Discomfort Beer (Session #119)

This month’s The Session on the topic of “Discomfort beer” is hosted at mostly about beer … by Alec Latham.

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

“For Session 119 I’d like you to write about which/what kind of beers took you out of your comfort zones. Beers you weren’t sure whether you didn’t like, or whether you just needed to adjust to. Also, this can’t include beers that were compromised, defective, flat, off etc because this is about deliberate styles. It would be interesting to see if these experiences are similar in different countries.

I think this could be a good archive for people researching fads, the origins of styles and the dearths of others – but especially how new ones were initially perceived.”

My wife told me to keep this simple and focus on this one specific aspect of the question. I will attempt to do that but from there I hope to extend the same concept because my discomfort beers are like that.

Not talking about

And to get it out of the way, as the host said, “bad” beer was not on the table. I agree. I am a BJCP Certified judge and I taste a few discomforting beers while judging; and, to be fair, the same is true at the one professional craft beer awards I judge at. Beer that is infected or full of diacetyl when inappropriate and so on. Bad beer.

I am also not including styles I simply do not like or even beer with ingredients I don’t like in beer; except in one instance. To cut to the chase, I have had to drink a few peanut butter beers to realize I do not think it a proper ingredient for beer that I am going to drink. They exist; drink them if you enjoy them. Same goes for most nuts. Nuts are simply too oily for beer, for me (Although Ninkasi’s versions of Ground Control Imperial stout with Oregon hazelnuts were exquisite). Same goes for a few other ingredients and that includes almost every instance of spiced beer. Fremont and a few others can pull off spicing, for me, but most cannot. I will not be going into detail about these beers in this post.

Styles not loved as a whole

What I will talk about are a few styles that I do not love as a whole; that is, I do not love the entire spectrum but a only very narrow slice of that style spectrum appeals to me; immensely so. Two particular instances are IPAs (any strength) and American sours. There are a handful of IPAs—that I am aware of and can get routinely—that I simply adore. The bounty of Oregon and nearby surrounds, again.

The same is true for American sours, although I am aware of and get fewer. My wife does not like any sours so being my primary drinking partner I get them at bottle shares and on draft here and there on occasion. But most American sours are way overdone for me. Making a beer sour for the purpose of being sour is just as unbalanced of a beer as going extreme on anything else (IMHO and not saying they are all made with that intent as that’s silly). I like very few of these. I do love many Belgian sours and Berliner Weiss and … though. Different animals often.

So I particularly love a (few) very narrow slice(s) of the IPA and American sour spectrum and there are large slices that are, to me, nasty beers. There are, of course, some that are tasty enough and are also superbly executed beers but simply not to my palate.

The point

The point is that to find this narrow slice of heaven that my sensory palate adores implies drinking quite a bit of discomforting beer. It is not that I inherently dislike the entire style nor is it that I “need to adjust” to them. The world is rarely that simple.

My palate / Judging

I have a long, interesting and hopefully fun, journey ahead of me but I have a pretty good handle on what my palate likes within a huge range of the beer spectrum, although there is always so much more to learn, which I am actively attempting to do.

Helping others is the point of judging, for one. It forces me to be better about recognizing my experience for what it is, as it is happening, and to turn that into words useful to the brewer of that beer. It also forces me to learn all about brewing and the causes and fixes of issues, and to have a good grasp of many styles. I did this for me for my own learning but the ethical duty is towards others.

As BJCP judge I must drink in styles that I do NOT like. But I can objectively tell the difference between a bad beer and whether or not it is to style (as codified currently). These are discomfort beers that I consume out of a sense of duty. Getting certified as a judge tends to bring along with it the duty of actually judging—everybody always needs judges—and sometimes you have to judge styles you do not like. “Christmas” spiced beers—and others—on a 90°F (32.2°C) day in May; for example. But you must be professional (and ethical) and do your best to determine whether the beer is within the style, if not so how not, and whether the brewing processes were successful, and if not, what and how to overcome. That is completely different than “do you want to be drinking that beer ever” or “just not right now.” This again implies drinking quite a bit of discomforting beer.

Reductionism is (generally) futile

Of course, I earlier critiqued the idea of “you weren’t sure whether you didn’t like, or whether you just needed to adjust to” as being simplistic. So is my current topic/reduction of “I think a few exemplars of this style are the bee’s knees of the beer world but I could not care less for the rest of the broad spectrum of the style” or I simply do not like that style or ingredient.

Because sometimes as you figure out whether you do or do not like a style (I find it sad to rule out a whole style unless you simply cannot do, say, sour then OK all of the sours are out, I guess, but, again, it is rarely that simple. IMHO.) or perhaps as you “adjust” to higher ABV/IBU/pH/… levels you are in the quandary as presented. There are other ways to be in it too but those seem the basics to me. Those are only some of the slices of life that can lead to consuming discomforting beer, as I see it, is what I am saying.

Complexity

I have presented two other angles above, and now I want to make it more complex.

There are also the styles I particularly love, my go-to-styles, if you will—Pilsners, Imperial stouts and barleywines, bourbon-barrel aged Impy stouts—to name a few.

But here’s the thing, you can’t just put some crap Imperial in a bourbon barrel and have me call it good. See the discussion of my palate above. I have a great handle on how my sensory enjoyment prefers these. There are few combinations of the various elements that can vary within ranges but I know what I like; even if it is a new combination. I also know the difference between a well-executed one and a bad/off one, as above.

The same goes for these other styles: Pilsners, stouts, barleywines. I might tend to stand a broader range of the style from “amazing” down to “meh” than I do for say, American sours, but that still implies I drank a lot of potentially discomforting beers to find this narrow slice of sensory heaven for myself.

Bringing it together

Within the beer styles of which I choose to drink any exemplars—whether I love the style as a whole or not—there is a very narrow slice of heaven for me. Those are the beers I want to drink as routinely as possible. But I also like experiencing many different beers, although that is slowing down. So maybe I’ll be better able to put this hard-won and often discomforting information to even better use.

To find out what my preferred flavor profile is for any individual style implies drinking lots of discomforting beer (Not to imply the many “merely good” beers also consumed are discomforting).

Secondarily, as a BJCP judge I have an ethical responsibility to both judge and to accept sometimes judging styles I would really prefer not to even consume. Lots of discomforting beers.

Main point, recapped, in brief

I experience discomforting beer in looking for outstanding examples of a narrow range of these styles to both learn what I do like and what I do not and to also learn that I do not like a style/ingredient wholesale and then being called on to consume them anyway.

Foster – Brewing Porters & Stouts

Brewing Porters & Stouts: Origins, History, and 60 Recipes for Brewing Them at Home Today by Terry Foster

Date read: 31 January – 04 February 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016nfc

Cover image of Foster's Brewing Porters & Stouts

Paperback, 211 pages
Published 2014 by Skyhorse
Source: Own

I loved this book! It was everything I was hoping it would be as an update to the author’s 1992 entry in the Brewers Association Classic Beer Styles Series, 5, Porter, which I reviewed here.

There is more history, a great update on the proliferation of ingredients available to the homebrewer, far more recipes, and I love the inclusion of the stouts. There are also more opinions and they are awesome. Dr. Foster is full of opinions and he tells you why and then it is up to you to choose where you stand. Most are well-reasoned and I generally agree with him.

