Where I Want To Go: Barlow

I have come to the Barlow at the request of a couple buddies who are celebrating their last day of work. Their jobs have been outsourced and their futures, while bright, are unknown. It is…a good but potent reminder: no one is safe. As a consideration to the evening’s potential length, I have ordered a Sasquatch Session ale because when one attends the ending of something-a wake, for example-it is best to be prepared for the long haul.

And here I am, very late in the evening, composing my thoughts and glad I have chosen wisely.

Endings are often odd things for people, as we rarely choose them willingly. They often occur when there are no other choices, we must do or accept the inevitable, in order to be happy or moral or kind or just. Or just because the Universe has decreed: Fuck You.

In this particular instance, my buddies have had to accept that their jobs are being shipped overseas. They are smart, competent people and their biggest crime, I suppose, is that they want to be paid what they are worth, given their knowledge. Knowledge not only of the services they can provide, but of the pros and cons of American society: that there are those who are hoarding where they should share.

At the same time, an ending greeted with joy, with the preparation says that one is amazing, why that can be a launchpad into the new. And the weird thing about people is that as much as we seem to abhor the new, when we can confront it with all the tools we need? We love it. So much.

However, I’m not in a place to provide smart commentary. What I can tell you? The evening has devolved. What I can tell you is that the Sasquatch has a subtle run of lemon through it, making it a light, thirst quenching beer that I should totally have more of. It’s not extremely distinctive, but it’s a good session ale. I’m expecting almost nothing and I’m getting some actual beer! The Barlow is a cool pub and the Sasquatch is a solid beer. Have at ’em, folks.

Washington Ales 1

I am going to continue to review some of the ales that I got from Pint Defiance in Tacoma, as seen in our last recount of my Washington State visit.

Sound-Sommerweizen. This brewery came highly recommended by the staff and I believe by Fuz as well. The beer had a real buttery quality in the nose and mouthfeel and flavor up till the finish, when it gets a bit spicy. Is that good? It isn’t bad.

But it’s so different that I don’t know how I feel about it, honestly. The spicy qualities on the finish-which must come from the yeast-do help give this beer a real liveliness that keeps the buttery qualities well in check. As a bonus, this beer works rather nicely with food! The dense qualities wash the food away and the spicy notes clear the palate up. This isn’t to suggest that the Sommerweizen is a poor choice to drink alone, merely that I seem to appreciate it better with a sandwich.

Verdict: Sound’s beers interest me but I’m cautious. Sampler tray before pints.

Fremont The Brother IPA

This is a bold stroke of grapefruit with hints of floral in it; it’s got such a juicy quality, I felt as though I was all but drinking an alcohol infused juice instead of a beer. The effervescence at the end helps cleanse the palate allowing for a bitterness that is definitely there but is not crushing.

The nose continues to waft up, even halfway through the glass; I’m amazed I can still get some scent, given the allergies that have kicked up lately, but I take that as a good sign. The label says that there was white wheat malt added and I guessing that’s helping give this beer some body that might not otherwise be there. This is still a very light beer, again suggesting that they went light on the malts but they had the wisdom to add some malts that would add body and support the hop push. At 8.5%, this feels about right.

Verdict: I could use more of Fremont’s stuff around.

North American Organic Brewers Fest ’14

I’m going to check out the NAOBF this Friday and if I’m lucky (and there is wifi) I may even use Twitter for it’s intended purpose: yelling about beer.

But if not, then look for some commentary next week, because that’s how I roll.

I’m rarely a fan of “organic” beer per se. I approve of every brewer’s attempt to conserve resources and use the best ingredients they can but all too often I am left feeling like the beer is substandard. So often, regardless of style, there is a ‘dirt’ flavor on the finish. And while I think we should always be striving for a better world, I don’t have to drink your mistakes. However, it’s been a few years since I’ve attended the NAOBF and I know for a fact that brewers can learn a whole lot in a short time about how to improve a beer.

So, let’s see what they got.

Of these, Falling Sky, Hi-Fi, Lakefront, Loowit, and ThirstyBear all interest me because I haven’t heard of them, so I’ll probably make those places a priority. Others like Widmer, Laurelwood, Lompoc, or Kells I feel will give me a beer worth drinking. Then there are some beers that I want to try because they aren’t IPA’s which seem to be the dominant style at the event; thankfully Logsdon, Golden Valley (even Widmer!) and a few cider places will provide options.

However, should that beer finish dirty…I will not be merciful.

Where I Want To Go: Academy Theater

The theater pubs are unsung heroes of Portland, I think.

When I first moved to Portland, nearly 20 years ago, the fact that there were theaters that served beer was the first sign that I was in a new an exciting place. A place where interesting ideas could take shape and find a home. Sure, eventually I discovered that there were other cities that had such locations but it seemed as though took a few years for the idea to catch on.

