Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Anachronisms... and then more beer!

Here you see my stunt-double Brad Pitt in a
scene from the movie Troy, which was set in
about 2000 BC. As far as I know, there were no
jet planes during this time. I mean, I wasn't
there but feel certain planes are more recent.
An anachronism is defined as something historically out of place and time. I would give you the actual Webster's Dictionary definition but recently, they added (not joking) "fo' shizzle" and "hot mess" to their published definitions. That, in turn, meant the removal of other words such as dignity, civilization and intelligence to clear some room for these new words and phrases. So I no longer trust them as a source. In words they themselves apparently will use and soon publish, "Them Webster bros and hoes be all cray cray..."

The first time I ever heard the word used was by my Grade 10 History teacher. Noticing the stunned looks on our faces, he knew it was time to define it for our benefit. (My stunned look might have been connected to narcotics I accidentally ingested in a Brownie. Spent a lot of high school with that, ahem, dopey expression.) So he explained: "Imagine you were watching a movie about Julius Caesar and you noticed the actors wearing wristwatches or running shoes, those would be anachronisms. They were not invented in 30 BC so they are objects historically out of place and time."

That was good to know and interesting to discover because these days, things are rapidly becoming anachronisms with each passing decade. I remember taking my young son for an eye test a few years back where he had to identify objects on a large chart.
Back in about 1920, this is how phones looked. There
was a earpiece on the side, a mouth piece on the front
and weird little crank on the other side. Somehow by
furiously spinning that crank, you could call someone.
It would have been tough to take a selfie with this one.
With each passing row on the chart, the common every day objects got a little smaller. The chart contained drawn pictures of normal things - a rabbit, an airplane, a turtle, an apple, a car - things like that. But he was suddenly stopped by an image. Oh, he could see it. He just had no idea what the image was. It was a rotary phone. He had never seen one in his life. Even when I had a landline, it was a wireless with buttons. I suddenly realized that a rotary phone in a 2012 eye chart was an anachronism. There is a generation growing up who have never seen a rotary phone. I also suggested to the lady doing the eye test that they update that image to at least a flip-phone, if not a Smart Phone. I feel certain she ignored my advice.

Indeed, it is the advancement of the phone that is causing other every-day things to become anachronisms. If anyone wears a watch these days, it's more likely to be a fashion statement. People have been using their phones to check the time for more than a decade now. That actually comes in handy during a trip to Las Vegas as after six visits, I have never seen a clock anywhere there. Showgirls, escorts, booze and marriage chapels everywhere - but no clocks. So if you end up drunkenly marrying a showgirl, you'll likely have to check the marriage certificate to find out when it happened. Memorize that. It'll come in handy to know during the court case.
Digital cameras were so easy to use that even actor Ashton
Kutcher could successfully navigate one. Because he even
knew how to take a picture, he was Nikon's spokesman.
Ashton to Nikon commercial's director: "Which button
do I push? This one? Okay. So why is it suddenly on fire?"

And digital cameras - have they now become a relic of the past? Digital cameras have only been around for 20 or so years and already they seem on their way out as everyone uses their phones to take pictures. I have a little Lumix digital that I still use for events, such as beer festivals. Why? It takes better pictures than my Samsung phone. It's got one of those internal gyros inside that makes photos "shake-free." Unless you are actually falling over (which actually happens often at beer fests), there are no blurry photos. Just blurry people.

So whenever I whip out my digital camera at events, I risk mockery of the first order. Last October at the Rib Eye Jack's Beer Fest, my co-worker Jonny looked at it and chuckled, "That's a weird looking phone, Donny." Fast forward four months to my birthday bash, also at Rib Eye Jack's. I handed co-worker Jay-Dawg my camera to get a picture of me with my cake and he instantly held it up to his ear and said, "Hello? Hello?" But I get that. Both Jay and Jonny, who are brothers, are Millennials who have had Smart-Phones since their teenage years. Since cameras are part of the phones they've always used, neither has ever felt the need for a digital camera.
When old farts like Bill Nye (The Science Guy), US President
Barack Obama and Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson are
using Nye's phone for a selfie, you know cameras are no longer
relevant. Plus these guys seem smarter than Ashton Kutcher.
Why bother? A camera would seem like a waste of money to them. And it is.