Highly recommended!

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: How It All Began…And Nearly Ended
  • Chapter 2: Porter and Stout Definitions
  • Chapter 3: Porter and Stout Raw Materials
  • Chapter 4: The Other Ingredients
  • Chapter 5: Brewing Porters and Stouts—Recipes
  • Selected Bibliography

Introduction

“I started brewing my own beer in Britain, just as the craft of homebrewing was beginning to be revived, then moved to the United States just as homebrewing was legalized here. I have therefore lived through two homebrewing revolutions, and of course through the great craft brewing revolution here. The quality of beer I can now produce at home, and that of those craft beers I can buy, has improved dramatically. Proudly numbered among all these new beers are many porters, stouts, and their sub-styles, and new variations on these are appearing almost daily. Therefore, it seemed that this was a good time to review those styles, their histories, and their brewing methodologies” (2).

Chapter 1: How It All Began…And Nearly Ended

“Since this book is essentially about brewing porters and stouts, I needed to condense this history, and have chosen to do so in a fairly loose chronological manner. That means there may be some omissions of material that other brewing historians consider to be significant enough to be included. I have limited the number of references in the text for reasons of brevity, and have instead appended a list of some of my sources. Note that some of the points I make are purely of my opinion, although I have endeavored to base them on as much fact and general brewing knowledge as possible. I make no apology for this; rather, I hope I might stimulate some intriguing debates on them!” (7-8).

The history of porter and stout is broken into sections by century, from the eighteenth to the twenty-first.

There are a couple times here and elsewhere, and I have seen it in other books, where he writes something like, “And in 1875, Whitbread, for the first time, brewed more ale than porter or stout” (33). What?! They are ales. Were they not thought of that way earlier? And I do believe this sort of thing crops up historically or when writing about beer history so perhaps so. Or is this simply an ‘ales other than stouts and porters’ thing? I believe I got the point in this case and often do when this kind of reference crops up but it seems disconcerting. If it is the case that they were definitely not considered ales in, say, the eighteenth century I think making that explicit would go a long way towards educating the reader. Very small point, I concede.

Chapter 2: Porter and Stout Definitions

This section discusses the style parameters, from the perspective of the Brewers Association, the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), and his own. He discusses where they overlap and where they disagree. For instance, he does not consider smoked porter to be its own substyle but merely a variant (53). From this he narrows down the styles/substyles he will be discussing in the rest of the book and providing recipes for.

“I am therefore going to stick to considering the nine designations of brown, robust, and Baltic porters, along with dry, sweet, oatmeal, foreign extra, American, and Imperial stouts. Since most of them have demonstrable historical pedigrees (even the American stout), these categories are useful as a way of looking at these beers. However, they do not include every variety of porter available commercially (let alone those brewed at home)” (53).

From this he goes on to provide sections on each of these nine, plus a couple page discussion of flavored porters and stouts.

Chapter 3: Porter and Stout Raw Materials

This chapter covers malt (and other grist products) primarily, with a small diversion into a few flavorings (lactose, licorice, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, and ‘barrels’). Hops, water and yeast are covered in the next chapter.

The ‘malts’ covered go from the general to the very specific, while he covers how much of what to use in all of the assorted styles he is discussing. They include: base malts (including Vienna and Munich), malt extract, specialty malts (caramel/crystal, Special B, two particular biscuit malts, Special roast malt, Melanoidin, amber, brown, chocolate, black, roasted barley, flaked barley, oat malt/flakes, rye malt, and smoked malts. Foster also includes a section on making your own amber and brown malt.

Chapter 4: The Other Ingredients

Hops, yeast, water, and finings get the Foster treatment here.

Chapter 5: Brewing Porters and Stouts—Recipes

For many this will be the gist of the book and I do look forward to making use of it but, so far, I believe I have and will get the most value from his thoughts in chapter 3 on malts and other grist ingredients.

For each style/substyle he discusses he has included several recipes. These include a couple of all-grain ones and a couple extract and extract plus partial mash recipes per style. After that is a section he entitles, “My Ten Most Interesting Recipes.” Five of these are historical recreations (as best as possible) and the other five he says “are based on modern craft-brewed beers” (189).

At the end of this chapter is his addendum to recipes where he discusses carbonation, kegging, bottling, and stout dispense and nitrogen gas.

One thing not included, unlike in his previous work, are recipes for one-barrel batches. Craft brewers (and homebrewers wanting more than 5-gallon batches) would be on their own to scale up the recipes. Personally, I find that a fair tradeoff for all of the new and updated information, the additional recipes, and the inclusions of the stouts. Recipe scaling information can be found elsewhere.    

Selected Bibliography

This bibliography is much more extensive than the one in the Classic Beer Styles Series from 1992 but he also cites a fair few works in the text that are not listed in the back. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, nor does he intend it to be. Nonetheless, it is several times longer than the one in the 1992 work.

Final comments

Again, I loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the brewing of stouts and porters. I will be visiting and revisiting it, no doubt.

This is my favorite book of 2015 so far. It may seem a tad early to make this claim but I did write “so far.” I have also completed 25 books so far this year so not a completely absurd statement.

This is the 6th book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Snowed In (The Session #108)

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

From Jon Abernathy at The Brew Site who is hosting this month’s Session:

“The theme is “Snowed In,” and I want it to be open-ended. It’s the first week of February—we are solidly in the grip of the winter, which means hunkering down from the cold and, depending on where you live, waiting for warmer days to thaw out the ice and snow. But perhaps it’s one of those winters, where the snow starts falling… and falling… and falling some more, and the next thing you know, schools are closed, there’s four or more feet of snow on the ground—and you are effectively snowed in and not going anywhere.

So what’s next? That is what I want you to write about—as it pertains to beer, of course! …

My birthday is 2/3rd of the way solidly into winter, late in February. People can complain about winter weather all they like—as do I on occasion—but my birthday is during that hell of sleet, rain, ice, snow, freezing winds and everything else that comes with being in the Midwest or Central Oregon in the dead of winter. I used to despise it but now I embrace it. I want it all. And I want all the winter types in February! Now I’m not sadistic; I am perfectly pleased with a day or two of each of the bad kinds of winter weather or even a good gobsmacking by two or three all in one day. Then it can go away. It can, of course, be as nice as it wants; although, admittedly, I’d be a bit freaked out by temps over 60F/15C.

All of that to say, I am fully down with Jon’s topic. And while perhaps not as prepared as I would like “knowing the snow’s coming” we are not unprepared either. Both contingencies will be addressed, as will most of the ideas Jon proposed.

Cold weather beer styles

My cold weather beer styles are pretty much my normal beer styles, although a few specific beers creep in during the colder temps. Imperial stouts and barley wines, barrel-aged or not, are our go-to beers, all year-long. I am not a fan overall of the winter warmer category but a few like Deschutes’ Jubelale and Anchor’s Our Special Ale/Christmas Ale do get put into the winter line-up, at least a couple of each. It also means trying more of them to hopefully find others that can do spicing the way I prefer; not many do. There are also other winter seasonals, such as Deschutes’ Red Chair, that also need a few or more imbibed.

