Amber ale at FitzgeraldsThis is the house amber ale at Fitzgerald’s Pub in Manhattan, New York.

I’m in New York because an old friend got married and asked me and another buddy from Portland to be his groomsmen. I’m in Fitzgerald’s because the third groomsman, whom I hadn’t met previous to the day of the wedding, invited us to his bar the next evening.

To my surprise, the amber is made by Michelob but damnit, it’s tasty. Nice mouthfeel, just enough caramel malt to look and taste amazing and easy to drink.

“It’s 6%,” the bartender-and our host- says, a little apologetic, his Irish accent softened by years of living in New York, “so it’s a little high,” and I chuckle in response.

“We start our IPAs at 7.5 in Portland. This is great.”

I had a blur of a weekend, and 90% of it was in service to the wedding I attended.

But for just a little bit, after it was all over, I was able to make a little time to sit at the pub with some old and new friends, and have a drink.

That’s a pretty good deal.


On The Other Hand

I feel like visiting all the places here would be a great way to experience an important part of Oregon’s contribution to the beer scene.

This is in contrast to last Friday’s post.

And, I’m going to be attending a wedding this weekend so this will be the last post until Nov 14th! Have a safe weekend, everyone.

Whatever You Say 45\Second Pint HIAS

“We could’ve saved the Earth, but we were too damned cheap.” – K. Vonnegut

I’ve been thinking about this quote often in the past few weeks.

I always wanted to be a hero when I was a child, I just didn’t understand what the cost of heroism was. As I got older, I had to temper that desire as my understanding of heroism deepened. But I never stopped wanting to be a hero-to be someone who genuinely saved others. I was just hoping it would not come at the cost of everything.

I know this year has been devilish for so many people; difficulties personal, fiscal, social, political. Just shy of terrifying, I would say although they might just go all in on being terrified and I would understand that, too.

And it has broken my heart more than once, just this year. Because we wielded so much power and we could’ve saved the Earth….but we decided to do something else. Worse,  I think we decided to do because we bought into the idea that our ability didn’t involve responsibility.

Hope is a funny thing, though. And I hope that my fellow citizens will rise to this occasion. I think we can save the world-save ourselves, even-if we just participate.

I’m an adult now: I know that everything costs. Participation and engagement cost, doing the right thing costs, caring about people and their well being, since we have so much, that costs. But there’s more than ourselves at stake. Our honor and ideals-intangibles that we cannot ever reclaim, should we sell them-and the lives of people, something else we cannot get back, should they be sacrificed, are on the line. It feels like we could lose everything, heroism or no.

WCG ESB and ballot

People-particularly vulnerable people- are scared. Smart people are scared. We have real problems to solve and the will to solve them has not been exerted. Has been shunned, which is even worse, when I think about it.

But I still want to be a hero. I hope that other people do, too. And I hope that they all become voters – active participants in the work of citizenship in America. However much they can help, they help-but at the very least, as voters: People who don’t just check a party line but actually try to understand what they are doing and the consequences for it are. Who rise to the call every time. Because that’s what heroes do.

Tomorrow is Election Day.  Let’s be heroes but if we can’t be heroes, then let’s at least be engaged. Get out there, vote. Then let’s get a beer at the West Coast Grocery.

Because the Age Of Wonder fresh hop ESB is absolutely delicious. The nose is green and grassy, but it gives way to a lush maltiness that makes this beer incredibly easy to drink. Just enough C30 malt to give it some copper color and a really low key finishing bitterness, both malt and hop influenced. I would have another, but I really need to turn my ballot in. It may not be heroic, but it is my responsibility, so I’m taking it on.

Today’s second pint goes to the HIAS.

Barley, Barrels, Bottles and Brews

I had a chance to visit the Oregon Historical Society‘s retrospective on beer in Oregon recently and I thought it was a bit tepid.

beer tumblers from the 1900sThe information about the early days when hop growers were first starting to get their businesses started was OK and I had no idea that a great many Native Americans were involved in the harvesting of hops back then. Unsurprisingly, many Chinese immigrants were also involved in the work back then, too. However, aside from one, maybe two lines on the subject, the racism they experienced or the contributions they made, aside from the work they did, didn’t get much exploration. No comment on the picture of children who were doing this work in the 1800’s, which again seemed odd.

There were also less than intriguing exhibits; at one point I saw a wooden box that had the notation, “Box for carrying hops” near it. That was it.

Last time I checked, boxes can hold anything; what made this box interesting or worth display? It wasn’t until I was walking away that I noticed a logo on the side of it for a company farming hops. While not of deep interest, the logo at least gave context to what I was looking at and it wasn’t even facing the audience.

Maybe don’t bury the lede?

Early homebrew text by F EckhardtSimilarly, although perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on them for this, there was a massive gap in information between the time when Prohibition started and the 1980’s, when craft brewing started to take root. Sure, there was a small section devoted to Fred Eckhardt (who helped found the Oregon Brew Crew, amongst other things) and Don Younger (a huge promoter of craft ales and Oregon beer at large via the Horse Brass pub), as well there should have been, but I’m absolutely certain that things happened between the end of prohibition and 1980, when the craft beer and homebrewing movements started.

The section on the Pink Boots society was nice but felt underdeveloped-which is an apt way to describe most of the information on the modern era. The efforts of modern breweries and homebrewers was almost unmentioned but they did have a portion of the exhibit dedicated to the hop growing and fermentation programs at Oregon State University.

The interactive portion of the exhibit was neat though; you could smell hops and read about what they would be used for in brewing, and a couple of large touchscreens that people could play with to get simple overviews of beer styles and the brewing process.

It was free, though and in this instance I suppose I got what I paid for.



Hop Fermentation

Just another reason to love science: They’ve discovered that adding hops to the beer after fermentation is apparently complete, can lead to some further fermentation process!

This news is more interesting, admittedly, for brewers and homebrewers (like myself) than it might be for the lay person but as a homebrewer, I might be able to use this information to plan how my beer might turn out or what might result because I’ve added hops to the beer in secondary.

Whatever You Say 44\Second Pint UNICEF

Ferment Czech Pilz

I’m having Ferment‘s Czech Pilz, and this is a treat, because I don’t know this brewery! A chance to try something new on top of it all. Unfortunately, I am, once again, interrupting someone on their phone when I ask for their selection so I’ve retreated to a quiet space on the rail to appreciate this beer.

The flavors are all very clean; the finish almost the barest hint of hop bitterness on it. But what I really like is the way it feels: the Pilz has a denser viscosity to it that rolls across my tongue sweetly and gives me more to do than just pound it down.

So I look around Bailey’s to see the crowd. It’s pretty calm for a Saturday evening, and everyone seems to be relishing the rarity of it.

There are people of Asian descent in here, as well as Indian. The man I asked? Had a faintly Slavic accent when he replied. A black man and a white woman toast their glasses on my other side, an old sentimentality at play. The table of white folk nearby doesn’t bat an eyelash at anyone; the bartenders serve all of us the same. The couple wrapped up in each other’s words, the bearded dude with the glasses and the snow hat, me; we’re all immigrants too, people who arrived in the past to exist in the same space in the future.

We’re all even at the pub. We pay our money, we drink our drinks. We even converse with strangers, sometimes.

It’s not a bad world, just one that I’ve seen less and less of lately. Let’s create more of a better world, OK?

Today’s second pint goes to UNICEF.

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