Thursday, September 29, 2011

Great White North by Northwest, Part II

This post is a continuation of a previous post that recounted my trip to Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR. The first post covered my stay in the lovely Canadian province of British Columbia which was first trip to Canada. I have subsequently made a second visit to the Great White North this time to Montreal.

This was my third trip to Oregon, and I very much enjoy the area. As I have mentioned in a previous post, Portland is known as "Beervana" due to the large number of breweries in the area. I always look forward to taking advantage of that fact when I visit my friend Alan. We planned our own beer tour on the first day of my visit. Unfortunately, the trip was several weeks ago, so time (not to mention the beer) have started to dull my memories. I do remember that our first stop was not a bar, club or restaurant but a food cart to grab some lunch. After walking past the various carts lining Alder Street, Ninth Avenue, and Tenth Avenue, we chose Emame’s Ethiopian Cuisine. While the food was excellent, it turned out not to be quite as enjoyable as our beer crawl progressed.

I do not remember the name of first bar that we visited, but it was know for the number of whiskeys it carried as can be seen in my photos. Instead of a whiskey, I had a pint of the Total Domination IPA from Ninkasi Brewing Company. I finished the glass, but I would not say that I particularly enjoyed the brew. Our second stop on the tour was Silver Dollar Pizza II. I enjoyed a glass of the Sweet Leaf from Off The Rail Brewing which is located in Forest Grove, Oregon.

For our next stop, we crossed Broadway and stopped into Bailey’s Taproom. This place recently replaced their previous method of displaying the list of their beers with a large display located above the bar. I enjoyed a very nice Kölsch-style ale from Occidental Brewing Company which is named Cloudy Summer. Alan has trouble finishing off his Bourbon Barrel Cappuccino Stout from Lagunitas Brewing Company. Together, we managed to finish off the glass. After Bailey’s, we crossed Ankeny which is a small side street and stepped into Tugboat Brewing Company where I had a Amber Lamps.

Things now start getting particularly hazy. Luckily, I have my handy dandy Twitter account to remind me of the beers I consumed, albeit not exactly where I consumed them. The next beer on the list is a hefeweizen from Pyramid Breweries which is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. For a time, this brew was branded as "Haywire Hefeweizen", but the name has since reverted back to just "Hefeweizen" with the "Haywire" being dropped by the wayside.

The hefeweizen was followed by Twilight Summer Ale from Deschutes Brewery which is one of the Oregon's more well-known breweries. Skipping ahead to Saturday, I accompanied Alan along with his wife and daughter to a picnic for his company which Alan has been responsible for organizing. At the picnic, I had bottles of Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter both of which are from Deschutes. I also had a bottle of Widmer Hefeweizen from Widmer Brothers Brewery. At the picnic, I enjoyed a small box of maple and bacon ice cream from Fifty Licks Ice Cream in Portland. The maple leaf on the box represents the maple flavor is not a reference to my previous stop in Canada.

Backing up a bit, Friday night continued with beer tastings at the Cascade Brewing Barrel House. I chose to taste sour beers which were on the fruity side. I had the 2011 Nightfall Blackberry, the 2010 Apricot Ale, the 2010 Sang Royal, and the 2010 Kriek. Honestly, I mostly remember those beers being difficult to drink.

Moving on to Saturday night, Alan and I decided to hit some bars in his Lake Oswego neighborhood. We started with some beers at Maher's Irish Brew Pub. There I enjoyed some Magners Irish Cider with Guinness layered on top. The next stop was Firehouse Pub where we ordered a couple of baskets of chicken wings. The wings were over the top on the hot sauce. The extra hot wings led to copious amounts of beer of which I lost track. According to Twitter, I had a blonde ale from some brewing company with "Island" in the name. That turns out to be not particularly useful information. We finished up the night down the street at Gemini Bar and Grill, but those beers are also lost to the drunken haze.

