Parallel 49 – Russian Imperial Stout 2014

I’ve been getting pretty lax about posting to the blog, but it’s not due to lack of beer drinking so much as lack of commitment. I do vow to continue to post up about relevant local beers though, which is what I’m doing now. With the recent influx of so many great import beers here (Dieu du Ciel, Trou du Diable, Mikkeller, Bruery, and so on) I’ve found myself drinking unusually few local beers so far this year.

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I’m planning to swing things back into equilibrium this summer, though I’m at the mercy of a) the local importers of craft beer and b) my own free will. In any case, today I’m posting up about the beer I drank last night, a pretty fresh 2014 RIS from Parallel 49. As can be seen above, this bottle comes waxed with a burgundy wax, a symbol of age-ability. I have last year’s RIS in the fridge also but I wanted to start with a fresh bottle as a basis of comparison in recent memory.

Both the nose and taste of this particular stout is heavily centered around the roast character. There isn’t a lot of adjuncts present, but the roasted malts are rich and expansive. I pick up chocolate on the nose but not very much in the taste. I taste more vanilla and a little bit of coffee, plus some licorice back there. Interestingly, despite being aged in whiskey barrels, I’m not getting a lot of oak or whiskey. That is in stark contrast with one of this beer’s local adversaries, Driftwood’s Singularity, whose primary palate point is big bourbon flavour. Parallel 49’s RIS take a bit of a different approach and it’s by no means a bad thing – I think there are plenty of folks who would prefer this over Singularity, most notably those who aren’t big on bourbon.

I look forward to cracking open the bottle of last year’s RIS and will report back when I do.

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Pro-Tip: Use the two-fang bottle opener common to wine openers to “bite through” the wax. Other style openers likely won’t be able to cut through the wax without you having to cut some wax off first.

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Parallel 49 ‘From East Van With Love’ – Imperial Stout

From East Van With Love is a collaborative effort between Parallel 49 and Gigantic Brewing of Portland OR.  ‘With Love’ actually relates to the last names of the two guys brewing the beer, but they are easy names to work into a sentence.  This is an imperial stout with the addition of maple, then aged in bourbon barrels.

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I was very interested in this beer but a little concerned that it was going to be too sweet due to the maple syrup.  I shouldn’t have doubted the folks at Parallel 49 and Gigantic Brewing – the maple is subtle and does really add to its character rather than become its character.

The bourbon influence is huge in this beer, much moreso than the average bourbon barrel aged beer.  This is something that will change over time – as a young imperial, the bourbon is sharper than it will be after some cellaring.  It is a serious beer at 11.5% ABV, but is smooth and easy drinking.  Rich dark fruits and subtle peat is present from the bourbon influence, along with a spirit quality and of course the maple.  The roasted malts and earthy hops work in great unison.

It will be interesting to see how this beer develops over time – it has a “Best After Jan 31st 2015” stamp on the label, but it very good already, especially for those who want the extra bourbon punch.  I spent a small fortune building an inventory of these (they are available from the brewery for $12.60/bottle), but it was money well spent.

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