I’ll Have Whatever You Say #17

I have come to the Horse Brass-like so many beer aficionados- in order to celebrate the life of Don Younger who died yesterday. The man next to me had a Diamond Knot IPA that he didn’t want to endorse, recommending the Blind Pig IPA from Russian River and I went with that.

Of course, they’re out of that beer and at this point I don’t want to disturb anyone else, so I select the Bruce Lee porter from Prodigal Son and go with it.

bruce lee porterIt’s a pretty solid brew with a great coffee hinting at chocolate flavor and a light mouthfeel that makes the drinking easy.

I didn’t know Mr. Younger personally (it was hard to come to the Brass and not see him, though) but he was well known and generally beloved in the local brewing and beer loving community. If the logos on people’s clothes are any indication, his presence spread throughout Oregon. Pretty cool, for a man that, as far as I know, just owned a pub that served great beer…and was probably one of, if not the first to bring great beers to Portland almost 40 years ago.

No big deal.

The pub is lively with lovers of beer from across the spectrum of Portlanders. Punks and professionals, young and old, all just here to remember (in any manner they choose) someone who, by most accounts, was pretty cool. They seem to be doing it with smiles, stories and ale.

I can’t think of a better way to remember someone, offhand.

Boulder Dam II

boulder dam samplesIt’s been a few years since I’ve been to Boulder Dam Brewing but while in Nevada I felt it would be good to avail myself of their wares again. Check out how things have changed since I was there last. Notes are from my Outboard Brain with some editing to make them more readable, the asides are my comments a few weeks after the fact.

Block 16 Honey brown
Whoa the sickly sweet cherry flavor. Really sends this beer into a tailspin.
/aside: something really felt like it didn’t belong in this beer. I’d accept a cherry brown if that was the intent but I’m not sure that was the idea. The honey may have been responsible for this, depending on what kind of honey they were using.

Powder Monkey pils
Soapy smell and the clarity really really off. It looks more like a hef and the hef looks more like the pils.

Hell’s Hole hef
I keep searching for the wheat density, clove or banana notes and get none.
So far its 0-3 and I’m glad samplers exist.
/aside: this beer just felt thin and by now I was looking for positives because I didn’t want to just slag my whole selection

High Scaler IPA
The cascade hop nose is SO promising and then the finish is dirty. I mean that in a I just got a got a mouthful while sliding into second, way.

Aggregate amber
“This is the most boring beer I’ve ever had,” the girlfriend said.
/aside: I would’ve stopped here with my description if I could’ve but things were discussed afterward that I feel contribute to my reader’s awareness of these beers.
The mouthfeel is thin and I wonder if it’s the water, which I’m told us hard.
Similar aftertaste as the ipa.

Ironwood stout
Not bad and it had the richest mouthfeel of the group. However I’m wondering if the dark malts are covering up the inherent difficulties in brewing here.  It’s not great but if I had to have a 2nd pint this is what I’d choose.
So it looks like things really haven’t gotten better. It’s fairly likely that there are challenges to brewing in Nevada that I’m just unaware of, although considering it’s a desert it wouldn’t surprise me. There are water and soil issues, not to mention importing product, that just has to affect the end result. Still, I’m glad that local brewing is at least being attempted.

One successful brown

I prefer to have a photo of the brew I’m talking about for these posts. Even if it’s not a great photo (and given my skills, they really aren’t) a visual reference is frequently helpful to everyone. Unfortunately, this beer got drank. Fast. But I’m pleased to say it was a damn good one; easy to drink, alcohol low enough that you could have a few if you wanted but plenty of flavor to it.

If there was a complaint, it’s that the beer might have been a little overcarbonated for the style but all in all, I think it’s a batch I can be proud of.

Brew Date: 11.7.10

Steeping Malts
6 oz Chocolate
5 oz victory
5 oz C40
2 oz Black

5 lb LME

7/8th oz Willamette @ 60
.5 oz Columbia @ 30
.5oz Columbia @ 15

Reused Pacman from Alt

OG 1.05
TG 1.016
FG 1.022
ABV: 4.4%
Bottled 12.6

I’ll Have Whatever You Say #16

I was at Belmont Station last weekend to get a bottle of Caldera OGS (thanks to Bill for the tip!) and I asked one of the people there if there was something to try that may be a hidden gem. Not easy to suggest hidden gems in Portland but I figure if I don’t ask then my horizons may always be shallow.

