Tag Archives: caldera

New To Me: Slingshot

Or, why I won’t go to Dusty’s.

Because I could go to Dusty’s. It’s on the way and just like the Slingshot, I’ve been there before. It’s local, right?

I’ll admit it, I just don’t want to and I need an excuse so here it is: not that long ago they had a sign painted on the windows, proudly displaying their broadcast of the “Cival War Game” between OSU and UofO. The girlfriend quipped that their version of windows must not come with spellcheck. Now, lord knows I am not one who should be too snobby about spelling errors but I want an excuse to not go there and now I have one.

It’s a very nice night to go for a walk though and it is a touch further down to the Slingshot for a pint. We even make a loop around Smokey’s to see what’s going on there, as the outside is being spruced up to look like a building you might want to enter, instead of something whitewashed on Tatooine. I get Caldera’s Dry Hop Orange, the lady has a Double Mountain pale and her choice is far better than mine.

It isn’t that the Caldera is bad, it just isn’t good, either. I don’t detect any orange notes and there isn’t a solid malt thread to prevent the bitterness at the end from being a bit too strong. Maybe this beer is a little old? It’s a rare disappointment from Caldera so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

We spend most of our time in the side room where pool tables and local artwork abound. Although the night is nice enough to go outside, the outdoor tables are dominated by smokers so staying inside is a better option. Plus, it’s a little quieter in that room and far easier to talk about the paintings we like or don’t.

There’s quite a few very cool paintings, but the one I keep coming back to is a face portrait of Godzilla, except she has an expression not unlike the seal in this photo.

What can I say: that image makes me smile.

7pm Jealousy

I have come into Bailey’s after a few weeks away–happy holidays everyone!–and nothing stood out until I saw Caldera‘s Oatmeal Stout.

I am jealous of this beer. I shouldn’t be, because I am not a professional brewer and I do not have the same kind of expertise or equipment. But that jealousy exists, a dense little voice that is shaking tiny fists at the brewing gods.

The stout has a dense nose, like a cappuccino bean covered in chocolate and the oatmeal offers this beer a nice smoothness on my palate. It’s tasty and wonderful and….

And I made a stout that was not as good.

I’ll talk about that more in a few days but what it will boil down to is that I have come very, very close and missed the mark. Caldera’s beer? Dead on.

Now, after a year of improvement in my brewing it is a little frustrating to miss the mark. Especially to miss it by such a small (but critical) detail.

However we  celebrate the new year for a reason; to demarcate transitions, improvements, failures, to give ourselves an opportunity to amend what was broken, hold up trophies for what was good and say goodbye to the rest.

I hope everyone had a happy new year.

7pm Growin’ Old

I had my hair cut by an old man named Lanny last Saturday. His shop was the old school kind, the kind that had Playboy on display, as though Playboy could still be considered pornography. He walked with a cane, except when he was cutting hair and there was a pack of Carnivals in his front shirt pocket. He assured me that he’d be ‘riiiiight behind me’ should I arrive home and my girlfriend not like my haircut.

Caldera Old Growth StoutI was in to have my head shaved down to a summertime level and his hand shook a little as he moved slowly over my head. Lanny was thorough and took his time, because by god he was going to get this right. At one point he leaned in, supporting himself a bit on my shoulder as he worked the clippers around my uneven noggin, making sure the cut was right.

Dude was old. Told me stories about how he acquired the shop (Tri-Met was forcing him out of his old location) and how his daughter helped him clean up the place (‘she flooded it a little as a joke…to show me I had to take care of the plumbing’. {When I asked if she got her sense of humor from her mother, Lanny replied: ‘Oh no. Her mother would’ve just told me to go to hell. She got that sense of humor from me’.} )

In short, he was one of those old guys whom isn’t ever going to change but you can’t help but like, just a little, even if his attitudes are a bit backwards, because he was just likable.

What the fuck am I going to do when I get old?

I worry about that sometimes. Forget all the doomsaying: Let’s just accept that the constant in the Universe is change and things aren’t going to be like they are now. As it stands, the only other person I know who’s older than Lanny has to work and shouldn’t, for health reasons.  I don’t have any heirs, I have to build my future somehow because someday I probably shouldn’t be working (as one generally understands work.)

So what the fuck am I going to do when I get old?

There won’t be enough money. There may not be enough friends. It’s going to be a very interesting time. I’m just hoping I can keep learning and doing interesting things so that if I do hit Lanny’s age, I can at least be an adorable asshole, who still has enough money to buy the occasional pints. Riiiiight behind you, if the missus doesn’t like what you just did.

