Brew Wërks Sunday Conversation Series

Pint of Brew Wërks Neurotic Blonde Ale

Pint of Brew Wërks Neurotic Blonde Ale

Last night we went to the inaugural edition of Brew Wërks Brewing Company’s Sunday Conversation Series with Brewmaster Michael McMahon. I would expect it to grow, but we had a lovely time as it was only 6 of us (3 couples) which made it easy to converse sitting around a table.

The conversation(s) was great and included beer trends and styles, whether the drinking public or brewer(ie)s drive the trends, recipes, assorted processes in beer/cider/mead making, water quality and other testing issues, food, Mexico, reasons for coming to Bend—all of us are fairly recent arrivals—places we’ve lived and worked before, and on and on. It began at 6 pm and we left a little around 8:45 and the others were still at it.

There were food and drink specials—although I never knew what they actually were, nor did I ask. In the end, we got 20% taken off our bill though so it didn’t really matter what the specifics were.

Brew Wërks Pub features 6 taps of Brew Wërk beers and 6 guest taps and an assortment of great food.

Mike hopes to do this every week and would like to get more people to come and chat. It really was laid back and inviting. I even got a business card and invite to come by the brewery and check things out, with the pleasant caveat that I might be put to work. Sounds fair to me.

So if you are a home brewer or not (I’m not. Yet.), beer aficionado or simply interested in chatting about beer and other topics over good beer and food on a Sunday evening then do check out Brew Wërks Brewing Company’s Sunday Conversation Series at the Old Mill Brew Wërks Pub, 6 pm to ….

Hope to see you there soon!

Graphic novels read in 2012, so far

I realized that I have only posted one review on my blog of a graphic novel that I have read this year, Bloody Chester. I have, though, read around 17 of them this year so far. I generally don’t have much to say about graphic novels since I am relatively new to the art form. So, I thought I might collect them here in case anyone is interested.

Daytripper – 4 stars

Daytripper DaytripperGabriel Bá and Fabio Moon; Vertigo 2011WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Found browsing the shelf at Deschutes Public Library.

A man dies repeatedly as he lives his life. Brás de Oliva Domingos is a writer of obituaries and this is his. Writing, friendship, family, love, death, it is all written—and exquisitely drawn—here.

Cairo – 4 stars

Found browsing the shelf at Deschutes Public Library.

Ancient myths and legends, Arabs and Israeli soldiers, do-gooder and potential jihadist Americans, and an enchanted Jinn-containing hookah all come together in a tale of good vs. evil, sacrifice, and love set in Cairo and surrounds.

I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Bloody Chester – 4 stars

Recommended by: Unshelved

I’m not going to copy my review here as I wrote a bit more in my blog post.

Luba – 3 stars

Found browsing the shelf at Deschutes Public Library.

It was kind of odd but I did enjoy it. Sometimes there seemed to be too many characters and I’d get lost in who was who or what their relationships were. Also, the stories and vignettes are not in strict chronological order so it makes it difficult to fully grasp. Lots of sex.

Mnemovore – 4 stars

Found browsing the shelf at Deschutes Public Library.

This was interesting; very dark. I like how it is self-contained. There may be a follow-up some day but this is it for the nonce. It is complete while remaining open.

Addresses memory and its mutability.

American Vampire, Vol. 1 − 4 stars

American Vampire American VampireScott Snyder; Vertigo 2010WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Found browsing the shelf at Deschutes Public Library.

Found this at the library today when I discovered their graphic novel shelves. I enjoyed it and may try to track down further volumes.

Miss Don’t Touch Me, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 − 4/3 stars

Recommended by: Unshelved

Quick read of murder and intrigue in a Paris brothel in the 1930s. I hope the library has vol. 2 available soon.

Cow Boy – 4 stars

Recommended by: Unshelved

Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood – 4 stars

Recommended by: Unshelved

Hark! A Vagrant – 3 stars

Recommended by: SQT

I mostly enjoyed this. Some (most?) of the Canadian history was lost on me but I had at least heard of most of the folks. My favorite bits were the literary ones although some of the historical ones were pretty funny also.

I found it a fast read.

