The 3% Solution

35619000633_b098156866_cThis swipe at a brown ale was a little different and I’ll explain why after I talk about the beer.

It’s got a chocolate nose, with an undercurrent of coffee. The coffee hit is not strong, juuust enough to keep the 3% Solution from being too sweet. A little bit of an espresso bean thing happening.

The beer is pretty light as well and while it is once again too dark visually, there is a nice fluffy head on it.

At the finish, the 3% Solution is just a wee bit sharp on the coffee note near the end. It lingers over the effervescence and makes the beer a bit more acrid than the sweeter flavors can support.

However, for a new experiment I’m going to consider this a mild success. Perfect? No. But good? Yes.

Ah! The experiment part: I made this beer without using any malt extract at all. Partly to see what would happen, partly because it was recommended by a brewer friend who has way more experience.

What happened was: I got a beer that had really, really low ABV, because my equipment isn’t efficient enough to really pull as much of the sugars from the grain as it could be. The resulting beer was good enough, though, that I’d give it another go.

Brew Date: 5/13/17

5 lb Two row
1 lb chocolate
.5 lb biscuit, .5 C120
2 lb red wheat

1 oz Cascade @ 60
1 oz Palisade @ 15
1/2 tsp Irish moss @5

Yeast: Imperial House

OG: 1.035

FG: 1.009

ABV: 3.5%

Bottled 6/4

Respite 51\New Avenues for Youth

36700305942_9387ff7bd2_zI was going to go to Bailey’s tonight but before I could go I was invited to Proper Pints’ grand opening. I joined a couple I know from the OBC and we shared a few drinks. It was an out-of-the-blue surprise and I’m glad they saved me a seat.

I got the Firestone Walker Helldorado ale, while at Proper Pints. There wasn’t a description so I didn’t know what to expect but a pal drinking with me described it as a barrel aged triple IPA.

Here is what I know: this has whiskey and brown sugar flavors but is a lot lighter than I would expect it to be. Both on the palate-it’s a lighter feel on the tongue-and from a flavor perspective: it doesn’t linger. The Helldorado is also pretty damn good.

Sometimes, I forget how solitary this work is. Writing is the kind of thing that is done alone, editing is done alone, photo work (such as I do it) alone. Yet drinking alone is…well, it’s acceptable sometimes but it isn’t the norm. It isn’t what we do. We eat together, we drink together as a way of fostering connections between people. Even when I am out drinking I am out with people.

So, I’m glad to be reminded that there are people to connect with. Maybe it means I have to set aside my work in order to prioritize that connection-and that is what I should do, if I can-but we don’t exist in a vacuum. I don’t just write for or about me. I write for and about others. It’s more important than ever to remember this, in the current environment.

Today’s second pint goes to New Avenues for Youth. Link to explain who they are, since they’re local to Portland.

Re-Evaluating the NEIPA

I’m not the biggest fan of the NE IPA style, which I had wrongly thought of as just being a hazy version of the grapefruit IPAs I used to get. Thinking of it that way made it easy to dismiss a style that was, I felt, both boring in its mining of flavors I was burnt out on, and visually unappealing due to ‘laziness’.

Turns out, there’s a lot more to it, and this story on Old Nation Brewing demonstrates. They were opposed to the style too and now they’re making it (and money) hand over fist. All in all, pretty cool and a good reminder for myself that professionals make it look easy and only a fool thinks it’s as simple as they make it look.

And sometimes, I’m the fool.

Common Ales: Stone Ruin Ten

35905566003_b8bc35a8fb_cThe label says it was made with orange peel and vanilla bean and those flavors come in through the scent of the beer. Luckily, that’s what the beer tastes like, too. That kind of consistency often makes for a solid ale.

The front end of the beer has a candy orange sweetness, almost like sherbet, but the finish of the Ruin Ten is a harsh contrast to the rest of the beer and that’s where it falls down.

This is a bit problematic. The bitterness is so sharp after the sweetness of the beer that it’s unpleasant to drink. I wish it wasn’t so severe but there it is and I have reservations about recommending it.

Respite 50\Second Pint LAH

35905566883_1d726ac697_cI had the Laurelwood Cookie Monster ale back at Bailey’s 10th anniversary event. The beer describes itself as an English strong ale with oats, cacao nibs, sea salt and vanilla, barrel aged in bourbon barrels. What I said about the beer-which comes in at a hefty 9.4%-was that it tastes like raw chocolate chip cookie dough.

Sipping on one now, I can see that my assessment was entirely correct. There’s a tiny blanket of effervescence here, which might be the only thing keeping the Cookie Monster from being too sweet, followed by a stamp of bourbon but all in all, I still like it. If alcoholic raw cookie dough appeals to you, I think you’ll probably like it, too.

Yeah, this week I went for something I knew I was going to like. I don’t know about you but I feel worn down by the events of the week and I live about as far away from Charlottesville as you can.

But when someone tries to tell you “Nazis are the same as these people who don’t like Nazis”, well…I think it’s a good time to dig in and start saying very loudly that they aren’t, and maybe those people need to be exposed, shunned, shamed and punished so they quit infecting our body politic.

Every conversation has gone like that-or like this-lately. Which is hard on the psyche-and again, I’m not even near the epicenter of this latest disturbance. I just feel the shockwaves.

All the more reason, though, to treat yourself. Not to retreat entirely to comforting, familiar things but sometimes? Yeah, it’s a good thing to just enjoy a beer and take yourself off the wall.

An opportunity to recharge our sense of compassion and our sense of humor, so that we do not become the vindictive, bitter, callous people who currently have the Matrix of Leadership.

But having the Matrix and being the leader are two very, very different things and rarely has this ever been clearer in my life than now.

Today’s second pint goes towards Life After Hate.


I haven’t had the unfortunate circumstance of being told that “You can’t do this anymore, because of your health.”

But one guy was told he couldn’t have beer anymore for health reasons. So he decided he wasn’t having that and has made his own non-alcoholic ales. Pretty cool!

It calls to mind how ingrained drinking is to the social culture. It isn’t everything, I know, but people who don’t want to or can’t drink should always we welcome to be social with us and the more options that are available for everyone, the better.

Recreating History

I like this article, especially for this quote:

“It can be dull in a lot of ways, but then you have those moments of insight and discovery that make it all worthwhile. ”

I like that statement because it both reminds me that doing the work can often feel like drudgery, but if I can keep a lively mind during it, there will be opportunities to discover and make things better.