Category Archives: Front Porch Cats

Front Porch Chats #58/Second Pint AIF

I’m having Stormbreaker’s Big City Brown ale and…I really like brown ales. I wish my attempts to brew them were more successful.

Stormbreaker's Big City Brown ale, in glass on table outdoors

This one has subtle qualities of chocolate and coffee; it doesn’t go full chocolate covered espresso bean, but there’s a ghost of one in there.

An easy ale for some deeper thoughts.

Last weekend, I assisted with the presentation of the Women’s International Beer Summit, which was pretty neat!

Meagan Anderson did a presentation on how her life was impacted when she decided to quit drinking-as a member of the beer industry. She spoke of how her life changed, and how she maintained her abstinence through exercise, meditation, mindfulness exercises, and supportive people.

This was a fascinating talk, reminding me a little bit of Pete Hamill’s A Drinking Life, which was his account of stopping drinking as a reporter-and all his friends and coworkers drank.

Now, while I’m not going to stop drinking, I remember thinking: I need to make sure I am doing the things that keep me healthy-in all states. It isn’t a secret that I drink: I write a beer blog, and I homebrew.

But I also play games, and write, and take walks every day, and read as much as I can. I am fascinated by stories and how they are told. I attempt to say, ‘fuck fascists’ as often as I can. I have friendships to maintain; it’s a life-one that takes some tending to, as any life does.

What I’m driving at is that I hope that everyone reading this is remembering to take time to care for themselves, to do the things that matter to them. Sometimes that means changing certain behaviors entirely-but often, in my experience, it usually means stopping for a little bit to take care of things you might neglect in the hustle and bustle.

You deserve better and taking time to care for the things you care about helps you get there.

Today’s second pint goes to the American India Foundation.

Front Porch Chats #57/Second Pint PPP

Weekend Brewing- American Wheat ale in glass on table outside

I appreciate when things are named for what they are. Case in point: Weekend Brewing’s American Wheat ale.

It is what it says it is. Reminds me of a candy store I saw in New York City called “Sugar”. Yup. That’s what it sells.

Don’t get me wrong; longtime readers of the blog know I can’t really resist any beer named after a mythical monster, or a heavy metal pun but I also like things that go solidly the other direction.

Also, I’m not sure if I’ve had an American Wheat ale before. But I have to say: I like this. Grainy but not overly sweet, a dry finish but I wouldn’t say it’s from a hop character. It’s a quaffable ale, rewarding lazy warm evenings.

The rain has come back to Portland-and though we are still under drought warnings I hope the rain abates some of that. It’s still pleasant enough to sit outside and hear the water drip down the spouts.

It’s also been a scary week in Oregon, as we’ve had the highest COVID infectious rate in the nation-a little payback, I suppose, for getting lucky at the beginning of it all.

But we aren’t immune yet, aren’t out of the woods. Nothing like what India is experiencing, either.

So I am staying on the porch for the foreseeable future. I figure most of the summer, maybe. Picking up food on my way home is easier than ever, and we’re at the time of the year where it’s easy to be outside.

Is it still barbaric? Well…yes, but I do have the civilized touch of being on my own front porch. So it’s hard to bitch about it, because doing this is a small action in part of a larger system. A system that desperately needs us to take as many small actions as we can, if we want to help each other, and/or change it, depending on the topic.

If you know what I mean.

Today’s second pint goes to the People’s Parity Project.

Front Porch Chats #56/Second Pint OEF

Von Ebert Wermut ale in glass on table outside.

Sour ale for a sour week.

Von Ebert’s Wermut has what I’ll call ‘the fandom problem’.

To someone like me, who loves heavy metal, I can distinguish between black, thrash, drone, djent, stoner, etc. But for someone who doesn’t, it’s all noise to them.

I don’t like sour ales. All I get is something vinegary and it practically doesn’t matter what kind of sour ale it is. It’s not the beer, it’s me.

I suppose the week was full of a lot of things I don’t like, though none of these things have the fandom problem. The have entirely different problems.

I’ll admit, I don’t think humans are evolved enough to not have some kind of law enforcement presence. We do dumb shit, all the time-and sometimes we’re mean about it.

But I do believe that we’ve evolved enough to have a better thing than the police. I am certain that we can have better than an unaccountable agency that murders people, targeting Black and Brown people, and is allowed to walk away from it without a reckoning.

