All posts by bottlebybottle

I drink so you don't have to. Whether or not you choose to is another story.

WHAT CAN YOU BUY THERE? (#2)

To close out my two weeks, here are some exceedingly brief reviews of the beers I consumed while DnDing* this afternoon:

Twa Dogs Parting Kiss Bourbon Barrel Ale: I must confess, I didn’t know much about Twa  Dogs before this tasting. It turns out that they are actually connected to a distillery, which produces whiskey, which explains why they have whiskey barrels to age their golden ale on. They do age the beer on Maker’s Mark as well; however, the label “bourbon barrel aged” seems a bit of a misnomer. (Unless it’s that they age the whiskey in Maker’s Mark barrels, which they then use to age this beer.)

This beer is charming. It’s boozy in the front end, with all of the flavors you’d expect of a barrel-aged ale (toffee, vanilla, and wood on the back end). It doesn’t feel as full-bodied as I might have hoped, but it was pleasant enough.

IMG_1596
Ravens Mórrígan: Again, another brewery that I don’t know much about, and again a pleasant beer. It tastes like…stone fruits (I got hints of peach and apricot, but apparently there’s plums in there as well). The sourness is the merest hint of pucker, and doesn’t work against the soft sweetness of the fruits–think a splash of vinegar over a fruit salad.

IMG_1598

Thank you for letting me share this space; it’s been fun! Your regularly scheduled programming will resume Monday.

*The important question: I’m a dwarf barbarian/druid. So…definitely against type.

What’s In My Fridge? (A Two-Part Series). Part 2: Mistakes Were Made

Last time I posted about the beers in my fridge, I noted that sometimes, the beers accumulate. I had laid the blame at the feet of Mr. Fuz, who buys too many beers that he won’t open on his own.

I have my issues as well. I hold on to beers and wines, waiting for the right moment to strike before I open them. I want the occasion to match the beverage. As a consequence, I’ve occasionally held onto things too long. In this case, perhaps almost a decade too long?

Yes. That is a 2008 Deschutes The Abyss.

 

And, when I opened it, I had hopes! There was no crud around the cap! The bottle smelled like the Abyss–at least, what I remember of the Abyss. There was a nice pour–the head was a little thin, sure, but not bad for a decade old. And there was even carbonation in the glass. O frabjous day!

And then I had a sip. And…

Well.

It’s not bad.

The nose is wine and leather, but…exhausted–the dregs of the barrel, the worn and muddy wineskin. Some of the flavors come through as expected–black liquorice and brown sugar are present. It still is rich, but it has too many idiosyncrasies to put up with: stale cardboard here, a muted flavor there, and a random off-note or two that disagreed with me when they popped up.  I’m surprised this beer did as well as it did, given its age and some of the storage conditions, but I’m still not going to soldier through. Fortunately for me, I’ve already looked up some plans for beer beyond its date.

I wish I could say that was the only venerable Abyss in my fridge. But, dear readers, I’d be lying to you.

 

What Can You Buy There? (# 1)

As promised on Friday, I’m going to write briefly about the kinds of beers I can find in my bottle shop in small-town Western Canada. And I’m doing so because our regular host lives in one of beer’s current Valhallas–one of the places in the US where you could most likely get any beer you might require.

But I don’t recall, even in some of the best bottle shops in Portland, seeing a wide selection of Canadian beers. And so my goal is to give you at least one brewery–perhaps more, we’ll see how the day goes–to keep an eye out for. Or, heck, even to cross the border for.

Four Winds (in Delta, BC) was mentioned when your host came to visit me in September; we shared their Meli, a delightful farmhouse ale made with honey and pollen. Four Winds is one of the more experimental and daring brewers in BC, while hewing closely to a style guide than might be described as Belgian, writ large*.  While they make quite good pilsners and oat stouts, to give a few examples of standard beers, they first came to my attention with their Zephyr series, which combines NW IPA hoppiness with some of the yeasts and esters we might think of as belonging to the world of Belgian beers.

Their Juxtapose is a Wild IPA–an IPA made with wild yeast. And the nose** brings that across. You get hints of mango, stone fruit–but also the barnyard funk you’d expect from a wild yeast. And, finally, a bitter note–the bittering of hops.

The front end is quite surprisingly malty, and gives way to a spicy breadiness in the middle–cracked pepper water crackers?–, and, in the end, the dryness you’d expect from both a hoppy beer and from the barnyard element. As the beer warms slightly, there’s a richer front mouthfeel; the middle spice disappears, but some previously undetected melon come to the fore; and the end exhibits more of the funk, less of the harsh bitterness of the colder pour. But at no point does the funk imbalance or overwhelm the beer–it’s one element working in harmony with the rest.

You could have this beer on its own. I paired the end of the glass with an “old” cheddar***, and was delighted as to how well the creaminess of the cheese brought new notes of the barnyard to the fore. I’d not go the bleu cheese route, but would stick with creamy and relatively neutral cheeses for my pairing.

*Their more experimental beers tend to hew more closely to Belgian beers for inspiration, but most of their products tend Belgian in identifiable ways.

**To the extent I have a nose today. Think about what I’d be writing if I could actually breathe through both nostrils.

***Old, my foot. Middle-aged, at best. Were it a human, it would have just stopped finding Buzzfeed quizzes relevant.

Sick Day Content

I was planning on writing about beers I could find in my small-town liquor store in Western Canada, beers that aren’t readily available in the States.

But I’m under the weather, and so I shouldn’t be drinking at all–and, to be honest, I don’t know that I can give you an honest take on beers right now, what with my nose and throat feeling both stuffed and sore. “This beer has a faint aroma redolent of orange juice and vegetarian “chik’n” soup, and possesses a rich mucus mouthfeel, ” are not tasting notes I want to deliver.

