Dear Rogue

I went to the establishment on 15th and Flanders on my birthday, where I had the Freedom Hop ale, touted by the bartender as the only beer in the world that is being made with a single hop throughout the process.

Ahem.

But OK, he probably meant commercial beers and there’s really no sense in being dickish about it: I’m getting a free beer. A beer I liked, too! It was a really solid pale ale, easy to drink and I would’ve had more of it if there had been time. The hops weren’t too bitter on the finish and the nose was a softer citrus, like a flower. All in all, a very agreeable beer to drink.

Now, since this was a liter of beer to myself, I ordered tater tots. I had a difficult time making this choice, as though some part of me was reluctant to get anything at all, a voice suggesting that I should’ve eaten before I arrived. This feeling would be unremarkable except for the fact that the tots were, hands down, the worst I’ve ever tasted: burnt, dirty flavors all over them. I just couldn’t finish the serving.

That’s when I remembered: I didn’t like the chicken strips I got last year, either. I don’t know what you’re doing in the kitchen but if you’re fucking up tater tots, it needs to be fixed. Just sayin’.

I then wandered over to the Green Dragon where I had a lovely alt from The Commons, (continuing to cement their place as a kick ass brewery) but decided to avoid any other form of nourishment. Just in case.

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Unintended Acceleration

After putting the lighter of the two pales into secondary, I got a reading of 1.018ish which is tolerable.

The next morning though, there was beer on the floor and when I examined the carboy, I found this:

That’s a portion of the giant fracture I found in the carboy. I’m not entirely sure how this happened but that crack runs all along the top and then halfway down the carboy.

So, one emergency cleaning and sanitizing of bottles later, I have bottled the pale well ahead of schedule. The gravity reading I got when I was bottling? 1.021. Which suggests that some stuff had gotten mixed up when I transferred to secondary (expected) and that there might have even been some activity that I had to cut off by bottling (unfortunate.)

On the upside, this beer will spend more time in the bottle, so maybe it could be considered bottle conditioned? Sort of? OK, maybe not but at least there will be plenty of time to acquire carbonation.

Still, there’s no sense crying over split wort. Now, how do I appropriately dispose of a cracked carboy?

7pm Density

After much deliberation and a bit of discussion with a fine gent who’s working on publishing a beer magazine in July, I finally settle on Great Divide‘s Rumble, because the description-an IPA aged in oak barrels-interests me.

This beer is quite woody. The oak is present to the point where not only is there a kind of astringent dryness at the end, but a slightly dirty barky flavor too. The mouthfeel is a bit thicker than an regular IPA and, though I’m not sure if the picture shows it, this beer is quite a bit cloudier than I would expect and IPA to be, at least from a professional.

It’s solid but I am not sure I would want more than the smaller glass I got. Even as this IPA has warmed up, the malt notes that might have balanced out the pine of the hops or smoothed out the oak qualities just refuse to come out to play.

This quality has led to a brief discussion about the ‘feel’ of a beer and how that comes about and affects taste. As far as I know (warning: Incomplete Knowledge coming) this is a function of yeast and malt, and how much of the malt sugars are eaten by the yeasts.

At this point something interesting happens: we are gleefully roped into a conversation about overpopulation and how to control it, which leads to a discussion about the nature and value of work-with the guy whom I’d spoken to about beer earlier, and his guest.

That is some heady stuff. It’s also why we come to the pubs, I think. There’s a kind of conversation that only happens when you’re outside of the norms of the house. I dig that, because it’s a chance to learn something and that’s always a good opportunity.

Pale Experiment 2012

In my relentless pursuit of things to do, I decided I would try making two beers with the exact same ingredients, save for the yeast. It hasn’t quite worked out, as you can see:

The beer on the left is lighter in color and I’m not sure why. The only difference was that I used Pacman from Wyeast in that, while in the one on the right, I used an ale yeast I got from Hopworks.

There is another difference: the wort on the left was brewed one week after the one on the right. It’s possible, then, that the lighter wort just hasn’t had enough time for things to drop out. That explanation doesn’t make much sense…so I suppose it really isn’t much of an explanation.

The most logical one is that: some darker malts got mixed up in the first batch. This is a possibility, since I mill my grain at FH Steinbarts and the person ahead of me could have been using darker malts: it wouldn’t take much to shift the color, I think.

