I Choose Poorly

I decided to go to the Beers Made By Walking event on Saturday because I felt my budget would be more friendly towards the event. I almost reconsidered, because the skies were ominously overcast and I didn’t have my hat ready for rain.

You gotta have a proper hat for the rain in Portland. Unfortunately, the day didn’t work out like I thought.

My first stop: Belmont Station where I tried the following:

Ground Breaker Guild’s Lake Ale: (using blackberries, ginger, mugwort)

I can pick up the ginger, especially in the finish but the nose has an earthiness to it that is unexpected. Not unpleasant but definitely unexpected. The finish is quite bitter however and doesn’t do favors to the ginger qualities. It doesn’t weigh heavy on the palate which is good but it doesn’t leave a good final impression and that’s negative. That final note is almost sour and I’m wanting to change up as soon as possible.

Coalition Walk a’Brown: (using vanilla leaf, hazelnuts smoked over American Red Cedar)

I’m still a sucker for a brown ale so I was not expecting the smoky note in the nose but I thought this was a good sign. Sadly, it was not: the smoke flavor just kills anything else in the beer. I can sense on the edges of my tongue vanilla trying to escape the eye of Mordor that is the smoke but it just isn’t allowed to be. Hm. Maybe they should’ve just roasted the hazelnuts instead of smoking them.

A little disappointed, I decided to walk over to the Horse Brass to see if I could change my luck. The walk was uneventful but the clouds were threatening and I was definitely missing my hat. You just can’t go outside in Portland without your gear!

I arrived at the Horse Brass and was able to find a table to sit down at. Looking around, it was apparent that there was a group who had been lead on a tour for the Beers Made By Walking event that had arrived, so I was feeling pretty hopeful…until the waitress came by and informed me that if I wanted a beer, it would be a 20-30 minute wait.

So I did what any sensible human being would’ve done: I left. Better to go home and enjoy a beer of my own than to twiddle my thumbs.

Of course, once I got home the people on my Facebook feed were talking about how awesome the Pro/Am event was. Next time, I suppose. Next time.

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Where I Want To Go: Baerlic

I have come to find Baerlic mostly because I said I would. I happened to be in the area with a little time to kill so I consider it a win-win. Who can resist a beer name like Haelwijn? Reversed ‘ae’ and an ‘ij’ kissing in the same word? Apparently means “Hell wine”? Gimme that.

This is a Belgian golden strong ale and I’m digging it. The nose is fruity, reminding me of raisins or maybe dates. It’s got a nice finish too: the Haelwijn practically disappears, which is a little strange. Frequently these beers linger with a sweetness that can get sickly fast. But this isn’t thin; it has a gentle viscosity that belies an alcoholic bite. Very subtle and potentially dangerous to the uninitiated because this is a 9.9% beer. They did right by the Haelwijn though; enough of the sugars have been eaten in this beer that it avoids any of the coyly sweet notes.

I like this environment to drink in. Big windows at my back helping light up the joint: the illumination is faux-date night and works for the midafternoon but I would enjoy it a little brighter in the evening. There’s a cribbage board over there so there is, at least, the notion that one could play games here. I always approve of that.

Baerlic has that new bar smell, still. Everything is shiny and in sharp contrast. It doesn’t yet have the lived in quality that makes the best joints awesome but at the same time, it’s comfortable, low key and ready to be populated with stories from the neighborhood. I look forward to seeing this place getting some stories to tell.

Portland Problems

I was strongly considering going to the Pro/Am competition this weekend, for something to write about and because some people from the OBC have some beers available there. I like seeing what people I know are able to do when given the opportunity to really cut lose with access to professional equipment.

But then I heard about the Beers Made By Walking event and if there’s one thing I really love, it’s walking. And then drinking. And then walking some more.  I really feel you cannot go wrong with these things. Plus; more unusual beer.

But I can only do one of those things and I’m having a difficult time deciding what I should pick. It is a hard life, sometimes.

What Endangers Craft Brewing

Sometimes, I have to recognize that were I live just doesn’t reflect much of anyplace else. This article at Esquire is one of those moments.

The basic premise behind that article seems to be: New breweries are forsaking quality (in ways that are not disclosed) in order to promote a ‘locally sourced’ beer as part of their marketing. This leads to consumers ignoring beers that “ain’t from ’round here” if you will, in order to get the cool thing in town. This will eventually lead to a whole bunch of breweries going under, in part because they just aren’t producing quality product. It’s also bad for consumers because they will support a substandard brewery all in the name of localvore movements, instead of supporting the good brewery.

Now, while I don’t doubt that many, many new breweries are working out the kinks in order to produce a better beer, I am also certain that eventually, the market will hit a saturation point where breweries that are market savvy and (hopefully) producing good beer will survive and others will collapse. But what I don’t see is any trend of ignoring beers from other regions. At all.  Sure, it’s good to support the local people and they get easy press but I haven’t yet encountered anyone who has been dissuaded from drinking a beer because it was from Texas, instead of from Oregon.

It’s about the quality of the work, not the distance it has traveled to get to you.

Where I Want To Go: Bailey’s

Was listening to Maserati’s Abracadbracab on the way over and I doubt I could have found a better song for the evening: lovers making out on the Burnside bridge in a final night of summer, two-thirds of the moon in the sky with the sun quickly saying goodbye behind the west hills, leaving behind warm air like a really cool friend who leaves beer in the fridge for you.

I almost kept driving. Why stop? Keep going, go until the sidewalk ends. It can’t last so ride it out as far as the pony will take you.

Of course, in the case of Abracadabracab, that’s almost eleven minutes and then I’ll have overshot my destination and I still won’t have a beer. I gave it some thought, though. It’s the kind of night where the impulse to wander is strong.

Baerlic‘s Stay Fresh, an imperial alt ale with fresh hops is my choice for the evening. The front end is a bit roasty and then it leads into this full citrus flavor, but it isn’t a sharp thing. However, the citrus isn’t blending well with the roasted qualities. I feel that there is a clash in this beer, between some flavors that tilt coffee and the orange at the end that isn’t working for me.

Still, it’s a good and interesting enough beer that I’d try something else by them. And they’re new to me, with a brewpub (sorta) recently open in southeast, so I think I’ve got another destination in mind!

Uneven Haircut

So I either get this:

Or I get this:

And I don’t get a head on the beer nearly as often as I get no carbonation whatsoever. This is always disappointing and it’s weird in this case, because the beer is so inconsistently carbonated. Not that many bottles are carbonated but when it is,  the bottles will gush! Usually that’s the sign of an infection.

Except the beer doesn’t taste infected at all. It’s got a very clean, sweeter coffee flavor to it. Which is what I was going for, so that’s great! It’s very flavorful and worth drinking, it’s just flat. Which leaves me with a bit of a conundrum as to what went wrong.

My theory is that I didn’t mix up the bottling sugar well enough with the beer and some bottles were just overloaded with sugar. It’s not much of a theory but since everything else went right, I don’t know what else to say.

Brew Date: 6.23.14

Steeping Grains
1.5 lb Carared
1.5 Belgian Coffee malt
1 lb Mild ale malt

Fermentables: 7lb LME

Hops
.75 oz Liberty @ 60
.25 oz Simco @60
.75 Simco @10
.25 Liberty @ 10

Yeast: Breakside ale yeast-3rd use,

Bottled 7.23