Treat Yourself: Avery Edition

Before I started the next ‘big’ themed series, I thought I’d have a little fun. Treat Yourself is going to be a short run where I pick up a beer that, ordinarily, I would never purchase due to price. I will then send it to terrorist organizations in order to strike fear into-

Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.

Why do this? Because it pushes me out of my ordinary selection of beers and answer a question that’s on every consumer’s mind: Is this worth it?

Why only do about four weeks of this? Because it’s expensive! Treat Yourself is just that. If I do it all the time then it isn’t a treat. Also, I need that money for beer.

First up: Avery’s Uncle Joshua’s Stout, barrel aged series. This beer was $14.05 for 12 ounces. It’s also 17.1% ABV.

Whiskey and coffee in the nose. A resemblance to Deschute’s Abyss comes immediately to mind. I’ve stepped outside to sit on the back porch while the beer warms up; something this expensive should be drank when it’s ready, and that means leaving it alone for a few minutes. It’s a strange Spring day where the sun is out but it’s not so hot that that I feel driven indoors.

Let’s take a sip.

Whiskey and anise on the finish and holy crap is that finish abrasive as hell. I don’t want more of this. I want less of this. The alcohol can be felt starting to burn the roof of my mouth, and it is creating a fire in my belly, too. It’s like someone took the worst parts of whiskey and the least pleasant part of coffee and decided to see what happened.

I take a step back from the beer; maybe it needs some more time to smooth those rough edges out. I can’t say I’m confident that this will happen but I can’t imagine this beer getting worse.

Later, some chocolate and a little maple start to come into the nose. The finish doesn’t improve though: still harsh, alcohol burn, sour coffee bitter. When I exhale, I can feel the alcohol coming out my nostrils.

I just don’t know what to say. I feel unhappy with my choice for multiple reasons: not just because I paid $14, although that certainly stings. But is anyone pleased when they get something that sucks?

On The Rail: Mt Scott Pub

It is lively at the Mt Scott for a Sunday night. As the bartender checks my ID, I’m reminded of the Ship Ahoy as one of the few legitimate dive bars still left. The people here know each other; there’s a birthday celebration just a few feet away, patrons throwing Monday to the wind to celebrate the life of a friend, along with another group playing video bowling. The bartender seems to know everybody. I like that.

27198428825_0f6c8e9343_cIt feels like a place that’s waiting to be discovered. The lack of windows and the location probably makes it foreboding to outsiders and I’d guess that most of the people here like it that way. Yet, the beer selection is pretty solid so maybe it’s been discovered and I just don’t know it? Or, maybe it hasn’t and my beer is suffering from being old.

Because this Double D blonde from Hop Valley is a weird tasting beer. It’s like a lager that mutated. The nose is a bit dank and the finish is just shy of raspy on my tongue, its bitterness going for the refreshing note of a lager but missing and not in a good way. Papery, is the word that finally comes to mind. Smokey is the other word that strikes me for the flavor. I don’t know what’s going on with this beer but it isn’t good.

Either way, it seems like a spot that is waiting for more people to sit here and make it their place. Perhaps I need to be here on a Friday to see the characters who gather here…or maybe writing like this will make it a place that quietly builds an audience? (That isn’t too likely, but butterflies create tornados, given enough distance and pop philosophy).

I’ve been wandering awhile and I think I’m getting tired of it. The last few weeks, I’ve felt more like going places I can walk to, or know I’ll like, so that I don’t have to extend myself much. Maybe it’s time to stop wandering for awhile. The strain of looking for someplace new is tiresome: I think I’ll sit somewhere and watch the world pass by for a little bit.

Here’s Your Biscuit

26511963883_c5d941a085_cThis brew has a doughy-sweet nose.  The midrange is got a bit of roasted malt flavor in there, not quite coffee but definitely within spitting distance. The finish is very clean and that’s a huge bonus.

What I’m really pleased about is that this beer is a clear step above the last amber I made. It feels better on the tongue (a little denser) and has a richer flavor that I was shooting for last time.

Now, I’m not going to lay all of this on the addition of biscuit malt but…it didn’t hurt! It’s not quite perfect but it is pretty good. I’ll make it again.

Also: this was a beer I made with Imperial’s House yeast-a second use-and I feel like it worked out just fine. The clean finish on this beer really helps seal the deal for me.

Brew date: 2/15/16

Steeping grains
1.5 lb Belgian biscuit
3 lb Maris otter
1 lb 2 row
2 lb C120

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

1 oz Dom Goldings (from C40 pale)
1 oz Palisade @60
1 oz Palisade @15

Yeast: Imperial House yeast (2nd use)

forgot to get Original Grafity

FG: 1.018 (and this is a pretty solid number, I think)

Secondary 3/4
Bottled 3/6


Imperial Yeast Visit

The OBC arranged a field trip to the Imperial yeast warehouse and it was extremely illuminating and very cool.

27077203935_6a01f47b82_cThey start off every day by making a really lame wort (that is, you wouldn’t make beer from it), so they can grow yeast in these tanks in the photo. As you can see in the picture, the tanks scale up as you look from left to right. This is so they can introduce more sugars into the system at an appropriate volume, to scale up the yeast while the yeast is still viable and healthy-before it starts to feed on itself.

