Common Ales: Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA

34633901590_56190a7f60_cFirestone Walker is a bit higher end but they haev a good rep and they can be found almost anywhere now. I actually like most of their stuff. However as you’ll see, I wasn’t as enamored with their Union Jack IPA.

Sticky limes is what I get from the nose. Somewhere warm, tropical and with a solid citrus fragrance comes to mind.

The middle isn’t very strong. I suppose…I mean, yes, it’s a pale ale but when the liquid gives way to that strong lime bitterness right away, I feel like I’m missing something. Sure, it works but can’t I get something more?

It wouldn’t take much. A little malt in there and I’d get something to lead me into the bitterness. As it stands, the imbalance in this beer just isn’t working for me.



The complete genome for barley has been sequenced! This could have some very cool impacts on “cereal grains” at large which, of course, means some more interesting beer.

The article has more; check it out.

Also, I just want to let readers know that I’ll be out of town for the next few days, so there won’t be a Friday or Monday post. Everything should resume Wednesday and, if all goes well, I should have some cool beers from California to talk about soon after!

Respite 38/Second Pint CPJ

I picked up Widmer’s Rainy Days & Mondays IPA with flaked oats. I wanted to give it a go, because I always like it when established breweries like Widmer, Bridgeport, Sierra Nevada, or Red Hook, etc., provide me with a beer that even as a beer geek, I can stand by.

While this entry into the NE IPA style (cloudy visuals, grapefruit-tilted flavors) has good first impressions-nose softly citrus, a more pillowy mouthfeel due to the oats with nothing overwhelming.

However, 1/4th of the way down, the bitterness of the finish lingers and lingers and lingers without any pushback from the front. The faint mouthful of pineapple I can taste just isn’t enough to balance it out. That’s a bummer.

I’ve been watching Sense8 season 2 and enjoying it. What I’ve noticed most about this season is that when there are moments during the story where characters who are supposed to act lovingly towards other characters, they do it. It can be parents to children, lovers to lovers, family, friends, and ranges in between but again: If the story has set these people up to be loving towards each other, they are. They stand up for each other, they look out for one another, and they tell them that they love them.

In the wake of Chris Cornell‘s death, this seems especially relevant.

I really liked Soundgarden. One of my closest friends introduced me to them when I was a teenager; it was a small space of sonic commonality and it bloomed into a friendship that continues to this day. They were loud, they were weird and they were seemingly immune to the forces that ravaged the Seattle music scene. I considered them to be the Led Zeppelin to Pantera’s Black Sabbath of the 90’s metal scene; they helped expand people’s notions of what heavy music could include and sound like.

Until they broke up. They day I found out I remember exclaiming “What the fuck?” loudly and in public, in a way that I would’ve been embarrassed by if I hadn’t been so shocked. I was sitting at the Bagdad theater, with the person who introduced me to the band. Fifteen plus years later, Soundgarden got back together. Such is life, right? People you love and who love you remain in orbit, somehow.

Whether Cornell died by suicide or because of a medication interaction (a fact that is still unknown as far as I know) doesn’t really matter to me, because the important part-the part where people who should love you act lovingly towards you and you towards them-is the lesson I want to take away from that.

Because people are weird, sometimes really weird. They are frequently difficult but more relevantly, people can just seem so different from you. There is a very loud voice currently supported in America that wants to insist that anything that is different from you shouldn’t be cared for, is not worth the connection.

Yet, when I saw an African American man sing Black Hole Sun at karaoke the night Chris Cornell died, people of all sorts stood, sang, and raised their glasses in support of the singer, in memory of the lost, I couldn’t help but think that that loud voice is wrong. That the supports against¬†the different are misguided, to say it kindly.

Cornell’s art helped bridge a connection between people-and that connection doesn’t exist if we are different. It only exists in the spaces we are the same.

Which I think is worth keeping in mind as we face something that feels overwhelming and decisive.

Today’s second pint goes to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

An IBU Overview

I really appreciated this in depth look at what IBUs mean and are used for in the beer world. It’s informative and will help me have better discussions further on about what IBU means and does for beer.

