I Voted Today! (Pale Ale, of course)

Happy Sunny Saturday! (or, perhaps if this gets to you later, not so sunny and not so Saturday)

We tapped the “I Voted Today” pale ale from Holy Mountain! It’s been a long time since we all got stickers at the polling booth but I think as long as you sent your ballot in, you are probably ok drinking an “I Voted Today.” (I remember voting at age 18 at the Elk’s Club on Old Samish Way, which depending on your age will either be a nostalgic or an annoying sentence). Heads up: Tim K, behind the bar today, says he is only serving this beer to people who actually voted.

(ps we don’t have these crowler labels – it’s just a graphic from Holy Mountain)

Sour beers, hazy beers, and law suits

Looking back when we started this business in 2012, there are three things that were true then that are laughable now: 1) breweries sent each other cease-and-desist letters when they used the same name of their beer, 2) “everyone” knew that beer should be clear, never cloudy, and 3) sour beers were so costly, difficult, and even dangerous, that almost no breweries did them.

First off, just go on Untappd.com and search for any beer name. It takes a VERY creative beer name to find that only one brewery has made it. Now this idea seems laughable, considering how many breweries exist.
Below is a funny example of how these occasionally used to play out:

I remember a local brewer came in our store back then on a day we tapped a keg of a “dandelion pale ale” from Machine House, which poured very thick. Very thick. I don’t want to embarrass him, so instead of using his real name let’s just call him “Eric Jorgensen,” from the large-scale production brewery The North Fork (*wink*).

Anyway, Eric was incredulous. No, actually more than that he was stunned, and could not stop talking about it. Imagining pouring a beer like that and handing it to a customer (which is of course what we were about to do…) and just laughing at who would make a decision to create and serve a beer like that.

Oh how innocent we were.

We opened in March of 2012, and we set out the goal to have a sour keg on tap once a month. And that. Was. Impossible. There were none, or almost none. I remember rumors of sours but when we made calls or talked to people, they just did not exist. We got some from Europe including the Duchess, or others like Monk’s Cafe. Full Sail made a Berlinerweisse in bottles that people who knew about it came and bought all of them. Maggie opened her pub in Ferndale not that long after us, and said her goal was to have a keg of sour on every week. We didn’t even scoff or roll our eyes because we knew that just wasn’t going to happen.

There was, however, Cascade (Portland). Cascade was this amazing outlier of a brewery that sold basically only sours. Wow they were good, and wow they were hard to get. They were definitely some of the biggest “white whale” beers in the country at the time.

At the time, many breweries said they would never make sours, because they were afraid of the wild yeasts taking over the brewery and unintentionally infecting all the beers they were making. Others looked at the Cascade beers aging in huge foeders and other massive wooden tanks, and said that it would be very expensive to do AND very risky because they had no idea what type of beer would come out of that barrel.

One of the best well-known breweries making in the world is Cantillon in Belgium. They have been harvesting the same wild yeast for 300 years, and so they have very good idea of what will come out of those tanks. But most breweries looked at that and it just didn’t seem worth the risk. Even if someone could make a good sour, it appeared that each batch would probably be different than the last one, because wild yeasts were never consistent. At least that is what I kept hearing over and over.

When we convinced Cascade to sell us a keg for the first time, I had to drive to Portland with a big bin filled with ice to keep the keg cold. They now have dozens of flavors but at the time had only a handful for sale, such as Blueberry, Apricot, and Strawberry. I got everything they would sell me; I was like a kid in a candy store.

By far my favorite Cascade beer is their Honey Ginger Lime (although this is also the tea my mom used to make for a sore throat…). It has been a while, but we just got cans in from them. I am slightly worried that my tastes have changed since I last tried this beer, but will intentionally keep my expectation properly gauged. We also brought their Apricot in, as a throwback to the good old days. Feel free to pick up either if you are in. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

More on empathy

(Caveat, in story form): my wife asked me the other day if I thought that (her preferred candidate) would win. I said I did think so, and that I was sure of it.
Her: “Really? What makes you say that?”
Me: “Umm… well, a lifetime of positive thinking, instilled in me by my parents and grandparents…?”
Her: “So you don’t have any specific inside information or knowledge that leads you to this conclusion?”

