A bad beer guide

I’m being just a touch misleading with the title but I’m told that’s what brings the readers in: lies.

Or was that votes? I am running for dictator…

Nevermind. The point is: someone wrote a very helpful guide for sending a craft ale back that has gone bad. It’s pretty well done, with a helpful chart at the bottom that explains what may have gone wrong with the ale given what you’re tasting, as well as a disclaimer that people try the beer and talk to the staff/brewer to see if certain flavors were the intent. Strange flavors can be the goal and sometimes these thing just won’t be your idea of a good time but that’s different than a beer that’s old or been stored or served improperly.

Knowledge is power in these kinds of situations; now go and use your power wisely.

I bought this II

Deschutes NWPAI guess the title for these are rather silly: I bought anything that wasn’t brewed myself. I don’t have it in me to steal beer.


Today’s beer is Deschutes’ Red Chair, billed as a NW pale, it smells like the best part of being in a brewery; malty and hoppy and maybe just a suggestion of yeastiness. It’s hard to explain fully unless you’ve been to a brewery but put a hint of breadiness in and you’ve probably got it.

I’m glad this is a seasonal because it tastes some good. The piney hop bitterness at the end is a strong finish to this ale, which has just enough maltiness to it to keep it from going off the rails. I’d probably drink this year round if it was available, so I’m glad it isn’t. I’d go broke!

7pm Great Minds

I’m meeting friends so I’m at Bailey’s early tonight. Don’t worry: I’ll still be here at 7, so everyone wanting to meet the rockstar of this joint can still do so.

oakshire and burnside alesIt’s nice to have pals working the bar: those two beers in the picture? The one in the foreground I’m drinking because the beer I wanted, Oakshire‘s Ill-Tempered Gnome, was pouring badly, which they told me before they poured a drop. So I went with a Burnside Alter Ego imperial IPA to wet my whistle in the meantime and the staff was kind enough bring the Gnome out to me when it was finally ready.

I’d barely even touched the Ego, too! Still, I’m double fisting smaller beers tonight, so no worries about going too far. And soon, dinner. Mmmm…dinner.

Times like this, the simple things really are some of the best: a small place where they know me, good beer, the promise of tasty food. People to play games and chat with.

Friend comes in, I tell him about the Ill Tempered Gnome: it has a flavor like chocolate milk! He tries it and agrees, it’s good. “But you can’t drink it for five minutes,” I tell him. “So you order two beers at the same time,” he replies.

Heh. Great minds, right? Good times, good times, as my sister says.

I bought this

Ft George 1811Fort George‘s 1811 lager.

The nose has that nice lager nose; not quite skunky but the kind I associate with summer days and the mouthfeel is very nice. There more body to this beer than the average lager and I like the density that’s there. It’s also good at sweeping away salty pub food.

What’s odd: this lager seems a bit cloudy for a lager. I’m not saying it’s bad just that visually, it doesn’t have the kind of clarity I have come to expect from the style. That may be the result of a fuller bodied beer or it may be that the proteins that can cause this haze weren’t quite filtered out. Given that this is beer is made by professionals, I’m leaning towards the former.

What I don’t like: the finish doesn’t seem very clean. I’ve got a lingering bitterness that I’m just not down with here. Maybe I wouldn’t care if it was summer? Maybe it’s really meant to go with some food instead of being drank alone? I’m just not certain. Maybe Fort George should send me some for testing.

And now, we wait

Before I start, I’d just like to direct everyone’s attention here, where you can add your name to the petition to stop the SOPA and PIPA bills. Anyone who knows anything about how the internet works and has (reasonably) trustworthy motives has said these bills are awful, corporate strangleholds over the internet as we know it, allowing for censorship in all but name.

Some of your favorite web sites may be blank/redirected today and their protest of these bills is why. I’m too small to make a difference with a blackout but not too small to draw your attention elsewhere-and I know that politics isn’t what you’re here for, so I thank my readers for this tiny indulgence.

stout and amber brews

So, here we are. Two beers, fermenting away. The left is a stout, the right is an amber. So far, things have been going well: the stout needs to go into secondary soon, I believe but it may be best to take some gravity readings on the amber before I make any moves there because I’m afraid I didn’t pitch enough yeast.

I’m learning now, after eight years, that I may have been underpitching my yeast all this time. No wonder the batches made with second runs of yeast or donated by craft breweries did better: there was more yeast!

Still, better to learn now than to never learn at all.

One thing not brewing for three months has taught me is: I drink a lot of beer.

I know this now because I am having to pay for a lot of beer. That shit is expensive! I think I can grok the mindset of the PBR drinker a little better. Still don’t agree with it much but I understand it.

A fellow OBC member directed me to a place on his blog where one can see where the costs of buying homebrew equipment starts paying for itself. Pretty cool and, if you ever needed a reason to start homebrewing, this might be it. According to the calculator, I save about $41 per batch of homebrew I make, instead of buying it at the store.
That’s a lot of dinero. And My Money > less of My Money.

7pm Headware

The temperatures really dropped this weekend and I saw just a tiny bit of snow, which always makes me a little wistful. It doesn’t snow much in Portland and sometimes I miss that, because it always snowed plenty, every winter I knew growing up in Spokane. The snow is all gone now, only the cold remains and I have bundled up to come down for my weekly.

A buddy is already here: turns out he was hanging out with a mutual friend who had to leave suddenly, abandoning his hat (pictured below.) We are now holding it for ransom, in hopes that we will get whiskey.

Who needs money? Whiskey. Whiskey will be better than money, when the CHUD’s come, my friend.

