Whatever You Say 2\Second Pint OFB

It took some convincing to get the bartender to tell me what his favorite beer on tap was. I’m asking him because he’s the on26905268429_da4d603784_cly other person at Imbibe, where I’ve come to pick up beers while I’m on the road.

I don’t fault him: His job is to find out what I want and give it to me, not the other way around. But I have a theme, damnit and he’s gonna help me with it.

Eventually he recommends Airways’ Sky Hag IPA, so I get a tiny glass. The Sky Hag is one of those scour power IPAs, where you can practically taste dry hops on the finish: extremely harsh there. It’s a little much for me but for a aficionado of IPAs, they would probably dig it. I wish I could get some scent off this but because I chose a very short pour, the effervescence is limited. When I agitate the beer, I get a little tangerine, but faintly.

He asks me where I’m from and when I tell him, we immediately start talking about Portland breweries and quickly hit upon Old Town Brewing being in the news. For those uninitiated to this story, here’s the super short version: Old Town has a trademark that the city of Portland wants them to give up so they can sell it to ABInBev.

This leads us to talking about politics (super cutthroat lately, he says) and monopolies (I have heard some stuff about Amazon from customers that I had no idea about, he tells me) as I tell him about Portland and the struggles we have to balance the needs of the city with the needs of its people. Things just seem unfair and nobody likes it when things are unfair.

Our short answer: some of those big companies should be broken up…

But who knows. We’re just a couple dudes at a bar. Soon, other customers come in and he’s got a job to do, while I have my own work to be done. Nonetheless, the conversation feels a little old fashioned, like something you’d read about in a knock-off Steinbeck novel. Just in a good way.

Today’s second pint goes to the Oregon Food Bank.

Whatever You Say 1\Second Pint Library Foundation

I walked on down to NWIPA to start the new theme and sat down next to a long haired dude in glasses and a 49ers jacket who was on his phone.

‘This,’ I thought, ‘might be more challenging than I thought’.

37658263615_d1cb8aa30d_cStill, I politely interrupted him and asked him what he was drinking. He told me it was Culmination’s Obscured by Clouds, said it was pretty good and went back to his phone after I thanked him.

The Obscured by Clouds is a hazy IPA with heavy grapefruit flavors. The nose, the mouth, hell, even the pucker on the finish all remind me of grapefruit. It’s almost medicinal on the finish; the kind of finish that would discourage a child from drinking cold medication. I can’t agree that it’s really good, unfortunately; a little sweeter, a little more balanced, and I’d be on board. It’s been noted by smarter people than me, though, that you gotta stick the landing and this beer really doesn’t.

In the time it took for me to get my beer, the fellow whose suggestion I took polished off his beer and went home, thanking the bartender on his way out. If I was a person who went for signs, I might consider this to be an ominous one.

However, this is about doing the work.

It doesn’t take a genius to see how hostile Americans are to each other these days. I’ve got my own views on this-mostly rooted in classism and greed vs the rest of us-but part of the issues come from an unwillingness to listen to people, especially people who aren’t like you.

What else is there to do but to go out, ask a stranger a question, and listen to the answer? No, I’m not expecting to solve the problems of the world, nor am I struck with some kind of folly that would insist that what I am doing is important.

Every little bit helps though. So it’s time to bring back this theme and start talking to strangers again, even if it’s just for a little bit. Sure, there are a lot more phones than there were before which makes things more challenging, personally. I am likely going to be interrupting more people, regardless of politely I am doing so.

Still, I don’t want to be part of the problem. So let’s share some recommendations, alright?

The second pint project isn’t going anywhere, though: today it goes to the Library Foundation.

And finally: I’m traveling for the holiday, so this will be the last post for a week. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Common Ales: Occidental Altbier

37386133964_0950aa21d7_cOccidental Altbier: pleasantly roasted nose, and it rolls right into the mouth. The beer itself has a little bit of chocolate in there but I’m reminded of that scent that I get when I go to the homebrew store and put my nose into a container of biscuit malt. I like it.

This finishes really clean, with no aftertaste at all. I want to get a plate of nachos with this. Sushi would work too: foods that might need a lighter feel and less intense flavor would be well matched to this beer.

Occidental did well with their altbier and I’m thinking this would be a good one to recommend to people who aren’t well versed in craft ales. It’s tasty without being overwhelming.

Why It’s Never Just Beer

My friend Miranda sent me this article saying “this seems to be in your wheelhouse”.

Yes, yes it is.

Because beer is a personal connection to the world that a lot of people have. (One of many, I hope). It’s not just a consumable product, it’s one that people have together; people talk about the first time they had a beer with their dad, or they bring out beer to celebrate or mourn and they do it with each other.

I do not live in a vacuum; nobody does. We live in a world that we have to interact with and have an impact on. This means that decisions are made, all the time, that can have a greater impact on us and sometimes we don’t even care about those decisions until they hit home.

So the ability to sit down with a beer that you can afford, that isn’t contaminated by bad water, malt, hops or yeast, that isn’t owned by a monopoly that forces its choice on you instead of your choice for yourself, is the kind of thing that can hit people where they live. It should matter to everyone what the monopolies do-not just in beer, but tech, food, media; the list goes on. But beer-like most food-helps connect people.

I think it’s important to be aware of the forces that mega corporations bring to bear on our lives and if the consumption of beer is the way people get there, then I’m all for it. Because it isn’t-and can’t ever be-solely about the beer.

Although there are days when I wish it could be.



