On The Rail: Bailey’s (Caldera Old Growth Stout Edition)

Six years ago or so, I had this beer with my then girlfriend and another good friend: the beer tasted like Mexican hot chocolate; slightly roasted, hint of cinnamon, chocolate weaving in and out. We spent ten minutes trying to figure out what was in our goblets. Jokes were made, discussion had, it was a Pretty Good Night. Eventually, the lady got a raspberry lambic and someone, maybe even me, had the notion to blend the beers. The result tasted like chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce drizzled over it.

Like I said: A Pretty Good Night.

I’m not sure if I’m trying to recreate that memory or not, ordering this beer now. I can’t, no matter what; I am alone, the friend is far away, the girlfriend is an ex and the beer isn’t the same. There’s a goddamn metaphor in there if you want to dig for it: I don’t.

But is the beer still good?

It’s not quite as good as my memory but I suppose it’s worth asking: What ever is?

I don’t want to chase that ghost. It’s not worth it. That said, I am back at Bailey’s because it’s comforting. That’s probably why I got this beer, too: I recognize it and I know it’s good.

Let me not provide the wrong impression: This stout IS good. Based on how it comes off my palate, I’d tilt towards calling it a porter. This has a lot to do with the fizz on the middle of my tongue, cutting off the potential acrid notes of the dark malt. I think if I drank coffee every day, I’d be all over this beer.

There’s something that lingers around my tongue, a viscosity that helps this beer earn its stout marks. The stout definitely has more flavors than coffee & chocolate going on but I don’t think cinnamon is the correct note here. It’s more woody than that, not as spicy.

Time is not kind to my beer though. Something a little vegetal comes up in the nose as I pour the last of the bottle into my glass. That next sip is not as pleasant and though the scent disappears by the time I want to take my next drink, I can’t say I’m as impressed with this bottle as I have been in the past.

Clean Water Project

I suppose I ought to disclose that I know some of the people working on this project, especially since it’s connected to the Oregon Brew Crew.

Still, I believe it’s very cool and who better to evangelize about water systems than people who are looking for and to make the best beer ever?

Let me back up: the Clean Water Project is an extension of the unfortunately named “Toilet to Tap” initiatives that people have been working on to help recycle and reuse water. Since we know that the average brewery can use up to ten gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer, looking for methods to reduce and recycle water is a pretty important thing, even if we could disregard the drought conditions that the US has been enduring on the West Coast.

While the video of the CWP is from last year, the contest has continued into this one, which has helped bring more attention on to the  reuse and treatment of water. As someone who thinks this is really cool, I have finagled my way into checking out the competition on Saturday! If nothing else, I hope to talk to some people about what they wanted to do but if all goes well, I’ll get to try some beer and talk about how it tasted.

On The Rail: Glyph

You can’t come here anymore.

I met the owner of Glyph a few months back-she was the person who introduced me to the Big Legrowski-and yesterday, after she told her employees that the restaurant couldn’t continue and closed the space for the last time, she asked me to join her. There were small cleanup tasks but mostly I was there to attend the wake for a dream.

We sat at a table and talked about family, about endings, about who shows up when you need them to. We talked about what you do when people you rely on don’t appear, instead near strangers do. About the meaning of drama.

We raided what was left of the beer, cider and wine and I did my best to remind her that she did a good thing, turning her dream into a reality. Even if it didn’t work out, this has been a benefit for her. I attempted to do so gently: when your leg is being sawed off, it’s difficult to have another patient tell you “Hey, this is a plus for you!”

I also just did my best to listen. We noshed on meatballs and polenta. In the middle of it all, I turned around and took a picture of the now empty space. A reminder of a cool thing that didn’t work out. Because instead of going and writing for the blog I helped someone mourn.

Summer Light

This was the second in the vein of lighter ales I was making for summer. This one I wanted to be a little hoppier but nothing too crazy. Plus, I had a bunch of Zythos hops that just needed to be used.

I know the picture makes it look like it’s overcarbonated but it tastes fine. My beer is getting more time to ferment in the bottle and I’m still adjusting how much bottling sugar I really need. The long and short of it is; some bottles will gush a little but it’s not a sign of infection in this particular case, it’s a sign of active yeast doing what they do.

It’s slight spicy in the nose but it gives way to malt and sweetness–a little honey perhaps?– very quickly. The finish is sweet too, though easily brushed away by the high carbonation of the beer. I also get a stronger bitter note on the finish than I did the blonde ale.  I consider this a good thing, since I’m drinking them at about the same time. It’s good to have distinctions between the two beers!

