Amber Recipe

This is gonna be what it says it is, about this beer.

Brew Date 4.1.12

 Steeping Grains:
.5 lb 2 row
.5 lb C120
.25 lb rye
.25 lb red wheat malt
Fermentables:
7 lb LME
Hops:
1.5 oz Crystal @ 60
1.5 oz Crystal @ 40
1 oz Pearle @ 20
Yeast:
Reused Pacman yeast from IPA
OG:
1.055
 FG:
1.012
TG:
1.02
Notes:
Boil was a little hot–over 200 in places but not crazy. We’ll see…
Put into 2ndary 4.10
Bottled 4.28
ABV: 5.56%

7pm Responsible, Reliable and Tired

Caldera Hemp BrownSipping on Caldera‘s Hemp Brown after a longish day. This is the trouble with being responsible. People rely on that and then when anything goes wrong, you not only have to take up the slack, it’s expected of you. Suddenly you’ve got to take care of twice, now three times the tasks and be responsible for directing traffic too. The days stretch on, you manage it but occasionally they still bite you in the ass with just a few new surprises.

You don’t just get to stay home, drinking beer, playing games, napping and dreaming of blowjobs.

You gotta work. And on the days when things go wrong, as I’ve had today, it’s not like one can just go home and hang up the skates. Nothing to do but endure your day, complain as amusingly as you can and wait  until you can get a proper ale.

Times like this, I understand the trial of parents everywhere a little better. You don’t get a break, as one once thought or understood a break to be, as a kid. Home is just where you don’t make money. Oh sure, there are other rewards but in a just world, babysitting would be a multi-billion dollar industry and the bank owners would enter the Thunderdome.

Then again, do we really want a bunch of teen or near teenagers running around with a lot of money and…shall we say ‘developing’? senses of right and wrong? I suppose it would make things interesting, if nothing else.

This beer, this brown ale is a satisfactory one. It doesn’t take the edge off but it does let me settle in for what ought to be a long night of ales. It won’t be. This is the drawback of drinking on Mondays: you have to work, you have to be responsible and get ready to crush your enemies the next day.

It’s got a slight burnt flavor at the back end, on the roof of my mouth. Campfire-y. I like it. It’s gentle enough that I was 3/4ths through my beer before I noticed it.

There’s a woman walking by outside, begging for change. As she stops to ask people for money, she takes on a certain sway, bobbing, as though she was a buoy in the water. Her face looks like a punched raisin, her wide smile more like a disturbing slash made in a loaf of bread.

She moves on and I am reminded that there are worse things than being responsible, reliable and tired.

I still get to dream of days. I am certain I already have what some part of her dreamt of.

A visit to the bunker

I’d heard about the Beer Bunker from the staff at Bailey’s and I figure I’d better get on visiting before everybody knows about it and you don’t need the blog to tell you what’s cool.

Oh, who am I kidding: I will always be a vanguard of cool.

Ahem. Sorry. Let the power go to my head.

Bunker sampler trayThe girlfriend and I both had sampler trays and I can’t say that anything was particularly revealing beerwise.  The Monk & Mingus by Upright had the coffee flavors smoothed out by the banana flavor, Hoppy Belgian by The Commons seemed to mute the Belgian qualities to the point of Asking where is that? but actually made for a really drinkable beer.

Then things got weird. I mixed up the Rauch Weiss smoke ale by Gigantic and the Gravity Mountain IPA collaboration by Terminal Gravity and Double Mountain. Not sure how that happened but the IPA had a smokey quality to it that had me thinking it was something else.

Very confusing.

Anyway; the upside of the Beer Bunker is this: decent bottle selection and three serving size options (including a pint of Upright for $4.25, which is unusual because I’ve never seen it reasonably priced) so it can accommodate those on a budget, or those who just want to try a lot of different beers but not go home loopy. The space is a pretty open too and that feels nice. They’re clearly not quite done with the business yet so I see plenty of potential there to make it a more comfortable, nice space to get into.

