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Cabin Fever and Black Jackal

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Sweet mother of all that’s good in this world, can Phillips brewing do anything BUT a seasonal these days? I swear, they’re up to like two a month! Since we’re coming into the lull of seasonal releases what is more commonly called “Spring” expect my review feed to slowly become an all-Phillips show.

So here we go on their latest two releases: Black Jackal Imperial Coffee Stout and Cabin Fever Imperial Cascadian Dark Ale. How are they? Pretty damned good. They both suffer from that unique Phillips metallic tang, but the styles in use here don’t suffer for it quite as much as others. If you can ignore that, each of these beers is a competent execution of Imperial versions of fairly normal styles, and that’s enough to get on my good side.

Tasting notes:

Black Jackal:

Okay, it’s espresso not coffee, and good espresso at that. I love how the quality of the coffee you add to a beer is still perceptible a few months later in the bottle. The espresso used here isn’t as good as in Hoyne Voltage, but the beer itself is better. Between the two, I pick this one. The coffee is quite strong on this beer, but I don’t mind since it’s good espresso and not gord-awful chemicals dumped out of a Folgers tin straight into the conditioning tank (aka “pulling a Donny”).

NOSE Nose is thin alcohol with a strong espresso undertone.
APPEARANCE Opaque black with a persistent medium tan head.
TASTE Coffee, very mild dark fruits, and a lingering finish that blends the malt and the espresso together. Well done.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Definitely.

Cabin Fever:

Yes, I know that Cabin Fever officially says “Imperial Black IPA” on the bottle, but I ain’t playing that game. This is an amped up CDA, plain and simple. The roast is almost overdone on this, but the high booze level (8.5%) cuts that down a bit.

NOSE Whoa. Roasted malt, piney hops, light coffee (from the malt), and a thin booziness waft off this.
APPEARANCE Very deep brown with thin lingering light beige head.
TASTE Sweet malt cut by the booze up front, then the roasted bitterness kicks in and lingers, slowing mixing with a pronounced Phillips’ metallic tang.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Definitely. Buy both at the same time, even.

Coles notes:

Brewery Phillips
From Victoria
Name Black Jackal Cabin Fever
Style Imperial Coffee Stout Imperial CDA
SOA Now Bronze Bronze
SOA Potential n/a; table beer
Drink Now
Best use Avoiding breakfast Avoiding trademark litigation
Availability Most LRSs
Cost $7.00+ per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers (you can buy) Hoyne Voltage Howe Sound Gathering Storm
Chuck says Damned good. Buy ’em on sight to support better seasonals from Phillips.

Seriously guys, fix the metallic finish, and I’ll give you a silver.

Written by chuck

March 8th, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Beers

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March Beer of the Month 2013

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It’s been a few months since I picked a Parallel 49 beer as BOTM, so I figured “Hey, Graham’s about due.” And thus the March Beer of the Month decision was made: Parallel 49 From East Van With Love.

Okay, fine. It wasn’t that arbitrary; I picked this beer for a few good reasons. First, it’s great. This is a fine bourbon/maple stout that is perhaps Parallel 49’s best imperial stout to date.

Second, it’s a collaboration brew with Gigantic Brewing (Portland), and I love me some craft brewery collaboration. Collaboration embodies what makes craft beer so much better than macro, and reminds us how much we like each other in this industry (in general).

Third, the title is a fun play on the names of P49’s Graham With and Gigantic’s Ben Love, and combining good, craft brewed beer with that highest form of humour–the pun–is a tried and true tradition. Also, that they’re breaking new ground by using a non-hops-based pun is practically revolutionary.

Fourth, they brewed this beer in tuxes. Freaking tuxes. I’m not sure how, but it absolutely has to class up this stout. Perhaps maybe my palate isn’t sensitive enough to pick up the subtleties that tuxes no doubt bring to the scene, but I’m sure they’re there (like fancy fibres, ghosts of proms past, and, let’s face it, sweat).