It’s a very drinkable ale though and sits well with the hot summer days. I don’t think I can call this a pale-just not quite hoppy enough-but perhaps a weird cousin between a blonde and a pale?

Brew date: 5.9.15

Steeping grains
4.5 lb Irish pale
4 lb Carapils
1.5 lb Victory

Fermentables: 3.5 LME

.75 oz Zythos @ 60
1 oz Nt Hood @ 60
.25oz Zythos, 1 oz Mt Hood @10

Yeast: Windsor dry yeast, 2nd use

OG: 1.06

FG: 1.01

ABV: 6.4%

NAOBF 2015 report

Off to the NAOBF this year! And man, do I still hate jam bands.  Fortunately, these festivals are still about the beer and I think it’s fair to say as an overview that there wasn’t much middle ground. Of the beers I had, I either thought; yeah, this is good, or where can I discretely dump this out?

Fortunately, I was joined by my pal Seth (some of his beverages made it into my pictures and the occasional insight into my notes), who kept my temperament even and tilted more towards the ciders and meads, which seemed to be a better deal, overall.

So let’s get to the notes!

Pints Radler

Pints Green Line Organic Radler-
Has a soda pop nose; sweet, lime. But the beer is pretty refreshing and doesn’t contain any soda sweetness. There’s a lemony wrap around the malt that keeps everything well in check.

Coin Toss Nine Eyes IPA-
Nose like the pith of a grapefruit and a finish the same way. That isn’t hops, that’s just bitter.

Logdson Farmhouse Kili Wit-
This is a nice , not too sour ale with a very dry finish. The nose is sweetly funky, and it reminds me a little of white wine. Good stuff. I tried this beer because of their efforts at the OBF (Fuz really liked their beer) and it paid off.

Beau Gruit

Beau MaddAddamites Noo Broo Gruit-
Funkyish nose, like the farmhouse but the beer itself is malt-toasty with a dry finish. It’s complex and I’d like a pint. It’s very drinkable and very, very good.

13 Virtues ORG pale-
This isn’t bad, but it’s so thin that I’m really hard pressed to glean flavors from it. It isn’t making itself memorable at all, which is a bummer.

Loowit Gaiabolica pale-
There was a nice sweetly lemon nose on this one, and the beer itself pushes IPA levels of bitterness on the first impression. But further sips reveal a bitterness that’s actually provided by light body. It’s a beer that walks the pale/IPA line and it doesn’t have the malt presence to keep it balanced.

Pinkus Muller alt
It’s got a bland maltiness and…Seth says, “McMenamins would love to serve this(bland) beer”. I don’t feel the need to finish this.

McMenamins sour and porter

McMenamins double barrel aged Pavol the collector Baltic porter-
The surprise of the festival, no question. McMens is known for doing unremarkable, bland ales so this was a revelation because it was quite good. The chocolate milk smoothness on the finish was especially welcome. Seth: “It reminds you of dessert without being sweet” and that captures the beer very well. It’s damn good and part of a series of beers they did well at this festival. Seth’s Oaken Tower, also by McMens, is a very nice sour. (The lager, on the other hand was awful. 2 out of 3 isn’t bad though!)

Kells Red ale-
This has that toasted malt scent (a little biscuity?) that I’ve picked up buying supplies for beer. Flavor carries this too. Took me a minute to appreciate it but once I did, I enjoyed it.

On The Rail: B Side

The B Side. Here we are.

“Darlin’,” the bartender asks a regular “want some vodka?” He declines, relating his soon-to-attend bachelor party, which will involve seeing Devil Makes Three and a party bus.

“Oh man. We don’t allow party buses here,” she smiles at him, knowing the kind of trouble they bring.

The beer fridge is covered in stickers, 95% band related, all of them carefully placed so nothing obscures anything else. Next to it, a framed posting for a dance at the Norse Hall in 1946. The black paint on the ceiling looks like a transient’s underwear,  a staggering victim of cigarette smoke, peeled paint, and water stains. A sculpture on the wall that is framed by a collection of bicycle gears, all the same shade of rust.

I’m almost certainly here too early. The sun is still up; everyone who is anyone here is sitting outside. I’m on the rail with three old men..am I an old man now?..and a Workhorse IPA. Another fellow comes up asking for tequila & lime shots. I’m sure he’s in for a hell of an evening.

“The other shot?” she asks, wondering who it’s for.

“Lady in the restroom.”

“She in the Chicago shirt?”


