Other Spoils from Spokane

I didn’t just drink cider in Spokane: I also got to check out some Washington ales that I don’t have access to in Portland. Let’s get to the notes!

Harmon‘s Pt Defiance IPA: It tastes like burnt caramel. Wow. I have a mouthful of regret and bitterness. It’s both sickly sweet and unbearable. If you ever needed a reason to not do this to yourself, take it.

37327031616_3ebd17d38c_cIron Horse‘s Life Behind Bars kolsch: bread dough nose; really yeasty and pungent, but in a pleasant way. It’s a little bit like sourdough and buttered popcorn. The flavors are also very much like raw bread, giving me something to chew on, absent a sour note. I think I may have found a beer that gives Old Town’s kolsch a little bit of a run! It doesn’t finish quite as cleanly but it is a damn fine beer.

Juice Box IPA from Tricksters Brewing Co. A Coeur d’Alene brewery! The bottle claims a NW IPA style-and the nose is certainly dank enough for it-but the clarity is all NEIPA. The flavors match the nose more than the visuals, thankfully. Yeah, it’s sweeter than your typical NW IPA, but a little malt helps the foresty-bitter characters smooth out in the long run. I like this beer: it’s got some interesting flavors happening but is still pretty drinkable.

36665807614_487ccd063c_cTenpin; Groove pineapple wheat. This really does have a strong pineapple flavor. However, it’s less like raw pineapple and more like it’s been roasted on a grill. I imagine that it’s because of the malt aspect, played up in a caramelized way. It’s a good beer but it’s definitely unusual and unexpected. But if caramelized pineapple sounds like your jam, you should absolutely have this.

Hale‘s Aftermath IPA-nose pushes some of that forest dank scent, wet needles, but doesn’t push it very hard. The flavors kick up a little roast in the middle which is unexpected, followed by a more traditional sweetness, and then the kind of bitterness I’d expect from a more piney IPA. No grapefruit tart or pithy bitter quality. It’s a pretty straightforward IPA but I can’t fault it for that. It’s tasty and solid.

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Cider in Spokane

I got to pick up a few beers in Washington when I was in Spokane last weekend and I’ll get to those reviews soon. However, I spent one evening at Liberty Ciderworks and thought it deserved it’s own little writeup. The caveat to my notes on this flight is that my knowledge of cider is minimal, so if my language tilts towards more familiar beer-related flavors, that’s why.

23502531418_c989fba7de_cIn the flight, I’ll be discussing the ciders from left to right in the picture.

The New World has a lovely snap to it, with a nice dry finish; has me wanting a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Spokane Scrumpy: not as dry and a little easier to drink. I could see this disappearing fast. As it gets a little warmer, a subtle buttery note comes up.

English Style III: this one is tarter, and isn’t quite my speed. But I can see it going with a warm scone and honey and I’m sure that this will be someone’s favorite. It actually got a little sweeter as it warmed up, which was neat!

Splintercat: this one has a citrus level of tartness, maybe close to grapefruit. Again, not quite my thing but pretty good. It has the least dry finish of the run so far and is something I’d like to pair with a nice piece of fudge.

Garratza: this has a funk to it, not unlike a Belgian ale, might be the most compulsively drinkable one for me. A tartness starts to come up as this warms, making for a really interesting, complex drink.

After I was all done, the bartender was also kind enough to give me a taster of the New World that had been dry hopped, which was a completely different drink, nicely hopped with a touch of grass to it and just a little bitter. This was followed up by a taster of the English Style that had been aged in whiskey barrels; the tartness has been eliminated and it’s now a warm-belly drink, something I can see going with tea cakes. Really awesome.

I say give them a go, if you see them-and I hear they’re trying to get into Portland’s stores, so that’s all the better!

Common Ales: Caldera Lawnmower Lager

36785920511_13f1f04d60_cAh, getting to the lagers just as summer ends….

The Lawnmower Lager has that nose, funk/sour that they have, but it isn’t strong. There are also whiffs of cut grass, too which isn’t a bad thing! As a matter of fact, I wish I got more lagers with a nose like this.

There’s a corn flavor to the malt; it’s not overwhelming but it is definitely covering up any two-row that might be in there. It even sweetens up the finish, where the bitterness might reside and the effervescence clears things out.

In other words; this is a lager. And it’s a pretty solid one, too. I’d prefer a less skunky nose, myself but this beer is still pretty quaffable and does what it’s supposed to.

Edit: This time I really am on the road this weekend, so there won’t be a new post up until Wednesday. I mean it this time!

Common Requiem 1\Second Pint Airway Science

The wind shifted and the city smells like a campfire again. Nothing exists without the smell of smoke and I wonder if this is what smokers live with all the time. Hell of a sense to cut off…

36908643290_66836ced53_cI’ve come to the Commons and ordered a Brotherly Love, a dark Belgian ale, bourbon barrel aged with cherries, to wash it all out of my throat. The nose has a tart cherry scent, coupled with a little Belgian funk. The bourbon flavors are invisible, with the cherries and dark malt engaged in a tug of war for dominance. The overall impression reminds me of plums, actually. It isn’t until the heat blooms near my belly that I notice how strong it is.

