Smithwick’s—yummy, cold, and redolent of all the crap in our very old freezer

My fellow inebriates,

My dad swears by this freezer thingie he uses to keep cans of beer cold.

It even has a bear on it.

In this case, we’re having a Smithwick’s Red Ale. It’s a nice malty, mellow beer with low hops and creaminess.

I don’t know why my dad didn’t tell my mum about this beer—she would totally like it. Maybe he was using his freezer thingie to hide the words “Premium Red Ale.” It doesn’t matter, though. The freezer thingie itself is, in any case, a deterrent (for her, not me); she says it “smells like the freezer.”

I found Dad’s beer because I can smell it with my bear nose. Sure, I can also detect the freezer thingie’s gross freezer-burnt-what-the-hell-was it sitting-next-to-why-do-we-never-clean-the-freezer-maybe-the-whole-appliance-is-faulty-oh-wait-did-we-finally-bury-that-dead-gerbil odour, but I don’t care. As you can see, I bellied right up to it so I could help my dad drink that Smithwick’s.

I highly recommend getting several freezer thingies for your household so you don’t have to share.

I also recommend a dedicated beer fridge/freezer for them so they just smell like beer.

And if you have a deceased gerbil in a baggie in the freezer (because the ground was too hard to dig in winter), it’s probably time to have that funeral.

VALLEY TRAIL CHESTNUT ALE—Cold-weather beer? I’d pound it all year round.

My Fellow Inebriates,

I don’t mean to be a dickhead, but today I’m reviewing a beer that probably won’t be on the shelves too much longer. It’s Whistler Brewing Company’s VALLEY TRAIL CHESTNUT ALE, a limited-release brew that bills itself as a fall offering (and which my parents failed to notice until Christmas).

At first this beer reminded me of the time we went with my Nana & Papa to VanDusen Botanical Garden for its annual Christmas light display. Just inside the entrance there was an old geezer doling out roasted chestnuts, pausing every now and then to honk greenies into a filthy handkerchief. The chestnut aroma was seductive and inviting, but their purveyor was not.

I didn’t really think about chestnuts after that. I mean, they’re just food. But when VALLEY TRAIL CHESTNUT ALE found its way into LBHQ, I remembered that old guy and his prolific snot.

This negative association might have deterred someone less obsessed with alcohol from downing the six-pack in a weekend. But I’m not really someone.


If you can still find this cold-weather offering, I highly suggest it. VALLEY TRAIL CHESTNUT ALE is a hazy amber brew with wisps of deep-tan foam. The fragrance is overwhelming and robust—waves of chestnut and even hazelnut with hints of chocolate and vanilla. On the palate it’s sweet—my dad thought perhaps a little too sweet—with a kick-ass toffee/malt backbone and mild earth spices. The carbonation is crisp enough to short-circuit the sweetness nicely, so you get a modestly bitter finish working in tandem with a lingeringly sweet taste-memory.

This beer is freaking delicious, people. Whistler Brewing should definitely keep it on the shelves beyond winter.

Perhaps I should write them one of my letters.

HONEY BROWN ALE & PINOT GRIS—How I cope with death threats

My mum took the kids to Fort Langley and e-mailed me THIS photo.


I need a drink. HIGH TRAIL HONEY BROWN ALE it is. And it’s helping.

But there’s something familiar about this Vancouver Island Brewery offering.

Aha. It used to be SPYHOPPER HONEY BROWN ALE. Same brewery, same beer, different packaging. Who knows why they changed it? Has spying acquired a negative connotation somehow?

Oh well, who cares? It’s good. You should buy it.


I thought HIGH TRAIL would help regarding that bearskin thing, and it did, somewhat. (BTW, my fellow inebriates, bearskin is rough. It is not soft. You would not like it. And you should not buy it.)  

Except then my Nana sent this video:

OMG. I thought Nana was better than this. I didn’t think she was a sadist! She even called this video “something for LB”!!

Calona Vineyards pinot grisOkay, so my Nana has turned really scary, which means I need a drink. Something stronger, this time—maybe CALONA VINEYARDS ARTIST SERIES PINOT GRIS (2011), and maybe an entire bottle. At $12.99 you can afford to pound a whole bottle, but unless you’ve been traumatized by a video your Nana sent you, you might want to savor it more slowly. An InterVin Best Value selection, this Pinot Gris is gently off-dry with apple and pear aromas. It has moderate acidity and a surprisingly substantial mouthfeel, plus 13 percent alcohol, which will appeal to those drinkers who love white wine but are often frustrated by its typically lower alcohol content and the resultantly longer time commitment to getting plastered. This Okanagan wine is an excellent find, and even though my Nana freaked the shit out of me with that video, I will share a bottle with her the next time she visits.

As for my mother and her bearskin rug e-mail, I’m referring her to the compost bin outside, in which all sorts of fruit and vegetable peelings are rapidly turning to alcohol. That’s where a wild bear would get alcohol, right? Let’s hope she doesn’t run into one.