Tag Archives: wee heavy

On The Rails: Baileys

It takes a little time find a place to sit at Bailey’s tonight and there’s no room on the rail. This saddens me, because I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to rub shoulders with strangers. Instead, I sit at the loneliest table in the place, which if you’ve been here, you know it. The tiny spot up against the fire escape, where the bar and the outer wall narrow into a bottleneck, barely spacious enough for one person. Two? You’d better be friendly. Yeah, that spot.

On the upside, I have the space to write. Still, I can’t help but feel a little off since I have a theme and it’s not being satisfied, damnit!

Feh. Theme be damned, the important thing is being adaptable to your circumstances.

The bourbon nose on the Heathen bourbon barrel crivvens wee light (holy moly that’s a mouthful) isn’t too strong but it cannot be missed. What also cannot be overlooked is the banana undercurrent that feels like a foundation for this entire beer, layering some chocolate and bourbon on it, in a real culinary fashion because they wanted the banana to stand out, right?

Wrong. So wrong. Maybe it’s me? Maybe the beer is just too cold right now. I’m going to let it warm up a little longer to see if something shifts in the wee light and improves it. A little water to cleanse my palate may even help.

There’s a tiny gathering of men nearby, taking up far more space than they should be because they clearly feel entitled to stand in your way, even if you have to get a beer (from where I sit) or go to the bathroom (if you are anywhere else in the bar).

What a bunch of dicks. Sit down or stand out of the way. Yeesh.

I’ve given the beer a good ten minutes to warm up and I have to confess, the banana elements are highly diminished. More roasted, chocolate flavors are shining through. It’s even finishing dry…too dry.

There is an arid moment on the roof of my mouth. Plus, the ‘light’ part of this wee is dead on. This isn’t a weighty beer and doesn’t have the same kind of slick viscosity of the wee heavy I had earlier this year. The dryness really overwhelms other sensations now and I’m uncertain.

I don’t think I can recommend this beer. The arid finish is really what is putting me off; I don’t think this quality is contributing to the overall beer and while the shift in flavors has been a positive, the shift in mouthfeel has leapt in to snatch defeat from the jaws of…well, not exactly victory but maybe success?

Where I Want To Go: Hawthorne Theater/Bailey’s

It was the kind of day where I needed a hug, and I wasn’t going to get one. People tried; long distance friends, some of whom have never heard my voice, sent their support and… Well, it was just the kind of moment where people’s kindness made me feel worse, instead of better. They are not to blame; they did what people who care do. Sometimes, a broken machine cannot be repaired with sheer will, you have to place your hands upon it.

But it passed, day moved on and I geared myself up to see Cloudkicker at the Hawthhorne theater-where, as you may remember, I don’t drink.

It didn’t matter. They were wonderful. I got to hear songs I expected, songs I ever expected and songs I only hoped for and I was hardwired, for just a few moments, to be happy. They played You and Yours, for fuck’s sake! The Christmas song! Sometimes, life dishes up a little scoop of amazing.

When Cloudkicker was done, I was done and now I’ve come to Bailey’s to have a wee heavy from Heathen, called the Fashious. It’s delicious, with lots of dried fruit-especially raisin flavors, but it finishes so light! Even with the oiliness at the end, it doesn’t linger unpleasantly, it doesn’t feel heavy. So good.

Now? Now I am content. The difference between the states might be the difference between the jolt that music gives me and the slow warmth of alcohol.

I like beer; I don’t think that comes as any surprise. However, I don’t know that drinking this beer makes me happy. It’s tasty and that’s good, and I like it but I feel at rest. Like there is a chance for the buildup of energy in my shoulders and the sadness in my side to drain out. All the energy; the good and the bad from the day. Music is a T1 line into something really smashing for me where a whole lot of other shit just sliiides away.

The Heavy has shifted a bit as I write, more caramel flavors coming out. It’s still very good and I am already thinking of people that I should recommend this beer to. I don’t know if I’ve had anything Heathen has done before but clearly I should try more of their wares.

