Floral dubbel

Let’s just get straight to it; I look unexcited because what awaits me is greens with dinner. Don’t get me wrong; the greens are well prepared, they are good for me, they are all the things greens ought to be.

But still. Greens.

There is still beer, however! I may start a hypothesis that says that beer was created in part to help make vegetables more palatable during the meals where there was no meat. And where there was meat, beer was just good.

Now I am certain that I am not the first person to suggest that the bombers from Full Sail are more interesting than their six pack beers, so let’s just pretend that everybody agrees that for the interesting concoctions, we go to the 22 ounce bottles and for company who doesn’t know better we bring up the six packs.

Onward, I say, onward, damnit! I am drinking Full Sail’s Sanctuary Dubbel. I find this beer to have a floral quality, in the nose especially but with an undercurrent of orange blossom running through the whole thing. I’m not exactly sure what the inspiration for this beer is but it doesn’t quite resemble the Belgian dubbels I’ve had in the past. The obvious missing element is the sweet to nearly cloying element that many dubbels present. There’s some nice balance here and it’s totally worth checking out.

I’ll have whatever you say #2

caldera tsbWhen trying something new, failure is something that should just be accepted. Thomas Edison didn’t discover the lightbulb, he discovered a thousand ways to fail at making the lightbulb, if you take my meaning. Life, however, tends to punish failure and I personally have a pretty strong aversion to it, for better or worse.

Hence, when trying something new it generally helps to do it from a position of strength. The strength can come from the presence of friends, from a series of successes but will usually come from the familiar. People don’t go to see Yo-Yo Ma play the harmonica.

Greatness tends to make demands on a person, though. They cannot stand still. They must attempt the new, master it if possible. This might explain why Michael Jordan left a perfectly brilliant career in basketball to play baseball; after doing something nobody else had done, what was left? He could play baseball and nobody was going to argue with him. It may be that his experience playing baseball allowed him to rediscover the love that he had playing basketball and thus was able to return and triumph again.

Now, I don’t claim to have insight into the mind of someone like Jordan. I’m using this line of thinking to illustrate why I have come to Bailey’s again.

I am not well versed socially and am just a bit shy. It’s my nature and sometimes that’s OK and sometimes it does not serve me well. As when I have to ask complete strangers what they are drinking–including interrupting, as politely as possible, their conversation.

So I have come back to where the bartenders know me, the beers are all good and where the familiar reigns so that I can approach a total stranger to ask a simple question. The answer has led me to Caldera’s TSB, a malty, thirst quenching brew that I’m enjoying quite a bit. I don’t know that it’s brilliant but I’d have another one without missing a beat.

The other bonus of coming here is that on a Monday, it’s one of the few places not overcrowded by Monday Night Football. I like football but a rowdy crowd where I may not be able to sit and write is not where I want to risk new things (even if the new risk is small.)

The flipside is this: I am having to endure, for the first time in my memory, reggae music. While my feelings on the genre are well known to friends and a little out of place at this blog, I think I can sum it up briefly: I think reggae music is death-inducingly boring and is probably used to lessen the amount of time the elderly have to spend in nursing homes. Even the stuff that’s supposed to be awesome is duller than Al Gore circa 1999.

So while I can revel in the success of this week’s event, I can also feel the push to keep trying different places. Oh, I’m totally coming back here because it’s the best goddamn bar in Portland. But success has a price-and the price is that you have to try something else.

Indelicate matters

I was fortunate enough to get to Migration Brewing and from the Outboard Brain my thoughts came as follows.

“The MPA at is ok.  A bit more hoppy than balanced but it’s alright and Seth agrees. He then plays Swamp, Gwyellion so its not all bad.

The black currant cider has a really funky scent like cheap red wine so ignoring the scent is key. Do that and there’s a nice cherry tart in the cider. “

So the beer I had was OK, if not distinctive and the cider was enjoyable. Migration is a new place so I’m not expecting crazy or breakaway brews from them just yet. Reliable ales that can appeal to a broad audience is a good plan for new brewery, especially in Portland where one bad ale can turn you away from an entire venue. There’s also a broad selection of 2nd party ales so if you’re not intrigued by Migration’s beers, there are others. The waitstaff was friendly and didn’t mind our need for a little more light while we played cards. For the most part, I felt encouraged to to come back.

