Front Porch Chats S2 #13

Varietal's Weizenbock in a glass on the table outside

I was talking to a friend this week about getting older. How our bodies have experienced different kinds of collapse, and things just hurt when they didn’t before. It’s a pretty common refrain now amongst my peers. I imagine it won’t be long before we stop talking about it because it’s just accepted: Everybody fucking hurts.

Maybe a little bit. Maybe a lot. Nobody exempt.

However, she had been told to walk every day and she was doing it! Hating it a bit, “trudge” was the word she used, but she was still walking. As someone who has spent the past 25 years walking nearly four miles five or six days a week, I did my best to be encouraging.

“We didn’t get to this place overnight,” I told her, “time and wear took its toll on us. Give yourself the grace to get better at a pace, too.”

Because that’s how things really work: Overnight change is almost never a thing. We find ourselves where we are gradually.

This weisenbock from Varietal smells boozy and it tastes like banana. I guess that isn’t inappropriate to style but I am not fond of this take. The liquid burns a little going down and the lingering flavor is of banana candy. The 9.6% ABV is really showing in this beer but not in a good way. Think I’m going to pour this one out for the ancestors.

It’s been a difficult week for America. Most people might be tempted to ask, “What in the living hell is wrong with you, Memphis?” but I assure you that Memphis is just standing in the shadow of America. There is nothing wrong with Memphis that ain’t wrong with the entire goddamn country.

And it can be tempting to quit. Everything hurts. Emotionally, physically, mentally. It’s all just a Bob Ross brushstroke of pain across the entire canvas.

It really does feel like the Bad Guys are winning, all the damn time. It’s draining as hell.

Keep going. Keep caring about your neighbors and the people who are explicitly vulnerable. They are you. And we didn’t get here overnight.

We won’t get out of it that way either. We won’t get anything if we quit. Take a break if you need to! I have friends who are particularly exhausted by…well all of the brutality. You gotta care for yourself in those moments.

Just keep at it. Little bits, every day. We deserve better, and we’ll get it only through a collective, cumulative effort.

Chin up and grace to those who need it.

A First Time Repeat

The Oregon Brewer’s Fest is being cancelled again this year and I really have to wonder if this is the end.

The festival only brought in a little over 23,000 people last year, compared to the heyday of over 85,000. Part of what kept people away? Temperatures over 100 degrees.

Climate crisis is a real thing. The pandemic is a real thing. Really wish I didn’t have to see more things collapse before people started behaving like this was the case. But I all but guarantee that this story is going to be seen again and again.

Front Porch Chats S2 #12

Block 15's Squirrel Stash brown ale in a glass on a table outside.

Long time readers may remember that I really like brown ales. The trouble is, browns are not the most commercially successful beer. I don’t see them often made by professionals.

So I absolutely took the opportunity to get one when I saw Block 15’s Squirrel Stash.

Honestly, this is great: enough chocolate malt so that I can smell it, a little more body in the middle of the beer than a lager would have but an excellent pop on the finish. It’s a little sweet, but solved quickly by the effervescence. It’s got a low ABV too, so I can just have a couple of these when in relax mode.

Why aren’t these more popular? A few years ago, I understood that better, with the race for all beers to be as hoppy as hell, even if the style didn’t require it, or to get the ABV to get as cranked up as high as it could for ‘reasons’. However over the past few years it has been beers with lower ABV and more drinkablity that have gotten some press. The resurgence of lagers, kolsches and other lighter styles

Well, this is a lighter style! Where’s the love for the brown ales?

As a beer aficionado, I really do feel like I should evangelize for this. Sure, like any style if you do it wrong it sucks. Brown ales are middle of the road beers, like amber ales. Having extremely strong flavors isn’t where you want to be! That makes them a harder sell to the larger public.

But for shooting pool & having a hotdog? A good brown is hard to beat. Maybe it’s awesome because I don’t see it everywhere-you know, valuing something higher because it’s rare.

I’m not sold on that idea, since I have homebrewed brown ales in my fridge, even as I write this.

Still, it is nice to give someone $6 and get a pint of ale, even if it is ale I could’ve made myself.

Halloween Amber

Halloween Amber ale, in glass on kitchen countertop

The nose is pleasantly malty-caramel with a smidge of grain! I like it.

The middle is a little thin-there’s a very steady carbonic element to this beer. On the one hand, that makes it a very drinkable beer-it clears out well, it’s good to pair with food.

On the other, it gets going so early that it wrecks the midrange flavors pretty hard. That doesn’t make it a bad beer-but it does keep it from being all it can be, in my opinion.

However, the plus that it goes well with nachos cannot be overshadowed by these minor quibbles.

Brew date: 9/5/22

Steeping grains
4 lb Eureka
1 lb C15
4 lb Pale toasted 2 row

Fermentables: 3 lb ExLME

@ 60 .5 oz Zamba, 1 oz Motueka
@5 .5 oz Zamba, 1 oz Motueka

Yeast: Imperial Tartan

OG: 1.055

FG: 1.011

ABV: 6%

Nanofest 2023

Moonshrimp brewing's cold IPA in glass outside on table

Moonshrimp’s Cold IPA- this is is solid IPA! I know it’s not a 1-1 but it has a pleasant hop nose, and the finishing bitterness is very low key. I’d almost call it more a pale. But I dig.

Belica Brau’s Vienna lager- A very. nice, crisp beer that went well with my burger.

