Respite 22/Second Pint Dr W/O Borders

This might get a little weird, so if it seems like I’m asking for the reader’s indulgence, I am, and I apologize in advance.

Because it’s been a fucked up week in America. I don’t use the term lightly, despite being a devotee of swearing (seriously, my parents are probably a little disappointed with how much I swear) but I want to make it very clear to readers near, far, familiar or strangers: this has been a fucked up week in America.

And while I have been very, very angry about what has been happening (and also partaking in schaudenfreaude at moments) I don’t exactly have…

I do have something to say but it isn’t quite the same. Please do not mistake the next statement as one that dismisses or makes light of what is going on.

I want you to take a break.

See this beer? An India Session Ale called Enabler by Tripplehorn Brewing.

It’s a little skunky in the nose but not too strong. There isn’t much body there, though, which for an india session ale isn’t too surprising. The finish is pretty dry though, which is a little surprising. It isn’t a bad thing however; that dry quality encourages another sip. You should have one-one with people who matter to you.

I want you to remember, as good acquaintance said recently, that you matter. You don’t need to justify your struggle to make the world a better place for the planet, or the children, or the elderly, or the disenfranchised, or persecuted-all excellent reasons, though.

You can work to make it a better place for you to make a better self.

That work is hard. It wears on the spirit. It wears on the body. It hurts. A friend who recovered from breast cancer said about her treatment, ‘I felt fine until they started to cure me’. Most of this work is like that-you believe you are fine until you start to fix yourself.

So, come down. Sit. Have a beer with me. We can talk politics if you like but if you want to talk about your husband/wife/job/children/random shit: man, I’m in. Rainbows. The last joke you heard. I’ll tell you when I had to play “where’s the tarantula” which was my least favorite game ever.

Because the work has come upon us. And if there is anything Americans are up for, it’s work, motherfucker. You give us a job and we will work it so hard there won’t even be a job left to do, except by some machine that we’ve dubbed ‘Mickey II: Boogaloo’, in order to allow us to enjoy  more time NOT working.

However, to do work you need rest. There are not many calls for people to take care of themselves and each other, right now. Especially when a lot of people are truly, desperately afraid and we know we have to fight.

So I am making that call. Not because I want to devalue the work, but because I want to see you here on the day that the work bears fruit. Joyful, even if you are worn.

Because I know that we are being assaulted and will need time to recover, so we can go back and fight the good fight again. The good fight will always need to be fought.

Still, at least for today, remember what matters. We’ll get back on it at sunrise, promise.

Today’s second pint goes to Doctors Without Borders.

Catsitting Rewards 2

31583020014_d601a3f4e2_cBut wait, there’s more beer to talk about!

New Holland; Dragon’s Milk bourbon aged milk stout. First thing, it smells like red wine. This is very odd, but it almost works with the heavy chocolate flavors that come when I drink it. The sweetness of the bourbon barrel arrives near the end and the stout resides warmly in my belly. Definitely a beer I’d like to share.

Roak; Roaka Cadabra Spiced Apple Brown: the brown ale is there, but the spice element-cinnamon, more than anything else-is so strong that the beer becomes one dimensional. It isn’t bad but it doesn’t encourage me to drink another.

Burnside; Coax IPA: This is very nice, as there’s an intense but not overwhelming tropical fruit nose that gives this a pleasant but distinguishable profile. It’s a nice change from all the grapefruit oriented IPAs I get now. The bitterness isn’t very strong though. I’d almost call this a pale, because it’s working such a midrange of flavors. The sweetness does offer me an interesting challenge, as I’m not sure how I’d pair this beer with food. It may not want that-which is fine-but I can see this fitting better in the autumn or spring rather than on one of the coolest days in Portland.

Crackers Brewery; Fifth Voyage coconut porter. The pour is…a little worrisome. Very foamy; the top third of the beer is nothing but brown foam, dense like some kind of sci-fi restraining foam. Despite that, I don’t get a much to smell and the flavors aren’t very strong. I don’t pick up any coconut, though there is a decent chocolate taste, and the finish has a texture I’m not enticed by. Something I want to scrape away, almost chalky.

