So the brown ale trials have not been going perfectly. Good beer, just not quite the right look, maybe a little too flavor dense. Which means it’s time to drink some brown ale made by professionals and see exactly where my benchmarks are. I should’ve started this way buuuuut what can I say? I just figured I could step into the ring and work it out.

Which hasn’t produced terrible results! However, a smart person knows when to get more data. Which means it’s time to drink the first professionally made brown ale I can find: Cascade Lake’s 20 Inch Brown ale.

This brown ale provides a roast note in the nose. Nothing severe but certainly enough to distinguish the ale from a lager, IPA, or even some reds.

34513426515_1c580f11c1_cAs for the drinking qualities, the lightness is what really stands out; yes, there’s a bit of chocolate, a flavor that ordinarily would be associated with richness and density but here it’s just enough to provide something more to a beer that doesn’t have a high ABV, doesn’t have a bunch of hops, doesn’t even have a high roast quality.

As the 20 Inch finishes out there is a creamy feel to it, softening everything out. Again, this is a nice way to finish this beer that isn’t pushing hops, yeast or malt. It’s pleasant, drinkable and with just enough flavor going on that you won’t feel like you’re drinking anything thin.

That’s the real trick to brown ales: you get just enough flavor support to enjoy the beer, but not so much that you’re overwhelmed by it.

Also, this makes me look forward to continuing to brew this style. If I can nail this down, that will be pretty cool.

Respite 42/Second Pint-First Book

35420098961_b0c4e40beb_kSt Archer‘s double IPA is my selection for tonight. Let’s get into that before we do anything else because today’s post is heavier than usual.

The nose is a little skunked and the bitterness on the finish is very, very unusual. It isn’t dirty and it’s very potent, but it has a stale quality, as though they attempted to cover up the old hops with an extra alcoholic beverage. The midrange has an orange gummi drop quality but that isn’t the kind of thing that really ties it all together. As the beverage warms up, a distinct flavor of onion makes itself known. I am not very impressed and I’m wondering if something happened to this beer in transit, like it was exposed to high temps in a warehouse, because it isn’t holding up very well.

Last week, I, with many other Americans watched a man get murdered by the police. A murder that was approved of by a jury.

There really isn’t anything meaningful I can add to that.

It is just another horrific thing on top of a year of horrors, cruelty, and greed, and it makes me wonder; how long do the powers that be think that poor and persecuted citizens can be repressed like this? How long can ordinary people look at others and believe: you deserve punishment because you exist?

What happens when we experience the event that breaks the country’s spirit?  What does that rage look like?

Because we know that the injustice is flowing from the top down. And as Richard Pryor said, “If you go down there looking for justice, that’s what you’ll find…just us.”

Which, in my mind, means one of the most frightening things I can imagine: we will turn on each other. What other option will people take, when one group is OK with the outright murder of people who aren’t like them?

I have to say; if I have a hope, it is that Americans will find a way through this. If I have a goal this year -hell, every year- it is to try and encourage people to help each other so that we can get through this before we look upon our fellow citizens as the “other” and begin to behave accordingly.

Today’s second pint is for First Book, giving books to kids.

The Beer ATM

A friend sent me this article and I had three immediate reactions to it, and then a fourth a bit later.

  1. They made a self-serve! That’s pretty cool.
  2. Wait. That’s a little dangerous.
  3. Oh. They have figured out how to charge you for a taste. The greedy bastards.

It’s that third point that stuck in my throat. And then it hit me:

4. This process has been casino’d.

That is to say; you hand over your “unlimited card of money” and press a pretty button over and over again to have “fun” dispensed to you.

And the more I think about that, the more I hate it.

Bay Area 2017 (pt 2)

Part 2 of the Bay Area reviews!

Fieldwork- Chocolate milk: this is a milk brown ale and….whoa.It tastes like it should have a lot more weight-my friend Kate (who is playing tour guide for me today) says “heavier and a little creamy and it’s not” which is a good assessment. But it’s also damn good-which we also agree on. Unexpected yet tasty.

I a35167038146_cb750d861e_clso got the Power Glove double IPA which is equally wonderful, one that Kate (who does not like IPAs) says is “almost drinkable”. For me it’s super drinkable and has a really pleasant orange flavor, which is a welcome change. The bitterness gets a little sharper as the beer warms up but nothing undesirable.

