A pint for Dionysus

April 18, 2014

Spring Beer & Wine Fest

Filed under: commercial beers, Festivals — Tags: — grotusque @ 10:30 am

I really don’t have much for you, today. I’m volunteering at the SB&WF tomorrow so tonight, it’s off to use my reward for volunteering (free tokens) tonight!

I’ll try and have an evaluation up next week. Cheers!

April 17, 2014

How To: IPA (Waiting)

Filed under: homebrew, how to — Tags: — grotusque @ 8:54 am

This is the part where we wait.

I’m afraid it doesn’t get too much more interesting than that. Brewing requires some patience and over the years, I’ve learned not to rush through the fermentation process.

Now, because this is an amateur blog, I failed to take a photo of step two in the waiting process but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

What you can see is the beer a few days after the yeast has been pitched. That white stuff on the top? That means that it’s fermenting and all is going according to plan. Always a good sign!

Step two of this process comes after all that white stuff has settled out–between that and a lack of activity in the airlock, I can be pretty sure the yeast is tuckered out. This is when I transfer it to another carboy, so I can add in more hops in order to provide the kind of nose that is expected from an IPA. Usually, it’s desirable to leave those hops in for at least three days, and for this beer I think I left it in for a week.

April 14, 2014

Where I Want To Go: Hawthorne Theater/Bailey’s

Filed under: where I wanna go — Tags: , — grotusque @ 10:30 pm

It was the kind of day where I needed a hug, and I wasn’t going to get one. People tried; long distance friends, some of whom have never heard my voice, sent their support and… Well, it was just the kind of moment where people’s kindness made me feel worse, instead of better. They are not to blame; they did what people who care do. Sometimes, a broken machine cannot be repaired with sheer will, you have to place your hands upon it.

But it passed, day moved on and I geared myself up to see Cloudkicker at the Hawthhorne theater-where, as you may remember, I don’t drink.

It didn’t matter. They were wonderful. I got to hear songs I expected, songs I ever expected and songs I only hoped for and I was hardwired, for just a few moments, to be happy. They played You and Yours, for fuck’s sake! The Christmas song! Sometimes, life dishes up a little scoop of amazing.

When Cloudkicker was done, I was done and now I’ve come to Bailey’s to have a wee heavy from Heathen, called the Fashious. It’s delicious, with lots of dried fruit-especially raisin flavors, but it finishes so light! Even with the oiliness at the end, it doesn’t linger unpleasantly, it doesn’t feel heavy. So good.

Now? Now I am content. The difference between the states might be the difference between the jolt that music gives me and the slow warmth of alcohol.

I like beer; I don’t think that comes as any surprise. However, I don’t know that drinking this beer makes me happy. It’s tasty and that’s good, and I like it but I feel at rest. Like there is a chance for the buildup of energy in my shoulders and the sadness in my side to drain out. All the energy; the good and the bad from the day. Music is a T1 line into something really smashing for me where a whole lot of other shit just sliiides away.

The Heavy has shifted a bit as I write, more caramel flavors coming out. It’s still very good and I am already thinking of people that I should recommend this beer to. I don’t know if I’ve had anything Heathen has done before but clearly I should try more of their wares.

Both the beer and the music and my experience with both have one thing in common: they are transitory. None of them last. So it is with the gap in my life where I am not able to get hugged. I have good will, I have work and that can sustain in these overcast spring days, until things change and I am rebuilt.

Who is to say how the new structure will be? Let’s have a beer and talk about it.

April 11, 2014

Two Stories

Filed under: news, other blogs — grotusque @ 10:07 am

First there is a story on the FDA’s response to the concerns brewers have over the proposed changes on the use of spent grains.

Next we have a much lighter piece, interviewing cicerones about whether bottles or draft is better. Still somewhat interesting, though and worth keeping in mind.

Finally (I know it says two but I found a third!) scientists are firming up the origins of lager yeast. I just think this is the coolest thing; that we’re finding out where all this stuff comes from.

April 9, 2014

How To: Making an IPA

Filed under: how to — Tags: — grotusque @ 8:42 am

This is a picture of everything I’m using to make this IPA in the partial-mash style. There’s a bucket of light malt extract, hops, gypsum salts (the white stuff in the packet), and all the steeping malts. The blue pitcher is there so I can pour warm water over the grains once they’ve finished steeping and the spoon is to help me stir everything. I guess that’s kind of obvious but sometimes it helps to state that.

