On The Rail: Beermongers

I didn’t know where I wanted to go tonight, I just felt that going back to Baileys after last week’s post might be a little too soon. It probably doesn’t matter to anyone but me and my brain chemistry insisting that I keep looking for different places to post but most nights, I don’t mind.

So I’ve come to Beermongers, which is blessedly low key right now and easy on my consciousness. That’s good, because I have a lot on my mind tonight. It’s been a dense week personally and a heck of a week for the country, so the relaxed vibe is working out.

I went with the Melvin 2×4 imperial IPA. Resin and slight pine in the nose–not overwhelming but there and then…grapefruit in the finish. It’s not bad, I just feel a bit tired of grapefruit finishing IPAs. There isn’t much malt there either, so it transitions too quickly from pine nose to grapefruit tongue and I wish that the sweet bridge lasted longer.

It’s been a good week for the country, in my opinion, for those who experience oppression on a regular basis-either because of race, or preference, or fear of their health. For those of you who share in that opinion, then I say: rejoice! Let us be as gracious in triumph as we would be determined in defeat.

But maybe you don’t think like I do. That’s OK. I’m just sitting quietly on the rail; come sit down and have a beer.  There’s room for you, too.

Disneyland, NYC, we got Mickey Mouse, We got Pornography

My trip to New York was a pretty intense adventure: lots of awesome people, a level of humidity I haven’t had to endure since my visit to Baton Rogue, and a whole lot of beers I hadn’t heard of or hadn’t drank before. I wasn’t able to take notes on everything because sometimes I set aside time to visit or I just didn’t have the tools on me to take notes.  Still, I had some interesting stuff and for the next couple posts, I’ll be presenting my somewhat edited notes; enjoy!

Coney Island Mermaid pilsner: that is just too damn bitter on the finish. The rye malt the label says is added does give the beer a nice spiciness but the bite on the finish doesn’t make it a very easy drinking pilsner. I suppose this might slide in under the Classic American pils rules but the bitterness is strong enough that I don’t see it.

(Days later I would have another and I found it far more enjoyable. I’m not sure what may have changed, except for this: I had my initial taste from the bottle, and my second beer was on draft.)

Founders Dirty Bastard scotch style. This is not bad on the first sip. The 8.5% ABV means that it’s about as dense as it should be for the style. I find myself unhappy with the finish, though. Vegetal? Overly hopped? The finish is a little acrid, is what I’m finding. There’s some nice caramel malt in the nose-C60? Maybe C80 malt. Once again, sticking the landing is difficult. I feel like I’m missing something. Checking the style, peaty qualities may be present and I wonder if that aftertaste I’m not enjoying is their attempt at adding some smokey characteristics to the beer?

Threes brewing Unreliable Narrator IPA
This is a fine example of the English style IPA, well balanced with hop presence but not hop domination. The hop nose is fresh, almost grassy and man, do I like this beer. I’d have another, if I wasn’t so hellbent on trying something else they did.

Threes brewing Words Have No Meaning: beire de Miel-
This is a pretty nice farmhouse ale, which is light and…horseblanket nose? The finish is dry, and there’s an herbal bitterness there that I dig on. This beer wants some pretzels! Yessss…

My Dad would really like it at Threes. It’s cool, there’s good music (60’s R&B, 70’s dance) and there’s good beer and…yeah, he’d dig it. Come visit NYC, Dad, go to the Threes Brewing and have a beer. Hell, everyone should check it out. Place is awesome and has good beer.

Other Half
Man, this is the sketchiest entry to a brewery ever.  Inside, the walls are fucked up, old clocks, metal hoops without any purpose, I think this hasn’t seen a can of paint in 40 years…

Got the Boogie Board Stuntz collaboration with Bunker brewing. It’s…meh. The finish is dry enough but it really does’t have much to impress. The beer finishes a lot drier than I would expect and it isn’t all that. I would’ve hoped for more from a kolsh on a hot muggy day like today.

Tried the Green Diamonds next on the recommendation of a patron and it WAS better. Quite a bit better. But I couldn’t get any nose on the beer (and it’s an imperial IPA) which is a pretty hard knock against it. The grapefruit qualities on the finish weren’t incredibly bitter and even tilted slightly sweet to help keep the ale balance. All & all I have to say that it just didn’t impress, though.

