OBF Beer Reviews

I present, for your edification, my bare bones, only barely edited OBF notes on beer.

Gigantic’s & Juice; nose of mango! Grapefruit is too strong and bitter, flavor centered around the rind of the fruit. Really dislike.

Prodigal Son: Jackson Sundown (pictured)
Sweetness to this saison I was not expecting. Dry finish though: I enjoyed initially but after that it gets dirty. Muddy. Don’t like that.

Natian: Herbal Tenacious
It just tastes like weak tea, the herbal qualities lingering in a hateful way.

Ice Harbor: hefe
Dry Belgian nose,which I like, actually resembles a saison with its dryness, and I like that

Ohio Brewing: O’hoppy IPA
I don’t know that I love this, but after all the other weak sauce, this is a relief. Probably better as a red ale; this is not an IPA, but I’ll take it.

Yakima Craft Brewing: Heather
Why do I get fruit in the nose? Honey providing something? Clean finish hard to notice the heather. Not bad at all.

Surly: Overrated IPA
It’s got the bitter part down, solid not too piney, but there isn’t a middle to speak of.

Wildwood brewing: Organic Ambitious Lager
It’s good.  A beer I would have midafternoon on a Saturday when its too hot.

Stone: IPA (pictured, Firewood Walker in the background)
Very bitter, nice , biscuit note through the whole thing two asshole bitches cut in line, fuck them
(Late note: I think I might have enjoyed this beer more if I hadn’t had to stand in line for 10+ minutes and then been cut in front of.)

Elysian: Oddland Sliced Pear Ale
Nose is pleasant, with a solid malt strain enjoyed more than HUB’s pear offering.

Deschutes double impact Belgian ipa
Isssssss….ok. The drier finish of a Belgian is present, the hop nose and bitterness is there, but after waiting 15+ minutes, I didn’t care.

Boundary Bay: Bravo pale ale
Not much nose but it’s ok. Wants food, bitter finish, but drops off nicely.

I’ll wrap this all up on Friday.

OBF Haikus

Steel drums annoy
But then the conch shell comes out
What fresh hell is this?

Your apology
Rings as hollow as your soul
When you cut in line

Die die die die die
Repeat this five times next line

The variety
Of fruit beers is good but
The quality lacks

Dudebros to the north
Fortunately few beers to
Entice me over

Overhearing leads
To suggestions from strangers
My favorite part

Red Ale Success

This beer came our great.

That might be boring to say but it really did come out very well! It’s got a strong malt back to it, there’s a lovely head on it, and the beer finishes clean.

What do you talk about when you have success? Should I say, ‘Too bad you can’t have some’?

That feels like a dick move. I’d rather just be proud of myself for getting this beer done well. If there is a criticism to be made, it might be that the beer is a bit strong for summer; the malt translates to alcohol and I probably should not drink this one post-lawnmowing.

But aside from that? I think I can be justifiably proud. So I’ll just move on to the recipe.

Before that, though; I want to say that there will probably not be a Monday post, due to a multi-day attendance at the Oregon Brew Fest! I just feel like I’m going to need a day to recover, but who knows? Maybe I’ll be rarin’ to go.

Brew dates: 5.24.13

Steeping grains
1 lb C80
1 lb Vienna
4oz C 120

7 lb LME
1 lb Dry light

handful Glacier in preboil
.75 oz Amarillo @ 60
.25 oz Wataku @ 60
.75 oz Glacier @30
.25 oz Amarillo @30
.75 oz Wataku @ 10

1/8th tsp Irish Moss @ 5 min

Yeast: Hopworks ale yeast (2nd use)

OG: 1.072
FG: 1.023

Put into secondary 6.11

ABV: 6.63%

Making a Dunkel Pt 2

Part 1 is here, just in case.

Concurrent to the events in Part 1, I have also been making a yeast starter. It’s not a very good photo so I’ve collapsed it down but essentially what you have is a jug I’ve sanitized, put a simple syrup in (boiling water and sugar) and then added the yeast I’m going to use for this beer. This is to give the yeast time to grow before being thrown into a solution that’s got so much sugar that the yeast goes into shock. This shock can produce off flavors, which I don’t want. Plus, it’s one of the cardinal rules of homebrewing: use enough yeast. You do that, you’ll be OK. (The other rule: Sanitize everything.)

But while the yeast is propagating, I still have the wort on the stove, boiling away. You can make out some of the hops that I’ve started to add over the hour.

This part isn’t super exciting. I boil water and add hops; there isn’t much to it. Over the course of the hour there are various hop additions: I started off with more Hallertau at 60 and worked my way up to Willamette, until there was just a little Willamette that I added at flameout (when I stop boiling the wort.)

