Old Churches, the adventure begins

This adventure starts off probably a month or more back, while talking to Impy. The phrase, “Old Church–that would be a great name for a beer!” was said, and away we went, wondering what it would be like. My premise was that it would be a brown ale, with belgian yeast; dense and seeped in old tradition. She liked the idea, so I ran with it, looking at brown and belgian ales in an attempt to see where they could be co-mingled.

Then of course I actually had to get the materials, and in true homebrewer fashion, not everything was there so I had to fake it.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:
White Labs yeast 530
White Labs yeast 550 (the yeast was supposed to be 515 in both cases)
2oz Kent Golding hops (for finishing; the aroma is so nice)
2oz Cascade hops (bittering)
Light Malt Extract-6lb
Extra Light Malt Extract-2lb (supposed to be 2 more pounds of LME)
Carapils Dextrin Malt-1.25lb -seeping malts
Chocolate Malt (british)–.5lb-seeping malts
British Brown Malt-1.25lb-seeping malts (supposed to be Crystal)

There’s a few exciting things going on here. First, I’m trying out  a recipe with two different yeasts in it. I’ve never done that before and I’m interested in how it’ll come out. What I’ve read about these yeasts is that they produce more alcohol, so the beer will be less malty. However, since I’m seeping a much darker malt with more sugars in it than is called for, and I plan on adding maybe 1 cup of organic sugar to this, I’m thinking that it should all turn out OK. These yeasts are supposed to give a spicier flavor instead of the sweeter kind that frequents most belgian ales; all I can do is run with it and see what happens.

Then there’s the malt. When I took a sniff of the crystal malt, I thought it was OK. Biscuity, but alright. The Brown malt, however, said to me; I’m a brown ale malt, pick me! with it’s rich undertones of crispened sugars.
How could I resist?

I was also mightily tempted by the presence of Pacman yeast, which is what Rogue uses in all their beers and I’ve had great success with. I bought a couple packs, just because.  I’ll use them in the next beer however because Pacman yeast is a bitch to acquire but goes with almost everything. At least everything Rogue does. And I’ve already got the belgain yeast, so I want to put that to use.

The boys got that look

Off to the Concordia Alehouse with Fuz and baeza to play Magic and drink pints. It’s a guy’s night out, without all the stereotypical bullshit; we hang out and talk geekery and beer. It’s about as macho as your average floral convention.

There was, sadly, a pedantic draft selection so I suggested checking out the bottles, and lo and behold at number 16 is Meantime. Oh, it’s a porter, but who cares? Here’s a chance to have some British beer that I rarely have access to!

So Fuz and I split a large bottle and I pour it out for us:
It didn’t quite work out the way I’d hoped.


Still; the porter had applesauce notes that ran from the head (which we chewed on) to the actual drink itself. It was frothy and had the lightness of granny smith applesauce, and by god I’d totally order it again. Hopefully, I’ll pour it better next time.

As I continued to lose our Magic matchups, baeza found a beer that caught his attention; Alesmith‘s Decadence. An imperial stout, I was heartened to realize that it tasted like the stout I’d recently made. A touch of molasses and a definite alcohol warmth, but the parallels were surprising to me. Maybe I’m getting better at that whole making beer thing than I thought.

It was about this time that a woman with long, curly salt and pepper hair and an intelligent set of glasses came up to ask us what we were drinking. A fan of maltier beers, she was curious if the Decadence was good.  I handed over my glass; “Here you go,” I said cheerfully. (She also bashfully admitted that she played Magic with her friends at home.)

She smiled and we talked for a little bit, her asking us about the Meantime, and then thanking us and heading back to her table. A few minutes later, I saw the magnium of Decadence being opened at her table. Her companion looked over at me an laughed; “Had to get one so she’d quit taking yours.”

Desperation drunks

It’s really, really weird to me to see people in Portland who don’t have to drink PBR, drinking PBR. It’s not hot, they aren’t poor, they just decide to drink PBR because, they insist, it tastes good. It has nothing, I’m sure, to do with the fact that it’s trendy to drink that beer.

Nothing at all.

Then I read stories like this one, and I figure it could be worse.

The argument

I enjoy going out with my buddy Jim. We pretty much argue half the time, but it’s always about things that utterly don’t matter
(him: Deep Purple was a hugely influential band with great songs
me: No they fucking weren’t, they had Smoke on the Water, and everything else was shit.
The Decemberists are awesome and lyrically amazing!
The are the dullest band ever.)

so our feelings never get hurt.

Of course, all of this is inspired by the Morrison Hotel playing really shitty Foo Fighters songs (instead of good ones), and we could both agree on that. So it was in the spirit of spirited argument, I had the following:

Some unpleasant tasting beer that I couldn’t exactly see who made. It was known as a ‘Dark IPA’ and it tasted bitter, like it had been burnt. I regreted choosing this over the Dogfish beer that caught my eye, but I had to try it.

Nostradamus Belgain Brown. The nose was full of banana. As a matter of fact, it was like a banana split; sugary and whipped cream backing up the banana nose itself. This banana flavor ran through the whole beer–the belgain yeast just dominated over the malts. However-and I’m just taking this from my notes- as the beer warmed up, I noticed a cinnamon touch in the nose, and the dessert confection started to mellow out. It became easier to drink the warmer it got. I suspect this beer might’ve been served to me too cold, and if I’d just given it a couple minutes my experience would’ve been different.

