Tag Archives: stream of consciousness

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.

52 Weeks 6, Widmer Brrrr

I have to admit, there are things I was not expecting when I started this project. Bad weather? Sure; it’s rainy and gloomy in Portland and most people don’t want to go outside.

However, I was not counting on a snowstorm hitting the city and shutting it down for a day. The question quickly arose: how dedicated to this project am I? Pretty dedicated honestly; I intend on doing this for the next year, even if it means I have to budget for my drinks. 

But. I do not dig on the idea of risking my skin in order to make a blogpost. The roads are all icy and hazardous, and Portland is not a city that really prepares for weather like this. If I was living in Spokane this wouldn’t be an issue to me, because the city prepares for winter-it has to. 

In addition to the ice, there are also wind gusts, up to thirty-five miles per hour. So what’s a writer-noir-detective to do? 

Fortunately the city solves this problem for me. While Portland may not prepare for winter very well, it does prepare for drinkers everywhere. So I’ve walked to the Tanker Bar, breaking out a winter coat that hasn’t seen sunlight in four years, a hood that hasn’t touched my head in two, and jeans that are not nearly thick enough to keep out the cold. With the wind chill, an extra layer on my legs would be welcome.

In Spokane, I wasn’t quite so timid when it came to the winter conditions. I had long underwear, gloves that made my hands look like gorilla paws, and a city that knew how to deal with things when the weather went into the blue on the thermostat. That doesn’t happen in Portland; everyone gets a little weird and a bit stir crazy, as though they are suddenly trapped in their houses. 

In addition, when it snowed yesterday the city was covered in a quiet blanket that made everything beautiful in a way that only a city that has snow can enjoy. I frequently stopped what I was doing just to look outside to see the tumultuous wind throw pudgy snowflakes around; chaos magic in action. 

The Tanker exudes a stronger commoner vibe; cigarette smoke lingers from last night, popcorn from a machine that probably had its first life in a movie theater in the 70’s. and three slow moving fans right out of the movie Casablanca. The ceiling is roundned and paneled in wood, coupled with the dim dome lights, it feels like the 1970’s but cool. I like it here. When the jukebox is on, I get to listen to Rocket from the Crypt and Pelican. When it isn’t, the lights are kept low so you can watch Monday Night Football. 

And because this is Portland, so the selection of beers isn’t quite the pedantic grouping you might think it is. Ninkasi dominates my choices-three beers from them-and Widmer’s Brrr, the winter ale from them. It finishes with a pine touched spiciness, but because it’s Widmer and is a beer they’ve bottled it has the malt presence that keeps the beer from being so adventurous that non-aficionados will still enjoy the beer. 

The football game is about to start, and while I enjoy the game, it’s time to go home. I can see the wind has picked up, and over my right shoulder the sky is dark, over the left it’s a deep emerald fading quickly into night.

Note to self (lunchtime beer post)

I might even add a pic to this later, if I remember to download things from the camera.

I had forgotten my lunch today, and I’d heard good things about Rock Bottom’s Blitzen belgian ale, so I figured: what the heck? And off I went.

First the good: the beer was very tasty. A belgian ale to be certain, but it had a citrius bite at the end of it to keep the sweetness in check and boy did I feel like having another sip of it when that was done. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was being forced to endure a soulful reggae song. By this I mean; some reggae song with the buttery pop slickness of modern soul. And boy, did I hate it. My hatred did not disappear when the lame country song crooned by some woman who I’m sure lost her man or her dog or her Vibro 5000 pushed it’s way through the speakers into my ears like some kind of horrific infection.

But beer: good!

Also; the Havana Melt I ate; tasty. Ham and cheese and a spicy tomato garlic topping with spicy mustard; all very good.

The bad: regge. And pretty much any music there. See paragraph three. Also; the fries were terrible. Never get the fries again, self. They are not hot and they are coated in pepper. If I want pepper on my french fries, I can add it myself.

