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Parallel 49 Hopnotist

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Has it been a year already? It seems like only yesterday that a massively-funded brewing start-up in East Van was setting up shop with dreams of selling metric shittonnes of beer to the world. That brewery, of course, is Parallel 49. Just over a year later they’ve proven all my early concerns about over-production to be bunk, and are producing hit after hit after hit, all of which are welcomed then consumed by a growing fan base of ravenous craft beer devotees. Almost anything Graham With brews is gold, and pretty much everyone out there agrees with me, judging by the increasing stack of trophies and accolades in the corner of the brewery’s tasting room.

To celebrate turning one, they’ve brewed and released that heavy of the craft beer scene, an Imperial IPA. This is big news for a brewery that doesn’t even have a Bitter or a regular IPA in their standard line-up. Their one dalliance with the hoppier side of the fence was Lord of the Hops, and while not a bad beer by any stretch, it just didn’t have enough wow factor seriously challenge the reigning IPA kings of Driftwood Fat Tug, Lighthouse Switchback and Central City IPA.

But Lord of the Hops was not an Imperial. How is their first foray into hops madness? Really fucking awesome, that’s how it is. Hopnotist is everything you could hope for from an Imperial IPA: sticky, hoppy, resiny, citrusy, juicy, wow-in-a-jar awesomeness. Did I mention that, in addition to all this, it’s unfiltered? Yup, this beast pours hazier than my Friday night memories of your mom, and the taste is just as… yeah, not going that far. Let’s just say there’s lots of yeast character in this beer.

In short, this is, in my opinion, the best beer Parallel 49 has brewed to date. It is the best Imperial IPA in BC by far, and that’s a province that has all of: Russell Hop Therapy, Driftwood Twenty Pounder and Central City Imperial IPA. The bitterness of the hops, while present, is balanced out nicely by the huge malt. Just when you think the sugar might be too much, the yeast shows up to give it character, depth and complexity.

I bought three, and I did not buy enough.

Tasting notes:

NOSE Huge citrus flavours, orange, jack fruit, kiwi
APPEARANCE Hazy orange with a lingering tight white head
TASTE Balanced, believe it or not. The high sugar lets the flavours of the hops play rather than let the bitterness dominate
SHOULD I BUY IT? Steal from your mom to buy it. I sure as hell did

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver
Name Hopnotist
Style Imperial IPA
SOA Now Gold. Wanna make something of it?
SOA Potential Might cellar, but how could you leave it alone that long?
Drink Now.
Indecent dreams I’ve had about this beer in the past week 9. I went back to sleep twice to get more.
Availability Brewery and at select LRS
Cost $6.60 per 650ml bottle at the brewery (resupply this Sunday). Slightly more elsewhere. Holy shit that’s cheap.
Similar BC Beers Russell Hop Therapy, Driftwood Twenty Pounder and Central City Imperial IPA.


Here’s a little gold to go on your trophy shelf.

Written by chuck

May 16th, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Beers

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May Beer of the Month

with one comment

The more astute of you might have noticed my BOTM not being updated for April. This is for a few reasons, namely:

  1. I was in Bolivia
  2. No beer stood out in April
  3. I plain old forgot

Mostly, though, it was number two there. I always said I’d skip a month if no beer of note was released, and that was the case. Sure, there were a few that piqued my interest slightly, but in the end none of them really fit the bill.

May, though, is a different story. A beer was released in late April, and is still available in stores right now, that is definitely something to think about. It’s Driftwood Clodhopper. Clodhopper is virtually unique amongst beers in BC because it’s brewed with barley grown and malted in BC. Sourcing local barley might seem like a huge chore when there’s a nice website you can just plain old order the stuff from by the pallet-load, but it’s the next big step for breweries to take on the road to making better beer.

The problem is this: sure, it’s nice and easy to order from that catalogue, and you sure do get a consistent product, but you know who else can order from that catalogue? Everyone. Every single brewery in BC can, and does, source barley from one of a handful of possible locations. Barley contributes as much flavour to a beer as yeast and hops do, both of which are carefully considered before being used (yeast is mostly propagated in-house, and hops are increasingly locally sourced, or even home grown in some cases). Barley, though? Give Ed at BarleyWorld a call and get 500kg of the Malt. See if we can’t get some with less rats this time.


But not no rats, though. They help with stirring the mash. And add flavour.

Not Driftwood Clodhopper, though. This is made with barley grown mere minutes from the brewery. Sure, the farm isn’t very big, and the harvest is likewise small, so they’re restricted to this one release, but the demand is there and it’s growing. Unique, malt-forward beers are coming.

