24708116161_9c454b0497_cI had the opportunity to get one of the latest spins on the Abyss: this particular batch was kept in rye barrels. It was a rather expensive beer, $25 instead of $18 for the regular stuff and I get it, this is a premium product made from a premium product.

Still, it’s expensive and that raises expectations. You can’t get around that in Portland. I joke with my friends about this because Portland is spoiled for selection but the other half of this is: We now expect a lot for our money.

So what does a $25 beer taste like?

The nose has a massive whiskey dose that’s almost repellent it’s so strong and difficult to get past initially. After the first wave is over, there’s a warp and weft of chocolate in that booze and a touch of maple.

The beer itself is not terribly thick on the tongue, which is a bit of a surprise. Given the style and the conditioning in rye casks, I was expecting more density. Chocolate is very strong here, the dark bitter kind and I don’t get anything in the way of coffee at first. A little sweetness and we’d probably have a hint of that espresso bean taste that Elysian’s The Fix executed so well.

Later on, as the beer really warms up, coffee appears and becomes the dominant flavor in the finish. But it’s not sweet; this beer really wants to push the bitter aspects of those flavors, relying on the rye barrel notes to provide any sweetness.

The question is; is this a $25 beer?

At the moment I don’t really feel that it is. Yes, this is drinkable but it’s not so amazing that I want all my friends to try this. It’s not worth raving about.

About this time is when I notice the tiny white print on the side of the label: best served after 12/18/16. It’s the first time I’ve seen a beer with a best served after notice.

But I don’t have an extra 25 bucks to store this beer and see if it gets better.

Which opens up one the question: if you sell it, shouldn’t it be drinkable now? I think it should. I don’t object to anyone who wants to cellar a beer for themselves, but damnit, if you’re going to charge me so much for beer, I should be able to drink it immediately and get my money’s worth. Having me store the beer for you for an extra year in order to get the best product is basically charging me time and space.

I don’t go for that.

On the Rail: Slingshot (Barley Brown edition)

It was a genuine surprise to me to get yelled at this evening over money.

I was at a party, having a lively discussion-bordering on argument but I was trying to hear the other person-on the presence of Uber in Portland. My position: The service might be good but they were trying to come into Portland providing a public service, without having to serve the entire public-namely, people with disabilities-and that’s not OK. And if they wanted to avoid that, then they should pay the limo licensing fees. Pretty simple. His position: The service is invaluable and they shouldn’t have to serve people with disabilities.

As the discussion became both more and less clear-why is it OK to ignore a section of the public? Because the city gives them services. Wait; you’re saying that a pubic service can ignore some of the public? Because federal law says that they can’t.

It was around this moment that the conversation went south. In the space of a few seconds, I was being yelled at by someone who doesn’t understand why he, as someone who earns $200K a year, has to pay more taxes than someone who makes more than he does. Or less.

“Why do I have to pay more taxes than someone who makes more than I do? Or you?” he snapped, “What, you earn 70K? 50? 20?”

I honestly did not know what to say. My value was being questioned by how much I made and paid to the government. And, even as I was struck with a ping of admiration for someone who could earn $200K a year I couldn’t help but recoil. I will never see that kind of money. I will always be checking my resources, at least mentally, no matter how comfortable I become, before purchasing something.

I don’t want to live like that. I’d like to not worry. But that’s my shit to haul.

I double blinked, pausing to see the clearest path and then I said, “Look, you’re getting very angry and I don’t understand why. So I think it’s best I just back off.”

And he nodded, sneeered and said “Yes,” making a brush-away motion with his hand. Dismissing me as one might a servant. Not long after, I began my walk home.

I stopped at the Slingshot on my way, to nurse a Barley Browns Handtruck IPA, some of my pride, and a bit of bewilderment.  The beer has a faint orange nose, sweet but not cloying. Gone now. Bitterness filling the mouth, lingering, not enough nuance for me to be happy.

I can’t find it in myself to be really angry at this person: I don’t know what may have set them off. Maybe I came across rudely.

Yet I cannot understand their position either. They make money that I will never see, yet they are unhappy, hostile to those less fortunate. What happened there to make them so hard hearted? Also; fuck being yelled at for no reason.

It makes my body so heavy, this absurd conflict people have.

2/3 through my beer and I feel a long, long way from home.

Keg Draining Special

The wonderful McPolanders had another event, this time in an attempt to empty kegs in their outdoor fridge. I’m not sure if they were getting tired of some of those beers or if some of them were just old (some were just old) but I am rarely going to pass up an opportunity to try free beer.

I mean, c’mon. I really like writing but free beer is free. So, here we go!

Double Mountain- Carrie Ladd Steamship Porter: Look at this. It’s nice and light and chocolaty. I tell ya, I’d consider drinking more porters if they were this good all the time, or trying to disguise themselves as stouts. The finish is both nicely roasty and a little sweet. Good palate cleaner, too: I can see eating both really heavy meals with this and something like a salad with some stronger cheeses mixed in.

