Lunchtime beer, stream of consciousness post

(as written at the Deschutes brewpub about 15 minutes ago)

“I’ll have a Pink Lady”-how often do I get to say that? And it IS pink, as if a marker was dipped into the beer- or in this case rose petals for dry hopping. I’m told that dry hopping adds to the nose but damned if it doesn’t have a mouthfeel like chewing on rose petals. This place tends to distract me; I came in hoping for the anniversary stout, and then attracted to the lager I make a beeline for the Pink Lady.
But Portland is humid and this crisp, cool ale stands defiant to it, like the gang; full of spitfire and bright color to stave off the mugginess. I can see her, standing with a hip cocked away from me and the pink jacket, rolling her eyes at the sky; what, ya gonna pay attention to that or to me?
Malts stay through this beer, winking at me before disappearing to the hops, a roasty moment amongst floral and Janice Joplin sings.
If only this place has less TV’s and more windows into the brewery, it might be perfect.

I could use a win

I poured out 5 gallons of the wit beer, because it tasted like death. To be accurate, it tasted like rotten creamed corn, and smelled like swamp water. Pouring bottles of beer down the sink is rarely a good feeling, but when it comes after failing a recipe and not being sure why, well that’s just sucks. Going upstairs to have a beer afterward, I have New Belgian’s Mothership Wit in my fridge.  I can’t help but wonder; Why the fuck doesn’t my beer taste like this? as I drink.

However, I want to move forward so I bottle the mild I’ve got in the newly empty bottles. It has a nose like honeysuckle, coming from the Kent Golding hops, and that gives me great hope for this batch of beer. I’m going to try and give this two weeks in the bottle before I crack one open-but most likely I’ll try it on Sunday, everhopeful. While cleaning my equipment I spied the porter I’d set aside a month ago.

Originally modeled after a recipe I found called ‘Black Widow Porter’, I found that the initial tastes of my beer were…uninspiring. This happens, but it’s still a bit of a downer when I spend a month working on a beer, only to have it come out flat. (ha-ha)

I\'m pleasedAs you can see, things have changed and much for the better. There’s a chocolate malt head on this beer and it tastes damn fine. The molasses component has receded giving way to a mocha element. It’s somewhere in between chocolate and coffee, with a touch of nuttiness in there.

I could probably leave it for a bit longer, too; there were tiny little gobbules of yeast dropping out of the beer, even as I poured it into the glass–I could see the CO2 generating from them as they stuck to the side. I just might do that.

I will be setting a few aside long-term; my Dad has mentioned on a couple of occasions that he wishes he could have some of my beer, and certainly Mrs. Malting will love this beer. It’s excellent, and right up her alley as taste goes.

It’s good to get a win sometimes. (And yes, I know I look rather goofy in this photo)

I’ve also started the next beer; a light-hybid thing with a NW Ale yeast from Wyeast that smelled like grape juice when I poured it in. I have no idea what’s coming from that.

Liquid Raspberry

The Belmont Station had a ‘Meet the Brewer’ night, spotlighting the Six Rivers Brewery. The new store is bigger, and now has a cafe attached to it, so meetups like this actually work without being insanely crowded. I was able to sample Six Rivers’ pale ale, IPA, and stout, and I had favorable impressions of them all but when I found out the raspberry lambic was on tap in the bar, off I went.

I just had a glass but it was a treat I’d been looking forward to for almost a month, having missed my chance to try it at Bailey’s Taproom. The barkeep had his near business persona on, a touch of surly in six river raspberry lambichim-I’m certain that if Iwas there on a day when it wasn’t crowded that he’d sit and chat with you, but his need to work ferociously meant he was not going to do more than pour my beer well and move along.

I took a long sip, and it was basically like drinking raspberries. Oh, I could fancy it up, tell you about a nose I could barely inhale (but had the ghost of raspberry in it) and use special words to explain how tart it was, but it comes down to this:

It was like drinking ripe raspberries. Sweet, then sour, with the effervescence acting like a new sphere on the berry exploding in your mouth. If you like raspberries, you’ll like this, and if you hate raspberries, you’ll hate it. I loved it.

Having the chance to talk to the brewer I asked him about the lambic specifically, and he told me that they used 448 pounds of raspberries in each batch-something like 60 pounds of raspberries per barrel! Also he used a belgain yeast instead of a lambic one (brett is the shortened name for a commonly used lambic yeast) and apparently it’s reacting in such a way that it’s giving him lambic qualities (sourness, really) but at a slower pace. Because brit is so difficult to clean, most brewers either don’t use it, or have to use it in a closed system-so using this yeast solved that problem for him.