Faction (reviewed again because I went to their brewery): Moon Germs pale-made with oats, this pale has that kind of roundness that you get in the mouth from that addition. But after that, it seems like a pale. The hop finish is a little intense, however it’s not enough for me to suggest that the beer shouldn’t be drank.

Headlands: Wolfback Ridge IPA-good nose with a pine sway but the beer itself wants to put the malt forward. I’m not complaining, as there is a subtle bitterness that appears on the finish. That bitterness seems to get a little stronger as I go, keeping things in the IPA realm.

Barebottle: Galaxy Dust IPA. Ah, the NE strain of IPAs has indeed made it to the Bay array. But this isn’t bad! The grapefruit isn’t too pronounced, the bitterness isn’t too strong. It’s almost like drinking a less abrasive, more alcoholic Sprite, actually. I’m kinda down with this.

35167038886_d0057a14d2_cMagnolia Brewing: Kalifornia Kolsch-The nose has me wanting to like it already: with that yeasty, dough rising scent. And huzza! It pays off; the mouthfeel is just rich enough to keep the beer from feeling watery, with a soft, grainy flavor and a very crisp finish. Really solid ale and especially good for summer.

Alvarado Street: Hive Mind double IPA. The nose isn’t very prominent, so I’m not sure what I’ve got here. Visually, it’s cloudy like a NE IPA, but this is a sweeter beer. As it warms, there’s a little bit of a skunky note that comes out, along with a little more bitterness. Which is good, because that prevents the beer from becoming cloying. Solid and I’d try another.

Respite 41/Second Pint TAC

New York, I love you, but you’re wearing me out.”-LCD Soundsystem.

America is tiring, these days: Exhausting, I think; a Wayfinder’s Doomtown IPA in front of me.

35367201936_356d412c17_kThe Doomtown isn’t as scary as the name suggests. The nose isn’t very potent-faint, dried orange peel is what I’m collecting. Little touch of grassiness to it, too. The midrange steps up the orange flavor without bringing much sweetness, so when the bitterness rides into town, it overruns the rest of the beer. That bitterness lingers a bit too long as well, making for a beer that, while not flawed, doesn’t want to encourage me to get a second.

America is exhausting because we hired people to do a job and instead we are getting grifted.

Yes, I am aware that a level of grift has been going on for my entire lifetime. Sometimes, minimal grift is acceptable in order to get things done but this is a whole new level.

With a President who is actively making money off of the office coupled with a Representative set that is actively ignoring us, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve achieved the highest possible grift levels available.

So we chant and march and go to meetings and tell people who are supposed to listen to us that shit ain’t right but more and more, deaf ears are turned to us. When you hear numbers that suggest that 24 million people, minimum, will end up without heath insurance, and thus health care and the people insisting ‘wait, wait, this isn’t OK’ are being told to hold for the next available operator (wait time 2 years)…

Then the next day, we wake up to find out how we are being ignored and/or screwed over anew.

Well, that is tiring.

Is it tiring to have me repeat myself to the audience? Is it tiring to hear the cliche that ‘they just don’t care about us’? Imagine how I feel writing it out. I’d rather be talking more about beer, honestly.

Because writing it out doesn’t give me hope. Doesn’t make me inspired. It’s an effort to stay informed AND compassionate. I seem to recall being happier when I just had to be one or the other. I could afford to pick and choose when I would be one or the other.

That luxury is clearly gone from me now. Other people never have had that luxury, so I’m trying to keep some perspective.

But damnit. America, I love you, but you are wearing me out.

The second pint goes to the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Bay Area 2017 (pt 1)

I was fortunate enough to visit the Bay Area recently, so I recruited some friends for advice and in some cases as a tour guide, while trying as many beers as I could. Here are those notes:

35042163792_31a99227be_cDrake‘s IPA: nice pine nose-oh how I’ve missed that. The pine finish in the bittering qualities is also present, and it’s definitely prominent. The midrange isn’t very supportive at first, but as the beer is drank, a smidgen of malt starts to show up.

While I can’t say that this is balanced, I can say that for an IPA it’s pretty solid and definitely is good for the hop head audience.

