OKANAGAN SPRING BREWMASTER’S BLACK LAGER—Okay, I admit it. I might be just a little sad.

My Fellow Inebriates,

We had a windy day yesterday, which meant the girls’ grandparents couldn’t come over on the ferry to get them. The plan had been for the monkeys to visit Vancouver Island for a few days (without parents for the very first time), and the mood—before BC Ferries cancelled all sailings—had been ecstatic. Days of fun for the kids! A peaceful house without toys on the floor for my parents! And for me, license to drink openly all day long.

Well, maybe not. My parents are still boring, controlling, (smugly) opposably thumbed and unwilling to invest in bear-oriented bottle-opening technology. But the point became academic when BC Ferries made its decision yesterday not to sail in high wind—probably less because the company fears a sinking than because union disgruntlement will skyrocket if the ferry employees spend a whole afternoon mopping up seasick passengers’ barf.

I’d been all prepared to miss the kids terribly. Somehow they were already seeming cuter and more lovable, the more I pictured them being driven away by Nana and Papa for their big-girl adventure.

The Bear Habitat. Escapees will be beaten.

My mum was relieved; she didn’t like the idea of them getting tossed around on the ferry. I felt like a bad bear for not having considered this. I do love the kids. The other day they made a “bear habitat” consisting of a dislocated couch cushion for all of us bears. Any bears who wished to opt out of the new habitat received beatings on the head. So you can imagine how conflicted I was about the ferry cancellation.

The kids themselves were devastated, which translated into some heavy bear usage. In addition to draping me in several dish-towel frocks, they chucked me down the stairs a few times and forced me to kiss Glen Bear on the mouth (which I didn’t mind). “Baby” by Justin Bieber warbled relentlessly in the background, either from YouTube or the six-year-old’s vocal chords—usually both. Finally Miss V launched into a tantrum, the momentum of which carried everyone into bedtime, and I was left to calm my twitching fur with the Okanagan Spring Craft Variety Pack.

The HOPPED LAGER I tried on Sunday wasn’t poor, but still I hoped for more from the next choice: Okanagan Spring BREWMASTER’S BLACK LAGER. But—perhaps because of the day’s emotional highs and lows, perhaps because of the package design, and perhaps because Vancouver Island Brewery’s HERMANN’S DARK LAGER had set the bar very high for that particular brew style—I wasn’t optimistic. Just sayin’ it so you know I didn’t go into this unbiased as I usually do. I certainly needed a beer, but I wasn’t expecting great things.

BREWMASTER’S BLACK LAGER is a deep cola color with tan head (not a good candidate for dyeing green on St. Patrick’s day). It gives off a toasty aroma with mild graininess, cocoa, and espresso. On the palate it’s crisp and unexpectedly fizzy; the coffee flavor moves to the front, jockeying a bit uncomfortably with the mild hops and malt. The mouthfeel isn’t as chewy as it could be, which again makes for some incongruity between expectation and taste. It finishes on an unfortunate sour note, like old espresso in a breakfast cup.

Sadly, BREWMASTER’S BLACK LAGER fails to hit the proper notes. It’s not sufficiently creamy, it’s more noticeably sour than bitter, and it lacks the weight that would make it a nice winter sipper. Instead (last night at least) it served me as a winter pounder—a release for some considerable frustration while I inspected my fur and wondered whether I would need anything sewn up.

Even though the earth didn’t move, I’ll still drink the other two in the variety pack—quickly. And who knows? They may even taste better today. The wind has calmed and the girls’ grandparents are on their way to get them. Soon they’ll be on a ferry headed to Vancouver Island, and it will be very quiet here.

😦

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