Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Perils of Monoculture - Diversity in the Blogosphere

Whether it's a lawn, a forest, a farm, or indeed beer styles, the conceit from ecology seems to apply across a broad set of domains: monoculture is bad. Innovation and healthy resilience thrive best when our systems are diverse.

Over at The Weekly Brew, Jared writes an impassioned plea for beer diversity.

And Capital Taps welcomes another Salem beer blog! The Weekly Brew has a special interest in home brewing. And in fact at the Oregon Garden Brewfest, Jared won the spice/herb/vegetable category for his Rose Red. Congratulations!

The Weekly Brew also has a different palate, including a different take on chili beers. About Calapooia's the Brew says:
There’s not alot of malt flavor, nor bitterness. In fact there’s not alot of beer flavor at all except at the front. The thing that makes this beer awesome is that at the back is a strong taste of chili peppers and a good warming sensation accompanied by a mild burn. If you like the taste of chili’s then you’ll love it, but even if your not the biggest fan the warmth this beer has to it is just awesome.
I haven't tasted Calapooia's, but I've tasted some other chili beers, and this description reads exactly right to me. Except I don't like them. The "mild burn" isn't what I look for in a beer. For Capital Taps such beers are interesting, but not pleasant: I might want a couple of ounces to taste, but never a full glass. In fact, a burn is pretty much the opposite of what I look for in a beer. A burn is what excessively woody or resinous hopping also gives me.

Anyway, I cite this not to pick a fight over whether chili beers are good or bad - since indeed the chili beer was perhaps the most popular beer at the brewfest - but in praise of diversity. Salem needs more beer, more different kinds of beer, more different kinds of people writing about beer!

Cheers to the Weekly Brew! Head on over and check it out for a different take on beer and brewing!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Beer Poetry for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, and Capital Taps has been remiss in marking the celebration. Here's a short poem by William Blake:

The Little Vagabond

Dear mother, dear mother, the church is cold,
But the ale-house is healthy and pleasant and warm;
Besides I can tell where I am used well,
Such usage in Heaven will never do well.

But if at the church they would give us some ale,
And a pleasant fire our souls to regale,
We'd sing and we'd pray all the live-long day,
Nor ever once wish from the church to stray.

Then the parson might preach, and drink, and sing,
And we'd be as happy as birds in the spring;
And modest Dame Lurch, who is always at church,
Would not have bandy children, nor fasting, nor birch.

And God, like a father rejoicing to see
His children as pleasant and happy as he,
Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the barrel,
But kiss him, and give him both drink and apparel.
And this one, more in the spirit of National Poetry Month, discovered from a poet I'd never heard of before the conjuration of google a few moments ago. It moves me immediately in ways I don't yet understand. A good sign, in my book. (The enjambment of the title into the first line - or whatever that device is called - is apparently part of the poem.)
The Body

by Marianne Boruch
has its little hobbies. The lung
likes its air best after supper,
goes deeper there to trade up
for oxygen, give everything else
away. (And before supper, yes,
during too, but there’s
something about evening, that
slow breath of the day noticed: oh good,
still coming, still going ... ) As for
bones—femur, spine,
the tribe of them in there—they harden
with use. The body would like
a small mile or two. Thank you.
It would like it on a bike
or a run. Or in the water. Blue.
And food. A habit that involves
a larger circumference where a garden’s
involved, beer is brewed, cows
wake the farmer with their fullness,
a field surrenders its wheat, and wheat
understands I will be crushed
into flour and starry-dust
the whole room, the baker
sweating, opening a window
to acknowledge such remarkable
confetti. And the brain,
locked in its strange
dual citizenship, idles there in the body,
neatly terraced and landscaped.
Or left to ruin, such a brain,
wild roses growing
next to the sea. The body is
gracious about that. Oh, their
scent sometimes. Their
tangle. In truth, in secret,
the first thing
in morning the eye longs to see.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Art Brut, now Frank Black - Hell Freezes Over

In twin blows for Salem culture, The Space continues to book shows of significant acts you'd never expect to see in Salem, and the Statesman actually covers them.

I just could not believe it when I saw Frank Black's mug on the front page this morning.

Frank Black's / Black Francis's new band, Grand Duchy, will be appearing at The Space tonight. Go drink some beer, and stimulate the economy and your ears.

Sample Grand Duchy here.

Check out Art Brut v. Salem here. (Go back to the entries in December for more on one outsider's take on our fair community.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oregon Garden Brewfest

The Oregon Garden Brewfest is this weekend. Check out the list of beers here.

I'm gonna be bad. The local beers are generally part of the standard offerings, and while it's not usual 'round here to see so many in one place on tap, it's not like you can't get bottled versions of most of them. There aren't many special brews at this festival.

So I'm gonna highlight two imports, which are rare around here, two moreover that aren't very high in alcohol, and which depending on the weather would make splendid session beers, one if it's damp, the other if it's sunny.

Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Hoegaarden Witbier.

They are emphatically not hopheadia brews. Neither beer blows me away, but I find both deeply satisfying and comforting. Even in Portland you only find them on draft occasionally. Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Honest Pint Moves Forward!

The House Business and Labor Committee has scheduled a "work session" on Wednesday, April 22, at 8am in Hearing Room E, for the Honest Pint Act, HB 3122!

For more on the Honest Pint, see here (with additional links).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hello Pale Horse Brewing Company!

