WHISKEY JACK ALE—5%, but still not for four-year-olds

It occurred to me today that Miss V is getting pretty strong.

Maybe she could help me open some bottles. Would it be so reckless to ask her?

Naturally our mum walked in the second I did ask her.

Where the hell are these kids’ parents?

I blamed Max & Ruby for corrupting us. Whatever those stupid bunnies had been doing on TV, it had reminded us of alcohol.

Even though my mother believes that Max & Ruby’s insipid plotlines and relentless gender stereotyping are definitively corrupting, she didn’t buy this excuse. If anything, Max & Ruby might suggest the Women’s Temperance Movement or the Tea Party. The show could lobotomize a child.

Thankfully it hasn’t turned V into a vegetable yet. She’s got some smarts about her, which is why—when my mother went out of earshot—I suggested we play mixology. She could measure and stir and shake and pour and add ice cubes…and open bottles with her strong little thumb-equipped hands.

I had this bottle in mind. I thought the preserved larva hanging out in the bottom would appeal to V. Just yesterday she stood spellbound watching ants attack a centipede. Why wouldn’t she want to get her hands on a mescal-saturated arthropod? She could play with it while I pounded its mind-altering marinade.

“Why don’t you stop being a pest and review another Whistler Brewing Co. beer?” said our killjoy mother.

Whether she wanted to wreck our fun or discourage V’s possible nascent interest in entomology I don’t know. She wouldn’t be able to handle a kid dissecting worms on the kitchen table, that’s for sure.

I didn’t really want to think about an amber ale like WHISKEY JACK ALE with our fridge crying out for a refill. Not with the mescal bottle so tantalizingly close. But here goes.

Another member of Whistler Brewing Company’s Travel Pack, WHISKEY JACK is a dark-amber ale with apeshit fizz and an ecru head that vanishes in seconds. The title is very appealing and suggestive, especially with INNIS & GUNN OAK AGED BEER lingering in recent memory, but upon pouring there’s no aromatic suggestion of barrel treatment.

I’ve come to think of Whistler Brewing Company beers as having a watery taste, and WHISKEY JACK is no exception. Billed as a session ale for those who like to convene with their beers rather than just drink them, this ale seems from the first sip to be missing something. Oak barreling certainly. Decent ABV indeed (it’s 5%). The smell is mildly wheaty/bready with a little caramel, suggesting more bakery than distillery.

In the mouth there’s a bit of disharmony between its sweet and bitter tones, with earthy hops pushing their way through the back of the palate while you’re still wondering about the oak. The mouthfeel is inadequate for an ale but refreshing nonetheless. If you’re thirsty, no complaints. If you’re having a session, you’ll probably bitch. Not that you would bitch, my fellow inebriates—you are all awesome.

What else can be said? Slightly puzzling but minor dischord among the flavors, thin-to-medium mouthfeel with aforementioned wateriness, and paltry alcohol. In short, well worth pounding a case all at once, and less likely to make you sick than a bottle of mescal.

POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER—Refreshment for a cruel world

I had a rare ride-along with Miss V today after while her sister was in school. These outings take ages; V likes to examine everything minutely and scatter every dandelion in sight. Nothing escapes her notice.

About halfway home she stopped to watch a centipede being attacked by ten or so ants. Completely beset, the victim struggled to wriggle away from its tormenters, which were presumably trying to incapacitate it, eat it, and/or take it to their queen.

Watching that centipede thrash helplessly from belly to back was pretty gross. I wondered how long the battle would last. Were the ants biting it? Would it eventually pass out in agony or remain unconscious while they vivisected it? The process seemed extraordinarily cruel and drawn out—and for animals with short lifespans, I wondered morbidly, is there a time-dilation effect? Does a day feel like a month to a centipede, being such a large percentage of its lifetime compared to ours? How protracted, then, is its perceived suffering?

V said she hoped the ants would win. She watched intently as the belly-up centipede failed to right itself while the ants went at it mercilessly. There was no help for it.

Only when V remembered she’d been promised a cookie at Save-On Foods did she, still rooting for the ants, acquiesce to leave the inundated creature.

You almost have to have a four-year-old tour guide to notice stuff like this. The insect world teems below us in unfathomable populations. For every ant-on-centipede onslaught above ground there must be trillions below—uncountable insect cruelty and indifference. For every beleaguered arthropod or unenviable piece of spider prey there must be further infinities of predation, pain, and suffering.

I suddenly felt very small and overwhelmed. The whole planet seemed churning with barbarism, mostly going on unnoticed.


