Thebeerchaser’s April Acknowledgements….

Find out why this guy should imbue you with optimism – see below!

In these days of both national and international turmoil, divisiveness and lack of civility along with ominous global phenomena, it’s a real challenge to remain optimistic.   So with an initial digression from bar and brewery forays, Thebeerchaser will provide some evidence in this post – perhaps one small step in encouraging you about tomorrow.

We all know the foils of much social media, but at the same time, it opens opportunities for expansive education, exploration and new relationships all over the world.   

I  have seen this in the ten years of Thebeerchasing.com where I’ve developed ongoing dialogue with bloggers ranging from Rich Carbonara  – Beerwanderers.com – a guy whose written several books and gives beer tours in Bavaria, to Theresa, who lives in New Jersey and authors a wonderful blog – the National Parks with T. (Photos below of Acadia and Badlands National Parks)

And they’re diverse!  For example, I get to read compelling narrative and see stunning photos of the Colorado wilderness and  varied sites throughout the world in “Handstands Around the World”  the adventures of Diana, a former gymnast, current college nutrition professor, and “perpetual vacation planner” in Denver. 

She and her fiancé have spent most of the past 4 years exploring the never-ending beauty of Colorado and the surrounding states. She’s also working on summitting as many US state high points as possible (currently at 12/50).  Her blog posts always include a photo of her incredible handstand as her unique trademark.

A few more also deserve recognition and my ongoing appreciation – Sandra J, a talented professional photographer authors a blog – “Into the Light Adventures” – she and her husband are retired and travel the country documenting the beauty of nature.

Then there’s Kelly MacKay’s blog  Maritime Mac.com – Kelly is a fascinating lady from Canada with an incredible background – twenty years in the thoroughbred racing industry – seven as an exercise rider and thirteen as a successful jockey, ultimately incurring an injury which caused her to change careers.

Besides enhancing her education, she then worked as a trail guide on horseback tours in Ontario, labored in the financial industry and even as a cellphone sales person.  She’s now in her dream job as a Fitness Leader to a Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in Oromocto, New Brunswick, Canada.  Kelly has backpacked around Europe and has been to every US State but Hawaii and Oregon.   Her travelogues are fascinating.

Another – no less interesting  – Color My World where sixty-six year old Charly Holganza, born in then rustic Tagbilaran, in the island of Bohol, Philippines, entered the Philippine Military Academy – he joined the military at 17.  Charly retired in 2012, after spending 37 plus years of devoted service.

Charly authors several blogs which embody his theme “Living, loving, learning, leaving a legacy.”   The one I enjoy the most is his cogent and detailed analysis of the NBA – that’s right – an expert across the world with considerable insight.

And Finally, Jadi Campbell grew up in little New England/upstate NY villages, spent summers in a cabin in the woods, and attended a state university on the West coast. She decided at the age of 6 to be a writer, and earned a B.A. in English Literature and worked in corporate America until she became a Licensed Massage Therapist.

Living in Europe since 1992, she  published her first of several awarding-winning books Broken In: A Novel in Storiein 2012. Her second novel Tsunami Cowboys followed in December 2014 and Grounded appeared in May 2016. In 2020 Jadi, published a collection of short stories, The Trail Back Out.  Her blog covers everything from natural beauty to science.

But What About Kevin Frazier?

Biking in the Bay City

So how does Kevin Frazier work into this scenario? In November last year, I came across a blog – The Oregon Way – in which Kevin, the Editor, wrote a very compelling piece on a transportation policy issue.  It also caught my interest because he referenced a dive bar! 

I reached out by e-mail to compliment him – not just on his article, but his excellent on-line publication and we discovered some mutual background and acquaintances.  My follow-up research revealed that we will be witnessing some great things from this young man in the future. 

Through Linked-in I discovered that Keven was first in his Southridge High School class of 495 students in 2012.   In the ten years since, his volunteer and leadership activities, internships in the public and non-profit sector and higher educational achievements are profound.  

After graduation from the University of Oregon where he gave the Honors College commencement speech, he earned his Masters in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School while serving as a research intern and graduate teaching assistant.   

