Category Archives: 7pm

7pm Crime Scene Pt 1

For those of you who will not get the reference in the title (which will be just about everyone but me): link.

A quick per lead me to Standing Stone‘s Milk & Honey. Hard to resist a beer with that kind of flavor influence.

I was involved in a hit and run last week. Just the hit part, (un)fortunately and thankfully, neither I nor my passenger was hurt. We didn’t collide at high speed, which certainly helped the health of the humans and the health of my vehicle but it was enough to bring me to a complete stop. After a quick check in, I pulled over to see what had happened to the other car… just in time to see it take a right on 9th and drive into the night, out of my presence forever, most likely.

I stood in the street, dumbfounded, wondering why the driver didn’t stop. Because it is weird when people don’t do what they’re supposed to do. There is a set of instructions that are to be followed post collisions and one person deciding to bail mucked the whole thing up. (Odds are, they didn’t have insurance.)

Now, all said and done? No one was hurt and my car still runs, so it’s the best of all outcomes, so far. There’s just that strange sensation of rules not being followed and a not so gentle reminder that we’ve done a great deal of rulemaking in the world, for good and ill, rules that are often just as easy to ignore as follow. The other driver had their reasons for ditching us and while I am irate at this I find it difficult to judge. It is easy to say, ‘If one is so poor they cannot afford insurance, then they shouldn’t drive’ but in the exercise of life, I find that simple axioms like this rarely fulfill all the obligations we find ourselves beholden to. Exceptions get made, rules get broken, all in a desperate hope that we’re doing what’s best, even when it’s wrong.

Everyone knows this but the fact of rulebreaking doesn’t make itself known too often. I have noticed, however, that when it does make itself known in my life, it tends to manifest itself physically.

The Standing Stone is a beer, in part, for people who are either not fond of beer or are new to the craft beer scene. Faint hint of corn on the finish, not unlike many macrobrews, with a maltier nose and some nice mild favors in the body. The honey is hinted at but not very strong and the beer is quite drinkable. Something good after a heavy meal or even an early autumn or late spring drink. I’d order it anytime but that would be when it would feel most appropriate.

It’s possible I am underselling this beer because it is so drinkable. One of the great challenges of someone who really loves something is to recognize the beauty of the ordinary and understand when it becomes worthy of our attention. That may be the case with this beer. I say try it and see what you think.

7pm Cold Seeps In

It took me a minute or two to decide but eventually I went for the Epic Double Skull doppelbock. Like sucking on a chocolate Popsicle, this beer offers me the essence of coca but not the solid. Also, and this is very, very weird but my first reference is a grape sucker, the cheap kind you’d get from the doctors office after a shot.

There are things I can explain but this is not one of them. I usually like Epic’s work but this beer? I can’t say it’s bad but I am hard pressed to recommend it, too. This dopplebock is not improving with warmth, either. It should be the perfect beer for a cold evening like this but it tastes thin and is coupled with a sweetness that is making me thirst for an ale with more body to it.

I think the holiday tuckered me out. Even for a Monday I feel a bit less animated, less engaging. More likely to say something I shouldn’t or, more exactingly, use words I do not mean to get across an idea that is dying on its feet.

Might be the chill in the air. Winter is finally descending onto Portland with clear skies and northern winds. It’s the kind of thing that sucks life away, down south, until I can fortify myself with scarves, whiskey, women and a steely eye.

I opt for a small Block 15 brown ale and I already feel better: this beer doesn’t taste as thin. Is that expectations or legit flavor making a case for itself?

Times like this, I wish I wasn’t drinking alone. Don’t get me wrong, I like these moments of contemplation but comparing notes when facing strange flavors is what makes this experience interesting.

Fortunately for me, someone comes in, asking for an IPA and weeds through her choices with that bartender to settle on the Pelican fresh hop ale. She’s visiting from Cleveland and loves the style; I tell her she’s in the right place. Wrong time, though: if she really wanted a bounty of IPAs, September would have been the time to arrive, with not only the traditional ipa bounty but the fresh hop ales too.

