All posts by bottlebybottle

I drink so you don't have to. Whether or not you choose to is another story.


It’s been a while.

A few days after my last post, I went in for major surgery, during which the surgeons treated my insides as if they were a Spirit Halloween store and it were November 1st. Everything must go; everything at least 50% off.

And I do mean everything.

Recovery has been in no small part about facing up to the challenge of eating. I had to learn to measure my diet–to calculate my drinks in mililitres and weigh my food. I also have to make careful choices about the foods I eat and the liquids I drink. Sugars in particular can present quite a challenge to my system, so alcohol, while something I used to enjoy, isn’t something I was willing to risk for some time.

But there are also reasons to take risks. Love is one of them.

On November 1st, Mr. Fuz and I celebrated the 25th anniversary of our meeting. Even now, when our legal anniversary is on a different date, we still celebrate November 1st as our anniversary. And, well, that calls for a small toast, doesn’t it? Because our being together–and remaining together–has involved any number of small risks, of bets made daily that we would see things through. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that I can’t take those constant, small bets–and the accrual from them–for granted.

To risks, and to their rewards.

Of course somebody made a Covid “test” beer

Atelier der Braukünste in Germany has made, not just a COVID test beer, but a COVID test series, called Test-Trace-Isolate.

“By rubbing the cross, a smell of Christmas will appear,” the label advises–and then, if you can’t smell the hops, the label steers you to an exceedingly thorough questionnaire to see if you should be tested for COVID.

Mind you, the concept is very tongue-in-cheek. But the information the label provides is frankly invaluable. And the questionnaire is certainly much more thorough than the ones in use where I live.

Yeah, that’s a no from us…

bottlebybottle: *forwards picture of a coconut crème sour to apint*
bottlebybottle: “Yeah…no.”

apint: “Also no.”


This did get us to thinking about rejecting a beer before we’ve even given it a chance. I know that I like sours, but coconut is a flavour I find distasteful, and sour + crème reminds me of a time…when I drank something sour with something creamy. It was a terrible idea, one I regret to this day. (Ed. note; I also remember this massive error in judgment). I also know that apint isn’t very sour tolerant.

But: this is one of the many, many, many problems with 2020-2021. There’s no sampling. In 2019? I’d have gone to the brewery/thebrewpub/my local bar–wherever I saw that beer–and I’d ask for a tiny sample. Now? I have to commit to a tallboy. And it’s asking a great deal to commit to 16 oz. when you’re not sure you want more than, say, 2.


My last beer

No, not forever. Just for a while.

I’m having minor surgery in a few days, and I wanted to dry out before I went under the knife. Which must happen, but about which, as you might imagine, I have…feelings.

I also finished my major responsibilities at work for quite some time, and damn it, I needed to celebrate the end of an atrociously challenging few months. After the year I’ve had at work, I was done. And I needed to cut loose.

So I opened a 2017 Luppulo Evoluta, a tripel aged in bourbon barrels, on a Zoom with some colleagues.

I’m surprised at how boozy this beer is, several years on. I had a bottle when I first purchased it, and while I remember the alcohol note being a bit more aggressive in 2017, the difference four years made wasn’t nearly as significant as I’d thought it would be.

The beer was a bit dark in terms of colour–not surprising, since it was aged in bourbon barrels–, and had all the delightful flavours you’d expect of that: brown sugar, and lots of it. But it was definitely strong! And that booze carried me through a slightly befuddled evening. Precisely what I needed.

Good-bye for now, beer. We’ll meet again in a few weeks, when I’m on the other side and healing well.

I know we’ve been drinking a lot these days…

…but what surprises and disturbs me is how, relatively speaking, we’re not drinking much more than we tend to in a typical year.

Research done at the University of Victoria suggests that the average person in BC has had between five and ten more drinks a month in 2020 than the 2012-2019 average. Drinking spiked in March (unsurprisingly), dipped in April, and has gone up consistently until July (the last month for which the researchers have data). But again–not as much as I was expecting.

What is shocking to me, though? Those numbers represent “estimates of per capita monthly standard drinks of total alcohol consumption” for everybody in the province aged 15 and older. To put it in other words: if a standard drink is ~a 12 oz. beer at 5% alcohol, that means that in July 2020, it’s estimated that every single person in BC aged 15 or older drank the equivalent of fifty beers in the month of July. Which is, again, just slightly higher than the average of per capita monthly standard drinks of total alcohol consumption since 2012.

Fifty drinks is approximately two beers a night. Or two glasses of wine. Or two shots. Which is not bad.

But then you remember that the drinking age in BC is 19. And, of course, not everyone drinks fifty drinks a month; I’m probably at a third of that this month.

So spare a thought for those whose drinking keeps the average per capita that high in a regular year.

