VALLE LAS ACEQUIAS BONARDA (2010)—Almost missed it

My Fellow Inebriates,

Last night my parents sneaked a wine past me—and not just a wine but a dinner guest as well. Usually, when someone comes to LBHQ, I like to make an appearance, attempt a sexy dance, get some unsolicited cuddles, and otherwise secure blog content, but yesterday I was distracted by the People of Walmart when D arrived. All I noticed was the smell of chicken being cooked by my mother, which wasn’t exactly a lure. Little did I know, social activity was commencing with UGLY SWEATER MILK STOUT followed by a 2010 Bonarda that D had kindly brought over.

I was distracted, okay?

I was distracted, okay?

I would have clued in sooner or later, but it was an unusually short visit. D arrived, then promptly received several (say, 15) text messages from her daughter asking that she pick her up from work, a good 45 kilometres away, just as dinner was being served. The 20-year-old had forgotten her house key and needed not just a ride home from work but assistance getting inside. Right away. Like, right away! Which meant dinner went by in a flash, my mother drank most of the wine, D left hurriedly, and I arrived just in time for a small leftover and not-very-social sample of the wine. Oh well.

las asquiasBonarda is a varietal that’s currently achieving some ascendancy in Argentina. Originally from Italy, it’s historically been used as a blending grape to supply acidity and structure to jammier blends with its dark, highly tannic profile. Increasingly, Bonarda grapes are headlining in products such as VALLE LAS ACQUIAS. Generously fruity with a violet-black tinge and weighty mouthfeel, this 2010 wine exudes fresh earth and parches the palate with tannins accompanied by mild barnyard notes (my dad called them “fierce”), falling short of the fruity orgy we tend to favor at LBHQ. The wine is certainly not ungenerous with fruit—dark berries and currents are readily discernible—but these chords are submerged somewhat beneath some palate-chapping oakiness that tends to make the tasting experience a bit clipped.

Despite the wine’s minor shortcomings, I was highly offended to have been left out of a social occasion. I would certainly have embarrassed everyone behaved myself and not mentioned the Apocalypse, thongs, or the ongoing paranormal activities at LBHQ, nor would I have suggested that a 20-year-old could find something to do for three hours while her mother enjoyed an evening out, rather than psycho-dialing her on her cellphone until her mother, offering profuse apologies, scarfed down supper and went to pick her up.

I hope neither of them reads this, and I feel pretty confident that they won’t, but if they do, they should know it all comes from my inner alcoholic, who feels burned at having missed out on almost everything, even though he doesn’t really believe in eating supper at all.

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UGLY SWEATER MILK STOUT—Locked deep within the LBHQ fridge

My Fellow Inebriates,

I made another attempt on the fridge today, this time to get an UGLY SWEATER MILK STOUT.

How long did my parents remain unaware of my predicament? Who knows… Finally one of them yanked me out.

“Wait!” I pleaded. “I need that that UGLY SWEATER!”

Dad: “Buddy, you’re already wearing an ugly sweater.”

Mum: “You kind of are an ugly sweater.”

 

Parallel 49 does it again, twice!

My neighborhood booze shop is full of new products, including its annual explosion of bears looking for homes (for $11 you get to keep one and its twin gets donated to charity). This year’s bears are cheeky-looking little characters who probably dive into the booze as soon as the last liquorstore employee goes home for the night. In other words, they are up-and-comers—potential rivals even, one of whose number might well end up in Santa’s sack on the way to LBHQ, to be hit on by my furvert girlfriend Dolly.

Bears aside, the liquorstore is stocking two new Parallel 49 offerings: BLACK CHRISTMAS CDA and UGLY SWEATER MILK STOUT.

If you put these two brews on a Venn diagram, they’d look like this:

They are both inky and viscous, one with a prickly, hoppy presence and thick, chewy mouthfeel—the other super-friendly and sweet, just like a cuddly sweater.

BLACK CHRISTMAS CDA

As my dad said when we opened the specialty bomber, “These guys really know their stuff.” Indeed, two of Parallel 49’s brewers have chemical engineering degrees, a better use for which than brewing beer I cannot imagine. BLACK CHRISTMAS is brewed with fresh 100 Mile hops, whose forwardness have the potential to dominate excessively—BUT Parallel 49 pulls it off. Stopping just short of in-your-face hoppiness, they’ve crafted a viscous, chewy, strong beer, blackened by toasted wheat and wafting subtle Christmas aromas such as raisins and pine. Once again, the key is subtlety. The hops may be strong but not to an ass-kicking point, their bitterness being mitigated by some nuanced tasting notes that make you go mmmm. Pound this stuff in quantity and it’ll flatten you with its 6.9 alcohol percentage. But you wouldn’t pound it, because it’s pretty thick. Well, I would pound it. But only because I knew we had UGLY SWEATER waiting in the fridge.

Parallel 49 wanted to put the Grinch on the BLACK CHRISTMAS label but the idea was kiboshed by the Liquor Distribution Branch (because the Grinch appeals to children). News flash: beer appeals to children. If we poured Miss P a glass, she would drink it, but we’re keeping it for the big people and wild animals.

UGLY SWEATER MILK STOUT

What the hell is a milk stout, I wondered? Turns out, if you add lactose to the brew you end up with a delectable, creamy viscosity without punching up the alcohol (the lactose doesn’t ferment), achieving the quintessential session ale (a moot point since UGLY SWEATER is too delicious to nurse for long).

Malty, toffee sweetness is the top note, with cappuccino hints and just enough bitterness to remind you this is a beer, and a damn good one. So fetching is UGLY SWEATER and so generously does it coat the palate that you cannot nurse it, in a blink it’s gone, and you’re left wondering if Miss P somehow sneaked half your bottle while you weren’t looking. UGLY SWEATER is wonderful. I would give half my undiscovered nards for Parallel 49 to launch it as a year-round brew. For now it remains a winter offering, so get your paws on it while you can.

My dad is right—these Parallel 49 guys totally know their shit. Even if you’re not a fan of hoppy beers, and even if the idea of milk ingredients turns you off, breaking out of your comfort level and trying these beers will pay off in lovely drunken dividends.