Tag Archives: lager

Where I Want To Go: Breakside

The title for the next series is going to be riffed off the title of a Rocket From The Crypt song. They are awesome and you should listen to them.

Around the time that I started noticing I was feeling a bit burnt out, I looked back and noticed that I had been writing this blog pretty steadily for five years. During that time, I have done my best to really stick to themes and ideas that I had presented, regardless of my interest level, and I hadn’t really indulged myself. So I figure it’s time. There are so many interesting places to go to in Portland, I ought to avail myself of them and it’s long past time that I abused my position as head blog person to visit those places that I wouldn’t get to, otherwise. Or go back to, as I see fit.

Yes, this will be an excuse to visit Bailey’s a whole bunch. I’m OK with this.

But when the opportunity came to meet at the Oregon Public House to play cards, I pushed that idea as far as I could…until we got there and it was overrun by a group doing something for the Greater Good. And I can’t compete with that, so it’s East a block to the Breakside, which is also awesome!

I had their Float ale, which was a lager of some kind, an IPA and a dry stout, which was excellent. All of the beers were good, I just think the dry stout is especially worth commending, even though I only got a photo of the IPA.

Whatcha gonna do?

Anyway, I’m back. This is the new series, where I go to (or go back to) those places I want to go to. I play cards. I drink. I will endeavor to talk to strangers if that option is available to me. I’m going to set out with the purpose of having some fun, for a little while.

I think I deserve it and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Let’s go.

Glass Experiment: Third Shift Amber Lager

I got some of Third Shift‘s amber lager for the Glass Experiment because the last lager was so bad. Also, with 90 degree days coming up this weekend and god knows how much humidity, lager options are good. Finally, this allows me to justify trying something new. For science!

From the snifter, we both picked up more yeastiness than expected, which the girlfriend felt had a low level Belgian funkiness/fruitiness to it.  I noticed it more from the pint but that scent lingered longer from the snifter. But it finished very cleanly and there was just enough amber malt and hop bitterness to give this beer some body and make it drinkable.

We both agreed it was a solid beer and we would have another. She didn’t have a glass preference for taste, but the pint has visual qualities, maintaining a nice head throughout and ease of drink that pushed it forward.

The next set had a really interesting thing come up, visually. The mug seemed to give bigger bubbles, with a rapidly disappearing head. This made the beer seem blander to me. The carbonation was bigger and harsher, so it’s less pleasant. The schooner actually provided finer carbonation with a bit of scent traveling to us as we drank.

In the end, we both thought the schooner was the best glass for this beer, though I wouldn’t refuse a pint glass either. The mug was startlingly unwelcome for this one but the beer itself is worth the time, especially with an overly hot weekend coming up.

Lager (Or Not) 2013

Tt’s time to talk about how this beer came out.

There is a faint funk in the nose; something is off in this beer and it’s likely the result of the combination of old and new yeast. But it feels a lot like a saison or a wit and I like it. It’s lighter and would go well with some hearty cheese. When I put this into secondary on 2.17 and there was a bit too much malt sweetness; I was  concerned that it won’t dry out enough. I can’t say that this beer dried out but is isn’t sweet. All in all, things could have really gone wrong and they didn’t, so I’ll take it as a win.

Brew Date: 1.20.13

Steeping Grains:
.5 lb Honey
.5 lb Dextrin

Fermentables: 7 lb Extra Light malt extract


1 oz Mosaic used in Xmas 2ndary @ 60
.5 oz Saaz @ 30
.5 oz Saaz @ 15

Yeast: Reuse of McPolander yeast (whoa!)

OG: 1.058

TG: 1.01

ABV: 6.5%

Notes: added half Mosaic early before boil to smooth out hop bitterness
Added water to wort at about 68ish, waiting for startup before lagering
Added another package of yeast on 1.28, Ocktoberfest by Wyeast

Glass Experiment: Ft. George 1811

In some ways, I’m really glad I had this experience. I just want to say that up front.

Because neither of us liked this beer.

The schooner had a better nose than the mug, which was a  surprise, given previous beers. I got a hint of something lemony. But the mug: nope. Just bitterness at the end. Difference is in the feel of the glass. The beers don’t change much, but the schooner is more comfy in hand.

Because what it’s boiling down to is simple: the Ft George 1811 lager is too bitter. It’s overwhelming. The girlfriend agrees.

