Tag Archives: porter

PAX day 2 (guest blogger)

9lb porter. Check it out it went well with blu cheese burger. Not too heavy but smooth and delish.
Smith tower pic.
Rock bottom belgian wit. Big nose of grains of paradise? And corriander. There is a start of dryness the finish but it doesn’t follow througH
Conversely the ipa is saved by a sudden strong malt presence. Strong nose but it’s more a pale.
It’s too bad nerds don’t dance because this is perfect club music.
Even the geeks want to propose big.

On Saturday, the owner and I went to the Cyclops cafe for some lunch. We had the 9lb porter from Georgetown brewing. This was a fantastic porter. Not too heavy but smooth and delish. Strong enough to hold up its own but light enough to go with food. It matched up against the blu cheese burger quite well.

Then came a very long day at PAX. I had to avoid the swine flu! I tell you, it’s long hard work avoiding viruses and having to endure a seemingly unending string of people play ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ on Rock Band. I’m sorry, but if that Bon isn’t followed by Scott, you just know it’s gonna suck.

Next came a brief off-site event, put on by the makers of Magic the Gathering. I was surrounded by geeks! Geeks who had to force their way through an impossibly crowded club in order to play some silly game. Dear makers of Magic; they had to play a game to get in and they’re there because they love your game, how about letting them relax and have a drink instead of making them push and shove through another game in order to get something cool? They’re all going to salivate over the new cards; let them! I was smooshed everywhere I went! Fortunately the owner needed dinner, so it was time to go.

As we walked back towards the convention, we came cross a Rock Bottom. Huzza, food and drink! Their opening salvo was a belgian wit. Big nose of grains of paradise and corriander in this one. The finish starts off dry but it doesn’t follow through, and soon there’s nothing left. Overall, I felt this beer was just a little thin in the body to really hold up well.

Conversely the ipa is saved by a sudden strong malt presence. Strong nose but it’s more a pale, with very little bitterness at the end. The malt sweetness set the hoppy nose off well though, and made for a very drinkable brew.

2002 vs 2008

At the Harborside they had Full Sail’s Top Sail bourbon porter on tap from 2002 and 2008. How could I resist?

For those of you who have never been to the Harborside, I recommend hitting it during happy hour, which I believe is from 4-6pm. The beer costs the same, but there is a fantastic selection of food for two bucks; hummus plates, french fries, burgers, all your basic Portland pub grub, and it’s very good. You want to arrive by 5 though, because it gets crowded very quickly. It’s loud but congeneal, mostly populated by folks just getting off work and wanting to relax for a moment before heading home. 

2002 Top Sail
2002 Top Sail

I started with the older beer and was handsomely rewarded. The head was the color of chocolate milk and the nose was all bourbon. The finish however, had a maple flavor to it that was more woodsy than sweet.  In between that it was all smooth porter; nothing too sharp, nothing hiding away, just a good beer.

The 2008 was a related cousin. The nose only hinted of bourbon, and the finish was the standard mellow coffee flavor I’d expect. The middle was a work in progress though. There was a roughness to the flavors of the beer that stood out. I described it as ‘white noise on my tongue’ to the other people at the table. 

The ’08 wasn’t a bad beer by any reasonable standard. I’d just had an uncommonly good beer before it and so in comparison it suffered. I would happily drink more 2008 Top Sail by itself, but comparing it to the 2002 almost seems unfair.

52 Weeks 7: HUB Coffee Porter

The vote was 2:1 to go elsewhere, vs. suspending the project. However last week the votes didn’t matter because I was snowed in and nobody was going anywhere, much less out to get a beer.  This week though, I can act upon what the people have spoken for, and I am out at a different bar, namely the Crow Bar. Smoke from some of the patrons drifts in front of my screen, and as you can see it’s quite dark here.

I like it.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em is the mantra right now. In two days  the ban goes into effect, so I deliberately chose a smoking bar–a soon to be extinct species in the city. When confronted with the request that I go to a different place, the Crow Bar wriggled its way from my subconscious to the forefront. Oh yes, I thought, I always wanted to go back there. 

‘I always wanted to go back there’ seems to be a common theme for me in Portland. The city is blessed with a wealth of good places to imbibe, and getting to them all takes more dedication and money than I have. Hell, just being able to go back to a place I once liked is hard enough. Worse, I am a bit of a wayward soul. I might have one place where they know me, but I prefer it when I have many places and almost no one does. Do I go to the bars to be alone, or do I try to isolate myself by going to a bar?

As the smoke works its way though my clothes and clots my ability to smell my porter, I take a look around. The Crow is just a nudge to the right of a dive, but refuses to wade into hipster-dom too. A sticker that says ‘Impeach Bush, Torture Cheney‘ is posted on a towel dispenser behind the bar, right next to the liquor license. 

The porter is too thin to be enjoyed amongst the cigarettes. It’s OK, but I can’t get anything else out of it in this environment. The lighting, however, is perfect for the thin smoke that drifts from the cylinders, giving my drink-and my computer-a Blade Runner kind of feel. 

