5 September 2020

Comfort Beer, Comfort Music


Comfort beer.
Comfort music.
The struggles of 2020 are not going anywhere, the life we live can often feel like it's spinning out of our grasp with every little thing adding up each time. This virus and the very unsettled political landscape south of the border are not just seen to be not only worrisome, but perhaps transformative. We seek more equality, more justice, more change because our "normal" has been exposed as a charade where the poor, the disenfranchised, people of colour, Indigenous people, LGBTQ2+ and so many more were left behind as the rich got richer and the world seemed tipped in favour of those who already had so much. We see it here in the tiny fraction of the world on line, but is it that our social media feeds reinforce our own views and we feel like change is happening when in reality we are screaming into the void and nothing is changing at all. I'd like to think we can seek dialogue but we see too many entrenching into a them versus us, right versus left and we try to prevent the cult of Me that has permeated our American cousins from changing this country for the worst. Once was a time that you did the right thing because it was just that. Even if it gave you no direct benefit, you did things because it helped society as a whole. "What's in it for me?" is a philosophy too many live by and without seeing how damaging that can be, they blindly support those who look, act and think like them. But the world isn't homogeneous, it isn't white suburbia and it isn't working for the vast majority of humanity. So as we round the corner on this, hopefully, once in a lifetime pandemic, let us not seek to return to "normal", because normal was not good enough, fair enough or right enough for everyone. Until we are all free, none of us is free.

Duvel, Gord and Tonight


It's funny how music stays with you in the moments it helps capture. The Hip were for so long the soundtrack of my life, from year to year, happy to sad and back again, disaster to triumph and beyond, there was always a Hip song to bring that memory back. So catching Long Time Running tonight will no doubt lead to a YouTube Tragically Hip video marathon, including that amazing Woodstock performance, and I'll be deep into my Pints before this one ends tonight. Grief, loss, life and love in decades of music so Canadian I feel it in my damn bones. Lots of great Ontario beer in my fridge but I do love a little Belgian in my life and in a night spent contemplating what it all mean, this 8.5% @duvel_belgium Golden Strong Ale will lay a baseline for where we go tonight. I often wonder if I would be so into West Coast IPAs if I lived in Belgium or would I have gravitated to this style with its bright citrus notes, grapefruit and orange peel, banana, light fruitiness and strong finish of pepper hop spice. Well carbonated with a bit of a boozy end, its small size belies the punch it gives, much like the songs Gord Downie and the Hip gave me to live with as my years head hurtling towards 5 decades. Who knows where it all is heading, we come here the same way, do the best we can and hope to leave a little of ourselves  at the end to be remembered by. Make those thoughts that will carry you on good ones, be kind and remember to tell the people you love that you love them every chance you get.



30 August 2020

Me...Part 2


Yesterday...was yesterday.

I scraped every part of my life that I hated and fed it into my anxiety and depression for no other reason than the oddly satisfying feeling of hating myself. It happens from time to time and while I try to keep the darkness at bay, it still comes hard into my day from time to time and must be acknowledged and recognized for what it is. 

None of us here shows our entire self when we talk about beer. We look to showcase the best of what is in our glass  and our life because we dont want to seem weak or different from anyone else. While I'm sure most people do this social media thing for a lark and to feel like they are part of something special and different, I stay because it is a real and true chance to try and keep a little part of me alive. So you bear witness to me at my best, my worst and more often, my middle of the road, drink a beer because we love it, personality. Be good to each other, check in on your friends and try to make time to listen and be listened to....we only get one chance at this and I don't want to miss a moment.


Me...Part 1

  Yesterday I was low. I felt lost and alone.
It isn't a new feeling, I've dealt with depression and anxiety for most of my life quietly and alone because my generation of men was taught you shut up and dealt with your shit on your own, never asking for help.  So I wrote this and usually I would delete it and never let it leave my drafts...but today I want you to know it is okay to feel broken, to ask for help and to acknowledge and feel empty and lost without fear of losing everything in your life, including that life...I have a positive response to this coming up, but I want the truth to see the light.
This is what I said....
I'm fucking tired.
I've made a lot of bad choices, stupid decisions and just plain mistakes to get to tonight. I've lied to myself with equal aplomb as I did to anyone else. I've let the easy path of self inebriation and darkness shield me from my own poor decisions which have left me empty and often alone in a world I struggle to be a part of in any sense of the word.
 I don't belong, I never have...but here I am.
I'm not sure what it is all about, most days I'm not sure I should even be here to even ponder such a question. 
The time spent is not equal to the time left and that leaves me scared and anxious but somehow relieved that the long days journey into night will have a potentially merciful end...
I'm trying, but somedays I don't know why I bother.