Track Seven: Left Eye Right Eye DIPA: another IPA with the dank pine nose. I suppose the grapefruit craze hasn’t made it to San Francisco/Oakland? This is a pretty solid beer too; there’s a very nice malt quality in the middle to keep up with the Bitterness Jones’s. I’d have another.

Faction A-Town pale: ok so this makes it official-the grapefruit IPA craze has not made it south. THANK YOU GOD. A marijuana skunky nose takes the stage but it isn’t pungent and the beer finishes like a regular ol’ pale, though with a slightly sharper plink on the bitterness. Not sure if I can recommend this; it isn’t bad, but the bitterness is sharp enough to overwhelm the rest of the beer.

35042165602_9419ef5705_cOld Kan Standard Pub Ale-this is described to me as a British pale and that’s a pretty solid turn of phrase. There’s a malt note to keep the beer a beer instead of colored water, and just a enough bitterness to keep it real. Otherwise, it’s an easy drinking beer-the kind that you want to serve a bunch of in a pub.

The Woods specialized in non-hopped beers.  A friend brought me there and we got taster trays of what they had on offer which you can get an impression of here: Some were more successful than others and I was too busy conversing to really take notes. What I want to point out is that this is the kind of place that any beer enthusiast should check out, because they’re creating stuff I don’t see very often at all.

Page 184

34343701006_ea1c892ce7_kContinuing the brown ale series, we have Page 184. This has a chocolate malt nose and a bitter chocolate finish. Not like cocoa powder, more like very dark chocolate, but pretty close to the former.

It’s still quite drinkable, though as I managed to buffer those bitter chocolate moments with a sweet taste in the middle. It’s pretty drinkable and not hard on the palate on any level, so I can have it with lots of different foods; even, I think, a good salad with blue cheese crumbles in it would work well.

It’s a good late spring mid-autumn beer I think. Sure, it’s dark but it’s not too heavy so that if the weather is warm, you don’t feel like you’re overdoing it. But if it’s a little nippy out, well this will still suit you just fine.

Is it what I meant it to be though?

No. Just look at it: is that a brown ale? It is not. It is a Porter. A damn fine Porter in my opinion, but still a Porter.

Now, I don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, here. A tasty beer is the goal at the end of the day.

However, I am trying to do something specific and that means holding myself up to a slightly higher standard. So, this beer but lighter might work just fine but as it is? Back to take another swing at it.

Brew date: 2/19/17

Steeping grains
4 lb Maris Otter
.75 lb Carapils
.5 lb C120
.25 lb Carafa 1 and 3
1 lb Chocolate Malt

4 lb Extra LME

Extra: 1/4 tsp Calcium chloride

.5 oz Pearle .5 oz US FUggles @60
.5 oz Pearle .5 oz US FUggles @5

Yeast: Imperial’s Independence (2nd use)

I forgot to get the OG. Sigh.

FG: 1.018-but without the original gravity, I can’t calculate the ABV.

Bottled 3/12

Respite 40\Second Pint The Guardian

35097521372_daa3507576_cRiverbend: Life’s a Peach, Then You Die. IPA with peaches, lactose and vanilla.

The nose has a bit of grassiness to it, the peach flavors are providing a little tartness, the vanilla is subtle, like a line of sand at the beach. You have to look for it. The finishing bitterness takes a stand but isn’t overwhelming by any means. That’s just a tasty beer. Try it if you have the opportunity.

Living in America is weird right now, for anyone paying attention. This is because the country is, for all intents and purposes, ungovernable.

I can’t think of a situation that comes close. While I’m not an avid student of history, I am not ignorant of it and I just can’t come up with anything like it in American history to this point.

The cities are in outright refusal to deal with federal directives-think ICE or the Paris Accord. The Executive Branch is manned by liars of a new level, their allegiance to the untruth matched only by their backstabbing ineptitude. The Legislative Branch is getting an earful from the citizens like never before, yet is behaving with all the bravery of a mouse, all the spine of an octopus and all the heart of a mosquito. The press, allegedly the fourth branch of government is mummified, arising to do journalism stiffly, moaning, not having really done their job for twenty five years. We’re hoping that they get the blood pumping through their atrophied muscles soon because we need them to be the hounds of hell again.

