With great accomplishments comes great responsibility. Such is the attitude I adopted prior to cracking open Parallel 49’s latest seasonal offering: Vow of Silence Belgian Strong/Belgian Quad. For those keeping score at home, P49 is just freaking killing it these days. It seems like pretty much anything and everything that Brewmaster Graham With touches turns to beery gold. Their list of recent home runs is impressive:
- Schadenfreude: Perhaps the single best Märzen I have ever had.
- Ugly Sweater: A smooth drinking Milk Stout? Za-what?
- Russian Imperial Stout: A seriously good barrel-aged RIS worthy of cellar time.
- Lost Souls: Chocolate pumpkin? It should be awful but it’s great.
And yeah, I edited that down because their regular trio of beers, while excellent, have been out for a while. Throw on top of a new barrel room, and not so subtle hints about messing around with sours, and we have a champion in the making, all in their first 12 months of operation. It’s no wonder that CAMRA Vancouver recently voted them the Second Best Brewery in BC.
So when a brewery with both technical competence and the will to experiment decides to tackle one of the biggest, most nuanced styles around (Belgian Quad), it’s a lock for awesome beer, right? Sadly this is not the case. Now don’t get me wrong: Vow of Silence is not a bad beer–it is anything but. In fact, if a lesser brewery put this together I’d be ecstatic, but from P49 I expect more.
In the end I’m just not sure what this beer is trying to be. It certainly isn’t a perfect Quad that will develop slowly and magnificently in your subterranean cellar for the next forty years. The flavours are bit too haphazard and subtle for that. Well, maybe it’s an Ugly Sweater-esque take on an advanced style that normally is hard to consume? Perhaps, but for that use the flavours are a bit too strong, and the 10% ABV is anything but easy drinking. The high sugar further conspires to make you put the glass down far too early.
Ultimately, like having sex for the first time I don’t know what I want from this beer and it’s not quite sure how to make me happy. It’s certainly not bad but it certainly could be a whole lot better. Again, like sex, I’m very curious as to the effects of a few months in Pinot Noir barrels, but alas we will never know (in either case).
Still, we should all buy at least one, because minimally this represents the LDB’s first real interest in good beer, since they’ve bought a giant fucktonne of the stuff. Sure, I don’t doubt for a second that they’re only listing this because P49’s beer is selling gangbusters, but good beer should sell well, no?
Nose: Bananas, cloves and bread from the malt. Slight hint of noble hops. Impression is of banana bread with a bit of chocolate.
Appearance: Highly carbonated with a quickly dissipating head; pours thick opaque maroon.
Taste: Very malt forward. Some raisins. High sugar is perceptible, but reduced by noble hops and roast malt. Undercutting all this is a (mild) unpleasant carbonic acid tinge.
Should I buy it?: Yes. Buy one. If you like it, buy more.
|Name||Vow of Silence|
|SOA Now||None Awarded|
|SOA Potential||None Awarded|
|Would it be better barrel aged?||Oh hells yes|
|Availability||Widely available at LDB|
|Cost||$6.50 per 650ml bottle.|
|Similar BC Beers||Lighthouse Belgian Black|