On the down side, open doors meant I could hear the annoying muffler-free motorcycles as they roared past all too well, and they really need better chairs. But all in good time.

Amber #1, 2012

At least once a year I like to try and brew a few really drinkable beers. Nothing to crazy on the flavors and something that would be easy to deal with on hot summer afternoons. This plan might have been helped by some actual hot, sunny afternoons but so far, the weather has not been very cooperative in this regard.

Nonetheless, I have taken to making them, starting with an amber ale, which you can see to the left.  Not too shabby.

This ale has a bit of a yeasty nose, which is a little strange. Maybe I’m just too used to hoppy things now? I hope not. The nose isn’t unpleasant-a touch young bread there-so it isn’t offputting in manner. The midrange is a light maltyness and this isn’t a heavy beer at all. Definite sugars present though, almost something mapley.  It’s not cloying but it is a bit sweeter than perhaps the style asks for.

There’s a surprising dryness to the finish, which appears on the roof of my mouth and near the back of my tongue. It’s not offputting but it is a little unusual. On the other hand: that dryness might be just the thing helping keep that sweeter flavor in check. All in all, not bad. If there’s a drawback, it’s that the beer is so average that I’ve been having to bring in other beers so I don’t get bored with this.

I know that sounds like a negative but I’ve always felt ambers were meant to be something that one could potentially ‘overlook’ because they were just steady, easy drinking ales. That I happen to have the option to drink other flavors isn’t a negative: it’s the bonus of being a homebrewer!

Days later: I’m having the final beer to re-evaluate what I’ve wrote and yup, it all holds up nicely. I’d be proud to share this with someone, ’cause it’s pretty tasty. I’ll get the recipe up soon.

7pm The Chat Up

From the Twitterverse last week, a contact told me about the Deschutes/Hopworks India Red Lager, which on paper sounded amazing. In practice, it’s just kinda bland. The bitterness is too rough on the end, not enough body or sweetness so what this has going for it is that it’s a red lager with hops.

India Red LagerThat’s just not enough for my tastes. I don’t know why but I seem to be unable to find a beer I can recommend, lately. But, you play game, sometimes you lose.

It’s a lucky night for me, otherwise: the owner is sitting at the bar and there’s a space next to him, so I can sit down at the bar and write, in addition to chatting up the barkeeps too. We talk beer, customers, tipping and service and the friendly competition that can exist when good beer places exist near each other. In this instance, I’m told about a new beer bar near Roscoe’s to check out. Awesome to me: I can hit it and tell you about it later this week (I hope. Maybe next week.)

I’m also informed that the staff at Bailey’s is going to do some work at the Commons, brewing an ale for the anniversary event, which is super cool! (And, given last week, nicely serendipitous.) There’s a suggestion that it will involve cucumbers which is…very interesting.

I have to admit, this India Red Lager is getting a little better as it warms up. Maybe the hops help it survive the warm up period better than a lager would? More likely, the malt is able to make itself known…but damned if I know. It’s a little better. Still not great.

Hanging at the bar helps remind me why I like being here.  Everyone is friendly and laughing and teasing each other: From my perch, there’s not a non-contemplative frown in the place. (There’s a guy working on something in a corner, intently focused on his laptop, face thoughtfully disapproving of whatever he’s looking at.)

Good times, as my sister would say: good times.

A Night At The Commons

Last night the OBC had an out meeting at The Commons brewery: I arrived early to help set up and got to chat a little bit with the owner, Mike, who was really cool and very kind to answer my questions about his beer and his brewery before everyone else arrived. I found out that there are ways to tell how carbonated a beer is in the bottle and The Commons is having their beer tested so they can deliver well bottled beer. I didn’t even know there were such devices: Science, once again, is awesome.

I also got to catch up with Josh, an early booster of my blog, now employee at the brewery and talk to him about what he was doing and why they went for bottling instead of cans. Turns out, some of their beers, like the Urban Farmhouse ale, are carbonated to the point where canning won’t work and bottles are less likely to explode, given the costs of a small brewery like them.  But cans also represent problems in non-Northwest markets. Not that it’s an issue for them (yet) but he has been told by distributors in the Midwest and Florida to not even bother with cans. The stigma cans have for being associated with macrobreweries has people shying away from them, I guess.

