I have been brewing a lot lately and have plans for more in the near future. So, look at this as an update of sorts.
The oldest homemade beer I have right now the Belgian-style Quad I’m aging at the moment. Better known as “Guided By Voices“, this sucker measures in at about 10.7% ABV thanks in large part to the maple syrup and candied sugar I added to the boil. I’ve had trouble with Belgian yeast strains in the past, but this beer was fermented in my Ale Pail with a heating belt wrapped around to maintain optimal temperature. The beer nearly exploded it was so active. It’s still sitting in secondary at the moment, aging and developing in complexity. Later this fall, I’ll bottle it and ration them out slowly.
The other two batches I have on hand are the second edition of New Slang Saison and a new scotch ale I’m calling “Tenured Dingo.” Both beers were brewed for my partner’s tenure celebration on the first. So, there will be tasting notes to share for those two beers soon.
New Slang Saison was the Saison I developed last year that included lemon zest, Rosemary, and the lemony Sorachi Ace hop. This year’s version features several changes. First, I was able to secure leaf hops, hopefully allowing for a more fragrant beer, especially thanks to the dry-hop. I also added extra Rosemary to the the dry-hop, possibly making this a roasted chicken in a glass flavor profile. Finally, the biggest change occurred in the pitching of yeast. Last year, I used a smack pack of a Saison yeast that never really took off. I had to scramble and luckily friends gave me some slurry from their cider that finished off the beer nicely. This year, I just mixed a packet of dry yeast into the wort. It took off despite no starter. The beer has smelled nice throughout and should be ready in a couple of weeks.
Tenured Dingo Scotch Ale is named for my wife. She doesn’t care for much beer but prefers a scotch ale and – more importantly – scotch. So, I soaked some oak chips in cheap scotch and added them to the secondary. The recipe features an odd hop schedule and an American yeast strain, mostly because I can do what I want. I can’t wait to try it once it’s carbonated.
Maybe most exciting of all is the plan to brew a coffee IPA. I’ve had good luck with IPAs, but coffee is a new frontier for me. A new friend roasts his own coffee and can manipulate several variables for us to get the exact flavor profile we want from the coffee. I’m looking at the moment to take a medium-roast coffee with tons of fruitiness. It will cold-brewed so as to lower the acidity. Then, we’ll dump it into the secondary. One idea is to add the coffee to a split batch so that we can experiment with several varieties. We’ll have to see, I guess.
Either way, there will be something to brew after the tenure party. So, there should be more on the homebrew front soon…
It seems my role in the world is shaping in front of me. Aside from father, husband, instructional designer, etc., I’m beginning to see myself as a curator of sorts. This blog is ground zero, but I have and will venture out from time to time to curate craft beer and indie rock cultures.
I bring this up because my gentleman dabblerhood has me prepping for more DJ gigs. No. I am not that kind of DJ (nor this). The kind of DJ I am is the kind that plays his own records between bands at a Hairhole benefit and once again for Monday Vinyl at Uprise (September 24th). In this capacity, I’m not really creating anything. I simply present what I think is good and worth preserving.
How can this translate with my craft beer enthusiasm?
Well, it has with my involvement in the Columbia Beer Enthusiasts. I helped create and manage their online presence while doing my part to create events that promote craft beer to all of Middle Missouri. I’ve even been asked to host some beer/ice cream/record pairing events, but that’s still top-secret. I’ll let you know when this materializes.
All of this curating comes together in written form on the blog you’re reading right now. Hopefully, it will eventually materialize on actual paper, but that’s a work in progress. I may have to back off and curate some other writers to accomplish this goal…
Anyways, the point is that if we can’t create, we should curate. Consuming thoughtfully is good, but it barely contributes to the cause. Curating promotes a culture to the masses, encouraging others to join in or at least appreciate said culture. Maybe I should just change the blog’s name to Curating Beer and Pavement…
Or not. Thanks for reading once again and participating in the conversation.
Beer – craft or otherwise – has always had a reputation for being had on the cheap. This mentality is what keeps so many from even trying a craft beer. Even for craft beer enthusiasts, complaining about beer prices is like complaining about the weather.
