Front Porch Chats #1\Second Pint SotR

Greetings from the front porch of my home.

I’d like nothing more than to be in a pub, writing: I’ve gotten used to doing so over a couple decades. But, as with everyone else, I find myself in unusual circumstances.

So for the very first time in my life, I got beer to go from a brewery and have come outside to enjoy it.

I hate drinking outside. It’s uncivilized. The temperature is never comfortable, the light is never correct, and it’s at least 50% more likely that a bug will fly into your drink.

Still, we have not yet gotten to the point where a person can’t sit on their porch and have a beer-and let’s hope we don’t. So I can focus on the unhappiness of my situation, or I can make the best of it.

Because while I am not responsible for the situation I find myself in, I certainly am responsible for what I decide to do about it. We do what we can to help everyone, not just ourselves.

Gorges Starry Night ESB

This situation is assisted by a Gorges Starry Night ESB. Gorges is a newer brewery that opened up an outpost in Portland close enough to my route home that the pickup was an easy decision. I hope I’m able to get more beer this way, for as long as all of this nonsense lasts.

The ESB isn’t listed in my BJCP style guide; there’s ordinary, best, and strong varieties of bitter, but no extra special. Which is very weird, because I’ve been buying ESBs for awhile now.

What I get from the Starry Night doesn’t offer much malt in the nose-maybe a bit of Caramel 60 malt. But it’s faint. The flavors though, they don’t want to play nice together. There’s a sweet element that shows up early, and it’s followed by a roasted one that is remarkably potent. It might even qualify as burnt.

It lingers, too, so it actually discourages me from drinking more of it. Makes this beer difficult to recommend, I’m bummed to say. Maybe this will work for someone else, though: I am not detecting anything flawed here. It just isn’t very quaffable.

Today’s second pint goes to the Sisters of the Road cafe.


Just Brutal

Deschutes Brewery, the 10th largest craft brewer in the country, laid off 60% of its workforce this week. That’s 300 people.

We are two official weeks in to the State of Emergency and the impact has already been that severe. And this is merely the brewing industry!

But when we see images like this, to show us that three million people have filed for unemployment in the last week, that number can be really hard to grasp.

But three hundred people, from one company, in one day, in a town like Bend, which has about 77,000 people? That, I think we can get our head around-and know that it’s everywhere, that the crisis is bigger than just one industry.

It isn’t just them. It’s us.


Round Two #42\Second Pint OFB

Grains of Wrath/Ft George Fanzine IPASitting in my back yard, we’ve got a Fanzine IPA from Fort George and Grains of Wrath.

I imagine there will be fewer collab beers for a little while now. That’s a bummer-buuut maybe not in this case? The first can of Fanzine has a tangerine nose, but the finishing bitterness is really intense. I don’t get enough sweetness in the middle-something in this beer needs to be scaled up or scaled back.

So, it isn’t like I thought it would be. I think that’s the slogan for 2020. Welcome to the pandemic, America, week two; it isn’t how you thought it would be. This certainly isn’t how I thought I would spend my day.

I know: I won’t be the first person or the last one to say that. At least I have the luxury of a beer, even if it is a beer I don’t like very much.

I start picking up guava flavors, but it isn’t exactly helping: that finishing bitterness is like chewing on nettles.

Like most people (I hope) I spent my week trying to prepare for the weekend; little contact between other people, keeping what distance I can from everyone, making extra food I can freeze for later.

Later is what I’m most concerned about.

Which is why I think it’s important for us to start practicing kindness and patience now. Seek out wisdom and compassion now, while those things are voluntarily offered. Be generous.

Call it practice.

Because I am conscious that we are going to need more virtue as we go on, and while I don’t believe that the supply of kindness is limited, I do think that our energy is. We can only do so much, before starting to strain.

The strain is coming. So ensuring that we know how to be kind, remembering how to be patient, to listen to wise, smart people, and be compassionate now, will make doing so easier when we are under strain.

Like saying the lines in a play, or hitting a 3-point jumper. You do it enough, doing it under intense pressure is possible because it’s already second nature.

The second glass, despite producing a frothy head, still lacks olfactory qualities. Why do I have to search for scents? These people are professionals, they must know that 80% of flavor is what you smell. The guava quality is more notable, I will say that. But the body feels thin and the finishing qualities are still too intense. It’s a rare miss from these two breweries for me.

Today’s second pint is going to the Oregon Food Bank.

To Go

I get that beer isn’t essential, in the way that bread, veggies, etc is.
However, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that this crisis (not the pandemic, the response) is about taking away one’s vision of the future.
What you have to look forward to, ways the world could be reshaped for the better.
And it is little pleasures that help us do that-that remind us that life should not be about crushingly absurd bullshit, all the time. (Sometimes it’s unavoidable)
So I present a list of places that are doing beer pick up or delivery in OR.


Round Two #41\Second Pint Snowcap

Beachwood Hops of Fury IPAI have plenty of time to select Beachwood’s Hops of Fury IPA, because Baileys is…not a ghost town, but a Monday crowd on a Friday, maybe.

I think that tonight is the first night I’ve come out to write and the sun has still been out this year…and it’s also the first night that we are under a State of Emergency. Welcome to the pandemic, America; Day One.

The Hops of Fury has five different hop varieties in there and it shows; it is a pub grub cutting, tongue scrubbing, pine needle punch that only shows up at the finish. The nose is surprisingly difficult to pick up which leaves me with a sensation like a plank of wood: flat, smooth, weighty, little depth.

The beer refuses to give me anything in the nose though; another IPA, another one lacking in a full experience.

