Coppertop Alehouse

A few weeks ago I was able to go to Prescott, Arizona with Karry from Black Bridge Brewery here in Kingman.  One of the places he was adamant about us visiting was Coppertop Alehouse.   It is on Montezuma Street, in the proximity of Whiskey Row, and it’s a tiny place, the proverbial hole in the wall.  A dozen people would crowd the pub.

Gaston and Scott are the brewers/owners/operators.  They are gracious hosts, so here’s a “thanks” to them both for an enjoyable couple of hours.  One of the reasons we went to Coppertop was Karry’s insistence on introducing me to their Belgian quad.  Since Karry knows his Belgians, I was amenable to this idea.   And he was right.

The quad was wonderful.  It hit all the markers in the style guidelines, to be sure.  Mid-range brown, like a cola or tea; it was sweetish, and had a definite dark fruit character.  (Evidently, they make their own candi sugar, too.)  It was a strong beer, no denying that.  But it did have that ephemeral hint of joy mixed in, just a delight of a beer.

But it was the tripel that I loved even more.  This was bright, yellowish-orange, moderate body, and hints of citrus. It was like drinking a sparkly wheat beer in Wonderland (I know, there’s no wheat; it just felt that bright and refreshing).  It is also strong beer, around 10%, but unlike the quad, brewer Gaston disguised the power of the tripel. It tastes and feels like a session beer but it is not.  Far too strong for that such things.

What a cool place!  A small 40+ gallon brew system, their own Candi sugar, their own spirits – vodka, gin and plum schnapps. It’s got a great local pub vibe, familial, comfortable, salubrious. Drop in, grab a chair, chat with the owners.  If I recall correctly, there was even some bartering going on there, fresh eggs for a small amount of a banner quad.  If political debate is your thing … well, stop by and talk to Gaston about that end of things.

And drink that tripel.  Crafted with such elan, just can’t say enough good things about it and the brewery.

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The Mandela Effect and a Door to Hell

Like so many other Terrans, I grew up in a house. The house was located in Aztec, New Mexico. I even remember the name of the road, San Juan Ave. (My friend Royal can still recall my old phone number, a landline, connected to a yellow phone mounted to the wall in a hallway in the house; this was back in the ante-nomophobia era). There was a picture window. Some kind of floral pattern on the couch and chairs. There was a television.

In that house, via that television, I know that I watched a TV series. Yes, fine, I watched more than one, that is not the point of this anecdote. The point is that there was a particular series I watched, and I’m positive I watched it in that house in the late 1980s.

The series was Sliders.  Perhaps you remember this show.  A young genius type discovers a portal to various parallel, alternate Earth’s. He and his entourage travel through these parallel dimensions on a quest to return to their own earth.  Each dimension of Earth had some variation from the “reality” we experience.  In one episode, they tackled the subject of gender politics.  Women were running everything in that dimension and men were dealing with suppression.  One episode imagined what would happen if the Summer of Love had never ended.

Some time back, it became available on Netflix.  It claimed the show was from 1995.

No.  No, it was somewhere around 1988.

By ‘95 I had been married for three years and had a child on the way.  And I lived here, in Kingman, Arizona. It seems certain to me that I would remember watching that show with my nascent family if it had indeed happened in 1995.  My wife doesn’t remember watching it with me.  See?  It clearly happened in the late 80s, before I met my wife.

That blasted archive of all knowledge known as Wikipedia had the audacity to agree with Netflix. Sliders began, wrote the anonymous know-it-all-and-sooooooo-misinformed writer of the entry for this show, in 1995. The rest of the Internet, in keeping with its conspiratorial nature, agreed.

1995.

This was my first encounter with the Mandela Effect.

Tell us more of this enigmatic phenomenon named after a South African philanthropist, you say. I hearken to your clamor.

The Mandela Effect refers to collective memories that don’t jive with what many call reality. Some say they are false memories. One example is my experience above with Sliders. My mind clearly tells me when I watched, evidence indicates otherwise. So, which is right? My memory or the data “they” have collected?

Here are some other examples of this Mandela Effect:

  • The most well known is likely the namesake of the memory anomaly: Paranormal researcher Fiona Broome evidently coined this term when she became aware that she and many other people believed that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s. He did not die until 2013, thoroughly tripping out Broome and her contingent.
  • There is a group of people convinced that the comedian Sinbad made a movie called Shazam sometime in the 1990s. Why they would want to think this should be it’s own phenomenon.
  • There was, maybe still is, a series of children’s books based on a family of bears, the Berenstain Bears – or was it spelled Berenstein?

