Category Archives: whatever you say

I’ll have whatever you say #8

vlad the imp aler

Vlad the Imp Aler. Who doesn’t want that beer? The bloke next to me ordering it has a blonde-touched-with-red beard and hair and he seems to be a sour beer enthusiast, which makes sense since I’m at the Cascade Brewing House.

I’m here in part because of the review I read at It’s Pub Night; though sour beers aren’t my passion a new place is a new place and sour beers are certainly a style that doesn’t get a lot of attention up here so it’s worth checking out. The Vlad isn’t too sour-tilts a bit toward tart instead-but it’s pretty good. Unfortunately, I don’t really have the vocabulary to describe sour beers properly since it’s a style I avoid. I can tell you there’s a dryness at the end which is nice, like white wine and that the front end has the sour funk scent that isn’t overpowering but definitely suggests the power of sour.

The bloke I’ve copied has had his attention directed toward a buddy of his; he recounts a trip he recently took to Belgium and his times drinking cool beers and meeting up at parties. There’s an agreement between the bloke and his buddy that Europe is more free than here, less uptight. These kinds of statements always amuse me because they are exactly the kind of calorie free observations made by people who don’t have to live in a place and get the dirt under their nails when it comes to living in a country.

Still; it’s always good to travel and see how the rest of the world tries to run things.

Anyway, I think I’m going to enjoy the rest of my brew and then head out. I think I’d like to come back here and try more brews sometime and see if there’s awesome beyond the Vlad.

This is the point when I stand up to leave-the bartender, a man in a baseball cap who calls everyone ‘Brother’ and looks like he was drawn by Steve Dillion-says ‘Come back when you can spend some time,’ and I assure him I will…this is the point when I feel myself up and realize; I do not have my keys. In a awkward, bad-at-physical-comedy way I touch my pants and pockets and jacket and chest and come up with no short pointy objects that could be considered to be passes to my vehicle and I say as much to the people cocking their eyebrows at me.

“Hell, brother, do you want another?” the bartender asks.

“Let me go out and see if I still have my keys,” I say.

I do. They’re right there, on the passenger’s seat, gleaming in peach colored streetlight. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Defeated, I return to the bar and ask if I can use a phone, or be directed to one. The bartender smiles and loans me his shiny smartphone; AAA does not answer but thankfully my girlfriend does and ten minutes later, she has appeared with the spare key and a gleam in her eye that says ‘You owe me’, which I very much do, and I am able to return home.

I’ll have whatever you say #7

10 barrel ale10 barrel sinistor black ale is the selection I am drinking tonight. The man who informs me of his choice quietly finishes his fries and slightly turns away from me, reading a woodworking magazine, which is just fine: I am tired and worn out. He’s got rental apps in front of him and don’t know if he’s coming or going but while I’m playing Sherlock to this mans life I don’t quite have it in me to be friendly. A failing tonight.

The hophouse is tiny and despite being empty now it is very easy to imagine it as bustling and upbeat.

The sinistor ale is solid. A nice blend of porter flavors with a hop bitterness twist at the end  instead of coffee. There is also a carbonation at the end that clears everything away and that helps keep the coffee bitterness from lingering.

I am pleasantly undisturbed and I want to come back another day. The prices are fair, the food looks good and there’s a cute woman with glasses and knee high boots serving beer. What more do you want?

I’ll have whatever you say #6

It has taken awhile but tonight is what I have hoped for since I started this project. I doubt it will happen too often, so on the nights it does it’s always good for me…though maybe less good for the readers.

I have returned to Bailey’s. Now while I don’t need a reason to come back here I have to confess, part of my motivation has to do with FOMO because on Saturday night, broke as all get out, I saw on my Twitter feed reference to the Killer Beer fest. Except instead of FOMO it was more like; Knowing Of Missing Out.


Velvet ESBSo I  come back to Bailey’s in hopes that some of the brews on tap Saturday have survived to Monday and I can at least sample some. And while I am in luck; some of them are, the man at the bar is drinking Hopwork’s Velvet ESB, so that is what I’m drinking tonight.

Now, while it’s never easy for me to have conversations with strangers it doesn’t take too much work to start talking to Kevin, a dapper man in a newsboy hat with rings on multiple fingers; a short explanation about the blog and away we go. Shortly thereafter we are joined by Craig who’s in a Cardinal’s baseball cap-and then there’s me in my fedora. So I suppose it’s like the Three Musketeers, only with hats instead of swords and more beer.

