I bought this VI

full sail imperial porterThis is one of my favorite beers: the Full Sail Top Sail imperial porter. It just gets the balance between the malts and roasted flavors and the bourbon so right, and is tasty every year, that it’s hard to resist.

Plus, it has the advantage of not being overhyped to the point of scarcity, like Deschutes’ Abyss, which is a great beer but even more expensive and hard to find. Like the Abyss, the Top Sail is a seasonal so it can vary a bit from year to year, but I’m not the kind of person who stores beers up for a rainy day, so my ability to compare in this situation is limited.

What I can tell you is: This year’s batch is good.

As the porter warms up, it remains just as smooth but the bourbon flavors come out just a little more. It’s not overwhelming; I seem to be sensing it more in the nose than I was before but when combined with the chocolate and coffee notes, it’s really hard to object.

Man, it’s good; in part because it still drinks like a porter instead of a stout, which may be what gives this beer an edge over the bourbon barrel stouts, at least in terms of how drinkable it is. A pretty nice antidote to the sudden burst of cold weather we’ve had.

7pm: Princely moments

I’m in the front corner tonight, and it’s for maximum relaxin’, I tell you what. Me and a Caldera Vanilla Wheat and it’s all good.

Caldera Vanilla WheatAlthough there isn’t much vanilla in this vanilla wheat. The nose is right out of a helles, hinting of skunkiness-heck, even the body is such, and as you can see, nobody could fault you for thinking this was a lager. Maybe in the soft edges, the midpoint curve of my tongue, there’s a hint of vanilla but it’s almost like a wardrobe malfunction rather than a congnitive effort.

I feel like leaning back. This corner is one where you can kick your legs out, if you’re by yourself. There’s definitely a ‘surveying my domain’ element, since I’m in an area which allows me to look out opon the two main lines of the pub that feels a bit princely.

Or, like I’m ready for the assassination attempt. I hear that gunslingers would sit so they could face the door, back in the day. It wouldn’t work so well at Bailey’s, to be a gunslinger: it’s impossible to sit in such a way where your back isn’t to some window.

There’s a lipstick print near me, on the outside pane. I like that. I mean, it’s gotta go someday but I like that someone was flirting enough to kiss someone through the glass. It’s pretty special when things like that happen to me, at least, so I’d hope that the recipient appreciated the effort.

There’s a bloke behind the counter who’s new: I’m told he’s offering samples of mead.  Cool, let’s try that. He’s a Blue Dog employee and at Bailey’s, on a Monday, he’s just a touch forlorn. Shame, because he’s a nice guy with good mead. He calls what he’s pouring the ‘wine version’ and he tells me that they’re making an ale version that should be available in April. Which is super cool, because I am sure I’ve had mead as wine but I don’t know that I’ve ever had it as ale. Something to look forward too, for certain.

The laptop battery is dying. I’m feeling a pressure: hurry, hurry, get this all down. Don’t lose your thoughts to the whimsy of laptop batteries. This is no way to lord of one’s domain. What’s the point of ruling if you don’t get to relax from time to time? My fault, of course, for not preparing in advance. Isn’t that always the way?

I suppose it doesn’t hurt that the Caldera is the kind of beer that you can pound. There’s no reason to sip this drink that I can think of and when I have the ‘hurry, hurry’ element going, well…

Hm. This is not technology serving me. It’s the Ferris Buller axiom: if you go too fast, you might miss it.  I think it’s time to unplug, appreciate the bar and have another ale, a sippin’ ale.

But I tell ya, you come here and have a chance at the corner table? Take it.

I bought this V

Ft George IPAFort George‘s Vortex IPA was a pickup because I was recycling a lot of bottles and that helped take the sting out of the price point. Granted, at $12, a four pack is approximately about what one would pay for a pint, so that’s the upside: the downside is that part of the reason I buy a beer in the store is that it costs less than when I ask a bartender to serve it to me.

That said, this is a pretty damn good beer. The hoppy qualities are there in the nose and at the end but they are not overwhelming and the malt sweetness plays a large role in keeping this beer on track. It’s not a traditional IPA–the hops are still too prominent for that–but it’s definitely a good one that brings a nice bitterness to finish everything off.

Oddly, the clarity seems to be off; just like with the lager I had. I don’t notice anything weird about the beer from a flavor profile but to see a haze in there just seems strange. Sure, if it happens in a beer I make myself that’s kind of expected: this is work done by professionals. Maybe a perfectly clear ale isn’t as important as I might have been lead to believe?


my stout

To the left you can see my stout pictured and ready to drink. Or, partially drank, really. I jumped the gun at first, opening this beer a few days before it was ready: there was no carbonation at all and that was a bit disappointing.