When it came out that a teenager from Vancouver had started the Eagle Creek fire, I had an online interaction that started with someone saying, “OF COURSE they were from the ‘Couve!”

And the immediate rejoinder to that was “Lousy Washington people stay out of my state.”

‘Hi, I’m from Washington,’ I said.

“That’s fine, just stay out of my state, lol.”

‘Ah, those ‘Murkia against Americans jokes, they never get old,’ I replied.

But my point was lost, as the follow up was, “Fuck the south. Am I doing it right?”

How the hell are we going to create a better world for people of color, women, the disenfranchised at large, if we can’t even extend grace to people who live in a city that is less than a 20 minute drive away?

And don’t tell me that ‘it’s just a joke, man’ because there are at least two elements to a joke like this: 1) It’s deft in its attempt to point out the foibles of humans (and there hasn’t been a deft comment that ended in ‘lol’ since the Internet) and 2) it’s funny.

The PNW is burning and people want to make sure that they can look down on someone else because of where they are from-content of character be damned. Maybe the priorities are out of whack.

If you live in this country, you’re one of us and it’s high goddamn time we started acting like we’re in this together because we’re going to get smashed if we don’t.

The Cassini spacecraft burned this week, too. The end of a nearly two decade mission to explore the outer rim of the solar system, specifically Saturn.

And we did that, too. Not just the US, but a joint venture between the US and Europe, including a module (named the Huygens) that landed on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, to send back data to us. Data that included the possibility of life, even way, way out there in the dark and cold.

When that mission was over, we instructed Cassini to hurl itself into Saturn’s atmosphere, to burn up soas not to leave any contamination behind.

How polite and forward thinking of us. A mission whose mental genesis started in the 80’s and found purchase in the 90’s finally paid off in 2017. A treasure we invested our future in-and still continue to reap rewards from.

Outside the window, just beyond my beer, a couple makes out near a signpost, short but smiling kisses that eventually have her getting into a car, him walking down the street. Dates are still a thing, even as Cassini burns.

Maybe it is because dates are still a thing that Cassini was able to burn. Hope lasts, even in the presence of smoldering skylines.

Today’s second pint goes to Airway Science.

Common Ales: Widmer Drop Top Amber

36386679050_3a52c61ef3_cThe nose has some caramel corn going on there. More like a corn nut + caramel sauce than the candy, though.

The beer is just a smidgen too sweet for me. It’s not bad. The malt character is there-I’d probably put this at a portion of C60 malt-but the label is saying that they added milk sugar which…eh, no.

Milk sugar doesn’t ferment, so you end up getting an ale with a denser body and more sweetness. In a style like a stout, where you can have strong roasted notes, that dollop of sweetness serves as an excellent counterbalance. In this beer, it just feels like overkill.

It almost finishes clean too; the finishing carbonation is good at clearing my palate off but not quite as good as it needs to be. The residual sweetness turns a little sour, like milk chocolate can do.

That’s a bummer because I really enjoy the nose-if the flavors carried some of those flavors too, then I’d probably be a bigger fan.

Benfest 2017

In the Portland brewing scene, there are a lot of brewers with the surname Ben and….well any excuse to throw a party, right? Thus: Benfest-a festival with beers mostly made by people named Ben, or in honor of, as this year also saw the passing of Ben Flerchinger, a loved local brewer and part of the proceeds went to his family to help with the expenses of death.

Sigh. Sorry, folks. Looks like it’s going to a week with more downer feelings than usual.

Here’s the mildly edited notes!

Gigantic Benmosa; grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple. I’m not sure this is even beer, so much as a fruit drink that might have alcohol in it. Even the bitterness on the finish is heavily reminiscent of the pith of grapefruit. I don’t think it’s for me-that pith note isn’t something that I like. But it’s definitely what it says it is! And if you like mimosas, you should give this a go.