I won’t lie. I’ve spent my fair share on beer, but even I won’t (normally) buy a $45 bottle like our friend Jim of Beer and Whiskey Brothers fame. Well, I’d probably chip in to try some, but $45 is a lot to spend on one 750 mL bottle of beer. There’s something about that mental hurdle (that I clear regularly) that one should never pay more for beer than they do wine.
The Beer Bourgeois doesn’t care about price. All they want are the best and rarest beers. That’s cool. It would be cooler if everyone could afford these special beers, but I don’t really mind that there are $45 bottles of beer out there, waiting to empty my wallet. I’ve been know to partake in the bourgeois shenanigans. I understand the allure and payoff involved in drinking expensive beer.
It’s an interesting issue when you factor in the cheap beer syndrome that typically prevails in diehard and casual beer drinkers alike. The diehard beer enthusiast complains because he has to have that beer or that these beers drive up the prices on more regular brews. The casual beer drinker doesn’t give a shit either way.
Something similar happens with records. While this sometimes happens with special packaging or pressings, it more often occurs when bands re-release their seminal work form decades past. Albums that could hardly sell more than a few thousand copies can now ask top-dollar for re-issues pressed on 180-gram vinyl and sporting new packaging.
There’s no better example of this than the flurry of reissues from 90s indie heroes Archers of Loaf. Two particular re-issues just came out a week or two ago in the form of All the Nation’s Airports and White Trash Heroes. The vinyl is non-black and heavy. The artwork has been completely re-imagined. The liner notes offer a bit more while the digital download still has more to offer. It’s everything for which an indie child of the 90s could ask and all for almost 20 bucks a pop, considerably more than what those records used to go for.
Let me be clear. I am not complaining. I am glad that these albums are receiving the proper re-issue treatment. I am elated to own all of Loaf’s full-length albums on vinyl. (Although, I already owned Vee Vee and a picture disc of All Nations prior to their reunion and re-issue-palooza, not to mention numerous singles and EPs.) This is a good development in that I get some nice records and these deserving artists finally get the recognition they deserve.
I’m also fairly willing to spend money on high-end beers. I mean, these are the best beers in the world and yet they’re still a fraction of their wine-y equivalent. I won’t buy cases of expensive beer, but I’ll buy a bottle or a glass on tap just so that I can try it.
So, this may actually make me part of the bourgeois with limits. I am firmly middle-class, but I have to budget my money. I guess more of us (reading this post) are in that situation than not.
So, are you a bourgois beer nerd/geek/enthusiast/whatever? Are you record-buying and concert-going behaviors of the bourgeois? I came to conclusions I did not fully expect. Where do you stand? Does it even matter? Am I just reaching for blogging topics at this point?
Either way, Jim liked the beer I mentioned above and the Archers of Loaf re-issues are totally worth the money, if you’re into that kind of thing and can afford it.
I understand that over-hopped (or hyped), unbalanced beer is not everyone’s cup of tea – or glass of beer, but it seems to me that hops is the cure-all for any style of beer. Never was this more apparent to me than a little over a year ago when I tried a hoppy wheat at the Boulevard facility in Kansas City. Since that time, collaborations have been released and now there’s Boulevard’s 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat, a newly-released version of this one-time-brewery-only-release. It’s now available everywhere Boulevard is served and for this, I am thankful.
It seems adding more hops is the way to go. The IPA is maybe most responsible for craft beer’s emergence in the US and it’s also the hoppiest of the hoppy. It has its own rather popular holiday. Brewers push the limits of bitter hoppiness to extremes, even upping the ante for traditional heavyweights of the style. Then we freak out when there’s suddenly a hop shortage, making fresh-hopped and double-hopped beers more valuable. All of these appears to make it imperative that every brewery carry their own hop-bombed IPA and/or DIPA.
The fact that nearly every brewery makes an IPA/DIPA means that hop-heads – myself included – could get their fill. However, this doesn’t seems to be enough. It’s now en vogue to hop the hell out of everything. There are brown ales hopped like IPAs. Saisons with a hoppy bite. No style is safe, but the style that maybe needed additional hops is finally getting the attention it deserves. Wheat ales are now entering super-hopped sector of beer styles and I couldn’t be happier.