He graduates this spring from University of California Berkley School of Law where he was a

ter passing the bar exam, he’ll head for Helena, Montana and spend the next two years gaining experience with two prestigious and competitive clerkships –

2022 – Chief Justice Mike McGrath on the Montana Supreme Court
 
2023 – Judge Michael McShane of the US District Court for the District of Oregon
 
And to reinforce the good news, he and his girlfriend, Dalton just got engaged.
 
Kevin and I decided that since COVID would preclude getting together to raise a mug in a dive bar, that we’d have a ZOOM Happy Hour – a great 90-minute conversation we had in January.   
 
We still have not met in person because of travel complications.   A meeting scheduled in San Francisco when my wife and I had planned to road-trip to the Bay City is now canceled because of Thebeerchaser’s herniated disk – that’s another story.
 
With his clerkships, Kevin has handed his editorial responsibilities to colleagues and I will miss his incisive commentary on subjects ranging from the lottery, to wages and living conditions of wilderness firefighters to selecting the judiciary. 
 
I’ll still actively follow The Oregon Way’s piercing commentary on issues ranging from political analysis, tax policy, public health and issues all of us need be informed.  So check it out below:
 

The Oregon Way is a nonpartisan blog that features contributors from around the state and across the political spectrum. You can .visit it here: https://theoregonway.substack.com/

Run by a volunteer team, the Way has no agenda other than reminding Oregonians of our capacity to get stuff done. That’s why the blog welcomes submissions from any and all folks who share a commitment to putting good policy before partisan goals. On this blog, nuance, complexity, and humility are respected and shared. Consider joining the Oregon Way volunteer team or submitting a piece for publication by reaching out to theway@or360.org

But Wait – There’s More….
Kevin and I discussed me making a written contribution to The Way and the result demonstrates that he not only has analytical, but creative skills.  Oregon’s Gubernatorial race has an unbelievable number of candidates – nineteen Republicans, fourteen Democrats and an Independent. 
 
He proposed that I suggest  the perfect bar or brewery for the major candidates to visit during their campaigns – where they could have meaningful dialogue with the regulars based on the history and circumstances of the watering hole.  This was a great idea and watch for the next posts of Thebeerchaser to see the result – something that was quite fun to write.
 
Cheers
 

External Photo Attribution

*1  Facebook page Harvard Kennedy School (https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=299945832166112&set=a.299945792166116)  

*2  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Taubman_Building.JPG) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author: Bostonian13  12 June 2013.

*3  Facebook Page – University of California at Berkley Law School (https://www.facebook.com/UCBerkeleyLaw/photos/a.477083278124/1016173790)

  *4  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boaltsouthside.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Subject to disclaimers.  Author:  Donutmonger at English Wikipedia  14 July 2006.

Contemplating Life and Beer in the Fall

Contemplating Life and Beer in the Fall

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

As I’ve stated before – belabored if you will – in two previous blog posts, I’m not a connoisseur or beer technology guy and my palate is not nuanced enough to discern the subtleties of beer flavor and criteria used to evaluate them in competitions such as the Great American Beer Festivalhttps://thebeerchaser.com/tag/thebeerchaser-and-the-taste-of-beer/

https://thebeerchaser.com/2021/01/07/leaving-2020-in-good-taste/

I certainly respect those who do have a grasp on the different elements of flavor including brewers such as Fr. Martin at the Benedictine Brewery, Mark Becker from Flyboy Brewing and Andrew Lamont, the Head Brewer at Old Town Brewing.  

Andrew Lamont of Old Town Brewing *1

Another guy who is an expert and writes great reviews on Bavarian beers is Rich Carbonara, who has a great blog entitled “Beerwanderers.”  Rich, who lives in Munich, and I connected through our blogs and I would love to have him guide me on one of this noted Bavarian Beer Hikes which you can read about on his blog.  (There’s more than 300 in Bavaria.)