Next to me, a woman in a french beret chats up a man in a pedantic blue sweater; they talk about getting older, and why their paths haven’t crossed more…friends who meet in the random convergence of beer and smokes. There’s a little pop-psyche bullshit going on, but it’s none of my business. I tune them out.

MC5 starts to rail through the speakers, so I tip my hat low and drain my porter. I don’t feel like writing any more, I feel like brooding, so I think it’s time to go. Going, though, means I get to come back, and I am looking forward to my next visit here already.

One clear winner

The beers I tried from Phillips Brewing were steadily awesome. While I was not fond of the dark IPA, Black Toque, I am not fond of that style. Bitter malts, coupled with bitter hops means there is a strong desire to not drink that beer on my part.

But (and what would this post be without one?) the Longboat Double Chocolate Porter tasted lovely, like milk chocolate only in beer form. It was velvety without being heavy, and a great beer. The Amnesiac IPA was one of the better balanced double IPAs I’ve had, and the Blue Buck sustained me in bars where my other options were Molsons or nothing.

I haven’t seen Phillips’ beers down in Portland, and I hope that changes soon.

A brief aside: I don’t see many beers from Canada in my section of the US. Why is that? I can find beers from German, Belgium, England, even Italy and Japan! Canada is right there! Seems like those microbreweries would send things our way. I can only assume that for some strange reason the laws for transporting alcohol between Canada and the US are stricter than the ones between the US and other countries.

Finally, one place I was told to check out but found very disappointing was Spinnakers. We got a sample of all their beers, and they seemed timid. It’s weird to describe a beverage that way, but it felt right; the beers all erred on the side of safety. The double IPA was balanced, but are double IPAs supposed to be? There was a scotch ale that was decent, but because it was cask conditioned, the carbonation element was missing, and I felt that I would’ve been better if the carbonation had been present. The last phrase in my notes is: the dunkel is good, but not pint worthy.

That’s not a good sign for a beer, nor a brewery.

But I don’t want to end this post on a sour note! I had a nice time in Canada, and drank at some excellent bars, getting to try some fantastic beers. Sure, it took me a little while to find my way, but the barkeeps and waitstaff were really helpful.

Big Bad John’s was one of those crazy places where they only play country music that’s at least 20 years old and everyone tries to leave a piece of their history there–business cards, pictures, bras.

The Sauce listed Heroic Drinkers on their wall; Belushi, Yeltsin, and a memorable quote from Tallulah Bankhead, “My father warned me about men and booze… but he never said anything about women and cocaine.” I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be warned or inspired.

Smith’s pub not only had a great selection of beers (most of which were potent enough that I forgot to write about them, but I do remember some were belgain inspired concoctions from Qubec) it had some kick ass chicken strips. Mmm…chicken strips.

There was also a kick ass place on Simcoe street called the Bent Mast which is rumored to be haunted in a friendly way. The food was tasty and the service was great, and though I didn’t see any ghosts, it had the vibe of a good place that meant to stay that way.

The boys got that look

Off to the Concordia Alehouse with Fuz and baeza to play Magic and drink pints. It’s a guy’s night out, without all the stereotypical bullshit; we hang out and talk geekery and beer. It’s about as macho as your average floral convention.

There was, sadly, a pedantic draft selection so I suggested checking out the bottles, and lo and behold at number 16 is Meantime. Oh, it’s a porter, but who cares? Here’s a chance to have some British beer that I rarely have access to!

So Fuz and I split a large bottle and I pour it out for us:
It didn’t quite work out the way I’d hoped.

Still; the porter had applesauce notes that ran from the head (which we chewed on) to the actual drink itself. It was frothy and had the lightness of granny smith applesauce, and by god I’d totally order it again. Hopefully, I’ll pour it better next time.

As I continued to lose our Magic matchups, baeza found a beer that caught his attention; Alesmith‘s Decadence. An imperial stout, I was heartened to realize that it tasted like the stout I’d recently made. A touch of molasses and a definite alcohol warmth, but the parallels were surprising to me. Maybe I’m getting better at that whole making beer thing than I thought.

It was about this time that a woman with long, curly salt and pepper hair and an intelligent set of glasses came up to ask us what we were drinking. A fan of maltier beers, she was curious if the Decadence was good.  I handed over my glass; “Here you go,” I said cheerfully. (She also bashfully admitted that she played Magic with her friends at home.)

She smiled and we talked for a little bit, her asking us about the Meantime, and then thanking us and heading back to her table. A few minutes later, I saw the magnium of Decadence being opened at her table. Her companion looked over at me an laughed; “Had to get one so she’d quit taking yours.”

Dos and Don’ts

Invited to lunch with thedr9wningman, we quickly settle on the Deschutes brewpub for food. I order a small pizza, which is definitely taking up too much space in my body at this time, and he has a mushroom sandwich. Politics and beer and general happenings are discussed, and all is good. Except for one thing.

Deschutes has a long track record for making good beers. However, I’ve been running across this ‘style’ for awhile, and I suppose it’s time for me to speak out on it. Enticed years ago by a lovely maple vanilla stout, I tried the Kilgorian Baltic Vanilla Porter. This is not the first vanilla porter I’ve had, and I’ve come to one conclusion.

