ISLAND LAGER—When you’re overwhelmed by thongs

My Fellow Inebriates,

Without a reminder from The Dogs of Beer (fascinating and worth checking out), I wouldn’t have realized today is summer solstice. I mistakenly thought it was National Thong Day.

The misunderstanding originated with my mum, who, after dropping P off at school, commented that everyone was wearing thongs. I thought she meant “a thong” rather than “thongs,” a term that dates my mother’s adolescence to the early 1980s—before the term “flip flops” became necessary for differentiation from the thongs I thought she was talking about.

My mother meant these.

I thought she meant these.

In their own ways, both types of thongs call for a stiff drink.

Unquestionably the drink should be refreshing and summery. How about an ISLAND LAGER from Granville Island Brewing? Effervescent and golden, this brew has a mild, inviting aroma—slightly sweet and grainy. It has a nice balance of malt, barley, and hops; if anything, it’s uncomplicated, which is precisely what you need after a Thong Onslaught.

When you’ve seen one too many thongs, it’s not just your vision that needs a rest—your whole body needs to calm down and cease being stimulated. ISLAND LAGER is undemanding that way; there aren’t any weird, exotic flavors that might send your brain on an irritating quest to place them in remote memory. The fizz is happy and sparkly—whee!

Seeing a lot of thongs can sometimes make you feel you’ve slipped a dozen IQ points. All the more reason to seek out a basic beer that will make you feel smarter than it is. But don’t let thongs drive you toward a nasty, metallic macro brew. Sure, ISLAND LAGER is basic, but we know from Granville Island Brewing’s other more exotic offerings that it could have been otherwise. This is a fine, unchallenging product that features malt and hops playing nicely together—with neither one snapping the other’s g-string.

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BROCKTON IPA—Sometimes you need a kick in the head

My judgment is feeble at best, my fellow inebriates, so when Scientific American emails me about a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Venus transit  the Sun, appearing as a small black disk in front of our blazing star, I’m not sure if SCIAM is advising me to look at it.

All my instincts are telling me it’s not okay to stare at the sun, but I’m thinking maybe I can get away with it just once. Venus won’t do this again until 2117. Astronomers are excited by it because it illustrates the way they find exoplanets orbiting distant stars—by the planets’ silhouettes.

I asked my friend Scarybear whether I should look at the sun* to see the Venusian disc. He said I definitely should**, for long enough to adjust my eyes to the glare and then a bit longer to make out the small dark spot. He said it would be “the coolest thing ever.” When I asked him if we need to put a special filter on the telescope, he shrugged and said that my eyes would “probably heal pretty fast.”

And the winner is…the lager.

Sounds like a plan. After all, a solar filter for our telescope would probably cost more than a few cases of beer. Between a filter and another GRANVILLE ISLAND BREWING Mingler pack, I’ll take the beer.

And while I wouldn’t gravitate toward an entire case of BROCKTON IPA, I don’t mind finding three of them in the Mingler. Sometimes an India Pale Ale provides just the bracing, hoppy kick in the head that a bear needs.

Deep golden with white foam, BROCKTON IPA gives off a strong, earthy aroma—hoppy, bready, and slightly astringent. The taste is more bracing than the smell, with pine notes and hops front-and-forward but some malty caramel notes balancing it somewhat. With moderate carbonation and substantial weight in the mouth, BROCKTON IPA finishes with a lingering, satisfying bitterness.

IPA isn’t a style we seek out too often at LBHQ; it always seems off-kilter with its emphasis on hops at the expense of milder front-palate-pleasing flavors. And BROCKTON IPA is an example of a beer in which hops pretty much beat the shit out of the other taste sensations, not to mention the drinker. But sometimes you need a beer that kicks your ass, and when you do, one like this is great.

We could buy four cases for the cost of a solar filter! I mentioned this to my mum, who had no idea why I would posit the comparison until I told her I was following Scary’s advice to watch an unfiltered Venusian solar transit*** while pounding cases of IPA.

For someone who doesn’t like using the word “retarded,” she sure unleashes it on me a lot.

* Do not do this.

** Do not do this.

*** Do not do this.

CYPRESS HONEY LAGER—Good swill during unpleasant times

8:00am

Somebody mailed a human foot to the Conservative Party’s Ottawa HQ yesterday, causing police to declare a Hazmat situation while investigators pored over the Canada Post sorting plant where all packages go before final delivery.

Weirdly, a maggoty human torso had just been discovered in a suitcase in Montreal. Who knows where the head and remaining limbs are destined… I sure wouldn’t want to be a mail sorter this week.

Tory MP Brad Trost, a hardcore pro-lifer who apparently thinks Stephen Harper is too conservative and longs to reopen the abortion debate in Canada, first learned about the foot on TV. “It’s just awful,” said Trost, describing it as “someone’s sick idea.”

Newsflash, Brad: A picture or a story about a severed foot is a sick idea. An actual severed foot goes beyond ideation. Dude, when somebody mails you a body part, it’s either:

  • A mistake (Was it in an ice bath? Was it supposed to be reattached to somebody waiting at the hospital?)
  • A joke (Not funny!)
  • A message (What do you think it could mean, my fellow inebriates?)

▪ ▪ ▪

12:00pm

Wow! A lot can happen while you’re out swinging on swings, visiting Tim Horton’s, and watching dogs get haircuts at the pet store. The police just intercepted a package containing a severed HAND at the Ottawa Postal Terminal. They’ve connected the hand and foot with the torso in Montreal, plus they have a suspect. In all likelihood the gruesome mailings are a mob-style message related to the Charbonneau Commission investigating organized crime in the construction industry.

Although police have expressed doubt that any more body parts will show up in the mail, if I were an employee of Canada Post or the Harper government I would definitely be bringing a flask to work. Maybe even phoning in drunk.

With a six-pack of GRANVILLE ISLAND CYPRESS HONEY LAGER I could just manage it, although my friends weighing more than a pound might want to consider a full case. Amber-yellow with a quickly receding beige head, this lager promises honey. Instead bakery leftovers and cloying malt waft from the glass. If you detect honey then you have a finer nose than I and/or the power of suggestion is strong with you. If this latter characteristic fits, you might not wish to drink CYPRESS HONEY LAGER while reading about detached body parts crawling with maggots—you wouldn’t want to cement that association.

Honey, when added to a lager, often mitigates the tinny lightness of that brewing style and lends some depth. But one sip of CYPRESS HONEY LAGER confirms what the nose suspected: precious little honey. Sweetness, yes, but of a juvenile, corn-syrup stripe unable to elevate this lager from a thin, watery and even sour taste experience. This would be an excellent keg beer. If, say, you were moving from a house with a mean landlord and wanted to host one last housewrecker party, CYPRESS HONEY LAGER would be a good choice. Its promise of delicious honey is exactly like a parsimonious landlord’s commitment to fix the toilet.

If you don’t have enough friends to warrant a kegger, but you do like pounding beers while watching morbid CBC news stories, this lager would do for that too.