Tag Archives: old ale

It’s Better To Look Good

At least this beer looks right and pours better than the last one, eh?

This is another attempt at an old ale, with ingredients donated to me by someone who wasn’t going to use them. The previous attempt at this beer lead me to throw it out so if I’ve produced a drinkable ale, I’m already ahead of the game.

The nose is sweet and the head is thick on this beer. Dense, like I could shave with it. The beer itself is more malt forward, no question but there a bitterness on the end that I like. A flag of citrus in the bitterness lets me know that it’s from the hops instead of some kind of brewer error and that’s always satisfying.

So it all worked out!

Brew Date 3.21.15

Steeping Malt:
3 lb Maris Otter
1.5 lb corn
1.25 lb Munich (dark)
.75 Biscuit
.75 Special Roast
4 oz Rice hulls

Fermentables
7 lb LME

Hops
2 oz Chinook @ 60
.5 oz Chinook @ 25
.5 oz @ 5

Yeast from Hopworks (ale)

OG: 1.081

FG: 1.02

Secondary on 4.8

ABV: 8.3%

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52 Weeks 52: Terminal Gravity Foursome

Now that I’ve sold out to get the kinky sex crowd, (’cause you just know that a whole new group of people will stumble on this blog because of the word ‘foursome’ and I can’t turn down readers) let’s get this party going.

“First of all I’d like to thank my connect,”-Jay-Z.

A heartfelt thank you to Geoff and the other staff at Bailey’s who’ve served me drinks. I’d mention them by name but I don’t wish to presume a familiarity upon them and I certainly don’t want to forget someone, which is always a danger at times like this. I took their time and certainly my share of space but they were all unfailingly helpful and pleasant. 

I’m drinking a flight of Terminal Gravity beers; two old ales, Festivals from 2008 and 2009, then two barleywines, Bucolic Plague from ’02 and ’06. As one might expect, the ’09 old ale is smoother and fuller, more roasted and mature in flavor. I haven’t gotten to the barleywines yet. 

I’m in the back chamber again-it’s been redesigned since I sat here last. The table is this big chunk of wood-maybe even a former railroad tie- that’s been cleaned up and smoothed out. It’s shiny and dense and it feels like the kind of thing to put your beer on. It’s almost a place to stand at. You can lean on the wood, rest your drink in front, and enjoy…if you’re about six inches shorter than I am. Maybe four.

This area isn’t quite done yet, I’m told, but it’s going to be a hell of a space when it’s done I promise you that. The space is just wide enough for beers, so it encourages your hands being free; a bonus for someone like me who tends to gesticulate when he speaks. 

Sparky; this moment is for you. 

And now it’s done. (Sparky  had asked, months ago, to be mentioned in the final post and I said I would oblige him.)

Oh man. That 2002 Bucolic Plague is so good. Like alcoholic caramel, warm from a street vendor, with a buttery nose and a fierce heat to it, fighting the winter off with a battleaxe. I think this beer may be solely responsible for the unseasonable warmth of today. 

I have to confess, I’m looking forward to becoming a customer again. A regular customer, that is; someone who can sit at the bar and visit or just people watch without having to both internalize the situation and externalize it for readers. Don’t get me wrong; next week there will be another post, a new (if similar) theme and I look forward to doing that but our favorite spots are favored for a reason; they are shelters where we don’t have to present our external selves all the time. We can smile in crooked ways and people understand that our laughter is still straight. 

That isn’t to say I won’t ever blog from or about Bailey’s again; I undoubtedly will. But I’m part of the scenery here now and that changes things. I’m going to take some time to figure out what that means. I’m going to take some time to just enjoy the space I’m in.

I suppose if I’ve had a theme this year, time has been a key part of it. Or at least the idea that I ought to inhabit the space I’m in as much as I can, enjoy it, or at least be in the now, this has been a recurring idea. 