In the middle of everything, a man compliments my hat: turns out he’s a Hat Guy; has one for different seasons and occasions. That’s pretty wild to me because I have been wearing only one style of hat for decades now and I know: I am not to be a headware philandrist. He’s visiting from Yakima for a tax conference in Lake Oswego and tells me about how he acquired his summer hat: in Spokane, on his way to Silverwood and suddenly it’s a very small world.

goodlife wee heavyI’ve chosen Goodlife‘s Scottish Heart, a wee heavy. I’m not sure how I feel about it; the beer feels a little young for a wee heavy: lighter than I’d expect in the body. But the roasted maple flavors are there; this beer is not flawed, by any means. I think I just have some specific criteria when it comes to wee heavies, now. I blame Alesmith for skewing my impressions.

Still, I like it enough that I’d try some of Goodlife’s other beers. Maybe this isn’t the style they specialize in. I’ve been told by a fellow OBC member that I should never trust a beer from a brewery in its first year and certainly Goodlife seems like a rookie. A solid rookie but just not quite ready for the big show.

Maybe I just need to go to Bend for a weekend. So many breweries are opening up there, I imagine that a lost weekend would be easy to fill in that city. I wonder if it snows there?

Revisiting Red Hook’s ESB

Back when I first started drinking craft beers, a buddy of mine told me to be careful around the Red Hook: “They should’ve called it Right Hook,” he said, alluding to it’s strength. I never seemed to get rolled by Red Hook the way my buddy suggested  and at the time, I didn’t even know what an ESB was but it has been a staple of the NW scene for quite a while now, introducing other styles and I believe have now joined a kind of beer conglomerate with Widmer.

There’s a strong scent of sulfur, stronger than any of the other beers. Lager like, it reminds me of beers I sniffed growing up while bringing something to my Dad.

Red Hook ESBThat sulfurness hits first in the flavor, too and it’s a bit displeasing on the tongue. The malts show up quickly but not soon enough and there is a quirk at the end, as though the sulfur is pulling a Lazarus moment on me.

This beer is also the least challenging of the ones I’ve revisited and the most like a lager, something I would have gotten in the 1980’s on a whim, just to see if I should break away from the Rainier I’ve been sneaking from Old Man Kopra’s fridge…

I can’t say I’m impressed or convinced to get more Red Hook. This beer is there for someone else, perhaps someone who needs a gateway into a larger world but doesn’t want to actually take a risk.

But it is not for me.

Revisiting: Rogue Dead Guy

Dead Guy aleShortly after I moved to Portland, a friend who had taken the leap months before myself introduced me to Rogue’s Dead Guy ale. He said he liked to fuck with people by telling them “I like to suck on a Dead Guy.”

Marketing departments: call him. Hell, it’s not any less distasteful than discounting your beer the day after the US kills Osama Bin Laden…

Let’s move on though. Bygones. What matters now is the now and in the now I have some of Rogue’s Dead Guy and if that isn’t their best known beer, then it’s got to be pretty damn close.

Tiny weird story: after posting this photo to my Flickr, some Rogue PR human asked me to add it to their Rogue group photos. But…I really don’t think I’m a joiner, in that sense. The sense that I might be a shill for someone’s product for free. I mean, hey, if they want to pay me…

Moving on.

Malty, very malty. This is supposed to be an alt, or so I’ve read. Certainly doesn’t smell like a pale or IPA, with a sweeter, honeysuckle-esque nose to it. The malts kick in right away though, caramel spread over ice cream in the flavor. I’d have to say that’s the biggest difference between the Dead Guy and the Mirror Pond.

Otherwise, this is just a super clean beer that’s sweet enough to appeal to many palates. I may not always dig on the way Rogue markets their beer but I can’t say I object to the beer itself.

7pm The Suck

After the past two weeks of quiet nights, we are back to the regular crowded house, with reggae and house music dominating the atmosphere. It’s almost enough for me to request that the back corner get revamped into a tiny card and writing space just for me. I’m not here quite enough to justify that but a man has got to have a dream. I can only take so much unts-unts-unts before I start thinking I’m in eurodisco hell and comprehending why any music with guitar is better than better than non-guitar music.

Papa Noel ale

I’m sipping on Alameda’s Papa Noel, again two weeks after the fact. It’s remarkably easy to drink, with a loose chocolate-caramel vibe.

At the table to my left, three men are arguing about the myth of President Regan. Loudly.

Man, the 80’s fucking sucked. This is the loudest thought in my brain, as they deconstruct how brilliant a President Mr. Regan was, while also insisting Carter was an asshole and…ugh.

Man, the 80’s fucking sucked. Middle school, high school (which all good humans despise), the greediest greed ever starting up and some of the worst goddamn pop music known to man.The girlfriend even commented on this, listening to mix tapes I made during the era, because that was all we had to play while moving and organizing the house.

“Your taste was awful,” she told me while listening to a song whose lyrical content could be summed up with the statement: ‘We play rock on the radio’.

“Sometimes,” I replied. “I mean…it was the 80’s. Nearly everything that I liked that was really good wasn’t popular, or was popular 10 years ago. Everything else was just filler but I didn’t think I had much choice, then.”

“Man, the 80’s were awful for you,” She didn’t know the half of it.

Still, I made it. Most of us did and there’s always something good about surviving.

Half way through the Papa Noel and I’m reconsidering my position; this ale seems a little thin. It doesn’t taste bad but if it was bulked up just a hair in the mouthfeel, I’d probably promote this beer from decent to really good.

I was also tempted by Gilgamesh’s Vader because part of growing up in the 80’s is knowing who your villains are. Glad I dodged that one though: I got a sip from a friend and it smells and tastes like freshly used coffee grounds. To hell with that.

That’s a pretty dissatisfying beer sampling for the night. I think I may have to try another in order to recoup my losses. I have choices: something better is certainly out there. Wish me luck.