Tag Archives: pale

Foul Ball

Named because it almost hits, but there are a few errors here.

First, I mixed up the malt extract I meant to purchase, getting Light Malt instead of Extra Light. As a result, the beer has come out darker and a bit sweeter than I meant it to. Another reminder to pay attention to what I’m doing.

When I first opened bottles from this batch, there was a hint of citrus in the nose and the malt kept the finish from being too bitter. That was a good thing.

As time when on though, bottles have been coming up semi-infected, overly foamy and a bit sour on the end. Sometimes I got a proper ale but.. a few more misses than hits. What this experience is reminding me is that once a year, I try to just clean everything with bleach: carboys, racking canes, buckets: everything and I haven’t done that yet. It’s quite likely that some of my beers are suffering because of this.

So it’s time to run bottles through the dishwasher & bleach my carboys. Time to clean everything up so I can get better beers in the future. Maybe even take another crack at this and see what happens when I either mean to make a redder ale or get the correct malt extract.

Brew date: 7.10.16

1 lb carapils
1 lb C 30
1 lb Special roast

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

1 oz Mosaic 1 oz Galaxy @60
1 oz Mosaic 1 oz Galaxy @10

1/4 tsp Gypsum

Yeast: Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale (2nd use)

OG: 1.06

FG: 1.01

Secondary 7/29-added 1oz Galena hops

ABV: 6.8%

You Are Not Sancho

23337065874_b4b9ebb17f_zNew year? Let’s get to it.

I have started on a quest to make a pale ale. So I am purposefully going to brew them until I have made a beer that I find acceptable to my standards. Then I’ll try and repeat it. I should have a small repertoire of beers that I can make reasonably well and produce at will, I think.

This was not that beer. It looks OK: in the picture you can see there’s a pretty solid head on the beer and that’s often a good sign. However, it’s also a bit cloudy, which the picture doesn’t illustrate quite so well.

The flavor is off though and I couldn’t put my finger on exactly how, so I brought it to a group of homebrewers and the first thing they did was ask about the yeast. They said it had a phenolic quality, (which is not good for a pale) and suspected the yeast as culprit.

It was my third use of this yeast-a Windsor english ale dry yeast that I was told was old to begin with, so it’s entirely possible I just stretched this one too far. It’s also possible that in my handling of the yeast from batch to batch, it got infected or just gave up the ghost.

So it looks like it’ll be time to take another swing at this, soon.

Brew date:10-Oct

Steeping grains
7 lb Full Pint Pale
1.5 lb C40

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

1 oz Amarillo, Simcoe @ 60
.5 oz Amarillo, Simcoe@ 30
.5 oz Amarillo, Simcoe@ 5

Yeast: Windsor dry English yeast from Oct. 3rd, final use

OG: 1.075

FG: 1.01

Secondary on 10/31

ABV: 8.8%

Common Ales: Sierra Nevada Pale

Sierra Nevada’s Pale ale has long been known as being one of the more important beers in the American craft brewing revolution. So I was excited to hear that it is still their best selling beer. An opportunity to try one of the landmark beers of the craft ale movement? Hell yes!

Their pale ale has a hop nose most IPAs would be jealous of. One sip though and the malt appears right on the front door, (hop) flowers in hand saying hello. This beer gets sweeter as it finishes, more malt appearing and it almost seems odd, until a few seconds after I swallow and the bitterness closes the door on this beer.

In other words, this is a damn fine pale ale and it deserves its reputation as one of the beers to help kick off and revolutionize craft brewing.

As I finish off the last beer in my six pack, I’m reminded of the joy of just having a good beer. Nothing against the new, the innovators, the challengers. But someone had to make that standard once and now that they aren’t new, has to hold the banner of “We set the bar and we maintain it.”

That’s worth celebrating.

On The Rail: Gigantic Brewing

I arrive with a friend in tow, who has been kind enough to pick me up after I dropped my vehicle off to get repairs. Beaverton is a long, long way to drive and I’m very thankful to have people in my life who are willing to help me out. We sit and have beers, me with the Catch 23 Experimental Hop pale ale and her with the Pipewrench IPA that’s been aged in gin barrels. Both beers are deemed to be worthy. My Catch 23 is very drinkable, the hop presence mild but enough to offset the malts. It’s a pale, if by margin.

