Barley Mowat 

Three Sexy Stouts to Woo Someone Special

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Valentine’s is fast approaching, so what kind of beer do you need for the ale-loving significant other in your life? Everyone has their individual preferences, but when I think Valentine’s I think Imperial Stout. Imperials pair perfectly with two other great Valentine’s traditions: chocolate and oysters. Combine those two things with a sneakily high alcohol beer and you have the recipe for a perfect evening.

Sure, you probably don’t need to get people drunk to take off their clothes, but face it: it helps. Let’s just say Spring Break without alcohol is a lot more, er, restrained.

Alcohol free parties: a different kind of fun, but it’s still fun right? RIGHT? Aside: Dogs minus red-eye reduction equals CREEPY.

But how to impress that special someone? You can’t just go grab a bottle of any old stout, pour some cheap vodka in it and call it a day. No siree, you have to find something as special as that certain someone, and I’m not talking short-bus special.

Luckily, there are three stouts available right now in BC that are just a bit different to show that you care and, depending on how much you care, there’s one at every price point. More money equals more love; it’s a good rule of thumb that applies equally well to vacations, diamonds, wine and beer. (All prices courtesy of Legacy Liquor Store)

Up first is Lighthouse Belgian Black. I’ve raved about this beer just recently, and even though it’s now all of five days later I still think it’s a great beer. Sure, it’s not a traditional Imperial Stout, but the Belgian twist gives this guy some sex appeal, and isn’t that what we’re all about here?

Price: $8.15 per 650ml, ABV: 9.0%

Next is Parallel 49 Russian Imperial Stout [review]. Now we’re talking. This is a bourbon barrel-aged, wax dipped, monster of flavour. This inky black guy is not only extremely good, but also a conversation piece. Maybe your V-Day date hasn’t heard of barrel-aged beers or wax-dipping of bottles? Well, now they have, and maybe they’re learning that beer can be romantic, too.

Price: $13.75 per 650ml, ABV: 10.9%

Finally, Brooklyn Black Ops. Go big or go home. Not just bourbon barrel aged, but bourbon barrel aged in barrels that used to hold good bourbon (Woodford Reserve). This is quite possibly one of the best Imperial Stouts ever minted by man. In addition to being just a damned sexy beer in a damned sexy bottle, it’s bottle conditioned with champagne yeast, which means pulling the cork out will give a satisfying “pop” whilst the target of your desire coes appreciably from a fur lined bed in his or her best silk lingerie no-see-ums.

Okay fine, I suck at romantic writing; deal with it. Here, instead just look at a picture of Black Ops being all alluring and mysterious.

I’ll be in my bunk.

Now, before you look at that price and exlaim “for a BEER?! NO WAY!” think about how much you’d spend on a bottle of wine for Valentine’s without hesitation, and now you can feel bad. Sure, it’s marked up quite a bit from the $20 you can buy it for in Brooklyn, but so is that bottle of Californian red in your other hand. Put the grape juice down and man up, is what I’m saying here.

Price: $37.25 per 750ml, ABV 10.5%

Written by chuck

February 12th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

February Beer of the Month

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I was sitting at the Alibi the other day, and I actually got called out for selecting a Beer of the Month that the person next to me didn’t love. So, let’s review the rules, folks. Beers of the Month are beers that meet these criteria:

  1. I have tried them
  2. I liked them or found them technically interesting
  3. Are beers that I feel need broader attention

Notice anything missing from that list? Yeah: “Are really great.” A BOTM nod from me does not mean that this is the best beer you’ve ever had (although it might be, I haven’t been keeping up on my duty to stalk every reader and keep track of what beers you have or have not drunk), but it does mean the beer is interesting to me, Chuck, or perhaps an unusual beer from a brewery not known for unusual beers.

Mini rant over.

Okay, just to keep it interesting, for February I am choosing a beer that just happens to be really great as well. This might confuse some of you, but I just don’t care any more. February’s Beer of the Month is Lighthouse Belgian Black 2013. I know, I know, I’m pretty predictable.

I love this beer for a few reasons. First, the bottle: it’s painted all-over with a textured black paint that makes it stand out as much as it completely blocks any incoming light. The bottle also has a pirate skeleton on it, and I cannot stress how much this improves a beer simply because you can say “Yaaaaaaar!!!!” while pouring it, or maybe slip in an “Avast!” or two between sips. Try it. It makes the beer better; it truly does.


Second, a year ago this beer signalled to the planet that Lighthouse Brewing was playing for keeps in the good beer game in BC. Sure, Deckhand made us realize that “Lighthouse” and “Good Beer” could be in the same sentence, but Belgian Black was a great beer bombshell that took us all by surprise. Simply put, before Belgian Black I didn’t believe Lighthouse could produce cellar-quality ales and after I flat out knew they could.

