Hi, everyone! I’ve returned from my long absence from beer blogging. What was I doing, you ask? Well, I was working, playing with my cat, and gaming. Oh, and I published a novel! You should totally check it out here.
Now, on to the beer.
For the month of December I’m going to be drinking a beer every day from the Central City/Parallel 49 advent calendar (they call it a Mystery Gift Holiday Countdown…but let’s call it what it is), then I will be updating this space with my impressions. So be sure to check back daily!
I was hoping CC/P49 would kick the calendar off with something cool, and they didn’t disappoint. I happily pulled out a bottle of the black forest cake-inspired Schwarzwald Chocolate Cherry Porter. The pour is black, with a head that disappears almost immediately. The aroma is all chocolate goodness and so is the flavour, along with a healthy dose of cherry that comes in just after the chocolate mellows. It is sweet but not too sweet. That said, I’m happy the bottles are only 341ml, as I think a bomber might just be a bit too much to drink at once.
With the memory of that excellent porter from Day 1 still fresh in my mind, I punched in the hole for Day 2 and pulled out a…(drum roll) Red Racer Pilsner. The former Saskatchewan resident in me cheered gleefully when I pulled out that bottle. To a Saskatchewanian, true bliss is coming in from a snowmobile ride, popping a glass of Pil, and sitting down to watch replays of famous Rider victories, like the 52-0 smashing of the Bombers in 2012 (Rider Pride!). In fact, I’m pretty sure the perfect Saskatchewan Advent Calendar would be 24 days of Pilsner.
The Red Racer Pilsner isn’t like the Old Style Pilsner Saskatchewanians are used to, however. Instead of tasting, well, bad, this Pil has real flavour. A bit of spice, real light hop bitterness, maybe even a bit of bread. In fact, I find it downright drinkable, and I’m not a pilsner guy.
For what many will view as a filler, I find it surprisingly decent.
I was sad when Parallel 49’s Lord of the Hops finished its glorious run. What a great IPA it was, and shame on the Tolkien estate for litigating it.
P49 didn’t go long without an IPA, however, as Filthy Dirty IPA was released this summer. And as much as I love IPAs, I somehow never got around to trying this one out. How convenient indeed to find a bottle for Day 3!
Filthy Dirty is a relatively low IBU, at 55, compared to some of the 80 IBU hop bombs out there (I’m looking at you Fat Tug and Red Racer). Tropical fruits abound, both on the nose and on the tongue, along with citrus and a light hop bitterness. A perfectly decent follow up to Lord of the Hops, though I feel a stronger affinity for the former.
If I’m being honest, while this isn’t bad by any means, I’d choose a Red Racer IPA over this one in a heartbeat. Fortunately, I don’t think I’ll have to wait very long for one of those!
For Day 4 I was greeted by a bottle of Red Racer Wheat Ale. Not very exciting, I admit, but I haven’t had it before and I’m always happy to try new things.
It was a little cold out of my fridge, so the flavour started off rather plain, though the nose was pretty nice. I was hopeful some taste would come out as it warmed up, and I was right. The blank, slight coriander taste broadened to include the advertised orange peel and a pile of wheat.
Light and refreshing, this is a nice beer to drink in the summer.
I’ve decided I’m going to start guessing what the next beer will be, just as a sort of side game to add some extra excitement to the process (Yeah, I’m a bit of a weirdo). Since it seems to alternate between breweries every day, I think it’ll be P49 tomorrow. And it’s still pretty early in the calendar, so it’ll probably be something common. I think either Hoparazzi or Gypsy Tears. Sooooo I’m going to lock in Gypsy Tears!
Looks like I’m 0 for 1 in predictions, as today I pulled out a bottle of Old Boy from Parallel 49. Old Boy is a Brown Ale, not a super popular style out here, but one I actually kind of like when it’s done well. I’ve had this brew before, so I already knew what to expect.
Old Boy strikes all the right chords with a solid chocolate/coffee/caramel flavour profile with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. There isn’t much to nitpick about here – it does exactly what it needs to do.
For tomorrow, I’m going to predict a Red Racer Copper Ale. It’s still pretty early in the calendar, so I’m going to stick with guessing light stuff. Also, Central City doesn’t experiment as much as P49 does so I think I have a better chance getting this one right.
Wrong again. But do I mind? Not one bit, as Day 6 rewarded me with a bottle of Red Racer Oatmeal Stout.
This is an interesting stout, because it comes in at a rather low 4.2% ABV. It pours dark as night with a giant head and a chocolate nose. The taste is more coffee, chocolate, roasted malts with a bit of bitterness and a creamy finish. Another nice one.