There are small problems though and they really shouldn’t be put gently. First, the men’s bathroom doesn’t have a door for the toilet. Instead, you have a mirror on the back wall, so anyone sitting on that toilet can be seen by anyone turning from the sink after washing your hands. You need a door in front of your toilet, OK? That’s really not up for debate. (Update; I was told later by friends that the main door locks; the bathrooms are meant to be single-serving and this fact diffuses the privacy element of my criticism.)

Second, it smells like cucumber in there. But not cucumbery enough that you won’t smell something else. So eventually, you’re walking into a bathroom that smells of cucumbers and shit. This is also under the category: Not Cool.

Now, if the beers are cheap enough and/or I’ve got enough of a buzz then sure, I can ignore it. Life is not all about awesome things 24/7. But for a brewpub like this it really doesn’t work because it isn’t a dive. That’s not a complaint, just my feelings on Migration’s pub; it’s a nice joint that feels like it could be a good neighborhood place. The fact that the bathrooms aren’t ventilated well enough, while a mild criticism, is something that might keep people away and that would be a bummer because everything else about the bar was pretty swell.

So how’d that turn out?

chocolate mint stoutThe question in this case, referring the chocolate mint stout I made.

The answer is; pretty good. There’s a roasted, chocolate flavor with hints of coffee in the background. But surrounding the whole thing is mint. Undercurrent in the nose, rising as the brew warms but never overwhelming.

I’m not entirely surprised; my experience has been that flavors like this (cinnamon or coriander, for example) tend to fade rather quickly and it would appear that mint follows in these footsteps. Overkill is appropriate if there’s enough time for the flavors to fade out, I guess.

If there’s a flaw, it’s stylistic; despite my attempts to bring a smoother mouthfeel to this beer, it just didn’t work out. The color and density of the beer is much more a porter than a stout; most likely the product of not adding any other malts but chocolate. Clearly a little ways to go in my stout making processes and learning but considering this beer tastes pretty good, not a bad way to learn.

Outboard Brain

The Outboard Brain is what Warren Ellis uses to describe his smartphone and posts he makes from it. While I don’t have a smartphone, I do have an outboard brain of sorts and here are some of the random beer related thoughts from it. (Note, there will be other Outboard Brain posts in the future.)

Rogues 21 English strong is tasty and malty. It’s weird to get a beer with  no hop presence. There’s no slickness that I might’ve expected.
(I liked this beer and had it at the Green Dragon.)

From a friend’s Barfly bus event:

Speakeasy: ninkasi radiant rough pour = rough finish.
Yukon w/ a twilight ale. Nice. Bear w/ leg in mouth on wall.
Penguin pub w/ kalamath falls drop dead red malty goodness w/ steady effervescence.  Karaoke bar…old coot regs (regulars) are fun. Can’t forget the red plastic cups.
What gets weird is how I am reminded of Spokane with the lit hills. And when I don’t know where I am I am reminded of the secret loves of a city I am still learning.
Pink Feather and a rogue dead guy. Good to have reliables.

The problem with the news

Hey, who doesn’t want to have authentic Oktoberfest beer, right?

Except when I read on the OBC listserv that these five beers all come from the same German brewing conglomerate and only one from Bavaria (though I’m not sure why that’s important yet) and people who drank it that the beer(s) suggested  aren’t so hot. Which suggests that maybe these recommendations aren’t so authentic.

Now, I don’t know German well enough to properly research the subject but because it is a fairly well known item now that news outlets tend to provide less-than-awesome coverage of news and instead bring up stories about…say, the top five beers for an authentic Oktoberfest, forgive me if I trust the experts I have access to over CNN and two chefs from NYC.

On the other hand, when I read about the world’s oldest beer found in a shipwreck, that’s pretty damn awesome. A story that can be verified and really can’t have an angle to get me to be a better consumer, just more informed.

It does raise those dilemmas though.

Finally, I saw a review of Annville Ale at Topless Robot. Which I’m just posting because I never thought I’d see a beer inspired by a comic but it’s a weird world, isn’t it?

Let’s keep it that way.

On a slightly more personal note, underground beer tunnels have been rediscovered in Cinci. More personal because to me, that’s just a little cooler than shipwreck beer.

I’ll have whatever you say #1

“…whatever you recommend.”-Groop Dogdrill, Gentleman’s Soiree

I blame Fuz.

