PBR, the taxman, Blooms & Brews, and Session Lager

We paid our Multnomah county tax a couple weeks ago. I thought that the tax had expired, but apparently it had one more year. At least it's a local tax, and I know it's probably more important for kids to get a little educated than for me to drink yummy beer, but as I slurp my PBR I feel increasingly jealous of my earnings. This shit tastes like the end of the world.

Tomorrow's the date for Blooms and Brews beer festival at the Oregon Garden in Silverton. Felecia has to work, so I'm working my buddy Sally's shift at the airport so she can enjoy the beer for me. I hope she chokes on a thick hefe (jus' kidding Sally).

I've been spoiling myself with so many good micros lately that Pabst was a real shocking disappointment to my system. It's not bad, it's just nothing. It tastes like the void, it takes twelve to make me ready for bed. But I prefer a lager to an equivalent pils. I think it's a style that could use more exploration, though it's too light to be a darling of the craft beer audience. I was happy to see Full Sail's Session won recognition in the Cream Ale/Lager category at the World Beer Cup in Seattle(5.1 ABV!). It's a lager that's great enough to make me buy PBR when I'm broke - and hate it.

Here's a picture form the archives. This makes me depressed, I'm switching to tea.


Fish Tale's Orgainc IPA and Amber Ale

The Fish Brewing Co. is my new brewery of allegiance. I enjoyed their IPA and Amber the last couple nights. The IPA was the first down the hatch on Tuesday night. It could be that I was feeling particularly parched, but it was divine nectar on my tongue. Full bodied with an articulately defined hop bitter. The first impression was of a pinnacle of craft, agriculture, and biological symbiosis (we keep the yeasties warm, then they keep me warm). But Fish Tale’s amber ale was even better. It’s a little smokey and the malt is uniquely perfect. I’m curious to see how others have described it, but I don’t like to read reviews before my report to you.

Fish Tale is brewed in Olympia, “in the Republic of Cascadia,” which is where the salmon can swim. The ingredients listed on the packaging are water, organic barley, Centennial and Pacific Gem hops in the IPA, and Santiam and Hallertaur hops for the amber. Those sound like fine ingredients for beer. I can’t wait to try them at the brewery someday.

I’d like to compare Fish Tale’s IPA with Wolaver’s, my other favorite organic. I tremble in anticipation of The North American Organic Brewer's Festival in June that will afford the opportunity. The festival is first come first serve for brewery spots, so it should be a nano-brew orgy.


Walking Man Brewery

The Walking Man brewery is in Stevenson, WA in the Columbia River Gorge. The brewery and pub are on First St, a block from the river, in a converted house. The second story may still be lived in, but the first floor is a resurant and brewery. Walking Man is locally famous for Homo Erectus and the Knuckle Dragger. Jen, Patrick, Fefe and I tried about everything they have. Here's their numbered beer list with ABV. I didn't get a picture of the Brown ale, but it reminded Pat of Rogue's brown. The beer pictures are labeled with the number that matches the menu, so you can tell what each is. The delicate balance of flavors in Walking Man;s beers really make them stand out amoung real micros. Thier brewers do an excelant job. A definite taste theme runs through all of the Walking Man beers. I think it might be a particular blend of malt, but I really don't know. In a world of overbuilt marketing, Walking Man is refreshing in its authenticity. The setting is specatular, but the beers are the main attraction. I've never had an Imperial Stout, and have nothing to compare it to, but it's an unforgetable expirience, unless you have more than a couple, then things become completely forgettable. The waitress, I'll call her Marleen, must have had fears for my own fidelity of memory as she unforgiably delayed my IPA. That kind of thing ruins the party. Perhaps I was being particuarly obnoxious, maybe she didn't like my looks, or more likely, Marleen took offence when I ordered a Homo Erectus for my "partner." In rual Washington, if you act "funny" you're probably a "homo." And that ain't good. Now, how could anyone mistake a model of masulinity such as myself for a limp-wristed sausage hound? I don't know but I'm off to the gym to work out some frustration and chisel some buns.

