Category Archives: Respite

Respite 53\Second Pint Friends of the Gorge

36353973323_c0a6f720c3_cThe Commons’ Loud and Clear IPA, with Simco, Ella, Zythos, and Galaxy hops is tonight’s beverage. Citrus in the nose, along with a little bit of peach. Maybe even a little grassy quality-as if this was a fresh hop ale?

Given the time of year, I suppose that would be possible but given the recent news about the Commons, more likely just a hoppy IPA they made.

Friday night seems to be date night. Looks like four, minimum, around me. The world floods, the world burns; dates are still a thing.

A year of the Respite and I feel more worn down than ever. It isn’t even anything personal, no one individual I can point to in my life.

No, I’m worn down because of politics, because of the call to do better, interesting work. To talk to an audience and try to believe that the ideals of America, the notion that we can always be better than we are,  still lives and is being fought: is worth being fought for.

The world still burns, the world still floods. I was supposed to travel this weekend and could not due to wildfires. Friends tell stories and laugh, debate, couples smiles at each other, their unhidden agendas for the evening bringing a little glow to their cheeks.

I am still tired. Tired of the failures: of compassion, of wisdom, of generosity. I grew up in a nation that launched spaceships. I live in a nation that rewards the small minded hoarding of tiny slips of colored paper while children go hungry. Where ignoring the science that could keep us alive is rewarded with money-until the floodwaters come and suddenly all that greed gets a spotlight.

With that failure, of all the potential-that potential to be great-slips away with every fearful glance at a black man, with every man who thinks he can talk away a woman’s experience, with every clutch at money for the one at the expense of the improvement of the all. Every reward of cruelty, writ large across the internet in 140 characters.

That kind of failure worms its way across my soul, some days and erodes the better nature of myself.

The world still burns, the world still floods. The slivery flecks I see on spiderwebs are ash and not dew; four states and one province are covered in smoke; some people haven’t had a breath of clear air in over three weeks. Three days of smoke in Portland and I was feeling sick.

My Dad told me once about a story Garrison Keillor told about a story he was telling on Prairie Home Companion, where the only way out of the situation was to kill a cow. And he really didn’t want to kill that cow. But it was the only way to finish the story.

Which is my way of telling you: I don’t have a good answer, here. I don’t precisely know how to amend the broken qualities. I don’t want to kill this cow, but I don’t know a way out.

I still believe that it is possible,though. Maybe not today. Maybe not a year from now. But someday. What is broken becomes fixed. We do not allow the world burn. We do not roll over and let the world flood. We fix. Or we did anyway: there is no reason why we cannot do it again.

Maybe we lose. The world still burns, the world still floods.

Yeah, I’m tired but I persist. Some days, that will have to do.

The second pint goes to Friends of the Gorge.

Respite 52\Second Pint Portlight

36219929423_7d38373d28_zModern Times’ City of the Dead seemed interesting so I got it: an export stout with bourbon barrel aged coffee beans. Which is weird; the beans are aged in bourbon barrels? That’s a new one on me, if it’s true. (And I found out later from the barkeep that it was indeed true)!

It’s a liquid espresso bean, though. Really smooth, a little roasted, wrapped in sweetness. I like it and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys coffee flavors in their beer. It’s also got just the right amount of viscosity to it, too: this beer slides over my tongue easily and leaves just a little bit behind, but it isn’t weighing me down.

In contrast, the summer is laying a heavy hand on the nation; wildfires and floods dominating the consciousness, edging out the corruption only by virtue of the immediate suffering that they cause. I wipe ash off of my car Wednesday morning, labored breathing throughout my day; citizens of Texas gasp because there is too much water in the air.

Yet the spirit of e pluribus unum lives on, in the groundswell of support for people who are in crisis. The shaming of those who could be of assistance and think they are above doing so. The attention towards our impact on the climate, on each other.

In a year that has been wrought with despair, that is something I want to remember: not just so that I can recall that Americans came together to help, as we so often do for each other, but because it a task for us: to continue to assist with the rebuild. This is something we should rightly ask our government to do correctly and I think we’re going to have to demand it, hold people accountable for it. Because they’ve told us: they don’t care.

So it’s on us to hold up the principles of this country. As Mr. Biden said:

If it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now: We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation.

You, me, and the citizens of this country carry a special burden in 2017. We have to do what our president has not. We have to uphold America’s values. We have to do what he will not. We have to defend our Constitution.

The work continues.

