Beer Review: Parallel 49 Ugly Sweater Milk Stout
In recent years a popular style of beer I’ve been seeing is the winter ale. This happens with beers, some trend over a couple seasons. Hefeweizens have done that, pumpkin ales are doing that, and so have winter ales. Parallel 49 did not follow this trend with their winter seasonal beer.
Backing into a piece is poor form in journalism, but I feel that it’s a good way to introduce the Ugly Sweater, Parallel 49’s milk stout that kept Vancouverites warm this winter. The brewery, only a couple years old, is starting to pick up it’s pace and on a recent trip back to the island I got to try a cask tasting of their new IPA and treated myself to a six-pack of 541 bottles of this stout. Traditionally I’m a stout and porter fan.
The Ugly Sweater is pretty unique in my experience. A lot of the stouts I’ve had in the past play off the fact that the barley used to make them are roasted longer and therefore have flavours related to “burnt.” Often coffee is suggested as well, and there are a number of espresso porters and the likes playing off this idea. The milk stout is a sweeter style, using unfermentable lactose sugars to counter the burnt flavours. They seem to be pretty rare, as I can’t recall trying one. So bear with me as I push my boundaries a little.
In the Ugly Sweater this sweet styled stout has, in my mind, created an intriguing mix I haven’t had before. It’s got some of the toffee and similar flavours of a stout, but it’s a lot sweeter than most beers in the same category and the sweetness isn’t the corn syrup type I find in some of the nut browns and browns. I’d like to describe it as friendly, which is sort of the direction Parallel 49 went with their tag:
A case of the winter warm and fuzzies requires two things: a sweater that only a grandma could love and this sweet, creamy, dark milk stout.
Therefore it may not appease your typical dark beer drinker, but it is an interesting alternate to those for those looking for a bit more exploration. It’s not a terribly complex drink, but it’s enjoyable, a mellow beer coming from a mellow city. The basic character is stout, but then it’s been worked in a different direction than we typically see.
It’s a 5 per cent alcohol by volume experience available by 6 x 541 or draft. BeerAdvocate scores it at 84 while RateBeer hasn’t got a number for it yet (it’s a pretty new beer, and a seasonal to boot).