On The Rail: Triple Nickel

Fuck, I don’t know what I’m writing or doing here. I had to walk to get to the bus because my car is in the shop and I was looking for a drink on my way home. I’ve gotten one but it’s not the drink I’m expecting. It’s not bad. But it’s something I have to finish so I can get outta here and get food. Also finding a bus home. GAH. Which isn’t so bad but this all just feels incredibly silly.

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been to the Triple Nickel and the once divey, green tinted space has been vastly overhauled for the better. The rail has opened up and the bar area is a lot easier to see into now. Dingy carpet is gone and wood is in its place. Looks like they’ve replaced the pool tables, too, along with the area to play darts. Still has a pretty casual feel to it though, despite the facelift and that’s nice.

A massive crash happens behind me; two men playing giant Jenga have finished their game. On a lively night, I can see that being OK. Right now it’s too quiet, too mellow and a shockwave runs through the bar that nobody is really ready for but nobody can complain about, either.

I’m sipping on a Stepchild Red from Hop Valley and it’s hoppier than I expect for a red ale. I don’t hate this but maybe they should call it an IPA? Hell, I’d even say a pale is worth consideration but this beer is too big on the back end. IRA then? It’s not bad but damnit, I think it’s time for beers to start being what they say they are. It’s less confusing that way.

It’s so quiet here that I feel a little weird. Maybe it’s a post-Christmas thing? I should either be at home or somewhere lively but to be out and in a quiet space seems odd. Most likely it’s me; I’m feeling a bit more lively, getting ready for New Year’s Eve. I don’t know that I’m going to be about and about but at least preparing for something.

I’m restless. That’s the thing. So; time to go home. I hope everyone has a safe New Year and regular posting will start seven days from….now.

On The Rail: FoPo

An open letter to the bartender at FoPo;

I don’t recall the last time I saw someone get cut off here, but when that lady with the flashing red necklace and the ‘No Boyfriend No Problem’ tshirt thinks she can wander behind the bar (again), you did right by cutting her off, gently suggesting water as frequently as possible and encouraging her fellow in the Misfits T to take her home.

So when that other woman, the one who sneeringly suggested
“It’s not your job to care” about those overly drunk patrons and their safety, I was pleased to hear you say,

“But I do.”

Because here’s the thing: You’re right and that woman still on the rail? She’s a burnout who is tired of Portland, tired of the “techno scene and after any show they go back to someone’s house, do a bunch of cocaine and talk shit about each other.”-Her own words, right?

She’s bitter and unhappy and the fact that you have some basic human concern for someone’s safety isn’t a bad quality, isn’t one you should let your job or your patrons weasel out of you.

So when you wearily served me my Ft George Vortex, wanly smiling, “I love Saturday nights, especially during the holiday season,” I couldn’t help but smile back.

“Saturday nights,” I said, raising my glass to you.

Don’t let the bastards get you down.

I Went To The Yardhouse

This is a 100% Portland problem, let’s just get that out of the way up front. If I was still living in Spokane, this place would be Mecca.

But I live in Mecca, so there isn’t any reason for a beer lover to go to the Yardhouse. It’s a manicured chain restaurant that would fit in anywhere, whose hook is that they have 100+ beers on tap. So you could try any style you want!

Except I already have that, because I live in Portland. Plus, I can do it somewhere that will sell it to me for $1 less a pint, in a place that has a lot more personality. Since the Yardhouse is a chain, you won’t see any choices on there that represent anything potentially challenging as a drinker, nor did I see an attempt to choose lesser known breweries. If you go to the Yardhouse, you’re there to experience the known.

What’s the point of that?

On the other hand, the Yardhouse may bleed some people away from my favorite spots, making them a little more cozy again and if that happens, that’s all upside to me.

The Rise of Session Ales?

Dad sent this article about the increase in session ales in the marketplace.

I think this is a great thing for multiple reasons. First, there’s a suggestion that you could take almost any non-imperial style and make it a session ale. Variety is always good and being able to choose non-lager styles can only help everyone.

Second, session ales by their nature have to be pretty balanced. Palate wrecking beers can’t be drunk over an extended period if you want to taste other things because of this.  Part of the rise in craft brewing is the emphasis on flavor and so many beers I drink these days neglect balance in favor of shoving one particular flavor down your throat. More beers with balance is a good thing, hell more drinkable beers at large is a good thing. (Nothing wrong with a palate wrecker, of course, but we already have plenty of those).

Third, this may promote some styles that already exist but I wish I saw more of, like brown ales. Those are often neglected because they aren’t high octane fuels. Again; an increase in variety is something I can’t help but see as a positive but also quality should increase too, as better and better breweries take a swing at these styles.

Finally, some days are just lazy, beer drinkin’ days. Why cut them short if you don’t have to? Just keep sipping on your drink and enjoy your day.