Next: St Bernardus Quadrupel. I got this b/c at the Belmont Station for the Six Rivers event, my girlfriend asked me: what’s a quadrupel? And I had no idea, aside from it being Belgain and probably following in the line of the dubbel, trippel ales that Belgain abbys are so famous for. The head on this was as dense as a nerf ball, and I could hardly get a scent off of it, but clove seemed to touch my senses for a moment. The flavors were very, very common to a trippel; sweet, with an alcohol warmth to help bring it back (11%!), but then I caught a touch of something else…sourness. Just a little bit at the end, a nudge utterly opposite the rest of the beer. That’s when I realized that maybe this yeast is what’s being used for the raspberry lambic at Six Rivers.

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale was next up, as I came back to the choice that I’d initially hoped to drink. This beer had mocha running in it, chocolate malts that were really tasty…of course, between the lateness of the evening and my allergies, I got no nose off the beer whatsoever. But there was a slight coffee bitterness and drying effect at the very back that had me wanting more. However, it’s strong for a brown ale (7.2%) so I opted to cease so I could get home.

Or at least, I thought I had. Earlier in the evening, Jim in a kind of faux-macho swagger ordered an Old German. It came in a can. I’m not sure I can say anything more about that, except the waiter grinned and gave Jim an ‘Oh yeah!’: he knew how bad it was, and exactly why it was being ordered. When I saw it, (about the time I was drinking the St B’s) I laughed and said that I had to order it.

And it was after the Indian Brown Ale that Jim reminded me of that.

It was terrible. My notes plead with me: I have to finish a pint of this? I didn’t.There\'s a straw in my beer

And yes, the Old German was served to me with a straw in it.

Dos and Don’ts

Invited to lunch with thedr9wningman, we quickly settle on the Deschutes brewpub for food. I order a small pizza, which is definitely taking up too much space in my body at this time, and he has a mushroom sandwich. Politics and beer and general happenings are discussed, and all is good. Except for one thing.

Deschutes has a long track record for making good beers. However, I’ve been running across this ‘style’ for awhile, and I suppose it’s time for me to speak out on it. Enticed years ago by a lovely maple vanilla stout, I tried the Kilgorian Baltic Vanilla Porter. This is not the first vanilla porter I’ve had, and I’ve come to one conclusion.

Vanilla porter is not a good thing. Vanilla is too strong a flavor to be blended with a porter. Porters are lighter, the mouthfeel thinner, and basically don’t have the backbone to stand up to a flavor like vanilla, where stouts do. The beer ends up tasting like a weird soda pop. 

I’m not sure what the do is here. Maybe; Make a vanilla stout? 

Feel good hit of the summer

Fuz and I went to the Lucky Lab for pints tonight. 

I generally go out to the pub for only three reasons; to write, to play Magic, or to visit with friends. With Fuz I can do 2 of 3, so I don’t complain.

I had the Solar Flare; an IPA disguised as a pale ale. No sweat, for the LL makes good IPA’s. They taste bitter but finish smooth and almost sweet. There’s a NW sensibility there, tempered by a commonality; not everyone wants the hops to kick you in the ass. Fuz tries an alt-beir, and it’s not an alt. It’s an IPA; alts do not have that level of hops in them, if they want to stick to style. Fuz and I play cards and talk shop, movies, gloom and what card best fits the green/blue deck I’m tinkering with.

But it needs to be an early night. I drive him home, drop him off and drive down 39th under Jackson Pollock skies that make the heavens look like something out of Blue Heaven; textured and jagged and lit way past sunset. Summer is coming, despite the winds and the shaking of the trees and the chill that makes the furnace kick on. It must’ve been even more potent, living in an era without electricity, to see the skies turn blue, and to have that tint shade everything around you. Now the streetlights cast their peach glow on us, and I square my shoulders and head home.

I sing to U2’s Beautiful Day, and try to remember that things are good, and then when Queens of the Stone Age’s Feel Good Hit of the Summer, I growl the drugs until Halford kicks in with his shriek of ‘COCAINE’ and I try to relish the drive home, and slumber soon to follow.  

Oh, the drama

So, in the OBC newsletter, this comic runs:

And K. G. says on the listserve:
“…Now correct me if I’m wrong for stating my opinion, but it disturbs me that some one can draw a statement of a man that is drinking a beer and waiting for a bar to blow up and everyone inside but him, is going to die, just so he can blatantly throw his political view into the words of this destroyed pub, are you Tre’s brother? I am a former Marine and combat vet and have earned the right to question this disgraceful point of view shown in our news letter. With this being said I will not be part of this organization, and you will never receive money or time from me again. Please remove me from your list serve.”

He’s got a complaint, and I get it; we generally keep our politics separate so we can focus on the beer, and this comic getting through was a slip in the editorial policy. It happens. 

But I have a little bit to say about his statement, which I’m doing here and not at the listserve because we don’t do politics on the listserve. 

For the record, it’s not your service as a Marine that gives you the right to question the point of view presented in that comic. While your service is appreciated, it’s your status as an American citizen (in this country) that gives you this right. You don’t earn that right. I agree that the political nature of this comic is out of place, but your tantrum here is also unwarranted. You sound like a bitter whiner, instead of someone who’s got a legitimate issue, and the fact that you’re just going to take your toys and go home cements this. 

So maybe you could step off that high horse, accept the apologies that will most certainly follow, and move along? Because if you aren’t willing to do that, I really don’t want you around.

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