Sunday, 31 July 2016

The wild and wacky world of beer

Since Ethan Snow refuses to wear "The Anti-Beer-Juice-A-Tron
Mark 1," I simply got another part-timer to put the thing on for a
final photo before we pitched it. He didn't want to do it, either,
but relented when I offered him a Timmy's coffee and a doughnut.
As you can see in the photo, we went for a Game of Thrones theme
A very funny thing happened at my Beer Store last week. I had finished my shift and was happily piling into some Mad Tom IPA at home when co-worker Jay Dawg sent me a photo.

It was of my other co-worker Ethan Snow, wearing a cardboard creation called The Anti-Beer-Juice-A-Tron, Mark One - a protective outfit he created in about one minute after getting "juiced" at the can bin in the empties area. For the uninitiated, getting can juiced simply means getting splashed by the left-over, stale, often moldy or bug-infested beer left in cans by customers. Normally, it's not a huge concern and frankly, just part of the job that we all accept. If anything, it gives us all a very real appreciation of the workers who have to deal with these full bins of empty cans at the recycling plant once they leave our Beer Stores. We have it remarkably easy next to them.

But it seems Ethan got can-juiced pretty good and quickly created this protective outfit to keep the juice off him. I remember doing something similar once with green garbage bags after getting soaked with can juice one day. I mean, I got drenched and stunk pretty bad for the remainder of the day. I sat on a garbage bag on the drive home.

So I posted the picture of what I called The E-Bot 2000 on Facebook and lemme tell you, other Beer Store employees and former employees loved it. Especially young Steffers, now a full-time teacher and mother of two.
The first two months I worked with him, every
time I saw Ethan walk in, I'd yell, "Ethan Snow,
the bastard son of Edward Stark!!! You know
nothing!" So I got Stevil St Evil to superimpose
Ethan's face onto Jon Snow's body. An epic win!
Ethan is about one season behind in Thrones but
I guarantee you he will love this likeness of him
being the Lord Commander of the Night Watch!
Now, of course, no longer a Beer Store employee, Steffers has no problem speaking her mind. "People are so gross! This guy is my new favourite! I wish I thought of this in my Beer Store days!" However, come to think of it, Steffers had no problem speaking her mind when she was a Beer Store employee. I remember being at the cash and she had clearly got can-juiced. The customer who brought in the cans in two huge green garbage bags was long-gone but I was serving another customer when she screamed from the back, "This is so f**king nasty! People, drink or drain your f**king cans!!" I nervously chuckled at the customer and whispered, "She got in a huge fight with her husband and has been miserable for the whole shift." (She wasn't married at that time.) The customer just nodded and whispered, "Gotcha! I hear that, man."

But while Beer Store employees, past and present, applauded Ethan's ingenuity, one of my old high school buddies was clearly having a bad day. In full "You kids get off my lawn!!" old man with his pants halfway up his chest mode, he suggested that there were plenty of kids looking for part-time jobs out there if Ethan was tired of his. I simply shrugged his grumpy crap off as Ethan genuinely loves his job and is one of those rare frenetic kids who quite frankly can't stop moving. He's a pleasure to work with. The Flash but in dull gray. When Ethan comes in for a five-hour shift, it's like you get 10 hours of work out of him. But lemme tell you, my buddy's old man routine spooked Ethan.
Elora Brewing Company, my coworker Ethan
thinks this is the coolest label ever, especially from
a graphic design standpoint. Who am I to argue?

Worried he was going to somehow get into trouble because of my post, I reassured him, pointing out that even our Fearless Leader and President Ted had worked at Beer Stores in his youth and as such, likely remembers being can juiced. It just comes with the territory. And I had no problem defending Ethan against Grumpy's likely-booze-driven meanderings. Fortunately, something else came along to take Ethan's mind off Mr Get Off My Lawn Guy.

"Have you ever had Elora Brewing's Lady Friend IPA?" he asked me on Saturday. You know, when he slows down enough not to be a gray blur moving around me. Yeah, I told him, I had it at the 2016 Burlington Winter Beer Festival and it was quite good. "It won the silver at the Ontario Brewing Awards in the British Style IPA category," I said. (I don't even know why I walked into the kitchen just now but I remember this stuff?) Ethan marveled, "Isn't that like the best label ever?" Well, you have to understand this. Ethan took two years of arts at Toronto's Ontario College of Arts and Design University and is now in his fourth year in Oakville's Sheridan College Interior Design program. He takes art and design pretty seriously. I take beer pretty seriously. We have some common ground. Also, get out of my yard, Art Boy! I have no milkshakes for you!! (I know what frightens him now. A lack of milkshakes.)
Our Steam Whistle driver, Vince, has the coolest Bull
Terrier ever. His name is Paul From Shipping and
unlike me, he can balance a beer on his head. Just epic

So, from an art perspective, I asked him to explain why this was a great label. "Okay," he said very earnestly, "the characters' arms and shape lead towards the name at the top of the label. This draws the viewers' eyes towards it. The reduced level of detail, such as no facial features, by using large blocks of colour makes it more pleasing to the eye. The colours are basic, using primary colours and limited tertiary colours. These colours are not in your face but are still bold enough to demand you attention. The blue background and orange centre point compliment each other as well, pulling the composition together. The text is simple and clean, making it easy to read. Similar to the standard Arial or Helvetica - the most common fonts styles in the commercial world - but slightly elongated."

