On the Rail: Slingshot (Barley Brown edition)

It was a genuine surprise to me to get yelled at this evening over money.

I was at a party, having a lively discussion-bordering on argument but I was trying to hear the other person-on the presence of Uber in Portland. My position: The service might be good but they were trying to come into Portland providing a public service, without having to serve the entire public-namely, people with disabilities-and that’s not OK. And if they wanted to avoid that, then they should pay the limo licensing fees. Pretty simple. His position: The service is invaluable and they shouldn’t have to serve people with disabilities.

As the discussion became both more and less clear-why is it OK to ignore a section of the public? Because the city gives them services. Wait; you’re saying that a pubic service can ignore some of the public? Because federal law says that they can’t.

It was around this moment that the conversation went south. In the space of a few seconds, I was being yelled at by someone who doesn’t understand why he, as someone who earns $200K a year, has to pay more taxes than someone who makes more than he does. Or less.

“Why do I have to pay more taxes than someone who makes more than I do? Or you?” he snapped, “What, you earn 70K? 50? 20?”

I honestly did not know what to say. My value was being questioned by how much I made and paid to the government. And, even as I was struck with a ping of admiration for someone who could earn $200K a year I couldn’t help but recoil. I will never see that kind of money. I will always be checking my resources, at least mentally, no matter how comfortable I become, before purchasing something.

I don’t want to live like that. I’d like to not worry. But that’s my shit to haul.

I double blinked, pausing to see the clearest path and then I said, “Look, you’re getting very angry and I don’t understand why. So I think it’s best I just back off.”

And he nodded, sneeered and said “Yes,” making a brush-away motion with his hand. Dismissing me as one might a servant. Not long after, I began my walk home.

I stopped at the Slingshot on my way, to nurse a Barley Browns Handtruck IPA, some of my pride, and a bit of bewilderment.  The beer has a faint orange nose, sweet but not cloying. Gone now. Bitterness filling the mouth, lingering, not enough nuance for me to be happy.

I can’t find it in myself to be really angry at this person: I don’t know what may have set them off. Maybe I came across rudely.

Yet I cannot understand their position either. They make money that I will never see, yet they are unhappy, hostile to those less fortunate. What happened there to make them so hard hearted? Also; fuck being yelled at for no reason.

It makes my body so heavy, this absurd conflict people have.

2/3 through my beer and I feel a long, long way from home.

Keg Draining Special

The wonderful McPolanders had another event, this time in an attempt to empty kegs in their outdoor fridge. I’m not sure if they were getting tired of some of those beers or if some of them were just old (some were just old) but I am rarely going to pass up an opportunity to try free beer.

I mean, c’mon. I really like writing but free beer is free. So, here we go!

Double Mountain- Carrie Ladd Steamship Porter: Look at this. It’s nice and light and chocolaty. I tell ya, I’d consider drinking more porters if they were this good all the time, or trying to disguise themselves as stouts. The finish is both nicely roasty and a little sweet. Good palate cleaner, too: I can see eating both really heavy meals with this and something like a salad with some stronger cheeses mixed in.

Widmer- 2014 Smoked dark lager: It’s smoked all right. My first impression is: This beer falls into that ‘too much smoke’ trap that so many smoke ales do. And then my tongue started sending “fire” messages. I get zero nose from it, but this beer is spicy! A spice that lasts long after the smoke clears. Fire after smoke? Talk about mixing your metaphors. Something seems off here, because Widmer doesn’t do beers like this. Either I need a cleaner glass, or something has gone very, very wrong.

Fat Heads- Bumbleberry Ale: there’s a blackberry/blueberry nose, which I like. I actually looked up on the internet to see if bumbleberries were a real thing and it is, kinda-sorta. The ale itself is a bit sweet and there isn’t enough of a bubbly finish to erase it. That’s not a bad thing exactly but it has that fruit beer finish that makes me feel like it should be a flaw. I think that if the finish was crisper I would appreciate it more.

McPolanders- Chocolate porter: there’s a dryness to this beer and a little smokey quality too. This beer is complicated. That isn’t a bad thing but it’s making it very difficult for me to pin down what it’s about. I kinda want to sit at the bar with a full pint of this and bounce ideas off a chalkboard about this beer. When I ask the hostess about it, she tells me they  put a little mesquite in there and things start to make a lot more sense.