So, in lieu of actual content, let me point you to the newspaper of record in the home town of both myself and your regular host. I saw on Facebook that they’re reporting on a website which states that our hometown is one of the most overlooked craft beer cities in the US.

I am happy for my hometown, and have become more pleased over the years to drink the beer there on my visits back. I’m also sad for the Internet, as it is now deceased. I welcome instead the birth of the Metanet, in which there is no original content, merely a vicious recycling and endless regurgitation.

Ahem. Poor choice of words for a sick day.

But really, you should check out the list. Number 3 will surprise you!

Whatever You Say (Hiatus #1)

[I have to admit: this is one of my favorite features of our host’s blog, and I’m eager to continue it in absentia. Maybe because I suggested the idea a long time ago…]

“Solitude is beautiful…when you have someone to say that to.” (Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer)

I am currently on sabbatical from my regular job, which is largely a good thing. I get some time to recover from the very real physical and mental demands of my profession; I get to reflect on my life (in the peak of typical mid-life crisis time); and I get to write about topics that I wouldn’t normally have the time to explore. So it’s largely a win-win: my employers will hope for a regenerated and reenergized Fuz on my return, and I’ll feel like my professional life hasn’t gone in an unsatisfying direction–that I still am doing the kind of work that I trained to do, that I’m still working on complex and fascinating problems that I find relevant.*

The problem with this theory? My place of work is small, and in a small town. So I don’t have a rich life outside of work–nor, for that matter, do I have many friends outside the office. So sabbatical means a withdrawal both figurative and literal. While this means I’ve avoided interminable meetings, it also means that I’ve avoided meetings, contact with other people. Many is the day I don’t bother to get dressed, because I won’t see another human.

Which is why I was happy to have lunch with a colleague today. She, too, is away from work, but for the best of reasons: she has produced a small human, and all without the use of CRISPR. Small Human was fortunately given to dozing, so we were able to visit in peace.**

The beer we visited over? Howe Sound’s Total Eclipse of the Hop. IMG_1582And it was enlightening to hear my colleague speak about–well, many things, to be honest. What I gleaned from our conversation was her nostalgia for this beer she had chosen. Not this exact beer, mind, but this style of beer.  She spoke fondly of Ontario IPAs as the beers she grew up with–which she mentioned were more properly English IPAs, as opposed to the hop-battering NW IPA, or even the murky and citrusy NE IPA. That the Ontario IPAs were more malty, had a stronger body against which the hops were contrasted. And she also mentioned that this was as close as she could get to the beers of her youth, given where we were.

What she was thinking of was a kind of beer that is not quite like what we were having. I haven’t had this particular beer for a while, and I didn’t find it the same as the last time I had it. Given the coloration (see photo) and my history with this beer, I was expecting a richer, more syrupy bottom note that both worked with and against the hoppiness of this DIPA, carrying the notes of the hops, yet muting their harshness. But this time, the notes were too stark–bitter was bitter, the beer was beer, and there was nothing unctuous about the base. That I missed as well.

I also have missed my colleague. It was good to see her.

*Which isn’t to say that my current work isn’t relevant or important. It’s not what I’ve trained to do, however. 

**When awake, Small Human looked like a perpetual reaction GIF. Needless to say, totally adorable. 

What’s in the Back of My Fridge? #1

[Brief programming note: Your regular host is traveling for the next several weeks. I’m his friend Fuz, and I’ll be filling in.]

I’m not the Only Living Boy in New York; I’m not even the only living boy in my apartment. My partner in crime, Mr. Fuz, tends to buy far more beer than he drinks–and his beer choices aren’t usually to my taste. He’s more into beers with a higher sugar content than I am, and he’s a sucker for flavored beers.*

While I do like fruit beers quite a lot**, and I am also fond of stouts and porters, I tend to enjoy the overlap between the two sparingly. It’s challenging to get fruit in beer right, as a general rule, but it does seem there are certain flavors in stouts and porters that would go along well with fruit. Coffee and chocolate make for potent combinations with fruit in desserts (we’ve all had chocolate-covered fruit–and if you’ve never tried a scoop of fruit gelato with a scoop of coffee gelato, you’ve missed something), and so it would seem that those flavors would combine well in beer. However, balancing acts are tricky; we can think of beers whose labels promised much, yet delivered no hint of what was promised–or, conversely, you’re overwhelmed on imbibing with WILDFLOWER.

Cannery Brewing’s Thornless Blackberry Porter  actually delivers the fruit without trapping your palate in a jam jar.***IMG_1576There’s a good balance between the various features of your everyday porter (particularly of note is a soft coffee) and the fruit, which brings a bit more sweetness than I think of in blackberries. (I’m wondering when the blackberries were picked, or how much sugar was added to compensate for their natural tartness.)  The beer has a reasonable amount of hops at 40 IBU–more than your average porter–yet there really wasn’t a trace of them on the tongue.

If I was missing anything from this beer, I’d say it should have been a bit more assertive–a bit more tart or sharp, with the blackberry offering more of a punch. But that would have been a different beer experience, and I’m not sure that I should always have what I want. I’m content with having something like this every now and then.

*There is a crab stout in the back of the fridge, but I was not so brave this evening.

**When your regular blog host and I go out for beer, I tend to throw myself on the sour  fruit beer grenade, so he doesn’t have to.

***Sorry; no picture of a pour. Imagine a good porter pour. Better yet, buy yourself a porter, and pour it into a glass. Then drink it. For science.