Category Archives: 7pm

7pm There Be Dragons. Go.

I haven’t even been here 30 seconds before the barkeep pours me a sample. I take it. Commons‘ Little Brother is a Belgian dark strong, has a hint of raisin in the nose and drinks like an amber with a gentle sour stroke at the end. Cherry-ish. It isn’t until it hits my belly that the alcohol blooms and it registers that I’ve got a 9% beer. It’s a pretty damn good one but given the strength I’m glad I got a small glass.

Maybe I’ll have another. I probably should. It’s worth investigating further. One to celebrate my release, if you will.

I am looking forward to being untethered from this place for a bit. Like a much lesser Ponce de Leon, I have a new world to investigate and bring word back from. I expect I will do it without finding gold, magic fountains or destroying he local population, but you never know. I might get bored.

Also, I want to move from this theme. Being in the same place at the same time has almost become a job, and despite this particular job providing me beer, it still drains some of the fun out. Being able to come on days other than Monday at times of my choice mean that I will be allowed to enjoy this experience as things are meant to be enjoyed: when you feel like it.

On the upside, the consistency has allowed me to meet with friends, usually to play cards but just like making an appointment to drink, it’s all just a mask for hanging out. Hanging out is why I shall be back soon. I don’t know how many places I can walk to from my new location but I do know it will take me over a month and into realms uncharted. It might even take me east of 82nd, which…well, maybe it won’t.

The point is, I’m only leaving for a little while. There are people to talk to and adventures to have. If I come back for resupply, I doubt anyone will mind.

7pm Second To Last Call…

…with a glass of Full Sail‘s Vendell’s Veizen, a weizenbock. The wheat malt is definitely offering a little more body, a touch of sweetness that sticks around, albeit lightly, until the next sip. I like it.

Man next to me on the rail has a messenger’s bag and is trying to explain why he’d never had a Firestone Walker beer- “hate where they’re from, hate the label-but he is persuaded to try a Double Jack, their awesome imperial IPA and my next drink. He likes it and realizes he should let go of his prejudices. I’m about 80% certain that he’s going past his limit, though it doesn’t seem to be in a bad way.

I have been feeling some wanderlust. While getting the ducks in a row for last week’s post I noticed I had 57 photos as part of the 7pm series, which suggests I have been doing this for more than a year. In that time I have, amongst other things, moved and there is a whole new neighborhood to explore, one that makes me a little nervous.

Which is the best reason to start checking it out. I live here: I belong. Plus, I have a hunger for novelty and though this novelty may have me drinking some very tasteless beer, I still need to know what is out there. Information is power and the more I know about my new location in town, the better.

But I think I’ll start in March. The weather ought to be improving by then, so I’m less likely to get drenched while going for my beer.

7pm Sparky

I have discovered the secret of a good wit, thanks to Double Mountain‘s White Riders of Conquest.

It tastes like applesauce. Homemade applesauce, with a nice dose of cinnamon and a hint of brown sugar, woven between an apple that isn’t quite as tart as a Granny Smith but has a similar dryness. It is good and you should try it, if this description appeals at all.

It’s a rather full bar but I am looking for Sparky….and he is not here. He’s a big man with a ZZ Top style beard, Lennon sunglasses, and a big smile. Smart, too: I seem to be fortunate in running into people who are smarter than me. We ran into each other often in the early days of this blog but it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen him and I suspect he and I are just not crossing paths. I certainly hope so: last we spoke he’d told me of some health issues he was working through so I hope he’s well. With the increased business I’ve noted on Mondays, he may just be stopping by at quieter times. He has struck me as the kind of man who prefers a calmer space.

Not that he isn’t boisterous: man has a hell of a laugh. Just that I got the impression he likes his cool down times to be cool. I get that.

Some nights the past comes back a little stronger though and I miss it. It’s weird: I don’t miss highschool for shit, for example. That whole event in my life could be hit with an H-bomb and I would not feel the slightest twinge. But there have been times when I have found small communities amongst the internet (many now defunct, sadly), amongst the odd, at the bars, and I find that I miss them. I do not know how to connect with them beyond being present whenever I can, leaving the door open should the distance between us be closed. What I do know is that there are people who are lost to me and I wish that they weren’t. It is life: a perfect imperfection.

