My Fellow Inebriates,
Usually my dad and I get to bogart all the India Pale Ale that enters LBHQ. My mother’s marshmallow tastebuds can’t tolerate IPA’s “earwax and elastic band” topnotes and she has no comprehension of how symphonic a good IPA can be. So when my dad brought home INNIS & GUNN TOASTED OAK IPA, I thought we’d be safe from sharing with her. Together we could drink in peace and scratch ourselves as much as we liked.
Boy, was I wrong. Not only did Mum like INNIS & GUNN TOASTED OAK IPA; she bellied up to the counter with us and took half of our precious beer! Then she proceeded to marvel about the lack of earwax and elastic bands, the appetizing crystal-gold pour, the complexly hoppy aroma, the delicious toasty taste with buttery golden-rum asides, the refreshing mouthfeel, and the lingering bitter finish! OMG, my fellow inebriates, why didn’t my dad buy twice as much INNIS & GUNN TOASTED OAK IPA? Then we could have at least knocked my mum out (or wait—maybe not … only 5.6 percent alcohol).
Lest you think Dad and I don’t like Mum—it’s not really like that. We just like keeping all the IPA for ourselves. Dad and I (and Scarybear) take the IPA down to the movie room and watch action movies, knowing she won’t go anywhere near us or our beer. We thought we had a good plan with INNIS & GUNN TOASTED OAK IPA! We had Transformers: Age of Extinction all lined up! And suddenly there she was with us, suggesting we open a second bottle and discuss books or something. OMG!
Weirdly enough, though, the more INNIS & GUNN TOASTED OAK IPA we drank, the more my mum started to seem okay—after all, she was being liberal with the bottle opener. And so I thought, too bad for Scarybear and the Transformers movie, but having a couple of IPAs with my parents ain’t that bad.
And then the kids came charging out of their room, seized me from the counter, and dressed me up like a superhero.
And that, my fellow inebriates, was the last sip for me of INNIS & GUNN TOASTED OAK IPA.
I know you’ve all been wondering what’s happened to me. I mean, what the hell? I used to post every day. And now it’s like, every five weeks. The answer, my fellow inebriates, is that a whole bunch of stuff happened.
For starters, did you know that nervous breakdowns aren’t just for people? OMG, right? And I think I had one, my fellow inebriates.
It all started back in summer. My dad was contemplating career change number eleventy. My mum was bouncing between 80- and 30-hour work weeks. Both of them were on Candy Crush level 700 or so. Some months we had $7,000; some months we had $2,000. The kids didn’t know whether we were coming or going. We tried to have a Gin Shoot-Out and lost all our data. We were that messed up around here at LBHQ.
So we did what any logically minded family on the knife-edge between pseudo-intellectualism and outright redneckery would do. We had a tequila party.
The invitees, aka the usual suspects:
- The wondrous Christine, with her canvas bag, this time full of treasures such as DON JULIO REPOSADO and my own very tiny bottle of HERENCIA DE PLATA
- A recent cube-farm colleague of my dad’s, bearing a special French apple cider (not reviewed because my dumbass parents recycled the bottle and I can’t remember what it was called)
- My dumbass parents, with a cheap big bottle of OLMECA BLANCO
- Our next-door neighbours G and W, packing ice, coolers, and CARIBOO LAGER
- My mum’s friend L, ostensibly as a sober observer
- Children of the above plus random ones from the neighbourhood
- A bunch of exorbitantly priced Mexican limes
- Two buckets of blackberries plucked off the bushes outside my mum’s bank (“When was the last time my f*$#%! bank gave me something free?”)
With all those ingredients and more, we were ready to blend. Into the Kitchen Aid went the lime juice, tequila, ice, and free bankberries.
While they were blending, we sampled Christine’s DON JULIO REPOSADO. On its last dregs, the bottle produced four thimblefuls, which my dumbass parents prepared to knock back the way you would a shot of CUERVO. Thankfully Christine and I knew better. DON JULIO, far from resembling its cheap Mexican cousins, is more like a fine scotch, wafting mellow honey notes, structured smokiness, and hints of orchard fruit. It is a sipping tequila—something most of our party weren’t aware existed—and it deserves to be savoured for its luxurious palate and mouth-filling texture. There are not enough words to describe how lovely the several viscous drops of DON JULIO that I had were. Ahhhh, Christine, you are a genius.