Are You My Mother? – 3 stars

Recommended by: SQT

This was OK. Sara got it from our new public library so I read it. It is fairly narcissistic, to say the least, but some of the info on D. W. Winnicott was quite interesting. Like any psychoanalyst’s views they are sometimes immensely enlightening while generally being more like, “Seriously WTF?!” Far more interesting for the we all have these kinds of issues angle (not explicitly in the book) than the specific issues or analysis Bechtel gives us.

Page by Paige – 4 stars

Recommended by: SQT

The Odyssey – 4 stars

The odyssey The odysseyGareth Hinds; Candlewick Press 2010WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Recommended by: Unshelved

I thought this was a very good adaptation. Of course, having read the Odyssey twice now makes it somewhat difficult to judge this as a standalone. I know what happens and may be filling in details that would leave one who hasn’t read it baffled or perplexed.

Sara read it a long time ago and hardly remembers it so perhaps she can provide some commentary on the above. I last read it last fall for a class in which she discussed it in a fair bit of detail.

Based on an author’s note in the book he seems to know his translators and editions so it seemed pretty accurate and complete.

Habibi – 5 stars

Recommended by: ?

Feynman – 4 stars

Recommended by: Margaret Heller

Wonderstruck – 5 stars

Wonderstruck WonderstruckBrian Selznick; Scholastic 2011WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Recommended by: Reading his previous book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which I also gave 5 stars.

Not really a graphic novel but close.

What can I say without giving the book away? Not much.

It is lovely and has many items we librarians will love, including an homage to the Dewey Decimal System. I wish I could say more but most anything I did say would give away far too much about this wonderful, slowly intertwining tale of two kids who lived 50 years apart.

I will say that it is very sad in several parts. If you are not crying you may not be human.

Thus, recommendations so far this year: 6 via Unshelved, 5 via browsing public library, 3+ via my wife (SQT), 1 via Margaret Heller, 1 via reading the author’s previous book (and SQT and Jen!!), and one unknown.

But I’m betting that several of the ones recommended by my wife were recommended to her by Unshelved. I know I read about them there before she got them from the library. If you do not follow Unshelved Book Club then you might want to consider it; they cover a lot more than graphic novels.

Horror stories, westerns, Egypt, ancient Greece, the Arab world, Brazil, Hispanic culture, memory, life and death, vampires, brothels, Canadiana, physics, psychiatry and psychology, big egos, and more. A fairly diverse group of reading materials, if I say so myself.

I am looking forward to reading several more before the year is out.

 

Petty and Florido, Bloody Chester

Bloody Chester Bloody ChesterJ.T. Petty; First Second 2012WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

I read about this book this last Sunday via the ever intriguing Unshelved Book Club. I requested it from our library and since it was in at my branch I was able to pick it up a day or two later.

I liked this a lot. The illustrations by Hilary Florido are excellent; the faces are particularly expressive and really help to tell the story. The use of color—by Hilary Sycamore—is highly effective and I appreciate how it mostly contrasts with the covers, which are red, orange, yellow and black and white. The colors inside are mostly earth tones and pastels, with some deep purples in night scenes.

It is a short book and a quick read; it took me a little longer to read than it did to warm a can of soup and eat it for lunch. The story is self-contained but open-ended enough that there certainly could be a follow-up. I would definitely read one.

“Bloody Chester” Kates is also known as “Lady” Kates once his last name becomes known in the rough frontier railroad town he lives in. He is just a kid who, although once feared, now takes a beating most days. He’s hired to burn down what is supposedly a ghost town so the railroad can move forward. The Chinese and African-American workers are a superstitious lot and won’t go near it. What he finds there and how he deals with it is what both drives the story and leaves it open.

If you like your stories complex and not a simple black-and-white, if you like your heroes flawed and not even really heroic, if you like a bit of the bad guy mixed in with the good guy and vice versa, then this story is for you.

“I don’t hate anybody but I hate you. Let go of my horse.”

It is published by First Second Books who, based on what I’ve read so far, publish excellent books. I have read Anya’s Ghost and Feynman and look forward to reading others. I do want to say to Macmillan, though, that you are running a crap ass website on First Second’s behalf. There is so much wrong with it that site that it is hard to find books one knows are published by First Second. Please get your act together. You will sell more books that way.