Today’s second pint goes to Portlight but I would encourage readers look over any number of charities helping people affected by hurricane Harvey and find one that speaks to them.

Respite 51\New Avenues for Youth

36700305942_9387ff7bd2_zI was going to go to Bailey’s tonight but before I could go I was invited to Proper Pints’ grand opening. I joined a couple I know from the OBC and we shared a few drinks. It was an out-of-the-blue surprise and I’m glad they saved me a seat.

I got the Firestone Walker Helldorado ale, while at Proper Pints. There wasn’t a description so I didn’t know what to expect but a pal drinking with me described it as a barrel aged triple IPA.

Here is what I know: this has whiskey and brown sugar flavors but is a lot lighter than I would expect it to be. Both on the palate-it’s a lighter feel on the tongue-and from a flavor perspective: it doesn’t linger. The Helldorado is also pretty damn good.

Sometimes, I forget how solitary this work is. Writing is the kind of thing that is done alone, editing is done alone, photo work (such as I do it) alone. Yet drinking alone is…well, it’s acceptable sometimes but it isn’t the norm. It isn’t what we do. We eat together, we drink together as a way of fostering connections between people. Even when I am out drinking I am out with people.

So, I’m glad to be reminded that there are people to connect with. Maybe it means I have to set aside my work in order to prioritize that connection-and that is what I should do, if I can-but we don’t exist in a vacuum. I don’t just write for or about me. I write for and about others. It’s more important than ever to remember this, in the current environment.

Today’s second pint goes to New Avenues for Youth. Link to explain who they are, since they’re local to Portland.

Respite 50\Second Pint LAH

35905566883_1d726ac697_cI had the Laurelwood Cookie Monster ale back at Bailey’s 10th anniversary event. The beer describes itself as an English strong ale with oats, cacao nibs, sea salt and vanilla, barrel aged in bourbon barrels. What I said about the beer-which comes in at a hefty 9.4%-was that it tastes like raw chocolate chip cookie dough.

Sipping on one now, I can see that my assessment was entirely correct. There’s a tiny blanket of effervescence here, which might be the only thing keeping the Cookie Monster from being too sweet, followed by a stamp of bourbon but all in all, I still like it. If alcoholic raw cookie dough appeals to you, I think you’ll probably like it, too.

Yeah, this week I went for something I knew I was going to like. I don’t know about you but I feel worn down by the events of the week and I live about as far away from Charlottesville as you can.

But when someone tries to tell you “Nazis are the same as these people who don’t like Nazis”, well…I think it’s a good time to dig in and start saying very loudly that they aren’t, and maybe those people need to be exposed, shunned, shamed and punished so they quit infecting our body politic.

Every conversation has gone like that-or like this-lately. Which is hard on the psyche-and again, I’m not even near the epicenter of this latest disturbance. I just feel the shockwaves.

All the more reason, though, to treat yourself. Not to retreat entirely to comforting, familiar things but sometimes? Yeah, it’s a good thing to just enjoy a beer and take yourself off the wall.

An opportunity to recharge our sense of compassion and our sense of humor, so that we do not become the vindictive, bitter, callous people who currently have the Matrix of Leadership.

But having the Matrix and being the leader are two very, very different things and rarely has this ever been clearer in my life than now.

Today’s second pint goes towards Life After Hate.

Respite 49/Second Pint SPLC

‘Fuck these Nazi scum.’

Is what I’m thinking as I drink Matchless‘ Son of a Voss pale ale. That isn’t what I want to talk about. Nazi scum, that is. But that’s where we are…and I’ll get back to it in a minute.

36567426485_71c4962dcd_cBecause the Son of Voss has a forest nose, a little pine in there, but the body of the beer is hinting more at citrus; orange in this case. After a few sips, a more grapefruit scent makes itself known and I’d like to know how they pulled that trick off. At 4.1%, it’s very, very light and the bitterness on the finish constantly threatens to overwhelm the beer.

It doesn’t though, which leaves me with a beer that is pretty easy to drink and wholly appropriate for this heat.

A few days ago, I was talking to a pal about the state of the world and said “I haven’t had to worry about nuclear war in 30 years. I’m not really excited about that.”

She gave me a wan smile and said, “I have to worry every time I leave the city if someone is going to shoot me, or run me off the road. You white people are overdue for some fear.”


In light of the thoughts I’d was having about trust last week, her words stuck with me. It’s difficult to concern yourself with the threat of needless annihilation when your day to day life is threatened by strangers, because you are unable to trust the people in your own country.