Coronado Brewing; Señor Saison, brewed with jalapeños and piloncillo. The nose is promising, as it has the saison, farmhousey funk. The flavors are pretty solid on the saison range, a little funky/lemon, with a very, very subtle spice note-one that doesn’t even linger-to add some dimension that most saisons do not exhibit. It’s still quite drinkable though which I’m very pleased to discover, because holy crap I hate spicy beers. But this, this I approve of!

31614713973_f2ac6fd83d_cOddside Ales; Colossal Oversight barleywine. Fantastic caramel nose and my first sip goes right with it. A little maple to tweak the roasted elements; the beer has been barrel aged, though it doesn’t say in what. I could see a spiced rum though, given the sugary flavors, although it’s more likely whiskey, which I figure because of the way it warms my stomach.

Old Nation-Sanders Chocolate Stout: It is what it says it is. Chocolate goes through the whole thing-the nose has a chocolate milk mix in it and the beer is so chocolaty, it’s almost like chocolate soda. The finish is a bit at odds with the rest of the beer though: while there is a nice touch of coffee to help keep the beer reigned in, it’s very effervescent and that gives me a sparkly texture. I don’t really dig on that for a stout; it feels wrong. It doesn’t make the beer undrinkable but it definitely skews the beer away from the creamy texture it wants to evoke.

Catsitting Rewards 1

Over the holidays, a couple different friends asked me if I would catsit for them while they visited their families. I was happy to agree–and as a surprise reward, they bought me a bunch of beer to try.

Well, I’m not one to let an opportunity like this pass by, so as is tradition, here are my edited notes.

Mana32275254012_a374b6babc_cger Bryghus/ Against the Grain; Minor Axident Double IPA. That is a metal goddamn label. And metal beers don’t need no grapefruit influence and I’m glad of it. There’s a surprising level of malt in the nose, sweet and with a hint of burnt sugar there. The bitterness though is very, very strong. Maybe even vegetal instead of more resiny and that’s intense in a way that I’m not very fond of. As the beer warms up that bitterness turns papery and I am liking it a whole lot less.

Imager; imperial stout. Very sharp, alcohol nose. It’s sharp on the finish, too: way too much bourbon flavor there and it’s not good bourbon either. Right before that, an aggressive coffee flavor steps in and that, too, feels too strong for the beer. Nothing about this is smooth or quaffable. I’m going to let it warm up a bit more to see if it improves, but I’m dubious at the moment.

10 minutes later, this really hasn’t improved. While the alcohol bite has diminished, it’s been replaced by the acrid unsweetened cocoa flavor. It just isn’t a step up.

Big Bear; black stout. It’s really playing up the roast malt. Unique in this regard: usually coffee or chocolate flavors become prominent but they went all in on the roasted malt characteristics-which are similar but not quite the same. It’s a sipper, but it’s solid. It’s also a little too thin for me to  really call it a stout. The flavors are on point so far so there’s a strong sense of deception happening-but hey, if you’d like a really good porter, this is worth it.

32275229032_4d198ea432_cShort’s Brew; Huma Lupa Licious IPA. The scent is more toasty than hoppy. After tasting it, I’m not sure….It’s clearly a pale ale. The toasted flavors run through the beer until the finish, which veers into bitterness in a way that has little prep time. I’m finding it difficult to evaluate: if this was an IPA, then I would expect more hop nose and less toasted flavors. But my calibration might be a little different as IPAs in the PNW are far more hope forward than the style suggests. If this was a pale ale, then a bit more balance should exist. What’s weird, is that I want to like this beer: I enjoy the toasted flavor but the overwhelming bitter quality without any groundwork makes it far less enjoyable.




Respite 21/Second Pint AttyOTM

32106059320_6e04886733_cThis is Magnolia’s Dark Star. Had on cask, this English dark mild goes easy on the chocolate in the front end; nose, initial taste- then drops a depth charge of coffee in the middle. After that, it’s all cleaned out by a very dry finish. Remarkably so: my whistle feels dryer when I drink this, instead of wetter. I do recommend it but in the small glass for myself. Putting down an entire pint of this might rob my entire mouth of saliva.