I don’t mind having space at Bailey’s; I don’t mind that we’re all sitting reasonable distances from each other. In some respects, this feels like 2010 when I’d show up to write. That isn’t a comforting feeling, though because I know why it’s like this.

The week has been little comfort, if I’m being honest. Taking truthful appraisals of how things have been handled so far can only lead one to a dismal conclusion. The four men on the rail chat about the effects, one person saying how he’s not worried about his mom, so I know I’m not alone, thinking about it.

I am concerned about my Mom, though. I mean that both in the individual and the collective-the guy on the rail? I’m concerned about his mom; we are in chapter two of a horrible story and it is going to get worse before it gets better.

Inevitably, there are only two things to think about: What we can do, and who we should hold responsible. We can look out for each other. We can help out our friends in industries about to have a hammer taken to them. We can keep proper distances, practice good hygiene and refuse to hoard supplies that others may need.

We’re in it together.

Except for those of us who aren’t. Those who refused to acknowledge that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

I love that line in context, because it reminds us about why sacrifice is sometimes necessary. It doesn’t have to be one’s life-it can just be a choice to do more with less, so that someone else can survive, too. There is enough for everybody, if you just let there be.

But in today’s context, the reversal is what I highlight. The self-centered charlatans that make themselves a spotlight without accepting any of the consequences for those choices. The needs of the one, trumping everything else.

It’s going to take a collective action to hold those people responsible. It’s also going to take a collective action to keep propping each other up until that can happen. Let us not forget either of these duties to each other.

Round two of the Hops of Fury continues to fail to provide me with any olfactory commentary. I swear it isn’t me; there’s practically no head on their beer and when I sip it, I notice there’s no bubbly on the finish, either.

Which goes a long way towards explaining why this beer feels flat.

The bar is near empty; I recognize the irony and risk of me being out, even now. Time to go home; I need to do my own part to keep things as safe as I can. Right after I wash my hands.

Today’s second pint goes to SnowCap Community Charities.

Last IPA 2019

Well, this is it. The IPAs of 2019 have been completed.

final IPA 2019
First, the nose actually comes through. Nothing dominating but I can pick it up; a bit forest, a bit dank.

It’s a pretty clean beer, too: the malts are there but they easily step aside for the hop bitterness. It’s probably a little less challenging in respect to the bitterness than most IPAs, but I really feel as if this one is far better than most I’ve made this year.

Since this is the first time I tried doing everything in primary fermentation, there are undoubtedly improvements to be made. But I can definitely work from here.

This has come about because I got the advice to get my beer bottled quickly, that one issue I was having was that my beer tasted stale.

Which was a surprise to hear, since it’s usually bottled within 3-4 weeks.

This time I went for half that, and it made a massive difference. Clearly, this is how I should be doing things from here on out.

Brew date 12/15/19

Steeping malts
5 lb Genie pale
2 lb Serenade
1.5 lb caramel 30

Fermentables: 4 lb ExLME

1 oz Hallertauer Magnum, Columbus, .5 oz Centennial @60
.5 oz Hallertauer Magnum, Columbus, 1 oz Cenennial @30

Yeast: Imperial house yeast, 2nd use

OG: 1.07

FG: 1.01

Added .5 oz Hallertaur Magnum, Columbus, Centennial on 12/24 to primary

Bottled 12/28

ABV: 8.1

Round Two #40\Second Pint EFF

I had to ponder my choices this evening, because as I walked into NWIPA, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a long time and they recommended the Grains of Wrath ale. But, Block 15’s A Nugg Hugg caught my eye as I surveyed my options. I asked for tastes of both beers and tried to give myself a little time with each-not enough to make the bartender’s life difficult, but enough to absorb what I was getting.

I went with the Block 15. As one might suspect, the nose has a marijuana jolt to it. A similar dankness is prominent on the finish, but there’s also a touch of lemon. Which is wild, but I am all about it. The citrus note cuts through the dank quality just enough to make this a far more interesting beer than it would be otherwise. So I’m glad I stopped for a moment to think about what I was getting.

Block 15 A Nugg Hugg IPAThose pauses are important. Especially as we confront a pandemic: the urge to panic is high, right?

I get that. There’s all kinds of contributing factors towards panic and I think it’s important to acknowledge them-the factors, that is, not the panic. We already know about panic, it’s crashed the party and might just be barfing in the sink as we speak.

The nice thing about taking a pause is that it gives us power over panic. Should we be concerned? Absolutely. Everything I’ve read suggests that we should take appropriate steps to protect ourselves, not the least of which includes washing yer damn hands, folks.

But the pause? The pause gives us a moment to look at what we should actually be worried about. Should we hoard water or toilet paper? Do we need to purchase every drop of sanitizer or use vodka to wash ourselves?

No, we don’t. I’ve read that it’s better if we behave with kindness and thoughtfully.  However, the only way to know that is to stop and give ourselves the chance to see that picture!

So I want to encourage that. Maybe it’s a beer on the porch. Maybe it’s art, or admiring a great clip from a movie, or a book. Maybe it’s appreciating a loved one, or petting your dog. Or cat. Whatever accepts pets from you. Perhaps the moon looks amazing tonight (it does!) or maybe you just accomplished something.

Because when you have the space and opportunity to not only ask what is worth worrying about, but why you need to be worried, we can make better choices. What brought about Mount Clusterfuck becomes a question we can talk reasonably about.

And since Donald Trump is currently king of Mount Clusterfuck…it’s worth asking who’s responsible, too.
My second glass suffers on the olfactory element. I don’t know why; maybe it’s just because I’ve had one already and it’s built up in my senses, now?
The bitterness has started to build up, too. It’s sharper, juuuuust frisking a bit of a juniper-like bitterness. But I still like it.
Today’s second pint goes to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.