Widmer- 2014 Smoked dark lager: It’s smoked all right. My first impression is: This beer falls into that ‘too much smoke’ trap that so many smoke ales do. And then my tongue started sending “fire” messages. I get zero nose from it, but this beer is spicy! A spice that lasts long after the smoke clears. Fire after smoke? Talk about mixing your metaphors. Something seems off here, because Widmer doesn’t do beers like this. Either I need a cleaner glass, or something has gone very, very wrong.

Fat Heads- Bumbleberry Ale: there’s a blackberry/blueberry nose, which I like. I actually looked up on the internet to see if bumbleberries were a real thing and it is, kinda-sorta. The ale itself is a bit sweet and there isn’t enough of a bubbly finish to erase it. That’s not a bad thing exactly but it has that fruit beer finish that makes me feel like it should be a flaw. I think that if the finish was crisper I would appreciate it more.

McPolanders- Chocolate porter: there’s a dryness to this beer and a little smokey quality too. This beer is complicated. That isn’t a bad thing but it’s making it very difficult for me to pin down what it’s about. I kinda want to sit at the bar with a full pint of this and bounce ideas off a chalkboard about this beer. When I ask the hostess about it, she tells me they  put a little mesquite in there and things start to make a lot more sense.

Cider Riot- Never Give An Inch Blackberry cider: holy crap the nose smells like butter. I really don’t want to drink this but for you, I will. It’s…really not very good. Tart + buttery = no go. The big qualifier here is: I’m told this is pretty old and as a consequence, not a very good example of their stuff. I believe it. So I won’t take this experience as gospel but whoa, this has gone wrong.

Burside- Permafrost winter ale: Probably the most like what I would expect. Sweet in front, biter on the finish but it’s not an IPA. It’s definitely tilting more towards an old ale with the maple in the mix. Not the maple frosting flavor you get sometimes, closer to good syrup.

Lucky Lab- irish stout on nitro. Look, I don’t think I can afford to be a purist but damnit, if your beer is a stout then it shouldn’t be something I can see through when I hold it up to light. The beer is equally thin, like a watery coffee, absent the viscosity of a stout or the coffee notes that should be there.

McPolanders Blueberry Lavender ale. Boy, the nose on this is just LAVENDER. Rare to get a beer that punches you in the face with flowers like this. It’s a little too much. Buuuut. This beer has such a nice crisp finish, with the lavender remaining in my cheeks, I’m hard pressed to be upset about anything. It’s the kind of beer I can see a whole lot of people just going crazy for and being very, very happy with. The floral note plays off the berries and the finish is very bubbly. Good stuff, even if the nose plays hardball.

I asked the host about this one and he told me that the biggest difference between this beer and the previous iterations of the style they made was that they crushed the lavender this time instead of just adding the flower whole, like you would hops. He was not pleased with the strength of the nose and said he’d probably scale it back next time.

And that’s pretty much it! I had a lovely time, so thank you to my hosts, and the company was excellent, as always.

Carboy Cleaning

This post is, admittedly, more for my benefit. I found this cool writeup on ways to make carboy cleaning easier and I wanted to have it on reference.  Of course, that I can provide this to readers who may homebrew is all the better! I especially like the rice option but really, anything that doesn’t involve filling my carboy with water and letting it sit is fine by me.

Brewers use a lot of water to make beer. We should always look for ways to use less water. Rice is biodegradable and cheap and if it works then that’s pretty awesome to me.

I’ll give it a go soon: Got a pale to transfer to secondary this weekend, so now is as good a time as any!

On the Rail: Old Gilbert Road Tavern (Buoy edition)

I’m  hunkering down at the Old Gilbert Road Tavern. I’d like to try a new place, get out of the house but something has gone wrong with my neck and it hurts a whole lot, so instead of adventure I am veering for the familiar and easy. Like an injured beast, sometimes staying close to home is wise.

Since the last time I was here, more Bernie Sanders posters have gone up, and there’s a photo diptych of the Mount St Helens explosion, along with Timbers scarves pinned on the walls like boy band posters in a teenager’s bedroom. There’s a host of black velvet paintings and unless I miss my guess the stage is set up for music again, which I think is a Good Thing.

It’s also brighter here, while keeping the soft lighting of a dream sequence.

I have to say, it’s coming along nicely.

As is this beer, a red ale from Buoy. Something vaguely floral in the nose, the mouthfeel is pleasantly thick and and the finish all toasty and which is nice. It’s a really solid beer and it may be the first one from Buoy that I’ve had that I’ve been pleased with. I’m almost considering having another, I like it that much. If I didn’t have so much to do this weekend, I’d most certainly have it.

Someone behind me has gotten french fries. I’ve been a little wary of getting food here; I’ve never been able to smell the food coming from the kitchen and this IS a new-dive place. Food is secondary. But these fries smell good. They may be stepping up their game or I’m hungry and want some fries. No way to solve that riddle without ordering french fries but maybe I’ll save that for another time.

The beer is damn tasty though. Another won’t kill me…