Category Archives: portland

Where To?

I don’t miss places often.

Bailey's Taproom Exterior

I spent a year in Italy in college and I don’t miss Italy. Even though it is undeniable to me that some very important things happened in my life there, I don’t miss it: It still exists. I took what I needed to from that moment in time.

If I was to go back now, it wouldn’t be the same: the first lesson I would need to learn is that I cannot and should not hold it to what it was.

But, Bailey’s Taproom is gone. I started writing my blog there, and I had hoped that my first post ‘out in the world in 2021’ would be from there. And now, I can go back into the world and it…isn’t there anymore.

I brought friends and family there, I played games, met strangers and gave directions to tourists. Even over the twelve years I went there, Bailey’s wasn’t the same-but it also didn’t change. Like people, the core of who they are still remains, even as they grow outward and shift, like trees.

So I miss it, not just for what it was, but also for the future I was hoping to experience there. Sure, that future was vague and didn’t go much further than: I want to sit on the rail, have a beer and write for awhile, but that was enough.

Now I need to let it go: I hate nostalgia in any form and I’d rather just be fond of what Bailey’s was, than insist that everyplace else be something it isn’t, because Bailey’s isn’t there anymore. I don’t know where I’ll go next and that is both saddening and weird but it’s a problem for future me, one I’ll solve in time.

There’s no malice to this event that I can detect, but…it certainly is someone’s fault.

Today, though, I don’t want to dive into that rabbit hole. This is about letting go of a hope, about remembering a good thing, and making room for the next one.

This Welcome Wagon pear saison from Dwinell brewing is exactly the kind of beer I’d get at Bailey’s: unknown, interesting. I’d probably order ten ounces of it though, just in case. The description includes wild yeast, pear must, aging in oak barrels and a golden ale blend. So there is quite a bit happening here.

In this instance, the cautionary pour would have been warranted: this is more of a wild ale than a saison, the pear mostly shed in favor of the wild yeasts in play. The finish is as dry as a white wine, and the tiny, persistent bubbles remind me of champagne, too.

It is not for me: But it is definitely for someone. And as a way to honor a place I really liked, it’s a very good pint: it’s interesting, something I wouldn’t’ve tried otherwise, and a beer I can talk about with other people.

Finally, I’m taking the next week off, so there won’t be any new posts until June 21st. Thanks for reading!

There Goes Another

Portland Brewing is shutting down operations this week and there’s a damn fine recap of their history at the Beervana blog.

There’s at a bit to unpack here-not the least of which being a bit of sadness for a pal who is losing his job as a result of this closure.

There’s also the end of (another) Portland institution, a brewery that helped usher in the craft brewing scene to Oregon. A reminder of a time when your flagship beer didn’t have to be an IPA; just something good that wasn’t a lager could make waves.

So I’m going to have a MacTarnahan’s amber, their flagship ale and also their Ink & Roses IPA, in honor of the event.

The nose is faintly caramel, and the beer is very light on the tongue.

In Portland tradition, this beer is probably a touch overhopped-the finishing bitterness is a bit stronger than I would expect. It’s also very bubbly; while the head is thin, it is persistent and pops in my mouth long after I’ve swallowed.

There’s also a nice roasted quality in the middle, which provides a more robust character than this beer would have otherwise. I mentioned how light it was-that roasted part keeps the beer from feeling thin. This is a beer that works well with all the top of the line pub food and probably should’ve been a go-to for Portlander’s everywhere.

The Ink & Roses IPA has a nice whiff of pine. The middle, however, doesn’t want to show up and the beer has a tongue scraping level of bitterness. There’s an herbal, grassy element, too-trying to wink and nod at the Roses part of the beer I suppose. It almost feels a little stuck in the past, though. Lacking balance, it’s a hard sell to people who aren’t hop head dedicated.

That said, I can also see this pairing nicely with most pub grub-the hops really cut through some of the greasier or spicier offerings. A remnant of the past that can still make a case for itself now-if the brewery had decided to make one.

But I also think that, just as Portland Brewing didn’t know how to market themselves, we took the brewery for granted, accepting that a reliably decent beer would just be there. And I get it; there are only so many hours in the day and one cannot give their attention to everything.

In Portland, everything is an option.

Still; thanks for the beer. I hope all the employees at Portland brewing land on their feet.

2020 Things

I acquired Ale Apothecary’s Sahalie {a wild fermented ale with honey, spruce and aged in wine barrels. Flowery nose, very white wine oriented, dry finish} back in February during the judging for the Oregon Beer Awards. A wild ale generally isn’t my style, but I got one for a friend who visits me and loves these beers.

He isn’t coming to visit this year. The border is closed.

I was supposed to go to Spokane and Seattle this year. Have drinks with friends, see my family. Discussions to get on a plane to see other friends. That didn’t happen, either. And it isn’t going to, looks like.

