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Unhealthy Coping Strategies, 1 (McCarthy Single Malt)

Give the stresses at work as of late (which have been of the kind to summon a Munch painting to mind, except instead of one person making the “Macauley Culkin shaving in Home Alone” face, it’s been thirty or forty of us), I’ve been…supplementing my coffee from time to time.

McCarthy's Whiskey & cup

While I would not approve of this as a long-term coping strategy, or when you’ve got a number of face-to-face meetings, it’s certainly taken the edge off of a day or two recently.

I’d also recommend a cheaper brand, one that should not be enjoyed on its own with a drop or two of water. Unlike this, which is peaty and smoky and undeniably good with a splash of H2O. However, one works with what one has on hand.


Penultimate IPA

I get a faint bit of pine from the nose but nothing too sharp. A little disappointed in that, since I was hoping for more.

Soapy IPA homebrewIt’s…ok? There’s some decent bitterness on the finish but nothing distinctive, and the middle of the beer has enough to keep it from just being all about the hops.

But I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. I’ve spent time working on this and nothing quite seems to come out right.

One other thing: I noticed that there was some wild variations in bottle quality. A couple-not many but still-were clearly infected. Which is disappointing as I’ve been paying more attention to scrubbing and cleaning these bottles before sanitization.

Still, more drinkable bottles than not, so…take what I can get?

Date: 11/17/19

Steeping malts
5 lb High color malt
2 lb Munich
1 ob Full Pint Vielna
.5 lb Caramel 30

Fermentables: 3.5 lb ExLME

2 oz Cascade, 1 oz Palisade @ 60
1 oz Cascade, .5 oz Palisade @30

Yeast: Imperial’s Darkness (3rd, final use)

OG: 1.065

FG: 1.019

Secondary: 12/5, .5 oz Palisade, 1 oz Cascade added

Bottled: 12/8

ABV: 6.2%


Round Two #34\ Second Pint BTP

Sout Pistol Fingers IPAStoup is a brewery I haven’t heard of, and since I’m going to try the beer twice, I feel better about trying something new.

So I get the Pistol Fingers, a west coast IPA. The nose fades too quickly-before I’ve gotten my device opens to write about this beer, any hop nose has been replace by some malt qualities. Suddenly, there’s some alternate dankness to the beer too, and now I’m confused. I could’ve sworn I had a big whiff of just malt, but it’s all dank hops now. So maybe I was mistaken?

On my way to the pub tonight, I passed by someone who was walking two corgis; they had LED collars of red and purple, their stubby legs propelling them in the amusing way that corgis have.

It’s things like this that make me glad I walk a lot. I see people out and about, sometimes just moving from A to B, but often walking dogs.  They’re civil and friendly and sometimes they even let me pet their dogs.

It’s hard to have a bad day, if you can pet an animal.

The flavors from the Pistol Fingers are a separate thing from the nose; the bitterness is more straightforward. There isn’t a citrus or forest tilt to them that I can pick up. There is a sweet malt moment but…I can’t quite pin it down. It’s not caramel-there’s nothing toasty enough in this beer to give me that. And the finish is starting to tilt a little vegetal, the more I sip.

It’s subtle though, showing up well after I’ve swallowed the beer. But something still ain’t quite right here.

At the next table a woman pulls a man close to her and says, “Thank you for marriaging me. You’re like, the only thing that doesn’t give me anxiety.”

And you know, there are forces that want us to feel anxious all the time. But…when I look up, I can’t help but think that most of us want to do good. We’ll do our best, if we are given clear, good information from someone we can trust. 

It’s the erosion of trust that we have to combat the most. Because you have to trust people, if you want a world that isn’t rushing to extinction. Trust is the enemy of anxiety.

The second pint is definitely lacking on the nose. I triple checked it. I don’t think it’s the pour, either, but looking at it, this head is thinner than Trump’s toupee. C’mon people; IPAs are all but defined by two characteristics: the hops on the nose, and the bitterness on the finish. If you one-bun the thing, it’s either an adequate pale or a deeply challenging…something.

In the end, it’s just not an enjoyable beverage for me. Imbalanced and lacking dimension, the second beer has told me what I need to know.

