S.A.D. 2

31216209232_9d05c10374_cWe are getting to the end of my year of pale ales. I may not have made it explicit, but I was trying to engineer a pale ale that I liked and could make regularly-or on request-because it’s a pretty common style. I’d like to improve on some basics and so a lot of practice was done in 2016. In this case, I went after a repeat of a successful recipe.

The hop nose is faint but I can tell the Columbus hops are there. The is a definite spike in the bitterness on the finish but before I get there it’s got a pleasant sweetness, very much like an orange with a tiny bit of caramel drizzle over it. It’s also pleasantly dense: got enough body to it to justify itself, along with encouraging having another beer.

I have to say, I’m fairly pleased with this and think that some version of it should work its way into my regular rotation.

Brew date: 10/14/16

Steeping grains
1.5 lb Munich
1.5 lb Vienna

Fermentables: 7 lb extra light malt extract

1 oz Columbus @60
.5 oz Simco @60

Yeast: Imperial Barbarian

OG: 1.064

FG: 1.014

Secondary 10/28, added .5 oz Simcoe hops

ABV: 6.8

Bottled 10/30

Common Ales: 21st Amendment Sneak Attack

21st Amendmend SaisonIt’s odd to see a saison in the winter-which, according to the marketing from 21st Amendment, is entirely the point. It certainly is a change of pace from all the stouts that tend to fill the shelves during winter, so I went for it.

Earthly and peppery in the nose. I don’t often reach for the word “peppery” because I often associate it with something spicy, or olfactorally reactionary.

But for a saison, it’s pretty appropriate. Citrus could exist in the style but I’m glad 21st Amendment went for the more farmhousey, earthy version. It finishes quite dry and very crisp, approximating a nice white wine.

It’s also a welcome relief from all of the dark ales that have shown up this winter. Don’t get me wrong: I love dark ales and this time of year is when many exceptional beers appear, as I said. But contrast matters and I don’t know that I could ask for a better one than this. Recommended.

Respite 20/Second Pint NAACPLDF

A state of emergency was declared in Portland on Wednesday. We had twelve inches of snow in under a day and this city just isn’t ready for that kind of weather.

So I’ve spent many days trying to stay busy and driving almost nowhere. I drove twice: once to get groceries and once to help a friend who was stranded. The roads are bad enough that anything else was just reckless. Sure, I could probably get around. I’ve driven in ice and snow before and I have a sense of how to accomplish it…but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. The roads are compacted down to icy surfaces, slick from just enough sunlight to really make it glossy.  Every time I ventured outside I could hear sirens moving towards people less fortunate than I was, or I found wreckage debris from people who weren’t able to stop in time.

So I walked. The clear days usually had wind, so all the fur trees were clear of snow and sunglasses were practically mandatory in order to avoid going snowblind. Most of the sidewalks hadn’t been shoveled so it was often a little easier to walk on the streets.

But I wasn’t the only one. Kids went to parks with sleds, their parents watching or, in the cases of smaller kids, pulling them along. Occasionally the parent had a beer while they watched. Just enough places were able to stay open that some things could be accomplished, if you were careful: I had the good fortune to find the public library open and promptly checked out a copy of Joe Hill’s The Fireman. If I can’t be in a warm place, I can at least read about them.

If this is the only state of emergency I have to live through, I’m pretty good with it. I brewed beer, walked a bunch, got some chores done. That’s pretty solid.

But it is also my way of explaining why I am not at Bailey’s for this post. The path is too treacherous for me to confidently travel in a vehicle…so I have walked to O’Malley’s to get a Hopworks Abominale. Citrus on the nose but sliding underneath it is a whiff of caramel. This is an IPA by way of barleywine and right now, after going through a long walk in the cold, it’s a kind of rap to the stomach that I need.

On my way here, I stopped at a crosswalk next to a man on a yellow bike and headphones. “Cold enough to freeze the nuts off the Steel Bridge,” he said, riding away.

Which might be true but I have a feeling that as a cyclist, his experience with the cold was a bit different than mine. I’m certain that his experience traveling isn’t the same.

Today’s second pint goes to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Common Ales: Pyramid 1977 Lager

31712396156_b307df47e2_cBecause I live in Portland and not enough time has passed for the Timbers’ soccer championship to become a nostalgic memory, (I can’t wait until we look back on 2015 with rose colored glasses-though I doubt it will take long…) the Trailblazer’s basketball championship is something that…just kind exists in the air around here. All the time. And so we have: Pyramid’s 1977 lager, celebrating the time when the Portland Trail Blazers did good.

Thing is, this is precisely the kind of beer that non-craft beer people would purchase. Which means it’s exactly the kind of beer I want to review and talk about.

It smells like beer used to smell in the 70’s, alright: sour and skunky and not just a little off putting. But the beer itself is sweet and has a reasonable weight on my tongue. It finishes pretty clean and would probably serve well as a compliment to any hot dog, whiskey, or summer day. I don’t know that I’d drink a lot of it but I’d eagerly drink one if offered to me.

Respite 19/Second Pint: Border Angels

I saw Henry Rollins speak on New Year’s Day. If you’re going to start off the year with a dude talking at you for three hours straight, he’s the guy. One thing he said, repeatedly, over the course of a series of stories involving music, travel and the election was:

“You and me, that’s how we do this.”

Each time he said that, he was referring to making things better. Not just survival under President Twitter-survival is the bare minimum that we should have passed long ago, yet here we are-but making things better.

Rollins insisted-frequently-that he didn’t know how they were going to get better. He was placing confidence in everyone else: in the “smart, sexy young people” out there who would have ideas and take action. He acknowledged things were going to suck and that some of us were going to have to take the hit from assholes who want to keep things rigidly on course towards their own small minded version of power. But he knew that the only way to do it was to do it.

Of note here: he wanted to take action together. We’re going to need each other on the ground floor if we want to make things better. With the very real risks that are coming, such as the repeal of the ACA, for example-and let’s not lie to each other (or ourselves), alright? People will die without insurance coverage, because there isn’t going to be anything to replace it. We’re going to have to work together to make things better.

I say, let’s get to it. And I might even recommend the Block 15 Hoppy New Year IPA while we do so. This beer reminds me of opening a fresh package of hops-simcoe, maybe?-just before I put it into wort. It’s not overwhelming, which is nice and it lets a very nice grassy flavor come out through the beer. It’s definitely for someone who likes those grassy notes, though. We’ll have a pint, make plans, and get going.

Today’s second pint goes to Border Angels.

Long Root Pale

31496180396_256e0af51a_cSome of you may remember when I talked about a new, sustainable grain being used to make beer at Hopworks and, while it took some time for me to get there, I finally got to drink some. So let me tell you about…

Long Root Pale ale, first impression; little bit of pine? The aroma isn’t strong and I’m having to repeatedly get my nose in there to get anything.

But there’s nothing wrong with this beer. Regardless of being made from a new kind of barley; the mouthfeel has a nice weight to it and a spine of sweetness to keep the bitter finish from being unbalancing. If this is the future of beer, then everything is going to be just fine.

A beer and homebrewing blog