Archives: Beer

Eugene, Oregon

It never rains at Autzen Stadium. At least, it didn’t last night.

The drive down I-5 to Eugene, Oregon suffered from the typical bottlenecks that develop when both the University of Oregon and Oregon State University host home football games on the same day. Occasional squalls and heavy, lowering cloud banks hinted that the night’s game would be a wet one.

LA and a Writer’s Workshop

What a weekend. I’m writing from a hotel lobby in Los Angeles. I mentioned before that a creative organization was flying me down to LA to participate in a writer’s workshop. Well, that’s done. Now I can recap the weekend while waiting for my ride to the airport.

The flight down was fine. Enjoyable even. Shuttle van hell proved less joyful. Let’s just say the trip from airport to hotel required two hours. And let’s never speak of it again.

LA is warm. Did you know that? The blocks are too long and they radiate and magnify the heat. But the tacos are good. Thank you, Daniel, for the tour. Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive. Done and done. I’d come back for the tacos at Grand Central Market. The rest is fine, if you go in for that sort of thing.

Karl Strauss Brewing tells me LA’s beer scene is coming along nicely. I could ask for a greater concentration, but as a visitor I’ll humbly accept what I can get.

The workshop was a treat. The list of mentors, faculty, and speakers was — with the exception of yours truly — distinguished. In fact the roster of student/attendees was impressive. I’m not going to name drop, so you’ll just have to take my word.

My part of the proceedings went off without a hitch. I don’t believe I embarrassed myself. The conversations over the course of the weekend scintillated and entertained. Well worth the trip. Hard to believe I got paid for this. I mean, I’m going to cash the check, don’t get me wrong. But the weekend proved more pleasure than work.

I feel energized. I’m looking forward to opening the laptop again once I’m on the plane and letting the words flow. The goal: complete chapter two before Portland.

2017 Oregon Brewers Festival

I have a few bits of information I’d truly like to share.  But until the details firm up a bit more I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to write about beer. Deal with it.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the Oregon Brewers Festival. Not necessarily an interesting number, but it is for me considering I’ve been to almost all of them. Twenty plus years of beer lines, heat, random yelling, and crowds. It’s better than I make it sound. I’ve tried some fantastic beer over the years.

This year I took the day off and brought the HA with me. MBW was across the country at a conference. So, daddy and daughter beer day. Bula! We arrived as the festival opened. A stroller provided her shade and a platform for the portable DVD player. She was set. I had a festival mug and tokens. I was set.

NanoCon Mark IV Report

I’ve returned from NanoCon Mark IV and my stint as GOH. How about that?

It was a fun little con, held at the Longview Community College, just across the river from Rainier. I’d guess attendance came in at about two hundred. I’d consider it a success. I sold out of Under Strange Suns. I cut my inventory of Reunion in half. I met a number of intelligent and interesting people.

Among these I’d count James Wells, the great grandson of H.G. Wells (or the great man himself with a time machine and a convincing American accent.) We exchanged novels, so I have The Great Symmetry on my to-read pile now.

I had an engaging chat with James Omelina who runs several escape rooms in the southwest Washington area. I’m intrigued to check one out. I hear good things about the entertainment value of well-designed escape room, and James appears to have the design aspect dialed in.

I even managed lunch at the Ashtown brewery, a few blocks away from the convention. Well worth it.

The organizers were kind enough to invite me to return next year. I do hope my schedule allows it.

Tasting Notes

My Beautiful Wife and the Heir Apparent have been away for a couple of weeks. Too long, really. Still the time intervening between departure and return must be filled. I’ve been reading, caught up on some films, gotten a solid push on the second draft of “Boss.” Productive, I think. Stimulative to the synapses, fueling the story muscles. But a man can’t work all the time.

And so, beer.

I managed to visit a few brewpubs that I’ve missed. It’s not hard to miss a new one. They spring up in Portland like mushrooms. I posted some pictures of last weekend’s beer exploration. Today I’ll provide some tasting notes and comments about this weekend. For those of you who read this web log solely for thoughts on books, speculative fiction, sci-fi conventions and whatnot, this is a good place to stop reading.

Fat Head’s Brewery in Northwest Portland is the Oregon branch of an Ohio-based operation. But it brew on the premises and appears to develop a good number of its recipes independently. It is a cavernous space with a lot of tables. Oregon was playing Cal on the tube above the bar. And I ordered a five beer taster for $11. A bit steep I think. Perhaps someone has a spreadsheet with the price of taster trays in the greater Portland area.

The thing is, I took notes. Perhaps less detailed notes than usual, but here they are.

Built for Speed IPA. 6.3% Typical West Coast IPA, but not in a good way. Revisit — Pretty good after food.

Semper FiPA. 6.5% Oo-rah! Sorry, had to. Grassy, undistinguished IPA. Revisit — unchanged.

