Sor-Rye Too

I like this photo but it’s not representative of how foamy the Sor-Rye is, for the most part. It’s pours a good head on it, fir certain, with some nice grassy notes in the aroma. Doubling the amount of Sorachi Ace hops does seem to have done the trick: I’ve got a nice hop presence throughout but…I was expecting something more lemony, more citrus.

When I was describing this beer to a pal, he said; How did you come up with the recipe? And I told him I’d read about the concept in a book and thought it sounded good.

“So, you’re expecting it to taste like something but you have no idea how it should taste?”

Oh. Well when you put it like that suddenly this beer seems as lot better. There’s a nice malty streak in the middle, a bit roasted as something one might find in a scotch ale. I’m going to chalk that up to the red wheat malt, which was a new addition for this beer. It worked.

I think that Sor-Rye needs a little hop variety. The Sorachi are fine but maybe something to help accentuate either the nose or the bitterness might help this beer stand a little taller.

That said, it’s a good one and will probably go into regular rotation.

Brew Date 2.23.14

Steeping malts
2 lb c80
1 lb rye
1 lb red wheat

7 lb LME

1.5 oz Sorachi Ace @60
1.5 oz Sorachi Ace @30
1 oz Sorachi Ace @ 5

British II-Wyeast, starter made 12 hrs previous

OG 1.072

FG 1.02

ABV 7.04%

Bottled 3.15

Where I Want To Go: Eagle Eye

At the Eagle Eye. It’s a day of terrible food and ok beer and we hope for the bestest.

Still, I am in needs and I want to make myself known more at places near my living space. The only way to do that is to go there and have yourself a drink or two.

I’m less enamored with the tap list and the Upright #4 Wheat I’ve ordered is in line with that. It’s got the mouthfeel I would expect from a wheat, a bit of density I can feel around the middle and sides of my tongue but there’s a saison element, strong clove flavors from the yeast, I presume- that if I’d known was there I probably would’ve avoided it. I don’t think this beer is flawed, it’s just not for me.

I gotta remember to research myself in situations like this. I knew there were bottles before I arrived! I should’ve chosen one of them, because the selection of bottles is pretty broad, albeit focused on the major breweries. And beer from a bottle or can? Totally OK.

Food is…no. Don’t do that. I am rewarded with what I expected, though. It’s hearty. It isn’t good.

80’s-ish “rock” is on via the radio and this is not a place that suggests such music. The Eagle Eye is not pedantic and dull. There’s local art of the odd and possibly macabre variety on the walls. Big, shiny speakers are mounted on the wall to blare sound (which they aren’t doing but still,the potential is there!) The walls are in vibrant colors, deep blues, pale greens, yellows: all very rich.

I feel like there’s an identity that hasn’t been established here yet. It’s waiting for something, though I am not sure what. What I do know is that Starship’s “We Built This City” has no place here. Or anywhere, really but especially here.

The Eagle Eye is off to a decent start though because the beer selection is good and the staff is nice, so there’s a good vibe. The patrons seem to know the bartender and everyone is friendly, which is always a good sign in my opinion. She’s telling a story to the patrons about how she failed her driving test (short version, too many attempts to make small talk with the tester lead to distractions).

I just think it needs to embrace its weird side, instead of trying to be a little bit of something for anyone. Go full out. If the vibe continues to be kind, you’ll bring in the locals as well as the weirdos.

Spring Beer & Wine Fest 2014 (reviews)

I both attended and served at the Spring Beer & Wine fest and for the most part, I had a pretty good time. I never really click with the SB&WF, though. There are so many non-beer related things that I wonder what’s going on.

Also, as a server, just a PSA for everyone wanting a beer: behave. I am a volunteer, not your friend and they don’t pay me enough to put up with your shit.

And now, the (mildly) edited notes!

Krauskis Gun Barrel IIPA is solid, sweet, grapefruit but not just bitter! I liked this beer because it had more to offer than the standard grapefruit bitterness. Look for more of their stuff int the future.

Heathen Vanstersam (pictured) a pale with a grassy nose, light beer nice finish.  I liked this beer enough to serve at Heathen’s station the next day and was glad I was able to recommend it vs their IPA, which was also good but stole far too much attention.

3 Mugs imperial red has a whip cream nose and banana finish. Creamy but not a good thing for the style.

Backwoods Blueberry wheat. Has a nice blueberry nose that runs through. Not heavy and the blueberry isn’t overpowering. Good beer.