I also added three pounds of light malt extract (LME) with about 15 minutes to go. This way I can ensure that there’s at least some malt sugar to work with, because my method of steeping sugar from grain isn’t very efficient, and 15 minutes means that the malt has enough time in the boil to kill any bugs that might be hanging around.

When 60 minutes are up, I take the wort to the basement and begin cooling it down.

The tubes going in and out of the wort in this photo are what you can see of the wort chiller or heat exchanger. Cold water comes in, runs through copper coils and then comes out hot. After about 20-30 minutes, I have wort that was at about 205 degrees F, to 78 degrees (or less, if the recipe calls for that.) The hot water coming out I put into my washing machine, so I can use that water respectfully, instead of just dumping it on the ground.

You have to do what you can and this is what I can do. Brewing uses a TON of water and anytime I can take advantage of a recycling effort, I feel like it’s my duty to do it.

When the water has cooled down, I take a hydrometer reading to get the original gravity, which in this case is about 1.046. That doesn’t seem right: it feels a little low, given the grains and the malt but the numbers don’t lie. It is what it is.



After that, I put the wort into a carboy to ferment. The pan is there to dump the wort into the carboy by hand, through a strainer, until the pot is light enough for me to lift and pour directly into the carboy. Periodically, I dump the hops that get caught in the strainer into another container, which will eventually be taken to the compost pile.

When that’s done, I add in cold water until I get to about 5 gallons in the carboy.

This is…probably not what should be done. It is likely that I get away with this because Portland’s water is some of the best in the country. Certainly, if I had the means, I would have a larger kettle to boil in, so I could get closer to 5 gallons of pure wort. But I don’t: I probably get 3.5 to 4 gallons and that’s just the way of it.

All that disclaimed; It’s working, so to heck with it.

My last act (before cleanup) is to add in the yeast that’s been munching on syrup for the past three or so hours. At first sight, it looks pretty wild. Check out that line! You can totally see where the yeast is floating on top.

Pretty neat!

And now we wait.

New To Me: Slingshot

Or, why I won’t go to Dusty’s.

Because I could go to Dusty’s. It’s on the way and just like the Slingshot, I’ve been there before. It’s local, right?

I’ll admit it, I just don’t want to and I need an excuse so here it is: not that long ago they had a sign painted on the windows, proudly displaying their broadcast of the “Cival War Game” between OSU and UofO. The girlfriend quipped that their version of windows must not come with spellcheck. Now, lord knows I am not one who should be too snobby about spelling errors but I want an excuse to not go there and now I have one.

It’s a very nice night to go for a walk though and it is a touch further down to the Slingshot for a pint. We even make a loop around Smokey’s to see what’s going on there, as the outside is being spruced up to look like a building you might want to enter, instead of something whitewashed on Tatooine. I get Caldera’s Dry Hop Orange, the lady has a Double Mountain pale and her choice is far better than mine.

It isn’t that the Caldera is bad, it just isn’t good, either. I don’t detect any orange notes and there isn’t a solid malt thread to prevent the bitterness at the end from being a bit too strong. Maybe this beer is a little old? It’s a rare disappointment from Caldera so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

We spend most of our time in the side room where pool tables and local artwork abound. Although the night is nice enough to go outside, the outdoor tables are dominated by smokers so staying inside is a better option. Plus, it’s a little quieter in that room and far easier to talk about the paintings we like or don’t.

There’s quite a few very cool paintings, but the one I keep coming back to is a face portrait of Godzilla, except she has an expression not unlike the seal in this photo.

What can I say: that image makes me smile.

Oregon Brewer’s Fest: 2013

The OBF has expanded to five days this year.

Holy cow. That’s a lot of craft brew to assimilate. Fortunately, the containers will be made from glass this year, instead of plastic which is a huge improvement. Last year’s glasses were unacceptable for drinkers in general and especially lovers of great beer.

It isn’t all good news about the glass though. Which is unfortunate: four ounces is barely enough to really get a sense of a beer so getting less pretty much sucks. I find it remarkable that a better solution could not be found and the rest smacks of greed.

Nonetheless, my plan is to head down early Saturday and as always, check out anything I haven’t heard of before. Which is what most breweries ought to be providing, instead of the stuff you can get at the freakin’ store. Jeeze, people. It’s a festival! Have some fun with it.

Making a Dunkel pt 1

I’d like to apologize for the formatting in advance. I’ll try to improve it next time.

In all the years I’ve been writing for this blog, I’ve talked a lot about how a beer has turned out but I haven’t done much talking about what my process is for brewing. I don’t know that I’ll do this too often but occasionally I think it will be fun to demonstrate the A-Z of how I make beer.

The first beer I’m making this month is a dunkelweissen which I’m doing because I had an American wheat ale yeast in the fridge to re-use. That’s really the only reason: I’m going a darker beer with the idea that by the time it’s ready to drink, fall will be fast approaching and seasonally, it will fit. I could be way off base but the up side to that is that if I make a good beer, it won’t matter what time of year it is.

