The Spoiled

This observation from Jeff Alworth is an interesting take on a problem I find myself dealing with in Portland fairly often.

I have a lot of options, when it comes to potables. Even dive bars now carry some form of craft beer in Portland, most likely made by a brewery in Oregon.

I can get anything and often find myself stuck for a few minutes at the store, staring at my options.

Truth be told, I think options are great. People who don’t like American light lagers should have the choice to get something that aren’t light lagers- or, hell, even purchase light lagers that aren’t made by ABInBev!

The price of that is that it’s going to be challenging for businesses to find customers, something I really hadn’t considered before Jeff brought it up. How will Deschutes or Gigantic or Hopworks have a thriving business if they cannot find customers? Do they all need new customers to stay in business?

I don’t have answers to this but I recognize it’s something I hadn’t considered before and that makes it worth thinking about.

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Whatever You Say 9\Second Pint PfaP

I interrupt a lady at the Hawthorne Hop House who is playing solitaire on her phone, sitting next to a friend, both of whom have Mug Club glasses-they come here often. But I interrupt anyway, and I ask her what she’s drinking and if she likes it. She does. And then I let her go back to her phone, so I can order Hopworks Abominale on nitro.

It strikes me again; I had not considered how things had changed even since I did this theme last: the ability to isolate oneself even from your companion has increased dramatically since I was asking people what beer they had.

hopworks abominaleAnd while I don’t want to judge, nor do I think I have any right to just take up anyone’s time who doesn’t want to participate, but…she’s playing solitaire while sitting next to another human whom she is, presumably, out with. That feels weird.

Then again: I don’t know what the circumstances are. Sometimes you want to be out of the house, but you still want some solitude. So let’s get to the beer.

The ale has a nice nose: reminds me of the Warrior hops I brewed today with: resin and forest. It fades pretty quickly, as nitro ales tend to, and I’m left with a reasonably tasty beer that is unreasonably smooth on my palate that has just a bit too much bitterness on the finish with no effervescence to clear it. With not much in the middle to round the beer out, the bitterness takes a bigger role than it should. It isn’t that the beer is bad-far from it-it is that the effect of the nitro on this ale is, I think, more detrimental than beneficial.

The woman finishes her ale and the bartender asks her if she’s done. She nods and her companion says, “She’s hit her ‘limit’,” with a not-unpleasant laugh. The bartender raises his hands in a ‘I give’ kind of motion, “I won’t push it,” he replies, smiling. She steps outside leaving her companion to pay.

So it goes, as the master said.

This week’s second pint goes toward the Pedals for a Purpose team fundraising for Parkenson’s research. Disclaimer: I know one of the people involved in this.

Portland 2018 pt 2

More quickie reviews: let’s get to it!

North Jetty-North Head IPA: This feels a little like a throwback! The nose isn’t too potent, just a pleasant blend of grass and citrus. The beer has a little sweetness to it, some caramel for sure but it’s just there to counterbalance the bitterness. That bitterness isn’t too intense either, so there’s a pretty drinkable ale on my hands here. It isn’t cloudy, it doesn’t taste like a mouthful of grapefruit: it just tastes like an IPA. I’m pretty happy with that.

24861624977_299c03461d_cGarage Project-Pernicious Weed IIPA: what a great nose-fresh hop greenery like newly cut grass. Pretty decent beer, too: this tastes like great fresh hop beers ought to-green and lovely and not very harsh at all. The brewery kept a pleasant sweet flavor in the middle, too. This weed feels less intense than it is. Good beer, but definitely sneaks up on me.

North Jetty/Heathen Brewing collab-Graveyard of the Pacific: Imperial Red ale. A strong vein of caramel malt runs through this, which I’m good with. The finish isn’t very harsh, which I appreciate, but it does have enough bitterness to clear everything out. Good stuff.

