Barley Mowat 

Parallel 49 Black Christmas

with 5 comments

I suspect the recent increase of seasonal one-offs from Parallel 49 is a calculated attempt to monopolize my blogs’s beer review bandwidth. In addition to Salty Scot yesterday and today’s post, I have Ugly Sweater to get up in the near future (preview: buy it), and P49’s brewmaster Graham With has dropped severals hints of small batch release craziness still in the pipeline.

So what should we expect from P49’s third bomber release, coming directly on the heels of #2 on Wednesday? “Black Christmas” is marketed as a “Christmas Dark Ale,” but don’t go opening one of these guys hoping for a fantastical P49-style twist on your precious sweet, sticky Christmas Ales*. Nope, this guy is a CDA, straight up. I’m not sure where the “Christmas” aspect plays in, aside from the creepy label (side note: it was originally supposed to be the Grinch but the LDB nixed that, saying that a cartoonish label would inspire kids to drink it. To the LDB: The fuck?! Why are you selling beer to kids?)

This is so much… better?

One detail that’s hidden away in the small text on the label is that this beer makes use of “100 Mile Fresh Hops.” Usually beers containing fresh hops have that fact splattered in bold print all over the front, or even incorporated into the name, but not this one. In fact, even while discussing the beer with Graham, the freshness of the hops was not brought up.

But what does it taste like? As you’d expect with a CDA (Xmas or regular Cascadian variety), it pours nearly pitch black with a good deal of carbonation. The fresh hops announce themselves in the nose, followed by a nice malty/raisin scent.

Upon liberally pouring this down your beer hole, you get basically more of the same. The malty-raisin builds slowly sip to sip, and even presents a bit of rhubarb over time. The mouthfeel is rich, creamy, and definitely well executed. Bittering hops are not overdone. Essentially this is a nice well balanced English IPA that’s been coloured black through roasted wheat malt.

Overall, despite Graham’s obvious enthusiasm for this particular beer, I’m not as sold on it. It’s definitely a decent CDA, but the fresh hops throw an off-putting twist on the style. That’s the thing with experimenting, sometimes you get amazing results, and sometimes Chuck’s not a huge fan. Oh well, y’all should still (try to) buy it and drink it, it’s definitely worth a taste, it’s just not something I’ll likely grab again given all the other beers I’m morally obliged to taste and tell you about.

* Update: I’ve heard from the brewery that Christmas was used because of the timing of the release and the pine-forward hops, and that also there’s some trademark issues around “Cascadian”. I’m researching that and will post a hyper-rant if true.

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver, BC
Name Black Christmas
Style Cascadian Dark Ale
SOA Now Swing and a miss
SOA Potential n/a; not a cellaring ale.
Drink Now.
What Chuck really wanted for Xmas A CDA crossed with an Xmas ale. That would have been swell.
Availability Very limited release to LRS and at brewery
Cost $7.00-$9.00 per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers Howe Sound Gathering Storm, GIB CDA
Chuck says Buy it if you can find it.

Written by chuck

November 10th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Beers

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5 Responses to 'Parallel 49 Black Christmas'

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  1. I have heard, through a number of sources, that Steamworks owns the trademark on “Cascadian” and to that end has sent a Cease and Desist to Phillips over their Skookum Cascadian Brown.

    Name witheld

    12 Nov 12 at 00:08

  2. I caught the tail end of a conversation about the naming when I went into the brewery on the weekend. There is a chance that I have the wrong end of the stick, but it seems they were aware that someone else held the rights to “Cascadian” so rather than take the risk of infringement, they just named it something else.


    13 Nov 12 at 12:56

  3. Steamworks owns the trademark on “Cascadian” and they aren’t sharing. As noted above just ask Phillips about it.


    13 Nov 12 at 17:30

  4. @All – Steamworks does indeed own a trademark, but it’s not on “Cascadian”–it’s on “Cascadia” presumably because of their Cascadia Cream Ale that they no longer produce.

    The Trademark is #TMA669027, and can be viewed here for anyone interested:

    My research into this is ongoing, but I hope to get a detailed article up in a week or so.


    13 Nov 12 at 17:35

  5. Cascadia, Cascadian, whatever. They C&Ded Phillips on their Cascadian Brown Ale. I guess when your CEO is a lawyer you can do those types of things.


    13 Nov 12 at 21:33

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