Where I Want To Go: 13 Virtues

I almost hit a squirrel on my way here. It bolted out into traffic and as I swiftly hit the brakes, it doubled back, deciding that an encounter with my tires was against its best interest. This is a good thing. A little blessing in a year that has decided to emphasize the rough spots.

I’m in 13 Virtue’s tasting room, a cozy little space that is destined to be the start of some grand, open conspiracies; you know the kind, where everybody in the bar is talking about everything all at once. Good natured  shouting coupled with the occasional bleak joke, while all around in the restaurant everyone bellows nonsense.

Although the conspiracies are most likely to happen upstairs….oh yes. Let’s creep up there and trade wicked smiles, out of sight but not ear, so we know what we can get away with. Maybe sometime.

The Mildfire is a smoked amber: a delicate drink, sweet but light and with the smoke gently handled. I appreciate how carefully this beer was put together, the amber qualities enhanced instead of overwhelmed by the smoke. That takes some combination of practice, skill and probably patience that is to be lauded.

Don’t get me wrong; the smoke lingers. It’s the ghost whose presence is felt long after the initial impression is gone, though, easily swept away. But the easy banishment of that flavor is welcome, encouraging the next drink of beer and doesn’t take away from the nice qualities of the amber. I’m pleasantly surprised and definitely pleased.

The beer drinks slow, though. That may have to do with my tastes, however. I got a small glass and it was the correct choice. Not because it’s bad but because I can tell that I want to change the flavor profile soon. There’s a whole host of interesting ales to try and I’d like to see what else is going on.

I Had Beers In Canada (again)

And my Northern brothers and sisters, you really gotta up your game. I mean, I had to drink Sleemans. A lager that comes in a bottle that looks like this:

Seriously: Clear bottles? I can’t respect that. C’mon, Canada. You aren’t Mexico.

Although I suppose I got what I deserved when I bought a “variety pack” of beers that were all lagers of some kind. Dear Sleemans: you cannot add food coloring to your lager and call it a bock. It doesn’t work like that.

It wasn’t all bad though. I did manage to get to a proper pub and try a few things:

Block 3 lager
I’m told this is a Belgian lager and it is no lie: the oddly sweet nose, a a very sweet fruit slant with a dry finish. You can’t call this a normal lager by any means. It’s not bad but the yeast shines so brightly, I’m not sure about the beer. Is this a problem of expectations, or is it just that the style doesn’t support Belgian yeast flavors very well? I don’t know but I’m pretty sure this beer appeals to someone because it’s got interesting flavors and it isn’t flawed. Just not for me, I think.

Descendants Harbinger American pale ale
A pretty solid IPA. Or I guess APA. I’m glad to see a distinction being made:  hopefully this means that IPAs will start to be indicative of more balanced beers, while APAs push hops much further. That would be handy for drinkers and enthusiasts alike, I think.

Finish is dry on this beer but still a solid bitterness. It needs a little work though, there is something off here that I can’t put my finger on. A little dirty? The nose rapidly fades too and that’s not a good sign. This is a solid start but it still needs a little push.

Muskoka lager
This was a lager I could get into.  Clean and tasty, there isn’t anything to write home about here, and that’s exactly how it ought to be. Except I ought to note; it was a hell of a lot tastier than Sleeman’s beers which were content to provide mere whiffs of flavor. If given the option, gimme more of that.

Where I Want To Go: Mill Stream

Tonight I am a scene in a movie: Alone, heartbroken and in a town where nobody knows me, getting drunk at a bar that feels far from nowhere, with U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name on a jukebox that plays CDs.  I loved that song. Something about going into Nowhere and finding a place for yourself appealed to me. Where I was had been chipping away at me for so long, the idea that I could get out from under the city, the person I had been because of it, that appealed to me quite a bit. Still does, at least in concept and I like where I live now. It must be twenty years since I’ve heard that song, which is probably about how long it’s been since I’ve had a Moosehead.

Never really found a taste for Moosehead, though, despite being introduced to it at a very young age. I drink it now and it isn’t bad for a mass produced lager, though it skews a bit on the sweet side. Was it always sweet and I just couldn’t taste it or has the recipe changed over the past two decades, tweaked to appeal to a broader base? Tweaks like that have been done in the past but I didn’t much consider the taste of my beer twenty years ago so I have no point of reference.

