Old Boy Ale | Parallel 49 Brewing Company

23 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Old Boy AleOld Boy Ale

Brewed by:
Parallel 49 Brewing Company
British Columbia, Canada

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by canucklehead on 08-21-2012

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 23 | Ratings: 110
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.72/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle I brought to share at the Revenge Of Instant Replay bottleshare held at Instant Replay in Canoga Park, CA.

Pours a clear dark brown with a foamy tan head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, nut, and slight cocoa aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, nut, and earth flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of toast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty, mild, and easy to drink.

 638 characters

Photo of nmann08
3/5  rDev -16.7%

From a bottle, pours a dark caramel mahogany with a very creamy white head.

The nose is sweet, crystallized sugar, chocolate, toffee with bitter and piney hops. A little toasty too. Flavor is smokey, which I was not expecting. It is very crisp, but the flavor finishes almost burnt oats or nuts. The chocolate is fighting to come through, but the smoke is overpowering it, damaging what I think the beer was supposed to be. It is almost like tobacco. It's thin and a bit watery, would be better with more body.

Overall, not sure what happened. Could have been better, but wasn't.

 588 characters

Photo of biboergosum
3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

341ml, corporately embossed bottle, another single from my craft six-pack from a heretofore unfathomable Whyte Ave booze purveyor. A Mr. Peanut parody, obviously involving a pint glass, holds the fort on the actual label.

This beer pours a clear, dark ruby amber tint, with two fingers of tightly foamy, and somewhat creamy beige head, which renders a decent string of broad webbed lace around the glass as it eases its way out of existence.

It smells of biscuity caramel malt, some further toffee nougat, a subtle oily nuttiness, and soft earthy, leafy hops. The taste is lightly toasted bready caramel malt, some mild crackery biscuit notes, further indistinct bar-top nuts, a slight twinge of bittersweet chocolate, and more forest floor, somewhat herbaceous hops.

The bubbles are fairly restrained in their ardor, the body a solid medium weight, and rather smooth by any measure. It finishes on the sweet side, the dark bread, toffee, and roasted biscuits basically lording it over those punk-ass, underachieving hops.

A decent enough ale, with a hell of a lot more to recommend it as an English Brown Ale, than the current ESB designation, a style otherwise close to my heart and/or palate. Anyways, approach this as the former, and you will be adequately, if not pleasantly, satisfied.

 1,296 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.81/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, maple, nuts, caramel and a very faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with mildly sweet flavors of maple and caramel. Then a heart roasted malt character comes in along with a bit of a nutty flavor. The hops presence is very mild but complementary and brings some balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, mild kick, good representation of style, this is a solid beer to drink for a while if you’re in the mood for the style.

 798 characters

Photo of mactrail
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Dark amberish brown with a decent but coarse foam in the New Belgium snifter. Brown rice aroma with whiff of root beer. Watery body. Pleasantly carbonated, almost creamy.

Maybe it's the suggestion of the name, but it tastes like they diluted an Old Ale with some English Brown ale. There is a grainy flavor with a good dose of roasted malt. Just a faint bitterness at the finish. There's a suggestion of molasses, though it's just slightly sweet.

This is a different sort of brew, and it goes down easily enough. The price of nine bucks is silly, though. From the 22 oz bottle purchased at Best Damn Beer Store in San Diego.

 626 characters

Photo of stevoj
3.06/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Could be classified as an old ale. Right color and characteristics. Brown and clear, small ring of a beige head. Nutty, roasty aroma, Taste is roast grain bitterness, with some nice nutty flavor on the finish.

 209 characters

Photo of biegaman
3.59/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Old Boy has a coffee-brown colour that does a fair job of concealing the fact that it's actually perfectly clear (at least until some backlight comes into play, at which point the beer's dashing maroon highlights have nowhere to hide). Its head, though off-white, also has some glint.

The beer has a very subtle sweetness reminiscent of roasted pecan or hazelnut; this nuttiness can be found throughout but is nowhere as enticing as in the aroma, where it melds right into the malts' faint coffee-like smokiness and soft chocolatey notes.

Despite prospects of some dark and heavy flavours, no sootiness or meaningful richness ever emerges on the palate. The beer never get's dirty; it's almost as clean as a pale lager. This neutrality is sure to suit mainstream drinkers but is disappointing to those capable of handling even the smallest amount of roast or bitterness.

As mentioned, this recipe showcases light and very agreeable notes of roasted nuts, milk chocolate and toasted whole grain bread. Coffee oils I definitely note too. I don't get much dark or dried fruit myself but I can understand where others are coming from; it's difficult though as all tastes seize completely the moment they slide down the throat.

It seems as though Parallel 49 Brewing designed Old Boy so as to entice drinkers with fuller flavours but carefully ensured nothing too rich or substantial ever actually materialize, less they upset or overwhelm the simple palates of a mainstream audience. The result is pleasant but really only useful as what one would refer to as a "transition beer".