Third, it’s even better than last year. A lot better. Brewmaster Dean McLeod tweaked the recipe to be a bit more Belgian, and wow it shows. The tone of the beer has become more malt forward, with hints of all the right dark Belgian flavours: cherry, plum, date, and a wee touch of a certain monk-i-ness. There is a depth and complexity of flavour in this beer that was only hinted at in the 2012 version.

It’s drinking well right now, but lay some of these down for a year or so and you will not be disappointed.

Tasting notes:

Nose: Plums, raisins, dates. Basically 3/3 of the Belgian Strong checklist. Fruity/spicey esters are absent/very low though.
Appearance: Persistent medium carbonation, thin tan head over a dark, opaque black body. Sexy!
Taste: Very malt forward with a complex Belgian funk. Hops are prominent but balanced.
Should I buy it?: Oh hells yes.

Coles notes:

Brewery Lighthouse
From Victoria
Name Belgian Black
Style Belgian Strong
SOA Now Silver
SOA Potential Gold
Drink Late 2013-2015
Pirate Score 1 for 1
Availability Widely available at LRS
Cost $8.00+ per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers P49 Vow of Silence

That’s three, but who’s keeping count?

Written by chuck

February 7th, 2013 at 4:12 pm

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Parallel 49 Vow of Silence

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With great accomplishments comes great responsibility. Such is the attitude I adopted prior to cracking open Parallel 49’s latest seasonal offering: Vow of Silence Belgian Strong/Belgian Quad. For those keeping score at home, P49 is just freaking killing it these days. It seems like pretty much anything and everything that Brewmaster Graham With touches turns to beery gold. Their list of recent home runs is impressive:

  • Schadenfreude: Perhaps the single best Märzen I have ever had.
  • Ugly Sweater: A smooth drinking Milk Stout? Za-what?
  • Russian Imperial Stout: A seriously good barrel-aged RIS worthy of cellar time.
  • Lost Souls: Chocolate pumpkin? It should be awful but it’s great.

And yeah, I edited that down because their regular trio of beers, while excellent, have been out for a while. Throw on top of a new barrel room, and not so subtle hints about messing around with sours, and we have a champion in the making, all in their first 12 months of operation. It’s no wonder that CAMRA Vancouver recently voted them the Second Best Brewery in BC.

So when a brewery with both technical competence and the will to experiment decides to tackle one of the biggest, most nuanced styles around (Belgian Quad), it’s a lock for awesome beer, right? Sadly this is not the case. Now don’t get me wrong: Vow of Silence is not a bad beer–it is anything but. In fact, if a lesser brewery put this together I’d be ecstatic, but from P49 I expect more.

In the end I’m just not sure what this beer is trying to be. It certainly isn’t a perfect Quad that will develop slowly and magnificently in your subterranean cellar for the next forty years. The flavours are bit too haphazard and subtle for that. Well, maybe it’s an Ugly Sweater-esque take on an advanced style that normally is hard to consume? Perhaps, but for that use the flavours are a bit too strong, and the 10% ABV is anything but easy drinking. The high sugar further conspires to make you put the glass down far too early.

Ultimately, like having sex for the first time I don’t know what I want from this beer and it’s not quite sure how to make me happy. It’s certainly not bad but it certainly could be a whole lot better. Again, like sex, I’m very curious as to the effects of a few months in Pinot Noir barrels, but alas we will never know (in either case).

Still, we should all buy at least one, because minimally this represents the LDB’s first real interest in good beer, since they’ve bought a giant fucktonne of the stuff. Sure, I don’t doubt for a second that they’re only listing this because P49’s beer is selling gangbusters, but good beer should sell well, no?

Tasting notes:

Nose: Bananas, cloves and bread from the malt. Slight hint of noble hops. Impression is of banana bread with a bit of chocolate.
Appearance: Highly carbonated with a quickly dissipating head; pours thick opaque maroon.
Taste: Very malt forward. Some raisins. High sugar is perceptible, but reduced by noble hops and roast malt. Undercutting all this is a (mild) unpleasant carbonic acid tinge.
Should I buy it?: Yes. Buy one. If you like it, buy more.

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver
Name Vow of Silence
Style Belgian Quad
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential None Awarded
Drink Now.
Would it be better barrel aged? Oh hells yes
Availability Widely available at LDB
Cost $6.50 per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers Lighthouse Belgian Black

Written by chuck

February 4th, 2013 at 4:30 pm

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