Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Quick and Random Post Over Lunch

Back from Portland, and into the stream of consciousness that comes from sitting in an empty pub doing cleaning, maintenance and paperwork. A Subway sub and half pint of mild for lunch, a quick foray into the current blogroll (thanks again, Jeff - we need to open a proper real ale pub in Stumptucky), and some thoughts about spending some time in the city with the most breweries than any city in the world.

While I enjoyed being involved in setting up for the Firkin Fest at the Green Dragon, I can't escape the sense that there is nobody there that is really enthusiastic about it. I'm open to the idea that my perceptions are misguided, but I felt that the organization of the event, the publicity, and the follow through in producing acceptable printed information for the punters was lacking. On the plus side, it is soooo nice that the setup occurs the night before. This gives me a chance to vent the firkins and determine which are going to be well-behaved or not. After working through the lineup a couple of times, I decided that three of the casks were not going to be suitable for tapping until the morning. A couple of soft spiles overnight, and then I'll see what the new day brings. Out of those, two supplied me with the cellarman's badge of honor upon bringing the mallet to bear on the end of the tap. Good thing I brought a change of clothes.

This is not a "look at him, he's so cool" statement, but I think I was the only brewery dispensing his/her own wares. Well, for the first session, anyway. The second session was mine; after all, a man's gotta engage in research appropriate for his vocation. I believe I worked through 9 samples without trying a single IPA. Everything I had was, as I think might be the case in Lake Wobegon, above average. The only cloudy beer was the IPA from Columbia River, but I ran out of tickets before trying it. I also had to pace myself, as there were dark corners in pubs to spend the evening in with my book.

I did manage to take in a couple of the new breweries, Breakside and Burnside. I'm not here to do beer reviews, but I had a pint in each and scrutinized the atmosphere. The typical high-ceilinged Portland style venue continues to prevail. No dark corners here, with a pint of cask to nurse and local color to peruse under the watchful eye of a friendly and knowledgeable barkeep. Business was brisk, though, and I can't help but think of myself as being three sigma out when it comes to my thoughts about pubs in America.

As for pubs, those I think of as pubs, I frequented my favorites over a period of four days. Three visits to the Horse Brass and two to the Moon and Sixpence should be indicative of my chosen. I was very impressed that a single barkeep and a single waitperson at the Moon and Six kept the flow moving at 10:30 on a Saturday night. I made mine a Red Seal on cask, and it was perfect.

Now I'm back to work, work, work. I discovered while cleaning the brewery this morning that the sump that services the brewery and the prep kitchen is stuck off, meaning that fat from the grease trap is messing with the float. Another job, I guess. But it's not so bad. It's a beautiful Spring day, and summer is coming with the teaming hordes sitting outside on the patio drinking proper pints of small bear and chomping on great pub specials off the specials blackboard. I also am thinking through what to brew for my 100th batch, which will take place on Thursday. That jar of oak chips that have been soaking in Laphroaig for over a year might find a home in this endeavor. See you at the pub.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jaws of Borrowdale

With the sound of the March page being ripped out of the calendar, I thought it would be nice to bring on a Mild. After all, May is Mild Month in England, and I wanted to get a head start. Sitting before me is a sample (pint-sized) of "Jaws of Borrowdale", a Dark Mild named after a feature of the Central Lake District of England. I had the pleasure of a wander back in September of 2006 from Penrith to Boot which took me up to the top of Catsbells and then down through the Jaws along the Derwent and into one of my favorite Lakeland valleys - Borrowdale. So, here's a refreshing tribute to memories of Stonethwaite, Rosthwaite, Seathwaite and that rainy climb up past Styhead Tarn into Wasdale. Cheers! (And don't even THINK of sipping it.)

I was a bit reluctant to wire up all six pumps today, what with April being one of those dismal rainy months that calls for a paucity of chatter in the pub and a lonely till behind the bar. There is a risk of having on too many active casks that could linger and drift towards vinegar whilst the thirsty punter languishes at home in front of the TV eating Cheetos and watching the rain dribble down the windowpanes. However, my thoughts wandered to the beauty of a smart looking lineup on the blackboards and I caved. So, if you're tempted to just stay at home, think of what you're missing. There is also a pretty good chance that a cask will be pouring at Belmont Station next Friday the 15th. See you at the pub (or Belmont Station).