Unofficial recommendations

The Smithsonian had recommendations for my city and while many of the suggestions are worth your time, I cannot get behind McMenamin’s for…anything. I was just at the Kennedy School a few weeks ago for breakfast and the food was merely adequate.

Why settle for adequate when good is available almost anywhere else? And let’s not even get into the beer: anyone worth their salt in Portland will guide you elsewhere for suds. Period.

Also, I still don’t understand the accolades of Upright Brewing. Maybe I have to go to the tasting room to really get a sense of things? (Note, the day after I wrote this, I had a taste of something at Roscoe’s and it was excellent. My opinion may need revision.)

Otherwise, not bad.

Finally, I’m out at PAX for the next few days, so no Friday post. Have a good weekend, everyone!

7pm Darkness

Neil Armstrong died on Saturday.

When I was a tiny, I desperately wanted to be an astronaut. I was unhappy and I’d seen Star Wars when I was five: outer space adventures seemed to be a fine solution to my problems of introversion, isolation and nobody in my peer group seeming to like me.

Why not go to outer space and reinvent yourself?

I remember finding out that I would have to join the military to be an astronaut (or so some ‘grownup’ told me-likely correct at the time) and for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being my poor eyesight, that was not meant to be. A dream that died, because I didn’t know how to believe in that dream enough to hold fast.

Ah, the tragedies of childhood.

Still, the dream of being able to start over, be someone new: be someone I chose to be, instead of someone slotted into the social role I’d found myself in, this remained. The opportunity to just be awesome was out there, I hoped. A long time coming but I have found that yes, that chance has appeared in my life and I have tried to meet that challenge, whenever I could.

Nevertheless, I never stopped loving space, science, space exploration and the drive that brought us to those places. When Armstrong said “That’s one small step for man, one giant step for mankind,” I read in that a humble acknowledgement that his greatness–and let us never, ever forget that what was done is and should always be considered greatness–came standing on the shoulders of men and women who built up a culture and a technology and a species brilliant enough to allow someone to walk on the moon. It wasn’t just him. It was everyone who was amazing in that moment.

To give realization to a dream, vocalized by someone nearly a decade previously and one that recently was only barely kept alive by the Curiosity rover.

I am reminded of the Daily Show clip where John Oliver watches the final launch of the Space Shuttle. Just fast forward that clip to 3:45, and watch his reaction. It’s full of such pure joy–and yet he’s got it together enough to, with a comic’s rapier, stick it to us that we aren’t doing this again. We are choosing to not be amazing.

It is one of my lifetime regrets that I will probably not see a manned mission launch into space.

I miss dreaming and dreaming big. It is, I think, a keystone to America that only seems to survive on the smallest scale now as so many obsess about shit that does not matter. Angry over situations that appear to deprive us, instead of just fixing what’s broken, making things work and then taking the grandiose dreams of a person who sees a chance to make humanity something more, and getting it the fuck done.

I think that’s something we’re missing: when we dreamt big as a nation, we locked into something truly amazing. I’m not trying to say things have or were ever perfect. I’m saying that the strides and actualization of a truly great dream has been, over and over, the hallmark of a great nation and a benchmark for what human beings could achieve.

Moylan's StoutAn achievement that we don’t seem quite as bent on surpassing. And that is what has me slumping my shoulders as I sit at Bailey’s sipping on my Moylan’s Dragoon’s Dry Irish Stout.

It is not space-black, this stout but it’s damn dark and very, very good. It is the kind of beer you raise in toast to a man who accomplished jaw-dropping things and shared the credit, not just with America but with the world. He (and all of those astronauts) showed the best is in us all by sharing it with us all.

Godspeed, astronauts, every one of us.

I’m done writing when Bill walks in to join me for a beer. He’s barely into his beer when a man named Kai sits down next to us. He’s visiting from St. Louis and has a little under 24 hours to tour Portland. Do we live here? What should he do?

Oh man.

We cheerfully give him as many options as we can think of, from Higgins to Roscoe’s, the Gasthaus to Deschutes’ brewpub; walk across bridges, go visit parks, anything that comes to mind and is cheap, we throw on the pile.

Kai works at a  non-profit and has taken his trip in a spur of the moment way, first visiting Seattle, then arranging for some time in Portland before he heads home. Says this is one of the best trips he’s ever taken.

It’s funny how no plan can work out.

Kai heads out for dinner and Bill and I split a 10 Barrel ISA: all that advisin’ is thirsty work. We talk shop, making something out of the small dreams we’ve put into action in our lives. The beer is good: too hoppy for a pale, more robust than a lager, it’s made me realize I should have more 10 Barrel in my life.