 1,584 characters

Photo of spinrsx
3.46/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle from the Orleans LCBO, part of a mixed 6 pack for $13

Appearance - Dark brown colour with an average size fizzy/frothy beige head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there isn't much lacing. The head lasted for 3-4 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, grains

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and a light smokiness. There are also earthy notes and a bit of a dark fruit flavour. It ends with a chocolatey and matly aftertaste.

Overall - As the last reviewer said, more of a Brown Ale than a ESB. Either way, this is a solid beer if you're a fan of brown ales. Not my favourite style, but worth trying for sure.

 721 characters

Photo of wordemupg
3.62/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

341ml bottle poured into pint glass 3/11/12

A clear dark amber with lots of bubbles of all sizes but just a short lived finger of foam that leaves a couple random patches of lace

S nutty milk chocolate with a little fruit, cherry and plum perhaps, some earthy herbal hops and a little dark bread, interesting take on a bitter, more of an English Brown in my eyes

T some more nutty toffee but a little less of everything else, again its missing the hops I think of when drinking a bitter

M medium bodied, decent carbonation and a earthy aftertaste, not much for a bitter kick

O decent brew but not the best out of my mixed pack, I drank a few of these with no issues but wasn't as impressed as I was by some of their other offerings

I wouldn't turn one down but I wouldn't go looking for it either, another decent beer that won't leave an engraving in my memory

 869 characters

Photo of bylerteck
3.5/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle from the mixed pack. From notes.

A - Poured rusty brown/red. Quite dark with a one finger beige head and mild haze and mild carbonation. Spotty lace with a half finger of retention.

S - Earth, caramel, butterscotch, mild smoke.

T - Raisins, dark bread, mild smoke. Much sweeter than aroma. Dark maltiness dominates.

M - Good mild carbonation, medium body, long fruity finish.

O/D - Not a bad English style. Kinda lacked hopping that other beers in the mixer showed off. Well done, but I wouldn't want lot's.

 520 characters

Photo of canucklehead
3.85/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was the mystery beer in the mixed 12 pack and I found it quite complex once it warmed up.It is on the dark brown side in colour and tastes like a cross between a Brown Ale and an ESB. The hops are English and the beer reminds me of Blood Alley from Russell. Good beer that explores the malty side.

 302 characters

Photo of joemcgrath27
3.75/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - clear deep brown, finger of head slowly settled at a half finger covering, no significant lacing
S - very nutty with some caramel and light dark fruity notes
T - big cashew and almond nuttiness, mild notes of caramel and brown sugar
M - biggish body and very creamy, finishes full
O - this is definitely better characterized as an english/nut brown rather than ESB, and in that light it makes a rich malty treat

 415 characters

Photo of thehyperduck
3.38/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

341 mL bottle from the LCBO, pulled from their Unparalleled sampler pack. No packaging date given - there's a spot for this information provided on the six-pack box, but it was left blank. I didn't mind the Hoparazzi I tried last night, but let's see how this brewery fares with a style whose base flavours can't simply be obscured with a dump truck full of hops. Served slightly chilled.

Pours a deep mahogany hue with some ruby red tinges under the light, and topped at first with two fingers of loose, puffy, light beige-coloured head. It recedes steadily over the next few minutes, leaving in its place a modest, dense cap about 1 cm thick. Not much in the way of lacing. The aroma is decidedly malty, but rather subdued. Hints of almond, chocolate and toasted bread/biscuits are noticeable, as well as a respectable dose of earthy, English-style hoppage.

Seems promising enough so far, but my first sip leaves me disappointed and confused. There is a lot of fruity, almost sour raisin-and-plum-like character in this flavour profile, and it is irritatingly noticeable from start to finish. This flavour mingles with the malts initially, which provide some notes of brown sugar sweetness, milk chocolate and toasted nuts. The hops become prominent toward the finish, providing an earthy bitterness that sufficiently counters the malts. Mildly earthy aftertaste that meekly clings to the palate. Medium-bodied, with moderate carbonation and very fine bubbles that gently prickle the tongue. Fairly balanced in flavour and reasonably drinkable, but not an inspiring English-style ale at all.

Final Grade: 3.38, a serviceable B-. I generally like English bitters and brown ales, but Parallel 49's Old Boy Ale just isn't doing it for me. The flavours aren't awful, but the fruity sourness clashes intensely with the rest of the profile, and it all adds up to a brew that is less than the sum of its parts. Suffice it to say, I'm not impressed, nor am I inclined to purchase this again. I agree with the other reviewers who consider this more of a brown ale than a bitter, although in all honesty it's not a great example of either style. There are plenty of imported British bitters that I would greatly prefer over this stuff, and I would recommend that you stick with them, too.

NOTE: The second bottle of this was consumed at (air-conditioned basement) room temperature, and it actually came together much more nicely. I'm not changing the score (since the bottle itself suggests serving this chilled to 4-7 degrees C), but it's a fact worth considering.

 2,562 characters

Photo of SebD
3.79/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: It has a nice deep amber color to it. It has a nice off-white head that dies down moderately and leaves little lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of caramelly malts, a slight nuttiness, dark fruit chocolate and some smokiness.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a some sweet caramel, some nuts, slight roasted chocolate, sweet dark fruit and some earthy notes.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavors and aromas.

