I made two lagers because I figured I had the time for it. Maybe if the first one didn’t quite work out, the other would benefit from some of my prior experience. And so the lager saga continues, as you can see.


There we are. In this case, there isn’t much of a band-aid flavor (although that gently kicks up at the end) it’s mostly too sweet and the carbonation is clearly off the charts. I don’t know that I’d say this beer is undrinkable but it sure as hell isn’t to any style you could imagine.

Although I have to admit, I knew there were going to be issues when I pulled this beer from the garage as you can see here:

moldy bottles

That is indeed mold on the bottles.

So I can’t actually recommend the beer. I wouldn’t want to give it to someone to drink without serious caveats, such as:

“Can you tell me what the fuck is wrong with this?”


“How the hell did this crime against drinkablity happen?”

You know. Those kinds of things.

These sorts of mistakes remind me that there is a whole lot I don’t know about brewing and a broad range of subjects to learn about and people I need to listen to in order to improve my process. I don’t consider this a bad thing but it’s still a little disappointing to have both lagers come out badly.


I hesitate to judge here, but fasting to drink only doppelbock for 46 days during Lent seems more like a stunt than a true spiritual journey. I’m not saying that I know better because I’ll admit right up front; I do not. This guy is clearly fasting in a very traditional sense, if what I read is true, having lost some eleven pounds since he started. On top of that, it’s a pretty neat way to get at brewing a style of beer that exists to sustain you for a long period of time.

I just can’t help but feel like it’s an attention grabbing move though-especially when he’s blogging about it-instead of a quest to understand on a deeper level the meaning of suffering and the trials that others have gone through in order to get closer to a greater consciousness. However, that is most likely me reading into what he ought to be doing, or what I think of when I see actions like this rise up, than it is about what this person is actually doing.

So with that little bias admitted comes the disclaimer; I don’t know what he’s doing, beyond fasting for 46 days. I’m glad he’s got a doc looking after him but after that, it’s a neat thing and not mine to say what his intentions are.

The answer is, ‘Yes with a but…’

lagerIn response to this question.

Looks pretty good, I have to say. Beer came out remarkably clear, which is nice. I think that if this was shown to someone who didn’t know anything about beer, they would probably call it a lager-or at least see the similarity between it and something like Budweiser or Hopworks’ Pils.

That’s about where the similarity ends, though.

The beer smells like a band-aid. Phenolic is the technical term for the flavors I got and they are there in spades. It even finishes this way so it starts bad and ends bad, with a touch of smoky middle just to ensure that nobody would want to drink it. Ever.

Which is a bit of a disappointment.

However, with failure comes opportunity. What’s wrong with this beer? Why am I having troubles?

These sent me on an internet learning mission and I discovered that I probably steeped the grains at a temperature that was too high, which also leads to chill haze, a problem I also frequently encounter. Learning about this has lead me to monitoring temperature a little closer and keeping the steeping temps closer to what they’re supposed to be.

It’s also possible that the beer was infected and without any stronger malt or hop characteristics, the flaws could not be covered up. This has had me re-evaluate my cleaning and sanitizing process. I was been using cold water to clean but because cold is uncomfortable on my hands I may not have been as thorough as I should have been.

So I’ve made attempts to improve things and hopefully beers made since then will show it.

Whatever You Say #24

The plan-such as I ever plan these things-was to go to Deschutes for the blog, then move to Bailey’s for the afterparty.

But I got to Deschutes between 7:30-8 and the spot was packed. You can’t have a conversation with someone if you can’t even stand nearby without getting in the way of everyone else. So let’s push this for another time and just go to Bailey’s right?

Jolly Pumpkin Sour StoutI walk in and see into a man that seems familiar at the bar; I don’t want to presume I know him but I feel like I might so I’ve got that awkward phase of ‘what do I do here? Risk being a fool or just go all out? He’s alone so what the hell: ask him what he’s drinking. He tells me it’s Jolly Pumpkin’s Madrugada and that I’ll probably have something good to write about it.

Wait a minute…

Turns out, I know him and asked him what he was drinking a couple months ago! Awesome to see Kevin and I drink this in his honor. I get to ask him a few questions and it turns out he’d gotten the Jolly Pumpkin in part because he’s from Michigan, which JP operates out of. But it’s also a pretty interesting beer; a sour imperial stout and he’s the kind of guy who’s looking for interesting beers (otherwise, why go to Bailey’s?) The flavors are pretty good up until the very end, when I get a coffee dregs bitterness that conflicts pretty badly with the sour notes at the end and the sweeter notes in the middle.

It’s a good, mellow night at Bailey’s with plenty of space for people to have conversations and the chill of winter is truly abated; outside, despite lacking greenery, just feels warmer. Spring is here and somehow things just feel warmer, just looking through the windows, the grip of cold that winter had over the city has slipped away.

In the meantime, I talk Magic strategy with a friend who’s come along and I let myself get wrapped up in geekery and sip my beer.

