Revisiting: Deschutes Mirror Pond

mirror pondThis beer is frequently a classic for me and always on the ‘go-to’ list. Except in Portland, I never need to go to it, because there’s always something I haven’t had and should try.

So here’s Deschutes’ Mirror Pond and it’s still fairly tasty. The nose is a little skunked and I’m not sure why: hop scents of citrus or pine are barely present which is a touch disappointing. Still, the beer is very, very clean and just the kind of thing to go with the pub food staples: fries, nachos, meat-based somethings. There’s a solid floral bitterness on the finish that’s soon wiped away by the effervescence of the beer, good to stave off grease or other overwhelming flavors that are brought about by salt and/or meat.

I don’t think I’m looking to trade away this classic from the go-to list but I also recognize that its stability is what drives me towards other beers: if I know what something does already, I’m more curious about what I don’t know.

Starting Over

cleaning equpimentIt’s been just over a month since I moved and nearly three since I’ve brewed any beer. I’ve run out of homebrew. It’s past time.

In order to start this process off right, I began by putting every piece of equipment through a bleach sanitizing process. Not a lot of bleach, of course but enough to give me a fresh start with old equipment.

I reused the bleach water as much as I could by siphoning it from one carboy to another. Not only did this conserve water, it helped sanitize more of my equipment through usage. Two birds, one stone!

We’ll see if this will pay off in about two months, because I’m brewing tomorrow.

7pm The Day After

Bailey’s is quiet, unusually so, on the 26th of December. The bartender and I both agree; this is a nice thing. While happy to see the continued success of Bailey’s, I too have come to cherish the quiet nights where people can sit and talk and no one has to raise their voices to be heard. It’s for the best, really; the day after Christmas ought to be quiet, I think.

Drinking Laurelwood’s Moose and Squirrel stout which is nice and roasty, with a solid nuttiness to it. A good choice that perhaps I’ll have the luxury of making again, sometime.

I hope everyone had a very nice holiday.



Golden Gate adventures pt 2

My notes from the rest of my trip to San Francisco….

social belgian amber…begin with an early lunch at Social, where I had their Devilish Belgian amber, with rosemary and salted caramel.
I don’t know that I can taste the salt but something is curbing the caramel and keeping it from running away with this beer, which is awesome. The faint herbal whiff in the nose appears st the edges of the finish and it’s damn tasty.

As an aside, whilst sitting there, I heard the dumbest song I’ve heard in ten years. It was so bad it needed to be put on trial but so retarded it couldn’t be convicted.  The song pretty much sustained my theory that modern soul  music is about getting blowjobs, just in a less subtle manner than Broadway. Fortunately, I don’t know who performed it and will never have to listen to it again but if I ever find out, I’m sending them dead things in the mail.

So, Social; please improve your music selection.

The last brewpub I hit was the Thirsty Bear, where I had the Howard St. IPA.

As another aside: did you see the TB logo? That looks like a viking bear, it’s so angry. “RARR, BEER!”

Anyway…There’s a cloudy element visually to this one, (pictured at left) which comes up in the nose to add a wheat/hefe scent and give this more backbone. Unfortunately this also has a slight dirty flavor, like a peanut shell. Doesn’t ruin the beer but it encourages me to seek a different flavor.

I ended up trying the very tasty Golden Vanilla beer, which uses whole vanilla beans in the brew. I didn’t take notes on this beer, sadly but I do remember: Very Good.

Finally, I went to the Toronado pub. This is what an old man bar is like, if the old men in that bar loved beer. You do not bring dates here, you bring friends and if you get hungry, you send someone around the corner to bring in pizza because they are not in the business of serving you food. The bartenders have seen it all and hint somewhere between cordial and distain: Never rude but if you think they care about your problems, you are wrong.

So I dug it. Except, as with the Zeitgeist, the menu was not very friendly: the big board told me the brewery and the name of the beer, but not the style so I had no idea what I was ordering half the time.

That’s a design flaw, kids and I can’t say I’m thrilled about anything that comes between me and a beer that I want. Still; check it out, it’s a cool joint.

Golden Gate Adventures pt 1

I had a very nice time in San Francisco recently, thanks in large part to the many people I was able to visit and hang out with. That said, without the guidance of the New School and It’s Pub Night blogs (and the respective authors pointing things out for me) my trip would have lacked and I thank them for their pointers.

magnolia esbMy adventure started at the Magnolia, where I had their Brant Hill ESB. It was difficult to get nose off the beer because of the malt being boiled somewhere. Doors were opened but the entire pub was steamed windows and a muggy atmosphere as steam billowed from a grate nearby.

I loved it. It was old and new blended in a way that only older cities insist upon and the beer was good enough that the nose didn’t matter. Plus, the food was really good.