Fire Mountain Summer IPA. Not bitter. Sweetness is cloying? Ugh not for me. (I was nicer to this beer than perhaps I should have been, because I got into a conversation with someone who really liked it. However, it didn’t have any characteristics of an IPA; nothing in the nose, not a hint of bitterness in the finish. It’s hard for me to insist that something is bad when someone really likes it. I should have phrased my criticisms; not to style).

Awesome’s strong ale (picture) has a finish that is acrid. Overwhelms the rest of the beer and messes up what could have been a solid drink

Orange Collar from Blue Dog mead tastes… Hint of sour nose but the drink is light not too sweet and just amazing. Apparently it’s coming out in cans, so get it.

Laht Neppur Piper Canyon scotch ale. It’s nice, malty hint of smoke…and then banana! What the fuck?

Cider Riot Everybody Pogo hoppy cider
This is what refreshingly tart tastes like: sweet tart you can drink. I liked it but I’m not sure I’d have pint after pint. Maybe on hotter days!

Where I Want To Go: Slingshot

Spring has shown its face to Portland, flashing a bit of leggy sunshine before reminding us why umbrellas are a fashion statement. I’ve come to the Slingshot because it’s close to home: The rain is encouraging me to stay nearby.

Winter may have left us, but its crabby sister is here.

The Outcast from Crux has a lot going on there. Mostly citrus, but somehow there’s a vein of sweetness in there, keeping it from going off the rails. It’s bitter, don’t get me wrong and what I can get from the nose is in that citrusy hop family but…

The pour is a good pour for the kind of place the Slingshot wants to be: local punk rock dive. It’s not a great pour for a beer drinker, because there isn’t a lick of head on this. Still, I think it was poured into a non-chilled glass so you take your pluses and minuses.

Doesn’t seem that late on a Monday but Foster Street, easily visible from my vantage, is a ghost town. Or maybe it’s just later than I feel. Spring is there, the light was up but the clouds have come to have their say in our lives and all we can do is let them speak.

Nobody else is noticing, nobody looks outside: I crane back to sneak glances at them.

If they are alone, they’re on the rail and to a person, they have shot glasses in front of them in addition to whatever else they may have. The knit caps, Dead Moon t’s contrast with a woman in a beautiful leather jacket with a bigger shot glass than anyone else on the rail and I realize, we have an upper crust punk bar. The city is getting cooler? Bigger? Hard to say.

Maybe I should make this my local. It’s a proper walk from the house: enough to stretch the legs but not so much that I get tired. Between the punk rock and the old school country on the PA, the music won’t annoy me. I can step out enough to breathe and the beer is good here. There are a lot of pros.

I wish I had someone to bounce the Outcast off of. It’s a good beer -very good- but I need some help. The finish is very, very crisp and the alcohol lingers on the tongue, competing with the bitterness. It siren calls for a sister and, as is often the problem, my glass is now half empty.

Still, on nights like this I’d want an extra Outcast in order to keep the rain from bothering me on the way home. Maybe I’ll have one anyway; it feels early enough.

How To: IPA (Waiting)

This is the part where we wait.

I’m afraid it doesn’t get too much more interesting than that. Brewing requires some patience and over the years, I’ve learned not to rush through the fermentation process.

Now, because this is an amateur blog, I failed to take a photo of step two in the waiting process but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

What you can see is the beer a few days after the yeast has been pitched. That white stuff on the top? That means that it’s fermenting and all is going according to plan. Always a good sign!

Step two of this process comes after all that white stuff has settled out–between that and a lack of activity in the airlock, I can be pretty sure the yeast is tuckered out. This is when I transfer it to another carboy, so I can add in more hops in order to provide the kind of nose that is expected from an IPA. Usually, it’s desirable to leave those hops in for at least three days, and for this beer I think I left it in for a week.

Where I Want To Go: Hawthorne Theater/Bailey’s

It was the kind of day where I needed a hug, and I wasn’t going to get one. People tried; long distance friends, some of whom have never heard my voice, sent their support and… Well, it was just the kind of moment where people’s kindness made me feel worse, instead of better. They are not to blame; they did what people who care do. Sometimes, a broken machine cannot be repaired with sheer will, you have to place your hands upon it.

