Whatever You Say 20\Second Pint Humane Society

As a general rule, I am not a fan of McMenamins’ ales. I avoid their pubs because my opinion is, their best beers are the ‘one ofs’ or seasonals that they do, which can be excellent or just OK. Their main line of beers I find to be dull and sometimes outright displeasing.

Nevertheless, I found myself with a pint of their Hammerhead IPA in hand and here’s why: tradition.

Whenever one of the big tentpole movies come out, in this instance, Avengers: Infinity War, an old friend and I go see it. I take the day off, as he works nights, and we hit an early show to avoid the crowdiest of crowds. Whomever gets the tickets is rewarded with a beer.

And I bought the tickets, so my friend brought back a pitcher of Hammerhead to the table, since we are at the Bagdad theater.

McMenamins Hammerhead IPAThe nose is inoffensively floral and evaporates so quickly that by my third sip I can’t even tell it was hopped. The beer itself is unmemorable, not very bitter, not very viscous, not very anything. It’s what a macro beer company would produce: A beer that would appeal to everyone and thus carries no identity of its own.

However, this is a good time to remember that it isn’t about the beer. It’s about doing something with my friend. I have many, many ways to experience stories by myself: I play videogames, I read, I occasionally watch TV and these are things I generally do alone.

Movies are something that I can do with someone, so I often don’t go to them alone. Not because I have issues with doing something alone but because I already have the “doing things alone” part covered.

I’m here with this friend drinking this beer so we can watch Infinity War and then go geek out about it later over another beer. The Hammerhead may be dull, but my time here certainly never is.

And the movie is pretty astounding, if you’ve into what the Marvel universe has been creating. Check it out.

Today’s second pint goes to the Oregon Humane Society.

When You Do Good, We Use The Blue Pen

I know that, as part of the craft brewing wave, exalting the works of craft breweries on all the levels that they do work to make a better product is important.

But. When the big corporations do something right, let’s give them credit. And this? This is something they did right. (It’s also super interesting to me and a little sciencey so it hits all those notes for me).

Whatever You Say 18\Second Pint Janus Youth

I struggled with my pub choices this evening but eventually sauntered into Roscoe’s. My challenge came from wanting to go somewhere where I wasn’t likely to be overrun with the latest basketball playoff game.

It’s crowded but I do find a place on the rail and find out the fellow next to me is having ‘Hops Need Friends” by Three Weavers. So I ask  for that. The bartender comes back and says ‘The keg just blew’ and I chuckle, since that just happened last week.

“So I got the last one?” The man asks.

“You got the last one.”

Three Weavers KolschI pick up the Seafarer by Three Weavers instead just so I can get something by the same brewery. It’s a Kolsch with a subtle nose but has touches of bready sweetness. The flavor is a bit sweet but light and finishes very clean. It’s not my favorite Kolsch but it’s pretty good.

The nice thing about asking about beer in Portland is that you can fill an entire conversation about it without any problems. That’s where we start; his name is Tim and he’s giving me his recommendations and favorites from around the state: pFreim, Crux, Barley Browns, and he tells me he used to get out to Bend a lot before he had kids but doesn’t get out there as much anymore. “Once a year or so, now, because I really like getting outdoors.”

Tim has come to Roscoe’s for some takeout. He’s closer to the Horse Brass (which he speaks glowingly about) but likes the food here more- “The food isn’t bad there but it’s, you know, heavy. And the fries! Like the fish of the fix and chips are really good but the fires are soggy.”

“That’s a shame,” I reply, “because fries are a huge indication of decent food for me. If you can get good fries, it’s likely the other food you get will be solid.”

“For me,” I say, “it’s the Hawthorne Fish House for fish & chips.”

“Ah, it’s good but overpriced. I’m from Wisconsin, like them, and they do it in that style everywhere back home but when my wife and I go back, it’s just so much cheaper there for the same thing.”

