This is not my first NYE alone and it won’t be my last.

However, I feel better about it when I recognize the reality of my surroundings: this day isn’t a forced ending, it’s a cliffhanger at best, a paragraph return at worst.

We like dates, we like time signatures, don’t we? 30 Days hath September… Take 5, 9/11, Date that will live in infamy, Remember, remember, the 5th of November,4 more years, 4 more beers, silver, gold, platinum anniversaries.

I myself am a fan of birthdays. Every birthday, though, not just the ones Patton Oswalt thinks should matter. I think there’s a little more oomph there; something actually did happen on that date for someone. Still, those events aren’t celebratory for some people.

Just like NYE isn’t celebratory, per se.

This is, for the first time in a long while, the first year I can think of where NYE has been more difficult for many of my friends than Christmas is. And Christmas can be very hard on people.

Which is why I don’t like insisting on a celebration. If you want to have one, power to you! Let’s celebrate.

But maybe it’s just a day for you, maybe you’re hurting or suffering in a way that make celebrations cause you pain.

Well, Fuck That, I say.

Let’s come together. Let’s just enjoy our company and have celebrations because we can hang out. Maybe those celebrations are bigger, like you’re getting married. Maybe they’re smaller, like you just got a kiss. But they don’t need a date or a time. They just need a decision: You, please join me, and let’s have a rejoice, however large or small that is.

Maybe those celebrations are sad. Hey you, join me, we need a hug or a cry. That can be big, because someone has left you, or small, because you got rejected. Let’s bask in our own warming glows, because that’s what we have. Let’s pillowfort, if that’s what you need.

They can be loud or quiet. They can be inclusive or private.

Notice, none of those things need a date. They just need people.

I hope you have people.

Maybe you don’t. I sympathize, because at the moment I don’t have people either.

I’m alone tonight but it doesn’t matter because tonight isn’t a celebration of joy or sorrow. It’s just a day, a day I get to come out, have a nice Baerlic IPA, watch people enjoy themselves and write. It’s a day where I reflect on being alone and grit my teeth against the northeastern winds as I make my way home.

But I don’t think about 2015 en toto. That’s too much weight for a year that took me to NYC and Las Vegas, that brought me friends from Canada, California, and Minneapolis, that asked me questions I could not answer and that left me as a man on a raft in the Pacific, with water and food but no rudder or compass. Too many chapters that opened and closed on their own for me to force the book shut just because today is December 31.

Why not January 1? Why not March 22? Why not August 8?

Why not celebrate today? Why not dance to the new song when the old one is over? Or rest between acts? The only rules here are the ones we agree on.

My beer is getting low and the bar is getting crowded. It is getting close to time to go home. The wind will bite at my face and I’ll walk by someone singing “Ain’t No Sunshine” on the way and if I have it in me, I’ll swing by NWIPA to pick up a special beer to sip on for the new year, if I’m awake. Or I’ll set it aside and have it some other time, when a celebration nuzzles my arm.

Note from the future: Got the Elysian ‘The Fix’ coffee stout and it is good. Really good. I’ll see you tomorow.

The Squeeze

A few months ago I saw a blogpost on Goose Island and how everything really was awesome since the ABInBev takeover.  In the subsequent thread on Reddit, I argued this:

The problem is that the men & women who started and made the culture there which produces great beer will leave.

In their place will come people from InBev and it is very unlikely that those people will buy into the culture of Goose Island as it stands and far more likely that they will be pushing a very different mentality that does not produce the kind of quality and innovation that Goose Island does now.

And then when people told me that I was crazy because it has been four years since the acquisition, I said this:

But it cannot last. The corporate practices of InBev are notoriously shitty and they will replace people with those who buy into the InBev ideas. This is only a matter of time, as far as I’m concerned but time is a funny thing. It could be tomorrow, it could be a decade from now.

And I was told I sounded paranoid.

But you know what? InBev wants to push craft beer out of the market via distributors.

