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Black Christmas | Parallel 49 Brewing Company

very good
10 Reviews
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Black ChristmasBlack Christmas

Brewed by:
Parallel 49 Brewing Company
British Columbia, Canada | website

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This beer does away with Vanilla and spices common in Christmas ales and delivers hops and bitterness. A new style of beer developed in the Pacific Northwest, this CDA is hopped like an IPA but is dark in colour. 100-mile local hops were used to build the hop flavour and aroma.

Added by canucklehead on 11-15-2012

User Reviews
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Reviews: 10 | Ratings: 26
Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

341 ml bottle poured into a tulip. An opaque dark black (looks brown at the very bottom) with a solid three fingers of thick frothy tan head that recalls sponge toffee. Great look. Also on board with a black IPA as a Christmas offering, as I am more than a little spiced out right now, at least when it comes to beer.

Aroma is rich with coffee, molasses, and dry chocolate chips deftly seasoned with grapefruit, mango, pine needles, oregano, and dried cherries. Kind of a dried leather fruity sweetness. Sublime. The taste does not quite reach such lofty heights but still delivers some robust dark coffee, dried fruit snack, menthol cough drop, flat cola, and honeyed caramel flavors that co-exist relatively peaceful-like. May not hang together as well as some other CDAs I've sampled but still vibrant, roasty, and darkly sweet with plenty of potent hop resins. Orange juice and crisp spicy leaf become noticeable late. Thick texture, rather creamy, with gentle carbonation. A distinct whiff of ash emerges in the dry finish.

This gets top tier scores across the board expect where it counts most. Still, a solid addition to the Parallel 49 canon and something I'd buy outside of the holiday context.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.71/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

341ml bottle, day 13 of the Parallel 49/Central City Mystery Gift Holiday Countdown.

This beer pours a clear (I think), very dark brown colour, with prominent basal cola highlights, and three fingers of puffy, rocky, and bubbly beige head, which leaves some stellar webbed jungle tree profile lace around the glass as it evenly subsides.

It smells of meaty caramel malt, dank pine and leafy forest floor detritus, toasted wheat bread, grainy caramel malt, cherry menthol drops, a touch of earthy yeast, soft wet char, and further weedy, floral, and kind of perfumed hops. The taste is roasted caramel malt, muddled pine needles, spruce tips, dead leaves, a still isolated ashy char essence, a bit of flat cola sweetness, and indistinct musty, somewhat phenolic esters.

The carbonation is fairly understated in its generic frothiness and opportunistic fizziness, the body a sturdy medium weight, and full of a tattered sort of smoothness, the roast and hops not known for playing nice in that arena. It finishes off-dry, the blend of styles as apparent as ever.

While this may eschew the typical seasonal beer trappings, it does at least get it all right with the name - the blackened malt, the (Christmas) tree-borne bitterness, I'm fine with letting that all go. But, as usual, as a normal, drinkable brew - I just can't get on board with the two dueling forces here, and what they do to my various flavour receptors.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle poured into tulip 28/11/14

A dark cola liquid, dense of fingers of mocha foam has great retention and cakes the side of the glass with lace

S spruce, pine, melon, coco powder, a little smoke, some citrus, not overly intense but hits the right noes

T more of the same but a little more of i, the roast is darker but the hops shine through a little stronger at the same time, faint coffee and char come out as it warms

M smooth entry and creams up nicely, has a bitter bite and a little grit, citrus and char linger

O well rounded CDA, lots of hops, lots of dark roast, easy to drink, no major complaints

I wouldn't grab another advent calendar to drink one but I wouldn't mind seeing this in 6ers or bombers in my neck of the woods

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Photo of andrenaline
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours pitch black, finger of head with some retention and nice sheeting lacing.

S - Burnt toast and citrus hop notes, earthy cedar and pine, dark cocoa and coffee come through on the finish.

T - Much like the nose, burnt malts, citrus and earthy cedar hop notes, hints of coffee and cocoa.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and a little sticky on the finish.

O - A tasty brew, solid flavour profile and a great example of the style. These guys brewed a beer that fits the bill, easy drinking and well worth seeking out.

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Photo of Rutager
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance. Black Christmas pours pretty much black, a little brown at the edges when held to the light. It's capped with almost two fingers of khaki head that pretty much paints the sides of the glass.

