All posts by grotusque

My name is Dan and I like a lot of things, but this blog will be about the beer I drink and occasionally make. Well. Mostly.

The argument

I enjoy going out with my buddy Jim. We pretty much argue half the time, but it’s always about things that utterly don’t matter
(him: Deep Purple was a hugely influential band with great songs
me: No they fucking weren’t, they had Smoke on the Water, and everything else was shit.
The Decemberists are awesome and lyrically amazing!
The are the dullest band ever.)

so our feelings never get hurt.

Of course, all of this is inspired by the Morrison Hotel playing really shitty Foo Fighters songs (instead of good ones), and we could both agree on that. So it was in the spirit of spirited argument, I had the following:

Some unpleasant tasting beer that I couldn’t exactly see who made. It was known as a ‘Dark IPA’ and it tasted bitter, like it had been burnt. I regreted choosing this over the Dogfish beer that caught my eye, but I had to try it.

Nostradamus Belgain Brown. The nose was full of banana. As a matter of fact, it was like a banana split; sugary and whipped cream backing up the banana nose itself. This banana flavor ran through the whole beer–the belgain yeast just dominated over the malts. However-and I’m just taking this from my notes- as the beer warmed up, I noticed a cinnamon touch in the nose, and the dessert confection started to mellow out. It became easier to drink the warmer it got. I suspect this beer might’ve been served to me too cold, and if I’d just given it a couple minutes my experience would’ve been different.

Next: St Bernardus Quadrupel. I got this b/c at the Belmont Station for the Six Rivers event, my girlfriend asked me: what’s a quadrupel? And I had no idea, aside from it being Belgain and probably following in the line of the dubbel, trippel ales that Belgain abbys are so famous for. The head on this was as dense as a nerf ball, and I could hardly get a scent off of it, but clove seemed to touch my senses for a moment. The flavors were very, very common to a trippel; sweet, with an alcohol warmth to help bring it back (11%!), but then I caught a touch of something else…sourness. Just a little bit at the end, a nudge utterly opposite the rest of the beer. That’s when I realized that maybe this yeast is what’s being used for the raspberry lambic at Six Rivers.

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale was next up, as I came back to the choice that I’d initially hoped to drink. This beer had mocha running in it, chocolate malts that were really tasty…of course, between the lateness of the evening and my allergies, I got no nose off the beer whatsoever. But there was a slight coffee bitterness and drying effect at the very back that had me wanting more. However, it’s strong for a brown ale (7.2%) so I opted to cease so I could get home.

Or at least, I thought I had. Earlier in the evening, Jim in a kind of faux-macho swagger ordered an Old German. It came in a can. I’m not sure I can say anything more about that, except the waiter grinned and gave Jim an ‘Oh yeah!’: he knew how bad it was, and exactly why it was being ordered. When I saw it, (about the time I was drinking the St B’s) I laughed and said that I had to order it.

And it was after the Indian Brown Ale that Jim reminded me of that.

It was terrible. My notes plead with me: I have to finish a pint of this? I didn’t.There\'s a straw in my beer

And yes, the Old German was served to me with a straw in it.

Dos and Don’ts

Invited to lunch with thedr9wningman, we quickly settle on the Deschutes brewpub for food. I order a small pizza, which is definitely taking up too much space in my body at this time, and he has a mushroom sandwich. Politics and beer and general happenings are discussed, and all is good. Except for one thing.

Deschutes has a long track record for making good beers. However, I’ve been running across this ‘style’ for awhile, and I suppose it’s time for me to speak out on it. Enticed years ago by a lovely maple vanilla stout, I tried the Kilgorian Baltic Vanilla Porter. This is not the first vanilla porter I’ve had, and I’ve come to one conclusion.

Vanilla porter is not a good thing. Vanilla is too strong a flavor to be blended with a porter. Porters are lighter, the mouthfeel thinner, and basically don’t have the backbone to stand up to a flavor like vanilla, where stouts do. The beer ends up tasting like a weird soda pop. 

I’m not sure what the do is here. Maybe; Make a vanilla stout? 

Feel good hit of the summer

Fuz and I went to the Lucky Lab for pints tonight. 

I generally go out to the pub for only three reasons; to write, to play Magic, or to visit with friends. With Fuz I can do 2 of 3, so I don’t complain.

I had the Solar Flare; an IPA disguised as a pale ale. No sweat, for the LL makes good IPA’s. They taste bitter but finish smooth and almost sweet. There’s a NW sensibility there, tempered by a commonality; not everyone wants the hops to kick you in the ass. Fuz tries an alt-beir, and it’s not an alt. It’s an IPA; alts do not have that level of hops in them, if they want to stick to style. Fuz and I play cards and talk shop, movies, gloom and what card best fits the green/blue deck I’m tinkering with.

But it needs to be an early night. I drive him home, drop him off and drive down 39th under Jackson Pollock skies that make the heavens look like something out of Blue Heaven; textured and jagged and lit way past sunset. Summer is coming, despite the winds and the shaking of the trees and the chill that makes the furnace kick on. It must’ve been even more potent, living in an era without electricity, to see the skies turn blue, and to have that tint shade everything around you. Now the streetlights cast their peach glow on us, and I square my shoulders and head home.