19 August 2020

Shacklands Brewing Tripel

  Feeling my years some days. 

  Not quite 5 decades into this life, the road ahead is uncertain as the time spent is not likely equal to the time to come. While we are promised nothing as we go along, we can choose to drink good, do good and be good in all our actions. The moments are all we have, all we may remember at the end and all that remains when we have moved onto whatever awaits us beyond this mortal world. I promise I have no insight to give except to say it is always within us to be better and to learn from each day something to carry forward to the next I support Shacklands Brewing because they are real and true in their intentions. Yes they make some of the finest Belgian style ales on either side of the Atlantic, but it is their moral compass, their actions and words writ large in all they do, even brewing beer, thay makes them so damn memorable to me. Making a difference, small or big, in an individual's life, a community or a larger stage is all about being more than the sum of what you started with and I will sleep well having written these words and enjoying this beautiful Tripel because I was able to support people I care about and enjoy a moment of respite from the world while I do it. 
   Bold and spicy, coriander, bubblegum and banana, orange and dry with a full and warming finish, it continues the tradition of Shacklands excellence and also helps deliver a little smile in a day that needed one. 
   Look for kindness and your chance to add to the good in the world, we leave nothing but our memories when we go. Make sure yours are kept for longer than you could ever imagine. Cheers! 4.5/5

12 July 2020

Reflections on time and loss

Loss and grief come untethered to a timeline of our choosing. We lose people we love and care for without warning and even when we know the final bell will toll, we remain wholly unprepared for the absence of their presence in our world. Whether it be someone you see or talk to on a daily basis or a somewhat less tangible connection, the fact that person exists on this planet always means there is a chance to connect with them again at some unknown point in the future. That tomorrow of tomorrows we always promise and when that no longer exists, you feel a tug on your own mortality and see the fragile peace you have made with existence for however many years you have been here.
  We walk through so many days in a sort of lackadaisical shrug toward the routines that bind us. Work, home, school, family, friends and a myriad of variations on those themes propel us forward as the clock ticks, winding down days left even as we seek to speed up the boring, mundane ones to get to the special days off and other celebrations we use to spice up a life often left searching for more meaning. But in seeking a sped up life, we leave behind days that contained small moments of joy and love that we should seek to hold onto because all too soon, they are gone and we wonder where the time went.
  Truth be told, we are all guilty of wanting to get through a day, a week or some longer time frame all through our lives. To get past a particularly troubling time like right now during this pandemic times, we seek the end and a release from what we deem a "new normal" that is anything but. We want to get through the work week to the weekend, through the winter to the spring, from the pain to some relief. But how many days do we leave behind that we would love to have one more just like it when the final bill comes due? How many silly and seemingly innocuous times spent quietly enjoying a day that we then felt we had wasted because we weren't productive would we like to have back at the end of our days?  Every day isn't special, but every single day we get is one less we have left to be here and since we have no knowledge of when that tally runs out, maybe it is time to slow down, even a little, and make it last.
  Embrace your everyday and leave a legacy of love for those who will mourn you. Give them a smile through the tears and a spark of laughter when they speak of you with wistful remembrance. The only thing that lasts is how you treat people, how you made them feel and that is the thing we hold most dear when we miss the ones we love who have left us all too soon for our liking.


1 July 2020

Canada Day 2020 - It's Complicated

My relationship with beer is just as complicated as my one with Canadian history and for that matter, present day. It's not easy to change your world view, to learn and grow and understand that while I am incredibly lucky to be born here, a white male and from a fairly compact and supportive family, being proud of this country needs a little work. If I do anything to distinguish myself or bring joy to people,if I can use my voice for good, then maybe I can feel better or prouder of being Canadian.
  Our relationships with the Indigenous population has particularly become something I want to spend more time with, it vexes me that to this day, so many know nothing of the Residential school system, the genocide that occurred around the founding of this country and the sheer lack of attention to the continuing problems of their communities, including more than 60 that do not have access to clean water. Imagine that in 2020, during a global.pandemic and you have to boil your water before you can use it to wash your hands. Imagine the government taking your children away and sending them to the predatory catholic run schools far from home to try and assimilate them, wiping out your culture in the process. There are countless reports of the continuing mistreatment of  Indigenous people by the RCMP, local and provincial police forces, not to mention the shady dealings of those in power who  have yet to finish promises made long ago and today. So I rant, so I learn and so I shall continue to try and help educate and enlighten, myself and anyone who cares to do more than double click another beer pic.
  The beer in question, @bellwoodsbeer 5.4% Can Conditioned Saison Maison is another delightful pint of beauty from the minds of those residing at Bellwoods. It has all the hallmarks of the style, lots of orange with lemon, bubblegum and clove, banana and a dry peppery back with more lingering spice and citrus.
  Beer gave me a chance to talk to the world, my love of this country and the hope we can right the wrongs committed in its name drives me.
Be good.
Do good.
Drink good.
Cheers! 4.25/5

20 June 2020

Life in the clouds...