There’s also this really neat machine that sanitizes everything. I didn’t get a photo of it, but the machine is called an autoclave and one of Imperial’s employees was kind enough to explain to me how it works. Essentially: it heats water to above boiling temperatures, while increasing the PSI in the unit so the water can’t steam away. I asked why they didn’t use chemicals like homebrewers do and the reply was: “This means it’s 100% sterile.” When you’re dealing with yeast cultures, that’s pretty important.

27077204845_e840ac2ccb_cThis device has filters that pull air in from the bottom and release clean air onto the counter area. This is where they take cell samples and run tests to see how the yeast is doing, if anything has gotten contaminated, even separating yeast from a culture that has been brought in.

There is another one of these stations at the canning area, where they (go figure) can the yeast for delivery. In this instance, it’s to keep things sanitized and healthy during the canning process.

From there, we were told about what the overall attitude and procedures that Imperial takes, why they ship in cans (so brewers don’t have to smack the yeast to wake them, potentially damaging the yeast), their efforts to make the company as green as possible (the use of cans means users can recycle the product), and their desire to ensure that brewers are using enough yeast with every brew. “We want the yeast to crush your wort,” one of the owners said.

I came away from Imperial pretty convinced that they were moving in the right direction and I look forward to using more of their yeast. I’ve already used it and you’ll be able to read more about those results shortly.

On the Rail: O’Malley’s (Barley Brown edition)

This post almost didn’t happen. After nearly a week of clear skies and higher than normal heat for Portland, Saturday morning I awoke to gray skies and the threat of rain. The whole city went languid; as if we collectively looked at the sky and said, ‘To hell with this’ and decided to just hunker down. Going outside induced a stupor in everyone and it’s effects have lazily stretched through Monday.

I got a Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack and it’s gone off. There’s something musty in the background of the hops on the nose and the finish of this beer isn’t helping it, either. That dirty flavor is coiled around everything on the end and I’m wondering if the beer is old or if the lines for this beer aren’t clean. It’s not working out well, which is just adding to the feeling that I should’ve stayed home and wrote from there.

It’s dark here, especially with the cloud cover and this adds to the notion that getting out of the house really wasn’t my best decision. Willie Nelson is singing “Just Dropped In” and I’m in no state to argue with that song’s melancholy. The bartender goes into the back and I’m alone in the bar for a moment, so I sneak out, my glass 3/4ths full.

Common Ales: 10 Barrel Riding Solo

Another review, another beer brewed by someone owned by ABInBev. While their big name pulls the latest stunt, I’m going to keep it small with 10 Barrel’s latest seasonal beer.

Lemongrassy nose. There’s a kind of blandness in the middle; it’s malty sweet enough but it doesn’t distinguish itself much. The finish is dirty and rough, spotlighting a beer that has gone awry, not one that accentuates whatever hop line they wanted.

26730360716_0e51af8ec2_cI wanted to like this beer. Hell, I would like to enjoy any six-pack that costs me $10. But I just don’t. Again, I’m not certain who to blame about this because it is possible that something went wrong in the distribution chain. However, the  dirty finish suggests that this is a brewing error and that’s a bummer.

Or it isn’t, depending on how much you’d like to support 10 Barrel now that they’re owned by ABInBev. It’s a bummer for me either way, as I’m out $10.

On the Rail: NWIPA (Fat Head edition)

My Mom visited this weekend, so my ‘going out to write’ time was absorbed by ‘visiting with Mom’ instead. As a result, I’ve ended my weekend close to home with limited time to come out, have a beer and reflect on my weekend.

Which was pretty damn good, I have to say.

I don’t get many opportunities to talk about my Mom; she doesn’t like beer so my topic of choice here doesn’t pique her interest.

But, I also know that for some people, Mother’s Day is a difficult one. There are all kinds of reasons for this that I won’t bother going into. I think if you’ve met enough people in this life, you come across those for whom events that everyone else finds incredibly celebratory are for them instead sad or worse. That hasn’t been my story, and I’m lucky to say that.

I would say this about my Mom, at least for today: she is the kind of person who, if she found out you had a troubled Mother’s Day, would try to make you comfortable and feel better about it. It’s one of the better things I’ve learned from her and I hope that I am making her proud.

Fat Head brewing has been getting quite the push around town, especially for their IPAs so I try their Built for Speed IPA. It has a citrus/grapefruit nose, which isn’t unpleasant but that flavor IS starting to get old. Grapefruit finish too but it’s not overpowering, however it leaves a coating in my mouth that isn’t pleasant. It’s as if I should be drinking this beer with nachos or BBQ pork: the beer wants to scrub other flavors away. There is not a notable malt presence that I can pick up.

As I continue to drink the beer, a resiny, raisin flavor starts to appear. The finish becomes a lot more pungent and scouring than before. At first my thoughts were, Do I hate it? No. Can I recommend it? Not exactly. Halfway through, I’ve changed my mind: I don’t really want this beer. It’s unbalanced and unpleasant.