Failures that are successes.

Things did not go quite right with my new beer. It was supposed to be a pale ale, but very hoppy. Almost IPA-ish, but lighter in color.

It’s lighter in color alright, but…the hoppiness is not there. It’s sweet, and I guess ought to be called a golden ale instead of a pale. I’m baffled by this, honestly; I dry hopped this beer with Chinook hops, which have a pretty high alpha unit (which means that they have high bitterness properties-at least, I think that’s what it means) and a really strong scent. That quality didn’t transfer to the nose however, and I have no idea why. The color being so light is also unexpected, but the cloudiness of the beer is expected; I forgot to buy Irish Moss on my last trip to the store. (That’s an agent that helps clarify beer.)

This beer also has a  very thin head and doesn’t retain it for long. I get that satisfying burst of escaping CO2 when I open the beer, so I’ve done something right, but that the effervescence isn’t lasting seems to signal that I’ve done something not right. It’s possible that some of the higher temperatures Portland has seen affected fermentation. I’ve been told that sometimes the yeast will produce a sweeter flavor if fermented too warmly. I don’t think 66 degrees is too warm, but my basement is an uncontrolled area, so perhaps there have been fluxuations that have had an impact.

Now all that said, it’s a pretty good beer. It may not have turned out the way I’d thought it would, but it’s light, though not crisp, and easy drinking. As a summer beer I’m actually happy with how this came out, I just wish I knew more about how this occurred so it would be purposely duplicated. It’s possible that what happened is exactly what was supposed to happen, I just was unaware of my intent. Thankfully I’ve got some decent notes on this beer, so I’ll have to try it again.

One thing I can  say for certain; it’ll get you drunk. I’ve had 2 and I’m crusing.

Sam Adams to be biggest US owned brewer

This story has the details, but the headline tells you the meat of things.

I’m not sure what this will mean, but I think that it’s interesting that a brewery known for the variety of styles they produce will soon be the largest, as opposed to the singularity  of styles that A-B is known to make. Perhaps this will encourage more breweries to make more interesting beers to drink.

Of course, other people have different takes on this.

Three tastes

I was on a quest to rent disc 4 of The Wire. One long, muggy walk and two movie rental places later it was time to say “The hell with this” and get a pint. Fortunately for me, it’s Oregon Craft Beer Month, and the Horse Brass has a lot of beers to choose from.

I went first with a glass of the Terminal Gravity Tripel, partly because I wanted to see if it was as good as I remember, and it was. Not too sweet with enough bitterness to keep me drinking.

My next choice was Widmer’s Dopplebock. I’ve liked dopplebocks since I traveled to Germany and had them in Nuremburg 15 years ago,  and though they never seem to rise up to that first one, I keep hunting them down. This beer was quite malty and delicious, then gave way to a dryness, almost a bitterness that encouraged drinking more of it. A little dastardly in that respect: a drink that refuses to quench your thirst.

Now, while I was drinking this, my girlfriend was drinking Vortex IPA from Ft George brewery. I tried some and it had an orange blossom nose and finish, but sweet faint caramel in the middle, and was about as well balanced of a West Coast style IPA as I could’ve asked for. I was thining about ordering it next, but decided to get Rogue’s Imperial Younger’s Special Bitter. However, at this point we were interrupted by a large man with a shaven headed and a goatee, drinking a Hogshead Stout and asking about the IPA. We told him about it, and it was more than enough to convince him to try a pint.

who can resist this?
who can resist this?

I found out he was a homebrewer, and we launched into a discussion about brewing; he told me of a beer he’d made using heather and dry hopping. I told him about the beer I’d helped make that had been sold at the Horse Brass. He ordered a pint, but it arrived just as we were done with ours. I told him about the Oregon Brew Crew, so perhaps I will see him again. I don’t think I’ve got a ‘we met in a bar’ friendship story. Time to start collecting those.

Addendum: Like any intrepid reporter, I went back to the Horse Brass the next day to have a glass of the Vortex IPA so I could more accurately describe it. I do this for you, the audience. You deserve to have me tell you from my own personal experience that a beer is a good one. Plus I got off work early and the bus drops me off right next to the bar. How can I pass that up?

Lunchtime beer 2, the beering

I am full of fail today. Today being a period of time going back at least 24 hours. That was when I took my first salsa dance class, and if anything is true in this life it is this:

I do not have a body made to dance. It is angular, and has no flow to it. Dancing is all about flow. My hips do not turn, my shoulders are not loose; I am not meant to dance.  There was 60 mintues of me not remembering how to count to four, how to pivot on my feet, having less and less fun while others seemed to be having more and more, as though it was being siphoned from me.

The first day of class always sucks hippo balls.

This is what I ponder drinking Rock Bottom‘s Kolsch “55”, made for Oregon Craft Brew month.  It’s got a faint lemon zest nose, a clear golden tone, and finishes cleaner than a shiny new car waxed by a 16 year old. The flavors are mild, sweetly maltly, not a hint of bitterness here. It’s quite tasty but now I want to try the Swan Island lager, just so I can expand on the differences.

I do not have time for this. Work calls. I have a meeting at 3:30. I have to enjoy this beer while I can, even though I am dispairing at my dancing skills. And having to go to the meeting, if I must be honest.

Before I leave, a waitress asks her coworkers about breakfast places downtown. I consider suggesting a place, but I can’t remember the name, and feel weird about intruding on their conversation. I just pay my tab, put my shades on and leave. I’ll have to try the lager tomorrow.


Bridgeport’s Stumptown Tart-in addition to having a wonderful name-is made with marionberries and aged in pinot noir barrels. Tells me so right on the bottle, which is always nice. I’m bad at guessing what is in some of the beers I get, and with the explosion of varieties and chances the breweries take these days, I’ll take all the help I can. It’s also yummy.

I realize there is a trend going against my general hatred of fruit beers, but perhaps what I’m learning what the exceptions are. Those exceptions involve beers made from puckering berries; peaches, you’re out. Or perhaps in this case it’s the pinot noir barrels blunting the sweetness of the marionberries. I just don’t know-but the ale part of this beer is definitely taking a back seat to the tartness of this beer. Then a dryness kicks in at the end, possibly brought on by the wine aging, and I’m wondering how this isn’t a flat out lambic.

And I’d recommend chocolate with this beer.  Nothing too sweet as the contrast might be too much, but some semi-sweet chocolate…mmm. I found that to be wonderful.

Old Churches 3, Secondary

I put the Old Churches wort into secondary yesterday:

Beers get put into secondary fermentation for a few reasons, but the biggest one is to remove the wort from the dead yeast and other detritus that has dropped out of the beer, so the flavors from that don’t get into the beer. It also makes for a brighter, clearer beer visually, because when I go to bottle a lot of the debris that might’ve mixed in with the beer won’t be there.

I also added one ounce of UK Kent Golding hops. (They’re the little green  bricks you see in the lower right of the brew.) The scent on this was really, really unusual; almost candy sweet. No trace of bitterness in this beer. I’m thinking I’ll leave it in secondary for as long as I can. The beer is still brewing-or at least, the yeast is till working. If it spends another 3 weeks in secondary, I think I’m ok with that. My gut tells me this beer is a ways from being done.

Update: the fermentation has slowed pretty significantly, even after a day away. I wonder if it was wise to put this beer into secondary while it was still had obvious signs of life. Patience is often the virtue of the brewer, and I may not have been very virtuous. I fear not, however! It still smells good, and that’s a hell of a lot better than it smelling bad.