Mary McCleod (Devil’s Mother) 2019

Devil's Mother imperial milk stoutThis is the 2019 batch of the imperial milk stout I make every year.

The nose has a hint of alcohol to it, but also a little bit of dried fruit too. The flavors include elements of chocolate, milk sweetness, and I’d say fig. So that’s all good. It’s not as chocolatey as I’d like, and the dried fruit qualities are just a bit off of what I want.

I was told by a homebrewing pal that the dried fruit quality was the result of the beer starting to oxidize-to get stale, if you will. In this style, that can be OK, but in most styles of beer, that isn’t what you want! Which means I’m going to change the way I make beer-but we’ll save that for when the next batch comes up.

It’s a pretty easy drinking stout though, given its strength and flavor intensity. There’s a nice clearance of the palate with the effervescence, so it’s easier to take another sip. But it’s strong, so this is a beer that is good to share if a second bottle gets opened. Works pretty well with desserts, but isn’t as complementary with other foods.

Still, not bad.

Brew date: 9/28/19

Steeping grains
2 lb chocolate
.5 lb Carafe 3
5 lb Maris Otter
3 lb Opal 22
1 lb Golden Promise
2 lb Lactose

7 lb ExLME

Hops: 2 oz Mt Hood @60

Yeast: Imperial: Darkness (2nd use)

OG: 1.15

FG: 1.04

Bottle 10/29

ABV: 14.9%

Craft Within Craft

I suppose I should’ve seen it coming, but there are now places that do craft malting of grain. This interview is describes how the founder of ThirstyBear brewing in San Francisco got into that.

And it makes sense, right? I know there are programs at Oregon State University, the Yakima Valley, and in New Zealand that deliberately cultivate new strains of hops. Yeast has been studied for decades. Why wouldn’t someone try to take that same kind of specialist thinking to malt?

I don’t know what kind of frontiers will open up as a result but I think it’s cool that people are interested in it.

Round Two #38

Grains of Wrath Grave Dancer IPAGrains of Wrath’s Grave Dancer IPA has a guava note on the nose and keeps on playing that note all the way through the beverage. My initial sips say that it’s not bad, but it doesn’t go very deep.

And what’s with an IPA called Grave Dancer not being piney and dank? Feels like a missed opportunity.

I got the Grave Dancer, though, because one of my Grandmas died last week, and my sense of humor has this strike me as funny.

It’s weird, because I live in a culture where my fucking ex-girlfriend from high school can find out where I live, but I lost touch with someone who was kind to me for the first twenty years of my life. At a time when kindness seemed to be in short supply.

So I feel unsettled about that. My sister put some clarity on the subject for me, when she told me ‘Grandma Mary was the only one (of our grandparents) who was into being a grandparent.’

Right. Everyone else was…not into being a grandparent. I don’t blame them entirely: as an uncle, I don’t know how to be an uncle. There haven’t been any classes on it, and I don’t think I’m very good at it. I certainly try my best, but there is undoubtedly a gap between what a good uncle does and what I do.

But Grandma Mary was into being a grandparent and I will miss her.

As the Dancer warms up, it feels as little less sharp. Not exactly sweeter, but not as intense, either.

Glass two runs the same flavor profile. I appreciate the skill it takes to do that; I am not as thrilled with the guava flavor, coupled with the lack of depth but the Grave Dancer isn’t a bad beer by any means. Instead, it’s a great example of a beer that is not for me, but definitely for someone else.

Today’s second pint is put on hold, due to my credit card being hacked. We’ll get back to it next week.

Round Two #37

Beachwood Greenshift IPAThe Beachwood Greenshift IPA is 10% so I already am thankful for a smaller pour because whoa. 10% is a big, big beer.

The nose doesn’t come easily-it isn’t until my third deep inhale that I pickup any hops, but I’m fairly sure they’re West Coast oriented. With a touch of dank, forest happening, I’m guessing Chinook and/or Centennial.

And this beer is easier to sip than I thought. The hoppy bitterness is definitely prominent, but it isn’t too sweet and it doesn’t stick around in a ‘tongue scraper’ way. About one-third of the way in, malt sweetness makes itself known to help keep things in check.

All of that makes this beer dangerous. And maybe that’s what I chose it, because I’m trying to manage my anxiety. What better way than to confront danger directly, instead of just living with dread?

Maybe it’s just coincidence, maybe it’s because I’ve been paying attention more, but I’ve gotten a few more ‘how are you doing’ questions this week and the truth is: I’m anxious. There are Very Good Reasons for this, and none of those reason are within my direct influence to mitigate.

I can only speak my truth, behave as best I can, and do the work. The payoffs happen in tiny bits. Which makes me anxious, because the Big Picture is…less awesome.

But I don’t want to drink to manage my anxiousness. That’s a path to disaster: it works short term, maybe a month or so, but any longer and the treatment starts to become the disease.

So I’m approaching this beer cautiously. That feels like the reasonable thing.

The final swallows of this beer bring out more pine and I’m not unhappy about this.

The second pour has a bigger head on it and more pine comes through in the nose. I feel better about the second glass because it broadcasts what it’s about.

The Greenshift is one that will definitely shift as one drinks it: if you have it cold, the sweeter elements are muted, warmer, the bitterness takes a backseat but a little warmer than that and the sweetness gets muted again. It’s good in all three phases, at least for me, but for someone wanting a more consistent beverage, it may not be for them.

Today’s second pint goes to the Friends of the Gorge.


Not The Charm

Cream Ale round 3I have kept at the attempt to make a cream ale and the third attempt was…the okayest beer?

There’s a bit of cereal grain in the nose; it’s a little weird since I’m not used to that kind of nose for a beer. It isn’t unpleasant though.

The issue I’m having the most trouble with right now is that it’s hazy and I wish it wasn’t. The up side: I am fairly certain that this is due to chill haze, because before I put the beer into the fridge, I can see through the beer. So it’s a visual flaw but not a flavor one.

Still; the flavors here also include some cereal grains-I can’t quite shake the flavor of Cheerios, honestly. There’s a lot of malt sweetness, too, but the finish on this beer is surprisingly dry. Not crisp, but there’s a white wine element there that provides some restraint on this beer where it might otherwise be a breakfast instead of a beer.

Still, this could use some more work, so I may just may this the style I brew for 2020!

Brew date: 10/20/19

Steeping malts

6.5 Copeland Pils
2 lb Vienna

Fermentables: 3 lb Golden malt extract

.75 oz Mt Hood @60
@5 .25 oz Mt Hood

Yeast: Imperial House

OG: 1.055

FG: 1.01

Secondary: 11/3

Bottled: 11/11

ABV: 6.1%