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.
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”!!
Okay, 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.
My Fellow Inebriates,
This week the car decided it no longer wanted my mother driving it. Perhaps it got fed up with her sighs about its eight-cylinder profligacy. Maybe it remembered the sweltering day when she parked it under trees that drooled sap over its windshield. Or finally it just exercised a judgment call on her lack of coolness.
How did the BMW manage to bar my mother—but not my father—from driving it?
Ingeniously. The car has automatic seats, adjustable along half a dozen parameters and then—since no two drivers’ asses are exactly alike—recordable into memory.
Jiggle the levers up, down, and around until not just the seat but the mirrors and steering column are positioned exactly as you like them, then hit the “M” button followed by your number (1, 2, or 3). Since Dad’s the primary driver, he took number 1. Mum took number 2, and my friend Scarybear claims he has the number 3 setting “for midnight drives.” Voilá! That crazy car remembers your personal settings, so if somebody else changes them, all you have to do is press your button and your ass is happy again.
If the BMW itself is smug about its wonderful car seats, Dad is just grateful. Only the BMW provides the support he needs when his lower back hurts. He’ll even go for a long drive just to assuage back pain. Just him and the clever red car.
And even though most of the BMW’s features make Mum roll her eyes, she secretly loves the automatic seats—or at least she did until this week. That’s when the car got fed up with her bullshit comments about preferring “environmentally friendly” vehicles and froze Dad’s seat settings in place.
All very well if Mum were 5’10” like Dad, but she’s practically a Hobbit. If the car could actually achieve Scarybear-appropriate settings, those would be closer to my Mum’s number 2 than Dad’s number 1. Even if the car didn’t maliciously shut her out of its seat-adjusting wonderfulness, it probably just got fatigued going from one extreme to the other and back all the time.
Some men would be happy having the car all to themselves. For Dad it means driving the kids everywhere—swimming lessons, birthday parties, you name it. If we run out of milk, he has to go get it. The same goes for beer.
So what did he get?
Actually, Mum picked beer up before the car decided to take its revenge on her. BEACHCOMBER SUMMER ALE from Vancouver Island Brewery siren-called her from the liquor-store shelf on her last visit, and the car seemed okay about allowing it in the trunk. The car did not, however, point out that she’d accidentally bought a weissbeer; it isn’t quite smart enough to know she wouldn’t have intentionally picked a brew with fruity tasting notes. That, or it just thought “fuck you” and off they went.
For what it is, BEACHCOMBER SUMMER ALE does it well. Cloudy gold and hop-redolent, this unfiltered beer comes across clean and fizzy yet tropical with grapefruit predominating over a basic cereal foundation. It’s crisp and refreshing but not so light that those hops won’t rough you up a little. The fruit doesn’t stray into rotting-orchard territory, but all the same, if you don’t get the fruit-and-beer concept, you probably won’t be too excited about BEACHCOMBER.
I was, of course, excited. Whenever beer is opened, I get excited. And Mum should be excited too, because her next revelation was this, leveled at Dad:
“Ha! Now you are always the designated driver.”