As I paid my bill, there was a truly wrong version of Jingle Bells interpreted by a reggae band.  I was glad to leave, but seriously thought about taking the beer with me, just to rescue it from being drank by Philistines.

52 Weeks 4: Wild River Double Eagle

It is, for the first time, dark and starting to rain as I type this. I honestly expected the weather to be much worse sooner but December is here and gloom has settled over the city. Finally.


The unsmiling author has been cut out.
The unsmiling author has been cut out.

I’m drinking Wild River’s Double Eagle Imperial Stout, and it’s very good. Oh yes. It is good. A touch hotter than I would expect from a stout; even at 7.6%, there’s a burbony alcohol flavor there that is quickly covered up by slightly burnt chocolate. 

Thanksgiving was a winner I’m proud to say and I hope it was for my readers as well. My Dad came up to visit and he was able to try a great many of the beers I’d been making for the past year. With the exception of the Cheswick clone that I’d made, they all aged quite nicely and tasted pretty good. It was my Dad who bought me the starter kit to start homebrewing, so it’s only just that he get to taste some of the spoils sometimes. That he’s stuck in a hellhole far from family and friends is unfortunate on multiple levels so his visit was, in the newspeak, doubleplus good.

I am recalling the positive in order to negate speaking of a Monday that started off askew and never quite found itself again. December has begun with a rough push, like being awoken by chainsaws, but why presume that it will stay that way? 

I’ve got a good beer, I’ve got stout at home to bottle, a pale and Demon Alcohol to manage (updates soon) and a belgian ale to make with serious hops. With some bitterness to balance out the sweetness of those belgian yeasts, I expect a wonderful beer. In time.

So; no point in being dreary, yes? Darkness has come upon the city, and I do enjoy going outside under these circumstances and stalking the city, weather be damned. My beer smells a little like brownies now, and really, how can that ever be a bad thing?

It is sometimes hard to be hopeful at the end of a year, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway. We’ll see how that works out in the coming weeks together.

52 Weeks 3: Hopworks Abominable

So here I am, with my sweet new hat and a tasty ‘winter’ ale and a headache. The sun has been a liar today, showing itself all throughout but never providing any warmth. The wind blew and snarled away any pockets of heat that might’ve taken refuge in the city.

Fuck, I hate the cold. I like winter though, so it’s always a strange time for me.

I was the first customer today, and as such got to chat a little about what might be tasty. There was a strong wit from Off The Rail which seemed interesting, but better in the warmer weather. A little high on the citrus, so I avoided it.

The Abominable however is more piney. Almost like pine tar in the nose, but definite pine flavors in the bite. Tasty and something that says; ‘Fortify yourself from the cold!’ 

I’m planning on brewing tonight, a very light beer which I’m hoping to balance with a bit of tea to give it a little more body. Should have a post up on it in a day or so. Experiments are interesting!

They’ve changed the layout at Bailey’s. Currently, I approve. The big table where groups can play cards is still there, but in a more open corner. The more isolated space to the south of the entrance now has low chairs and a small table, which is perfect for small groups who want to have a huddled conversation, furtive plans over beer and dusklight. 

Across the street, a man vacuums at the Tugboat Brewery, preparing it for customers, and in the other direction, the Saucebox remains closed and dark, white blinds cutting me off from its interior. I am glad I am here and not there, for a variety of reasons, chief amongst them that they are closed and I would be standing in the cold waiting for a beer. Who does that?

I’m afraid I’m nursing a three-day headache at this point, so this post will have to end. Cheers to all, if I don’t get a post up before Thanksgiving!

52 Weeks #2, Collaborator Doppelweitzen

The lousy pics will begin now.  This is more of what I had in mind when I started this project; me, typing away on my laptop, taking pictures with the lappy-cam, hoping for the best. I’d forgotten my laptop last week, but had my camera, so I made do. 