It’s good to remember that the small dreams still matter. How else can you get to the big ones?

Unsung heroes

Yeast isn’t something I talk about often even though it’s pretty crucial to brewing. As in: you can’t have beer without it. Mostly I (and I would guess, many people) expect that yeast to do it’s job and fa-la-la-la-la, I have beer now.

So this is a short, interesting writeup on a place in England where they are testing yeast strains. Yeast not only determines how alcoholic your beer is, it can also be noted for certain flavors-or in the case of lagers, a lack thereof-depending on your style of beer.

It isn’t the only place they test yeast of course: Oregon’s own Wyeast Laboratories is well known for their products and they’ve always been friendly to homebrewers, providing advice and occasionally giving educational talks, along with supporting the random ‘yeast experiment’ that the Oregon Brew Crew does.

However, maybe that isn’t your bag. Check out this post on how to make beer ice cream! That seems wild.


Note: this was supposed to go up Wednesday and I had it all drafted and looking pretty…then I forgot to hit ‘Publish’. I didn’t realize it until today that something was missing! Sorry, everyone.

7pm The Line

“Condom hat dude is getting laid,” Lynn says, as we gently mock people standing in line across the street for some event sponsored by GQ and Bombay Sapphire.

I am sipping on a Beer Valley Oregonberry Wheat, which is about as meaningless a term as one could ask for. What does it taste like? A mellow version of Squirt, which I can’t really advise in it’s favor. Perhaps I should be across the street, going for gin.

Except then I’d have to put up with all those people who are trying to be part of a scene, a scene that clearly is not mine. It’s summer and there’s a man in a cotton hat that makes his head look like a condom reservoir waiting to get in. If there’s one clue to tell me where I do or don’t easily fit in, it’s the common sense applied to the dress of those attending.

On the other hand, Bailey’s is a little less crowded because of the event across the street, so I thank them.

I went for the wheat beer because I didn’t want to have a dark ale, which seem to be in strong supply right now, at least from breweries that I trust. Don’t know why: It’s still summer, right? Aging and slowly drifting towards fall but definitely summer.

I am going to return to the bar and find another beer. Something up there is going to satisfy me, even if I have to pay for it.

Note, I always pay for it.

That was bad but it worked out

I’ve taken to using an old jacket to cover my carboys when they’re in the initial yeast growth stage. Darkness, I’m told, is excellent for yeast growth and it’s not like I can use the jacket anyway; it’s torn up in places so why not give it a second life?

However, one of the cats (you know who you are, Gypsy) has decided that peeing on this jacket is OK. Just another example of cats being dicks. Although I take the jacket off and wash it, I suppose it’s useless to me now and I need to find another way to shield the beer from light.

Until this morning when I find that the carboy has blown out. Then, 8 hours later, it was blown out again. What a mess!

It would’ve been worse if the jacket had been on there, stuck to the carboy. So I suppose it all worked out. I just don’t want that cat to get too much credit. Damn things will start to pee on everything, thinking they can improve stuff.

Non-Profit Pub?

I found out about the Oregon Public House recently and I have to say: it’s one hell of a compelling idea. It seems a bit idealistic, almost idyllic; go drink beer, support great causes. Talk about justification for your favorite habit!

But you know what? I like it. I like the dream, I like that there are enough people willing to set up a plan and a business and make something like this happen. It may be the only place of its kind in the world right now but like to envision a world where people come together, via beer, to do good.

Not that they don’t already but this would be more explicit and let’s face it: we all like to see the good things we do in the world to show up as good things.

So go you. Let’s check out this spot when it opens and drink it dry. Just ’cause.

7pm One for the Road

Green Flash Retro paleI am having a short Green Flash Retro because I am on my way to see Torche tonight. I’ve resolved to attempt to get out a little more this year and make sure I wasn’t just hiding out at home, writing, brewing and scowling away and going to the rock show is one of those opportunities that I haven’t been taking enough advantage of.

This beer is a little grassy: there’s a ‘young’ feel to it that isn’t unpleasant but it is a little strange, as though the hops were freshly added to the beer. Given the recent heat, it actually works very well, making for a beer that feels rather light.

I’ve come back to Bailey’s after a few weeks gone; the gang is playing cards and I, for once, am not as involved because I’m going to leave soon. I don’t know what I’m in for tonight but now that I think about it, I never really do. I just have a plan tonight, whereas frequently I don’t make a plan and spend my time a bit more disorganized.

