The Session #113: Mass Observation

The SessionThis month’s edition of The Session is hosted by Boak & Bailey and they asked us to engage in a little bit of research study (Mass Observation):

In the late 1930s a team of social researchers descended on Lancashire and spent several years observing the people of Bolton and Blackpool as they went about their daily lives. As part of that, in 1937 and 1938, they made a special study of pubs, which led to the publication of one of our favourite books of all time, The Pub and The People, in 1943.

What we want people to do for The Session is to recreate this exercise in 2016: take a notebook to a pub or bar — any one you fancy — and write a note of what you observe.

  • How many people are drinking?
  • Which beers are on tap, and which are people actually drinking?
  • What are they eating?
  • How are they passing the time?
  • What are the topics of conversation?
  • How is the pub decorated?
  • How many TVs are there and what are they showing?
  • Are there pot plants, parrots, spittoons?
  • How many smokers are there? And vapers?
  • Is there a dartboard, pool table or quiz machine, and are they in use?

I have to confess I didn’t do my homework on this one—as in, sitting in a bar with notebook, observing and writing. (It’s also Sunday as I write this, so my timing is off as well.) But yesterday (Saturday) I did spend a small amount of time in Deschutes Brewery‘s Bend pub, drinking their latest anniversary beer, and I can offer a few answers to those questions:

  • A lot. All of them.
  • The taplist looked something like this. Judging by the array of colors, people were drinking quite a variety.
  • Burgers, salads. Possibly house-made tater tots.
  • Many who were not engaged in conversation were watching the Germany vs. Italy soccer game on television, with lots of cheering.
  • Pretty standard “American brewpub.”
  • I saw three within easy view from where I was; two were showing the soccer game, the third golf I think.
  • “Pot” plants? Er, no. There might be some potted plants. There’s a spittoon behind the bar, that patrons can try to toss coins into.
  • None. There is no smoking in most places here any more.
  • No, no, and no.

What a great idea though, and a good exercise for writers (i.e., us). If I get a chance sit and observe in a pub sometime soon, perhaps I’ll revisit this with more in-depth notes.

Central Oregon: Beverages Farm Tour (tomorrow)

High Desert EATsIt’s a bit of last minute notice, but here in Central Oregon there’s an event taking place Saturday, June 25 (that’s tomorrow!) that might be of interest to beer-minded folks: a Beverages Farm Tour with High Desert EATs (Educational Agriculture Tours). Full details are below, but be aware you will need to sign up/purchase your tickets today for $35 (Friday the 24th).

Join us in the third farm tour event in the Jefferson County Farm Tour series, High Desert Educational Agricultural Tours (EATs). Have you ever wondered how our local libations are produced?

Taste milk fresh from Poland’s Organic Diary cows, tour Jefferson County’s only malting facility at Mecca Grade Estate Malt, check out how spirits are made at New Basin Distilling, and learn what makes the high desert soil great for growing grapes at Maragas Winery!

Tour Runs from 8:30am – 1:30pm
Lunch and wine tasting is included in ticket price: $35.00
This tour is recommended for ages 21 and up!

Tour Starts/Finishes at Maragas Winery.
Free Shuttle departs Maragas Winery at 8:30.

Tour Stop #1: Poland’s Organic Dairy Farm, 9:00 – 10:00
3751 NW Elm Lane, Madras

Tour Stop #2: Mecca Grade Estate Malt, 10:15 – 11:15
2048 NW Columbia Drive, Madras

Tour Stop #3: New Basin Distilling, 11:30 – 12:15
1789 NW Mill St., Madras

Tour Stop #4: Maragas Winery, 12:30 – 1:30
15523 SW Hwy 97, Culver, OR

Shuttle with 4-H Club guide service available for the first 24 registrants.
Water is available on the tours courtesy of Earth20.
We love pets but please leave yours at home for the tours.

Questions? Contact Maura at 541-325-1064.

Especially relevant to beer lovers is the Mecca Grade Estate Malt tour—Central Oregon’s only (as far as I know) maltster. They will have a selection of estate-malted and brewed beers pouring specially for this tour. I’ve had some of those beers at homebrew club meetings—they are very good and showcase the malts nicely!

