Category Archives: misc

Health, Alcoholism and Craft Beer

I saw this thread at the beer Subreddit and read through a great many comments.  I have to confess, I cannot read a thread like that and ask myself some questions about my drinking. Portland is a drinking city, too, whether we want to say so or not: along with reading and strippers, great beer has come to be one of the ‘cool’ reasons to visit or live in Portland.

It’s a challenging thing to face, because these days beer not only gets you drunk, it also tastes really good.  On top of all of that, there’s this vibrant culture of people involved and they’re all excited about it. That combination is pretty damned heady for anyone, even a mentally healthy person.  For someone who isn’t in a very healthy place (and I occasionally include myself there) or who just flat out is suffering, I feel like there’s a risk for addiction that we should be vigilant about, even if we don’t discuss it much.

There are a lot of interesting comments and some good stories from people who are drinking too much, who scaled back, who learned various ways to moderate their behavior in such a way that it wasn’t detrimental (or as detrimental) to their lives. Discussions about volume of beer vs volume of alcohol, articles referencing medical studies, a whole host of people talking about judgment, about  need, and about health.

I personally think about this subject often. I have alcoholism in my family so I know that the potential is there. I also really like beer: I make it, I write about it and a great deal of my social activities involve beer at some point. At the same time, I don’t just sit around and drink, my health seems to be good, I exercise frequently and my ability to create a functional life doesn’t appear to be negatively impacted. That is: I have a job, I show up on time, I’m sober, I don’t alienate friends or family with my behavior when I drink, etc.

This is in part because, paradoxically, I want to keep drinking. Alcoholics have to stop drinking. But functional adults (which I sometimes qualify as)  get to do whatever they want. I keep an eye on my behavior, so I can keep doing the things I like to do.

It’s not a bad system, at least so far.


Collaborator Kenton IPA

The Collaborator project is a contest that Widmer and the OBC hold every year, where homebrewers submit what they feel are their most commercially viable beers for judging. It’s an interesting contest, because adherence to style is less important than the overall appeal of the beer. The winner then gets to have their beer brewed on Widmer’s small system for distribution around town! It’s a pretty cool project and I happen to know one of the winners of this year’s contest, so when they had a tapping of the beer last night at the Horse Brass, I went to check it out.

I also stole a couple of moments with the brewers, Jenn and Jeremie McPolander, who were nice enough make time to tell me a little bit about the Kenton IPA they made. The story goes that they’ve been trying to make a great IPA since they bonded over the style on their first date, years ago-at the Horse Brass, no less. With the Kenton, the beer was actually an experiment between Gigantic and Hopworks ale yeasts and they happened to like what Gigantic’s yeast did a little better. The beer itself was a last minute entry but the risk paid off, clearly! When Widmer and the McPolanders went to brew the beer, Gigantic was awesome provided yeast for the beer, so they could really get what they wanted.

This beer finishes very crisply. Spicy hop note, from Amarillo hops according to the notes, leading into bitterness appropriate for the style but it comes off the palate nicely. Lemon notes finish it off, with a tingle of effervescence.

The malt is very subtle for me; it’s there but I have to work it between my cheeks to really pick it up. The Kenton is pushing the NW IPA angle and it shows. This beer is for hopheads.

But not just hopheads! What impresses me most about this beer is how drinkable it is. I promptly want more after setting it down. It’s definitely hoppy, no question about that but it isn’t overpowering and it’s so clean that it really encourages multiple sips. I’m told this is the first IPA that has been selected for the Collaborator and it’s a worthy entry.

Big Brew Events

You know, I had a thing to post but then I read John Foyston’s piece celebrating homebrewing and thought, yeah, that’s better than what I have.

Because if you are interested in homebrewing, tomorrow’s Big Brew event (there are links at the end of Foyston’s article but I know FH Steinbart’s is having one for certain) is a good time to just check things out and see what it’s like. Even if you aren’t going to brew yourself and are curious how it’s done, it may be worth checking out and asking questions about. If there’s one thing homebrewers like more than beer, it’s talking about beer.

Dance Class Interlude

I’ve stopped for a Chasin’ Freshies by Deschutes before dance class. It is a terrible name for a beer because I sound hammered trying to say it and I’ve nary a drop.

It’s a good beer though, emphasizing the lemony bitterness of the hops strongly on the back end, but not ferociously.

Meanwhile, I kill time before class at the Slow Bar.  It’s more crowded than I expected, given how early it is. But I suppose Portland is a drinking city and if you have the time, then it’s time for a pint and the crowd here, which seems to cross age and income brackets, supports this notion.

I try not to think about dance class. It makes me nervous. Practicing a skill is good but when I practice brewing, the only one who has to suffer with the consequences is me. Dancing is a kind of public practice that opens you up to mockery, although that mockery is entirely internal.

Still, I’m here during happy hour and I get to have a fortification beer. Hard to complain, ennit?

OBF Haikus

Steel drums annoy
But then the conch shell comes out
What fresh hell is this?

Your apology
Rings as hollow as your soul
When you cut in line

Die die die die die
Repeat this five times next line

The variety
Of fruit beers is good but
The quality lacks

Dudebros to the north
Fortunately few beers to
Entice me over

Overhearing leads
To suggestions from strangers
My favorite part

Who says there’s nothing good on TV?

The new Brew Masters show on the Discovery Channel shows some fun promise. I haven’t had a chance to watch it, but you can check it out here. I’ve seen some clips and things seem a little…contrived or maybe just rough, at least when it comes to producing ‘drama’. Which I hope they don’t do, because who needs that? On the other hand, there are moments when they’re clearly being silly and trying to have some fun in order to make the show appeal to non-beer drinkers and I appreciate that. The show is not unwatchable by any means and the opportunity to see how QA is done or wildly different flavors are added is pretty cool, so I hope to give it my full attention at some point.