She tells me that there is a really good beer scene in Cleveland and somehow I’m not terribly surprised. A city like that, in the middle of the country is ripe for influences from all over and has an opportunity to bring the best ideas from everywhere to play. It may be a depressed place but where better to innovate?

It’s fun being an ambassador for Portland.

7pm Resistance

Silver Moon Purgatory's Shadow belgian dark aleI am drinking Silver Moon‘s Purgatory’s Shadow.

Man, I love that name. A dark name for a dark night, it’s a Belgian dark ale that apparently has been kept in Shiraz barrels. As a matter of fact, I am fairly certain that the juicy red wine nose and the touch of dryness at the end is what’s selling me on it. Plus a finish that is using very tiny bubbles to give the beer a lift, if you can imagine that, so it avoids the criticism of many darker beers.

Sandwiched in the middle of all that is a chocolate flavor; ball bearings to help this beer flow down the tongue.

As you might imagine, I like it.

I am being tempted by the Block 15 Figgy Pudding. There is a growler of it left, I am told but the price, while quite reasonable is difficult for me to justify given this season.

The chocolate notes are starting to appear in the nose of the Silver Moon. Apparently, this beer rewards contemplation.

I am going to not give in today. I don’t know what makes today that much different from other days and I’m certainly no stranger to spending money on something I feel justified in purchasing. Hell, I could probably base my fascination with games on this very impulse.

But today, restraint. There is going to be a wonderful week ahead of me where restraint will be malnourished but there’s no sense in getting ahead of myself.

Which leads me to my final point: I’ll be traveling this week, so no more posts until Monday. I wish everyone a happy and safe thanksgiving!

7pm Arrival

I was invited to the Lompoc Holiday Ale preview event, which, as always, is a super cool thing to be invited to. I’ll have a writeup on the beers I sampled on Wednesday but the spoiler alert is: they were interesting and/or good and I had a great time.

I arrived early, perhaps too early, with everyone noticing my entrance; Jerry, the owner of Lompoc, Chris, the PR woman who is responsible for my invite and John Foyston, who is one of the Elder Statesman of beer writing in Oregon.

No pressure.

But here’s the thing about events at the Sidebar; they are jovial and friendly and all around in the spirit of the holidays. Being there felt like the kind of event that kicks off your holiday season. It wasn’t long after I arrived that other people started to wander in and we all started to talk about beer and break up to…talk about beer again. I even had a chance to catch up with the folks at Taphandle, which was awesome and I’m hoping we are able to arrange a beer together soon.

Yet, the whole time I felt a little out of place. I was asked multiple times who I wrote for and that question made my brain go weird. What do you mean who do I write for? I write for me. I write for you.

But that isn’t what they meant, of course. I was even asked if I ever considered ‘monetizing my blog’ which also felt weird. I’m not against making money; hell, I’d be happy to have people pay me for this but I don’t know the first thing about such matters–and truthfully, that isn’t why I’m here. I’m here to talk to you.

It became a little clearer when I was talking to Josh, one of the new brewers at Lompoc. I told him I felt a little out of place and he said ‘You built this thing because you loved it’.

The only thing I could think at that moment was; well, yeah. Why else even bother?

And that’s why I can stand with the people–whose efforts I respect and appreciate–who have become those larger figures in the scene. I’ve spent my time and I can be proud of what I’ve done.

The money matters less than the interaction with people. Getting to hear the stories told in a pub is a reward that is very distinct from a paycheck and I’m fortunate and thankful that I am in a position to go to these events. I just recognize that I’ve earned that position and maybe don’t have too feel so awkward next time.

Plus, I’m thankful for those who have allowed me to be in such a position. Without an audience this would be a very different blog so I appreciate your attention.

7pm Gonzo

Maui‘s wee heavy which Scott the barkeep thinks he’d like if it was just a Scottish ale. I agree. So just pretend it’s a Scottish ale!

It’s a good thing to still be able to pretend.

The Maui is solid, it has that malt sugar bite I would expect from as Scottish but it’s maybe two percent alcohol and a hearty malt stickiness away from the wee heavy. I do like it, but it’s no coconut porter. I can pretend it’s a Scottish ale and be happy though.

