Category Archives: Round Two

Round Two #27\Second Pint SotR

Breakside French Quarter barleywineBreakside’s French Quarter: a barleywine with rye, aged in brandy barrels? SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT.

The nose is boozy-and at 11%, that makes sense. But a sip off this gives me cinnamon and then some spice from the rye. There’s a bit of vanilla, too, which I wouldn’t have thought would be there. The normal caramel flavors I’d expect seem to have been substituted for chocolate.

So this is unusual as heck, right? I’m not sure what to think about this beer. A quick search to see what kind of barrels are used to age brandy comes up with oak barrels. This explains the whiskey qualities I am getting (vanilla, some spice), but what I can’t get around is the strength of this beer.

It’s a little like I’m having a weak shot of whiskey instead of a barleywine. Or a glass of alcoholic brown sugar with cinnamon. As I stumble on this idea, I realize I’ve locked in on what my issue is: it’s too sweet and too thin for the potency of flavors it’s presenting.

The second round has a less intense nose. The whole beverage seems a little more muted, actually, except for the cinnamon, which threads its way through the drink.

This is a miss for me: cinnamon and brown sugar might sound delightful to you but it’s a wrong combo for me. I can see how this is meant to feel like a winter drink-a mulled wine replicant, maybe? The cold nights have descended upon the city and seasonally, these kinds of flavors match it, but I can’t go for this beer.

Today’s second pint goes to the Sisters of the Road.

Round 2 #26\Second Pint RIP Medical Debt

Chapman Martzen aleChapman Brewing’s Old  Towne Fest ale, a Martzen, which has a sourdough bread quality in the nose and my first sip isn’t: I take a big pull off it, because let’s be honest, that’s the kind of beer this is. You take large swallows of it like you’re a damn thirsty human.

The trick is to slow down, actually-which isn’t easy, because Martzen style beers are just really drinkable. But for you, my friends, I’ll pace myself a little.

The mouthfeel reminds me of beers my Dad used to let me sip off when I was a child-don’t worry, he wasn’t letting me drink them, more like ‘sure kid, you can have a sip of this thing you’re gonna hate’. So if you had a sip of beer in the 1970’s, you might know what I mean.

If you didn’t: prickly is what comes to mind. The bubbles are tiny, ferocious and like to settle about one centimeter back from the tip of my tongue. Even after I’ve swallowed it, I can still feel the impact.

There’s also a grainy quality; cereal grains that I dig as well. Rarely have I wanted chicken strips so badly to go with a beer; this is precisely the kind of style made for pub food. Cheese, sausage, savory fried things. I could live off of this and nachos for a little while.

But.

It’s a little sweet, if you drink it slow. That isn’t a flaw, per se but it is something I’m noticing and it might be why I want some savory vittles so much with this beer.

The second can supports all my initial impressions, though this one doesn’t quite have the same head as the other. Still: there is a barrage of steady bubbles coming up so quickly that I’m reminded of champagne. Which I didn’t expect to make a comparison to, but hey: nice to be surprised, right?

A little less malt appears and the nose starts to get drier, too, less bready, more malt forward. Also, as I near the end of the glass, it doesn’t seem as sweet as the first one did.

I’m not sure what to make of that-it’s certainly a really drinkable beer, even though there’s a little unevenness happening-but it’s reasonable. It may be that drinking the first glass slowly allowed for it to warm up enough to let the malt sweetness shine more-that’s certainly how many stouts work. A third might tell me what I need to know buuuut…one should know their limits and I still need to get home.

I found this campaign to help eliminate medical debit for people and that’s as worth a place to put a second pint as any.

 

Round Two #25\Second Pint

Ex Novo Eliot IPAI picked up Ex Novo’s Eliot, a dry hopped IPA. For a dry hopped beer, I cannot get any aroma off this to save my soul. As a result, I’m not feeling this one. It isn’t bad but I’m having to work at it to get anything. I hate work.