That said I’m still surprised at the difference in color and I don’t have a truly satisfactory reason as to why there is a difference here. I’m also surprised at the activity of the yeast. The Hopworks yeast has been going like gangbusters for two weeks. The Pacman yeast? One week and now the beers look like this:

You can see how the beer on the right still has a thick layer of yeast working, where the left side? Not so much. I don’t know what it means but I do know that, despite being made later, the one on the left is nearly ready to go into secondary. I’ll get a gravity reading when I do that, which will hopefully tell me how far it’s come and if I just need to let this beer sit for a bit longer–or maybe, once I give it to other people, they can tell me what went awry, if anything.

Beer and food

This made the rounds a little bit ago but it’s never too late to bring it up: there is such a thing as beer jello shots. I don’t think that this is a good thing but it exists and I feel that  maybe someone might find that…less than hideous.

Another article, that Fuz sent me, was on beer and cheese pairings, which I found to be really informative and totally cool. Plus, cheese is awesome. I will broach no dissension on this topic.

7pm Cogs

Snow fell this morning, like commuters distractedly making their way to work, unconcerned about their destination, knowing that when they get there, all their uniqueness will end and they will merely become water, like everything else. Why hurry? Why go? This slow drift down is much more entertaining.

It’s not always easy for a man to acknowledge his uniformity, his lack of extraordinary. My name is not one that will be recalled through history, my line won’t continue. My day to day? Is practically the definition of mundane. I am replaceable, and no different than the billions of other people who wake up, do their best and sleep.

You are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

Which, I suppose, is a succinct way of saying: get the fuck over it. And here’s why–again, from Fight Club:

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

I don’t mind being a cog. I promise. I acknowledge this simple truth: I am not special. I don’t find my joy in this but I don’t mind it. I’m busy, I’m busy trying to fight a spiritual war. Not a war against spirits but a war OF the spirit. I don’t want the shit I’m told to want: I want the stuff that helps me engage, damnit. I don’t have time, nor the desire, to fuck around with crap that I’m told I ‘need’ vs what my heart tells me I need.

We are here to evolve. We are here to inspire each other to be better, inch by inch, day by terrible day. The monkey that learns to use the tool, that shows another monkey, that shows another, until everyone knows how the tools work: that’s what I’m here for. To learn from the other monkeys, to be the monkey that teaches, to figure out a small piece of a small element of that tool, to link that spirit and give it to someone else. Anyone else.

This is the reason that Fight Club spoke to so many young men (and women) over a decade ago. We knew, whether or not we’d been told, that we were and are being lied to, that our lives were more empty than full, that our cogs were taking over, defining us instead of being something we can shed and drop out of. Why the hell should we buy into a system that is intent on burying us with all the glee of a bully?

It’s taking years. It’s taking bombings and death and protests and the very slow raising of the veil that we are being screwed over AND we are not being allowed to live to our potential. It’s coming, though. I don’t know how to be a part of that, nor how to make a mark on anyone.

I play a cog on TV.  I don’t make a huge impact.

But I can learn to use the tools, I can evolve, motherfucker. Watch me get better, be a leaf on the wind, and maybe I can show you how I did it. Then you can show me how you did that and we can move to something better, instead of the bullshit that seems to be insisting on getting its way right now.

full sail altAnd it won’t matter when I melt and become just like everyone, because we’ll have done something together.

Drinking Full Sail’s Existential Alt, to, what I imagine, is nobody’s surprise. It’s a little more watery than I’d like, mostly notable because of a hint of bitterness at the end that makes it unappealing because there’s nothing to balance it out.

One up, one down

I went to Apex last Friday, on a very short pubcrawl meant to start my own celebrations during March. I like Apex as a space, I just can’t ever get there enough and I can’t justify bringing cardplayers to that joint because the music (which I like-Yay Motorhead!) is too loud and the space itself is too dark, dominated by a giant flatscreen on which I ‘got’ to view NASCAR/Motocross events. So. Yeah.

Which just leaves the beer; a broad variety that is a little bit overpriced. Nothing obscene but it means that I want whatever I select to be worth it. I go with Evil Twin‘s Ryan and the Beaster Bunny, which is a saison of some sort. The name is a hoot and I’ve never heard of them before so let’s see what they’ve got.

My first impressions  are not very positive; lemony, maybe a little banana there and then dirty, like gravel dust. So I wait: sometimes these beers need to warm up, you know?

Ten minutes later, I’m drinking something that tastes like a rock’s butthole. If that isn’t a sign to move on, I don’t know what is.

On the plus side, I went to the Firkin Tavern later where I had two Boneyard double IPAs. It reminded me a bit of a Ladd’s Addition version of Roscoe’s, with the dive bar pedigree and the chalkboard beer list. Which is to say: I totally dug the place.

Also, the double IPA was good too, so the evening ended on a high point.