Barley Brown’s ales, I was told. Try that. I asked for a bottle and was told it was only on tap (I forget sometimes that Belmont has taps) and I resisted trying the beer, as I hadn’t had lunch and needed food before the sampling of ales.

I wish, just a little bit, that I had paused to have the ale. If I had paused, then I would have been a little later getting home, where I found out via the internet that someone critical to my well-being and general survival as a young teenager had died, late ’10, perhaps early this year. Details were fuzzy and honestly I did not have the heart to pursue them.

I’m drinking the Chaos now, a CDA brew that has a viscous mouthfeel and just a hint of the roasty quality of a stout but is predominantly hoppy in the nose and pine-bitter in the finish. It’s remarkably solid and one of the few examples of the style that I’d suggest to people.

Twenty years had passed since I spoke with Christy, I still feel that the Universe is just a little darker now. Maybe only by a bulb, only for a bit but I can feel it so there you go. I mostly hope that the separation between us was the result of time and life, not because I was a foolish young person but…the thought that I may have been an idiot probably played into things too.

As a teenager I was difficult to like. A lot of circumstances piled up to encourage a hostility in me that made me unpleasant. Perhaps this is the curse of teenagers everywhere; they are hard to like. Reckless and defiant and gleeful at little more than their own pleasures…but maybe that’s just me, not everyone else.

Christy liked me; she liked quite a few teenagers who needed someone to like them in Spokane, people who were different and weird, who were isolated, frequently socially maladjusted and were odd enough to gravitate toward libraries. It just so happened that this librarian stepped in and made a haven for some: the few, the proud, the literate geeks.

She wasn’t the only one, of course; there was a group of librarians that she led who created a group for kids and we looked out for each other, made social strides together in a society that didn’t really want to teach us about how to behave. So we behaved weirdly. It didn’t always work out of course but Christy kept a smiling eye over things, laughed with us not at us, was smart enough to let us feel dangerous when we wanted to be, to shelter us when we needed it.

Christy let me hang out in her office when I was a lad. She should’ve kicked me out at some point, told me I didn’t belong in the working part of the library, a space that is not just locked, these days, but requires key cards and passcodes to get into.

I still remember walking up that extra flight of stairs in the library to the admin floor, feeling every time like I was getting away with something. No doubt I was, even if it was something small.

Instead she listened to my tiny trials and laughed and advised and I could not have asked for a better human to nudge me through some of my most awkward teenage crap.

She was a wonderful person and she was my friend at a time when friends were hard for me to come by, at an age when friends are frequently hard to keep.

So I would have liked the Universe to have lasted a little longer with her in it. Now she is gone and I can only hope that the joy she brought people in life follows her to wherever she may go.

I did not come to the Belmont Station to ask someone what they were drinking. I came to remember an old friend and raise a glass in toast to her. Sometimes we go to pubs to honor people who we care for.

I don’t think I can repay the graciousness she showed to me but I can walk in her footsteps, just a little, and hope that I am showing a bit of what she gave to me toward others who are weird or unwanted or unhappy or need it.

So here’s to old friends but mostly here’s you to, Christy; you helped nurture what was best me and open the horizons of readers in a tiny town that desperately needed it. You are missed and may the universe guard you on your journey to whatever is next.

There’s still time for a holiday post, right?

There is a Krampus ale! I must find it, although I’ve heard it’s not all that.

Also, this is why everywhere else isn’t as awesome as Portland. I present to you, the beer isle in a major grocery store in Vegas:
beer in  NVSigh. When I turned 90 degrees, there was another beer isle, just as long-and by the barest margin, more appealing.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the battleground. Not the bars, not the homes, but here. Las Vegas; one of the most popular destinations for vacationing in the country and you cannot go into a chain grocery store and find anything beyond this or Sam Adams. (Which, thank goodness I was able to find.) No that all products should be available to everyone but when my choices come to Bud (and it’s variants), Coors  (and friends), and Sam Adams…well, that’s a dry well.

Makes me wonder if there is a thriving homebrew community there. I certainly hope so.