Waiting is the Hardest Part

Sometimes I make the mistake of cellaring beer far, far too long. (Prime example: my 2008 Deschutes Abyss.)

Recently I made the opposite mistake: drinking a beer that was not yet at its prime.

The beer? A bière de garde from Wildeye Brewing.

beer in tulip glass on table

The beer was perfectly fine as-is. It tasted like a brown beer on steroids, with touches of sugar and raisin, though with a bit of a funky ending. But it was only after I had the beer that I read the label: “This beer will cellar for two years.”


I mean, it’s the beer’s style. It’s even in the damn name of the beer. It tells you to put it away. It wants you to wait.

And…I did not.

Oh well. There’s always another bottle.

There Are No Feel-Good Ad Campaigns Under Capitalism

So, the big brewery up north–no, not Bud*, Molson–started this ad- and sales-campaign to push Canadian brew. And the concept seems cool. They’re selling cases of tallboys of random Canadian beers, with at least one Molson’s per case**; a percentage of the proceeds go to charity. Cases are randomized off of a list of participating brewers in Ontario; in Regina and Saskatoon, you can pick-and-choose among a limited list of selections.

As their marketing director put it: ““All a brewer has to do is say yes, […] and Molson handles the supply chain logistics.” Hmmm…things are starting to seem not so cool. Particularly when the chain they’re using in Ontario for deliveries is–wait for it–owned by Molson, Labatt (Ab InBev) and Sleeman’s (Sapporo).

And when you realize several of the beers that are being picked from are actually microbreweries owned by MolsonCoors, that seems even less cool.

Oh, Molson. As the owner of this site suggested recently, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

*Actually the best-selling beer in Canada. The result of the Molson-Coors merger in 2005, which made Canadians question if Molson was even Canadian any more. So…they went with Bud?

**I checked: in Regina/Saskatoon, six of your beers have to be Molsons.

You know, there’s something to be said…

for a simple can.

Let’s appreciate the fact that, in the face of cans reminiscent of 70s rock art or 80s neon fevers, we can have cans like this one, which looks almost painfully simple.  However, it captures the shape of the sun (the black dot), the colour of sunlight (“33 Acres of Sunshine”), and the (approximate) colour of the beer.

The best way to draw attention to yourself in this market might be to simplify. Perhaps this is the little yellow dress of beer cans?

Repurposing spent grain

Fuz here. I had hoped that this time away from all things would allow me the leisure to drink new and exciting beers, and to have something more to report to you on the brewing scene up north.

I hadn’t counted on the whole “I have no desire to leave the house and interact with people, even if it’s to buy things I love” feeling I’ve had since the world turned upside down. My trips to the liquor store have become blitzkriegs. And, while what I’ve been buying is good, I’ve been going after old standards.

But, these folks have been coming to my farmers’ market for a few years. Susgrainable takes spent barley from breweries, dries it, and uses it to make flour, breads, cookies, and more. By using spent grains, they’re reducing food waste–and, because most (if not all) of the barley’s sugars are extracted in the beer preparation, what’s left is far less likely to impact one’s glycemic index. Which is a good thing.

Critically: how does it taste?

Pretty good, actually! Their rosemary focaccia is nice and oily and redolent of rosemary. It’s definitely a bit darker than I’d like, the crust a bit more tender than I enjoy, and the crumb is a bit closer than I’d prefer. (To be honest, the bread up here is generally softer and less crusty/chewy than I’d like, so this isn’t a knock on the Susgrainable folks, per se.)

In any case, I enjoyed this, and I’d definitely buy it again.

I also had an Animal Lover’s cookie (not pictured)–and here’s where we run into my issue with healthy desserts: coconut. Let’s just say I’m generally not a fan of coconut’s taste or texture. So I was surprised when I generally liked the flavour of the cookie. The texture was not my cup of tea–but I imagine that they know what sells.

Overall, I had a positive experience with their baked goods, and I’d be willing to try more. And I think this is a great idea for reducing the amount of waste that brewing generates.

A tale of temperature

A while back, I went to one of my local brewpubs and tried a dunkel. It was a charming beer and it photographed well.


The tasting notes described “toasted bread crumb and almond with hints of chocolate” which I got, but only as the beer warmed up. Some vigorous swirling in my mouth did the trick until the beer reached its optimum temperature, about 15-20 minutes into the pint.

Which did get me to thinking: do you serve beer at the correct temperature for the initial taste, or do you aim below optimum temperature, and hope your beer reaches optimal by mid-pint or so? I imagine that much of the answer to this question depends on the type of beer, the time of year, and the size of the pour (in July, you probably want your ‘Mexican-style lagers’ close to optimal temperature for the first sip; in December, I’d imagine a pint of a 10% winter warmer can be served a bit below optimum temperature, even if that optimum temperature is on the high side to begin with). But I don’t have a definitive answer, and now I have something to research.