My Fellow Inebriates,

Ordinarily I’d say you can’t watch too much Star Trek, but then you have bears like my friend Scary, who’s logged at least 10,000 hours watching every Trek iteration in addition to Stargate, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Andromeda plus every single other sci-fi program that every got green-lit for production. You could say Scary got sucked into another reality.

Scary used to lead a charmed life. Before his humans had kids they used to go to work every day. They’d leave Scary watching the Space Channel on a 50-inch plasma all day. They didn’t want him to be bored.

Then they had kids and suddenly the TV fell under new orders: Elmo, Sesame Street and Barney took over the screen, leaving Scary to wallow in his sudden secondary status and his sci-fi withdrawal. Feeling neglected, he became bitter, resentful, jaded. He became a dick.

With only his science fiction memories, Scary retreated into a dark world of apocalyptic fantasy and excessive snacking.

I invited him to join me in sampling Tree Brewing’s CUTTHROAT PALE ALE with me but he was too busy watching YouTube videos consisting of open sky shot in people’s backyards with some distorted (sometimes obviously modulated) audio behind—i.e., the strange sounds of 2012 that have gone viral recently.

Luckily, the lovely Christine and my somewhat less lovely parents were there to open the CUTTHROAT bottles.

I’d recently tasted THIRSTY BEAVER AMBER ALE, a delightful but more mainstream offering from Tree Brewing, so I was buzzing with anticipation and the usual alcoholic jitters. I realized I didn’t miss Scary’s company; with his End-of-Days mentality and general paranoia, he’s not the sort of guy you should take along on any sort of mind-altering odyssey. Although in lots of ways I share his fascination with the apocalypse, I don’t think it’s going to swoop in on a seven-headed dragon the way he does. Plus there was more beer for me and the humans without him.

Poured into the glass, CUTTHROAT PALE ALE is golden orange with a foamy head that dissipates quickly. Right away the aroma is intriguing: malty and grassy with suggestions of caramel and buttered bread. So the actual first sip is disconcerting—instead of the mellow, malty flavor I’d expect from a pale ale, CUTTHROAT jabs you with hops and an aggressive carbonation level that actually challenges the palate to reconcile its one-two-punchiness with the delectably gentle malt promised to the nose.

It’s kind of fisty that way really. Everything olfactory tells you you’re in for a soft, caramel-tinged sipper, and then CUTTHROAT yanks your arm up behind your back and says very threateningly, “Bend over!”

Because it’s really much more of a bitter than a pale ale. The hoppy profile would appeal tremendously to IPA fans as well as classic bitter drinkers. After a quick adjustment of expectations the hops are in fact delightfully clean and fresh, not to mention perfectly appropriate for the fizz level.

The finish is very dry and long. At first my impression was OMG, what was that? but halfway through the bottle I was smitten with CUTTHROAT and couldn’t possibly begrudge its take-no-prisoners assault on my tastebuds. It’s a fantastically violent beer that, in all honesty, Scary probably couldn’t have handled.

As Christine said approvingly, “It is called CUTTHROAT, after all.”


My Fellow Inebriates,

After ripping into our gifts, packing our tummies and killing our brain cells (or “cell,” as my mum refers to my neurological supply), we’re left with a lull in which to contemplate other things besides seasonal shopping mayhem and gluttony.

It’s amazing how much crazy shit happens in a 365-day space. The magnitude-9 earthquake in Japan; Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gadafi, and Kim Jong-il all toast this year; floods and natural disasters; political movements both violent and nonviolent; economic bailouts; scandalous document dumps; surreptitious bomb-grade uranium shipments—how do we make sense of it all?

It’s true that current events generally just confuse me and my little brain cell. So I thought I’d google what the Internet considered most important in 2011.

And check it out—solidly in CBC’s top 10 stories: Angry beaver roams through N.W.T. town.

According to Jason Mercredi, who filmed the animal holding up a main street, “He’s pissed.” Witnesses said the beaver was the size of a dog, zigzagging through people’s lawns and confronting their dogs with a wild, hissing noise.

What the hell is a beaver anyway? These wet, nasty-looking things were the basis of the Canadian fur trade and still grace the back of the five-cent coin. Sexual parlance, explicably or not, happily incorporates the beaver, as do literary magazines, sporting organizations and youth groups.

Basically beavers are not bad things, unless they are romping through your town scaring the pets. Emblematic on a broad spectrum, the beaver represents the ideal dichotomy of wholesomeness/debauchery.

Which leads me to THIRSTY BEAVER AMBER ALE (Tree Brewing). Admittedly it’s been a long time since I had some of this lovely dark amber nectar, but that rampaging beaver reminded me of it.

THIRSTY BEAVER is crisply carbonated, with a nice layer of foam that doesn’t dissipate immediately. Caramel and nut aromas float gently to the nose. The taste is malty with neither excessive sweetness nor bitterness, an easy drinker that quenches thirst but makes you pause to explore its character. While it’s less hoppy than some amber ales, it still asserts itself as a serious beer contender and would be welcome in my fridge again.

And with a classy name like THIRSTY BEAVER, how could such a beer disappoint? No wonder it’s Tree Brewing’s top seller.

With enough THIRSTY BEAVER in me, current events become meaningless, as do New Year’s resolutions. Isn’t that a wonderful way to end the year?