What are we to do in the face of such outrageous cowardice and abuses of power? How do you bring enlightenment to a situation where their eyes are focused so doggedly on 1950 instead of 2050? There isn’t a prescription for that myopia.

More importantly, I think we should ask this question: how do we preserve what is best about America, about the R&D lab that we represent, while moving our arc further towards justice?

Because this situation is untenable. Everyone who is paying attention has to know it. This is very much about who we want to be as a country: do we want to continue pushing towards a culture that (slowly, oh so slowly) elevates the weakest amongst us, or not?

And I don’t have an answer except for this:

Stark: How were you guys planning on defeating that?

Rogers: Together.

Stark: We’ll lose.

Rogers: Then we’ll do that together, too.

Today’s second pint goes The Guardian for the journalism.

Cheers To Belgian Beers 2017

With the Belgian beer festival last weekend, I took it upon myself to go down and see what was on offer. A friend came with and helped with some feedback on the beers, which is always welcome.

Here are the lightly edited notes:

Wolf Tree: The Belgian Dip-while I like the nose, which resembles a banana sundae, heavy on the chocolate sauce and vanilla scents buuuut, man do I not like this finish. It’s sour if you can believe that. And sour and banana, as my friend suggests, do not go well together.

35082392546_2195cf5e9b_cSolera: Soundgarden Gnome-a sour hibiscus ale that they skipped using hops on, this one has an interesting nose, bringing up the a sour flower. A very drinkable sour, too! Not too tart, and it finishes really fast-the flavors don’t linger. Definitely something I’m liking, even though as a sour, I’m glad it’s in small doses.

Bent Shovel: Summer Delight-the nose is like corn and old veggies. The flavor is overwhelmingly vegetal too. Sorry, this one is a miss.

Lompoc: The Laughing Gnome-light Belgian style. The nose has a tropical fruit quality, a bit like melon. This drinks like a pale though, a pub style beer that you could have a couple of and still feel coherent. I like this and I think I could have more.

35082393256_9326cc3119_cOregon City Brewing: Floodwater Belgian IPA-has a great nose of grass and a pleasant biscuit taste. It’s not super bitter either, which means that I can recommend it to non-IPA people, at least as a taster.

McMenamin’s Beware the Kludde Belgian strong dark-boy, the nose is great on this one. The sweetness of dried cherries is all over it. However, the malts skew very roasted and despite being an 8.8% beer, it just doesn’t feel like there’s any sweetness to support our the roast, nor any callback to the nose. It’s SO close, but in the end I can’t get behind it.

Horn Brewery: Walvis Bruin-Belgian style brown. There’s a meaty nose on it, like bacon, which is pretty neat. It’s really light though, and even though there is a hint of that smokey quality from the nose, it stays as a beer that you can drink and is refreshing.

35082393866_40f3055561_cThunder Island: Gnome de Plum Belgian dark. The nose has a massive hit of bubblegum, which is weird but not offputting. There’s a caramel candy flavor, with a bit of bubble gum but it has a definite sour note on the finish. I can’t say that I would recommend it-there’s a lot going on and the bubblegum might turn people off. But for me, this is an interesting  and compelling drink.

Little Beast: Dutchy-Fruited Belgian dark. This beer describes itself as an ale with cherries and cacao nibs and by golly, that is what it is. I don’t get much from the nose, but the cherry and Cocoa flavors combine for a really dry beer that I think would be excellent for someone. It just isn’t quite my jam. But it’s a solid beer!

Common Ales: Golden Road-Ride On IPA

33702899493_fc1aa22576_cHere’s what I knew before I bought this beer: I don’t know them, and I should try this beer!

Here’s what I found out shortly after buying the six pack: they are owned by InBevAB.

I hate unknowingly giving evil my money. I mean, I know that sometimes I’m going to do that, especially with this series. There’s just no way to avoid it. But I don’t like feeling duped.

It doesn’t really matter though. The Ride On IPA Hop nose is faint, but even and lemony. This is not a bad stretch for the beer itself; almost…like lemon detergent. Drinkable detergent.

The bitterness on the finish isn’t too strong-although it becomes a little more potent as the beer goes down-and all in all what I have here is a pretty inoffensive, fairly drinkable thing.

Which is the best I can say about it; ‘you can drink this’.