OK, I'm not gay, I'm married. But Marleen really struck my homo nerve.


Pete's Wicked Rally Cap

Don't bother pouring Rally Cap (AKA Lipton's Ice Tea) in a glass. I'm not sure there's a beer I could turn down on a cold, lonely night, but Pete's Wicked Rally Cap Ale is really disappointing lemony koolaid concoction. The first sip out of the fridge is refreshing, but after it warms up a degree, downing Rally Cap is an unfulfulling experience. There are few beers that pull off fruit flavors well, in my opinion, and Pete's is one of the worst. Three thumbs down. The only use for this I can imagine is chugging after work on a hot summer day.


my best "Ed Norton"

Hey, mohawk maintinence is no joke. I had this done with garden clippers. What's this have to do with beer? Maybe nothing, maybe everything.

Trinity Red Ale

Trader Joe's sells some mysterious beers. Trinity Red Ale was $4.99, a buck or two less than local micros they sell. Beer Advocate says that Trinity is brewed by Goose Island Brewery in Chicago under a special marketing agreement. Strange. It's good for the price. It has a little chocolate malt taste that reminds me of Seaf's Stout, one of my favorite comfort beers, and a nice hop aroma without the cooked-in bitterness plus a little rye. I had second thoughts about buying it when I got up to the check stand. The clerk had to assure me that it was ok. I veiw the generic six-packs at Joe's with some suspition. My buddy Patrick bought a batch that was bad - the fist sip almost made him loose his lunch.


Deschutes Inversion IPA

Drinking With Darren is a great public access show in Portland where the hero goes to breweries and beer festivals, talks to the brewers and samples the beer. Drinking vicariously is nothing like the real thing, but it's better than watching Oprah. A few months ago Darren went to the Deschutes Brewery in Bend. I like Deschutes but the marketing guy they stuck on Darren was a giant douche. He was very intent on selling his beer, which made me disinclined to ever buy it again. He was glaringly different from the regular easy-going blokes he usually hangs out with who love beer in a self-assured, slightly perma-drunk, fashion instead of shamelessly humping Darren's leg. I got over it and tried Deschutes' new IPA, Inversion, today. This shit is something like $8.29 at Freddies but in a moment of weakness I indulged myself anyway. And the verdict is that its yummy. I know Deschutes has an Oregon landscape beer naming theme going with Black Butte, Cinder Cone, Mirror Pond and whatnot, but if I were them I'd call it Grassyass IPA because it smells like a haystack. And now you know why I'm not their marketing guy. I think people will like this beer a lot. Double hopped IPAs are trendy right now, and for good reason. They should come in hip-for-portland bundles with a man purse and belly shirt. I'm not puttin down, but just noting the obvious. Cheers for now, I have some mohawk maintinence to take care of.


The Rose and Raindrop

Why does my alcohol addled brain insist on replaying the most irritating part of the most obnoxious song like a merry-go-round to infinity during the morning withdrawal? I think it's its self imposed punishment for what I've done to it. It pleads "Start drinking again and I'll turn off this awful music."

Last night we went to The Rose and Raindrop on SE Grand with Jen and Patrick for food and beer. I tried Mia and Pia's Irrigator Dopplebock. It was really dark. I thought they had brought me the wrong beer (the Horror) because it looked like Patrick's stout. But held to the light its a dark red. I googled Mia today and found that Mia and Pia's is a Brew Pub/pizzeria in Klatmath Falls, OR. Their website reports the ABV of Irrigator at 8.0, which was a good start to my nightly headache acquisition procedure. After irrigating the Irrigator I had Greg from Hair of the Dog. The Hair of the Dog guys are some hard-core muthas. Greg had a flavor that I couldn't put my finger on, I thought it was a really mellow fruit combination. I discovered on Beer Advocate that they made it specifically for a Portland restaurant, Higgins, that uses all seasonal ingredients. Greg is named after the owner, Greg Higgins. That's great, but the best part is that Greg is made with winter squash, which makes it the only vegetable I ate yesterday, besides the sauerkraut on my Reuben. If your unframilier with squash, its not a game for old people, but a big fleshy, gourd-lookin thing that most people try not to eat if they can help it. In retrospect, I can see how it owed some of its unique flavor to the squash, but I could never have guessed its secret. I'll have to review the Reinheitsgebot purity law to see if squash is an acceptable ingredient.