But it passed, day moved on and I geared myself up to see Cloudkicker at the Hawthhorne theater-where, as you may remember, I don’t drink.

It didn’t matter. They were wonderful. I got to hear songs I expected, songs I ever expected and songs I only hoped for and I was hardwired, for just a few moments, to be happy. They played You and Yours, for fuck’s sake! The Christmas song! Sometimes, life dishes up a little scoop of amazing.

When Cloudkicker was done, I was done and now I’ve come to Bailey’s to have a wee heavy from Heathen, called the Fashious. It’s delicious, with lots of dried fruit-especially raisin flavors, but it finishes so light! Even with the oiliness at the end, it doesn’t linger unpleasantly, it doesn’t feel heavy. So good.

Now? Now I am content. The difference between the states might be the difference between the jolt that music gives me and the slow warmth of alcohol.

I like beer; I don’t think that comes as any surprise. However, I don’t know that drinking this beer makes me happy. It’s tasty and that’s good, and I like it but I feel at rest. Like there is a chance for the buildup of energy in my shoulders and the sadness in my side to drain out. All the energy; the good and the bad from the day. Music is a T1 line into something really smashing for me where a whole lot of other shit just sliiides away.

The Heavy has shifted a bit as I write, more caramel flavors coming out. It’s still very good and I am already thinking of people that I should recommend this beer to. I don’t know if I’ve had anything Heathen has done before but clearly I should try more of their wares.

Both the beer and the music and my experience with both have one thing in common: they are transitory. None of them last. So it is with the gap in my life where I am not able to get hugged. I have good will, I have work and that can sustain in these overcast spring days, until things change and I am rebuilt.

Who is to say how the new structure will be? Let’s have a beer and talk about it.

Two Stories

First there is a story on the FDA’s response to the concerns brewers have over the proposed changes on the use of spent grains.

Next we have a much lighter piece, interviewing cicerones about whether bottles or draft is better. Still somewhat interesting, though and worth keeping in mind.

Finally (I know it says two but I found a third!) scientists are firming up the origins of lager yeast. I just think this is the coolest thing; that we’re finding out where all this stuff comes from.

How To: Making an IPA

This is a picture of everything I’m using to make this IPA in the partial-mash style. There’s a bucket of light malt extract, hops, gypsum salts (the white stuff in the packet), and all the steeping malts. The blue pitcher is there so I can pour warm water over the grains once they’ve finished steeping and the spoon is to help me stir everything. I guess that’s kind of obvious but sometimes it helps to state that.

First thing to do is to heat the water to about 165 degrees F, because when I put the grains in, that will lower the temperature of the water about five degrees or so. Then I added a bit under 1/4 teaspoon of gypsum salts (in order to better replicate the water used in original IPA recipes) and added the bag of malt. Then I put the pot into an insulated box and let it sit for at least and hour, which will cause the temperature to drop a bit more, but not go below 150 degrees, which is what I want. Too warm and the chance for off flavors goes up, to low and sugars aren’t leeched from the grains. This batch, I believe I left steeping for 90 minutes.

I was instructed once before and I’ve just held to it ever since: adding just a little bit of hops as the wort is being brought to a boil helps keep the bitterness from being too sharp. I have no reason to disbelieve it and since I still have to wash the steeped grains at temperatures of about 150 degrees F, and the rest of the wort needs to be brought up to about 205, there’s some time to kill. I may as well let some hops soak while I’m doing everything else.

At this point, it’s all about adding in more hops, which you can see the result of that from the post a few weeks ago.  My boils tend to go for about 70 minutes because when I add the light malt extract, that can drop the temperature of the word by about 10 degrees and it takes a little time to bring it back up. I still try and list my hop additions at 60 minutes and keep it as close to that as I can but there is a little fudging. When the boil is all done,  the only things left to do are cool the wort and put it into a carboy.

The carboy has been sanitized, of course, along with all the other equipment. The odd looking bucket on the left side of the last picture is a place for me to dump the hops into, as they get strained out of the wort as it goes into the carboy.

It isn’t the most majestic picture, I know but I was trying to take it with my iPad, which is pretty unwieldy under the circumstances. (This post actually told me I had to spring for a new camera).

After that, the yeast is added and I top the carboy off with cold water until it hits the five gallon mark (usually requiring 1-2 gallons).

And now we wait.