On The Rails: Baileys

It takes a little time find a place to sit at Bailey’s tonight and there’s no room on the rail. This saddens me, because I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to rub shoulders with strangers. Instead, I sit at the loneliest table in the place, which if you’ve been here, you know it. The tiny spot up against the fire escape, where the bar and the outer wall narrow into a bottleneck, barely spacious enough for one person. Two? You’d better be friendly. Yeah, that spot.

On the upside, I have the space to write. Still, I can’t help but feel a little off since I have a theme and it’s not being satisfied, damnit!

Feh. Theme be damned, the important thing is being adaptable to your circumstances.

The bourbon nose on the Heathen bourbon barrel crivvens wee light (holy moly that’s a mouthful) isn’t too strong but it cannot be missed. What also cannot be overlooked is the banana undercurrent that feels like a foundation for this entire beer, layering some chocolate and bourbon on it, in a real culinary fashion because they wanted the banana to stand out, right?

Wrong. So wrong. Maybe it’s me? Maybe the beer is just too cold right now. I’m going to let it warm up a little longer to see if something shifts in the wee light and improves it. A little water to cleanse my palate may even help.

There’s a tiny gathering of men nearby, taking up far more space than they should be because they clearly feel entitled to stand in your way, even if you have to get a beer (from where I sit) or go to the bathroom (if you are anywhere else in the bar).

What a bunch of dicks. Sit down or stand out of the way. Yeesh.

I’ve given the beer a good ten minutes to warm up and I have to confess, the banana elements are highly diminished. More roasted, chocolate flavors are shining through. It’s even finishing dry…too dry.

There is an arid moment on the roof of my mouth. Plus, the ‘light’ part of this wee is dead on. This isn’t a weighty beer and doesn’t have the same kind of slick viscosity of the wee heavy I had earlier this year. The dryness really overwhelms other sensations now and I’m uncertain.

I don’t think I can recommend this beer. The arid finish is really what is putting me off; I don’t think this quality is contributing to the overall beer and while the shift in flavors has been a positive, the shift in mouthfeel has leapt in to snatch defeat from the jaws of…well, not exactly victory but maybe success?

Shame On Me

You know how one of the last beers I made was sour, and I thought I’d fucked it up? Strangely, I can’t find the link to where I describe that beer. Internet fail! Dangit. maybe I didn’t write it up because it was a bad beer? Hm. Putting bad things out of your mind is frequently a good idea.

Anyway, I think I was using contaminated yeast because this beer has come out with the same sourness on the end as another beer I didn’t like. It’s pretty much identical from a flavor profile viewpoint and the yeast is the only commonality so it makes sense.

Now, the good news is that the undrinkable qualities of this beer isn’t my fault! I was using bad yeast, I just didn’t know it. On top of that, this was the last useage of that yeast so the rest of my beers should turn out just fine.

The bad news, of course, is that I have over 48 bottles of not-so-awesome beer to drink. Damnit.

Brew date: 10.12.14

Steeping grains
4 lb Munich
2 lb C60
2 lb Munich 20

Fermentables: 4.5 lb LME

1 oz US Tettang @ 60
1 oz US Halltertau @30
Handfulls of mystery hop throughout (approx 1/3rd oz

Yeast: Pacman yeast, 3rd use

OG: 1.062

FG: 1.018

Bottled 10.31

ABV: 5.96%

On The Rail: Billy Ray’s

The seats at Billy Ray’s belong in the most uncomfortable 50’s diner in the world. They’ve probably been here that long, that’s for sure. Round red seats with chrome bands on the side, they both spin and wobble uneasily, barely large enough to support the asses that sit on them. The bar itself is copper topped, with not very pretty but certainly functional welds keeping the sheets together. Large, old, stainless steel fridges are behind the bar. There’s more metal in this dive than in most pubs I go into and I have to say, the look is pleasantly distinct.

On the far end of the bar, a lively discussion about how the city of Portland deals with gentrification is taking place. I can’t quite make it all out but they definitely have some opinions. The older fellow next to me is almost certainly from the neighborhood. He’s asking the bartender about people by name and the conversation is bantered with the kind of familiarity that comes from long time patrons. He’s drinking Miller High Life from the bottle, casually interested in the people around him, more content with the football games on.

A group of people are in exodus. The Wonder Ballroom isn’t far from here and we’re approaching a ‘doors open’ time. I can see getting your drink on here, sauntering over to the Wonder and sipping on only one drink there, buzzed and pumped on music.

I’m drinking Elysian’s Bifrost. It’s sweet, like an orange gumdrop but it finishes like an IPA, a pithy bitterness on the middle of my tongue. I’m not finding it to my liking; the sweetness is a bit much and the bitter is scouring. Something a little more balanced might be better. I usually  like Elysian’s stuff quite a bit so it feels odd to dislike one of their ales.