Dip into cellar? Something special?

Here is where we are already prepared. Our cellar is two smaller fridges—4.4 and 11 cubic feet—which are temperature controlled, for which we have a by shelf inventory (spreadsheet). We also—as we buy more beer than we can actually cellar—have several boxes full, all of which is also accurately inventoried. Then there’s the general drinking beer which we do not bother (anymore) to put into the spreadsheet. “General drinking beer” may still be an Impy stout or a barley wine but we simply had no intention of cellaring them when we acquired them; we simply meant to drink them “soon.” We were buying mostly cellar beer for a good while. Had to get that (somewhat) under control. We also used to put every beer into the spreadsheet. We were young. Or something.

So … “snowed in and not going anywhere”? We do have projected dates for most of the cellared beers but we adjust some of the longer, more hopeful, dates based on drinking as we go. Some have definitely moved up across time. We also realized we needed to drink a lot more of them sooner rather than later based on incoming amounts so we are “suffering” our way through that. 😉

I am going to assume this is around my birthday in a couple weeks; thus, as of now anyway, first up would be my last Firestone Walker Double DBA Proprietor’s Reserve Series No. 001 (2012). I drank the previous one February 28th last year and it was freaking ridiculous. It was simply one of the best beers I have ever had the pleasure of tasting and we had a whole 22 oz. bottle to the two of us. I got four of these from our friends at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café in late 2013 and they have been amazing all along but the improvement along the way has been off the charts! So I have chosen this as this year’s birthday beer. Could change my mind but not thinking I will.

Next up for consideration:

Some of the tasties we are already scheduled to drink soon: 2013 editions of Brasserie Dieu du Ciel’s Péché Mortel, Dogfish Head’s World Wide Stout and Crux’s Tough Love. There are far more coffee stouts than the Péché, like a 2013 BCBS Coffee, a Stone 2013 IRS Espresso and a Founders’ Breakfast Stout. among a few others.

We might finally get on with our Fort George Cavatica Stout tasting. We have 16 oz cans of regular Cavatica Stout from 2014, along with the barrel-aged versions from the last few years: 2013 Rye, 2014 Rum (also 16 oz cans) and 2015 Bourbon (22 oz bottle). Should make for a fun excursion.

I spy a 2014 Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin slotted for sometime in 2016. Snowed in seems like as fine an occasion as any for it.

Perhaps one evening as we’re winding down, we could sip on a Westvleteren XII (2012) and contemplate our moments of good fortune. I still have three of these that I got in the “fix the roof” six-pack.

Like I said, there are others, listed in the spreadsheet or not, but these are some of the more intriguing and, in a few especial cases, better—fully world class—beers that would fit the extended snowbound occasion.

Stock up on go-to beer

Depending on the timing, I would want a case of Deschutes’ Jubelale. This year’s (2015) is my favorite so far. Every time I drank it I wanted another. Sometimes I chose not to but the “but I want another” was strong for me in this year’s Jubelale. The thing is … I only drink this fresh. Same as with Red Chair. And I do mean fresh. If I can’t verify this is only a month old or less I generally won’t touch it. My choice, I know. Saw a 12-pack at Haggen’s (supermarket) the other day (first week of January) for a reasonable price and I had a tough time rationalizing my way into following my own principles. I adore both of these beers but can only drink them for a few weeks each year as if it isn’t fresh it is not the same to me. I am not so much on this level of freshness with any other beers. Not at all. Don’t get me wrong I like fresh beer (and appropriately aged beers, no doubt) but this is some kind of hyperfreshness fetish. But, to me, when definitely fresh, these are both world class beers of the highest order but when not quite fresh anymore they rapidly start to approach “Meh. There’s better beer available in this town/bar/pub.” I don’t want to be there with either of these beers. So I self-limit in an odd way.

Picked up a case of Oskar Blues’ Ten Fidy Imperial Stout end of January. This is currently the wife’s go-to beer whenever I am drinking one of the many things I have around that she isn’t into. I also quite like it and generally leave it to her but with a case I can have a few. We’d been buying it by the 4-packs but realized I should just ask “my guy” for a case. Making that request a couple weeks ago reminded me I have no Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout in the house either. Went through several cases of that the last couple winters especially as that was my go-to beer. Might need to grab a 6-pack or two and see how it’s tasting. Could need to talk to my guy about that again too.

I have been drinking a boatload of Pelican’s Umbrella Single-Hop IPA with Ella hops from New Zealand as my go-to beer lately. I’ve been loving the heck out of that! Also a bit strange as there are only a few IPAs—of any kind or color—that get me excited. And never one I have bought by the 6-pack! I was so excited when Umbrella was put in 12 oz 6-ers and made year-round. Crazy but there it is. Seems I need a good hop bite with none of that “Is it the roast malts, or the bitterness from the hops/coffee/chocolate/ … WTF is that bitterness?” that we get frequently in many of the beers we love.

Even more lately, I have been drinking Fremont’s Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout in 12 oz cans. Fremont has just recently begun distributing in Bend but I have had several of theirs previously thanks to a local friend, Ryan, who is a big fan of them. In fact, he gave me one of these for my birthday last year. I gave it 5-stars (of 5) and wrote “Very creamy. Fruity. Nice. I like this a lot.” I left out the ridiculous roastiness, the massive mouthfeel during and long after, and the lingering complexity. This is big and chewy and at 8% seems even bigger.

Whoa! just checked Fremont’s website and they say this beer is only available January 1st to February 29th. Oh. Hell. No. Just shot my guy a message. Got a case on its way. This is stocking up on go-to beer, right?

Too late for more Jubelale for me this year but maybe if I truly knew the big one was coming I’d break my prohibition as it would still be a tasty beer, to say the least. I would want a case of at least one of the stouts but preferably the Ten Fidy as we need something Sara is happy to consume without investing lots of thought. Going with the Fremont for now but would not a couple 6-packs of the Barney Flats for something more sessionable and also of Umbrella. Need a little variety in your drinking beer, I do.

Homebrewer

I am a fledgling home brewer so do not yet even have all of the equipment and certainly not any ingredients for brewing up something on the spot—well, that’s a lie as I have a good 3/4 lb or so of Cascade pellet hops in the freezer that were given to me.

I have also not brewed in the snow yet but look forward to it. If I can find a way to make it possible.

I think a nice roasty, toasty porter or stout would be a good match for the weather and goes along with many of my other choices in this post.

“Desert island beer” but colder – snowed in for all of winter

Well … this depends. Is this something available and affordable to me? Is it something I choose for myself or for the wife and I both or something we choose together? Those questions will all influence the answer.

Considering that if it isn’t available to me (for whatever reason) or I cannot afford it (one of those reasons) then I’m not going to get it so we will just forget that blissful group of beers and move on.

I think, as of now, the easy answer is Barney Flats if only I’m choosing and Ten Fidy if I am for both of us, and possibly if we both choose one between us. I would go with the almost sessionable Barney Flats over the not-at-all-sessionable Ten Fidy myself as it would have a bit more range.

If I could somehow get fresh deliveries but only of the same beer I might for go this year’s Jubelale but that’s not really possible over Winter anyway since by then Red Chair has replaced it as a seasonal.

