STORM WATCHER—The last drink before Armageddon?

My Fellow Inebriates,

If you’re like me (and I hope for your sake you’re not) you must be wondering exactly how the Apocalypse will come, as well as the exact moment. New Zealand chimed in earlier to say it had made it to December 21, but that was 12:01 a.m.—a little optimistic if you ask Scarybear, who will no doubt maintain his apocalypticity until Pago Pago has crossed into the safety of December 22.

Which happens to be Miss P’s seventh birthday. Note that Scary did not advise against making a cake, which throws his confidence in global annihilation into question. For if we were going to blink into non-existence on the 21st, surely it would be torture to observe the cake’s preparation knowing you’d never get your greedy paws on it.

“But the cake will be in the fridge. The fridge is the safest place,” Scary insists. “Didn’t you see Indiana Jones when he survived a nuclear bomb blast by getting inside one?”

Note Scary says “Indiana Jones.” Not “the character Harrison Ford plays.” Indiana Jones.

scary 2Scary has always struggled to separate action and sci-fi characters from the actors who portray them. Throughout his pre-literate years, Scary believed in Jean-Luc Picard, Jack O’Neill, Seven-of-Nine, Morpheus and Agent Smith, Han Solo, Sarah Connor, and RoboCop. Only when challenged by the subtitles in Heroes did he become literate, read the end credits on his shows, and reluctantly admit the possibility that these were characters. And even now, he forgets. He sees continuity between Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel in Angel, then wonders why Angel switched jobs for Bones. So of course the “nuke the fridge” scene in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull seems fully plausible to him.

Okay, well, it might work if you had a lead-lined fridge rather than the cheap piece of shit that came with our house. But what about the beer in the fridge? OMG! The bottles would shatter. And that’s why we have to finish our supply of STORM WATCHER WINTER LAGER.

storm watcherVancouver Island Brewery isn’t renowned for departing from mainstream flavor. While its winter offering can be found in the Craft Beer section of our local booze shop, it differentiates itself from macro beer mainly by location and scale—not with oddball tasting notes or niche beers. (For a great dissection of “craft versus macro” and whether it matters, check out beerbecue.) Vancouver Island Brewery has often tended to be very “safe,” and while it’s expanded somewhat into beer-nerd territory, its winter lager is a fairly predictable offering. Which isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes you just don’t need a surprise. Especially on Apocalypse Eve.

The color is reddish amber with minimal head and patchy lacing. On the nose there’s… well, beer aromas—slightly sweet and malty, but not much going on.

STORM WATCHER hits the palate with a wash of…beer. Decent beer. There’s some toffee sweetness and a pat of honey; moderate hops, carbonation, and mouthfeel; and a friendly, lingering finish. It’s pretty good, but not a stand-out. There’s nothing to wonder about, no odd flavors you can’t place—just nicely harmonized hops and caramel malt. Overall: yummy enough.

But do we want this to be our last drink ever?

Huh. Not really. But the alternative is to dig the Canadian Cream* out from the back of the fridge and put it through a strainer to get rid of some unexpected curds—the very sort of pre-Apocalypse surprise I didn’t want.

So much for my teats. (Actually, I don't think the lumps are curds; they're more like lumps of cream that separated because my mum decided to use organic, unpasteurized, unhomogenized cream.)

So much for my teats. 

And the last word goes to Scary: “You should buy cans, weirdo. And put them in the fridge right away.”

 

 

*If you decide to make your own Canadian Cream, make sure you use homogenized whipping cream 😉
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CONCHA Y TORO WINEMAKER’S LOT 148 CARMENERE—Perfect for the antepenultimate Day (unless your mother is going to rip your heart out by “gifting” it to one of the kids’ teachers)

Scarybear says when we see the flash two days from now, we have to immediately fill the bathtub with water. He read that in The Road. Scary adds: Isn’t it typical of our parents that they haven’t bothered to stock up on water or provisions for the coming Apocalypse?

DSCN2776I’d been ignoring the countdown to Armageddon because it’s been feeling like Armageddon already. Plus we’ve had things to do, like planning P’s birthday party at Captain Kid’s indoor hellmouth fun centre, trying to figure out why the middle section of our Canadian Tire Christmas tree doesn’t light up, and getting ready for our holiday road trip to Vancouver Island. What with Santa breakfasts, mall shopping, and the fact that every other kid at school has decided to have a birthday party this week, things are pretty freaking busy at LBHQ. Oh yeah, and there’s this big dump of snow this morning—a phenomenon our city is totally unready for. Traffic is a disaster, there are only a handful of snowplows in the entire Lower Mainland, schools are closing (OMG! Nooo!), and if we get half a foot more of it they’ll declare it an official emergency (like, for real). Yes, we are f#cked when it snows in this part of the world, because it so rarely does. We don’t know how to drive in it, we don’t have the tires for it, braking hard on a skid seems to be a natural Vancouverite intuition, and half the drivers don’t need to be on the road—they’re trying it out for the sheer novelty of it.

