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.

Is pink the answer to bullying?

Sleeping off a bender, I awoke to our mother hollering, “Time for school, find something pink to wear!” Like they wouldn’t anyway. Ninety percent of Misses P and V’s wardrobe is pink, but the exhortation to dress for anti-bullying day got them moving, which was Mum’s cynical intention. Usually she has to beg the kids a dozen times to don clothes for school, but in this case she could invoke novelty—or at least the idea of novelty.

Pink Shirt Day 2-bsh-2018yriFor boy children, dressing in pink might have been novel. Most boys don’t have a stitch of pink in their closets, either because they learn early that pink is a “girl’s color” or worse—because their parents shun pink on their behalf, fearing its possible potential to confer homosexuality on their male offspring. But bring on Anti-Bullying Day, and boys are expected to strut their pink threads.

My mum was relieved she didn’t have to purchase pink duds for a male child and/or bully said son into wearing them. Yes, Anti-Bullying Day is an excellent idea, but its execution is inevitably imperfect.

Girls typically wear pink; boys typically don’t. Therefore a “wear pink” campaign puts only boys out of their comfort zone. But of course that’s not the point—pink wasn’t chosen to single out boys. It wasn’t even chosen arbitrarily; it was prompted by an incident in which a male ninth grade student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt during the first day of school. The point isn’t to make kids uncomfortable; it’s to make them think. Which is great.

But whereas it’s not much of a stretch for girls to put on a pink shirt, just ask any parents who tried to wrestle their boys into pink this morning without success, and it’s a whole other story. As one of them commented to my mum, “My boys aren’t bullies. Most kids aren’t bullies. Wearing pink feels like a punishment to them.”

??????????????????????????Okay, so bad on society for gendering the color pink. That’s something to chip away at, for sure. And over the years, Anti-Bullying Day may well help with that. But for now, many boys—especially young ones—don’t “get” Pink Shirt Day. All their lives they’ve learned that pink is for girls. (One day we even witnessed a dad in Toys R Us heatedly refusing to allow his two-year-old son to try a pink bike.)

Moreover, those pink shirts parents bought their sons for Anti-Bullying Day won’t see the light of day until next year, reinforcing the notion that pink is not ordinarily for boys.

“How many boys in your class wore pink today?” I asked P after she’d trussed me up in a pink dress for the occasion.

“Um, zero,” she said. “But J wore a pink armband and W clipped a piece of pink paper to his shirt.”

“Good for them.”

If anything this illustrates the nascence of Anti-Bullying Day. Inaugurated in BC in 2008, the event has only just recently locked into February 27 as its official day. Depending on the proactivity of schools and teachers, it could well gain traction over the next years and decades. For now it’s in its awkward infancy, still seeking across-the-board buy-in.

Bullying is bad. This sort of thing really shouldn't happen.

Bullying is bad. This sort of thing really shouldn’t happen.

But again, if wearing pink is the signature outward emblem of participation in Anti-Bullying Day—ignoring for the moment how stupidly arbitrary it is to equate pink with femininity—are we not asking more from boys than from girls when we urge “all” kids to wear a pink shirt? P and V most likely would have done so anyway, but their male cohort would not have, which makes the exercise unfair—at least until we actually do chip away at the pink-for-girls and blue-for-boys stereotypes that underpin the bullying incident that kicked the whole idea off.

Lastly, we shouldn’t forget that bullying is not the sole domain of boys. Small percentages of both genders dish out intimidation and physical violence (just ask V, who has a female five-year-old tormenter). If wearing pink demands no effort of girls and considerable effort of boys, is the underlying message that girls are exempt from bullying?

Obviously the answer is no—it’s not the intentional message. But it is a message that could accidentally be inferred. Although schools do a good job of explaining Anti-Bullying Day and emphasizing that no one gender has a monopoly on abusive behavior, the anti-bullying message is riding on a raft of socially constructed implications—much the way gay-rights issues sometimes get swept along with rainbow themes that don’t necessarily resonate with all gay people. Hitching your wagon to a color or spectrum of colors is a great way to get attention and promote a cause, but in our society colors are laden with value assumptions that sometimes muddy the message.

PICT1885Bottom line at LBHQ: We don’t mind pink; three-quarters of the humans wear it all the time. When P draped me in my pink frock today I did get the impression she was trying to make me look prettier. Or maybe she was making a political statement—who knows?

The real bottom line is that Anti-Bullying Day, no matter how it’s observed, is important. It’s important enough to warrant a “theme drink” such as this mouth-watering Pink Lady. But then of course we’d have to worry about what such a drink implied.

pink-lady-gin

Oh damn it, let’s just buy the gin anyway and make one.

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.