Monday, September 19, 2011

Beer Extravaganza (Part Two)

Hello everyone.

First, my apologies for the lack of blog posts lately. As mentioned, I spent the past week or so housesitting in the boonies, with dial-up and generator-powered electricity. I tried getting online, even just to check my email and Facebook messages, but the connection was so ridiculously slow (45k!) that I gave up. I did make a trek into town to get online at a restaurant that had wi-fi, but I couldn't connect for some technical reason.  And wouldn't you know it, by the time I realized I had already ordered food.

The good thing is I got lots of work done on my book.  I had come to the conclusion that I needed to start over, and so that's what I did.  I certainly wasn't an easy decision to make, as I had spent over a year on it and had written over 35,000 words, but it's the right thing to do.  I'm not really changing the story, but just changing how it's told.  I think my decision kinda freaked Cathy out, but then when I got back home and she read what I had so far, she said she thought it was much better and she agreed with my decision.  Now, I've basically said in 10,000 words what used to take 35,000 words to say, which means the story moves a lot faster, and I've ditched a lot of the pointless bullshit.  And more importantly, I feel better about the whole thing. 

But now I'm ready to do some blogging!

Rob (Beer) Happenings

As mentioned, Cathy and I made a trek up to Schweitzer mountain over Labor Day weekend for their Fall Fest celebration. It wasn't officially fall when we were there, and weather-wise it still felt like the middle of summer, despite the fact that the main village sits in the mountains at around 4,700 feet. It was nice, sunny, and surprisingly warm up there, and there was a pretty good turnout for the festivities. Initially, we brought Tucker with us, but when we walked past the stage, there was a band playing. The amplified freaked him out, and he managed to somehow squirm out of his collar and run away. Fortunately, he didn't go very far, and we got him and brought him back down to the car and let him chill out in the shade in the parking lot where things were relatively quiet.

Then we went back to the festival puppy-free and tried again. The first thing I did, naturally, was stand in line to get a glass and some beer sample tickets. Unlike the Brews Fest at Silver Mountain, where you had to pay for admission that included beer samples, admission at Schweitzer's Fall Fest was free, and if you wanted beer samples you had to buy them. I thought this was a better way to go. Also, Schweitzer had lots of different options for how many samples and even the type of drinking vessel. I chose the "pint," mainly because glass because you get to keep it and this would one more to add to my collection, but also because glass is always better than plastic, which is what the mug at Silver Mountain was made of. There was a plastic mug option, which I appreciate, because for those planning on drinking a lot of beer, it's good to have a non-breakable option.

Once I got my glass, I headed to the beer tent. One thing I liked better about Silver Mountain's Brew Fest was that you could get 1/4 mug tasters, whereas at Schweitzer, my glass came with three full-glass tokens. That was enough beer for me, but I would've preferred the ability to try more of a variety than just three beers.

Deschutes "Hop in the Dark"
In the tent, I found the Deschutes table right away, and they had Hop in the Dark on tap. That's all I needed to hear to know that's what I wanted to start with. Hop in the Dark is a Cascadian Dark Ale. There's a bit of a controversy over the name for this style of beer. Lots of people call it "Black IPA," because it's dark in color but has the hoppiness of an IPA. But here's the issue with that: IPA stands for India Pale Ale, and it's rather stupid to call something both "Black" and "Pale," no? I've also seen it referred to as "India Black Ale" or "India Dark Ale." Aside from the fact that "IBA" and "IDA" sound too much like "IPA," which would be confusing when people are trying to order a beer in a noisy pub, this style wasn't invented in India. In fact, India has nothing to with the beer, aside from a similarity in hoppiness to the IPAs that do trace their roots to British colonization (and exploitation) of India. This style was born and bred in the good old US of A.

That's why I am going with "Cascadian Dark Ale," and why I appreciate the fact that Deschutes does the same. The "Cascadian" part of the name comes from the notion of Cascadia being a name for the Northwest. And although this style was supposedly invented in Vermont, it's definitely been popularized and embraced by the Northwest, and it tends to be brewed with a generous helping of Northwest hops. I also am a fan of the Cascadia independence movement, so long as North Idaho is included if and when it happens. I don't want to move again.

Anyway, Hop in the Dark was predictably fantastic, and it's definitely one of the better examples of this style out there. It's got a nice, smooth, thick malty flavor that's balanced by a generous helping of floral, citrusy Northwest hops. Good stuff.