Rich, in his narratives, evaluates each beer giving a summary of its taste, appearance, aroma and critical elements.  His descriptions are not so esoteric that they can’t be understood by someone who evaluates the quality of a beer by the way it tastes to them rather than a technocratic assessment. You will see more about Rich below. (* See end of post for external photo attribution)

And Then There’s Gimmicks

The typical beer-drinker doesn’t care whether the yeast is wild or domesticated, the type of hops, if it is barrel-aged or the attenuation percentage during fermentation. 

As I stated in my posts on the taste of beer, I’m also kind of a beer purist and have no use for beers which are brewed as a gimmick.  This bizarre trend was best summed up by a reviewer in his clip entitled, “Holiday Ale Festival Gone Amok” when he described a disturbing trend in the annual Portland event in 2018 as:

“The festival’s hallmark has always been wonderful strong, winter ales and cask conditioned brews. Just the thing to blast me out of my IPA rut. But this year the festival got too cutesy and lost its way. The so-called stouts all tasted like milkshakes or Snickers bars.  The ales were so fruity that a better name might be the Kool-Aid Festival.     

When creativity goes too far

And they’ve even tried to pollute ice cream with this misguided attempt at creativity. In an effusive July 2021 press releaseKraft Foods and van leeuwen Ice Cream reported that:

“We are releasing limited-edition, macaroni and cheese-flavored ice cream today. If you’re looking for a conversation starter to kick off a meeting…this could work well.”

Let’s all hope that the term “limited release” is meant literally.

Focus on the Basics

Although the term “style” can be subject to some debate as pointed out by one of the nation’s foremost beer experts.  Jeff Alworth is a Northwesterner living in Portland; however, his books on beer – most notably The Beer Bible and his blog “Beervana” are resources used by beer aficionado’s all over the country.  He also teaches at Portland State University.

His comments about styles in The Beer Bible are edifying:

“When people refer to style, they mean category of beers like stouts, dunkels, lagers or witbier.  The word is ubiquitous and spreads yearly like a fungus as new subcategories and sub-subcategories branch out from their root style…….

The one very important caveat to note is styles are constantly in flux.  The idea of style should be descriptive not prescriptive….Use the term, but don’t fix it in stasis.”

That said, the most critical factors to me (for totally different reasons) are ABV (Alcohol by Volume) and IBUs (International Bittering Unit).  Alworth defines ABV as:

“…expressed as a percentage.  A measure of the strength of of an alcoholic beverage, based on the volume of alcohol relative to total volume.”

*5

Knowing the ABV of your beer is critical if you are driving or plan to drink throughout the evening.  In Oregon, one is Driving Under the Influence (DUI) if the Blood-Alcohol-Content (BAC) is .08% or higher.  While disclaiming that the sentence below is definitely not legal advice, one credible source states:

“On any given day, considering your body size, weight, and several other internal factors, you may have two or three 12-ounce beers before reaching a BAC of .08.”

A few bars have even installed a coin-operated breathalyzer including these two which were provided by Portland’s Gil’s Speakeasy (home of  “the Nicest A-holes in Town…”) and Bottles

While it would not be advisable to depend on this machine (which may not have been calibrated for awhile and may not be advisable in a COVID environment anyway) it could be a good double check of one’s own common sense.

IBU’s are defined by Allworth as “the accepted system for describing the hop bitterness (hoppiness) of a beer.”  The higher the IBU, the hoppier the beer, although he again issues a disclaimer: 

“….many breweries don’t actually have the labs to measure the acids chemically and predict them using mathematical formulae (to call this prediction ‘inexact’ is kind)….while hoppiness is a combination of flavor, aroma and bitterness, IBU measures only the last.”

