Category Archives: requiem

A Common Requiem 7\Second Pint OFB

37679013744_748a683561_cIt’s the final night at the Commons: At midnight, they close the doors for an undetermined period of time, turn the keys over to Modern Times and…who knows what the future holds? So I close this with their flagship ale: the Urban Farmhouse.

The first surprise of the Urban Farmhouse ale is that the nose is a little sweet. It’s pretty rapidly subverted by the drier, funky quality of the beer but for just one hovering moment, there was a sweetness to it.

That sweet quality arrives again, somewhere in the middle of the drink. It’s almost got a little texture-as though it comes in with the wheat malt-but it’s a nice introduction to the next wave of flavor, which is just a little tart. Nothing too intense, more like a see-saw from the sweetness I just experienced. Then it finishes off with a sparkly, bubbly quality that almost feels like champagne.

I’m going to miss this.

Crowd at the Commons’ last night

It’s hard to understate, I think, the relevance of the Commons brewery in Portland’s history of craft beer. The story of a guy who started off in his garage brewing beers he would like and couldn’t find elsewhere, blooming into a business run out of said garage, blooming into…this. The Commons was the first brewery in Portland that I was aware of that focused specifically on Belgian and more relevantly, sessionable styles of Belgian ale. They produced something that we didn’t even know we wanted, until we had it.

Yet, every aficionado or beer fan I spoke to over the past six weeks has said the same thing: The Commons brought something to the beer scene nobody else was, and we found ourselves adoring what they were doing.

The scene has been enriched by the risks the Commons took-hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if breweries like Occidental, who do exclusively lighter German ales, exist because of the Commons- and we’re going to be a little poorer for it when they are gone. My glass is nearly empty and while I can’t say I feel a sense of loss for this being over, I definitely have a sense that a chapter is closing.

But, as they say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. The equipment is being stored, not sold. The space is being leased, not demolished. Perhaps, and I hope the day isn’t too far off, I will be able to tell you about the beers of the Commons again. The risk this brewery took made everything a little better and I’m glad I got to come to the closing night.

The second pint goes to the Oregon Food Bank.

A Common Requiem 6\Second Pint Emily’s List

38218092161_74c0d28a33_cThe Kolossos has a lot of qualities I would expect from an imperial stout: dense mouthfeel, lots of roast flavor, a hint of chocolate, so dark no light escapes. There’s something else too, something I can’t quite put my finger on. It might be the orange zest, but there’s a zip to this beer that gives it a little lightness, a lift that prevents it from weighing down on my tongue.

Something that doesn’t weigh me down is good, given the weight of the week. A tax plan that is, quite frankly, pernicious and cold-hearted it its determination of how funds should be allocated is being sold to the public. People will suffer and quite likely die as a result of this theft from the larger public to the wealthy.

Which sucks, and it isn’t even what frightens me most.

No, what frightens me the most right now is that the rule of law will not prevail. That the special council appointed to prove what we have known all along, that Trump is a corrupt man who is likely supported by foreign interests, will come forward with the evidence and the response from the powers that be will be: ….so? We still get our tax cut, right?

I fear for my country and its citizens should that come to pass. We’re supposed to be in this together, we’re supposed to draw our strength from the many, for truth and justice. We’re supposed to, when things get challenging, represent the dream.

That dream is tied into justice, into fairness. Even when it fails-and to list the failures would take more than my lifetime to recount-we are supposed to right that ship. Sometimes, Americans even do right the ship. We have asked certain people to safeguard those ideals in law, because we can’t do it all the time.

They appear to be failing us, because they want money. All the money; not just some and for some reason, a reasonable percentage of my fellow citizens believe that the  greed of those men won’t swallow them, too. As though greed worked any other way.

It’s difficult to see when or how justice will prevail. I would like it to prevail without having to see my country tear itself apart.

That feels dark. Darker, even, than the Kolossos. And it won’t allow for a bit of orange zest to come through as it warms up. No, those thoughts just get colder.

I saw Thor: Ragnarok last weekend and I liked it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a film about the end of the world had hope. Because, as the movie tells us, ‘Asgard is its people’. Those people carry the traditions, rules and hopes alive. There was hope because when confronted with the impossible, the heroes moved towards it because, in Thor’s words: ‘That’s what heroes do.’

Maybe it’s a good time to go home and remember that America is its people, too. And if we want better results, we ought to put better people in charge. That we can and should demand that our leaders be heroes.

Today’s second pint goes to Emily’s List. I hope everyone votes tomorrow.

A Common Requiem 5/Second Pint PP

26194582319_9cfca29e98_zThis week, I picked up the Nocino Zeven and this beer is really weird. Hint of burnt sugar on the nose, but the flavor is dominated by the nocino. It’s overly nutty with extra sugar and not very pleasant. Someone is going to love this beer but it isn’t me. The problem I’m having is that the great nose I get doesn’t show up in the body. Some friends tried the Nocino Zeven and one of them thought it was great so, again: someone loves this beer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the tale of the conversion of Paul the Apostle, these days, in the wake of reading so many people fawning over the statements made by Sen. Flake and Sen. Corker.

