Category Archives: Front Porch Cats

Front Porch Chats #80

New Spring brewing white ale in glass, outside on table

The white ale from New Spring Brewing has a lemon pepper nose, a little coriander in the middle and a very crisp finish. It’s about as good as you could ask for, on what is probably the last warm fall day. 

I saw this video from the Vlogbrothers this week and while I encourage you to watch it, please allow me to summarize for those who don’t have twenty minutes to spare:

The internet, like radio or the printing press before it, is a brand new thing for people and so, just like radio of the printing press, we are doing it badly. It is going to take some time for people to get a handle on it and we should do so in ways that don’t crush people who want to create content, but don’t let the hook off of those who want to use “the algorithm” as an excuse for why white nationalists, anti-vaxxers or con artists get promoted on their platform. 

However, in the case of ‘the algorithm’ I think the defense of ‘we didn’t choose this’ is seriously disingenuous. You wrote the algorithm to do something, smart guy. When it does what you told it to, you’re still responsible. You gave orders and there were commands executed at your direction. 

That we don’t have a better grasp of how to internet is scary, in and of itself. That it comes at a time when we are facing a triple threat of fascism, pandemics, and climate crisis-any one of which will end life as we know it-seems both spectacularly unfortunate and bone chilling. 

It’s also just a little funny, if bleak humor is your jam and these days, it ought to be. Just to keep your sanity. 

However, there’s no reason to give up hope. Hope is what makes this survivable. That we still have millions of people working every day to make themselves better, make their relationship to each other and the planet less toxic, trying to tame the seemingly unbridled and near limitless forces that get to broadcast ‘fuck you, got mine’ to the world faster than I can type. 

Sure we don’t know how, just yet. But once upon a time, we didn’t know how to get to the moon, or make a vaccine, or make beer. Or push ‘send’ and transmit a message that could be received by over a billion people. 

So let’s get there. 

Front Porch Chats #80

This Chocolate Brandy Alexander is from Breakside and it’s a milk stout aged in brandy barrels. This feels very much like my kinda beer.

Breakside brewing's Chocolate Brandy Alexander in glass on table outside.

I’ve let it warm up for a few minutes before taking a sip and it was definitely worth it. Coco on the nose, compliments a dark chocolate dryness on the finish, and in the middle there’s a twist of that brandy, smoothed out by the milk. It is a treat yourself kinda beer.

I know it has been a long year for many of us and I know that I personally am deeply frustrated, frequently angry and occasionally frightened of what may come. Maybe that sounds familiar. I’m not sure how it can’t, to anyone who is both paying attention and hoping for a better, kinder future.

But having a glass full of luxury is reminding me to remind you to treat yourself occasionally. Kindly, and in ways that help you (and maybe others!) but to not forget to do so.

Learning how to be kind to oneself often means practicing by being kind to others-but in that process, a lot of us forget to be kind to ourselves, too.

So hey: Live a little. Just for you.

Front Porch Chats 79

Humble Sea brewing's Used Car Salesman pale ale, in glass outside.

This Used Car Salesman pale ale isn’t right. Something on the finish tastes dirt like and I don’t think I’m going to finish this. What good would that do? I don’t like it and you know I don’t like it and why.

I’m not sure what Humble Sea brewing had in mind with this beer, but there’s a distinct aftertaste of a pebble in my mouth.

Fortunately, I have a backup beer. We should all have backup beers. In my case, it’s Mt Tabor brewing’s Sack Lunch Lager, which was made with a lime purée. Think Corona, without the pesky need to shove a lime in the neck, and in a container that doesn’t skunk the beer within 5 minutes because it’s light struck, and you’ll have it.

It’s pretty solid but as with any good lager, it makes me wish I was eating nachos. The lime just makes me want nachos more.

I wonder how many limes are in my future.

What with (effectively) 52 people deciding that getting paid is more important than doing the work to save the country-and maybe the planet-I can’t help but wonder if there will be a climate for limes, in the near future.

Make no mistake: every single one of those Senators (and Representatives, for that matter) who are deciding to refuse to do things like; allow the government to run, or pay our bills, or move along what is very popular legislation, they’re all doing it because they’re getting paid to do that.

As Upton SInclair once noted: It is very difficult to get a man to believe a thing, when his paycheck relies on him not believing it.

To put my feelings about that mildly; it sucks. We aren’t being sold out because of a principle, because of a genuine dedication to an ideal.

We’re being sold out for money.

It’s cheap, too, to buy a Senator. I mean, you or I can’t do it. But for someone who has money, oh, it’s cheap. Thousands…maybe, just maybe hundreds of thousands.