Beer book(s) paired with which beer

Well, there’s the easy answer of the appropriate style with each book in the Classic Beer Styles series from Brewers Publications, for instance Pale Ale with one’s favorite pale. I’m not sure what my favorite pale is although I know I like a few. Poking UnTappd I’m going to have to say either Deschutes Hop Trip, Block 15 Print Master’s Pale, Mazama Oregon SMASH, or Crux The Pale Ale.

I own Pale Ale (Foster), Porter (Foster), Stout (Lewis), and Barley Wine (Allen & Cantwell) (all of which I’ve read) and Vienna, Marzën, Oktoberfest (Fix & Fix) which I have not.

Probably couldn’t get very far at a time with Barley Wine unless sipping very slowly. I’ll leave it to you to choose appropriate beers for these and the following.

Might I suggest some possible combinations for your own consideration:

Boak and Bailey  Brew Britannia with the best approximation [if not in the UK] of English beer, preferably a sessionable one, that you can achieve in your location. Actual British beer would be preferable, with something from one of the upstarts even better. Perhaps you ought sit in your local and enjoy your beer there while you read it. That would be my choice. [Learned to read in bars in college & grad school, basically across my 40s. “Retired” from the Army and started college full-time to finish undergrad degree and eventually grad school.]

Patrick Dawson – Vintage Beer with anything cellared for over three years.

Sam Calagione – Extreme Brewing with some Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, or one of their other off-centered beers [same issue as Barley Wine above, though].

Terry Foster – Brewing Porters & Stouts with tasty porters or stouts or an assortment of the various sub-styles if your tastes are eclectic enough. Mine are. I can appreciate a well-made porter or stout of any origin.

There’s also the Brewing Elements series from Brewer Publications:

Stan Hieronymous – For the Love of Hops with a nicely hopped (whatever that is for you), hop-forward beer, with either your favorite hops or some of the newer German varieties or anything from New Zealand.

John Mallett – Malt with tasty malt-forward beers.

Chris White & Jamil Zainasheff – Yeast with tasty yeast-driven beers. [not yet read]

John Palmer & Colin Kaminski – Water with, well, not sure what a water-forward beer would be, but tasty beers where the style is heavily-dependent on the water profile seems a good start. [not yet read]

Then there are potentialities like working your way style-by-style through some of these:

Mirella Amato – Beerology [read, not yet reviewed]

Garrett Oliver – The Brewmaster’s Table

Jeff Alworth – The Beer Bible [read, not yet reviewed]

Randy Mosher – Tasting Beer

Brian Yaeger – Oregon Breweries (or your own state/region) with a selection of Oregon (or other “district” as appropriate)  beers

Jon Abernathy – Bend Beer [still need to do a proper review of this]

Pete Dunlop – Portland Beer (or your city)

Joshua Bernstein – The Complete Beer Course [not yet read]

Michael Jackson – Michael Jackson’s Great Beers of Belgium with as many of the great beers of Belgium you can (easily) get to hand. [not yet read]

Leaving the easy to come by—self-evident—beer-related pairings:

Anne Brontë – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall with some “home-brewed ale.”

“‘Sine as ye brew, my maiden fair,
Keep mind that ye maun drink the yill.’*”

“From ‘Country Lassie’, a song by Robert Burns (1792). ‘Sine’: then; ‘maun’: must; ‘yill’: ale (Scots dialect). Cf. the proverb, ‘As they brew so let them drink’ (ODEP, 85).” 227/433

If you are still reading, thanks. Sorry for going on so long but I was inspired by Jon’s topic, even if it was mostly meaningful to me.

The Session 105: British Beer and TV

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session: What is it?

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry.”

In other words, it is a beer blogging carnival.

My previous posts for the session:

Session #105

This is Session #105 and the topic is Double Features, hosted by Mark at Kaedrin Beer Blog.

“For this installment, I’d like to revisit that glorious time of beer drinking when I was just starting to realize what I was getting into. One of my favorite ways to learn about beer was to do comparative tastings. Drink two beers (usually of the same style) with a critical eye, compare and contrast. Because I’m also a movie nerd, this would often be accompanied by a film pairing. It was fun, and I still enjoy doing such things to this day!

So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to drink two beers, compare and contrast. No need for slavish tasting notes, but if you want to, that’s fine too. The important part is to highlight how the two beers interact with one another during your session (pun intended!) For extra credit, pair your beers with two films to make your own Double Feature. Now, I’m a big tent kinda guy, so feel free to stretch this premise to its breaking point.”

On Sunday, 01 November 2015, I watched the last two episodes of Doctor Who Series 2 [reboot, David Tennant] and drank two organic beers from Samuel Smith, one per episode. Both episodes constitute story 177 (according to Wikipedia) and consist of “Army of Ghosts” (ep 12) and “Doomsday” (ep 13) and were written by Russell T. Davies.

Samuel Smith Organic Pale Ale and Organic Chocolate Stout

Samuel Smith Organic Pale Ale and Organic Chocolate Stout

I didn’t know what my theme was going in (other than British beer & TV) but it turned out to be “Old beer and old episodes.”

Beginning with “Army of Ghosts” I drank a Samuel Smith’s Organic Pale Ale.  Pale seems to be a natural fit for ghosts.

SamSmithOrgPale

Aroma: kind of like a dubbel; sweet, light nuttiness & light burnt caramel. Color: dark amber; almost no head. Taste: Strange. Wonder how fresh? Not bad but should it taste like this?

A lot of blue-on-blue lately—3rd episode at least where the Tardis is placed near other blue objects which mostly fill the frame. I’m kind of blue about this beer. Going to need to check out those date codes later.

Torchwood building.

Freema Agyeman. 1st appearance on Doctor Who? Not as Martha, though. Yes! I was right.

“Who you gonna call?” Ghostbusters riff by Doctor & Rose. Just a tad cheesy but good pop culture reference.

“Why are you always reducing it to science? Why can’t it be real?” Jackie Tyler to The Doctor.

Must be some diacetyl; which I had been thinking for a while.

A “Void ship” : “a vessel to exist outside time and space.”

From the teaser for the next episode: “Cybermen and Daleks. Together we could upgrade the universe.” Upgrading (I hope) my beer.

Moving on to “Doomsday” I had a Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout.

SamSmithOrgChocStout

A: chocolate syrup (coffee, fakey kind). C: black; short lasting tan head. Fakey chocolate syrup.

“I did my duty. I did my duty. Oh God. I did my duty.” Yvonne Hartman, Director of Torchwood ::Shudder:: I understand the horror of duty all too well. Sadly, I know many who understand it even it even more. My heart breaks.

The Cult of Skaro

“I did my bit for Queen and Country.” Yvonne as a Cyberman; black tears from her eyes.

Bad Wolf Bay

Woman in a wedding dress (Donna), who it turns out is only visiting and not coming back as a companion until next season even though she will be the companion for the first episode of season 3. Freema as Martha will be back as Martha very shortly for the rest of this season.

