Front Porch Chats #44

I can smell the Ol’ Lifewine from Matchless from a foot and a half away.

Matchless Ol' Lifewine barleywine aged in bourbon barrels, in glass on table outside

Barley wines kept in bourbon barrels will do that, I suppose.

I’m playing it smart this time, letting the beer warm up a little before getting into it and on a mild, rainy Sunday, that’s not such a bad thing.

Three sips in and I can tell this is one of the more dangerous beers I’ve ever had: it tastes like warm caramel, despite being chilled. That’s a savvy use of the heat that the bourbon brings.

I’m going to need a moment after this one. The bourbon isn’t noticeable in the middle of the beer-but it is pretty strong in the nose, and has that bourbon finish. The scent is too strong, but the finish feels just about right.

Which is all I really want to talk about today, honestly. I don’t want to discuss how atonement is as requirement for getting a seat at the table again.

I don’t want to get into how ferociously we should shun these servants to Mammon who encouraged sedition against our country.

I don’t want to talk about how sad and angry I am that people still want to consider the words of Mitch McConnell with any integrity. How we’re going to have to use McConnell’s own lesson against him-that if you have power, you make the rules,and fuck right off- and how we’re going to be very careful about using that rule, lest we become what we hate.

All around me, people are able to exhale, truly breathe, for the first time in four years.

Today, I’m going to let them, and I’m going to raise a glass in their honor-for the work they did, the hope they kept alive, the love they displayed, and the courage they found.

We’ll get after it next week.

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But Capitalism

Just chalk this story up as ‘another reasons large companies should be broken up’. Because I don’t think for a second that they aren’t trying to do similar things in the US-tech companies already do these kinds of things with our internet.

Also, if you have a $6.16 billion dollar share of the industry and your fines could hit a total of $250 million leaving you with 5.9 billion left, that isn’t a penalty, it’s just the cost of doing business.

Nov Cream Ale

Cream ale on kitchen countertop

Good news; the nose is still malt forward. Caramel, definitely has a liquid extract sweetness to it-which means it’s a little abstract. I don’t think there’s any one grain that malt extract is made out of, so I can’t exactly say; caramel 80 is responsible here!

I can, though, say it’s got a more caramel flavor than other efforts, due to the use of regular malt extract instead of extra light malt extract. That’s OK; it doesn’t play havoc with the beer, it’s just a bit darker and a bit more malt forward than I’d want for a cream ale. But I’m not sure there’s a light amber style, and it’s not hoppy enough to be a pale ale so…what do we call this?

Maybe an red ale? Maybe amber really is a good description; I’ve always felt that most amber ales tinted too dark anyway and should be called reds…but I don’t make up the naming conventions.

There is I’m pleased to say, a present but not upstanding bitterness on the finish. A little lemony, a little floral but unmistakably bitter there. It helps tie the beer together, keeping any sweetness from overrunning things.

All in all, not bad!

Brew date: 11/1/20

Steeping grains
2 lb caramel 20L (from Opal)
6 lb Pils malt (from mainstream freewater)

Fermentables: 3 lb ExLME

1 oz Saaz, German Mandarina Bavaria @ 60
1 oz Saaz, German Mandarina Bavaria @ 5

Yeast: Imperial Loki (2nd use)

OG: 1.05

FG: 1.012

ABV: 5.1%

Front Porch Chats #43/Second Pint Brown Hope

Masthead Single Origin Coffee Stout in glass, on table outdoors

Masthead’s Single Origin Coffee Stout with me on the porch this afternoon. As someone who doesn’t drink coffee (I don’t like hot beverages) I have to have anything with caffeine in it in the afternoon, or else it’ll mess with my sleep.

Oh, let me tell you: those nose on this is like an espresso bean dipped in dark chocolate. Which is what this beer tastes like, too. There’s even that coffee bite at the end-a bitterness that isn’t hoppy at all. Clearly rooted in that coffee tradition.

As it warms up, the coffee bean qualities come to the forefront; the nose shifts more to a fresh ground coffee scent and the chocolate takes a back seat.

It’s pretty damn good.