First thing to do is to heat the water to about 165 degrees F, because when I put the grains in, that will lower the temperature of the water about five degrees or so. Then I added a bit under 1/4 teaspoon of gypsum salts (in order to better replicate the water used in original IPA recipes) and added the bag of malt. Then I put the pot into an insulated box and let it sit for at least and hour, which will cause the temperature to drop a bit more, but not go below 150 degrees, which is what I want. Too warm and the chance for off flavors goes up, to low and sugars aren’t leeched from the grains. This batch, I believe I left steeping for 90 minutes.

I was instructed once before and I’ve just held to it ever since: adding just a little bit of hops as the wort is being brought to a boil helps keep the bitterness from being too sharp. I have no reason to disbelieve it and since I still have to wash the steeped grains at temperatures of about 150 degrees F, and the rest of the wort needs to be brought up to about 205, there’s some time to kill. I may as well let some hops soak while I’m doing everything else.

At this point, it’s all about adding in more hops, which you can see the result of that from the post a few weeks ago.  My boils tend to go for about 70 minutes because when I add the light malt extract, that can drop the temperature of the word by about 10 degrees and it takes a little time to bring it back up. I still try and list my hop additions at 60 minutes and keep it as close to that as I can but there is a little fudging. When the boil is all done,  the only things left to do are cool the wort and put it into a carboy.

The carboy has been sanitized, of course, along with all the other equipment. The odd looking bucket on the left side of the last picture is a place for me to dump the hops into, as they get strained out of the wort as it goes into the carboy.

It isn’t the most majestic picture, I know but I was trying to take it with my iPad, which is pretty unwieldy under the circumstances. (This post actually told me I had to spring for a new camera).

After that, the yeast is added and I top the carboy off with cold water until it hits the five gallon mark (usually requiring 1-2 gallons).

And now we wait.

April 7, 2014

Where I Want To Go: Horse Brass

Filed under: where I wanna go — Tags: — grotusque @ 9:43 pm

“You seem shellshocked.”

This, is what my sister tells me, is how she’s describing me to my parents. She’s not wrong. I’m out of the house now because it is good to be out but I am traveling in a haze. Have I been to the Horse Brass for this theme? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter, since I’m here now.

On my way in I can see a vacated table through a window lined with Christmas tree lights. I hustle in because a free table is a rarity this time of night, but my hustle means I do not see Bruce until I’ve placed my stuff down. I know Bruce from our shared time on the OBC board and he’s drinking with a fellow I do not know. But I go over and say hi and we do the basic small talk until the stranger, whose name is David, says, “Well why aren’t you drinking with us?”

I have no reason to refuse. Plus, David wants to talk about scotch. I will gladly sit there and listen. He even answered, for me, the most pressing newbie question: do we put a little water or ice in the drink or is that blasphemy?

He answered with a smile, “No one can tell you how to enjoy your drink.”

Yeah, this is going to work out fine.

While David talks scotch, I get a Santiam’s Bluegrass Stout, a barrel aged stout. It is terrible; there are no notes of chocolate or bourbon in the beer at all, everything is being overrun by banana flavors, like children gone amok. No. David is recommending the Monkey Shoulder scotch, which I am told can be found at a liquor store downtown. Note to self: go find this.

Now, when three fellows sit together and drink, you can be assured of one thing; they are going to talk about how the world should be different. Two guys; they’ll talk relationships. Three: there’s always the hint of revolution and it’s about the third sip off the whiskey David has ordered that he starts up.

“I want you to imagine a world without money,” he says. Now often at a line like that, I would interrupt but tonight I just let him continue on. Turns out, David’s goal is for humanity to evolve to a place where we don’t need money to value people, where we do something better, because as it stands, and the whole table is agreed on this, the species is doomed. I keep listening because he says something similar to my Dad: if we’re going to live, we have to evolve.

Also, David subscribes to the 100th Monkey theory, which suggests that if enough people think about something-in this case evolving as a species-eventually that something comes to pass. Which I like, as it’s interesting and non-violent and Dr Whovian. Given all the fear mongering out there, it’s neat to come across people whose idea of change doesn’t involve blood.

The evening turns weird and that’s actually pretty good. I realize for the first time that nobody can see that I’m all fucked up and this is a chance for me to seem normal.

