Front Porch Chats #86/Second Pint

Ferment brewing's helles bock in glass on table outside, early winter afternoon.

Ferment’s Helles Bock on the table today and this is an odd duck. There’s some malt qualities in the nose but also something distinctly fruity. Berry-like in both sweetness and a hint of sour.

The sips are sweet, but the finish is a bit unpleasant to me-a finishing bitterness that is far more than I’d appreciate from a style like this. This beer has a gravity to it that I’m not so fond of, and with surprisingly low effervescence, those flavors linger longer than I want. A miss from Ferment, whose beers I usually enjoy.

But it’s alright, because I have a beer and the good things that come with it.

I hope everyone’s holiday went well-but I know that some had it much harder. I was fortunate, visiting family and friends, a safe passage to and from my destination.

The visits were kindly and full of laugher. There were messages from friends father away letting me know they were thinking of me, and kindly. I get to come home and write a blog that people read-and I am grateful for all of those things.

I know not everyone can say the same; some cannot visit, some had visits fraught with tension and unhappiness, others just had life happen to them, in a way that life does. Life is not always upside.

Nevertheless, I am able to show some gratitude and so I do; maybe you’ve been reading for awhile, maybe this is your first visit to this blog but thanks for comin’ around. You could do anything else with your time, so I appreciate you spending some on me.

Today’s second pint goes to the LWV for their People Powered Fair Maps project.

Front Porch Chats #85/Second Pint Wikipedia

Thorn brewing Wind Surfer dry hopped IPA in glass on table outside in the afternoon.

With a Wind Surfer double dry hopped IPA from Thorn Brewing, I am contemplating the Muppets.

The beer has got a solid tropical fruit nose, and I want to say mango is the dominant scent but there’s something else, too that I’m not sure about. I like it, but I can’t place it.

I was concerned that the beer would be sweet but thankfully that is not the case. It’s got a real bite on the finish-but it isn’t very carbonated. I think that is undercutting the rest of the beer: with some bubbly, the finish hits but doesn’t linger. Without it, that bitterness sticks around a little longer than I’d like.

It’s not bad, it could just use a little improvement.

So, I’ve been seeing this statement in my circles lately and there is a lot to like about it. If you’re going to do something, do something that brings you joy-even if you aren’t particularly good at it.

"The secret of the Muppets is they're not very good at what they do. Kermit's not a great host, Fozzy's not a godo comedian, Miss Piggy's not a great singer. Like none of them are actually good at it, but they fucking love it. And they're like a family and they like putting on the show. And they have joy. And because of teh joy, it doesn't matter that they're not good at it. And that's what we should all be. Muppets. -Brett Goldstein

But a lot of people have been focusing on the “do joyfully” part, missing the most important part, and it’s right there in the name; the Muppets.

See, while you can just do something joyfully, the day is going to come when…your poor performance is going to eat the joy you have away. Maybe not forever, but there will be days, maybe months, or longer. And if you’re alone, how do you withstand those times?

Those things are easier when you have people. Hell, the Muppet Movie itself is about this very notion. Kermit is just a dreamer who’s taking a chance and that chance is jeopardized and grim without Fozzy, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, the Electric Mayhem Band, and on and on.

They are able to do what they do-badly-because they care for each other and are there for one another. The dream isn’t just about Kermit anymore-it wasn’t the moment he accepted a ride from Fozzy.

It just takes him the rest of the movie to realize it.

And I’ll tell you the obvious secret: most of us are doing things badly. We don’t even get to joyfully do them badly, we’re just muddling through as best we can. Sometimes we get to do things we love (and are bad at) or things we are good at but don’t care for. But mostly, I think, we do them with at least some kind of fuckupery.

Still, the worst times are the ones where nobody is around. Winning isn’t as great if nobody is there, losing isn’t so bad if everyone is.

Today’s second pint goes to Wikipedia.

Finally; this is the last post for the week, I’m off for Thanksgiving. Cheers!

Common Ales: Ascendant-Seismic Upgrade IIPA

Ascendant's Seismic Upgrade IIPA in glass, next to can of Seismic Upgrade

The nose is putting out orange creamsicle. I am not enthused by it,

So to my surprise, the beer is not too sweet. There’s still a solid orange flavor happening but it doesn’t get sickly sweet. Also, this is still a clear, effervescent brew which means that there aren’t any weird textures and the finish is pretty clean.

Giving this a recommendation, if you like your beers on the slightly fruity side.

Front Porch Chats #84/Second Pint CFA

Hoppin' Frog brewing DORIS the Destroyer imperial barrel aged stout in glass, outside, in the dark afternoon.

