Tag Archives: doppelbock

7pm Cold Seeps In

It took me a minute or two to decide but eventually I went for the Epic Double Skull doppelbock. Like sucking on a chocolate Popsicle, this beer offers me the essence of coca but not the solid. Also, and this is very, very weird but my first reference is a grape sucker, the cheap kind you’d get from the doctors office after a shot.

There are things I can explain but this is not one of them. I usually like Epic’s work but this beer? I can’t say it’s bad but I am hard pressed to recommend it, too. This dopplebock is not improving with warmth, either. It should be the perfect beer for a cold evening like this but it tastes thin and is coupled with a sweetness that is making me thirst for an ale with more body to it.

I think the holiday tuckered me out. Even for a Monday I feel a bit less animated, less engaging. More likely to say something I shouldn’t or, more exactingly, use words I do not mean to get across an idea that is dying on its feet.

Might be the chill in the air. Winter is finally descending onto Portland with clear skies and northern winds. It’s the kind of thing that sucks life away, down south, until I can fortify myself with scarves, whiskey, women and a steely eye.

I opt for a small Block 15 brown ale and I already feel better: this beer doesn’t taste as thin. Is that expectations or legit flavor making a case for itself?

Times like this, I wish I wasn’t drinking alone. Don’t get me wrong, I like these moments of contemplation but comparing notes when facing strange flavors is what makes this experience interesting.

Fortunately for me, someone comes in, asking for an IPA and weeds through her choices with that bartender to settle on the Pelican fresh hop ale. She’s visiting from Cleveland and loves the style; I tell her she’s in the right place. Wrong time, though: if she really wanted a bounty of IPAs, September would have been the time to arrive, with not only the traditional ipa bounty but the fresh hop ales too.

She tells me that there is a really good beer scene in Cleveland and somehow I’m not terribly surprised. A city like that, in the middle of the country is ripe for influences from all over and has an opportunity to bring the best ideas from everywhere to play. It may be a depressed place but where better to innovate?

It’s fun being an ambassador for Portland.


I hesitate to judge here, but fasting to drink only doppelbock for 46 days during Lent seems more like a stunt than a true spiritual journey. I’m not saying that I know better because I’ll admit right up front; I do not. This guy is clearly fasting in a very traditional sense, if what I read is true, having lost some eleven pounds since he started. On top of that, it’s a pretty neat way to get at brewing a style of beer that exists to sustain you for a long period of time.

I just can’t help but feel like it’s an attention grabbing move though-especially when he’s blogging about it-instead of a quest to understand on a deeper level the meaning of suffering and the trials that others have gone through in order to get closer to a greater consciousness. However, that is most likely me reading into what he ought to be doing, or what I think of when I see actions like this rise up, than it is about what this person is actually doing.

So with that little bias admitted comes the disclaimer; I don’t know what he’s doing, beyond fasting for 46 days. I’m glad he’s got a doc looking after him but after that, it’s a neat thing and not mine to say what his intentions are.

Three tastes

I was on a quest to rent disc 4 of The Wire. One long, muggy walk and two movie rental places later it was time to say “The hell with this” and get a pint. Fortunately for me, it’s Oregon Craft Beer Month, and the Horse Brass has a lot of beers to choose from.

I went first with a glass of the Terminal Gravity Tripel, partly because I wanted to see if it was as good as I remember, and it was. Not too sweet with enough bitterness to keep me drinking.

My next choice was Widmer’s Dopplebock. I’ve liked dopplebocks since I traveled to Germany and had them in Nuremburg 15 years ago,  and though they never seem to rise up to that first one, I keep hunting them down. This beer was quite malty and delicious, then gave way to a dryness, almost a bitterness that encouraged drinking more of it. A little dastardly in that respect: a drink that refuses to quench your thirst.

Now, while I was drinking this, my girlfriend was drinking Vortex IPA from Ft George brewery. I tried some and it had an orange blossom nose and finish, but sweet faint caramel in the middle, and was about as well balanced of a West Coast style IPA as I could’ve asked for. I was thining about ordering it next, but decided to get Rogue’s Imperial Younger’s Special Bitter. However, at this point we were interrupted by a large man with a shaven headed and a goatee, drinking a Hogshead Stout and asking about the IPA. We told him about it, and it was more than enough to convince him to try a pint.

who can resist this?
who can resist this?

I found out he was a homebrewer, and we launched into a discussion about brewing; he told me of a beer he’d made using heather and dry hopping. I told him about the beer I’d helped make that had been sold at the Horse Brass. He ordered a pint, but it arrived just as we were done with ours. I told him about the Oregon Brew Crew, so perhaps I will see him again. I don’t think I’ve got a ‘we met in a bar’ friendship story. Time to start collecting those.

Addendum: Like any intrepid reporter, I went back to the Horse Brass the next day to have a glass of the Vortex IPA so I could more accurately describe it. I do this for you, the audience. You deserve to have me tell you from my own personal experience that a beer is a good one. Plus I got off work early and the bus drops me off right next to the bar. How can I pass that up?