hop bitterness (or perhaps vice versa). There’s some noticeable heat from all that alcohol, but it remains very drinkable thanks to those luscious tropical fruit and citrus flavours. While I do love my low-ABV session beers, it’s nice to have a big beer once in while, especially one that packs this much flavour.

Farm to Table by Russell Brewing (collab w/ Origin Malting and Brewing)

9.0 per cent ABV • 56 IBU • 473 mL tall cans

Appearance: Brilliant copper with an off-white head.

Aroma: Sweet strawberries, mango, candied pineapple, very fruity

Flavour: Tropical fruit, mango, strawberry, grapefruit, pineapple, sturdy malt character, slight alcoholic warmth, moderate hop bitterness.

Body/Finish: Medium-full bodied with an off-dry finish and a touch of heat.

Pairs with: Barbecued pork ribs, blue cheese, those awesome spicy chicken sandwiches everyone’s going nuts for, and a safe ride home.

More beery adventures at thegrowler.ca.