Alt, not Kolsch at Laurelwood

I've enjoyed a beer style called Kolsch this summer that I had been completely oblivious to. Alaskan Summer Ale is a great example, and both Mcmenamins and Roots made seasonals this summer that I couldn't resist. I'll leave it to Jeff at Beervana to explain its history, but I will testify on behalf of its lustrous gold to orange color, drinkability, and unique roundness that is thick like milk and tastes like bread and citrus.

But summer's gone.

Last night Felecia and I rinsed out our growler and walked to Laurelwood in hopes of trying their Fresh Hopped Kolsch. I read recently, on a blog that now alludes me, that guys at Laurelwood drove south in the Willamette valley and picked up a truckload of fresh hops which they rushed back to the brewery to transform into beer that very same day. This little story is very exciting for me, and I longed to enjoy the exploits of their hops odyssey.

But to get to the point of this story; the Kolsch is all gone. We heard that the Laurelwood pub on Sandy is out too. Instead we got their new seasonal, an alt they call Sticke Altbier. It's dark red, roasted tasting, hardy, and bitter. It's great.


Lucky Lab House Ale Board

Here's the NW Lab's beer board as of last night, September 19.

If you stop in, the cask No Pity Pale Ale is awesome.

They have a new single hop IPA, Willamette. There's also a new "Dogtoberfest Lager" on the menu that's not available yet. It's subtle appearance must constitute the new beer's pre-product launch ad campaign. @ Lucky Lab marketing team: way to start the hype.


The New Old Lompoc revisited

Felecia and I strolled down to the New Old Lompoc after work last night for Miser Monday, which means $2 pints. The place looks like it's been around awhile but we first discovered it last spring and have neglected it for a few months now.

The Lompoc is dark and grimy, the kind of thing that makes for a really comfortable hangout. Walking in the front door you first encounter a small bar framed by a hops motif in tile. The walls seem encrusted with funny pictures, fliers, old brewery ads, news-clippings, and beer bottles. The look seems classically nostalgic at first, but I think its really just a big sarcastic joke. Ha! To the right is the main seating area, and to the left of the bar are a few tables that are non-smoking before 8 and a hallway that leads past the kitchen to a large patio in back.

Besides $2 (16 oz.) pints all day Mondays, Lompoc has happy hour food and drink menus.

The beers at the Lompoc are brutal and distinctive. Alcohol contents run high, as does flavor. There's also a particular feel that runs through all the beers that I can't describe. It reminds me of drinking mineral water, and maybe it's due to the brewery's plumbing or water source. They serve two IPAs, C-note, and Cenntenial. C-Note seems to be more in the vein of double IPA popular lately, but more bitter than delicate or floral. They serve LSD (Lompoc Strong Draft), a big monster of a beer, that looks dark and dirty and tastes mean. Both IPA's and the LSD have great potential to end one's night quick. A pitcher guarantees either a party or a nap.

My darling of all their brews is the Condor Pale Ale. It's mildly hopped, with just the right amount of bitter unique nutty flavor. It's really delicious, and almost subtle.

Lompoc also serves a stout that's hearty but unremarkable, a pilsner that the wait staff doesn't recommend and a couple seasonals. Right now they have a red and brown ale.

Overall the New Old Lompoc is an awesome little pub. The beers lack the refinement of other microbreweries in the nieghborhood, but are unique, cheap, and enjoyable. The atmosphere is authentic, smoky, comfortable, Portland. I think it's exactly the grail Mcmenemin's trys to achieve in some of their pubs. The food is spectacular pub fare.

The thought of coming in for beer soup and a sandwich in the chill damp evenings this winter is heartening. This place is comfy like an old quilt.

It's too bad that getting there, for me, involves a walk down NW 23rd Ave, which is irritating, or amusing depending on my mood. The first annoyance is all the fucking people in my way. I own these streets (I think), and I don't generally appreciate swarms of Abercronbie victims from Washington county and hordes of other undesirables that come between me and a cold drink. Last week a scabby girl across the street from Music Millennium accosted us with a CD she was peddling.

“What kind of music do you guys like? I'm like a singer-songwriter, and the music's kind of electronic and (directed at Felecia) its really sultry and something that I think, like, other women can totally understand.” This nearly ruined my appetite.

When we told her we don't have much money for purchasing random music people push on us on the street corner she said, “[scoff!] What are you doing on this street, then?”

As we were leaving we saw her drinking a beer a the Lomoc. She must have sold a CD.


Lucky Lab Beer Hall Update

As of last week the Lucky Labrador Beer Hall on NW Quimby in Portland is serving fresh batches of Five Ton Strong Ale and Superdog. All the beer served at the Quimby Beer Hall is brewed on site in small quantities so selection is highly variable.

I'd like to find out the magnitude of smallness that might describe the Lab's production. Does anybody know? Somethings are easily quantified, like volume or various other numbers and attributes used to describe beer and brewing. Goodness is more subjective but I would guess, “highly good” is a fitting designation for the Lab's beers.

Five Ton Strong, named after the industrial lift hanging from the hall's ceiling and served in a 10 oz. goblet, is sweet with a dark amber color and a slightly caramel taste. It's very smooth for its punch; I still found it refreshing during our summer heatwaves. Served, it looks like an overfilled glass of brandy. The new batch is notably darker in color and a little more bitter. Superdog has apparently increased its alc/vol. From 6.0 to 6.4. I haven't tried the new, Super[charged]Dog, but I'll probably give it a go tomorrow when its only $2.50.

The Lucky Lab's website hasn't been updated since the '80s and the beers listed aren't very accurate, at least for the NW location. I need to take a picture of the chalkboard next time I'm in, but for now here's some of the beers they might have from the top of my head:

Macleay's Summer Ale
Blue Dog
Single Hop IPA - Cascade
Five Ton Strong Ale
Stumptown Porter
Black Lab Stout
(?) Pilsner
No Pity Pale Ale (this one's organic)

hmm, what else...