This is a company that actively fears competition to their product and they are willing to resort to a war on competition in order to maintain their money. They are BAD for people who love craft beer and the competition to produce better product that the craft beer scene has driven. They engage is shitty tactics and that culture will inevitably bleed into the practices of every. brewery. InBev. purchases.

It’s just a matter of time.  Eventually Goose Island, Elysium and 10 Barrel will succumb to the practices of InBev and they will do it because the culture will encourage it.

On that happy note, I’m taking a few days off to go to a wedding this weekend! Should be back on the 23rd…and then off for Christmas. Basically, it’s the end of the year and posting will be a little spotty until January 4th.

On The Rail: Laurelwood Brewpub

Rando #8 (The Ocho) which, with a name like that, how can I resist?

It’s got a nice pine resin nose. This is how you pour a tall beer: Foam.

That resiny quality is in the finish too but in between I’m getting a little sweetness in between. It’s quick, this sweetness, a kiss I stole from your girl, gone, barely remembered, almost never happened. Just long enough to keep me drinking.

There’s a slickness to the finish, too, reminding me of soap but not in an horrible, bitter, spit that out way. Just slippy, the texture enough to strike a hint of flavor.

It’s quiet here. I’m genuinely surprised; maybe the rain is keeping people away? But there is a solid 15 feet between me and the next fellow on the rail, the north corner populated with college football fans.  The volume is temperate, it’s easy to hear yourself, the music over the speakers, a question from the staff. If I ever meet someone to play Magic at 9pm, I should meet here. It’s lit pleasantly and not too crazy. And there is beer.

I keep leaning away from the keyboard because I don’t want my hat to drip water on it. I can see a crescent of water on the brim, blurry in the upper reaches of my vision, precarious, threatening to fall.

Of course if it does, nothing happens. So much worry and concern for a zero impact moment. How much time spent over nothing? It’s a little uncomfortable to ponder, how much time I spend on such nonsense.

I ask for my total to pay, the barkeep says, ‘wait a minute’; which is a little weird. I do have to pay for this, right? He comes back to me three minutes later when he can ring my beer up during happy hour. See? I didn’t have to worry about a thing.

Good Job, Amigo

This was a nice swing at a brown ale. Since I never seem to be able to find brown ales when I want them, brewing my own is really the best option. I don’t know why this style hasn’t caught on, like ambers have: maybe it’s more difficult to sell? Pity, because the style is tasty.

Good Job, Amigo has got a solid chocolate presence in the nose but at the finish the beer leans into coffee. It’s very light, however, effervescence bubbling the whole way through the flavors. All in all I am happy with this.

Brew Date: 9.19.15

Steeping grains
2.5 c 40
.25 lb black patent
.25 lb chocolate

Fermentables and other
7 lb LME
1/2 tsp gypsum
1/8 tsp calcium chloride
(note, I have no idea why I added this but it worked so I’m not going to complain)

Hops: 2 oz Willamette @ 60

Yeast: Wyeast 1084 3rd use

OG: 1.059

FG: 1.01

Bottle 10/18

ABV: 6.6%

On The Rail: Columbia River Brewing

There’s a climate change denier next to me, possibly on a date, so I’m having a series of conflicting emotions.

“The planet is warming now, but it’s cooled before…cycles…but it’s not us…”

On the one hand, this man is so incredibly wrong that I can taste it in my mouth. The urge to interrupt him with corrections and a hope that he does not have children is jaw clenching. On the other, this is why I’m sitting on the rail at Columbia River Brewing. To have the experience of people.

All kinds of people.

I get an imperial pint of their CRB pale ale and by god that glass is filled to the rim. Again, I find myself with a conflict. I’m getting my money’s worth, no question. That is a damn full beer. However, I can’t smell the beer because no head has been allowed to form. That’s a pretty big blow to flavors.

There’s a medicinal sharpness to the finish of this beer (which I got because I’m making a pale ale myself, and I’d like a “control” beer to understand how it ought to taste). It’s a bit soapy flavored too, which can come from hops but there’s something else. I’m wondering if this is a quality of the hops used or if something isn’t right about this beer.