As the evening goes on and the beer warms up, though, I begin to weary of the Catch 23. If I’d gotten a 16oz ale instead of a 20oz one, I think my feelings would be much more positive. Portions matter, as strange as it seems and the Catch 23 wears out its welcome a little faster than I would’ve expected. Especially since my initial response to the beer was very, very positive. The first few sips are incredibly drinkable and got me to look forward to having the rest.

But the Catch 23 doesn’t stick the landing. Partially because it’s just a little thin; there isn’t much to taste as the beer gets finished. That’s OK, because this is an experiment and so I expect Gigantic to refine this beer and come back with something even better. I knew what I was getting into so I’m not going to complain that it’s a work in progress. On the other hand, my compatriot is enjoying the Pipewrench and it seems to be improving as she drinks it. Sometimes, it just works out like that.

The woman next to us is reading a book; I keep glancing over to try and see what it is she’s reading. I like to read and as someone who often writes in a bar, I feel an affinity for people who read in one.

Finally, I just ask and as it turns out, she hates what she’s reading. It’s not enjoyable for her at all. I tell her: “Reading shouldn’t make you suffer. If you hate it, quit. I’ve tried to ready Ulysses twice and both times I hated myself. Fuck that. I acknowledge that Joyce is an important author but I don’t have to read that bullshit. I can be happy instead and read something else.”

She says, “Great. Do you want my book?”

Which is how I ended up with this:

Where I Want To Go: Academy Theater

The theater pubs are unsung heroes of Portland, I think.

When I first moved to Portland, nearly 20 years ago, the fact that there were theaters that served beer was the first sign that I was in a new an exciting place. A place where interesting ideas could take shape and find a home. Sure, eventually I discovered that there were other cities that had such locations but it seemed as though took a few years for the idea to catch on.

We don’t talk much about the theater pubs but I believe they are huge in getting a craft beer into the hands of someone who might not try one. Not everyone will go into a new and interesting bar. Almost everybody goes to the movies at some point. Why wouldn’t you get a beer while you’re at it?

There’s probably something to be said about the strip clubs of Portland and their contribution to getting craft beer in the hands of people too but that’s a very, very different Monday post.

I’ve snagged a Barley Brown‘s Tumble Off pale while I wait for a friend to meet me to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  It has a sweetness on the nose, like freshly opened hops.  Finish has bite: effervescent and hop oriented. It’s bright for a pale and light: this is a beer for a warm day. The bitterness lingers but I didn’t pick up on it intensifying until I got well into the beer, which for me puts that bitterness at about right.

The Winter Soldier was awesome, so I may have to come back to see it again. And get another Tumble Off.

Where I Want To Go: Undisclosed

It’s late and I’m hiding out; out of state, out of mind. The slings and arrows of the world are elsewhere. Sometimes, when you need to hide out, even a dive bar isn’t shadowy enough. You have to go further.

Upon reflection, I’ve been seeking shelter for the past few weeks. Looking back on what I’ve written it seems rather clear; I am trying to wrap myself in safe spaces where I can just be. Places where I am not known seem better for this purpose, at least when I need to seethe but at this point I feel like I’ve gone as far as I can go; somewhere where nobody can find me at all.

It’s quiet and secluded from the populace of a bar. I don’t have to be social, I don’t have to even make nice with a bartender, since I bought the beer myself. Plus, there are cookies. Even when things are bad, you can have a cookie and feel better.

This 425 pale ale from Bellevue isn’t well balanced. I get the taste of soap in my mouth and the finish is slick, overstaying its welcome, not really allowing for much else in the way of flavor. Unfortunate because I like the packaging; it’s distinctive, witty, has suggested pairings with food, avoiding a great many mistakes that lots of breweries make with bland packages.

The beer just isn’t holding up. Maybe something else would help? It’s only 4.8%, so perhaps a stronger malt presence-even boosting this to 5.5 or 5.2% ABV-might help nudge this beer into something more quaffable.

But it’s OK. There are occasions where the beer is less relevant than the place and tonight is one of them. And now that I’ve gone as far as I can go, it’s probably time to start getting out in the world again. Seems like a good idea, anyway.

Where I Want To Go: Lucky Lab (SE)

I am enjoying the Solar Flare pale ale. It’s got a soft maltiness but it’s just enough to keep the beer in line. I’m having trouble getting a nose off this beer-maybe because I’m outside? I sense a whiff of grassiness, which I like, but it’s faint and I can feel my face warp grumpily for a moment because I can’t get anything else.