Typically, American wheat ales (not Hefeweizens or whatever some brewers try to pass as Hefeweizens these days) feature a slight citrus crispness that makes them ideal for some hop additions. Boulevard and Deschutes seem to be at the forefront of this trend. From the ashes of their Collaboration/Conflux #2 venture, the breweries have released the aforementioned 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat and Chainbreaker White IPA, respectively. I welcome this kind of ingenuity in craft beer. Such innovation just makes sense.
I take a similar view with my own brewing. Sometimes, we just need more hops. Obviously, this applies to the IPAs I primarily brew, but other beers deserve more hops as well. For one, I have my second attempt at my New Slang Saison. When I brewed it before, I didn’t dry-hop it with Sorachi Ace hops. However, this year’s batch deserved a little something extra. So, along with some rosemary, an ounce of leaf hops were added and I should be able to report the results soon. Of course, I suspect they’ll be great.
What other styles could use an infusion of hops? (“All” is probably the only acceptable answer.)
This went down.
One craft brewer beating up on a handful of niche craft brewers who in-turn beat back on the first craft brewer. Aren’t they all supposed to be on the same team?
It’s silly, really. Craft brewers own 5-10% of the beer market in the US. Why bash each other because one segment goes about their business differently than you? Wy not focus all your effort on the big boys?
For all their faults, this is something BrewDog does, but they are a minority. The Scottish craft brewers are in it just to take on the big boys. They feel no need to attack their own. Instead, they promote kindred spirits, even collaborating from time to time. When it comes to taking on a common enemy, craft brewers either turn on each other or turn a blind eye toward their macro adversaries.
In music, the same doesn’t typically happen. Although, sometimes, there are beefs, particularly if Wayne Coyne is involved. Still, indie rockers generally leave each other alone. It’s the fans and bloggers that like to tear down their own. Debates over how indie a band is or isn’t or whether or not a band is indie enough dominate conversation. Instead of celebrating indie rock, we make it a pissing contest where those who piss the shortest distance win.
This is why liberals never win.
The more thoughtful, critical side of the political spectrum constantly beats itself up over nuance, subtlety, and semantics. Liberals do more harm to one another than conservatives who tend to toe the party line. Liberals are constantly redefining what being liberal means while conservatives are set up to just do things as they’ve always been done.
Of course, there are exceptions. There always are. However, time and time again, I find the internal battles among liberals, the craft beer community, and indie rock to be frustrating. I mean, I love and identify with these communities because of their critical, reflective natures, but sometimes they do more harm than good.
Thoughts? Am I overreacting? Does this happen on the same levels among conservatives, macro brewers, or major labels? Discuss.
*Then, there’s this. Really? Who cares?
From time to time, I’ve floated around some book ideas. I have at least three novels, five children’s books, and a memoir or three in my head. I don’t know much about the publishing industry, but I doubt this will make me very much money or fame. So, the planning process for Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement the book begin here. This is ground zero.
Before I begin writing this book (and subsequently avoiding applying for that PhD in information sciences and learning technologies), I need to figure out some topics to discuss. Below are few things I’m floating around. Think of each as a chapter…
- Preface (or why?)
- Mirrored Histories (of indie rock and craft beer, of course)
- My Story
- What is indie-craft?
- DIY-Power to the People
- Macros and Majors
- A Sustainable Business Model
- Why does any of this matter?
Basically, this is where you all come in. I need ideas for topics. More than likely, I’ll come up with a few more, but I really value the input from the few of who still read this blog.
Eventually, I hope to draft and workshop these topics here on the blog. I’ve done some of that already, but I want to be more purposeful in my writing and begin to shape up some sort of manuscript I can shop around. Your input will be invaluable in this process. I mean, this is still a coalition after all.
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me what to do in the comments. Another post will happen tomorrow.
During the last few weeks or maybe even months, I’ve contemplated giving this whole blog thing up. However, I’ve come to find that it’s such a big part of who I am that I just can’t give it up. Of course, I’ve now lost a good portion of my readership. They’ve surely given up on me at this point. Still, I want to carry on.
So, in an attempt to kick start this mother, I am going to write this blog post about how I’m going to write a lot of blog posts. I mean, if I put it in writing, in digital ink that means it will happen, right?
There will be few promises as to what I will post, but I want to post every day. That’s right. I’m going from like once or twice this summer to full-on daily blogging. The posts will vary in size and quality, but something will happen here every day. Every. Single. Day.