Today’s second pint goes to Books to Prisoners.

Proof-A Review

I recently finished Proof by Adam Rogers, which is about the science around alcohol.

Longtime readers of the blog know that I really like the science behind beer; the  processes that go into making a glass of lager or ale can easily connect damn near everything in the world. A book like this is definitely in my wheelhouse.

Proof, however, slides past beer pretty quickly and focuses more on distillation and the science around it. The book makes a pretty solid case for doing so; it’s discussion about fermentation goes into how this is a natural process, whereas making spirits is something humans have engineered.

But that was fine by me, because the science is still the science and discussions around yeast, ethanol, chemistry and how these things interact with humans generally apply regardless of the style of alcohol you consume.

However, the science was occasionally a little unclear for me: discussion on how fungus evolved in Japan to make sake, for example, didn’t have much depth and felt like they were being pushed quickly through. Similarly, the chapters on ethanol’s interactions in the human body used a lot of new terms without giving me enough distinction between them for me to feel like I understood the subject. This may be to prevent getting laypeople confused but I wish it had been clearer, even if this meant more explanations.

But Proof is no less fascinating for these flaws: many parts of the book detailed scientists working on things I was surprised that we didn’t already know-for example, how, exactly, does alcohol affect people? What happens when you’re hung over? What happens to alcohol inside a barrel?

Along with other questions that I just didn’t know and found cool answers too, like How many flavors can a person detect? How did different cultures approach getting fermentation to work?

The dive into these questions were intriguing! I got windows into different cultures, history lessons, science lessons (turns out people can easily detect about six scents if trained, four if not, and then the brain starts to lump things together!) and of course, the people who invest their lives and time into this subject. I enjoyed this read and recommend it if you have any interest in the subject.

A Flat Palate

I’m sure that no one will really be surprised that the craft brewing industry is full of white men.

This is expected but sad for multiple reasons, not the least of which being that brewing has a history filled with women and people of color.

However, the bigger issue is that brewing being full of white guys means that the rest of us suffer. If 99% of the input is from the same user, then where do the new, cool ideas actually come from?

This isn’t to dismiss the efforts of talented people who helped create the craft brewing industry as we know it. It’s just to acknowledge that there were women and not-white people who also did that and deserve the opportunity to make contributions and be acknowledged on the same level.


Round Two #16\Second Pint STAND

Occidental’s fresh hop lager is chosen because I feel as if I have done far more work on a Sunday than should be expected. I haven’t, but it feels that way.

Occidental fresh hop lagerFor me, fresh hop beers are the same as regular beers except for one thing: a strong grassy note either in the nose or on the finish. Fresh cut green grass has a remarkably refreshing quality-a reminder of summers and jobs done, a chance to sit down under shade while someone else paints the fence, ’cause you’ve convinced them that fence painting is the funnest thing ever.

The nose on this ale is pretty standard, a little dank, a whiff of pine, but nothing too intense. The malts aren’t intruding, as appropriate and that leaves the finish, which isn’t bitter but that grassy quality is strong enough that a little more and I might even consider the flavor vegetal.

So, pretty well done. It errs on the side of sweetness, but not so far that I regret my choice. It’s a little strange, since it’s near fall and I feel like this is a great summer weather beer, but since we’re having a resurgent summer, it works.

The second glass I take my time to breathe in. There’s a spicy quality to the hop note I’d missed before and I’m wondering if they used dry hops too, to help punch up the nose.

If so, that was a good choice because that scent gives the beer more complexity than it would have without it.

If these are all fresh hops, then I’m genuinely surprised since I didn’t think that fresh hops would impart the same kind of intensity; my experience with fresh hop beers is that the hop quality is usually a little muted.

But without that complexity, this Pilsner would definitely suffer. As it it stands, I’m starting to get a little weary of the finish: it isn’t flawed, by any means. I just have to wonder if part of the reason I am not a fan of fresh hop ales is because that finish is pretty much the same for every beer, since the fresh hop quality is what they want to emphasize.

I suppose I’ll have to drink more to really suss that out. Someone’s gotta do it.

Today’s second pint goes to Stand For Families Free Of Violence.