RUSSELL CREAM ALE—Won’t start a fight, or at least stays in the middle

My Fellow Inebriates,

Miss P never had a kindergarten nemesis, but of course Miss V has found hers. If you met V, you’d understand how natural this is. You’d know, after having a meal at the LBHQ table or witnessing bedtime, that V cannot operate without adversaries. She has to live with the ones at home, which means everybody gets along most of the time—but her school nemesis is another story.

PaperCamera Veronica 2012-05-13-11-47-16Take V at the end of a long row of monkey bars. From across the span she sees “H” starting to swing across, bar by bar. This is a logical prompt for V to start from her own side, monkeying her way with characteristic aggression, surely anticipating a clash in the middle and prepared to hang there until Saturday or her nemesis gives up and drops.

In fairness to V, H has been pretty mean to her this year.

In fairness to H, V’s reports are not terribly objective.

According to their teacher, they have a real thing going, and that’s why they sit at opposite sides of the classroom. The teacher does her best to prevent matter meeting antimatter, but she can only do so much, especially when the two seek each other out.

“That’s got to be stressful for the teacher. You should pack a beer for her with V’s homework,” I told my parents, generously thinking of our small stock of RUSSELL CREAM ALE.

What? You think other parents don’t send beer to school with their kids?

russell cream aleYou knew this already, but my parents aren’t that kind of progressive thinker. Oh well—more for us.

RUSSELL CREAM ALE is pretty quintessential—can you say “pretty quintessential”?—for the brew. It pours a clear, deep amber with a soapy-hued head that takes a few minutes to dissipate. Inhale and you get sweet malt and nuts and pronounced breadiness with some floral hops chiming in. The flavor is mild, with the hops pulling their punches until the aftertaste, where they linger with hints of fruit and weeds, providing an effective balance to the initial malty sweetness. The beer sits on your palate politely—kind of a Goldilocks mouthfeel, which obviously passes muster with bears, particularly this one.

Overall, RUSSELL CREAM ALE is nicely balanced although not especially memorable. Just a solid, good-tasting, perfectly standard exemplar of the kind of cream ale your barkeeper might pour you from the tap. In other words—totally non-provoking and non-confrontational—the sort of thing I bet V’s teacher could have used this morning.

PHILLIPS SLIPSTREAM CREAM ALE—by the hundreds, please

My Fellow Inebriates,

Who knows whether all elementary schools celebrate “100 Day,” but it’s a huge deal here. V’s class is an all-out party with cupcakes, party hats, and prizes. Meanwhile, P and her classmates are dressing up as decagenarians and going apeshit with cupcakes, etc. With all this revelry, you may wonder if they do any work in kindergarten and/or grade 2.

They do. The grade twos had a math test, while kindergartner V was tasked with identifying 100 things she would like…

V loves marshmallows...

V loves marshmallows…

And 100 things she would not like…

But not, er...poo

But not, it seems, poo

Encouragingly, V’s teacher hasn’t called our parents in for a meeting to discuss why V was the only kid to identify excrement as something she wouldn’t like in quantities of 100. No doubt other kids chose items like broccoli and tuna casserole, but V marches to a different drummer.

So kudos go to P for declaring her math test “the best part of her day” (sarcasm?) and to V for being an original. She steals my heart the most when she says, “Do you want a beer, LB?” Then her eyes go zanily wide and she says, “HAVE A BEER!”

phillips slipstream creamaleA good idea, and continuing through the Phillips sampler pack, we next hit SLIPSTREAM CREAM ALE. Red-amber with a thick off-white foam that leaves a ring of lace around the glass, it exudes the “house aroma” we’ve been experiencing as we go through the pack—nothing offensive, just something unplaceable that ties all four Phillips offerings together. The overall scent is malty-nutty and a tad metallic, but otherwise not too differentiated from your typical cream ale—and yet, there is that Phillips redolence…

On the palate you get malt up front with some caramel and woodsy-fruity notes playing backup. The metallic quality amplifies on the tastebuds, but not obnoxiously. This is a decent beer, but with the sort of complexity that messes with your head; you wonder if that flavor is an exotic hop combination or…metal?