We don’t talk much about the theater pubs but I believe they are huge in getting a craft beer into the hands of someone who might not try one. Not everyone will go into a new and interesting bar. Almost everybody goes to the movies at some point. Why wouldn’t you get a beer while you’re at it?

There’s probably something to be said about the strip clubs of Portland and their contribution to getting craft beer in the hands of people too but that’s a very, very different Monday post.

I’ve snagged a Barley Brown‘s Tumble Off pale while I wait for a friend to meet me to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  It has a sweetness on the nose, like freshly opened hops.  Finish has bite: effervescent and hop oriented. It’s bright for a pale and light: this is a beer for a warm day. The bitterness lingers but I didn’t pick up on it intensifying until I got well into the beer, which for me puts that bitterness at about right.

The Winter Soldier was awesome, so I may have to come back to see it again. And get another Tumble Off.

Two Poor Tastes Together

On the upside, this is drinkable.

But the negatives are all over this beer. It’s what happens when you have the slightly funky note of the red ale coupled with the lack of carbonation of the fauxlager. It’s flat AND oddly tart from infection. What a losing combination! Plus, I forgot to take the original gravity reading, so I have no sense of how strong this beer is. It doesn’t taste strong and I’d guess that it hovers just above the 5% mark but I have no actual data.

To top it all off, there was a recipe mixup: the one for the red ale? That’s supposed to be for this beer, and the recipe I’m listing now is supposed to be for the red ale. But I’m posting the recipe anyway so I have it out there and because let’s face it, if I’m going to screw up, let’s just go all in.

Recipe for IPA thing

Brew Date: 4.13.14

Steeping Grains
2 lb 2 Row
3.5 lb Marris Otter
1.5 lb Victory

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

Added .5 Chinook and US Magnum hops @ 60, preboil
.5 Styran Goldings & .5 Glacier @60
.5 Styran Goldings @20
.5 Glacier @ 10

Yeast: Breakside ale yeast

FG: 1.01

Secondary: 4.12

Bottled 5.3

Pint Defiance

Last weekend I took a trip to the Seattle area to pick up a mini-fridge from Fuz. While there, I stopped by Black Raven brewing and got a growler of their scotch ale because it was super yummy, and the next day was in Tacoma to get the fridge.

However, while I was there, Fuz took me to Pint Defiance, which is a newer bottle shop in the area.

And it’s great. It’s bright, it’s got a ton of beers, it’s got a really solid list of taps if you want to stop and try something (we did: the Sierra Nevada Quad I had was delicious and plummy), and a staff that was quite helpful in suggesting some breweries to me that I hadn’t had an opportunity to try. I’m going to spend a couple posts reviewing those, because it sounds like fun and I just don’t get to try as many Washington State beers as I’d like. If you’re around Tacoma, I say give it a looksee.

Also, what I noticed was that there seemed to be a lot more breweries putting their wares in cans than I see in Portland. Admittedly, this is just my impression but if it holds true, it wouldn’t surprise me since the first time I ever became aware of a mobile canning company was via a video shot at Wingman, which makes their home in Tacoma. I think that if the tendency towards canning is true, it’s a pretty interesting distinction from what I see in Portland (so far).

With that noted, let’s bring on the first beer: Bale Breaker‘s Top Cutter IPA.

Fresh grassy notes in the nose that are not super imposing. This definitely suggests a fresh hop harvest addition to me, just because of the nose. The can doesn’t tell me what the ingredients were but I’m going with my impression anyway.

There are citrus notes in ale and finish but it’s not overwhelming. It’s definitely and IPA but without the incredible scouring finish that a great many NWIPAs might have. The straw color of the ale hints that the brewer held back on denser malts in order to showcase the hops of the beer but here it works. I believe this is because the hops just aren’t overwhelming to the beer; prominent; absolutely and the hint of sweetness in the middle is all but a ghost but because the beer isn’t so insistent, I just don’t mind the bitterness at the end. I dig it and hope Bale Breaker is able to find their way to Portland.

Where I Want To Go: Undisclosed

It’s late and I’m hiding out; out of state, out of mind. The slings and arrows of the world are elsewhere. Sometimes, when you need to hide out, even a dive bar isn’t shadowy enough. You have to go further.

Upon reflection, I’ve been seeking shelter for the past few weeks. Looking back on what I’ve written it seems rather clear; I am trying to wrap myself in safe spaces where I can just be. Places where I am not known seem better for this purpose, at least when I need to seethe but at this point I feel like I’ve gone as far as I can go; somewhere where nobody can find me at all.