They should just fire any police officer who kills someone, and force them to go through the process of being rehired. If they engaged in justifiable homicide, I’m sure they’ll be rehired. In the meantime; they can go on trial as an unemployed person.

I see that we’ve also returned to our ‘weekly mass shooting’ in America. Boy, didn’t take long after the vaccine arrived and people started to feel like they could leave their homes for ol’ shooting spree to return.

Really does seem like there’s an accountability problem there, too. But, pre-accountability, if you will, like maybe, JUST MAYBE, you should have to have special trainings and licenses if you want a device that can murder someone.

Any device. I gotta have a license and training to drive a car, and more trainings to drive different vehicles. At least in my Honda, I can legitimately claim to be transporting cans of soup to my home.

Can’t really say that an AR-15 as multiple uses.

Finally, there’s the “we’re going to outright proclaim our hatred” of the GOP.

There’s an accountability problem too-why are the people of Georgia or Colorado or Florida or ANYWHERE in this country not telling people who want to form this America First Caucus to eat shit?

Never have I seen so many people scream how much they love America, while simultaneously doing their damnedest to hate people. You know; Americans.

Don’t get me wrong; they’re going to insist it’s about ‘liberals’ or ‘protecting children’ or ‘values’ but put some windex on that glass and you’ll see right through to the Black, immigrant, female, and trans populations they really, really want to murder. You know: Americans.

Just like the cops. Just like shooting sprees.

Seems like it’s all tied up in one big raging pile of evil, doesn’t it?

Maybe it is the fandom problem, after all.

Today’s second pint goes to the Oregon Energy Fund.

Front porch Chats #54/Second Pint OSPRIG

Flattening the Nerves IPA from Hop Capitol in glass outside

“Have you gotten the vaccine yet?”

Some variation on this question has been all up in my business this week .

So it’s time for some Flattening the Nerves IPA from Hop Capitol brewing. What started off as a perfume-y, orange nose quickly left the scene and I’m left with something a little more dank. The bitterness is a tongue scraper too; a little like shedding pine needles. With a bit more malt character in the middle I’d probably enjoy this one more. As it stands, I’d recommend it for hopheads but caution anyone else.

“Have you gotten your shot?”

~sigh~

No, I haven’t. But it isn’t because I don’t want one. I very much do! However, I have certain luxuries: a job that isn’t front facing and allows me to hang out in my office, good health, and am relatively young. I’m ineligible, for now.

And while there might be vaccines available in other counties, the Oregon Health Authority has asked people not to travel to other counties, as the vaccine is distributed by population count, quite sensibly. People going to another county to get vaccinated throws the numbers off. Or worse, denies someone the vaccine in that county who should have one.

What I’m getting at here is that it’s my responsibility to keep distancing from people, to use the nice days as a great excuse to see people outside, to wear a mask and practice good hygiene, so that other people who have a higher risk than myself can go first.

Nurses. Grocery store employees. Farm laborers. Transporters. People with health conditions. Older folks. There is, when I give it a bit of thought, quite the list of people who are in line ahead of me.

And that’s is OK. That’s how it ought to be. I have the luxuries, I have the responsibilities.

When I’m eligible, give me an appointment. I’ll show up, I promise.

Today’s second pint goes to OSPRIG.

Front Porch Chats #53

It’s too blustery to be outside drinking today-March’s lion hasn’t given up on the month yet, and this helles ale from The Bruery is ill suited to the weather.

The Bruery-Helles in glass on table outside.

It’s a damn fine helles though; little sourdough in the nose, a nice bready quality near the finish and it’s a crisp ale that probably deserves a sandwich compliment, instead of southern winds and rain.

Still, we work with what we got.

I’m still drinking on my porch, because it’s still necessary. The pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere…so I guess I don’t, either? We’re almost there, though. ALMOST. We just need to keep doing the work of keeping each other safe.

Which I suppose we always have to do, but for this moment let’s just keep on the pandemic work.

Days like this though, remind me why I like drinking in a pub; despite how gloomy this spring day may look, a pub can be lively and a good counterweight. Plus, you can meet people there: strangers, friends, and I miss that too.

Still, warmer days are coming. Healthier ones, too I hope, as more people get vaccinated. There’s a lot to complain about, and still a lot to do but I’m going to have this bright beer on a gray day and just be alright with it. Patience is not easy but things take as long as they take, and sometimes there’s no rushing it.

