FISGARD 150 BAVARIAN LAGER—No secret, this is a weird beer

My Fellow Inebriates,

Yesterday our next-door neighbor (the nice one, on the right) said, “So, I heard you’re moving.” Her four-year-old, informed by our four-year-old, had told her, and she was clearly wondering why we hadn’t.

Meanwhile, the nasty neighbors on the left had started shuffling round their yard, overregulating their children’s water-play, effectively wringing any possible fun out of it and raising the general neighborhood stress level.

We wanted to say, “We haven’t told anybody, because of people like that.” But instead my mum shrugged and said something idiotic like, “Yeah, we’ve never really fit into this whole townhouse thing.”

For numerous reasons this may be true:

  • the excessive clutter in the yard, including a dirt-encrusted water table, discarded bubble-soap containers, and irreparably punctured “spraying beach ball” beneath which a wood-beetle colony is thriving, plus a Frisbee for anyone interested in hurling such a thing five meters
  • enough bikes, strollers, and scooters for seven children, slung all over the yard
  • the buckled-beyond-repair garage door with the gaping hole, plus spare parts (described as “scrap metal” in a recent Strata Council warning letter)
  • my mother’s proven inability to limit her blue language in a community where even a whisper travels the distance of several units

Our mean neighbors to the left, whose children must tiptoe around their little show home (“don’t touch the walls!”), will undoubtedly do a happy dance when we move. But we’ll miss the nice neighbors on the right with their friendly clutter-rivalry (they have a double stroller sunning itself in the rhododendron bed). We’ll also miss their fearless little four-year-old and the way she tears into our home sopping wet, whipping a spray of hose-water over the laminate and wondering about a snack.

But the new LBHQ is a better fit. It’s an older house in a quiet neighborhood near the kids’ school, with a large, cedar-enclosed back yard plus a capacious deck—the perfect place to pound a case of beer or prance around in a thong audience-free. My dad is really excited about the deck.

Still, the (nice) neighbors very pointedly asked yesterday what we were doing. Why hadn’t my parents mentioned our upcoming change of digs?

We do like these neighbors. We plan to keep in touch with them. But sheer childish perversity prevented my mother from enlightening them. Presumably they were wondering when and if we could have possibly sold the current LBHQ with its astonishing mess and lack of realtor staging—its lack of a realtor, in fact. If anything, this just demonstrates the fishbowl aspect of townhouse living. Everyone, no matter how nice, is in your business.

Scary liked having a BBQ, but he likes having secret satellite more.

But my parents have a secretive side. (For years they’ve concealed inside a gutted barbecue a forbidden satellite dish, through the cover of which our favorite shows happily penetrate. If anyone wonders why we don’t barbecue anything, that’s why, people. We’ve derived inordinate delight from pulling the BBQ cover over the Strata Council’s eyes all these years, although occasionally my dad wishes he could have a steak.) My parents grew up in a time when people didn’t talk about money and pay scales and what your house sold for in the shitty market du jour.

Fact is, my parents haven’t done anything with the townhouse yet. But they’re moving, and once they’ve moved, they’ll sort it out. That’s what they told me, at least. Far easier to tidy up a house when the kids aren’t living in it. Easier than impossible, that is.

So the packing starts this week. Books first, then second-string kitchen crap. Who knows, maybe we’ll actually junk some of it this time.

Watching my parents mobilize for the move is exciting. Not just because we’ll be in novel surroundings, but because when people move, they buy beer. They buy cases of it. And then they buy pizza, which makes them thirsty for more beer. And that makes moving awesome.

As long as nobody buys another Premium Pack from Lighthouse Brewing. OMG, I can’t tell you what a slog it’s been getting through it. When my mum declared it undrinkable, my dad and I had to step up and finish it, otherwise we couldn’t create the fridge vacuum that nature would abhor. Seriously, if my dad and I didn’t finish those Lighthouse beers, we’d never be able to buy more beer!

The most tolerable of the lot was FISGARD 150 BAVARIAN LAGER. Straw-colored and fizzy, it offers a basic aroma profile—grass, corn, and leafy hops—with an exception: that persistent, cloying overripe fruit note that predominates in its three Premium Pack casemates. Only the note is much subtler in FISGARD 150.

On the palate the lager is mild with some background orchardiness and a slightly sour endnote. Even when ice-cold, FISGARD 150 somehow doesn’t achieve refreshment; it tastes uncharacteristically musty for a lager, while noncommittally fruity. It’s a weird-tasting beer, but the weird taste doesn’t redeem it in any way. There’s nothing entertaining about an odd compost odor lurking in, of all things, a Bavarian lager.

So this one’s off our list for the move.

RIPTIDE PALE ALE—Get thee behind me, weird-tasting beer

My Fellow Inebriates,

The other night Fluffy started using his mind powers again—this time making one of the kitchen lights stutter with a freaky high-pitched sound. Holy crap, I’m glad my parents were home; it was so scary, and there was Fluffy, just sitting there, impassive.

So I decided I’d had it with Fluffy and his weirdness. It was time for an exorcism. My first thought was to contact the Pope, but he is surprisingly impenetrable, although he does have a Facebook page. 

Anyhow, I sent off my little query, but as usual it went into the ether, just like my letter to Bono regarding a Gin-Aid concert to raise money for a kick-ass premium gin selection at LBHQ. 

Then I found an organization called Exorismus. They seemed to know their shit, so I contacted them.

Still, I had a sinking sense of being alone on this. I realized I really didn’t know anything about exorcisms, but fortunately the Internet abounds with instructions.

