Visiting NWIPA

Although the New School beat me to it, this bottle shop is within walking distance from my house so I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t tell people about it.

So there it is; you should go. Done!

Kidding of course. NWIPA is a lovely spot, working a coziness angle to make up for it’s understandably modest collection of brews. It’s a new place and there’s room for more beer so I’m hoping that the future will bring better things but the selection they have is broad enough to satisfy me: I can go, get a good beer either in the bottle or on draft and enjoy myself.

There’s even a nice selection of food to eat. It’s not expansive but, like the rest of the place, makes up for the limited selection with quality: oysters, Salt & Straw ice cream (there was even one  with hop flavoring!), cheese plates, etc.  There’s even a wine option for the non-beer drinkers who come to visit Portland. Plus, they have newly made tables, so the interior still smells of fresh wood. It’s well lit enough to play cards and a nice enough space that I could stay there for an extended period of time and do just that.

Just…no

Dad sent me a ‘news’ video about someone selling dog beer. It’s non alcoholic, amongst other things and apparently beneficial from a health perspective.

How about you just feed your dog right and not waste your money on one of the dumbest vanity products ever?

Also, I have had a chance to try Rogue’s Maple Bacon ale.

It tasted like a maple tree angrily came to life and peed in my mouth. You have been warned.

7pm On Love

As I approached Bailey’s tonight, I walked through a small park and saw a man sitting outside a bathroom. Two people seemed to emerge from it, a man and a woman. She says with a giggle and a missing tooth to the sitting fellow: “He’s my husband,” (so it’s OK).

The sitting man shrugs: “It’s all the same to me,” he says with a smile. As they cross the street away from me, I see her wrap her arm around his waist.

I leave it to the reader to extrapolate what happened.

Two weeks ago I was on the bus home from work when I noticed a young woman who was obviously upset. Her face as pink as her unicorn shirt, cheeks swollen, she bravely held onto a strap for balance, trying not to explode in public. Crying or nearly crying people have a strange radiance, one that allows for most people to shun them in public. I wanted to ask her what was wrong but society frowns upon strange older men talking to younger women. I took my seat.

Eventually, the bus cleared out and she came to the back where nobody sat but I, and as she passed I asked her if she was alright.

“Yes,” she said with pause to remove her backpack before sitting. “Boys.”

Ah. They can suck, I told her sympathetically. (It is at this point I can only apologize to the lovely women who dated me to whom I was less than stellar.)

belgian stout(At the memory of this, I take a sip of my Pfriem belgian stout. As a becoming on the road to enlightenment, I can only say that sometimes, my path was less clear than others. I hope that, for the most part, they forgive me, should they think of me at all.)

I go back to reading, despite wanting to know more because, again; I’m unsure how to find the line between kindness and mistakenly creepy. But it rapidly becomes apparent that she is unable to hold it together, wiping her eyes and nose, head down, trying to hide her pain from everyone.

I reach down into my satchel and pull out a gray hanky and pass it to her. “This bullshit will pass,” I say.

She nods and half smiles, watery eyes behind hip glasses. I suddenly get the impression that she doesn’t really need my help at all: she actually seems to be fairly with it, merely overcome by a broken heart and who hasn’t been there?

So I say no more. This thread in my life will remain untied as I approach my stop and ask for my kerchief back. She apologizes for making a mess and I assure her: “It’ll wash.” I leave, not knowing her story, hoping that this small act made her better, in the end.

Who can say?

This beer is excellent. I don’t know that I’d call it a stout, except that it really is working some dense flavors of coffee and maybe something a little treacly?  Hint of licorice? Mouthfeel tilts more towards a porter but I believe the ABV heads any notion of being a lighter beer off at the pass.

Not but two days later, standing outside the Horse Brass, a tall, handsome black man approaches our group, asks if he can join us smoking. He can of course, and as he returns the lighter to his pocket he gestures towards the circle, in a scene from a Cameron Crowe movie and asks us:

“How do you get over someone?”

Huh?

“How do you get over someone? Let’s talk about love.”