One for the Road IIPA. 8.5% Raisin and leather balancing a near perfect amount of hops. Near to classic beer status. Revisit — Unbalanced.

Tortuga Tri-PA. 9.25% Pineapple wallop. Aftertaste a lingering cigarette bitterness. Might grow on me, but no an immediate favorite. Revisit — Unchanged.

Pimp My Sleigh. 10.5%. Belgian Style Christmas Ale. Tastes like a near textbook barleywine. Perhaps a trifle thin/vinegary. Could use a chewier, raisin finish. Revisit — Minor improvement.

I think I’d go back there, try some more options. I find it interesting that revisiting a beer after having run some different flavors over the tastebuds occasionally altered my initial impression.

I visited Great Notion Brewing because a local publication listed one of its beers as the best beer in Portland. So of course the pub was completely sold out of the beer in question. I’d say just my luck but I probably should have seen that coming.

Great Notion is a typical example of the Portland brewpub. A smallish, re-purposed space decorated in a vaguely woodsy, Northwestern fashion. I ordered a sandwich and a five beer-taster tray. The sandwich was reasonably priced, $9 for a sandwich and generously sized side salad. The taster tray — not so much. $14! That can’t be the going rate, can it?

At least the beer was good.

Strawberry Cream IPA. 7%. Slight bite of hops to offset the smoothness. Strawberries and cream…and hops? Who’d a thunk it? Works though.

Grassroots IPA. 7%. Solid IPA. ON par with Gigantic and — almost — Breakside.

Super Ripe IIPA. 9.5%. Grapefruit and sucrose. In a good way.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice. 7%. Sour. Apricot and lemon juice. Pucker up!

Midnight Fluff. 10%. Stout. Feeling diabetic after one sip. Dip a s’more in it or pour it over ice cream. This is dessert beer overkill. Good, though.

I’d go back. But I think I’d just order a pint of something and hope for the best.

Hey, if you’re enjoying my particular brand of nonsense, please exercise the like and share functions of your social media platform of choice. Think of the children.



Another wedding, another road trip. This time, Boise, Idaho and another sibling getting hitched.

So, Boise. What to write about Boise? First, let me get something off my chest. Come on, Boise, put in some grocery stores. Seriously. And some convenience stores, not attached to gas stations, in locations that are — convenient.

Boise is brown. Tan, ecru, burnt umber, buff. Brown. Nice enough I suppose. Maybe an acquired taste, or I simply notice the somewhat monochromatic scenery because I’ve spent most of my life living the Pacific Northwest and my expectation is attuned to green.

I’ve discovered some nice places. For example, in the Boise suburb of Meridian there is a terrific park with a world class playground for the kids. And I can envision passing afternoons at Payette Brewing, down by the river in Boise, sitting at the picnic tables in the beer garden or playing one of the lawn games, pint in hand. I’m familiar with the “Rustler,” a solid IPA. I sampled a couple taproom only IPAs and a barleywine. All decent to good. 10 Barrel Brewing is located downtown. It’s an offshoot of the headquarters brewery, but I’m pleased to see it maintains the architectural design aesthetic of the original Bend location. And the lettuce wraps were excellent.



Unfortunately I can only eat and drink so much. So, there must be more. The zoo was modest, but entertaining. And the price matched, especially thanks to the reciprocity granted by my Portland zoo membership card.



The state capitol is right downtown. That’s fairly cool. Downtown itself is lively on a weekend (especially a Bronco’s game weekend) though small.

I’m here for a few more days, so I hope to discover more to see and do. I didn’t bring my bicycle, nor attire for white water rafting (neither of which activities are suited to the aptitudes and proclivities of a toddler anyway) so outdoor recreation will have to wait until the next visit.

In the meantime, I have a wedding to dress for.

It’s Criminal

I suppose the appropriate thing for me today would be to write about last week’s Westercon. I’m used to doing the inappropriate, might be best you get accustomed to it as well. Today’s web log post will instead consist of a bit of upcoming news.

Country music holds a tradition of crime ballads, stories of men on the run, stories of alcohol and mistakes. Certain singers even attracted the label “Outlaw Country,” though the term might also come from the musicians bucking the established Nashville sound, pursuing instead a sound outside the norms. Either way, we got some excellent, evocative music from the movement. I grew up with it, and I still dig it.

You know who else likes it, even loves it? James R. Tuck. He loves it so much, in fact, that he put together an anthology of crime stories based on Outlaw Country songs. I bet he loves beer as well, because his consumption of a six-pack or so would go a long way to explain why he let me join in on the fun.

In a bit over a month from today’s web log post, Down and Out Books will release Mama Tried: Crime Fiction Inspired by Outlaw Country Music. My story, Copperhead Road, appears somewhere in the book. Here’s a suggestion for mid-August: Get yourself a copy, dust off your LPs, throw some Waylon and Willie on the turntable, crack a bottle of bourbon, and read.