But, you know; house money. As in, what it would take for a regular person to buy a house, that’ll do it to get a Senator. In the meantime, someone like Bezos has a yacht to service his super yacht and doesn’t blink twice about paying someone what he makes in twenty seconds for ten years worth of what will amount to trillions.

I never thought I’d be living in a third world country but here I am; the children go hungry, the water is unfit to drink in multiple places, everybody is poor, except for the clearly wealthy, women lack basic rights, the police act like a military force and the government-from the Congress to the Supreme Court to the Presidency, doesn’t want to heed the will of the people.

It’s enough to give a person some anxiety. Which, looking around, it seems like we all have.

And we so clearly could do better. But we can’t because of money.

It’s enough to make one reconsider capitalism, ennit?

Today’s second pint goes to the fundraiser from last week’s video.

Front Porch Chats #78/Second Pint PDX Saints

Take a look at this video while I sip on this Kaptain Kolsch from White Bluffs brewing. It’ll give me a chance to figure out what to tell you about it.

The nose has a faint honey malt quality, and a little hop spice to it, too. Which I’m surprised, but pleased by.

The flavors really follow up on this, too. It’s a little sweeter than I like my kolsch and it seems to be just a touch heavier on the tongue than expected. The finish, however, is very sparkly and a little hop spicy, and that presents a nice counterweight on the beer. I’m digging this, even though it isn’t my favorite take on the style Check it out.

So, a pal of mine who is Black brought that video to my attention. It reminded me that there are whole subcultures out there, really cool things being done by all kinds of amazing people, that I just don’t know about. Or wouldn’t know about, unless people who aren’t like me didn’t cross my path with it.

Which had me putting a little gratitude out there for everyone I know, really; they all have lives and inroads to communities that I just have no knowledge of.

Now, that thought had me recalling this video from Philosophy Tube. I’ll TL:DR (and heavily paraphrase/condense) it for you:

There are two kinds of ignorance; the kind of knowledge that you don’t know, and the kind of knowledge that is kept from you.

The first kind of ignorance is inevitable, and in some ways necessary. We cannot know everything-it’s just beyond us. Relying on people who do know things we don’t, well: that’s trust. That’s how you build community.

But the second kind….that can be how you destroy communities. I’m not suggesting that everything should be available to be known by everyone, per se.

I am saying, though, that when someone doesn’t want you to know how Black people were treated in America, there is a very reasonable question that comes to me: Why?

Why don’t people want you to know about, say, the Tulsa massacre or the time we bombed our own citizens because racism?

That immigrant populations and neighborhoods are statistically less crime ridden than established communities?

And so on. Hell, it’s even part of the brewing community: Black people and women were the brewers of this country when it was founded and until I got into the craft, I had no idea about their contributions.

Which leads me back to the video at the top: how cool is this thing that a Black man did, inspired by a Black band, that is now making a whole lot of people happy? Why didn’t I know about this thing sooner? (Well, because I can’t know everything and that’s OK).

My point is, denying people the truth when they ask for it is a fast way to create distrust. Lying to them a way to make chaos.

What kinds of ignorance are we willing to accept?

Just something to chew on.

Today’s second pint goes to PDX Saints.

Front Porch Chats #77/Second Pint WCK

1 in 5 Oregonians are refusing to get vaccinated. 20% of the population.

Coldfire brewing's Oatmeal stout in glass, outside, on table

I’d bet those numbers are fairly reflective across the country. The more people are soaked in the right wing noise machine, the worse that number gets, the less, the better. It probably averages out.

It’s almost depressing enough to have me just pound this oatmeal stout from Coldfire brewing, so I can start on the next one.

It’s a pretty solid stout though. Little espresso in the nose, some malt sweetness to balance things out but a coffee forward beer, to be sure. Oatmeal is usually added to beers like this for mouthfeel purposes, and while I can’t say I notice anything denser or smoother-this beer is remarkably effervescent!-there’s nothing to detract either.

I’ve had not a few friends mention that they too are feeling the weight of the times. The impact that a small number of people are having on everyone else is sadly working. I don’t blame them-it’s hard to keep your head up. I can’t always do it. Nobody can.

What I do like to think of, though, in these times is a line that I read once that (paraphrased) said, “one third of the population will actively work for it’s destruction, while one third doesn’t seem to care at all”.

But, last time I checked, 20% was less than one third.

80% of the population stepping in to do the right thing, to say that they are willing to protect other people, help other people, even in the smallest way, is still a lot more than one third.

Which is something I’d just like everyone to keep in mind.

Today’s second pint goes to the World Central Kitchen.

Front Porch Chats #76/Second Pint PP

Block 15's Sticky Fingers IPA in glass, outside

Having Block 15’s Sticky Hands IPA-it’s a local IPA staple and for good reason. If you live around here, you probably know this beer but if you don’t: well it is a pleasant, apricot-y IPA that doesn’t go too far on the bitterness.