 

On the sides of my tongue I can pick up a little sweetness, and the tip of it is where all the bubbles seem to be congregating. Like kissing a nine volt. After that, there’s a little pop of sweetness again, near the roof of my mouth, before the bitterness spreads out over the middle of my tongue and down my throat.
Do I like this? Am I just irate that I’m having to work so hard to figure out what’s going on? Is it missing  something? Seems like it’s missing something.
The second glass is better; I can pick up some fresh tangerine and orange scents. So that’s a definite improvement.
The first sip is a head turner though; I get orange and chocolate. Which I should not get. But it seems to be a taste illusion; by my second sip, I’m back to a more standard set of flavors from the first glass; sweeter citrus, bitter finish.
However: The nose is gone by sip three. There’s nothing for me to pick up anymore. That’s not a good sign.

Today’s second pint goes to Transition Projects.

Round Two #24\Second Pint EFD

Breakside IPAI picked Breakside’s IPA tonight because the closure of so many local breweries is weighing on me. I had other options on the menu, some of which I hadn’t had before, but staying with something reliable and tasty seemed like a good idea.

This beer has got a strong tangerine element to it, both in the nose and on the finish. The midrange has enough sweetness to it that it’s almost like getting a gummi beer, until the bitterness comes in to remind me that this is, indeed, an adult beverage.

It’s Halloween as I get my thoughts down, and walking through the neighborhood to the pub, I pass by multiple houses with lights on and people outside, visiting with each other, sipping on drinks, waiting for trick-or-treaters to come by. More houses still with their lights on, a few with their screen doors propped open, pathways lit for people, ready to welcome any stranger who asks for candy.

Halloween houseAll day, I saw friends on my social media feed expressing the idea that it didn’t matter who came to their door or why, if they were asking for treats, they would get them. Sometimes these thoughts were positive, others were a bit more inclusively nihilistic (‘the world’s on fire, let’s just share’) but seeing things like this remind me that I’m with the right group of people. Ones who want to include and be joyful and reject a narrative of fear coming from on high.

It’s nice to step away from the news-which is, admittedly, revealing more frightening things every day-and get out on the town and see people being decent to one another. For no particular reason. They can, so they are.

The second Breakside IPA is a little different. At this point, the hop oils from the first glass have had enough time to build up and establish themselves on my tongue. The bitterness in IPAs become more intense as you drink them because of the lingering hop oils so the second beer in this situation tastes like it has less sweetness to it.

That shift in the balance of the beer has removed any gummi quality that I noted earlier. Now this beer drinks much more like a standard IPA; still evoking the flavors I from before, (lots of tangerine on both ends, little sweetness in the middle) but the bitterness on the finish helps to emphasize the malt backbone of the beer and contrast the sweetness in the nose.

The development of this IPA is exactly why I am glad I’m doing this series. Whether you think this IPA has improved because of that second beer or not (I am definitely in the “yes, this is more complex and better” camp) the fact that it has changed and I can tell you about it makes this series rewarding.

Unfortunately, I’m in a bar, less a pub and that means I’ve had two pints, not smaller pours. Which is fine, as I’m walking home but it’s also my last beer for now.

The Excalibur food drive wrapped up last Friday and the collected over 1100 pounds of items! Pretty sweet.

Round Two #23\Second Pint EFD

Lompoc brewing is closing Tuesday. I’ve come to the 5th Quadrant location to commemorate the occasion, as much as I wish I didn’t have to.

Lompoc Lomporter aleThe Lomporter is a chocolate delight. The nose has an element of liquor to it, as though I was drinking something stronger, and chocolate malt, the kind my Dad could get milkshakes made from as a kid.

I think there’s a little roast on the finish, right next to a toffee flavor. The menus says this won gold at the Great American Beer Fest last year and I can see why: it’s absolutely delicious.

It’s weird to be here, days before closure. There’s no way to look at things as normal, but the appearance certainly reflects that.

Lompoc has been in Portland for 23 years-nearly as long as I have-and its closure comes with a long line of news about places closing (Bridgeport) or being bought out (Laurelwood, Ninkasi). 2019 has been rough on the local beer scene. If they brewery operates in Portland but is owned by someone in San Francisco, is it still local? If you lose your local pub, where do you find your community, now?