This process is using what’s called a ‘partial mash’, meaning I try to get some of my fermentable sugars from the grains I’m using, but I’ll  also be adding some malt extract.

I start with the malt, pictured to the right.

There are 5 pounds of wheat malt, with 6 ounces of Carafa II and 6 ounces of C120 malt. It’s in a grain bag, which I then put into water that’s about 165 degrees F.

Now, generally you want to steep grain in water that’s about 150-155 degrees but I’ve cranked it up because for the next hour, this is going to be in this box:

This is a box I got at an OBC meeting and it’s traditionally packed with dry ice and used to transport medical stuff. I think human organs. So there’s that. However, it’s just a bunch of foam that’s been sprayed and formed into a box. With the lid on it keeps the heat pretty well but I can expect to lose about ten degrees of heat.

Despite there being only 12 ounces of dark malt in there, it really is all I need. After about an hour I pull the wort out to get liquid that looks more like this:

Once I’ve done that, I take the bag out the wort and put it in another pot. While heating the wort up, I also heat water up in a kettle to about 150-155 and pour it over the grains I just took out. I do this to get any extra sugars and flavors from the grain. Liquid malt extract isn’t very flavorful and doesn’t add much in the way of color so I want to get as much out of these grains as I can. It takes a little while but I probably run close to 1.5 gallons over the grains and add them into the pot.

With the grains rinsed off, it’s time to crank up the heat to a bit over 200 degrees but less than 210, and add hops. The German versions of wheat beer use Hallertau and the American versions add Willamette so I figured I’d just do both and see what happens. There will only be 2 ounces of hops added to this beer and with these varieties, I shouldn’t have any issues with getting a flavor that’s too bitter for the style.

That’s how it starts; next time, hop additions, yeast prep time warp and transferring!

New To Me: Double Up Bar

The Double Up is the joint I passed on 82nd as I was going to the Lion’s Eye and thought, ‘Welp, I suppose that place counts, so I’d better go.’ Do I want to visit this bland shack? Not particularly but in the interest of giving everything a fair shake, I feel like I should. Plus, I wasn’t too thrilled to go to the Lion’s Eye and that place was awesome.

There are five people, including myself, in the Double Up. Two women serving bar, one short-haired, Asian and the other looks a bit like a spark plug, their conversation clearly indicating that one of them is about to end her shift soon, one older man, pencil mustache and flat arrowhead nose with the look of someone waiting for something, and a man at the video poker machines.

That’s it. At 8pm in the evening. How does a place like this exist if nobody ever comes in here? There is a menu posted on the wall, though. Maybe the food makes up for a lot?

I don’t see this as a restaurant, though and I can’t smell anything resembling food. I do see a flat screen with nine! different camera angles being displayed, shots from both inside and outside the bar.

I order a bottle of Ninkasi‘s Total Domination and it is served to me that way, no glass. I should have asked for one, because an IPA like this really needs to let the drinker get a sniff of it. In the bottle, I just get a whoooole lot of hop bitterness at the end and it’s making what is usually a very good beer a bit difficult to drink.

About then, another man comes in bearing Chinese take out, which he gives to the first. The gambling fellow leaves, his fortune given away to the laws of gambling. The two women continue talking, the one about to leave saying how she used to do some kind of “Power-walking, every day. 3, 5, 7 miles and then…”

“But isn’t it good for you?”

“Yes but you do the same thing every day for awhile and you just can’t do it anymore.”

I think about this as I sip on my IPA. I don’t really buy into her statement: I believe that when you stop doing the work then you end up looking like a spark plug, either internally or externally. You now need something else to fire, instead of making the effort to fire on your own.

Time to go home.

This didn’t turn out like I thought

Of the US states that drink the most, I would have thought, with all of Oregon’s craft brews and our fervor for them, that Oregon would have made the top 10. We didn’t.

Speaking of things that probably won’t turn out like they think, we have scientists working on synthetic yeast to make beer cheaper and stronger.

What I love about this article is how absolutely certain those scientists are that nothing they do will ever get into the wild and contaminate the rest of the world.

Let’s just think about the hubris of that for a moment. A life form that has been around longer than human beings have and probably ever will exist, will somehow do what we tell it to, because science!

I think I’m just gonna let Patton Oswalt handle this one.

It’s still about the people

There’s a tradition amongst craft brew aficionados to dismiss things that the macrobreweries do and certainly my focus is rarely on the stories that come from those places. It’s not that the narrative doesn’t matter, it’s more that I just don’t care, for the most part, what InBev does in order to sell me beer.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t other stories, though and this article is a cool window into some of them, following up on what happens when a bunch of people who used to go to work for Anheuser-Busch every day don’t do that anymore.