Well, today’s done. Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you about those records that keep arriving in the mail or that beer I had with dinner. Whatever happens, you can expect more Beer and PavementTM on the daily, yo.
So, don’t you give on me. I haven’t.
Most of Sunday, my daughter and I spent our time together watching YouTube videos of Riot Grrrl bands and listening to Wild Flag. Of course, there were several renditions of “Call Me Maybe” in between, but the day belonged to rock. This sudden interest into Daddy’s music was spurred on by a couple of screenings of School of Rock, a film where Jack Black pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prestigious elementary school where he discovers his students to be gifted musicians he convinces to play in his band. Thanks to this one film, the grrrl is all about the rock music right now.
The obsession has continued through the week as every evening is filled with more YouTube videos and bedtime is dominated with Daddy sharing his exploits as a live music fanatic of the last 20 years. She is particularly fond of videos in which Kathleen Hanna pogoes. Her requests for more stories has me searching the recesses of my brain for G-rated rock show tales. It’s an interesting time to be Lucia’s father.
What it all has led to is a request from my daughter to see her first rock show. Apparently, seeing Dubb Nubb several times has not fulfilled her need to rock. I am now faced with finding the right situation where I can make this dream come true.
I was a late bloomer. My first rock show didn’t happen until I was 18. We lived an hour from any city featuring rock concerts and even then I wasn’t interested in the hair metal and country most of my classmates were going to see. Then, one St. Patrick’s Day, my brother and two or three other guys drove the hour to the Newport Music Hall in Columbus to see my first rock show: Soul Asylum with Vic Chestnutt and The Goo Goo Dolls (when they were punk-ish). From that night on, I was hooked. I can understand my daughter’s longing to see music performed live.
As a parent, I have to set some boundaries for the kind of show she can attend. I mean, she’s not yet four (9/11) and this puts some serious limits on what she can and can’t see. for example, she will not catch The Melvins for her first live rock experience, even if it is on a Friday night. I’m considering some basic criteria for this event, criteria that may put off her first concert experience for another year, but that’s okay. There’s plenty of time to rock.
The show will need to be outdoors, mainly for two reasons: not all shows are all-ages and the noise factor. It’s one thing to get your 16-year-old into a bar to see a band; it’s a completely different thing to sneak in a four-year-old. Besides, I’m not sure that’s the best environment for someone so young. The outdoors provide space for people to spread out and avoid awkward situations around small children and vice versa. Plus, sound doesn’t seem to do as much damage when it can harmlessly float to space and not bounce off the walls. My hearing is shit and there’s no need to put my kid through that before she attends elementary school.
Bedtime is an issue. I’ll have to find a show on a weekend or one that takes place earlier in the day. The trouble with this is that most of the outside shows here in Columbia are on weeknights. That makes for a rough morning getting her to preschool. An all-day even is the next logical step, but we’ve missed out on most of the festivals for the summer or at least their bargain pre-fest prices.
Finally, the band or bands to see have to be worthy. Although it is not for me to say which bands or musicians you should like, I do have a right as a parent to steer her toward whatever music I feel is acceptable. Of course there will be a time when my opinion won’t count, but until then, I control the stereo in my house and I have the credit card.
So, this adventure may have to wait a year. Next summer she’ll see her first rock show. I just hope I can deliver Kathleen Hanna or Wild Flag.
I don’t usually get to drink very much Russian River as they do not distribute in Missouri. Still, I’ve been lucky enough to try quite a few of their bottles over the years via trades, gifts, tastings, etc. So, I know their beers well enough to form an opinion on them.
Sunday evening, I pulled out a bottle of Damnation for dinner. What an amazing beer. I just wished it wasn’t plastered with Comic Sans all over the labels…and that’s what brought me to this post. I both love and hate Russian River Brewing Company for several reasons, reasons I will list below, switching things up a bit by starting with the reasons I hate Russian River…
Five Reasons I hate Russian River:
1. Why, after carefully crafting beautifully tasty beers and placing them in fancy, Belgian-style, corked bottles would you cover the labels in Comic Sans? I recognize that I’ve mentioned this fact twice in the first 150 words of this post, but my displeasure over this assault on typographic decency cannot be overstated.