I did have one more Oregon brew before flying home. In the Portland airport, I had a draft of Mom Hefeweizen from Rogue. It seems this beer is also known as Half-E-Weizen, but I will not hold the various names against it. Anyway, that beer is the end of my trip to Vancouver and Portland. Next up in Jim's travels is Boston and then Los Angeles, possibly Santa Clara, maybe a return trip to Montreal, and one or two trips to Las Vegas.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Beginning

Note: As could be surmised by several of my previous posts, I have been traveling a good bit recently. While looking to kill time during a recent layover, I decided to try my hand at some creative writing. I only managed an opening paragraph. I suppose this story is intended to be erotic fiction as opposed to a Harlequin romance. At the risk of this site being slapped with the dreaded "Adult Content" label, here is my attempt at fiction.

During a layover in a generic airport, I am sitting at in a restaurant with a drink in my hand. Neither the crappy airport food on the table in front of me nor the random sporting events on the multitude of televisions around the bar are particularly interesting to me. Entering the restaurant is a woman in a conservative business suit. I can not help but notice her black stockings and expensive-looking three-inch heels. We make eye contact as she makes her way towards the table next to me. She smiles. She takes off her dark suit jacket before taking a seat in a chair across from me. Unconsciously, she unbuttons the top of her sheer cream-color blouse to let her well-sized breasts breathe. Her skirt rises up her thigh just a bit as her nicely-curved hips shift in an attempt to get more more comfortable in the uncomfortable chair.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hypothetical Season for Texas

I am afraid this topic will be another that is not of much interest to many of my nonexistent readers. This particular post has been sitting in draft for quite a long time. It feels like I have been working on this post for over a year. I am not sure exactly, but that might not be too far from the truth. I believe that I started writing this post back in 2010 when top-level universities changing athletic conferences was current news. Once again the shifting landscape of college sports is in the news.

Texas Christian University (TCU) is one of the schools that will be changing their conference affiliation. While not exactly geographically-correct, the Horned Frogs will be moving to the Big East Conference for the 2012 season. Of course, TCU switching conferences is reminiscent of the children of Israel wandering in the desert. The Big East will be the fifth conference for TCU in recent memory. Their athletic program was a member of the Southwest Conference until 1996, then the Western Athletic Conference through 2000, followed by Conference USA (C-USA) until 2004, and the Mountain West Conference until this year.

One of my thoughts on this topic is close to being out of date with several schools from the Big 12 Conference, including the University of Texas, considering bolting for the recently expanded Pacific-12 Conference. My thought was that the Texas Longhorns would be able manipulate the Big 12 in an effort to create the possibility of seasons where they could make it all the way to the national championship game while only playing once outside of the state of Texas.

The first step would be for the Big 12 Conference to expand back to twelve team by adding two schools located in Texas such as the University of Houston and Southern Methodist University (SMU). (I originally included TCU prior to the announcement of their move to the Big East.) Both the Houston Cougars and SMU Mustangs are currently members of C-USA. With the exit of Texas A&M University from the Big 12, yet another school would need to be added to keep the number of schools in the conference at twelve. Therefore, I will include UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso) who are also from C-USA in this hypothetical situation. With the addition of the schools from Texas, the Big 12 would again be divided into North and South Divisions with the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University moving to the North Division.

North Division South Division
Iowa State Cyclones
Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas State Wildcats
Missouri Tigers
Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Baylor Bears
Houston Cougars
SMU Mustangs
Texas Longhorns
Texas Tech Red Raiders
UTEP Miners

In the magical season for the Longhorns, their non-conference games could either be played at home or against teams from Texas, such as a rivalry game against the Texas A&M Aggies. For their conference schedule, they would play the five teams in their division and three games against teams from the North Division. One of the interdivisional games would be the Red River Rivalry game against the Sooners which has been played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas for many years. One of the other two interdivisional games could be a home game. The third game would be an away game played outside of the state of Texas.

