Glass Experiment: Third Shift Amber Lager

I got some of Third Shift‘s amber lager for the Glass Experiment because the last lager was so bad. Also, with 90 degree days coming up this weekend and god knows how much humidity, lager options are good. Finally, this allows me to justify trying something new. For science!

From the snifter, we both picked up more yeastiness than expected, which the girlfriend felt had a low level Belgian funkiness/fruitiness to it.  I noticed it more from the pint but that scent lingered longer from the snifter. But it finished very cleanly and there was just enough amber malt and hop bitterness to give this beer some body and make it drinkable.

We both agreed it was a solid beer and we would have another. She didn’t have a glass preference for taste, but the pint has visual qualities, maintaining a nice head throughout and ease of drink that pushed it forward.

The next set had a really interesting thing come up, visually. The mug seemed to give bigger bubbles, with a rapidly disappearing head. This made the beer seem blander to me. The carbonation was bigger and harsher, so it’s less pleasant. The schooner actually provided finer carbonation with a bit of scent traveling to us as we drank.

In the end, we both thought the schooner was the best glass for this beer, though I wouldn’t refuse a pint glass either. The mug was startlingly unwelcome for this one but the beer itself is worth the time, especially with an overly hot weekend coming up.

Suspended Animation

As a member of the OBC, I occasionally get to see people in from Wyeast come talk to the group about yeast and how brewers can store, reuse and generally get better results from the yeast that we have. Despite this, the world of microbiology remains full of mysteries to me.

Go figure, right?

So here’s a neat article that uses the building of a new brewery space  and the return of an older, specific yeast, as a launchpad to talk a bit about yeast in general and how some places are trying to find and preserve as many strains of yeast as they can. What struck me about this: it didn’t matter if the yeast was something brewers could use or not.

I like that. Saving something that may not have value in order to study it may seem like a hoarder principle but how else are those new strands of yeasts going to be developed? You know the ones: the kind that help us defeat zombies or brew the first stout-lager.

Stout-lager sounds gross though, so concentrate on the zombie defeat.

Out With The Gang

As a drinker on a budget, I have to make choices: I can’t try every beer, I can’t go out every night. It’s better for not only my personal health, but the health of my economic well being. I’m sure everyone understands.

Which is how I found myself at the Produce Row cafe for today’s blogpost, instead of out at a place closer to home: the gang was meeting up to play Magic and I could do afford one or the other but not both.

But it’s alright. I got to have a couple 10 Barrel Sinistor black ales (because they were priced to sell) and a very nice Hop Venom from Boneyard. I favor the Hop Venom over the Sinistor but that’s how I roll. Black ales are a tougher sell for me, though I couldn’t find any real flaw with 10 Barrel’s.

When it was all done, I had spent a few hours with friends and sometimes that’s better than writing.

Not always, but given the choices I get to make, I imagine this won’t be the last time I recall a muggy day in Portland with friends over sitting at a strange bar alone.

Mild ESB

In advance of Summer, I have attempted to make a couple mild ales. Since I have started doing partial mash brews, my efficiency hasn’t been too keen. (Which is a short way of saying that I have not been extracting fermentable sugars from my grains very well.)  However, for something like a mild, this bug is actually a feature, right? I get a lower-alcohol beer, it still tastes good, I don’t have to mess with my process and potentially get swill; it’s win-win, right?

Well as you’ll see below, I got a bit more sugar than I expected. There’s nothing wrong with a 6.6% beer! It’s just that I was shooting for closer to 4. The result, however, is what matters and the result is good.

It’s got a nice maltiness to it, with a nice bitter end. Just bitter, not floral or pine or something clearly indicative of hops. It reminds me a lot of British-style pints. Nothing too overwhelming, here. This may be one of the more well rounded beers I’ve made. I could try to make something lighter sometime based off this but it’s worked out so nicely I think I should just repeat this recipe as needed. Not much of a nose to it but I’m hard pressed to complain. It just tastes that good.

