HOPARAZZI LAGER—Battling the apocalypse, nutjob neighbors, and restricted access to your balls

Balls facebook discussion

Thus was my mother shamed into making a batch of whisky balls. Creeping on my Facebook page, she saw my tattle to Christine and decided there were worse things she could do with half a cup of Wisers.

DSCN2683Scary and I were both involved, satisfying related motivations of gluttony and hedonism. He accidentally got himself punched in the nose by the pastry blender—luckily not the motorized kind or he’d have had no nose left.

“Is that Irish cream?” Miss V asked as Mum poured the whisky.

“Close,” said Mum.

By the time she’s six, V will be able to distinguish vodka from gin from 30 paces, unless Child Services gets her first. “Can I smell?” she asked.

“Of course,” said Mum.

“Mmmmmm,” said my little kindergartner friend. “But they’re just for grown-ups, right?”


“That means I can have two peanut butter cookies instead then.”

No such negotiation had taken place, but who could argue with such lawyerly logic?

This is how we ended up making our whisky balls:

  • Two-thirds of an overbaked marble cake we’d forgotten about in the freezer, bashed into crumbs with a pastry blender
  • Some pecans, also bashed
  • Some milk chocolate chips, melted with a tablespoon of whisky and two tablespoons of corn syrup (the recipe called for three, but we were affected by The Omnivore’s Dilemma, so we used only two)
  • ½ cup icing sugar, more or less
  • ¼ cup cocoa plus some that fell on the counter
  • ½ cup whisky minus the tbsp cooked with the chocolate

From somewhere Mum produced a melon baller, used it, cursed it, and abandoned it, then hand-rolled a bunch of cute little balls.


It was immediately apparent we hadn’t used enough Wisers; fresh whisky balls should set your fur on fire their first day, and these were only slightly redolent. Then again, maybe the smell lacked intensity simply because we’d used a cleaner spirit than rum.


Nah…they needed more booze. But it would have been foolish to use more; we need that Wisers for drinking.

Meanwhile the neighborhood has gone apeshit with Christmas decorations. Light shows, sleighs, Santas, Grinches, Scrooges, Bumbles, Rudolphs—you name it and its inflatable likeness is swaying in one of our neighbors’ yards (and lying flaccid on the lawn in the morning, when the kids actually pass by).

Amid all this relatively secular mayhem is a house with a large manger scene out front—Mary and Joseph gazing downward at the infant Jesus, who looks freaking cold in his loincloth. Speaking of Child Services, such nudity may be comfortable in the Middle East, but Langley is at latitude 49.10348. Holy or not, that kid needs some swaddling clothes.

That aside, I felt bad when the family came home from school today and mentioned they’d seen a police officer visiting the owner of that house. We have no idea why, but my first guess would be that someone messed with the nativity display and the owner called the police. Which makes me sad, because obviously, if you’re going to put an overtly religious scene in your yard, it means something to you. And it’s really not cool for someone to vandalize it.

Crazy christmas lights

Not our neighbor’s house…but similar

Then again, my guess about the police visit could be totally off-base. Maybe the manger-scene dude called the police about the light show across the street from him, which features so much nutjob ornamentation that the owners must need to rent a storage locker during off-season. A giant Grinch, a family of snowpeople, a hundred candy canes, gingerbread men, all blazing with lights. We can only hope they turn it off before midnight so the neighbors can sleep without having flashbacks of sordid motel overnighters. I could picture a war breaking out between these two neighbors. Maybe Manger Dude asked North-Pole Dude to tone it down a little. Maybe North-Pole Dude ran across the road and put a flashing, sequined baby blanket on the Savior. Who knows? Maybe this has been going on for 20 years. One thing’s for sure—the new LBHQ is situated in interesting territory.

hoparazzi_bottlesScary and I can’t get at our balls right now, so we’re staring out the window psychoanalyzing the neighbors. Between us is a HOPARAZZI lager from Parallel 49, a curious choice on the part of my dad, especially with winter so close. (Scary says winter won’t come, ever.) My dad never buys IPA for its own sake. It might ride along in a sampler pack, but generally he doesn’t like a fierce hop shitkicking, and neither does my mum. Dad makes an exception when the hop factor is nuanced and citrusy, as it is in HOPARAZZI. Pale gold and sparkling with fizz, the Pacific West Coast hops’ berserker potential is mitigated by crystal malt, resulting in a well-behaved almost-IPA with an incredibly full mouthfeel and refreshing summery kick. Weighing in at 6% alcohol and 50 IBU, HOPARAZZI isn’t a misnomer; to enjoy it, you have to like hops, although you might not like all hops brewed by all breweries. HOPARAZZI doesn’t kick your ass with hops—it just taunts you a little. Sort of like hanging out with Scary all day when he’s too hungry to make a hostile move.

He is talking apocalypse, though, and with only 16 days remaining, his current theory is volcanism. Yes, my fellow inebriates, Scary figures we’re overdue for a cataclysmic eruption like the one that happened in India 65 million years ago, busting out a quarter-million cubic miles of lava and wiping us out the way he says it did the dinosaurs. The amount of chlorine-bearing compounds unleashed on the ozone layer will turn our little blue marble into a hothouse. We’ll need refreshments. Better stock up on HOPARAZZI.

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.