Well, this exercise taught me (reminded me blatantly, is more like it) that I need to be very careful with which beers I get at one of our local bottle shops. The next day (Monday) I researched Sam Smith date codes and this is what I found: http://freshbeeronly.com/Intl_Breweries.html My Pale Ale is SI13N1 = 13 Sep 2014 and the Stout is SC13N1 = 13 Mar 2014. Both are way too old for these beers. ::sigh::

So the moral, I guess, is old TV shows are OK to visit for either the first time or to revisit, as the case may be, but other than the beers-that-can-be-aged most beers should not be. Also, more importantly, learn to read obscure date codes and do so before buying. And advocate for legible and & comprehensible date codes on all packaged beer.

I apologize for how unfocused this all was. We had a different plan for this Session and that fell through for assorted reasons and I had to punt. Sadly, I bought beers that I knew I had enjoyed previously at the wrong place. And I am fully at fault for not checking/understanding the date codes. I do not fault Samuel Smith in any way and do not expect to have “fresh” beer from Europe but … most have not been so evidently off.

Saunders – Dinner in the Beer Garden

Dinner in the Beer Garden by Lucy Saunders

Date read: 10-11 March 2015 (Re-read); originally read 24-27 June 2014

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Photo of cover of Lucy Saunders' Dinner in the Beer Garden

Paperback, 232 pages

Published 2013 by F&B Communications

Source: Backed on Kickstarter 6 Sep 2013 ($25) by wife, received 31 Jan 2014

[Sara helped Kickstart this book so we have a signed copy that randomly arrived one day a couple of months later. Some days that’s a joy of Kickstarter. Some days not. I read it last June but failed to review it at the time. As part of my goals for the year, starting this month, one a month, I am to review a beer book that I previously read but failed to review. That schedule may be a little tight since it will involve so much re-reading but if I can get through about six before year’s end then that’d be most of them.]

Well-illustrated with color photographs. Lest the title distract you, this is a cookbook. There is no text wasted on philosophies, disputations or similar arcana. There is an acknowledgments, a recipe index and an ingredient index, along with photo credits and an author bio. In between each recipe section there are short “profiles” of some beer gardens and related topics. Otherwise it is mostly recipes, each of which comes with a suggested beer pairing.

While this book does not eschew meat entirely, as the jacket states, “It’s a cookbook for people who like carrots and kale—as well as butter, fish, cheese and chocolate!”

Table of Contents (and commentary):

  • Appetizers (9 recipes – Bock pretzels and other sweet and/or savory things for various seasons)
  • About Tasting and Pairing Beer with Vegetables
  • Beans & Legumes (6 recipes – From salads to fried)
  • Bavaria’s Biergartens (by Lindsay Bosslett and Rick Hadsall)
  • Cheese (9 recipes – French toast to gnocchi to turnovers)
  • Estabrook Park Beer Garden (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Eggs (8 recipes)
  • August Schell Brewery Gardens (New Ulm, MN)
  • Fish & Seafood (7 recipes)
  • New Glarus Brewing Co. Hilltop Beer Garden (New Glarus, WI)
  • Greens (7 recipes)
  • Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro (Bellingham, WA)
  • Noodles & Pasta (6 recipes)
  • Brewery Farms (Rogue, Bell’s, NY farm brewery license program, Sean Paxton, Sierra Nevada, Stone)
  • Roots (7 recipes)
  • Building a Better Beer Garden: Advice from a Pro Brewer (advice from Aaron Rzeznik, landscape designer and brewer at Witch’s Hat Brewery, South Lyon, MI)
  • Squash & Vegetables (12 recipes)
  • Virginia’s Brew Ridge Trail (Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton; Devils Backbone Brewpub, Rosedale; Wild Wolf Brewing, Nellysford; 6 breweries, Nelson and Albemarle Counties www.brewridgetrail.com )
  • Grains (6 recipes)
  • Botanical Garden Brewfests (Fest-of-the-Ale at Missouri Botanical Garden (Oct); Fest-of-Ale (month of Oct) by Atlanta Botanical Garden; Chicago Botanic Garden festival; Oregon Garden Brewfest, Silverton)
  • Sauces & Soups (8 recipes)
  • Bière de Garde Jelly by Christina Ward, Milwaukee County Master Food Preserver
  • Fruits & Desserts (13 recipes)
  • Recipe Index
  • Ingredient Index
  • Photo Index, Participating Breweries

I have already identified several recipes of interest, including a Basil-Walnut Pesto and Udon with Ginger-Garlic Broth under Noodles & Pasta; Potato-Leek Cakes with Almond Cream Sauce and Manchego Potato & Chard Tarts under Roots; Sesame Miso-glazed Squash and Cauliflower-Chickpea Cakes under Squash & Vegetables; and Carrot Risotto Cakes with Spiced Plum Relish and Millet Flatbread with Manchego and Rosemary under Grains. No doubt, others will sound scrumptious when the proper ingredients are in season.

Pairings  

For the Udon with Ginger-Garlic Broth she suggests a black IPA or hoppy American stout. I might use less ginger; in fact, would, so maybe not so big. I’m thinking Firestone Walker Wookey Jack. The rye in that can add a little of its own spice.

For the Potato-Leek Cakes with Almond Cream Sauce she suggests “a yeasty Belgian strong ale with plum and caramel notes …” (127). Mmmm. Several possibilities here.

For the Sesame Miso-glazed Squash the recommended pairing is “malt-forward lager such as Vienna or Oktoberfest [which] balances the salty miso sauce” (159).

Once in a while the recommendations are oddly specific; I am not referring to the odd Rogue or Goose Island beer or so on as several breweries did support her with locations and/or photos. But, for instance, for the Millet Flatbread with Manchego and Rosemary the recommendation is “a golden ale aged in merlot barrels, or a farmstead dry cider with enough tannins to take on the Manchego and rosemary” (178). OK. We get two recommendations. But both are incredibly specific. I agree that either, but especially the merlot barrel-aged golden, would be exquisite. Not the easiest thing to put one’s hands on, though.

I would love to go to the Fest-of-the-Ale at Missouri Botanical Garden. [ I love MOBOT! I grew up in St. Louis County and visited MOBOT many times when a kid and made it back a couple years ago.]

The Bière de Garde jelly sounds quite tasty but it involves canning. [I must say, I adore this contributor’s title, “Master Food Preserver.” Of course, I just registered for our second year at the C.O.M.G.A. Spring Gardening Seminar.]

All-in-all, this is an excellent book of primarily fruit- and vegetable-centered recipes covering dishes of all sorts to pair with beer. And while these foods could certainly be enjoyed anywhere—without or without a well-paired beer—they would be even better in a beer garden among loved ones or friends. That is what this book celebrates.

I recommend it if you can get your hands on it. Seems to be used copies out there.

This post is cross-posted at my other blog, habitually probing generalist, for purposes of the below reading challenge.

This is the 16th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Fort George Festival of the Dark Arts

This weekend Sara and I made a ‘quick’ (~7 hours each way) trip to Astoria, Oregon to attend the Fort George Brewery Festival of the Dark Arts, “A Carnival of Stout.”

