Tag Archives: imperial red

On The Rail: Panic Room: Caution High Volume

Ninkasi’s Dawn of the Red greets me at the end of a long weekend and what has been the end of a long weekday. If this keeps up, I’m taking the rest of my life off.

The nose is very fruity, and while there isn’t much malt there, the beer is just sweet enough that when goes into the bitterness, I don’t mind. It’s still too hoppy for an actual red but as a beer, it’s solid.

The full name of this bar is Panic Room: Caution High Volume which is approximately three more words than the name of any bar should have. Or really, anything that doesn’t include the words: “the” or “of”. So there’s that. There’s also the biggest goddamn tv I have seen outside a sports bar. It’s like seeing a monkey with a boner. Even if you can look at the other attractions in the zoo, that TV is somehow omnipresent in your brain.

The couches look comfy though, and the food brought from the kitchen looks good. There’s a discreetly placed screen that shows what’s on the Pandora radio station playing in the bar, so if I hear something good that I don’t recognize I can just read the screen. That’s pretty damn handy, I have to say.

I’ve come here to hide out. It’s a good time to be here for this: almost nobody is inside, and it’s the kind of place where even those inside are going to step outside to smoke.

The length of my days has me feeling a little sore and resolutions have been on my mind even since I found out that the father of a friend of mine died a few days ago. He was a lively, funny dude, an electrician in Michigan when that meant you could sustain a proper family. And when Michigan wasn’t FUBAR’d.

A few weeks ago, the cat of another friend died. The cat had cancer and was clearly miserable. I was honored to drive them to the vet and to witness his passing. The cat died surrounded by someone who loved him. I hope that my friend’s dad could say the same.

I wonder how often we have the luxury of a pet, our resolutions and our deaths coming in the presence of someone who loves us. I hope that happens more often than not. I hope the fingerprints I have left on people allow them to feel settled, where I can. But, we don’t always get what we want. These days, I feel like I understand that better than I used to.

Tall fella comes in, complaining about the heat. Walking two blocks to the store apparently was too much. God knows how he got here. The bartender replies, “Dude, there’s a reason both my jobs, my house and my car have AC.”

My beer is nearly done. I am going to dive home with the windows down, wind blowing, Corrosion of Conformity’s blaring. I may need to hunker down just a little longer.

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On The Rail: Baileys (Hard Knocks Edition)

I have come back to Baileys because after six days in New York City, I still feel untethered. Very slowly have I been getting my PST legs back, because I hit the ground in Portland running with activities every night, including this one. Granted, this activity is a grounding act for me because I get to sit alone and write but it’s not staying home and playing Batman: Arkham Knight in my underwear all day.

It’s crowded enough when I walk in that I can’t sit at the rail. Bizarrely, there are, for once, available tables! Why should I ignore such a gift on a night where my very presence in the city feels unmoored? The barkeep suggests a few things and I go for the Hard Knocks Riveter Red Imperial ale.

This is a malt forward beer alright, with that “I’ve just had something sweet” sourness that burrows up long after the beer is done. As though I’ve had chocolate, you know? But that isn’t a knock; just an acceptance of malt forward ales. Before that, there is a nice hop bitterness that appears-Columbus and Crystal, the menu says, and the citrus element does a nice job of complimenting the fruity sweetness of the beer.

I have walked into a birthday party that is collapsing as I write, the participants closing their tab and arranging their posse home as I settle in. Then, suddenly, the bar is nearly empty. It feels like a writing paradise instead of a bar, just for a moment anyway.

I feel like laying down on a bench and sleeping here. Wake me tomorrow at opening and let me start my day with some nachos from across the street and a beer.

Because this feels like a new place now. Like somewhere I’ve never been. All of these beers I’ve barely or never had. All of this space all of a sudden. Everyone outside, me inside with new but old  hideout.

An hour later, the place is packed again. Standing room, lines for a beer. I can’t sleep on a bench here; that would be incredibly rude. Better head home. I own a bed there.

Unprofessional Jealousy

So I found out that Wil Wheaton is a homebrewing blogger today. In addition to being a regular blogger/gamer/geek.

Well, shit.

What am I gonna do now? He’s cornering the freakin’ market! Respected by geeks, hosting a gorram web series playing board games with famous people, credited with Wheaton’s law, plus gets to act and write. For a living! (And I don’t care what Wil says, the wisest amongst us have been saying ‘Don’t be a dick ‘forever, so nyah. He just gets credit for the New Millennium version. Damnit.)

Now he’s moving into the beer blogging arena and we’re all doomed! Why read any of the amateurs when you can have a pro? The only readers I’ll have left will be my mom and dad (my sisters will defect to Wheaton’s blog in a nanosecond, because they don’t have to pretend I’m cool.)

rusty truck imperial redHe’s even managing to brew at about the same rate that I am, on top of moving on to all grain brewing! Grrrr. I’m actually waiting for him to steal my girlfriend at this point.

