Classic Drafted, Circa mid-Feb 2009: “One Bad SOB”

Even though we got an unplanned week off of work on account of heavy snow, I seem to have left no time for my beloved friend BEER.  In deference to those who rooted so much for the return of Drafted, I lazily posted a draught from the original column.  Was this the published version?  My answer to that is a cliché: what do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino?  Enjoy. (Beer: Southern Oregon Brewing Company’s Gold Ale)

First off, I would like to publicly berate Nick for subjecting me to this beer – he knew full well what he was getting me into…and that I prefer dark beer. Nevertheless, I, too, shelled out the $4.04 for a bomber at Mama Gia’s with an open mind and a friend’s questionably clean plastic cup (not even a glass…psshht…men). I love that the label sports a jolly suspenders man toting a keg of SOB; “so far, so good,” I thought. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the best part.

Scanning the rest of the label (yes, my disdain began before I had even opened the bottle), we see that SOB’s Gold Ale is “fermented with a lager yeast.” I have said it before, but I must reiterate that beer is categorized as either lager or ale based upon the type of YEAST used. You, dear beer, are a LAGER! Know your role! This paradox leads me to one of two conclusions – either someone downed a keg of this stuff while drawing up the label or, well, they just did not care to find out what they were bottling. Despite myself, I popped the top and dove in.

I was not overly impressed by the head, though I did clock it at 1:47 from full foam to near-complete dissipation. With my first sip, I shared Nick’s uncanny sensation of recognition. “Have I had this one before? It tastes like…is it?…my favorite pong beer?” Seemingly indistinguishable from my trusty Johnny 6-pack, this beer truly deserves to be served very cold, to the point that your taste buds become desensitized to its ineptitude and you are not put through the frustrating task of having to try and savor this one as craft brew.

As each mouthful warmed, it revealed the weak and watery body and flavors. I could hardly detect the hops. My sourest face came with the dregs, which tasted only of water.

Established in 2006, SOB is a relatively new company with nowhere to go but up. They are based in Medford, OR and I am hopeful that this offering is far superior on draught, however, this bomber bombed. They get my kudos for their community involvement, though.

On a scale of Keanu Reeves (1) to Sean Connery (10), this beer would be a Vin Diesel: eye-catching, but once you get into it you would rather have some cheesy kung-fu movie star for the same film. In other words, Coors Light already comes in bottles, so save your money.

Don’t Hate Me ’cause You Ain’t Me

…except that I almost hate myself for this little concoction. You’ll see.
After polishing off an entire loaf of bread by myself over the span of about 54 hours, I decided to try eating significantly fewer grain products. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Unfortunately, I seem to be doomed to compulsive behavior. My dumb brain thought, “Hey – if cutting back on bread is my goal, why not start with cutting out ALL grain!” Idiot that I am, my fridge is now stocked with plenty o’ meats and veggies, but all I can crave right now is cheesecake frozen yogurt with chunks of real cheesecake from Yogurtland. This calls for a distraction: Let the kitchen experimentations BEGIN!
I’m not sure how long I’ve had these tins of SPAM Lite in my cupboard, but it never goes bad, right?!?! Okay, so I sliced up about a third of my little tin o’ SPAM, fried it up, and here’s where I got crazy. Instead of doin’ the same ol’ SPAM ‘n’ eggs I so enjoy, I got creative (read: LAZY) and decided to cook those eggs on the SPAM…wait for it…over easy. That’s right. It’ll be over. It’ll be easy. Genius! Sick, sick genius.
Now we come to the part of near-self-loathing: I rather enjoyed Spam-n-eggs over easy. In fact, it may just be my new favorite thing. Shudder if you must (I did), but I can’t deny how delicious I found this dish. Come on, who doesn’t absolutely MELT anytime easy-cooked egg yolks run their golden sweetness ALL OVER the plate and any unsuspecting food in their flow?! It’s almost erotic. You’re even drooling, aren’t you? 😉

Try It Yourself:

SPAM (I used about 1/3 of a tin of SPAM Lite) cut into chunks, then fried

2 eggs, yolks unbroken

With SPAM still fryin’ in the pan, add eggs on top and continue frying until egg whites are set (stir around the whites to break ’em up and cook them all the way through, but protect the yolks as much as possible).

Enjoy alone or over a few slices of toast – and a good helping of self-loathing.

