Common Ales: Redhook Big Ballard

Redhook Big Ballard IIPANow THAT is a hop nose. Like opening a bag of Amarillo, I think: piney and pleasant. The head lasts, too, so I can pick up that nose through the entire beer.
The middle is a little odd, since it seems to be missing. This beer jumps right into a peek-a-boo from caramel malt, shouldered aside by some floral tastes before the effervescence sweeps most of this away and leaves the hop bitterness behind.
It’s a solid beer: the lack of any midrange flavor really keeps it from being great. At 8.6%, I’m genuinely surprised there isn’t something there for me to grab on to in the foreground or the middle. The density is nice but there isn’t anything to wrap my tongue around. But I am OK with drinking this and just being happy with a beer.
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Whatever You Say 28\Second Pint Florence Project

Heater Allen SchwarzAt Hoplandia, the man on the rail grumbles “Schwarz–Heater Allen,”  while giving me side eye from his phone. He’s got his thing and it involves the phone and the Mariners game on TV and not strangers who ask him questions. That’s alright: the couple next to me is having a discussion about glitter beer, which apparently is a rising trend. I can’t say I saw that coming but…glitter beer.

They’re getting their beers to go so the conversation is short, which leaves me to the Schwarz itself.

The nice thing about Heater Allen is that they do solid beers. Doesn’t matter that I’m not a huge fan of schwarzbiers; it’s still drinkable.

The other TV at Hoplandia is showing episodes of Samurai Jack and it seems to me that there are worse things to have to deal with than writing and baseball. I like this spot; it’s low key with a decent selection of beer, both on tap or in the bottle.

The bartender is a chatterer; he and the fellow I got my beer selection from talk it up ; apparently one of them is about to be a new parent, the other a two time dad. I decide to wait and see if this place develops some character.

Eventually, other people stop by; someone who wants a cider while waiting for her pizza, the other with her dog, because dogs are welcome damn near everywhere in this city. I can’t fault that: It’s usually a pretty good day when I get to pet a dog. The bartender seems to know half the people who walk through; once again we’ve got a local, instead of a destination, and I’m starting to understand the difference.

I’m struck by little I know about the city; it’s huge and I have only seen so much of it. Every adventure into it can’t always pay off, but more adventures should definitely be taken.

Today’s second pint goes to The Florence Project.

Common Ales: Faded Flannel Blonde

Faded Flannel blonde aleWhat a fantastic toasty note in the nose. It lasts through the beer, too, which is pretty damn impressive, considering a lot of hoppier ales cannot provide a sustained hop presence after the first sip.
There’s a bit of that toasty quality on the tongue, too but nothing about this beer is intense or overwhelming. It finishes pretty cleanly and sets the palate up for another drink, I believe.
I like it.

Second Verse Not The First

2nd amber homebrewFor the second amber of the year, I’d say there’s a notable improvement!

The nose has a yeast scent, like bread dough. I like it-it’s not sour or off putting to me. There’s a sweetness there, perhaps due to the malt? Maybe just healthy yeast coming off where there isn’t a  lot of hops. Either way, it works.

It has some nice flavor, too. Caramel, but lightly so: this beer doesn’t taste or feel very dense. The effervescence pops on the finish, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it clears the palate, it does do a nice job of setting things up for another sip.

This beer is very, very drinkable and I can’t wait to try and replicate it.

Steeping grains
4 lb Metolius
1 bl C80
.75 lb Vanora
.75 lb Munich, 1lb 2 row

Fermentables: 5 lb EXLME

Hops
.5 oz Magnum, .25 oz Centennial @60
.5 oz Centennial, .25 oz Magnum @30
.26 oz Centennial, Magnum @ 5

Yeast: Imperial’s Tartan (2nd use)

OG: 1.069

FG: 1.01

Bottle 4/15

ABV: 8%

Whatever You Say 27\Second Pint Raices

Great Notion has been getting a lot of good word of mouth and I am long overdue to check their place out. It’s crowded, but there’s a place on the rail for me so I take it.

Tonight’s drink, the Blueberry Pancake: half the Double Stack imperial breakfast stout, half the Blueberry Muffin fruited sour. It tastes exactly like a waffle with blueberry syrup on it. The nose is tart blueberry, the flavors a delicious maple with just a hint of the tartness. There’s even an element of waffle-y bready thing happening and I have no idea how they did that. I don’t know if I’d want several of these-it’s skewing a little sweet for my tastes-but I would gleefully recommend the beer to people.

Great Notion Blueberry Pancake aleI get this on Steve’s recommendation, although he says that if I really want something tasty, his personal favorite beer is the Papaya Mochi IPA. He’s currently drinking the Blueberry Pancake, however, so we casually agree that this is the thing to stick with.

I mention remembering this place when it was an entirely different brewery, and I can tell from his expression he’s new to the city. Hailing from Wisconsin, he been here eight months and is spending his days off exploring the city, trying to find which neighborhood he’d like to settle in.

There seems to be quite the influx of people from WI, MN, I tell him and he chuckles, saying that most of the people in the Midwest really get tired of the winters.

Soon after, he accidentally knocks his drink over, spilling it towards the patron next to him. He apologizes like he’s a stranger at a party full of roommates; frequently and with great sincerity. But the impacted person laughs it off and is clearly rolling with this just fine.

With what’s left of Steve’s beer I toast him: everything worked out and nobody got hurt.

Turns out, the person he spilled his beer on is also new to Portland, so to speak; she and her boyfriend are visiting from Philadelphia. A short ‘welcome to Portland’ later and they’re gleefully getting information on what other places they should go visit, while recommending some breweries in Philadelphia to me.

We talk a bit about the cultural differences between the East and West coast (or at least the East coast and the PNW) and, like you do with people from Philly, I congratulate them on the Superbowl win. They beam a little and I get the sense that they may not be football fans, but they are definitely in love with Philadelphia.

Today’s second pint goes to Raices.

Common Ales: Ninkasi Pacific Rain

Ninkasi Pacific Rain paleI get more caramel in the nose than anything else, and only after some swirls and really intently sniffing do I pick up some dank hops. A little earthy scent is happening, even if it’s hard to pick up.

The Pacific Rain is pretty easy drinking; the midrange is wispy in it’s presentation of flavor, the bubbles spark off my tongue and leave a mild but not overwhelming bitterness behind. It’s drinkability is a plus, but it doesn’t really give me much of an impression, which isn’t so rad.

It’s the kind of beer I could sip mindlessly, noshing on some chips and watching TV. As a one-of, sure! But I don’t know that I’d be aching for another.

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