I am thinking of Gonzo today. For some reason this song has been in my head today and, as songs go, that’s pretty damn good.

Gonzo always was the best: nobody else really threw themselves into things for the love of them the way he did, insisting that their weird way was fine. Loving chickens, thrilled to get shot out of cannons, dreaming of getting to that place where everyone loved him for his weird genuineness.

Don’t get me wrong: I always wanted to be Kermit (you have to aspire to and I always loved the color green) but I identified with the weirdo.

I think my biannual melancholy has come to rest upon my mantle. Nothing too serious, of course but I can tell that my glasses have been tinted with azure and venom. I recall friends lost and chances never properly taken. Nothing to do now but hope things worked out for everyone.

I suppose the election could be part of this, too. We’re all exhausted by it, I’m sure. Day after day of words and not deeds, the gridlock of verbiage flowing though our collective unconsciousness like so much effluvia needing to be flushed out to sea.

No wonder I want a beer.

7pm The Return

Elysian Kama CitraWhew. I have returned from my travels and am glad to be back in Portland, sitting at a table with an Elysian Kama Citra. It almost tastes like a grapefruit candy; I’m not sure why I enjoy this beer (aside from its quality construction as a beer) because I generally do not like the taste of grapefruit. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that, in the end, this isn’t grapefruit but hops giving me this flavor and there’s a certain je ne se quoi about that. Could be a mental thing but I hope not. Grapefruit tastes burny and doesn’t give me a buzz.

It’s nice to be home and it’s nice to be back at Bailey’s. I can tell I’m back in the way I’m able to settle in quickly and end up having a conversation with a stranger about homebrewing. His name is Jan and he’s been doing this for about 30 years, he says. Teaches me about trisaccarides, then goes on to tell me about traveling in England, on a July 4th, back in the day.

“You used to be able to tour breweries and they’d give you free food and drinks,” he says, “so we’d stay in hostels and went through Europe on $2.17 a day.” Then he recounts going to a brewery in Burton-On-Trent and getting a free chit for the brewery’s beer, anywhere in town, for that day.

At that point, the only thing to do was to convince the Japanese tourists who were heading back to London that day to give him and his friend their unused chits. Which they did!

You can imagine the revelry, I’m sure.

“So we’re drunk and lost at two in the morning, when this nine foot shadow comes up behind us. I’m naturally more than a little startled, when I hear, ‘Can I be of any assistance to you gentlemen?’

“Turns out, it was a cop with one of those bobby  hats making him look huge. I take one look at him and say, ‘We’ve lost our tent.’ ”

At this point I’m laughing so hard I can barely stay in my seat. Only in England and certainly not in this century could a story like this happen.

“Cop says, ‘I believe I can assist you with that,’ and he takes us back to our tent. Makes sure we’re safe and settled in and then asks us, ‘Would you like coffee or tea, tomorrow?’

‘Coffee,’ I say because…” and I nod. What else are you going to ask for?

“Well the next day, sure as hell, cop shows up about 9 am, after his shift, two coffees in hand. ‘Happy 4th of July,” he says.”

Man, I love going to the pubs.

7pm The Secretary

The OBC is having a meeting tonight and because I am the Secretary, it trumps my usual writing responsibilities. Tonight’s meeting is at the pioneering Hair of the Dog brewery, founded by a former member of the OBC and always a treat.

I am given a glass of something that, when I’m told the name, I am unable to understand. It’s a guest tap and it smells lovely; bourbon and maple wrapped together in a fantastic helix. But the ale is flat and the beer tastes thin, watery. I really want to like this mystery beer but I can’t.

I try a variety of house ales that don’t suit me for various reasons, until I get a Fred from the Wood that’s been infused with a peach lambic which is excellent.

I’ve been the Secretary for the OBC for two years and it’s been one of the more rewarding volunteer opportunities I’ve had. I’ve gotten to write, I’ve been compelled to listen, I’ve had the chance to edit, I’ve learned information that has helped me brew a better beer and most importantly, I’ve had a reason to connect with other homebrewers. This is pretty awesome.  I’ve gotten to meet people and connect with people, which isn’t the easiest thing for me to do.