Winter Blues? Bah, Humbug’r

I must admit, I was drawn to MacTarnahan’s Winter Humbug’r by the flashy label. Seriously, though, who doesn’t love strange cartoons of sloppy, inebriated men waving mistletoe in your face?  And that color scheme: aesthetically inviting. Too bad you can’t taste a label.

Holiday Humbug'r

...and a bottle o' beer in a pear tree

During the pour, it seemed thick and pleasantly dark – that’s a good sign, right?!  I do so love a good, dark beer – especially in a winter seasonal. The nose on this porter was characteristically nutty and sweet. I started to get a bit excited for that first sweet sip.  All signs were pointing to go.

In for the taste, and…

…payoff. Everything in the nose translated to my mouth. It wasn’t as bitter as I like my porters, but it did have a slight bite other than what I’d expected – perhaps on its way to a stout roast-ish taste, but just a tinge of it (“deceptively dark,” indeed). Strangely enough, though, none of this made it to the back of my tongue.  Gypped.  Even that roasty-toasty taste was along the periphs.

As for the finish, I’ve had better.  I’ve had much worse, but from a porter I expect better.  It lasted long enough after a few sips, but once I did get it to linger, I wished I hadn’t. It did not deck my halls with cheer, as promised, but I guess you could say it did fulfill its goal of unraveling my ribbons.  I would be content to drink this with friends and a movie, but I can think of a few porters I’d rather enjoy with dinner.

On a Sandra Bullock scale from All About Steve (1) to The Blind Side (10…remember, this scale is relative), I give Humbug’r about a Forces of Nature (7.2) – entertaining for sure, but neither memorable nor high art.  If you must serve this with food, try pairing with an open-face sandwich (broiled, of course) with provolone or swiss.

Specs: 5.3% abv, 27 IBUs; 6-er of 12 oz. bottles purchased at a WINCO in Eugene, OR (I forget for how much, though).

MacTarnahan’s is renowned for their Amber, and their PR guy is unofficially titled the “Director of Pontification and Tale Telling.”  Cute.

Stalling…

Before I redebut a much-anticipated Zombie Drafted review, allow me to regale (read: bore) you with a few things I learned over this unbelievably packed (I can’t believe it’s only been two weeks) winter vacation.

I learned that…

…trombones love to play outside the studio ’cause in the studio they mostly provide a soundtrack for murders.

…a trombone choir is really good at playing CHORDS.

…my best friend’s brother lives 20 minutes from me in Cali.

…an old roommate’s childhood friend also lives 20 minutes from me in Cali.

…as long as there are gaudy Christmas decorations and a fountain, any crowded place can feel like home if you have your best friend there with you.

…movies are HELLA expensive in Cali.  Avatar (3D, not IMAX) was $16.

…now that I have cruise control and bluetooth, 18-hour drives are pretty tolerable.

…if you find a stray dog without a collar or chip and if no one claims it from the pound within a week, she is yours to love forever and ever and ever…for $120.

…I really am more of a cat person right now.

…many people think I smoke pot.  (FYI: decidedly NOT into drugs)

Eddie Aikau was a LEGENDARY Hawaiian surfer/lifeguard.

…New Year’s Day is not your lucky day if you are shopping for Ninkasi anywhere in Eugene.

…Pierre Bourdieu is buried in Pere Lachaise (famous cemetery; Jim Morrison is among those buried there). I also learned who Pierre Bourdieu was.

…the Clark’s Nutcracker is nicknamed the “Camp Robber” due to their habit of stealing snacks at campsites.

…it’s time to stop learning and start doing.  Except for that whole “stop learning” part.

Journey

It's not about the destination...

How to Avoid Unneccessary Human Interaction

One word: Starbucks.
More on that, of course: Starbucks’s Wi-Fi is so powerful I didn’t even have to leave my car for this post. I’m maybe seven or eight parking spots back from the front door and still have two bars (of five). Plenty. I suppose I’ll have to go inside anyway because I promised a friend I’d pick up an application for her, but this frees me up to make a fool of myself in the process if I so choose – I can just move on to another Starbucks (or the parking lot) while I wait for another friend to get off work. Too easy, but so worth the novelty of it!

Festival of the Last Minute

First thing I did when I got home? My best friend from high school and I hit up Portland Saturday Market for the Festival of the Last Minute. Yeah! Nothin’ says welcome home like street vendors, fresh jams, and Girl-Who-Hula-Hoops-While-Playing-the-Saxophone.  Well, maybe One-Handed-Guitar-Hobo.  He rocks pretty hard.  Speaking of rocking, enjoy some snapshots from the last day of the 2009 Saturday Market season.