There’s been a shift change; I can tell because in the middle of Duran Duran’s Rio (which I like quite a bit) the music has cut out and shifted to a song I don’t immediately recognize. I almost think I should’ve asked if I could play my iPod tonight. It would be all Pelican, all the time. If my choices are Duran Duran, some kind of hip-hop and heavy fucking metal, then…
/short laughter

The 2006 Bucolic Plague is a bit different, a touch more sour than it’s older sister. Not quite as much body; an interesting brew but I think I would’ve preferred to finish with the ’02. Ah well; that’s life.

I’ll see everyone next week, bad photos and all.

52 Weeks 17: Oakshire Imperial Sasquatch

Well I did it; four weeks with beer named after a mythological animal. Sparky, a bar regular, tells me that Sasquatch is not a myth but I think he is saying that just because of a kinship he would claim with them. The man has a beard to rival any member of ZZ Top and sunglasses to match. 

This beer is an old ale, and it’s quite rich. There’s a whiskey barrel note in the nose- a touch sour, a little woody or oaky, I think. The beer is full of roasted malt flavors with a touch of cocoa powder bitterness, coupled with an alcohol warmth that is putting a kindle in my belly; a useful trait for my walk home. 

I’m a bit tired tonight-more than usual, I must admit. Perhaps daylight savings time is sneaking up on me, but doesn’t that mean I should feel like it’s nine at night, not ten? Nevermind. I don’t like to complain about these things. The timeshift has been happening for longer than I’ve been alive; adapt or else. Maybe it’s just more that daylight savings time gives us something to talk abut, a common human experience to converge on. We gave permission to be tired, to reset ourselves and grok the stranger on the bus who’s nodding off into their thermos of coffee. 

I must confess, I’m glad to be released from my task of drinking mythological beers. My selections were extremely limited due to this restriction, and what I wanted didn’t matter so much as what I ought to have. Seems almost counterproductive, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just a taste of what beer drinkers had to deal with thirty years ago; you get what you get and if you want something else, tough.

That said, I often have been having an extra beer after the post is written. There are just too many beers to try to keep with the same one over and over again. One thing I can tell you; avoid Rogue’s Sesquicentennial. It’s an IPA disguised as a pale ale, but both styles are obscured by the flavor of bubble gum. Not the good kind of bubble gum; the .05 kind that you’d get out of the machine when you were eight, hoping for  the big round green piece, getting the red one instead. It’s rare that I don’t enjoy a Rogue, but I tried it twice (once in the bottle and once on tap) and still couldn’t enjoy it. 

A final note to my readers; I’m off to Spokane on Wednesday to visit friends, family and tiny people, so updates will be sporadic if at all, until the next 52 Weeks post.

52 Weeks 15: Ninkasi Imperial Sasquatch

I wonder if I can have a month of beers that are named after mythological figures? That would be pretty sweet, wouldn’t it? If I’m lucky and the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot holds out I’ll have a glass of that next week, and round it all off with the Elysian’s the Immortal IPA. That might be stretching the theme a bit, but what the heck?

Maybe a month of primitive man beers? There’s the Yeti Imperial stout, and practically anything by Walking Man…

Oh man. I can see some friends of mine having a ball with this idea. I’m here for the beer, but if I could work a theme like that in, that would treat me. Personally, I’d like a month of beers named after dinosaurs. Can someone get on that please? 

Maybe I’ll just have to do it myself. Ninkasi will help with their Tricerahops, but that’s the only one I can think of offhand. 

The Sasquatch is an old ale but it’s very hoppy given the style. On the flipside, the beer is a really big one; malty and rich so the hops actually feel balanced, and the bitterness of this beer is present, but never overwhelming. The alcohol warmth is faint but present, more in the belly than in the mouth. 

I find myself in a conversation with another homebrewer, and distracted from my task. Hard to complain; beer is an easy conversation piece around here.

52 Weeks 8: Southern Oregon Old Humbug II

I sit down at Bailey’s for the first time in three weeks and order an old ale, chatting briefly with the owner who has to bow out to serve a rush of customers; girls and guys who ask about styles, kinds of beer available, where they should go next, can they try this or that or the other? Another person asks if they ever considered selling coffee here, and the owner replies yes, but someone else would have to do it as he doesn’t consider himself to be a barista. I cringe internally at the thought and focus on my drink.