Scary says we’re really screwed now because Mum won’t drive to get provisions. This is true—if there’s one person you don’t want operating a car in the snow, it’s my mother. But at least, Scary says, we’ll have snow to get water from when everything goes dark on Friday.

Scary’s obsession with water is starting to freak me out. He seems to have narrowed down his apocalyptic speculations from many (collapse of the vacuum, solar flares, asteroids, rogue black holes, gamma rays, volcanism, magnetic field reversal) to one: nuclear annihilation.mushroom cloud

I wish Scary would read books that weren’t about the end of the world. I would happily lend him a bartending guide or some Nabokov if he’d have it, but he won’t. (Maybe he will in two days, but he says it will be hard to read by candlelight, and that reading will be an absurd luxury anyway.)

Right now, Scary says, it’s important to do Meaningful Things. Society is ending, and we have to treasure those things that are Important. For example, Scary is going to binge-watch Stargate, because that was always his favorite.

“Well,” I said, “I’ve been saving a bottle of CONCHA Y TORO WINEMAKER’S LOT 148 Carmenere (2010). That would be perfect for Apocalypse Eve, wouldn’t it?”

“Wrong, weirdo,” he said. “That would be dehydrating. On December 22 we’re going to be rationing water. Don’t expect any extra because you’re hung over.”

Who made Scary the boss of the Apocalypse, I don’t know. How does he even know that wine would dehydrate us? I had no idea myself. Let’s investigate this, my fellow inebriates.

Does alcohol cause dehydration?

OMG, apparently people have known about this for years. Shakespeare mentions it in the Macduff-Porter scene about erections:

PORTER

‘Faith sir, we were carousing till the second cock. And drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.

MACDUFF

What three things does drink especially provoke?

PORTER

Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes and unprovokes. It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.

He said "cock."

He said “cock.”

Alcohol does make you pee. But why?

The diuretic quality of alcohol is still not fully understood. According to Dr. Karl:

After all, beer is about 95 per cent water and only five per cent alcohol. And the liver converts that five per cent of alcohol into roughly the same mass of water and some carbon dioxide.

So if you drink 200 millilitres of beer, the end result is 200 millilitres of water. But you don’t urinate just 200 millilitres of urine. No! You urinate a total of about 320 millilitres of urine.

What the hell? Dr. Karl says that for every shot of alcohol, you pee an extra 120 mL. Where does it come from, my fellow inebriates?

Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to regulate water levels.

Ordinarily your pituitary gland releases ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) to keep water in the body (based on electrolyte levels and so forth) so you don’t get dehydrated. ADH curtails peeing. But alcohol reduces your ADH production, sending you on multiple bathroom trips. Even if you try to catch up by drinking water, you don’t get to keep that water—most of it will get tinkled out, and you’ll still end up dehydrated.

And, according to Scary, it’ll be your fault if you get hammered the night before Armageddon and end up thirsty. Smart survivalists like himself will be hoarding water and looting grocery stores. (“Idiots like you, LB, will be looting liquor stores and HMV.”)

OMG, Scary is mean sometimes. I do realize there won’t be any electricity. But liquor? Liquor could have its uses.57911_469184923103527_1148624302_n

That bathtub of water is going to get pretty crappy pretty fast. At least it won’t have traces of bathroom cleanser in it, though—it doesn’t occur to Mum to scrub it very often. We just have to get the kids to stop peeing in the tub. Still, within a couple of days of the blast, that water will have all kinds of floaties in it. We’ll be wanting some beer then, I reckon.

But beer’s dehydrating, isn’t it?

Not if you’re already dehydrated. Then other bodily regulatory forces will override the dehydrating effects of ADH, to a point at least. And beer is 95 percent water, so you’ll get to keep at least some of it. “Yeah,” says Scary, “but water would be better, douchebag.”

Okay, so what about our bottle of CONCHA Y TORO Carmenere? Maybe we should drink that tonight rather than on Apocalypse Eve.

But OMG, according to my mum, it’s not our bottle. “That’s for V’s kindergarten teacher.”

Holy crap, we’re giving our wine away to teachers??

“We really like V’s teacher.”

This is the end of the world.

Concha y ToroWe’ve had this CONCHA Y TORO Carmenere before, and it is luminous. Inky and full-bodied, it wafts generously layered aromas of black cherry, espresso, leather, and floral notes. Decadently concentrated yet incredibly complex, this Carmenere is epic on the palate—supple and smooth, structured and long-finishing. This wine is a powerhouse of fruit orchestration, commanding your attention from first to final, reluctant sip (if you had an absorbent paw, you could get the last of it that way, knowing no one will be operating the Maytag after December 21). And at a $20 price tag, this CONCHA Y TORO offering is all the more magnificent.

Personally, I think V should be doing long division and reading Beowulf if we’re giving her teacher this particular bottle.

“LB, don’t be a dick,” said my mother.

“He can’t help it,” said Scary.

HOPARAZZI LAGER—Battling the apocalypse, nutjob neighbors, and restricted access to your balls

Balls facebook discussion

Thus was my mother shamed into making a batch of whisky balls. Creeping on my Facebook page, she saw my tattle to Christine and decided there were worse things she could do with half a cup of Wisers.

