Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bridgeport Dreamland

I'm looking for work if your hiring. But more to the point, I'm applying to jobs, which includes an application to a dream job at The World Forestry Center.  I'm definitely capable, but can I convince the lovely folks at the Forestry Center that I'm perfection in a box?  Idk, the point really is that I stopped by there today and asked about the position hoping to get a foot in the door... I was not seen, but instead told that there are over two-hundred applicants in the running.  Two-hundred!!  And I'm sure many of them want this job just as much as I do... but, I shall prevail and try to network again tomorrow at the Museum by Moonlight, 21+.  If you go "dressed in the spirit of the evening with flannel shirts, boots, suspenders, or beards", you only spend $5 on admission.  It shall be glorious and hopefully productive.  In any case, the point is where I am now.

the dining room
After driving the drive all the way to the Forestry Center from Vancouver I did not want to return home empty handed.  So instead I stopped at the Downtown brewery of one of my favorite beers, Bridgeport! to have lunch and do work utilizing their free wi-fi.  It is a lovely place with very friendly staff and all my favorite beers on tap!  (If I haven't said so before, the beer motto is, Tap is always better).  The lunch is fantastic too, although a little on the high end.  In any case, because of the infamous and fantastic Mark Bowser, I was encouraged to try more Amber and Red Ales, so why try anywhere else but a brewery I know is great?

Bridgeport Brewery, Kingpin Double Red Ale
the food
   Now, this is the first time I've run into a Double Red, but also, I am a little unversed with Reds in general, which leaves me at a bit of a disadvantage.  I usually avoid them because, generally, they come across as unsatisfying.  The reason being is that they are a bit of a go-between.  They aren't as solid as an IPA, but not as mild as a pale or wheat ale.  They also vary significantly which makes it a risky bet when trying to trust the flavor in an unexplored six-pack.  But, let me explain the Kingpin.

It's enjoyable, but on the hoppy-side.  Creamy with light carbonation and a hint of pine. Nice bitey finish and beautiful coloring.  It went great with the house salad and creamy chicken stew at Bridgeport Brewing Co on 13th in Portland.  Although I prefer the Hop Czar or Summer Squeeze when its available for poker night with the guys, Kingpin would definitely be a fine guest to invite to a dinner party with friends or significant others.

another seating area

Seasonally Deschutes and Ninkasi

   Tis the season, for mildly disappointing beer...

   I'm sorry, that probably doesn't want to make you want to read on, but for me, we I see those awkward seasonal puns, yet lovely illustrations along the beer aisle I just become slightly deflated, because they tend to involve many of the same things... many which I, personally, do not appreciate.

   It's all about the spices.  Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, coriander, ginger, cloves; all the lovely things you might find in a homemade pumpkin pie... unfortunately -and, granted, I have heard the exact opposite about the same beers- they do not go well, or at least should be used with great caution in beer.  It's just preference, but I, in my current beer-state (beer-state: the opinion of beer currently held, although it consistently grows and shifts between preferences) do not think that these spices in beer should be the forefront of the beer itself.  Just like in any other food, spices are there to enhance food, not over-shadow it completely.  So, this season, I generally try old classics or hang on old favorites, although I might sample a seasonal or two...
I borrowed these images

   Deschutes Brewery, Jubelale
Difficult to pronounce, enjoyed by many.  My comentary when trying this seasonal from one of my favorite breweries was: cloves, light orange citrus,.. what's in eggnog?
   I don't know if this is helpful, but its all I can offer during these dark days and heavy beers.

Moving on!
from the Google
   Ninkasi, Sleigh'r
Ninkasi, known for their attraction by hop-heads abouning.  I'm sorry, but again, I can't hardly help.  It has the hops, but then it has the season.  If thats what you want, an over-whelming array of spice on your hop-sentric palate, then by all means, enjoy... the end.