Felecia had an superhopped IPA called a Leapfrog, or something like that. It was served in a 10 OZ glass and coated my tongue with hops. After the Irrigator I couldn't remember which beer was mine.


Wolaver's Organic IPA

If you've read this blog before you know my love of beer basically comes down to getting loaded every night, but occasionally there is more to it. Though I bash Budweiser nearly every post, and it probably seems a little old, there is a good reason for it. It's very upsetting for me and my shrink. Here's a rant from the disillusioned business student in me: Beer is a traditional processed agricultural product that people have made and enjoyed for sustenance, fellowship, and to get laid, for a long time. I'm no historian, so let me know if I have this all wrong, but mass production and product standardization have reduced the wealth of variety and quality that evolved over hundreds of years of beer making that was done with local ingredients and techniques. The result in our corporate-dominated culture is a lot of inexpensive beer that tastes about the same, the mechanisms of our society created the beer equivalent of Kraft cheese. Often new beer styles are created and marketed for what they lack, instead of what they are. Kraft beer is better that no beer, I have to admit.

Thankfully, there's been an explosion of interest in real craft beer. Public enthusiasm and micro-brewers have catalyzed a new industry that has wrested the fate of my favorite beverage from the corporate behemoths by enriching diversity and quality in the consumer's favor. The fart in the glass elevator, potentially, is a new elitism spawned from the claimed special insights of beer connoisseurs that would turn the average beer-lover back to PBR in revolt.

There's an opportunity for people in the new industry to make the county a little better – or less bad. As new businesses gain market share from the old Milwaukee Brewers the jobs created can be local, fair-paying, and employee owned - maybe compensating for the decline in workers' power in the old industry. New breweries also have an opportunity and incentive to make every part of production what it should be; by the way they distribute and market their products, acquire the ingredients, and compensate employees.

Organic beer has been a little slow to catch on compared to some other food products, which is funny since I'm sure beer had always been organic up until... Anyway, Felecia bought me a six-pack of Wolaver's IPA brewed by Otter Creek Brewing in Vermont. It's an American style IPA that's not the hoppiest on the hop wagon but has a really distinct and pure hop flavor that's smooth underneath - it has an essence without making you chew those bitter buds yourself. It's the antithesis of IPAa with a delicate floral nose and outlandish hopptitude like Hazed and Infused because of its well integrated flavors. I recommended it to you. According to their website Otter Creek will be at the North America Organic Brewers Festival on June 18 at the World Forestry center in Portland.