Front Porch Chats #52\Second Pint

2015 Full Sail bourbon barrel aged stout in glass on table outside

Got a special one today! This is the imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels from Full Sail, circa 2015. The fellow at Beermongers said that he ‘found a box’ (which, ok, suuuure you did) and viola! I have a beer. This is usually one of my favorites from Full Sail and one of my favorites examples of this style.

This one is complicated. There’s a touch of sour in here-which is absolutely related to the coffee flavor-and although the initial nose is all bourbon all the time, it fades fast. Which is good, because it allows for some (though not much) of the coffee and chocolate qualities to rise up.

The finish is all coffee though, and while the beer is deceptively light on the tongue, there’s enough push – pull of the coffee and bourbon, and hints of sweetness, to make it a solid, though not my favorite.

Still; a good pickup for my birthday.

As second pandemic birthdays go, it’s difficult not to feel discouraged. Knowing things didn’t have to be so bad, that so many people didn’t have to die, or lapse into poverty, or endure trauma. It’s difficult seeing the Asian American community bear the brunt of violence that is brought by racists who will almost certainly not experience consequences.

Along with the Black community. The trans community. The women. The poor. The list doesn’t end anytime soon.

It can seem pretty bleak.

But on my birthday, people show up to wish me well. Sometimes from out of nowhere. And that’s pretty great. They come from all walks of life and they have decided that I’m worth a lovely acknowledgement.

It’s down here, in the little things, the daily work, the quiet stuff that people do to help each other; that’s where I find my hope. We don’t give up, and we take our joyous moments where we can. We push them to the forefront of our lives, insisting that this is what we are about.

Not our suffering, but our joy.

Happy birthday, everyone.

Today’s second pint goes to Stop AAPI Hate.

Front Porch Chats #51

Gigantic's Massive barleywine ale, in glass on table outdoors.

That’s Gigantic’s Massive barleywine ale, aged in port barrels, sitting on the table. I know it’s got to warm up a little before I’ll get the most out of it, so I’m just waiting, pondering.

I’ve been thinking of my own thoughtlessness of late, because my niece got her picture published in the paper. It was the first day back to school since the pandemic, and her mom, thinking it was pretty neat that her kid was on the front page, posted that on social media.

My niece’s joking response was that it was ‘a hate crime’.

Which is….a bad look. Equating your emotional discomfort of having a picture taken to be equivalent to the threat that Black, Jewish, or LBGTQ people live under every day is just not a funny thing. I wondered if she knows any people who would need protections under hate crime laws-I didn’t at her age. And, given she’s growing up where I did, it wouldn’t surprise me if she didn’t, either.

Which was the second thing I thought about: how I didn’t know I I knew any gay people, until I was 17, and while I knew Jewish people, the fact that they were Jewish had as much relevance to me as someone having brown hair instead of black. I made dumber comments at that age, thoughtless about the larger context of the world and my place in it.

I was just fortunate enough to not have social media to document my fuckups.

Then I got older and learned more. But, even within the last year I have had to confront internalized racism and classism, to unlearn things I didn’t even know I was being taught. It doesn’t end, not if you want to legitimately do the work.

I am grateful to my friends who have spent time with me and celebrated who they are, so that when events came up that were hurtful I could recognize that something I once thought as benign was actually harming them-sometimes even killing people they know.

So it was up to me to grow, and be better. So that they wouldn’t have to struggle alone. I didn’t-even when I probably deserved to.

And my niece? She’ll be fine-she’s got good people around her and is certainly ahead of where I was back then. That error will self-correct.

As for the Massive…well, that won’t self-correct. There are notes of gasoline-it’s a boozy ale-and a bit of fig, but no sweetness, just the dry, bitter part. After it’s all done, there’s an element of woodiness that doesn’t sit well with me. The caramel sweetness I enjoy in barley wines has been replaced with something that tastes burnt.

It’s that burnt quality that is throwing it all off: maybe that barrel of port has seen too many miles, but it certainly wasn’t making friend with the barleywine.

Front Porch Chats #50

I don’t usually get things by Modern Times, partly because they’re a known quantity (I usually like their stuff!), partly because they aren’t “local”.