I walked downtown to Bailey’s tonight, the night of the beginning of President Twitter, a helicopter hovering over downtown as I did so. When helicopters hover, it always feels like a bad sign. When they sliiiiide through the air sideways, a dancer in socks on hardwood, it feels weird. So, bad and weird, and I’m walking towards it.

At one point, I walked by cop cars lined up like gray gumdrops, four in a row, waiting for something to do. Eventually, I saw three trucks, cops hanging on the sides of them, like old-timey firefighters, rushing towards…something with riot gear on. When I was done with my drink, I wanted to walk over the Burnside bridge but could not, as the police had blocked it off to all traffic. Despite this, my walk to the east side, while lengthier, was quiet while being disquieting.

Here’s what I think we should do: We should buddy up. Like we used to in grade school, when field trips took us out of the classroom.

The citizens of America are faced with a powerful force, one backed by money, guns and a disturbingly sick culture, with a callous vision of the county best summarized by, “Fuck you, I got mine and if you don’t have that, it’s not just your problem, it’s your fault.”

The only way we are going to survive such selfishness is to buddy up. To look out for each other. Maybe you do it via social media groups, or your church or your union, maybe you’re in bars, or book clubs. It’s likely to be quiet, this partnership. Kindnesses spread in as many quiet ways as possible. Because we have to do this for a long time, maybe forever but at least for four years-and quiet kindnesses are sustainable.

This week’s second pint goes to Attorney On The Move.

S.A.D. 2

31216209232_9d05c10374_cWe are getting to the end of my year of pale ales. I may not have made it explicit, but I was trying to engineer a pale ale that I liked and could make regularly-or on request-because it’s a pretty common style. I’d like to improve on some basics and so a lot of practice was done in 2016. In this case, I went after a repeat of a successful recipe.

The hop nose is faint but I can tell the Columbus hops are there. The is a definite spike in the bitterness on the finish but before I get there it’s got a pleasant sweetness, very much like an orange with a tiny bit of caramel drizzle over it. It’s also pleasantly dense: got enough body to it to justify itself, along with encouraging having another beer.

I have to say, I’m fairly pleased with this and think that some version of it should work its way into my regular rotation.

Brew date: 10/14/16

Steeping grains
1.5 lb Munich
1.5 lb Vienna

Fermentables: 7 lb extra light malt extract

1 oz Columbus @60
.5 oz Simco @60

Yeast: Imperial Barbarian

OG: 1.064

FG: 1.014

Secondary 10/28, added .5 oz Simcoe hops

ABV: 6.8

Bottled 10/30

Common Ales: 21st Amendment Sneak Attack

21st Amendmend SaisonIt’s odd to see a saison in the winter-which, according to the marketing from 21st Amendment, is entirely the point. It certainly is a change of pace from all the stouts that tend to fill the shelves during winter, so I went for it.

Earthly and peppery in the nose. I don’t often reach for the word “peppery” because I often associate it with something spicy, or olfactorally reactionary.

But for a saison, it’s pretty appropriate. Citrus could exist in the style but I’m glad 21st Amendment went for the more farmhousey, earthy version. It finishes quite dry and very crisp, approximating a nice white wine.

It’s also a welcome relief from all of the dark ales that have shown up this winter. Don’t get me wrong: I love dark ales and this time of year is when many exceptional beers appear, as I said. But contrast matters and I don’t know that I could ask for a better one than this. Recommended.

Respite 20/Second Pint NAACPLDF

A state of emergency was declared in Portland on Wednesday. We had twelve inches of snow in under a day and this city just isn’t ready for that kind of weather.

So I’ve spent many days trying to stay busy and driving almost nowhere. I drove twice: once to get groceries and once to help a friend who was stranded. The roads are bad enough that anything else was just reckless. Sure, I could probably get around. I’ve driven in ice and snow before and I have a sense of how to accomplish it…but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. The roads are compacted down to icy surfaces, slick from just enough sunlight to really make it glossy.  Every time I ventured outside I could hear sirens moving towards people less fortunate than I was, or I found wreckage debris from people who weren’t able to stop in time.