It isn’t a very concrete plan but at least it’s a plan. Be cool. Be awesome. That’s a plan.

I know we’re in one of the hottest weeks so far in Portland but Caldera‘s Old Growth stout is on. I don’t miss that when it’s on even though this version does feel a little more standard coffee stout and a little less complex. That said, I’ve heard good things about Dogfishhead’s Red & White, so maybe I’ll try that next. It’s a low key evening and I’m going to keep it that way.

7pm Responsible, Reliable and Tired

Caldera Hemp BrownSipping on Caldera‘s Hemp Brown after a longish day. This is the trouble with being responsible. People rely on that and then when anything goes wrong, you not only have to take up the slack, it’s expected of you. Suddenly you’ve got to take care of twice, now three times the tasks and be responsible for directing traffic too. The days stretch on, you manage it but occasionally they still bite you in the ass with just a few new surprises.

You don’t just get to stay home, drinking beer, playing games, napping and dreaming of blowjobs.

You gotta work. And on the days when things go wrong, as I’ve had today, it’s not like one can just go home and hang up the skates. Nothing to do but endure your day, complain as amusingly as you can and wait  until you can get a proper ale.

Times like this, I understand the trial of parents everywhere a little better. You don’t get a break, as one once thought or understood a break to be, as a kid. Home is just where you don’t make money. Oh sure, there are other rewards but in a just world, babysitting would be a multi-billion dollar industry and the bank owners would enter the Thunderdome.

Then again, do we really want a bunch of teen or near teenagers running around with a lot of money and…shall we say ‘developing’? senses of right and wrong? I suppose it would make things interesting, if nothing else.

This beer, this brown ale is a satisfactory one. It doesn’t take the edge off but it does let me settle in for what ought to be a long night of ales. It won’t be. This is the drawback of drinking on Mondays: you have to work, you have to be responsible and get ready to crush your enemies the next day.

It’s got a slight burnt flavor at the back end, on the roof of my mouth. Campfire-y. I like it. It’s gentle enough that I was 3/4ths through my beer before I noticed it.

There’s a woman walking by outside, begging for change. As she stops to ask people for money, she takes on a certain sway, bobbing, as though she was a buoy in the water. Her face looks like a punched raisin, her wide smile more like a disturbing slash made in a loaf of bread.

She moves on and I am reminded that there are worse things than being responsible, reliable and tired.

I still get to dream of days. I am certain I already have what some part of her dreamt of.

7pm: Princely moments

I’m in the front corner tonight, and it’s for maximum relaxin’, I tell you what. Me and a Caldera Vanilla Wheat and it’s all good.

Caldera Vanilla WheatAlthough there isn’t much vanilla in this vanilla wheat. The nose is right out of a helles, hinting of skunkiness-heck, even the body is such, and as you can see, nobody could fault you for thinking this was a lager. Maybe in the soft edges, the midpoint curve of my tongue, there’s a hint of vanilla but it’s almost like a wardrobe malfunction rather than a congnitive effort.

I feel like leaning back. This corner is one where you can kick your legs out, if you’re by yourself. There’s definitely a ‘surveying my domain’ element, since I’m in an area which allows me to look out opon the two main lines of the pub that feels a bit princely.

Or, like I’m ready for the assassination attempt. I hear that gunslingers would sit so they could face the door, back in the day. It wouldn’t work so well at Bailey’s, to be a gunslinger: it’s impossible to sit in such a way where your back isn’t to some window.

There’s a lipstick print near me, on the outside pane. I like that. I mean, it’s gotta go someday but I like that someone was flirting enough to kiss someone through the glass. It’s pretty special when things like that happen to me, at least, so I’d hope that the recipient appreciated the effort.

There’s a bloke behind the counter who’s new: I’m told he’s offering samples of mead.  Cool, let’s try that. He’s a Blue Dog employee and at Bailey’s, on a Monday, he’s just a touch forlorn. Shame, because he’s a nice guy with good mead. He calls what he’s pouring the ‘wine version’ and he tells me that they’re making an ale version that should be available in April. Which is super cool, because I am sure I’ve had mead as wine but I don’t know that I’ve ever had it as ale. Something to look forward too, for certain.

The laptop battery is dying. I’m feeling a pressure: hurry, hurry, get this all down. Don’t lose your thoughts to the whimsy of laptop batteries. This is no way to lord of one’s domain. What’s the point of ruling if you don’t get to relax from time to time? My fault, of course, for not preparing in advance. Isn’t that always the way?

