52 Weeks 20: Mad RIver Steelhead Double IPA

I’ll just confess, I’m tired. Friday I helped the Portland Farmer’s Market move their office. This is what happens when you’re unemployed; you’re available to help your SO’s business move. I also got to meet Alex of Upright Brewing (the brewery is in the same building as the new PFM location) and he was gracious and enthusiastic to my questions. He offered me a taste of the stout he’d made (which was excellent) and an entire strawberry-rhubarb beer that he’d made on his own, which was also quite good. Like a sour ale but made without the belgian yeast.

Saturday I helped my friend baeza set up for the Vampires Masquerade Ball. A wonderful spectacle, but he also treated me to dinner at the Morrison Hotel. A couple Dutchesses and a heated discussion about the quality of the film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen later, I went home. 

Finally, last night I went to the triumph of metal that is Pelican and they were fantastic. But the rock shows, they take it out of me more than they used to. Still I would not give up seeing Angel Tears for anything; it was a sonic highlight for me, and certainly one of the best shows I’ve seen them give.

If that wasn’t enough, I started classes at the Viscount Ballroom tonight. Lindy hop. So I’m a tired kid. 

But the beer is well balanced and tasty, with a citrus nose and a very clear beer with a cleansing finish. Good for spicy foods for sure! My girlfriend is chilling with me for this post, so no complaints.

Demon Alcohol 4: the drinkening

As you can see, the beer that I made is now beer!

The beer that I made is now beer!
The beer that I made is now beer!

Now, what kind of beer it is…I’m not sure I can tell you.  An amber, maybe? It’s so malty and reddish that I guess I have to give it that title. It’s very, very sweet. Some have even suggested that it’s like peach nectar, and I’m certain that this is not what people would think of as being in style for an amber ale. The nose on it is more floral but it’s faint and there’s just a bit of a bite at the end, which I’m almost certain it’s due to the Zeus hops I added in secondary. Nothing against the Mt Rainer hops; they probably kept the sweetness in check, but the nose adds a lot to any beer, so I’m glad for both.

It’s a very drinkable beer though, and the estery quality means that it goes fantastically with salty foods. Very complimentary to pub grub. It’s possible it may not fit a style, but when I go to get more brewing supplies this week, I’m going to take one down with me and see what the boys at Steinbart’s have to say.

Edit: I took it down to the store and the guy who tasted the beer said that I’d probably added the yeast while the wort was still too hot. The initial alcohols made at that temperature are the sweeter, fruiter tasting ones. I’ll have to be more careful about when I add my yeast in the future.

I don’t get it

Maybe the women out there can explain this story to me. I’ll agree that women are foolishly ignored when it comes to marketing beer, but is it really the color and the head that turns women away? Would it really be the addition of fruit or tea flavors that would increase the attractiveness of beer to women? 

Because as someone who likes beer (and food) all I really need is for someone to say: Give this a shot. 

Hell, at the last 52 Weeks post, I had a nice conversation with a woman who had come up to the bar wondering what she ought to order, and asked me what I was drinking. I treated her like anyone else who wanted a beer, and she bought what was in my glass! (Well, not literally, but you get the idea.)

Yes, I’m teasing

But it was too good to resist. On my birthday, I get to splurge. Not much mind you as I am still unemployed, but I certainly don’t feel bad about spending (or asking for) a 11.2oz beer that costs $11.50. Especially when it comes so highly recommended. This Paradox comes from Brew Dog’s Speyside batch, and it’s very different from the bourbon barrel stouts that I see in the states. 

The bummer? I’m not exactly sure how. I don’t get much peat flavor but there is definitely something that is offsetting the rich dark malty flavors of coffee and chocolate. It probably is peat, and I’m just not well versed enough in flavor profiles to identify the manifestation of those flavors. Where the sweetness of bourbon tends to compliment coffee and chocolate, scotch seems to stand apart, as though I’m drinking two different liquids. 

It’s a damn good beer, and I only wish I had more of it so I could pin down the little details that make it so interesting.

52 Weeks 19: Bridgeport Fallen Friar

Mostly recovered from my illness of last week, and in the new acquisition of a ring around the trunk of my tree, I am back at Bailey’s once again, trying the Fallen Friar, which I’ve been hoping to get a sip of for weeks. It’s a golden belgian style beer, with faintly sour nose keeping the whole sweetness in check. Fitting the color, it’s light and easy to drink. 