It’s familiar, and I could use some familiar because I’ve been trying to resist despair, lately.

I could get into the whys of it but I don’t think I’d be telling anyone something they don’t already know, but: Let us say that both the 9/11 anniversary and our current government and pandemic predicaments are powerful reminders that a small group of zealous people can well and truly fuck a country.

The worst thing is, after 9/11, we did it to ourselves. Time and time again. We decided-or approved of deciding-to justify our bullying ways because of the fears instilled in us by people who in the end, wanted money, not our trust. Money, not to provide guidance or kinship. Money.

And that small, greedy group of bastards are ballooning a security state without oversight, stripping away our protected rights, and glorifying a disinformation campaign to literally keep us sick.

Where are the consequences for these itchy buttholes? Why aren’t these people accountable? Because they have money, sarcastic question mark.

There have been a lot of fuckups in America but one of the biggest, has to be when Ford pardoned Nixon.

Because without that, when Nixon goes to trial if he is found guilty, a very clear message is sent: your power will not protect you if you break the law.

Instead, the opposite message was sent, and everyone who needed to get that message heard it as clear as this beer in my hand.

When you live in a lawless country, that insists that “all people are created equal”…the chasm in my brain between these two concepts pulls me towards despair.

I doubt I’m the only one.

But there’s work to be done to fix this shit. And the work doesn’t care if I despair.

Let’s keep at it.

Today’s second pint goes to Planned Parenthood.

Front porch Chats #75/Second Pint/Second Pint CNR

‘When one is entitled to the pursuit of happiness, and happiness is tied to money, safety protocols get conflated with “enslavement” ‘-Andre Gee.

“This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy” -Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The nice thing about Grains of Wrath’s Overkill IPA is that it wonderfully illustrates how you can have grapefruit flavors in a beer without having that beer be hazy, nor sweet.

Grains of Wrath's Overkill IPA in glass outside on table.

The nose gives me a pink grapefruit quality, and that follows through to the finish. There is a bit of sweetness in the middle, but not much. The bitterness is far from zealous, which is nice but it does almost have that grapefruit tart quality.

Here’s the big drawback: I don’t particularly like grapefruit. So this beer falls squarely into the ‘excellent, but not for me’ category.

I read Mr. Gee’s article a couple weeks ago and not long after that, I recalled the wry comment Mr. Adams had on money. Ever since, those statements have been two ghosts in my head.

I don’t hate money. It’s a convenient tool to use-I would much rather give someone money for a beer, than work in the bar for the approximate time it would take to earn said beer.

A tool cannot make you happy. Hell, nothing can permanently make you happy, so let’s just throw that out now. Content, though. That’s a thing that we can sustain. Happiness can come and go.

The tool can make a lot of things easier and it can certainly qualify for making things better. Those ends can be a part of happiness. It absolutely can be key to creating contentment. But it still can’t be either of those things.

One quality about being content is that you don’t need more. At some point, more is useless. More is something that should be given to someone else, who wants or needs it.

The thing about being happy is that I want to share it-with as many people as I can. Being happy because someone else is happy is a real thing-but again, I’m not out to make more. I’m out to share it. Because once I’m happy I don’t get more happy-I have a state of happiness! Sharing that doesn’t lessen it but it does extend my happiness.

Maybe, amongst the other things the founders got wrong, they also fucked up with that phrase ‘pursuit of happiness’. Getting us to run down a dream that is more like chasing a dragon than building a community.

And the dragon…well, the dragon will just keep you in the cave, part of its horde. The community might just save your life.

Just something to ponder, while I finish off my beer.

Today’s second pint goes to Cajun Navy Relief.

Front Porch Chats #74/Second Pint HIAS

German pilsner by Ferment brewing

Ferment Brewing’s German style Pilsner is out on the poarch with me today and…wait. Aren’t all pilsners German by default?

The style is credited as a Germanic style. An online search of the phrase ‘German style pilsner’ brings up…pilsners. Like; this is possibly one of the most famous styles of beer in the world. It is the ‘yellow beer’ that people who are less versed in the subject think of when they think of the two types of beer: yellow and black.

And it’s a fine yellow beer. The kind you could be easily forgiven for drinking from a can while munching on burgers. It is faint in all its impressions: hops, malt sweetness, and bitterness, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. An additive to many meals, subtractive of little and only present long enough to clear the palate between bites.

It’s the kind of beer that the guy who threatened to bomb the Capitol a couple weeks ago probably would’ve liked-if handed it to him in a glass.

I acquired it like I do most of my beer: I paid for it. Coincidentally, that’s also how we had the cooperation between the various factions in Afghanistan for the past 20+ years. America paid for it.