Normal is good, from time to time and I am grateful for that moment. The gentlemen graciously agree to pose for the blog:

April 4, 2014

Eyebrow Raiser

Filed under: homebrew — Tags: , — grotusque @ 10:14 pm

This isn’t bad at all.

But it also isn’t brilliant. It’s one of those beers that I think is quietly drinkable, even repeatably so (that is, multiple pints without feeling knackered) and will work quietly in the background, unnoticed.

If I pull too much on the nose, there’s a slightly vegetal quality to it: a consequence of letting those used hops sit a little too long.

Good looking beer, though, ennit?

Brew Date: 2.17.14

3 lb 2 row
2 lb C80
1 lb Vienna
1 lb Gambrinus pale

Fermentables: 3 lb LME

.5 oz Cascade
.5 oz Willamette @ 60 (both previously used as dry hop)
1 oz Brewer’s Gold @ 15

3rd use Wyeast 1272-final

OG: 1.064

FG: 1.012

Put into secondary 3.6, which seems like a long time but it went as long as it did.

ABV: 7.04%

April 2, 2014


Filed under: commercial beers — grotusque @ 2:28 pm

This is what roughly $70 will get you from Belmont Station. Sometimes you have to do that.

I’ve been steadily working my way through the bottles; now only the Firestone is left.

The Heater Allen I didn’t dig on; too bitter on the back end. The Lagunita’s Imperial Stout was a nice surprise, both reasonably priced and pretty tasty.

I don’t recall who did the blueberry stout but that was pretty well crafted too, with the blueberries in the nose but not too prominent after that. Fort George’s Otep was a fine IPA, as one might suspect and Southern Tier’s Creme Brulee tastes just like one. If you like that flavor, that beer is for you.

Full Sail’s Imperial Porter continues its streak as one of my favorite beers ever, Crux (hard to see there) continues to impress me as well. Finally, the Beamish was…no. Let’s not do that again. And the Eel River wasn’t bad for a pale but I got it on clearance and it was starting to show hints of age…

March 31, 2014

Where I Want To Go: White Owl

Filed under: where I wanna go — Tags: , — grotusque @ 9:14 pm

I am engaged in another long standing tradition: going to the pub after getting bad news. In this case, the White Owl Social Club, which I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time.

There’s a Natian McGuinness on tap-milk stout aged in Kahlua barrels- so I get that and get somber. It costs $5.50 and instead of giving me change for my $6, she just keeps the .50. Her loss: I was getting ready to tip her a buck.

But the beer has got a really nice coffee flavor going on, with the kind of oily mouthfeel that I expect would glisten in the sunlight, like a puddle from an old car. I should probably let it warm up but I just don’t have the endurance to do that tonight.

The White Owl is lively and the Misfits is on the pa. It’s dark in here, too dark to play cards but I like it nonetheless. It doesn’t matter that I’m alone, alone is OK right now. Take your blessings where you can, I guess.

I want to be at home and sheltered from all of this. I want another drink. I want my parents to hug me. Everything is complicated and nothing looks good. I am confronted with an overwhelming sadness and I don’t want to wrap alcohol into my unhappiness, yet alcohol is wrapped into my work. It presents a very strange problem.

Because doing the work is a sustaining thing. Keeping the gears of your own life turning properly helps because it has a mindlessness, a method to keep everything going when all seems lost. We don’t have to talk about the risks of being a drinker who is a worker too often. Luck? Active avoidance? Perhaps the work supersedes the drink for enough of us that we don’t feel like we have to concern ourselves. Maybe it’s just that most of us are able to keep an even keel, we know that when things go wrong, there’s time for a drink but not several, or several drinks but not every day. The drink is our work, our work is not the drink.

I finish the beer and decide to pass on another. It’s going to be a long night and it’s important to make the good decisions I can when I can. Not staying out late by myself drinking is that good decision. Let’s go home.

March 28, 2014

10 Columns by Michael Jackson

Filed under: other blogs — grotusque @ 12:41 pm

The late beer writer Michael Jackson’s birthday was celebrated recently, and while I hate celebrating birthdays for people who are dead, it was a great chance to read this collection of articles he’d written.

I’ve not gotten to all of them yet but so far they’ve really been worth reading. His love for beer is easily evident but what strikes me about the columns that I like is that he appreciates the people he’s talking to. I never met and don’t know Mr. Jackson but I don’t think he could have written about his subjects so well, if he didn’t enjoy the company he was in.

Plus, as a writer it’s always good to read people who are better at it than you are.

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