However, I also feel that I’ve put in my time. It’s been a great thing to help people remember past meetings or learn from the educational opportunities but I am tired of this obligation and wish to put it aside for a little while. I want to not have to worry about this for a little while. Someone else can take over and do the things I do, while I go an recoup some of the time I’ve put into this, into something else.

7pm The Kids Are Alright

“They’re the next generation,” he said to me with an eye rolling cocktail of despair and disgust.

To be fair, the two young men were annoying. Boys, if I had to guess. Talking almost-too-loudly on the bus about such fictions of sex, rebellion and growing a beard this winter. Popping a bubble in the plastic tint of the window, talking of plans to see Dredd and sounding just a bit like Mugsy and Bugsy in their relationship as they parted ways.

I looked at this man with the grizzly gray beard, square glasses and red jacket and said: “I was them, not that long ago,” a shrug rolling from my right to left side. If I’m worried about anything, it’s what the next generation will learn from us.

I’m relating this over a Full Sail Hopenfrisch: their fresh hop offering. It’s a pilsner with Pearle hops and my initial sips were very, very favorable. Light, grassy elements that were pleasantly refreshing.

About one-third of the way through my pint, I have changed my mind drastically. The aftertaste on this beer is sticky and not in a good way. It could be hop bitterness, maybe: the beer certainly isn’t balanced well. This is surprising, because if I would have thought any style would benefit from the mildness of fresh hops, it would be a pilsner.

No. They went wrong here, somehow. The lack of malts means that the bitterness is overwhelming. This beer is actually challenging me to drink it, some kind of horrible gauntlet of bitter hop bite punching my taste buds with every sip. The fresh hop flavor at the beginning is overwhelmed by whatever they used for bittering and it’s ruined the beer for me.

But it was either this or the pumpkin beers and I have no interest in those. Those beers are for the next generation. People who love novelty more than beer because that kind of thing is new to them. Not that I resent a brew tasting like pumpkin pie, there’s just nothing to discuss about it and it’s not worth drinking any other time of the year.

I was one of those people too, not that long ago. Hell, sometimes I still am.

7pm The Expertise of Others

Short list of things I wasn’t expecting: the laptop to die. I thought I had 90 minutes on the battery…Oh well. Backup gadget to the rescue!

Current drink is Long‘s ipa: a fresh hop with citra, centennial and cascade hops. They smell like mild grapefruit and taste grassy and delicious.

Had to go through a couple taster beers to get there, though. 10 barrel’s Rude Boy Roggenbier (a rye ale) didn’t appeal to me and Ft George, usually very a reliable creator of suds made a Flanders nut red that had a bizarre tang to it that went after the sides of my tongue and the roof of my mouth. Something went awry there that I did not want any further part of.

Thanks to the awesome bartender who told me the Long ipa is great. I rely on their experience all the time, I appreciate their input and I’m not sure they get much credit.

By now, this beer has been warming up for about five minues and it’s just gotten better. Grassy, grapefruit like qualities but all subdued and easily drinkable. This one is a winner, even if it is a bit more expensive.

It’s pleasantly uncrowded tonight. Maybe the threat of fall is keeping people home? Maybe it’s football? Hard to say. Still, it’s nice: more relaxing, more like a Monday night at a pub ought to be: everyone else stay home!

I don’t actually feel as grumpy as that might sound but I’ve learned to value the low key nights. They let you create the space you want to be in, instead of fighting for a spot in the cacophony. Everybody deserves those chances in their favorite spots from time to time.

7pm On Love

As I approached Bailey’s tonight, I walked through a small park and saw a man sitting outside a bathroom. Two people seemed to emerge from it, a man and a woman. She says with a giggle and a missing tooth to the sitting fellow: “He’s my husband,” (so it’s OK).

The sitting man shrugs: “It’s all the same to me,” he says with a smile. As they cross the street away from me, I see her wrap her arm around his waist.