Something will rise up. Something always does; we need our communities and when we cannot find them, we often make them.

But we’re losing something, again. Something both real and ethearal and that is why I’m here, even though Lompoc wasn’t my local brewpub. They made really good beer, they were a reliable spot to come and  hang out, and they anchored part of the Portland beer scene.

It sucks to lose that, because it feels like there have been a lot of losses this year. Personal and public, private and for all to see, on stages large and small, it’s hard to escape the notion that the beatings will continue until morale improves…or until we outright break.

And it used to be that we could say that ‘hey, at least we can get a beer when it’s over’. A way to salve our losses together, regroup and support where we could.

But now there’s one less place to get that beer.

A nearby table has a couple growlers on it: some savvy fans of Lompoc brought something to get filled. Behind me I can hear the waitress tell a table that they’re out of certain food items, offering alternatives. I watch another patron head to a table, two six-packs of the Lomporter in her arms-if the good thing is going to leave us, damnit we’re going to take as much of it with us as we can.

Today’s second pint goes towards the Excalibur Food & Staples drive. One more week to go! 

Round Two #22\Second Pint EFD

Ruse Prefrontal Fresh Hop IIPATonight it’s Ruse’s Prefrontal Polaroid Fresh Hop Hazy IIPA. Which, of course, is a collaboration with Cerebral brewing, because there aren’t enough words in the title of the beer.

The nose is definitely citrus which is about what I expected, but it’s not too strong.

The beer itself has some citrus notes, tilting to the sweet end of grapefruit, which I expected. But it has a nice mouthfeel, with some weight to the beer but not chunky.

However, the finish tastes off. There’s a dryness that starts to form on the roof of my mouth, and scraping away at it with my tongue gives me this weird flavor. I always think of this as dirty, like I’m drinking a bit of unwashed veggies.

The second glass has a pretty severe emphasis on the dryness. I get that quality I more on my tongue and in that space between my gums and lips.

That weird vegetal quality is diminished, though. That is an upside but getting less of something I don’t want still leaves me with something I don’t really want.

I think it maybe time to leave the fresh hop ales behind. I’ve been drinking them for at least a month, maybe even six weeks. They may just be getting old and let’s face it; life is too short to invest in beer you don’t like.

And I’m continuing the second pint donations to the Excalibur comics food & staples drive.

Round Two #21/Second Pint EFD

Barley Browns fresh hop Pallet JackBarley Brown’s Pallet Jack, fresh hop edition is on tap. ‘Tis the season, right?

The nose has an earthy quality, a little like the scent right after rain. The beer itself has a range of sweetness into a fairly straightforward bitterness; I wonder if this was a beer that had dried hops added to the boil for bittering.

The bubbly quality is quite intense; it stings the top of my tongue but doesn’t to much for the rest of my mouth. That leaves the bitterness to linger and drive the IPA point home.

So, it doesn’t seem terribly well balanced; the softer, petrichor nose just doesn’t prepare me for the rather intense mouthfeel and finishing flavors. As I get a little further in, some sweetness lifts itself in to the beer, but like the nose, it’s faint and restrained. It’s not a bad beer, but it’s for a particular audience, shall we say?

Then a funny thing happens: the last quarter of the beer balances out a bit. The bubbly mellows, a little more hop nose starts to appear. I’m wondering if the beer was served to me just a little cold. It would make the sharpness of the mouthfeel qualities make sense.

So for my second glass, I let it sit for a few minutes. Sip on some water, try to clear my palate off. The nose is much the same; I catch that early because it’s so ephemeral.

This second glass, after a little more time to warm up, gives me a distinct tangerine flavor. It’s still got that really hard bitter punch at the end, but there’s more to it. I’m still not sure that I’m the audience for this beer, but at least I got more out of it the second time around.

This month, my local comic book shop, Excalibur Comics is doing a food & staples drive. All my second pints (and a little more) will be given to that for this month. It’s a nice thing that they do every year and I’m glad that I’m in a position to contribute. Maybe you’ve got a local organization that could use some contributions? But I’ll keep talking this up through the month as part of the Second Pint Project.