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Parallel 49 Humphrey BdG, VCBW Altbier, Black Hops

with 3 comments

Yeah, that’s three beers up in the title. Sure, Hopnotist got its own post, but it’s one of the most outstanding beers produced in BC in the past twelve months (name another? Okay, Lighthouse Siren; not what you expected, eh?).

Now, I’m not saying these three beers aren’t good beers. They all are, to varying degrees, but I only have so much review bandwidth these days, and thus all three get crammed into a single review. Seriously, folks, my beer closet has an actual, physical queue of beers waiting for me to taste them. This job sucks.

Tasting notes:

Humphrey Bière de Garde

If you asked me a month ago to peg P49’s next release, I absolutely would not have gone with a traditional old-world style like a Bière de Garde. Black Hops (bottom) would have been more like my best guess: a weird West Coast take on a non-mainstream style. Colour me stupid, then, for Parallel 49 went and released both.

In short, Humphrey is a subtle Canadian variation of a malt-forward old world strong ale. I do like this beer, but ultimately it falls a bit short of its potential because of the malt used (a bit too new world grainy for my tastes). Better malt would yield a better product, but alas there just aren’t that many high quality, small batch malts available… yet.

In any event, by the time you’re done the bottle, the pleasant liquor burn (7% ABV) and balanced hops do much to make you forgot your longing for better grain. There is some ageing potential here, but honestly this beer is drinking just fine right now.

APPEARANCE Auburn/amber with very low carbonation.
NOSE Very subtle farmhouse aromatics and grainy malt.
TASTE Caramel, grain, and a great spice from the hops. Subtle flavours build over course of the glass.
SHOULD I BUY IT? As a rare example of a malt-forward ale in this hop-crazy world, you definitely should.

VCBW Altbier

Okay, sure, Parallel 49 isn’t strictly the only chef in the kitchen on this one (as usual, the list includes pretty much every brewer in the province), but it was brewed there, and that means Graham With had much more control over the final product than the designed-by-committee style hints at on the label.

The previous two VCBW collaboration brews were hop-dominant beers (a Cascadian Dark and a Cascadian Brown to be specific), so the third beer in the series represents a 180 on the hops usage, all the way back to Malt Town. It’s almost likely another recently released Parallel 49 beer used up all the hops or something.

This beer is a near-flawless execution of the style, which is a subtley malty brew with a crisp hoppy finish. It’s a great session beer, and if you give it some time there are some interesting, more subtle flavours to be discovered.

APPEARANCE Translucent amber with a persistent off-cream head.
NOSE Caramel malt, some subtler grains. Just a whiff of the hops.
TASTE More of the nose, but with some interesting subtle subtexts (fruit esters, earthiness). Balanced hop crispness.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Do you like any of the 30-odd breweries on the label? Do you want to hurt their feelings? Then buy it already.

Black Hops Cascadian Dark Lager

I had a preview of this beer about a month ago, on cask at the Whip. I liked it. I like it so much, in fact, that I drank four pints of it. Then I drank another two. That cask was a smooth, mildly hoppy and flavourful low ABV beer (at least, low ABV compared to other hoppy beers).

Now that it’s in bottles, and on tap around town, its lost something. It’s still a fine brew, but I’m not going to rave about this beer to the beererati like I did the cask version. Take a beer off the yeast and it changes, folks.

APPEARANCE Black with a thin, quickly dissipating beige head.
NOSE Hops dominate the nose, but are not overpowering. Roasted malt comes through at the end.
TASTE Roasted malt plus a bite-y citrus-y hops finish. Both flavours are muted, though.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Maybe it’s just me, but I’d prefer a proper IPA or CDA. Buy one and see what you think.

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver
Name Humprhey VCBW Collaboration Black Hops
Style Bière de Garde Altbier Cascadian Dark Lager (or Schwarzbier)
SOA Now Bronze n/a n/a
SOA Potential Bronze n/a n/a
Drink Now-2014 Now Now
Pirate friendly? Yaaaar! Avast!
Availability Most LRSs, some LDB
Cost $6-9 per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers (you can buy) Maybe Driftwood Clodhopper? Driftwood Crooked Coast None


Add in some great barley
and these beers get seriously better.

Written by chuck

May 24th, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

Parallel 49 Hopnotist

with 5 comments

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

Tagged with

March Beer of the Month 2013

without comments

It’s been a few months since I picked a Parallel 49 beer as BOTM, so I figured “Hey, Graham’s about due.” And thus the March Beer of the Month decision was made: Parallel 49 From East Van With Love.

Okay, fine. It wasn’t that arbitrary; I picked this beer for a few good reasons. First, it’s great. This is a fine bourbon/maple stout that is perhaps Parallel 49’s best imperial stout to date.

Second, it’s a collaboration brew with Gigantic Brewing (Portland), and I love me some craft brewery collaboration. Collaboration embodies what makes craft beer so much better than macro, and reminds us how much we like each other in this industry (in general).

Third, the title is a fun play on the names of P49’s Graham With and Gigantic’s Ben Love, and combining good, craft brewed beer with that highest form of humour–the pun–is a tried and true tradition. Also, that they’re breaking new ground by using a non-hops-based pun is practically revolutionary.

Fourth, they brewed this beer in tuxes. Freaking tuxes. I’m not sure how, but it absolutely has to class up this stout. Perhaps maybe my palate isn’t sensitive enough to pick up the subtleties that tuxes no doubt bring to the scene, but I’m sure they’re there (like fancy fibres, ghosts of proms past, and, let’s face it, sweat).


Hot? Yeah, I’ll go with hot.
Image blatantly stolen off P49’s Facebook Page

Tasting notes:

NOSE Bourbon and maple mixed with caramel/dark fruits but well blended so as to not be overpowering. Some fruity/spicey esters.
APPEARANCE Black as the night. Soft tan head.
TASTE Bourbon/Maple highlights the taste with caramel malt in the background. Some slight dark fruit there if you look for it. Well blended and super smooth.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yes. Immediately.

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49 / Gigantic
From Vancouver / Portland
Name From East Van With Love
Style Imperial Stout
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential Bronze
Drink Now through 2014
AKA From Cascadia With Love, but we don’t want to talk about that.
Availability Brewery store only right now. LRS maybe to come
Cost $12.60 per 650ml bottle
Similar BC Beers Driftwood Singularity, Phillips Hammer, Parallel 49 RIS


It’s only just starting for P49. They have a dedicated Barrel Room, remember.

Written by chuck

March 6th, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Beers

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