And the hard reality dawned on me:

If the whole world—universe even—can remain indifferent to the excruciating death throes of one small creature, how can I expect anyone to give me a beer just to assuage a few tremors?

The thought swept me up like a bus full of evolutionary biologists. Not only did I feel very small; I felt very alone.

In a world of impassivity toward suffering, who would even think to give me a beer?

It wouldn’t even have to be a special beer. Whistler Brewing Company’s POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER, one of the four offerings in its Travel Pack, would do just fine.

Pale straw-gold with bright white foam and firework effervescence (think Pop Rocks), this lager was an unlikely beer in our fridge. My parents never buy lagers except when they’re part of exciting mixer packs, and invariably those lagers get drunk last. But they’re certainly welcome at LBHQ, particularly as Langley enters earth-scorching season and the sun proceeds indifferently to flash-fry earthworms on the ground.

POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER has a light and slightly hoppy aroma with a touch of background sweetness, all of which is practically unnoticeable amid a refreshing carbonation frenzy. It’s a party in the mouth, this lager, berserk with fizz, but unlike some lagers and particularly some other Whistler Brewing Company products, it has a surprisingly substantial mouthfeel yet finishes cleanly.

There are plenty of unsatisfying lagers on the market offering simple CO2 pyrotechnics as a fill-in for flavor, but POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER deserves credit for being a bit more. I bet a crisp, icy-cold glass right now would alleviate my anxieties about being a small bear in a big, cold universe, plus it would take care of my DTs.

I did propose this to my mum, who said, unfeelingly:

“Get a grip, LB, it’s 9:00 a.m.”

WHISTLER BREWING COMPANY BEAR PAW HONEY LAGER—Unembarrassing, even if it won’t put hair on your chest

My dad has stopped tucking me in at night.

Now wait, you say. How many adult males tuck little bears into bed at night? Well, my dad for one. At least until last week.

Waiting to be tucked in

I wouldn’t be worried if he hadn’t omitted to do it four nights in a row. One’s not atypical; sometimes he falls asleep on the couch and then drags himself into bed without remembering. I get that. But four nights in a row? WTF, Dad??

So what difference does it make? you well may ask.

On lucky nights I’m too looped to notice. Other nights we’ve just watched something on TV—maybe a crystal meth dealer’s body being liquefied in an acid bath or some similar violent shit—in which case I stare at the wall all night afterwards, traumatized.

Up until last week, my dad used to get me settled for bed with the other bears he likes (plus Fluffy, who’s somehow gotten himself included). He used to make sure we were all comfortable and not too squished, then he’d put a blanket over us.


So what the hell, Dad?

Maybe running his own business lent itself to the sort of maverick mentality that says, I do what I want. Sure I tuck bears into bed—what’s it to you, mofo? And now he’s got this new corporate gig, he’s probably more like, I model and demonstrate best practices to help build accountability. His new coworkers play golf and video games while talking about their stereos.

Perhaps my dad is reassessing the machismo of tucking bears into bed.

But does this mean we’ll be buying more beer? I certainly hope so, and I’d be willing to trade my beddy-byes ritual for an extra case here and there. Perhaps another Whistler Brewing Company Travel Pack would be sufficiently manly for my dad. The four beers it contains are pretty mainstream (PARADISE VALLEY GRAPEFRUIT ALE being the one weird but good exception) and, while none of them will put a clump of hair on your chest, the collection is solid.

Naturally the BEAR PAW HONEY LAGER has extra appeal. Beer and organic honey make a win-win combo, even if their synergy occurs at only 5% alcohol.

The lager pours a crystal-clear copper with light foam that quickly dissipates. Honey is immediately apparent to the nose along with breadiness and faint hops. Taste follows smell without much surprise, supplying the expected honey along with some caramel notes and minimal hoppiness.

With a light-to-medium mouthfeel and reasonable carbonation, BEAR PAW HONEY LAGER is moderately refreshing but perhaps too sweet to pound endlessly (although I would without complaining). It has an unexpectedly long and dry finish, especially given its tendency to cloy at the front of the palate.

This would be an easy beer to disparage as too commonplace. It’s true the market is inundated with honey brews, but only because honey is such a delightful note to find in one’s beer. I’ve certainly experienced better versions of honey lager, but this one’s not bad at all. It’s certainly nothing for Whistler Brewing Company to be embarrassed of—not that anyone should be embarrassed of anything. Including my dad.