Spokane Brew Reviews 1

So to jump off from my last mention of Spokane

As I always do when I leave Oregon, I took a long look at the available beers in Spokane to find things that I just don’t or haven’t seen in Portland. While this included some beers from the Eastern Washington area, it also incorporated Idaho and Montana, which is pretty cool! The advantage of bringing these beers home: I could get more beer to review. So let’s get to it!

29165913792_3d5227f039_cIcicle Dirtyface Amber lager: that nose is pure malt, bready, maybe C60 and biscuit or Victory? It’s delicious though and the beer itself drinks like a sweet lager. If there’s a complaint, it’s that the effervescence isn’t strong enough to really clear my palate for the next sip. But that’s a minor quibble.

Selkirk Abbey Infidel Belgian IPA; Sweet Belgian nose with a little malt coming through. Holy crow is this beer a hunk of sweet tangerine in the mouth. Then there is the finish which…it’s almost waxy. Like I’ve bitten into a candy I used to get as a kid, which held sugary liquid in wax. There’s a host of competing flavors in this beer and they don’t want to get along with one another.

The beer doesn’t warm up well, with a bitter quality starting to show up after all the other flavors. I’m not willing to write this brewery off: this is clearly a very complicated drink but I’m just not on board with this complication.

Orlison IPL: A little skunky-papery in the nose and I think I get a whiff of corn there. The finish is corn-like and bitter. It’s puzzling me and I don’t get it until midway through the beer: it smells like peanuts. So I don’t think I’d suggest this beer to you.

29165913192_2c5dc9cdce_cPayette Rustler IPA: orange in the nose but also with a hefty dose of caramel. I like this. There is also a smidgen of caramel in the middle to put some counterweight on the beer and I like that, too. However, the finish has a combination of bitter and burnt flavors and that I don’t like much at all.

Seven Seas Rude Parrot IPA: Slight grapefruit nose but the malt steps in rather quickly to carmelize things. After a few sips, a hint of lemon dishwasher liquid fills in the scent gaps and that’s a little less awesome. The beer itself is…bland? It’s strange to say this but yes: nothing severely bitter on the finish, nothing really malty in the middle. It’s just there. Under certain circumstances, I would call this beer very drinkable but…it’s missing something. Namely: a moment where I want more of it.

The Respite: 1

“Sometimes you need a respite from the world, because very often the world is work.” – John Scalzi.

I have been wandering with this blog for over two years now. Thematically, I’ve kept on point but looking back at the last few years of Monday posts, part of that theme has been to keep on moving. It’s been catching up with me and I’ve felt it, the weight of perpetual motion. The constant need to come up with new places and keep drifting has stopped setting me free and started to weigh on my shoulders.

So it’s time to rest. Even wayward souls need a place they can call home, even if it’s just for a little while. Plus, I’m afraid that the bartenders at Bailey’s may have forgotten my name. And it’s good to have a bar where the employees know your name. So I’ve come back to claim a table again.

29239013091_91346b5a04_cI was originally going to call this Season 4, after the season of The Wire where they dealt with politics but…that felt a little on the nose. America is in a strange, strange place right now and while I know I’m smart enough to comment on things, I’m also smart enough to know that too much politics is like too much aspirin. A little medicine will cure what ails you but too much medicine will kill you as easily as the disease.

So for now: The Respite.

I picked up a Boneyard Wit Shack Wit. It’s got a funky nose, almost farmhouse, horse blankety, with a finish that goes dry, a little like a good white wine. It’s flavorful and pretty light; a very good beer for August. Plus, it’s a nice surprise, coming from Boneyard, a brewery that I really have pinned for IPAs, at least in my head. I can’t remember seeing a different style of beer from them, so this is a surprise.

The delight in getting the new from the familiar is a bit soothing, the chance to take a risk backed up by a reputation one can rely on.

Organic Beer Fest 2016 Reviews

I arrived early to the Organic fest, and I’m glad I did. The lines were nonexistent and that gave me plenty of opportunity to try some beer without waiting in line. Reviews are mildly edited, as per usual.

Coin Toss-Half Penny Lager: smells like a lager and the flavor is one where I can detect the rice sweetness. It’s got a creaminess to it, giving it a little more body than other lagers might have and the finish isn’t too crisp. But it’s solid.

Old Tow Cardamum’s the Word

Old Town-Cardamum’s The Word (Hibiscus and Cardamon wheat ale)-There’s an herbal nose, so I can pick up the cardamon and the hibiscus is near the finish and also very light…but there isn’t quite enough there, there. I can’t recommend it, but I also can’t recommend against it, either.

Falling Sky-Organic Matters Pale-skunky nose and while it’s not off putting, it suggests something old, not nice. The bitterness on the finish is countered but a slightly sour note that really torques it all poorly.

