Smidge Too Far

28656797543_68021837aa_cIt’s a good beer: the chocolate and coffee flavors are there but not sharp at all, it’s got some nice viscosity to it without being syrupy or having an alcohol burn to it. Drinkable in a very pleasant way, with maybe a little more punch than your average bear.

However, I really needed to nix the Black Barley malt. Because my goal was to make a double brown ale, not a porter. Looking at the picture, though, this is clearly a porter. All from half a pound of the Black Barley, so I’ve definitely gotten a lesson in color for beer.

It’s not a bad porter. It’s quite good! It just happens to fail the category of brown ale.

I can live with that and will give it another go sometime.

Double Brown Ale

Brew date: 7/4/16

.5 lb Black Barley, 1 lb Chocolate, .5 lb British brown steeped overnight

Brew day malts and fermentables
5 lb 2 row
1 lb Carared
4 lb LME

.5 oz Wilamette, .5 oz Kent Goldings @60
.5 oz Wilamette, .5 oz Kent Goldings @20

Yeast: Imperial Independence yeast

OG: 1.07

FG: 1.012

Bottled 7/17

ABV: 7.8

The Respite 5

29651007110_5ff260e928_cSo, it’s fresh hop season.


But I got Coldfire Fresh Hop IPA anyway, because I don’t know Coldfire and I always go for the new. It has a hop nose but I can’t say that it’s anything distinguishing. Grassy and pleasant though. Pity the rest of the beer doesn’t follow suit; an invisible midrange with a finish that has far too much bite until a twist at the end that resembles something vegetal and…

Well, they can’t all be good decisions.

Nine months in to 2016 and the avarice that people are finding in their lives is starting to feel personal.

Friends and family are having life troubles running a spectrum of issues and week in, week out, my attempts to get a breather seem to be at odds with everything else.

I had hoped to come out to celebrate rest, not as a need to escape conflict. There sure is a whole lot of conflict, too. In addition to the personal trials, there’s a whole country fighting between those who believe they have dignity against those who believe they ought to earn it.

And the fight is worth fighting. But rest is also necessary.

I wonder if my theme is at odds for the time: if my attempt to raise the flag and say “here, I shall listen, I shall welcome. Today I refuse conflict, even when my ribs constrict to shield my heart for the oncoming rounds,” is something that cannot endure in a year of personal trials, tidal strife and the attrition of voices that brought great art to so many.

The mission of rest may need a day of rest. But if the opposite of rest is work and the work of the day is war, then what does it mean when I need to reconsider my theme of respite?

What is that about?

Not far from me, a white guy and a black guy are sitting on the rail, talking. Smiles on their faces, friends having a good time. Behind me a date is happening, and they both seem to be engaged with one another. In the corner, a man sits alone, contentedly eating a burrito. One of the bartenders sits cheekily on the counter, looking over his shoulder to talk to a patron while taking his order.

I probably shouldn’t worry so much.

The Money Thing

Maybe you’ve noticed the Paypal button in the upper left. Maybe not. I don’t have much to say about it but what little I do, I feel I should just get said and be done with.

I’m not going to charge for premium content. Or make premium content. I’m not going to change the posting schedule. I’m not going to start hyping the button for money. I’m not going to do anything different from what I am doing or have been doing for the past eight years.

I believe that the work I do, and it is work, has value. I feel that I’ve demonstrated a reliable voice over a long period of time, so readers know that I’m not going to just evaporate if I get paid. Beer costs money, brewing supplies cost money, living costs money. If readers feel like kicking me a few bucks, awesome. If they don’t, that’s totally OK, too.

I’m not changing a thing, beyond the implicit statement that what I do has value and if people would like to give me money for it, that’s much appreciated.

So Let’s Talk About This For A Day

Let me begin with a picture of this ad from the local weekly:
So, that’s a thing. It’s a couple months old-what can I say, it took me a little while to get around to it, because Rainier isn’t high on my “to drink” list.

Regardless of how timely I am, the fact of the matter is that Rainier won an award for best beer in its style. Which is relevant because when many beer aficionados talk about how terrible American macro lagers are, what most of them neglect to mention, likely because they don’t know, is that those beers are exactly what they are supposed to be. Complaining that they are flavorless, near water beers is like complaining about a knife that cuts things.

We have to judge the beer on its merit, within the goal(s) of the brewer and that’s not an easy thing to do. We all want what we want, so taking that next step to say, “Nevermind what I want, what is this supposed to be” isn’t easy.

Thing is, Rainier is high on someone’s “to drink” list. And I am in the field to talk about beers people drink, in addition to the stuff I drink and make. So when I found Rainier on draft at the Slow Bar, I started my evening with a pint.

28084765755_d91ba9057d_zThe nose is low on the lager funk.
This is a very bright, clean beer. The effervescence pops long after the beer is gone, leaving a sparkly feeling on my tongue.
Somewhere in there is a nice bready flavor sneaking up before the finish. Giving the beer just a pixie dust of depth. It’s not just water and bitterness.

Do I want another? No. I’d prefer a little more hop and malt to draw from. But is this a bad beer? Would I refuse it? Not at all. For the style it is, it’s a quality product.

The Respite 4


I’ve just come back from a few days away-this is why I didn’t have a post on the blog on Friday (sorry about that)-and I have fallen into the cliche of needing a vacation from my vacation.

People say that so often in America, I wonder if it’s just us or if this happens in other cultures too. I know we work a hell of a lot in this country: that our vacations have become work wouldn’t terribly surprise me.

It might just be a human thing, though. No where in the word “vacation” is the word “rest”. Instead of resting, we do more and more to try and get it all in and then when we return home, we want to collapse. Routine becomes our rest from the introduction of all those new vacation things.

