Barley Mowat 

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Parallel 49 Braggot, Sahti Claws, Toques of Hazzard

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Another big ole dump of seasonals from Graham With and the brew crew at Parallel 49, and another triple review by me. P49’s massive brewing capacity fuels their penchant for mass-dumping beers on the market in triplicate. Where most breweries can only afford to dedicate brewing capacity to a single one-off at a time, P49 apparently has no such constraint.

The giant fermenters are apparently pumping out enough Old Boy, Hoparazzi and Gypsy Tears that the little vessels can be handed over to interesting one-offs. And by “little” I mean “25hl conical fermenters”–tanks large enough to be a regular micro-brewery’s main line. It sure is nice to live in a province where a single brewery can profitably produce literally hundreds of hecto litres of beer at a time.

But I digress, on to what I think of these latest releases.

Sahti Claws

Sahti is a traditional Finnish beer that relies upon Juniper berries for bittering instead of (or in addition to) hops. I know all this because I just read it on Wikipedia. The concept of Juniper-infused beer is an intriguing one; perhaps this beer will finally bridge the gap between gin and beer? One can only hope.

APPEARANCE Dark–almost brown–with a very tightly laced, off-tan head.
NOSE Piney, resiny hops dominates completely. Is this the Juniper or the Simcoe or the Juniper? No one knows.
TASTE Sweet, intense hops, but virtually absent malt/sugar body. Fairly one-dimensional.
STATS 7.7% ABV / 35 IBU / Juniper-infused
SHOULD I BUY IT? Meh. There are better beers out there, and this can be roughly simulated by throwing an ounce of gin in an okay IPA.

Toques of Hazzard

As a general rule, I’m not a huge fan of White IPAs. I fully admit this is a personal flaw rather than anything inherently wrong with the style. I just don’t get all a-tingly over these beers as I find the melange of flavours to be almost haphazard (except the juicy, fragrant Powell Street Citra White IPA).

Does jacking up the typically already high ABV to extreme levels change that for me? Not really. However, some of the citrusy sweet awesomesauce that makes Powell Street’s White IPA so appealing can be found in Toques, and that does score it some points.

APPEARANCE Pours cloudy orange-amber with a persistent, tight white head. This is a pretty beer.
NOSE Orange peel with a yeasty punch in the back. Definitely intriguing.
TASTE Bright citrus tang over thin, almost wheaty malt. Strong candy-like sweetness almost completely masks the very high ABV. This is a dangerous beer.
STATS 9.2% ABV / 76 IBU
SHOULD I BUY IT? Ya know what? Definitely worth a try. If you buy two, though, it WILL sneak up on you.

Braggot

Another weird style? Why not? Braggot is a half-beer, half-mead concoction that seeks to combine the best of both worlds. Unlike the Sahti above, I didn’t have to go look up this definition since the beer world has been all abuzz over Parallel 49’s Braggot for about a year now. We’ve been gossiping about this beer so long because it has spent ten months slowly aging in barrels. That should be enough information to influence your purchase decision right there–assuming you can find any of the beeswax dipped bottles at your local LRS.

APPEARANCE Deep auburn, almost black. No carbonation. Thin, quickly dissipating head. High alcohol shows legs.
NOSE Rick oak/vanilla. Some sweetness lingers from the honey. Low hops. Some caramel.
TASTE Sweet and rich with a curious spiciness and high viscosity/luxurious mouthfeel. Hits most of the dark fruit checklist: plum, date, caramel.
STATS 10.2% ABV / 8.5 IBU / Braggot
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yes, yes, oh dear me, yes. Good luck with that, though.

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver
Name Sahti Claws Toques of Hazzard Braggot
Style Shati Imperial White IPA Braggot
SOA Now n/a Bronze Silver
SOA Potential n/a n/a Silver
Drink Now Now 2015-2018
Availability Most LRSs, some LDBs and at the brewery Uh… Darbys, maybe?
Cost ~$7 / 650ml ~$8 / 650ml ~$15 / 650ml
Similar Beers None Every other White IPA None


Nothing more silver than honey, sez I.

Written by chuck

December 9th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

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Whistler The Chief Chipotle Ale

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It’s been a while since I last reviewed a run-of-the-mill beer off the LDB’s shelves. Coincidentally, it looks like Whistler Brewing Company has a new bomber out there: The Chief Chipotle Red Ale. If you need a refresher, I’ve been rather harsh on WBC in the past, but I’ve also given props where props are due.

