Ladies and Gentleman … a bold but easy drinking brew that’s sure to turn your hop head. Perfect as we enter the Victoria Day weekend here in Canada, a day that celebrates the Monarch that created this country that largely runs along the 49th parallel.
Rating → 85 points
Stats: Schwarzbier. 6.5% ABV. 41 IBUs. Vancouver, British Columbia
Colour: Clear filtered medium brown with ruddy hues
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation — satin with crisp finish
Pairing Notes: —
Yes, this beer turned my head but my apologies in advance because I’ve had this in my cellar for about 6 months and it is now, unfortunately, “retired” so you’re going to have to hunt to find it or hope the brewer re-releases this limited production.
The beer itself pours with a head reminiscent of a Coco-Cola fountain pour: it has a nice bit of fluffiness to it before it disappears to nothing. The aroma off the pour and the bottle is light and is comprised mostly of light caramels and some yeast. Perhaps it is my pour, but I don’t get much in the way of the cascade hops on the nose … but I get the earthiness and a bit of straw and, all in all, it’s aroma is very fresh, like a summer rain on the parched ground.
The colour is clean … very clean and it definitely complements the name: black hops. And how about that all important first taste? You’d be forgiven if you assumed by the name and grenade throwing militia dude on the label that this was going to be a big bad beer. The truth is that it drinks light. It is clean and while technically is of the “schwarzbier” in style (German for “dark” beer), I totally get why Parallel 49 called it a “dark lager,” specifically because it has the same refreshing qualities of a good lager … which is rare, in my opinion. That is, it is refreshing — with a bit of sweetness to it owing to the emphasis on hops — and is crisp and refreshing in balance, but not overly crazy in favour of either. Indeed, while the 41 IBUs would suggest bigger and more present bitters, as I’ve reviewed before, when the malts are bigger, the IBUs can be misleading. This is definitely a malt-forward beer — light on the flavours of the hops (in my opinion) and stronger on the flavours from the malts: bitter-sweet chocolate in this case. But note that I do emphasize the bitter-sweetness of this beer. It doesn’t drink like a chocolate stout, that’s for sure. Having said that, with the strong diacetyl presence, there is a creamy, satin feel to this beer so when combined with the caramels, you’d be forgiven for tasting toffee.
All in all, I really like this beer … and like that I’m drinking this in the spring and not winter. The colour might say “winter beer” but the refreshingness says to drink this after raking the lawn of the dead grass or on this first of Canada’s 2-4 long weekends.
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