Revell, Tantivy

Tantivy TantivyDonald Revell; Alice James Books 2012WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Found this at the public library when Sara discovered a much larger area of new books than the smaller area facing towards the center of the floor. I grabbed this and two other new books of poetry, along with the graphic novels and CDs I was checking out.

I recognized Donald Revell’s name but could not place it. Once I got home and did some poking I realized he had translated the edition of Rimbaud’s The Illuminations that I have. He has done several other translations and has published 11 books of poetry and two books of criticism (bio on back cover). No doubt I have read other poems he translated and have come across the odd poem by him here and there but this is the first book of his that I have read.

I want to say that it sucks but what do I know? I do know that it isn’t for me. The world is surreal enough that I see little need for surrealist poetry. Perhaps I’ll grow into it (or some of it) at some point as I do like a little of the surrealistic in other art forms on occasion. Earlier this year I read Surrealist Love Poems, ed. by Mary Ann Caws and I didn’t particularly care for it either. I did like a few poems in it, though, as love is in itself often surreal.

I also did not care much for The Illuminations, sadly, and while reading Tantivy I found myself wondering how much of that came from Rimbuad and how much from Revell. I think (and read) about translation a fair bit seeing as I am pretty much monolingual and I do want to experience other takes on the world. E.g., see this review of Selected Translations by W.S. Merwin by Joe Winkler that I read recently. Read the review, that is; the book is on order via ILL.

If you like surrealistic poetry or know already that you like Donald Revell’s work then check Tantivy out. Otherwise, you are on your own as to whether you read it.

Kundera, identity

Identity IdentityMilan Kundera; HarperFlamingo 1998WorldCatRead OnlineLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

This is a smallish book at 168 pages and 8.5” x 5.75” in hardback with reasonably large type. Yet I had to almost force myself to read it. I stumbled across it the first time I browsed COCC’s Barber Library’s shelves with my new patron card a couple weeks back.

I truly enjoyed The Unbearable Lightness of Being although I read it for a grad sociology class on lived morality so my engagement with it was a little different. [See my blog post: The Unbearable Lightness of Being and morality]

A couple of years later I read The Joke and gave it 5 stars. I have also read two of Kundera’s books of criticism/lit theory, The Art of the Novel, which I gave 5 stars, and The Curtain, which I only gave 3. So I guess you could say that I generally enjoy Kundera. I do have plans to read other novels of his.

This book seemed very different. While you can sort of tell that it is Kundera it is also hard to see it as being his. I think it has to do with how telegraphed every topic he touches on is. Normally, or at least in the books I have read, he can go on at great length about something. There may even be whole sections of the book that are “about” a topic; e.g., kitsch in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. There is none of that here. Everything of interest is more like a drive by shooting with limited ammo. He throws out something interesting with a bullet or three in your general direction and then is gone, down the street and around the corner.

Some of these interesting teasers involve surveillance, friendship, daddies vs. fathers, three kinds of boredom, the mistaking of one’s loved one for someone else, ‘little boy’ as loaded future, is the loved one with others the same loved one as with only oneself, nostalgia for the present other, and of course, (loosely) woven throughout these, identity.

Most of these occurred in the first half of the book. There are 50 chapters in the 168 pages of the book and all of those things I mentioned came from the first 26 of them. I only made short notes on chapter 29 and 30 and they were actually directly related to the plot and not actually ‘interesting’ things.

Not all ideas need extended discursions—I know that—but several of these would have benefitted from a more Kunderian treatment.

All in all, I was disappointed in this book. I now fully understand my friend’s review, “As with Ignorance, I have no recollection of reading this.” I expect the same will be said by me in a year or two.

 

wood music (poem)

I realized that I have never put my only published poem on my blog. In early 2011 I submitted 5 poems to annual contest of The Iowa Poetry Association for residents of Iowa as a first-time entrant with three in the Adult General category and two i the haiku category.