Yachats-Cetacea saison: if someone had just given me this beer, I would insist this was a lager. Same kind of nose, same kind clean middle. This saison is something I have to dig for, like an archeologist, with its floral spiciness beneath it all. I think someone should else should try it for perspective, just know you may not get what’s expected.

Thirsty Bear-Valencia Wheat: it’s sweet at the start but the finish is just nasty. I want to rinse my mouth out with mouthwash to get this dirty flavor out.

Aslan-Dawn Patrol “pacific ale”: I should’ve known before I even got it that when they didn’t ID it by a style that exists, trouble lay ahead. Candy fruit in the nose leading into a touch of malt on the tongue but vegetal on the finish.

McMenamins’ Pavol the Collector

McMenamins-2016 Hogshead Barrel Aged Pavol the Collector Baltic Porter: it’s a pretty damn good beer. A hit of that whiskey sweetness in the nose, with a touch of vanilla and then a pleasantly chocolaty beer that has a remarkably smooth finish.

Fecken-Arnold Fecken Palmer Golden Ale: the cold brew tea is in the nose, but the beer itself is a a pleasantly sippable beer: the lemon peel flavor on the finish is a touch offputting, preventing this from becoming a really great session summer beer but I’d have another.


I went to a couple places in Spokane

I can finally start the “Spokane Road Trip Reviews”, so let’s get to it. There’s the beers I had at brewpubs and bars and the stash I brought home with me to review. First: where to go in Spokane.

28559768174_05ced60eaf_cAt the Flying Goat, which is a solid pub/pizza joint, I had a Road Trip Pale from NW Brewing. It’s a bit too subtle for me: nothing in the nose to distinguish it, but it’s a thirst quencher so I’m not unhappy about my purchase. The pale is too focused on the back end of the beer-the hop bitterness and dry quality that comes from it, instead of some of the front end or midrange. Not bad, but not very balanced.

At Perry St Brewing I went with the Kolsch. OK, so this isn’t Old Town Brewing’s Kolsch, which is currently my favorite Kolsch. But the nose is clean, the middle has just enough of a bready note to give it body and the finish is extremely crisp. Like: over carbonated soda pop crisp. That isn’t a drawback; that’s an excessively drinkable beer executing on its promise. I feel comfortable recommending it, even if it isn’t OTB’s beer.

To prove it: I have Perry St.’s single malt IPA and though it’s a short glass, the nose is a prominent tropical fruit, the middle has a sweet note and the finish, while bitter, isn’t overwhelming. It’s just really drinkable.

28559768644_a2e9cdeacd_cFinally, I checked out Bellweather’s taproom with their Patrick Horn brown ale. I like it. Smooth and with a strong chocolate note, it has a dry finish. I wasn’t expecting that and while it’s not a bad thing I’m not sure how well it goes with this particular style. So far, it’s at least acceptable.

A word about the space, too, since I haven’t been here before and the locals tell me it’s new. Since the music is varied but muted, withi art on the walls but no televisions, it feels like a good place to have conversations. I really dig this place. It could use some baffling to help mute surrounding conversations, as on a busy day I could easily see having to raise your voice quite a bit to be heard. Aside from that though, it was a comfortable place to have a beer and had a different vibe than a lot of other places I’d been in Spokane.

Saturday Night at the Reel M Inn

I’m here for some chicken and jojos because when someone talks about this place, that’s the thing they talk about. And Division street, where the Inn is located, is changing; apartment complexes built on top of storefronts, every bar a pub, every pub a gastro-something. I’m not sure how much longer a place like this will last, given the way the street is going. It’s dark and divey and a little claustrophobic. You want to sit at a table? You’re going to brush elbows with a stranger. Dinner is going to take about 30 minutes to make, so I get a Rogers pilsner and I wait.

28845523350_df98588c18_kThis is a smooth pils, absent any hop nose or real bitterness on the end. Maybe just a touch of bitter, so the beer isn’t one dimensional but it’s still a pretty light and overall sweet beer.

My drive down Division was filled with a bustling, extremely active street. It wasn’t like this when I moved here in the 90s; Division had a sleazy element that lent the neighborhood a vibrancy that the shiny apartments don’t provide-and a grime that gave home to some of the weirdos. There was a slow contrast at first: nicer spots finding a place amongst the car repair joint, divey Thai restaurants and porn theater.

Now there isn’t much grime at all and where do the weirdos go?

An older guy chats me up for a bit; he’s drinking a Coke so he’s here for different reasons than I am. His name is Darryl and he’s got a red cap with a crest on it I don’t recognize, glasses and some low level weathering on his face, high level weathering on the back of his head, and he’s sitting right beneath one of the vents cooling the place.