I am generally not a SAD Nancy, evening in the dreary Northwest.  I actually love the grey and rain that saturates Portland, luckily, but I am not for these overwhelmingly gritty and spiceful beers.  Some people live then though.  I have met several people who believe this is the best season of beer.  I'm a lemony summer kind of fit generally.  If I want something heavy I go for a classic porter or stout, of which there are many great ones available all year round.  So, what can you do.  Its just opinion vs opinion, palate vs palate.

So... nothing to recommend but maybe trying the seasonal stock for yourself.  Let me know what you think in the comments below!  I'm intrigued by what other's taste ^_^

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blogging Hibearnation

Hello friends,

   It's been awhile, I know.  But, if you can sympathize with a 12hr a day work schedule, then you can see why it has been some time since I've been able to tickle your imaginations with wondrous and strange sugar-plumed beers from the great northwest and beyond.  But now, side-saddling this lounge chair with Nobbit purring dutifully by my side I gaze at my computer screen, gripped by that odd mixture of apprehension and opportunity doing cartwheels in my ribcage, I must decide between the tale of the beer which was my old friend from closer-to-home, or which was a bit of home from afar...
   We'll start with what was the norm, from the supermarket to my hotel room.

Shock Top Belgian Wheat from Fort Collins, CO

   It was a hot day in September, 2012.  I had been thrown into a culture that I thought only existed in politically-incorrect 80's sitcoms and I desired beer to assist my mental juices as I contemplated my new environment.  Gazing at the beer wall of the local supermarket I was barraged by dozens of new names and images, some cute, some creepy, some mildly intriguing, but none enough so to get me to pay for a 6 pack I may passionately dis-like, so I stayed safe.  "It" beer Shock Top Belgian Wheat came to my aid and hand-in-hand we left the store.

Widmer on tap, TO THE EXTREME! XD
   Other than Widmer, which is right from my backyard, Shock Top was the only beer available that came fairly close to home (or at least wasn't bible-belt brewed).  The thing about Widmer is that, it's just sooo much better on tap.  With the comparison in the back of my head, it's almost difficult to enjoy it from a bottle, so, as a result, no Widmer passed these lips while I was away.  This sudden realization almost makes me feel like a traitor... But maybe this will help.  I encourage all folks who have a Widmer tap easily available to go now and enjoy their refreshing array of ales.  Now, back to Shock Top.

It even does windows
   It felt like a teensy bit of home as I endured oppressive humidity and startling stereotypes played out before mine eyes.  The Shock Top Belgian Ale plays its role perfectly whether its a victory drink at the top of South Sister (it was there with me and my fellow bears as we managed that "moderate" mountain-climbing adventure), or quenching the thirst of an over-heating bear on a patio overlooking North Carolina.  Shock Top Belgian Ale is crisp with light fruity tones, notes of clove, and a clean finish.  Great for someone who wants something better than the usual bottom-barrel brands, but don't want something as intense or hoppy as Ninkasi or Rouge.

   So, when your on an adventure or just generally wanting something more enticing than a Pabst, Shock Top is a safe base beer for your beery repertoire.
This just happens to be awesome and I would totally drive this car everywhere

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Bear Abroad, Again

And so, I left.  With debt over my head and the road calling my name, but, it wasn't until too late that I discovered the two types of traveling.  This time I left for the money and the opportunity for freedom and adventures farther away than before, someday.  The real trouble was though, I left my heart behind.  When they say, home is where your heart is, it's true.  When I traveled with my heart beside me I was never homesick, rarely sad, and always comfortable.  When I left my heart behind I became instantly homesick, lost, and lonely.  I was discussing this dilemma with my once removed younger brother-bear, Bearalex, when he says,

"your a writer, you can write stories to express yourself"  -wisdom of a youth

Now, I don't consider myself a writer, but when I returned to my fading blog and jotted down a few lines I did start feeling better about where I was, and thus I was able to embrace the why and ignore the what.  A bit anyway.  Another thing which helps is returning to one of the passions which influenced this blog and aided in reconciling me and my heart, beer.  So, here's a go, far from my home, relaying beer.

