Tag Archives: hopworks

On The Rail: Angelo’s

There is no room at the rail for me, because there is a dog on the only empty seat.

I don’t know if this is a ‘very Portland moment’ or if it’s just something you have to deal sometimes with when you live in a city: a dog will be more valued than a  human. Then again, the dog is willingly jumping through hoops for spectators, now. What am I offering?

There is a solidly inebriated human nearby, slowly working his way out the door. His designated driver leads the way but the departure of a drunk is always slow, full of distractions and goodbyes that would be uncomfortably long under any other circumstances.

I got a Hopworks Abominale, and I sip at it with the mind and fingers of a distracted man. It’s been a difficult couple weeks, getting focused while I’ve been out. I have been coming with a brain that’s a little burnt out from the weekend and perhaps I need to heed that sign and pull back from my lively social life a little bit.

The ale isn’t bad though; there’s a front loaded sweetness that has a pretty big hop bite at the end so it all works out. I don’t get much in the nose but by the time I remember to start smelling it the beer is half empty. A victim of my overall distraction.

The dog is back on the stool, content. Perhaps I should take a cue from that and head home for some comfortable contentment.

Where I Want To Go: Hopworks (2)

I had an extremely busy August. Too busy, in some ways; it began to intrude on my writing.

I’m not sorry that I had visitors, or went visiting: this year has held a tremendous heartbreak for me and the presence of friends has gone a long way towards making things better. However, here’s where we get into the ‘stuff about being a writer’.

Curmudgeons that writers often are, we are loath to admit that we need people. This is, perhaps, less of a truism for beer writers because beer, especially craft beer, is an inherently social drink. People are part of the bargain. That doesn’t mean we aren’t still grumpy, just that we can easily find other, like-minded grumpy drinkers who are tolerable to us. But yes, we need people because writers are trying to explore the human condition and you just need humans for that.

So I sit at the bar with a FreshMaker-a Fuggle hopped beer-at Hopworks and am surrounded by people, most of whom are barely watching the football game. The beer is a nice one, with a lemony quality that runs into the finish but a malt forward nose so there’s a balance struck that makes it pretty tasty.

The other thing about being a writer, however, is that we have to do it alone. Nobody can put the words out for us. While this is often cast as a very lonely endeavor (and it totally can be) it is also a necessity for us to do our work. We must write alone.

And I have had too many people as of late. Posts for this week have been started at Ex Novo and the Stein Haus, only to be stymied by the presence of people and a willingness to engage with them rather than write. On the upside, this means I get to go back to those places (and you should check them out) but on the downside, I still had work to do!

The nice thing about Hopworks right now is that nobody knows me here and nobody cares. It is an odd thing to admit that I need a certain level of apathy to get my work done but it is clearly still true, and this is where we get into the ‘stuff about me’ part.

I like socializing with people and I’m perhaps too willing to ignore the work I need to do so I can engage with them. Normally? This isn’t a problem: I don’t live in a culture where talking to strangers is encouraged. But this August has been a blue moon for me so I am pleased to finally sit down, sip my ale and do the work alone. I don’t even need another beer (though I might have one) I just need to do the work.

Which is what managing heartbreak is about: doing the work. Engaging in the day to day, week to week tasks that keep your life from going off the rails, until you’re patched up enough to be human again. It is also, of course, what friends are there for, I just had to make a brief trade of one for the other, for a month.

Which is not so bad. Not at all.

Where I Want To Go: Hopworks #1

Torn between the Summers End ale and the Powell Estate at Hopworks, the bartender recommends Powell Estate.

What a treat! Very crisp, a nice biscuit flavor in the middle and the nose, like many fresh hop beers, isn’t overmuch. I already want another.

Being at Hopworks is a little like being on a date with someone I ought to really like, but just don’t seem to click with, though.

One thing I want to do during this series is take the opportunity to visit a few places more than once. Maybe not quite a regular but enough to get a sense of what a place is like. Also, if I can’t use this as an excuse to frequently visit breweries that I enjoy, what’s the point? It’s always nice to walk into a spot and have the bartender recognize you.

