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Parallel 49 Ugly Sweater

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For those that need a primer, a Milk Stout is much like a regular stout, but in addition to fermenting all those lovely malt-derived sugars (maltose) we also get the lazy, good-for-nothing, cows to pitch in and contribute something for a change. That something is lactose, and yes, Milk Stout is effectively raw milk… but mixed with beer… okay, maybe I’m not adequately selling it here…

Believe it or not, all that milk really IS a good thing. Milk Stouts have the richest, creamiest body you could possibly imagine, and brewers exploit that to float very strong, heavy flavours on top of that creamy body. Southern Tier makes a fantastic Crème Brûlée Milk Stout, each sip of which requires solid concentration to consume, and a bottle of which is a solid winter’s evening project.

All of this creates a problem for Ugly Sweater. You see, if it’s in a six pack from Parallel 49 it’s meant to be a sessionable beer, aka something you can quaff 3 or 4 of without thinking twice. The choice of a Milk Stout as a session ale is confusing at best, and definitely worrisome.

But you know what? They pulled it off. Galldernit if those guys over on Triumph street are managing to not only not screw up unlikely beer combinations, but to actually make them delicious. Pumpkin in a Märzen? Golden. Caramel in a Scotch Ale? Solid. And a Milk Stout as a session beer? Done.

The trick is that this beer is not so much a stout as it is a solid porter, and rather than using the lactose to build a massive sweet chocolatey body on top of which to build a skyscraper of flavour, they’ve dialed it down to just a nice creamy mouthfeel with a hint of cocoa.

Serving temperature matters with this guy. You’re looking for about 50F (10C), which means leaving it outside in the day around now should be just about right. At that temperature, you should definitely pick out the chocolate, but also some coffee, toffee and definitely a little bitter bit from the hops. Before you know it, though, your glass will be empty and you’ll be reaching for another.

UPDATE: Dave Shea, who actually–you know–brews beer, corrects me: milk stouts just contain lactose, not fermented lactose. In fact, lactose is added specifically because it doesn’t ferment, which is the source of all that creamy goodness… mmm… creamy goodness… anyone else thirsty?

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver, BC
Name Ugly Sweater
Style Milk Stout
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential n/a. Not a cellaring beer.
Drink Now. In sixes.
Preferred attire for drinking Oddly enough, a smoking jacket.
Availability Widely available at LRS & some LDB
Cost $12.25-16.00 per 6x341ml bottle.
Similar Beers None in BC
Chuck says Buy a six pack. Drink it. Buy a six pack. Drink it. Buy a six pack…

I’m running out of Bronze medals.

Written by chuck

November 16th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Beers

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Plan B Idiot Rock

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Some of you might have never heard of Plan B Brewing. They’re a newish micro-brewery bringing craft beer to the locals of Smithers, BC. Now that’s what I call fighting the good fight. It’s a great story, and you can just imagine all the anecdotes about these guys convincing bar and hotel owners to take a chance with local beer in the middle of a region of the province firmly in the grasp of the big macros.

So when the intrepid owners of Brewery Creek decided to bring in a crate of Plan B Brewing for BC Beer Month I was excited to finally get my hands on a sample of the Good Work that owner/brewer Mark Gillis is doing way up yonder. Add to that the fact that these bottles having some pretty neat graphics and I was down right excited to pop one open and have a go.

Okay, the colour’s about right for an IPA, but I don’t care about that. And the nose is… huh… uninteresting, I guess. But it’s all about the flavour, right? So here goes.

I’d like to think I’ve developed a semi-decent palate when it comes to beer. I can generally pick out off flavours, and I now count myself amoungst that obnoxious segment of beer geeks who can tell you what region of the world the hops came from. But there is something… not quite right… about this beer. Some off flavour that I haven’t encountered yet.

Leave it to Dave Shea (he of local homebrewing award fame) to put his BCJP-in-training finger on it: Chlorides. This beer is stacked to the rafters with chlorides. Go to MEC, pick up some water purification/chlorine tablets, and then cram them in your next IPA to get a very very good approximation of what this beer tastes like.

Is this flavour on purpose? I would hope not, but there seems to be enough commentary online to rule out a single bad batch. I mean, they get Lighthouse Switchback up at the Smithers LDB, so we know they have a great IPA to set the bar by. How do you set out to brew an IPA and wind up with this? Or more importantly, wind up with this and then shrug your shoulders and say “Fuck it, it’ll do” then transfer it over to the bottling line?

I won’t bother continuing the tasting notes on this guy, because frankly there is no getting past that giant wall of chemicals that simply shouldn’t be there. All chance of this beer impressing me disappeared the second I found a commonality between it and the stuff I clean my toilet with.

Sorry, Mark, I wanted to like this just for the romance, but Try Harder. I guess I should have listened to my internal Spidy-Sense when the clerk at Brewery Creek described it as “Not bad for a first try.”

Drain pour.

Coles notes:

Brewery Plan B Brewing
From Smithers, BC
Name Idiot Rock
Style American IPA
SOA Now No seal awarded
SOA Potential No seal awarded
Drink Not now, but give them a second chance in a year or so.
Best non-beer use Disinfecting your brew kit.
Availability Brewery Creek LRS
Cost $7.00 per 650ml bottle? (I can’t remember)
Similar Beers Any IPA with a chlorine tablet in it.
Chuck says Ugh. I tried to wash the flavour out with Hermannator but couldn’t. Think about that for a second.

Written by chuck

November 13th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Beers

Lighthouse Uncharted

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Belgian IPAs are growing in popularity (especially amongst friends named “Edan”) but still remain a niche style in the shadow of both their progenitors (Belgian Ales and IPAs). Luckily, year round we can get two decent Belgian IPAs in BC: Phillips Hoperation and Green Flash Le Freak. Hoperation is great and affordable while Le Freak is a better take on the style, but costs almost twice as much.

For a few short weeks in the fall, though, a third option is available. Lighthouse Brewing’s recent focus on Belgian beers (think Deckhand, White and Black) and IPAs (Switchback, duh) should give you some inkling that a Belgian IPA is something they can pull off.

I mean, if the base case is dumping a vat of Deckhand into Switchback and calling it a day, then a purpose brewed release should be great, right? And it is. The 2012 release of Uncharted is a solid Belgian IPA, and takes it’s rightful place right between Hoperation and Le Freak on the continuity of Goodness (and price).

Tasting notes are pretty much what you’d expect: a solid Belgian funk over a tangy rich New Zealand hoppiness. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, as one would hope for from a Belgian abbey ale. Despite the label’s claims about the lack of filters and general cloudiness, the beer pours a crisp clear light amber with absolutely no trace of residual yeasts. I’m not saying it’s filtered, but I am saying that getting an unfiltered Belgian this clear and clean is a pretty slick technological feat.

A big bodied Belgian Abbey Ale like the base of this guy should age well, but the second you add those NZ hops you’re asking for disappointment if you put these down. So buy ’em and drink ’em, but not all at once. At 7.5% ABV a couple bottles of this will get you into trouble.

Coles notes:

Brewery Lighthouse Brewing
From Victoria, BC
Name Uncharted
Style Belgian IPA
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential Bronze. The Belgian part might age, but the IPA part won’t. They’ll meet in the middle, says I.
Drink Now.
Odds that someone, somewhere, has the label as a tattoo Better than 30%
Availability Broad LRS and rumours of LDB
Cost $5.50-$7.00 per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers Phillips Hoperation, Green Flash Le Freak
Chuck says Might as well pick up a few, in case Edan comes over.

It might age, but I’m not the guy to do it.

Written by chuck

November 11th, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Posted in Beers