Tag Archives: red ale

On The Rail: Cbar & Ship Ahoy


I’ve come in to the Cbar from under a mottled sky, the day’s chores complete and while this beer isn’t satisfactory, I can at least dig the atmosphere. A sign for a women’s pinball league nearby, big windows to my back letting the sun in, music running an undercurrent but easy to speak over…and the scents from the kitchen are quite tempting.

I get a Riveter Red from Hard Knocks; it’s described as an imperial red ale. I’m having trouble evaluating it; the nose is barely fruity, the midrange thin and the finish surprisingly bitter.  The notation says it’s got 82 IBUs; in comparison the IPA next to it has 80. All of which has me fairly certain this beer isn’t what it’s supposed to be. Imperial means more of everything, not just more hops.

There’s a crew of men nearby enjoying brunch, laughing away.  Their dress and belt attachments suggest they are builders of some kind and they peaceably eat near hangover recovery tables, old queer ladies, and the other smattering of Portland weirdos.  I love environments like this: everybody is welcome, everyone is nice.  How else are we going to move forward if we don’t rub shoulders now and then?

My beer is weaksauce though so I go across the street to the Ship Ahoy and get a Good Life Redside. It…is awful.  It tastes medicinal on the finish and I can barely recognize the more toasted notes or maple flavor through that.

My beer appears cloudy and I can’t say for certain but I don’t believe red ales should look like that. Given that decor and style, I’m inclined to blame the bar for having infected lines but that could be unfair. I saw a pils poured a few minutes later and it looked clear.

But where the Cbar is where people rubbed shoulders, this is a bar where people know each other.  A woman next to me compliments another’s outfit by name, the reply is that she’s going to a funeral today.  Couple of old school blue collar looking fellas, trucker caps and overalls, exchange a hug a few feet further down, the TVs show college basketball on one screen, Star Trek Next Gen on the other. Conversations happen across the bar and I almost feel bad for not wanting my beer, as though I’m refusing food my grandma made. Visually, the clientille looks more homogeneous but there is an involvement at Ship Ahoy that doesn’t replicate easy.

Someday, the Ship Ahoy is going to change.  But for now, the neighborhood is clearly keeping the heart of it alive.

On the Rail: Old Gilbert Road Tavern (Buoy edition)

I’m  hunkering down at the Old Gilbert Road Tavern. I’d like to try a new place, get out of the house but something has gone wrong with my neck and it hurts a whole lot, so instead of adventure I am veering for the familiar and easy. Like an injured beast, sometimes staying close to home is wise.

Since the last time I was here, more Bernie Sanders posters have gone up, and there’s a photo diptych of the Mount St Helens explosion, along with Timbers scarves pinned on the walls like boy band posters in a teenager’s bedroom. There’s a host of black velvet paintings and unless I miss my guess the stage is set up for music again, which I think is a Good Thing.

It’s also brighter here, while keeping the soft lighting of a dream sequence.

I have to say, it’s coming along nicely.

As is this beer, a red ale from Buoy. Something vaguely floral in the nose, the mouthfeel is pleasantly thick and and the finish all toasty and which is nice. It’s a really solid beer and it may be the first one from Buoy that I’ve had that I’ve been pleased with. I’m almost considering having another, I like it that much. If I didn’t have so much to do this weekend, I’d most certainly have it.

Someone behind me has gotten french fries. I’ve been a little wary of getting food here; I’ve never been able to smell the food coming from the kitchen and this IS a new-dive place. Food is secondary. But these fries smell good. They may be stepping up their game or I’m hungry and want some fries. No way to solve that riddle without ordering french fries but maybe I’ll save that for another time.

The beer is damn tasty though. Another won’t kill me…

On The Rail: Triple Nickel

Fuck, I don’t know what I’m writing or doing here. I had to walk to get to the bus because my car is in the shop and I was looking for a drink on my way home. I’ve gotten one but it’s not the drink I’m expecting. It’s not bad. But it’s something I have to finish so I can get outta here and get food. Also finding a bus home. GAH. Which isn’t so bad but this all just feels incredibly silly.

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been to the Triple Nickel and the once divey, green tinted space has been vastly overhauled for the better. The rail has opened up and the bar area is a lot easier to see into now. Dingy carpet is gone and wood is in its place. Looks like they’ve replaced the pool tables, too, along with the area to play darts. Still has a pretty casual feel to it though, despite the facelift and that’s nice.

A massive crash happens behind me; two men playing giant Jenga have finished their game. On a lively night, I can see that being OK. Right now it’s too quiet, too mellow and a shockwave runs through the bar that nobody is really ready for but nobody can complain about, either.

I’m sipping on a Stepchild Red from Hop Valley and it’s hoppier than I expect for a red ale. I don’t hate this but maybe they should call it an IPA? Hell, I’d even say a pale is worth consideration but this beer is too big on the back end. IRA then? It’s not bad but damnit, I think it’s time for beers to start being what they say they are. It’s less confusing that way.

It’s so quiet here that I feel a little weird. Maybe it’s a post-Christmas thing? I should either be at home or somewhere lively but to be out and in a quiet space seems odd. Most likely it’s me; I’m feeling a bit more lively, getting ready for New Year’s Eve. I don’t know that I’m going to be about and about but at least preparing for something.

I’m restless. That’s the thing. So; time to go home. I hope everyone has a safe New Year and regular posting will start seven days from….now.

