WHITE BARK Wheat Ale—The start of a good party

My Fellow Inebriates,

This morning, in a moment of disloyalty, I tried to stow away in Christine’s fabulous canvas bag. Yes, Christine had arrived the night before bearing wheat ale, red wine, and—treasure of treasures—Glenmorangie 18.

We kicked things off with the wheat ale. WHITE BARK is a traditional Belgian-style ale brewed by BC’s Driftwood Brewery. Intended to be cloudy, WHITE BARK pours a hazy golden hue with a fine off-white foam that settles down quickly. It announces itself to the olfactory centre with a wheat-borne flood of coriander, clove, and citrus notes—in some aspects (perhaps I have gin on the brain) channeling Bombay Sapphire down to the very bottle, which sports a similar vertical row of tasting-note glyphs.

As we inhaled WHITE BARK we noted a strong yeasty backbone, which played out on the palate along with Belgian-style fruitiness and malt. Refreshing at ice-cold temperature, the ale became slightly cloying as it warmed and the flavors cut loose. The carbonation was prickly and pointy, urging WHITE BARK toward mainstream Pop Rocks quaffability even as the intriguing fruit notes insisted that no, it was not in any sense an ordinary beer.

And it wasn’t. But you have to really like wheat beer to appreciate an ale like WHITE BARK. It’s crisp and dry but still belongs unmistakably to the fruity-yeasty-wheaty camp. There’s a lot going on in it—sort of like a party that splits off into several factions, one of which decides to chuck a seven-foot cactus off the roof into the pool while the rest continue their obliviously sedate conversations. Which is to say I liked it, although I might not buy it again immediately.

And that was when I noticed, one of the compartments contained not booze but paper towels. Paper towels!!

Finishing the WHITE BARK bottle left a compartment empty in Christine’s canvas bag. (We didn’t get to the red wine, although some other, magnificent booze was shared.) When I peeled myself off the counter this morning, the first thing I saw was that empty space—just roomy enough for a little bear. So I climbed in.

And then I started to worry. My initial thought had been: Every time Christine comes over, she brings tons of booze! But my worry was this: If Christine has tons of booze, it’s because she saves it, and that means she doesn’t drink it very often. OMG!!!

At that moment my mum found me and helped me out of the bag. She said I had a blog to write, and some cheap crap to drink later—hooch so cheap we can drink it every day.

I’m right where I belong. (But Christine is welcome to come and live with us.)

ESTRELLA DAMM INEDIT—As perplexing as a lightweight Ben Wa ball

Very occasionally my mum and her friends talk about interesting things, which makes me prick up my ears for tidbits that go beyond the ordinary childrearing conversational din. This happened today at the mention of Ben Wa balls, although the context and lead-up eluded me. One minute she and her two buddies were talking about some teacher-student spat; the next they were discussing marble-size balls that one might insert into oneself.

Needing to know more (while remaining deliberately blind to any context involving my mother), I hit the Internet. What on earth are these mysterious Ben Wa balls?

Turns out they have some very respectable medical uses (in which case they usually get renamed “Kegel exercisers”) as well as some hedonistic and even perplexing uses. You definitely need a cavity in which to place them, which makes my research strictly academic.

I know my fellow inebriates are very well informed about a host of subjects and therefore do not need a play-by-play description of how to thrust foreign objects into either nether region and then retrieve them. You all know how to do this, I’m sure. Unlike yours truly, you have healthy orifices that may or may not be receptive. So I can dispense with the obvious, which leaves (maybe arbitrarily) the following:

  • Insert one ball at a time; it’s not a race, people.
  • If a ball slips out in public, look around vapidly and say, “Oh look one of my kid’s bouncy balls—where did that come from? Does anyone have any jacks?” Then, if planning to surreptitiously slip it back in, give it a wash.
  • If a ball doesn’t want to slip out, try jumping around, bearing down, or forcing a sneeze. If you’re fearful they won’t ever come out, consider purchasing a retrieval cord. (Incidentally, this is a good option for rear-entry Ben Wa activity, in which—unlike front-entry Ben Wa activity—balls can go MIA indefinitely.)
  • The heavier the balls, the more likely they are to fall out. Latex ones are lighter than metal—but porous and less easy to clean. Metal ones clean up better but they do set off airport metal detectors.

If you didn’t gather it from the foregoing, or you’ve missed any previous laments about the fact, I do not have an anal cavity. Which means all this information is…a gift. If you find this gift dubious, then here’s a beer review:

ESTRELLA DAMM INEDIT, a Spanish one-off purchased by my dad, comes in a slick-looking bottle. The word “inedit” means “never been done before,” an always ominous phrase, especially when the beer in question sports no more than 4.8% alcohol. Nevertheless it comes in a big honking bottle promising a wheat-lager style mix-up with citrus topnotes and coriander supporting notes. This sounded like a decent gamble to my dad when he bought it, and it was in the sense that, as soon as my mum got one taste of it, she handed her half over. Dad got twice the beer he bargained for and probably ten times as much as he wanted. And me—I got swacked out of my head, which is what happens when either of my parents lets some undesirable booze languish on the counter.

What was so objectionable about ESTRELLA DAMM INEDIT? It pours hazy and straw-colored with little foam to speak of. Wafting lemon predominantly with yeast and coriander, its stated objective is to pair with “the most exquisite and challenging foods.” These include, per its marketing materials, asparagus. (Do you like “challenging” foods? Do you like foods that make your pee pungent? OMG, what effect would asparagus pee have on Ben Wa balls?)

My dad, even though he gutted it out and eventually finished the whole bottle of ESTRELLA DAMM INEDIT, thought it was a pretender—light, watery, and wheaty with some weird, competing fruit notes—like a wannabe Unibroue beer, except not.

I think any beer that offers less than 5% alcohol is suspect. It’s like a lightweight Ben Wa ball that feels really odd going in, but then you forget all about it and it doesn’t have the weight to just drop out on its own, so if you don’t have a retrieval cord, eventually your doctor will find it. That’s exactly what ESTRELLA DAMM INEDIT is like.