Launch – Parallel 49 and Central City’s collaborative beer, Craft Beer Kitchen, Vancouver Oct 29 2014
– by Thalia Stopa/photos by Brian K. Smith
It may be early to start thinking about the Yuletide holidays ahead, but when it includes drinking delicious holiday beers from two of BC’s best known breweries, even the least jolly are likely powerless to resist.
On Wednesday evening, CRAFT Beer Kitchen hosted the launch party for Parallel 49 and Central City’s first collaborative beer Mystery Gift Holiday Countdown. As Brewmaster buddies Graham With and Gary Lohin explain, it’s an adult twist on the traditional 24-day advent calendar with an assortment of craft beer “instead of waxy chocolate.” Included in the selection of P49 and CC brews will also be two collaboratively brewed festive beers – with each idea conceived by the individual brewers – although where exactly in the three-and-a-half week stretch not even the brewmasters know. They left the order of beers up to their marketing team, although they speculate that likely the darker beers will be closer to Christmas.
Many beer-lovers are likely reeling from the overload of pumpkin-spiced brews that form an unruly pumpkin patch in liquor stores beginning in early fall. Although With and Lohin have both released the pie-inspired brews, for Christmastime they turned to Europe for their holiday flavour inspirations.
It was no easy task to create at least one of these – Central City’s Dubbel Trubbel Belgian Brown Ale, which gets its infusion of holiday spirit quite literally from the addition of rum-soaked raisins. To hear Lohin tell it, it was quite laborious to beat the massive brick of raisins used in the recipe into a slurry. However, don’t be misled into thinking that this beer is sweet. Its notes of rum and Belgian Abbey yeast that are most prominent, which make it perfect to pair with a sweeter holiday confection.
Parallel 49’s Schwarzwald Chocolate Cherry Porter is inspired by Germany’s Black Forest region and by With’s sister’s “real bitchin’ Black Forest cake.” Anything with chocolate in it is a winner in my eyes, but non-chocolate fanatics need not fear: this porter’s cocoa nib flavour is well-balanced by its sweet cherry partner. It stands alone as a perfectly indulgent ending to a holiday meal.
The beer advent calendar is no new concept. Victoria’s Phillips Brewing has done one, and the international Craft Beer Advent Calendar for 2014 has been a highly sought after commodity since the late summer. However, although the idea has been brewing between the two BC Brewmasters for three-to-four years by With’s account, this year will mark North America’s first collaborative release.
If the flavours aren’t enough to inspire some seasonal merriness, then the alcohol content probably will. Both brews have impressive ABVs, with the Dubbel and Schwarzwald clocking in at 7.25% and 9% respectively. Either way, these tantalizing brews are sure to warm up even the Grinch-iest of hearts this Christmastime.
The advent calendars are now available for purchase at the BCL, with private liquor stores soon to follow. With and Lohin will continue their Mystery Gift Holiday Countdown circuit with launch parties at Alberta CRAFT locations in Edmonton and Calgary in November.