CALONA VINEYARDS ARTIST SERIES SOVEREIGN OPAL (2010)—Delightful, even if it fails to get the Tooth Fairy sufficiently drunk to work up the courage to get the damn tooth

Impatient for more tooth-fairy funding, Miss P yanked a lateral incisor out this evening, fascinating Miss V and grossing me out with the bloody artifact.

She’s not supposed to do these things while Dad’s away in Ontario.

First of all, he’s missing a milestone.

Second, my mum is totally chickenshit about getting the tooth out from under the pillow. She’s so worried about waking P up that she’s too timid to do it; she usually gets Dad to do it unless P’s lying conveniently off her pillow.

You can't handle the tooth

Which she wasn’t tonight. Squarely over the incisor, P lay in a sweaty sleep, looking insufficiently comatose for the would-be tooth fairy’s liking. Mum managed to deposit the Tooth Fairy Water (diaphanous red this time) and slid three bucks under P’s pillow, at which point P shifted and opened her eyes—seeing nothing, we hope, but actually looking kind of creepy. So Mum beat it out of her room, toothless and defeated. Tomorrow P will find money AND a her bloodied tooth—and wonder what the hell is going on with the tooth fairy.

The tooth fairy wasn’t even drunk. Yes, we had one glass of CALONA VINEYARDS ARTIST SERIES SOVEREIGN OPAL (2010) while waiting for P to drop off to sleep, but at 11% alcohol it wasn’t going to compromise the mission. It did, however, wow us with some delightfully delicate floral aromas and unexpected complexity. If you’ve never heard of the Sovereign Opal grape, it’s because it was engineered by Agriculture Canada to thrive specifically in BC’s Okanagan Valley. A cross between Maréchal Foch and Golden Muscat, the grape takes robustness from the former and personality from the latter.

2010-calona-vineyards-artist-series-sovereign-opal-20110605115731-314238For $12.99 I wouldn’t have expected this wine to offer so much nuance: juicy citrus notes, rose petals, honeydew melon, and pear strike the palate pleasingly, with the slightest hint of almond in the background. Medium-bodied and off-dry, the stuff is crazy yummy, especially for the price, and those fantastic fruit harmonies haunt the palate lingeringly. SOVEREIGN OPAL overdelivers and then some, unlike the parsimonious tooth fairy who can’t wrap her head around paying more than three bucks for a tooth that P ripped out of her head in one agonizing, blood-spurting effort.

Moreover, the tooth fairy can’t get her shit together to go back into the kids’ room and somehow retrieve the tooth. See, that’s what she’d make Dad do if he weren’t on a business trip right now. Dad isn’t a pussy about making noise or rearranging the kids and their covers once they’re asleep. He doesn’t freak out when they stir and half-open their eyes in that Exorcist way. My mum sucks at being the tooth fairy.

But my dad sucks too, because he’s emailing photos like this one.

 Stag's Leap

We were pretty happy with our $13 bottle of wine, and here’s dad sending pics of a $37 bottle bought by some suck-up supplier. Not that we begrudge him…it’s freaking cold in Ontario and he deserves a little happiness. It’s just that we really needed him to be the tooth fairy and get that tooth.


DEAD FROG NUT BROWN ALE—Froggy style has a lot of variations

My Fellow Inebriates,

Two nights ago my dad returned from a trade show with two bottles of DEAD FROG NUT BROWN ALE.

I’d been wondering where the hell my dad was. Often I can find him spread out (his work gear, not his junk) all over the dining room table, stressing my mum out with his tentaculate electronics, and offending us all by playing Pink Floyd’s The Wall out of sequence. But for the last week he’s been scarce.

I suspect he’s been wined and dined by suppliers this week, plied with swag far beyond the two beers he brought home. But we’ll never know. My dad has this effective trick of entering the house with his headset on, carrying on a conversation until the novelty of his arrival has worn off and everyone’s forgotten to ask him about his day. Repeatedly throughout the week, and well past the bedtime of the kids—who would ignore his phone conversation anyway and attack him—he’s entered mid-conversation, muttering away about terminations and racks and permits, and—seeing he won’t respond anyway—I’ve gone back to looking at the People of Walmart or trying on moustaches or whatever other productive thing I was doing before he came in. Effectively I’ve forgotten to interrogate him about this trade show and whatall’s been going on there. For instance:

Why only two beers?

Why NUT BROWN ALE particularly? Does he know that DEAD FROG markets an array of unusual brews (mandarin orange, pepper lime, toasted coconut)?—not quite targeted at craft beer geeks (too light, too lager-y) yet not targeted at the Molson Canadian crowd either. In fact, DEAD FROG has been a bit hit-or-miss when it comes to aligning with the increasingly divergent craft and mass beer markets, particularly with its 650-mL specialty brews, and would have found itself dead indeed had it not sought $500,000 in investment money earlier this year.


If my dad hadn’t been yammering into the headset I would have asked about DEAD FROG’s beer portfolio—did Dad have the option to scoop some other products for yours truly or was he just not interested? Did he have his fill of them at the show? OMG, would my dad do that without me?

Fact is, Dad might have picked the best of the bunch. DEAD FROG NUT BROWN ALE is a nice beer. Dark and almost cola color with a moderate-to-weighty mouthfeel, it carries a hoppy punch yet doesn’t distance itself from the warming, mellowing maltiness of a good ale. Crisp carbonation focuses the hop/malt intersection nicely. You can detect chocolate in the background plus the eponymous nuttiness, making for a solid, interesting brew that doesn’t cloy and isn’t so intriguing that it becomes annoying or precious. Paws up for sure. Or flippers or whatever.

With its recent cash infusion and wealth of marketing ideas, DEAD FROG, just one of three new brewers making a splash in British Columbia, evidently has some (frog) legs. If we all boost our drinking, we should be able to keep the frog alive.

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?