DSCN2683Scary and I were both involved, satisfying related motivations of gluttony and hedonism. He accidentally got himself punched in the nose by the pastry blender—luckily not the motorized kind or he’d have had no nose left.

“Is that Irish cream?” Miss V asked as Mum poured the whisky.

“Close,” said Mum.

By the time she’s six, V will be able to distinguish vodka from gin from 30 paces, unless Child Services gets her first. “Can I smell?” she asked.

“Of course,” said Mum.

“Mmmmmm,” said my little kindergartner friend. “But they’re just for grown-ups, right?”

“Right.”

“That means I can have two peanut butter cookies instead then.”

No such negotiation had taken place, but who could argue with such lawyerly logic?

This is how we ended up making our whisky balls:

  • Two-thirds of an overbaked marble cake we’d forgotten about in the freezer, bashed into crumbs with a pastry blender
  • Some pecans, also bashed
  • Some milk chocolate chips, melted with a tablespoon of whisky and two tablespoons of corn syrup (the recipe called for three, but we were affected by The Omnivore’s Dilemma, so we used only two)
  • ½ cup icing sugar, more or less
  • ¼ cup cocoa plus some that fell on the counter
  • ½ cup whisky minus the tbsp cooked with the chocolate

From somewhere Mum produced a melon baller, used it, cursed it, and abandoned it, then hand-rolled a bunch of cute little balls.

DSCN2695

It was immediately apparent we hadn’t used enough Wisers; fresh whisky balls should set your fur on fire their first day, and these were only slightly redolent. Then again, maybe the smell lacked intensity simply because we’d used a cleaner spirit than rum.

grinch

Nah…they needed more booze. But it would have been foolish to use more; we need that Wisers for drinking.

Meanwhile the neighborhood has gone apeshit with Christmas decorations. Light shows, sleighs, Santas, Grinches, Scrooges, Bumbles, Rudolphs—you name it and its inflatable likeness is swaying in one of our neighbors’ yards (and lying flaccid on the lawn in the morning, when the kids actually pass by).

Amid all this relatively secular mayhem is a house with a large manger scene out front—Mary and Joseph gazing downward at the infant Jesus, who looks freaking cold in his loincloth. Speaking of Child Services, such nudity may be comfortable in the Middle East, but Langley is at latitude 49.10348. Holy or not, that kid needs some swaddling clothes.

That aside, I felt bad when the family came home from school today and mentioned they’d seen a police officer visiting the owner of that house. We have no idea why, but my first guess would be that someone messed with the nativity display and the owner called the police. Which makes me sad, because obviously, if you’re going to put an overtly religious scene in your yard, it means something to you. And it’s really not cool for someone to vandalize it.

Crazy christmas lights

Not our neighbor’s house…but similar

Then again, my guess about the police visit could be totally off-base. Maybe the manger-scene dude called the police about the light show across the street from him, which features so much nutjob ornamentation that the owners must need to rent a storage locker during off-season. A giant Grinch, a family of snowpeople, a hundred candy canes, gingerbread men, all blazing with lights. We can only hope they turn it off before midnight so the neighbors can sleep without having flashbacks of sordid motel overnighters. I could picture a war breaking out between these two neighbors. Maybe Manger Dude asked North-Pole Dude to tone it down a little. Maybe North-Pole Dude ran across the road and put a flashing, sequined baby blanket on the Savior. Who knows? Maybe this has been going on for 20 years. One thing’s for sure—the new LBHQ is situated in interesting territory.

hoparazzi_bottlesScary and I can’t get at our balls right now, so we’re staring out the window psychoanalyzing the neighbors. Between us is a HOPARAZZI lager from Parallel 49, a curious choice on the part of my dad, especially with winter so close. (Scary says winter won’t come, ever.) My dad never buys IPA for its own sake. It might ride along in a sampler pack, but generally he doesn’t like a fierce hop shitkicking, and neither does my mum. Dad makes an exception when the hop factor is nuanced and citrusy, as it is in HOPARAZZI. Pale gold and sparkling with fizz, the Pacific West Coast hops’ berserker potential is mitigated by crystal malt, resulting in a well-behaved almost-IPA with an incredibly full mouthfeel and refreshing summery kick. Weighing in at 6% alcohol and 50 IBU, HOPARAZZI isn’t a misnomer; to enjoy it, you have to like hops, although you might not like all hops brewed by all breweries. HOPARAZZI doesn’t kick your ass with hops—it just taunts you a little. Sort of like hanging out with Scary all day when he’s too hungry to make a hostile move.

He is talking apocalypse, though, and with only 16 days remaining, his current theory is volcanism. Yes, my fellow inebriates, Scary figures we’re overdue for a cataclysmic eruption like the one that happened in India 65 million years ago, busting out a quarter-million cubic miles of lava and wiping us out the way he says it did the dinosaurs. The amount of chlorine-bearing compounds unleashed on the ozone layer will turn our little blue marble into a hothouse. We’ll need refreshments. Better stock up on HOPARAZZI.