Common Ales: DogfishHead’s 90 Minute IPA

DogfishHead's 90 Minute IPA in a glass next to a can of the same, on kitchen counter

The nose is surprisingly muted, for a beer that I expected to really be all I P A, you know? some vaguely forest scents but nothing too strong. It…almost smells old. Faded might be the better word.

What…what IS this nonsense? It tastes like grass. I feel like I am drinking a cut grass smoothie. And not in the best way: but that granular, slightly dirt flavor that comes with the grass. This is one of the imperial IPAs that helped revolutionize the industry?

God. What kind of mistakes were they making back then? And how successful were those mistakes that they’re still making them now?

This beer doesn’t taste oxidized but I would need some serious convincing to be persuaded to believe that they didn’t use old ingredients. Hops that had lost their luster, grains maybe just a few days past prime.

I was expecting something bold, bright, and intense, with a balance that comes from the years of experience that Dogfishhead brings to the table. Instead I get something stale and kinda flabby with a hint of dirt on the finish. It’s there to attract the people asking for 9% beers who don’t care how it tastes.

But I do.

Common Ales: Widmer White Gold

Widmer's White Gold hazy lager can, next to a glass of same on a messy desk

So I’ve got a couple issues with this beer.

First; Hazy Lager. Lagers aren’t supposed to be hazy. That’s just not a thing. I’ve seen unfiltered and that is a term that can be applied to the style.

However, hazy now has other baggage coming along with it, because of the success of hazy IPAs. This term suggests two things to me: citrus-particularly grapefruit- and sweetness. Or, pithy bitterness.

But look at it! Nothing about this beer could legitimately called hazy. And we eat with our eyes first, right? Which means that already, suspicions are high.

There isn’t much nose to this beer that I can pick up-which, sure, it’s a lager. Not much scent is expected. But this beer tastes sweet in a bad way-not quite sickly maybe chemically? I’m having difficulty picking it out but something tastes artificial, if you can grok that.

Which is unfortunate. The beer finishes pretty clean. But something just isn’t right here. From the initial promise of the beer and the expectations that are set, to the execution that arrives in my glass, there’s just a whole lot that makes this come out all wrong.

This beer isn’t precisely incorrect but there’s no way I can recommend it, either.

Front Porch Chats S2 #19

(Musical accompaniment to this post: song I love remixed by a musician I also love. Don’t worry, the post won’t take as long to read as the song)

So, I had a birthday last week. Things looked a bit like this:

10 people in bunny ears at a table.

There is…a lot going on in this picture and there are stories within this story that I could tell-would even enjoy telling honestly.

But, mostly what I feel is humbled, and honored and very grateful.

It is things like this that give me hope that maybe-but by no means certainly-maybe things will work out. For the okayest. Doesn’t have to be the best. But enough that we have a life worth living, just because your friends will show up in bunny ears and a convince 3/4 of a bar to wear them, for no reason, really…

The okayest is worth living for, too.

Occidental's Japanese lager in glass on table outside

Occidental’s Japanese lager on the table today and it is an excellent beer but like most lagers, really wants the most destructive food to join it-from a health perspective. Pizza, nachos, hot dogs, you know: all the things that make life worth it, but you shouldn’t have every day.

Kinda like birthdays.

Front Porch Chats S2 #18

Away Days-Forest Hills IIPA in glass on a table outside.

You lack conviction.”

I have been thinking about this scene a lot this week, specifically as a way to contextualize the recent revelations that Tucker Carlson-a man who is uniquely suited to be both a white nationalist fuckboi and the worst goddamn lay in America-hated Donald Trump.

Sure, he hated Trump because the man was bad for business and in the end, Carlson is the kind of fuckboi who wants to make sure you’ve left the money on the dresser. But nevertheless, after what might only be 10 years human time but is probably two or three lifetimes of RealHuman Ted Cruz’s species, it comes to light that the man that Carlson has spent god knows how much time sucking off is despicable.

Just like every decent person saw.

I honestly wonder what that kind of hate does to a person. Well…I used to. I used to wonder about that because it just wasn’t on such high volume.