The next day, Nazis (and that’s what they are. The alt-right is but white power terrorists) would protest the removal of a Robert E Lee statue from Emancipation Park (just let that irony sink in for a moment), followed by someone taking a car a driving it into an anti-fascist protest, killing someone the day after.

So where the hell does that leave me?

Can someone build trust in an environment like this? Where the shambling moral swamp that is President Trump refuses to repudiate Nazis. How awful of a person does one have to be in order to miss that moral calling?

I’ll tell you why he doesn’t though: They’re loyal.

And some people wonder why women or people of color have difficulty trusting the powers that be. The powers that be have tacitly endorsed Nazis. Which is the same as overtly endorsing Nazis and that leads me back to where I started:

Fuck these Nazi scum.

But again: where the hell does that leave me? Because that isn’t what I want to talk about. I want to talk about how to build those connections.

I wish I had better answers. At the moment, denouncing evildoers and believing women, minorities, people of color or just different, when they tell me they’re frightened, so that I can behave accordingly, that seems…well, it’s a start. These skookin cowards have decided they can be brave, that there will be no repercussions to their hatred because of Trump’s ascendancy to President. That there won’t be consequences: they won.  But there needs to be consequences.

I think about what my Dad told me last November: ‘We’re going to have to take a hit, and that sucks. But we have to stand in there and take it,’ and my stomach sinks.

He was right and honestly, I am not looking forward to getting hit. I am, truthfully, scared. Scared of what’s coming out of Washington DC, scared of the fecklessness of those who have an opportunity to stop it and scared of what’s going to hurt me. However, I didn’t have to live with this every. Day. Now that I do-well, some fear is overdue, shall we say?

But, nobody ever said courage was easy.

Nobody ever said building trust was easy.

We’re going to need both of those things in massive handfuls, if we’re going to move forward-without the leadership from the White House. Which we will do, and it’s going to start with saying:

Fuck those Nazi scum. And then living accordingly.

Today’s second pint is going to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Respite 48\Second Pint B&GCA

35619006303_481b83ecc5_cTonight, I’ve picked up a Block 15 Hypnosis: a barleywine aged in cognac barrels.

This is delicious. With raisin and some chocolate flavors, it leans heavily into sweetness and I’m OK with it. There’s just a little sense of woodiness on the finish-nothing overwhelming but a soft counterpoint for sure. But it is dense. VERY dense. Getting a full glass of this might have been a mistake, because once it’s done, there’s definitely going to be a feeling of “man, you are full”.

I have a feeling that that the wood quality will become more pronounced as this warms up, too.

I have been thinking a lot about trust over the past few months. In a country where the leader is trying to bend every conversation towards loyalty-and the worst kind of loyalty at that- I am, instead, preoccupied with trust.

Because you have to trust people, if you want a functioning society.

For a long time, the concept of trust has been eroded in America and nowhere is this more apparent to me now, than in the relationship between the Legislative and Executive branches of government and the citizens. When the approval rating of the President hovers around 33% and people are staging sit ins at Congress, yelling at them at town halls, something is deeply wrong.

We have to trust people in order to accomplish anything. And the thing about trust-versus loyalty-is that trust is symbiotic. We trust each other and the level of that trust is earned. Loyalty often goes one way: Someone is loyal to someone or something but that loyalty doesn’t automatically extend the other direction and it is never a gradient; loyalty exists as a binary state.

Trust has to operate differently and it has to extend to people we don’t know, people who aren’t like us. Which is why it’s so important. The ideals of America make this explicit and stand in contrast to how many other nations were formed: we don’t look for people who look and believe like us in order to join in.

We want people who want the same goal and ideal.

And those people exist! Which I hope we remember when we’ve decided that zealots who demand loyalty over trust or competence need to be removed from power.

Because who will be left? Just. Us. And we won’t be loyal. We’ll just have trust each other.

To do the rebuild-a rebuilding that is going to require rebuilding trust, too. It would be exhilarating if the road to getting there wasn’t so terrifying.

The second pint goes to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Respite 47/Second Pint Trans Lifeline

OK….so I hope you know how I dearly appreciate readers and your willingness to come by every M-W-F.

I especially appreciate the responses to the Monday posts, because I get that it’s not like other beer blogs on those days.

Between a very good friend visiting and us hitting the OBF and then Bailey’s anniversary party, though, with all the writing and socializing that went with it…I am burnt out and have had no time to organize my thoughts for a proper Monday post.

So, same time next week? Great.

