As anyone familiar with BC craft beers would know by now, the Vancouver-based Parallel 49 brewery is renowned for their interesting and weird combinations, producing beer that is both appealing to drink and esoterically complex. And they seem to know no limits when it comes to variation and experimentation, combining different processes, ingredients, and merging disparate styles to create something new every few weeks. And whenever they decide on a new combination, it comes in the form of a limited release.
The latest is Humphrey’s Biere de Garde, a malt-forward twist on a traditional style of beer that, similar to Saison, is a farmhouse beer that comes to us from northeastern France. A cottage industry for the longest time, large-scale breweries have taken to producing Biere de Gardes in recent years, especially craft-brewing operations. So it is little wonder why Parallel 49 chose to tackle this beer, which is also a seasonal variety that was typically brewed during the spring and stored for the summer months. The twist, which is to be expected when dealing with P49, comes in the form of rosewater, which was added to provide another dimension of flavor. Typically used to scent and flavor foods, perfumes and ointments, the admixture of this syrupy, fragrant liquid provides for a drinking experience which is at once traditional and at the same time odd and interesting…
Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, hint of sweetness
Taste: Semi sweet malts, syrupy and viscous, slight floral, herbal infusion,
Aftertaste: Lingering sweetness, chewy mouthfeel, relatively clean
As you may be able to tell, it was quite difficult to describe the flavor of this beer. All throughout, I had the feeling that I was getting notes of something sweet, distinct, and not really consistent with malt or hops. I wasn’t sure how to describe this, and didn’t want to fall back on the all-too-convenient “like rosewater”, especially since I’ve never tasted it before. But the end result of this beer is certainly something that most beer drinkers will at least partially recognize – a malt forward beer that is reminiscent of a nice amber ale that also comes with a herbal/floral taste provided by a rosewater tincture. Not P49s best beer by my measure, but definitely worth sampling.