Vanilla porter is not a good thing. Vanilla is too strong a flavor to be blended with a porter. Porters are lighter, the mouthfeel thinner, and basically don’t have the backbone to stand up to a flavor like vanilla, where stouts do. The beer ends up tasting like a weird soda pop. 

I’m not sure what the do is here. Maybe; Make a vanilla stout? 


There are times when it’s easy to select a beer even when the list is very, very long, as it often is at the Horse Brass. The Horse Brass is the kind of dive that should exist everywhere; no TVs, lots of dartboards, a huge selection of beers, solid if slightly greasy food, and a revolving cast of laughing patrons, about half of them smoking. I don’t even know if it can be called a dive, since everything costs what it’s worth but the lighting is shit, the walls hang posters that haven’t been changed since 1981and are tainted yellow from smoke, and the customer service can be spotty sometimes, and if that isn’t a dive bar sign, I’m not sure what could be.

But when Fuz and I walked in and saw written on their blackboard in luminiscent blue: St Bridget’s Porter-Great Divide Brewery, I knew I had to get it, just to tell someone what it was like. Fuz, being a lover of maltier, darker beers, quickly agreed with my selection and we sat down to order.

The St Bridget’s arrives, and it’s strangely thin. I get that porters aren’t supposed to be stouts and I was certainly expecting more, since Great Divide has as reputation for strong beers. Their Imperial Yeti stout and Hercules double IPA are some of the boldest and tastiest beers I’ve had. Fuz agrees with me; it seems like there ought to be more there, but we’re not sure what.

Maybe I need to go back and try it without expectations.

Austin via alliteration

I started off my trip to Austin in the Portland airport, recommending Rogue’s Shakespeare Stout to a man on his way back to Hawaii. He was asking the waitress about a dark beer and while she went to get samples, I told him about their porter and specifically recommended their stout.

Austin, amongst its other charms has some really good beer, too. This is a huge plus for a city that never dipped below 80 while I was there. Even at night, as far as I could tell. While IPA’s tend to be favored in hot weather, I found myself drawn to Real Ale Brewing‘s Brewhouse Brown (from Blanco, even). Brown ales especially tend toward naming alliteration, sadly. It’s as though people feel the need to ‘spice up’ what is meant to be a very drinkable {sometimes read as: bland} ale with a clever name. Or, maybe it’s because it’s easy to alliterate a ‘b’ word. Either way it seems lazy, but then again, nobody’s asking me to name their beer…

I had a layover on Salt Lake City on the way home and hurriedly rushing to the plane I pass by an airport brewpub posting its beers on the side, Polygamy Porter being the one that winks out of course. But alas, I could not stop to try it; boarding was being called.

texas brewI also had a Lone Star, because When in Rome, right? The nose on this beer was fetid, like bad dog breath. But it was pretty damn drinkable until it warmed up; clean, light, and very bland. Which on a 96 degree day, can be pretty nice. Just don’t drink more than half a can, and you’re set.

I could use a win

I poured out 5 gallons of the wit beer, because it tasted like death. To be accurate, it tasted like rotten creamed corn, and smelled like swamp water. Pouring bottles of beer down the sink is rarely a good feeling, but when it comes after failing a recipe and not being sure why, well that’s just sucks. Going upstairs to have a beer afterward, I have New Belgian’s Mothership Wit in my fridge.  I can’t help but wonder; Why the fuck doesn’t my beer taste like this? as I drink.

However, I want to move forward so I bottle the mild I’ve got in the newly empty bottles. It has a nose like honeysuckle, coming from the Kent Golding hops, and that gives me great hope for this batch of beer. I’m going to try and give this two weeks in the bottle before I crack one open-but most likely I’ll try it on Sunday, everhopeful. While cleaning my equipment I spied the porter I’d set aside a month ago.

Originally modeled after a recipe I found called ‘Black Widow Porter’, I found that the initial tastes of my beer were…uninspiring. This happens, but it’s still a bit of a downer when I spend a month working on a beer, only to have it come out flat. (ha-ha)

I\'m pleasedAs you can see, things have changed and much for the better. There’s a chocolate malt head on this beer and it tastes damn fine. The molasses component has receded giving way to a mocha element. It’s somewhere in between chocolate and coffee, with a touch of nuttiness in there.

I could probably leave it for a bit longer, too; there were tiny little gobbules of yeast dropping out of the beer, even as I poured it into the glass–I could see the CO2 generating from them as they stuck to the side. I just might do that.

I will be setting a few aside long-term; my Dad has mentioned on a couple of occasions that he wishes he could have some of my beer, and certainly Mrs. Malting will love this beer. It’s excellent, and right up her alley as taste goes.

It’s good to get a win sometimes. (And yes, I know I look rather goofy in this photo)

I’ve also started the next beer; a light-hybid thing with a NW Ale yeast from Wyeast that smelled like grape juice when I poured it in. I have no idea what’s coming from that.