Fort George, along with other breweries, has declared February as Stout Month. Seeing as February is my Birthday Month I consider this a wonderful declaration! They have many of their own stouts on tap all month along with having quite a few guest taps. But it all comes to an orgiastic head during Zwickelmania when Fort George hosts the Festival of the Dark Arts. Forty-seven stouts (47!) all housed in one brewery campus! They had 14 of their own stouts and the rest were guests. There was also lots of arts and artists present, tarot card reading, tattooing, blacksmithing, music, fire dancing, music and other diversions.

The Fort George Public House during the Festival of the Dark Arts

The Fort George Public House during the Festival of the Dark Arts

Art on the Taproom wall at Fort George

Art on the Taproom wall at Fort George Brewery

The event was hosted across Fort George’s brewery and public house and went from 2 – 10 pm on Saturday. We got up early on Saturday morning—well, not really as we always get up early, but we did get moving and left the house early and drove up to Astoria. We left around 7 am and arrived about 2 pm. We checked into our Air BnB and got our stuff together and walked the 12 blocks—mostly downhill—to Fort George.

Our Festival of the Dark Arts glasses

Our Festival of the Dark Arts glasses

Entrance was free but a cool glass mug for drinking from was $8 so we each dropped a $20 bill on a mug and 12 tokens. Some of the stronger and usually the barrel-aged stouts were 2 tokens per 3 oz. pour but most were only 1 token.

Fort George Brewery Festival of the Dark Arts token, both sides

Fort George Brewery Festival of the Dark Arts token, both sides

Sadly, we seem to have lost our Festival map which had descriptions of all of the stouts. The webpage announcing the lineup does at least profile the Fort George beers. I do know which ones we had and in what order as I was writing them down. Some people thought that was too organized but they also usually thought I was making tasting notes. I knew better than that! I simply recorded the names.

Almost all were good but there were one or two I wasn’t overly fond of, and there were a couple of the bourbon barrel-aged ones which tasted more like someone had poured a shot of bourbon in a stout; not all, just some.

Barrels at Fort George Brewery

Barrels at Fort George Brewery

The following list comprises the 21 (out of 47 available) stouts that we sampled, all in 3 oz. pours:

  • Bison Organic Chocolate Stout
  • Fort George Squashed Stout
  • HUB Army of Darkness (bourbon bbl-aged)
  • Fort George Kentucky Girl
  • Fort George Viva La Stout
  • Great Divide Espresso Oak-Aged Imperial Stout
  • Block 15 Super Nebula
  • Fort George Meeker’s Mark Stout
  • Fort George Polish’s Black Walnut Stout
  • Astoria’s Bad Ass Stout
  • Laurelwood Bbl-aged Moose & Squirrel Stout
  • Boneyard Bbl-Aged Suge Knight
  • Elysian Omen
  • Fort George Three Wisemen
  • Stone 2008 Imperial Russian Stout aged in bourbon barrels
  • Burnside Red Light District Stout
  • Lucky Lab Pavlov’s Russian Imperial Stout
  • Fort George Bourbon Bbl-Aged Cavatica
  • Fort George Coffee Girl
  • McMenamin’s Whiskey Bbl-Aged Terminator
  • The Abyss

I liked the Bison and I quite enjoyed the Fort George (FG) Squashed. It had a sort of “bright” taste to it the I liked. The FG Viva La Stout was a Mexican chocolate stout with cinnamon, vanilla and almond. If you had told me it was a milk stout with almonds I may well have said, “This is interesting.” All I could taste was sweet almond and stout and perhaps a hint of vanilla; no chocolate or cinnamon. It really needed those flavors to give it some balance. The Block 15 Super Nebula we had last year at The Little Woody and were disappointed when it was recently released but not sent to Bend (I emailed Block 15 to enquire) because we both thought it was the best beer at The Little Woody. Thus, we were happy to get to try it again. Sara still thought it was amazing; I thought it was excellent but have since had 2 to 3 better stouts in the intervening months.

Fermenters at Fort George Brewery

Fermenters at Fort George Brewery

Astoria’s Bad Ass Stout was quite drinkable but I wanted more from it with a name like that. The Laurelwood Bbl-aged Moose & Squirrel was quite tasty. The Boneyard Bbl-Aged Suge Knight wasn’t hitting the right notes for me this weekend. I have tasted this version in a small taster before and enjoyed it a bit more and I have spent a (very) recent evening nursing a non-barrel aged Suge Knight in a large snifter, which was exquisite. [And what is with the name of this beer? I have seen it spelled in probably 6-8 different ways, including a couple of different ways from the brewery.]

Tap Handle for a Fort George stout

Tap Handle for a Fort George stout

I would say that the Elysian Omen let me down but that’s only partly true. I generally like Elysian beers and I find their Dragonstooth to be quite toothsome. But the Omen is one of their 12 Beers of the Apocalypse from last year (2012) and I have had 3 of those so far and have not been impressed by any of them. The Omen is a Belgian raspberry stout. I am not a big raspberry fan but I have had a couple raspberry stouts that I found incredible. I am also a huge Belgian beer fan, having lived there for over 3 years. This just did not work for me, though. I do have a sad over the whole 12 Beers of the Apocalypse as if you’re going to go all out and have a line with that name then they best be incredible beers. The Stone 2008 IRS was incredible! The Burnside Red Light district, a strawberry stout, was quite drinkable but definitely a once in a while taste. The Abyss was, well, The Abyss; appropriately named.

Fort George Brewery courtyard at night with blacksmithing and fire dancers

Fort George Brewery courtyard at night with blacksmithing and fire dancers

Fort George descriptions:

  • Squash Stout, — 6.7% butternut and acorn squashes
  • Kentucky Girl — Coffee Girl on bourbon barrels, ONE KEG LEFT; http://www.fortgeorgebrewery.com/beers/occasionals/kentucky-girl/
  • Viva La Stout — 7.6%, mexican chocolate stout, cinnamon, vanilla, almond
  • Meekers Mark — 8.0%, oatmeal stout on Maker’s Mark barrels
  • Polish’s Black Walnut Stout — 6.4%, 6 lbs of walnuts – nutty, toasty
  • 3 Wisemen — 9.9%, whiskey, rum, and tequila barrels Oatmeal Stout; http://www.fortgeorgebrewery.com/beers/occasionals/three-wisemen/
  • Bourbon Bbl. Cavatica — 2 months on Makers Mark barrels
  • Coffee Girl — “strong malty chocolate profile” oats, malts, molasses; http://www.fortgeorgebrewery.com/beers/seasonal/coffee-girl/

These are the Fort George ones we did not try:

  • Campout Stout — 7.0%, dark chocolate, caramel, marshmallows
  • Rye Whiskey Bbl. Cavatica Stout — 9.2%, barrels for 6 months, special for festival
  • Long Dark Winter — 5.8%, milk stout with oatmeal
  • Murky Pearl — fermented with oysters, salty ocean; http://www.fortgeorgebrewery.com/beers/occasionals/murky-pearl/
  • Cavatica — 8.8%,
  • Spank Stout — honey malts and 30 lbs of roasted peppers – Spicy!

We had a grand time, met some folks, got our tarot cards read, got some brewery/festival clothing, and brought home a four pack of the 2013 Barrel Aged Cavatica Stout which has been aged in Heaven Hills Rye Whiskey Barrels, some of which will be cellared.

