Tag Archives: alt

Common Ales: Alaskan Amber

I didn’t even have to ask Alaksan brewing what their best selling ale was: they tell me on their web site that the Amber ale is their flagship. Problem solved! Plus, I even get to save some money for once, because the Amber is available in a handy 22oz bottle instead of having to buy a six pack.

But buying a six pack wouldn’t be so bad.

Caramel in the nose! That’s pretty exciting because it’s not hoppy. That this kind of variety exists at a grocery store is kind of remarkable.

The caramel flavor is right there in the middle too; a roasty caramel flavor, sweet but not cloy.

The finish is very bright; the bubbles are adept at sweeping nearly everything away. Nearly. After it’s all done, I’m noticing a biscuit flavor, just a little bit. The label says it’s an alt style and when I look at the style guidelines, it’s suggested that there should be an assertive hop bitterness but I’m not getting that at all.

I’m not complaining by any means. This beer probably a “take” on the style and what the brewers at Alaskan did to this beer I can’t say. But it retains it’s crisp finish (with biscuit) all the way to the end of the glass and I really see this beer as a great staple to the pub. There’s enough going on that I can drink it by itself but also nothing wrong with pairing this up with some nachos.


Where I Want To Go: Bailey’s

Was listening to Maserati’s Abracadbracab on the way over and I doubt I could have found a better song for the evening: lovers making out on the Burnside bridge in a final night of summer, two-thirds of the moon in the sky with the sun quickly saying goodbye behind the west hills, leaving behind warm air like a really cool friend who leaves beer in the fridge for you.

I almost kept driving. Why stop? Keep going, go until the sidewalk ends. It can’t last so ride it out as far as the pony will take you.

Of course, in the case of Abracadabracab, that’s almost eleven minutes and then I’ll have overshot my destination and I still won’t have a beer. I gave it some thought, though. It’s the kind of night where the impulse to wander is strong.

Baerlic‘s Stay Fresh, an imperial alt ale with fresh hops is my choice for the evening. The front end is a bit roasty and then it leads into this full citrus flavor, but it isn’t a sharp thing. However, the citrus isn’t blending well with the roasted qualities. I feel that there is a clash in this beer, between some flavors that tilt coffee and the orange at the end that isn’t working for me.

Still, it’s a good and interesting enough beer that I’d try something else by them. And they’re new to me, with a brewpub (sorta) recently open in southeast, so I think I’ve got another destination in mind!

Where I Want To Go: Breakside Taproom

I have finally made it to the Breakside brewery taproom out in Milwaukie. Sipping on Will’s alt, which is a very light beer and a nice bitey finish. It’s got the feel of the crisp day I’m drinking on, actually. Cool, dry and bright. It’s almost too light for the bite at the end but somehow it’s holding together.

This is totally a workspace, not unlike Reverend Nat’s cidery: pallets of grain are in the corner, barrels, fridge units, doors wide open to let the steam out; the tables and a TV in the far corner seem to be the only concession to the idea of a serving space. There’s a massive-looking wall of old wood separating the bar from the rest of the space and I can easily smell grains in the slightly humid conditions.

Out of nowhere, I get to talk sports a bit with someone at the bar and it’s pretty awesome. Strangers having a chat is the best thing about pubs and it reminds me why I do what I do. Maybe it just feels more casual in here despite the working conditions? Maybe it’s just a good day to talk to strangers.

I believe the next series will go back to ‘I’ll have what they had’ theme because it lets me have conversations. Too much internal dialog is bad for anyone.

Before I leave though, I get a glass of the Safe Word triple IPA: it has a peach smell and is very tasty! For some reason, the bitterness feels less in this beer than the alt which is pretty wild.

7pm Cogs

Snow fell this morning, like commuters distractedly making their way to work, unconcerned about their destination, knowing that when they get there, all their uniqueness will end and they will merely become water, like everything else. Why hurry? Why go? This slow drift down is much more entertaining.

It’s not always easy for a man to acknowledge his uniformity, his lack of extraordinary. My name is not one that will be recalled through history, my line won’t continue. My day to day? Is practically the definition of mundane. I am replaceable, and no different than the billions of other people who wake up, do their best and sleep.

You are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

Which, I suppose, is a succinct way of saying: get the fuck over it. And here’s why–again, from Fight Club:

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

I don’t mind being a cog. I promise. I acknowledge this simple truth: I am not special. I don’t find my joy in this but I don’t mind it. I’m busy, I’m busy trying to fight a spiritual war. Not a war against spirits but a war OF the spirit. I don’t want the shit I’m told to want: I want the stuff that helps me engage, damnit. I don’t have time, nor the desire, to fuck around with crap that I’m told I ‘need’ vs what my heart tells me I need.