Smell. Dark chocolate and fresh piney hops with a touch of citrus, molasses and cedar.

Taste. Nicee citrus hops, cocoa powder and a little espresso and pine needles.

Mouthfeel. Medium+ body with medium carbonation.

Overall. Very nice flavours in a great ballance. The only thing I would ask for is a little more flavour, although not being a hug beer does make this a pretty easy drinker. I'll look forward to having it again next year!

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Photo of LampertLand
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Parallel 49 'Black Christmas CDA' @ 6.5% , served from a 650 ml bottle , paid $6.30
A-pour is a deep dark brown that turns black as a medium size tan head clings to the pint glass leaving some spotty lacing
S-lots of hops , citrus , pine needles
T-cascadian dark ale in taste , bit hoppy , bitter citrus bite in the finish
MF-medium carbonation , medium body
Ov-the grinning scrooge beside CDA on the label says it all ,
Christmas Dark Ale -or-Cascadian Dark Ale , clever Parallel 49 ,
very clever marketing , now please make better beers

cheers LampertLand

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Photo of 4ster
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served right out of the fridge, in a pint glass. No bottling date.

A: Dark brown/black, slight reddish tinge, thick frothy tan head, with light retention.

S: Aroma is of lots of hops, pine needles and some light roasted malts.

T: Starts off all hops, with a bit of bitter citrus, typical IPA flavours, then transitions into the darker ale part, finishing off with light bitter coffee, roasted malt and slight molasses.

M: Very crisp and light tasting, medium carbonation and overall nice balance with a hint of alcohol.

O: Definitely not your typical winter warmer, which considering it was born on the West Coast out of the West Coast CDA style, I guess it is perhaps fitting as I sit here drinking it and it in 2 degrees and raining! That said it is hard to review it as a Christmas beer per say so as a American Black / CDA, I will say that it is a decent offering from P 49, it is quite hoppy and really uses an IPA base that is pretty dominant, as is typical of this style. I wish that the hops were a little more balanced and if they were going to "sell" it as a Christmas Beer, that it had a little more something in the complexity that differentiated it from a typical, run of the mill CDA. It does lend itself to having with food though better than a typical winter warmer. Worth trying if you can grab a bottle over the holidays.

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Photo of Derek
4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Originally reviewed as all 4's, but has improved so I've updated the score.

A: Brown-black with ruby highlights, light tan head, bit of retention leaves some lace.

S: Nice aroma of pine and citrus with subtle hints of fruit bread.

T: Piny hops are upfront, some grapefruit rind, dark caramelized raisins, roasted nut... this is Christmas! Solid bitterness, alcohol is subtle.

M: Crisp and dry with plenty of hop acidity.

O: Maybe not spectacular, but this is a very good all round brew.

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Photo of FondueVoodoo
3.33/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Black brown with a minimal hint of transparency. Thick and luscious 2 fingers of variable bubbles hold across the top head that hold a

S: Like a pine cone soaked in molasses, acrid and metallic. Hint of acrid (cold) coffee, with a lasting end note of metallics.

T: Hops play forward to wrestle with the molasses toasty malts. This brew is no shrinking violet, it's big flavour, however I find the hops a little sharp compared to the toasty molasses. In the background there is mineral notes and notes of woody bark.

M: Medium mouth feel with lasting buzz of carbonation from start to finish. A lasting alcohol ester even after the swallow.

O: Admission: I don't appreciate the style of a CDA as much as an IPA or ESB, so overall I found a few points to ponder. Smooth up front then a big punch of hoppy piney bitters. I find the hops too sharp and don't balance with the malts, but rather round house kick the malts off the palette. There is a spirited amount of carbonation and even some creaminess. The smell is acrid and sharp with a strong hop presences. Heavy on the hops and easy on the malts, like drinking a christmas tree with a garland of gingerbread.

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Photo of canucklehead
4.5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the new Winter seasonals from Parallel 49 ( the others being a Scottish Wee Heavy and the Milk Stout called Ugly Sweater. This is a Cascadian Dark Ale that delivers on all fronts. The seamless blend of the IPA hops and the dark malts make this a wonderful drinking beer. Often with this style the finish can be a little rough and dry but this beer is smooth and balanced. I accept that a Holiday beer can be anything you want so why not a CDA since Parallel 49 has yet to add one to its lineup.

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Black Christmas from Parallel 49 Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 10 ratings.