It’s quiet and secluded from the populace of a bar. I don’t have to be social, I don’t have to even make nice with a bartender, since I bought the beer myself. Plus, there are cookies. Even when things are bad, you can have a cookie and feel better.

This 425 pale ale from Bellevue isn’t well balanced. I get the taste of soap in my mouth and the finish is slick, overstaying its welcome, not really allowing for much else in the way of flavor. Unfortunate because I like the packaging; it’s distinctive, witty, has suggested pairings with food, avoiding a great many mistakes that lots of breweries make with bland packages.

The beer just isn’t holding up. Maybe something else would help? It’s only 4.8%, so perhaps a stronger malt presence-even boosting this to 5.5 or 5.2% ABV-might help nudge this beer into something more quaffable.

But it’s OK. There are occasions where the beer is less relevant than the place and tonight is one of them. And now that I’ve gone as far as I can go, it’s probably time to start getting out in the world again. Seems like a good idea, anyway.

When To Store

I’m not much of a fan for cellaring beer and reading this article at Draft puts me in a mind to articulate why (again).

Let me say again, though, that I understand. Human beings like to collect things. We often don’t like ending something and beer, once it’s gone, it’s gone. There is something to be said for saving up for a special occasion.

I even set aside two beers from every batch I make, to share with people who don’t get to have my beer otherwise. I do this in the hope that our paths will cross and I will have reason to share.

But life passes us by, every day. Endings; they are happening right now, as I write, as you read, something has completed a cycle and in some cases won’t ever return the same again.

What good does a hoard of things do, if it is not shared?

So every so often, if a visit from a friend is not on the horizon, I take my stored bottles and I drink them. The beer is old or getting old. I am not a professional bottle capper. The seals are tight but they are not machine strength. There is new beer, new things to try. Why insist on holding on to this beer for a mythical day?

Today is the day.

Red Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair

On the upside; this beer is carbonated.

On the downside, there’s a…twinge of sour at the finish which is so inappropriate for an amber that I don’t even know where to begin.

I blame myself.

This beer is one of the first that I made using Star San as a sanitizer for use in secondary. I am pretty certain that I didn’t use that sanitizer properly and this allowed for a funkiness to get in the beer. Nothing too dramatic, nothing I can’t live with, but not one I’d gleefully share.

Brew Date: 4.19.14

Steeping Grains
2 lb C 80
2 LB Special B

Fermentables: 7 lb Light malt extract

.75 oz Columbus @60
.5 oz US Northern Brewer @60
.5 oz US Northern Brewer@30
.25 oz Ahtanum @30
.25 oz Columbus @ 15
.75 oz Ahtanum@15

Yeast: 3rd Wyeast use, done

OG: 1.069

FG: 1.022

ABV: 6.3%

Where I Want To Go: Eugenio’s

I was expecting to be at another dive bar but a friend suggested meeting here for a drink and I figured; let’s just kill two birds with one stone while I wait.

This place reminds me of Proof, actually, but it feels more open and warm, where Proof wanted to press me in. Both spaces have their pluses: Proof’s darkness is good for pretending you’re in a spy thriller, clandestinely meeting your contact to get you out of Hipsterville….

Eugenio’s feels more like a place to stretch my legs out. The presence of country music is probably contributing to my feeling that there should be a nerf gun shootout.

The Hop Valley Pontifex IPA is a biter. Pine nose and then a peach/pine wrestling match at the finish. It isn’t bad but I’m not sure that it always works. The kind of beer that I’d want to pair with something munchie; cheese, especially, comes to mind.

Part of me wishes I was at the dive bar. The one I want to go to is downtown though and it’s a week of parades and sailors and I want no part of either. Too many people, too much ‘celebration’, not enough quiet darkness to resent the sun from.

Division street is changing, though; has been for a little while now. Lots of apartment complexes, lots of liveliness and as always, the weirder things are being swept away. The Egyptian Club, probably the biggest lesbian bar in Portland, gone. New apartment complex in its place; boring, with its soon-to-house boring shops on the street level. There’s a porn theater just a few blocks away, and in grand Portland fashion, there’s a sign on the door telling patrons that they have bike parking inside.

I can’t imagine that theater remaining for much longer. Too bad. Surely to be replaced by tiny apartments and hipper than hip joints where fools like me can stretch their legs out.

I resent that. I resent interesting parts of interesting neighborhoods being wrecked for the shiny, the new. Not that everything old is worth saving, or that everything new is terrible just that nobody wants to see them get along, forgetting that the old weird stuff is what made the place interesting, the new stuff makes it habitable.

Then again, do we really need porn theaters these days? Am I wishing for the return of the telegraph machine?

Could be. Could be. But Portland needs places for the wierdos, the square pegs that don’t fit in, even here, to help make us interesting and it’s less about the porno theater and more about what the porno theater represents when it’s gone.