This is a deep dig into the science of better beer but man is it cool.

They stop at various universities and talk to lots of people and in the end, I have to say that I’m a little amazed that I can produce beer in my own home. There’s so much out there to get into and even the scientists suggest that the process is pretty complex.

Fortunately, I don’t have to do that process. I just have to add yeast to wort and chemistry does the rest.

Whatever You Say 51\Second Pint Trans Lifeline

Baerlic is crowded when I come in, and I crane my neck to see if I can find a table. I’m hoping to meet friends here, so I’m happy to see that there’s something in the corner. But the crowd means that I can’t really ask someone on the rails, so I’m asking a fellow in line what he got. He takes a sip of his black ale and nods at me, “I like it.”

Baerlic Dark Thoughts CDAIt, in this case, is the Dark Thoughts black IPA, or CDA (cascadian dark ale). 6.66% alcohol and 66.6 IBUs so…well named. This is one of those times, however, when I’m glad that I’m just having what people have, without the requirement of volume because this style of beer is generally not for me.

The nose is pleasant and older school; more pine than citrus which is welcome. But I just can’t get on board.

Despite the emphasis on the finish of hop bitterness and the honestly pleasant midrange hint of cocoa, just before it all goes away a coffee astringency appears and wrecks the whole thing, like the world’s most sardonic partygoer.

This is how this style seems to go for me; the front end is reasonable or even likeable but the finish is marred by that acrid coffee flavor. It’s so rare to find a dark IPA without this quality I’m starting to wonder if that’s a feature not a bug.

It’s a bad feature, though.

Today’s second pint goes to Trans Lifeline.

Work Costs Money

This is a pretty lengthy article discussing the conditions that many people who work in the craft brew industry find themselves in. It’s definitely worth a read though.

As a microcosm of employment in America-where most of us are overworked and vastly underpaid, dealing with few or no benefits but somebody is making money, right?- I am reminded that me paying $6 for a pint isn’t going to solve that problem.

People organizing to demand their fair share is going to solve that problem.

Common Ales: Terminal Gravity Festivale

Terminal Gravity FestivaleTerminal Gravity’s Festivale is a strong winter ale. It has a sweet nose that fades rapidly so I can’t get as much as I would like off of it. There’s a little woody quality there, too, again difficult to detect because the scents seem to evaporate so quickly.

This beer is problematic for me. The body of it has a sweet, roasted quality along with a bit of maple. The issue is the finish, which is startlingly bitter. It clashes hard with the beer and makes me think of that period of time in Portland where everyone was over hopping their ales, trying to shove that bitterness into styles that did not want them.

And that’s where that orange bitterness rolls up; it’s not horrible but it really isn’t going well with the rest of the beer. A rare miss from Terminal Gravity.

The Bye Week

Maletis distributing centerThis is the front office of Maletis Distributing on Swan Island. The photo is dark because I’m taking it just prior to 6am on Saturday.

Over the course of the next 48 hours, I will be part of a volunteer stewarding crew who will serve for the Oregon Beer Awards. We’ll serve just north of 1,100 beers to roughly 80 judges who will provide feedback on styles as common as lagers, as diverse as dessert beers. No, I didn’t know there was a dessert beer style until now, either.

There’s also a strict media blackout in effect this year, which is why I can’t tell you what I served, nor show you any pictures from inside, as I wasn’t allowed to take any. I’m OK with that but I did want to explain why my audience was looking at a building instead of a beer.

The experience is a great one: I love doing it but it wears me out. I just won’t have the physical endurance, nor the mental space to interact with another human.

So I’m taking a mulligan on today’s post and continue starting Wednesday.


On Additions

You may have heard that the government shutdown has impacted the ability of breweries to bring new beers to market.

Which is a shame for multiple reasons (which I’m going set aside for purposes of staying topical), but not the least of which is that brewers ought to think about telling their customers what’s in their beer.

Honestly, it is the kind of thing we never had to worry about, even 15ish years ago! But now, there are so many tweaks, unusual ingredients, or flat out odd adjuncts that brewers are combining their beer with, that being aware of the potential risks their customers might take by drinking their beer is the responsible thing to do.

If only there was a regulatory agency that could mandate such things to help protect and inform consumers…

What Can You Buy There #3: 33 Brewing Experiment; Brett Pale Ale with Apricot

(Ed. note: I hit publish on this yesterday, but it’s supposed to be up today. Enjoy!)

Hello! It’s Fuz again. Our host has asked me to contribute to this blog every now and then, something I’m happy to do.