Now, there’s a faint carbonation, like a young man’s peach fuzz, barely there and then gone but it last and it is just enough to help clear the palate from the stronger chocolate flavors in this. The mouthfeel isn’t quite as rich as a commercial stout but I think it’s a bit denser than a porter. Somewhere in the middle isn’t a bad place to put it, I guess. I’ll mark this post both stout and porter, since I can’t really decide. Who knows, maybe someone will see what I’ve done and know for sure!

Other than that, it’s a pretty quaffable pint. A bit sweeter than most stouts it’s something I can see going with something hearty like a cheeseburger or something a bit tart like an orange.

I hope the carbonation doesn’t build up too much more: a little bit and that’ll be about right. Any further and that might make the beer feel a little too light.

Recipe is as follows:

Brew Date 12.26.11
Steeping grains
7 oz toasted oats
.5 lb Chocolate
.5 lb black barley
.5 lb C80

7 lb LME

1oz Hallertauer @ 60

Reused octoberfest yeast, originally from Hopworks

Original Gravity

Terminal G

Final G

Bottled 1.4.12, ABV about 4.39%

7pm The Day Off

I was fortunate enough to spend my day in maximum lounge mode and I have to admit, that’s pretty swell. Sure, I mopped the kitchen (and am I sexy now, ladies?) but the actual workload was somewhere between infant and preschool. It’s good to have those days when you can.

Oakshire/Gigantic Red Collaboration

I’m finishing up with an Oakshire/Gigantic collaboration, the Collabo Wabo. (Sounds like someone listened to a little Van Hagar in the day.) It’s a red ale made with agave and truthfully, I’m not sure what makes that special. It tastes a little fruitier than your average red and there’s no hop finish at all; touch chocolate there, otherwise clean. A little hop in the nose and I’m not sure what’s there: raisin, maybe? Faint fruit but nothing overwhelming. This is a red, after all; though a little hazy, hops, yeast, these things a jedi does not crave. It’s malty and easy to drink, almost a grownup version of chocolate-cherry infused 7up.

Or maybe I’m just crazy. As with all things, I do not suggest you take my word for it but instead try it for yourself.

There’s a red headed woman here that I could swear I’ve met before. I cannot recall where I met her though and as a result, that kind of uncanny familiarity feels weird. I have the awkward desire to stare at someone I have no business staring at, merely to satisfy a curiosity. Let us agree that there are proper methods to investigate curiosity and inappropriate ones and staring falls into the latter.

Maybe this is just what happens when you go to one place long enough: the people become familiar, regardless of whether or not you have met them. This is why we have archetypes, after all. I think that’s a good thing, because what it implies is that it doesn’t matter how different you may seem from someone, there is some common ground to be had, points in your life where you recognize them and they recognize you and there’s a chance to understand a person whom, under any other circumstances, you should never identify with as human or like you.

But the archetypes remain and they don’t care if you don’t recognize them. The monster, the thief, the trickster, the little red headed girl, the loyal dog, the old oracle or the wise drunk; we all gather under the tent. The only trick is to see the mask for the what it represents and then wait for the individual to come out, so you can accept the new thing.

Ah, it’s all just a wild hope that maybe we can do better, as people, you know? “Everybody can change!” It all sounds like bullshit. In part because change is scary and hard to deal with sometimes, because nobody wants to be left behind but change can do that and we all know it. That’s frightening.

Still, if we can all sit down and have a beer and chat, maybe there’s a chance for things to be more awesome, instead of less. Just sayin’.

Oooch. What if the red headed woman hates me? Maybe I ought to hunker down, sip my beer and write instead of hope for a better tomorrow. At the end of the day, I still have to do the work and that is more relevant than the smudge of a dream.

Just wait.

I’m still not ready to talk about my latest beer because it’s not quite ready. Hopefully soon but we shall see. If it’s not ready, what can I do but hold fast?

Until then, however, there’s a pretty cool story in the Willamette Week on a recent movement to invigorate the hop growing industry in Oregon. There’s a lot of potential there for some really exciting hop varieties in the near future and we can only benefit from that.

Also, Zwickelmania is coming up this weekend: maybe you’d like some information on that.

7pm Indecision

I am briefly stymied by an overabundance of choices. It doesn’t happen too often but occasionally I just have no idea what to try because enough new beers have come up and so many look good that I don’t know where to start. Being on a budget certainly helps, because I can’t suddenly cry, ‘Drink all the beers!