However, now we get back to the date analogy I spoke of earlier. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was able to arrive early and get a nice seat at the bar. But it is getting crowded now, more than I am comfortable with. Too many people, too much television, very little way to engage in conversation. It would be different if I had arrived with someone, however most everyone I know works during the day. Hell, I don’t even know if I would want to attempt to come here when Hopworks is in full swing.

It’s not that it is a bad place. It’s just serving a culture that isn’t quite pub-related anymore. It’s crowd-related. It can never be quiet and rarely provide the environment for an easy conversation. It’s for something more raucous; a wedding party, maybe. Any circumstance where you know everyone.

I like this place but only when it’s not there for everyone…and that means that I can’t love it. You have to go all in on love: that’s just the nature of love. But I can like something when I like it. So lets just agree that I’ll be back here whenever time allows, because man, this beer is tasty.

7pm The Chat Up

From the Twitterverse last week, a contact told me about the Deschutes/Hopworks India Red Lager, which on paper sounded amazing. In practice, it’s just kinda bland. The bitterness is too rough on the end, not enough body or sweetness so what this has going for it is that it’s a red lager with hops.

India Red LagerThat’s just not enough for my tastes. I don’t know why but I seem to be unable to find a beer I can recommend, lately. But, you play game, sometimes you lose.

It’s a lucky night for me, otherwise: the owner is sitting at the bar and there’s a space next to him, so I can sit down at the bar and write, in addition to chatting up the barkeeps too. We talk beer, customers, tipping and service and the friendly competition that can exist when good beer places exist near each other. In this instance, I’m told about a new beer bar near Roscoe’s to check out. Awesome to me: I can hit it and tell you about it later this week (I hope. Maybe next week.)

I’m also informed that the staff at Bailey’s is going to do some work at the Commons, brewing an ale for the anniversary event, which is super cool! (And, given last week, nicely serendipitous.) There’s a suggestion that it will involve cucumbers which is…very interesting.

I have to admit, this India Red Lager is getting a little better as it warms up. Maybe the hops help it survive the warm up period better than a lager would? More likely, the malt is able to make itself known…but damned if I know. It’s a little better. Still not great.

Hanging at the bar helps remind me why I like being here.  Everyone is friendly and laughing and teasing each other: From my perch, there’s not a non-contemplative frown in the place. (There’s a guy working on something in a corner, intently focused on his laptop, face thoughtfully disapproving of whatever he’s looking at.)

Good times, as my sister would say: good times.

7pm Lazy Monday

I am very gently working my way through Hopworks‘ Bourbon De Ieso Spades IPA. It’s being served via the firkin and it’s quite tasty; their imperial IPA kept in bourbon barrels? Whoa!

But…it’s different enough that I can’t help but wonder how it wold be if it had been allowed to carbonate like a modern ale. I can see the tiny bubbles on the side, a faint, desperate show of carbonation and I can’t help but think: what’s the point?

This isn’t an argument against Bailey’s, understand. I need to say that up front: I love it here and I know they aren’t screwing around with their beer. I just don’t know that I see the advantage to an ale served from the firkin instead of being allowed to carbonate. It’s warm, the nose fades much, much faster than what I am used to and in the end, I am compelled to ask: Why is ale served from a cask such a big thing?

In the old days, bartenders mixed the beer according to a customer’s taste: younger beer with older beer in order to give that customer what he or she desired in terms of flavor, carbonation, etc. This was because younger beers were carbonated but older ales, with the maturity of flavor that comes from being aged in barrels, tasted better. So they get mixed and voila! A beer someone wants to drink.

Since all that has been done beforehand, what is the point of serving an ale to someone that is mostly flat and significantly warmer? This isn’t mixed to my taste: it’s just served as is.

Technology has allowed us to make better beer. Is the firkin now just some kind of hipster/elitist bullshit, that is trying to harken back to ‘ye olden dayz’, when men died from leprosy and women in childbirth? Or is there an actual shift that is lost because of the technology? It seems like an idea worth asking.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t believe that the new should be embraced just because it is the new, nor the old held onto just because it’s the way we’ve always done things. I am just curious as to what the firkin brings to the experience of drinking an ale that is lost if served using modern tech. And unfortunately, I cannot compare right now.

