Category Archives: Round Two

Round Two #31\Second Pint VSA

‘There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”’ ― Kurt Vonnegut.

Welcome to the last post of 2019! I’m glad you’re here. I got a Plaid Habit from Boulevard, which is an imperial brown ale kept in Canadian whiskey barrels.

Boulevard Plaid Habit brown aleThe nose smells like cheap hooch and bad grandmas. Maybe you’re into that?

But tasting it gives me some dried cherry or raisin, a little bit of chocolate and a touch of whiskey. An offering of maple syrup arrives to keep things interesting though I’m not sure if it’s interesting enough. The aftertaste has that high alcohol burn that settles on the front third of my tongue. It’s far more drinkable than the nose offers, which I’m grateful for. Also, it’s a 13% beer so I don’t think I’ll have a second one. It’s good but it isn’t THAT good.

I think in this instance what I’ve got is a beer that is mismatched; brown ales need to be light, and even an imperial brown ale shouldn’t carry much weight but whiskey is strong stuff. This is something that needs the intensity of malts from a porter or stout to really stand up.

As I was saying; I’m glad you’re here. Regardless of how the year has treated you, you can say you made it to the end of one. Hopefully, you’ve made it through relatively unscathed.

I fear it won’t last. This coming year, it’s going to be one wild ride. Anyone who is paying attention should understand that, and that ride does not look like fun at all. We’re going to have to do extra work, looking out for each other-being kind enough to include everyone who needs to be included, and only mean enough to scare off those who would cause harm to us, just because we exist.

It’s a fine line. I doubt we will walk it perfectly. However, I don’t think we do the work in order to be perfect. We do it because it must be done, and if not by us, who? There’s no sense that I can tell, letting the perfect be the enemy of the good to the point that we don’t do the work.

And if this year has been difficult for you, then I’m sorry. I hope that 2020 is kinder to all of us-despite my fears for the coming year. Or may be in spite of those fears. That works, too.

Today’s second pint goes to Vote Save America.

Round Two #30/Second Pint DVRC

Pliny the Elder IIPAPliny the Elder.

Among beer aficionados and IPA geeks especially, those three words can cause no small ripple of hype. Once upon a time, I understood why; it was an outstanding beer, vibrant with hops in a way that I’d never had before- and I wasn’t alone. Beer lovers flocked to Russian River’s beer, one that has been credited with creating the Double or Imperial IPA style (IIPA).

But I quickly found myself disillusioned with the beer-it felt overhyped and the expectations of Pliny soon outweighed what it actually was. Maybe what it could ever be.

I haven’t had a glass of Pliny in years. Until tonight.

The nose has a citrus and resin quality but that fades rapidly. The strength of the scents aren’t there, but they still linger; like the ghost of an ex, it won’t go away, even though the presence is gone. So let’s go in for the sip.

You know, it’s not bad at all. Citrus, with a strong ribbon of caramel wrapped around it, with a hint of forest on the final bitterness. The Pliny is more balanced than I remember, easier to sip on.

That bitterness lingers too; like the scent, except on my tongue and it stings just a little bit. Not in a bad way, but it’s definitely got that hop bite.

The second glass….is much the same. And I don’t mean to shortcut my impressions of that second glass but it isn’t what I want to focus on. Because the beer is good; it’s exactly what it was the first time. That consistency is frequently what makes a good beer good or even great.

What I can’t help but think about, though, is what may have changed. Certainly, the beer scene has changed since Pliny first arrived; but did the beer stay the same and I fall to the hype or did the exposure of new beers enable me to move on to something I liked more?

With all of the conversations surrounding breweries trying to find the new hot thing vs solid beers that we know are good, I’m just not certain.

I am glad that I decided to come back to this beer and try it again. It’s enjoyable and I might’ve let my ego prevent me from ever tasting it and discovering that it was still pretty good.

Today’s second pint goes to the Domestic Violence Resource Center.

And, since Wednesday is Christmas, I’ll be taking the day off. Happy holiday, everyone!

 

Round Two #29\Second Pint Vera

‘I’d take a recommendation,’ I tell the bartender. She recommends Modern Times’ Blazing World.

Modern Times-Blazing World IPAThat’s as good a reason as any to pick a beer.

This ale looks bright and clean and I am feeling hopeful about it before I put it to my nose. When I do get the beer there, the scents are dried citrus fruit-orange & tangerine.

This one is a nice beer to drink. The tangerine quality is in front and at the final bitterness but it isn’t overpowering. Some caramel malt is allowed to escape through the bars, which is sweet enough to give the Blazing World dimension.

But, the finish is so clean and crisp, you could be forgiven thinking the Blazing World was a lager. There’s a little too much lingering citrus to get away with that but the brightness of that quality makes for a beer that’s really easy to drink.

Glass two, the twinning. I pick up more grassy qualities in this-the citrus is still there but it’s blended with a lawn element. No, I don’t know what to make out of it, but I checked three times and by golly, there’s a something grassy there.

I’m also getting more malt in this glass. The tangerine is present but the caramel wants to saunter up and make itself known. I can’t object to this; it’s a tasty beer still and this isn’t a radical departure from the first one I had, but I’m getting a little more from it, which is nice.

What’s been interesting is that there’s been a rise in the “dankness” of the Blazing World. A moist forest scent and flavor that is trying to cuddle up to the tangerine and it’s working! But it’s different.

Today’s second pint goes to Vera Institute of Justice.

Round Two #28\Second Pint H4A

Baerlic Gray Scale lagerBaerlic’s Gray Scale, which is a coffee-Vienna style lager. That’s weird: coffee stouts and pale coffee stouts are both things I’ve had and, as visually weird as a pale stout can be, it’s still pretty tasty.

But a coffee lager is a new thing and I cannot pass up a chance to try a new thing!

The coffee is in the nose but it isn’t oppressive. That’s good, because this is a lighter style of beer and could easily be overwhelmed. The scent is constant, though, all the way down; there’s no point where I don’t know I’m drinking a coffee flavored beer.

The Gray Scale is…challenging. Because there are some sweet flavors here, undoubtedly from the malt, that keep this beer in check. I am sure I don’t have to tell anyone how intense coffee flavor is, though and there aren’t lots of other flavors in the Gray Scale to keep that coffee back.

As it warms up, the beer gets a little sweeter and the finish becomes crisper, making it easier to drink.

Glass two: I have a chance to notice how quickly the head on the beer settles: a good centimeter and a half in not more than 30 seconds!

The nose is again a solid coffee sweetness, but when I drink the Gray Scale, I’m able to pick up a little more effervescence this time-a bit more pop on my tongue.

That backs off quickly and now that I’m in the middle of the beer, I’m drinking coffee sweetened without milk. Which I don’t ever think I’ve had, and maybe that’s why I’m so puzzled by this beer. I don’t drink coffee, so part of the experience is simply lost on me.

I really like the first beer, but in the second glass I’m experiencing palate fatigue and I don’t want more of this. Despite having a short pour, that second glass is a struggle to sip on. I’m torn between wanting to pound it down, or just take my time.

I settle for taking my time. The final third of the beer again becomes crisper but I can’t help but wonder if I wouldn’t’ve been happier with an even shorter pour than I got.

Still: for one glass? This is a damn solid beer.

Today’s second pint goes to Hygiene 4 All. Disclosure: I know a person working there and think what they’re doing is cool.

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.