Measure The Court

While I was running through the Ecliptic brewery, sliding around actual professionals who make beer for a living I saw this:


And I thought, “I have a hydrometer like that at home.”

Which brought to mind this scene from Hoosiers.

I don’t talk about it much, but I don’t consider myself to be a great brewer. I have had a lot more failure than successes, more undrinkable beers than drinkable ones. I won’t deny that I have improved: twelve years of brewing should show some improvement, damnit. I just seem to drink beers made by others that are (almost) always better than mine.

In the end though, there isn’t any magical difference between what they’re doing as professionals and what I’m doing. Skill, certainly, knowledge, more expensive tools, no question.

But it’s not magic. It’s just work.

Fall Classic 2016

As I mentioned on Monday, I was the head steward for the Oregon Brew Crew’s Fall Classic competition again, which had somewhere around 330 (but maybe even 360!) entries for judging this year.

30541072110_7db80b8961_cAnd once again, I stole the best of show stewarding for myself. I hustled a picture while the judges plowed through the twenty-five best of show entries, starting with a creme ale, which the judges liked on first impressions. And second.

But as the styles got whittled down, some due to obvious flaws (diacetyl being mentioned more than once) others because the judges had to start cutting things down (a beer sparged with donuts could not find a champion)…the creme ale found itself cut.

In the end, nits were picked as I listened to a discussion between an American brown ale and a bock. Once again, I was impressed by the judges’ ability to talk about the beer itself, separate from their style preferences. I did my best to remain impartial but as a fan of brown ales, I was pulling for it (although both were delicious). It’s hard to root against a beer that’s delicious and that bock was quite tasty.

Still, I’m glad the brown took the big prize, especially if that means more brown ales.

Respite 11

While the OBC’s Fall Classic homebrewing competition was the biggest beer event for me this weekend (I was head steward, and I’ll talk about that more later this week) the biggest beer event in Portland is the 40th anniversary of the Horse Brass. So, despite a soreness in my legs two days after the Fall Classic, I have come to what might be the most important beer bar in the city to pay my respects. This is especially cool because for their 40th anniversary, the staff at the Horse Brass collaborated with local brewers to make beers for the occasion.

30851313085_222f90186d_kSo I chose Rosenstadt Brewing (with Anthony, the cook)’s Nebel-mond,  Baltic Porter. Seems a little boozy in the nose but there are some very nice roast flavors in there: coffee and, interestingly enough, toast. It’s a really light beer on the palate as well. The coffee/toast flavors linger though not in a negative fashion, however what I mean here is about the density of the Nebel-mond. It would be a mistake to pound this beer but it’s absolutely doable, because of the viscosity.

I think there might be a tiny undercurrent of dried fruit there on top of it all. Really interesting stuffl

This is the third beer I’ve had from Rosenstadt and I have to say, I’ve been pleased or impressed with all of them. Note to self: find out where they are and go to that brewery, if possible.

While there isn’t much about the Horse Brass that I can say that hasn’t been said, I will, for new readers, provide a summary:

In the 1980s, when craft beer was still a gleam in the eye of Californians, it was the Horse Brass in Portland bringing in beers from all over the world and inspiring people in Portland-and Oregon-to maybe give this beer thing a shot. It likely wasn’t the only bar but it certainly has had one of the biggest impacts, as I am told founders of Widmer, Lompoc and others, some not as fortunate to survive into the present day, had their initial planning meetings here.

So the Horse Brass is a pretty big deal and, I feel, a rarity. A beloved institution that has not only lasted but continues to do the things that made them great; providing interesting beers, quintessential pub food, and the kind of atmosphere conspirators need.

In a city that is often struggling to keep it’s iconic places, I have high hopes that the Horse Brass will continue to do what it’s doing for a good while, yet.