I sing to U2’s Beautiful Day, and try to remember that things are good, and then when Queens of the Stone Age’s Feel Good Hit of the Summer, I growl the drugs until Halford kicks in with his shriek of ‘COCAINE’ and I try to relish the drive home, and slumber soon to follow.  

Oh, the drama

So, in the OBC newsletter, this comic runs:

And K. G. says on the listserve:
“…Now correct me if I’m wrong for stating my opinion, but it disturbs me that some one can draw a statement of a man that is drinking a beer and waiting for a bar to blow up and everyone inside but him, is going to die, just so he can blatantly throw his political view into the words of this destroyed pub, are you Tre’s brother? I am a former Marine and combat vet and have earned the right to question this disgraceful point of view shown in our news letter. With this being said I will not be part of this organization, and you will never receive money or time from me again. Please remove me from your list serve.”

He’s got a complaint, and I get it; we generally keep our politics separate so we can focus on the beer, and this comic getting through was a slip in the editorial policy. It happens. 

But I have a little bit to say about his statement, which I’m doing here and not at the listserve because we don’t do politics on the listserve. 

For the record, it’s not your service as a Marine that gives you the right to question the point of view presented in that comic. While your service is appreciated, it’s your status as an American citizen (in this country) that gives you this right. You don’t earn that right. I agree that the political nature of this comic is out of place, but your tantrum here is also unwarranted. You sound like a bitter whiner, instead of someone who’s got a legitimate issue, and the fact that you’re just going to take your toys and go home cements this. 

So maybe you could step off that high horse, accept the apologies that will most certainly follow, and move along? Because if you aren’t willing to do that, I really don’t want you around.

Inspiration

There are times when it’s easy to select a beer even when the list is very, very long, as it often is at the Horse Brass. The Horse Brass is the kind of dive that should exist everywhere; no TVs, lots of dartboards, a huge selection of beers, solid if slightly greasy food, and a revolving cast of laughing patrons, about half of them smoking. I don’t even know if it can be called a dive, since everything costs what it’s worth but the lighting is shit, the walls hang posters that haven’t been changed since 1981and are tainted yellow from smoke, and the customer service can be spotty sometimes, and if that isn’t a dive bar sign, I’m not sure what could be.

But when Fuz and I walked in and saw written on their blackboard in luminiscent blue: St Bridget’s Porter-Great Divide Brewery, I knew I had to get it, just to tell someone what it was like. Fuz, being a lover of maltier, darker beers, quickly agreed with my selection and we sat down to order.

The St Bridget’s arrives, and it’s strangely thin. I get that porters aren’t supposed to be stouts and I was certainly expecting more, since Great Divide has as reputation for strong beers. Their Imperial Yeti stout and Hercules double IPA are some of the boldest and tastiest beers I’ve had. Fuz agrees with me; it seems like there ought to be more there, but we’re not sure what.

Maybe I need to go back and try it without expectations.

Austin via alliteration

I started off my trip to Austin in the Portland airport, recommending Rogue’s Shakespeare Stout to a man on his way back to Hawaii. He was asking the waitress about a dark beer and while she went to get samples, I told him about their porter and specifically recommended their stout.

Austin, amongst its other charms has some really good beer, too. This is a huge plus for a city that never dipped below 80 while I was there. Even at night, as far as I could tell. While IPA’s tend to be favored in hot weather, I found myself drawn to Real Ale Brewing‘s Brewhouse Brown (from Blanco, even). Brown ales especially tend toward naming alliteration, sadly. It’s as though people feel the need to ‘spice up’ what is meant to be a very drinkable {sometimes read as: bland} ale with a clever name. Or, maybe it’s because it’s easy to alliterate a ‘b’ word. Either way it seems lazy, but then again, nobody’s asking me to name their beer…

I had a layover on Salt Lake City on the way home and hurriedly rushing to the plane I pass by an airport brewpub posting its beers on the side, Polygamy Porter being the one that winks out of course. But alas, I could not stop to try it; boarding was being called.

texas brewI also had a Lone Star, because When in Rome, right? The nose on this beer was fetid, like bad dog breath. But it was pretty damn drinkable until it warmed up; clean, light, and very bland. Which on a 96 degree day, can be pretty nice. Just don’t drink more than half a can, and you’re set.

Lunchtime beer, stream of consciousness post

(as written at the Deschutes brewpub about 15 minutes ago)

“I’ll have a Pink Lady”-how often do I get to say that? And it IS pink, as if a marker was dipped into the beer- or in this case rose petals for dry hopping. I’m told that dry hopping adds to the nose but damned if it doesn’t have a mouthfeel like chewing on rose petals. This place tends to distract me; I came in hoping for the anniversary stout, and then attracted to the lager I make a beeline for the Pink Lady.
But Portland is humid and this crisp, cool ale stands defiant to it, like the gang; full of spitfire and bright color to stave off the mugginess. I can see her, standing with a hip cocked away from me and the pink jacket, rolling her eyes at the sky; what, ya gonna pay attention to that or to me?
Malts stay through this beer, winking at me before disappearing to the hops, a roasty moment amongst floral and Janice Joplin sings.
If only this place has less TV’s and more windows into the brewery, it might be perfect.

