On The Rails: Bailey’s

It’s high time for a new theme, isn’t it?

So I’ve come back to Bailey’s. Which only makes sense if you’re human, I suppose: start the new thing at the old thing. For a little while I’m going to engage in a cliche. And that makes even less sense, now that I say it: the new thing but the old thing that is something you’ve seen before?

Because everyone has seen it, in nearly every movie or TV show ever made where people exist at a bar: humans sitting at the rail, drinking. Or pondering, or randomly meeting.

Jane McGonigal talks about ‘being alone together’ in her book Reality is Broken. If you’ll indulge my memory of her concept, what it is describing is the path of people who play MMOs and how those games offer players the chance to engage with the community as they see fit. They can join a group if they want or they can just play the game they want to play, while surrounded by other people. They are allowed to participate with a community while still doing their own thing.

It’s a pretty interesting idea that I’m hopefully not doing a disservice to.

I, like many before me and, unless the world ends tomorrow, many after, write in pubs. But writing is a solitary endeavor. Typically, I find a table to sit down at and I write. I am rarely interrupted as most people are reluctant to disrupt someone who appears to be working. I do as much as I can, I take it all in and I am at the scene but I am not part of the scene. I have made a decision to separate myself in order to do some work.

People who sit at the rail are actually being alone together, instead of being separate. They may choose to engage but they might not: nobody judges them. So for a little while I want to sit at the rail, watch the bartenders, sit near people and see what happens. Honestly, I think I’ll still be at Bailey’s pretty often but I still have a few breweries I’d like to visit and talk about so I look forward to this change up.

Joining me tonight is the Epic Imperial Stout: coco notes in the nose. The ale follows through with this, even finishing dry, as if a spoonful of cocoa powder came a long at the end and put a pinch in my mouth.

Uneven Imperial

So…this one didn’t quite work out as nicely as I would’ve hoped. The goal was to make a stronger chamomile ale, because I could only make one beer during the month of August. I thought it might be interesting to give that beer a bit of a surge, see if I could get it to work out.

Not so much. In addition to having an uncertain carbonation level, I didn’t really add enough chamomile in there.  That is a surprising thing to realize, since over-addition of the tea has been an issue for many of the batches I made.

Instead, I have an ale that has a fruity sweet nose, as though it didn’t quite get enough sugar eaten out of it, and a sweet but thin mouth. It’s really kind of bland and that’s a very strange thing to say. It’s a bit of a bummer, of course, but the beer is still drinkable.

8.9.14

Grains
7 lb Pale wheat
1 lb Belgian biscut

Fermentables
7 lb LME

Hops
1 oz N Brewer @ 60
1 oz N Brewere @30
7/8th oz Chamomile tea @flameout

Yeast
Wyeast German wheat (2nd use)

OG: 1.085

FG: 1.014

Put into secondary on 8.23. Bottled 9/5/14

ABV: 9.6%

I Choose Poorly

I decided to go to the Beers Made By Walking event on Saturday because I felt my budget would be more friendly towards the event. I almost reconsidered, because the skies were ominously overcast and I didn’t have my hat ready for rain.

You gotta have a proper hat for the rain in Portland. Unfortunately, the day didn’t work out like I thought.

My first stop: Belmont Station where I tried the following:

Ground Breaker Guild’s Lake Ale: (using blackberries, ginger, mugwort)

I can pick up the ginger, especially in the finish but the nose has an earthiness to it that is unexpected. Not unpleasant but definitely unexpected. The finish is quite bitter however and doesn’t do favors to the ginger qualities. It doesn’t weigh heavy on the palate which is good but it doesn’t leave a good final impression and that’s negative. That final note is almost sour and I’m wanting to change up as soon as possible.

Coalition Walk a’Brown: (using vanilla leaf, hazelnuts smoked over American Red Cedar)

I’m still a sucker for a brown ale so I was not expecting the smoky note in the nose but I thought this was a good sign. Sadly, it was not: the smoke flavor just kills anything else in the beer. I can sense on the edges of my tongue vanilla trying to escape the eye of Mordor that is the smoke but it just isn’t allowed to be. Hm. Maybe they should’ve just roasted the hazelnuts instead of smoking them.