However, this past weekend, when I was at my buddy Dennis' annual Summer Bash and Backyard Concert, a guy my age stared at my camera and joked, "Are you actually using that? There's one in your phone, you know." Seriously? Now I'm being dissed by Baby Boomers?

So yes, I am using a digital camera and I always will. My oldest buddy, Dave, and I are always the guys with the digital cameras at high school reunions, concerts and parties. Why? Because people who use their phones at these events (and almost everyone of every age, including mine, does now), well, their photos usually suck donkey wang. Unless grainy and dark is the newest Instagram filter. Our cameras are about the size of six credit cards stacked on top of each other so hardly bulky. The charge lasts about five times longer than any phone because it's only used as a camera. So it's staying with me until either I die or it dies. I like the camera's chances there. They build these things too well. My warranty expired a decade back.
I laughed at the little slogan on the top of
Shillow Brewing's Bitter Waitress Black IPA:

"Drink responsibly. Tip generously." I can't
guarantee the first but I can do the second.

But to paraphrase Mel Gibson in Braveheart, "You can take my life but you can never take my freedom!!! Or my camera!! Also, listen up, you English bastards, it's pretty damn risky taking one of my beers!!! And the neighbour's cat?? Take her, please. Keeps pissing in my garden. So we clear then? The freedom, camera and beer I keep, okay? Actually, don't kill me, either. I take that one back. Just kill the damn cat, you British bastards!! Also, thank you for listening!! You seem nice!" (What? I'm Canadian. We're polite.) But why Hollywood has never utilized my writing skills is beyond me. That movie would have won every Oscar if they hadn't banned me from the writers' room. Hey, it was right next door to the washroom. Anyone could have made that mistake. Apparently, it's only okay if you're the neighbour's cat. And sober.

And with the mere mention of the word "sober", it is instantly Beer O'Clock at Donny's Bar and Grill. And let's get this party started with something from our friends at Toronto's Shillow Beer Co. Now their flagship beer, Sass on the Side Brown Ale, is listed as being contract-brewed out of Niagara College's Teaching Brewery (Canada's premier brewer making facility.)
I was very happily surprised by Big Rock's Traditional
Ale, which had much more body than I was expecting.
And that Grasshopper was a pretty solid German wheat.
So I'm not sure if their other three beers are, as well, but it's probably not a horrible bet. But in today's glass is their Bitter Waitress Black IPA, a style being rapidly explored these days. Pouring coal black with a nice brown head, this Black IPA seems to strike an exact balance between a porter and an IPA. At 6.5% and about 70-75 IBUs (international bitterness units), it's one of those best-of-both-worlds deals. Roasted malts and cocoa on the nose, there is some IPA-ish pine on the finish. While to me, no black IPA has surpassed Collective Arts' Collective Project Black IPA thus far this year, this is certainly up there near the top and well worth your consideration. And remember, as the can says, tip generously, you cheap bastards.