For readers who don’t know (and to be quite brief): in the days of early Christendom, there was a man named Saul who persecuted those early Christians. Then one day, on the road to Damascus, God spoke to Saul and BAM! Saul’s heart changed, he became a Christian and changed his name to Paul. He proceeded to go out into the world to work at proclaiming the word of God and being a better person.

Paul didn’t just talk a good game. He walked the talk.

What I get from Flake and Corker is that they are unhappy that the blood from the slaughterhouse is getting on their shoes. Wouldn’t it be just so much better if the blood could flow away from them, instead?

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe those men will have or have had revelatory moments where they realize they are supporting policies and ideas tied to brutalizing the poor and the weak. Perhaps they will change; all change has to start somewhere. I think they should definitely be given enough rope.

But rope is all they should be given. They talked a good game but they, unlike me, are in a position to actually make change and they are quitting. Off to go cash paychecks as a lobbyist, odds are. And until then? Dollars to donuts they are going to vote their party’s line.

Well, we don’t talk about Saul the Persecuter, do we?

Today’s second pint goes to Planned Parenthood.


A Common Requiem 4/Second Pint Charitynavigator

37851556732_6f14e5b355_cThe lemongrass saison is a pretty solid saison but not very generous with its lemongrass. The nose holds a promise of tartness, which made me a little apprehensive, but the beer itself is dry like a white wine and has a comparable level of tart, too. That’s something I can get behind.

The Commons is pretty full tonight, which just feels wrong. If a place is going to close, then damnit there should be signs of a struggle. Instead, there are people here drinking beer and eating food and having a nice time. How is it that this can go away? It’s popular! It appears successful!

Sigh. It just feels wrong to have that happen.

Though I suppose things feeling wrong is an fair umbrella to put the US under right now.

I don’t believe that ‘irony’ really captures the situation when women across the world are coming forward about their sexual assault in a country that is currently being led by a man who has admitted to sexual assault and gone unpunished.

It just feels wrong. We are positioned in the wrong place at the wrong time to move forward.

Similarly, it feels wrong to me to see other Americans wanting to write off Puerto Rico-as though somehow, the denizens of that island ‘had it coming.’ As though record-breaking hurricanes were a force that we could summon like wizards.

We have an absurd amount of resources in America-a fact for which I am deeply thankful-why has the narrative been focused so much on the “I” instead of the “we”? It feels wrong to have that strain of greed running through us.

Actually, I know the answer to the question: it’s because a lot of money and resources have been put into selling us the idea that government is bad, wastes your money and takes away your rights, while corporations are good and will save us. Americans had a vested interest in the environment in the 1970’s, for example, yet five decades later, along with a massive campaign to discredit climate change data, there are people in government with actual responsibility who don’t believe in science. They just respond to the money given to them.

As though, somehow, corporations are the face of individual rights, instead of just economic machines under capitalism designed to suck as many resources away from everyone as possible.

When confronted with actual suffering though: government agencies are the ones we expect to represent help and aid. Budweiser might repurpose a million cans towards water to help for an emergency, but they aren’t going to lay the infrastructure to actually let people drink clean water for a lifetime.

I think we’re going to need to keep that in mind, especially as we look at nearly any other situation. What’s our long term plan and who should we legitimately expect to execute it?

And if that plan isn’t about helping the citizens at large-especially the weakest and least advantaged amongst us-then that just feels wrong. I, for one, am weary of things being wrong.

Today’s second pint goes to Charitynavigator.

Common Requiem 3/Second Pint IMC

37027215934_3cb54c7275_cI’m still catching up from my days on the east coast, so forgive me if this is a little scattershot. Still, a few thoughts from the Commons post travel with a Plum Bretta, a farmhouse ale with plums, as I recoup from the trip. I get tartness from the nose; this beer is definitely fruit oriented, a little like something unripe.

The flavors are similar but that isn’t offputting in the slightest. The finish is very dry and the tartness doesn’t linger or overwhelm other favors. It’s almost delicate in its execution of the style, as if it was nudged one way or another it would be ruined.

Visiting New York city (and I’ll talk about the drinks I had there late this week!), it’s hard for me not to come away with the notion that it is, like many great cities, a place of dreams. Where people came with something big in their heads, and this was a place to get those ideas out. I saw it everywhere; from the creative use of space to make someplace to live, to the lobby of the Empire State Building with it’s wind gauge turning, added when they thought the building would be a place for zeppelins to land, to the new subway station at the WTC, white marble floors creating a beautiful hazard for people during the winter and a mess to clean every day.

Not every big idea is a good one.

