Note: I’ve since written a follow up post, check it out here.
This past summer Russell Brewing sponsored the World Ultimate Frisbee Championship held in Vancouver. A friend involved in the tournament let me know that Russell was selling leftover Russell Cream Ale at a cut rate price. I enjoyed a Russell Cream Ale every now and then and so did some of my friends, so I bought five flats of it. I appropriated these flats of beer to myself, Erik, my soccer team, and some other friends. No sooner did we get into the beer, we noticed that it had an odd sour taste. It had gone bad and was virtually undrinkable. Understandably so, my friends, soccer team, and Erik were none too pleased with me.
In one fell swoop, I had turned twenty of my fellows into Russell Cream Ale haters. That did not sit well with me and I wanted to give Russell a chance to redeem themselves. I emailed them to let them know what happened and to ask them if an exchange of my skunky beer for their fresh beer could be arranged. This is what I received back from Russell:
Once in a long while, our cans of beer can go sour. This can be for a number of reasons.
One is the improper storage of the beer. We don’t pasteurize our beer or use preservatives, so the beer is more affected by temperature changes. However, this also means our beer has the best possible flavour.
Regardless, I’m sure we can work something out.
I thought that was pretty cool of them to get back to me so soon. I emailed them back, a few times actually, but never heard anything again. I was pretty choked by that and have since not purchased any Russell products. Neither have any of my friends involved, as far as I know. I don’t really have a problem with Russell’s beer (save their lemon ale, not my bag), just a sour taste in my mouth, literally and figuratively.
What I ended up doing was taking the beer back to my local BC Signature Liquor Store, where they let me exchange it with no questions asked. I used my store credit not on Russell products. I actually had a lot of fun spending my store credit on my favorite beers. Yes, I would like liquor store gift certificates for Christmas.
I don’t really have anything against Russell. For all I know, the beer could have been baking in the sun all days, thus spoiling it. What I do know is if they are brewing their beer right, that it should last for years under the right conditions. Another certainty is that the word is out and spreading that Russell Cream Ale is no good, because I’m sure I wasn’t the only one affected by this.