2. Russian River is hard to get in Missouri. Beer geeks are a crafty lot, but it’s difficult to get our hands on small-batch brews that don’t come to our market. Sure, there are ways, but it’s hard enough to keep up with what is distributed here without including hard-to-get beers from other markets. Of course, if Russian River expanded their reach, either the quantity or quality of their beers would suffer. Still, this is a risk I’m willing to take to see Russian River on local shelves.
3. My wife was giving me a hard time the other day when I casually mentioned spending $12 for a bottle of beer, an amount she rarely approaches when buying wine, conflicting with my argument to beer’s relative affordable pricing. (Of course, my real argument is that the best beers in the world can be had for $12 or less while the best wines are five times that or worse.) Anyway, the point is that Russian River beers are expensive. I know one typically gets what one pays for, but some of the Russian River prices are a bit steep. This makes mail-ordering a ridiculous proposition. Try paying $7 to ship a $12 12 oz bottle. It just doesn’t make much economic sense.
4. The hype over both the younger and elder versions of the Pliny franchise overshadows what Russian River really does well: sour ales and various Belgian styles. I have liked not loved Pliny the Elder. There. I said it. Now, I fully expect commenters to tell me all the reasons I’m wrong in my assessment of one of the most beloved and possibly (over-)hyped beers of all-time. I will admit that the times I’ve had Pliny that it might not have been as fresh as possible, but isn’t that also an indictment that the supposed best beer in the world has a short shelf life? Give me a Supplication any day of the week.
5. Did I mention the comic Sans?
Five reasons I love Russian River:
1. Aside from the Pliny beers, Russian River features some of the best artwork on any beer labels. The pen and ink drawings on their labels hearken back to olden times when beers were wild and fermented by the cat hair and spider webs surrounding open fermentation vessels. The sketches feature olde-skool tools that look more like torture devices than gardening implements, suggesting a challenge to your tongue lies within. I don’t know who the artist is, but Russian River figured out the label art factor even if they don’t understand typography.
2. These beers are really well-crafted. I often grumble about the Comic Sans and hefty price tag whenever I score some Russian River. Then I pour the beer into a glass. That’s when the complaints end. Let’s take the Damnation I had this week. Here’s a brief review:
Upon releasing the cage holding the cork, I observed the cork slowly rising from the bottle’s lip. Luckily, I grabbed the cork before any damage was done. The only other beers I’ve seen this much activity upon opening has been when opening a Jolly Pumpkin. However, if I’m not careful, I’ll lose half a JP brew just from the beer shooting out as soon as I lift the cap. The Damnation was fully active but not to the point of spilling all over the place. I poured the beer to find it golden and cloudy. The head was a good two-fingers thick, only dissipating to half that throughout the meal. I’ve never been overly concerned with head retention, but I’ve read that it helps to protect the beer from oxidizing while in your glass. This beer did not oxidize thanks to this unbelievable head. Then, I tasted it… It’s not as sharp or tart as Green Flash’s Rayon Vert (another favorite Belgian Pale), but it more than makes up for that by simply being complex and dry with loads of fruit without being fruity. Really, this was a freaking awesome beer!
Even my distaste for the hype surrounding Pliny subsides a bit when I get enjoy some. There really are no better crafted beers than those from Russian River.
3. I love that Russian River thumbs its nose at the wineries that surround it by aging beers in discarded wine barrels, often infecting them with bacteria and yeast strains that would normally destroy wine, causing some winemakers to avoid RR’s brewery altogether. That’s some some bad-ass punk posturing right there. Plus, even at a dollar per ounce, I can afford a Russian River bottle more often than I can afford the best wines from that same region.
4. The indie-craft ethos I love to promote on this blog is alive and well at Russian River. It stays relatively small and sticks to making artisanal ales that defy style and convention. I realize that the other side of this is the lack of availability, but I get enough RR to fulfill my needs. Never change, Russian River. Never change.
5. In case you haven’t noticed, even most of my complaints about Russian River have to do with how great this brewery is. It’s on my bucket list to visit their brewpub, if I actually had a bucket list. I don’t order and trade for loads of their beers, but I drink them whenever they’re available. So, really, it’s just a love/love relationship I have with Russian River. I’m okay with that.