At the brewery, he told me they make red and blacks: a stout they have on nitro topped with the raspberry lambic, which is like drinking a chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce.

Time to visit California again.

Ninkasi Tricerahops Double Red

I’ve been a fan of myths and dinosaurs since I was a little boy. As a result, just when I heard the name of this beer I was already inclined towards it. Sure, there’s a pun in the name and I’m not so big on puns, but it’s dinosaurs, ok? I’ve got a soft spot.

I also have allergies. The recent heat wave has caused a ruckus in my sinuses, so when I poured this hazy amber liquid, I held it up to get a wiff-sweetly floral, but hard to make out. It evaporated before I could get a hint of it and I am reminded that I’m not breathing as easy as I’d like.

Fortunately, my tongue still works, even on hot days. Sweet in front, and pretty much as long as it was in my mouth, the double red comes on strong. Once I swallowed, a deep resiny bitterness kicked in, lingering and very tasty.  I almost puckered my lips a little at the bitterness, strong enough to clear out most any spicy food, and a good reset for the taste buds. It’s an 8.8% beer so it really hits strong, but maybe on days when my nose isn’t so uncooperative I’ll be able to appreciate this beer even more.

Grrr

Sometimes brewing itself is an exercise in frustration.

The porter I let sit for another week…and it’s still has no carbonation. Tasty, but nothing effervescent to back it up! So I’m setting it aside for a month. See how it behaves after some time in its room.

I have been trying to re-create a wit beer ever since I made one with a team 3 years ago. It won a contest and was served to people who paid for it! That’s a particularly proud moment for me, as you might imagine. Sadly, I have been failing to re-create this beer. I just bottled it Sunday night, and took a sip from the pre-bottle conditioned leftovers.

It tastes like water. Sour water. That’s not right.

The one good thing that’s going to come of this is the Cheswick Ale ‘clone’ I’m making was put into secondary fermentation, and that tasted pretty good. At least like beer. So I’m giving this wit a week, no more, to shape up. If it tastes like death on Sunday, fuck that, I’m dumping it and moving to a beer with lager malt and lots of hops. (I currently  have an abundance of hops)

After that I’ll start on a brown ale with belgain yeast, that Impy Malting and I brainstormed and decided to call Old Church. I had something like that last night (which I’ll use in a post next week) that tasted pretty good.

Juniper to the rescue

Rogue’s Juniper Pale Ale sneaks up on me every time.

Sure, the piney flavors show up in the nose and it’s a fantastically clear beer, with a sparkly juniper finish. I wouldn’t think that it would have sneakiness to it. It’s the kind of beer that goes especially well with spicy dishes because it stands so strong by itself. However, it’s also really good for those hot days when you just feel like  having something cooling-or at least it feels like it. Perhaps the reason I’m caught off guard is because this beer is supposed to go with food, and sometimes I’m just drinking a beer. It’s only a 5.2% beer, so it shouldn’t leave me fuzzy headed, right?

Yet two Juniper Pales later I’m asking for food, so I can stabilize my body and my head. Truly, this is one of my favorite Rogue ales, and certainly an antidote to the dark and heavy beer blues I’ve been encountering lately, but it’s got a kick to it that I would do well to remember.

The Duchesse and I

finish aleThankfully, to save me from my errors at the Belmont Station is the Duchesse. (Which I also got while buying Smithwick’s.)

What a fantastic beer. Apparently a traditional Flemish red ale, this beer has a plum color and a creamy velvet ivory head that seems to be borrowed from a Guinness that some bartender overdid. The faintly fruit sour nose made me think I was about to drink a lambic the first time I had this beer. There’s some red wine qualities here but mellowed out; the nose and the acidity all resemble red wine, though not a strong as wine can be. But the beer downplays the sour aspects, opting for a sweet tang that explodes everywhere, and then finishes pleasantly dry. It’s sweetness noses into the rest of the beer, making this much more complicated, and yet much more drinkable than most lambics might be. Some people are put off by the sourness in lambics, this Flemish ale provides the fruity punch of a lambic, but the sweet balance of a red, and goddamn if it doesn’t work.

It’s a bit pricey, so I don’t get to indulge in it often, but as the antidote to my hasty purchase of a very poor red it works perfectly.

I often think of my friend at Impy Malting when I drink this beer.  On her last visit to Portland, I was able to introduce her to The Duchesse, in a pub in Southeast Portland where a hastily set up karaoke machine was hosting a group of revelers who insisted on singing Journey. We left shortly after drinking this beer, and had a great night overall, but I would have liked a little more time to sit there and enjoy this beer and her company.

But you know. Karaoke Journey. Gotta move away from that.

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