It also helps guard me against the use of IBUs as a sales tactic (if you didn’t read the article I’ll summarize: it’s bullshit) and any knowledge that allows me to be less prey to the forces of marketers is good.

Common Ales: Bridgeport Cream Ale

33704038863_b334c59095_cDid you ever feel like you were too hip for lagers, because who drinks dad’s beer anymore, but really miss the lighter, refreshing qualities that a lager can have. Not to mention the ability to pound a few of them after mowing the lawn, because fuck it?

Well do I have a beer for you.

The name Cream Ale is, in my mind, a misnomer. I don’t even have the slightest idea how this beer is called that. It even has that funky nose quality that lagers tend to do.

That’s a me problem. Don’t let it be a you problem. Cream ales are a style and it’s my fault for thinking they should be creamy, not the beer’s fault for adhering to style.

This offering from Bridgeport is pretty drinkable and it has a definite bite on the end to let you know that you aren’t just drinking water. Definitely recommended as the days get warmer. Although in Portland, I’m not sure when that will be…

Respite 37/Second Pint MJ

Frun’s Kolsch is a German brewery’s take on the Kolsch style and yeah, it’s not bad but the lager/funk note is emphasized over the bready quality that I like in Old Town’s vision of this style. Essentially; t34644602306_bd74931611_chis reminds me so much of a lager that I’m just not sure why I wouldn’t pick a lager?

The other thing that’s interesting is that this beer doesn’t have a title. It’s just; Brewery: Style. I feel like I’ve seen this before in other German breweries but I’m probably just imagining that.

Still, I like having titles, even if I’m bad at coming up with them.

A group next to me is talking about the forthcoming IT movie and the old TV show and the ending, about how the monster in the finale wasn’t as scary as it could have been (the TV show) or was just weird (book) and they seem to be forgetting exactly what IT was about:

IT was about your personal fear. IT always, always, personified what was scariest to you-to the individual character who had to face IT.

Which is why every character in the book had personal challenges-each one had a specific fear to overcome, something detailed to them and only them. Each of them overcame that fear once…but for some, doing it again was too much.

Why is that what I remember-but not what they remember?

Of course the final boss was nothing, almost silly, once they got there. Hell, the goddamn book ends with a benevolent turtle god giving advice!

Because if we are able to isolate those fears, talk about them, rally some-even one- person to help and see them for what they are? 99% of them aren’t so bad.

They’re blown up, like a balloon with too much helium. And when that deflation happens, it’s a useful way to help us tell the difference between fears of being isolated, or rejected, or shunned, from the legitimate fears-ones we share and agree on- of a pernicious streak of authoritarian white dudes distorting everything America’s ideals stand for.

Just sayin’.

Today’s second pint is going towards Mother Jones, for their work investigating Donald Trump.¬†

The Impact of Dry Hopping

I, like most other homebrewers, have been told that to make a good IPA and sometimes even a good pale ale, dry hopping is a necessary step because it offers the nose that the style is looking for. However, doing so just adds aroma, not bittering qualities so we didn’t have to worry about making the beer less palatable on the back end.

Or so we were told.

But Jeff Alworth differs on this and tells us why here. There’s science and everything!

Now, the impact of dry hopping in Jeff’s article applies a little more to commercial breweries but clearly has ramifications for homebrewers who are throwing as many hops as the wort can take. It also means that there’s a space for research into how dry hopping impacts a beer and what flavors may be produced that might be considered undesirable or even beneficial.

Sure, it leaves me with more questions than answers but at least these things are interesting!

On Monopolies

While I have a backlog of stuff to post, this is coming to the forefront because of the timely nature of things. Beer things, not the scary other things happening.

When craft brewery Wicked Weed sold to ABInbev it set off a wave of criticism in the industry.

Haven’t heard of WW? Me neither-but they were apparently beloved in their community and made some pretty good beer.

This article really digs into the meat of what’s going on and why ABInbev is buying these brands and I thought that it would be pretty informative to bring to my readers, too.