2 Towns Ciders: Hop & Stalk and La Mûre

I’ve been remiss in mentioning that it is currently Oregon Cider Week, the fifth annual one in fact, so I decided to write up my reviews of the two ciders sent to me recently by 2 Towns Ciderhouse of Corvallis. Without getting spoilery of the reviews themselves I will say that 2 Towns has really been impressing me lately with their interesting, complex cider offerings. Seek these two out.

Imperial Hop & Stalk

2 Towns Imperial Hop & Stalk ciderThis “imperial” cider is made with Citra hops and Crimson Red rhubarb, not a combination you would expect to see, well, in most alcoholic beverages. But it works. They write:

Hop & Stalk features an outrageous amount of Citra hops, locally grown Crimson Red rhubarb, and fresh-pressed Northwest apples. With 8% ABV and fragrant floral passionfruit notes this cider stands up to bold Indian curry, fiery Mexican dishes, and even complements a subtle home-churned vanilla ice cream.

Hop & Stalk will be available to distributors from May through August in 500 ml bottles and ⅙ BBL and ½ BBL kegs.

Appearance: Pale straw yellow, amazing clarity, no head but a sparkling effervescence in the body.

Smell: Clean apple cider (green apple and white wine) with a kiss of citrus hops and a tart, earthy rhubarb fruitiness.

Taste: Flavor is very reminiscent of a fresh stalk of rhubarb (yes, I know exactly what this tastes like, growing up with rhubarb in the garden), though it’s not as sour—it’s earthy with a hint of bitterness and an acid level tempered by the sweet apple character. Some of that earthiness might be from the hops, otherwise I can’t really taste them.

Mouthfeel: Light, crisp, tart, and refreshing, with a good spritzy finish.

Overall: This is a tasty cider with a terrific rhubarb character.

La Mûre Lambic-style Blackberry Cider

2 Towns La Mûre Lambic-style Blackberry CiderThis is part of their “Cellar Series” of specialty ciders released in 750ml bottles and generally only available from their tasting room in Corvallis. Definitely interesting; they say:

This Cellar Series cider will be available in a limited quantity (70 cases) only through the tap room and to select accounts.

Inspired by the flemish beers of Belgium, La Mûre is 6.9% ABV, bone dry, and holds complex fruit character. La Mûre is aged in local Pinot Noir barrels with lactobacillus for over a year, resulting in a strong backbone, light oak flavors and a wild lactic tang.

Appearance: Purple color, reminiscent of blackberry, with a fizzy ring of head around the inside of the glass. Held to the light, it’s nicely clear and a deep red color.

Smell: Tart, vinegary aroma punctuated by not-quite-ripe berries. Balsamic like. A bit of horse blanket funk (classic barnyard character).

Taste: Very tart and acidic at first, with a vinegar-barnyard-funky character that turns jammy with tangy berries. Nicely dry without any residual sweetness but the acidic blackberry essence is captured well. It does remind me quite a bit of a lambic-styled beer.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied, puckeringly tart with a nice wine-dry finish.

Overall: I really quite like this, it’s complex and balsamic vinegar-like in an appetizing way and does a great job capturing “blackberry” when drinking it.

Fermentation Celebration, print article, and more

Fermentation Celebration, Bend

Today is the fifth annual Fermentation Celebration here in Bend, a unique “walking tour” of Central Oregon’s breweries and cideries that takes place from 4 to 10pm in the Old Mill District. (The Old Mill is the shopping, dining, and arts district located next to the Deschutes River—where the old mills used to be.) I believe all but six of the local breweries will be pouring beer, and all six (yes, six now!) cideries will be on hand as well. I wrote a guest blog post for the Old Mill with additional details, if you’re interested.

Also my latest print article for The Bulletin is out today, where I wrote about this weekend’s Cruxapalooza 5 anniversary party hosted by Crux Fermentation Project this Saturday the 25th. They will have 60 taps of their beers! That might be a record.

And on Monday the 27th, Deschutes Brewery is holding their 28th anniversary party; don’t forget to wear your old school Black Butte Porter shirt for it.