Cider Riot- Never Give An Inch Blackberry cider: holy crap the nose smells like butter. I really don’t want to drink this but for you, I will. It’s…really not very good. Tart + buttery = no go. The big qualifier here is: I’m told this is pretty old and as a consequence, not a very good example of their stuff. I believe it. So I won’t take this experience as gospel but whoa, this has gone wrong.

Burside- Permafrost winter ale: Probably the most like what I would expect. Sweet in front, biter on the finish but it’s not an IPA. It’s definitely tilting more towards an old ale with the maple in the mix. Not the maple frosting flavor you get sometimes, closer to good syrup.

Lucky Lab- irish stout on nitro. Look, I don’t think I can afford to be a purist but damnit, if your beer is a stout then it shouldn’t be something I can see through when I hold it up to light. The beer is equally thin, like a watery coffee, absent the viscosity of a stout or the coffee notes that should be there.

McPolanders Blueberry Lavender ale. Boy, the nose on this is just LAVENDER. Rare to get a beer that punches you in the face with flowers like this. It’s a little too much. Buuuut. This beer has such a nice crisp finish, with the lavender remaining in my cheeks, I’m hard pressed to be upset about anything. It’s the kind of beer I can see a whole lot of people just going crazy for and being very, very happy with. The floral note plays off the berries and the finish is very bubbly. Good stuff, even if the nose plays hardball.

I asked the host about this one and he told me that the biggest difference between this beer and the previous iterations of the style they made was that they crushed the lavender this time instead of just adding the flower whole, like you would hops. He was not pleased with the strength of the nose and said he’d probably scale it back next time.

And that’s pretty much it! I had a lovely time, so thank you to my hosts, and the company was excellent, as always.

Carboy Cleaning

This post is, admittedly, more for my benefit. I found this cool writeup on ways to make carboy cleaning easier and I wanted to have it on reference.  Of course, that I can provide this to readers who may homebrew is all the better! I especially like the rice option but really, anything that doesn’t involve filling my carboy with water and letting it sit is fine by me.

Brewers use a lot of water to make beer. We should always look for ways to use less water. Rice is biodegradable and cheap and if it works then that’s pretty awesome to me.

I’ll give it a go soon: Got a pale to transfer to secondary this weekend, so now is as good a time as any!

On the Rail: Old Gilbert Road Tavern (Buoy edition)

I’m  hunkering down at the Old Gilbert Road Tavern. I’d like to try a new place, get out of the house but something has gone wrong with my neck and it hurts a whole lot, so instead of adventure I am veering for the familiar and easy. Like an injured beast, sometimes staying close to home is wise.

Since the last time I was here, more Bernie Sanders posters have gone up, and there’s a photo diptych of the Mount St Helens explosion, along with Timbers scarves pinned on the walls like boy band posters in a teenager’s bedroom. There’s a host of black velvet paintings and unless I miss my guess the stage is set up for music again, which I think is a Good Thing.

It’s also brighter here, while keeping the soft lighting of a dream sequence.

I have to say, it’s coming along nicely.

As is this beer, a red ale from Buoy. Something vaguely floral in the nose, the mouthfeel is pleasantly thick and and the finish all toasty and which is nice. It’s a really solid beer and it may be the first one from Buoy that I’ve had that I’ve been pleased with. I’m almost considering having another, I like it that much. If I didn’t have so much to do this weekend, I’d most certainly have it.

Someone behind me has gotten french fries. I’ve been a little wary of getting food here; I’ve never been able to smell the food coming from the kitchen and this IS a new-dive place. Food is secondary. But these fries smell good. They may be stepping up their game or I’m hungry and want some fries. No way to solve that riddle without ordering french fries but maybe I’ll save that for another time.

The beer is damn tasty though. Another won’t kill me…

They might be right, but I don’t have to like it

I suppose I’m being a bit of a snob here but when I read that fruit adjunct beers (beers that have fruit syrup added) are the next big thing, I feel a little sad. In college, this would be a little like having people find out I liked heavy metal, and having them tell me how great they thought the Bullet Boys were.

I mean. You can like what you like but that ain’t heavy metal.

Then again, I see people who like heavy metal now and I have to admit my tastes are on the popular fringe. What a lot of metalheads are excited about is just too out there for me. So it is with beer.

Although, I’m not sure that we can say that the rise of alcopops is really ‘out there’. That’s really more like the rise of Nickleback when bands like Cloudkicker exist.  But I had friends who tried the alcoholic root beer and dug it. Hell, I didn’t even find it horribly offensive (it really did taste like root beer and I like root beer). It’s just disappointing to see people go for the shiny candy when something even better from a crafting and style perspective is two feet away. Junk food is still junk food.