Both the beer and the music and my experience with both have one thing in common: they are transitory. None of them last. So it is with the gap in my life where I am not able to get hugged. I have good will, I have work and that can sustain in these overcast spring days, until things change and I am rebuilt.

Who is to say how the new structure will be? Let’s have a beer and talk about it.

7pm Gonzo

Maui‘s wee heavy which Scott the barkeep thinks he’d like if it was just a Scottish ale. I agree. So just pretend it’s a Scottish ale!

It’s a good thing to still be able to pretend.

The Maui is solid, it has that malt sugar bite I would expect from as Scottish but it’s maybe two percent alcohol and a hearty malt stickiness away from the wee heavy. I do like it, but it’s no coconut porter. I can pretend it’s a Scottish ale and be happy though.

I am thinking of Gonzo today. For some reason this song has been in my head today and, as songs go, that’s pretty damn good.

Gonzo always was the best: nobody else really threw themselves into things for the love of them the way he did, insisting that their weird way was fine. Loving chickens, thrilled to get shot out of cannons, dreaming of getting to that place where everyone loved him for his weird genuineness.

Don’t get me wrong: I always wanted to be Kermit (you have to aspire to and I always loved the color green) but I identified with the weirdo.

I think my biannual melancholy has come to rest upon my mantle. Nothing too serious, of course but I can tell that my glasses have been tinted with azure and venom. I recall friends lost and chances never properly taken. Nothing to do now but hope things worked out for everyone.

I suppose the election could be part of this, too. We’re all exhausted by it, I’m sure. Day after day of words and not deeds, the gridlock of verbiage flowing though our collective unconsciousness like so much effluvia needing to be flushed out to sea.

No wonder I want a beer.

I bought this IV

Man, I hate it when I’ve got everything almost ready and then…stuff happens and I forget to post or get a photo. Sorry about that!

This time I’ve got the Great Divide Claymore, a wee heavy scotch ale and I have to say, it’s making me pull back a bit from what Alesmith made me think Wee Heavies were. There may very well be hops in this beer but I can’t pick any up in the nose or flavor; this beer makes a case for an ale based on caramel malt and little else.

Now, I know there’s more to it; this kind of smoothness and lighter mouthfeel while keeping such a strong malt presence means that they’ve done a lot of work to help keep this beer balanced.

It also means that I have to accept that a less dense version of the Wee Heavy is probably more appropriate to the style. If everyone but one person decides the sky is blue, then who’s wrong?

Maybe that isn’t the best example, as I don’t think Alesmith’s Wee Heavy is a bad or flawed beer, nor that Great Divide’s is superior; they both have their merits. But they also both rest comfortably within the style in terms of the flavor profile so my challenge is to accept that beer for what it is, when I drink it. That’s always a good lesson.

7pm Headware

The temperatures really dropped this weekend and I saw just a tiny bit of snow, which always makes me a little wistful. It doesn’t snow much in Portland and sometimes I miss that, because it always snowed plenty, every winter I knew growing up in Spokane. The snow is all gone now, only the cold remains and I have bundled up to come down for my weekly.

A buddy is already here: turns out he was hanging out with a mutual friend who had to leave suddenly, abandoning his hat (pictured below.) We are now holding it for ransom, in hopes that we will get whiskey.

Who needs money? Whiskey. Whiskey will be better than money, when the CHUD’s come, my friend.

In the middle of everything, a man compliments my hat: turns out he’s a Hat Guy; has one for different seasons and occasions. That’s pretty wild to me because I have been wearing only one style of hat for decades now and I know: I am not to be a headware philandrist. He’s visiting from Yakima for a tax conference in Lake Oswego and tells me about how he acquired his summer hat: in Spokane, on his way to Silverwood and suddenly it’s a very small world.

goodlife wee heavyI’ve chosen Goodlife‘s Scottish Heart, a wee heavy. I’m not sure how I feel about it; the beer feels a little young for a wee heavy: lighter than I’d expect in the body. But the roasted maple flavors are there; this beer is not flawed, by any means. I think I just have some specific criteria when it comes to wee heavies, now. I blame Alesmith for skewing my impressions.