The following poem was selected in Adult General:

wood music

the music of the forest is old
old as the wood elves from which it has sprung

streaming through the canopy
light and ephemeral as a mote
caught in a ray of autumn sunlight

yet solid and strong as the ancient oak
to which the lungwort has tenaciously clung.

tonight, by the light of the Blood Moon
the wood elves will hunt
their ashen bows tautly strung.

quiet as a shaft of moonlight
clear and bright on the forest floor,

slowly, reverentially, they will stalk
driving the stag forward
until arrow and heart meet as one.

Travel Moon will guide them home
joyous wood music flowing from flute
words from lips sounding, unsung.

the elves of the forest are old
old as the wood music from which they have sprung.

 

Lindner, Mark R. “Wood Music.” Lyrical Iowa 2011 (2011): 68. Print.

I wrote this to put inside a greeting card I gave Sara the previous year. I had bought several cards each with a specific fairy on it–wood fairy, moon fairy, etc.–to give her. To me, they looked more like elves than fairies so for this card I took the liberty of making it a wood elf instead. [Yes, I did in fact play D&D and I played a fair few elves or half elves.] For whatever reason, I chose to send it in for the contest and it was selected, along with many others from other people.

 

The Abyss 2012 Release Party, 15 November 2012

We did manage to get to The Abyss 2012 Release Party yesterday in time to get a flight of 2008-2012 The Abyss as I was mentioning in my Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event post. Our friend who was most interested said she could go after 12 noon so we packed up and headed down to the brew pub for lunch.

The Abyss 2008-12 tasters and quote from “Ten beers that will make you a man — if they don’t kill you first” at Denver Westword http://blogs.westword.com/cafesociety/2011/04/ten-beers-that-will-make-you-a-man.php?page=2

Before I get into my short tasting notes I want to give you the info they provided us for The Abyss 2012, which is the seventh release (2006-2012):

  • ABV: 11.0%  IBUs: 70
  • Malt: Pale, Black, Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Wheat
  • Hops: Millennium, Nugget, Styrian, Northern Brewer
  • Brewed with: Blackstrap Molasses & Brewer’s Licorice
  • Dry-Hopped with: Vanilla Beans & Cherry Bark
  • Barrel-Aging: (28%) 6 months in Bourbon, Oregon Oak, and Pinot Noir
  • Tasting Notes: Best served at 50-55 degrees. Vanilla, Chocolate, Dark Fruit, Caramel, Toffe, and Espresso
  • Cellaring Notes: Store at 45 degrees in a dark place. Constant temperature is key to proper cellaring. Drink within 5 to 7 years.
  • Beer Advocate Rating: A+ World Class
  • Rate Beer Rating: 100 Overall
  • 2012 World Beer Awards: World’s Best Stout & Porter

[See http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/brew/the-abyss for more awards]

A flight of The Abyss 2008-2012 and a truffle

In the pictures: Back row – left 2008, mid 2009, right 2010; front row – left 2011, mid 2012, right truffle

  • 2008 Thick. Caramel. Roasted malt. Little change after truffle. Excellent!
  • 2009 thick. Tobacco and leather. Slight bourbon. After truffle a bit darker. Amazing!
  • 2010 Little aroma. Slight bourbon, strong wine flavor. After truffle a tad smoother.
  • 2011 Smells slightly smoky. Definite bourbon taste.
  • 2012 Thick.

As you can see, my words sometimes escape me. That is the order we tasted them in, oldest to youngest. By the time I got to the newer ones and having had some truffle already it made no sense to do “after truffle” tastings on them as I had truffle permeating my mouth. The only palate cleanser I had was water.

2008 and 2009 were my favorites by far. 2011 was also very good. 2010 was also very drinkable and given another year or three may become something very special. 2012 needs to age a few years. Don’t get me wrong, it is a tasty beer. Is it the best stout or porter in the world? Nope. Not at all.

I have revised my opinion of The Abyss upward a bit from the other night but I’m still going on record with the claim that Black Butte XXIV—also ‘fresh’ this year—is better and that Midnight Sun’s Berserker Imperial Stout is what The Abyss 2010 dreams of becoming in a few more years.

I did get myself a hoodie sweathshirt and two bombers for the Cellar. Our friend also took two bottles home.