Reggie's Red (a mere tease, I've never seen this one available)

One of the beers is always available on nitro and they serve one guest tap.


Emergency Beer Procurment Plan

It's a recurring theme in my posts. For one reason of another Felecia and I are broke until payday and must devise and implement strategic crisis budget beer procurement plan. Curiously, a plan of similar magnitude is seldom put into effect before crunch time. We manage money in a way similar to George Bush managing the national debt, which is extremely poorly.

The plan usually entails some combination of selling treasured items, eating only ramen noodles and redeeming the deposits from the mountain of empty bottles that have accumulated since our last income deficiency. But it also implies making wise choices with our remaining dollars to make sure we don't sit out too many dry nights. Ahem.

Here are some tips; some lessons I've learned about drinking beer with little dough:

Buy one microbrew six-pack and two six-ers of PBR (or similar swill) tall boys. After work drink a bottle of the good beer with someone you love, taking special care to note the characteristics you enjoy. Comment on them with your companion. Then drink a couple 16 oz. PBR's, noting how the flavor has little in common with beer. If you need more to drink after this, seek professional counseling. Hurry to bed, the sooner you go to sleep, the sooner you can start another day and enjoy another BEER.

Repeat the steps above, substituting Charles Shaw Cabernet, Shiraz, or Chardonnay for the swill beer. You may become hung over.

If it's Tuesday, and you happen to live in Portland, OR (you're a luckey sonofagun), collect all the spare change in your house, cash it in for dollar bills. Exchange two of these for a Five Ton Strong Ale at the Lucky Labrador NW Beerhall, and get an entire quarter back (save it to buy lunch tomorrow).

Finally, getting through a tough times isn't always about buying the cheapest thing in the beer isle. A 27 oz. bottle of Sheif's Stout, is the darkest, creamiest thing one can buy for $2.78. It will sustain you. Or, try buying a couple bottles of Killian's Irish Red by the bottle. The six-pack at Fredy's is perpetually on sale for $4.99, or $0.84 for a 12 oz. bottle. Sure, Coors is tricking you into thinking it's a microbrew, but... fuck it, at least you're not stealing.


Indian (PA) Summer

Double IPA (excepting BridgPort) marketers have some kind of complex about making beer labels extra intense with devils and lightning and scary stuff.  Left to right, Pyramid (Seattle/Portland), Widmer (Portland), Victory (Downington, PA), BridgePort (Portland), and Terminal Gravity (Enterprise, OR).   Hop Devil is my favorite, but it's also $10.39 for 6. Every summer has its own character. I don't want to talk like its all over, but it is September already and I think we're in the the last throws of warm evenings. Felecia's back in school (teaching) this week, while I have only a lonely couple weeks of laziness and masturbation still in the bank. I'll remember the warm months in 2006 as my summer of IPAs... and I'll be releasing a commemorative coin.

The Belmont Station Beer Forum reports that there will be a Fresh Hop Beer "Tastival" next month at the NW Lucky Labrador in October. Its a fitting harvest festival for a pleasantly bitter summer. I can't believe I spent the last one drinking gin and tonic. (I'd ask to have it refunded, but you should never ask back for the gin that's drank.)

The IPA-tion of summer was partially fueled by local breweries:

The Lucky Lab, besides having an exceptional IPA, Superdog (I claimed it as my favorite beer to the AP, I'll stand by it), serves a limited release of single hopped IPA's, for educational purposes, I assume. They change roughly by the month, whenever the old one runs out. Right now the Lab on Quimby has a Cascade hops IPA, which I haven't tried yet.

Other pivotal events were Laurelwood's brewers' IPA-off a couple months ago, Widmer Bros. permanent bottling of Broken Halo, my discovery of Terminal Gravity and Deschutes' introduction of Inversion.

I've consumed more super-hoppy ales this spring and summer than the rest of my years on earth combined. People from my generation are branded by our consumption I'm... damn trendy. My cells are constructed from molecules sold by Widmer, Deschutes, and the Lucky Labrador. So this summer has been a pretty good time.

Summer decadence - sorry

So it's been awhile since I've posted on this space...

and I guess any former reader who accidentally clicked an old bookmark to be surprised by this new post deserves some explanation. I wish I'd been busy on a beer tour of northern Europe, sharpening my Belgian beer whit, but the truth is I've spent the last couple monthes mostly lolling around town. Besides some short trips to California and MT I've been riding my bike a little, keeping the Lucky Lab in business, and monitoring six-pack prices at Fred Meyer. Though I've perchased, guzzled, and metabolized healthy quantities of micro-brewed-bottled-bliss, my fingers have failed in typing its virtues.

Sierra Nevada survivor at Zack and Shauna's in MissoulaThis blog fizzled , contrary to common sense,when I took summer term off school leaving little responsibility besides showing up to work sometimes. When I was busier, during finals week for instance, I couldn't wait to sit at my laptop and write about my favorite distraction, drinking beer. But confronted with a demands of an open schedule, it seemed like work.

It's funny how I completely loose motivation for tasks that I've come to perceive as responsibility. I stopped showering and brushing my teeth for the same reason (when I was 7; I got over it). And this little bout of summer laziness will end too.

It's also funny how drinking beer never seems like work, but I swear, the minute it does, it's over... I'll take a long break and have a beer.

This blog was a lot of fun when I was updating it, and I'd like to start again. For a while Felecia was buying my sixpacks of new microbews to get me to post again; I rode that gravytrain as long as I could. But now it's time to collect my remaining neurons and put them to use documenting their demise again.

I've missed my internet beer friends, let's catch up.