I’ll have whatever you say #10

clear creekThis post starts early on the Outboard Brain. I’m at the McCarthy whiskey release. Is there a steel mill next door? Steel distribution, to be sure. If all goes well I’ll be at work in roughly 40 minutes and nobody is the wiser. But with the steel factory nearby I wonder how the flavors of the alcohols they make might be impacted? The man next to me in line is familiar but I can’t place him. Portland…where you’ll met everyone if you read or drink here long enough.

Eight plus hours later….officially it is looking like tomorrow will suck hard. I have come to the Globe at the behest of It’s Pub Night (though that request came when I was doing The Local) and it’s eerie levels of quiet. The only other person at the bar is a woman who, I gather from overheard conversation with the barkeep, works there. Still it is early and not a tv in sight so there is time for other people to appear. A Cash Stout (an oatmeal stout) from Everybody’s Brewing is among the slim but well represented beer choices. The body arms a little thin for an oatmeal– I’d expect something a little thicker on the tongue. That said, it’s a solid brew which seems to be the line for Everybody’s: their beers are good but don’t quite cross the line into great. I’ll happily continue to try their stuff because I think they’ve got the foundation down so nothing else to do but build.

I’m now the only fella at the bar and the two ladies there talk men. I attempt to shrink as much as possible; my opinion about men or relationships at large isn’t really important here as I am a stranger. I overhear a thing or two about chocolate and dinner, pressure and politeness, the wish to be civil when refusing a request for a date; I get smaller and smaller, looking at the patterns on the walls, the beer taps, waiting for the line on my beer glass to diminish to the point where I can take my final swallow and leave. I forget to take a picture of the beer, looking at ceilings, tables, anything else.

Eventually, my glass is empty and as I’m packing up the woman whom I’ve taken my suggestion asks me if I liked it. I tell her and we all pause while she, the bartender and I have a brief conversation about stouts and the beers available at the Globe and all in all I start to feel like I’m at a neighborhood place, which is always nice. I politely say my goodbyes and head home to have dinner and prepare for a tomorrow of blarg.

An open letter

Dear Circa 33,

I wandered in last Saturday during happy hour with my girlfriend to get a drink. The space was nicely lit (though it was dimmed a little soon for my tastes) and felt open and comfortable. Service was nice and our drinks were brought promptly. Beer was solid, the mixed drink also tasty. Prices seemed fair and I looked forward to coming to get a hamburger or some mac & cheese in the near future. There was an admirable selection of beers to choose from, with different styles represented all of solid-to-better quality, with the usual outs for the non-quality-brewing appreciation crowd.

There were a couple guys playing backgammon and a group of women visiting opposite us, taking over a larger table. There appeared to be ample space for peoplewatching along Belmont, with the big windows and some nice lighting from the ceiling.

I was looking forward to coming back.

Then a man in a white van, wearing a puffy blue winter jacket, pulled up. The door was opened and from the van came two 52 inch HDTVs, which were unceremoniously dragged into the back, like giant electronic carcasses.


Please don’t put these televisions up. The neighborhood already has a TV-infested bar and there’s a seriously space challenged Alto Lounge (where you never know when a waiter’s butt will be in your face) that people will gladly flee to be somewhere more comfortable except…you’ll basically be ruining the ambiance of the place. Everyone will have to talk louder to be heard over sound and visual noise. Distractions will ruin everything you have going for you. Guys won’t come in to play backgammon (or Magic, in my case.) Women won’t come in to catch up. For what you’ll really be adding, you might as well install a phone booth. That’s about how useful the TVs are to a space like yours.

If you want to add something cool and increase value, give us free WiFi. All the glories of being able to access television, without the horrible obtrusiveness.

Pretty please?

PS: I’ll be gone for the holiday so no post for Friday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I’ll have whatever you say #9

Luck is a funny thing. Sure, some people would say that there’s no such thing as luck but I have to say, though my worldly experience isn’t quite up with the masters, every so often you get lucky.

So it is tonight, walking into the Tanker. I’ve not ventured far in an effort to avoid the cold Portland streets. Weathermen are advising we all stay indoors and hide. I’m more about avoiding other people’s lousy driving and fear of ice than I am about not facing icy conditions but there’s also something to be said for not tempting fate.