The first of many
The first of many



Anyway, it’s a too-large image for a too small post. But I missed the bus to work this morning because I’d forgotten the laptop and my camera, so I went back to fetch all of them, just so there would be a proper update for the 4 people who read this. Try to look thankful. 

This beer was made for the Collaborator Project, and before you ask, no I didn’t make it. Still, it’s an interesting beer, with that banana nose but dark malt roasts keeping the usual belgian sweetness from taking over the beer. Far more drinkable than I would have thought, given the name and what that implied about the beer’s style. 

In a glorious moment, the radio at Bailey’s has followed up an Elliott Smith sounding song with Tomahawk’s Sir Yes Sir, and the clash of styles is immensely appealing to me. I also happen to really like Tomahawk, which certainly plays into things. That was followed up by what sounded like a Bad Religion clone, but they can’t all be winners. 

Bailey’s is understandably unpopulated at this time of day. Still, I wonder how I’d be impacted by either more people, or the presence of a second person as I wrote. Who knows? I figure eventually someone will be here; 52 weeks is a long time, but at the same time, they’d have to put up with me essentially liveblogging, and who wants to do that?

Prince’s Sign o’ the Times just came on, and I can’t help but think that there’s a delicious and sad clash between how he’s presented himself for the past, oh, thirty years and his recent comments on homosexuality. It’s one of those sad reminders that people are sometimes a bit more frail and a lot less compassionate than they ought to be. I realize it’s just his opinion, but it’s a narrow, spiteful one, and I don’t have to be part of it.

I think I’m going to go home and play Little Big Planet and be reminded that sweet things that people will interact with are still out there. I’m also finishing this post to an awesome remix of a Bloc Party I can’t recall the name of. The sun is almost gone and I need some dinner. Should be a good night.

Lunchtime beer 2, the beering

I am full of fail today. Today being a period of time going back at least 24 hours. That was when I took my first salsa dance class, and if anything is true in this life it is this:

I do not have a body made to dance. It is angular, and has no flow to it. Dancing is all about flow. My hips do not turn, my shoulders are not loose; I am not meant to dance.  There was 60 mintues of me not remembering how to count to four, how to pivot on my feet, having less and less fun while others seemed to be having more and more, as though it was being siphoned from me.

The first day of class always sucks hippo balls.

This is what I ponder drinking Rock Bottom‘s Kolsch “55”, made for Oregon Craft Brew month.  It’s got a faint lemon zest nose, a clear golden tone, and finishes cleaner than a shiny new car waxed by a 16 year old. The flavors are mild, sweetly maltly, not a hint of bitterness here. It’s quite tasty but now I want to try the Swan Island lager, just so I can expand on the differences.

I do not have time for this. Work calls. I have a meeting at 3:30. I have to enjoy this beer while I can, even though I am dispairing at my dancing skills. And having to go to the meeting, if I must be honest.

Before I leave, a waitress asks her coworkers about breakfast places downtown. I consider suggesting a place, but I can’t remember the name, and feel weird about intruding on their conversation. I just pay my tab, put my shades on and leave. I’ll have to try the lager tomorrow.

Lunchtime beer, stream of consciousness post

(as written at the Deschutes brewpub about 15 minutes ago)

“I’ll have a Pink Lady”-how often do I get to say that? And it IS pink, as if a marker was dipped into the beer- or in this case rose petals for dry hopping. I’m told that dry hopping adds to the nose but damned if it doesn’t have a mouthfeel like chewing on rose petals. This place tends to distract me; I came in hoping for the anniversary stout, and then attracted to the lager I make a beeline for the Pink Lady.
But Portland is humid and this crisp, cool ale stands defiant to it, like the gang; full of spitfire and bright color to stave off the mugginess. I can see her, standing with a hip cocked away from me and the pink jacket, rolling her eyes at the sky; what, ya gonna pay attention to that or to me?
Malts stay through this beer, winking at me before disappearing to the hops, a roasty moment amongst floral and Janice Joplin sings.
If only this place has less TV’s and more windows into the brewery, it might be perfect.