Who would win? Derek or HERMANN’S DARK LAGER?

Sat down with one beer for one episode of Ricky Gervais’s new Netflix show Derek. Next thing you know it was three shows and two beers. (We have to ration ourselves—there are only seven Derek episodes and even fewer beers in the LBHQ fridge.)

My fellow inebriates, I’ve never seen anything like it. Not only did I learn a new song; I also laughed my ass off and blinked away some tears. Holy crap, MFI, I almost forgot about the beer…

We’ve had this one before: HERMANN’S DARK LAGER, and it really hits it out of the park, as does Derek—about which not one word more because I don’t want to be a stupid furry idiot and wreck it. But check this picture out. I got it from Mr. Noakes himself, who has his own Twitter account.

OKANAGAN SPRING BREWMASTER’S BLACK LAGER—Okay, I admit it. I might be just a little sad.

My Fellow Inebriates,

We had a windy day yesterday, which meant the girls’ grandparents couldn’t come over on the ferry to get them. The plan had been for the monkeys to visit Vancouver Island for a few days (without parents for the very first time), and the mood—before BC Ferries cancelled all sailings—had been ecstatic. Days of fun for the kids! A peaceful house without toys on the floor for my parents! And for me, license to drink openly all day long.

Well, maybe not. My parents are still boring, controlling, (smugly) opposably thumbed and unwilling to invest in bear-oriented bottle-opening technology. But the point became academic when BC Ferries made its decision yesterday not to sail in high wind—probably less because the company fears a sinking than because union disgruntlement will skyrocket if the ferry employees spend a whole afternoon mopping up seasick passengers’ barf.

I’d been all prepared to miss the kids terribly. Somehow they were already seeming cuter and more lovable, the more I pictured them being driven away by Nana and Papa for their big-girl adventure.

The Bear Habitat. Escapees will be beaten.

My mum was relieved; she didn’t like the idea of them getting tossed around on the ferry. I felt like a bad bear for not having considered this. I do love the kids. The other day they made a “bear habitat” consisting of a dislocated couch cushion for all of us bears. Any bears who wished to opt out of the new habitat received beatings on the head. So you can imagine how conflicted I was about the ferry cancellation.

The kids themselves were devastated, which translated into some heavy bear usage. In addition to draping me in several dish-towel frocks, they chucked me down the stairs a few times and forced me to kiss Glen Bear on the mouth (which I didn’t mind). “Baby” by Justin Bieber warbled relentlessly in the background, either from YouTube or the six-year-old’s vocal chords—usually both. Finally Miss V launched into a tantrum, the momentum of which carried everyone into bedtime, and I was left to calm my twitching fur with the Okanagan Spring Craft Variety Pack.

The HOPPED LAGER I tried on Sunday wasn’t poor, but still I hoped for more from the next choice: Okanagan Spring BREWMASTER’S BLACK LAGER. But—perhaps because of the day’s emotional highs and lows, perhaps because of the package design, and perhaps because Vancouver Island Brewery’s HERMANN’S DARK LAGER had set the bar very high for that particular brew style—I wasn’t optimistic. Just sayin’ it so you know I didn’t go into this unbiased as I usually do. I certainly needed a beer, but I wasn’t expecting great things.

BREWMASTER’S BLACK LAGER is a deep cola color with tan head (not a good candidate for dyeing green on St. Patrick’s day). It gives off a toasty aroma with mild graininess, cocoa, and espresso. On the palate it’s crisp and unexpectedly fizzy; the coffee flavor moves to the front, jockeying a bit uncomfortably with the mild hops and malt. The mouthfeel isn’t as chewy as it could be, which again makes for some incongruity between expectation and taste. It finishes on an unfortunate sour note, like old espresso in a breakfast cup.

Sadly, BREWMASTER’S BLACK LAGER fails to hit the proper notes. It’s not sufficiently creamy, it’s more noticeably sour than bitter, and it lacks the weight that would make it a nice winter sipper. Instead (last night at least) it served me as a winter pounder—a release for some considerable frustration while I inspected my fur and wondered whether I would need anything sewn up.

Even though the earth didn’t move, I’ll still drink the other two in the variety pack—quickly. And who knows? They may even taste better today. The wind has calmed and the girls’ grandparents are on their way to get them. Soon they’ll be on a ferry headed to Vancouver Island, and it will be very quiet here.


SEA DOG AMBER ALE—Perfect with the Liebster

I was totally hosed last night and started clicking on my stats randomly. I was wondering why I don’t get any hatemail (seriously) and if the spam filters are magically sparing my feelings by weeding any ill wishes out. I noticed one of my clicks had come from Awkward Laughter, who’d just been given the Liebster Blog Award and, chain-letter style, spread the love to yours truly.

Even though I’m cynical about awards and the exponential potential to blanket everyone in plaudits whether they deserve them or not, I love getting them and I’m grateful for the notice.

Here’s the deal on the Liebster Blog Award. It’s for small blogs that merit more notice than they’re getting. Like dorky smart kids. Ha! As I told my parents, there’s nothing more dorky than adult humans who have conversations with teddy bears.

By which I mean to say my parents are card-carrying nerds. Not you, my fellow inebriates. Of course I didn’t mean you.

For you I have a booze recommendation: SEA DOG AMBER ALE from Vancouver Island Brewery, the last of four beers I sampled from the Pod Pack.

But first:

The award goes to…three to five deserving blogs. Okay, I have no idea how many followers you have, so don’t get offended if you have a zillion and I’ve bestowed this on you erroneously. Just know that I like you, I read you, and tag, you’re it.




While I’m at it I should tell you guys about the award, but I’ll probably forget, so you might have to bump drunkenly around your dashboard to find it. That is, if you drink all the SEA DOG in a Pod Pack plus some of the other three sample beers. After doing this very thing, I’d rank the four varieties as follows:


Yes, the SEA DOG comes in fourth, but not because it’s bad. It just had tough competition. It’s the most earthy of the bunch, with an herbal hoppiness and lots of malt—very beery, which isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t clout you with beeriness, but it’s not messing around either. Reddish copper in the glass, it boasts some fine carbonation and good weight—another brew you can pound or sip, depending on your mood. Of the foursome it’s the most punk-ass one and, while none of the four are pretentious, I’d call it the slugger of the bunch: hops, malt, maybe some nuttiness, and there you have it.

The Pod Pack is very good at hitting mainstream popular notes, with each beer offering distinct characteristics. It would go down well with a hockey game, and it wouldn’t embarrass you at a dinner party either. In fact, it’s so drinkable that you could consume its entirety at a dinner party and then embarrass yourself. Ahhh!

For my three nominees, if you don’t have a Pod Pack of your own, you can still be embarrassed. After all, you just got an award from a teddy bear.