It’s almost over; the obvious ratfucking, the heinous stupidity, the use of racism as policy. We’re almost there.

Is what I would love to tell myself.

Fuck, I just want this to be over. I don’t want to talk about whether or not we should be nice to the insurrectionists, or respect the feelings of Republicans who abjectly refuse to govern.

I don’t want to convince someone that capitalism actually IS NOT a system of government; I want to be able to throw those hot takes in the garbage and get to the meaningful actions that will help people.

I am sick to death of cries for ‘unity’ that do not involve contrition, penance, and rehabilitation. One third of this shithole country has had fascism as a friend with benefits for the past four years and have fucked up rather thoroughly.

They don’t get to just walk away.

They get to be expelled. Out. You don’t get a seat at the table. Your ideas are bad and you should feel bad. Fuck. Off. And if the door hits you on the way out, GOOD. You’ll live through it, which is more than I could say if our positions were reversed.

They are liars and cowards and they have been sniveling their way into power to do fuck all with it once they are there, beyond hoarding their gold like Smaug.

They can, and I cannot emphasize this enough: get fucked.

In two more days, the adults take over, and some of them are going to insist that we try to get back to “business as usual”. Don’t let them. Business as usual has gotten 400,000 Americans killed from a pandemic, and left millions destitute, with an unrelenting strain of Nazis in America.

We deserve better.

Today’s second pint goes to Brown Hope.

Front Porch Chats #42/Second Pint ALA

Stormbreaker ALTerior Motive ale in glass on table outside

Got us an ALTerior Motive from Stormbreaker brewing today, a German style alt ale.

This is the only thing I currently want in my life to resemble Germany right now; the beer. No offense to the Germans who are really, really hoping America pulls its shit together. I’m with you folks.

I can safely say that I went to bed on January 6th having looked into the abyss that is America and did not like it. This whole week has reminded me of the punchline/finale of that story: “The call is coming from inside the house!”

Because I saw members of the Capitol police open the barriers for those insurrectionists. I saw those same insurrectionists take selfies with the cops.

I listened to the speech that Trump made, telling that crowd how he was going to go with them to force people to ‘do their jobs’. The subtext wasn’t sub.

I saw Senator Hawley pump his fist at those insurrectionists, heard Senator Cruz encourage them the day before the attempted coup.
Turns out, it’s easy to storm the building, if the guards are patting you on the back on the way inside.

It’s not as if the insurrectionists were shy about telling us why they were there, either. They brought bombs, for fuck’s sake. They had flexicuffs to take hostages. And they were getting to saunter into the building-why should they be shy?

They were getting their way, right? A bunch of fools with zero concept of the hell they were about to unleash upon everyone, including themselves, blithely honking their way through the Capitol, so certain that everyone was just going to roll over and give them the keys, because no one had told them no, and they were gonna ‘start a revolution’.

Then someone finally said no. And now four people are dead, because these people were encouraged to sedition (a word I haven’t heard since high school social studies, 30 years ago).

I’d say I feel bad about the insurrectionists dying but I don’t. Fuck ‘em. Fuck their attempted coup (which is what it was, don’t let them change the story). They fucked around and found out, as the kids say.

I feel bad for how they got there: lied to by a conman, playing to their fears, and I feel bad that these people had so few supports in their lives that their fears were all they had left.

It’s easy to feed on someone’s fear, if all you give them is anxiety.

I feel bad for my fellow citizens, grossly neglected by their government, rarely more so than now; broke, desperate, victimized by authorities. Even right wing people deserve health care, safety, and an education.

I feel particularly bad for every person who protested for BLM, or Indigenous rights, who were watercannoned in sub-zero temps, teargassed nightly, kidnapped, doxed, or otherwise mauled by the cops and fascists, now watching Maga Nazis just walk right into the capitol, murder on their mind.

Now though; now I want blood.

Not the insurrectionists. Naw, dawg. The FBI, they’ll take care of that. If there’s one thing law enforcement is good at, it’s picking on the weak. Same for the other consequences of those insurrectionists; some people have already lost their jobs, the ability to fly, and this action makes you unemployable in America (I hope).

No. No, you cut off the head, as Thanos says.