And the conversation starts with the Giants taking out the Cowboys. Sure, it’s early in the third quarter but the score is 24-20 and the Giants have begun their successful comeback. None of us, oddly, hope the Cowboys do well. Rude jokes are made (I think I probably made the worst of them) and topics transition.

Politics. Movies. Culture. Slogans (“I need a beer before I do that” which I swear will be a t-shirt I’m going to design). What’s on tap and is worthwhile. Craig has to leave briefly-there is a girlfriend discussion that I won’t claim to understand. I’m briefly able to talk to Geoff who informs me that Laurelwood’s offering will be on tap for awhile because pale ales don’t move very quickly.

I’m baffled. Laurelwood’s Bay Leaf Pale is…well, from Laurelwood. It’s not like people don’t know who they are or the quality of beer they produce. Yet at the KillerBeer Fest, people didn’t take advantage. Marketing in action I suppose but a good lesson for myself; trust the artisans, not the names.

In the meantime-or perhaps at the same time-conversations about art and artists continue, cross referencing Star Wars and Kanye West, mention of video games, CEOs, and what Kevin calls the ‘lack mentality’. Which I really like; I think the fear that somehow we will starve overwhelms our actions more than we’d like.

Which is too bad, because we have so much to offer.

Craig leaves and Kevin and I continue to discuss the mentality of America, comic book heroes, justice versus criminality, great movies (LA Confidential, Chinatown, though I wish I’d brought up the Muppet Movie, looking back on our discussion. It’s themes of friendship and community would have fit well) the mentality of generations, the mentality of now, sacrifice, war, how to be better and in the middle of it all Kevin is kind enough to buy me a beer.

Which reminds me of all the times I was bought a beer when I was unemployed. I was unemployed for over 365 days. Every time I wanted another beer and could not afford it, someone bought me one.

Now, that I may have lived a life that allowed or encouraged people to buy me beer when I was lacking really isn’t the point. I didn’t buy beer for friends because I thought that they would pay me back.

Except that I sort of did. The idea that ‘if you do good, good will come back to you’ is engrained pretty strongly in this country. I don’t think it’s all that surprising that we have a mentality of fairness, that insists that the man with two million is treated the same as the woman with two dollars, under the law.

No, it doesn’t work like that; everyone knows. But we strive for it. We’re disappointed when injustice continues and cheer whenever it is defeated, even if it’s only for a moment. At my best I would have given selflessly and I tried, lord knows…but occasionally I felt like; hey, I’m putting into the kitty.

Yet, when one is unemployed, you know; nobody is going to help you. It’s a struggle that involves a lot of sympathy but usually very little opportunity-in part because these days, everyone is concerned about what they have, and not losing that.

Except…people helped and bought me beer. Craig and Kevin both reminded me of this, in a very roundabout way and I’m quite grateful to them, not just for providing me with stories, perspectives and slogans but for giving me a chance to say it here:

Thank you to everyone who bought me a beer (figuratively or literally) while I was unemployed. If all goes well, I’ll be able to pay it forward and pay it back, in my own way.

I’ll have whatever you say #5

Proletariat RedI’m on my Outboard Brain and waiting for a friend to show up but I’m alone right now at Oaks Bottom and I’m not sure what to do. I’m surrounded by tables and booths and these provide a certain silent request for privacy–just interrupting and asking a simple question feels like a slightly bigger, more intrusive step. Still, I have a mission. A much older man and his wife are in the booth behind me, helpfully offering his selection of Proletariat Red when I ask what he’s having. He likes it and that’s a great start. Mogwai‘s Auto Rock is on and as that song represents a form of heartbreak for me, it is weird and out of place. I can’t explain why, exactly; loving a song-even a song that breaks your heart- is something that just is and dressing that up, while a worthwhile task and a fun endeavor, is no substitute for just getting it.

I like the Oaks Bottom. Have since Fuz and I walked in a few years back. Gets bonus points for not being absurdly crowded on a Monday. It is a bad time to be here though because I have been jonesing for chicken strips and this is the kind of scene where you want chicken strips.

Sticking to a budget is damned hard, sometimes. Like when I want a beer. And chicken strips.

I wonder why there aren’t pork strips? Seems like a good idea, right? Or beef strips? Basically I am fan of meats that can be breaded, deep fried and dipped in sauce.

Except for bacon. I had deep-fried bacon once and it was so disappointing I remembered what it was like to discover there was no Santa Claus. A little bit of the magic in the world went away.