I walk into the bar, stepping past two outdoor smokers as I do so, to find an empty space on the rail. Two glasses of some kind of lager are nearby but they are without owners. The lager is not going to be the good kind–call it instinct. Instead, a man with a outdoor vest and a beard is at the bar waiting to order. So when he gets a Lompoc Special Draft, so do I.

Easiest pick ever. Shortly after I’m served, the two smokers return to the bar, older, football fans smelling of old smoke and hunched over the bar like defeat. I’m actually a little sorry I didn’t get a chance to ask them what they were drinking, though my palate is happier I came into the bar when I did.

Most everyone is watching TV in one form or another, or they have raised their voice so much in order to cut through the visual noise and ensure that attention is being directed their way. It’s ok; the Tanker is that kind of bar, geared for loud, boisterous behavior. I notice there are video poker machines now–sad. Seems like a bar has more character when there isn’t video poker. Then again, the poker is offset by the murals of men fighting Godzilla on the wall; gangsters with berets, beards and Barettas trying to mug giant lizards about to stomp bridges. So I have to let the poker machines slide. Art is cooler.

My LSD is pretty tasty too, toffee flavors and a touch viscous, though there is a strange feeling on the aftertaste, as though there was a tiny hint of chalk. That’s probably just my brain short circuiting though, so let’s not mark Lomboc down for this.  Besides, it isn’t making my beer taste bad so the heck with it; I’ll take a good beer with a strange moment any day over bad brews with a strange one.

Old is new

I just thought I’d bring your attention to this post at Beervana about the Gratzer style of beer. I don’t have much to say about it, except that it’s cool that in addition to pressing forward, brewers of all stripes are also looking to history to find styles that have disappeared.

Most of the time, things that are lost to history can never really be recreated but I think with food it’s possible to, if not replicate at least approximate close enough the food of long ago. Something inspired the Polish brewers of that time and space to smoke the hell out of those beers and I like that we can enjoy (or at least sample) what they did, even if we may not know the reasons why they did it.

What’s in a name?

boneyard armored fist alePresenting: Boneyard‘s Armored Fist-brewed, I’m told via their website, as a collaboration with 3 Floyds from Chicago.

Now that is a metal beer. 10% imperial cascadian dark. Serious hop nose on this one but it’s definitely floral not citrus.  Maybe piney? Yup, piney.

It’s the middle that confuses me. Like why make this a dark ale? Why not just keep it a pale? With its brown profile I do get some bitterness roasted quality that gives the beer a touch more in the middle than it would have as an amber, even. Great name though and now I have to pause and let this warm up a bit so I can appreciate it a little more. That’s fine, I’m at Bailey’s and it’s always good to take in the sights.

Deschutes’ Marooned Belgian is also on and that a pretty cool name too but… It isn’t metal. I realize that I’m falling into cliches here with my love of beers named after monsters and things like the Boneyard but at the end of the day, I am who I am. I like monsters and I like heavy metal and it’s always cool to find things that fit into the niche you dig on. Still, if I have the chance I’m going to try some, just because of the name (and because Deschutes usually makes good beer.)

I’m not sure how kind warmth is to the Armored Fist. It does seem to get a touch sweeter and with the pine flavors that isn’t bad but it’s not great either because of the coffee elements. At the end I’m a bit torn on this one because it’s good but my inclination is to drink it fast and that’s not so wise for a 10% ale. Maybe it would’ve been wiser to have a smaller glass…but it wouldn’t have been metal.

I’ll have whatever you say #8

vlad the imp aler

Vlad the Imp Aler. Who doesn’t want that beer? The bloke next to me ordering it has a blonde-touched-with-red beard and hair and he seems to be a sour beer enthusiast, which makes sense since I’m at the Cascade Brewing House.

I’m here in part because of the review I read at It’s Pub Night; though sour beers aren’t my passion a new place is a new place and sour beers are certainly a style that doesn’t get a lot of attention up here so it’s worth checking out. The Vlad isn’t too sour-tilts a bit toward tart instead-but it’s pretty good. Unfortunately, I don’t really have the vocabulary to describe sour beers properly since it’s a style I avoid. I can tell you there’s a dryness at the end which is nice, like white wine and that the front end has the sour funk scent that isn’t overpowering but definitely suggests the power of sour.

