Will work for beer

Literally, maybe?

Of course, what the gov’t giveth, it also taketh away.  Hopefully this all gets straightened out by next year-and the local homebrew community has talked about little else lately. In the meantime, check out Lisa Morrison’s post on the subject. She pretty much nails it, I think and if you’ve got the time and inclination, I say follow her advice.

The Local: Pix Patisserie

Pix’s Patisserie.

What am I doing here, you might ask. Not even a bar. It’s a patisserie. You know ’cause it’s in the name.

sign outside pixYet here I am. A desert place. Coffee, tiny chocolates with rust stripes or berry swirls covering them, waffle patterned crusts holding jellied lemon and cream. Even the sign on the front tells you what kind of spot you’re in for. They have six different names for coffee and only one beer on tap-a Rogue of some sort, but I’m too far away to make out which once.

Not cozy enough for a date place, not roomy enough to be a family spot, yet somehow accommodating both (albeit barely) Pix offers something that most everybody wants; dessert. Hard to argue, right?

Except…it’s not a beer place, right? To that, all I can say is; it IS a tiny shop in Portland.

So I have come to see what the dessert place offers in the way of beer and I have ordered a Barbar Blonde au Miel. Brewed with coriander and orange peel with honey and spices….it’s a hefe without wanting to be cloudy. Of course, I was trying to avoid this kind of beer because I’ve got a bunch at home to drink but I can’t deny that the Barbar’s light mouthfeel, sweeter flavors and steady carbonation make for a beer that would go well with a range of desserts.

There’s a pretty solid selection too, mostly Belgian, chosen to go along with the food served. Lambics and stouts-with lambic and stout floats being offered-round out the offerings and I’m glad. I’ve spent a little too long in pubs that offer me beers that offer no challenge to me and frequently no other sense of charisma. They are pubs and sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish one from another.

Pix isn’t a pub-but they haven’t overlooked the beer drinkers in this city and fearlessly offer beer to go with the variety of pastries and truffles offered. I doubt it’s unique to Portland but it is unique to the neighborhood and I am pretty sure that I needed something to shake it up, just a bit, before I wrap this project up.

The great thing about dessert places is that they are by their very existence, more joyful than other kinds of restaurants. People do not have discussions about how they’ve been diagnosed with cancer over vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. They don’t tell each other that the magic is gone and perhaps it’s not you, it’s me while licking custard from their spoons. They may be contemplative but it’s the smiling kind, maybe even sneaky as they dip their utensil into a luscious cupcake that someone else is munching on.

Maybe if the aliens come, they’ll stop by Pix before they do anything else, and decide that going to our leaders is really a waste of time.

The Experiment, part 1

belgian paleThis is a shot of the first of two beers I’m going to make. The idea is to make two beers with the same (or nearly identical) ingredients, with the exception of the yeast.

This beer is using a Belgian yeast, the next one will be an Irish Ale yeast and the ingredients are a bit more on the pale side, and I’ll be listing them soon. But I’ve been wondering about what to do next that might be fun to write about, so let’s see what happens yes?

The Local: Pied Cow

pied cow loungeI don’t belong here, either. Not sure that I can explain it but I don’t fit in. A quieter place for a quieter soul, perhaps? Or a friend to sit with on benches padded by pillows once comforting in the 80’s. The Pied Cow is very open as a space; tables are tiny and round and there aren’t booths in any sense of the word. I think visitors are encouraged to either be a big group that can take over the place or be a very tiny group that can tuck into a corner where nobody will notice you, because if anyone else is in the room you’re in, they can legally testify to your conversation.

My Ninkasi Spring Reign comes in the bottle and arrives with a glass that is chilled.

Sigh. How do pubs, restaurants or any purveyor of spirits fail this basic test? Especially in Portland. If I was in Phoenix or Baton Rouge I’d get it, sorta, but truthfully, anyplace that serves you a beer with or in a pre-chilled glass earns a fail.

Still, the service is prompt this time and people smile at me. I suppose I have to take what I can get. (Edit; until I want to leave and then I’m ignored…)

I’m not up for tonight’s adventure. First day of Summer and it feels like mid-Spring still, except for the constant itchiness at the corner of my eye. My adventure in Spokane was good but has left me tired. I was a whirlwind of seeing people and I didn’t give myself time to take notes on anything I drank. A touch foolish, that.

Maybe after so many days of adventuring with people, I’m feeling a little out of sorts adventuring alone. Sure, I choose to come out on Mondays and I know it would be rude to invite someone to come with me while I write but I don’t think I’ve hit my limit on company, especially good company and I was blessed with a bunch of that while I was away. Now that I’m by myself in a place that does what it can to make the barriers between people fuzzy, I feel out of place and wanting to go somewhere either more familiar or more isolating.

I can barely smell my beer because of my allergies. Some hop spiciness with nudging malt breaks through my sinuses but I don’t recall this as the awesome Spring Reign I’ve had. Perhaps a stout or amber would have been a smarter choice. Something malt-rich that plays well on the tongue. I highly doubt the beer is at fault but I can’t properly evaluate it right now and that’s bothersome too.

Maybe I’m disgruntled today and the Pied Cow insists on supporting my gruntle and not my cheer. The alt-trappings, the alt-music (all seemingly based off 808 machines and the Cure/Depeche Mode), the too-dim light; it’s all bugging the crap out of me. I can’t sit comfortably, I can’t write easily and I want to go home. So that’s what I’m going to do.