We are here to evolve. We are here to inspire each other to be better, inch by inch, day by terrible day. The monkey that learns to use the tool, that shows another monkey, that shows another, until everyone knows how the tools work: that’s what I’m here for. To learn from the other monkeys, to be the monkey that teaches, to figure out a small piece of a small element of that tool, to link that spirit and give it to someone else. Anyone else.

This is the reason that Fight Club spoke to so many young men (and women) over a decade ago. We knew, whether or not we’d been told, that we were and are being lied to, that our lives were more empty than full, that our cogs were taking over, defining us instead of being something we can shed and drop out of. Why the hell should we buy into a system that is intent on burying us with all the glee of a bully?

It’s taking years. It’s taking bombings and death and protests and the very slow raising of the veil that we are being screwed over AND we are not being allowed to live to our potential. It’s coming, though. I don’t know how to be a part of that, nor how to make a mark on anyone.

I play a cog on TV.  I don’t make a huge impact.

But I can learn to use the tools, I can evolve, motherfucker. Watch me get better, be a leaf on the wind, and maybe I can show you how I did it. Then you can show me how you did that and we can move to something better, instead of the bullshit that seems to be insisting on getting its way right now.

full sail altAnd it won’t matter when I melt and become just like everyone, because we’ll have done something together.

Drinking Full Sail’s Existential Alt, to, what I imagine, is nobody’s surprise. It’s a little more watery than I’d like, mostly notable because of a hint of bitterness at the end that makes it unappealing because there’s nothing to balance it out.

The alt

Despite everything else going on, I actually do brew beer, too.

Don’t get me wrong; I like talking about where I’ve been and what I’ve drank, I like reviewing and sampling and it is always nice to have other news organizations or blogs give me something to write about.

But I also brew and now’s the time on APfD when I get to talk about  how that’s been going.

Pretty good, actually. We’ll start with this alt I made:

See that, up there at the top baby? That there is foam.

It isn’t much but damnit, the beer is carbonated.

Um…no, actually, I don’t remember exactly how it tasted. I drank it all before this post and was just so excited the beer was properly carbonated that I pretty much forgot everything else. Still; it was good beer and the recipe is as follows:
Steeping malts:
.25 lb Crystal 60
1 lb Pils malt
.25 lb Karafa II

6.5 lb LME
1 lb pils malt dry

.5 oz Northern Brewer @ 60

reused Wyeast 1056



Final gravity:

The Local: the Vern

Vern signAh, the Vern. There’s still an old jukebox here, although old in this case means CDs but there are a couple in there that are personal mixes, one with a title “For the guys who dropped out in 1982 and went bowling”.

What’s not to love?

I walked about a mile to get a beer tonight. I think that’s about all one ought to ask from a man who wants a drink. And they have awesome drink specials here, too; one could get Arrogant Bastard for 2.50! Two freakin’ fifty.

Sure, you have to be here on a Wednesday but so what?

As I’m a bit short myself this month I got one of today’s specials, Rogue’s Dead Guy. I don’t think there’s much for me to add to someone’s Dead Guy experience. It’s an amber, sometimes thought of as an alt. I’ve frequently seen references to Dead Guy being a pretty fine example of the style. You either like it or you don’t.

As for the Vern, I suppose you could say the same thing. Enough TVs to keep you occupied but not so many they can’t be ignored. Couple pool tables. A woman shying just away from authoritative rants on the Blazers. Bartenders who step outside to smoke, leaving patrons alone for a few puffs.

It’s not as dark as it used to be I remember that much distinctly; there were fewer windows letting light in, once upon a time. The Vern was probably the first bar I wandered into in Portland and I’ve always liked it; punk rock, heavy metal and old school country vibing just fine with each other, bike messengers with tattoos and rods in their brows.

I never fit in, though. No tats. The scars I had all accident-inflicted. The Vern just was never local enough-just outside of the range most people want to go just to get a beer and hang out. If I was living somewhere else that might not matter but when you can throw a rock and hit three different bars…

What can I tell you? Humans are generally lazy.

I wonder if I’ve been going about this project all wrong. Monday nights are frequently dead zones for pubs and while that lets me focus on the writing it also gives me less to write on. Pubs should be lively. Most of the time you can even count on it. Fridays would be too busy but Wednesdays, maybe?

Hm. Wednesdays.

There’s something to be said for tradition, though. Even the Vern knows it. Sure, it’s cleaned up, made nice but not so much that the mildly-ostracised can’t come in and enjoy. The paint job helps but the carpet has duct tape forcing it to the floor. I’m not sure there’s anything after 1988 in that jukebox. There’s a working payphone by the men’s room and an array of pinball machines. No videogames. I wouldn’t say walking in here is a time warp but maybe instead a place where time stops, even if briefly.