Three frozen beer stubbies changed my drinking habits

Hands up anyone who has ever sipped a beverage from a brown bottle called a stubby.

OK, that’s quite a forest of raised hands – you all look like a Grade 3 class when the teacher asks who wants to have recess early.

Yes, I, too, remember the days when a person could get an entire case of stubbies for what you pay now for a single glass of lager.

In fact, I’m such a fossil I can clearly recall a bunch of us young punks gathering at the Park Hotel downtown for refreshments and to check out a band. Our friend Gary C. would, on special occasions (like the fact that it was Saturday), pull out a $20 bill and say to the waitress, “We’ll take 100 …”.

And those 100 ALCB glasses would fill to the edges four of those round terry-towel covered tables.

For those of you with an impressive aptitude for arithmetic, yes, you are correct – those little glasses of beer were 20 cents each in those days.

Twenty cents these days will get you two, count ’em, two, tiny pieces of Fleer Double Bubble gum, and that’s about it.

So why am I on about ale this week? I certainly don’t condone irresponsible or excessive imbibing of alcoholic beverages, but I must admit a certain fondness for a nice cold Coors once in a while.

Also, there was a little article right here in the ole Aggravate recently that caught my eye, went right into my tiny brain and got me to thinking a little bit.

The article was headlined: “German man douses fire with beer.”

I must shamefully admit my first thought wasn’t, “Oh, that poor guy had a fire.”

You know what my first thought was? “What a waste of beer.”

It turns out this dude was driving along the Autobahn when his car caught fire. He had some beer in his car (of course he did, he was celebrating Oktoberfest, even though it was September) and is credited with “quick thinking” by using the beer to put out the fire.

So as I was picturing this fellow frantically running around popping and pouring bottles of Becks onto the flickering flames engulfing das Auto, it somehow got me remembering my first beer. I still cringe.

I must have been 12 or 13 and I was rabble-rousing around the Waskasoo Creek in the chilly autumn bush by our house in Parkvale, when lo and behold, I literally stumbled upon three stubby bottles of half-buried Labatt Blue.

This was quite a treasure – we didn’t have booze of any kind in our house, and so I was quite impressed with myself for unearthing such forbidden jewels.

They had obviously been there a long time, so it took me a while to dig them out on account of they were more or less frozen in the ground, and I stashed them in a secret place in the bush.

After many weeks of planning and skulking, we gathered a few friends and had ourselves a little bush party. This consisted of passing around swigs of frozen pilsner, which I clearly remember tasted like a skunked brew of dirty socks, dead animals and sewer water.

Like the brainless youths we were, we did manage to force down all three dirty, half frozen stubbies to no effect at all – except a subsequent serious case of the dreaded green apple two-step.

But as so often is the case, I learned a good lesson out of the foolishness. I never went near a Labatt Blue again.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. He can be reached at

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