Nobody seems to have an answer for him. It’s weird; as though everyone else has been so lucky at love that they have never looked at their lives and thought: I would turn this into a smoking wreckage if only I didn’t have to hurt like this.

I tell him: “At some point, you have to accept that if you loved them, part of them is with you forever. You may do the work of chipping away what you don’t want, so you can keep what you want but you have to accept what you loved.”

He seems doubtful. He wants it to happen now, not later. The conversation drifts, he’s from Detroit, does video work, isn’t interested in not doing things, he wants to be proactive. I try again.

“Ever hear of the MC5?”

Hear of but not heard, he replies. Kids these days! You gotta know “Kick out the jams, motherfucker!

“The guitarist, Wayne Kramer, became an alcoholic and did a song called ‘Doing The Work’, and it’s about how he deals with his alcoholism; by getting up every day and doing the work to not drink. Which is how you deal with any long term pain,” I say, “because the work doesn’t care if you’re tired or hungry or happy or anything. It just needs you to do it. Even if your work is not doing anything about something.”

He nods. “I like that,” he says, “I think I’m going to start that right now,” and he goes back inside to rejoin his friends.

I’ve finished my beer. It’s got a bit of an acrid bite on the end but it’s not overwhelming so doesn’t bother me much. I like it but I desperately want to try a fresh hop ale, because the shelf life on those is so short.

Last weekend, I ran into a woman who knew an ex-girlfriend. One with whom things did not end well, though we made peace years later.

“I ran into J,” she tells me, a little breathless, as though she can’t wait to tell me this because she doesn’t have any idea of what else to talk to me about.

The ex is doing well, I’m told, has a second kid, is happy. Good for her.

I smile and introduce my girlfriend, who is awesome and is who I am in the present for.

Right & Wrong

I read this article profiling Garrett Oliver a couple times, trying to figure out what to make of it.

He wants to praise people taking risks and wants people who write about beer to talk about those people; to tell the story behind the beer that is being made. As someone who likes to tell stories, I can completely get behind this, so long as it’s not ‘marketing’ driven.

Human beings like stories; I’d even go so far as to say that we need them, on some level that I could not explain. To have that need exploited by marketing is…not something I can get down with.

That said: tell those stories!

On the other hand, later in the article he wants to suggest that homebrewing bears no resemblance to commercial brewing, because there’s no risk involved.

The thing is: where do you think those commercial brewers get ideas to take risks on? Why does Widmer have a pilot system they can make tiny batches on or take around to events like ‘Teach A Friend To Homebrew Day’? Why do breweries like Laurelwood and Hopworks offer yeast to homebrewers, or Coalition offer opportunities for homebrewers to come in and brew on their system?

The only conclusion I can draw is that Mr. Oliver doesn’t understand how critical a lively, active homebrew community is to a lively, active craft brewing industry, despite insisting  that creativity is the soul of craft brewing. That community allows for the talent to rise and connections to be made so that risks like starting your own brewery from your garage can be taken; an industry can be formed and grown.

It’s true: he’s right that if a batch is bad, a homebrewer can just pour it out but that doesn’t mean it’s without consequence! I don’t really have the money to pour out the beers I make. I live on a reasonable budget but if a batch of beer goes wrong, I don’t have the finances to just shrug my shoulders and replace it. It costs me time and money, just like it would if I was a commercial brewer, even if it is on a smaller scale. It’s important that I get things right, so I take actions like going to OBC meetings and learning from experts wherever I can, so that I can afford my hobby.

And my hobby is part of a hobby that has allowed a whole industry to start taking risks that they never could before, telling stories that never would have existed without that hobby.

Just something to consider.

Beer & Politics…

…is something I generally try to veer away from at this blog.

At the end of the day, I’d like to  engage in practices that are compassionate and dictated by evidence and common sense but I attempt to resist explicit declarations because this is a beer blog.

Nevertheless, this article my Dad sent me was pretty interesting. There’s definitely a little bit of ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’ there, insofar as the author is taking the data and drawing some conclusions that aren’t necessarily supported. But it does make for interesting reading.