Then Lagunitas sold out to Heineken not even a week later. Heineken is the second largest brewing conglomerate in the world.

I’m reading that between Heineken and ABInbev, that’s 40% of the market. Globally. 4 of every 10 beers sold in the world goes to them.

As a result, the more craft breweries that sell out-and that is what it is-the graver my concerns about being able to get good beer at a fair price become. Especially in light of stories like this, about an illegal inducement campaign.

Respite 36/Second Pint LTT

33702900343_ad8c2474a4_kI saw Patton Oswalt perform last week and it was a pretty weighty show. Part of that was because, as a savvy, topical comic, he spent the first half of his show talking about the state of the nation…and the state of the nation is pretty scary.

The second half was spent telling us about how he has been coping with his new status as a widower and single parent.

After that, I deserve a beer.

Sixpoint‘s Puff is an imperial IPA and I’d call it a definite success from them. Leans into the citrus flavors but doesn’t go too far, sweet in the middle but not cloying, the finish is bitter but not scouring.

Well done, fellows. I like this. I recommend it after seeing weighty comedy.

To his credit, Mr. Oswalt managed to make the heartbreaking, funny and the scary, silly. This was despite, in my eyes, still being in a very raw place. He was savagely funny where he could be, deft of phrase where necessary and consistently encouraged us to join him on this trip, instead of standing defiant.

Nevertheless, I felt wrung out when it was over. Certainly, some of that was due to laughing for ninety minutes-that kind of exertion will do it to anyone-but it was rarely the joyous kind of laughter, the celebratory kind.

It hurt and the audience, under Mr Oswalt’s direction, decided that laughter was better than sobbing.

To tell the truth, I’m not sure that I have anything else to say after that. People are scared. I am scared. Every day, it seems like there is another reason to be afraid. Afraid for the health of ones we love our ourselves. Afraid for the legal status of fellow citizens. Afraid of the pernicious, downright evil streak of cruelty that is revealed what feels like every day amongst the political leadership.

And laughing is better than sobbing.

Today’s second pint goes to the Live Through This project.

Full disclosure: I know the person in charge of LTT. She’s awesome.


33594144870_573bed0ebf_cInitially, this beer was meant to be brewed with extra-light malt extract, because I was shooting for a pale. When I got to the store though, they were all out and so my response was “Eh, screw it. Light malt extract is fine.”

Except it wasn’t quite, because I just continued with my ordinary recipe as though nothing had changed. That was an error on my part.

The hop nose isn’t too intense and with it is a strong undercurrent of malt. There’s a bit of yeast there too, almost like I have walked into a brewery, with a touch of bready warmth, as though the beer is still going.

The head on this beer is pretty thick and steady, too…which isn’t nearly as sexual as it might sound. Yes, I’ve probably ruined everything now. It’s OK.

Still, the steady foam top gives this beer a nice visual, like frosting on a cake.

The beer itself, I didn’t know what to do with. The malt qualities just run all over this beer, until the last touch of hop bitterness bushes it aside. That bitterness is juuust strong enough to endure a bit after the effervescence clears my palate. The finish has this interesting sparkle-bitterness happening but it wasn’t something I meant to create.

And I didn’t know what to do about that.

Sometimes, though, life steps in and throws a line, right? Or, I just buy a lot of different kinds of beer when I can.

Either way, it was about this time that I had a Deschutes India Red Ale and suddenly, my questions about flavor profile and style were solved! I had inadvertently made a an IRA instead and while it wasn’t identical, the Adaptable was still pretty close.

So I’ll take it as a happy accident and call it good.

Brew date: 1/11/17

Steeping grains
5 lbs Munich
2 lb Sacchra
1 lb Carapils

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

1 oz Simco, .5 oz Galaxy @60
.5 Simco @ 30
.5 Simco .5 Galaxy @5

Yeast: Imperial Independence

Secondary on 2/3, added 1oz Simcoe to beer

OG: 1.092

FG: 1.03

Bottled 1.22.17

ABV: 8.4%