I’m nothing if not pragmatic, and realize it can be hard for a company focused on low-to-mid-range beer to break away from the mass consumer market and instead focus on the high end beer geek crowd, but WBC definitely put their toes in the water with Lost Lake, a delightfully unfiltered IPA. Lost Lake represented a brief, welcome break from a line-up focused on sweetened beers best consumed from a jagged hole in the side of a can. Seriously, they have nine different beers listed at the LDB, and fully five of those are sweetened offerings that can only charitably be called “entry level products.”

Where does The Chief fit in here? Let’s start with the name. Aside from ominously stepping on the Squamish-based product naming scheme of Howe Sound Brewing, slapping “The Chief” on a spicy pepper infused Red Ale should promise a big, meaty, high-malt beer with lots of mineral complexity. This beer is none of those things.

Granted, it’s not awful, which is much better than I’d feared. However, a “Chipotle Red Ale” named after the largest chunk of granite on the planet can ill-afford to be boring, and that’s exactly where this beer leaves you. Whistler, you can do better than this.

APPEARANCE Clear, light auburn red with thin, quickly dissipating white lead. Very low carb.
NOSE Slight chipotle–not much else.
TASTE Not overwhelming, dry, chipotle bitterness, but rather unpleasant. Virtually no other flavour.
STATS 5.0% ABV / ?? IBU / Chipotle-infused
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yeah, it’s a skip. You might have $5.75 burning a hole in your pocket but you’d be better off eating the money instead.

Coles notes:

Brewery Whistler
From Whistler
Name The Chief
Style Red Ale
SOA Now n/a
SOA Potential n.a
Drink Your sink should drink it
Number of good beers with chipotle 0 and counting
Availability Most LDBs
Cost $5.75 per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers Rogue Chipotle Ale

Written by chuck

November 27th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

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Four Winds Saison Brett

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It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a beer. I thought about throwing up something on Driftwood Lustrum, but talking about the cellaring potential and general awesomeness of a beer you could no longer buy just seems cruel (I will update my cellaring page with details, though, so those lucky few who managed to get some can track their investment).

Today, though, I happened upon some Four Winds Saison Brett and figured the world could benefit from my thoughts on this interesting, complex and–perhaps most importantly–still available beer.

Tasting notes:

First, it comes in a cork and wire bottle. That gets some points from me right off the bat. Only three beers have ever been released in BC with corks, and Four Winds has now made two of those. Throw some Brett-infected barrel-aging on the fire and now we’re talking serious potential.

Does it live up to that potential? In a word: Yes. In two words: fuck yes. This is a refined, polished beer that makes nigh perfect use of barrel aging and Brett funk to add complexity to an already great beer. I opened this bottle with very high expectations and Four Winds met them.

This beer is drinking beautifully now, but it will continue to develop intense complexity with cellaring, likely for up to another 2-3 years.

APPEARANCE Cloudy, golden amber with a slight orange tint. Head is frothy, white and long lasting.
NOSE Bread yeast with a strong Brett funk. Slight pepper spiciness.
TASTE Crisp, dry body with a lingering funk from the Brett. Mild apple esters with a slightly bitter, oaky finish.
STATS 7.0% ABV / 28 IBU / Unfiltered / Bottle Conditioned
SHOULD I BUY IT? This is an elegant beauty of a beer, and definitely the best Saison BC has ever seen. So, uh, yeah, buy it.

Where to get it: The following stores purchases some stock of Saison Brett, but may or may not have sold out by now:

Legacy Liquor (rumoured out)
Brewery Creek
Fire Fly
BotteJockey
Darby’s
Hastings Liquor
Westcoast Liquor Kerrisdale
Kitsilano Liquor
Steamworks Liquor
Burrard Liquor
16th St. Liquor
Village Liquor
Hop & Vine
Bainbridge
Big Ridge
Central City
O’Hares
Spinnakers Liquor Stores
Cascadia Liquor Stores
Scotties (Squamish)

Coles notes:

Brewery Four Winds
From Delta
Name Saison Brett
Style Saison
SOA Now Gold
SOA Potential Gold-ier
Drink Now-2015
Improvement the cork makes +20% – I’m shallow, okay?
Availability Small release, major LRSs and brewery only
Cost ~$13 per 750ml bottle
Similar Beers Maybe Upright Seven, or Logsdon Seizoen Bretta–nothing made in BC

 


Gold because of the bar
this has set for BC-brewed beers.

Written by chuck

November 23rd, 2013 at 1:44 pm

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