Barn Door’s Cranberry Kolsch-possibly the most interesting beer I’ve had so far. The cranberry is in the nose but it isn’t a too tart, offputting thing. Then the first sip had the fruit, but then goes into the malt, a real treat of a beer!

Slow Drift’s Fishing in the Dark Chocolate coffee porter-this is a beer with some nice chocolate notes in the nose but the finish is just so astringent from the coffee that I can’t enjoy it. It’s sharp and a little dirty.

Boring Brewing-Weihnacht in a glass on a table outside

Boring brewing’s Weihnacht- this one is hard for me to get a grip on. The malt is very forward, and it takes me a little help to figure out what’s going on. There’s almost a root beer caramel quality and it’s winning for me. But it’s not overly sweet, either; this beer stays drinkable.

Unicorn brewing’s Czech dark lager-the chocolate element in the nose is muted and there isn’t much midrange before a cocoa powder finish kicks in. It’s got a very drying feel, almost like white wine. I think someone else might really appreciate it, but I don’t think it’s for me.

Moonshrimp’s Gose-this is quite good: an an excellent beer to have around now. High contrast to the rest of the flavors I’ve had, with a pleasant herbal note from the hibiscus as well as a tart quality to start, with a hit of sweetness on the finish. I am enjoying it!

Integrity brewing-Paint it Black porter, in a glass on a table outside

Integrity brewing’s Paint it Black porter-there is a chocolate cake smell coming off this one. This is a great balance to the mild astringency on the finish There’s a coffee quality for sure, but it isn’t so intense that I don’t want more of the beer. It’s pleasant to drink and encourages seconds.

Crooked Creek’s Vienna Lager- what an easy drinking beer. It’s a classic and I mean that in the best way: you get exactly what you’re hoping for. Impressive, quaffable, worth your time.

There were only a few beers I didn’t try: the CDA from Labyrinth, because I’m not a fan of the style and didn’t think I could judge it fairly. The Scottish ale from 13th Moon, because my friend had it and it tasted like butterscotch. The Mutanis Cold IPA because I just overlooked it, and lastly Mad Cow’s Pumpkin Pie Cream ale. That one is one my friend had and it tasted like pumpkin shaving cream ale.

All in all though, these were solid-to-very good beers! The nano crew came out to represent and there’s some exciting brews in the works here.

Front Porch Chats S2 #11

Varietal brewing's Fortress of Lies in a glass on a table outside on a cloudy day

Dear Varietal brewing: While I appreciate your attempt to market directly to me by naming your beer Fortress of Lies, I would still like a place on the can where I can read what style the beer is. Preferably without reading glasses or having to conduct a proctology exam.

That said, this appears to be a porter, with a touch of vanilla in the nose. The beer is edging sweetness the entire time, but the finish in the final round comes back with enough roast to keep this beer from going off the rails.

This one is going to be short, folks; I went to the Nanofest last weekend and that took a lot of my mental and writing time. The review of the Nanofest beers will go up on Wed but sneak preview: the good heavily outweighed the bad. The future of Oregon brewing is very, very bright-at least if this is any indication.

It’s good to have a future to look forward too. Even if it is a good beer, hopefully around people who like you.

Ancient Yeasts

They have apparently discovered the final? parent of lager yeast-in Ireland!

This is cool for a couple reasons to me: first being that, hey there’s still a lot of the world to discover!

The other is that they’re going to try to make a commercial partner to brew beer with this yeast, and I’m all here for it.

Front Porch Chats S2 #10

On deck today: Pfriem’s Winter Ale.

Pfriem's winter ale in a glass on a table outside.

My opinion about winter ales is that they’re a weasely style, evading meaning for ‘marketing’. When I think of winter drinks, examples include hot chocolate or mulled wine or eggnog and all of those have flavor profiles that I could describe for you. They are distinct entities that aren’t going to get mixed up.

This? This is an IPA. It’s a good IPA, with a more amberish hue than I’d expect from a standard IPA. But what about this means ‘winter’ instead of just a beer that I could associate with anything? Where is the other “Winter IPA” that I could have that would provide consistency, giving me an image for the style?

It’s a weasely thing and I leave it to the reader to decide if that’s good or bad in this instance, since the beer itself IS tasty, but since we’re on the subject of weasels….

Boy, wasn’t it FUN to see Kevin McCarthy get dickstomped 14 times in a row? Our tax dollars at work, everyone: watching an alleged underage sex trafficker and a woman of weapons grade dumb hold up the dreams of a genuine asshole.

I would’ve expected a two drink minimum for that kind of show.

Truth be told, if there wasn’t actual work to be done, if people’s actual lives weren’t being impacted by this, I’d just put the “Let them fight” gif up and call it a day. Fuck it, right? They’re bad people doing bad people shit to teach other. Why should we stop ‘em?

But. The Speaker of the House is third in line for the Presidency, and holds actual power. The zealot wing of the GOP (which, if you couldn’t tell the difference between them and any other member of the GOP, I couldn’t fault you) has their hooks in him, now. And it’s fortunate that any semblance of sanity will prevail in the Senate and the Presidency, because otherwise holy cow would we be fucked.

Moreso than we are. We give these people real power. Think about that, when you think about the next clownfire show that comes down the pike.

We give them power and they do….this with it? Who benefits?

Just something to think about, because I think we deserve better.