AMSTEL LIGHT—Calls for diplomacy

Today the kids decided I needed a bath. Luckily they’re not totally unsupervised; our mother intervened. She said they could do it as long as the bath was pretend.

That our bathing simulation wouldn’t occur near running water was a relief, but Miss P’s choice of a saucepan wasn’t exactly comforting.

Nevertheless, she made it work.

Ahhhh. Let’s talk about that AMSTEL LIGHT.

However did such a beer (ABV 3.5%) gain entry into LBHQ? The best possible way—borne by friends who joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. (Over-generously, they also brought a bottle of wine, a tray of cupcakes, two large chocolate bars, and a bouquet of flowers. How my parents merit that sort of treatment I don’t know.)

Okay, so when I said I was going to review AMSTEL LIGHT, my mum threatened me. She said, “They are very good friends of ours and if you trash that beer just because it has a low alcohol percentage…you just wait.”

For what?

Let’s face it, 3.5% alcohol is a travesty. “My fellow inebriates,” I said to my mother, “expect complete honesty.”

“Your fellow inebriates,” she said, “can’t even realistically expect you to stay on topic.”

Just the facts then:

Appearance: straw-yellow, like the urine of a well-hydrated bear, with no head (the beer, not the bear)

Smell: Grain, inoffensiveness

Taste: Corn, grain, slight Dutch-style funk

Body: Light, airy, strangely unfizzy

Impression: What the hell?

AMSTEL LIGHT reminds me of the time my parents went to see Avatar and they took Scarybear instead of me (he rode in a purse). I thought I was invited, right up until they got in the car, and then there I was, left behind with the kids and the babysitter. Kind of disappointed, but at the same time not disappointed about being spared a confrontation with my long-standing fear of blue people.

While I very much doubt any of my hobo friends would buy AMSTEL LIGHT, in terms of its potential to shine a small ray of happiness into an alcoholic’s life, AMSTEL LIGHT obviously runs circles around O’DOUL’S. And that makes it okay.

“Faint praise,” said my mum. “You’d better hope our friends don’t read your review.”

“Or what?”

Pee in the fridge, and FRÜLI too

Who says you can’t congratulate a kid too much?

Miss V received so much praise for providing a urine sample on Thursday that this morning she took the second empty sample cup out of the Biohazard bag and filled it up too. She even put it in the fridge.

I don’t think anyone’s allowed to get rid of it. She wouldn’t understand.

Next thing you know she’ll be looking for alternate sample cups—Rubbermaid and Tupperware containers that she can micturate into. The fridge will be full of piss.

Fortunately there’s room because we eliminated some near-piss last night. I know, I know—that sounds harsh—but every once in a while a beer gains entry into LBHQ that is almost undrinkable. (And then I drink it strictly to take care of tremors.)

The beer in question was Van Diest FRÜLI, a strawberry Belgian white fruit beer ringing in at 4.1% alcohol. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be grateful to my dad for buying only one bottle of beer, but in this case it would have been tragic to multiply the $2.45 FRÜLI price tag by more than 1.

We went through a fruit beer phase a little while ago with the UNIBROUE sampler pack, which, while a good primer on Belgian-style high-gravity brews, is nevertheless an acquired taste. For drinkers who tend to choose easy-drinking ales and lagers, a beer like MAUDITE, with its bottle-fermented orchard overripeness, can be overwhelming. But it is still a beer. However cloying its fruity characteristics may seem, it is hoppy, grainy, and malty. FRÜLI, on the other hand, is a complete departure from beer.

For one thing, it’s cloudy maroon. There’s no mistaking the strawberry component; the stuff smells stronger than a Strawberry Shortcake doll’s hair. It could compete with strawberry Jell-O or Kool-Aid (powders that should rightly be combined with vodka). Without even taking a sip, you know this beer is not right.

If you’re also an alcoholic, you’ll probably want to pound your bottle of FRÜLI. Classic WYSIWYG: smell and taste line up exactly in an uncomplicated strawberry assault. Let me quote Meet Strawberry Shortcake:

Soon the girls were loading the pink wagon with cookies. Strawberry Shortcake was berry, berry happy—not just to have cookies, but a new friend as well!

OMFG!!! Arghhhhh!!! Drinking a 250mL FRÜLI is like reading 250 pages of Strawberry Shortcake! It’s sappy, sweet, cloying, insipid, and candy-like. Its lack of resemblance to beer is offensive, people. Not even its weak alcohol content redeems it.

Now, perhaps I’ve had a bit more exposure to Strawberry Shortcake than some people. Fact is, if you like fruit but don’t care much for beer, you could drink FRÜLI. You could also put a scoop of Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s in it and call it a float, but it’s not a beer, dammit.

But it gets worse, my fellow inebriates. I visited Beer Advocate to see what my fellow reviewers think of FRÜLI. One of them said it was…sessionable.

That’s because you’d have to drink a CASE of FRÜLI to get drunk. You could get more punch-drunk reading a marathon session of Strawberry Shortcake books to two enraptured little girls, all the while questioning your parental judgment in letting them absorb such mind-numbing rubbish, than you could drinking FRÜLI.

The only thing that upsets me more than FRÜLI is…O’DOUL’S.

FRÜLI is the first beer I’m not sad to see vacate our fridge. It is not welcome back there! Miss V can put ten pee samples in there for all I care, but another FRÜLI …shudder.

O’DOUL’S—What to do with crack

My Fellow Inebriates,

My mum swears she saw ass crack in Walmart today as she was leaving with the stroller, the kids and the groceries. Right before that she’d witnessed giant, pendulous bosoms lolling out of a dirty negligee over in the frozen-foods aisle, a week before darkest winter.

I believe my mother because she’s too humorless to invent an elderly man in a death-metal leather jacket yanking up his ill-fitting jeans to return to proper privacy four inches of rectal spectacle. She said this parting shot from Walmart had kind of made her forget about the half-naked woman buying ice cream.

I love fashion diversity, but even more, I love knowing that the People of Walmart are a real phenomenon, not something staged by Walmart haters or, more deviously, by Walmart itself. No, these people actually flock to Walmart every day wearing feathers and leather and tats and animal prints—without coaching or prompting—spilling out of their (perhaps carefully chosen) duds. What a marvelous, organic culture Walmart has spawned.

My mum predicted I would say it called for a toast and unfortunately kiboshed a bottle of wine, lording her opposable thumbs over me. Which leaves me to review a very unworthy beer available at grocery stores everywhere, even in Canada and probably at Walmart.

Calling O’DOUL’S a beer is charity to say the least. O’DOUL’S is an alcohol-free abomination, a <0.5% pretender. Faintly metallic and over-sweet, this wanna-be brew pours light amber-yellow, then rests uneventfully in the glass, wafting chemical aromas and mocking you with its lack of alcohol.

You guys know I find something to like about pretty much everything, provided it has alcohol, so it’s really not fair to beat up O’DOUL’S too much. If you’re pregnant or driving or drying out, maybe it’s a good solution. But it’s hard to tolerate something that taunts you with beer-like qualities but simply isn’t a proper beer. There are a million other fizzy beverages I’d have before I’d crack another O’DOUL’S.

So on the “crack” note, and for consistency’s sake, here’s my recommendation: Use it for enemas.