Back to P49 tomorrow, but what beer will it be? Will it be the fantastic Toques of Hazzard? I’m not sure, I have a feeling they’re saving that beauty for later. But what the heck, I’ll swing for the fences today and lock it in.
I WIN! I guessed correct, and you know what the prize is? A bottle of Parallel 49 Toques of Hazzard!
I talked about this beer last year, so there isn’t much to add. It is still sweet, fruity, and just a little hoppy, which is a surprise considering the 76 IBU rating. The tropical fruits and sweetness are definitely overriding a lot of the hop bite here, in a good way. Put simply – this beer is great. One of my favs from P49.
For tomorrow, I’m going to guess Red Racer ESB.
I’m 1 for 4 now, as Central City pulled a fast one on me and stocked my calendar with a bottle of Red Racer Pale Ale.
As far as pale ales go, this is a pretty solid one. It’s got a bit of citrus in it along with a bit more of a hop bite than you usually get out of pale ales. A good example of the style, but nothing particularly remarkable in the grand scheme of things. I’m hoping to find more interesting brews in my calendar, ya know?
Tomorrow I’m going to bet on Parallel 49 to put a smile on my face again with a bottle of Salty Scot.
Today I opened a bottle of Randonneur Saison by Dageraad Brewing, a fantastic saison with great citrus, spice, and bitter notes that blend into a great ex…oh what’s that? Sorry, that’s not the advent calendar. My bad. That’s what I drank after my advent calendar beer because…
Today my advent calendar greeted me with a bottle of…Hoparazzi. Hoparazzi is a West Coast Lager now, according to the bottle. It used to be called an India Pale Lager, but restaurants and other publications, who had trouble, you know, reading, kept calling it an IPA.
Hoparazzi is a pretty decent beer, it slots in somewhere between a lager and an IPA. It’s another brew that does exactly what it needs to really well. If you want something you could consider a light IPA, then have I got a beer for you.
Tomorrow, I’m thinking Central City is going to toss a bottle of Copper Ale my way.
Today my advent calendar gave me a bottle of Red Racer ESB. But not really…ish. Let me explain. Earlier this year, Central City decided to change the name of Red Racer ESB to Red Racer India Style Red Ale because…reasons. They say people were confused at the name, but I don’t see that personally. ESB is a pretty popular style, with entries from a lot of breweries. It seems a lot more likely the name Extra Special Bitter is a put-off to a lot of folk because the word “Bitter” is a turn off to so many.
So why do I have a Red Racer ESB in my advent calendar? Good old Twitter answered that question for me, thanks to a tweet from the brewery itself:
So, mystery solved. Onto the beer.
The CC ESB is a very good beer. A bit hoppier than the norm in the style, but CC tends to do that with just about everything, so no big deal. It also has a nice malty caramel backbone. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if it’s called ESB or India Style Red Ale, you’ll probably like this beer.
I’m going to guess Salty Scot again for tomorrow. Because I’m so sure that beer is going to show up eventually, I know if I keep guessing I’ll eventually be right!
I had planned a righteous rant tonight. I was going to let ‘er loose at the beer today. But time passed and cooler heads prevailed. I decided to save the full rant/discussion for a first half impressions post I’m planning to write this weekend.
So the beer today was…Craft Lager by Parallel 49. I know, it’s tough to hold back the surge of excitement when you hear that. I’m holding back my excitement right now. Honestly.
I don’t want to compare this directly to the kind of beers I actually wanted in this calendar, because that would be completely unfair. Everything in its place, as they say. And as far as plain Jane lagers go, this is actually one of the better ones I’ve had. Maybe one of the best. The nose isn’t very good, but the taste surprised me by being rather decent, and it soundly stomps every macro-swill out there. It’s very light, and crisp, maybe some citrus, not too much else. You know the kind of qualities Molson and the others try to tell you they have? This actually has them.
Do you like a straight up lager? Yes? Then get this one.
Tomorrow is Day 12. Halfway there. I’m thinking CC will toss me either a bottle of ISA or Copper Ale. Let’s go…..ISA.
Red Racer Copper Ale today (I’m giving myself a half point for thinking it was either this or ISA…even though I locked in ISA). This is one I haven’t gotten around to trying yet so I was happy to have something new to test.
Pour is copper with solid white head. Nose is a bit of caramel, fresh. Taste was crisp and clean, a bit of caramel malts and light hops. Easy drinking beer.
Tomorrow, I’m going to guess Salty Scot again. I’m sure it has to show up eventually.