Assuming the Longhorns win their division, they would play in the Big 12 Conference Championship Game. Several times in the past, the championship game has been played in the state of Texas. It is not a stretch of the imagination to assume that Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas would again be a frequent home to the game. The stadium is the new home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys and hosted the Big 12 Championship Game in 2009 and 2010. Speaking of the Cowboys, their owner, Jerry Jones, would like to see the new stadium get the chance to host the BCS Championship Game. The people in charge of the BCS have stated that they would consider the idea. Thus, it might be possible at some point in the future for the Longhorns (or any of the other Texas schools) to play for the national championship in their own state.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Coffee At Work

One of my coworkers recently bought a Keurig coffee machine for our lab at work. He also bought a variety of K-cups. So far, I have tried two of the flavors. I have enjoyed several cups of Caramel Vanilla Cream from Green Mountain Coffee. I do not think that the vanilla and caramel combination is quite as good as plain French vanilla, but it is much better than the combination of butter toffee and coffee.

I have been trying to cut down some on consuming caffeine, so I tried a cup of the decaffeinated version of Donut House coffee which is also by Green Mountain. I think decaf coffee is somewhat pointless, but the Donut House brew was quite drinkable.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This post continues the theme from my previous three posts of pictures taken from my cellphone. It also continues some of the discussions from the most recent post.
In that post, I covered Crispin Cider and Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale, and I mentioned a half-and-half with each of them plus Guinness stout. I was back at the neighborhood bar yesterday evening, and I took the opportunity to enjoy one of each.

The first picture shows the cider and stout. The half pint of cider was poured first, and then the Guinness was floated on top by pouring it over a spoon. The Crispin Cider company calls this creation the Crispin Velvet. As expected, it was quite lovely to drink.

The bartender had to rummage through a drawer to find the pouring spoon, so I felt obligated to have another half-and-half. The pumpkin ale and Guinness was next. The ale was poured first and again, the stout was floated on the top. Some places on the web call this concoction a Black and Orange. I had one of these the other day, so I knew it would taste great. The Cottonwood is a spiced pumpkin ale. The spice adds a unique twist to the flavor of the Guinness.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Picture Perfect 2

In a previous post, I discussed beers that have their own glassware. I showed two examples taken from the camera which is integrated in my cellphone. It seems that this might be a new reoccurring topic.

In my most recent post, I finally got around to discussing my trip to Vancouver. That was my first visit to Canada. Prior to publishing that post, I had already made a second visit to the Great White North. This time, I visited Montreal which is located in the province of Quebec. This was a quick trip to visit a customer and a vendor, so there is really not enough to discuss in an extensive post.

While in Montreal, I stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel. One evening during my stay, I had dinner in the hotel at the Sarah B. absinthe bar. I did not try any of the drinks that featured the signature spirit. Instead, I had a beer, Leffe Blonde, which was poured into its own branded glass. Before having a taste of the brew, I snapped a photo of the glass.

Last night, I stopped by the local neighborhood bar where I previously enjoyed Palm Speciale Belge in a branded glass. They also recently began offering Crispin Cider which arrives into its own branded glass. For some reason, the recommended method for enjoying Crispin is poured over ice. I enjoy hard ciders, and I enjoyed the Crispin. The ice does seem to make the cider more crisp. I am looking forward to enjoying a Crispin Velvet which is half a glass of the cider with Guinness floating on top (hopefully minus the ice).

As can be partially seen in the photo of the Crispin glass, my neighborhood bar now has Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale on tap. I enjoyed the pumpkin ale in a half and half with Guinness poured over top (another common theme). The Cottonwood brand of ales were previously brewed by the Carolina Beer Company which was part of the Carolina Beverage Group. The parent company decided to focus on contract brewing, so back in January, their Carolina Blonde and Cottonwood brands were sold off to Foothills Brewing. I have enjoyed several offerings from Foothills which is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I think this change will help alleviate some of the confusion surrounding the various breweries named "Carolina".