A little disappointed, I decided to walk over to the Horse Brass to see if I could change my luck. The walk was uneventful but the clouds were threatening and I was definitely missing my hat. You just can’t go outside in Portland without your gear!

I arrived at the Horse Brass and was able to find a table to sit down at. Looking around, it was apparent that there was a group who had been lead on a tour for the Beers Made By Walking event that had arrived, so I was feeling pretty hopeful…until the waitress came by and informed me that if I wanted a beer, it would be a 20-30 minute wait.

So I did what any sensible human being would’ve done: I left. Better to go home and enjoy a beer of my own than to twiddle my thumbs.

Of course, once I got home the people on my Facebook feed were talking about how awesome the Pro/Am event was. Next time, I suppose. Next time.

Where I Want To Go: Baerlic

I have come to find Baerlic mostly because I said I would. I happened to be in the area with a little time to kill so I consider it a win-win. Who can resist a beer name like Haelwijn? Reversed ‘ae’ and an ‘ij’ kissing in the same word? Apparently means “Hell wine”? Gimme that.

This is a Belgian golden strong ale and I’m digging it. The nose is fruity, reminding me of raisins or maybe dates. It’s got a nice finish too: the Haelwijn practically disappears, which is a little strange. Frequently these beers linger with a sweetness that can get sickly fast. But this isn’t thin; it has a gentle viscosity that belies an alcoholic bite. Very subtle and potentially dangerous to the uninitiated because this is a 9.9% beer. They did right by the Haelwijn though; enough of the sugars have been eaten in this beer that it avoids any of the coyly sweet notes.

I like this environment to drink in. Big windows at my back helping light up the joint: the illumination is faux-date night and works for the midafternoon but I would enjoy it a little brighter in the evening. There’s a cribbage board over there so there is, at least, the notion that one could play games here. I always approve of that.

Baerlic has that new bar smell, still. Everything is shiny and in sharp contrast. It doesn’t yet have the lived in quality that makes the best joints awesome but at the same time, it’s comfortable, low key and ready to be populated with stories from the neighborhood. I look forward to seeing this place getting some stories to tell.

Portland Problems

I was strongly considering going to the Pro/Am competition this weekend, for something to write about and because some people from the OBC have some beers available there. I like seeing what people I know are able to do when given the opportunity to really cut lose with access to professional equipment.

But then I heard about the Beers Made By Walking event and if there’s one thing I really love, it’s walking. And then drinking. And then walking some more.  I really feel you cannot go wrong with these things. Plus; more unusual beer.

But I can only do one of those things and I’m having a difficult time deciding what I should pick. It is a hard life, sometimes.

What Endangers Craft Brewing

Sometimes, I have to recognize that were I live just doesn’t reflect much of anyplace else. This article at Esquire is one of those moments.

The basic premise behind that article seems to be: New breweries are forsaking quality (in ways that are not disclosed) in order to promote a ‘locally sourced’ beer as part of their marketing. This leads to consumers ignoring beers that “ain’t from ’round here” if you will, in order to get the cool thing in town. This will eventually lead to a whole bunch of breweries going under, in part because they just aren’t producing quality product. It’s also bad for consumers because they will support a substandard brewery all in the name of localvore movements, instead of supporting the good brewery.

Now, while I don’t doubt that many, many new breweries are working out the kinks in order to produce a better beer, I am also certain that eventually, the market will hit a saturation point where breweries that are market savvy and (hopefully) producing good beer will survive and others will collapse. But what I don’t see is any trend of ignoring beers from other regions. At all.  Sure, it’s good to support the local people and they get easy press but I haven’t yet encountered anyone who has been dissuaded from drinking a beer because it was from Texas, instead of from Oregon.

It’s about the quality of the work, not the distance it has traveled to get to you.

A beer and homebrewing blog

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