Barley Mowat 

Parallel 49 Black Christmas

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I suspect the recent increase of seasonal one-offs from Parallel 49 is a calculated attempt to monopolize my blogs’s beer review bandwidth. In addition to Salty Scot yesterday and today’s post, I have Ugly Sweater to get up in the near future (preview: buy it), and P49’s brewmaster Graham With has dropped severals hints of small batch release craziness still in the pipeline.

So what should we expect from P49’s third bomber release, coming directly on the heels of #2 on Wednesday? “Black Christmas” is marketed as a “Christmas Dark Ale,” but don’t go opening one of these guys hoping for a fantastical P49-style twist on your precious sweet, sticky Christmas Ales*. Nope, this guy is a CDA, straight up. I’m not sure where the “Christmas” aspect plays in, aside from the creepy label (side note: it was originally supposed to be the Grinch but the LDB nixed that, saying that a cartoonish label would inspire kids to drink it. To the LDB: The fuck?! Why are you selling beer to kids?)

This is so much… better?

One detail that’s hidden away in the small text on the label is that this beer makes use of “100 Mile Fresh Hops.” Usually beers containing fresh hops have that fact splattered in bold print all over the front, or even incorporated into the name, but not this one. In fact, even while discussing the beer with Graham, the freshness of the hops was not brought up.

But what does it taste like? As you’d expect with a CDA (Xmas or regular Cascadian variety), it pours nearly pitch black with a good deal of carbonation. The fresh hops announce themselves in the nose, followed by a nice malty/raisin scent.

Upon liberally pouring this down your beer hole, you get basically more of the same. The malty-raisin builds slowly sip to sip, and even presents a bit of rhubarb over time. The mouthfeel is rich, creamy, and definitely well executed. Bittering hops are not overdone. Essentially this is a nice well balanced English IPA that’s been coloured black through roasted wheat malt.

Overall, despite Graham’s obvious enthusiasm for this particular beer, I’m not as sold on it. It’s definitely a decent CDA, but the fresh hops throw an off-putting twist on the style. That’s the thing with experimenting, sometimes you get amazing results, and sometimes Chuck’s not a huge fan. Oh well, y’all should still (try to) buy it and drink it, it’s definitely worth a taste, it’s just not something I’ll likely grab again given all the other beers I’m morally obliged to taste and tell you about.

* Update: I’ve heard from the brewery that Christmas was used because of the timing of the release and the pine-forward hops, and that also there’s some trademark issues around “Cascadian”. I’m researching that and will post a hyper-rant if true.

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver, BC
Name Black Christmas
Style Cascadian Dark Ale
SOA Now Swing and a miss
SOA Potential n/a; not a cellaring ale.
Drink Now.
What Chuck really wanted for Xmas A CDA crossed with an Xmas ale. That would have been swell.
Availability Very limited release to LRS and at brewery
Cost $7.00-$9.00 per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers Howe Sound Gathering Storm, GIB CDA
Chuck says Buy it if you can find it.

Written by chuck

November 10th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

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Parallel 49 Salty Scot

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I guess they installed those 3 new 100hl conditioning tanks over at Parallel 49 (and thus freed up their line of 25s), because they’re just pumping out the seasonal releases now. First Ugly Sweater was dumped upon us (more on that later), then Salty Scot, and next week we get Grinch’d (an Xmas Dark Ale).

P49’s MO from the get go was to take intriguing twists on regular styles and make session-able beers out of them. This is why they’ve been producing six packs since day one. Recently they’ve branched out a bit with a series of 650ml bombers. These releases bring a bit more of The Flavour and a little less of the Must Drink Five More Right Now, but their origin in a session-focused brewery is undeniable.

The 2nd bomber release from P49 brings us Salty Scot. This is a Scotch Ale infused with sea-salt and caramel. I don’t know where they get their ideas from–perhaps from doing drugs on the loading dock–but keep it up guys, so far all the odd flavour pairings have worked, and this beer is no different.