We start with the Germany/Brazil soccer game on tv-they’re playing for the Olympic gold, and we talk about how or why the game doesn’t have broad appeal to an American mentality.  Conversation shifts into the general state of Portland and how it has changed. We don’t come to much in the way of conclusions but we’re hoping that things will improve for the greater cityfolk.

He tells me about a bar near Great Falls, Montana, where everyone gathered when he was a kid. It was so central to the community, it even served as a grocery store. He tells me that it closed shortly after the owner’s daughter died in a car accident. I wonder what happened to the community, once one of their central locations ceased.  After awhile, he wanders off to play poker for a bit and I return to the keyboard.

At the Inn fills up, the community tendrils start to form; I can almost see them. Gossamer looping around packs of people. The old guy I’m talking to: He’s new, he’s here to make some gossamer of his own. It’s kind of amazing and speaks to the relevance a place a place like this has to a neighborhood. Someone who is new to the area? They can come in and, if their intent is good, can find a way to be less alone, to connect to everyone else and that’s pretty nice.

I hope we get to keep places like this.

Organic Beer Fest 2016

I’ve been invited to this years Organic Beer Fest so huzza! Let’s take a look…

First thought: hey, a mushroom beer!

Second thought: huh, the rest of these styles don’t really lean towards the experimental side. But that’s OK! Organic beers tend to have a tougher row to hoe in my experience, because “organic” is sometimes valued over “tasty” and can frequently mean “experimental weirdness”.

While that has been changing, I think it’s a positive sign that many of the beers are straightforward in style (at least, it seems like that from my browsing) because that’s how you hook people: with something that is just as good as the regular stuff, just different.

Once you have the basics down, then you can let ambition kick in.

I am hoping to be there the 26th, with a post up later that day on what I had.


Author’s note: I wrote this Saturday afternoon. My day proceeded to get considerably worse. The underlying message, though, that perspective is important, is a good one.

I was in a card tournament today and I went 1-3.

Now, I had fun and I managed to leave the event in pretty good spirits. But I still lost pretty badly and in the time honored tradition of losing, I have come to NWIPA for a Knee Deep IIPA. Has some earthy, fruity nose and then a steady citrus bitterness on the finish. It’s a bit sweet, which is good, because that keeps the whole beer from running off the rails. So far, I approve.

Although, is this a time honored tradition? I don’t know who or what informed me that this was the thing to do: go to a bar after a failure, sit down, softly imbibe a beer and let all the sorrows that come with losses just bleed out, as my stomach gets a little warmer.

“Singing the anthem for all of the quitters you know, because they won’t disappear when you vanish tomorrow” – Primitive Weapons


What cultural story put me here? It feels like a cliche and it almost certainly is, the image in my head from a thousand movies or books I’ve never even seen, bringing me to drink alone at a bar. A million poems or songs I’ve never heard, about trying to re-square my shoulders after a day of getting beaten down.

There’s a woman on the rail wearing a perfume that’s messing with my enjoyment of this beer. Something that reminds me of wood decaying on the beach. It’s not unpleasant so much as it is too strong. But perhaps she’s wearing it as a defense to the aura of failure that I have brought with me.

I recognize this, of course. In my head, one failure = a million failures = all the failures. And that isn’t what happened. I had a pretty solid day where my intentions did not work out. The consequence of this? I get to sit down and have a beer.

It’s important to keep things in perspective. I’m going to go home, make some dinner and most likely throw myself at writing again. As destinies for a night go, that’s not bad. The creeping notices of failure that want to shadow a perfectly good day? They can fuck off for now. My beer is good and tasty food awaits.

Let’s take what is given, for it is enough.

So So

28149572631_313f158f1b_kI like this amber ale. I know, I know, I titled this piece “So So” but I was pressed for titles, trying to make sure I had everything else in line.

The beer has a pretty solid head on it, which provides a little hop nose to it but not much. A whiff, if you will, nothing dramatic.

The rest is a solid red ale. Not quite malty enough for an amber, I would say but enough body to the beer that it won’t be mistaken for a pale. The C120 malt gives it just enough of a roasted quality that, like the hop nose, you get a whiff of it just on your tongue.

Pleasingly, the carbonation whisks everything away rather nicely. The ABV of this might be high enough that So So is a little dangerous, because the alcohol content isn’t notable while I’m drinking it. After three or four of them, though, I can tell that I’ve had a proper pint.

Brew date 5.14.16

Steeping grains
5 lb Gleneagle maris otter
1.5 lb C120
1.5 lb Munich

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

1 oz Glacier, 1 oz Dom Cluster @60
1 oz Dom Cluster @ 5

Yeast: Imperial house (4th and final use)

OG: 1.066

FG: 1.014

Put into secondary 5/29

ABV: 7.0%