a few years ago, my friends and I found out what Americans were made of. This story began in my basement, and with our home made beer recipe. This was the summer that the beer companies all went on strike, therefore, no beer on the island except some Old Milwaukee crap imported from the states, not the strong, hardy beer we Newfoundlanders are used to drinking.
On this particular weekend, we decided to make our own beer. All the stores were closed, and we needed a brewing bucket. My friend said that his mom worked at a local school, and she should have plenty of plastic 5 gallon buckets lying around. When he showed up at the house, he had a white plastic bucket under his arm. The bucket’s label read “5 Gallons of Pine Sol.”
Before we had a chance to ask him if he had cleaned the bucket, the guys began the beer making process. I later asked him about it, and he replied, “How much cleaner can you be than Pine Sol?” Hey, we were thirsty for some beer, so what is the worst than can happen? It is funny how that answer to that question always comes back to haunt you.
Anyway, we mixed all the ingredients in the bucket, which smelled like Pine Sol. The boys noticed the strong smell, but guessed that the alcohol would probably dissolve any odors anyway. When all the ingredients were mixed, we sealed the bucket, being sure to cut a small hole in the cover of the bucket, and attaching a balloon to the hole. This allows air to circulate but not leave the bucket.
The weekend of the Shallaroo was just two weeks away, giving us time to bottle the beer and allowing it to ferment just right. (The Shallaroo was a local music festival celebrated in the Codroy Valley area of the province. The festival featured many local entertainers and a few from the mainland.) On Friday evening, the guys came up to the house, and together with the big plastic bucket of beer and about 6 dozen empty beer bottles that we painstakingly washed out, we began bottling our beer. One of the boys could not resist a drink of the warm ale, and with that, he almost threw up. “Tastes like pine air fresheners, the kind I have hanging from my rear view mirror in the truck” He said.
We began to worry. Here it was, just two weeks before the festival, and our beer tastes like pine air freshener. Like the brave Newfies we were, we said the hell with it, kept bottling the stuff, and stored the bottled ale in the refrigerator. (These were the days prior to my meeting my fiance, and beer was a staple in my fridge on numerous occasions.) One of the guys said “If we are ever out of beer, we will always have this stuff to drink”
We had a few parties at the house afterwards, but we always managed to stay clear of that beer, choosing instead to drink Whiskey or rum. One of my friends, who was either braver than us, or dumber, chose to drink the Pine beer we made. In no time at all, he was caught holding his stomach, crying out that he seen a bear under my step, only to find that it was just a garbage bag. He was hallucinating seeing wild animals that turned out to be household items. We blamed the beer.
On the day before the festival, the guys came to the house with their trucks, and loaded the alcohol we bought into large coolers and of course, the pine beer; anxious to get the weekend started. When we got to the Codroy Valley festival fields, we found a great site and began unpacking our gear. When our tents were set up, we opened our coolers, and carefully avoiding the horrible pine beer, we started drinking.
Just then, a gang of bikers came up along the road to the field where the festival was being held. One of them came over, saying that he was from Michigan. He bragged about all the Canadian beer they had. One of the guys informed us that the strike was over, and liquor stores began stocking our fine ale once again. Under their arms they carried each a six pack of beer. One of the bikers asked whether they could store their beer in our coolers, because they didn’t enjoy the thought of drinking warm beer on such a hot day. We reluctantly agreed to their offer.
Well, we didn’t actually agree to their offer, instead, we had our own agenda. My friend had the idea that we store their beer, but we give them our beer, the Pine beer. “How will they know the difference?” he asked. “They probably never drank LaBatts beer anyway, maybe they will think it does taste like Pine Sol.”
As the night went on, the music played loud, and the entire field was filled with partyers, drinking and whooping it up loudly. Around 2 am, we could hear our biker friends in the site next to us, they were carrying on like they were insane. Several of them were heard in the woods vomiting loudly, but they kept drinking anyway.
The next morning, we were greeted by four very big guys, dressed completely in leather, with skulls and crossbones on the backs of their jackets. The biggest guy was as green as a cabbage, and with that, he said “We have to hand it to you Newfies. We noticed you guys drinking all night, we only drank about six beer each, and yet, you guys are perfectly healthy this morning, and we are running around like we drank poison.”
“We learned a valuable lesson today” said one of the bikers. “Your beer tastes nothing like our beer, but it leaves a fresh taste in your mouth and it kicks like a bull”, “We plan on buying more to bring to our friends in the states” they said.
We never told them that they drank beer brewed in plastic Pine Sol buckets. They probably did drink poison.