Very Cool

It looks like Fresh Fest was a success!

(You can read about Fresh Fest from my post a last week, but the new article does a great job of recounting it as well).

I hope this helps raise the profile of brewers of color and the contributions they make to the industry. Why?

I can’t say it any better than the people from the article:

“The more diversity, the more minds, the better the industry is and the better that culture becomes,”


Fizzy amber aleThe amber challenge continues!

The nose is rather nice: yeast oriented, it’s got a pleasant bread quality but it’s also allowing the malt to come through, too. It’s a very smooth nose too, the velvety quality coming through there: nothing sharp or dissuasive in it.

Flavor is pleasantly sweet; a bit like a fluffy piece of chocolate mousse. Lighter than-it’s not nearly chocolatey enough for that but it’s treading some similar water.

Now if only I could work out the carbonation. It’s not unpleasant but it just doesn’t fit the style. Getting a little further into the beer I might also be picking up a slight buttery quality? The darker malts and the effervesce make this not a problem but if I’d gotten the carbonation right, I might feel differently.

Brew date: 5.26.18

Steeping grains
4 lb Metolius
1 lb C 80, 2 row, Munich
.75 lb Vanora

Fermentables: 5 lb ExLME

.75 oz Northern Brewer, Amarillo @60
.25 oz German N Brewer, Amarillo @5

Yeast: Imperial Barbarian

OG: 1.08

FG: 1.016

ABV: 8.7%

Whatever You Say 35

John McCain died yesterday, and today I attended a memorial for a friend who died a couple weeks ago.

The hot takes of McCain’s life (amongst other things) leave me reluctant to lionize anyone. The Senator was a complicated person, to put it mildly, and he should be recounted as such. He had moments of courage and decency and that should be acknowledged. He also had a massive impact on the lives of people in this country and internationally and it was frequently horrible. One cannot tell that story without including both sides.

Kat was equally complicated-though her legacy is far more positive. While I knew her for almost two decades, I cannot say that I knew her extremely well. Despite that, she always made an effort to stay in touch and she was extremely gracious about introducing me to her friends and including me in events-and she was a woman who loved a lively party. I am honored she thought I would be a good inclusion to those parties.

She was also a stubborn, hard headed person with a world view that was both firm and encompassing. It made her a challenge to talk to, sometimes, because she could dominate the room.

Which is the worst I can say of her-and it is, as these things tend to be, a criticism of myself, too. (Something she wouldn’t hesitate to point out to me, a warm smile on her face).

In Kat’s case, her stubborn qualities came from a place of love-she wasn’t afraid to change. Quite the opposite; she was one of the more adventurous people I have met. Instead, she adamantly wanted the best damn thing she could get-be it food and drink, education or people in her life and she wanted the best FOR those people. She insisted on it and dug her heels in about it because she cared about them. At her memorial, it was said that she did not suffer fools and this was certainly true-fools nor the injustice that they would practice- found themselves at the brunt of her wrath.

margarita @ Sweet HereafterShe loved her friends with a thoughtfulness that I wish I practiced more. I think it was one of the reasons she had a spiderweb life, connected to so many different corners, yet a center of joy for anyone who was fortunate enough to be given her friendship.

She was big and brazen and forthright in ways I have yet to learn and quietly compassionate and loving to those around her in ways that I also have yet to learn. She is missed.

For the purposes of this blog, the other thing you need to know is that Kat loved good tequila and she loved margaritas.

So at the Sweet Hereafter I am having a margarita on her recommendation. On the rocks, salt on the rim, Hornitos. Whatever the next stage of her journey is, I know she will face it with a happy, brilliant ferocity.


Kat introduced me to Kiva, a micro loan service where people with a little extra can help support others with a need. It was exactly the kind of thing she loved to do: chip in a little to provide someone else with the ability to make their dream work. Perhaps this notion appeals to you, too.

Fresh Fest

There is, for me, a lot to unpack in this article about Fresh Fest, which is the first festival to highlight breweries owned by African-Americans.