But at this point, I get it: hate is all they have because money doesn’t love you back.

And they don’t just hate Blacks, women, and LGBTQ+ people. No. Their hate encompasses everything: the “plebes”, the poor- even, and especially, each other.

As horrific as their hatred is, and the consequences that we are having to hack through like Indiana Jones with a trusty machete, the key to their undoing is always and forevermore locked within them: they hate each other. They have no guiding principle, no belief in each other. “Fuck you, got mine” is the only signal in the sky for them.

Say what you want about people doing the work of compassion, we at least are doing the work that represents our conviction. When push comes to shove, I know I can rely on the people around me to help, in whatever way they can, as much as they can. Not just when things aren’t so great, but also when things are good! We get to be happy, just because the people around us are happy.

That’s a little magical, when you think about it.

Carlson can’t ever say that. And I would feel bad for him and his ilk, but actions do have consequences as they so gleefully and spitefully like to inform us.

So fuck ‘em. They’ll lose, no matter how dire things seem for us.

They lack conviction.

All of these musings come with a Forest Hills IIPA from Away Days. (i didn’t mean to spotlight them two weeks in a row but…) . What I would say I appreciate about this double IPA is that even though it is strong it isn’t cloying, and even though it is hopped well, there’s enough sweetness to keep everything in check.

Pretty dang good.

Finally, I’m taking the rest of the week of. Have fun, be safe, and I’ll see you on Monday.

Front Porch Chats S2 #17

Bucket Hay Bobby barleywine in a pint glass on a table outside

Just look at this Bucket Hay Bobby Barleywine from Away Days. It’s such a rich amber color, while still being almost clear enough to see through.

And while this beer is a toffee bomb: just a rich malt flavor wave, there’s more to it. A subtle hop nose I cannot pin down, and a finish that hints at the kind of flavors a deep red wine might offer. I dare say this beer might go nicely with a piece of chocolate. Away Days probably doesn’t get enough credit in this town, but they’re quietly doing some killer English style ales and doing them deliciously.

Last October, I was at Heavy Blog Is Heavy and caught a preview for a band: Cities Underground. Calling itself ‘cartoon metal’, I was definitely going to check that out. Metal tends to come in two emotional flavors: Rage and Doom. While there’s a looooot you can do with that, it’s nice to get a change up.

And I liked this album, Snicklewharfburger! So I put a pin in it in order to pick the album up when it was released in November-which I did. Except I only got one song off the album; the single. I triple checked the dates, because I don’t like making a fuss when it’s unnecessary but yup: the date the album was released had come and gone and I only got one song.

I email Bandcamp and a few days later they CC me on an email to the artist, letting them know that they hadn’t toggled the ‘release’ button.

Apparently, I was the only one who noticed, because I was the only one who wanted the record. According to the site, I’m still the only one who has purchased it and ever since then I’ve just been thinking about how remarkable it is that I found this piece of art.

Eight billion people and one dude makes an album, puts it out into the universe, and one other dude on the other side of the planet stumbles onto it and goes: Hell yeah, gimme that!

This planet is both very big and very small, and while the odds of someone doing something that another person likes out of eight billion are possible, maybe even probable….they certainly aren’t in favor of the maker when it comes to discovery.

We’re lucky we find things at all, sometimes.

But, also: We do find things, given the genuine opportunity. Our art, our people, our families. Yes, yes, a chunk of our lives are defined by geographic arenas and chance but they are also shaped by dumb luck and an open heart, sometimes.

Our people are out there, our art is out there, and they are worth finding, cherishing, and sharing.

On the flip side: even if we are only here for a little while, it’s worth doing things. You never know who’s going to find them-even if it’s just you finding yourself. But maybe someone will stumble into it, or seek it out, and be so, so glad that you made it. It wasn’t just for you: It was for them, too.

And that’s pretty goddamn cool.

Brown Ale Dec 22

Brown ale in a glass on kitchen countertop

The nose has a really lovely toffey quality to it that I’m very excited about. It took me a minute to figure it out, because I was expecting more chocolate flavors but no; this is like toasted chocolate.

