The analysis is over

After three months and many, many beers, my reviewing skills are no longer required.

beer samplerI got to try suds from all over and I learned a few things. British beers frequently suffered the most due to the time it takes to ship them here because of low alcohol and hop content. Sam Adams makes some pretty solid beers,all round. Harps is a surprisingly good lager that I wouldn’t hesitate to drink. I know, I was stunned myself.

And there isn’t enough hatred in the world for Bud Lime. It tastes like Lysol and I drank it because I had to. We all did but I think my hatred of it started to become the stuff of legend. If you produce this beverage you are bad and you should feel bad.

I also learned something else that I feel is pretty important: It’s helpful for me to talk about the drink during my experience with the beer.

Due to the reviewing process, we didn’t get to talk about the beers as we rated them. Once we’d taken our notes, then a discussion would take place. While I understand why that’s necessary it hindered my ability to evaluate the beers.

Being able to discuss with other people while I’m drinking educates me better than a post-drink discussion and helps me remember what was said. When I brought my own beers to the tasting sessions a couple times for a post-review drink and got some great feedback because I was able to talk to them about what their experience was and what I was doing as a  brewer while we drank my beer.

Not that it wasn’t fun; I had a great time and am very thankful to Seamus for the opportunity and the chance to interact with some new people, getting their perspectives on what we drank. I learned a little bit and that’s always a positive. Plus, if I get a chance to do it again I’ll have more experience under my belt. Win-win!

The Local: Belmont Inn

The past few weeks have seen me at bars where beer is not a revered drink. Or even one that is held in esteem. Oh, the selection hasn’t been bad but it hasn’t been impressive. The interest in providing an interesting beer to drink hasn’t been part of the bar’s vibe.

belmont inn menuSo I have come to the Belmont Inn. Part sports bar, part local, classic rock juke, pool tables and a rotating selection of pinball machines, this is very much a classic bar. What I think of when I think of a bar. It’s lit better than it used to be and it has one of my favorite tables to sit at in Portland; on the corner of 35th and Belmont with windows providing a not-quite-panoramic view of the area.

Amongst the possible selections I choose Off the Rail‘s Sweet Leaf amber. Because at the end of the day, I love heavy metal and all other choices being equal I’m going to give the beer named after a Black Sabbath song a shot. And the beer is good, easy drinking with a touch of fizz at the end to keep it from getting too sweet. I could have a couple of these easily and enjoy them immensely.

I have to admit, it’s nice to be in a bar where I have an actual selection of brews to pick from again. The other adventures I’ve had lately have all had their charms but those bars were frequently not for me. They served a different audience and while I am sometimes part of that audience I missed going in to a place and having to make a difficult choice, as opposed to selecting from known quantities.

The Belmont Inn has cleaned up a bit in the years since I first started coming here. Not entirely for the better. Where a ‘Murphy’s Law‘ poster once hung, a Coors Light mirror is on the wall. I’m not sure if that proves Murphy’s point or not but I doubt anyone could really argue that the switch is an improvement. There are more TVs hanging around-always a detriment-and some of those places where you could hunker down and hide out from the rest of the bar are now illuminated. Being able to see is nice and the bar smells of fries and sandwiches now instead of smoke which is always an improvement but sometimes you just need to hide.

I’m not complaining though; I can come here and play cards and enjoy the view of the street without having to endure the elements of the outdoors. People are always passing by and there’s always a story to them, if you’re willing to pay attention. There are more beers than ever to sample and I’ve got a real yen to try the food. If I had another $5 to spare, I undoubtedly would.