Which feels really weird, right? I get that travel-and driving especially- is a draining activity. Not in a bad way but in a “I need to focus for extended time and that takes energy” manner. Though, if every time we take some time off to rest, we end up feeling like we need a break from that rest, it suggests that maybe we’re doing rest incorrectly.

I wouldn’t ever expect to do resting incorrectly: I incline towards laziness so I would’ve hoped to have not doing things to be something I’m pretty good at by now.

Yet, here I am, tired at the end of a weekend. I’ve come to NWIPA instead of Bailey’s because I can walk to this location and walking feels better than driving right now. I fully expect to be back at Bailey’s next week but since I’m a bit drained, walking felt like a much better decision tonight. Unfortunately, there’s something in the air here. A scent that’s waxy, meaty and vaguely herbal, and I can almost feel it sticking to me. The only break from that is to stick my nose in the beer. As relief goes, that’s not so bad.

The beer is Don’t Haze Me Bro by Great Notion. Citrus rind and grapefruit nose, a solid dollop of malt in the middle, with a citrus influence bite on the finish. The sweetness is almost enough to tilt this towards a soft drink: it’s nowhere near as sugary but it does have ┬ámore sweetness than I would have expected. It’s perfectly cromulent and I’d probably order another if it weren’t getting late.

But I’m really looking forward to going home and getting a break from my break. Which means I need to think about my vacations in a smarter way. What’s the point of doing something that’s supposed to be restful if it leaves you exhausted?

Nothing. So maybe it’s time to rethink these vacations into trips that are restful and trips that are active. The proper naming of a thing helps provide context and sets expectations, which makes it more manageable.

I like that idea.

Common Ales: Firestone Walker-Union Jack IPA

29525679832_ca9897596f_cFirestone Walker is a little pricey, but I’ve liked the flagship ales I’ve had from them. As a result, I was looking forward to the Union Jack, to see what they did for your day-to-day consumer.

The nose has a malt undercurrent, which is, unfortunately, the only place I pick that flavor up. The scent then heads towards grapefruit.

The finish tries to end clean with a swift melon taste and a nice effervescent bite. Buuuuut the bitterness kicks down the door after that and decides to stay awhile. It’s a good thing the nose has that malt running through it because this beer could run dangerously unbalanced. Not undrinkably so, more ‘less commercially viable’.

Which is an interesting experience: is Firestone looking for something to entice people who have already had plenty of commercial IPAs? “This is your next step” sort of attitude?

It’s definitely solid for someone who likes IPAs and wants more. Hesitant to recommend to someone who isn’t so sure about the style.


The Respite 3

29636729495_ab2eefd621_cBurnside’s Sunsplash Kolsch with ginger, orange zest and sorrel is my order. I can’t pick anything up on the nose and that’s pretty detrimental to the beer. With that many flavors, I should get something, right? This muted presence runs through the beer as well and that isn’t good. Is there anything wrong with it? No, not to my tongue. But all I get is a little tingle on the right side, on the tip. I can’t pick up anything involving flavor at all.

Which is a disappointing end to what has been a disappointing week. Earlier in the week, a I had been on a date with a lady who decided to give me a kiss at the end. That was rather nice, as one might expect. She’s since ghosted on me and while I don’t blame her for it, you can’t help but feel a little rejected.

Because it feels like I did something wrong. Even if I didn’t, exactly. So time spent wondering what-if instead of looking forward is…well, it’s wasted but the brain is a funny thing, sometimes.

So I am spending the dusk of Summer at Bailey’s with this beer that I don’t understand.

On my way here, I walked by Brewed Oregon as it was closing up, the clerk sweeping the dust out the door a dog was helpfully standing in, checking everyone out.

As I passed by the dog took a step towards me and I stopped.

“Are you friendly?” I asked, hunching over a little, holding my arm out, palm up.

“Too friendly,” the clerk said.

But the dog gave my hand a couple sniffs and looked at me skittishly, sniffed a little more. I motioned my hand as though to pet the dog, but it shied away.

“Ah, it’s OK.” I said. Still, you can’t help but feel a little rejected.

Spokane Brew Reviews 2

OK, it’s time to finish off the reviews of beers I picked up while in Spokane.

29165924752_9bdc28b425_cBig Barn Brewing-Mead Honey Lager: Yup, the sourish nose I’d expect from a lager is there but the body of the beer is sweet and light and the finish is a little peppery, along with the fizz. I think this is a pretty solid brew! And I’m a little surprised at that, given the nose.

Backwoods-Logyard IPA: Citrus and tropical fruit in the nose. Pineapple might capture this best. Hops appear to be floating in the beer. This isn’t a bad thing per se but it’s really unusual for a commercial ale! The beer itself is a touch thin and could use some sweetness in the middle to help balance out the hop bitterness that comes at the end. It isn’t bad, no no. I’d just prefer a little more body, personally.

29165925682_788aba5a77_cLaughing Dog brewery-Anubis Imperial Coffee Porter. The nose is like coffee liquor, as it comes with that background sweetness. The flavor is what I would guess a sweet roast of coffee would taste like. It also seems like a faint trickle of anise is there. All in all, I’d definitely recommend it for someone who likes coffee. For me, it’s a little rough on the finish, with the 9.2% ABV showing up in a slightly unpleasant manner.

Bitter Root Brewing-NW Pale ale: I like this scent because it’s piney, which is always a welcome relief from the usual. It’s got a lovely sweetness to it, reminds me a little bit of peaches. For such a light beer, that sweetness is surprising! But the bitterness isn’t too strong and this comes across as a very nicely balanced beer with some different flavor profiles happening. I dig it.

And that’s it for now! Time to get back to some of the Portland beers that are out there.