Beer Valley-Owyhee Amber Ale: By the numbers, and I mean it in a good way. Sweet caramel malt nose, with just a trace of the yeast-that raw dough scent. I like it, myself. It’s a easily drinkable, pleasant ale that might get knocked for not being “special” but I appreciate a good ale well done. This is one of those. This is a surprisingly drinkable beer and it has a lot to do with a finish that isn’t too gnarly.

24861626747_d877225d1a_cMonkless-Shepplekofeggan Belgian wit ale: it’s got that Belgian funk nose, but the resulting beer tastes rather sweet. It’s remarkably clear-some of that funk on the nose reminds me of a lager, actually. And there is just a light touch of bread dough on the end. It’s pretty yeast-dominant though, as beers go; citrus and coriander flavors aren’t really showing up for me. Might have to give this brewery another shot, see what’s going on.

The OBAs

I was a steward for the judging portion of the Oregon Beer Awards last weekend, which was a great time and a very well run event. I can’t post many pictures because we were asked to keep any identifying information off social media until after the awards are given at the end of February.

empty cardboard boxesStill, as part of a team that helped serve 1,029 different beers over 36 hours, I can tell you that we went through a lot of beer. Those empty boxes? Not even an eighth of what we dealt with.

Still, I got to see a lot of bottles, not just a few cans and more crowlers than I think we’d really like.

(From a pouring vantage, crowlers cause the most spillage, and wax topped bottles are the biggest pain in the butt to open, especially when you’re under a deadline.)

I also got to try some delicious beer and some questionable ones, though most relevantly, I got to meet some cool people. That’s really what it’s all about.

Well. That and the spoils.

Cases of beer
Twelve cases of beer isn’t a bad haul!

Whatever You Say 8\Second Pint United We Dream

I casually insert myself into the conversation of the three people on my left, when the fellow closest to me orders Russian River’s Blind Pig. “It’s good, but it’s so expensive!” His friend on the far side says. “But I suppose it’s not any different than the Revision.”

“Is that what you got?” I ask.

“Yeah. It’s pretty good.”

Revision Jewel Box IPASo I get Revision’s Jewel Box IPA. And I am in disagreement with him-though I don’t know it right away. I’m promptly diverted by the woman on my right, who is draining Upright’s Eye of Jupiter, a Biere de Garde. She’s a bartender enjoying a post shift beer: I tell her I almost asked her what she was drinking but I didn’t want to interrupt her solitude.

“Oh it’s fine,” she replies, “I’m a bartender so my people skills are pretty honed.”

“Even so,” I say, “I didn’t want to interrupt, ’cause a lady should be allowed to have a drink without someone pestering her.”

She laughs and then talks up her beer to the point where she’s asking one of the servers to pour me a taste of the Eye of Jupiter.

The Biere de Garde is pretty good; tart but not too intense and drinkable for me in small doses. I thank her for arranging the taste, she finishes her ale and leaves; I stay and keep writing.

Unfortunately, I’m left with a pint of the Revision Jewel Box which has a grapefruit and medicinal note to the nose. Already, I’m disinclined to drink this. This beer is spiky, with nothing in the middle and a harsh grapefruit punch at the end. I’m just not happy about it.

But the quote of the evening does go to one of the three people on my left:

“There are only so many double IPAs you can have in a night before you’re, you know, pissing on the Christmas tree.”

Today’s second pint goes to United We Dream.

Portland 2018 pt 1

Whenever I travel, I buy a bunch of beer that I haven’t seen before and review it. It’s a lot of fun and a way to get a sense of what’s out there. But it struck me that I don’t do this for Portland. I just go to bars and see what there is but I don’t investigate the stores very often. And something is weird about never exploring the place you live in, don’t you agree?

So off to a few bottleshops in Portland (Imperial and Beermongers, specifically) to get some beer for…well, the usual kinds of posts! Also to see what’s available now, what are we getting that I didn’t know about before? The biggest difference is that I didn’t look for beers brewed specifically in Oregon. Here we go.

Ruse-Deep Sleeper barrel aged imperial stout. There’s a lot of maple in the nose of this one and it’s almost enough to cover up the whiskey flavor but not quite. Put together, it’s not exactly off putting but it is almost cloyingly sweet, which is a strange thing to say.