I forgot my computer attachment cord in the glove-box of my car, so the photo's are not available, but I was invited to a restaurant called Bonefish.  It was a very busy place with some lovely wall art and high (by my standards) prices.  The fish and chips were outstanding though.  While I was looking at their limited draft list, I was recommended the Olde Mecklenburg Seasonal.  It is apparently quite popular, however the beer I tasted was yeasty and bland.  It also never improved no matter how much I drank.  Sometimes beer does that.  Either the first sip isn't so good but it improves over drinking, or the first sip might be great, but the further into the beer you get, the worse it becomes.  This one was not very good, from beginning to end.  Or so I thought.  It was their Oktoberfest submission too...

Anyway, that was the local seasonal I gave a shot and was disappointed.  Theoretically though, none of the people who might stumble upon this post will ever come across this disappointing drink.  I wish I had better news, but next time I'll be going back in time and share a mountain climbing adventure that climaxed with some Shock Top ^_^

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cougar and Bear

Like a more amiable version of Fox and Hound or a less innocent tale than those of Frog and Toad, the bear duo of Ambear and Bipolar Bear went to the Cougar Hot springs for one last evening together (or so we thought).  The truth that neither of us had realized was that my flight had been pushed back several weeks.  Nevertheless, the night was as lovely as it was brimming with honesty, adventure, and indulgence.  The evening started with A Bridgeport Summer Squeeze and Hop Czar, as we sat on the cliff side facing one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and the sun warming our backs.  It was a perfect moment, and it was complimented by the most perfect beer.

Again, failing to know at the time, I had been lucky enough to catch Bridgeport's seasonal summer ale the week before it left the shelves.  It was amazing and easily was set among my top three choices of fantasic beers.  Super clean, refreshing, citrusy but not sour or moldy feeling, with bold notes leaving it distinct and memorable in the best way possible.  I searched high and low for that sweet nectar again, but, it had been displaced by the changing season(al)s.  However, Witch Hunt spiced ale is a post for another day.  In the meantime, the Hop Czar is an excellent excellent IPA.  It's clean, super hoppy, but possessing just the perfect level of bitterness which allows for a cold refreshing wave of satisfaction to settle on your heart as you sip this beer.

After sipping beer on the hill side, we started are real adventure into the wood towards and magic spring which flows hot from the mountain side and brings peace to the souls of all bears who revel in its waters.  During his enjoyment of the hot springs, Bipolar Bear began chatting with some of the other character's in the pool.  On of them, a very interesting entrepreneur who lived up the road and visited the hot springs at least 3 times a week, told us of a hidden trail just past the springs which would take us to the most amazing, beautiful, and romantic place ever!  We were intrigued.  Thus, we followed the jolly witch doctor's instructions and eventually came upon a green moss dragon!!  Surrounded by broken logs created by the troll limbs she had dismantled during their attacks, this overwhelming deity had long ago rested her fangs in a call of peace and current spouts the freshest water in the world from her lips as a peace offering to God for all the havoc she foolish released.  When we arrived we felt her calming spirit and followed the path laid to her underbelly which was covered in the softest layer of moss, and there, in her cleansing flow and lovesong, we kissed for the last time.

The End.


Good Bye to Bipolar Bears.  Perhaps ^_^

Monday, August 27, 2012

Calapooia Hullabaloo

You walk into the room and instantly are enchanted by the warm lights, honest wood furniture, and robust colors that surround you at the Calapooia Brewing Company in Albany.  Furthermore, these lovely qualities are mirrored by the excellent beer they graciously serve.

a beautiful shrine of beers
Walking up to the counter, I was mesmerized by the wall of taps and colorful chalkboard list of beers.  Bipolar Bear however, quickly orders a Chili Beer while I stand aside dumb-founded.  The very kind bartender suggested a sample.  I feel similarly about beer samples as I do about ice cream samples, and that is, to a certain extent, I don't like them because they make me feel like I'm cheating, or something.  Nevertheless, samples can be convenient, as long as I don't cross the mooching-line.