The original remit of this series was to expose readers to things I can find in my local liquor shop, but I’m gladly breaking the pattern for this entry.

One of my favourite breweries in Vancouver, 33 Acres, has opened up an experimental brewery (33 Experiment) right next door to their current shop. They share a wall, but customers can’t simply pass through from one to the other. 33 Acres has their main line-up dialed in; this new space allows them to try new things. And boy, have they taken advantage of this freedom.

It’s a strategy I wish more breweries could pursue: lock in a few key styles, ensure a constant supply of those styles, then use another space to make new things. In this way, you satisfy your regulars (who come in for X, and want X, and expect you to have X), while welcoming in those wanderers who come for something new.

img_1634I ventured there with two friends the other night to kill some time and try a flight.

(Pictured from top left-bottom left): The Hazy Pilsner (meh), the Belgian Table Biere (decent), and the Brett Pale Ale with Apricot.

(Pictured from top right-bottom right): Sea Salt IPA (surprisingly good), and the Dry Hopped Brett IPA (decent).

While I was very impressed with the Sea Salt IPA, I chose to get a growler fill of the Brett Pale Ale with Apricot. On tap, I found it pleasantly yet aggressively funky, with the barnyard hay coming through in a winning fashion, and the fruitiness of the apricot rounding out the flavour notes and providing a nice sweetness. While one of my party was less convinced (she did not appreciate tasting notes that involved the word “manure”), the rest of us thought it a real winner.


The beer even holds up after a couple of days in the growler. If the funk is less, it’s still there, and the drying and sweet elements come through. Also, it photographs well.

Whatever You Say 50\Second Pint NWIRP

I hate to disturb the reading man at Sessionable. Readers, they’ve staked out their space. They generally don’t want to be disturbed. I know; I’m a reader.

Locust smoked blueberry ciderStill, the man in the Jurassic Park jacket is nice enough when he tells me he’s drinking Locust Cidery’s, Smoked Blueberry cider.

A cider! Well, this is exciting; I don’t think I’ve had a cider to talk about on the blog in a long, long time.

The first thing I notice is that it’s a beautiful color. Purple yet translucent, it gives me the impression I’m drinking a beverage of royalty.

The blueberries are prominent too, giving this cider a bit of tartness that it wouldn’t have. It’s just sweet enough that the tartness is a nice balance and the finish is pleasantly dry, but I don’t really pick up a lot of smoke from it.

Until I get about a third of the way down; then I detect a little smoke. It drifts in after the sensation of dryness, slowly building on previous sips of the cider. It’s an interesting note of complexity for a beverage like this-I generally consider ciders to be a bit fragile in terms of their flavor profile; easily influenced but very easy to overwhelm and do poorly.

And smoke, as a flavor, is frequently so dominant I only see it in beverages that have enough malt backbone to stand up to it.

This is a drink that is rare in my experience; it has enough smoke for me to detect it, but not so much that it blows everything else out. Very well done and worth having another.

Today’s second pint goes to the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project.

Penultimate Amber

Penultimate AmberThis was the second to last amber ale I made in 2018; the year of ambers is almost over! So what we got?

There’s a good nose; rising bread scent, yeast and malt and I like it.

The flavor doesn’t quite hold up though, which is a little disappointing. It isn’t bad, but I was hoping for a little more malt character in there than I’m getting. There’s a roasted note, that doesn’t suck but it’s wiped out pretty had by some serious carbonation. The mouthfeel on my tongue is all sparkly, and that means the beer isn’t as smooth or drinkable.

It’s not a disaster by any means! I don’t hate this. I just was expecting a little better.

Brew date: 10/13/18

Steeping grains
1 lb C60
1 lb Special Roast
1 lb C20

Fermentables: 7lb LME

Hops: 1 oz Golding, .5 oz Nelson Sauvin @60

Yeast: Imperial Darkness (2nd use)

OG: 1.065

FG: 1.015

Bottle: 11/4

ABV: 6.7%

It’s Variety, Silly

This article charting the rise in lower ABV beers at some point writes:

Whatever the reasons, brewers have quietly been introducing low-ABV and even non-alcoholic craft beers….

For some reason, the plainly obvious reasoning of: more variety means appealing to more customers means more money, just never appears. I don’t know why.

What I will say is that if businesses expect me to pay more for a beer that’s at 10%, that’s understandable, as it takes more materials to create such a concoction. But they’re going to find 3% beers that they try to charge as much for a very, very difficult sell.