Hot? Yeah, I’ll go with hot.
Image blatantly stolen off P49’s Facebook Page

Tasting notes:

NOSE Bourbon and maple mixed with caramel/dark fruits but well blended so as to not be overpowering. Some fruity/spicey esters.
APPEARANCE Black as the night. Soft tan head.
TASTE Bourbon/Maple highlights the taste with caramel malt in the background. Some slight dark fruit there if you look for it. Well blended and super smooth.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yes. Immediately.

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49 / Gigantic
From Vancouver / Portland
Name From East Van With Love
Style Imperial Stout
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential Bronze
Drink Now through 2014
AKA From Cascadia With Love, but we don’t want to talk about that.
Availability Brewery store only right now. LRS maybe to come
Cost $12.60 per 650ml bottle
Similar BC Beers Driftwood Singularity, Phillips Hammer, Parallel 49 RIS

It’s only just starting for P49. They have a dedicated Barrel Room, remember.

Written by chuck

March 6th, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Beers

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Driftwood Twenty Pounder

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With virtually no warning Driftwood dropped this guy on the market two weeks ago. A lot of people didn’t notice because we were all preoccupied with the Alibi’s 400th tap list rotation, but once the giddy fogginess (aka hangover) cleared there was a new beer on LRS shelves staring us down. A big, mean, threatening beer.

That beer is Driftwood Twenty Pounder, their take on the a delightfully extreme style. This is only the second release of Driftwood’s Double IPA, and they’ve adjusted the recipe rather significantly in the direction of Crazy Weird Hop Party.

Pictured: Crazy Weird Hop Party

So is it any bloody good? Well yeah, what else did you expect from Driftwood? Of course it’s bloody good. Is it amazing? Nah, not really. Once you ratchet up the hops in a DIPA into “Humulus LD50 Research” territory I begin to lose interest, and this beer is definitely up in that rarefied air.

Giant hop-bombs measure their figurative dicks with something called the International Bittering Units scale. A score of sub 10 gets you light lagers, a classic British Bitter might be in the 20-40 range, while proper American/Cascadian IPAs start showing up around 50 or 60. Beers in the “as many hops as you can fit in the kettle” hop wars, though, put down “100+ IBUs” on the label as a badge of honour. It’s not that the scale stops at 100, but that the methods used to measure bitterness (largely via spectrophotometer) simply stop working above 100 and you wind up with “I dunno… a lot, I guess?” as the official result from the lab.

Not that 120 would mean much more than 135, though. Once you’ve past 100 the flavour of the beer just sorta becomes hops, hops, hops and nothing but hops. You know me; I like a balanced, flavourful beer (hence my preference for the much sweeter, viscous Cascadian IPA style over the dryer more bitter American IPA), and this beer might have been just that had they stopped adding hops about 1/3 of the way in. They didn’t, and we have a massive hop bomb.

In the end, I prefer the original, as the sweet body balanced the hops nicely. This beast just seems out of whack, and even more so than Russell’s recent Hop Therapy DIPA, which I found dry but not overwhelming. I’d love to do a side-by-each of both these monster beers, but alas they’re now equally hard to find in stores.

Hopheads rejoice, though, this is a beer for you.

Tasting notes:

NOSE Big pine with a solid under-layer of citrus. Both are hops-based aromas, I should note.
APPEARANCE Orange/brown with a thin sticky head (from the hops)
TASTE Hops. Hops. Hops. Some spiciness (caused by lots of hops) is about the only secondary flavour you get here.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Do you like so many hops you can smell them through the cap? The answers to these two questions are basically the same.

Coles notes:

Brewery Driftwood
From Victoria
Name Twenty Pounder
Style American Imerial IPA
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential Not a cellaring ale
Drink Now.
Days until your “not a hops fan” girlfriend dares come within 10 feet of your stinky ass 2
Availability Running low at most LRS
Cost $8.00+ per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers Russell Hop Therapy

Written by chuck

February 27th, 2013 at 3:02 pm

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