Dog wearing Oregon coat

Hope this pup wasn't born in Corvallis.

Yeah, it was cold – and it seemed like all the dogs out were TINY!  They were cute, all shivering and hypothermic.  Some owners carried them around in their sweaters.  Others – well, you saw.

Trying to show how cold it is.

This kid thinks we're nuts.

See?!  Cold.  It is surprisingly difficult to get a cold-breath shot on the fly.  This is attempt #4…and that little boy has begun to wonder about the crazies behind him in line for elephant ears.  I wonder, too.

Boy with a spatula through the head

How would you even get that in there?

The best part of the Festival of the Last Minute is that there are more chitlins runnin’ around with kitschy toys than usual…probably because their parents are in an unusually giving mood.  He seemed too polite for me to want to shove a spatula handle-first through his temples, though.  Pity.

Portland Saturday Market '09

I love my town.

A close second to the Kitsch is the Indie.  Arts and crafts edge closer together on this Portland pavement…the edgier it is, the better it sells.  I fall in love with every indie boy I pass on the street.  Sigh.  I love Portland.

On the MAX

Perfunctory MAX shot.

What is it about a day on the town that makes everyone (myself included) take boring photos on the MAX?  Must be that darn holiday cheer!

A Taste of Home

Aside from rivers (or any naturally occurring body of water, for that matter) and my friends, the thing I miss most about home is the beer culture – an enthusiasm for microbrews you can taste (pun intended).  I know there are breweries down here in SoCal and I’ve even been to a brewpub in Big Bear (the stout? porter? oh, right…doppel bock I had was quite good, but obviously not memorable. In any case, that’s a story for another time.), but the brew-tmosphere that pervaded my social life in Portland keeps duckin’ me in LA.  Beer takes a backseat to higher conversation, such as who’s cheatin’ who (who’s bein’ true…and who don’t even care anymore), how Angelenos are SO over Ed Hardy, or the latest stupid Glenn Beck stunt.

Working in the San Bernardinos does make it a bit difficult to procure a decent micro, if only because my favorite dives hardly even have taps – let alone microbrews on tap.  None of my coworkers had even heard of Drop Top.  Sigh.

This brings me to the two most uplifting episodes/anecdotes in my beer diaspora so far: the Beer Angel at a gas station in Burbank and the Hefeweizen Fairy at Tony Roma’s in Universal CityWalk.

Chronologically first, the Beer Angel was gassin’ up behind me at a Costco (SO economical – read: cheap. Yesssssss!).  He eyed my Oregon plates a while, doubtless pondering which stereORtype to pursue for a quick yet fulfilling gas station exchange.  To my lingering joy, he struck out with a quick “Hey, next time you’re in Portland will you pick up a bunch of microbrews for me?  Yeah, just stop over at the Kennedy School and maybe get some Widmer, too.”  Oh man – I almost burst, I was so happy!  I kindly let him know that I’d try, but could make no guarantees the goods would survive me before they were delivered.  He understood both my voracity for Portland beer and my frustration with the lack of accessibility on par with home’s offerings.  Refreshed, I went off to work; coincidentally (or was it?!),  it was my Civil War game GO DUCKS spirit week at work – great timing, gas station Beer Angel.

Most recently, though, I discovered a somewhat reliable non-LA-bar source for a Portland Beer fix: LA chain restaurants!  Much better, I know.  🙂  My best friend flew in on her way to visit her dad in Texas, so her brother and I have been showing her the sights/malls.  CityWalk was on our agenda for the big ol’ Universal globe, so we decided to see Avatar while we were there.  The showing we wanted was sold out, so we caught dinner at Tony Roma’s after we bought tickets to the next available showing.  I’d been avoiding eating out because a) I’m trying to pay off my student loans and b) I don’t make that much money in the first place.

Anyway, this time I was rewarded with a long list of options…rapidly rattled off.  “Coor’s Light, Bud Light, Hefeweizen, …”  Stop right there, Sir.  Whose Hef?  “Uh…Wid…meeeeeeear?”  WIDMER?!?!?!  Yes, please.  “Small or large?”  After much deliberation, I went big.  Real big.  25 ounces big, in fact.  Oh-so-very worth it.

Mug of Widmer Hef

Pinkies up, ladies!