Brown #1

32600157634_2587a5a9c1_cIt begins! Long time readers of the blog might remember that last year, I tried making pale ales (every other batch, to be precise) in order to find and properly execute a recipe that I liked.

It was a good experience, and there will be more opportunities to make pales ales but this year, I’m changing to brown ales. Brown ales come in two major categories: English and American. I can’t say I have a favored style at the moment, I just know that the commercial versions of this style that I’ve had, I’ve liked. But they appear infrequently so it’s time to brew my own.

There’s a dark malt note in the nose (when I get to it) that isn’t flawed but…it feels incorrect.

Which is not a bad description for the beer at large. It’s drinkable, yes, but there’s also a molasses flavor, both sweet and sulfur, that is far, far too strong for the kind of beer I was aiming for.

As with my last beer, B#1 suffers from staying a little too long in the bottle. It doesn’t taste infected though, so whatever bonuses I can take from that, I will.

Brew date: 1/8/17

.5 light roast barley
1 lb chocolate
1 lb C 120
1 lb Carapils

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

1.5 oz Nugget @60
.5 oz Nugget @ 5

Yeast: Imperial Darkness (3rd use, starter made)

Forgot to get FG readings and…so I don’ t know how strong this beer is. That is too bad, as it could’ve told me some information but I think next time, I maybe have to leave out the roast barley.

Respite 30\Second Pint PRM

32840384074_6686d9cd80_cFeels like I’ve been out a lot this week! Good time for a Breakside Mo’ Trouble Pale, a west coast pale made with Citra, Mosaic and Chinook hops, which I am writing down so that the next time I make a pale ale, I include those hops.

Because I like this beer. The nose has a gentle forest pine scent, the finish a solid but not crazy dank finish and I don’t notice the Citra too much at all. Just enough, is how it goes.

I like the way this beer looks, too: a little more amber than your standard pale and extremely bright. Whatever the marketing for NE IPAs want to say, clearer beers generally look more inviting.

I’m glad I can see it, too. My vision is broken without corrective lenses and I am lucky enough to be able to afford the insurance to cover the costs of doctor’s appointments and glasses or contacts. Stuff that could incur a considerable debt on me if I didn’t have insurance, because in America, heath insurance is currently arm-in-arm with health coverage.

The thing is, without insurance to see the doctor, my vision gets worse. Maybe I cannot afford yearly checkups to ensure my vision is correctly compensated for or worse, perhaps I cannot afford correction at all.

Without glasses, I am functionally blind. I cannot read or drive. Full stop, no questions, no nothing. I am a danger to other people if I cannot see and my ability to see is inextricably linked to whether or not I have healthcare. With the ability to see, I can make myself useful.

Without that, I need help to function.

Which is one example of why I am glad that the AHCA failed last week and failed hard. By any objective metric, that act would have diminished coverage for Americans and made health insurance-which, as I’ve noted, is currently linked with coverage, so if you don’t have one, you don’t get the other-more expensive and thus further out of reach for people.

“The rich stay healthy, the sick stay poor,” as the song goes.

I don’t think that’s the way it should be or has to stay. And I don’t think there is any reason why any American should be without healthcare. So I hope the citizens of my country continue to voice their demands for a better place to live. Because the ACA isn’t even close to perfect and the streak of callousness our leadership has towards the citizens is appalling.

Today’s Second Pint goes to the Portland Rescue Mission.

Common Ales: Melvin Killer Bees

I’ve liked other beers I’ve had from Melvin and I have finally seen one at a Fred Meyer so I thought this would be a great time to check it out. Here is: Melvin’s Killer Bees American Blonde Ale.

I am confused by this beer. The nose has just a nuzzle of that lager funk but not enough to distinguish it as a proper l33264535952_9ff7582748_cager. It also goes flat in the nose rather quickly, leaving behind a scent that almost reminds me of the beach, with that hint of salt to it.
The flavor profile tilts Kolsch, with that bready push in the midrange. It’s hidden behind a sweetness in front and a bitterness that creeps around the back of my tongue, however.

I honestly don’t know what to make of all that.

So let’s look up the style. 18A, Blonde Ale under American Ales (there is an American Pale and that is where American styles seem to end), suggests that yes, some bread notes are acceptable, the hop flavor should be kept low, a sweeter beer.

