This photo pretty much speaks for itself.

You know what’s wrong with this beer? Of course you do, since I talked about it just a week ago.

Here’s the drag; the beer is actually pretty good aside from lacking the mouthfeel and nose it ought to have from proper carbonation.  It tastes good, drinks well, I ought to be proud.

I am not. This is satisfactory insofar as it is a beer I can drink. That’s about it though. I’m not sure what the hell they did before they could get an airtight seal on a container, but drinking flat beer is really not that awesome.

52 Weeks 11: Lucky Lab Triple Threat IPA

This post is late-as are the posts for the next few weeks- because I had a class from 6-9. I didn’t want to try and manage my Flash class on a pint and little-to-no food, you understand.

It was about halfway through class that I realized that I hadn’t paid the parking meter. That resulted in a wince and a ‘d’oh!’ but there was nothing I could do at that point. The decisions had been made.

Which, I philosophized as I walked to the pub, is kind of the lesson right now. I’ve decided to leave my job. I can’t unmake that decision. It’s done and even though I’m feeling some real anxiety about that, I have to accept the decision, and look for the options that come with that decision.

My other decision for today is to have the Triple Threat IPA. As this beer has warmed up, the hops have become more prevalent in the flavors and the nose. It’s all grapefruit and finishes really bitterly, the way LL IPAs tend to do. Or NW IPAs really. I’m not displeased about that, but I was hoping for something a little more balanced. I guess with Triple Threat in the name, I should’ve changed my expectations.

Bailey’s is a different animal at 9p.m. boisterous and loud, the lively kind of space you’d expect from a good joint like this. I wonder how that will affect my writing. Maybe not at all. However, when I made the decision to come to Bailey’s I had to accept the conditions of the place–whenever I would get here.

And I won’t deny it; sometimes people are inconsiderate assholes with enough alcohol in them. Newsflash that ain’t, but when this fool is keeping the door open to shout at his friends and letting in the 33 degree air, I think I’m going to complain. I may have to accept that man’s decision to be an idiot, but I still get to vocalize my displeasure at his decision.

It’s still good

Fuz eagle-eyed via the Horsebrass’s web site that they had the Dutchess on tap. Now, we aren’t men who need an excuse to get a glass, but certainly having one provided for us is never a bad thing. Let’s take a look:

That’s some tasty Flanders Red ale there, I tell you what. Fuz says that it’s not as good as it is in the bottle, but I haven’t had a chance to do a side by side comparison. All I can tell you is; I enjoyed it.

The Horse Brass hasn’t changed much since the smoking ban. The air is breathable, but it still carries the taint of thirty years of smokers. It probably seems from the very walls and won’t ever go away, but I honestly don’t want it to. The world, and Portland especially, needs dive bars, where people can go and hide out when the feel the compulsion to do so. Where less-than-savory people occasionally sit at the bar and they do not want to be disturbed. And where I can hang out with them, and not be disturbed either. Privacy might be dwindling in the electronic age, but at least the appearance of solitude can be gotten in the dives.

The small things.

This is not what you think it is:

Unfortunately, it isn’t what I thought it was either. When I got a chance to snag some Budweiser bottle caps I just couldn’t resist. It felt pleasantly subversive to cap my own beer with Bud caps. I even thought it would be a fun blog post: ‘This is not what you think it is’.

The joke is on me as it turns out. These bottle caps don’t give me a really good seal on the bottle. Part of the reason I was having such issues with the last batch of beer is, I think, because of my inability to get an airtight fit over the bottle. So well over half the beer didn’t carbonate! Now in the case of the porter, that’s not a bad quality.

But under those Bud caps is an ale. I haven’t opened it up yet, and I’m already feeling a bit dubious about doing so. Ales are supposed to have the snap of carbonation, and without that I’m afraid I’ll have made something that falls short.

Maybe I can call it ‘cask conditioned’ and get away with it!

52 Weeks 10: Ninkasi Vanilla Bean Oatis Stout


I obviously like this
I obviously like this

I won’t apologize for liking this beer.  It’s velvety and chocolate with a hint of vanilla that starts at the nose and chases you through the entire sip. It’s good. Really good.

It’s the last day of Bush’s Presidency, and it is in that spirit that I enjoy this beer. A very strange and unexpectedly difficult time has been ushered into my country because of this man and the people he was backed by and looked to for support, and just like the rest of his life, he won’t have to deal with the consequences of his actions. 

I have never seen a man so hated in my lifetime, and it is almost enough to make me feel sorry for him. But he bought into a particular machine in order to gain power, and so all I can say is this: He earned the ire of my country. 

I ponder Bush’s ending as one of my own comes up. I have put in my two weeks at my job and the weekend, instead of being filled with a kind of joyous liberation was plagued by a sense of humiliation. This arrived on multiple planes, courier’d to me via those strange human pathways that life keeps hidden from you, but you know are out there nonetheless. Especially when they arrive with your name and the weight is awful but you have to sign for the packages; they are yours and that’s the way it rolls, man. Good luck, says the dude with the inventory sheet, your name and date scrawled on it in blue ink, tucked neatly beneath his arm as he walks away. 

However, this too will pass. Just as this stout changes as I drink it, the coffee elements starting to make themselves felt a little more than the chocolate, so will other little notes make themselves seen as I go on.