IBU’s – for many breweries — an inexact science *6

To provide some perspective, I’m showing the ABV of a few of my favorite NW beers (and also PBR) below.  The IBU is shown when available.  You will see that I am inclined to go with the less hoppy options:

More on ABV

Beer ABV IBU
Pfriem Brewing – IPA 6.8% 50
Migration Brewing – Pale Ale 5.8% 55
Benedictine Brewing – Black Habit 7.8% NA
Block 15 Brewing – Sticky Hands Double IPA 8.1% 110
Fort George Brewing – City of Dreams Pale Ale 5.5% 40
Pabst Brewing (SAB Miller) – Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) 4.7% NA
Flyboy Brewing – Fighting Redtails 9.0% 90
Sun River Brewing – Rippin NW Pale Ale 6.0% 50
Old Town Brewing – Paulie’s Not Irish Red Ale 5.60% 30

In reading Rich Carbonara’s aforementioned blog, I was interested in some of his comments about the ABV’s of various German beers he reviewed. He commented on one of the beers he reviewed: “The finish is clean and dry with a nice bitterness. Dangerous at 5.3%. (emphasis added)

Given the chart above, I was a little surprised by this characterization so I exchanged e-mails and he clarified with the following interesting perspective – another reason why I think Rich’s blog is worth following:

“Most beer here, hover around 5%. It’s always been the benchmark percentage. The feeling here is you want a beer you can drink a fair amount of without getting drunk. In Biergartens, you can only get liter mugs (at least at night) and obviously drinking stronger beer in that size vessel is dangerous.

I know, during Starkbierzeit (see note below) they serve 7-8% beers in such measures. So, you have you have some stronger beers (Bocks, Doppelbocks, Festbiers) but generally speaking, it’s about 5. If anything is really missing here, it’s lower octane offerings like Schankbier which is more in the 3-4% range.

In England, you still find things like Milds, though less so than in former times. It’s nice to be able to go out and drink 8-9 beers and not get really drunk. Have a look at my Beer Styles section, where you’ll get a feel for the ABV of various styles here.”  https://www.beerwanderers.com/beer-styles/

*7

Note:  “Starkbierfest is held for three weeks during Lent, between Carnival and Easter,[82] celebrating Munich’s ‘strong beer’. Starkbier was created in 1651 by the local Paulaner monks who drank this ‘Flüssiges Brot’, or ‘liquid bread’ to survive the fasting of Lent.[82] It became a public festival in 1751 and is now the second largest beer festival in Munich.”  Wikipedia

And Speaking of Giving Someone Else Your Keys…

I was, however, surprised to read recently that Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company) is going to break the mold, with this year’s release of its Utopias Beer as reported by CNN Business on 9/21.  Now, don’t try to get one of these 25.4 bottles in Oregon or ……

“The brewer releases a new version of its Utopias brand every two years, and the twelfth edition will be on shelves starting Oct. 11. But don’t bother looking for it in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont or West Virginia.

Utopias are illegal in those states because they contain 28% alcohol by volume, more than five times the potency of typical US brews.”

(These beers may be blissful, but not Utopia(s)!

And Finally….

Regardless of whether you make a point of checking out the ABV of your beer, be cautious driving when you are hitting your favorite bar or brewery – especially around Halloween and the forthcoming holidays.

When I started Beerchasing, I decided to be cautious and as an extra check, purchased my own breathalyzer.  The BAC Track S80 you see below now costs $130, but at that time was less expensive.  (I guess the demand became higher during the pandemic.)  

An Investment Worth Considering

I’ve never come close to the .08% threshold, but felt it was a good investment given my retirement hobby.  There are pros and cons to this idea and according to The Atlantic article, less than 1% of the US population has one.  If you do get one, be sure to have it calibrated or it may defeat the purpose.

In any event, drink responsibly and drive carefully.

Cheers

By the way, how about the Oregon State Beaver Football Team.  According to Oregon Live, “It’s not known the last time OSU had sole possession of first place in the conference standings, but it’s at least not since 1975.” 

Go Beavs! Beat the WSU Cougs.

External Photo Attribution

*1  Old Town Brewing Website (https://www.otbrewing.com/aboutus)

*2 – 4  Beerwanderers Website (https://www.beerwanderers.com/)

*5  Wikimedia Commons (http://By Lynnea Kleinschmidt – Digital photograph made by myself., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6091802

*6  Wikimedia Commons (http://By Schlemazl – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22601592

*7  Wikimedia Commons (http://By holzijue – https://pixabay.com/de/menschen-oktoberfest-m%C3%BCnchen-3237513/ archive copy, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69055677)