The beer however might restore some of my faith. The Proletariat Red is workhorse kind of beer that may not get much respect but revels in its malty goodness. It does leave me wishing I could have the monster mash imperial porter. I’m a bit of a sucker for new beers and seasonals in particular. However, one of the great lessons of the world is to accept what you have, because what you want isn’t the reality: what you have is.

I’ll have whatever you say #4

At long last, I have made it to the Hop and Vine. This space quickly garnered a high reputation for being awesome and I read at the New School blog that they had beer cocktails. After last week’s encounter with Hamm’s and Jager, I felt that I was due an opportunity of something better but along the same lines.

bridgeport hop harvestAlas, the beer cocktails are part of an event-one that will be repeated in November, so I shall keep my eyes out for it but until then I am stuck with just drinking what the fine gentleman at the bar is having; Bridgeport’s Hop Harvest. Brewed with fresh Centennial hops, this beer has a nice nose and a fine malt backbone that segues gently into a smooth, grassy finish. Very much a brew that is part of the reason people drink fresh hop ales, I think. Delicious.

The man who’s drink I’ve copied is known to me; he works at the Belmont Station and I’ve taken his suggestions for beer purchases before. We introduce ourselves and after I take a few notes I try to gently engage in some conversation. It’s his Sunday; I totally understand not wanting to be bothered on your day off, so I do my best to be polite  and interested but not overly engaging.

Turns out he lives in the neighborhood and has a few things to tell me about local places like Prost or Saravesa and we’ve both been to Germany, him recently. We swap stories about drinking German beers and start on an hypothesis about hangovers; if you’re having a great time, even if you’re drinking quite a bit, the strength of your hangover is going to be diminished, possibly to the point of extinction. It was a fine conversation and I left feeling a little more connected to Portland than I was a bit before.

The Hop and Vine itself is a nice space. I could see taking it over with eight or so people and just having a ball but also good for the small groups with quiet chats. It’s a bit chilly though; it felt warmer outside than it did inside and in October this isn’t a good thing. Maybe it’s kept cool to keep the wine at an appropriate storage temperature?

Finally, it’s right in line with other local places, so it’s going to make a fine stop on a fantastic pub crawl. Prost, H&V, Lucky Lab, Saravesa; Who wants to join me?

Whatever you say #3

I really love the Slingshot. Monday night and not a tv in sight. Along with a general vibe of awesome. And to my right is two men, one of whom is having vodka Red Bull and the other a shot of Jager and a Hamm’s tallboy .

slingshotThis is why I have done this. To have drinks I just wouldn’t. The man drinking the Jager is named Jake and tells me that the last time he had Jager warm, he was on his way to Cali, and they smoked weed and drank the whole way down. “Day went by real quick,” he says with chuckle. His friend is Bill and has a skull tattooed to his face. They’re into the punk rock coming over the speakers and while moderately friendly, have no reason to speak to me.

But I have to admit, good night to wear my NoMeansNo tee. Thanks little sister.

Holy crap, there’s brownies here for dessert! Man, I have to have one. I’m resisting because I’m not hungry and beer and brownies do not mix in the belly of the author.

Jake tells me that Jager should be followed with Sprite. I’m going to have to take his advice someday, as I like the Jager. In the meantime, he’s telling Bill that he punched a guitar player in the face because he told the player that the next time he saw him, that’s what he’d do. There seems to be a woman involved but I’m trying to listen while not listening. While I can’t approve of just punching someone, I do approve of following through on your word, so it’s a mixed bag, I guess.

I wish I’d been able to connect to the punks more in my hometown. I was probably too metal for them and too sensitive for the metalheads. I never really fit in and I suppose it shows no matter where I go.

As I get ready to leave, I introduce myself and they invite me to The Vern. I tell them I’ll meet them there and  when I show up, I have a Rogue Dead Guy and wait.

But they don’t show and I need to get home: I have a blog to post to and work tomorrow. Missed opportunities, I guess.

I’ll have whatever you say #2

caldera tsbWhen trying something new, failure is something that should just be accepted. Thomas Edison didn’t discover the lightbulb, he discovered a thousand ways to fail at making the lightbulb, if you take my meaning. Life, however, tends to punish failure and I personally have a pretty strong aversion to it, for better or worse.

Hence, when trying something new it generally helps to do it from a position of strength. The strength can come from the presence of friends, from a series of successes but will usually come from the familiar. People don’t go to see Yo-Yo Ma play the harmonica.