On The Rail: Baileys (Hard Knocks Edition)

I have come back to Baileys because after six days in New York City, I still feel untethered. Very slowly have I been getting my PST legs back, because I hit the ground in Portland running with activities every night, including this one. Granted, this activity is a grounding act for me because I get to sit alone and write but it’s not staying home and playing Batman: Arkham Knight in my underwear all day.

It’s crowded enough when I walk in that I can’t sit at the rail. Bizarrely, there are, for once, available tables! Why should I ignore such a gift on a night where my very presence in the city feels unmoored? The barkeep suggests a few things and I go for the Hard Knocks Riveter Red Imperial ale.

This is a malt forward beer alright, with that “I’ve just had something sweet” sourness that burrows up long after the beer is done. As though I’ve had chocolate, you know? But that isn’t a knock; just an acceptance of malt forward ales. Before that, there is a nice hop bitterness that appears-Columbus and Crystal, the menu says, and the citrus element does a nice job of complimenting the fruity sweetness of the beer.

I have walked into a birthday party that is collapsing as I write, the participants closing their tab and arranging their posse home as I settle in. Then, suddenly, the bar is nearly empty. It feels like a writing paradise instead of a bar, just for a moment anyway.

I feel like laying down on a bench and sleeping here. Wake me tomorrow at opening and let me start my day with some nachos from across the street and a beer.

Because this feels like a new place now. Like somewhere I’ve never been. All of these beers I’ve barely or never had. All of this space all of a sudden. Everyone outside, me inside with new but old  hideout.

An hour later, the place is packed again. Standing room, lines for a beer. I can’t sleep on a bench here; that would be incredibly rude. Better head home. I own a bed there.

Raw Ale

I found this blog post on “raw ale” to be really interesting. It takes into account the way beer has been brewed before modern technologies (like the copper pot!) and brings to light some brewing methods that I’d just never thought about before.

Plus, it’s a nice article to leave you with, before I head on vacation. Off to NYC, where I will hopefully get to have tasty East Coast beers, and I hope to resume posting on the 22nd!

On The Rail: The Lutz

The Lutz was probably old school when it was old school. There isn’t a single light on, evoking the dive bar label it wears with more pride than any other bar I can think of in the city. Sure, there’s plenty of ambient light coming in from outside for now but not for long, and it’s dark enough as is that I look handsome.

Stools are set at a height before the days of men and women routinely breaking six feet tall and the bar appears to be formica. Though I could be wrong; it’s certainly dark enough for me to be wrong. The fixtures are equally old. Sometime in the early 80’s they decided to quit updating the decor, so now everything except the chalkboard menu is so clearly from a time before the modern dive era, the bar itself seems to be the wizened old timer, a movie set winking at all these kids who are trying for the motif but just can’t authenticate it.

In that spirit, I almost have an Old German in the can. The only problem with that? Old German tastes like it’s been through a dead person.

I instead go with Burnside’s Couch lager, their answer to Full Sail’s Session lager; cheap, easy to drink, low alcohol.

I almost miss Old German now. This thing tastes like Brussels sprouts topped by creamed corn. I’m going to finish this godforsaken glass of flavor because I paid four-I-shit-you-not fifty for it and goddamn if I am not going to get my full four I-shit-you-not-fifty worth of suffering out of it.

God. The nose is like canned corn. The midrange is hay that sticks in your mouth and the finish goes full vegetable. You never go full vegetable.

This lager encourages me to stop breathing while I drink it, in order to blunt the worst of it’s flavors. That is: all of them. Breathing in is terrible, because the nose is icky veggies. Breathing out it becomes almost mandatory to be a mouthbreather, just so I don’t have to smell my own exhale.

So the trick is breathe out, drink, set glass down, inhale. I should’ve gotten an Old German. At least they serve that in the can with a straw.

On the upside, I am getting to listen to The Sword and The Sword is awesome. I wish people who liked the music I like didn’t have such shitty taste in beer, damnit.

Although I have to admit, the beer choice is my fault. Pelican, Hopworks, Boneyard, Lagunitas: all had offerings on tap and I went full Space Monkey and tried the Burnside lager because I hadn’t had it before.