I talked about this beer a couple of days ago, @collectivebrew has released a series of 4 new labels on their core DDH DIPA Life in the Clouds in support of Pride Month that featured work from 4 members of the Queer community. A portion of proceeds from the sale of these cans will be donated to @rainbowrailroad and that is also part of their newly set up charitable arm, @collectivemore.
While I loved all of the artwork, this part of @hellomynameiswednesday's design has stuck with me in the days since I first talked about this initiative. I grew up in a hetero normative family, blue collar, old school. I saw my parents love for each other as an extension of the world around me and felt the most normal thing in the world was to be just like them. Meet a girl, fall in love, get married and beyond. It never dawned on me that LGBTQ2+ people did not have this experience, in fact felt the polar opposite and encountered anger, fear and resistance to who they loved and who they were. It takes me back to think that it might be so many years of a person's life before they see someone who is just like them, who can confirm what they feel and experience and who can show them they are not alone. I cannot imagine the feeling because I do not have the experience, but it doesn't mean I won't try to learn and support anyone who needs it. There were times in my own life when I didn't know who I was, but I never felt the fear of coming out and facing rejection from those I love. My parents taught me that love is love is love and who you are a person mattered more than the colouring your skin or who you loved.
Are you good?
Are you kind?
Do you make those around you feel better?
These things mattered far more than anything else, we were taught to always see the world as bigger than ourselves but it took me more years and scars of my own to find that truth for myself.
This can is going on the wall of fame, it will continue to make me reflect and consider my words and world beyond myself....
Be good.
Do good.
Drink good.

13 June 2020

Here I Am - Inspired by Merit Brewing

  I often ponder being Canadian. I used to say I was proud to be Canadian, our healthcare, while not perfect, was not dependent on having insurance or money. That we were better than our cousins to the south when it came to a whole host of  social issues and just that general smugness that comes from being part of the Great White North. Lots of learning as I get older and I know that I'd be more accurate to say I'm lucky to be Canadian. Lucky to have been born here to good parents, lucky to be a white male, that forgives a whole host of shit that would have had different outcomes if I wasn't just that and lucky that I have the opportunity to change how I see the world, how to make it better and use this platform to lift up other folks. It's a good time to change your perspective, the shades of Canada as a perfect place need to be raised and the institutional racism against people of colour and especially our shameful past and present treatment of the indigenous population needs to be laid bare, addressed and fixed in order for us to have some of that pride restored. This country is home to and was built by the hands and sweat of immigrants, on the backs of the people who were here first and with the labour of those forced by colour or race to do so.
  Just a little bit of my mind as I hold this new Merit Brewing release, Here I Am, in my hand and marvel at just how fucking lucky I really am. I get to drink some of the finest beers in the country and they come minutes from my home. I'm privileged to be able to afford them and this place and I know that and feel it every day. Merit does good stuff around Hamilton, Tej and Spinney bring heart and soul to everything they do and I am proud to call them my friends. The beer? A 6.3%  Hazy IPA with orange and grapefruit pith and dank pine on the back, it's damn good.
  Sometimes the beer inspires me, I hope I can keep that going. Cheers! 4.5/5

2 June 2020

Not a beer review but still a beer review

My usual day consists of working 10 hours, coming home and drinking a few beers with a post on Instagram. For almost 5 years I've gone that. Today I will not put a beer review on that site, my most followed and perhaps influential social media portal.
Why? Well, it has everything to do with love and taking a stand on what can no longer be allowed. The systematic racism that pervades black lives all over the world is now being witnessed large and live on TV as the United States reels from the murder of George Floyd and the protests and marches that now enter their 8th day with little sign of stopping. Today on Instagram was about taking a pause, engaging with the community of black creators and amplifying their voices.
So that's what I did and while I'll drop my review here because I need it for my admittedly privileged reasons, it is but a little mental exercise for this old guy.
Inswrt weird beer review for my mental health...Forked River Interstalar IPA rolls into the Grotto at 6.5%, 55 IBUs and with a sunshine laden afternoon ahead, delight inside. A biscuity toasted malt body with light touches of caramel give way to pithy grapefruit and orange with a hint of dank and a resinous pine back. Bitter and harkening back to the classic west coast IPAs I love so much, I'm sold on this one. Cheers! 4/5

There you have it, I keep my decidedly silly daily bee review streak going, even though it means nothing at all in the grand scheme of the world today.
Stay safe, be kind and take stock of what you believe, time is now to stand up and be heard.