Dark beer for the season, finally. Hoppin’ Frog’s DORIS the Destroyer (sic) whiskey barrel aged imperial stout. I know the picture was taken late in the afternoon-but look at how dark that beer is!

I am going to need dinner after this.

I’ve let DORIS sit for a little while to warm up and I think it’s to my benefit. This beer, which looks like a decadent chocolate cake in liquid form, does barrel aged about as well as you could ask for it. The whiskey isn’t a dominant flavor at all, which is a real triumph.

I notice it when it hits my belly though, that alcohol strength heat. Otherwise, this beer leans very much into a chocolate covered espresso bean. The finish is even a little harsh, like you’ve sucked all the sweetness away and all that’s left is an almost too harsh bitterness from a coffee bean.

It’s a nice beer to have after what can be called a cruddy week.

Some of you may recall enduring a pandemic for the majority of 2020, and during that time I found it difficult to do some of the things I probably should’ve done-in this instance, clean the gutters for the house.

I wasn’t punished for this, because that particular winter was pretty dry. This year, however, not so much. So when I woke up to a leaking basement, due to the gutter overflowing and not draining correctly, well, that was a not fun morning.

It’s a small thing-but I recently read that we might need to get measles boosters, because some 23 million children were unable to get measles vaccinations, due to the pandemic. That is some rough news.

You have to do the little things, else the big things eat you up.

As we live through a period of American history that is almost certainly the result of a bunch of people thinking they could take their hands off the wheel and not be involved in making things better-“that’s Washington’s problem” kind of thing- I hope that more people are getting and staying engaged.

It’s the little things. Else the big things eat you up.

Today’s second pint goes to the Christmas Family Adoption Foundation. It might be too early to have Christmas decor up, but it’s never too early to set someone up for a nice holiday.

Sticking To My Guns

After last week’s essay on what constitutes craft beer, a commenter pointed out that my definition would exclude Deschutes and Boneyard, as they entered into a “partnership”.

And here’s the thing: I’m OK with that. I like Deschutes, and I like Boneyard but the fact of the matter is, Deschutes effectively owns another brewery. They have distribution, which means that maybe not today, but eventually, Deschutes can and will turn to Boneyard and say: your beer needs to be like this in order to sell.

And since Deschutes distributes, Boneyard will comply. They’re no longer an independent entity. Neither is Deschutes, as their business model now relies on the ownership of a second brewery.

If Boneyard just got absorbed by Deschutes, then I’d say that Deschutes would still count as a craft brewery: they aren’t telling anyone who built their brand on a distinctly different model (very hoppy, very AVB intense beers) what works. Deschutes would just be incorporating the recipes and equipment under their brewery and continue making Deschutes beer, perhaps with new styles under offer.

All of which, however, is a way to dance around a larger point that I didn’t get to until that commenter pushed back on it.

It is, as Don Younger has said, not about the beer. It’s about the beer.
We shouldn’t live in a world where 5 breweries (or five of any business entity, see also: internet, food, banks, etc) are the only providers of what we want or need.

There should be space for small and mid-tier businesses to do their thing, too.

Because then, we can start having conversations about what matters; is this any good?

I don’t mention it too often, but ABInBev makes an incredible product, given what they do. I can have a Budweiser anywhere in the world, and it will taste like a Budweiser. I can have a Guinness anywhere in the world, and it will taste like Guinness.

That’s really hard to do.

If I can’t respect the effort that it takes, the skill-the craft-of making a beer taste the same anywhere in the world, then why even critique beer at all?

That those styles of beer are ones I’m not fond of isn’t the point. This is just about the skill it takes to do that. Plus, I won’t say I’m above a Bud sometimes. If that’s what I’m being offered, I’m not going to be snooty about it.

Because we have, at last count, close to nine thousand breweries in America. Do you honestly believe that every single one of those breweries are making excellent product? Hell, even good product?

The important thing about having smaller breweries is that we can just ask ourselves: is this good?

And good can mean multiple things! Is it a good beer? Is it good for the community? Are the employers good for their workers? Is the atmosphere a healthy one for anyone to walk into? Are the business practices as good as they can be from an environmental or social justice view? Etcetera, etcetera; we don’t, and shouldn’t, just focus on the one thing: is this product good?

Although I will admit that it is probably the most relevant question, even if it isn’t always the most important one.