I hate being outside. I really don’t understand why people want to be outside during times of year that aren’t July-Aug. And I don’t really understand being outside when it’s so damn hot out. Mostly because I want to relax and outside is just not a relaxing place. Too cold, too windy, too hot; being outside is like a conspiracy of things that exist to make me uncomfortable. So I just don’t understand being outside in general, I suppose.

But, there is beer. That makes things a lot more bearable. Most things are more bearable with beer, now that I think about it. It doesn’t hurt that I’m here to play cards as well; and more things are bearable with people, too.

I’m losing my game though. So maybe it’s just the beer that makes this better.

Eyebrow Raiser

This isn’t bad at all.

But it also isn’t brilliant. It’s one of those beers that I think is quietly drinkable, even repeatably so (that is, multiple pints without feeling knackered) and will work quietly in the background, unnoticed.

If I pull too much on the nose, there’s a slightly vegetal quality to it: a consequence of letting those used hops sit a little too long.

Good looking beer, though, ennit?

Brew Date: 2.17.14

3 lb 2 row
2 lb C80
1 lb Vienna
1 lb Gambrinus pale

Fermentables: 3 lb LME

.5 oz Cascade
.5 oz Willamette @ 60 (both previously used as dry hop)
1 oz Brewer’s Gold @ 15

3rd use Wyeast 1272-final

OG: 1.064

FG: 1.012

Put into secondary 3.6, which seems like a long time but it went as long as it did.

ABV: 7.04%

Where I Want To Go: Gigantic

Note to self: don’t get a beer right after a haircut. It’s a nice, smooth pale, not too bitter on the finish but I’m overwhelmed by barbershop ointments and I can barely smell a thing.

It’s actually been a pretty busy day with exposure to quite a few different slices of humanity. I hit the DMV to get my license renewed (and it wasn’t that bad at all) and woah, do you see all kinds there. This is for the best: Portland is miiiighy white and getting exposed to the fact that the country isn’t, is a positive.

Then it was off to the barber shop and…I have to admit a certain level of discomfort there. Those places are masculine in ways I don’t always grok and conversation between strangers is encouraged and expected but there isn’t any beer. So what do you talk about? (Football, in this case, which makes me glad I know a thing or two about that).

Then it’s off to the final destination of places humans meet, and that’s Gigantic Brewing. The space for patrons at Gigantic is small so I want to get in before it gets too crowded. I get the Bang On! British pale and find a seat uncomfortably close to the wall.

Lots of local printer and hand written signs here: the sign selling nuts; growler prices, and it gives the impression that they’re a bit too busy concentrating on making great beer to put effort towards purdy signage. I can respect that.

I like it unpopulated, with only the die hard Portland types going outside for the winter-to-spring sunlight available. But the outdoors wants to intrude here: outdoor tables more than double the capacity, there’s a huge sliding door to open when it gets warmer, heck, even the space between tables and the seating inside encourages moving outwards.

It’s a Portland place, though: an axe on the wall, TV with “THIS MACHINE SHOWS TIMBERS MATCHES” pasted on the frame, local art on the walls for sale, but this is also a workspace that we are invading into. It isn’t here to make me comfy, it’s here to give me tasty liquids.

And I have to commend Gigantic on that: this pale is good all the way down, bitterness sloooowly creeping in as I drink more, the scent of hops still negated by barbershop unfortunately but…the Bang On! tastes damn good and that’s where the rubber meets the road.

BC Pale

I named this the BC Pale because it used hops that start with B and C.


You know, I think I’m going to start naming my beers in the style of Iain M Banks’s Culture novels. Why call this the BC Pale when I could call it Weight Of The World Crushes Atlas or Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home? Isn’t that more fun?

Plus, it means I don’t have to think up something ‘appropriate’, which is always a drag.

The beer? The beer is a pretty solid pale. I’ve nearly drank it all, so I think this will be one to come back to, perhaps as a partial-grain batch.

Brew date: 12.24.13

Steeping Grains:
1 lb C 120
1 lb Victory

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

.5 oz Chinook @preboil
1 oz Comet @ 60
.5 oz Bravo @ 60
.25oz Bravo @30
.5 oz Comet @ 30

Yeast Reused Hopworks Ale yeast-2nd

OG: 1.068

FG: 1.014

Note: Added 1/8th tsp Calcium Carbonate to water to boil to give water a more ‘traditional’ chemical balance.

Secondary 1.8.14
Bottled 1.11.14

ABV: 7.31%