Now, I don’t feel qualified to comment on the difficulties that a person of color might have getting into the brewing industry, nor am I qualified to speak to the cultural forces that want to insist that people of color (and, for me, by extension, poor people) merely want cheap things. (I don’t think they do).

But I believe that reading and listening to the experience of those people is important and I absolutely believe that beer-or any food, really- should be for everyone. We all have to eat and it’s generally better when we eat together.

Common Ales: Portland Brewing MacTarnahans NW Amber

Yike. The title of this post might be longer than the post!

Portland Brewing MacTarnahan's ale

First thing’s first: the nose is way hoppier than I expected, and I was really surprised until I read the “NW” part of the amber ale. “NW” is now code for “hopped”. It’s pleasant enough: piney without being overpowering, but it’s a little different.

The flavors are trying something unusual, too: there’s a bit of roast from the malt, but this is a pretty light beer, designed to be a more sessionable ale. The label says 5.1% so that tracks. Then the bitterness arrives and it’s a strong echo from the nose; not exactly pine needle bitter but lobbed in that vicinity.

The nose holds up nicely through the drink which is a definite plus, if this is what you’re hoping for. But it’s such an unusual style; hoppy ambers may not always play nice with each other.

I can’t say that it’s a bad beer but the flavor profile just doesn’t ring my bell.

Whatever You Say 34\Second Pint Spread the Vote

Pfriem IPA“Oh, I just got the Pfriem (IPA),” he says, “but I’ve also had the Chuckanut and that was really good…” He trails off looking at the menu.

“Yeah, I’ve had Chuckanut’s stuff before; it’s typically excellent.”

“And I had the Anchorage…which, we used to get a lot-”

It is at this point that I realize I’m talking to a (former?) bartender from Bailey’s. I’ve come to the Upper Lip because one of their employees is moving down to California and they’re celebrating his last day. Which is as good an excuse as any to come down to write.

But it’s crowded and we’re in line, which is why I’m getting a recommendation while I can. The former bartender continues:

“-in the bottle and it was amazing. But the availability dried up and I haven’t seen any in while, so to see it on draft was pretty cool….It’s not as good on draft as it is in the bottle but it’s still worth drinking.”

So maybe I know what my second ale is.

But this one is the Pfriem and the nose is a nice whiff of pine. The finish, though, has a dish soap quality that makes it a lot less pleasant. And in between? Lemon. So it’s not very balanced and the finish is not for me. Which, while a bummer, isn’t a surprise. Pfriem is a brewery that everyone else seems to love and doesn’t click with me. I don’t understand why, exactly, I just know that people rave about them but when I try the beers I go ‘meh’.

Makes me feel like I’m missing out. Nobody wants to miss out.

The employees have gathered nearby, having their own mini celebration amongst the larger one. It’s a bit like looking into the past, having sat across the bar from most of those men and women over the past ten years. Quips and beverages traded, it’s a touch heartwarming to see them having a good time.

I suppose that is the best legacy most of us can ask for: that people will miss us when we’re gone and wish us well into the next voyage.

As legacies go, that’s not bad.

Today’s second pint goes to Spread The Vote.

5 for 5*

A buddy sent me this op-ed that outlines five things that she wishes every bar should do.

While I’m behind every single one of those points, the fifth one is the most difficult to do in a city that doesn’t have a beer scene like Portland, Oregon. While local craft breweries have grown in the US to the place where we now exceed the number that we had before Prohibition, that doesn’t automatically mean that every city is full of glorious choices.

Plus, in those smaller scenes, relationships matter a great deal, so it’s not always wise to cut someone off just because you’re not fond of their product. Especially when others really dig it. By way of example, I think of No-Li in Spokane, whose beers I am not a fan of. But people know the brewery and it sells, even in Portland; is it really a good idea to cut them off?

Whatever You Say 33/Second Pint NNW

can of Tecate ale“You know,” the bartender says, “it’s like the second biggest beer in Portland,” as he brings me over a Tecate, wedge of lime resting on top.