Old Humbug II has a slightly sour nose, which resurrects itself about midway through the drink. Surrounded by the sour are roasted flavors of sugar; caramel and chocolate, but less sweet and more burnt. 

It’s nice to be back where I started. I’m sitting at the bar, which I don’t get to do too often. I like sitting at the bar, though because I get to see the place in action, both patrons and bartender in their social dance. I miss sitting at the bar, having developed a taste for it at Europa in Spokane. When I was a young drinker my friend A.Ho and I became regulars there, frequent visitors who knew all the bartenders by name (there were only two) and fueling ourselves on cheap beer and cheesesticks during happy hour. Cheesesticks weren’t the typical kind; they were more like mini-pizzas without tomato sauce. We’d get red sauce and ranch dressing to dip them in, and drink Alaskan amber ales and tequila (for him) and Jager (for me) and do the guy talk thing. Europa was damn near perfect for this; no televisions to distract you, the music at a level low enough to allow conversation, loud enough to obscure the nearby tables. It was a place where I could be found, and bring friends to for a good time, but not quite popular enough to destroy your sense of quiet privacy. 

When I moved to Portland, I tried to find a bar like that here but in vain. Some places just cannot be replicated. They exist in a certain space and time, and then some kind of glacial change comes along. I try to go back to Europa when I visit Spokane but it’s not quite the same for me now; most likely the glacial change has occurred within me, but it also feels different in a way I cannot quite pin down. 

And Portland for all its charms and fantastic places, does not have that build in friendly group of people for me. I have friends now, but our interests spread out; going to a bar, sitting down, and spending a few hours doing nothing but chilling out and eating bread and cheese does not appeal to people the same way it once did. 

Or so I think. 

As I begin to wrap things up, the owner of Bailey’s comes back to our conversation. Eventually the subject turns to the Transformers movie, and he lets me rant about that a little bit. He tells me that because he went into the movie expecting it to suck, when it didn’t totally suck, he was at least happy about that.

OK, so there aren’t cheesesticks here. I’ll live.

All at once

Most of the time, I don’t get to try a lot of different beers at once. This is partly so I don’t get ill; mixing beer styles can be as unpleasant mixing other kinds of alcohol, but it also is economics. Who can afford to spend all that cash?

However, when going to the coast on a family vacation, we have an exception to the rule. I was to be surrounded by people who oppressively cared about me! Call it an excuse if you wish, but what the hell; I got a few different beers to try, took notes and photos, and here we go!

I kicked Friday off with some Green Flash Imperial IPA. The label says it has Summit and Nugget hops, and they give the beer a heavy grapefruit nose and some bite on the back that really stuck with me. Happily munching on my Mom’s monster cookies, I noticed that this beer got more piney as it warmed up. The flavor got so strong, I thought I was drinking evergreen tea. Pine does not go as well with oatmeal-raisin-chocolate cookie items, so I finished this beer rather quickly. Perhaps some beers should be served in certian portions. If this beer turns into a tree that fast, maybe it would be better served in twelve ounce bottles.

The second beer comes to Portland by way of Japan from a Portland expat, or so the fine people at the Belmont Station tell me. This beer, Baird’s The Carpenter’s Mikan Ale, had an odd fruit fermentation aspect; the bottle tells me there are citrus flavors, but I don’t believe that. More like something between a banana and a tangerine. It stopped short of cloying by introducing a dryness at the very end, I presume from the fruit but I’m not sure. This is the trouble with tasting a flavor I’ve never had like mikan fruit; I have no idea where it’s subtle contributions to the beer kick in, and where the yeast or malts would take over.

As the evening is wearing down and everyone else is talking about coffee, a drink I have no experience with and no real drive to drink, I finish with the Eel River Triple Exultation. I was looking forward to this beer, because it was from one of the few breweries I liked at the Organic festival. The Triple Exultation is an old ale, but it was a hell of a lot sweeter than I thought it would be. Usually, old ales have some alcohol warmth to balance out their sweetness, but this beer not so. It’s all malts, and that puts the beer off balance.

Still, it was a good way to start off the weekend. More tomorrow!