What I can say is that this bitterness overrides nearly everything else. I can just barely get a slightly toasty quality on the side of my tongue and I don’t pick it up until I’ve already swallowed the beer. That potential balancing quality vanishes like Casper, so I’m left with something that is awfully rough on my palate and doesn’t encourage the next drink.

The date next to me is going awkwardly, I can just tell by the tone. I feel for both of them, having been in a couple broken social scenes myself. I’m trying to let them do their thing while I drink this mediocre ale but the vibe ripples out and pings over me, a bell I can’t quite ignore.

Time to go experience people elsewhere.

Swing And Miss, Washington

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday! I got to go to Washington to visit family and while I was there, I picked up a few beers to sample. Unfortunately, they really weren’t as tasty as I was hoping. Even from breweries that I have a great deal of confidence in! I suppose 3 out of 7 isn’t terrible but still…

Here we go with the notes:

Silver City scotch ale; it’s got a faint smokiness to the finish, a nod I hope to the liquor that gives this its name. It’s sweet to start with, so the smoke quality at the end is a nice touch, giving this beer some complexity that otherwise wouldn’t be there. (I got this beer on the recommendation of an employee at the store and thanks to him!)

Bainbridge Kommuter Kolsch, really stinky nose. Smells light stuck and the finish bears that out. The fragility of this beer has given it away. I don’t know if this has been kept under poor conditions but that seems like the most likely problem. Not good.

Top Rung Lacey Lager; Faint bready quality in the nose but it disappears really fast. This beer has a banana sweetness to it, leading to a bite on the finish born of both effervescence and then lingering…something. Hops, maybe? It’s a very dry finish, too and the plus side is that I want another drink but the down side is that I don’t want another drink of this.

Orlison Two Finger Pour-I don’t know the style, but the description on the side of the bottle says they want to create the flavors of an old fashioned, using orange peel and whiskey barrel chips. But this has a vegetal finish and it’s not good.

Paradise Creek MooJoe coffee milk stout; I made a beer like this! It’s portery in it’s mouthfeel but otherwise a solid beer. As a bonus, I feel pretty good that I beer I made came out as nicely as a professional product.

Black Raven Festivus Definite hop nose but the beer itself is more caramely and spicy, almost like mulled wine. This is really unusual but tasty. I’m letting it warm up and the Festivus has a richness to it that’s making it very appealing. The schism between pine-tilted hop nose and the orange tea-spice finish is working somehow, making this beer a sum greater than the parts.

Fremont Bonfire ale: Smokey finish but it’s not too strong. Hints of chocolate but I have to look for it. I feel like this is a miss for me. I don’t think it’s flawed but I don’t get the ‘gimme another ‘ vibe. The smoke may not have been strong but it definitely kills my desire for another.

Dad Ale

The goal was to make an oktoberfest ale and I think I went a little too far on the dark malt to really hit the mark. From a style perspective, it missed the mark a little. But from a “I like it” view, this beer does just fine.

The nose is chock full of that C80 malt; a little bready and roasty. Since I put in 4.5 pounds of C80 malt, that follows. Not much in the way of hops, so that’s good: the style is meant to emphasize malt flavors and on that count I think I succeeded.

The flavor is coffee-like. I ducked the acrid bitter part, which is good, but it’s got a little bit of bitterness resembling coffee. That’s OK because for the most part this beer is a little on the sweeter side, so the coffee element helps reign it in. My Dad, who pined for coffee flavored ales when I was visiting Nevada earlier this year, would like this.

Brew date: 9/7/15

Steeping Grains
4.5 lb C80
3 lb Vienna
2 lb Full Pint pale
1/8 lb cocholate

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

1.5 oz Tettananger @ 60
1.5 oz Hallertau @60

Yeast: Windsor yeast from Rye, 2nd use

SG: 1.061

FG: 1.012

Put into secondary on 10/3, bottled 10/8

ABV: 6.6%