Still, I like it enough that I’d try some of Goodlife’s other beers. Maybe this isn’t the style they specialize in. I’ve been told by a fellow OBC member that I should never trust a beer from a brewery in its first year and certainly Goodlife seems like a rookie. A solid rookie but just not quite ready for the big show.

Maybe I just need to go to Bend for a weekend. So many breweries are opening up there, I imagine that a lost weekend would be easy to fill in that city. I wonder if it snows there?

Whatever You Say #18

Check this out:


In some ways, this is really all you need to know about Roscoe’s, which I mean in the most benevolent way possible.

It’s a neighborhood joint that wants to have beer tastings and meet the brewer nights. It wants to play the Metallica and Pantera and Iron Maiden you loved as a teenager but give you the beer you were denied. The good stuff.

I am walking in with a friend tonight and part of me is suddenly cognizant (which is a more awesome word than aware will ever be because there’s a ‘z’ in it) that the beer that I’m picking isn’t just for me. When I have to play roulette for myself, I don’t care if I get a drink that’s less awesome because it’s just one drink. Compelling that choice on someone else suddenly seems unfair, because the most obvious person to ask has a PBR in front of her.

So I put the screws to it, step aside and ask another man what’s in his glass. Turns out, it’s Bear Republic‘s Wee Heavy, the Heritage Ale.

Talk about the gamble paying off! This beer is just excellent. Malty and chocolatey, no sense of alcohol, light on the tongue and just all around delicious, I cannot complain about the selection for tonight.

So we settle into a table and begin to chat away. Discussions of economics and enlightenment, the mindset of starvation as a youth, the attempt to appreciate bounty as an older person, money vs debt; basically bar talk with purpose. Yeah, yeah, I could give you specifics but then I’d be telling you about me and that really isn’t the point.

It’s all taking place under a reasonably well lit pub with good beer and enough TVs to be useful but not so many that you can’t ignore them if you want. I think I have to come back here-and I certainly have to recommend the pub to anyone who lives in the neighborhood.

52 Weeks 44: Collaborator Eilean Dhu

The Eilean Dhu is a wee heavy, because the name really doesn’t tell you that.

I’ve been temping for the past few days at a warehouse, doing work that nobody could find worthy of their time or effort-except the desperate. 

What I’ve noticed about the desperate is that they repeat; they do not have new stories, they do not dream. They are stuck inside a weird bubble of need which has at its center ‘the missing’. That is, a quality that they do not have (for whatever reason) and fervently need in order to keep their lives working on an acceptable axis. To be denied this quality means that everything circles around the orbit of this emptiness, everything comes back to what you lack and what could have been hopes get sucked into the hole instead. 

It is a hard thing, being amongst their number. I see the difference between not bothering to hope and understanding that your hope doesn’t matter.  

I’ve also gotten a taste, an admittedly small one, of what it is like for men and women who work the floors every day, living, as Wayne Kramer said, “By the sweat of their brow.” 

You come home aching in new ways. Cuts on your skin until it hardens from the work. Physically drained from the effort of the labor, you arrive home to mental voices that now demand attention, should you have any unanswered questions about your life and what it all means. The desire to be left alone, the need to just let the pain in your shoulders leech into the couch, is gargantuan. And those unanswered questions, should you have any? It’s your Jacob Marley visiting, chains rattling, howling your name with assurances of three spirits that will haunt you.

After awhile you just feel wasted all the time. 

If the payment for the work was proper, I think things would be different. Doing grindage work feels different when you’re getting paid enough to take your girl out for a nice weekend on the coast from time to time, treat the kids to a nice birthday at the water park, buy a round for your friends every so often. When you’re fretting about rent, or if the kids will have enough to eat, or how you’ll manage without the car for two months, the empty space in the bubble just gets bigger, the gravity of it stronger, impossible to ignore. Being civil to strangers becomes more difficult, and the attempt to be present in your life instead of staring out into the middle distance wondering when things will change, this becomes damn near impossible.

