SEA DOG AMBER ALE—Perfect with the Liebster

I was totally hosed last night and started clicking on my stats randomly. I was wondering why I don’t get any hatemail (seriously) and if the spam filters are magically sparing my feelings by weeding any ill wishes out. I noticed one of my clicks had come from Awkward Laughter, who’d just been given the Liebster Blog Award and, chain-letter style, spread the love to yours truly.

Even though I’m cynical about awards and the exponential potential to blanket everyone in plaudits whether they deserve them or not, I love getting them and I’m grateful for the notice.

Here’s the deal on the Liebster Blog Award. It’s for small blogs that merit more notice than they’re getting. Like dorky smart kids. Ha! As I told my parents, there’s nothing more dorky than adult humans who have conversations with teddy bears.

By which I mean to say my parents are card-carrying nerds. Not you, my fellow inebriates. Of course I didn’t mean you.

For you I have a booze recommendation: SEA DOG AMBER ALE from Vancouver Island Brewery, the last of four beers I sampled from the Pod Pack.

But first:

The award goes to…three to five deserving blogs. Okay, I have no idea how many followers you have, so don’t get offended if you have a zillion and I’ve bestowed this on you erroneously. Just know that I like you, I read you, and tag, you’re it.




While I’m at it I should tell you guys about the award, but I’ll probably forget, so you might have to bump drunkenly around your dashboard to find it. That is, if you drink all the SEA DOG in a Pod Pack plus some of the other three sample beers. After doing this very thing, I’d rank the four varieties as follows:


Yes, the SEA DOG comes in fourth, but not because it’s bad. It just had tough competition. It’s the most earthy of the bunch, with an herbal hoppiness and lots of malt—very beery, which isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t clout you with beeriness, but it’s not messing around either. Reddish copper in the glass, it boasts some fine carbonation and good weight—another brew you can pound or sip, depending on your mood. Of the foursome it’s the most punk-ass one and, while none of the four are pretentious, I’d call it the slugger of the bunch: hops, malt, maybe some nuttiness, and there you have it.

The Pod Pack is very good at hitting mainstream popular notes, with each beer offering distinct characteristics. It would go down well with a hockey game, and it wouldn’t embarrass you at a dinner party either. In fact, it’s so drinkable that you could consume its entirety at a dinner party and then embarrass yourself. Ahhh!

For my three nominees, if you don’t have a Pod Pack of your own, you can still be embarrassed. After all, you just got an award from a teddy bear.


My Fellow Inebriates,

After ripping into our gifts, packing our tummies and killing our brain cells (or “cell,” as my mum refers to my neurological supply), we’re left with a lull in which to contemplate other things besides seasonal shopping mayhem and gluttony.

It’s amazing how much crazy shit happens in a 365-day space. The magnitude-9 earthquake in Japan; Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gadafi, and Kim Jong-il all toast this year; floods and natural disasters; political movements both violent and nonviolent; economic bailouts; scandalous document dumps; surreptitious bomb-grade uranium shipments—how do we make sense of it all?

It’s true that current events generally just confuse me and my little brain cell. So I thought I’d google what the Internet considered most important in 2011.

And check it out—solidly in CBC’s top 10 stories: Angry beaver roams through N.W.T. town.

According to Jason Mercredi, who filmed the animal holding up a main street, “He’s pissed.” Witnesses said the beaver was the size of a dog, zigzagging through people’s lawns and confronting their dogs with a wild, hissing noise.

What the hell is a beaver anyway? These wet, nasty-looking things were the basis of the Canadian fur trade and still grace the back of the five-cent coin. Sexual parlance, explicably or not, happily incorporates the beaver, as do literary magazines, sporting organizations and youth groups.

Basically beavers are not bad things, unless they are romping through your town scaring the pets. Emblematic on a broad spectrum, the beaver represents the ideal dichotomy of wholesomeness/debauchery.