So I walked. The clear days usually had wind, so all the fur trees were clear of snow and sunglasses were practically mandatory in order to avoid going snowblind. Most of the sidewalks hadn’t been shoveled so it was often a little easier to walk on the streets.

But I wasn’t the only one. Kids went to parks with sleds, their parents watching or, in the cases of smaller kids, pulling them along. Occasionally the parent had a beer while they watched. Just enough places were able to stay open that some things could be accomplished, if you were careful: I had the good fortune to find the public library open and promptly checked out a copy of Joe Hill’s The Fireman. If I can’t be in a warm place, I can at least read about them.

If this is the only state of emergency I have to live through, I’m pretty good with it. I brewed beer, walked a bunch, got some chores done. That’s pretty solid.

But it is also my way of explaining why I am not at Bailey’s for this post. The path is too treacherous for me to confidently travel in a vehicle…so I have walked to O’Malley’s to get a Hopworks Abominale. Citrus on the nose but sliding underneath it is a whiff of caramel. This is an IPA by way of barleywine and right now, after going through a long walk in the cold, it’s a kind of rap to the stomach that I need.

On my way here, I stopped at a crosswalk next to a man on a yellow bike and headphones. “Cold enough to freeze the nuts off the Steel Bridge,” he said, riding away.

Which might be true but I have a feeling that as a cyclist, his experience with the cold was a bit different than mine. I’m certain that his experience traveling isn’t the same.

Today’s second pint goes to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Common Ales: Pyramid 1977 Lager

31712396156_b307df47e2_cBecause I live in Portland and not enough time has passed for the Timbers’ soccer championship to become a nostalgic memory, (I can’t wait until we look back on 2015 with rose colored glasses-though I doubt it will take long…) the Trailblazer’s basketball championship is something that…just kind exists in the air around here. All the time. And so we have: Pyramid’s 1977 lager, celebrating the time when the Portland Trail Blazers did good.

Thing is, this is precisely the kind of beer that non-craft beer people would purchase. Which means it’s exactly the kind of beer I want to review and talk about.

It smells like beer used to smell in the 70’s, alright: sour and skunky and not just a little off putting. But the beer itself is sweet and has a reasonable weight on my tongue. It finishes pretty clean and would probably serve well as a compliment to any hot dog, whiskey, or summer day. I don’t know that I’d drink a lot of it but I’d eagerly drink one if offered to me.

Respite 19/Second Pint: Border Angels

I saw Henry Rollins speak on New Year’s Day. If you’re going to start off the year with a dude talking at you for three hours straight, he’s the guy. One thing he said, repeatedly, over the course of a series of stories involving music, travel and the election was:

“You and me, that’s how we do this.”

Each time he said that, he was referring to making things better. Not just survival under President Twitter-survival is the bare minimum that we should have passed long ago, yet here we are-but making things better.

Rollins insisted-frequently-that he didn’t know how they were going to get better. He was placing confidence in everyone else: in the “smart, sexy young people” out there who would have ideas and take action. He acknowledged things were going to suck and that some of us were going to have to take the hit from assholes who want to keep things rigidly on course towards their own small minded version of power. But he knew that the only way to do it was to do it.

Of note here: he wanted to take action together. We’re going to need each other on the ground floor if we want to make things better. With the very real risks that are coming, such as the repeal of the ACA, for example-and let’s not lie to each other (or ourselves), alright? People will die without insurance coverage, because there isn’t going to be anything to replace it. We’re going to have to work together to make things better.

I say, let’s get to it. And I might even recommend the Block 15 Hoppy New Year IPA while we do so. This beer reminds me of opening a fresh package of hops-simcoe, maybe?-just before I put it into wort. It’s not overwhelming, which is nice and it lets a very nice grassy flavor come out through the beer. It’s definitely for someone who likes those grassy notes, though. We’ll have a pint, make plans, and get going.

Today’s second pint goes to Border Angels.