Moving on to the next set: Pint keeps better head, and we notice more of a sulfurous funk. I got a touch of malt from the pint and later some corn in the nose but again, the bitterness is taking over the other flavors in this beer, and any other kind of finish is obliterated.

She doesn’t like the snifter because it doesn’t let her take a solid gulp. That glass is meant for sipping and lagers should have swigs taken from them. Snifter gives me more of a hint of corn on the nose but it dissipates too quickly to provide anything else.

Her; a cold mug (in Summer this might work), schooner, pint, snifter.
Me: schooner, mug-pint(tie) snifter.

So now we sit down and try to work it out. The truth is, we don’t like this beer much. Sulfur on the back end, funk in the nose, it smells like cheap beer from our youth, the stuff our fathers used to drink when they bought cheap crap. It tastes bad, its bitterness making it challenging to drink and frankly, I feel ripped off as these four cans cost me over nine bucks. It is not a product that justifies it’s high price tag.

Which is just so strange. I really want to try the stout. I’ve had Ft. George’s Vortex IPA and liked it quite a bit! But this lager is unpleasant to drink and costs too much. No glass is going to fix this problem.

The Troublesome Lager

This troublemaker started off as they all do: innocently enough.

I began with the intent to make a lager and the twist in the plan was that I was going to use the yeast that I had for last year’s dunkel. It’s been sitting in my fridge waiting for someone to use it and I just never was able to get it traded to anyone else so…why not me?

I put the yeast in some sugar solution for a day ahead of time to see if it was still good: if it seemed active, great! If not, I could still go to the store and buy a yeast, no harm no foul. 24 hours later, the yeast seemed happy and bubbling so I figured: awesomesauce!

But seven days later, there was virtually no activity on this beer. The airlock was showing little, if any activity. Sometimes it would look like there was but of a push, and shaking it to integrate oxygen seemed to help for a little bit, and sometimes it seemed as though there was negative pressure-that is, air from the outside was pushing in on the wort! That is no good.

Off to FH Steinbarts to ask what to do and after a little discussion, they recommended another yeast. They suggested that a yeast that old is just going to be tired and they reminded me that when making a lager, you generally want to add in twice the yeast as you would ordinarily. I figured this might be the case and I had nothing to lose at this point, right? If another yeast works, then I’ll take it. So I pulled an Oktoberfest Lager Blend on their recommendation, took it home and dumped it in.

The good news: the beer took off. Fermenting beer is happy beer. Or something like that.

The bad news is…I have no idea what’s going to become of any of this. I didn’t give this lager yeast time to double because I figured the sooner I got the yeast in, the better and I was hoping that, tired as my original yeast may have been, it had still done some work. A very tiny amount of work. However it’s still likely that I underpitched.

I racked this beer into secondary last weekend and it tasted a little sweeter than I would like. I know the yeast isn’t going to be very active at this point, but I’m going to shove it into the sub-basement and let it sit for a couple weeks anyway. If it can dry out even a little bit more, I think the beer will be much more drinkable. If not…well, at least it’s not the winter warmer.

Lager Experiment 2012

My previous experience with making lagers went…badly. However, a terrible experience shouldn’t stop you from trying it again, only better, right?

(This idea got me in trouble with women, back in the day. But that’s neither here nor there)

I had an opportunity to make another lager or, at least use a lager yeast for free and free is always a very good price. In an attempt to avoid the mistakes of my past, I went with a dunkel style. It fermented pretty rapidly, then mellowed out until I put it into secondary, here:

dunkel in carboy
The carboy is in my subbasement so that’s why things look a bit stark. But it was at this point when it got all activey and sulfury. Rather: there were sulfur elements in the nose when I transferred it into secondary and then the yeast became active again! Yow.

Oddly enough, what I’ve been told is that a little bit of copper can help reduce some of these elements that come off a lager. Although I may have misheard that an it might be the diacatyl that is reduced instead of sulfur but I believe the two are related, in terms of the process; these flavors come from the yeast. My point is: I boiled a penny in water for ten minutes and then dropped it into the secondary. Worst case, nothing happens. Best case, the beer doesn’t smell quite so offputting.

Still, I think I can bottle this beer soon. With a gravity reading of 1.018 (which is about what I was expecting) that yeast can’t have much more left in it. I hope.

I bought this

Ft George 1811Fort George‘s 1811 lager.

