Where I Want To Go: White Owl

I am engaged in another long standing tradition: going to the pub after getting bad news. In this case, the White Owl Social Club, which I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time.

There’s a Natian McGuinness on tap-milk stout aged in Kahlua barrels- so I get that and get somber. It costs $5.50 and instead of giving me change for my $6, she just keeps the .50. Her loss: I was getting ready to tip her a buck.

But the beer has got a really nice coffee flavor going on, with the kind of oily mouthfeel that I expect would glisten in the sunlight, like a puddle from an old car. I should probably let it warm up but I just don’t have the endurance to do that tonight.

The White Owl is lively and the Misfits is on the pa. It’s dark in here, too dark to play cards but I like it nonetheless. It doesn’t matter that I’m alone, alone is OK right now. Take your blessings where you can, I guess.

I want to be at home and sheltered from all of this. I want another drink. I want my parents to hug me. Everything is complicated and nothing looks good. I am confronted with an overwhelming sadness and I don’t want to wrap alcohol into my unhappiness, yet alcohol is wrapped into my work. It presents a very strange problem.

Because doing the work is a sustaining thing. Keeping the gears of your own life turning properly helps because it has a mindlessness, a method to keep everything going when all seems lost. We don’t have to talk about the risks of being a drinker who is a worker too often. Luck? Active avoidance? Perhaps the work supersedes the drink for enough of us that we don’t feel like we have to concern ourselves. Maybe it’s just that most of us are able to keep an even keel, we know that when things go wrong, there’s time for a drink but not several, or several drinks but not every day. The drink is our work, our work is not the drink.

I finish the beer and decide to pass on another. It’s going to be a long night and it’s important to make the good decisions I can when I can. Not staying out late by myself drinking is that good decision. Let’s go home.

10 Columns by Michael Jackson

The late beer writer Michael Jackson’s birthday was celebrated recently, and while I hate celebrating birthdays for people who are dead, it was a great chance to read this collection of articles he’d written.

I’ve not gotten to all of them yet but so far they’ve really been worth reading. His love for beer is easily evident but what strikes me about the columns that I like is that he appreciates the people he’s talking to. I never met and don’t know Mr. Jackson but I don’t think he could have written about his subjects so well, if he didn’t enjoy the company he was in.

Plus, as a writer it’s always good to read people who are better at it than you are.

Where I Want To Go: Breakside Taproom

I have finally made it to the Breakside brewery taproom out in Milwaukie. Sipping on Will’s alt, which is a very light beer and a nice bitey finish. It’s got the feel of the crisp day I’m drinking on, actually. Cool, dry and bright. It’s almost too light for the bite at the end but somehow it’s holding together.

This is totally a workspace, not unlike Reverend Nat’s cidery: pallets of grain are in the corner, barrels, fridge units, doors wide open to let the steam out; the tables and a TV in the far corner seem to be the only concession to the idea of a serving space. There’s a massive-looking wall of old wood separating the bar from the rest of the space and I can easily smell grains in the slightly humid conditions.

Out of nowhere, I get to talk sports a bit with someone at the bar and it’s pretty awesome. Strangers having a chat is the best thing about pubs and it reminds me why I do what I do. Maybe it just feels more casual in here despite the working conditions? Maybe it’s just a good day to talk to strangers.

I believe the next series will go back to ‘I’ll have what they had’ theme because it lets me have conversations. Too much internal dialog is bad for anyone.

Before I leave though, I get a glass of the Safe Word triple IPA: it has a peach smell and is very tasty! For some reason, the bitterness feels less in this beer than the alt which is pretty wild.

Stacked Dead Actors

Take a look at that, eh? Not too bad, if I say so myself. This is the second part of the experiments I did, this beer being the one that I tried to create as an “American IPA”.

Now, I’m not saying that Popular Mechanics is an authority on brewing but of the hops that they suggest make an American beer stand out, I’m using 3 out of 4. Must mean I’m doing something right, eh?

As for the beer; the citrus notes are more prominent than I expected they would be. I’m going to actually have to do some research, I think, and see if I can push the resin and pine flavors in a beer someday. Those are the flavors I associate with American IPAs and while there is an undercurrent of pine here, it’s not very strong at all.

I do like the malt bill here; the C40 and Munich are providing some nice body and balance to the beer and keeping the hops from going crazy. Have to remember that for next time.

Brew Date: 1.20.14

Steeping Grains
2 lb C40
2.5 LB Munich light

Fermentables: 7.5 lb LME

.75 oz Simco @ 60
.75 oz Cluster @55
.5 oz Cascade @30
.5 oz Centennial @30 pellets
.25 oz Simco, Cluster @5
.5 oz Centennial @ 5

Reused Hopworks ale yeast: 3rd and final use

OG 1.084

FG: 1.024

Put into secondary 2.1, added .5 oz Cascade to secondary

Bottle: 2.8

ABV: 8.1%