52 Weeks 26: Pelican MacPelican’s Wee Heavy

Midpoints don’t get much credit. Sure, there’s the Sagrada Familia, but what other unfinished works do people look at and say: yeah, that’s cool as it is. 

Still, here I am, halfway through the year and drinking a Wee Heavy from Pelican. 

Are there people out there who don’t like the name Wee Heavy? If so, I don’t think I want to meet them.  I’m pretty sure people who don’t like that name are against fun. 

As for the beer, this is lush caramel drizzled over some superb vanilla with a touch of lightness at the end brought by carbonation. It is, in a word: excellent. 

And it’s a beer I’ve been drinking on my excursions to Bailey’s for three weeks now. Usually after the post is over and I’ve said my share I settle in with the wee heavy. I’ve been hoping this beer would last until this post, and I’m told that it’s just about to finish off. So let’s hear it for a good thing lasting as long as it needs to. 

It’s a bit livelier than usual tonight, with some regulars and some brewers from Upright conducting the business of drinking here. Am I a regular conducting business? Am I an observer? Just a steady drinker? 

I am someone who has made it to the midpoint of a project. There’s something to be said for this, because as easy as it is to drink seven nights a week, writing about it three of those nights is a bit harder. I suppose fellow bloggers understand this best. 

But I want to thank the readers and the commenters as well. I don’t know about all writers but I certainly feel a level of obligation to be entertaining, but most importantly, to be here.  I am not just doing this project for myself, but also for all who choose to follow. People reading helps keep me afloat when the writing does not come easily, so to you I raise a glass.

And the glass, in this case, is Bend Brewing’s Stein Lager. That’s right, tonight you get a 2-for-1. Besides, how could I resist this beer. They throw hot rocks into the wort! How cool is that? The only way to make it cooler would be to add an x somewhere in the name.

Not only is it very cool, it’s very tasty. A fine counterpoint to the density of the Pelican, this is light and easy to drink; the crispness of a lager both in the faintly skunky nose and clean finish, but the color of a pale or very light amber, with a light carmel presence due to the rocks heating the wort sugars. 

A fine beer to finish this post on.

Wee Heavy lunchbreak beer

Summer has brutalized it’s way into Portland, slapping us with 90 degree heat mere days after highs in the 60s. I wandered into the the pub on my lunch break. It’s deviant for me to have a beer on my lunch break, but it was one of those days; fuck the job, let’s have a pint.

So I found myself at the Rogue Alehouse, pondering their vast selection. Written in large letters on their chalkboard: No Cell Phones In The Bar-please use the phone booth.  Lo and behold, there’s a red british phone booth, with a crown above the word Telephone on each side, and looking like it’s made from iron- something heavy duty enough to survive soccer hooligans- in one corner. On the opposite wall is a skeleton in Spider Man pjs, and a sparkly neon-green tie. Ah, Portland.

Making choices under pressure is a challenge for me because there are so many beers to try and when I can only get just one, better make it good, right? It’s not like I’m having to choose a car in 30 seconds, but I want a beer that is going to meet a couple criteria: be tasty and be something I haven’t had before.

The Wee Heavy Scotch ale from the Issaquah brewery was what I went with, having had good memories of other wee heavys (heavies?) I’ve drank. It was not my wisest choice though, especially given the heat of the day. Scotch ales tend to be sipping beers, and perhaps not for a less leisurely lunchtime consumption.

The deep amber color that’s almost but not quite dark enough to be opaque is the first thing I noticed in my already sweating glass. This beer was thick and sweet, giving away to a final hop bitterness at the very end. It’s a last minute save worthy of Batman, honestly; without that bitterness the beer would be almost syrupy. As I kept drinking, I notice a tang to it that’s not quite right. There’s a metallic quality to the finish here that throws the whole beer off. I’m not sure if that’s due to the weather or what, but I was not so fond of this.

My impresions were made worse by the fact that I had to walk quickly back to work. The Wee Heavy sat badly in my belly, sloshing around as I strode the blocks, the heat uncomfortable and the beer not very cooling for this day. Next time, I’ll have to remember to try something lighter.