Brew Date: 4.21.13

Steeping Grains:
3.5 lb 2 Row
1 lb C120
.5 lb Domestic ESB

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

.25 oz Columbus preboil, .25 oz @60
.5 oz Summit @ 60
.5 oz Summit @ 30
.5 oz Columbus pellets @ 10

Yeast: 1187 Wyeast Ringwood Ale-prestarter made

OG: 1.065

FG: 1.016

ABV: 6.63%

I approve of this

While I’ve had some posts (and will soon have more, I hope) about the effect the style of glass may have on the flavor your beer, this is a neat solution that one bar went with to improve the social experience of drinking your beer.

I don’t long for the days before cell phones but I do think that there is something to be said for the movement that people shut off their phones and pay attention to the now. If nothing else, paying attention to the now is good practice for life, not just good etiquette.

New To Me: Lion’s Eye

I am walking along 82nd, having just picked up my copy of The Last of Us, thinking; ‘Sometimes, I hate the fact that I’m online so much.’ Because if I wasn’t online so much, I wouldn’t know that the Lion’s Eye exists, and I wouldn’t have to walk to it for a beer.

Existing on the edge of what I will consider walking to, I considered ignoring it. Who would know? Nobody checks up on me. However, I feel like I have to challenge myself. This is the new neighborhood. If I don’t get out there, then I’m willfully ignoring part of the world that I don’t know about. That’s no way to live.

But goddamn is walking along 82nd depressing. I leave the strip mall and pass by a cemetery which is more cheerful than the bar & grill across the street. Nearly every business which is not a national chain is like this; worn down, as though the waves of cars passing by was slowly grinding them into smaller and uglier little shops, grimy and overly colorful at the same time. Or there are soulless, McDonalds-as-castle-walls chains; clean, flat surfaces without a trace of humanity to them.  The barrier between moving and living is here and it is ugly.

I see a couple more places I could drink at on the way to the Lion’s Eye and I discard most of them, as they are clearly restaurants of some kind with a bar attached/combo’d in. Nah. I see one Mexican food joint that looks like it’s housed in a tractor trailer. A part of me wants to go there; it is either going to be outstanding or I’m going to have to stay near a toilet, followed by a night of tequila shots. The risk seems worth it.

Very little gives me hope. 82nd just isn’t the kind of street people walk on. They wait for a bus or they get the hell away from it. I’m not crazy for wanting to be at home playing The Last of Us because who wants to stand out here?

So imagine my surprise when I walk in, sit down and catch this:

That’s JUST the beer menu.

Holy shit, this place is awesome. I don’t know what to do. There’s some country music on: actual country, not radio-friendly-unit-shifter stuff and my beer was served in a non-chilled glass. Seriously, what is a joint like this doing on 82nd?

I get Silver Moon’s Uncle Jim’s Maui Wowie double IPA. This beer is spiky with hops, almost too strong to drink. Yah, it’s a double IPA but still it doesn’t go down easy. I might be having a little trouble because the nose is difficult to pick up due to the air conditioning. Still, it’s a decent beer, even if I think I’d like it better if it was offset a little with some food (or just a better malt balance.)

A fellow named Mario is having trouble remembering if he had paid his tab from another night. There is something sweet here, though the scene is played more for laughs. The bartenders go through the motions of looking for his  tab but I think they’re just fucking with him, in a good way. They know who he is and whatever happened a couple nights ago involved women who may have left without paying their tab, the fellows stepping in to fix that. The ladies behind the bar? They are just amused.

I am starting to wish I could stay here a bit longer. Instead, I’ll just have to come back.

Neat idea

If this is correct, we now have more craft breweries in the US than we did one hundred years ago. That’s pretty exciting to think about, especially considering that craft brewing was dead in this country until the late 1970’s and now the things craft brewers do in America influence the rest of the world.

And an idea I’m trying to understand. Part of my difficulty stems from the fact that I don’t care about baseball. At all. Very few sports hold the chalice of boredom up so very high, for me. Plus, I tend to understand math concepts far better than concrete math. I can get into the math if the writing is good but (and this is not to say that the writing is bad) in a hobby like beer appreciation and brewing, I can feel my eyes dry out when I try to comprehend how they are ranking beers.

Still, there IS an interesting idea happening there and I think it’s worth some attention.