Greatness tends to make demands on a person, though. They cannot stand still. They must attempt the new, master it if possible. This might explain why Michael Jordan left a perfectly brilliant career in basketball to play baseball; after doing something nobody else had done, what was left? He could play baseball and nobody was going to argue with him. It may be that his experience playing baseball allowed him to rediscover the love that he had playing basketball and thus was able to return and triumph again.

Now, I don’t claim to have insight into the mind of someone like Jordan. I’m using this line of thinking to illustrate why I have come to Bailey’s again.

I am not well versed socially and am just a bit shy. It’s my nature and sometimes that’s OK and sometimes it does not serve me well. As when I have to ask complete strangers what they are drinking–including interrupting, as politely as possible, their conversation.

So I have come back to where the bartenders know me, the beers are all good and where the familiar reigns so that I can approach a total stranger to ask a simple question. The answer has led me to Caldera’s TSB, a malty, thirst quenching brew that I’m enjoying quite a bit. I don’t know that it’s brilliant but I’d have another one without missing a beat.

The other bonus of coming here is that on a Monday, it’s one of the few places not overcrowded by Monday Night Football. I like football but a rowdy crowd where I may not be able to sit and write is not where I want to risk new things (even if the new risk is small.)

The flipside is this: I am having to endure, for the first time in my memory, reggae music. While my feelings on the genre are well known to friends and a little out of place at this blog, I think I can sum it up briefly: I think reggae music is death-inducingly boring and is probably used to lessen the amount of time the elderly have to spend in nursing homes. Even the stuff that’s supposed to be awesome is duller than Al Gore circa 1999.

So while I can revel in the success of this week’s event, I can also feel the push to keep trying different places. Oh, I’m totally coming back here because it’s the best goddamn bar in Portland. But success has a price-and the price is that you have to try something else.

I’ll have whatever you say #1

“…whatever you recommend.”-Groop Dogdrill, Gentleman’s Soiree

I blame Fuz.

While looking for a new theme after the Local I had a few ideas-one of which I’ll use for certain and soon but it was he who said “I’ll have what he’s having” where you ask someone at the bar what they’re drinking and drink that, which I really dug as a concept.

So here I am at the Beermongers, nervous because I’m about to ask an absolute stranger what they want for a drink. The bar is crowded; everyone on the rail, no space for me because they’re watching Jets/Ravens on MNF. The fact that I have to stand makes me feel more awkward because I can’t settle in and make nice, I have to tap someone on the shoulder and ask.

otm stoutFortune smiles on me; I unwittingly tap someone who recognizes me through some contacts at the OBC. It’s Bret, and one night we helped a pal at the OBC keg one evening. He’s having an OTM Stout (which I’m not finding online so I’ll have to beg the reader’s forgiveness)  and I ask for one, despite being warned ‘it’s chocolatey.’

It certainly is. There’s a sweet chocolate milk scent and the aftertaste, when it’s all said and done has that bitter chocolate flavor. Plus it also has a stout mouthfeel-it’s light but definitely there-which is a bonus, however: I am in the middle of drinking my chocolate mint porter. So I’m just a touch on overload here. I would not have chosen this beer if I could have.

That’s the point though. I am not out here to make choices, I’m out here to interact with people and places and I’m using beer as my vehicle for doing so. I’m at Beermongers specifically because I’d been promising Josh that I’d come to visit; that he isn’t here tonight insists that I return to visit him, because keeping my word is important to me. (My hope is that he’ll read this and know that I’m looking forward to our paths crossing someday.) The drawbacks are clear; strangers, Bud Lime. However I’ll probably try beers I’ve never had and there may even be cocktails, cider or wine which for any other beer blog might be an issue but if you’re reading me, then strict beer drinking probably isn’t what you’re about.

Plus, my conversation with Bret has revealed our love of Magic and when I hand him a deck, another man at the bar asks “Did you just hand him a MtG deck?” Which I did and he seems astounded that people might play in bars.

I don’t know why that’s so queer; it has always seemed normal to me. But this new fellow is encouraged and gives me his email so perhaps there will be new people who want to play the game with me and mine? When I tell him that we’re out to have some fun and drink beer, he seems all on board so….good.

Even if he doesn’t want to play with us, I don’t see this as a negative. I went out and met people and who amongst us likes the process of meeting people? Yet it’s one of those things that is worse in my mind; the reality is that it’s fairy easy. If nothing comes out of it, who cares? I’ve just made the world a little smaller and a little bigger at the same time.