The punk rock is loud and fast and I am thankful because it’s helping calm my nerves. I’m waiting for a woman but can one ask a stranger on a date? Isn’t this more of a ‘assurance you aren’t a serial killer’ meeting?

If that’s the case, I should relax. I am definitely not a serial killer. Still, I wish that I had been more…I wish I didn’t have to explain myself every time I wanted to kiss someone. But I do and while that doesn’t make me unkissable, or unkissworthy, it does make me anxious. We are at T-10 minutes and my heart rate is not that of a man who is cool with this.

But I have nothing to lose. When I go home tonight, it will be in the exact same condition as I was when I left. I can’t get any more single. Why worry?

Holiday Ale Fest 2014

There were New Zealanders in line in front of me, which was awesome. Portland really does have an international reputation. These notes rapidly got out from under me, as I was conversing with attendees, remembering recommendations from friends and trying to satisfy my own demands of ‘the new’, so please forgive any gaps.

These are my (mildly) edited notes, with pictures as I could manage because today has been long and I am tired. And intoxicated. Don’t worry, I took the bus home. Which I emphasize because safety is more important than beer.

Reverend Nat’s Providence cider.
Good thing to start with. Nose has that cinnamon apple pie going on that is so nice, and a warm drink in a cool day is never unwelcome. I cannot find the listing in the book through! How am I going to remember I had a hot cider?

The finish is very tart and I get a floral element. I’m told that they made this cider from New England varieties of apples so it would be tarter than typical, and added honey for the Festival. This oculd be where the floral elements come from on the finish. But now I need a beer.

Eel River Gargantua II
Vanillaish nose, which is nice, the beer drinks super easy, with a dry chocolate finish. I dig it. Recommended by Will.

At this point I met Tracy, a beer lover who had a list. Way more intense than I was going to get but I thought it was awesome:

Now that’s a fucking plan.

Stone New Desecrator (Recommended by Tracy)
Oh man, the nose on this is..something else. Dark. Cave malt. Mushrooms. This is what I feel like when I drink this beer. Gollum would love. It’s good.

Feckin Top O’ The Feckin Morning
But the flavors go more chocolate covered coffee/espresso(is there such a thing?) bean. I like it, but I can see where it miiiight not be for everyone. But the end of the Feckin is too much. By the time I’ve reached the end of this taste, I feel like my palate is just overwhelmed with coffee. It’s not a bad beer but it’s definitely a dominant force.

Payette Bandito IPA
Ooooh, that’s some diggy dank hops in the nose. It is what it says; a crisp IPA with a solid bitter finish. Piney, not citrus and I realize how much I’ve missed a not-citrus finishing IPA! Jebus. It’s SO good to have some damned variety.

There’s a server in a purple Santa hat who is swaying to the Xmas tunes. It’s the Beach Boys so I can’t resent it.

Slanted Rock Cordial Tease
Beer approached with trepidation. Peppermint is listed as a potential flavor and cherries. What the what?

Dried fruit nose. Cherries. Undercut by coffee. Tastes…good? Huh. The peppermint kinda bats cleanup! Which is weird but it’s a nice way to finish a beer like this off. This isn’t too heavy on the tongue but it definitely has some different flavors happening and the finish works. No, I don’t understand why. Nicely done.

Hopworks Incredible Abominable of the Enchanted Barrel Forest
Fuck your name. You are not Blue Oyster Cult.
Citrus, for sure. Bourbon? Boozy nose, yes. A little spike of alcohol in the finish, certainly. Dry finish. Is it good? It’s…cromulent. I don’t hate it but I’m not in love with it. Hm. Slightly dirty on the finish. Something not as awesome there.

13 Virtues Barrel Aged BMAX Stout
Soft chocolate nose and it’s got a general pillow factor that I like. Nothing too intense about this beer but damn, it’s nice. Even the finish is good

Baerlic The Great Bear
Hmm…it’s not bad and has a dry finish, but it isn’t very distinctive. I don’t dislike this beer but I can’t recommend it either. It’s just there, you know?

Widmer, Frostie the Muncieman-porter
This…smells chocolatey and is sour? WHAT?
No. NO fuck this shit.

Met slainte from twitter! Holy shit. I’ve been interacting with this dude for years on Twitter and I had no idea who he was until today. Super cool!

Finnriver Stone & pome cider
This  is good. If Sprite was awesome to drink this is what it would be.

Golden Valley Tennen Boom
Kinda chewy in a good way. Vague chardonnay note in the nose this is tasty and easy to drink.

Fearless Ichabod pumpkin
You know, it is a decent but not heavy pumpkin ale, with a spice finish that keeps it from being heavy. I’m surprised because fuckin’ pumpkin ales.

And that’s what I can do! Have fun at the fest, everyone!