Fort George Cavatica Stout aged in Heaven Hills rye barrels

Fort George Cavatica Stout aged in Heaven Hills rye whiskey barrels

We are hoping to make this an annual tradition for us—weather depending, it is a 7-hour drive in February—although we hope to extend it a few days for a more leisurely pace and to allow for more sightseeing and experiencing of the local culture(s) along the way. We also are thinking of trying to volunteer at the Festival next year.

One of the many volunteers hard at work

One of the many volunteers hard at work

And on that note a big “Thank you” to Fort George and their staff and another even bigger one to all of the awesome volunteers who made this thing work so smoothly!

A few more photos follow. FYI: photos are not in the order taken.

A very important sign in the courtyard the next morning

A very important sign in the courtyard the next morning

The Fort George Brewery courtyard the morning after the Festival of the Dark Arts

The Fort George Brewery courtyard the morning after the Festival of the Dark Arts

The Fort George Public House façade and the Blue Scorcher bakery

The Fort George Public House façade and the Blue Scorcher bakery

The Fort George building, 1924, home of the Fort George Public House and the Blue Scorcher bakery

The Fort George building, 1924, home of the Fort George Public House and the Blue Scorcher bakery

1st Annual Platypus Pub Brewfest

Thursday night the resident Beer Angel and I went to the 1st Annual Platypus Pub Brewfest at the Platypus Pub in Bend. We went early as we knew it would get crowded and loud fast. The event started at 5 pm with representatives from the 15 breweries, in groups of 3, displaying their wares, talking about them and handing out samples beginning at 5:30 with a half hour for each group. There was also going to be raffles for beer stuff throughout the night but we got out before it became a swarm and missed them.

These were the participating breweries: Worthy Brewing, Pyramid, Bend Brewing, Mac & Jack’s, Georgetown, Bridgeport, Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, Green Flash, Cascade Lakes, Full Sail, Elysian, Stone, New Belgium, Deschutes.

We got there about 4:30 and ordered some food and four 4 oz. samplers. Thankfully, the 15 beers that were the stars of the evening were already on tap.

We had the New Belgium La Folie Sour Brown, the BridgePort Old Knucklehead Barley Wine, the Bend Raven Bourbon Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter, and the Worthy Lights Out Stout.

Our tasters at the 1st Annual Platypus Pub Brewfest. Back l-to-r: Unknown beer [see update], New Belgium; front l-to-r: BridgePort, Worthy

Our tasters at the 1st Annual Platypus Pub Brewfest. Back l-to-r: Unknown beer [see update], New Belgium; front l-to-r: BridgePort, Worthy

It turns out that I had had the New Belgium La Folie before. I gave it 3.75 stars (out of 5) and before I had given it 3. The first time I believe it was with some other sours and perhaps it didn’t fare as well. 6% ABV.

Bend’s Raven Baltic Porter is an odd one and there were no notes from the barrel-aging. The odd color was definitely off-putting. I gave it 3 stars. 9.5% ABV. [I almost have to wonder if we got the correct beer brought to us on this one. See below: We did not get the correct beer.]

The BridgePort Old Knucklehead had a nice aroma and tasted a little of caramel with hint of honey in the aftertaste. There were other flavors present but I couldn’t quite put my finger on them. This was more of an English-style barley wine than an American one as the hops were quite mellow. It was quite tasty and garnered 4 stars. This was the favorite of both of us. 9.1% ABV.

The Worthy Lights Out Stout had an almost smoky aroma and taste, and included tobacco notes. It was medium-bodied but a bit thin for a stout, in my book. I thought it was a good first effort (as a stout) from Worthy and hope they take it as a base to improve upon. I gave it 3 stars. 7.7% ABV.

Full Sail was the first brewery to take advantage of the brewer’s table and we sampled their LTD 04 Pale Bock/Lager. This is a single malt, single hop (Willamette) brew that was thin but tasty. 7% ABV. I do think they need to do a better job on their promotional materials because some claim it is a pale lager and some a pale bock. Now, clearly, as a bock it is a lager but the reverse isn’t necessarily so. Sara liked it also. 3.5 stars.

Right before we were leaving I noticed that another brewery’s rep had joined Full Sail at the table so I stopped by and got a taster of Georgetown’s Lucille IPA. I am not the biggest IPA fan but I enjoyed this. I didn’t see any IBU counts for any of the beers but this was not excessively hoppy but was still definitely an IPA. Fruity hop aroma. I gave it 4 stars.

Thanks Platypus Pub for your 1st Annual Brewfest and hosting these brewery reps and their beers.

After leaving the Platypus Pub we stopped by Silver Moon to try a snifter of their barrel-aged Purgatory’s Shadow, a wittily (and aptly) named Belgian strong dark ale. 9.4% ABV, 38 IBUs. Slightly sour aroma. Flavors of currants, figs, raisins and other dark fruits. Well-balanced–both hops and malt but also sour and sweet. Nice body. I gave this 4.5 stars and this was the best beer of the evening, by far, for both of us. I understand there’s a limited amount of this so drop by Silver Moon soon if you like big, strong, dark ales.

Snifter of Silver Moon's barrel-aged Purgatory's Shadow

Snifter of Silver Moon’s barrel-aged Purgatory’s Shadow

Again, thanks Platypus Pub and we’re looking forward to next year’s lineup.

Update:

Saturday we went back to Platypus Pub to get a taster of the Bend Raven Bourbon Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter to see whether we had actually gotten the beer we had ordered on Thursday night. It turns out we most certainly did not. This was most definitely a 9.5% ABV barrel-aged Baltic Porter. Inky black, as a raven should be. Redolent of bourbon, tobacco and figs. Tasting of bourbon and dark malts. It had a very port-like aroma and taste throughout. This was an exquisite beer and garnered 5 stars from both of us.

Two 4 oz. glasses of beer: Bend Raven Baltic Porter on left; Elysian Mortis Sour Persimmon on right.

Bend Raven Baltic Porter on left; Elysian Mortis Sour Persimmon on right.

How We Love Beer (The Session #72)

 

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session: What is it?

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry.”

In other words, it is a beer blogging carnival.

This is my first entry and this month’s topic—to be hosted at montana beer finder —is “How we love beer.”

How I love beer

I have loved beer for a very long time. My love began even before I began drinking beer. As an eleven-year old in St.Louis, I began collecting beer cans. For some reason I was actually encouraged in this hobby. My dad took me to trading sessions and other events of some of the very active chapters of the Beer Can Collectors of America. One was even affiliated with his place of work—McDonald Douglas—so he was able to do a little socializing himself. When I went on trips with my mom she would purchase beer in cans for me with my allowance. In 1977 my Dad and I even attended the BCCA ‘Canvention’ in Kansas City. Shortly after that I entered the US Army. Twenty years later, including three tours in Europe—two in Germany, one in Belgium—I had significantly added to my can collection, which had now blossomed into additional smaller collections of coasters, painted label bottles, openers, etc. I even attended a massive trading event of the Dutch club Blik op Blik while I was stationed in Belgium. Sadly, a plethora of moves since ‘retiring’ from the Army, increased storage costs, and so on has significantly depleted my collection. It has been heartbreaking each time I have had to reduce it. I still have a few cans and other assorted items but they are all in boxes—as most of the collection has been for years—in the garage. With my newfound interest in craft beer, and the possibility that we have finally found where we want to stay, and the hope we may buy a house in the next couple of years, I am looking forward to finally unpacking what is left of the first “how” of my love for beer and properly displaying it. It has been far too long since it has been displayed.