So I ask him about that; he tells me a bit about growing up in the Midwest, and how the economic revival passed over many of those places because of the draw of places like Minneapolis and Chicago. “It’s not that going home is terrible, it’s just run down and you can see the factories there that are shut down, nothing replacing it.”

He asks where I’m from and when I say ‘Spokane’ he looks surprised. “I drive through there about once a year on my way to Montana and it seems like a neat place-you can get to so many outdoors activities really quickly- but it’s SO conservative. Like, every co-worker I have from Spokane is a Trump supporter.”

I nod sympathetically. Last time I went back there, the increase in Jesus billboards was truly disturbing.

“How does that city thrive, being so far from anywhere?” He asks. I answer as best I can, since it’s been two decades since I’ve lived there; Agriculture, and lately a boom in tourism via a big convention center. But it started off as a railroad stop, and was one of if not the only big city west of the Mississippi River to stop in for a long time. Plus, it’s got two universities and that helps; there’s an odd streak of liberalism in the conservative bed of Spokane.

Tim’s food arrives and I know he’s got to get back to his family; hot noms wait for no one. He extends his hand and I shake it; soon to head our separate ways but both with stories to tell thanks to this.

Today’s second pint goes to the Janus Youth programs.

Common Ales: New Belgium Dayblazer

New Belgium Dayblazer aleI hate it when breweries let marketing override what something actually is. There is no such style as ‘easygoing’. That’s how you describe a horse. not a beer.

So what I’ve got is a yeasty, raw dough nose. So…a lager? This beer is both sweet and with a sparkly finish. This isn’t a lager, though; or at least it’s not as clean as I would expect a lager to be, and definitely sweeter than one. I suppose it would be a cream ale, but that sweetness…

That’s the quality that’s throwing me off: what does this beer want to be? I don’t know and I’m not sure the parts come together to make more than the whole. Is it easy to drink, as promised? Yes. Is it something I want more of? Not so much.

The sweetness doesn’t mesh well with that raw dough nose-a scent that has a touch of sourness to it. The finish wipes it all away but there isn’t an element of hoppiness to give me any contrast.

For a one note beer that I only have to drink one of, I’m good with it. But a second? I’d move on.

Whatever You Say 17\Second Pint White Helmets

I reluctantly interrupt the man next to me. He’s got his phone out, a pencil and pad of paper, and is intently doing something. So after a brief explanation of my request I let him be: it’s important to respect everyone’s time and I’m eating into his, just a little.

He’s drinking Ruse’s Deep Sleeper. He says he doesn’t know the brewery, so I fill him in on what I know (they were doing contract brewing where they could and are opening up a their own place soon) and he compares the beer to Founder’s CBS beer, which was aged in whiskey barrels that had also aged maple syrup.

‘This isn’t as sweet,’ he tells me ‘but it’s still pretty good.’

So I ask for the beer-it’s in a bottle, a rarity for this theme!- and thus begins a small scramble to find another bottle. The bartenders make a short leap to try and see if the beer is available on the top shelf of their beer cooler (it was definitely a small highlight to see them both hop to try and see into it) but apparently the visitor has gotten the last bottle!

“Sorry man, did I ruin your blog?” he asks.

“Absolutely not! Adaptation is the hallmark of the species,” I reply, and he chuckles. So another rarity for tonight: I get to pick for myself. I take the Stonebreaker/Occidental Klarem Pale ale.

It is delicious. Light and lemony, using a Kolsch yeast to make it bright and Mandarina Bavaria hops for the citrus, this beer is a great reroute of my evening. It finishes very clean, and the bitterness isn’t intense at all. I just forgot to take a picture of it.

The man next to me is Lance: he’s visiting from Chicago. He comes to Portland a few times a year and is swing through via a trip to Seattle. He asks me for my favorite beer-an impossible ask-but I list a few breweries that, if he hasn’t heard of he should investigate. I end up telling him about the new Modern Times facility across the river and he seems pretty excited to hear that.

“The first time I had Modern Times,”  he says, “I was in Thailand.”