One last thing. I want to give props to Deschutes Brewery and their social media coordinator, Gina. There was some confusion over the officially published times for the availability of the limited number of flights. We had made plans with assorted friends to try and make it together and then the time changed. Sara and I both tweeted Deschutes to ask what was up with the time and to register a bit of disappointment. We got a quick response apologizing for the confusion and contact info in case we were unable to get the flights we were hoping for. Yesterday, after our plans changed and we made it, I emailed Gina to thank her and let her know we had been successful. She again apologized for the confusion and offered me a token. I turned it down as it was never about getting something from a situation that can too easily arise in our busy and complex lives. I think Deschutes does a great job with their social media presence and website and we generally know when things are happening. So, just wanted to give a shout out to Gina and Deschutes. Thank you!

 

Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event

On 6 Nov. we attended the Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event with 6 of ours friends. We got there a little early and Sara was able to grab a table so all 8 of us could sit together. The room was pretty full so I assume they had sold all 25 seats.

We tasted 8 different barrel-aged beers; four were from Deschutes, one was a collaboration between Deschutes and Hair of the Dog, and three were from other breweries. Hors d’oeuvres were served about midway through the beer sampling.

We also got a presentation from Jacob Harper, the barrel master at Deschutes. The beers were arranged in the order he figured was lightest to heaviest, but was slightly complicated by the fact that four were sours so they were placed at the back half.

We began with the Calabaza Blanca from Jolly Pumpkin (Traverse City, Ann Arbor and Dexter, Michigan). It is a light wheat/white ale hybrid that was slightly sweet and slightly sour. I thought it was fairly tasty but would not want to drink it in quantity or frequently. ~5% ABV. I gave it 4 stars.

Next was Ale D’or Fort from Deschutes, which I had never heard of. Turns out it was brewed for a special Oregon beer festival (missed the name) last year where all the brewers took a particular Brettanomyces yeast strain from Unibroue and competed with what they produced from it. It was light, almost wine-like, a strong gold which had been aged in French Pinot barrels. No carbonation. It tasted a lot like Ashton’s Fresh Hop London Strong Gold without the fresh hops, which is to say, amazing. 9%+ ABV. 5 stars.

Third was Deschutes’ Black Butte XXIV, which we have had a fair bit of and of which neither of us would tire of ever having. I have three bottles in the Cellar. It is an Imperial porter with dates, figs, chicory and other bits for flavor. 20% was aged in bourbon barrels. We were told that next year they plan on aging 50% of the batch in bourbon barrels, which will up the ABV a few %. I think everyone present let out a loud and appreciative “Oooohhh” at that. 10.8% ABV. 5 stars+

Fourth, and the last non-sour, was Deschutes’ The Abyss (2011). I have been really wanting to try this as this year’s version is being released today. It is an Imperial stout that used licorice and molasses in the kettle. It was 28% barrel-aged (11% Pinot noir, 15% bourbon, 2% raw Oregon oak barrels). It is relatively the same each year. My first reaction was a thoughtful “Hmmm.” I didn’t want to be hasty but I was definitely underwhelmed. It has a chocolate taste late in the mouth. It is tasty but I have to say it is no Black Butte Porter XXIV. 11% ABV. I gave it 4 stars and am hopeful for this year’s batch. It won World’s Best Stout & Porter at the 2012 World Beer Awards, which in my humble opinion it does not deserve. A damn fine beer it is but Black Butte XXIV Porter is better and Midnight Suns’ Berserker Imperial Stout blows them both away.

With any luck we will be one of the lucky few at the release party today to get in on the vertical tasting of 2008-2012 batches of The Abyss. Perhaps I’ll revise my opinion then. [Turns out they have moved up the time when the limited flights will be available and it isn’t looking good. We both questioned this on Twitter—mostly as to what time they really were being served—and got an interesting reply back so we’ll see.]

Fifth, and the first sour, was Tart of Darkness from The Bruery (Orange County, California). It was a sour stout made with cherries and aged in oak barrels. It tasted much lighter than it looked. 5.6% ABV. 4 stars.

Next was The Dissident from Deschutes, which we have also had recently and of which I have 2 bottles in the Cellar. It is made every other year and uses a secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces. Currently made in batches of 200 barrels they are aiming to begin producing it every year. 11.4% ABV. 5 stars. This won World’s Best Oud Bruin and Americas Best Oud Bruin at the 2012 World Beer Awards. World’s Best? I don’t know but it is certainly one of the finest sours produced outside of Belgium.