So I’m going with toffey.

Unfortunately the mouthfeel for this beer is just on the thinner side. It doesn’t quite hold the impact that the nose offers up.

It’s not bad though! This is supposed to be a lighter beverage and for the most part I think it succeeds. I didn’t use any clarifying agent in this one, which I think was a mistake. If this brown ale looked a little more translucent, I think that might boost its overall appeal.

Still, the flavors are there with a bit of chocolate malt to bridge to a very clean finish. I’ll take it.

Brew date: 12/3/22

Steeping grains
6 lb Munich
2.5 lb Vienna
.5 Brown

Fermentables: 4 lb Golden malt extract

1 oz N Brewer, .25 oz Nugget @60
.75 oz Nugget @30

Yeast: Imperial Tartan (3rd & final use)

OG: 1.064

FG: 1.014

Bottled 12/10

ABV: 6.8%


So they recently unearthed the ruins of a 5,000 year old tavern.

That’s neat of course, and I love reading about these things. However, sometimes it really makes me wonder how much knowledge has been lost over time.

We’ve had over five thousand years to get the process of restauranting and pubbing correct and people still can’t make a living working at one. It might just be that something is wrong about that.

Front Porch Chats S2 #16

When I was a kid-think 6 or 8ish, somewhere in there-I remember looking into the darkest part of my bedroom at night and wishing, with all the fervor of a child, that I could be that. In the dark, unseen. Because then, maybe, things wouldn’t be so bad: if people didn’t notice me, then I couldn’t be picked on or blamed when things went wrong. I did that a lot and of course it came true, just not how I expected.

Bend brewing's Hop Head DIPA in glass on table outside

Today, I am a sad cloud. A sad cloud with a Hop Head double IPA from Bend brewing, which is a well rounded, tropical influenced IPA. I can’t taste the alcohol, despite it being 9%, the hop bitterness isn’t over the top, although the bitterness definitely lingers, and while the tropical fruit qualities are in the nose and somewhat in the body (which has a nice, weighty viscosity to it), nothing is overwhelming.

The reason I am a sad cloud is because it will be my birthday soon and typically my method of asking if people would like to meet for my birthday is just to ask them, or to make a passing remark on social media and if people wanted to come great, and if not, hey no big deal. This year is different. This year, an event has been created.

I did this because people who keep tabs on me via social media kept telling me that they were sorry they missed coming to hang out. I realized that those people did not use social media like I did and maybe I should approach things differently.

So I made an event. All I have to do now is invite people to it.

The trouble is, I would apparently rather cease existence entirely than create the burden of inviting people. Asking people to pay any attention to me at all creates a level of anxiety that I would, quite frankly, rather wink out of reality entirely to avoid a la George Bailey, than do the very simple act of asking people to have a beer with me, because it’s my birthday.

Now, I know that some friends and family read this blog (hi there!) but I want to emphasize this: I don’t need anyone to affirm my existence or tell me that I matter or anything, really at all.

That’s what therapy is for and I promise y’all, I am trying to do that work.

But it does bring me to what I want to discuss today. I talk a lot about how we deserve better and we have to do that work against the exploitative systems (here defined as racism, sexism, capitalism, basically anything that attempts to reduce human beings to either cogs in a machine to make money, sycophants promoting the exploitation, or nothing at all) that are enforced upon us.

However! There is another kind of work worth doing as well-if we deserve better, do we not deserve to be better ourselves?

And that shit is hard, yo. Maybe harder than changing the external forces, because more than anything the internal work can feel lonely and scary. Trying to fix external things, you can at least be scared with people.

I don’t know if I’m going to follow through with the invite. I’ve been wrestling with it for three days now and it isn’t getting any easier. It some ways it’s getting worse; going to the invite, seeing everything set up and how many people are attending: one.

I wish that it didn’t list me, that nobody was attending. This insistence that I exist is troublesome.

But I do and for this moment, this is my work. Ain’t nothing to do but have at it.