Still: let’s put it on the list-compare a carbonated brew with the same kind served from a firkin. It’s bound to be educational. And even if it isn’t: beer.

The Final 2

These are the last two beers I’ve made in our current dwelling:

On the left is an oktoberfest. Or it would’ve been an oktoberfest if I hadn’t been given three pounds of fresh Crystal hops by Deschutes brewpub. (Thanks, people at Deschutes who didn’t need those hops!) So instead it’s just a brew with a large malt profile a la an oktoberfest, with a ton of Crystal hops put in because…because I could do that.

On the right, is a fresh hop pale ale, which I used some of the Crystal hops in. The right is in secondary right now, and as you can see I’ve added more hops to secondary. Three pounds of hops is a lot and I tried to use as much as I reasonably could before moving.

Which is why these are the final two beers I’m making for a little while: I don’t want to try and transport these containers in a vehicle: if I can get them bottled beforehand that will mean that it’s much, much easier.

They’re not making it simple though. I’d blame the yeast if I thought it was to blame but who doesn’t love active yeast?

Nobody. So special thanks to Hopworks alehouse for giving me awesome yeast to make these beers with!

Notes from the OBF Brewer’s Guild Dinner

Taken on my outboard brain with photos managed as best I could. Thoughts after the fact in bold.

Ninkasi ronsom old Tom collaboration:
Unsure of style but it’s light and has a pleasantly hoppy-pine nose. Recommended


Hopworks Cronan the Barbarian
Strong ale and it’s really rich and tasty. Caramel goodness. Highly recommended.

Gilgamesh organic jasmine hefeweisen starts bitter faint honey nose and… Not sure what to make of it. Final decision is meeeh. Everyone else seemed to really enjoy this beer, so maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s just really hard to follow Cronan.

Pelican wienna wit
More Belgian like with a hint of sour bite at the end. It was OK.

Upright flora rustica
Got that sour Belgian nose dry finish but something kinda dirty there. Upright continues to not persuade me. Does give me a farmhouse feel but I am just not convinced.

Oakshire Perfect Storm double ipa
Wonderful caramel-grapefruit nose that went for the ipa part. Not balanced; stingy at end. Tasty. This beer is for the hopheads because wow does it bite.

Hop Valley Pollenation honey ale
Smooth and easy to drink. Aftertaste may be affected by ipa b/c there’s a weird bitter moment. Talking to others, that dirty aftertaste was present to them, too so maybe it’s not just me.

Ft George Hellcat Belgian
Nose slightly off-putting with a yeasty note but beer is hard to describe. A hard candy start and a pepper finish that doesn’t hit until it’s too late. This was, amongst the people I talked to, one of the most interesting and tasty beers there, and I agree with that. Try it.

Fred’s Maibock

Almost two months ago, I mentioned brewing a maibock at Hopworks. Yesterday, that brew got served to the public and I hustled my way from work in order to make it there to try some.

And it’s pretty damn good. The kick ass ‘assistant’ brewer (quotes because she’s a brewer, regardless of title) Amelia was there to take pride in both her work and supervisory role and talk to me a little about the process of fermentation and shine a little light on how a smaller brewpub compares to homebrewing. Turns out, sanitation and temperature control during fermentation are two of the biggest keys when brewing on a larger scale; if those things are right, she says, your beer will probably be pretty good. Truly awesome of her to spend some time with me, which I appreciate and I respect her (and Hopworks‘) work all the more because the process is different by virtue of scale alone.

The maibock was a light, malty-ish beer that was tasty without having any one element overpower the beer. There was a nibble at the end-not a bite but definitely a shift in flavor. Some suggested that the hop value was a bit high and while I’m not inclined to agree with that assessment, after three maibocks I did note an oily, bitter note at the end indicative of hops. After three beers though, I don’t think this is a weird thing; hop flavors are cumulative so after several I’d just imagine they will be more prominent.

Unfortunately, I didn’t remember my camera so I don’t have pictures. You’ll just have to imagine.

As an added bonus though, I was able to try some of Hopworks’ Galactic Imperial Red before it goes on sale today at Ground Kontrol and debuts tomorrow at Hopworks. Thanks to Amelia, who was too kind!

