Sunday, July 19, 2009


it is sunday morning here in austin. the house is quiet. my dad and debi and aunt doris just left for a pool party. latonya is upstairs laughing on the phone with her cousin. butch, the still family chihuahua, pecks his little toenails on the tile around my feet. it's quiet here, and the sun has remained mostly shy this morning. as for me, i'm drowning in classwork, overwhelmed with another week of planning and delivering a decently coherent lesson plan that covers transition phrases and organizational patterns of expository texts. i've had four small cups of coffee this morning. it Is time for a porter. 

otter creek brewing company, straight from the green mountains of vermont, is new to the texas beer market. i'm usually a bit reluctant to jump both feet into a new england brewery because, go figure, so many new england beers are british in nature. i don't like the english beers. never have. and i'm shocked anytime i do find an english style ale that i actually enjoy. however, vermont is a filthy with the french, and i know nothing about how the french drink their biere. so, with all this ethno-cautious baggage stifling my beer shopping, i was relieved to find a single 12 ounce bottle of otter creek's stovepipe porter on a local liquor shelf. one itty-bitty bottle is so much less daunting - and expensive - than six.

my only other exposure to otter creek was their imperial stout. too big. too bold. too much hop and heat to waddle down smoothly. probably a fantastic stout after a year or two in the cellar, but who has that kind of discipline and patience anymore? it's 2009. i'm pissed that my computer doesn't type my thoughts for me automatically. this whole thing needs to move way faster to meet my busy lifestyle.

with that said, i am pleasantly surprised by the accessibility of this porter. weighing in at 30 IBUs with a 5.4% ABV, this is good medium range porter: perfect for baby bear and goldilocks all at the same time. the bright hop background does not blaze out the deeper coffee and cocoa notes, although i would prefer for more of the latter two. the overly carbonated mouthfeel distracts from the weight of the porter. porters should be thicker, creamier, anchored in minor keys and flavor notes. but this is nice. this is good early morning porter. this is good pre-lunch on a lazy sunday sipping. when the palate wants something bigger and gnarlier and nastier, there is always the flying dog gonzo imperial porter; however, when we just need a hint of desperation on our tongues, otter creek's stovepipe porter ranks right up there alongside great divide's saint bridget's porter and boulder's planet porter. heck, i think clint newlan and i even agree that boulevard's bully porter ain't all that bad, even if it ain't all that good. in the grand scheme, it seems that otter creek saddles up right nicely beside other american porters: washing down more like a soft-drink than the revolutionary pint of damnation it was designed to become. 

perhaps in the world of pale ales and IPAs, america carries the trumping flags of permanent settlement, but in the parishes of fine porters, there's a good chance that england holds ultimate nobility. it's a theory worth testing and a survey worth conducting. any takers are welcome to join me in the venture. i like a good porter, but a good porter is hard to find. i'll be revisiting this otter creek stovepipe a single bottle at a time. a six pack is a huge commitment for something that's barely stretching the tent pegs of world domination.

Thursday, July 16, 2009



later tonight ben's gonna call me and i'm gonna ride with him to return some machine that he had to rent to get some work done. he's had a long day of manual labor, doing things i don't know how to do. i've had a long day of mental labor, teaching folks he just plain don't know. so we're gonna ride on down there and get that machine returned so ben don't have to look at it no more. and then we're gonna stop at that beverage place and pick up a couple-three bottles of whatever they got for cheap. we'll make some conversation with the selling people and then head on back to the house. that's where we'll pour the suds and commence to the conversating. it'll get magical about right there, what with suds and conversating and long days behind us. and we'll have some time there together that would look completely inconsequential to passerbys and bystanders, but we'll know that them moments are meant to be taken to the grave and beyond. and that's why we do it. 

let's try to get that going on together soon, alright?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


today was my second day teaching at a junior college three towns away. i will be teaching a 3 hour reading class every afternoon for the next month. three towns away. a 45 minute drive through texas farm and cattle land. 

a phenomenal amount of activity happens in this small stretch of texas highway. down around a bend near bryan, texas the US department of agriculture houses a pecan regeneration station. then down around another bend, independence, texas curates the texas baptist history museum. and then, once more, down on around that other bend the antique rose emporium sells a particular strand of roses whose roots thrive in clay. a bit further towards the school, there's a patch of gravel that's been recently rolled back like stained carpet, leaving a pitch of dusty air and utility trucks that guide drivers back and forth over soot-like grey dirt. this construction adds nearly ten minutes to my drive towards class. the construction workers are cleaned up and drinking lagers by the time i head back home over 45 minutes of livestock and mutant roses and baptist heritage and military pecans.

drinking lagers. that's nearly all i think about driving home. oh look, there's a grey cow mounting a brown cow. (drink a lager.) oh look, a fat man in a blue and red plaid shirt is buying roses. (drink a lager.) oh why the hell won't the cd player eject? (drink a lager.) should i flunk the one kid in the skull cap on principle alone? (drink a lager.)

tonight i'm drinking a lager i purchased from a liquor store four blocks away from my house. i stop by nearly every afternoon to purchase a single bottle of whatever is on the $0.99 rack. it's my way of trying new beers and building relationships with the townsfolks. who are the people in your neighborhood? cody sells me the beers, he studies algebra. the other dude in the glasses, who i refuse to ask his name because sometimes a little mystery makes everyone more beautiful, is the movie buff who runs the joint. and i think about these fellars on the drive back into town. and i speak swell things over them and their endeavors and their parents and cody's algebra. and then i show up and buy my lager: the punctuation point to the long and arduous day driving past cattle to drive more cattle. 

perhaps i should tip a hat towards the lager: the reason we are all here in the first place. 

this here is the steam engine lager by steamworks brewing company. they have two locations: durango, california and bayfield, colorado. seems a bit like cheating, like a bivocational minister who still takes personal funds from the church offering. but steamworks made this lager fancy and good. these malts stretch out a thick caramel underlay that props up a vibrantly flickering hop marquee. bright. bubbling with pop and flare. flashy on the side bars of the tongue. i like this beer. one time i drank an entire six pack of this stuff. started at noon. lost my tastebuds about three. finished it off in the evening. that was a long time ago. i've already confessed that to the necessary brethren, so now it's just bragging. point is: i like this lager better than i didn't remember. 

that's all i want to say for now. 

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

In addition to visiting with family and grilling some meat I think I will drink some Sam Adams. Seems like a patriotic brew doesn't it?

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
—Samuel Adams