Rogue "Dead Guy Ale"
Speaking of the Northwest, the next beer I had was Rogue Dead Guy. It's hard to categorize Dead Guy. Rogue calls it a maibock, which is a strong German lager brewed with extra hops. But Dead Guy uses ale yeast, which is fermented at room temperature, instead of lager yeast, which is fermented at lower temperatures and is what maibocks use. To confuse things even more, Rogue calls it "Dead Guy Ale."

Whatever it is, it's good. The problem with Rogue is that it's way too expensive. Their beer is good, but I don't know why they insist on charging way more than everyone else. Even in Oregon, where Rogue is located, it still costs way more than Deschutes, Ninkasi, Bridgeport, Full Sail, and other similarly-sized Oregon breweries. I don't get it. It's probably one of those things where they figure if they charge more, people will assume it's because it's much better. But it's not. I mean, don't get me wrong--their beer is good to excellent. But so is the beer from those other breweries, which are 2/3 the price.

Anyway, since all the beer essentially cost the same here, I went with the Dead Guy. I'm still always surprised when I see it in a glass instead of a bottle of how light in color it is, because it tastes like a much darker beer. I don't expect it to be black or even brown, but maybe a dark amber in color.  Nope.  It's pretty light.  Fortunately, it doesn't taste that way.

Northern Lights "Chocolate Dunkel"
I was down to my last beer at this point, and Cathy had mentioned that she noticed Northern Lights had their Chocolate Dunkel on tap, which is something she'd enjoyed up at Silver Mountain.  Being the great husband I am, I spent my last beer token on this beer, just so I could share it with her.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I like the beer, too.

Normally, I don't go for sweet, dessert-ish beers like this one, but this one worked, particularly after the lingering hop bitterness in my mouth from the other two.  It also made a nice "dessert" to our food, which we'd just finished, but was nothing special, and so I won't be blogging about it.  To be honest, it's been over two weeks since the festival, and while I took notes about the beer, I didn't take any food notes, and I really don't remember what we ate.

Moving on.

Through all of this, there was a band playing Latin music.  They were pretty decent, though the music wasn't my style.  At one point in between songs, the singer said how glad they were to be "up here on Silver Mountain," which drew a few boos from the crowd until he realized what he'd said and apologized.  That was amusing to watch.  It was also amusing to watch the older yuppie couple make fools of themselves by salsa dancing in front of the stage while everyone was watching, though in truth I was probably a bit jealous that they were willing to make asses of themselves and not care what other people thought.  Either that, or they were just oblivious of how ridiculous they looked, but then how could you not know how ridiculous two people look when they're salsa dancing?

Overlooking Lake Pend Oreille
After the dunkel, it was time to go.  And we couldn't make the trip back down from the mountain without stopping and taking some photos of the unbeatable view.  The view is even better from the top of the mountain, and we almost took a chairlift to the top to take some more shots, but we had a Tucker puppy waiting for us.  Next time.

It's funny.  I've already gone to more beer festivals up here in the less than a year I've been here than the whole ten years I was in Oregon, the land of good beers galore.  And we're planning on going to another one: this time an Oktoberfest celebration in a couple of weeks.  I guess when you live in Oregon, every day is a beer festival.  Not so much up here.  Still, it's nice to make an event out of drinking good beer.  It makes it seem so much more special.

In Closing

I've got still more beer news to blog about, including tasting some new beers and trying a new brewery.  I also made my "world famous"* chili yesterday and plan on posting the recipe and some photos in the near future.  Plus, I feel it's time to talk politics again, since I haven't in a while, and since there's a lot to talk about.  And I might even have something to say about all the crazy college sports (football) conference realignments.  So stay tuned.

Now here it is, your moment of Tucker:


* Note: "world famous" only applies to Rob Dow's World, not the actual world itself

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Blogger Michelle H. said...

I think the reason you've been to more beer festivals in Idaho than Oregon is because there aren't as many available. That phenomenon is something I've noticed living in the city. There's something going on all the time, so there's no urgency to actually do anything, since there'll be something else next weekend.

I hope that makes sense!

1:49 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger Rob said...

That definitely makes sense, Michelle. Whenever there's lots of good beer available in Oregon, it's just another day in Oregon. Whenever there's lots of good beer available in Idaho, it's an *event*.

7:18 PM, September 26, 2011  

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