Later, we walked to the 21st Amendment where I had the Babyhorse belgian tripel. It was too sweet for the sweetie but I felt there was enough caramel and a touch of dryness makes it work. The Red Dwarf IPA tho was a hit with both of us and
the Amber Waves and Repeal Day IPA were also very good. Why can’t I get THOSE in a can, instead of Hell or High Watermellon?

beach chalet samplerThe next day, I hit the Beach Chalet, trying their sampler of 8 (whoa) beers. I was not expecting that many but no complaints. Of them I dug the brown that looked like a golden but still tasted like a brown, the imperial red, the Presidio IPA and V.F.W. Light. Nothing was bad but the smoky flavor in the stout was a surprise and it wasn’t an entirely pleasant one. I also thought that the California Kind was a solid beer that probably was being overshadowed by all the other choices.

I also overheard a brief conversation at the bar-that I gently wormed into-about Oregon beers and the OBF! It was a pretty light conversation but I always dig on serendipitous moments like that.

Finally, I spent a little time at the Zeitgeist bar, which was near my hotel. While a pretty neat space–one that would fit just fine in Portland, with it’s punk rock attitude and decor–it failed in one critical way: data.

The big board that tells customers what’s on tap told me the style of beer and the name and that is all. To anyone who loves beer, this isn’t nearly enough information and when the board misrepresents things (I ordered an Allies Win The War! which was listed under IPAs) the customer is left at a loss. That’s a design problem and the biggest thing I felt standing in the way of that bar becoming a great one.


This was the last beer I was able to make before I moved:
oktoberfest homebrew Not bad for the kid, eh?

And that’s not just bragging either: this one came out well. Not quite an oktoberfest, because while the base recipe is there, at the last minute I had to add in a whole bunch of Crystal hops. They would’ve gone bad in the move and why waste good hops? So it’s overhopped and not to style anymore but there’s a pleasant grapefruit sweetness that runs through the beer. It’s also clear enough to see through; you can’t tell because of the computer glare but I’m staring right at you. Really, baby, I wasn’t distracted at all.

I suppose to best describe the flavor, I’d have to say that it’s a solid caramel with a spiral of grapefruit wound around it. The alcohol warmth doesn’t show up until it gets to the belly and everything else is just gravy.

Good brew for the end of the year. I hope that this is a good sign for 2012.

7pm To Your Health

I arrive at my destination a little late, the result of a touch too much excitement at the card shop. It’s alright; I know some people at a table on the right and there’s a game in progress so I can stroll on up for my beer, if you will. I decide (after a horrific sampling of Gilgamesh’s Cranberry Saison, truly an affront to liquid everywhere) upon Leavenworth’s Whistling Pig Hefe.

leavenworth hefe

And that’s when I see Sparky. Back when I was doing the 52 Weeks theme, I saw him all the time; big dude with a beard to make ZZ Top envious and John Lennon sunglasses, he seemed like one of those men who was probably pretty low key in most areas of his life, but at a social place like a bar flourished. He likes beer, conversation, is pretty damn smart and affable: what’s not to dig on? A rarity at Bailey’s; he doesn’t seem to care so much about which beer he’s drinking, so long as it’s good and the staff have figured out his tastes (IPAs, for the most part.)

So I over to say hi and catch up. He tells me about his job, which is going well, so well that he was able to visit a dentist to get a bunch of work done, and a doctor for the first time in seven years. The nurse checks his blood pressure. Then a doctor (and my eyebrows go up.) Then another doctor (‘oh, shit’.) THEN an E.K.G. machine.

‘Holy christ, dude!’

“Yeah,” he chuckles, “turns out my BP was 180/10 and I didn’t know what that meant at the time but it turns out they thought I was having a heart attack on the spot.”

‘But you’re…’ I gesture to him

“Oh yeah,” he says, waving it off, “I wouldn’t be telling you about it if everything wasn’t kosher. I’m just one of those dudes who’s prone to hypertension. Some meds, and I’m alright.”


So I tell him what’s going on with me (moving, etc), he reassures me that in “six months, when all the piddly shit is done, you’ll love it,” which is good to know.

To your health, sir; may you keep it long.

Revisiting: Widmer Hefeweizen

The first time I ever had Widmer’s hefe was about twenty years ago in a bar in Spokane called Ichabod’s. I couldn’t believe I was having a beer with lemon on the side; That Just Seemed Wrong. The bar has since burned down, the owner convicted of arson, I believe, just as my notions of What Seems Wrong with a beer have also changed.

Though I still oppose a fruit side, I won’t let that prevent me from enjoying a good beer.

With the move and my current supplies of homebrew rapidly dwindling, I am compelled to purchase beer and so instead of wondering why the gods kill, I instead have decided to use this opportunity to go back, check out the beers that I cut my teeth on and helped introduce me (and many others) to the world of microbrewing.

Widmer hefeThe nose is faintly skunky, a little like a lager might be. The middle isn’t thin; the wheat presence holds it together for certain and the finish is actually fairly dry, a bit like white wine. I can totally see how this may have been designed to have a lemon added, as the citrus could play off the wheat balance and then mesh with the dry finish.

Still, I can’t quite enjoy this beer. I feel like it ought to be bolder, stand firmer. I shouldn’t think: wow, I get putting a lemon in this beer!

Beer isn’t ice cream-better with additives. Beer is steak: you do it right, you can have it on its own. I guess that hasn’t really changed for me.

Verdict: not something I’ll go back to very often.