Homebrew Oktoberfest

I’d been wanting to make a maltier brew because I’d been subject to so many hoppy beers. Of course, on my homebrew schedule that usually means that a good two months later, I’m getting the beer I wanted.

oktoberfest homebrewNevertheless, here’s the oktoberfest I made and while it is pretty malty, I got more sweetness than I wanted. I think a slight increase in the bitterness of the finish might help or maybe malts with more biscuity flavors to help offset the sweetness. Still, it’s a pretty solid beer and a bit more potent than my usual beers.

Recipe is as follows:

Steeping Malts-
6 oz C40
6 oz C120
6 oz Special Roast

7 lb LME
2 lb Amber Dry extract

3/8th oz Nugget @ 60
handful old Simcoe from singleton @ 60
1 oz Willamette @ 15

Reused Rogue Pacman from Wyeast (previously used in an alt)




New Year’s Eve

Oh man,  not quite two weeks into the new year and I’m slipping on my regular posts. And I promise, I’ll try to get back on track…just as soon as I get back from Nevada, next week. So this is the post I meant to put up on Friday which are the notes of the beer I drank the night of NYE. Super regular updates should start up a week from today. Enjoy!

Eel River‘s Climax Noel
Dry. Nose is queerly sweet. Body doesn’t follow up with that, but it works. A little to dry though. If I could have some chocolate or fruit with this (grapes, pears?) I’d like that. The body isn’t there, which is where this beer skews away form something I want to drink. If it had a little more smoothness, it would be a damn fine brew.

southern tier barleywineSouthern Tier‘s Back Burner
Marvelous. Nose of port and chocolate. Serious malt backbone to hold up a tasty beer with a fine bitterness. Really well done and once again, compliments to ST’s efforts because despite being a 10% beer, this one goes down smoother than the Eel River. As it warms up, the beer gets more caramel notes and is just super tasty.

Pelican‘s Wee Heavy
No nose. Weird. Flavors are…red-wine oriented. It’s really unusual on first sip. It mellows quickly, with a malty heart and maybe just enough hops to prevent the brew from going overboard but no more. This is a beer for salty foods!

hop valley ipaHop Valley Alphadelic IPA
Oh so hoppy and awesome. After the malt focused beers of the night this just stands out so much! Piney nose and a sharp but not overly bitter finish. It’s a NW IPA and it’s quite fine right now.

Whatever you say #15

I like the Nest. Always have, since I walked in years ago and found a diverse crowd of people, weird art, semi-hipster groups crossed with neighborhood drunks and a bartender that went barefoot. I just liked being in a place where lots of different people came together and had a drink, maybe because I came from a city where different people didn’t really come together very often.

It’s harder to get here these days; I’m not in NE as often as I’d like but the great thing about my current theme is that I get to explore new places and revisit old ones that I’d otherwise neglect.

shot and backThe woman next to me is having Christan Bros with a beer back so I order it. She also has a glass of water and it’s quickly apparent I should’ve gotten that, too. Such is life. She’s preoccupied with something on her smartphone, texting away the most current crisis, sighing into her troubled evening. She’s got a knit cap on, gray sweatpants and a navy blue hoodie, with eyes that tell me to go away when I disrupt her so I don’t go any further.

The secret to drinking Christian Bros is to exhale through the nose as I drink. The beer back helps-likely PBR-but I can’t really taste anything after the overpowering sip of the shot so I’m considering just pounding it and getting it over with.

Down the rail, a couple is drinking Old German from the can. The one and only time I ever had Old German, I had it through a straw and that still wasn’t enough to hide the sheer awfulness of the brew.

Hip-hop zombies adorn the wall, painted in what I’d call a graffiti style. They’re clearly hungry and despite holding boom boxes, reaching for brains. Pretty cool, in addition to being a vision I wouldn’t have thought of. What happens to the heavy gold chains during the Zompocalypse? That shit’s gotta slow you down, right? You’ll be eating last, if at all. I mean, sure, you don’t get tired but muscles still work like muscles and weight still needs force to move. Zombies need brains, not entrails, though I suppose anything will do when you’re hungry and undead.