The alcohol heat is also readily apparent; I get a slight burning sensation on the back of my tongue that last far beyond the beer. It’s not very well balanced and as it warms up, it becomes less so. Fans of whiskey might enjoy this but I’m less inclined towards it. The barrel ageing has just made this beer a little to harsh, even as a sipping beverage.

39731003921_a6e9e9dd0f_cFalling Sky-Dreadnut Stout: not much nose. Some coffee roast but faint. The beer is…well, it’s a stout. It isn’t very dense and I like mine to have a little more weight on the tongue but it tastes very much in style. Lots of roast malt, a very dry finish but this isn’t a thirst quencher. It’s a palate cleanser. That kind of roast malt gives it some robustness to stand up to food. I suppose I’d put this at better than average. Good, but not necessarily great.

Stormbreaker-Lumber Lager: bready/biscuit nose! Which I dig. Those flavors aren’t present in the taste. That seems a little odd but it is more to style I suppose. It’s a nice beer, emphasizing the malt character a LOT. I don’t want to say there are zero hops in this beer but they’re really down low in the mix. Maybe just enough to give a little bitterness on the finish, so the sweetness doesn’t leave that tacky sensation in my mouth. I do appreciate that; it gives this beer a more drinkable quality than most. Like most good lagers, this beer needs nachos. But that’s a pretty reasonable fault. Sure, I could just have it after I mowed the lawn but c’mon. Nachos!

24861554167_254c38d5aa_cSmog City-Saber Toothed Squirrel American Amber: this has a potent citrus nose, which feels weird for the style. The more I sip it, the more I think this is a grapefruit IPA, not an amber. Now, on the merits of an IPA, it’s actually pretty good. It’s nicely balanced, with some sweetness to keep the finishing bitterness at bay, and the effervescence pops nicely to clear the palate.

So, when things get this unusual, it’s worth checking the BJCP guidelines. Turns out, American Ambers¬†can¬†be aggressively hopped and so long as they mine the citrus flavors, it’s well within reason. Huh! Knowing that, I’m inclined to recommend this beer: It’s pretty dang tasty. But you definitely want to know what you’re getting.

Woodland Empire-City of Trees IPA: the nose smells piney and grassy. I like it; It’s not too intense but it’s still pretty solid. Unfortunately, those scents fade quickly and just a couple sips in, I can’t smell it anymore. There’s very little active head on this beer and that’s a drawback, because the bitterness on the end is a scraping intensity on the roof of my mouth. Just. Gah. Some balance would be nice. There’s practically nothing in the middle, though, and what there is tastes a little like butterscotch, which…is just no. I don’t think I want to finish this beer, so I won’t.

Elk Horn-Stagg Moose, barrel aged imperial stout: Boy…this cost me $26 and it tastes so rough. The nose has a strong whiskey thing and it’s offputting. There’s also a raw cocoa flavor, coupled with a bunch of bourbon and it just isn’t very smooth at all. There’s almost a woodiness to it.

As it warms up, a lot of those negatives mellow out. The nose diminishes, the whiskey note hits more in my belly, warming there instead of on my tongue and it allows for more chocolate to appear. There’s still a little burn, but it’s not bad. The finish is still pretty rough though and it doesn’t help the beer. It’s almost chalky.

SheBrew 2018

Same as last year- The disclaimer: I know the people involved in putting this event together.

That said, I’m pleased to be promoting SheBrew again, as it’s the only local festival I know that spotlights the accomplishments of women brewers, both amateur and professional. Last year there were over 100 entries for the competition portion of the fest, coming from twenty-two states! This year I suspect will have even more entries, which is really cool.

Then there is the festival portion, where the amateur brews were poured and professional brews are offered alongside them-this year all of the beers offered by the pros will be made by women and many, I’m told, are being brewed specifically for the event!

The competition is February 24th and the entry deadline is the 15th, so get on it if you want in.

The festival, which is open to everyone, is on March 3rd and should be a great time.