But they have a brewery here. Even if the headquarters is in San Diego, if you make beer here…that’s locally made, right?

So, I got their Caliban IPA, which was described as “lightly hazy”.

Look at this. I’ve had Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing. THAT was lightly hazy. This is just hazy hazy.

The nose-a bit of grapefruit and papaya-fades too quickly for my liking. But the beer has kind of Sprite tart/sweetness going on, so the middle of the Caliban works. Unfortunately, the finish is a bit too pith-y for me. Not my bag; maybe for someone else.

You know what’s for everyone? Money.

And if they’re gonna make you work for it, then they ought to pay you enough, regardless of what job you do, to live off it.

If they aren’t going to pay you enough to live off it, then enough money should be given to you until you can live off it.

That’s it. Those are the choices, if you want to have a stable, much less functioning, society.

And The Man has been whinging for decades about how paying people will destroy businesses or “the economy” (as though someone truly understands what that is) while actively working to suppress what little people DO get.

So fuck ‘em. Minimum wage should be $31/hr. That includes servers in pubs and restaurants. That includes prisoners. If you work, you get paid. We shouldn’t do any form of slavery in this country (or anywhere but I digress).

Why should minimum wage be $31/hr? Because if things had kept up, it would be $24+/hr right now. Think about how many people’s lives should be changed if that was the case?

Hell, they’re talking about the impact of $15 an hour and I’m here to tell you: that dream is weaksauce bullshit. That’s scraps, after a year where this country has produced it’s first trillionaire.

So let’s dream big. Bigger than a trillionaire.

Front Porch Chats #48/Second Pint PRM

Sasquatch red ale in glass on table outside

We can celebrate sometimes, right? Persistence landed on Mars and that is something every human can be proud of.

So let’s have a Journey To the Red Planet by Sasquatch brewing-a red ale, natch. The caramel note is right there in the nose, and the first sip is just…ooooo, malty. It even has a hint of chocolate, almost like a milk dud candy. It’s very, very good.

So: a cheers to NASA, and the people who brought us something worth cheering this week.

Speaking of celebrations, Rush Limbaugh is dead.

What’s that? We shouldn’t speak ill of the dead? Fine; how about honestly?

Because we celebrate Ronald Reagan in America. And Reagan was a racist who spearheaded the cutting of social services and taxes, deregulation and engaged in some, shall we say ‘light’ treason, while allowing millions of Americans to die to HIV-AIDS.

And for that, people want to put his face on Rushmore. We’ve already named an airport after him.

But you can point to every one of those things I listed and draw a straight line from them to now and see the results. We’re living with the tragedy of lionizing him.

Rush Limbaugh fed on the worst America was, a bigot and sexist who took his gifts as a speaker and used them to stoke hatred. He was a cruel liar and went unchallenged.

For these things he was given money, all the privileges that come with money, and eventually, the highest honor a citizen can get in this country; the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The impact Limbaugh had on this country is nothing short of the iceberg that hit the Titanic.

The iceberg, as I recall, was just fine with the collision. And we’ll be living with the consequences of what Rush pushed, for decades.

So if the biggest consequence to Rush’s death is that we blow up his legacy like a fleabag hotel, spit whenever we speak his name, and they have to hide his grave so people won’t shit on it…well, I’d say he got off pretty lightly.

I’m fine with toasting his death and I invite you to join me: A very bad person is dead, and we’re a little better off for it.

And if you don’t want people to cheer your death, then maybe consider living a life worth celebrating.

Today’s second pint goes to the Portland Rescue Mission. I know Texas has been in the news lately-rightly so-but Oregon was hit hard with an ice storm this last week, too, and people were without power for days. If you can contribute to our folks in Texas, please do so-I have.

But local folk are local, too.

Front Porch Chats #47

Crux Battlestar IPA in glass on table outside, around snow

Sitting outside right now is foolish, so let’s be quick. Crux’s Battlestar IPA on the table today, with a dank and papaya nose, a firm malt sweetness followed by a dank but not scouring bitterness.

So that’s good.

As for the rest….

Sigh.

I guess moral and practical responsibility doesn’t mean what it used to. Worse, it’s the kind of thing that people remember-that kind of betrayal-and hold in their hearts. They know they cannot trust others anymore. They aren’t opponents.

They’re enemies.

That’s a very, very dangerous situation to live in.