I suppose it doesn’t hurt that the Caldera is the kind of beer that you can pound. There’s no reason to sip this drink that I can think of and when I have the ‘hurry, hurry’ element going, well…

Hm. This is not technology serving me. It’s the Ferris Buller axiom: if you go too fast, you might miss it.  I think it’s time to unplug, appreciate the bar and have another ale, a sippin’ ale.

But I tell ya, you come here and have a chance at the corner table? Take it.

Whatever You Say #41

Oh man.

So, yesterday was the last day on the OBF and I was there for about seven hours.

So this is a first; I do not want to have a beer today. But I love you, so I have come to the Dig A Pony for a beer.

Thankfully, my really awesome girlfriend has come with me and is saving me from having to be outwardly sociable by picking Caldera’s IPA, which I am now sipping very, very gently.

It’s not your fault, Caldera. I just went too far and need a day to not be a beer blogger.

The Dig A Pony has a terrible name for me. Fortunately, the interior is pretty sweet, the music was cool Americana and the prices are totally reasonable and the air smelled good. I want to go back. There are big windows letting lots of light in and I think it would be a good place to play cards.

Just some day that I can have a drink again that I can enjoy.

I’ll Have Whatever You Say #14

I’ve gone to Bailey’s because it’s the new year and I’d like to start things right. I don’t dedicate a great deal of attention to tradition, superstition but I still think that the rote activities I engage in can give me a stronger place to start from, mentally, and that can make all the difference.

caldera lagerI go in and sit down; the gentleman on my right is on the phone so the man on my left is the only option. He’s ordering as I come in and I overhear, “Caldera lager,” so I catch Geoff’s eye and signal for another. He smiles and then says “I thought you had to ask them,” and thus I explain to him and the man whom I’ve been eavesdropping on that I was going to explain but this was just too easy.

I shouldn’t have worried. The fellow next to me is loquacious. He’s a field engineer in the auto industry and he’s been to 49 of 50 states. At sixteen he had earned enough money from his own business to take a five month road trip around the U.S. and he saw Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington. He’s a Corvette guy. He got food poisoning in Egypt, like I did, only he didn’t get it as bad and it didn’t hit him until he went to Paris. He didn’t like Minnesota much and is amused but seems slightly rueful of a Midwest attitude where they just bury the bad things instead of trying to be more green.

He had good parents, who took him all over, instilled in him some wanderlust and made him an engineer’s guy. He remodeled his house and made space for them to move in when they were elderly, caring for them until they died, both of them in their eighties. I tell him that I feel like sympathizing for him is inadequate, because it seems like they had quite a life together and he nods and agrees: “They had a great life,” he says.

And not once does the gleam go out of his eye. It’s the first time he’s come back to Portland in 34 years-he can remember it exactly-and he talks with the relish of gratitude that someone who is truly grateful for the life she or he has had can bring. He’s back on business and seems to enjoy it as much as he would if he was on vacation.

He tells me about his wife and his dog, in that order. He tells me about living back east and doesn’t sugarcoat what he loves and doesn’t about Tennessee. He tells me a great story about attempting to teach his wife about the evils of gambling…and then hitting an $1,000 pot. “I still hear that one occasionally,” he says in the manner of someone remembering both the folly and wonder of being a couple, ” ‘you gonna teach me about the evils of gambling now’?”

He smiles a lot and I eventually ask him how long he’s in town for and he says about a week, so I give him a laundry list of places to try; Deschutes, Widmer’s Gasthaus, the Lucky Lab, Horse Brass, Hawthorne Hop House, Beermongers. It’s not exactly high culture but it’ll show him some of the great spots in the city. He may not get back for awhile and I want to suggest as many places as I can.

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.

52 Weeks 36: Caldera Cauldron Double Hemp Brown

I’ll admit, tonight I’m truly  not up for it. 

The beer, though, the beer is delicious. Brown and sugary, with a tackiness like salt water taffy lingering in my mouth. Though the beer is supposed to be a Winter one-and I can totally see why, because of it’s rich mouthfeel-I see it more as the Spring or Autumn beer. 

There’s such a chocolate presence in this beer that I wonder why brown ales (or at least this one) aren’t marketed as such. There are legions of chocoholics who would probably really appreciate a brew like this. It actually reminds me of my own IRA (which I’ll be talking about this week) so I wonder if the beers have anything in common?  Aside from, you know, mine being a happy accident and theirs being on purpose.