Still, when confronted with the challenges of the day-Puerto Rico being the current, most obvious example but there is no shortage of problems to confront-it is equally difficult for me not to come away with the notion that America doesn’t want to dream anymore. At the very least, a massive chunk of my fellow citizens selected a deeply uncurious man in order to solve problems that require deep curiosity to solve.

I want to be in a country that builds starships. That, for example, looks at the devastation in Puerto Rico and says: ‘We have an opportunity to re-build that island for the 22nd century. Not just for them. But for us, too.’

Don’t you?

Today’s second pint goes to International Medical Corps, for their work both with the places affected by hurricanes but also the recent earthquake in Mexico.

Common Requiem 2/Second Pint UPPR

36792554623_072330a4a2_c I am going to miss Commons’ Hood lager when it’s gone. The nose is bready, like yeast rising, with just a whiff of lemon there. The flavor is crisp, light and also lemony. It’s just so good, so drinkable and the kind of beer that ought to be championed to others. Even if you aren’t fond of lagers, I think there’s something to appreciate here.

It’s a weird thing to think about: sometime soon, I won’t be able to get this beer. When that ends, I don’t know.

Which I suppose is a good lesson in enjoying the now, when you can. Because I can’t take this beer with me. (And really, lagers don’t keep well enough for me to do so anyway). So what is left?

The now seems increasingly difficult to enjoy. Puerto Rico is a full on catastrophe and the response from people in power has felt muddled at best, eerily callous and confused and at worst? Indifference motivated by racism with only immense public pressure as coercion to do the right thing.

Even then, the right thing seems to be halfhearted at best.

It can be difficult to find those lanterns to guide us-we have enough information about how bad things are in Puerto Rico, and certainly enough about how lacking the federal leadership is. It’s on us to seek those lights out and share them or, when necessary, do the difficult work of lighting them ourselves.

I think we’re up for it. I won’t lie to you though and suggest it will be easy or painless, or won’t require a lifetime of vigilance, compassion and listening.

All the more reason, though, to find those moments to enjoy the now. When the now is enjoyable, living in it means, at least for me, that the burdens are easier to bear.

Today’s second pint goes to United for Puerto Rico.

Common Requiem 1\Second Pint Airway Science

The wind shifted and the city smells like a campfire again. Nothing exists without the smell of smoke and I wonder if this is what smokers live with all the time. Hell of a sense to cut off…

36908643290_66836ced53_cI’ve come to the Commons and ordered a Brotherly Love, a dark Belgian ale, bourbon barrel aged with cherries, to wash it all out of my throat. The nose has a tart cherry scent, coupled with a little Belgian funk. The bourbon flavors are invisible, with the cherries and dark malt engaged in a tug of war for dominance. The overall impression reminds me of plums, actually. It isn’t until the heat blooms near my belly that I notice how strong it is.

When it came out that a teenager from Vancouver had started the Eagle Creek fire, I had an online interaction that started with someone saying, “OF COURSE they were from the ‘Couve!”

And the immediate rejoinder to that was “Lousy Washington people stay out of my state.”

‘Hi, I’m from Washington,’ I said.

“That’s fine, just stay out of my state, lol.”

‘Ah, those ‘Murkia against Americans jokes, they never get old,’ I replied.

But my point was lost, as the follow up was, “Fuck the south. Am I doing it right?”

How the hell are we going to create a better world for people of color, women, the disenfranchised at large, if we can’t even extend grace to people who live in a city that is less than a 20 minute drive away?

And don’t tell me that ‘it’s just a joke, man’ because there are at least two elements to a joke like this: 1) It’s deft in its attempt to point out the foibles of humans (and there hasn’t been a deft comment that ended in ‘lol’ since the Internet) and 2) it’s funny.

The PNW is burning and people want to make sure that they can look down on someone else because of where they are from-content of character be damned. Maybe the priorities are out of whack.

If you live in this country, you’re one of us and it’s high goddamn time we started acting like we’re in this together because we’re going to get smashed if we don’t.

The Cassini spacecraft burned this week, too. The end of a nearly two decade mission to explore the outer rim of the solar system, specifically Saturn.

And we did that, too. Not just the US, but a joint venture between the US and Europe, including a module (named the Huygens) that landed on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, to send back data to us. Data that included the possibility of life, even way, way out there in the dark and cold.

When that mission was over, we instructed Cassini to hurl itself into Saturn’s atmosphere, to burn up soas not to leave any contamination behind.

How polite and forward thinking of us. A mission whose mental genesis started in the 80’s and found purchase in the 90’s finally paid off in 2017. A treasure we invested our future in-and still continue to reap rewards from.

Outside the window, just beyond my beer, a couple makes out near a signpost, short but smiling kisses that eventually have her getting into a car, him walking down the street. Dates are still a thing, even as Cassini burns.

Maybe it is because dates are still a thing that Cassini was able to burn. Hope lasts, even in the presence of smoldering skylines.

Today’s second pint goes to Airway Science.