Because part of why I avoid ABInBev’s products is because their business practices look skeevy as fuck to me from a “we’re corporate overlords who should get our way” perspective. They don’t want to just make a great product (and I don’t know that they want that, it’s just a by-product), they want all the money and do things accordingly. However, this is also why I don’t drink products from Melvin (sexism), Founders (racism) , or BrewDog (transphobia).

I had a friend in the industry tell me about shitty business practices of Old Town and Mt Tabor here in Portland. I don’t buy their product. It doesn’t matter if they’re ‘craft beer’ or not. I have the ability to choose, so I will. Not everyone does and I don’t judge them. Should I hear that Melvin or Mt Tabor have fixed their issues, then I’m happy to give them money for something I like!

But the badge of ‘craft beer’ shouldn’t be the determining factor-and maybe it never should have been.

Front Porch Chats #83

Revision Brewing's Dr Lupulin IIIPA in glass on table, outside

It’s the first truly chilly weekend of November, and I’ve got a Dr Lupulin from Revision brewing on the table. It’s a triple IPA, but it doesn’t show it; while the nose is floral tilting to perfume, the flavors are really mellow.

Mellow doesn’t mean good, though. While the finishing bitterness isn’t anywhere near scour pad levels, something about the malt sweetness combination makes me think of medicine, instead of a solidly hopped beer.

I get they were probably trying to balance things out, but it doesn’t come together for me.

This week in the “Dumbass Hall Of Fame” entry we have the quarterback for Green Bay, Aaron Rogers ‘consulting with his good friend Joe Rogan’ over COVID-19 protocols-specifically getting vaccinated.

First off: Joe Rogan is part of the Great White Grift and paying attention to anything that nicked bowel of a person says is just asking for people to steal your money.

All you Rogan stans just know; your boos mean nothing to me, I’ve seen what makes you cheer.

What is more interesting to me is the question of: Will there be consequences?

Because this very same week, a player for the Las Vegas Raiders was involved in a fatal car accident and it’s been reported he was drunk. That player was subsequently fired from the team.

I don’t know if Ruggs was drinking or not-and I certainly cannot imagine how utterly horrible he must feel, being responsible for killing a person. But he’s going through the consequences of his actions, as well he should. I can only hope that he is able to make his life a better one and carry the weight for what he has taken from this world.

Which leads me back to; will one of the biggest names in the NFL suffer consequences for putting himself and the people around him at risk of death, because he wanted to listen to the Great White Grift?

At what level do you have to reach in this country to not face consequences? It certainly helps if you’re white, no question about that. It helps if you’re rich, too.

The root of it all, the heartworm around the entire goddamn country, is the insulation that certain people have from their choices. I feel like I have to pay the consequences for my choices.

Why don’t other people? Why is putting people at risk for a deadly and now preventable disease something that gets shrugged off? Why are traitors walking free? Or with mere 60 day stays in jail? Is that a fucking consequence for trying to overthrow the government? .

They were traitors. The lot of ‘em. Especially the yiffmonkeys who told them to go do it and then sat back to watch things burn.

The worst part is: even if Aaron Rogers does suffer legitimate consequences for his acts-and I certainly hope he does-that’s means that, somehow, the NF fucking L is taking things more seriously than the US Government.

And I don’t know what to do with that.

Craft or No

Variety "craft" beer pack

After getting my flu shot at Costco (get your flu shot if you haven’t! Also COVID shot!) I did a brief tour of their beer section and found this variety pack of beers from Elysian, Widmer, Kona, 10 Barrel, Goose Island, Red Hook, and Golden Road.

That sounds like a great thing, right? All these craft breweries coming together to offer you a bunch of different stuff.

Exceeeeeeept: all of these breweries are owned by ABInBev. Every single one of them.

They didn’t ‘come together’: Industry Daddy shoved them into a station wagon for you to buy.

I bring this up because there is often-practically every year-a ‘debate’ about “what constitutes craft breweries” and inevitably, this question revolves around how big the brewery is. Most of the time, shade is thrown at Sam Adams, as one of, if not the biggest craft breweries in the US.

Viewing this variety pack though, I’ve decided to come up with my own definition: If your brewery owns or is owned by another entity, be it venture capitalists (a pox upon all their fucking houses) or another brewery, you are not a craft brewery.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get bank loans, or go into partnership with someone, or do contract brewing. I will say, “partnership” is doing a lot of work there-Widmer went into ‘partnership’ with ABInBev in the 90’s and now they aren’t independent anymore. Given my understanding of the deal Widmer struck, it could be argued they hadn’t been independent for a long time.

Still, I like this definition because it eliminates what is, to me, the dumbest part of the definition-how big something is-and moves it to what really matters; how independent it is.