A conversation about living in Chicago launches off. Looks like my bartender might be thinking of picking up stakes with her two kids and living in Illinois. She’s left the collection of glassware and ashtrays from the outside on the bar in front of me so at the moment, I can’t say that I’d discourage that; suddenly everything I put in my mouth is tinged with ashes.

There’s a teddy bear hung by its neck from the ceiling about fifteen feet from me. A painted scimitar on the wall, creepy Cookie Monster paining behind me, signs to sell panties that say, “I like it in the B Side”. $15 bucks to tell someone you like to get fucked in the ass. Usually that’s free but if you want to pay for it, I’m not going to stop you.

Another two men come up “Can I get a Rainier?” He can. “It’s all I ever want,” he says to his bearded, bespectacled friend, “It’s like a Lone Star.”

There’s an endorsement. They quickly head outside, thirst quenching acquired.

I’m only halfway done with my beer and suddenly I want to go home. I’m alone in a bar with a face full of ashes in what must be the ultimate in Portland hipster dive. I can’t tell what’s affected and what’s authentic and it’s getting to me. It’s not a bad place but my IPA tastes thin and my tolerance is even thinner.

It’s a shame. It seems like a friendly place and I can’t stand it.

Common Ales: Terminal Gravity IPA

The fine people at Terminal Gravity told me their IPA was the best selling ale they had. I have to confess, it wasn’t until this moment that I really understood: oh, I’m going to be drinking quite a few IPAs, aren’t I? It’s a good thing I enjoy the style.

There isn’t a very strong nose; citrus hints but the head dissipates pretty quickly, so the hop scents don’t stand out as I drink the beverage. While this strikes me as very unusual for the style, I can’t say that it’s flawed.

The bitterness on the finish seems to match the nose though; citrus notes but nothing overpowering. It’s a pretty easygoing beer to drink.

What’s unique about the Terminal Gravity IPA is that it’s far more malty than other commercial beers in this style that I’ve had. There’s a strong midrange sweetness to the beer, capped by hop flavors that aren’t incredibly intense. I have to say, it’s a nice way to get the beer to stand out from other IPAs and it does encourage the drinkable quality of this beer. The short lived nose is a ding against it but it’s not a big enough ding for me. It’s tasty and worth drinking.

If They Call It A Blonde, It’s A Blonde

Here’s how I can tell I’m getting better at brewing: I’m starting to think ahead. I am trying to make beers with the notion that they will be drank at a certain time of year, in this case Summer.

This beer came out sweet, a little lemony hint in the nose. The body isn’t thin but the beer is light: it doesn’t taste watery. It’s got a nice level of sweetness in the middle before coming up with a present but not dominating bitterness.

It’s pretty dang good! And it’s great for these summer days. To think: I actually planned for that. I was shooting for a lighter beer that had a bit more malt presence and by God I got it.

Granted, I didn’t plan on the style per se. When a pal asked me what the style was, I said I didn’t know. He took one look at it and said, “Looks like a blonde ale to me.”

Who am I to argue?

It would’ve been smarter of me to get a picture before the beer got drank but…it’s been hot! Can you blame me?

Brew date: 5/2/15

1 lb Carapils
2 lb C30
3 lb 2 row
1 lb Vienna

Malt: 5 lb LME

1 oz Chinook @60
.25 oz Ahtanum @60
.5 oz Ahtanum@ 20
.25 oz Chinook @ 20
.75 oz Chinook @ 5
.25 oz Ahtanum @5

Yeast: Reused Hopworks ale yeast (2nd time)

OG: 1.079

FG: 1.04

ABV: 5.3%

Bottled 5.17

On The Rail: Portland Cider House

Today has been a pretty good day. A friend from out of town has come to visit and another friend has had his missing cat found and returned after a month away. By any reasonable metric, that is a good day.

So, let’s go to the Portland Cider House and have a drink to celebrate. Alter Ego’s Guardian Angel for me, a cider with blueberry & pomegranate blended in.

This is pretty tasty: the blueberry is fairly prominent, the sweetness of the apples probably keeping the tartness of the other fruits in check.

It’s not a evening for deep writing, for observations. We are relaxing and riffing on each other, we are taking a slice of someone’s overwhelming joy over a lost friend found and returned. It’s hard to write, even when I’m given permission, when the sheer necessity of being in the moment is so dominating.

So I’m not going to do anyone a disservice by ignoring that. The cider was good, the atmosphere is pleasant and the staff helpful. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some clever quips to make to some old friends.