Cruz. Hawley. Rep Kevin McCarthy. Trump. These people, basically.

All of them. Charged with sedition and you put them on trial.
Throw EVERYTHING at them. Give them NOTHING but blood and dust.

Because I don’t want to see my country overthrown in 10 years-but more likely less-having ignored the fire at the Reichstag.

It’s a good beer, the ALTerior; it reminds me of the ESBs that are lighter, but still malt forward. I’d say try some.

Then let’s start working, because this fascism isn’t gonna destroy itself.

Today’s second pint goes to support a friend of mine who’s doing a fundraiser for the American Lung Association.


Not long ago, I had an IPA made with Norwegian Kveik yeast. This yeast has been getting a lot of hype lately, because of its unique fermenting properties-able to operate at very high temps without throwing off unwanted flavors.

Except the IPA tasted awful. So bad that I immediately messaged a friend to tell him how bad it was. It was a hazy IPA that had the finishing notes of burnt paper. Grapefruit + burnt paper. That was not appetizing.

Little Beast belgian ale in glass, with can, on table

But maybe it’s the brewery, right? It was a beer that was brand new to me (Hyper Scream from Dekker brewing) and maybe they just suck.

One month later, I’m drinking a Folkvanger from Little Beast brewing, a brewery I know is solid. The Folkvanger is a dark ale made with the Norwegian yeast and…it tastes like singed butthair. It was so bad that I wanted other people to try it, just so I didn’t feel insane for thinking that something a professional brewery made could taste this bad.

I feel like there’s a massive joke being played on people right now; that this thing which, admittedly, does something cool and unique, is touted as also being tasty and…it really just isn’t.

Not at all.

The Other Review

There have been a couple reviews of 2020, and well…they are a thing.

It’s been pretty weird pandemic for business and craft beer enjoyment at large, but it’s neat to see the places that people pivoted to a different method of production.

That said: I wish we’d just close everything for two months, pay everyone to stay home and start over in March.

Front Porch Chats #41/SeconD pint

Ruben's brews Three Ryes Men barleywine in glass on table

So, that was 2020.

Sucked, didn’t it.

I’ve decided to treat myself with a Three Ryes Men from Rubens, a barleywine aged in bourbon barrels.

There’s a Venn diagram for this beer and I am in it.

It tastes like maple syrup that you can drink. It is velvety and luxurious, with a little bite on the finish-part carbonation, part hops-which enhance the drinkable qualities immensely.

I feel like we’ve lived through the shortest decade in the longest year, and while I know that 2021 isn’t a fresh start, in the way that tearing the page out of a notebook gives everyone a clean slate, we could use just that.

John Scalzi has a post on his blog about how 2020 was, on paper, a very good year for him. But in practice, not so much.

I grok that, folks. I still have a job, still am housed. With those two things I am able to keep myself in beer and music, and still have enough left over to treat myself to a damn fine meal now and again. To donate to GA senate races. To just solve problems for friends or family. Or to be there for them in a capacity that others just may not have had the bandwidth for.

It’s been taxing, no lie but the thing is I could, so I did. I could do a good thing, so I did good things, whenever I could.

Fuck, though, this year has been depressing. At a time when coming together, metaphorically, to accomplish great things was the order of the day-and for the record, I can absolutely see what that world looks like, clear as a Hawaii sunset-America just…didn’t.

Because we were not called upon to do so.

There’s upside, of course; mutual aid networks bloomed, heightened awareness of the haves vs have nots, and what people of color endure in this country. More activists, more people getting involved in whatever capacity they could. The inkling of a vision of improvement. On the ground, a lot of work got done and I think it’s important to point that out.

But there was a better world and instead of moving towards it, we had people with the power to shepherd that in, dig their heels in and insist that the future was never and could never come.

It’s a shame, because we could be preparing for 2050, instead of desperately hoping 2021 will be the year we could right the ship.
But; I think there is a vision for a better future, and I think we have a chance to put it into motion.

It’s 2021 folks. The rules are much the same: wash your hands. Wear a mask. Film the cops. Be kind. Fuck Trump.

Let’s get to work.

Second pint goes to the Portland Rescue Mission.

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