 559 characters

Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.63/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a balloon glass.

Look: As brown as you can get without being black, a more ruby-like hue comes through in the light. The head is cream colored and recedes to a patch of wispy foam. Very light lacing.

Aroma: Malty and sweet, roasty, a lot of cardboard aroma, some nuttiness.

Taste: Very sweet from malts, some molasses, dry cardboard.

Mouthfeel: Medium to light in body, goes down easy.

Overall: Not bad, but it really does taste like cardboard, not that I really eat cardboard, but it's the best I can do to describe the flavor.

 545 characters

Photo of polloenfuego
3.52/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

More of a brown ale than an ESB, this would make a good deck beer I think. Brown in col our and soft in feel it misses the ESB mark, but still has some nice flavors and qualities.

I might not chase after this beer, but if someone handed it to me on the dock, I'd be happy to drink it.

 285 characters

Photo of leaddog
3.5/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a dark copper with a finger width of white head.

Smell - Nutty aromas, chocolate malts, slight leafy/musty hops.

Taste - Hit with the chocolate malts, then with the leafy/musty hops and a touch of dark fruits.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with light-to-moderate carbonation.

Overall - A decent ESB by Parallel 49. The chocolate malts are a different take on the style. Could use a better balance of hops and malts, as I find it is more malt-heavy. I have to agree with some of the other reviewers that this seems better suited for the English Brown classification.

 585 characters

Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Obtained a bottle from the current Parallel 49 "Unparallelled" mixed pack. Looks and smells like an English brown ale, dark sparkly brown with minimal foam and strong nutty, earthy aromas. Little discernible sweetness or fruit on the nose. Certainly a malt-forward brew, with flavors of toasted bread and biscuits predominating. Nice smoky aromatic malt complexity with dry bitter nuts and hints of orange oil and licorice. Reasonably assertive earthy hops recall cigar tobacco. Minimal sweetness throughout with a tea-like astringency in the finish that yields a noticeable puckering effect. Medium bodied but with a little too much carbonation. I'd argue that extra special bitters are typically more sweet and fruity than this exemplar, with more hop aroma. This one comes across well in the malt and old school English bittering hops (Fuggles) departments but otherwise is a bit lacking ... Few or no superlatives apply.

 924 characters

Photo of ericj551
4.3/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Old Boy pours a bright, deep red brown with a decent head. That aroma is dark toffee and chocolate malt, with a hint of caramel sweetness and just a vague, almost smokey astringent note. The dark malt character is a bit more restrained in the flavor, with more toffee and a hint of dark fruit. Earthy hops are present but take a back seat to the malt. I would think of this more as a brown ale than an ESB, but what ever you call it is is delicious. Very drinkable yet packed with flavor.

 488 characters

Photo of FondueVoodoo
3.7/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: A clear rudy brown with active streams of carbonation that pored with a thin finger of creamy head, that left just a scant lacy scattering of tiny bubbles.

S: Hints of toffee malts followed by minerals, fairly mild on the smell while cool, but developed as it warmed.

T: a flush of bitters that quickly followed up by notes of pleasant malty brown ale, then to be followed again by more bitters. The tug of war between bitters & malts are complex and intriguing, and the warmer the brew gets the better it tastes.

M: Light to medium mouth feel, very mild carbonation.

O: Easy drinking brew that would go great with pub fare & sports. Much better warmed a bit, be sure to be patient when tring it the first time.

 721 characters

Photo of souvenirs
3.94/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Re-reviewed December 4, 2016. Poured from a growler fresh from the brewery today.

A: Dark brown with a couple fingers of beige head.
S: Roasted grain. A little bit nutty.
T: Roasted grain, fairly mild.
F: Crisp.
O: A solid easy-drinking beer. Classic.

 253 characters

Photo of SitkaSteve
4.11/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Aha, I found you. The one to wash out the taste of that last Brown ale I had. So much better, thank you Canada. Please send more of this to the U.S.
This was poured into a pint glass.
The appearance was a nice looking dark ruddy brown color with a fairly thick white to off white foamy head that dissipated within about a minute. Lacing looks nice left in the wake of the head.
The smell, yes, these are the nuts I was looking for, not those nuts. Dese nuts! Yes, roasty, not burnt and singed. Subtle sweet toffee, a light caramel, even some coffee, smooth nice balance.
The taste was moderately sweet underscored with the coffee to boot. There's a light balanced nutty to roasty aftertaste. Quick roasty subtle finish.
The mouthfeel glazed over about a medium bodied semi-sessionable feel. Carbonation acts in accordance to Brown ales.
Overall, now this was the Brown ale I was looking for. Thank you Parallel 49 for saving my brown ale palette this afternoon.

 961 characters

Photo of CookstLiquor
3.5/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 355ml bottle. Pours a brown-orange colour with a thin head. The nose is all about cereal malt notes with hints of chocolate and coffee. The mouthfeel is pretty soft and smooth. On the palate there are chocolate, grain and cracker notes with a slight bitterness on the finish.

 289 characters

Old Boy Ale from Parallel 49 Brewing Company
3.6 out of 5 based on 110 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.