It feels nice to have a bit more organization going on, though I wish the plan gave me more breathing room. I need something to do Thursday, not Monday!

Homebrewing matters

There was a pretty cool article at on homebrewing and today: that’s where I’m directing you to. It includes an interview and pictures with a couple members of the OBC who are solid representatives of the stand up kinds of people you’ll meet in that group. Just something neat, today: next week I’m going to talk about the golden ale I made which came out great!

Bailey’s 5th Anniversary Event

A month or so ago, I was talking to Geoff, the owner of Bailey’s and the length of time I’d been writing this blog came up. Four years!

“How many of those where here?” he asked.

I had to pause to do mental calculations before answering. “At least two.”

Clearly, I really like it here. Which is one reason I try to never miss the anniversary events; the beers are great and the location is one I like to inhabit. Can’t get much better than that.

So, first a congratulations to everyone at Bailey’s. It’s a great place and you’ve done a great job making it a pub worth drinking in.

Now without further adieu, my notes from the event:

Double Mountain Ferocious 5 bourbon aged Double Mountain Ferocious 5
Like a maple bar. Took a moment to adjust bc I’d been in heat but after that it’s very nice.

10 barrel Pray for Snow brandy aged
Something woodsy gin like in nose, which is, huh? Dirty pine sol?
Weird finish,  and there isnt body for this one.
No go.

Breakside Old Whiskey Dick bourbon aged
Brash, dry finish, hot. It’s good but it is not a fucking about beer.
Powerful stuff; the kind you drink with your dad when he tells you how he really met mom.

Alameda Bear Fighter ipa/stout blend whiskey aged
This was a near miss. Fuz thinks it needs more whiskey I think less hops: they overwhelm the beer. So nearly awesome though.

Lompoc 2010 Franc’ly Brewolph Cabernet franc aged
Very drinkable and mild Belgian red. I dig on it, light enough that it could do more.

Flat Tail 2nd Anniversary
A Belgian Red on nitro! I was hoping the chocolate and raspberry favors would benefit from a creaminess but instead it just tastes flat. Sigh.

laurelwood preacherStone 2008 Imperial Russian bourbon aged
Good and then there’s a lift at the end a bubbly quality that is fantastic. Surprise of the event, for me.

Laurelwood Preacher in the Wilderness aged in gin
A sour tripel that is light and not very sour at all: the nose has that wild yeast strain but the beer is just so balanced; tripel played against the sour is so well done I could just drink a pint no sweat.

The Laurelwood was my last beer and I think my notes reflect that. I considered cleaning it up but I find that final synopsis a little charming so I’m going to leave it.

Here’s to next year!

7pm The Do Over

On my way to work today an old black woman with short gray curly hair, a stomach borrowed from the Michelin Man and a full whoopee cushion in her left hand, hollered at me as I was crossing the street. How I knew she was vying for my attention, I have no idea. Just one of those things you start to sense in the city: when some stranger wants to speak with you, you know.

She was asking me for the Belmont bus as I am partially crossing MLK and I come back far enough to speak to her, not quite enough to leave the street. I’m oddly confused by her question: I’m crossing at Couch and somehow I have no idea why the Belmont bus would be relevant.

I answer hastily, then point her South, towards Belmont street suggesting the bus is likely there and I miss what she says to me as I turn away tEpic IPAo go to work. Yet, even as I cross the street, I realize I’m being a little rude and it’s too late to fix it now. Not to get all Ferris Bueller on everyone but I had decided I was too busy to  stop and ensure I was being kind to a stranger. I like to think that I’m better than that but the truth is, sometimes I am not.

I’ve come back to the Produce Row Cafe because last week, I was not at my best. I needed to visit again and reside here under circumstances where my body was not under duress. I’ve ordered an Epic Hopulent imperial IPA, which is on nitro and stunningly good, considering. Nitro rarely seems to be an effective choice for beers that aren’t in the stout family, it’s nice to be so pleasantly surprised that the nose and hop bitterness are still present, with a smoothness in the middle encouraged by the nitro aspect.

A Do Over is, somehow, entrenched in our society. I can’t think of a kid who doesn’t get the Do Over and though it takes a different form as adults-frequently accompanied by an apology-I think that it’s good to remember that everybody needs a chance to make amends, to do it better than they did it before, even if it’s just a random interaction with a stranger. Except it isn’t a Do Over at that point, more like a Do Again. It’s a funny paradox: you can only do things once, yet you need to do them over and over to do them better.