The next “how” of my love of beer is more recent. In June of 2012 we came out to Bend, Oregon—a true nirvana for folks who appreciate great beer—for a job interview for my wife. In our one day in town we visited the Deschutes Bend Public House and were quite impressed with the Obsidian Stout that we had. Two days later we were in Portland after a day in Corvallis for her second interview and we ate at the Deschutes Portland Public House and were even more impressed with the Extinction Stout that we had there. On our trip out to house hunt in July we made it to a few more places but also revisited the Deschutes Bend Public House.

Snifter of Deschutes' Extinction Stout - Portland Public House June 2012

Deschutes’ Extinction Stout – Portland Public House June 2012

Deschutes' beer menu description of their Extinction Stout

Deschutes’ beer menu description of their Extinction Stout

We, and our belongings, ended up in Bend on 6 August 2012 after a five day trip across country from western Iowa. Ten days later we were showing our love for beer by being volunteer pourers at the opening of Bend Brewfest, which we had signed up to do online before we even left Iowa. It was great fun and we hope to be able to do it again next year. We also attended the fest that evening and each of the two days after sampling many good beers.

Attending the Little Woody festival, several Deschutes Brewery University events, vertical tastings and blogging about them on my main blog followed. Completing the Bend Ale Trail over the next couple months was an enjoyable and tasty way to show my appreciation for craft beer. I started using Untappd (website and phone app) on the suggestion of a friend to track my explorations in beer and share with a community, and I did some research and bought the best small fridge I could afford to start cellaring some of the big beers that we so love (“The Cellar”).

I began dreaming of starting a beer blog to do more in the way of chronicling my adventures in beer and sharing them with others, which I have since done: By the barrel, aka Bend Beer Librarian. I have begun a program of reading books, websites, blogs and so on to increase my knowledge of beer. The pursuit of several certifications, such as Cicerone Certified Beer Server and Ale Conner Certified Beer Authority, are being started on. I am also planning a series of tastings for my friends. Thankfully we have met several friends here in Bend who also love beer.

At some point I hope to take the next logical step and begin brewing my own beer. But for now I am having a grand time appreciating all of the many local beers available at the diverse venues we have. Of course, we have some great bottle shops and pubs with guest taps where we can experience quality beer from all over.

These are the actions I am currently taking to show my love of beer, and I look forward to whatever opportunities the future brings that allows me to continue demonstrating my love of beer and to help others in demonstrating theirs.

Thank you for the opportunity to step back and reflect on the “how” of my love for beer and to participate in The Session.

Happy International Stout Day, 8 November 2012

I was informed by Untapped via twitter (@Untappd) a day or two ago, that today is International Stout Day. (@StoutDay)

Now that’s a holiday made-to-order for Bend!

OK, our stout scene is a little weak here in the Pacific Northwest what with the overemphasis (thankfully, tapering I believe) on IPAs. But. Weak or not, we do have some amazing stouts around. Most are special issues and more seasonal issues but there are a few very good stouts available year-round.

I will most definitely be participating this evening by: 1) enjoying a delicious stout (or two), and 2) checking into Untappd to get my Stout Day badge, and 3) writing this post.

Which stout(s) will I drink? Let me check my cellar and fridge.

I could always have an Obsidian Stout from Deschutes but I only have it in 12 oz. bottles and, honestly, even though I really like Obsidian it tastes like crap out of a 12 oz. bottle. I also have bombers (22 oz. bottles) of the following: Widmer Bros. Series 924 Milk Stout, Elysian Dragonstooth Stout, Oakshire Overcast Espresso Stout, and HUB (Hopworks Urban Brewery)Organic Survival 7-Grain Stout. I have previously had both the Dragonstooth and the Overcast and they are pretty good in my opinion. I have yet to taste the Widmer Bros. or the HUB.

I think I’ll go with the Survival 7-Grain seeing as tomorrow I’m participating in Twitter vs. Zombies for DigiWriMo. Seems like fueling up on some serious grains might be useful. 😉

I truly wish we had a Midnight Sun Berserker Imperial Stout. We had it off tap at Broken Top Bottle Shop, down the street from us, and it is better than any beer has a right to be! Seriously. We are trying to get our hands on a bottle or three and we are hoping Broken Top will get it again, and they are trying. Even Sara wants to give the Berserker 6 or more stars on a 5 star rating. It truly is that damn good on draft. Then again, I simply could not drink beer that amazing (or strong 12.7%) on a routine basis.

I have now mentioned Untappd and Broken Top Bottle Shop and I want to talk about them some more.

Untappd: Drink Socially is a website and an app (multiple platforms. I believe) that my friend Jenny turned me onto a couple months back. You can use it for keeping track of the beers you drink, keep a wish list, follows breweries, check into the locations you drink at, rate & describe the beers, upload photos of your beers, friend people, and so on. Of course, one earns badges for assorted beer drinking activities. I like it.

Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café is our neighborhood drinking and eating establishment. It is the closest to us at the other end of our street; a nice healthy ~20 min. hilly walk each way. They have excellent vegan and vegetarian food (says the meat eater in the family) and lots of tasty meat-based food, also. They have 10-12 taps from all over which rotate frequently and they have hundreds of beers and a good handful of ciders in bottles that you can consume there or take home. Sadly, their bottles seem to be way overpriced, unlike the rest of their offerings, but they usually have at least one tasty to very tasty thing on tap. They also have wine. They host events and have lots of live music and often these things are free. It is a great and friendly place and we go there more than anywhere else.

Back on October 13th we got ourselves a Trumer Pils. When I checked this beer in on Untappd I got a Trumer Bike & Beer badge and a notification that I was entered to win a Trumer branded beach cruiser bike.

On 3 Nov. I got an email from the CEO of Untappd saying I was the winner! I emailed him back my contact info and am now waiting on Trumer’s marketing folks to contact me. Hard to tell from the picture but it looks like I will soon have a decent bike for around town here. And I needed a bike, too, to become a proper Bendite. What better than a beer branded bike?

So a big thanks to Jenny, Untappd, Broken Top Bottle Shop and Trumer! Social drinking pays off!

I decided to go with the HUB Organic Survival 7-Grain Stout, which has cold-pressed Stumptown Organic Holler Mountain coffee in it. It is pretty tasty but kind of medium bodied for a stout. The coffee is mild in both the nose and flavor.

HUB Organic Survival 7-Grain Stout bottle and glass, which I had for International Stout Day, 8 November 2012

HUB Survival 7-Grain Stout for International Stout Day 2012

Checking this beer into Untappd I, of course, got the International Stout Day (2012) badge but I also got a New Brew Thursday (Level 2) badge for drinking a new beer on three Thursdays in a 30 day period.

I raise my glass to all my readers and wish you a very Happy International Stout Day 2012.

[This post originally appeared on habitually probing generalist on 8 November 2012.]