In all my years, I don't think I have ever had any Big Rock products. Around since 1985, the Calgary brewery is a craft beer pioneer, established by Ed McNally who was tired of the same old-same old from Canada's mega-brewers. The brewery itself is named after a multi-tonne quartzite glacial deposit located just outside Okotoks, Alberta. But when I ran across a Big Rock server at a Beer Fest, I told him that his products sold well (okay, so-so) at my Beer Store.
When Beau's All Natural Brewing's Farm Table IPA
landed in my Beer Store, I was a happy camper. There
will always more room for Beau's products in my store!
My slight exaggeration was rewarded with a bunch of vouchers for Big Rock six-packs. I shared the freebies with friends and kept two to grab some of their Traditional Ale and Grasshopper Wheat. Once home, I instantly put the pair on my Visitors' Beer shelf on the bottom of my fridge as I knew my friend Amy was a big fan of the Grasshopper. Then one day, I decided to try a Traditional Ale with my lunch. I was happily surprised. The 5%, 20 IBU brown ale had some really nice toasted malts on the nose with medium malt and a light gingery taste on the tongue. Suddenly, those Traditional Ales were elevated from the bottom shelf up to the top shelf where all the elite craft beers reside. Screw visitors. They can drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. The Grasshopper was a pleasant enough German-style wheat that Amy enjoyed (as did I) but it was the Traditional that made me take notice. Recently, these guys have been cranking out all sorts of funky new brews so I'm keeping my eyes open as this old dog is fast learning new trick.
Try as I might, I could not wrap my head around the
Waterloo Brewing Blueberry Weizenbier. It was just
too sweet for me. Fruit infusion should complement a
beer, not completely overtake it. Dial it down a notch.

I always sit up and pay attention when a new beer lands in my Beer Store so when a new Beau's product hit our shelves, I was thrilled. Their Lug Tread Lagered Ale is one of our better craft sellers and this Vankleek Hills. Ontario all-natural organic brewery is always releasing cutting-edge new stuff. That was certainly the case with their Farm Table IPA, best described as a British/west coast style IPA with a touch of Belgium thrown into the fermentation vat. The 6%, roughly 70 IBU beer has a hint of grapefruit and spice on the nose with some tropical fruit, orange peel and pinch of pepper on the tongue. Because of the British side, this is a hugely drinkable, easy-going IPA that even those frightened by the very initials could handle. A really nice Summer Sipper!

Okay, my Beer Store also recently received Waterloo Brewing's Blueberry Weizenbier and I be honest, I was pretty pumped for this one. I love a good German wheat in the summer and the notion of blueberries, my favourite fruit, in one was pretty appealing.
I have no idea what beer this pretty, young lady
is holding up. One of those silly gimmicky nitro
infused stouts. I just really like her T-shirt a lot.
Now I am not a fan of slagging anything in this space but holy crap, I couldn't handle this as it was just too goddamn sweet. And I mean, sickly sweet. The trick to fruit-infused anything is to make the taste there but subtly! I mean, I got panicky when I saw Nickel Brook had used lactose sugar in their Dreamsicle Vanilla Orange Pale Ale and was thrilled when I was rewarded with a tart and tangy taste, instead. But this Blueberry Weizenbier was overpowered by both the blueberry and the sweetness. As I said on Instagram, if you want to make a fruit presence this prominent, do it in a heavier style, such as a stout, whose body can hold it amply. A German-style wheat is not the proper vessel for this much in-your-face fruit flavouring. In fairness, though, while coworker Jay was also not a fan, my other coworker Marie really enjoyed it. Every beer has its audience. Me? I left the theatre before the opening credits rolled.

Okay, time to check out of this roller-coaster ride of hops and malts but I have lot more coming up soon. That same Marie gifted me with a ton of Block 3 Brewing and Wellington Brewing beers and there's lot more after those. Before I go, one last thing. A recent date asked me if I had any tattoos. She had a few (tasteful, I thought - musical notes, girly stuff) but no, I have none. However, if I was going to get a tattoo, I would have them tattoo a huge bruise on my lower calf. That way, if anyone suggested we go for a hike or jog, I could simply point to that and say, "No can do. Hurt too bad." Also, it would get me out of helping anyone move. You gotta think ahead, people. But guys and dolls, that's it, that's all and I am outta here. Until next time, I remain...

Here you see my stunt-double Brad Pitt in a
scene from the movie Troy, which was set in
about 2000 BC. As far as I know, there were no
jet planes during this time. I mean, I wasn't
there but feel certain planes are more recent.