And then he actually pulled up colour wheels, which display complimentary colours, on his phone to show me. Me? The Colourblind Guy? Really? Are you effing kidding me? But that's Ethan. When he's enthusiastic, he jumps in with both feet pretty much to the point where he forgets his surroundings or who he's talking to. However, I will be asking Elora Brewing if their artist had any of this in mind. Probably did. And also, if Ethan can play on their lawn.
When I wrote about Great Lakes Brewing's Sunnyside
Session IPA a couple of weeks back, I joked about how
artist Garnett Gerry had his Lake Effects IPA character
Roland Baggetts wearing black socks with his sandals.
Moments later, social media dude Troy sent me this pic
on Twitter. These guys make the best beers and are pretty
funny on top of that. Ontario's craft beer scene rocks it!

I got a surprise visit at my Beer Store last week from my far-less-grumpy and much-funnier-than-me high school buddy and college roomie, Dennis. He and his wife, Kim, had just returned from a week at a beautiful cottage in the Gravenhurst area. When up there, I strongly urged him to visit Sawdust City Brewing, which has been cranking out some outstanding craft beers for the past couple of years.

Now I have never met Kim but with an invite to a huge backyard party at their place next weekend, it would appear I'm about to. Dennis told me I could bring a "plus-one". I explained my date dilemma. If I bring Miss May, she's great with the ladies, very friendly. But Miss September, well, she makes the guys happy to be alive... but women hate her. Not looking to cause any marital strife. Playboy Playmates are a tricky lot. But on the realistic side of the fence - the rare place where I actually talk about things within the realm of reality - I asked him about their Sawdust City finds.
Dennis and Kim kept trying them all "but Kim just kept
coming back to their (Gateway) Kolsch." Well, then, how
very handy that my Beer Store actually carries that beer!

"As you suggested, we tried them all. But we, especially Kim, kept going back to the (Gateway) Kolsch. She just loved it." Well, alrighty then, our store happens to stock those and since Dennis was there, he wandered home to Kim with an eight-pack. (Yes, an eight pack. Dennis refuses to adhere to the Metric System.) See you next weekend, man... with Miss February. She's completely non-threatening and very much shy. Except for the taking her clothes off in a national magazine thing. And Kolsch? We sell a dozen, all exceptional and different ones. Be ready, Kim. In my best Game of Thrones' King Edward voice... "Kolsch is coming." (Ethan just got a shiver.)

But there was one more thing. Dennis told me that Kim prefers bottles over cans. "Is there any difference?" he asked me. Yup, there totally is. And it's purely psychological.
When Stevil St Evil went to the Malthouse IPA Challenge in
Wellington, New Zealand, last week, it seems that Epic
Brewing down there had named an Imperial IPA... Thor?
Well, my Canadian/Asgardian Thor had something to say
about that. "What fowl treachery of Loki be this? A New
Zealand beer maker doth use mine name? The God of
Thunder drinks Ontario IPAs!" Said Muskoka Brewery
upon reading this base effrontery, "Confirmed." *Micdrop*
"Okay," I suggested. "Get a bottle and can of the same beer and do a blind taste test. Ask Kim to say which is the bottle and which is the can." The fact is she has a 50/50 chance of being right. But I saw a brewery's video from New Zealand where, despite those odds, people were actually 80/20 percent wrong. The thing is aluminum cans are lined with plastic. It preserves the taste. Now back in Dennis' and my day, cans were steel. And yes, there was a tinny taste. Now when I say "back in our day," well, let's just say my old college roomie and I remember when aluminum had to be preserved for the war effort. That's why steel was used. It was cheap, plentiful and an active ingredient in most of our food rations, as it builds iron. Society has evolved since then. And Kim, if you have not done the blind taste test by then, I promise you will be doing it next Saturday. But hey, I will sit beside you and try it, too! I'm fun at parties. Miss February says so. But truth to tell, she's Latvian so really, we have no clue what she's saying.

Okay, I'm back soon with all sorts of cool beer reviews as I'm miles behind but frankly, I just wanted to see if I could crank out two blogs in one day. Hah, turns out I can. Not good ones but still... And to write about Ethan because he's my friend and actually one of the cooler guys I know. Maybe he needed a moral boost. After explaining colour charts to a colourblind guy, he seems like he needs something. That's for sure. But remember this. Life basically starts with everyone cheering when you go poop. It kinda goes downhill from that point on, Ethan. Just saying. Okay, guys and dolls, that's it, that all and I am outta here! Until the next time, I remain...