Finally, a brief word about the space; that brewery had a really nice vibe to it. It felt open and it still had that ‘new, shiny’ glow that new, shiny places have and was really just a nice place to sit down and have a beer. Go visit when you have the time, everybody is awesome and the place is cool.

Insert pun here

A few days ago, Fuz sends me this video, knowing that we’re both fans of Wingman‘s beer.

That’s pretty awesome to me on multiple levels: what (admittedly little) I know suggests that canning is better for beer and better for the environment so it’s great to see that happening on such a small scale.

Then, as a wonderful coincidence, I saw this story about the small scale canning operation itself. The more you know!

7pm A Matter of Taste

“My favorite is the Stillwater/Brewer’s Art Debutante,’ the bartender says and I trust him. “I hate it when my favorite beer is the most expensive one but…”

Hey, sometimes it’s like that. What’re you going to do? Sometimes: knuckle up and try the saison.

But it isn’t working for me. I don’t hate it but I don’t like it either. If I’m recommending this beer to you, why am I doing that? Despite claiming ingredients like honeysuckle and hyssop and heather (see how clever that is!) I couldn’t tell you why they bothered. I don’t get a particularly herbal vibe from this beer; the yeasts have done their job, this is a saison. Period.

And for this I paid $6.50 for less than a pint.

I don’t blame anyone but me for this: I should’ve asked for a taste. It’s not like I couldn’t get one. Buyer beware, you know?

Sometimes you gotta take a leap though. It can’t always pay off.

I’m alone tonight; a rarity, of late. Usually I’m fortunate enough to have some pals around to play Magic with and that creates a sub-atmosphere in Bailey’s, if you will, where some of the outside is tuned out so I can visit with my friends. Now, I can just relax and absorb the place and I like that, too.

There probably isn’t enough contemplation in the world. Chilling out for a little while with a beer by yourself, not having to think about much of anything, this isn’t a bad way to spend an hour. I wonder how much calmer people might be if they were allowed such luxuries.

Probably not much but what the hell: It’s not a bad dream, is it?

7pm Frailty

I am going to have to take a week off of writing. Not because I lack content or because I’m geting burnt out on writing. I have to take time off because my right forearm hurts.

It’s a dull ache, extending from the upper side of my elbow but radiating down underneath my arm, down to my pinky, where it feels like I’ve dipped my arm in cold water, and underneath my upper arm to my armpit, where instead it’s a bit more pokey, like a splinter running up to my chest.

My hand is getting tired and I can tell that, at the end of the day, my grip is weaker than it was in the morning. It’s been like this for three weeks; I don’t know what’s wrong and I don’t like it. I’ve been laying off the videogames, making sure my posture is correct but I don’t seem to be improving.

So it’s time to go see a doctor. Fuckin’ a.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to do it. Appointment on Thursday. But it’s money and time and who knows what else that I don’t really have. Then again, who does? Is anyone so pleased that they can just see a doctor and be happy that their lives and well being are, without question, being disrupted?

What’s even worse? I can feel a twinge in my left hand, right down the pinky to my wrist. Fuuuuuuu-

So I’m afraid I’m going need to take a week off. I don’t like doing it in this instance. Everybody needs vacations, of course, but I like producing content for the audience. Unfortunately, I’m just old enough to be smart(ish) about this, so…I have to take a break.

hop valley honey ale

Like the song says, ‘can’t always get what you want’. If I’m fortunate and I hope that I am, I can find a way to heal myself and get back to doing the things I do best.

Until then, maybe you’ll join me in a toast. I’ve got Hop Valley‘s Polly, a honey ale which has a pleasantly hoppy nose-American hops, I believe, due to the pine quality-but is got a nice sweet body and a solid finish. Not too bitter but enough to keep the sweetness in check. A very good summer beer and one that might work for any occasion where you want an easy drinking ale.

Prost!