On further tastes, I have to admit the got the medium-dry finish right. This does want to encourage further drinking, in that regard. But I think the addition of honey-a substance that completely ferments out leaving no sweetness behind- may have pushed this beer in the wrong direction. I’m not certain, mind you, that whatever the honey may be adding to this beer did that, but it’s my best guess, given the other beers I’ve had from Melvin were well made.

Not for me; might be worth checking out for someone else though.


I got a Block 15 Atmosphere: a dry hopped pale ale. As with so many beers from Block 15, the execution is grand. The nose is pleasantly pine tilted but the body and finish don’t ride that rail very hard. It’s got a nice crisp quality that would go very well on hot days.

It isn’t often that I get to have a blog post on my actual birthday but hey, here we are! So I’ll take advantage of it. I ask whatever forgiveness I must from my readers for this indulgence, and also because all my pictures came out too dark, so I don’t have a photo o my beer.

I spent the day trying to be as actively kind as I could. Extra tips for serving staff, extra words for people I encountered whom I liked, extra everything. It’s my birthday: being actively kind seems like a good practice.

Part of that was being thankful, thankful for family, thankful for friends, thankful for readers.

It’s a strange world and I think we should strive to keep it that way, especially as we can arc it towards true kindness in any manner.

I’m getting to listen to a band I’ve not heard before, Cadaver, that mines the kind of music I like. That doesn’t happen often and I’m thankful for that, too.

It’s my birthday and I want to make a better world. So I’m going to work towards that.

As mission statements go, that’s not bad.

Respite 29/ Second Pint: The Bowlers

En route home from the PNWHC, stretch of 99 on my way home-

(My visit to the conference was wonderful. I arrived late on purpose, too late as it turned out. I only made it in because someone who knew me was at the door.

‘Registration ended at 8!’ She said.

Sorry about that.

‘You’re lucky I know you,’ she cheerfully scolded me, ‘otherwise you might not get in.’

Thank you, I said, I’m sorry I was so late.

And there were good beers and bad beers and everyone was excited to talk to one another about how they did what they did. I kept my pours short, my drinks to a minimum and thanked everyone before I got on I-5 to go home. All was well, the OMSI exit to the bridge, the loop were I can see the businesses beneath the bridge, a brief dose of vertigo when I recognize that I am not on the ground, I have two more turns to get to 99 where I am no longer on the floating skyways and after the lights and into my final path home)

-I see the figure on my right. Hooded in black, stooped over, either from the weight of time or life or both, headlights hitting the sneakers which bounce back a white glow and

“Oh my goodness!”

I seem to swear less when I am sadly aghast.

“Oh my goodness!”

This person is walking on the shoulder under the Ross Island bridge, next to traffic moving at 50 miles per hour (minimum!) and they are alone.

And I don’t know what to do. I want to help. I don’t know if I can help.

I can’t help. Pulling over here would put me and whomever is behind me at risk. Everything is going so fast, the possibility of creating a fuckup from which I cannot recover is so great that stopping to help here is too dangerous.

So I keep going. And I worry. I feel burdened; here it is, a situation where I could’ve done more and I didn’t. I don’t know how to make that choice-something I’m still pretty sure was right-feel good.

A lego clicks in me: This is why I wanted to be a superhero. Because I could have the chance to save people without risking other lives.

33396683122_b6911e40d4_cSo we come to get a Pono IPA. There’s not much nose on it but I don’t blame the beer for that. The pour didn’t allow for any head on the beer; how can you get any aroma if it isn’t given a chance to exist?

The beer itself hits the pineapple notes hard, sweetly so at first, then with the tartness near the end. The finishing bitterness is pretty sharp, reminiscent of pineapple cut too close to the rind. That acrid-ish bite that tells you you shouldn’t go any further.

I suppose this is coming from that NE style of IPAs-in the dim light it looks awfully durn purdy, like diffused shower glass you can drink. But I also feel like I am drinking alcoholic fruit and if I really wanted to do that, I could and I think I could find something a little better.

As I finish my trip home, I pass by a hooded couple: one in gray, one in blue. The blue one has orange Uggs on, they hold hands as they migrate to the East and I am glad that they, at least, have each other.

Today’s Second Pint(s) go to two pals, raising money for women’s healthcare services in their respective states: NY and NC.