Welcome Pale Horse Brewing, Salem-Keizer's first independent brewery in I don't know how long!

Capital Taps was able to interview President and Head Brewer, Dennis Clack.

CT: What's your brewing background? Are you a home brewer? Or have you been brewing commercially before?
My brewing background started about 7 years ago, when I looked up at a shelf at a local variety store, and beheld a Mr. Beer Kit looking back at me. I took the kit home and the rest is history, my relationship with brewing beer has been evolving ever since. I started out home brewing and here I am trying to kick start a micro- brewery.
What are your principal brews, and what are your stylistic aims and preferences? What beers and brewers do you admire most?
Right now we have only two brews, HILLBILLY BLONDE (blonde ale style), and PALE HORSE STOUT (Irish Style Stout). I really don’t have any stylistic aims or preferences, we are in fact currently doing research into what the beer drinking public wants, and we’ll go from there. My own taste preferences tend to be the slightly less hoppy and bitter styles. I suppose this kind of goes against the thinking of those who think a craft beer ought to make your face pucker as you drink it. I do think the brewery’s third beer is probably leaning towards being a Porter. For those who want the more hoppier, and stronger beer we’ll probably be adding a IPA not too far in the distant future.

The brewers at the Pelican at Pacific City are the guys I have my bar set to. The superb quality of the beer they turn out consistently is the goal of our brewery. The Kiwanda Cream, and Tsunami Stout ales they brew are two great ales.
What are your plans for the next year or two?
For the next several years we’ll be trying to do the all the necessary thing all new businesses have to achieve to stay afloat; continually improve product, increase sales, and become a solid member of the Salem/Keizer community (which is the real motivation behind my Wife and I starting the brewery).
Where can people drink your beer?
People can find our beer at The Stone Front Tavern, Silver Inn, Big Shots Bar and Broiler, and Jammers. The list I’m happy to say is about to swell from establishments who are going take on our beer. Around the latter part of May or the first part of June our beer will also become available at many of the Salem/Keizer grocery stores.
The Pelican just went crazy at the Australian International Beer Awards. A month ago they sent 10 beers and won 10 awards. A brewer could hardly find a better model!

This is great news that the beer will be bottled and available locally. And I love the community-mindedness!

Thanks, Dennis, for taking the time to chat with Capital Taps!

Pale Horse Brewing (brewery only, no pub)
2359 Hyacinth ST. NE
Salem, OR 97301

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cherry City Music Beer Stimulus

Turns out the music festival was pouring Seven Brides at a couple different venues. I tried Lils Pils. The draft arrangements were less than ideal, so it's not fair to draw conclusions about the beer. The price was right, though: $3!

Also some Ninkasi Oatis Oatmeal Stout and Ft. George Vortex IPA. The IPA was too bitter for me, but over at Beervana, Jeff Alworth swirls praise around it:
The hops are far too nuanced to come on that strong [97 IBU strong!]--the aroma is succulent and the green hop flavors are layered without going to the extremes of bitterness. It's deceptive because it's so approachable--the hops are in harmony with the sweet, gentle malt...
My friend agreed with him, and thought it was balanced & yummy. My favorite beer of the weekend was the Ninkasi. Still, the stout was a pinch too sweet, and what I really wanted was a flavorful lager - hence the Lils Pils. Something more like the Full Sail LTD bottlings.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Brown's One Year Anniversary & Ninkasi

Brown's Towne Lounge is celebrating its first birthday tomorrow! And Ninkasi will be there! Dee posted:
Some cool stuff is gonna be going on for our party. We've got John Pound playing from 7-10. He is one of my favorites from different places I've worked over the years. He plays some sax and bass and it's awesome. Ninkasi is coming with tasters and t-shirt stuff it'll be fun.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cherry City Music Stimulus Package

Stimulate the local economy this weekend! The Cherry City Music Festival will bring an unprecedented number of bands to local venues. Well over 100! They still need volunteers, too. Catch a show, drink some beer, have fun.

For best beer stimulus, check out shows at:
The Beanery
The Space

And there are at least 10 other venues without beer! For the full schedule see here (roll over venue name to see band line-up). K-Records and Kill Rock Stars will have special feature stages, and there are a bunch of other great bands. You'll also likely make some new discoveries with bands new to you!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Round-Up: A New Brewery, a Music Festival, the Honest Pint

Over at Eat Salem there's a funny - both funny odd and funny ha-ha - review of Johnny's at 17th & Center. I haven't been there, but the review doesn't make it sound very appealing!

More interestingly, a helpful tipster scared up a new brewery in Salem! Pale Horse Brewing just joined the Salem Chamber of Commerce and is just getting going with a few accounts in Salem. Haven't tasted the beer yet, but Hillbilly Blond sounds all too alluring! Portland Brewing did Stumptown Tart, so I guess Salem gets Hillbilly Blond!

In other news, the Cherry City Music Festival gets going next weekend. The line up is pretty staggering. Well over 100 bands, and I can't imagine someone wouldn't find some kind of music of interest. There's indie rock, hip-hop, bluegrass...maybe not every style, but it's pretty darn catholic.

Seven Brides out of Silverton will be helping with some of the afterparty refreshment, I understand. The festival needs volunteers, so if you'd like to help out, sign up here.

The proposed Honest Pint law continues to get coverage. Oregonian article here, the Register-Guard here, and a KATU piece (via Beervana).