Lompoc / Cascade Lakes

I have a few beers to report on. First, I visited the New Old Lompoc, a brew pub on NW 23rd near Vaughn, the other day. They have $2 pints from 4-6 daily and all day on Tuesdays. I tried the pale ale and claim it satasfactory. They also have 2 IPAs I didn't try. One is double-hopped and the other is really really hoppy with 8 or so types of hops, accourding to the menu. I'm perplexed why they would need two, but perhaps a tasting would open my eyes. I'll leave that for your own investigation or another post.
I also tried Cascade Lakes' Rooster Tail Ale, it's a red ale that was fine, but not remarkable, I probably won't buy it again. Beer is nearly always better on draft. I think this might be especially true of this beer, the flavors really didn't stand out, and where's the head? You have to shake this shit to get a single bubble. I don't like a lot of carbination, but a little head is what I consider compulsory. My measure of a red American ale is Laurelwood's organic Free Range Red, who's delicale aroma and crisp, smokey flavor is unsurpassed, though I continue looking.
I love to buy Oregon beers though, and Cascade Lakes' bottle claims it's handcrafted in small quantities. The bottom of the six-pack carton has a typo that I find very reassuring. I'm sure Budwieser will soon label their bottles the coincidentally appropriate "The Kin of Beer" to emulate that microbrew mystique.
There are still a couple beers to report but I have to go to class now. Maybe, if I don't overindulge first I'll finish this when I get back home. It seems I somehow have more time for drinking beer than for writing about it. At the store I consistantly pick new beers to report on for you. You're Welcome! But after I get home and drink a couple of them I usually don't feel like typing this shit, but find myself more inclined to drink more beer. Beer Bloggin's no piece of cake, let me tell ya.


Budwieser Blows Shauna's Chi-wawa

The consensus around the beer bong seems to be that Budweiser sukes da Kaiser. I said that the Budweiser makers have invented a beer that tries not to taste like beer. Steve says that people who drink Bud Lite get undressed in the dark. We're a couple fucking geniuses, no? Anyway, I came across a post on Belmont Station's Blog about Budweiser’s newest foray into profits and market share.

Check out this link. The post is called, "Big Brewers Gone Wild."
This brings up a question I hadn't considered before, "Is picking out a beer at the store for my evening drunk a moral test of my love for my fellows?"

Lost Coast

Felecia and I just got back from a spring break road trip to the California Redwoods.  The fist night we stayed in Arcata, that’s one fucking unique neo-hippy town.  When Felecia asked a girl we ran into if she knew a good place to get a burger and a beer she replied, “Do you guys eat meat?”  “Um… yeah, we mean meat burgers, I guess.”  I suppose it’s reasonable to assume that we might be craving a good veggie burger, but it’s not quite what I expected.  I found the exchange enlightened me to the sensibilities of this little white, middle class college town in Humboldt.  We wandered on in search of a comforting, cheap restaurant as a typhoon blew in.  It seemed a surreal.  We braved the horizontal rain and blew off a homeless guy who wondered if we had an extra nug.  There was a short, road worn woman standing in front of a gas station we walked by, smiling with all gums and waving a gas can at us.  I think she’d been huffing it.  We ended up at a cheap Mexican place where I had a Downtown Brown, a tap I glimpsed as we walked in.  It was dark, dark brown, and delightful.  We discovered the next day the Downtown Brown is brewed by Lost Coast Brewery in comparatively metropolitan Eureka! a few miles down 101.  The next night we stayed in Eureka! a few blocks from the brewery and tried their 10 beer sampler plus a couple pints of our favorites.  They had 3 or 4 wheat beers, which were for the most part disappointing; the apricot was really horrible and the hefe had a disturbingly light mouth-feel.  I’m sure some people like that, but it just seemed wrong to me.  Felecia’s favorite was the Tangerine Wheat, it was really good.  I thought the Amber was great, perfectly balanced, maybe the ultimate beer.  We were intrigued by their Great White, a light Belgian brew.  We ended up taking a case of bombers of Great White home with us.  It was $20 at the brewery (the same is twice as much at Belmont Station).  We drank most of them two nights ago with Jen and Patrick when we got back to P-town.  I stayed up way past my bedtime and had the worst hangover I’ve ever experienced from beer alone.  Overall, I think that Lost Coast is a great little brewery.  Their IPA was fine and had the most resilient eggshell coloured head I’ve ever seen, that shit just wouldn’t go away.  The porter was far above average, although I only drank the 4 oz sampler (I wanted to save a little drunk for the tequila we’d drink back at the Hotel).  Only one of the Great White bombers had a label on right, one had the label backwards and the rest were naked.  I think the guy who puts the labels on got stoned and left to watch South Park.