I sampled three beers, plus BPB's chili beer.  I tried the Raspberry Wheat, - "Bhairy-bear would live this; it's like raspberry bread" - the Caber Toss Scotch Ale, and the Spruce Tip Ale.  They were all fantastic and I especially enjoyed the unique flavor of the Spruce Tip Ale.  However, I took Bipolar Bear's chili beer and he got a Raspberry Wheat because of the spiciness of the Chili Beer was too much, which was somewhat ironic for us.

Generally I am not one for spicy foods.  My one, random, exception is jalapenos.  I just love their flavor and the spiciness is often hot but not so overwhelming that it hurts or prevents flavor.  Asheville Pizza Brewing Company's Fire Escape Pale Ale is one of my favorite beers ever and it is infused with jalapenos.  I was anticipating from the first sip of Calapooia's Chili Beer that it would be a similar experience to the Fire Escape Pale Ale.  This was not the case.  This Chili Beer is so hot, after a few sips I couldn't taste beer, just chili juice.  Also, trying to taste anything else was next to  impossible.

Trying to get another taste of the Raspberry Wheat - it may have been the fault of the overwhelming Chili Beer, it may have been the comparison to McMenamin's exceptional Ruby Ale - "it tasted thin upon listening", as The Postal Bears say.

The atmosphere and the welcoming crowd were lovely though.  Here at Beer Bears Inc. we try to do a triple testing routine to quality in all the beers we judge.  This routine includes smelling, tasting, and throwing about the bar while covering ourselves to experience that wonderful stale smell of dried beer in the subsequent hours.  Accidentally knocking my beer about the place, the Chili beer also managed to get on my face and in my eyes.  The bar crowd immediately jumped into action as if I were a guest in their own home.  They directed me to the restroom, assured me it was nothing to be embarrassed about, cleaned up my mess, and even got me another beer.  After returning from washing burning acid beer from my eyes we felt like one of the family.  I must say that I would be a very happy and exceptionally lucky bear if this were my local.

Next time though, I plan on getting the Spruce Tip Ale.  Interesting, delicious, and harmless.  But overall, this bar and beer is more than worth the visit.  Two beary thumbs way up for the Calapooia Brewing Company of Albany, Oregon.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Do Bears Migrate?

Two bears walk into a local bar and discover a beautiful scene of woodwork, hanging lights, and a number of brewery originals.  These beers have traveled the valley, currently with plans of meeting old friends for a drink or two, and had been recommended Migration Brewing Company as a great place to catch-up and grab a pint.  One of the bears samples a few of the drafts and decides to go with one that piqued her interest.  Different from any other beer she had tried, its name was Old Silenus Ale, ESB.

ESB was once explained to Ambear as being the acronym for Extra Special Bitter.  It had also been said to stand for English Style Beer.  Consulting the internet in hopes of finding the truth to the acronym (in reference to beer), Ambear also came across answers such as Extra Strong Bitter, Extra Special Beer, English Style Bitter, Extra Strong Beer, etc.  However, after searching Wikipedia she discovered that the term Bitter is the English term for a Pale Ale, and ESB is a brand meaning Extra Special Bitter, which includes any English Pale Ale with a 4.8% abv or higher.

Now, the Old Silenus Ale is an English style Pale Ale with an alcohol content of 6.3%, thus an ESB (extra special bitter).  [side note: Indian Pale Ales originally began when the beer being sent to England's colonies (specifically India) was going bad during the trip, so they started adding more hops and creating higher alcohol content in their beers so that they would stay good.  However now, alcohol content ranges in all styles and it is the brewing style and flavor which define its denotation.  So, although the Old Silenus has an incredibly high abv, it is just an ale and not an IPA].  Now Ambear had tried ESB's before and never thought much of them.  This however, was something completely different.

Old Silenus Ale is sweet and very, very malty, with light bitter notes but heavy hop tones.  The astringency of the hops gives this beer a very dry texture.  Although Ambear enjoyed it's uniqueness for a pint, she couldn't imagine ordering another.  However, the atmosphere of Migration was lovely and indulgent.  The food smelled great and the energy kept the conversation happy and relaxed.  A definite place to visit on 28th and Glisan if your ever wandering the lovely Laurelhurst area of Portland.