I may be being shown off. That is OK, I suppose. Let the locals get their eyeful.

I think back to who I was when The Streets Had No Name came out and I wonder how’d I get to…U2 invading iPhones everywhere. Isn’t that what we do when we are confronted by our past? Maybe some people can shed everything but I doubt anyone can forever. There isn’t a straight line though, a stack of interlocking pieces that clearly say, “You were here, now you are here.”

Some moments appear, of course. Choices I made that pop up like signposts: where to live, whom to love, but so much more is nebulous. I cannot say I didn’t have a goal: I did but that goal has also failed me in ways I don’t know I could have predicted.

Do we need small, shitty towns stuck in the past to return to, to get us to examine our lives. A constant ghost in our own machines? That reminder that we should not outrun who we were but instead build on it? I don’t know and two Moosehead isn’t helping me decide the fate of tiny places, so I think it’s time to go home.

Especially since I could have spent the rest of my life without hearing Def Leppard’s Let’s Get Rocked, again. Nobody really needed to hear that song even once and some things that are in the past can just goddamn stay there.

I Got Hops!

Forgive me, I am using the size of my picture to make up for the minimal content. My buddy Cedric gave me about 24 ounces of hops that he’d harvested but he didn’t know what variety they were. They smelled spicy to me, with a citrus note so maybe Chinook? A possibility of Galena? I just don’t know but that’s never stopped me before.

So I tossed about half into a beer I was making last Sunday and took the rest to dry out, as you can see in the photo. I’m going to give it a week before tossing them into a plastic bag and storing them for the next beer I make, which will also be an IPA of some kind. Because if you have ten ounces of hops, you might as well overuse them.

On the road this week, so no Friday post, and coming back on Monday at an obscene hour, so I’ll see you in a week!

Where I Want To Go: Stein Haus

The Stein Haus is almost perturbingly quiet. Like the opening scene in From Dusk Til Dawn, where there’s so few people I’m almost expecting something really crazy to happen at any moment.

Thankfully, nothing does. I think this place may be so empty because of a slight case of not knowing what it is. When this was the Agenda I liked it but then it became a strip club called Assets (which is almost a clever title) and I never went but now it’s a ‘new’ place which makes the third change in as many years. Hard to develop an identity under such circumstances.

I get my beer, an Altborish Dunkel by Ayinger, sit down and all is well. Dunkels are an interesting brew; a bit like the diet version of a more roasted, chocolaty beer. It’s sweet but it finishes very clean, so I don’t get the aftertaste that an actually sweet beer might offer up.

The beer list is tilted towards the lighter, Germanic styles; I see pilsners, dunkles, wheat ales and from brewers predominantly from Europe. Anything that’s local falls into the same category: Pils from the Commons, Octoberfest from Ninkasi, Roggenweizen from Occidental. The exception (sorta) is the India Steinhaus Lager, which I’m told is brewed by Rock Bottom brewery for the Stein Haus. This is probably the hoppiest brew on the menu, I’m deducing, falling into the new ‘craze’ of India Pale Lagers.

The bartender is pretty nice; indulges my questions, gives me a sample of a beer that has no description and tells me where the house Lager comes from. So the Stein Haus has some good things going for it.

I don’t know how this becomes a neighborhood bar-a little more lighting around the beer list would certainly help-but we need more little interesting places to get beers in the outskirts of the city. Maybe this time, the Stein Haus will stick.

Chamomile Wheat ’14

I keep making this beer and it keeps challenging me but this time, I think I got it right.

The trick was to add the tea in at flameout, so that it’s far, far less likely for me to get the acrid flavors from that tea. Previously, I’d been adding the tea with less and less time in the boil, going down to five minutes and I was still getting some unwanted bitterness.

This beer has a nice note of vanilla and chamomile to it and tastes damn good. There’s a solid carbonation running through it which is definitely a positive.

Brew Date: 7.12.14

Steeping Grains
6 lb Wheat malt
1.5 lb pale
1 lb wheat

Fermentables: 4.5 lb LME

1.5 oz Willamette @60
.5 oz Willamette @10

Other: .5 oz Chamomile tea @ flameout

Yeast: Wyeast German Wheat

OG: 1.062

FG: 1.016

Bottled: 8.5.14

ABV: 6.2%