Which leads me to THIRSTY BEAVER AMBER ALE (Tree Brewing). Admittedly it’s been a long time since I had some of this lovely dark amber nectar, but that rampaging beaver reminded me of it.

THIRSTY BEAVER is crisply carbonated, with a nice layer of foam that doesn’t dissipate immediately. Caramel and nut aromas float gently to the nose. The taste is malty with neither excessive sweetness nor bitterness, an easy drinker that quenches thirst but makes you pause to explore its character. While it’s less hoppy than some amber ales, it still asserts itself as a serious beer contender and would be welcome in my fridge again.

And with a classy name like THIRSTY BEAVER, how could such a beer disappoint? No wonder it’s Tree Brewing’s top seller.

With enough THIRSTY BEAVER in me, current events become meaningless, as do New Year’s resolutions. Isn’t that a wonderful way to end the year?

ANARCHIST AMBER ALE (Cannery Brewing Company)

My Fellow Inebriates,

I love sample packs; they’re like Christmas surprises, so I was thrilled to get my paws on the Cannery Collection last night. With three varieties (Anarchist Amber Ale, Naramata Nut Brown Ale, and India Pale Ale), two of each can, this seemed like the party in a box I’d been missing.

Naturally my parents played the killjoy card and said we would try just one. So we picked at random and soon we were savoring the ANARCHIST AMBER ALE. And get this—the Cannery Brewing Company’s own website advises having the Amber first. Yeah!

Lately we’ve been enjoying the Reidel stemless glasses for beer tasting. Sure, these glasses are meant for red wine, but I recommend trying them with beer; it’s a great way to detect all kinds of subtle aromas. And as happy as I always was in the past to shotgun from a can, I have to credit my parents for encouraging this refinement, as it makes beer all the more enjoyable.

We really don’t drink enough beer in our house. According to the Cannery website, 80% of the liquor purchased in Canada is beer. Canadians love beer, and apparently we like it best in cold places such as the Yukon. Which means we have to catch up. Here. In this house.

If I haven’t mentioned, Liquorstore Bear HQ is in southwest British Columbia, where this snowman could never survive more than a few days. He does a pretty good job keeping a beer cold, but I’d be keeping my eye on him so I could grab that beer as soon as the mercury went up.

ANARCHIST was a tad lighter in color than I expected: light copper and slightly cloudy. The smell was malty with a straightforward hoppiness, although if I concentrated I could also pick up caramel.

The first sips were deeply satisfying. ANARCHIST has a medium-bodied mouthfeel and enough carbonation to be refreshing. There’s a lingering taste of hops (three kinds, says the Cannery Brewing Company), which hit my tastebuds just right. About halfway through my glass, however, I noticed these hoppy tones seemed to be redoubling in my mouth, overshooting and somehow spilling over into a flavor monotone. Of course I didn’t mind this, because I was there to drink beer, and this was beer in all respects—no random olfactory layers, no otiose flavors, no fruitiness—it’s just that there was no sense of the beer evolving in the glass, which I suppose might be an unfair expectation I imposed on it by pouring it into a Reidel wine glass.

My mum liked it a lot at first and then said it was becoming just okay. Then she said she liked it but she wouldn’t go out of her way to buy it again.

This is the sort of limited contribution my mum makes to elevated activities such as beer tasting, and we can dismiss it.

My dad found the hops too predominant and wished the beer had “more going on,” but he didn’t mind it. He forgot to finish his glass, which could have been my windfall had my mum not pointed it out. He then drank the remainder with dinner and said it was much better when accompanied by food.

This is a whole other subject. You see, serious alcoholics like myself don’t bother eating, and so my dad’s enjoyment of ANARCHIST AMBER ALE with stew is pretty irrelevant for my purposes. But if you are still on the solid-foods wagon, then by all means try pairing this delicious beer with your supper.

I definitely RECOMMEND getting hold of one of these excellent sample cases from the Cannery Brewing Company and doing your own tasting.