Tag Archives: sierra nevada

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.

I bought this III

Sierra Nevada Ruthless RyeThis time, I’m trying Sierra Nevada‘s Ruthless Rye, which has a lovely peppery nose, and then resembles a fine IPA afterward. They claim citrus on the back end and I’m not sure I pick that up. Hop bitterness, for sure and I guess that since it’s not piney that citrus is the default. The rye might be contributing to that flavor though, because there’s definitely a dryness to this beer, not unlike white wine. So maybe I’m reverting to my muscle memory of what this resembles, instead of what is is? Hard to say.

It doesn’t quite have enough malt backbone. The rye is there but the hops jumps into the fray so quickly that there really isn’t enough time for the malts to establish themselves and present a counterweight to the bitterness. A pretty good beer, one I wouldn’t reject but not one I’d race out to get, either.

If it’s on sale though? Go to town.

The Local: Triple Nickel

christmas treeI came to the Triple Nickel tonight, which has always been a place that I’d wanted to call by a cool nickname, like ‘Fifteen Cents’ but that’s not really shorter than Triple Nickel. Foiled in my attempts to nickname the bar, I have walked here via well traveled streets so I could walk past the Christmas tree joint on 39th.

I’ve always loved Christmas trees. When the days come that I can no longer drink Sierra Nevada’s Celebrator ale, the pine trees will remind me of the Christmas beers. I like to sit in front of Christmas trees, the lights blending into that blue or pink that Christmas tree lights always seem to end up at, in silence. Usually, I can hear The Band’s Christmas Must Be Tonight in my head-a gift from my parents. Even without that song though, I just like being in the presence of a tree.

Portland isn’t so Christmas-y this year. I still saw houses with vivid decorations set up and these days any decorative lights feel good. Even the weird, cagelike set of lights at the Triple Nickel, but something still feels missing. Maybe I just miss the snow from last year; although the city shut down for three days, the show coated the city in a luminescence that was wonderful.

I haven’t been here in too long. A place for pool and darts, with a the light scent of chicken strips in the air, the Triple Nickel is oddly barren on a Monday. It’s weird; the bars during The Local have been strangely empty, while Bailey’s always had people. Have I been going to too many sports bars? Or is it just that sports bars are no fun on Mondays. Let’s face it, between the holidays and my random choices, it’s pretty easy to skew my perception. Things are bound to change as I go along.

dartboardsI want chicken strips. I have a weakness for chicken strips, have for as long as I can remember. I’ve been in this bar long enough for the scent to exploit my desire for fried fowl. Resisting is easy; I’ve had dinner already but in the little mindfile of; places to get chicken strips, the Triple Nickel’s card has been recalled.

This year has been one where it seems hard to get into the holidays. I’m not sure why-again, it’s likely the economy is to blame but it’s also possible I’m projecting. Perhaps I just need to be amongst more lively people; celebrating the longest night of the year is easier when there’s a group of people hoisting glasses in defiance of the cold.

Which makes me feel bad; I like this bar, but my experience is not giving me much to relish. That’s not anybody’s fault; I know that on a weekend this bar is riotous and it has good bartenders with a fun crowd. One of my favorite stories has me walking into the Triple Nickel and running into an elderly couple, sitting at the bar. She called me ‘dear’ and he didn’t say much, except to smile occasionally, just enough for me to pick up that he didn’t have to say much. She could do the talking, and he could let me know where he stood with a gleam in his eye.

I could hope to grow old in such a way.

But tonight we’re all mellowed out and preoccupied, as though the day cannot end fast enough. I’ve gone against the nature of the space; it’s open and invites people to come and be festive; without that, it just doesn’t carry the same swagger.

The Local: Sewickleys

sewickleysI’ll admit it; I do not belong at Sewickley’s.

The last time I was in here it was for breakfast and as a breakfast joint, it’s a different animal. The time before that however, was over ten years ago and I got the heebies and promptly left. Alcohol was definitely involved and instead of trying to endure a space where I felt I was going to feel threatened the whole time, I took off.

I get a very different vibe a decade later on a Monday. The space is the same; my beer choices on tap are Pabst and Sierra Nevada Pale.

I’m sure you can figure out what I ordered.

The bartender has a friendly/sardonic blend, not unlike a bloody mary and she calls me ‘hon’, insisting that this bar is great Mon-Wed and really only gets rowdy on the weekends. She threatens divorce and a restraining order against one of the regulars whom she has nothing against and then goes out for a smoke. There’s a quiet, insistent holler from one of the two older guys “Open bar!” but nobody makes a move. When she comes back, she sets a drink alight to make a Spanish Coffee and holds the blue flame so casually you’d think she was Merlin, bored with the grunt level magic.

I can’t say that the bar is a welcoming space for me-but who said that the bar is supposed to be for me? There is a crowd of regulars and they’ve got that long-term rapport established by loneliness and alcohol. Hell, it’s illusionary enough that the guys who called for open bar are now shooting spitballs out of thin red bar straws and singing along what what sounds like Stevie Ray Vaughn on the PA.

Mine is not to judge. The camaraderie here is its own animal and it would take me at least a month just to be accepted amongst this group. If they want Xmas decorations that metallically sing ‘White Christmas’ and make less than witty jokes, who the hell am I to tell them that their bar isn’t cool? This bar works for them and in a way I know I could fit in here easily if I put in the effort.

People need places where they can just hang out and while some might feel high and mighty making judgments and insisting that they are better than this place, the regulars drinking here are making Cheers jokes, drinking without being harassed by idiots and singing Rolling Stones songs you never heard of before. That isn’t to say I approve of the douchy behavior of some of the fools, even though their misogynist comments are reigned in by a whippersnapper barkeep, just that I get that there is a culture here I do not understand and would be unwise to wash my hands completely of.