Breakside First Blanche; witber. This beer feels soft on my palate. Almost like a hug. It’s also very straightforward; little wheat malt in the nose, a dollop of tartness on the finish. I’m more into this one.
Gigantic/Sasquach collab, Been There Freshed That; fresh hop pale. Smells like band aid. Tastes similar. Pass.
36776416740_a04d66a981_cCoin Toss Benvention; Imperial mild. Milds are very difficult for me to tell you about. Like brown ales, their strength is in their forgettable qualities. There’s just enough malt happening here that I have something to chew on. It’s 5.2% ABV, which I don’t object to, but why not just call this an ESB? Probably because I don’t know enough about styles to say. But sit me down with a pitcher of this and a plate of nachos and I’m a happy camper.
Lucky Lab Benedict Palmer; lager with lemon and ice tea. Nose of sulphur. That makes my face wrinkle. There’s a corn note after that and this doesn’t unwrinkle me. The flavor has some corn and lemon in there, but they do not mesh well.
Three Creeks Stampede Strong ale; American strong. I cannot pick up anything on the nose to save my life. However the beer hits my tongue softly, gives me a nice roasted flavor, followed up by some sweetness. The Stampede also has a pleasant heft to it; the beer might hit the tongue softly but it rolls around with a little weight. That sets up the finishing hop bitterness and just a tiny pop of effervescence to end. The Stampede Strong makes me want to sit with some buttered popcorn in a movie theater. I feel like that would be a great environment with a pretty nice salty offset to the beer.
Laurelwood Ben There Done That; Kolsh. OK, so my current stance is: Old Town’s Kolsch > everyone else’s, which is why I wanted to give Laurelwood’s offering a shot.
Old Town is still safe. The nose on this Kolsch has that lager old hop nose that isn’t so awesome. However, after that? There’s a really pleasant beer to drink. It’s sweet, with a nice rounding effervescent pop around the sides of my tongue that I’m enjoying. It’s definitely solid, even if it doesn’t take the crown.
Deschutes BlENded; saison. Now this is a nose that pops up like a jack in the box. Spicey, a little funk and a little fruit in there. This beer is…a touch unusual. Mostly saison. That is: wheat malt, Belgian yeast spice note, but the finish is fruity and sparkly, like grapefruit champagne. I find this beer really interesting and very quaffable. Have at it.
36776417350_697553de95_cGigantic Macallan Barrel aged barleywine, pic. Oooooo boy. This is basically alcoholic, unsulfured molasses. Brown sugar syrup that will give you a buzz. It is REALLY good. It is also a beer to have one of, and a small pour at that, because at 15% it’s more dominating than Michael Jordan.

54-40 Half Cocked; IPA in the cask with Citra hops. The nose is ALL Citra, with sweet orange and lemon scents. There’s also just a little nudge of cut grass in there, too. The beer itself: solid. the nose is amazing, the liquid is very good but I almost want a more carbonated version so that it finished with some pop. However, the body of the beer has a solid malt adding a nice sweetness and hint of grain before the hop bitterness, which isn’t very intense at all, sweeps in to round it all out.

Ecliptic Benith; Grapefruit Gose. Wow, this nose is just a nice confluence of sour and salt and fruit. My first sip has me exclaim because of its tartness in comparison to all the other beers I have had today. That isn’t to suggest it’s bad, though. Just the opposite; the tartness is on point and the finish is dry like white wine. The contrast that this beer provides from the other styles here is more than welcome and I have to say, this might be the first Ecliptic beer I can endorse.

Respite 53\Second Pint Friends of the Gorge

36353973323_c0a6f720c3_cThe Commons’ Loud and Clear IPA, with Simco, Ella, Zythos, and Galaxy hops is tonight’s beverage. Citrus in the nose, along with a little bit of peach. Maybe even a little grassy quality-as if this was a fresh hop ale?

Given the time of year, I suppose that would be possible but given the recent news about the Commons, more likely just a hoppy IPA they made.

Friday night seems to be date night. Looks like four, minimum, around me. The world floods, the world burns; dates are still a thing.

A year of the Respite and I feel more worn down than ever. It isn’t even anything personal, no one individual I can point to in my life.

No, I’m worn down because of politics, because of the call to do better, interesting work. To talk to an audience and try to believe that the ideals of America, the notion that we can always be better than we are,  still lives and is being fought: is worth being fought for.

The world still burns, the world still floods. I was supposed to travel this weekend and could not due to wildfires. Friends tell stories and laugh, debate, couples smiles at each other, their unhidden agendas for the evening bringing a little glow to their cheeks.

I am still tired. Tired of the failures: of compassion, of wisdom, of generosity. I grew up in a nation that launched spaceships. I live in a nation that rewards the small minded hoarding of tiny slips of colored paper while children go hungry. Where ignoring the science that could keep us alive is rewarded with money-until the floodwaters come and suddenly all that greed gets a spotlight.

With that failure, of all the potential-that potential to be great-slips away with every fearful glance at a black man, with every man who thinks he can talk away a woman’s experience, with every clutch at money for the one at the expense of the improvement of the all. Every reward of cruelty, writ large across the internet in 140 characters.

That kind of failure worms its way across my soul, some days and erodes the better nature of myself.

The world still burns, the world still floods. The slivery flecks I see on spiderwebs are ash and not dew; four states and one province are covered in smoke; some people haven’t had a breath of clear air in over three weeks. Three days of smoke in Portland and I was feeling sick.

My Dad told me once about a story Garrison Keillor told about a story he was telling on Prairie Home Companion, where the only way out of the situation was to kill a cow. And he really didn’t want to kill that cow. But it was the only way to finish the story.

Which is my way of telling you: I don’t have a good answer, here. I don’t precisely know how to amend the broken qualities. I don’t want to kill this cow, but I don’t know a way out.

I still believe that it is possible,though. Maybe not today. Maybe not a year from now. But someday. What is broken becomes fixed. We do not allow the world burn. We do not roll over and let the world flood. We fix. Or we did anyway: there is no reason why we cannot do it again.

Maybe we lose. The world still burns, the world still floods.

Yeah, I’m tired but I persist. Some days, that will have to do.

The second pint goes to Friends of the Gorge.