I drink some without the lime while the bartender, the fellow who ordered the original Tecate and I talk housing in the area. He lives nearby in one of the new complexes, but he tells me it’s built like shit, because everyone is expecting the bubble to burst and to have empty apartments within 15 years.

“So they cut corners,” he tells me. The Tecate tastes like low rent Bud and I hold the lime up.

“You use this?”

“Yeah. Like Corona.”

“You squeeze it or just drop it in?”

“Some people squeeze it but I just drop it in.” So I drop it in and take another sip. The lime and the sparkle of the beer give me the impression I’m drinking something with a little more flavor. The lime juice around the mouth of the can fills my nose and overrides any other flavors. Probably keeps the beer from tasting skunked too, as I sip it on down. On the downside, the wedge occasionally clogs the mouth and I can’t drink my  beer.

“But they’re planning on turning this stretch of 11th and 12th in to the new Pearl (district),” he tells me, and that’s pretty disheartening. Nothing wrong with the Pearl but it isn’t exactly known for it’s livability. It’s a little San Fran: overcrowded, houses with zero daylight between them and an expense to match. I wonder if there are dive bars there to try. Maybe I should be exploring that area of town too; I have more in common with the dive bars than I do with any high end spaces.

“But yea,” he says, “they’re going to tear down those old houses-I used to live in one, just over there (he gestures) and put up apartments.”

“What’s the condition of the houses?” I ask.

“Eh, the one I lived in was built in 1900 and was on stilts. It’s not even attached to a foundation, you know? So the banks won’t let you renovate it-the cost is too much. Just put up a new building.”

Hearing this is a little discouraging. We’re all going broke trying to live here, and nobody with the power to do so seems to want to making living here feasible, either via wages or housing though truly both are needed. Which just feels like a smaller metaphor for the bigger one we’re all living in and that just makes me feel more discouraged than I did before.

I don’t object to new apartments or multi-use houses: cities NEED those things if they want people to live there. I just don’t want the city to turn into a place where people aren’t living together, instead separated into little fiefdoms where we try not to touch the ‘unclean’.

As I’m packing up my stuff, I hear the bartender say, “Oh, he’ll never make it to 2020,” and I can only hope the bartender’s wisdom holds…but I wonder if the rest of us will.

Couch on flatbed truckI’m walking back to my car when I have to stop. There’s a metal shop, closed for business but the gate is open, this couch on a flatbed on the street, a group of people cluttered around in the dimming day. Mad Max: Fury Road is being projected onto a small screen. There’s chairs and another couch and a table.

I am always going to stop to watch a little Fury Road.

I ask a man what’s going on, he says his friend, who owns the shop, does this every so often. After Fury Road they’ll play some vintage smut and cartoons, then some other film. There’s a cooler full of beer and soda and people are just hanging around.

“You’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like,” he says.


So I watch the end of the movie.

Today’s second pint goes to National Novel Writing.

Velvet Elvis Amber

Homebrew amber aleI have to say, I think the amber ale project is coming along pretty well.

The malt shows up in the nose-velvety in its smoothness.The scents reside someplace between chocolate and caramel, a little toasty and a little sweet. Under that is a little yeasty quality, not enough to disrupt things but definitely there.

And it’s damn drinkable. Quaffable (which is a word that I love): I set this beer down and I already want to pick it up again. It’s not hop forward at all, which is proper to me and the sweeter flavors aren’t cloying either. The effervescence on the finish helps…and maybe there’s a hint of hop bitterness to keep it all in line.

This one is a winner.

Brew date: 4/22

5 lb pale
.75 lb biscuit, caramunich, and Munich malts
.5 carapils
.25 roasted barley

Fermentables: 5 lb Extra Light Malt Extract

.75 oz Loral, .66 oz US Fuggle @60
.25 oz Loral, .33 oz US Fuggle @5

Extras: 1/2 tsp Irish Moss@ 5

Yeast: Imperial Flagship

OG: 1.074

FG: 1.014

Bottled 5.20

ABV: 8.1%