WHISKEY JACK ALE—5%, but still not for four-year-olds

It occurred to me today that Miss V is getting pretty strong.

Maybe she could help me open some bottles. Would it be so reckless to ask her?

Naturally our mum walked in the second I did ask her.

Where the hell are these kids’ parents?

I blamed Max & Ruby for corrupting us. Whatever those stupid bunnies had been doing on TV, it had reminded us of alcohol.

Even though my mother believes that Max & Ruby’s insipid plotlines and relentless gender stereotyping are definitively corrupting, she didn’t buy this excuse. If anything, Max & Ruby might suggest the Women’s Temperance Movement or the Tea Party. The show could lobotomize a child.

Thankfully it hasn’t turned V into a vegetable yet. She’s got some smarts about her, which is why—when my mother went out of earshot—I suggested we play mixology. She could measure and stir and shake and pour and add ice cubes…and open bottles with her strong little thumb-equipped hands.

I had this bottle in mind. I thought the preserved larva hanging out in the bottom would appeal to V. Just yesterday she stood spellbound watching ants attack a centipede. Why wouldn’t she want to get her hands on a mescal-saturated arthropod? She could play with it while I pounded its mind-altering marinade.

“Why don’t you stop being a pest and review another Whistler Brewing Co. beer?” said our killjoy mother.

Whether she wanted to wreck our fun or discourage V’s possible nascent interest in entomology I don’t know. She wouldn’t be able to handle a kid dissecting worms on the kitchen table, that’s for sure.

I didn’t really want to think about an amber ale like WHISKEY JACK ALE with our fridge crying out for a refill. Not with the mescal bottle so tantalizingly close. But here goes.

Another member of Whistler Brewing Company’s Travel Pack, WHISKEY JACK is a dark-amber ale with apeshit fizz and an ecru head that vanishes in seconds. The title is very appealing and suggestive, especially with INNIS & GUNN OAK AGED BEER lingering in recent memory, but upon pouring there’s no aromatic suggestion of barrel treatment.

I’ve come to think of Whistler Brewing Company beers as having a watery taste, and WHISKEY JACK is no exception. Billed as a session ale for those who like to convene with their beers rather than just drink them, this ale seems from the first sip to be missing something. Oak barreling certainly. Decent ABV indeed (it’s 5%). The smell is mildly wheaty/bready with a little caramel, suggesting more bakery than distillery.

In the mouth there’s a bit of disharmony between its sweet and bitter tones, with earthy hops pushing their way through the back of the palate while you’re still wondering about the oak. The mouthfeel is inadequate for an ale but refreshing nonetheless. If you’re thirsty, no complaints. If you’re having a session, you’ll probably bitch. Not that you would bitch, my fellow inebriates—you are all awesome.

What else can be said? Slightly puzzling but minor dischord among the flavors, thin-to-medium mouthfeel with aforementioned wateriness, and paltry alcohol. In short, well worth pounding a case all at once, and less likely to make you sick than a bottle of mescal.

POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER—Refreshment for a cruel world

I had a rare ride-along with Miss V today after while her sister was in school. These outings take ages; V likes to examine everything minutely and scatter every dandelion in sight. Nothing escapes her notice.

About halfway home she stopped to watch a centipede being attacked by ten or so ants. Completely beset, the victim struggled to wriggle away from its tormenters, which were presumably trying to incapacitate it, eat it, and/or take it to their queen.

Watching that centipede thrash helplessly from belly to back was pretty gross. I wondered how long the battle would last. Were the ants biting it? Would it eventually pass out in agony or remain unconscious while they vivisected it? The process seemed extraordinarily cruel and drawn out—and for animals with short lifespans, I wondered morbidly, is there a time-dilation effect? Does a day feel like a month to a centipede, being such a large percentage of its lifetime compared to ours? How protracted, then, is its perceived suffering?

V said she hoped the ants would win. She watched intently as the belly-up centipede failed to right itself while the ants went at it mercilessly. There was no help for it.

Only when V remembered she’d been promised a cookie at Save-On Foods did she, still rooting for the ants, acquiesce to leave the inundated creature.

You almost have to have a four-year-old tour guide to notice stuff like this. The insect world teems below us in unfathomable populations. For every ant-on-centipede onslaught above ground there must be trillions below—uncountable insect cruelty and indifference. For every beleaguered arthropod or unenviable piece of spider prey there must be further infinities of predation, pain, and suffering.

I suddenly felt very small and overwhelmed. The whole planet seemed churning with barbarism, mostly going on unnoticed.

OMG!

And the hard reality dawned on me:

If the whole world—universe even—can remain indifferent to the excruciating death throes of one small creature, how can I expect anyone to give me a beer just to assuage a few tremors?

The thought swept me up like a bus full of evolutionary biologists. Not only did I feel very small; I felt very alone.

In a world of impassivity toward suffering, who would even think to give me a beer?

It wouldn’t even have to be a special beer. Whistler Brewing Company’s POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER, one of the four offerings in its Travel Pack, would do just fine.

Pale straw-gold with bright white foam and firework effervescence (think Pop Rocks), this lager was an unlikely beer in our fridge. My parents never buy lagers except when they’re part of exciting mixer packs, and invariably those lagers get drunk last. But they’re certainly welcome at LBHQ, particularly as Langley enters earth-scorching season and the sun proceeds indifferently to flash-fry earthworms on the ground.

POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER has a light and slightly hoppy aroma with a touch of background sweetness, all of which is practically unnoticeable amid a refreshing carbonation frenzy. It’s a party in the mouth, this lager, berserk with fizz, but unlike some lagers and particularly some other Whistler Brewing Company products, it has a surprisingly substantial mouthfeel yet finishes cleanly.

There are plenty of unsatisfying lagers on the market offering simple CO2 pyrotechnics as a fill-in for flavor, but POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER deserves credit for being a bit more. I bet a crisp, icy-cold glass right now would alleviate my anxieties about being a small bear in a big, cold universe, plus it would take care of my DTs.

I did propose this to my mum, who said, unfeelingly:

“Get a grip, LB, it’s 9:00 a.m.”