Which leads to him telling me a short tale about the connection that San Diego has to Thailand and how breweries have found distribution there. Pretty cool stuff!

Today’s second pint goes to the White Helmets.

Pale Blue Dream

pale blue dream aleEvery homebrewer I know has been asked this question at some point: Ever made a beer with marijuana?

The answer is almost always ‘no’. There’s the obvious problem: legality, but there is another. It’s cost prohibitive: two ounces of hops for five gallons, the minimum I’d want for a pale ale, would probably run over $200.

So you really gotta ‘know a guy’ if you will. And before marijuana became legalized in Oregon, you really had to know a guy.

Well, now that it’s legal, turns out I know someone and they wanted to know what would happen with marijuana they’d grown used in an ale.

So, here it is: the Pale Blue Dream.

The nose isn’t subtle at all. It smells like the strain of marijuana we used; it’s extremely earthy, but also gives the sense of something very dry, like dried out pine. Which is really weird, because I’m sniffing a liquid.

The flavors are a bit muted, thankfully. Having to drink what I smelled might be a little challenging, the scent being so harsh in my nostrils.

The flavors are mellower though. The sweetness from the malt shows up in front of the beer, providing a small amount of counterbalance. The dry, earthy scent from earlier appears on the finish but it’s quickly swept away by the lively effervescence. That earthy flavor comes back but without all the harsh qualities, and gives the beer a more mellow, drinkable quality.

It’s worth trying again, but I think I’d like to up the malt character a bit.

Brew date 12/9/17

Steeping grains
2 lb Carapils
2 lb C30
1 lb NW pale ale

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

1 oz Mosaic @ 60
2 oz Blue Dream @ 60
1 oz Blue Dream @ 5
Decarboxylate Blue Dream for 30 min @ 300

Yeast: Imperial Joystick 2nd use

OG: 1.065

FG: 1.013

Secondary: 1/10/18, added 1 oz Blue Dream, 1 oz Mosaic to secondary

Bottled 1/13

ABV: 7%

Climate Change Is Money

I’ve always been of the opinion that anyone who really loves a thing would understand that they need to do things to protect it and ensure that it survives. Hunters should be conservationists, for example. If there aren’t protected wild spaces, nobody wins.

As such, drinkers should also be environmentalists. Because we need water. Without it, there are a LOT of problems but for the sake of staying on track let’s get to the most relevant one: we don’t have more beer.

And that’s one reason, amongst many, that we should pay attention to climate change.

Some people, however, are only motivated by the cold hard realities of cash. Well, I got an article for you, too.

Whatever You Say 16\Second Pint Welcoming America

I have stopped at the Roadside Attraction on my way to somewhere else. It’s nearly empty inside, to my surprise, but there’s a man at the rail so I sit next to him and ask him what he’s drinking.

Ninkasi Dawn of the Red aleAnd that’s how I ended up with Ninkasi‘s Dawn of the Red.

The gentleman next to me is Mark; he’s come to the Roadside Attraction because his favorite bar recently closed, and he’s been trying to find a substitute bar since. It’s difficult, he tells me, because most places are too loud-especially sports bars.

I talk to him about exploring new places, because of this blog’s current theme.

The conversation turns to travel and Mark tells me he’s a amateur photographer who recently took trips based on a nuclear theme: visiting Nevada, seeing Trinity in New Mexico (site of the first nuclear bomb test), and a decommissioned base north of Atlanta where they did tests for nuclear-powered bombers.

He wants to collect the theme and publish the photos, maybe online, maybe as a tiny magazine.

Which is awesome. America, I reply, is a pretty amazing country and more Americans would do good to see more of it.

Soon, the clock reminds me that I have to go. I thank Mark for his time, finish my ale and head on my way. I never even had time to write about the beer (which I liked).

Sometimes talking to strangers lets me see more America, and when I can’t get out to see America, sometimes America comes around to see me, if I just get out a little bit.

Today’s second pint goes to Welcoming America.