There are many, many ways to go from here. Melancholy calls, evoking from the heart a longing for what could have been, made out from the cottonstuff of what was. However, I prefer to think of pubs a bit like Munden’s in Cynosure. Or perhaps Callahan’s. Someplace where anything is possible and the past can be as joyfully present as the future, and people would rather sit down and have a drink, bury the hatchet and talk, than bicker over who should have called whom last. So it is with Bailey’s. I prefer to think of it as a place where Sparky–or other absent friends–could come in and all would be well and whenever they choose to arrive next is entirely OK.

7pm Overkill

Faint trace of chocolate malt in the nose of Standing Stone’s Riverkeeper Brown and I want to like this, because the flavors are correct. The finish is a thin though; a watery, limp end where something stronger ought to stand. I begin to wonder: do I have this style all wrong? Maybe my malt expectations are a bit high. Thankfully, I live in an age where I can ask questions and get answers.

It’s pretty amazing sometimes, living like I do. I don’t know that this is acknowledged enough. I am fortunate enough to exist in a place where I can see and talk to people on the other side of the world, I can share experiences with strangers but more importantly, I have an opportunity to listen to people who, for whatever reason won’t sit down to have lunch with me. It’s a chance to become more human, in a roundabout way. (Just never read the comments.)

I can find out, just by asking, what the characteristics of a brown ale can be, or the stats of Optimus Prime (a word my iPad knows to capitalize), the name of Motorhead’s second album, or what to do to prepare fig trees for the spring. I can experience how other people translate solitude or a crush, get the best criticism of Ayn Rand or Scientology ever, through things that never even mention those words, and from a great distance I can celebrate the small triumphs of lives that will be unsung in history. Those lives matter to me and that is enough.

It isn’t a perfect world but I don’t want to focus on that tonight. Tonight I just want to be amazed.

7pm Disappointment

After much searching and a little sampling (thank you, Bailey’s staff, for patiently indulging my indecision) I settled on a 21st Amendment Baby Horse. It was a Belgian Quadrupel and this is one of those styles that can be amazing or can really be too sweet and not finish well. However, 21st Amendment has made some excellent beers. I trust them.

This beer had a cinnamon note on the front, which followed through to the beginning flavor, then went overly sweet, finishing like an orange gumdrop.

“So it’s disgusting,” a compatriot said, once I described it to him.

Yes. Yes it is. It’s not Maple Bacon Stout disgusting, it’s not so horrific that I think that there was some kind of huge mistake…except that wow, this feels like a mistake. The flavor notes are supposed to suggest spice and ripe fruit or even have a dry finish similar to white wine but this is just not even close. Spice, OK, orange, OK: that is, I can see the argument for the presence of those flavors but not in this presentation.

I can’t recommend it. Maybe someone else can appreciate it? It is difficult for me to imagine a brewery as solid as 21st Amendment releasing a beer that, to me, is so weird and offputting. Not every beer is for my palate, of course, but still…I usually endorse what they do. So this feels weird.

I wait, writing something completely different, unable to connect my thoughts together. It’s been like that for the past few Mondays. I don’t exactly know why but I don’t question it. I am writing and it’s part of the work. Some days are more challenging than others, which is the nature of the beast. My job is to show up and do the work and sometimes, we’ll all just admit that the beast gets the better of me. In meantime, the beer gets a chance to warm up and perhaps that will help reveal some flavors that weren’t there before.

I have to admit, the ale does smooth out a touch. The transition between cinnamon and gumdrop aren’t as sharp; both ends of the beer have muted themselves into a blend that ‘harmonizes’ them. But I put that word in quotes because it just isn’t a harmony I find appealing.

Better luck next time.

7pm

“You don’t get both,” I said to my girlfriend, as she held up a stout and a Train Wreck from Butte Creek, a barleywine, comparing them with a critical eye, sniffing from each glass deeply. She ponders and chooses the barleywine, leaving me Boulder‘s oak aged oatmeal stout. I can live with this.