While looking for a new theme after the Local I had a few ideas-one of which I’ll use for certain and soon but it was he who said “I’ll have what he’s having” where you ask someone at the bar what they’re drinking and drink that, which I really dug as a concept.

So here I am at the Beermongers, nervous because I’m about to ask an absolute stranger what they want for a drink. The bar is crowded; everyone on the rail, no space for me because they’re watching Jets/Ravens on MNF. The fact that I have to stand makes me feel more awkward because I can’t settle in and make nice, I have to tap someone on the shoulder and ask.

otm stoutFortune smiles on me; I unwittingly tap someone who recognizes me through some contacts at the OBC. It’s Bret, and one night we helped a pal at the OBC keg one evening. He’s having an OTM Stout (which I’m not finding online so I’ll have to beg the reader’s forgiveness)  and I ask for one, despite being warned ‘it’s chocolatey.’

It certainly is. There’s a sweet chocolate milk scent and the aftertaste, when it’s all said and done has that bitter chocolate flavor. Plus it also has a stout mouthfeel-it’s light but definitely there-which is a bonus, however: I am in the middle of drinking my chocolate mint porter. So I’m just a touch on overload here. I would not have chosen this beer if I could have.

That’s the point though. I am not out here to make choices, I’m out here to interact with people and places and I’m using beer as my vehicle for doing so. I’m at Beermongers specifically because I’d been promising Josh that I’d come to visit; that he isn’t here tonight insists that I return to visit him, because keeping my word is important to me. (My hope is that he’ll read this and know that I’m looking forward to our paths crossing someday.) The drawbacks are clear; strangers, Bud Lime. However I’ll probably try beers I’ve never had and there may even be cocktails, cider or wine which for any other beer blog might be an issue but if you’re reading me, then strict beer drinking probably isn’t what you’re about.

Plus, my conversation with Bret has revealed our love of Magic and when I hand him a deck, another man at the bar asks “Did you just hand him a MtG deck?” Which I did and he seems astounded that people might play in bars.

I don’t know why that’s so queer; it has always seemed normal to me. But this new fellow is encouraged and gives me his email so perhaps there will be new people who want to play the game with me and mine? When I tell him that we’re out to have some fun and drink beer, he seems all on board so….good.

Even if he doesn’t want to play with us, I don’t see this as a negative. I went out and met people and who amongst us likes the process of meeting people? Yet it’s one of those things that is worse in my mind; the reality is that it’s fairy easy. If nothing comes out of it, who cares? I’ve just made the world a little smaller and a little bigger at the same time.

Dear Seattle

PAX was lovely. New games, new people, late nights; the experience was mostly good.


To the Taphouse Grill: you cannot insist that you are ‘Giving beer the respect it deserves’ and serve that beer to me in a pre-chilled glass. Especially if you want to charge me ten bucks for that beer.

To the Fox Sports Grill: dear god why are you putting mozzarella cheese on spaghetti and meatballs? The food was not good-though the beer I had was served proper.

To both places; I expect exact change. You do not get to take my coins. Yes, it was only .43 and .07 cents respectively but you stole from me. I was puzzled until that evening and then I just got angry.

Yes, it’s petty (theft) but you know what? If I was .50 short on my bill you wouldn’t let me just walk out. The principle of the thing wins out way more than the change.

So; I hope you enjoy not getting my business-or anyone I can tell-ever again.

To the Elysian; the beer was really good, as always. The Men’s Room Ale was a fine, malty amber that I will seek out when it is bottled. The Polecat Porter, a collaboration between the brewery and two homebrewers, was a little sweet for a porter but still very tasty. Keep it up.

One of my dining companions had an issue with his meal though…which wasn’t cool. Now, it’s on him for not mentioning it and so I don’t really fault you for that-most of us are human and things happen. I’m sure if he’d brought his issue to your attention it would’ve been taken care of, because staff there is awesome.

Finally, to the Blarney Stone; don’t change. The food was fairly priced, the beer was fairly priced. It was as I would have expected.

theobroma aleAs far as beer highlights of the trip go: Dogfish Head’s Theobroma. Fuz and I split some as we played games visiting Sean. Apparently it’s based on the chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras.

Science. It works, bitches.

Because this beer was sweet, tasty and refreshing. I can absolutely see it being drank is copious amounts in the jungles of Latin America. Not precisely beer as we know it today but who cares?