I am a touch distracted and distractable by the Oregon vs Auburn game. It’s the thing to do in the state right now. So few events that speak to a common reality these days; fractured musical genres, fractured films, fractures in the gaming community. We can find just what we like and now we create bubbles of just that and nothing else.

If nothing else, this is why I want to keep coming to different places in the city. My world should not be a uniform gloss of ‘me likely’.

I exhale into my final touch of the booze. It ain’t pretty but it gets the job done. The night bartender comes on, wearing a light jacket and it’s then that I realize that everyone in here has their coat on, even me. IT’s colder than I thought, I suppose. Or perhaps they, like me, are here to go. Feels unlikely though and it’s far more likely that there’s a door out back that’s open. Why, in this weather, that would be true I don’t know but fortunately I’m about draughts not drafts.

New Year’s pre

The sweetie and I both had the day before New Year’s Eve off, so in an attempt to avoid the craziness that can be New Year’s events (and some of the expense) we went to a movie, stopping off at Bailey’s beforehand for a few drinks. The following is from my Outboard Brain, mildly edited so my shorthand makes sense to normal humans.

ft george north the forth brewFt George North the Forth has candy canes in it, I’m told. That’s about as unusual as I’d expect to get while brewing. No idea what the style is offhand but probably a winter ale since there are candy canes.

Which (and I never thought I’d say this) is a good thing. Lots of spruce in front almost gives it a simple green moment. Not for everyone but I dig.

Boulder Never Summer winter ale on nitro:
Nitro means there is no nose but it’s very smooth. Drawback: it’s a bit bitter in unexpected ways, without any nose or sweetness to balance it out. I like it but would be hesitant to recommend it.

With those, we went to see Waste Land, which I dug on quite a bit.

Next time, what I actually did on New Year’s. (Hint: there was beer.)

I’ll Have Whatever You Say #14

I’ve gone to Bailey’s because it’s the new year and I’d like to start things right. I don’t dedicate a great deal of attention to tradition, superstition but I still think that the rote activities I engage in can give me a stronger place to start from, mentally, and that can make all the difference.

caldera lagerI go in and sit down; the gentleman on my right is on the phone so the man on my left is the only option. He’s ordering as I come in and I overhear, “Caldera lager,” so I catch Geoff’s eye and signal for another. He smiles and then says “I thought you had to ask them,” and thus I explain to him and the man whom I’ve been eavesdropping on that I was going to explain but this was just too easy.

I shouldn’t have worried. The fellow next to me is loquacious. He’s a field engineer in the auto industry and he’s been to 49 of 50 states. At sixteen he had earned enough money from his own business to take a five month road trip around the U.S. and he saw Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington. He’s a Corvette guy. He got food poisoning in Egypt, like I did, only he didn’t get it as bad and it didn’t hit him until he went to Paris. He didn’t like Minnesota much and is amused but seems slightly rueful of a Midwest attitude where they just bury the bad things instead of trying to be more green.

He had good parents, who took him all over, instilled in him some wanderlust and made him an engineer’s guy. He remodeled his house and made space for them to move in when they were elderly, caring for them until they died, both of them in their eighties. I tell him that I feel like sympathizing for him is inadequate, because it seems like they had quite a life together and he nods and agrees: “They had a great life,” he says.

And not once does the gleam go out of his eye. It’s the first time he’s come back to Portland in 34 years-he can remember it exactly-and he talks with the relish of gratitude that someone who is truly grateful for the life she or he has had can bring. He’s back on business and seems to enjoy it as much as he would if he was on vacation.

He tells me about his wife and his dog, in that order. He tells me about living back east and doesn’t sugarcoat what he loves and doesn’t about Tennessee. He tells me a great story about attempting to teach his wife about the evils of gambling…and then hitting an $1,000 pot. “I still hear that one occasionally,” he says in the manner of someone remembering both the folly and wonder of being a couple, ” ‘you gonna teach me about the evils of gambling now’?”

He smiles a lot and I eventually ask him how long he’s in town for and he says about a week, so I give him a laundry list of places to try; Deschutes, Widmer’s Gasthaus, the Lucky Lab, Horse Brass, Hawthorne Hop House, Beermongers. It’s not exactly high culture but it’ll show him some of the great spots in the city. He may not get back for awhile and I want to suggest as many places as I can.