One thing Phillips gets right on the money is the mouthfeel. SLIPSTREAM CREAM ALE is creamy and smooth with a luxurious finish I wouldn’t have expected for all its punchy carbonation. It puts me in mind of an old-fashioned bar with peanut shells on the floor, and only an idiot bear would have a problem with that.

Of the four in the sampler pack, SLIPSTREAM CREAM ALE was close to being my favorite. That dubious honor goes, surprisingly, to ANALOGUE 78, the lightest of the bunch (although all four clocked in at 5% ABV).

I’d like a hundred bottles of SLIPSTREAM CREAM ALE. Or a hundred cases. Just not a hundred poos.

SLEEMAN CREAM ALE—What would the Tooth Fairy pay for it?

My Fellow Inebriates,

Once upon a time, when a kid lost a tooth—or in Miss P’s case, yanked a tooth out and trailed blood from the rec room to the bathroom—parents knew the drill. Wait till the kid’s asleep, root under the pillow for it, and leave money. Voilà, the Tooth Fairy has visited.

But inevitably, the millennial Tooth Fairy has stepped things up. Not content to initiate a cascade of parental anxiety—Do we have cash? How much? Do we need to match the neighbors?—today’s Tooth Fairy adds a flourish: just before leaving the kid’s bedroom, she dips her frock into a glass of water, magically imparting color so the kid is surprised not just by hard cash under the pillow, but iridescent supporting evidence of the TF’s visit.

Luckily we learned of the Tooth Fairy’s job-description upgrade before P lost her first tooth. Being the youngest kid in class, she’d already oohed and aahed over countless tales of morning-after fairy water. Fairy of a thousand dresses, the TF had left P’s classmate Bailey yellow water, Paige blue, Colton green. That first time, last year, my mother stained her hand bright red with near-indelible food coloring and spent the next day hoping like hell P wouldn’t see it and divine the trick behind the shimmering pink fairy water on that morning’s nightstand.

A year later, P was so eager to invite the (pronounced incisorlessly) Toof Fairy, that she bloodied most of our house and sent the toof flying down the bathroom drain, requiring Dad to get a pipewrench and rescue it. Fortunately he was sober. I would have had some problems, being half-cut on SLEEMAN CREAM ALE.

I was more surprised at its hoppiness than I was at my mum’s arbitrary valuation of $3 for a central incisor. That’s 1.5 bottles of SLEEMAN CREAM ALE, depressingly or not. Was Mum being cheap or just wisely starting low? (Last year’s bottom incisors went for $2 each.) Like a high-diving judge, Mum might be saving the big numbers for more impressive, rear-mounted teeth in an incisor-canine-molar progression. And while the neighbors’ Tooth Fairies might bestow ten-dollar bills or Wii games, ours is frugal and withholding; she might equate two teeth with three beers, but at least she does the dress thing.

And behold…this morning P awoke to a brilliant aquamarine water glass, mocking (me) with Blue Curacao–likeness. What she thought of the three bucks under her pillow, who knows, but the blue Fairy Water was some serious shit. No one was allowed to throw it out. Indeed, she plans to take it to her first day of Grade Two tomorrow, where some slightly older and much more disingenuous little punk will probably disabuse her embarrassingly of the entire Tooth Fairy myth. (Holy crap, I hope not.)

With these sorts of worries, you need to keep a supply of beer in the house. SLEEMAN CREAM ALE gained entry to LBHQ in the Summer Selections mixer pack for two reasons: (1) it was one of few mixers that didn’t contain anything weird; and (2) one of its three constituents, HONEY BROWN LAGER, is my mum’s unimaginative go-to. While this latter is malty and mild, the CREAM ALE is crisper and more earthy, with light hops on the nose, medium body, and some faint fruitiness, along with a lingering hop-punch on the mid and rear palate. Refreshing and inoffensive, it’s just interesting enough to keep your gustatory centers busy, plus it has some zippy carbonation to make your twist-off effort worthwhile.

And it is worthwhile. A case of SLEEMAN CREAM ALE would be worth at least seven teeth—fewer if you included canines and molars.

In fact, we probably should have left a glass of it…unattended…for the Tooth Fairy. Or would it be a problem returning to the ToothCastle with a beer-stained frock?

Nah.