As promised, the long-awaited, much-anticipated blog about beer…
I can hardly wait to read it.
What? Oh, I’m writing it? Why didn’t anyone tell me?
Well alrighty then.
“Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” is a quote popularly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, although there is at least one disclaimer out there to the contrary. Actually, says the disclaimant, our Mr. Franklin was talking about wine. However, it does reflect how I feel about the miraculous confluence of water, barley, hops, and yeast. And time. And sometimes chocolate, or coffee, or pumpkin, or…
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am privy to a lot of microbreweries. RateBeer.com has Oregon’s number of breweries and brewpubs at 129, but I’m pretty sure they missed some. (“Skewery and Brewery in Lake Oswego–they missed that one.) It is one of the finer qualities that Oregon and Washington share. The other is coffee.
I am pretty much a beer snob. The mainstream breweries–the ones that get the big advertisements during football games and other sporting events–are not even on my radar. “Keep it local”, and I do. Deschutes, Widmer, Rogue, McMenamins–these are all within a very short drive from where I live. And their beers are on every shelf in every store I care to go to.
I have been to the Rogue brewery in Newport, on the coast (which is one of the top five coastlines in the world, IMHP). We’d actually stopped there for dinner; there’s a pub/eatery in the building. Those were some smart marketeers who designed the layout, I gotta tell you. To get to the pub, the hungry foodseeker must walk through the better-smelling part of the brewery itself. So, by the time you are seated at your table, you are thinking, “The hell with the food–get me a big frosty pint of something!” Well, the food’s good too. Me, I love the smell of a brewery. I could just bring my cot and blankie into one of those and live there.
Hops love to grow here in the Willamette Valley, just about as much as wine grapes do. We have a lot of both. Wineries–you could probably do a winery crawl, and hit eight or nine wineries within five miles of each other.
But I digress. Hops–I was talking about the central core of so many good beers. I had never seen hops before I moved to Oregon. I was totally flummoxed when I saw hops in their native state of growing. Did you know they grow on vine-like plants, up supports to at least 10 feet high, then trail down the other side? That just looks so odd when you’ve never seen it before. I’ve seen them harvested–what an undertaking! Drove behind a truck full of hops a number of times; every time some of their load blew off the back, I wanted to stop and pick them up. And do what with them? Why, make beer of course.
We have made beer at home, but I won’t go into that right now. That is an adventure in itself.
Wednesday night, I had a 22-oz bottle of Rogue Brewery’s Chocolate Stout. That is a very dark beer. It was well worth the price. Good microbrews do not come cheap. But I drink for the taste, not to quench thirst or get snockered, although sometimes both of those things happen too. My favorite beers are porters and stouts, ales “as black as a Saxon’s soul”, as my dad would put it. I like my beer to stand up and talk to me. And, at $6.00 a bottle or more, it better say something worth listening to.
All this beer talk has me thinking I ought to hit the store and find something interesting. There is such a huge, bewildering array of choices that it’s hard to decide. My son and I have dedicated ourselves to tasting every single one of them. Okay, not all. As I said, I drink for the taste. Therefore, IPAs are out (too hoppy) and anything that is mainstream beer is not even considered. Pale ales are okay, and hefeweizens are decent, but I will always gravitate towards the black-as-marsh types.
Hey, hope you’ve enjoyed this tour through my brain. Please wait til the ride stops and get out on the right-hand side. If you don’t know your left from your right, you’ll learn soon enough, I guess…
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