  1. Exorcise in pairs. Just like exercising, exorcising works better with a buddy. If one of you starts feeling doubtful, the other one can spot for you.
  2. Make sure that the possessed person has nothing that may be possessed. Such things include religious artifacts, voodoo dolls, unholy writings, etc. But what if the possessed person is a thing like Fluffy?
  3. You don’t need to cast a circle of protection. Good, because the kids threw all their new sidewalk chalk into a bucket of water and turned it into soup. My mum says there’s no way they’re getting any more.
  4. Only attempt an exorcism if you can’t contact a trained exorcist. Trust me, I don’t really want to spearhead Fluffy’s exorcism. But the Pope’s probably less likely to call me back than Bono.
  5. The “Exorcism” movies are not valid guides for performing your exorcism. Dammit!
  6. Do not converse with the demon. My granny may have had some personal demons, but she’s certainly not an actual demon, although Fluffy might have some of his own. It could be crowded in there.
  7. Do not challenge the demon. OMG, to what? High-jump?
  8. Do not command the demon to do anything on your own authority. Well, I wouldn’t, would I? I can’t even get Fluffy to move over on the couch when we’re watching TV.
  9. Do not be afraid. Sure.
  10. Do not get angry. Supposedly demons thrive on anger and fear, just like that energy ball on Star Trek that made the Klingons and humans fight. Perhaps getting drunk would help.
  11. This process should NEVER be performed by anyone who is not a bishop or an exorcist, because it will cause a disaster. Okay, so maybe this point should have been number one on the list. If my parents come home and find me performing an exorcism they might get really freaking mad, especially if it damages the house. They are already in a world of shit with the strata council because they broke the garage door. (Or maybe Fluffy did that.)

So there you have it. No exorcism, at least for today. Instead, let’s kick back with a RIPTIDE PALE ALE from Lighthouse Brewing. Hazy-looking with a thin head, RIPTIDE has the same funky aroma as RACE ROCKS ALE—musty rotting orchard notes with some citrus thrown in. Sweet malt and floral notes chime in on the palate, but the carbonation is insufficient to counterbalance the funky taste. The body is medium—not satisfyingly substantial, yet not crisp or refreshing. This beer is mired in a limbo between the solid ale I hoped it would be and the fizzy summer sipper I would have settled for. Much the way Granny’s stuck between two worlds, housed in a musty furball named Fluffy.

If I could perform an exorcism on RIPTIDE PALE ALE I would cast out its “sessionable” aspirations. Whatever it’s trying to do with the overripe fruit, it doesn’t do it well. And if there were other beers in the house, well, it would languish in our fridge like a limbo-trapped soul*.

*The Vatican declared limbo non-existent in 2007.

RACE ROCKS ALE—All mine…?

It’s my Granny’s birthday today but my mum says we don’t have to make a cake because she’s dead. (I was thinking sherry trifle.) I think my mum is just trying to be a hardass, but she’d better hope none of Granny’s relatives are reading this. “And why would they?” she asked. “Why would anyone read it?”

Since my mum is being so liberal with abuse, let me tell you about her latest beer purchase. Thinking she could appeal to all tastes at LBHQ by buying yet another sampler box, she cruised the liquor store seeking a package that did not contain anything weird or fruity. I’ve mentioned before how limited my parents’ beer bandwidth is. My mum is anti-fruit and my dad is anti-IPA—which eliminated most of the sample packages in the store.

What remained was Lighthouse Brewing’s Premium Pack. Promising three ales and a Bavarian lager, it seemed innocent enough, so my mum plunked down $23 and took it home.

First out of the box: RACE ROCKS ALE. Considering the ordinariness of the packaging along with its lack of informative tasting notes, how could anybody expect weirdness? We were geared up for a run-of-the-mill ale with an ordinary hop/malt interplay. But it wasn’t to be.

Pouring amber-red with creamy foam, RACE ROCKS ALE puts you on immediate notice of wannabe intentions. But what does it want to be? Lighthouse Brewing designates it a craft beer, but OMG, any day now MOLSON CANADIAN will start calling itself that—it doesn’t mean anything, my fellow inebriates. If anything, RACE ROCKS ALE seems to be channeling the Belgian style with its rotting-orchard redolence.

You know when you’ve peeled a bunch of apples and peaches and whatever the hell else, about a day has gone by—a hot day—and gradually, slowly, you begin to notice that the kitchen smells? Well, I wish RACE ROCKS ALE were that subtle. While it’s certainly not as in-your-face as Unibroue’s product line, the fruit is there nonetheless, shaking its ass in your beer.

Okay, weird mixed metaphor, but this is a strange beer.

Get the $*#&@!#^! out of my beer!

On the tongue the ale redoubles its aromatic fruitiness. It’s no longer deniable; the overripe peaches can’t be ignored. Now, this is okay for my dad, because he gets all the remaining RACE ROCKS ALE and possibly its fellows if it turns out the fruit thing is something Lighthouse does with every beer. Score for my dad, but now we all have to live with my mum, who can’t blame anyone but herself for buying the case.

And what did I think of it? Holy crap, you know I loved it, people—I love all beer. But I love some beers less than others, and this is one of those (the ones I love less).

Nor did I like the way my mum pounded her bottle to make it go away. I had to be fast to get any at all. (She said it wasn’t bad enough to throw out. And yes, she does wear ten-year-old jeans for the same reason.)

Ignoring my angry mother, what did my dad think? “It kind of reminded me a little bit of U-BREW,” he said, damning Lighthouse Brewing further.

I guess this means I get all the RACE ROCKS ALE to myself. Too bad I can’t open it. If I could, I’d offer Granny a toast.