Adding actual caramel to a beer has the potential to go all kinds of wrong. How do you get the flavour to stand out without adding so much caramel that the beer is sickly sweet in the end? Well, they did it. This beer has a nice hint of caramel, even toffee, backed by the solid smooth mouthfeel of a nice scotch ale.

The nose is light caramel and malty beer. Often heavier malted beers come across as “caramel-like” but this is the real McCoy, and the subtle different is quite nice. This is one of those rare beers that is just a joy to stick in your face and smell.

And then, right at the end of the taste, you get a nice salty punch. As is the theme here, it’s neither too strong or too light, it’s just right. About half a glass later, you feel all warm and squishy inside, and inquire as to what, exactly, the ABV of this guy is. Yup, it’s 7.5%, and it sneaks up on you, but that’s okay. Sometimes a little liquor warmth is a nice thing.

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver, BC
Name Salty Scot
Style Scotch Ale
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential n/a; not a cellaring ale.
Drink Now.
Adverse effects Marked increase in your daily use of “Yaaarrr!”
Availability Small release to LRS and at brewery
Cost $5.00-$8.00 per 650ml bomber; $10 in growler at the brewery
Similar Beers Russell Wee Angry, Storm Highland
Chuck says Buy several bottles to keep you company on those long, lonely nights at sea.


Written by chuck

November 9th, 2012 at 11:38 am

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Celebrate International Stout Day with these BC Stouts

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It’s International Stout Day, folks! Time to get crazy with your favourite pint of The Black! But how does the discerning beer snob celebrate such a broad ranging holiday in British Columbia, a province that–despite the near perfect climate for stout–focuses more on Cascadian style beers?

Sure, you could just pick up an import. Deschutes, Green Flash, North Coast, Elysian and Alameda all make very high quality stouts, and they’re all generally available to people with either a fistful of cash or who are capable of running faster than the guy at the till.

Which, let’s face it, most of us are not.

However, I–and my readers–are much too snobby to admit to the need to import beer, regardless of its quality. Despite BC’s reputation for multiple attempts at cramming the entire hop harvest into a single glass of IPA, our breweries do manage to squeak out a few good heavies once in a while.

So here’s my list of Barley Mowat Approved ™ ways to enjoy International Stout Day. You can find everything you need here for a stout-themed tour of BC, from the mundane and widely available, to those more select gems, to rare one-offs that only exist in theory for most of you. Go forth and buy, loyal legions!

Aside: Yes, I know there are some missing stouts. That’s because I feel this list is complete as it is, and adding in those other stouts wouldn’t really add anything here. If you feel differently, or maybe even brew those stouts, vent in the comments. If you’re loud enough, I’ll likely cave, because I have no spine.

Beers you can buy today

Brewery Beer Style Notes
Parallel 49 Ugly Sweater Milk Stout Just out; I think I like it better un-nitro’d in bottle (LDB).
Steamworks Heroica Oatmeal Stout Freshly bottled!
R&B Dark Star Oatmeal Stout Not my favourite, truth be told, but it sure is widely available in the LDB.
Howe Sound Pothole Filler Imperial Stout A full litre at 9%? What could possibli go wrong? Who are you looking at? WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?!?
Hoyne Dark Matter ??? Sure, it’s not technically a stout, but it sure is dark.
Hoyne Voltage Espresso Stout Still a few kicking around.
Russell Rick August Russian Imperial Stout Legacy just pulled a stack of these out of storage.
Crannóg Backhand of God Dry Stout Only on tap, but oh so good.
Storm Black Plague Sweet Stout If you’re lucky enough to have this on tap at your local today, start drinking and don’t stop.

Beers what are in your cellar.

Brewery Beer Style Notes
Driftwood Singularity Russian Imperial Stout Silver cap (’11) or wax top (’12), both are pouring well right now.
Phillips Hammer Imperial Stout Best thing Phillips has done in a long time.
R&B Dark Snout Bacon Stout Okay, I don’t have any, but I bet it will age… interestingly?

Written by chuck

November 8th, 2012 at 10:26 am

Posted in Beers