The other projections seem really obvious (breweries will close), really unlikely (defining Black IPAs or CDAs) or hopefully avoided (nitrogen in everything!)

CDAs are incredibly difficult styles to nail down: I’ve seen events where even the man who wrote the style guideline had difficulty picking the same CDA out twice. I think there’s a lot of wrangling to go before it gets settled.

The problem with nitro beers is laid out in the article itself:

…but the problem is a lot of them will be bad or uninspiring.

Exactly. Adding nitrogen to beer is a gimmick of technology that doesn’t actually improve the beer and I don’t think it will take long for consumers and brewers to figure that out.

Make good beer. Repeat. It’s not easy but it’s not gimmicky either.

Michigan Blues

A friend brought back some beers from Michigan to share, so I did a writeup on them! There were even a few beers I hadn’t heard of, which is always cool. Mildly edited notes follow:

24507414012_58d2295647_zJolly Pumpkin Saison X:
This has a nose of honey, lemon and ginger. The label says ‘spiced’ but is reluctant to tell us what spices were used. This isn’t just a saison; it’s got a bit of funk to it. It also has an element of citrus rind bitterness to it which shows up sharply and really torques the beer in a negative direction. My host offers me candied ginger and…it compliments the beer well! So, this beer has an issue but that issue seems to be solved with candy.

Founders Breakfast stout: the nose is like a cold up of coffee. Iced coffee, actually and this is a pretty good way to describe the beer as a whole. Plus, I think it’s actually a stout, not a porter disguised as one, which is always nice. It claims to be an oatmeal stout and I believe the body is there to support it. It’s 8.3% so you reaaaally can’t call this a breakfast beer but it’s still pretty damn tasty.

24247996029_cf7e7f2720_zArbor Brewing Ypsi gypsi session IPA; this has an orangey thing happening. Buuut there’s a papery finish that I have to scrape it off the roof of my mouth. I think this beer got old, unfortunately, and so isn’t giving its best impression.

Brewery Vivant Undertaker; Belgian style dark ale. The nose is…soft. The beer is, too. Almost supple, the rotation of roasted malt flavors over the tongue. It doesn’t present any strong flavors (coffee or chocolate) to latch onto, but there is a roasted malt quality here that lacks the viscosity of a stout. A crisp bit is at the end, too; this beer isn’t highly effervescent but it does have some bubbly to keep things lively. The nose all but disappears quickly, leaving a sweet ghost in its place, no more.

Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca; the nose has that tart quality, the kind that usually means I’m about to drink a cup of vinegar. But the beer itself is nicely restrained. It really tastes like dry white wine, with an effervescent quality. I can get behind this in limited doses and certainly wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

24320224650_b09b6f06cc_zBrewery Vivant Farm Hand french style farmhouse ale. That seems like a lot of buzzwords that don’t say a lot but here’s what I am picking up: the nose has a hay, almost horseblanket funk. The beer is light and crisp all the way to  the finish, where the funk comes back again but in a groove thing way, instead of a Fabreeze moment. I like it.

On the Rail: Club 21

24478461302_840c8d5a40_zHoly cow is this beer bitter. It’s arrived headless too, and I am unable to get a whiff of hops off it. That’s really not good news for an IPA. The beer seems cloudy as well: now that isn’t automatically a problem but the bitterness of this beer is passing into a dirty flavor so I just can’t trust it. I don’t know why, but I frequently have issues with Migration’s beers.

The ceiling looks like a child got to toss glitter onto it, red and green lights spackled all over. The vibe is definitely Portland new-dive, with more pinball machines than video poker games. That’s kinda cool.  The chalkboard nearby proclaims BANDS TONIGHT, but I’m here too early for music and you can still buy packs of cigarettes from behind the bar. The white tent outside is where you go for smoking.

Couple guys talking next to me are talking about the place; I think I’ll let them have the last word:

“Yeah, I’m just here until it gets crowded-I just got off work. I tell you ’bout my new job, dude? I’m tossin’ kegs around for McMins. Only problem is the hour and a half commute on the bus each way.”

“You don’t have a car?”

“No, man.”

“Dude, I got a buddy at a dealership, I think we can hook you up with a beater that runs.”

“That’s be awesome. All I need is somethin’ like that: I’m good with my hands so I can work on it, too. But yeah, I just gonna have couple-three beers and then get out of here before it gets too crowded.”

“Yeah. Doesn’t happen until around 8 but before that it’s a pretty mellow place to hang out in.”

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