The nose has that nice lager nose; not quite skunky but the kind I associate with summer days and the mouthfeel is very nice. There more body to this beer than the average lager and I like the density that’s there. It’s also good at sweeping away salty pub food.

What’s odd: this lager seems a bit cloudy for a lager. I’m not saying it’s bad just that visually, it doesn’t have the kind of clarity I have come to expect from the style. That may be the result of a fuller bodied beer or it may be that the proteins that can cause this haze weren’t quite filtered out. Given that this is beer is made by professionals, I’m leaning towards the former.

What I don’t like: the finish doesn’t seem very clean. I’ve got a lingering bitterness that I’m just not down with here. Maybe I wouldn’t care if it was summer? Maybe it’s really meant to go with some food instead of being drank alone? I’m just not certain. Maybe Fort George should send me some for testing.

Whatever You Say #42

I have come to the Hop Haven because it’s a good waystation to my next destination. I am tired and once again do not have the strength to ask strangers questions.

Fuz is here, so we are going to split a bomber of Primo lager.

It’s a beer. It’s reasonably priced but it’s just there and I get nothing to recommend it.

This is also true of the Haven; there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s quite bland. No personality, beyond the four -4!- televisions in a joint which is barely big enough  for them. There’s a sports bar crossed with bottle shop thing happening but I’m hard pressed to be pleased about anything. The service was adequate, the selection uninteresting and I just have nothing to recommend or dislike about the place.

Sometimes it’s like that, I guess. I swear, I’m going to get enough sleep this week to last a lifetime.

Whatever You Say #39

The man on the rail of La Merede is pretty much your classic hipster. Poorly color-coordinated clothes, shorts with a longsleeve, with thick black rim glasses and a mustache that he constantly twirls both ends of, like a nervous spy.

rainier beerHe’s drinking Rainier, which somehow makes sense. Could Raindogs be taking over as the cheap shit beer of choice? Rainier has a NW connection via the name, and who can forget those classic commercials?

So the bartender gives me a bottle and says “It’s two dollars, baby.”

I have this odd moment and ask “Did you just call me baby?”

He shrugs and gives me a ‘whatevererer’ look “Two dollars, baby,” he repeats and I chuckle so he knows I’m not mocking him.

The strange thing about Rainier is that it tastes like it’s from a can, even though I’ve got a bottle. A twist-off no less and my tongue is a little startled by the strange texture of the lip of this bottle; it’s been that long since I’ve drank from such a container.

The whole bar seems like Portland in a 15×35 area. What appears to be a rotary phone is on the wall next to a touchscreen for drink orders. MD 20/20 on the wall-o-hol next to expensive tequila. (Note, I remember the MD not the tequila so I suppose that says something too.) A woman in the corner, her leftover meal wrapped in foil shaped like a tropical island, smokes from an electric cigarette–when the tip glows with an almost halogen color, I feel like I’m in the future. The isolation is there but conversation can be eavesdropped on and even eased into, if you do it right.

And if you want, there’s even better beer. But you’d better ask for it.

Whatever You Say #35

After the first honest-to-god warm weekend in Portland, I have come to the Slammer on the first honest-to-god muggy as hell day of 2011.

I ask a dude with poor-hipster glasses what he’s drinking.



“Veneer,” he says again and I am certain something is wrong here. The bartender understands and she pours one for me and the patron says “It’s one of the lighter beers.”

rainier beerThat’s when I catch the R symbol on the tap handle and realize I’m drinking a Raindog–a beer I haven’t bought in nearly twenty years but also happened to be the first beer I bought when I came back to the States after a long college trip.

The patron goes outside to smoke, driven by a need for nicotine and a desire to get away from the music being played-he grumbles friendi-ly to the bartender something about En Vogue. Another couple obscured to me by the taps saunters up to the video juke and inserts credits. The first line from the speakers “I was a highwayman,” and I recognize Willie, even though I don’t think I ever really paid attention to the Highwaymen album.

The song isn’t all that great. What can you say, really; it was the 80’s and nobody had the strength to tell four legends of country music that Johnny Cash should never sing the line,  “I was a starship captain.”

Still, the song is about endurance and for a moment, I get what is best about-and why people still listen to-country music. Beaten but never destroyed, defeated but never crushed, enduring beyond strength because that’s just what you have to do sometimes, yeah. I get that. Even when it’s not done very well, the hope that there is something noble in just continuing on is a nice thing to echo.