The secret ingredient is salt*

*I actually don’t know that there will be any secret ingredient, I just stole the line from The Simpsons.

A friend alerted me to a post at the Nerd Approved blog, where they are making Oatmeal, Coffee, Bacon Stout.

As a brewer I am fascinated by this project and very much want to see how it ends.

As a lover of bacon, however, I feel that the bacon craze has gone a little too far.

But regardless of how I’m vacillating, I want to keep an eye on this project. I haven’t been very experimental in my brewing and while I generally think this is a good thing, taking some odd risks is one of the luxuries of being a homebrewer. They might help inspire me to try something different too.

PS: I doubt I’ll have a post for Friday, as I’ll be on the road. But maybe. If you’re good. And I have wi-fi.

The Local: Hedge House

hedge houseI haven’t been to the Hedge House frequently, because when I come it’s always incredibly crowded. Good for business, but difficult if you just want to relax. Today is different though; it’s empty inside as the people have migrated to the outdoors to enjoy themselves. Perfect for an outdoor curmudgeon like me.

The Mariners are loosing pretty badly to the Cardinals on TV. I fear my Mom will be bummed by this but at least it’s almost over.

The Hedge House is part of the Lompoc company-this is one of what I think are four outposts they have around Portland. In this case the Hedge House is clearly a former house, once upon a time laid out for dwelling instead of drinking purposes. It doesn’t take much of my imagination to see this space in its former function and when it’s empty the HH feels comfortable. When it’s full, it feels like you’ve got guests who have stayed too long.

I’m enjoying a LSD which is creamy and has a hint of coffee bitterness. I’m using it to unsuccessfully fight off my sleepiness from last night. Cats broke into the bedroom and insisted upon attention at four a.m. The reply was swift but the disruption was enough to keep me spottily awake until I ‘woke’ at 6 to face my day.

So while I’m enjoying my time here, I’m also looking forward to going home. Already. Unfair but that’s just how it works out, sometimes.

I can see the end of this project in sight. Not too many bars left for me to walk to. Not sure what I”ll do then but I have to admit, my inclination is to go back to Bailey’s.

I may just be focusing on the end because I’m tired. I really like the HH when it isn’t crowded. I just don’t know how to get here consistently when it isn’t.

The Local: Aalto Lounge

aalto loungeThe Aalto Lounge is actually a great place for spy novels. The main room is narrow, there’s a back exit, and a large room that has stoner-turquoise lighting off to the side. The concentration of people in the main area, tables and a bar that barely let you by when they’re unoccupied lends itself to hiding in plain sight. Conversations are shrouded by the simple noise of the bar. Even now, with only six people here (including the bartender) I cannot understand the conversation of the couple ten feet from me. Conspiracy all but radiates from the dim light.

Come here after midnight, have a glass of Double Mountain IRA, set your companion up with a whiskey sour or a Merlot and start plotting.

It’s too cool for vampires and hipster although in that generally low-key Portland way. So that leaves spies. I could totally go for a resurgence of spy literature supplanting the shitty vampire novels. At least spies drink liquor.

aalto lounge 2Walking here in the early evening, I strolled down Hawthorne and saw so many faces looking grim without any discernible reason. The sun was out for the third time in a month and it was actually warm. In my darker moments, I want to become the Joker, forcing a rigor mortis smile upon them, screaming “It’s funny, don’t you get it?!”

I wonder if I have looked as grim as I made my way to these bars, unhappily grinding my way to my destination, no sense of the now, no pleasure in the future no—

Jebus. I know I didn’t look like that. I’m going to get a beer, damnit. Life ain’t so bad if you can afford the occasional beer.

PS: the bathrooms have a punk rock quality…you have been warned.

Fair Weather Friends

Anyone remember that sunny Friday we had a couple weeks ago?

Well it happened. And on that day, I went to the Apex bar to have a beer with my sweetie.

It’s a nice place; the bar feels a little futuristic, with the glasses, nozzles for water, draughts for beer, dishwasher all right there in gleamy stainless steel. Obvious attention has been given to the selection of beers and I like the menu screen which is big and crisp  and easy to read, even from across the bar. The seats had a pneumatic quality to them, sinking a little when you sat in them for comfort. May not sound cool until you try it-so you can take my word for it, or check it out yourself.

The music was a bit loud-which is my only real complaint.  This made a kind of sense, because the doors were open and people were sitting outside. I hope they don’t try to get the music to compete with the outdoors though; Apex is on Division so a certain level of noise has to be expected, especially if you sit outside. As a matter of fact, I’d say over half the seating for Apex IS outdoor seating.

Which is just a touch concerning. During the summer things will be fine of course, but the past two weeks of rain and colder-than-usual temps mean that I will never sit outside to drink (and I’m not inclined to drink outside to drink in the first place). The cover for that space is very limited, but that may have changed and I certainly hope it does. It could be as simple as the tarp setup that Amnesia Brewing has or perhaps something more clever but something does need to be done because let’s be honest; nobody wants rainwater mucking up their beer.

I appreciate that there is a huge bike rack and that Apex wants to encourage renewable/reusable ideas in design, energy use, etc, so I hope the place does well over the summer and is a solid destination for all times of the year.