I am pretty optimistic. I have working diligently to hone this specific skill (#smileyface).

Second caveat: the following “stop and consider others” take may come off as preachy, and may not be the punchy take-down you might have been hoping for.

But I’ll be honest, the divisions between people around here is really bumming me out (#grimace).

You know what has made me the most frustrated? It’s all the defaced and stolen political signs around. More as a metaphor, that is. Statistically I think we all know who will get Washington State’s electoral college votes for president, and the governor vote is basically a shoe-in too. I have yet to find a single person who honestly thinks that WA will vote in any other way.

So why are we angry about it? Frankly, and I don’t mean any disrespect to any one person, but doesn’t it even seem like the flag and sign wavers are just wasting their time?

But I don’t mind peaceful, normal election year behavior. “Normal” is people with wool hats holding signs on busy corners, people with flags and car stickers, people over overpasses holding signs I can’t read and waving, and of course robo-calls.

“Not normal,” at least not normal in my lifetime around here, is people so upset about something, or perhaps passionate, that they are doing things that provoke, that harm, or that destroy.

Inside a mountain somewhere in Texas, a giant clock is being built. Perhaps it is done already. That clock is being built to survive 10000 years. I listened to an interview with Danny Hillis who is the designer who talked about the idea of it being about thinking not just of, the next few years, or even our own lifetime, but considering a much larger time horizon, things far beyond our lifetime.

I worry that our short term focus is ruining relationships, and the opportunity for relationships, because of someone who will be the news for the next four years. That we will wake up in 2024 and realize that we have lost neighbors and friends over someone who lives on the other side of the country who is intentionally trying to divide us, and that we allowed him to do that. Do you think that in 2054 you will look at your neighbor and think “that horrible person voted for (whoever) and I will never forgive them”? My grandparents had a hard enough time remembering who they voted for, but I can’t imagine right now is all that much crazier than Kennedy v Nixon, Goldwater v Johnson, or really Bush v Gore. I mean go back to Jefferson v Adams that led to the most famous dual of all time, AND the 12th Amendment had to be created.

Here is what I want to say: neighbors are one of the most under-rated parts of life (literal neighbors, but also people at our jobs, in our city, sitting just down from us at a nearby table having pizza). These are people who have chosen to live here, and they are the people that will help you, and will need your help. We may have forgotten this because we have gone a while without a major incident, like a huge wind storm, an earthquake, or a pipeline explosion. Remember New York after 9/11 and how friendly it suddenly became.

We need you guys, and we plan to be ready when you need us. Letting short term things like elections make fools of us by doing long term damage to our relationships is just not worth it. Decency, common courtesy and just being nice is losing, and it’s awful to watch. No one has their yard sign vandalized and thinks “that vandal was right: I should maybe consider the opposing opinion.”

Over the last handful of months, I have been accused of “taking political positions.” Here is the only political positions I have taken: we need to treat each other better, and we need to empathize first.

Empathy in practice is putting yourself in their shoes (as much as possible). Empathy is realizing that we have got to where we are at mostly because of the people around us, the information available to us, the family we had, the experiences we’ve had, the friends we’ve had, almost none of which was in our direct control – and that set of factors is is exactly what has led every other person to think the things they have. No matter who that person is. If we choose empathy, we don’t get to pick and choose who deserves empathy (ok, there are a few outliers, but I doubt it the guy across the street from you is Hitler. If you think that I “don’t know [your] neighbor,” one of my neighbors has a car boneyard in his yard and has never acknowledged me in three years. But I try and wave every single time I get the mail. Someday.) But you know what? People don’t change because ideas are jammed down their throats. We change when we have experiences that show us that life is different for others than we imagined. That our own experience are not the same as everyone else’s.

One last additional thing: no matter what we think and what we think we know, we all have ideas right now that we will be embarrassed of in 10 years (and Facebook posts…). Let’s not pretend like we have all the answers and know everything. I have lots of terrible opinions from my twenties that are regrettable.

Lots of conversations are needed (and I don’t mean “Facebook conversations”), lots of meals (and drinks) shared, and some true empathy. Only then will people start to see things just like you see them (I’m just kidding! I could not find an appropriate laughing/winking/smirking emoji that would do the trick here).

Cheers, and Courage