I leave it to the reader to extrapolate what happened.

Two weeks ago I was on the bus home from work when I noticed a young woman who was obviously upset. Her face as pink as her unicorn shirt, cheeks swollen, she bravely held onto a strap for balance, trying not to explode in public. Crying or nearly crying people have a strange radiance, one that allows for most people to shun them in public. I wanted to ask her what was wrong but society frowns upon strange older men talking to younger women. I took my seat.

Eventually, the bus cleared out and she came to the back where nobody sat but I, and as she passed I asked her if she was alright.

“Yes,” she said with pause to remove her backpack before sitting. “Boys.”

Ah. They can suck, I told her sympathetically. (It is at this point I can only apologize to the lovely women who dated me to whom I was less than stellar.)

belgian stout(At the memory of this, I take a sip of my Pfriem belgian stout. As a becoming on the road to enlightenment, I can only say that sometimes, my path was less clear than others. I hope that, for the most part, they forgive me, should they think of me at all.)

I go back to reading, despite wanting to know more because, again; I’m unsure how to find the line between kindness and mistakenly creepy. But it rapidly becomes apparent that she is unable to hold it together, wiping her eyes and nose, head down, trying to hide her pain from everyone.

I reach down into my satchel and pull out a gray hanky and pass it to her. “This bullshit will pass,” I say.

She nods and half smiles, watery eyes behind hip glasses. I suddenly get the impression that she doesn’t really need my help at all: she actually seems to be fairly with it, merely overcome by a broken heart and who hasn’t been there?

So I say no more. This thread in my life will remain untied as I approach my stop and ask for my kerchief back. She apologizes for making a mess and I assure her: “It’ll wash.” I leave, not knowing her story, hoping that this small act made her better, in the end.

Who can say?

This beer is excellent. I don’t know that I’d call it a stout, except that it really is working some dense flavors of coffee and maybe something a little treacly?  Hint of licorice? Mouthfeel tilts more towards a porter but I believe the ABV heads any notion of being a lighter beer off at the pass.

Not but two days later, standing outside the Horse Brass, a tall, handsome black man approaches our group, asks if he can join us smoking. He can of course, and as he returns the lighter to his pocket he gestures towards the circle, in a scene from a Cameron Crowe movie and asks us:

“How do you get over someone?”


“How do you get over someone? Let’s talk about love.”

Nobody seems to have an answer for him. It’s weird; as though everyone else has been so lucky at love that they have never looked at their lives and thought: I would turn this into a smoking wreckage if only I didn’t have to hurt like this.

I tell him: “At some point, you have to accept that if you loved them, part of them is with you forever. You may do the work of chipping away what you don’t want, so you can keep what you want but you have to accept what you loved.”

He seems doubtful. He wants it to happen now, not later. The conversation drifts, he’s from Detroit, does video work, isn’t interested in not doing things, he wants to be proactive. I try again.

“Ever hear of the MC5?”

Hear of but not heard, he replies. Kids these days! You gotta know “Kick out the jams, motherfucker!

“The guitarist, Wayne Kramer, became an alcoholic and did a song called ‘Doing The Work’, and it’s about how he deals with his alcoholism; by getting up every day and doing the work to not drink. Which is how you deal with any long term pain,” I say, “because the work doesn’t care if you’re tired or hungry or happy or anything. It just needs you to do it. Even if your work is not doing anything about something.”

He nods. “I like that,” he says, “I think I’m going to start that right now,” and he goes back inside to rejoin his friends.

I’ve finished my beer. It’s got a bit of an acrid bite on the end but it’s not overwhelming so doesn’t bother me much. I like it but I desperately want to try a fresh hop ale, because the shelf life on those is so short.

Last weekend, I ran into a woman who knew an ex-girlfriend. One with whom things did not end well, though we made peace years later.

“I ran into J,” she tells me, a little breathless, as though she can’t wait to tell me this because she doesn’t have any idea of what else to talk to me about.

The ex is doing well, I’m told, has a second kid, is happy. Good for her.

I smile and introduce my girlfriend, who is awesome and is who I am in the present for.