Tag Archives: winter ale

A Sunday

I ran out of drinkable homebrew in Saturday. It was going to be a couple more days before the next batch was ready so it was off to Beermongers for some beer to enjoy my Sunday with.

pelicanWe begin with Pelican’s MacPelican scottish ale. A bit thin in the mouth, the caramel flavors are very nice and there’s a nuttiness that saunters by at the very end.  There’s also a thread of metallic-ness when it’s all drank. You might miss it if you weren’t looking for it. I think I’d prefer Wee Heavies. Pelican makes good beer but I’m just not sure this style is for me.

Next was Hopwork’s Abominable Winter Ale, which I wanted to try because of the good words I read at The New School. This is a hoppy monster of a beer too; even when the head of the beer is gone, spicy and floral notes are still notable. There is just enough malt in there to keep things from going off the rails and I can definitely tell that this is the brewery behind the Gigabyte IPA. A very drinkable beer, even though there’s a lot of flavors going on. Makes me wish I had another to analyze it further.

For lunch was Goose Island’s Demolition a belgian golden ale, cut by a tasty italian sub and while it’s nose has the sweet elements common to belgians, the beer is clean and lacking the sweetness that some belgians have which might spoil a find sandwich. There’s a whisper of banana like sweetness in the middle that helps keep this beer drinkable. Another beer I wouldn’t mind having some more of; drinking this without food might reveal more about it.

bad henry ipaFinally, I split a bomber of Fire Mountain Brew House’s Bad Henry IPA. There’s a nice balance to this IPA because there’s a strong malt quality that ties the ends of bitterness together but the bitter qualities aren’t very intense either. There isn’t a strong head on this beer, so the qualities of the Cascade and Fuggle hops don’t make themselves too apparent. The malts are very strong though, giving the Bad Henry a slick quality that would probably go very well with some spicy chicken wings.

Sure, you could say I spent my Sunday drinking beer and watching football…

And you’d be right.

52 Weeks 34: Amnesia Sleigh Jerker

Check it out: it’s a winter beer. In July. You can see the reflection of the table of patrons on my right in the glass. That’s dark, kids.

Geoff tells me that it’s a theme for the month: Christmas in July. Says it’s being done to get everyone ready for the 2nd anniversary party on August 1st. 

Excellent, because this beer is friggin’ liquid awesome. Like drinking brown sugar touched with bourbon and a hint of pine. I realize that doesn’t sound appealing, but it’s practically the heart of winter beers as I think of them. Or add nutmeg, and you’ve got it. Along with neon peach light from the street illuminating Bailey’s, black as sin nights and the city shiny as a Ridley Scott vision from the rain, winter is now here. I even put my jacket on from the chill. 

The bar reflects winter tonight; large groups crowding around tables, getting louder and more amused as though they were hiding out just a little longer, to avoid the chill outside. They’re waiting for the night to come, and if it won’t then they’ll just flip the sun off and pretend it isn’t there. 

I think I’ll be drinking these winter beers for the next four weeks. I know, the sacrifices I have to make. 

I don’t miss winter. It’s the only time of year I give myself permission to complain about the weather. I chill easily, and my hands ache when that happens. I wear gloves in October in the mornings (the only person on the bus with such accessories) just to avoid the pain. Winter seems to be a long, long season in Portland, coming from Spokane where the winters are colder but they don’t last as long. Here they stretch out like a bad sock.  

At the same time, I love winter. Friends come to visit, or I visit them. There is a communal huddling that happens which brings everything good and bad out. In my case, the good often outweighs the bad, which I attribute to awesome people around me. It’s dark. The trees are stark and beautiful, or evergreen and defiant. I can go walking at night with thoughts that should only be called my own, and the night wraps them up, delivers them to the moon who says, ‘It’s ok. I understand.’

As it’s still daylight, I’ll take the darkness of my pint.

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.