It’s Solid, If You Can Get To It

33040749792_ae524e0ba6_cI know what it looks like…it looks impossible.

It also looks infected: some of the other beers I have made have had similar issues, visually, which corresponded to something going wrong with the flavor.

I’m pleased to say that’s not the case this time: the nose is definitely more malty, with a pleasant orange sweetness wrapped in there. The taste is undercut by the effervescence, the pops of tiny bubbles sweeping away flavors. But it’s pleasant and drinkable and once I give the beer time for the head to settle out (five minutes, tops!), there’s even a smidgen of a hop bite at the end.

So what’s causing this?

Well, in January I was a steward for the Oregon Beer Awards, where a bunch of experts tried over 900 beers (we poured over 3,000 samples on Saturday alone, I was told), and at the end of Saturday the organizers said to the serving staff: “None of this beer can stay here. Take it all home!”

I walked out of there with three cases of hastily assembled beer from all over Oregon.

Drinking three cases of beer takes time. Even for me. The consequence of doing so, however, meant that all of this beer spent a few weeks longer in the bottle than it normally would and that, I believe, lead to the carbonation levels.

The proof will be in my next couple batches of beer, though. If those are also overcarbonated but taste fine then the hypothesis is supported. If not, well then maybe I just got lucky with this batch.

Brew date: 12/15/16

Steeping Malts
3 lb 2 Row
2 lb Metolius
2.5 lb Golden Promise

Fermentables:5 lb EXLME

1 oz Sorachi Ace@ 60
.5 oz Medusa@ 60
.5 oz Sorachi Ace @60
.5 oz Medusa & Sorachi Ace @5

Yeast: Imperial- Barbarian, 3rd use

OG: 1.08

FG: 1.019

Additions: 1/2 tsp Gypsum added to boil
Pinch of Irish Moss @flameout

Secondary 12/30/16: 1 oz Medusa in secondary

Bottled 1/2/17

ABV: 8.3%

Respite 28/Second Pint CORA

33264539002_e850b395aa_cWe’ll kick this off with Base Camp’s NW Amber. This is unfortunately named, because as an experienced beer drinker in the NW, when I see the initials NW incorporated in any beer’s name, I presume that it is hopped, moreso than the style would normally allow.

You can blame the IPA phenomenon on this, of course, and you would be correct. Nevertheless, if you are in the heart of hoppy beer country, you’d damn well ought to know what it means when you add NW to a name.

Now that this nomenclature complaint h as been filed, I can tell you that this beer lacks much in the nose but has a nice run of malt flavor, sliding to the roasted side of caramel. It doesn’t feel heavy though; lots of effervescence pops along the tip of my tongue and brushes the beer away, preparing for the next pull from the glass.

I am also noticing a very tiny stripe of lemon in that finish. Perhaps this is the hop influence that the NW is meant to indicate? It’s pleasant so far, though.

As the beer gets a little warmer, a banana flavor rears its head from under it all. This…is a plus and a minus. The mouthfeel gets smoother, softer, like a banana, but the flavor gets…also like a banana and no, that is not what we want. So I suppose I recommend the first third of this pint and not the last two-thirds.

A friend of mine, inspired by National Women’s Day, started a small fundraiser for a local non-profit. The goal isn’t too high, $500, but she started the way most of us do when it comes to tasks we can’t do on our own; she asked people to help her.

There is a lot of power in an ask. Marketers have been trying for centuries to perfect the ask in such a way that people will have an autoresponse and just do their bidding.

Humans are tricky though. We tend to not want to just do someone’s bidding. Resent and spite pop up frequently when any kind of servitude is involved. That isn’t to say we can’t be manipulated by con men -a great deal of people clearly have been- but the thing about a con is that eventually, you either have to produce the goods or disappear.

An ask, though. That’s got a different kind of power and I’m going to extend the hypothesis that its power comes from truth. An ask is genuine. We’ve all been in a position where we could use some kind of help and I’d bet that many of us have been in a position where there wasn’t anyone to help us, or perhaps we were compelled to ask a stranger because there wasn’t anyone else.

Asking strangers for things is scary, to me. I don’t like doing it. But I do like to help.

So I am. Because someone is asking me to.

Second pint goes to CORA.