Unless, of course, the government doesn’t do anything. You see, one of the main advantages of using all-BC ingredients in your booze is you can then sell the resultant happy-juice tax free from your establishment. The goal here is to create demand for BC-grown ingredients that are traditionally sourced from out of province. Demand equals jobs which equals, let’s face it, votes. Wineries have long enjoyed this little break, and just recently the government opened up the legislation, stared long and hard at the wording, and changed it… to include distilleries. Breweries, on other hand, can just go fuck themselves.

How does this threaten beer made from local malt? I mean, if it’s better, you’ll do it anyway right? You sure would, if the farmer hadn’t already sold it to distillers. Yeah, that locally distilled, high octane, booze, in addition to being awesome, is also made from–you guessed it–barley malt. Sucks to be a brewer wanting to make better beer.

Oh well, enough rambling from me, go out and enjoy this beer, and think about all the political nuances that went into its creation.

Tasting notes:

APPEARANCE Low, almost no, carbonation. Dark red/brown body.
NOSE Some darker fruits (plum, cherry), thick sugar/malt nose, with a hint of spiciness on the end.
TASTE Smooth, lots of blackened caramel, and just a wee bit of Belgian funk
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yes. Buy three. No, four.

Coles notes:

Brewery Driftwood
From Victoria
Name Clodhopper
Style Abbey Dubbel
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential Bronze
Drink Now. Might improve with some age, but it’s good right now.
Label Seriously, what an ugly label. What gives, guys?
Availability Widely available at LRS
Cost $7-10 per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers None right now

Written by chuck

May 6th, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Posted in Beers

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Granville Island Cloak and Dagger

with 3 comments

Well, here we are. GIB has finally let loose with the 2013 version of their Cascadian Dark Ale, the 2012 version of which started the whole CascadiaGate issue. Or, at least, that’s Steamworks’ story and they’re sticking with it.

For their part, Steamworks has since announced that everything is fine, and they realized the errors of their ways. Anyone can use “Cascadia” in the style of a beer, just so long as they don’t use it as the name (then they’ll have to pay $1). But I digress, this is not a story anyone even remotely familiar with beer in BC is not completely sick of. Kind of like our overly restrictive beer laws. What? Those are still here? Crap.


Pictured: Great beer in Costco. This is a thing that happens elsewhere in the world.

GIB also took the opportunity to relaunch their Limited Release Series as the Black Book Series. The beers themselves will be familiar versions of Brewmaster Vern Lambourne’s brews of years past, but they will have funky new labels and, for the first time, names.

Naming the beers is a concession to the “style but not name” requirement from Steamworks above, but also overdue. Good beers deserve names. The branding, though, is curious, as it de-emphasizes the “Granville Island Brewing” aspect so prevalent on GIB’s Molson-brewed beers, and instead highlights the specific beer. Frankly, the difference in quality between Molson’s “Granville Island” and Vern’s “Granville Island” has long been ill-served by the similar-looking bottles, so I say “well played, GIB.”

Anyway, back to the beer. What was the point of everyone turning towards Steamworks last fall and muttered “The fuck?” if not to protect a brewery’s right to make a fantastic hoppy beer and rightfully–truthfully–call it “Cascadian.” Sadly, that hypothetical beer is not this one (although Parallel 49 just released a Cascadian Dark Lager…)

Cloak and Dagger is a Cascadian Dark Ale, and all CDAs tend to be good, but it lacks that massive hop punch that trademarks the style. In fact, this is somewhat of a sweet ale… with an approachable taste, and that’s my main issue. CDAs are a beer nerd’s nerdy beer, and this just isn’t that. Sure, it has some of the toasted malt we all like in our CDAs, but that’s about it.

Tasting notes:

NOSE Dark malt, some roast coffee, and a mild punch of hops
APPEARANCE Black as night with light tan head
TASTE Sweet malt, although some bitterness from the roasting, not a lot of hops to back it up
SHOULD I BUY IT? Depends. Do you like sweeter, maltier IPAs? Then yes. Otherwise, give it a skip.

Coles notes:

Brewery Granville Island
From Vancouver
Name Cloak and Dagger
Style Cascadian Dark Ale
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential Not a cellaring ale
Drink Now.
Lawsuit odds I’ll give you 4:1. I just don’t see them doing it.
Availability Widely available at LRS
Cost $? per 650ml bottle (free sample).
Similar BC Beers Howe Sound Gathering Storm

Written by chuck

April 30th, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Posted in Beers

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