Parallel 49 Sahti Claws Finnish Sahti

p49sahti_clawsAnother seasonal beer has arrived in time for the holidays! And in true Parallel 49 fashion, their latest limited release is an interesting mix of brewing traditions, the likes of which I have tried only once before (that would be Odin’s Gift Juniper Pale Ale). It’s known as a Finnish Sahti, a Scandinavian style of beer that is made with rye, barley and juniper berries and served unfiltered. The good folks at P49 then added a dose of piney Chinook and Simcoe hops.

And of all their experimental brews, this is definitely one that works very well. The dose of piney hops are very complimentary to the crisp, bitter flavor provided by the rye and juniper. This is further complimented by the use of Pilsner, Munich, Crystal and Wheat malt, which provide a light, smooth backbone to it – which is surprising given its strength (7.7% alc/vol). It tops it all off with a smooth and creamy finish, and the cloudy, dark amber color is very appealing to the eye. Definitely a nice spin on the Sahti, combining this traditional style with some a little Pacific Northwest character.

Appearance: Dark amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Piney hops, dry, crisp rye notes
Taste: Immediate tang, smooth malt, piney hops, strong bitterness of rye and juniper
Aftertaste: Mild and varied bitterness, creamy finish
Overall: 9/10

Holiday drinking has been good so far! In the coming weeks, I will be getting into that pack of Historic Scottish Ales, McAuslan’s 2013 Millennial Ale, and grabbing as many limited holiday releases as possible. ‘Tis the season, after all!

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Lazy Boy Belgian Style Golden Ale

LazyboyGuess which brewery’s products just made it into my neck of the woods? Well, as the title line would suggest, that would be Lazy Boy Brewing from Everett, Washington. Yes, the same state that brought us the Pike, Pyramid, Elysian Fields, and Odin breweries seems to have sent yet another of its craft brewers north of the border. And looking for something new, I decided to get my hands on a sample. And since the choice was between this and their IPA, and the fact that I was in the mood for something lighter and more conducive to hot weather, I grabbed a bottle of their Belgian Golden.

lazyboy_belgianAnd I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. Given the description and strength (8.7% alc/vol), I expected a lightly colored ale with syrupy, strong malts with that distinctive nose and aftertaste that comes from Belgian yeast. What I got was in fact a strong, sour ale, reminiscent of a Flanders Red thanks to the addition of that specialized yeast that brings out a beer’s lactic acid. And while not as potently sour as some of the Flanders I have come to know and love (the many beers that make up Driftwood’s Bird of Prey series), that does not diminish the overall impact it had on my taste buds. In fact, in many ways, it led to all-around more pleasurable drinking experience, since the lighter taste was more conducive to hot weather drinking. Yes, sour, tart, but ultimately clean and refreshing, this beer was an all-around pleasure!

Appearance: Deep amber/orange, cloudy, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sour ale notes, lactic acid, mild yeast and malts
Taste: Immediate burst of lactic acid, notes of sour cherry and raspberry
Aftertaste: Lingering tartness, clean and refreshing
Overall: 9/10

Yes, a most interesting combination; a sour golden ale. But I think it’s fair to say this beer just became a current favorite of mine. Here’s hoping the rest of the brewery’s lineup, which includes the usual suspects plus a few very interesting customers – a Christmas Brown and another Strong Belgian – is just as good. And here’s hoping it will be available in my neck of the woods too!

Odin’s Thor’s Equinox

Thor's_equinoxHello all and welcome back to my continuing series on winter beer! In honor of this occasion, I made a trip to one of my favorite local liquor stores and procured a fitting array of interesting (and strong) examples of cold weather brewing. The first of these to be sampled was Odin’s limited release Belgian-style Dark Ale.

This brewery came to my attention some years back when my darling wife brought me back a sample by the name of Odin’s Gift Juniper Ale. Not long after, I found some of their regular lineup available locally and tried their Freya’s Gold. This limited release now makes the third of their wares that I’ve tried, and it has some pretty stiff competition.

Dark, heavy, and with a chewy mouth feel, the beer also incorporates a spicy and discernibly Belgian feel that put me in mind of Aventinus. In many ways, it also resembles a stout or porter due to its strong, molasses-y nature and notes of nuts and spices.

Appearance: Deep brown red, translucent and good foam retention
Nose: Yeasty, smooth and tawny, similar to a brown ale
Taste: Immediate burst of yeast and banana, giving way to sweet note of molasses
Aftertaste: Slight taste of spice and nuts, noticeably bitter, alcohol finish
Overall: 9/10

Yes, this beer reminded me of some other top contenders, not the least of which was Aventinus (already mentioned) and Steamworks Espresso Stout. At once, this beer delivers a strong Belgian ale taste with the mouth feel of a hard-hitting stout, but it also leaves enough room for the subtler notes of a brown ale. Definitely a winter food companion, and a real warmer for those cold rainy days!

Freya’s Gold

Good news everybody! The good works of Odin’s Brewery, located in Seattle, Washington, is now available in Canada! Well, at least in my neck of the woods, it is. Less than a year ago, I was sampling their Juniper Ale for the first time and loving it. So imagine my surprise when I found not only it, but their Kolsch-style ale sitting on the shelf at my local liquor store. And according to their website, that’s two thirds of their main lineup covered!

As for the Freya’s Gold, I have plenty to say and just about all of it positive. Unlike most Kolsh’s I’ve tried, this beer delivers a more complex, coarse palate before finishing clean. One immediately gets notes of pine in the flavor coupled with a mild bitterness, which is apparently due to the inclusion of ginger in the recipe. All in all, this beer was more reminiscent of a blonde ale than your average Kolsch. However, this does not detract from the experience, but merely provides for a more interesting time.

Appearance: Straw colored gold, clear and transparent
Nose: Light, slightly coarse with notes of citrus rind
Taste: Immediately bitter, piney with a touch of ginger
Aftertaste: Bitterness giving way to a mild, clean finish
Overall: 8/10

As my second sampling of the Odin brewery’s lineup, this beer did quite well. Now that it’s available at my local watering hole, I plan to update my knowledge on Odin’s Gift, and would like it very much is they can secure a few bottles of the Viking’s Gold too.