I feel like I should hang out here more, so long as I never drink a Burnside lager ever again. I think I could really get into the groove of this spot (although that may just be overwhelming doses of The Sword) so long as my beer is drinkable by humans.

Portland Craft Beer Fest Listing

The organizers of the Portand Craft Beer Fest had a shindig a couple nights ago to officially announce the festival and the detailed beer list.  It was pretty neat to see how excited these people are about the event and the ideas they have for donating to charity and creating a Portland Beer Hall of Fame all feel really encouraging.

Of course, the beer list is what catches the attention and that’s something I can definitely get behind. First, there’s a pretty nice variety of beers to drink. Yes, there is an overwhelming number of IPAs but the brewers didn’t neglect stouts, lagers, wheat ales or even offbeat creations, like the offerings from Deschutes and Gigantic.

Second; that’s a lot of beer. 90 different beers? Holy cow.

I think BTU may have made an error bringing two beers that are very similar in style; as a brewery I’m unfamiliar with I’d personally prefer to try different options. Nonetheless, this lineup of beers looks fairly diverse and that is pretty awesome. I look forward to checking it out in July!

Common Ales: New Belgium Fat Tire

Why is it so damn hard to do these beers right?

There is something off in the nose and that’s what I notice first. The beer has got some malt to it but there’s more that isn’t readily apparent. It’s not until I sip the beer that things really start to go awry. Fat Tire tastes thin, watery and there’s a slightly vegetal element on the finish.

I wasn’t expecting that at all. For an amber ale to taste thin is very strange. The nose improves as I drink; the malt characteristic becoming more toasty and prevalent as the beer warms up. Still: it’s thin and I’m put off by that. Water that has a beer flavor is not as good as beer that has a water flavor.

On The Rail: Baileys (Unita’s Barleywine Edition)

I have gotten the Unita’s ’14th Anniversary Barleywine on the recommendation of a new bartender. The beer is a complex one, I can’t deny that but the acridity of the dark malts overwrite everything on the back end. It doesn’t matter that the nose has subtle toffee or that there is something in the midrange-it’s all blown out by the finish which, the more I sip on it, the less I enjoy it. Burnt coffee is bad.

You win some, you lose some, right? I had a surprising number of choices tonight-IPAs, Blondes, Imperial Reds- but I made this choice and there’s no going back. That choice isn’t eternal and I keep this thought in my mind as I drink the ale. Choices are for now, not forever.

I’m torn at this point, because I would like to get a (small) ale to replace this one and my options are among three breweries I have not heard of and one I know will be excellent. How I decide to make this decision is more complicated than one might think.

I believe I’ve shown a willingness to try any beer I haven’t had before. I refer to myself in this sprit of adventure as a Space Monkey: someone has to go first, try the new thing, get shot into space. Might as well be me, right?

Buuuut. I just got burned. Don’t I deserve something safer? Something I know is good? “Good money after bad” is a sentiment that comes to mind, along with a whole host of voices and advice about what is ‘best’ and the fact that I know there’s an exceptional beer up there (Green Mammoth) that I don’t get to have very often. I’ll be passing up an opportunity to have something I know I’ll enjoy, all to have an experience like this barleywine? Why the hell should I do that?

Because someone had to try Green Mammoth, once upon a time. Someone had to try to make fire. Someone had to fly the kite in the lightening storm. Do I get timid because the first attempt didn’t work out? Why should I do that? I’m not going to die if the next beer isn’t good…

These decisions feel whimsical. Sometimes I go for the known quantity. Usually under the justification of ‘I deserve this’. Sometimes I keep pulling the lever on the bandit, trying to hit the slots that give me something nobody else has had a chance at and I can’t say what drives me on those nights. Ego? Thrill of adventure? Apathy?

Tonight, I go for the new thing: a Snipes Mountain IPA. It’s called Father Wingbat and if you haven’t been a long time reader of the blog, then it’s my pleasure to tell you: I go for beers with weird names, especially when they want to evoke fictional monsters. And Father Wingbat sounds like the leader of a Batman cult, so I’m in.

The beer? Eh, it’s OK. You win some, you lose some.