But you can’t cry over dead things, and that bottle was dead. If I could have crawled inside it like Barbara Eden and soaked up the remainder of the DON JULIO with my fur, I would have, but … on to the blender. It was ready with my mother’s dumbass idea of a margarita—mostly blackberries and lime, precious little OLMECA BLANCO. Almost without exception, every person she handed her concoction to came back minutes later to doctor it up with more tequila. Before long, the OLMECA BLANCO bottle was halfway done, and people were starting to reel around the yard. As usual the kids were going berserk too, and before his neurons got too tequila-saturated, my dad cooked everybody some hamburgers. It was as wholesome as it gets at LBHQ.
The DON JULIO now a distant memory, it was time to sample the OLMECA BLANCO straight-up. Its fresh, herbal nose was a distinct gear change from DON JULIO. But as far as cheap ($26.99 for 750 mL) tequila goes, you could do a lot worse. Peppery and slightly citrous, OLMECA BLANCO is a nice clean spirit that nevertheless screams margarita. It just belongs with exorbitant Mexican limes—so much so that you find yourself returning again and again to the blender, and then to the bottle to add more tequila. OLMECA BLANCO was a good find.
Our two buckets of bankberries just about kept pace with the OLMECA BLANCO, running out just before anyone became incoherent. But some of our neighbours were not getting along. I couldn’t possibly tell you which ones were arguing/administering the silent treatment because I simply don’t have enough brain cells to hold that information plus two booze reviews. Suffice to say it was human stuff, and the involved parties went home. Christine retreated to our uncomfortable futon, my parents put the kids to bed (sober thanks to my mum’s dumbass notions about how much tequila to put in a margarita), and I passed out on the kitchen counter among the empties. But I was left with a dawning thought—thinking of the incompatibility of some of our neighbours—that alcohol does not in fact bring people together. It does not generate the harmony I once thought. Imagine that, my fellow inebriates!
Over the next few weeks this thought continued to nag me. Compounding it, my parents said we were going to keep our escapades “down to a dull roar” for the foreseeable future. They made no more tasting plans. They bought no more tequila. And one, or maybe both, of my brain cells snapped.
What do you think, my fellow inebriates? I mean, about this idea that alcohol isn’t a good thing for friendships and families and neighbours? Is it all a load of crap? Or is this just another beastly way of messing with yours truly?
My Fellow Inebriates,
Who knows whether all elementary schools celebrate “100 Day,” but it’s a huge deal here. V’s class is an all-out party with cupcakes, party hats, and prizes. Meanwhile, P and her classmates are dressing up as decagenarians and going apeshit with cupcakes, etc. With all this revelry, you may wonder if they do any work in kindergarten and/or grade 2.
They do. The grade twos had a math test, while kindergartner V was tasked with identifying 100 things she would like…
And 100 things she would not like…
Encouragingly, V’s teacher hasn’t called our parents in for a meeting to discuss why V was the only kid to identify excrement as something she wouldn’t like in quantities of 100. No doubt other kids chose items like broccoli and tuna casserole, but V marches to a different drummer.
So kudos go to P for declaring her math test “the best part of her day” (sarcasm?) and to V for being an original. She steals my heart the most when she says, “Do you want a beer, LB?” Then her eyes go zanily wide and she says, “HAVE A BEER!”
A good idea, and continuing through the Phillips sampler pack, we next hit SLIPSTREAM CREAM ALE. Red-amber with a thick off-white foam that leaves a ring of lace around the glass, it exudes the “house aroma” we’ve been experiencing as we go through the pack—nothing offensive, just something unplaceable that ties all four Phillips offerings together. The overall scent is malty-nutty and a tad metallic, but otherwise not too differentiated from your typical cream ale—and yet, there is that Phillips redolence…
On the palate you get malt up front with some caramel and woodsy-fruity notes playing backup. The metallic quality amplifies on the tastebuds, but not obnoxiously. This is a decent beer, but with the sort of complexity that messes with your head; you wonder if that flavor is an exotic hop combination or…metal?
One thing Phillips gets right on the money is the mouthfeel. SLIPSTREAM CREAM ALE is creamy and smooth with a luxurious finish I wouldn’t have expected for all its punchy carbonation. It puts me in mind of an old-fashioned bar with peanut shells on the floor, and only an idiot bear would have a problem with that.
Of the four in the sampler pack, SLIPSTREAM CREAM ALE was close to being my favorite. That dubious honor goes, surprisingly, to ANALOGUE 78, the lightest of the bunch (although all four clocked in at 5% ABV).
I’d like a hundred bottles of SLIPSTREAM CREAM ALE. Or a hundred cases. Just not a hundred poos.