She takes a sip and makes a face. It’s not hoppy enough, she says and though I’m not sure that a hoppy barleywine is to style, I am not in a position to argue. Something seems strange about it, that’s for sure. I can’t place it but the beer doesn’t finish with that kind of smooth maltiness I would expect nor a hop-like bitter note. Instead there is a sour note to it which suggests that there’s something else going on. What, I just don’t know.

She tries some of my stout and makes another face: “Something like burnt rubber in there” and crazily enough, she doesn’t like that. I don’t get those flavors but I do get s a touch of antiseptic, as if this ale was too clean. It’s also not the way I would expect a stout to taste. Something isn’t right and I can’t put my finger on what.

Some nights, there are misses.

But only insofar as the beer is concerned. The bar is still a bit on the low key side (I think the cold is still keeping people away) but it also seems more boisterous than last week. There is a vibe in the air, as though people are resisting the dark nights more. Maybe I’m just imagining it and the music is louder but it feels like people are snarling at the cold, reminding winter that it can’t keep us indoors. I’ve got great company, so the beer can take a backseat for once.

7pm Winter Is Here

I purchased the Two Beers The Hearth, a winter warmer because I recently made a winter warmer and as I was bottling it, I became dismayed. The molasses had taken over the beer, giving it a metallic finish; the harsh note that can end a drop of molasses had not faded at all. What did this mean for the beer? Could it improve?

As an aside, I really like Two Beers’s motto. Let’s move on.

I chose this style to give me a basis for comparison when I open my own beer up in a few weeks. ┬áThe Hearth’s molasses is still overwhelmingly noteworthy scent wise but the beer doesn’t finish too harshly. Carbonation helps mellow it out quite a bit.

I feel a little relieved. There’s still plenty of time for my beer to turn out drinkable, even if I don’t want more than a glass a night. Perfect way to stretch the next few beers out and maybe give the lager I’ll be taking a stab at soon plenty of time to sit there and do whatever lagers do.

Because it is finally cold in Portland, so it’s time to take my shot at lagers again.

The chill has steeped into the city: I can tell because the pub is a bit slower than usual. Why go out? Home is warm and you can wear comfy pants.

This winter warmer needs an accompaniment, though. The caramel at the end suggests tiny nibbles of something vanilla-y. Crunchy, maybe? Cake, for certain. I am not fond of German chocolate cake but I can see this being a good drink to wash some down with.

There is a school of thought that says this means the beer is flawed. Ales should be able to stand on their own.

I don’t subscribe to this. Some flavors are just ones that beg for a complement and who are we to deny complements?

However, I am drinking without complements. Dinner is long past and dessert nowhere in sight. Another ale? Yes. This beer has given me the message: my homebrew may still turn out well. I can move on to another.

7pm Jealousy

I have come into Bailey’s after a few weeks away–happy holidays everyone!–and nothing stood out until I saw Caldera‘s Oatmeal Stout.

I am jealous of this beer. I shouldn’t be, because I am not a professional brewer and I do not have the same kind of expertise or equipment. But that jealousy exists, a dense little voice that is shaking tiny fists at the brewing gods.

The stout has a dense nose, like a cappuccino bean covered in chocolate and the oatmeal offers this beer a nice smoothness on my palate. It’s tasty and wonderful and….

And I made a stout that was not as good.

I’ll talk about that more in a few days but what it will boil down to is that I have come very, very close and missed the mark. Caldera’s beer? Dead on.

Now, after a year of improvement in my brewing it is a little frustrating to miss the mark. Especially to miss it by such a small (but critical) detail.

However we  celebrate the new year for a reason; to demarcate transitions, improvements, failures, to give ourselves an opportunity to amend what was broken, hold up trophies for what was good and say goodbye to the rest.

I hope everyone had a happy new year.

7pm Excess

I was able to sample a great many beers yesterday and I’ll talk about that on Wednesday. For today, however, I wouldn’t say that I am suffering from my indulgences but weary. No beer and no tv may make Homer something something but too much beer has burnt me out. Too many flavors, too much stuff and I’m just tired.

