SMITHWICK’S ALE—What to buy with that government cheque

My Fellow Inebriates,

It came completely as news to me today that the Canadian government does not and has never had any plans to subsidize my drinking.

My parents were characteristically insensitive about the whole thing.


I was talking about the hundred bucks per child my mum gets each month in the mail. Little did I know, the money in question represents not a small beer fund provided to keep Canadians happy, but in fact the government’s laughable and deliberately blinkered estimate of what monthly child care might cost. The $100-per-child benefit is sent to all Canadian families with a child under 6, to help them “balance work and family life by supporting their child care choices through direct financial support.”

As of January, the cheque has been halved because only one of the kids is under 6.

I just assumed the money was for beer because such a paltry sum couldn’t make more than a 15% dent in child care costs. I figured most parents received the cheque, snickered at it, snickered at the government, then cashed it and headed for the liquor store.

Okay, so it would be a bit of a departure from the norm if my mum took the cheque and bought, say, eight six-packs of SMITHWICK’S ALE. But even if she were willing—how sad it is that, thanks to Miss P attaining 6 years of age, it would cover only eight and not sixteen half-sacks!

My dad has enjoyed SMITHWICK’S for years, although he occasionally opts for GUINNESS instead. My mum doesn’t mind it, and probably gives it a bit more allegiance than it deserves because she has some Irish genes, but finds it less interesting than other ales and a bit too hop-forward than it needs to be.

As you can guess, I love SMITHWICK’S. It pours a nice rich amber with lovely foam and a slightly earthy but mostly malty aroma. On the palate it is crisp and refreshing with a longish, hoppy finish. It’s a bit of a cross-over between a lager and an ale, which makes it perfect all year—refreshing in summer but heavy enough for fireside imbibing in winter.

Once you’ve been drinking SMITHWICK’S for a while, its lingering bittersweetness becomes an acquired taste. It’s true—we’ve had SMITHWICK’S more than any other beer in the house over the years and I do find myself desiring its refreshing hoppiness every single day.

I was only joking when I suggested 6-year-old Miss P should earn some money. She doesn’t even really like doing her homework, and is otherwise such an absurdly happy kid that I wouldn’t want to introduce her to the wicked work force too soon. That and the fact that they don’t hire kids to sweep chimneys any more…because to do so would be demonstrably more archaic than supposing that $100 can buy anything meaningful in the way of child care.

But I do think my mum should get cracking and find a way to replace Miss P’s monthly $100 government largesse so we can stay properly hammered while we’re helping her with her homework.

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