7pm Delays, delays, delays

It’s been a week where I am trying to find my Illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator but cannot. My plans have been obstructed by forces I have no real comprehension of and less control over.

In my defense, I am not trying to destroy the planet so really, this kind of delay is not justified but it is nonetheless there.

sampler trayThis week, I’ve decided to flip the script, yo. Instead of getting a beer, I went for double samples as you can see from the picture. They are, from left to right, Oskar Blues‘ Old Chub on nitro (Scottish ale), Occidental‘s Sweven (belgian ale) and Bend’s Chin Ching (Berliner Weisse w/ pomegranate and hibiscus).

My issue with samples, most of the time, is that there isn’t quite enough beer to really get a sense of the ale. Enough to decide if you’d like more, but not quite enough to evaluate it, at least for me. Getting two samples offers me the opportunity to get a bigger picture, I hope.

Or, maybe the lesson I’m about to learn is that a single taster is plenty to figure out what’s going on there.

Old Chub is sweet and silky in the mouth-the nitro playing its role splendidly-and very much the kind of beer I could see have more than I meant to.

Sweven has a cherry nose, drying finish and is a bit thin in the middle. Drinkable but surprising.

The Ching Ching is tart! That I was not expecting at all-though with a little research I can see that I should have. I can definitely sense an herbal hint, though I don’t know that I can say: that’s hibicus, period and the pomegranate swings right over any mellowing the wheat elements might’ve given the beer. It’s so pink that I get the impression that I’m drinking pink lemonaid, which isn’t a bad description of the beer overall.

I wonder what kind of food people were eating in 19th Century Berlin, that this beer was the most popular one. I’m not sure what I’d eat with this except for sweet things and for a beer to be really popular, I’d just imagine that it would pair well with food. Maybe not?  Maybe it became the hipster of beers and wasn’t cool anymore, when everyone wanted to drink it.

Mouth puckering from the B-W, I swing some water and go back to the Ching Ching. Maltier flavors become more apparent now, warmed up and following tartness. Somewhere between chocolate and caramel reside the malt flavors but not as sweet as a dubbel or tripel ale, making this one that is a bit more drinkable because I don’t feel overwhelmed. It’s not as dense and I like that.

Finally, I return to the Old Chub. There’s something a little strange now. Perhaps I cannot go back at this point, having the evil yeasts of sour and belgian beers corrupt my palate. This beer tastes off now, almost bubblegummy. It’s drinkable qualities have been overruled by something else and now there’s a touch of cough medicine there. It’s still drinkable but not pleasantly so.

So next time, I’ll have to remember that I can’t play the scales when I drink the samples.

Trust but verify, y’know

While I fully support having a sense of humor, especially dark humor, I hope the people at Fargo Beer Co. will forgive me for hoping to see the brewing process of their Wood Chipper ale, before trying it.

Just, you know, given the pedigree of the name and all….

Also the OBC’s Fall Classic is happening this Saturday and I’ll be helping out with running that event. Or judging. Or something; I’m not entirely sure what I’ve volunteered to do but I’m sure it’ll be fun!

Lookin’ good

Check it:
fresh hop ale in hydrometer

That’s the fresh hop ale I made, mentioned last week (it’s the one on the right.) Pretty sweet, huh? At least it looks really, really good. It’s got a very sweet-citrus-floral nose and is super clear, so things look pretty optimistic. We’ll see how it tastes in a bit; hopefully before I move but after if that’s how things break down.

7pm: Plutonium or Neurosis

ninkasi sleigh'rNinkasi’s Sleigh’r is on tap and as a metalhead, I’m honor bound to have at least one pint of it per season it is available. Despite collecting my thoughts to the jazz riff coming through Bailey’s system, I can still recount the great metal riffs in my head with ease.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved fast songs. I was predisposed to love thrash metal, as soon as I heard it, because it was faster than anything else.  It took me awhile to come around to the heavy side of things; the difference between loving Into the Lungs of Hell and Ashes You Leave can be just big as loving Carry That Weight and A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh, if you’re not open to it. That those songs are cut from the same cloth doesn’t matter, so long as one is stuck in a mindset that insists on forming a reality instead of accepting what is there.