Generally, I try not to drink alone: there’s writing to do, people to visit. I know it’s not healthy for me-or anyone, really-, so being around people, even if I’m just in a bar doing some work, is better than sitting at home by myself.

But I have sat home alone a lot this year, in order to help protect other people. It doesn’t feel right to have bartenders risk their lives for me, so I can have a beer. Hell, it doesn’t feel right to have anyone risk their lives for me, but especially just so I can go out to eat or drink.
I know it has been the right decision.

We don’t always get the thrill of being righteous, just because we are right. Since this year has been hard, I think it’s important to acknowledge why it has been hard and who is responsible for the increased difficulty we have had to face.

There are, by my count, at least two men who bear a lot of responsibility for the position we find ourselves in. There’s an opportunity to take power away from them and I think we should take it.

An Open Letter To The Pubs I Like To Drink At

I’m going to stay away for a bit longer.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Quite simply: my desire to go out and have a pint does not supersede the risks that you are compelled to be under. Risks we’re already having to deal with.

I don’t blame you: people are desperate and impoverished. They are being forced into inhumane, immoral decisions between having a place to live and having a life to live in that place.

I can afford to stay out of your way, order online and take things to go. So I’m going to keep supporting you that way, for at least a few more weeks. You can establish your rules and procedures and I can let that all happen safely from home.

I’ll be back, don’t you worry.

OBAs 2020

OBA logoThis weekend was the weekend of the Oregon Beer Awards competition, where I was a steward. I’m tired, and it’s a multi-tiered thing: mentally I’ve been processing information to serve beers, physically I’ve been working to serve beers, and emotionally I’ve been in ‘engage’ mode to be social to my fellow volunteers.

So, you know: I’m kinda done with my public face. Not because anyone was unpleasant-but because these things involve effort.

But. The people who put this on? Half of the volunteers were women. This includes management, where women were equally represented to the men.

OBA serving traysI bring this up because as we witness leadership that wants us to disavow reality, to insist that there are ‘forces’ that want to do us harm, while never being utterly unwilling to name said forces…

Well, when contrasted with reports of named white supremacists who want to do us harm..

It’s just gotta raise some questions, is all.

When I go out to engage a world that can be scary and join people who just want to put on a beer competition, I can see where a dilemma kicks in. That hovering fear, the clouds that seem to float over everything, well it loses a lot of threat when you’re actively working in the rain, already.

Engaging with people and doing something is stronger than hoping that fear will pass you by.

I think people want to do something and I think the leadership wants us to do nothing. So it’s important to remember that any action, however small, in the direction you want to go, is more than they want you to do. Plus, it’s pretty likely you’ll get people to help you along the way, because people want to do something. Even if that something is as normal as coming together to put on a beer competition.

OBA warehouse of beerAnd that’s worth it.

Today’s second pint will go to the ACLU.

Top Tens

The local paper has ranked the top ten beers of Portland for this year.

Setting aside, for a moment, that tastes are subjective and people are going to have a broad array of things they think are great, I have complaints.

First: at least two of these beers aren’t available now. Others might be but there’s an air of “it’s goin’ fast” or “bottle release next year”, etc. The issue I have here is that there’s no way for me to verify how good these beers are! It’s nice that they enjoyed it, however “trust but verify” kicks in for me.

Second: how nerdy is this list? Six of these beers have “experimental” or “sour” in the description.

Do you know why Deschutes’ best selling beer doesn’t have those words in them? Or Baerlic? Grixen? Sierra Nevada? Fat Tire?

Because sour beers have limited appeal. Doesn’t matter how good they are.

This isn’t to discount the quality of said ales; every one of these breweries has a strong history of making good beers. My issue is that most of this list sounds off putting to people who are unfamiliar with craft beer and utterly unpersuasive to people who aren’t into sour ales.

It brings me back to something that I’ve been thinking and reading more about this year: How it is apparently “the consumer” who’s always demanding the hot new style or trend.

However, here are these beer reporters telling us that the best beers are either a) niche styles or b) unavailable.

Am I to sincerely believe that there wasn’t a fantastic Irish red or stout available? A beer where “chewy” isn’t a proper descriptive term, ever? Or are those styles just too pedantic to be considered? Yes, there’s a hazy (it’s so hot right now) and an IPA, which has never gone out of style but c’mon. Whom, aside from beer nerds, have even heard of a “black bock” or thinks Brett isn’t the name of some shitty Supreme Court Justice?

I’m sure, to the author, it feels like they’re out there on the cutting edge recommending a “Foeder-aged ale with strawberries” and I don’t doubt that it’s a fine beer. I can’t help but wonder if sometimes, being out there on the edge is missing the point of appreciating a classic style executed well. At the very least, I question what’s driving the narrative that people always want the hot new thing.