Parallel 49 Wild Ride Belgian Strong

https://iamthebeersnob.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/82ced-2.pngBrewer: Parallel 49 Brewery, Vancouver, BC
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Alc/Vol: 9.0%

Description: Brewed in honor of Parallel 49’s second anniversary, this combination brew is fashioned using Pilsner malt and German Magnum and Mittelfrueh hops. It is then fortified with cane sugar and fermented with a combination of brettanomyces and other yeast cultures.

Tasting Notes: As always, P49 is at the forefront of experimentation, merging different styles in order to create new and interesting beers. In this case, we get a beer that embraces elements of a sour ale (the brettanomyces that triggers the accumulation of lactic acid), Pilsner and Noble hops for a lager-like crispness and clean flavor, and cane sugar that lends its a Belgian Strong blonde ale flavor. This combination leads to a certain apple cider-like taste crossed with a Belgian Triple.

Appearance: Golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Pilsner malt, lactic acid, cider-like, mild hint of wild yeast
Taste: Mild Pilsner malt, slight tang, tart apple, hint of honey, crisp hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, hint of sugar and apple, quite clean
Overall: 8/10

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Parallel 49 Vow of Silence

parallel49_labelsThe season of winter continues to throw rainy, icy and snowy weather at us here on the West Coast. And as it turns out, my favorite breweries are still churning out limited releases to mark the occasion. The latest comes from Parallel 49, who decided to greet winter at the halfway mark by doing – once again – something that was both experimental yet traditional.

It’s known as Vow of Silence, a Belgian Quadruple Strong Ale that boast a rather interesting array of flavors. On the one hand, you have a strong, syrupy malty base, reminiscent of bananas, sweet bread, and a touch of herbal infusion. On the other, you have the fortifying effect of candy sugar which adds to the overall alcohol content and lends it a certain candy floss, red licorice flavor. It may sound like an odd combination, but that’s because it is.

Appearance: Dark brown-orange, highly translucent, mild foam and carbonation
Nose: Sweet, malty nose, candy-floss like scent
Taste: Immediate sweetness, notes of banana, herbs, sugar
Aftertaste: Mild bitterness and lingering saccharine malts
Overall: 7/10

Yeah, this wasn’t my favorite example of Parallel 49’s brewing, but that’s what happens when you keep producing big hits. It’s called a success trap, you keep producing something exemplary and people will come to expect great things all the time. Not a bad beer, but somewhat ambivalent in terms of what it was trying to accomplish, and a little odd in terms of flavor combinations.

Unibroue Grande Reserve 17

Don’t I feel privileged! It seems that I came into possession of a bottle of Unibroue’s Grande Reserve 17. Back in 2007, Unibroue commissioned this specialty brew in honor of their 17th anniversary. Seems a bit random, but who am I to complain?

Having looked into this beer’s background, it was apparent that it was not widely distributed. How to explain then how I just found it in a Cowichan Bay Liquor Plus right outside of town? I guess they got that distribution problem licked! Needless to say, I was intrigued, bought myself a bottle, and began sampling as soon as I got home.

To break it down succinctly, this is an extra strong brown ale (10% alc/vol) that is refermented in the bottle (much like all of Unibroue’s products) and also aged in French Oak. In many ways, I was reminded of Trois Pistoles, another extra strong brown ale made by Unibroue which has been known to kick things up a notch! But of course, they go a step further with this special reserve, aging it longer, and in oak, which makes for a stronger, suppler taste.

Appearance: Dark brown and translucent with a thick head
Nose: Sugary with notes of spice and toffee
Taste: Sweat malty taste, notes of molasses and brown sugar and spice
Aftertaste: Lingering spiciness and mild bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Yeah, I’ve come to approve of just about anything Unibroue produces. But that’s only because they have never disappointed me with any of their products. This latest installment in the growing lineup of Unibroue products that I’ve sampled only adds to the ball.