The waystop just got better

When I was younger, my family often took road trips to Seattle. En route we would usually stop at Ellensburg to refuel the car and stretch our legs, occasionally hitting a fast food joint for lunch before moving on. This is what people knew Ellensburg for; a city you passed through to go somewhere else.

Iron Horse bottlesThe Iron Horse Brewery is going to change all that for those who love the pints, if it hasn’t already.

The High Five Hefe has a honey tint that is just delicious. The nose doesn’t betray any sweetness, so the flavor comes as a real surprise. Instead, the nose is doughy and almost a touch sour, like celery. A surprising beer for me, because I find many hefes to be uninteresting but this beer was complex and tasted great.

The Quilter’s Irish Death however was the hit of the party for me. A real eye-opener because it says it’s a dark ale and as a general rule I don’t like dark ales. But this beer has a velvety quality to it, almost like a stout, but without the density of stouts or the bitterness that a stout or porter ought to have. I really, really liked this brew a lot and recommend it.

Or, I would if I could find the beer. Ellensburg is probably four hours north from me and I have the damnedest time finding Iron Horse’s beers in my vicinity. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to get beers from smaller breweries in Washington, or beers from Vancouver, Canada in Portland but my searches are frequently fruitless and in the case of Iron Horse that’s a shame, because people ought to know how good this stuff is. Fuz can find them but apparently it’s much more difficult to get beers to Portland than Tacoma.

That sentence should never have to be written in a just world.

52 Weeks 50: Great Divide Stout Trio

Stout taster I’m cheating a little bit, tonight.

A few days earlier, I came to Bailey’s and played a few rounds of cards. Through the graciousness of my friends (thank you Jim + thedrowningman) I was able to try the delectable group of Yeti stouts from Great Divide.

Usually when I come to do my 52 Weeks post, novelty is important. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I chose to post from Bailey’s is that I was able to try new beers and discuss them, however peripherally.

Truth be told, I damn near  had Ninkasi’s Transcendent Golden Ale. It was even recommended to me by someone (although I have to confess I do not remember whom: such is the nature of drink, yes?) and I like to try things based on someone’s suggestion. Not that I doubt Ninkasi; they do good stuff.

For those who are interested, I am drinking the Espresso Stout first, followed by the Chocolate, and finally the Cask Conditioned. Most favorite last; I like the oak flavors that are imparted to the stout best and coffee flavors least. Not a surprise if you know me; I’ve never had a taste for coffee, ever.

I’m also sitting in the back corner at a table that is too high for me to write on comfortably. No, I don’t like it, but I felt it was important to come back here and sit, drink, and exist in this space that I usually ignore. Across the street from me are two shops that have closed recently; one a record store, the other a locksmith shop. I have to say; I worry when stores close, especially small ones, that provide local services that aren’t fungible. Making keys is important. Providing vinyl for trance and hip-hop shows as well as being a space that is welcoming to those cultures (via flyers, t-shirts, etc.)  is an important service.

They’re gone now. Something else will take their place I’m sure, I just worry that it will be another restaurant, an establishment that Portland is glutted with, instead of a more diverse business.

I worry because I am out of work.

I know, I know, last week I said I wasn’t going to focus on the negative. But the best laid plans of mice and men, yes?

I had a rough week, last week, and positives are harder to see when blankets of misfortune cover the couch of your life. Sure, you can throw off the blanket but is it so the warmth of the morning can be felt, or is too early and night’s grinning chill can make its way up your toes and into your undies?

Do you really want to risk getting a chill in your undies?

Of course, the chocolate Yeti fights off a chill something fierce, so there’s a reason to drink stouts in the winter, folks. It’s yummy and warming like hour three chocolate cake.

Theory #402: beer makes life’s risks more acceptable. Chill in the undies doesn’t seem so bad if there’s stout.

Let me tell you about the back corner of Bailey’s.

In the computer light I cast a glow in the window; ghostly and muddled. My reflection is doubled somehow, making me look a little like a 3-D drawing, only in washed out colors of streetlight peach and laptop gray. The conversation of the Brits to my right is funneled down to me, unlike the main area where sound gets obfuscated by walls, music and hanging mobiles. I can’t make out what they’re saying-but I’m not trying to either.

It is the spot to make deals in, the spot for dark talk skullduggery style, the spot for sweetness that nuzzles your neck, the spot where you tell your friend that yeah, you’re bonded to her, that you’ve got his back, or you become bawdy and loveably raucous. It is a wonderfully private space in an otherwise open pub. It is a moment where you can be raw and nobody else will mind.

I’m onto the oak-aged stout now, and let me tell you it is fyyyne.
/I’ll probably hate myself tomorrow for doing that, but what the hell. I’m cheating.

Edit/Correction: I’m told the record store is still there (the papered up windows just fooled me) and the key store has gone mobile. So things aren’t as bad as I thought. Lesson of the evening.