The bloke I’ve copied has had his attention directed toward a buddy of his; he recounts a trip he recently took to Belgium and his times drinking cool beers and meeting up at parties. There’s an agreement between the bloke and his buddy that Europe is more free than here, less uptight. These kinds of statements always amuse me because they are exactly the kind of calorie free observations made by people who don’t have to live in a place and get the dirt under their nails when it comes to living in a country.

Still; it’s always good to travel and see how the rest of the world tries to run things.

Anyway, I think I’m going to enjoy the rest of my brew and then head out. I think I’d like to come back here and try more brews sometime and see if there’s awesome beyond the Vlad.

This is the point when I stand up to leave-the bartender, a man in a baseball cap who calls everyone ‘Brother’ and looks like he was drawn by Steve Dillion-says ‘Come back when you can spend some time,’ and I assure him I will…this is the point when I feel myself up and realize; I do not have my keys. In a awkward, bad-at-physical-comedy way I touch my pants and pockets and jacket and chest and come up with no short pointy objects that could be considered to be passes to my vehicle and I say as much to the people cocking their eyebrows at me.

“Hell, brother, do you want another?” the bartender asks.

“Let me go out and see if I still have my keys,” I say.

I do. They’re right there, on the passenger’s seat, gleaming in peach colored streetlight. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Defeated, I return to the bar and ask if I can use a phone, or be directed to one. The bartender smiles and loans me his shiny smartphone; AAA does not answer but thankfully my girlfriend does and ten minutes later, she has appeared with the spare key and a gleam in her eye that says ‘You owe me’, which I very much do, and I am able to return home.

Singletons 3

simcoe munich aleThe final singleton had Simcoe hops and Light Munich grains for steeping. It’s a pale for all intents and purposes but it didn’t come out as carbonated as I would’ve liked.

Now, the flavors are nice-more citrus oriented and there’s a crisp finish that includes a touch of carbonation. So this leads me to the question; why isn’t it more carbonated?

Actually, let me be more specific (and perhaps nitpicky); it’s not heavily carbonated. This pale is steadily carbonated and down to the last sips there is still some tiny but visible bubbles. It’s challenging to pour this beer with a proper head on it, though. Now I remember is that I had more difficulty capping the bottles than I usually do. I don’t recall why but it seems as though I’ve been having more challenges getting a secure seal as of late. Maybe it’s just a matter of focus.

It is, however, probably the cleanest beer out of the three. I don’t know why precisely but there seems to be less yeast making its way into the pour, so visually it seems clearer. In addition, because the beer finishes so crisply there’s very little aftertaste so it’s a good thirst quencher and goes well with chips.

Missing it

It’s is unfortunate but I am going to be missing the beer and cocktails night at Hop & Vine put on by (among others) Ezra of the New School blog and Jacob Grier who looks to have some excellent recipes at his blog.

I post this information though for you, so that you may participate where I cannot. The idea of beer-based cocktails seems very interesting but I just haven’t been able to get the calendar to work out for me. Yet. Time machine, people. Get on it.

In addition, I might have to get this 33 Bottles of Beer app going because it seems super handy for the Outboard Brain.

Finally, there’s a Best of Brewing NW poll you can vote in, should you be so inclined.

I’ll have whatever you say #7

10 barrel ale10 barrel sinistor black ale is the selection I am drinking tonight. The man who informs me of his choice quietly finishes his fries and slightly turns away from me, reading a woodworking magazine, which is just fine: I am tired and worn out. He’s got rental apps in front of him and don’t know if he’s coming or going but while I’m playing Sherlock to this mans life I don’t quite have it in me to be friendly. A failing tonight.

The hophouse is tiny and despite being empty now it is very easy to imagine it as bustling and upbeat.

The sinistor ale is solid. A nice blend of porter flavors with a hop bitterness twist at the end  instead of coffee. There is also a carbonation at the end that clears everything away and that helps keep the coffee bitterness from lingering.

I am pleasantly undisturbed and I want to come back another day. The prices are fair, the food looks good and there’s a cute woman with glasses and knee high boots serving beer. What more do you want?