Excess is not a topic brewers and beer drinkers discuss often, I think. Maybe there just isn’t too much to say? Of course if we have to discuss excess too frequently, we become ex-drinkers. It’s an idea that makes me a little nervous, honestly. I know myself well enough at this point to understand that I like too much of the things I like. I don’t want to go to stop drinking: it’s tasty and provides inebriation. However, if I drink too much too frequently then I have to stop drinking entirely. It is the curse of being a grownup: you can finally afford the really awesome stuff you wanted as a kid but now you know there are consequences for getting what you wanted.

Want what you want but acquire it moderately, I suppose.

Green Flash extra pale aleMy weariness of beer has lead me to sip on the Green Flash extra pale, one of the lower ABV ales on tap and a restrained beer in comparison to all the other winter ales on tap.

It’s a nice drink, very clean and bright: if I hadn’t been told it was an extra pale, I would probably call this a pilsner. It’s at least comprable to one.

My experience is flawed only by a perfume in the air, someone nearby smells like…Lysol, of all things. I only catch hints of it but it’s enough to throw off my nose when I sip my beer. I don’t know who thought that would be a good scent to head into the wild with but they should rethink that choice. Still, this is a pretty mild complaint. The evening is so surprisingly pleasant! The bar is just busy enough to be lively but not too loud, it’s cold out but it isn’t stormy; I would have expected something a touch more subdued, given winter.

Nice night with a nice ale. Even so, it may be a very good week for juice.

7pm Jimmy

I am sipping on Boulder’s Killer Penguin barley wine. Which is such a great name, I don’t even know what to tell you. If you don’t like it, I’m not sure how we are friendly. I’m uncertain if I’m fond of this ale, though; the warm, caramel notes I would expect don’t pop up, so I sit and wait for the beer to warm up a little. Barley wines often shift a bit with some warmth; I might as well give this a little space to breathe and see what happens.

It’s a little quieter than usual this evening, just one reason it is a pleasure to run into Geoff (the owner) tonight. We get a chance to talk, which, given the mild rarity of this event, I always appreciate. The window into the business of slinging suds holds almost as much interest as brewing for me, because both are inexorably tied with people and people still fascinate me.

The barley wine is starting to shift now, tasting like a caramel dipped tangerine. If that doesn’t convince you to give this a shot, I don’t think I can persuade you any other way. Is the Killer Penguin great? Noooo, but it’s worth your time to have some and see what you think, I say.

I ask Geoff about his new(ish( decor and he tells me what he was hoping for there. I like it: informational, classy, something to read, what more could I ask for?

It’s at this point he notices one of the staff playing with a top, bought from the dollar store.

“That reminds me,” he says, “I always meant to get a twenty sided die for this place.”

I can’t help myself: “Do you need some? I can pick them up at PAX or hell, even now: I have a bunch.” I’m here, dude, Party on. Let’s go. 20 sided? 6 sided? Tokens? I got it all…

“No,” he says, “I need one now so people can roll for beer.”

I dip into my bag; “This one (white with black print) or this one (red with white print)?” I pick those dice because they will be easy to read under the bar lights and because I have no fear of replacing them if I have to.

He holds them up, unsure. He turns to one of the barkeepers, Scott, who I know is a geek, “Which one?” It’s a setup and I know it, even if nobody else does. Scott is going to choose the red with white because that the style of die that came with the D&D game in The 80s .

Which he does. I suggest that they give the die a name, like Jimmy or Darla, so that when someone asks, ‘What should I have?’ the barkeep can tell them, “Well, Jimmy says, (quietly rolling die) this beer!” Another bartender picks up on Jimmy almost immediately, so I suppose that’s what will stick.

Who is Jimmy? The oracle at Delphi. Sort of. But ,with beer.

And that is my contribution to this pub. Which is nice, because my writing is online and thus, ephemeral. Nobody can hold an essay I wrote about being here and read it while drinking here. But they can roll a die and let a random chance decide their fate…a random chance I held in my hand. Pretty sweet.