Today’s second pint goes to Trans Lifeline.

Respite 46\ Second Pint Snopes

36000935031_17e6575a69_c“What’s a grisitte?” I ask, and from behind the bar Scotty says something to the effect of “what lagers are for miners, grisittes are for farmhands.” Well, while I don’t often drink similes, I figure I’ll give anything a shot once.

Engine House No 9’s Petite Belle Grisitte; is a farmhouse influenced saison. What I mean by that is, it’s got that funkiness in the nose and an interesting creaminess on the finish that I wouldn’t expect but the spice note is subtle and…this is just damn tasty. I got a small pour because I didn’t know what to expect and now I’m wishing I’d gotten a big one.

This is going to be a pretty exciting week: I’ve got an interview with the owner of Bailey’s to put up on Wednesday, in preparation for their 10th Anniversary event, then the review of the Oregon Brewer’s Fest on Friday!

For today then, I’m going to relax. My friend Noah is here and we’re going to play some Magic. I’m going to do my best to just enjoy this evening because after that, I’m very busy for the next seven days.

The Second Pint is going towards helping Snopes stay open. I know that isn’t a nonprofit but the work they do helping debunk false stories is incredibly important. More information on that here.

Respite 45\Second Pint ACLU

I have a soft spot for Flanders red ales, so when I saw Vanguard/Loyal Legion’s Red Don, a Flanders red ale with cherries, well I’m pretty sure you can guess what happened next. The nose smells like cherry juice and that feels…weird. There’s a little bit of funk under that, too, as though the juice might be turning in an intriguing way.

35174218563_0417940cd2_cThe beer itself is also a challenge to get my head around. The mildly sour part of the Flanders red style is there but without much sweetness, and the tartness of the cherries is in full force so it’s both a contrast and a counterbalance? I suppose if I had to pin it down, I would call this beer grapefruit cherry sparkling water.

I suppose I’m spoiled due to my experience with other versions of Flanders reds, that have a definite dry fruit or chocolate note of sweetness to keep the whole thing corralled in and I’m missing that. Is this beer bad? No. I know there are people who will love this. Buuuuut it’s not quite working for me.

On the I-5 southbound this morning, I saw a mini-van with a giant sheet of paper covering an unwise amount of the back windshield that said: Jesus is the truth, the light and the way, handwritten in fat black marker.

With a handicapped emblem.

And a Trump sticker.

So, what is practically a perfect storm of delusional behavior; unsafe driving created by poor vision, unsafe behavior created by Trump support, in a vehicle that is operated by a person who desperately needs society’s support structures, is in front of me.

In the meantime, I’m listening to this.

The freeway is for everyone, though. I don’t need to monitor this person, so long as they stay in their lane. The rules help keep everyone safe. My job is to stay aware of what’s going on around me and to maintain my own safety. My job is to take care of everything I can in order to keep that freeway a safe place to be, starting with my own driving and care of my vehicle, to the money I give so that these public spaces are in good shape and don’t endanger anyone.

So I keep on keepin’.

This second pint is for the ACLU.

Respite 44/Second Pint-Donors Choose

35840396115_691b414796_cA Heretic/Evil Twin collab, Evil Quadruplets is on today. This is supposed to be an Imperial Red ale but honestly it just tastes like a barleywine; caramel alcohol and a solid bitterness on the finish. The bitterness is strong enough that that might be the element that doesn’t fit as barleywine but it’s pretty damn delicious.

I still feel a bit exhausted. I want to step away from the general madness of the day but…there is no getting away from it.

Yet, this series is called The Respite, right? It’s meant to be a moment of pause, reflection, peace. Happiness and joy are even welcome. Or just smiles and contentment. Whatchu got? Let’s bring that.

Because I don’t talk about the state of America these days because I don’t care. I talk about it because I think the potential of America is grander, more noble, than other countries. Our social political experiment has somehow helped push more goodness in the world. It isn’t without massive flaws but…it’s hard for me to just abandon it, because I’ve seen it help, I’ve seen the better nature of humans win out.

I know that phenomenon is unique to America. But this is my home and this is a place that hasn’t begun to fulfill it’s promise-a promise that is being sawed at daily by the worst of what America has to offer.

So, I can’t step away.

But I don’t get to rest. Sometimes you gotta. Today will not be that day.

Today’s second pint will go towards Donors Choose. I specifically went with this one, because of a lifelong love of books and a feeling that they are critically important towards helping people become better people but I would heartily encourage readers choosing to donate to pick whatever feels right for them.