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 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.
Dark–almost brown–with a very tightly laced, off-tan head.
Piney, resiny hops dominates completely. Is this the Juniper or the Simcoe or the Juniper? No one knows.
Sweet, intense hops, but virtually absent malt/sugar body. Fairly one-dimensional.
7.7% ABV / 35 IBU / Juniper-infused
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.
Pours cloudy orange-amber with a persistent, tight white head. This is a pretty beer.
Orange peel with a yeasty punch in the back. Definitely intriguing.
Bright citrus tang over thin, almost wheaty malt. Strong candy-like sweetness almost completely masks the very high ABV. This is a dangerous beer.
9.2% ABV / 76 IBU
Ya know what? Definitely worth a try. If you buy two, though, it WILL sneak up on you.
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.
Deep auburn, almost black. No carbonation. Thin, quickly dissipating head. High alcohol shows legs.
Rick oak/vanilla. Some sweetness lingers from the honey. Low hops. Some caramel.
Sweet and rich with a curious spiciness and high viscosity/luxurious mouthfeel. Hits most of the dark fruit checklist: plum, date, caramel.
10.2% ABV / 8.5 IBU / Braggot
Yes, yes, oh dear me, yes. Good luck with that, though.
|Name||Sahti Claws||Toques of Hazzard||Braggot|
|Style||Shati||Imperial White IPA||Braggot|
|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|
Ever wonder why those slickly awesome 33 Acres ceramic growlers are $65? Watch the video below to see how they’re made from start to finish, by hand, down in Portland (by the logically named Portland Growler Company). In addition to the clean aesthetic of the pure white version favour by 33 Acres, they have one-of-a-kind wood-fired versions (for twice the price, of course).
There’s still time to order one for that special beer geek in your life (or beer blogger that you secretly adore from afar), but before you whip out that VISA there are two caveats that you’ll need to accept:
- Shipping is pricey, as these guys are both heavy AND in the US. $30 shipping on a $65 growler might discourage you, but then again, that’s what Point Roberts was built for. Plus, of course, 33 Acres has a few of their branded versions left in their tasting room.
- Being opaque, these beautiful little vessels can’t be used in the growler-filling stations so popular in BC (which require the operator to watch the beer levels inside). So tap fills it must be. UPDATE: 33 Acres says they’ve figured it out, but other breweries might not be as clever.
Even with those drawbacks, they’re still awfully pretty to look at.
The first recommendation from the BC Liquor Review is here, and it kinda sucks. Sure, booze in grocery stores will be swell and all, but the nagging bit is that whole “maintain the current cap on the total number of retail outlets”–a cap which has been frozen for some years now. Go read the whole thing here. Retaining the cap is a dreadful mistake.
What this means is that your local grocery store need not apply for a license to sell liquor. No new licenses will be created. Instead, they will be forced to try and buy an existing LRS, close it, and transfer the license. For those not in the know, LRS licenses tend to be obscenely profitable, because you’re selling liquor in a market that restricts possible competition (see above re: license cap).
That, in turn, means only the biggest chains will have the cash piles to undertake this process, and that means the in-store retail experience will be focused on recouping the massive outlay required to set the damn thing up in the first place… which means selling loads of product… which means macro beer. Yaaaaay.
Compounding this focus on mass market appeal and high sales volumes will be a disparity between the major stores and smaller food outlets. While the majors will be able to afford to close down a small LRS to pillage the license, the smaller shops won’t. You’ll start seeing situations where a big chain store will have an awesome “Alcoholz of the Werlds!1! W00t!” section on one side of the street while the smaller retail shop on the other side will just have plain old, stupid, boring food with those lousy “nutrients” the hippies won’t shut up about.
So, we just set up an massive system to reward the big, mainstream shops for being so big and mainstream. Yay us. Sure, in the end, I still think this is a small step forward, but I’m not so sure that the heel past the toe here.