Let’s check out the bottle:

Hopworks Galactic Red bottle

I don’t know about you but as a kid who grew up during the era of 16-bit videogames, this is a triumph. Triumph, I tell you!

And the beer itself?

Galactic brew

So that’s what it looks like. The taste; it’s a really, really smooth red ale. A touch of alcohol warmth at the end, which if you’re thinking about it might remind you that this is an imperial red. Otherwise, I can see people drinking a little more of this brew than they intend and paying for it.

But while you’re drinking it, it’s a hell of a nice red ale. Check it out.

Whatever You Say #25

Bill suggested the Landmark Saloon to me, so away I went. I come in and notice there’s a space for band and there’s signs of I get why there is a band about to play, but…I’m not sure this place is big enough for anything with an amplifier. It’s a house that’s been converted into commercial space and while it’s cozy, I wonder if a band wouldn’t just take over.

Drinking HUB‘s Survival Stout, as recommended by a bald man with a reddish goatee who is typing on a smartphone and would like me to leave him be.

I manage to strike up a nice conversation about beer with a nearby fellow who dreams of visiting England, Belgium and Germany and making a tour of their breweries. He seems especially fond of the idea of trying the various forms of German lagers and I can’t blame him; they really do some of the best ever. He recommends some stuff from Deschutes and we talk about mixing beers-lambics and porters, specifically-in order to create some of the best drinks ever. Then he’s off for a smoke.

The conversion of this house into a pub feels a little weird, extra doorways in the front, rooms with clearly different feels in habited by furniture to help suit-a red velvet loveseat in the furthest room, wood barstools in front seating me at a bar that is right out of open country sensibilities-the wood in front is still textured with knots and wooden imperfections, the middle room has a decorative rug hanging on the wall that looks like it is probably done in the mesa indian style. Horseshoes hang here and there, no real rhyme or reason to them that I can tell.

But it’s also very comfortable. In a rare moment, I can’t quite imagine what this place might be like if it was really busy. I can’t pick up what the vibe is: the presence of what appears to be a country bar in the middle of the alt-punk universe baffles me. But the song that’s playing over the speakers has a slide guitar and fiddle and that’s kinda great. There’s a grilled PB&J sandwich offered on the menu. Something weird is definitely going on.

I don’t hate it, I just wonder what the hell it’s doing here. Then again, maybe the neighborhood needs it. The universe is, thankfully, made up of more interesting things than the Decemberists and Portlandia-but only if there’s a contrast to the Decemberists and Portlandia.

Brewing at Hopworks

One of the benefits of working on the board for the OBC is that I have opportunities to brew in new environments with people who really know what they’re doing. As a homebrewer, I can’t tell you how cool it is to have the chance to work in a professional setting and with experts.

It’s pretty rad, as they used to say. Especially after having to pour out ten gallons of beer.

So when Hopworks offered to let us use their nano system to brew on and the board decided the respected Fred Eckhardt as the leader of the brew, I jumped at the opportunity to assist. Since Fred, respected as he is, hasn’t brewed in quite some time and so it fell to younger people to lift forty-eight pounds of malt and over forty gallons of water to make the style Fred had selected, a maibock.

Leading the way was Assistant Brewer Amelia, who was just smashing through the whole thing, answering questions, kidding around, keeping things on track and generally being very upbeat, especially when confronted with concerns about ‘are we doing this right?’ Thanks to her, we pretty much were.

Plus, I got to learn some new things about how all grain brewing works, how important recirculation is, what a Vorlauf pump does; all kinds of cool stuff.

I got to hold onto devices that I didn’t understand. The photo on the right shows a mechanism that allowed us to aerate the beer as it was pumped into a fermenter. I have no idea what it’s called.

Still, pretty cool, huh?

Normally, this is the part where I’d post the recipe, if I had one, so other people could see what we did.

This was the recipe basis:

5.5 lbs Lager Malt
5.5 lbs Munich Malt
1.0 lbs Light Carmel/Crystal Malt

7.5-9.6 AAU’s of bittering hops
.75 oz flavor hops
.5 oz aroma hops

Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager

This is what actually happened:

Easier to read version, here.

The beer should be ready in about a month! I’ll let you know how it is or if there’s time, let you know when it’ll be served so you can try it yourself.