On The Rail: NWIPA

Steeped in exhaustion from the holidays, I’m typing like shit. Misspellings, cotton head; everything feels like it takes an extra 10% more effort right now.

Like so many people, I need a holiday from my holiday. Which is why I walked to NWIPA instead of driving anywhere; the mental effort of driving feels risky. Clearly, I’ve been torching the reserves of my energies, drinking, socializing, late nights and oh thank goodness 2014 is over.

But it was taxing, exertions on lines I can sustain no longer. So, let’s settle in for a beer at the most low-key joint on Foster. The patrons all similarly seem to be in a post-holiday daze, slightly subdued. The Christmas tree in the corner is unadorned now, standing tall but without a care in the world. Sounds about right.

A customer-clearly a regular-is being teased for getting the same ice cream she gets every time; “C’mon, branch out a little!” which is a sentiment I can always get behind. She’s gotten a ginger cider to go with her pint of chocolate swirl something; I hope she’s in for a stellar evening. There’s a brief discussion about an ice cream called Dracula’s Blood Pudding, which people shied away from because it had actual blood in it.

Portland, everyone. We put blood in ice cream.

I’ve gotten the Lagunitas Fusion 26 IPA. Nose like a Lemonhead; sweet with that citrus bite at the end. Bitterness on the end isn’t overwhelming, which is a nice trick, with a really gentle lemon running on the sides of my tongue. I’m good with this beer. Crisp.

There’s a little beer gossip as I leave; apparently people are taking 10 Barrel’s sale a little more personally than I would’ve thought. I want to stay and pay attention but the yawning is getting to me. If I don’t find a pillow soon, everyone’s going to regret it. Let’s get prone.

Some Thoughts On Sam Adams

So, we have an interesting piece on Sam Adams and particularly, Jim Koch’s role in the craft beer world. The short version: Sam Adams’ sales are down and Koch is unhappy that bars don’t consider his beer worth stocking anymore. Bartenders cite changing tastes and a ‘mediocre’ product, coupled with a need to find the next new thing.

And then we have the “rebuttal” to some of the points made in that article. Again, the short version: beer hipsters are ruining everything. The truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle.

Because in some ways I could see the fracture coming, if you’d asked me (and you’re here so clearly you are!): in others, it’s a bit sad to see that Koch is unwilling to adapt.

Koch was a key figure in the start of American craft brewing and is still a big presence there. He’s a billionaire, for pete’s sake! That doesn’t happen without some serious market savvy.

But that scene has left him behind, with the tastes of the audience changing, coupled with his company being one of the largest craft breweries in the country, castingĀ  his business in a very different light than our smaller, local pubs-rightly or wrongly. However, this article has him, I feel, petulantly asking; Why don’t you like what I like?, as though it was our job to buy what he likes, instead of his job to produce what we want.

On the other hand: it is sadly true that the evangelicals of craft beer drinking often are looking for ‘the next cool thing’. It is a blessing and a curse; we’re the first to tell you if something is good and usually the last to come back to product that has been consistent and tasty for a very long time and remind you that; hey, this stuff is worth the money, too. Or maybe that product has changed and it isn’t but who knows? We don’t talk about that.

The thing is, that product is always going to be new to somebody. Someone is going to go out there and try, for the first time, a beer that isn’t an American light lager and there damn well needs to be breweries like Sam Adams out there, providing an easy doorway with tasty beverages to get here. I think it’s important to support those places, too. Sure, we want to talk about our locals. That’s cool! But we need those medium-sized breweries to help break the ice between the ‘snobs and the slobs’ if you will.

Perhaps there’s some ore to be mined here, a thematic series where I have the more commercial ales from Widmer, Sierra Nevada, etc and just appreciate them.

I rather like that notion.