Once we quit paying…well, we all know what happened. The only surprise to most Americans was the swiftness that it spread, much like the Delta variant.

But think about it: if the people paying you to do something stopped, how long would it take you to quit doing that thing? Consider the Taliban’s actions their “one week notice” instead and it makes a lot more sense.

Meanwhile, I’m still on the porch, hoping that people will get vaccinated, and wear masks and basically be the kind of people Americans think they are, to other Americans.

Instead, we get Americans being the kind of people other countries think we are.

And it’s not as if we aren’t paying for it. A third of this country is taking medicine for horses, or trying to stock up on it. Half of the man’s rant about bombing the Capitol was that the medical procedures that were needed for himself and his wife couldn’t be afforded. Sure, the other half was MAGA nonsense (you know the sins; racism, privilege, etc.) but I guarantee you, the lever that was used to pry open his brain and funnel all of that nonsense into his life was the fact that he and his loved one needed medical care and was denied it.

He needed help, and the power structures in this country told him to fuck off. And unfortunately, he had no community to rely on-so he got violent and awful. Americans being the kind of people to ourselves that other countries think we are.

I’d really like to get to being the kind of people we think we are, instead.

Today’s second pint goes to HIAS.

Front Porch Chats #73/Second Pint Doctors without Borders

Asylum Ale by Mt Tabor brewing, in glass on table outside

Before I get started with Mt Tabor Brewing’s Asylum Ale IPA, I just want to note that the Proud Boys are in Portland as of today’s writing (Sunday, 8/22).

And I want to be very clear: those itchy buttholes can get fucked.
I’d be less vocal about this if the authorities were interested in keeping those terrorists off the streets, but the Portland Police Bureau, lovely lads and lasses that they are, issued a statement basically saying: Hey, we hear you’re concerned. So what we’re going to do is nothing, and we advise you to not do anything either.

But…that isn’t how bullies work. Grade school 101: they will keep fucking with you so long as they deem you worth fucking with. Repeatedly, we have seen how not doing a thing leads to bullies getting emboldened, and how showing up with an overwhelming messages of “get wrecked, itchy buttholes” sends them away.

Also: if it isn’t the PPBs job to protect the citizens from violent actors like these Nazi diapers, then why even have the PPB?

I can’t even enjoy a merely adequate beer, today. Which is the best I can say of the Asylum ale. The nose dies fast-I think I get a little peach and pine before it goes- and the finishing bitterness takes over any other values the Asylum might offer.

Like everything having to do with the fascists: it’s ruined, just because I have to deal with this bullshit.

To the people down at the counter protest today, stay safe, look out for each other. I know I’m only there in spirit but I am still witness to your courage.

Today’s second pint goes to Doctors Without Borders.

Front Porch Chats #72/Second Pint PDX Saints Love

Hammer & Stitch lager in glass, on table outside

When I saw The Green Knight last week at the Cinemagic theater, I also had a chance to try Hammer & Stitch’s lager beer. It was a wonderful beer, but I wasn’t under any circumstances to talk about it here: I was just telling everyone I knew that this was a damn fine beer.

Imagine the trill of joy I got when I saw they’d canned it. I was hoping that this was as good as the kegged beer….and it is.

A lemongrass nose with just the barest element of the dank quality I’d expect from a lager, this beer might just be my favorite summer beer of this year. The finishing bitterness lets me know it’s there but doesn’t discourage further sips. All through the lager there is still a subtle lemon flavor, keeping in line with the visual brightness this beer offers.

I don’t always get a treat for the Monday posts, so this one is particularly cool to have, and a fortunate coincidence to find.

In less fortunate coincidences, I am reading Pay Any Price by James Risen, just as Afghanistan has come under complete Taliban control.

It’s a shame what America-and as an American I bear responsibility for this, as much as I hate that-has done to the people of Afghanistan and for what? For a ruthless, hyper religious sect to oppress people?

All the while, rich men got richer in America, as Pay Any Price illustrates, and the citizens of America are subject to the greatest wealth inequity of over 100 years, lacking even the basic necessities to survive when a global pandemic struck. Thousands of soldiers sent there for what was a meaningless mission, by men who had no real intention of creating peace.

And a gov’t that seemingly could give less of a fuck about any of it, because nobody is responsible for the lies told, the money stolen.

People like to complain about the Canto story in the Last Jedi but more and more, I think it might just be the most subversive storyline in the entire Star Wars canon. A moment where they just tell you: war serves the rich, and the side you’re on is almost certainly being conned by someone to make money. Regardless of the value you fight for.

There may be righteous battles, but I question if if there is ever a righteous war.

Today’s second pint goes to PDX Saints Love.