I could use a win

I poured out 5 gallons of the wit beer, because it tasted like death. To be accurate, it tasted like rotten creamed corn, and smelled like swamp water. Pouring bottles of beer down the sink is rarely a good feeling, but when it comes after failing a recipe and not being sure why, well that’s just sucks. Going upstairs to have a beer afterward, I have New Belgian’s Mothership Wit in my fridge.  I can’t help but wonder; Why the fuck doesn’t my beer taste like this? as I drink.

However, I want to move forward so I bottle the mild I’ve got in the newly empty bottles. It has a nose like honeysuckle, coming from the Kent Golding hops, and that gives me great hope for this batch of beer. I’m going to try and give this two weeks in the bottle before I crack one open-but most likely I’ll try it on Sunday, everhopeful. While cleaning my equipment I spied the porter I’d set aside a month ago.

Originally modeled after a recipe I found called ‘Black Widow Porter’, I found that the initial tastes of my beer were…uninspiring. This happens, but it’s still a bit of a downer when I spend a month working on a beer, only to have it come out flat. (ha-ha)

I\'m pleasedAs you can see, things have changed and much for the better. There’s a chocolate malt head on this beer and it tastes damn fine. The molasses component has receded giving way to a mocha element. It’s somewhere in between chocolate and coffee, with a touch of nuttiness in there.

I could probably leave it for a bit longer, too; there were tiny little gobbules of yeast dropping out of the beer, even as I poured it into the glass–I could see the CO2 generating from them as they stuck to the side. I just might do that.

I will be setting a few aside long-term; my Dad has mentioned on a couple of occasions that he wishes he could have some of my beer, and certainly Mrs. Malting will love this beer. It’s excellent, and right up her alley as taste goes.

It’s good to get a win sometimes. (And yes, I know I look rather goofy in this photo)

I’ve also started the next beer; a light-hybid thing with a NW Ale yeast from Wyeast that smelled like grape juice when I poured it in. I have no idea what’s coming from that.

Liquid Raspberry

The Belmont Station had a ‘Meet the Brewer’ night, spotlighting the Six Rivers Brewery. The new store is bigger, and now has a cafe attached to it, so meetups like this actually work without being insanely crowded. I was able to sample Six Rivers’ pale ale, IPA, and stout, and I had favorable impressions of them all but when I found out the raspberry lambic was on tap in the bar, off I went.

I just had a glass but it was a treat I’d been looking forward to for almost a month, having missed my chance to try it at Bailey’s Taproom. The barkeep had his near business persona on, a touch of surly in six river raspberry lambichim-I’m certain that if Iwas there on a day when it wasn’t crowded that he’d sit and chat with you, but his need to work ferociously meant he was not going to do more than pour my beer well and move along.

I took a long sip, and it was basically like drinking raspberries. Oh, I could fancy it up, tell you about a nose I could barely inhale (but had the ghost of raspberry in it) and use special words to explain how tart it was, but it comes down to this:

It was like drinking ripe raspberries. Sweet, then sour, with the effervescence acting like a new sphere on the berry exploding in your mouth. If you like raspberries, you’ll like this, and if you hate raspberries, you’ll hate it. I loved it.

Having the chance to talk to the brewer I asked him about the lambic specifically, and he told me that they used 448 pounds of raspberries in each batch-something like 60 pounds of raspberries per barrel! Also he used a belgain yeast instead of a lambic one (brett is the shortened name for a commonly used lambic yeast) and apparently it’s reacting in such a way that it’s giving him lambic qualities (sourness, really) but at a slower pace. Because brit is so difficult to clean, most brewers either don’t use it, or have to use it in a closed system-so using this yeast solved that problem for him.

At the brewery, he told me they make red and blacks: a stout they have on nitro topped with the raspberry lambic, which is like drinking a chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce.

Time to visit California again.

Ninkasi Tricerahops Double Red

I’ve been a fan of myths and dinosaurs since I was a little boy. As a result, just when I heard the name of this beer I was already inclined towards it. Sure, there’s a pun in the name and I’m not so big on puns, but it’s dinosaurs, ok? I’ve got a soft spot.

I also have allergies. The recent heat wave has caused a ruckus in my sinuses, so when I poured this hazy amber liquid, I held it up to get a wiff-sweetly floral, but hard to make out. It evaporated before I could get a hint of it and I am reminded that I’m not breathing as easy as I’d like.

Fortunately, my tongue still works, even on hot days. Sweet in front, and pretty much as long as it was in my mouth, the double red comes on strong. Once I swallowed, a deep resiny bitterness kicked in, lingering and very tasty.  I almost puckered my lips a little at the bitterness, strong enough to clear out most any spicy food, and a good reset for the taste buds. It’s an 8.8% beer so it really hits strong, but maybe on days when my nose isn’t so uncooperative I’ll be able to appreciate this beer even more.