The first couple of posts this week were fairly serious looks at what we've done with The Beer Trials
and my philosophical take on food criticism, but please rest assured that the life of a beer writer is not entirely
one of Ivory Tower theorizing about the epistemology of sensory perception. There are also occasional opportunities for such frivolities as drinking beer.
Last night I had the opportunity to celebrate the hard work that our many volunteers — the folks who participated in our blind tasting panels and served beer to those panels; the people who helped find the beers we tasted; etc. — gave to help the book succeed. We handed out copies of the book and customized beer openers, and of course, bought a few pints from our hosts at the Green Dragon.
I adore the Green Dragon (with whom Fearless Critic has an ongoing relationship as they have hosted and continue to host book-related events like last night's), and what it says about Portland as a beer-loving city. Opened in 2007 as an independent pub with aspirations of brewing their own beer, they were sufficiently entrenched that a great ruckus was raised when the bar was sold off to the folks at Rogue Brewing over the objections of minority stakeholders.
Two years post-sale, the pain of that transition has largely faded, and most of the predictions about the negative impacts of the sale have been forgotten. The Green Dragon is up to an impressive fifty taps (of which one is generally dedicated to the parent company's beers) of eclectic, diverse beers.
Last night's patrons celebrated, in addition to the publication of The Beer Trials, the tenure of beer buyer (and Beer Trials expert taster) Sam Sugar, who is, sadly, departing the Green Dragon and Portland to move to Newport. Sam (whose business cards sport the awesome job title "Beer Gazelle") has played a huge role in making the Dragon the remarkable beer destination that it is, and while I'm sad that she'll be out of town (and presumably unavailable as a taster for future blind tastings), it was awesome to be able to share a pint and see her off.
The beer list, as always, was stellar. The list tends towards the strong and the unusual; while I sometimes wish for more options in straightforward, session-strength beers (like the tasty house-brewed Special Bitter they were serving for a recent cask-ale festival), the stronger stuff is sensibly served in glasses, and it's hard to complain about a surfeit of interesting beer.
Perhaps the most interesting they've had on recently is from Cascade, a local brewery specializing in barrel-aged beers. Their Spring Gose is a rare example of a nearly extinct style from Leipzig, Germany.
Gose is brewed with coriander and salt, and has a distinct but bizarrely-tasty brininess that I think is just wonderful. It's not for everyone; I'd have a hard time drinking more than one, but it's the kind of eye-opener that reminds one just how broad the world of beer is.
I also enjoyed a ginger-infused pale ale from Caldera, which reminded me of one of my early (and successful) homebrewing experiments. Dry, light, and less carbonated than most beers, it would be a delightful front porch beer for the summer, I think.
We filled up the back half of the restaurant side of the Green Dragon with Beer Trials helpers, and I signed and inscribed copies of the book and reflected on how many people it took to make this book happen. I like working with other people; when I make beer, it's my preference to have a crew. Not because there's a lot of work that needs doing, but thinking about beer, like drinking beer, is a social activity for me.
We'll be back at the Green Dragon in a few weeks for a release party for The Beer Trials. If you're in Portland on May 12th, please feel free to join us in the evening for a beer. Sláinte!