Washington Beer Fest

Sorta. Kinda. For those who don’t live here, it’s Portland Beer Week. Which, as an ‘event’ means about as much to me as Sunday to a church goer. That said; if people are going to set up events, then by golly I’ll go to them. Which is how I found myself at Bailey’s on Monday for their ‘Washington Beer Fest’.

Hey, I like Bailey’s and I don’t think we get enough suds from the North.

First up was a Machine House dark mild, out of the firkin. ‘Tis like room temperature, weak coffee. As someone who isn’t too familiar with coffee, I can’t say that this is bad. If you like coffee, you’d probably disagree. I’ll say that it’s different and pretty easy to drink. Would go well with some vanilla ice cream, or as a beer float- a concept I often abhor but can see working here.

My second was a collaboration between Elysian and Brewdog called The Fix. If coca nibs were a beer, this would be it. That isn’t to suggest the beer was one dimensional, as it had a nice wave of sweet-to-bitter flavors but this is was I would expect drinkable coca nibs to be like. Either that is awesome to you or isn’t, but I like it.

Last up was Airways Sky Hag IPA, pictured in the foreground. This beer had a pine nose, malt middle, with a tangerine finish. There was something very Widmer-y about it, because of the tangerine flavors at the end. Widmer tends to evoke this flavor quite a bit in their pale ales-Drifter especially.

It’s a great IPA, really. Bring me more of Airways’ stuff.

New To Me: Andy’s

As I approach the bar, a man is shouting at another who’s crossing the street about his validity to sell the chandelier he has nearby. “I have a home! On 60th and Foster!” This is meant to instill confidence, I suppose.

Andy’s is the kind of joint I have dreaded coming to. Hot as hell, a ramshackle build that reminds me of some kind of redneck carpentry: two buildings, maybe three, stapled together somehow, ceilings that feel so low patrons are either short or have an innate stoop to them. Most seem to be short. From the outside, it seemed both homogeneous and chaotic.

On the plus side, there are only two TVs displaying distraction: currently the NHL championship. On the down, there is a third screen that shows parts of the bar that cannot easily be seen. You’re on TV here…and I’m pretty sure that its less about keeping the bartenders informed and more about safety.

The only concession to craft beer are the bottles of Deschutes Black Butte porter and Widmer’s Hefe and O’Ryelly IPA on tap. I went with the O’Ryelly. It is pretty good, trying to strike a balance between the apricot flavors Widmer seems to push in their pales, and a bit of sticky pine.

After a  it of bellowing from the corner patrons, the bartender comes over to me to rinse a dishrag. She smiles at me and says, “I know, but they’re here eeeeevry day. But they good people!” Of course, I reply, why else keep them around? She laughs.

I step outside: there is a covered porch, in its own way as chaotic as the rest of the place and see this, stapled to a nearby tree:

I leave it to the reader to judge the rest.

ESB from IPA

My base notes suggest that I was going to make an IPA.

I don’t know what I was thinking. One look at the recipe and there’s no way this could be a proper IPA. Even if I had used more hops, I still wouldn’t have had an IPA because I am coming to the conclusion that the style really requires hops added to secondary so that they show up in the nose. Otherwise, you’re really dealing with a pale ale.

This, however, has enough malt in it that it’s really an ESB. There’s no getting around it. I’m not disappointed in that; I don’t know that I really wanted an IPA.

On the other hand, missing the target isn’t beneficial. I take this data to mean that my process of ‘partial mash’ brewing is becoming more efficient. If I try making an IPA in this manner, I might have to up the hops or pay greater attention to what kind of hops I’m using, and when.

But for an ESB, this is pretty good.

Brew date: 3.10.13

Steeping Grains
1 lb C40
1 lb C120
1 lb Victory
2 lb Pale

6 lb LME

1 oz Magnum @ 60 (used .5 oz in ‘preboil’)
1 oz Chinook @ 30
1 oz Amarillo @ 15
1/8th tsp Irish Moss @ 5

1187 Wyeast Ringwood Ale-prestarter made

SG: 1.071

Added 1/2 oz Chinook to secondary on 3.21

FG: 1.021

Bottled 5.14

ABV: 6.77506775