Where I Want To Go: Starday

During the last Local series, I went to the Starday, which had so recently shed the Bob & Alice’s title that the only real change about the place was a vinyl banner above the door announcing the new name. I wasn’t very enamored with the place then but a reader suggested that I give it some time and try it later.

This appealed to me for multiple reasons but foremost because I like second chances. Going back to the Starday has been in my mental space for awhile and it’s time to clear that out. So, on a very cold evening when I didn’t really want to make a choice about where to go, I wandered down to see what had happened.

First, I can tell you that the beer selection is much improved. I’m having a Ninkasi Double Red ale, mostly because I have had a hankering for red ales lately but there were other solid options, especially in the bottle. This is always a good thing.

Second, it would seem that the advice I got held up: there was a band playing. Your basic bar-blues band, one part George Thorogood, one part Roadhouse movie; nothing special but you could dance to it.

And people did. The isolation I felt the last time I was there wasn’t really present, as it was clear there was a community of people enjoying themselves. I could join in if I wanted to or not if I didn’t. Sure, I couldn’t hear anyone talk, because they layout of the Starday is tiny and a band is the kind of experience that overrides most everything else but I have to say that overall, it’s a much improved venue.

One small complaint though: if the beer is listed at $4, it’s probably best to note, somewhere, that it’s $4.50 on nights with the band. I don’t mind getting in for free and paying an extra fifty cents, but I do mind not being told what my prices are. The bartender explained and all was well but she shouldn’t have to do that. It just makes things awkward.

Better Red Than Dead

I may not have shared this before, but I’ve been trying to make a really balanced red ale for a little while now. Something with a solid malt presence but legitimate hop characteristics in the nose and finish. Too dark and malty to be called a pale, but not bitter enough to be an IPA. I don’t even know if such a style really exists because red ales tend to emphasize malt and pales tend to lean hops, but this is what I’m shooting for.

This beer is the closest I’ve come to that, so far. It’s pretty good and I’m mostly pleased with that.

There is a little bit of a bite on the very finish; I’m having trouble sussing out if it’s metallic or just really dry. There may be a yeast impact that I haven’t accounted for and that may be because this yeast was on it’s third and final pass, or it’s possible I didn’t clean properly and a mild infection set in. Still, this is a batch that I should transition into a partial-grain brew, because I want to try it again. A different yeast and I think I might have a real winner on my hands.

Brew Date: 11.23.13

Steeping grains:
1.5 lb Maris Otter
1.5 lb Victory

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

.75 oz Wakatu pellet hops @ 60
.25 oz Glacier @ 60
.5 oz Chinook @ 30
.5 oz Glacier @20
.25 oz Wakatu & Glacier @5

reused Wyeast 1332-3rd final use

OG: 1.068

FG: 1.012

Put into secondary 12.13, .5 oz Chinook in secondary
Bottled 12.14

ABV: 7.58

Red Ale 2013

This ale was merely OK. I had attempted to hop this a bit more but it just didn’t bear out. In this case, I blame my own brewing schedule. For some brews, I won’t use my entire stock of hops, so I’ll put them in a plastic bag and keep them in the fridge until I brew next. Sometimes, though weeks can pass before I use them and old hops just aren’t as effective a fresh ones.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve been reducing the amount of hops I’ve used in my beers. This I blame on bad habit: it used to be that hops came in two ounce packages and now they come in one. So now when I go to put hops in a beer, I have less than I had for the first seven years I spent brewing! Sure, I make it work but the fact of the matter is: I need to pay attention and buy enough of what I need to make a beer work.

Brew date: 10.12.13

2 lb 2 row
3 lb pale
1 lb C80
1 lb Vienna
.5 lb C120

Fermentables: 3 lb LME

.25 oz Wakuna in preboil
.5 oz Wakuna @ 60
.25 oz Millenium @60
.25 oz Millenium @ 30
.25 oz Mt Hood @ 30
.25 oz Wakuna @30

Yeast: Reuse Wyeast 1813-final use

OG: 1.058

FG: 1.014

2ndary 10.24

ABV: 5.96

Two Homebrews

The first is the second incarnation of the chamomile beer that I made this year. Remembering to include the toasted oats this time was wise but even with that, the chamomile tea was overwhelming. I just need to cut back on that ingredient. It’s potent.

I am starting to think that adding tea to most beers is something that needs to be done with a softer touch. Previously I wasn’t getting much flavor from the tea but overdoing it makes for a beer that is less drinkable, even when it has come out without any other flaws. Better note taking and a lighter hand may improve this adjunct, all in all.

That aside: the oats gave this beer a bit more body and a touch of sweetness to help keep the chamomile from running away with everything, as it did with the last beer. Good stuff but I need to make it much earlier in the year so it matches the warmer weather.

The second is a red ale and it’s really good. Vaguely fruity nose but a nice malty flavor overall. Not too heavy; the kind of beer I could give to someone in nearly any situation and they would find it acceptable, if not excellent.

There is a quirk: the finish has a slightly sour touch to it. I believe this is from the yeast. One of the benefits of the yeast experiment was that I got to try an ale with Wyeast’s Denny’s Favorite. There was a similar aftertaste, as though the beer was barely starting on the sour ale journey-a hint but no more- and I think this will be good information to have for the future, because it could be an interesting addition to certain ales.

The bad? This is one of my ‘lost’ recipes, missed in the laptop crash of ’12. I suspect the Denny’s Favorite yeast but I can’t actually provide evidence of it.