The nice thing about being away for a week is that there are now many more beers I haven’t tried on the menu. Crazily enough finding new beers is difficult due to just living in Portland and trying everything I can get my hands on. I’m both thankful to be back at the regular bar and reflective on the city I left to come here. 

While in Spokane, I also drank the local brewery’s offerings, in this case Northern Lights‘ IPA. Northern Lights’ flagship beer, Crystal Bitters is a rather pedantic brew, but the IPA is another animal.  Made with more traditional ideas in mind, this beer while quite hoppy isn’t a NW style IPA at all. It’s actually got a restrained bitterness, with a great nose making for a very balanced beer. I hope that when I visit next I’m able to try more styles by them, just to see what else they offer. 

It’s pretty cool that cities are getting local breweries again. I’ve read that before Prohibition, damn near every city in America had a brewery of it’s own and it was a source of local pride. Spokane’s local may not win national recognition, but at least I know I can get a solid beer when I go back. 

Going back is weird though; I don’t know that I conveyed well enough how alien I felt in the city last time. Some things had changed-enough that I could feel disoriented-but the basics were all still the same that I almost felt as though I never really  knew the city at all. A remnant of my teenage years when I was even more introspective and self-absorbed than I am now. Who cares about the city when everything around you seems to suck?

Yet, when I drive along the Monroe Street Bridge and no longer see The Wall, I feel sad. The Wall was just that; once the foundation for a large railroad bridge, then just a huge populist space for anyone with enough will, friends, and paint to write any message or place any graffiti they wanted. It was there for as long as I lived there, and for that quarter century it was one of the few things that made the city interesting. What surprised me was how rarely profanity was used. People could say anything and did, but infrequently used their platform to tell the world to fuck off. They wanted to propose marriage, make art, protest politics, welcome bands, have a voice. Any voice. 

A few years ago, the property was bought and the wall was destroyed, so the land could be leveled and developed. I can’t even find pictures of it on Google, although searching for it is kind of difficult under the gun of this blogpost. 

It has yet to be developed. The land sits there now, barren and empty save for the large ‘For Sale’ sign.

They shouldn’t have let that happen. People need quirky, strange, unique places to express themselves. Someone should’ve saved that wall…and that I miss it now is a little silly given that I don’t even live there anymore. Maybe that’s why I don’t live there though. The city didn’t realize how important that wall was, and was content to become something dull instead of embracing it and being different.

Going back

I grew up in Spokane, which is the kind of city that is pretty easy to tear into if you live almost anywhere else. I don’t hate Spokane, but I’m also not invested in it either; other people can praise or denigrate it as they see fit, and I don’t feel it reflects on me in any way. If not for the presence of friends and family though, I don’t think I’d have a reason to go back there, but they are so I return periodically.

Spokane in March is not a pretty town but I admit it’s a little unfair to judge it right now. It was hit hard during the winter with snowstorms, and is just now starting to feel the touch of spring. To complain about the roads or the filth or the dead trees or gray skies is more than just pointless; it’s mean. That said; I went for a walk on Friday and all I could think of is how much this city reflects Jesu’s song, The Playgrounds Are Empty

My first stop in Spokane was a mexican restaurant that had adequate food and a selection of beer sponsored by Anheuser-Busch and Miller. I drank soda, and pondered the anecdotal fact that every mexican and chinese restaurant I seem to go into offers a multitude of beers by those two breweries, but rarely anything else. Is there a conspiracy to keep IPAs and porters away from burritos and egg noodles? 

For a beer, I asked if we could go to the Viking. This pub always has a strange connection to me, as it’s where my parents had their wedding rehearsal dinner 37 years ago. I don’t think it’s changed in that amount of time, and it was one of the few places where as a new drinker I could find a pint of beer that wasn’t from the big 3 distributors.

Confronted with this beer list I was promptly accosted by a waitress asking what I wanted, and when I started off with a prefunctory ‘um’ I was smartly told, “All out of um. Just blew the last keg of um,” like a nun rapping a ruler on my knuckles. 

Just the kind of friendly homecoming I was hoping for. 

I was limply served a Rogers lager, a beer that matched the presentation of it, and I was glad to move on. 

But all is not lost in Spokane. My good friend A. Ho. and I went to his favorite spot, Bennidito’s on the South Hill. The food is excellent, and I availed myself a couple pints of Iron Horse Brewery‘s Loco Imperial Red, which was malty and quite intoxicating. I am going to start looking for their brews in Portland, because I’m telling you Ellensburg currently has a good thing going.

Spokane also has some good things going, but that’s for the next post.