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Great White North by Northwest, Part I

As previously promised, here is my post on my recent trip to Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR. The trip was for both business and pleasure. I was in Vancouver for business to attend the SIGGRAPH 2011 conference. The stop in Portland was to visit my college friend Alan.

The SIGGRAPH (short for Special Interest Group on GRAPHics) conference was held in the Vancouver Conference Centre which is located on the shores of Coal Harbour. The conference center is an interesting building and is known for an interesting piece of art. The views around Coal Harbour (which also seems to be known as Vancouver Harbour) are simply spectacular. Located next to the conference center is an airport for seaplanes called the Vancouver Harbour Water Airport. My coworkers and I all regretted that we did not have the opportunity to take a tour on one of the seaplanes.

Past the seaplane airport is the Mill Marine Bistro which is a restaurant and bar that overlooks the harbor. My coworkers and I had lunch there on our first day and then later returned to enjoy some of the local beers on tap. The bar features draft beers from the Whistler Brewing and Granville Island Brewing. I tried the Altitude Honey Lager and the Weissbier Wheat Ale from Whistler and enjoy both. It seems that the name of Whistler's honey lager has now been changed to Bear Paw.

I tried three different brews from Granville Island Brewing at various places around Vancouver during my trip. The first was the Robson Street Hefeweizen, the second was a pint of the English Bay Pale Ale, and the last was the Island Lager.

While in Vancouver, my coworkers and I enjoyed several fabulous dinners. The bartender in the hotel bar assured us that Gotham Steakhouse was the best of the breed in Vancouver. It was the only steakhouse that we tried during our visit, but it definitely got our vote as the best. Our waiter assured us that the grass-fed beef available in Canada was much better than the best grade of meat grown in the United States. The restaurant's website tells me their beef is from the prairies of Alberta. Interestingly enough, our waiter suggested that I not get my steak rare which is my usual preference. He told me that Canadian beef is lean, so rare is not sufficient for getting the juices flowing. I acquiesced and enjoyed a fabulous medium rare steak.

The next night, our group wanted seafood. Our hotel bartender again provided an excellent suggestion with a place called Joe Fortes. From what I remember, the raw oysters were fabulous, as were the calamari and beef carpaccio. For my entrée, I had a dish that was the daily special. I believe the fish was sole. It was buttery and sweet which was unexpected. I thought it was an excellent dish which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I enjoyed quite a few different brews while I was in Vancouver. The restaurant in our hotel had Rickard's Red from Molson on tap. I enjoyed several brews at Mahony & Sons, an Irish pub located in the convention center complex which also seems to be called Burrard Landing. In addition to some of the previously mentioned brews from Granville Island, I tried the Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale and the Stanley Park Noble Pilsner. In my tweet about the Stanley Park brew, I stated that it compared favorably to Sam Adams Noble Pils.

On our last night in Vancouver, our team had dinner at Smiley's Public House. It was Thursday, so I enjoyed the steak frites special for $13. That would be Canadian dollars, of course. I also enjoyed Driftwood Farmhand Ale which is a Belgian-style saison.

In a future post, I will cover my visit to Portland which was the second part of my trip.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Picture Perfect

A camera (if not two) is now a standard feature on most cellphones including my own. I find that the camera is very useful for taking pictures of beer, and the beers that are most interesting to view are the ones that are contained in glasses with their own logos. I recently enjoyed two brews that were served in their own branded glassware. While my photography skills are the less than perfect, the bad photos had no effect on the brews.

The first brew was Oktoberfest bier ("bier" is German for beer) from Paulaner Brauerei ("brauerei" is German for brewery). A word of warning, the brewery's webpage is very musical. The beer is a very easy drinking Oktoberfest brew. In fact, it was easy to drink more than one.

I also had more that one of the second beer which was Speciale Belge from Palm Breweries. The glass says Palm is Belgium's amber beer. The beer was new on-tap at the neighborhood bar. Several folks at the bar did not care for this new offering, but I thought it was quite tasty.