Worst of all: he’s cool. I don’t even get to hate him because by all accounts, he’s a good guy. I am kind of a dick sometimes, on purpose. Because I believe that occasionally, people should be told to fuck off.

And see: there goes my Mom, off to read about a nice young man: ‘If ony my son would be so awesome.’

So I’m killing my hopes and dreams with a Rusty Truck Stupiphany, (which feels like a really, really bad name) an imperial red ale that, 2/3rds down, I’m getting an aftertaste hat I’m just not sure of. Not alcohol, just that odd flavor you get when you have something sweet, too sweet even, with no compliment. Like milk chocolate with no accompaniment. It’s good but I want some food with this one; it just doesn’t quite work solo.

7pm Voiceless

My illness has lingered, clawing at my throat and making my vocal chords the rusted out nightmare of a shipwreck off the Bermuda Triangle. Plus, it hurts to talk.

So I’m sitting on the rail, listening to the bartender  hold court (he’s telling people about how corporations are going into local shows to make sure musicians aren’t using samples) and the man next to me quote a comedy show I’ve never heard of (‘I once ran naked through a bowling alley for $3’) while I fight off a slight headache and drink Stone‘s ’09 13th Anniversary imperial red.

The brew tastes like chocolate and chalk. I’m suddenly back in 5th grade being punished for eating a Hershey bar in class by being forced to lick the chalkboard.

I wave the bartender down, my throat punishing me for every hoarsely buzzed note: “So, this isn’t good, right?”

He replies, “I think it’s a little bit past it’s prime,” while making a  non-committal motion with his hands. The patron next to me agrees; something’s wrong with this beer.

“I can pour you something else if you like,” the barkeep offers.

Pelican Riptide redI would indeed like. I go for Pelican‘s Riptide, this merely a red instead of an imperial.

And just like that, I’ve got a better beer, one that’s almost too easy to drink but in a good way. All but the definition of a session ale, maybe (maybe!) just a little high at 5.3%, this is what to drink when I’m in a drinkin’ mood. I can hang out for a few hours, drink this and still feel like I’m making sense. It’s just malty enough to have some throughline of taste, a very crisp finish with the whiff of citrus there, like lemon water, to complete the quenching element of this beverage.

With no desire to speak, I’m listening to the dull stoner one-drop, the muted clank of a tipped glass breaking, the warning that Jolly Pumpkin isn’t producing a pumpkin beer and a discussion about Northern California where bikers grow weed to smoke meth while the man next to me takes a photo of an old lamb doll, the kind that could find a home in the Velveteen Rabbit to post on some social media site, somewhere.

I hope kids still read the Velveteen Rabbit. It’s a rare commentary to suggest that loving something makes it real, instead of love being the proof that something is real. I rather like that.

It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.

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.

Going back

I grew up in Spokane, which is the kind of city that is pretty easy to tear into if you live almost anywhere else. I don’t hate Spokane, but I’m also not invested in it either; other people can praise or denigrate it as they see fit, and I don’t feel it reflects on me in any way. If not for the presence of friends and family though, I don’t think I’d have a reason to go back there, but they are so I return periodically.

Spokane in March is not a pretty town but I admit it’s a little unfair to judge it right now. It was hit hard during the winter with snowstorms, and is just now starting to feel the touch of spring. To complain about the roads or the filth or the dead trees or gray skies is more than just pointless; it’s mean. That said; I went for a walk on Friday and all I could think of is how much this city reflects Jesu’s song, The Playgrounds Are Empty

My first stop in Spokane was a mexican restaurant that had adequate food and a selection of beer sponsored by Anheuser-Busch and Miller. I drank soda, and pondered the anecdotal fact that every mexican and chinese restaurant I seem to go into offers a multitude of beers by those two breweries, but rarely anything else. Is there a conspiracy to keep IPAs and porters away from burritos and egg noodles? 

For a beer, I asked if we could go to the Viking. This pub always has a strange connection to me, as it’s where my parents had their wedding rehearsal dinner 37 years ago. I don’t think it’s changed in that amount of time, and it was one of the few places where as a new drinker I could find a pint of beer that wasn’t from the big 3 distributors.

Confronted with this beer list I was promptly accosted by a waitress asking what I wanted, and when I started off with a prefunctory ‘um’ I was smartly told, “All out of um. Just blew the last keg of um,” like a nun rapping a ruler on my knuckles. 

Just the kind of friendly homecoming I was hoping for. 

I was limply served a Rogers lager, a beer that matched the presentation of it, and I was glad to move on. 

But all is not lost in Spokane. My good friend A. Ho. and I went to his favorite spot, Bennidito’s on the South Hill. The food is excellent, and I availed myself a couple pints of Iron Horse Brewery‘s Loco Imperial Red, which was malty and quite intoxicating. I am going to start looking for their brews in Portland, because I’m telling you Ellensburg currently has a good thing going.

Spokane also has some good things going, but that’s for the next post.