Although that’s probably for the best.

lucky lab barleywineIt’s with a certain relish, though, that I see Lucky Lab‘s ’07 Old Yeller barleywine on tap. I feel like I never get to try enough Lucky Lab yet they’re in my neighborhood (ish) so I ought to be better versed in their ales.

I am rewarded with a mostly fine ale, smooth and chocolatey but there’s a harshness on the finish; a certain woodiness that stands out against the ‘Awww yeah‘ funkiness of the start. It’s still good, mind you and I won’t be struggling to finish it by any means. There’s just something keeping it from being great.

It feels a little more lively tonight. No idea why, since it seems like there are less people in the pub, overall.

As the Old Yeller gets warmer, the woodiness recedes and a slight whiskey/alcohol bite comes in at the end. I have to say, I like that better.

I’m enjoying my solitude tonight, to the point where I’m almost considering another brew. I’m feeling a bit like hiding out and I currently have the luxury of doing so in the corner, plenty of space to write and nobody to disturb. Doesn’t suck. On the other hand, I only have thirty minutes left on my laptop’s battery: this is not a lot of time left to finish this beer and enjoy another.

Plus, the woodiness of this beer has come back. Damnit, why won’t this barleywine just make up its mind?

Then again, I’m still pondering another ale, so who am I to criticize indecision?

Almost there

homebrew stouts

So, there they are: the first beer brewed in the new house, bottled and waiting. Should be ready to drink by the weekend and then I can start this mad dance of brewing, fermenting, bottling and writing all over again.

Plus, I can stop purchasing so much beer! That’s going to save me enough money that I can start purchasing more interesting beer/saving money for other habits.

I bought this IV

Man, I hate it when I’ve got everything almost ready and then…stuff happens and I forget to post or get a photo. Sorry about that!

This time I’ve got the Great Divide Claymore, a wee heavy scotch ale and I have to say, it’s making me pull back a bit from what Alesmith made me think Wee Heavies were. There may very well be hops in this beer but I can’t pick any up in the nose or flavor; this beer makes a case for an ale based on caramel malt and little else.

Now, I know there’s more to it; this kind of smoothness and lighter mouthfeel while keeping such a strong malt presence means that they’ve done a lot of work to help keep this beer balanced.

It also means that I have to accept that a less dense version of the Wee Heavy is probably more appropriate to the style. If everyone but one person decides the sky is blue, then who’s wrong?

Maybe that isn’t the best example, as I don’t think Alesmith’s Wee Heavy is a bad or flawed beer, nor that Great Divide’s is superior; they both have their merits. But they also both rest comfortably within the style in terms of the flavor profile so my challenge is to accept that beer for what it is, when I drink it. That’s always a good lesson.

7pm Voiceless

My illness has lingered, clawing at my throat and making my vocal chords the rusted out nightmare of a shipwreck off the Bermuda Triangle. Plus, it hurts to talk.

So I’m sitting on the rail, listening to the bartender  hold court (he’s telling people about how corporations are going into local shows to make sure musicians aren’t using samples) and the man next to me quote a comedy show I’ve never heard of (‘I once ran naked through a bowling alley for $3’) while I fight off a slight headache and drink Stone‘s ’09 13th Anniversary imperial red.

The brew tastes like chocolate and chalk. I’m suddenly back in 5th grade being punished for eating a Hershey bar in class by being forced to lick the chalkboard.

I wave the bartender down, my throat punishing me for every hoarsely buzzed note: “So, this isn’t good, right?”

He replies, “I think it’s a little bit past it’s prime,” while making a  non-committal motion with his hands. The patron next to me agrees; something’s wrong with this beer.

“I can pour you something else if you like,” the barkeep offers.

Pelican Riptide redI would indeed like. I go for Pelican‘s Riptide, this merely a red instead of an imperial.

And just like that, I’ve got a better beer, one that’s almost too easy to drink but in a good way. All but the definition of a session ale, maybe (maybe!) just a little high at 5.3%, this is what to drink when I’m in a drinkin’ mood. I can hang out for a few hours, drink this and still feel like I’m making sense. It’s just malty enough to have some throughline of taste, a very crisp finish with the whiff of citrus there, like lemon water, to complete the quenching element of this beverage.

With no desire to speak, I’m listening to the dull stoner one-drop, the muted clank of a tipped glass breaking, the warning that Jolly Pumpkin isn’t producing a pumpkin beer and a discussion about Northern California where bikers grow weed to smoke meth while the man next to me takes a photo of an old lamb doll, the kind that could find a home in the Velveteen Rabbit to post on some social media site, somewhere.

I hope kids still read the Velveteen Rabbit. It’s a rare commentary to suggest that loving something makes it real, instead of love being the proof that something is real. I rather like that.

It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.