Kevin suddenly has to head out; I didn’t get a chance to ask him how he was beyond our initial meeting and I’m sorry I didn’t. I was hoping to chat when I went to get my second beer but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, unfortunately. Life’s like that sometimes but I’m happy to run into him because that means that I may run into him again and be able to sit down and talk. Being able to make time for friendly faces is one of the things that is best in life.

Now that I’ve had what’s been recommended, I’m going to have some things that I want. It’s my birthday tomorrow and I’d like to treat myself. Cheers!

The Red Ale-Feedback

red aleThis photo was taken a bit late in the beer’s development. There’s a bit more effervescence shown than most of the beers I opened from this batch. For some reason, I seem to have trouble getting my beer to be carbonated unless it spends two months in the bottle. That just can’t  be right.

That aside, this is fairly malty brew and it’s pretty tasty if it’s carbonated. If it’s not carbonated, as most of it was, it’s too sweet. Drinkable but not extremely enjoyable. But that’s just my opinion. Check out what Fuz has to say. Which, if he hasn’t posted yet, ought to be enough to guilt him into getting his post up.

Made on 12.24.10

Steeping grains:
.75 lb C120
.75 lb Simpsons Golden Promise

7 lb LME

.5 oz Amarillo @ 60
.5 oz Tettanger @ 60
1 oz Mt Hood @ 30
.5 oz Mt Hood@ 15
.5 oz Tettanger @ 15

White Labs 862, second use

Original Gravity: 1.064

Final Gravity: 1.022

Terminal Gravity: 1.029

Bottled 1.20.11

ABV: 5.44%

I don’t want to sound too cliche about it, but if getting some free homebrew and writing about it sounds like your thing and you live close enough to Portland that we can meet in person, let me know and maybe we can work something out.

Whatever You Say #23

The Lucky Lab smells like carmel corn when I walk in. It has a whole carnival element to it too; not a single stable table in the place, wood floors beat to shit by decades of warehouse use, groups gathered haphazardly both inside and out. But the smell of carmel corn is what sticks with me. NOt the first time I’ve had this experience; I assume it was a brewing day because of the maltiness in the air.

I have to say I had a bit of a dilemma tonight. I wanted to do this theme was that it would allow me to visit places outside the zone of the previous themes but there is a significant drawback to interlinking this theme to other people: Namely, I have to have other people to interact with. The Lucky Lab doesn’t have places along the rail, it has a waiting zone for beer. There isn’t an easy way to ask people what they’re having.

So tonight I am a spy, a stealth drinker, listening to the conversations ahead of me, trying to understand what’s been said, to get just enough snippets of language that I can place an order without having to pause and hold everyone else up. I catch just enough of the bartender’s response to someone ‘The Golden has technical difficulties so here’s the rye.’ Problem solved-as far as what beer I want.

ryeI watch the bartender pour my beer; it almost seems like the rye is having technical difficulties. The bartender is very conscienscous about pouring me a full pint and creates a nice puddle of foam beneath the spout of rye in order to do so. I appreciate the thought but I have to wonder if violently shaking foam out of the glass doesn’t affect the beer somehow. As it stands, I can’t smell anything other then carmel corn, which is not helping me understand what it is I’ve drank.

The rye itself is OK. Finishes nice, with a great deal of crispness and dryness, so I want another sip but the beer itself tastes thin and I can’t get any nose. So let’s give a B+ to the finish and a C- to the rest.

In one respect, the LL is a microcosm of Portland. There’s a trio of woman hammering ideas out on laptops far away, one in a purple plaid flannel, the other with blonde dreads and the Jan of the group. Closer by there is another trio, one with glasses and a jacket, another with a tiara of stars mounted on springs-like alien antenna, the Jan a brunette this time but in knee high boots. They’re soon joined by a man on crutches, hat with a surfer logo on backwards, hoodie with logos on frontwards, pants seemingly logo free.

Low budget kids next to me, complaining about working their shitty jobs, mocking posers, complaining about idiots who text and don’t spell correctly, remarking on the foolishness of some online interactions (ah, Facebook, what have you tweaked for us?) and mistakes that get made when you drink too much. Further away there is an older couple, the guy is in a red hat that screams ‘White person from the 70’s’ . Moustache too.

There are also children. And by children, I mean rugrats under 5 who probably shouldn’t be allowed to run around a place like this. Sorry but there’s something fundamentally irresponsible about allowing a child to run around a pub unattended because that boy is headed for the door with nothing in his path. But this is also Portland, sometimes.

Suddenly, I can hear the last verse and chorus of “Fade to Black” just over the crowd murmur and the beginning of brewery cleaning. Metalheads are everywhere I suppose. Though I guess I ought to know, as I’m one of them. But I’m a metalhead who has had a meager brew and no story to listen to. Let’s go home.

Presidential Pint

There’s a really neat post at Obama Foodorama on the first brew to be made and served at the White House. It’s a pretty cool lesson both from a historical view and the current trends in foodmaking that are going on. Check it out.

Also, big ups to the Burnside Brewing staff. They hosted the OBC last night for our monthly meeting and were great hosts, in addition to showing us around their brewery. Thanks much! I heartily recommend checking them out, should you have the chance.