A Common Requiem 7\Second Pint OFB

37679013744_748a683561_cIt’s the final night at the Commons: At midnight, they close the doors for an undetermined period of time, turn the keys over to Modern Times and…who knows what the future holds? So I close this with their flagship ale: the Urban Farmhouse.

The first surprise of the Urban Farmhouse ale is that the nose is a little sweet. It’s pretty rapidly subverted by the drier, funky quality of the beer but for just one hovering moment, there was a sweetness to it.

That sweet quality arrives again, somewhere in the middle of the drink. It’s almost got a little texture-as though it comes in with the wheat malt-but it’s a nice introduction to the next wave of flavor, which is just a little tart. Nothing too intense, more like a see-saw from the sweetness I just experienced. Then it finishes off with a sparkly, bubbly quality that almost feels like champagne.

I’m going to miss this.

Crowd at the Commons’ last night

It’s hard to understate, I think, the relevance of the Commons brewery in Portland’s history of craft beer. The story of a guy who started off in his garage brewing beers he would like and couldn’t find elsewhere, blooming into a business run out of said garage, blooming into…this. The Commons was the first brewery in Portland that I was aware of that focused specifically on Belgian and more relevantly, sessionable styles of Belgian ale. They produced something that we didn’t even know we wanted, until we had it.

Yet, every aficionado or beer fan I spoke to over the past six weeks has said the same thing: The Commons brought something to the beer scene nobody else was, and we found ourselves adoring what they were doing.

The scene has been enriched by the risks the Commons took-hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if breweries like Occidental, who do exclusively lighter German ales, exist because of the Commons- and we’re going to be a little poorer for it when they are gone. My glass is nearly empty and while I can’t say I feel a sense of loss for this being over, I definitely have a sense that a chapter is closing.

But, as they say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. The equipment is being stored, not sold. The space is being leased, not demolished. Perhaps, and I hope the day isn’t too far off, I will be able to tell you about the beers of the Commons again. The risk this brewery took made everything a little better and I’m glad I got to come to the closing night.

The second pint goes to the Oregon Food Bank.

A Common Requiem 6\Second Pint Emily’s List

38218092161_74c0d28a33_cThe Kolossos has a lot of qualities I would expect from an imperial stout: dense mouthfeel, lots of roast flavor, a hint of chocolate, so dark no light escapes. There’s something else too, something I can’t quite put my finger on. It might be the orange zest, but there’s a zip to this beer that gives it a little lightness, a lift that prevents it from weighing down on my tongue.

Something that doesn’t weigh me down is good, given the weight of the week. A tax plan that is, quite frankly, pernicious and cold-hearted it its determination of how funds should be allocated is being sold to the public. People will suffer and quite likely die as a result of this theft from the larger public to the wealthy.

Which sucks, and it isn’t even what frightens me most.

No, what frightens me the most right now is that the rule of law will not prevail. That the special council appointed to prove what we have known all along, that Trump is a corrupt man who is likely supported by foreign interests, will come forward with the evidence and the response from the powers that be will be: ….so? We still get our tax cut, right?

I fear for my country and its citizens should that come to pass. We’re supposed to be in this together, we’re supposed to draw our strength from the many, for truth and justice. We’re supposed to, when things get challenging, represent the dream.

That dream is tied into justice, into fairness. Even when it fails-and to list the failures would take more than my lifetime to recount-we are supposed to right that ship. Sometimes, Americans even do right the ship. We have asked certain people to safeguard those ideals in law, because we can’t do it all the time.

They appear to be failing us, because they want money. All the money; not just some and for some reason, a reasonable percentage of my fellow citizens believe that the  greed of those men won’t swallow them, too. As though greed worked any other way.

It’s difficult to see when or how justice will prevail. I would like it to prevail without having to see my country tear itself apart.

That feels dark. Darker, even, than the Kolossos. And it won’t allow for a bit of orange zest to come through as it warms up. No, those thoughts just get colder.

I saw Thor: Ragnarok last weekend and I liked it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a film about the end of the world had hope. Because, as the movie tells us, ‘Asgard is its people’. Those people carry the traditions, rules and hopes alive. There was hope because when confronted with the impossible, the heroes moved towards it because, in Thor’s words: ‘That’s what heroes do.’

Maybe it’s a good time to go home and remember that America is its people, too. And if we want better results, we ought to put better people in charge. That we can and should demand that our leaders be heroes.

Today’s second pint goes to Emily’s List. I hope everyone votes tomorrow.

Heady Brown

37083472421_2b185ed311_cCurrent brown ale: head is super thick and very prominent. I think that it was because I didn’t put this beer into secondary. That might mean that more yeast was transferred to the bottle than most beers I produce. Because the beer doesn’t taste infected: there aren’t sour flavors that sometimes accompany other beers I’ve made with excessive foam.

That foam smells chocolaty and turns into beer-which is also pleasant and chocolaty. So the nose is a definite plus. The finish is so sparkly, it almost gives an electric shock.

I like the color here; it’s not quite light enough but if I hold the beer up to the light, a glow from the other side appears. It’s not as dark as my previous efforts so I’m taking that as a good sign.

Brew Date: 6/26/17

Steeping grains
1 lb Chocolate
1 lb British Brown
1 lb Special Roast

Fermentables: 7 lb ExLME

1.5 oz Czech Saaz, .5oz Crystal @60
.5 oz Crystal @ 30
1.5 oz Crystal .5 oz Saaz @5

Yeast: Imperial House Yeast (2nd use)

Additions: .5 tsp of Gypsum

OG: 1.055

FG: 1.014

Notes: Airlock blew & I didn’t notice until 7/1
Yeast still active, if slow so…maybe?

ABV: 5.6%