For awhile I did that, of course; one of the blessings of being a teenager is that everything is louder than everything else, but one of the curses is that everything that is not one of us is hostile. I count myself lucky enough to have been introduced to harmony at a young age and even now I gravitate towards music that has some sense of catchiness to it (though it may be without harmony) rather than the strict technical execution or overwhelming density that some of my peers may gravitate to.

Still, now I’m approaching the age where my presence might be creepy at shows and I wonder if I can find acceptance amongst them. Not that I was good at getting along with the brothers of metal before but there were at least a group I could be a part of. Yet I still love the downtuned riffs with kick drums that sound like they’re being run on by a long distance runner. Not like I used to but that’s alright. Let the next generation take up the mantle, let others carry the torch.

We (and they) have got a unique opportunity to learn from the past, because it is accessible in a way it never was before, in order to forge the future.

The Sleigh’r I’m drinking can’t ever be replicated in the future. Even if it’s the same, it has to be different, due to the effects of time, context of other foood, etc. It may still be good but the precise experience can’t be replicated.

Unlike Damage Inc, which will be the same-and easy to hear for anyone-this beer can only be shared in the moment I have with it. Maybe there’s chance for us to avoid the depth of mire (the mire is unavoidable) our fathers found-and we found after them- because the past is right there; a now as easy to flip to as a comic book page, instead of the ‘man yells at cloud‘ dreariness that follows us at the moment.

Drive you mild

Because 90’s alt-rock references always draw ’em in!


Don’t pay me much mind, I’m reading a book.

Something is just not quite right with this one. The nose has a tingle to it, that recurs at the end of the beer, as if the carbonation itself-which is too strong for this style-has made its way into scent form.

It also may be that I needed to drink this a little sooner; milds are ‘short time’ beers, meant to be brewed and drank fairly quickly.

I’m certain that I didn’t need to add any yeast to the priming syrup, as the carbonation comes on far, far too strong when I open the beer. The picture doesn’t show it but when the beer is opened, I have to pour it very gently and right away, or else the bottle overflows with foam. Things settle down pretty fast but I believe I overdid it and now it’s time  to scale back a little. It may be a summertime thing, where the weather is warm enough I don’t have to prime the beer as much, it may that I’ve been giving the bottling yeast a little too much of a head start.

The effect is pretty drying though and it goes pretty well with food, since as a mild the flavor profile isn’t very strong; a bit of malt, then it wipes itself away and I’m ready for the next bite. I’ll list the recipe and maybe next time, I’ll have a stronger beer.

Seems like something went wrong with my recording process too, but I believe I can blame the dying battery on my laptop for this one, sadly.

Steeping Grains
.5 lb C 120
.5 Domestic ESB

Fermentable sugars
6 lb LME

1.25 oz Hallertauer
.25 oz Summit @ 60
.75 oz Columbus @ 10

.5 tsp Irish moss@ 5
Wyeast 1768, English Bitter reused

OG: 1.05
FG, TG: not recorded

Steeping a bit hot-160-and sparge a bit cool-145ish

The Final 2

These are the last two beers I’ve made in our current dwelling:

On the left is an oktoberfest. Or it would’ve been an oktoberfest if I hadn’t been given three pounds of fresh Crystal hops by Deschutes brewpub. (Thanks, people at Deschutes who didn’t need those hops!) So instead it’s just a brew with a large malt profile a la an oktoberfest, with a ton of Crystal hops put in because…because I could do that.

On the right, is a fresh hop pale ale, which I used some of the Crystal hops in. The right is in secondary right now, and as you can see I’ve added more hops to secondary. Three pounds of hops is a lot and I tried to use as much as I reasonably could before moving.

Which is why these are the final two beers I’m making for a little while: I don’t want to try and transport these containers in a vehicle: if I can get them bottled beforehand that will mean that it’s much, much easier.

They’re not making it simple though. I’d blame the yeast if I thought it was to blame but who doesn’t love active yeast?