It’s going to be a new day in America, tomorrow. It always is though; and so it is with life. But you know what? The good healthy now of a vanilla bean stout is a fine reminder to exist in the moment, and not let things get away from me.

A fine line

Way back when, I made a stout. That beer has finally made itself drinkable, as you can see here:

Its the stout. The stout that I drink.So now that I can drink this beer, what can I tell you about it?

I can tell you that it isn’t a friggin’ stout. Or is it?

What is a stout, anyway? Well, according to the BJCP guidelines there are six kinds of stout, but they all have some pretty similar characteristics; deep brown to black color, roasted coffee flavors, occasionally with chocolate, low-to-no hop flavors.

Porters, on the other hand, only have three distinct styles. Given the specifications of the Brown Porter, I seem to match those stylings better.

It’s the color that I really missed the mark on. This beer is lighter, and that’s especially noticeable around the edges of the glass. I also have trouble making this beer a consistent one, as you can see here:

Not quite
Not quite

Stouts just shouldn’t have that kind of head. Hell, I don’t think any beer should look like that. So, there’s still a little refining to the process to be done.

This image aside, most of the time the beer pours just like it ought to, and it tastes really good. The oatmeal flavors aren’t present, and once again I think I just tried to rush my brewing process more than I should have.

I’ve also discovered there is another slight problem, but I’ll save that for the next post.

52 Weeks 9 Block 15 Belgian Brown

Belgian brown ales are a little weird. The yeasts are always in danger of being overrun by the coffee and chocolate malt flavors, and in the case of Block 15, I think that’s the case here. It’s not a bad beer, but the balance feels out of whack, with a slightly sour nose, and the hint of that flavor around the very edges of the beer, like a taste that plays hide-and-go-seek. But it’s not quite all that. It’s decent though, and it improves a bit as it warms up, so I look forward to trying a Block 15 beer again.

Since last week’s post (which you could just scroll down to, but I’ll link it) I’ve been thinking about the last OBC meeting. At the event, a homeless man had wandered into our meeting unnoticed. He was a little grizzled and had a slightly faded black windbreaker on, and a ruddy face born of spending days and nights outside. He got himself a nametag and for the most part was quiet and harmless…but he eventually did get noticed.

As the business part of the meeting started up, the president of the club announced that this part of the meeting was for OBC members only, not for random people off the street. And it was at this point that another member of the club escorted the homeless man out. 

As he left, I saw him wipe his eyes with his sleeves and protest “I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be here,” and the man escorting him out saying, “I know, it’s OK, but you have to go.”

It’s a bummer that he got booted, insofar as it makes for a cool story; homeless man finds his way into a place to get a beer and makes it out without anyone noticing. However, it doesn’t surprise me that he got caught and had to go; the meeting is for members, right? What bothers me is that he was humiliated. It just seems like mention of him didn’t have to be made over the PA system. Something about my sense of fairness just chafes when I think about it. 

He was just a guy looking to get out of the cold and have a beer. Who doesn’t want that? Hopefully when I am in the midst of my misfortune, a little more discretion will be shown to me. 

Sneak previews

One of the awesome things about the OBC is how connected we are to the brewing community at large in Portland. Many brewers got their start and encouragement from there, and more than a few businesses benefit from the word of mouth that we provide. Often members can be found volunteering at festivals (something I hope to do more of this year) and doing community outreach in the form of public brewing demos.

It goes both ways I’m happy to say. Tonight the gracious people of Widmer brewing brought us some of their soon-to-be-released Drifter pale ale. I am thrilled to say I got a chance to sample it.

My impressions should be regarded with just a touch of salt; I got a proper taste, but not a full bottle of this beer, so your experience may vary. I also was lucky enough to abscond with a press release profiling the beer, so I can provide more details than I might be able to ordinarily.

First, my impressions; the nose on this beer is heavy tangerine. I don’t know where that comes from because I’ve smelled citrus, usually in the form of grapefruit, but nothing like this. This flavor amped up the beer; I don’t want to say it reached IPA levels of bitterness, but it was much more complex than your average pale ale, in my opinion. I liked this beer a lot, and hope that it’s a success just so I can see it again.

The press release says that it was bittered with Alchemy hops, which I’ve never heard of before, then Summit and Nelson Sauvin hops for aroma and dry hopping. American Ale yeast was used, and the malts to form the base were Pale, Caramel 20-L, CaraVienne 20-L, Caramel 80-L and Carapils.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of Alchemy or Nelson Sauvin hops or CaraVienne 20-L malt before, which makes this beer all the more interesting to me. If you like beer I say try it, and if you like pale ales or IPAs at all I say it’s a must. It walks that fuzzy line between the two styles and is fun to get lost in.

Barrel Aged beers

My friend Fuz sent me a link to an article on the resurgence of beers being aged in wood barrels.

While I appreciate the craft that goes into making these beers, I have to say the price tag makes me balk in a serious way.  That might be the point; these are specialty beers for special occasions, but I certainly hope that this doesn’t become a widespread trend. I would like a good beer for a reasonable price available to as many people as possible. If brewers decide to put the really good beers out of the reach of the  regular budget, then I feel like something has gone a little awry in the brewing culture. They already have to overcome misconceptions about the way their beer tastes (too heavy, too intense, etc.),  the fact that it costs more, and the still frequent condecension from people who derive status from their drink instead of the pleasure of good food shared.

Making $35 bottles for 25oz of beer is something I’d like to see kept as a rarity, if you don’t mind.