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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

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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Parallel 49 RIS

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I rather like Parallel 49. They produce interesting beers with sufficient frequency to keep me coming back to the brewery for more, and that’s enough to make this jaded beer bastard smile. If I had to nitpick, though, it would be that their stubborn focus on “unique session ales and seasonals” has left “regular session ales and seasonals” abandoned in the corner to develop serious daddy issues.

But never fear, perhaps suspecting that their neglected standard lineup was one more oddball brew away from spelling their name with an “i” and taking up exotic dancing lessons, P49 decidedly to release a decidedly non-oddball seasonal: a Russian Imperial Stout. And, perhaps as a nod to how normal this style of beer is, they left funny names and cool graphic personae behind and named it simply “Russian Imperial Stout” replete with faux Cyrillic lettering. Seriously, how much more mainstream could you possible get?

Tasting Notes:
Nose: Virtually non-existent
Body: A bit thin for an impy, but a smooth pleasant creaminess does develop as it comes closer to serving temperature
Palate: Fruity/sweet esters give way quickly to a punch of roast malt; the JD here is very subtle, which is a good thing as often breweries are a bit heavy-handed with their first barrel release. However, it combines with the sweetness to create a slightly off-putting flavour. Over the course of a bottle, though, the 10.9% ABV helps you not care so much.
Final verdict: An interesting beer worthy of cellaring. In fact, I’d say this guy is intended to be cellared at least six months prior to drinking, to give those fruits a bit of time to become less intense.

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver
Name Barrel-Aged Series
Style Russian Imperial Stout
SOA Now None awarded
SOA Potential Bronze
Drink Mid-2013 to early-2014
Best Feature Single-dipped wax seal gives you all the benefits of wax without the pain of having to hacksaw it off prior to opening. ARE YOU LISTENING, DRIFTWOOD?!
Availability Limited LRS, and at Brewery
Cost $12.50 per 650ml bottle.
Similar Beers Driftwood Singularity, Howe Sound Pothole Filler, Phillips The Hammer
Chuck says Buy 2 or 3, but leave it six months before you open your first.

Six months. Trust me*.

* Legal Disclaimer: Never actually trust Chuck. On anything. We warned you.

UPDATE: Distro is wider than originally reported. Looks like more than just the two LRSs will get it.

Written by chuck

January 4th, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Beers

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