Nobody. So special thanks to Hopworks alehouse for giving me awesome yeast to make these beers with!

7pm: Wait! Listen

Finally, I am able to make a return to Bailey’s. It’s weird to have a goal and be deterred from it for such random reasons but it is always good to make my way back.

kolschI see a friend when I walk in, so I give him the head-nod and get a beer. It’s time to get a bottle! Flat Tail‘s Tailgater has the most interesting looking label so I get it. I find out about midway that it’s a kolsh and suddenly I’m not so sure. Fall has come to Portland and I am not sure that a kolsh is where I’m at. Too late now though; the bottle had been cracked open and with a woosh I am poured a schooner of the lager.

It’s alright. I’m not paying attention to it and I suppose that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be, I just happen to want an ale that commands a little more of my attention.

Or maybe not. As I sit down, a conversation between four people about management and business leading to economics and politics which is very commanding of my attention. The ale not being a distraction is a pretty good thing.

Twice, it’s suggested that I am not letting someone with an opposing viewpoint finish. After the second time, I actually stop and have to halt myself. Because despite being a grownup, I still fall into the ways of children, where the one who can shout the loudest wins.

Being a grownup means being quiet for a bit. Being quiet let me hear what was being said and take it for what it was; a perspective. One I mostly disagreed with, because a chunk of it said this: Don’t hate the game, hate the player.

And I think that if the game is rigged, you fix that fucking game or you hate it with all your might. The players will adapt.

Still, I stopped and listened. I understood what was happening. I responded less viscerally and everything improved, including my understanding of the larger picture.

Except for my beverage selection-nothing wrong with the Tailgater, just not scratching the lizard brain. But sometimes, you just gotta roll with it.

Silly Ruskies

At least, that’s what I thought when I read this article. (I’ll wait for the ‘old news’ people to chill.)

However after giving it a little thought, having anything under 10% be a foodstuff would’ve made a lot of sense at one point. Russia is cold, clean water was once (and in many places of the world still is) difficult to get. People need food to live and by example, London was built on the backs of porters, who often briefly stopped for a hearty (though modestly alcoholic) beverage so they could continue working. Not so long as to be lunch but long enough to be filled up.

How would Russia be any different? You’d actually need more calories to stay warm and alcohol in small amounts isn’t a bad thing for cold weather. Wouldn’t it be smarter, from a policy standpoint, to not consider most beers-even strong ones-to be alcoholic, but foodstuffs instead? Food is traditionally taxed at a significantly lower rate, so providing food at a reasonable cost seems to be something that politicians would want to do, to keep a peaceful society.

On top of that, there are cultural considerations. Long known for being a culture of serious drinkers, I could see where Russians as a people just wouldn’t consider even very strong ales, which I personally would say is anything over 7% ABV, to be alcoholic. I don’t know the culture well enough to say that definitively but I can say that it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case.

Just something to chew on.

7pm: Sonic speed

hayfork pale

Man, so much has been keeping me from my appointed rounds, lately. Work, then alternate work and finally I get word from someone: We’re playing Magic at the Tugboat.

So away I go. I love Bailey’s but it can be hard to play cards there due to table space.

However, I love Bailey’s because every time I order a beer there it tastes like the beer I’m supposed to get, instead of like something run through dirty lines giving me swampmouth. That there is supposed to be a pale (the Hayfork, specifically) and I’m still scraping the nasty out of the labyrinth of my mouth with my tongue.

Still, they do seem to have a ‘Cheers’ like tradition for Mondays, where the bar cheers when someone comes in and boos when they leave. So it’s fun for that.

But man, I am a tired duck. I have been working and celebrating birthdays and driving and planning to move. Who has time to blog or beer at that point? I have no idea what I’m going to write about this week which is alright since the people have to come first or else it’s not about the beer anymore. I suspect there will be long examinations of the final batches I have brewed in this location, as there is the potential for good or for awesome there.

And I’m still finding time to play two and a half hour games of Magic. So really, what’s to complain about? It’s a good life, as they say, if you don’t weaken.

Except for that Hayfork pale. That shit’s nasty.