Next to last was Sang Noir from Cascade Brewing (Portland). Pretty darn sour. Light and thin but very sour. Cherries. Aged in French oak and bourbon barrels. 9.5% ABV. I gave it 4/3 stars. For me it was a 3 but I wondered if I were judging it too harshly since it had pushed past my acceptability for sourness.

Last was The Collage, also from Deschutes. We have also tasted this since being here and have a bottle in the Cellar. It comes from a collaboration with Hair of the Dog (Portland) and is a blend of Deschutes’ The Dissident (but unsoured) and The Stoic (a quad we are still waiting to try) and Hair of the Dog’s Fred  (10% ABV Golden Strong ale) and Adam (10% ABV; their 1st beer). It is 100% barrel-aged in 6 different types of barrels. Hair of the Dog uses a peat malt. It is tasty, no doubt, but it seems all the work is over much for the end result. 11.6% ABV. 4 stars.

I must say, though, that I am definitely looking forward to tasting Fred and Adam and other Hair of the Dog beers some day.

After the tasting we were still hungry so we moved downstairs for some dinner. Sara and I shared an Ashton’s Fresh Hop Strong London Gold which was excellent but perhaps not the best idea after all those other strong beers. And I had even been finishing a couple of Sara’s that she did not. I really felt it the next day!

It was, of course, election night and some of those at our table had been (::grumble:: understandably ::grumble::) refreshing their phones all evening as returns came in. During dinner we learned of a couple states’ equal marriage bills passing, Colorado’s passing of their marijuana bill, and of the reelection of Obama. Many people in the pub seemed genuinely happy at much of this but there were definitely groups of assorted sizes who were not. “Sorry if our reasonably joyous celebrations were disturbing you.” No, honestly, I’m not. Deschutes County is a lot more red than I ever might have imagined before moving here. I can see it now but I still find it hard to believe.

All in all, it was a tasty and enjoyable evening.

One of my favorite lines from Barrel Master Jacob Harper was one of the reasons why one might want to barrel-age a beer: “To add mystique to an already good beer.” I’ll raise my glass to a little mystique!

 

Thoughts on book-spine poetry and a meta-poem

Recently I started writing (composing? arranging?) book-spine poems. I have been aware of them for a while now but have never tried them. Library Thing has, for instance, done it, and they seem to be inspired by Nina Katchadourian and her Sorted Books project.

I was recently reminded of them and inspired to try my hand at them by @admcgregor3 who I met through DigiWRiMo. Here is the post he shared that nudged me to tryHere is another.

I asked him whether there were any rules (that he followed) and he said “no rules. I just do what I think fits…”.

So here are my thoughts on what I am doing; no real rules but some guidelines for now:

  • Books are stacked from top to bottom—may try some left to right vertically—in reading order.
  • They may or may not have a title.
  • Use the pages side (opposite the spine) of a book as spacer between title and poem or between stanzas or for whatever reason I need space.
  • Subtitles will be generally ignored, although I am free to use as I like.
  • Punctuation may be added freely at the ends of lines but, for now, I will retain punctuation present in a spine title.
  • Generally, one title per line of the poem but free to do as I please.

I also could not resist making a book-spine poem about book-spine poetry, a sort of meta-poem, if you will:

This delicious madness (image 1) - pile of books

This delicious madness (image 1)

This delicious madness (image 2) - another pile of books

This delicious madness (image 2)

This delicious madness

Signs of writing
Describing language;
Mediated
Mimesis.

Reverence
Connected
The image
Beyond snapshots.

Seeking meaning,
Man and his symbols
Desire
Figures of thought.

This craft of verse:
Transformations,
Evidence,
The contrast.

How it seems to me:
Verses and versions
Shout out
The art of looking sideways.

My poems so far:

And to see some others around the interwebz just do a Google Image search for book-spine poetry (with or without the hyphen).

No idea how far I’ll take this or how long I’ll continue to putter with it but I have lots and lots of book titles at hand to work with.