There are doubtless more. Look up “Mandela Effect” on the Internets and have a ball.

That’s great, you say.  People’s memories are wonky.  Why give this issue a name?  It is because of the theories people have regarding why their memory is wonky.  They don’t believe in the wonkiness.  They believe there is something else happening.

Some contend that these alternate memories prove that portions of the world’s population are from another dimension, Ala Sliders, thus they recall these events as they occurred in their native dimension which is different from the way events unfolded in this dimension, the one wherein you are reading this blog post.   In my original dimension, Sliders was on TV in 1988;  Nelson Mandela died in prison.  I cannot express how thankful I am that the Sinbad thing did not happen in either of the dimensions in which I have existed.  How, exactly, some of us are transferring dimensions and others are not?

It may be a perfectly normal spacetime event that we have simply not observed empirically or otherwise as yet … or it’s CERN’s fault.  There are those who claim that CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, experiments have allowed this dimensional shifting.  They are seeking to substantiate the multiverse theory, after all.  Maybe they did it.

Here’s a description of one of their experiments.  “The neutron time-of-flight facility (nTOF) studies neutron-nucleus interactions for neutron energies ranging from a few meV to several GeV.”  I mean, if that doesn’t just scream, “we are opening a time portal,” well I don’t know what does.  Perhaps they have succeeded.  Shadowy figures are traveling into the past and rewriting history and that’s why certain things and events are slightly different for us.  Apparently, they are in beta-testing of this program and only doing inconsequential things such as renaming children’s books.  I’m glad to know that even in the future government funded science ops are still absolutely daft.  Hope blooms …

It is also possible that these memory problems are from glitches in the matrix.  The robot alien overlords like to dink around with their flesh batteries.  “Unplug them just a little so they think Sinbad was a superhero, tee-hee-hee.”  Jerks.

For anyone who has actually read this far, well, I salute you.  Go forth and buy yourself a treat of some kind and look in a mirror and tell yourself how bloody awesome you are.  Now I come to the point at last.

All of the above is due to Black Bridge Brewery and Tim, in particular.  I was there one eve, as is my wont (might’ve been an afternoon, actually … curse you, CERN!) and Mr Schritter happened to mention that he had a Belgian beer coming on soon that I would enjoy.  It was called Door to Hell.

I said, “Great, that was a good beer.”

He responded with something like, “You are a moron.  I’ve never had that beer on tap here.  It was a pilot brew that Fuller and I did.”

I just stood there aghast and flabbergasted and all those silly things and mumbled some kind of, “but I’m sure I had it.”  (And I did, see, in MY dimension).

Look, I even have photographic evidence of temporal or dimensional alterations:

IMG_4771

It’s on the Glass, man.  It’s on the Glass.  Along with all the other beers made by Black Bridge.

Whatever.  In any dimension, it was a good beer.  It is a good beer.  All this shifting is demolishing my grasp on grammatical sense and tense.

Here are some notes on the actual drinking of Door to Hell, a Belgian Quad, in this current dimension.  And, no, I am sorry, I did not use a proper Belgian goblet.  I’m sure I should be punished for that.  Maybe I was, in another dimension.

The Smelly Parts
At first, there was caramel and vanilla.  And then some maple.  That melded into a grassy, resinous field.  It was spiky, if that makes sense.  Sharp, alcoholic notes rose from the field.  There’s a lot to unpack in the nose of this one.

The Optics
Condescendingly clear and a bit on the dark side.  A subdued brownish red with bubbly white head.  It looks completely unassuming but well put together.  Like Mr Bond, James Bond.

The Gustatory Dimension
There’s no escaping the dark fruit nature of this beauty.  You know, the figs, the dates and then there is bourbony caramel.   It’s also little dry, nicely crisp and juicy. Sugar and crystal, like sequins on a slinky dress.  It is sweet, rich and heavy.  Hops did not appear except in the aroma.

The Last Words
Approved.  It doesn’t have the fusty, earthy character of Belgian beers but does have a vinous quality.  It’s quite nearly Shakespearean, really, a confluence of influence, poetic palate, tragic if you drink too much at once for it is not wanting in alcohol quantity.

Gender Roles and Brewing

One of the first axioms learned in home brewing is Charlie Papazian’s Proverb:  “Relax.  Don’t worry.  Have a home brew.”  Two weeks ago I heard that refrain on the Brewing Patio at Black Bridge.  A Belgian Blonde was being brewed by two women, Rachel & Sharon.  They were both questioning temperature as the beer was being transferred to the fermentation vessels.  They were told to ‘not worry so much.’  Their response was, ‘we’re women.  We worry.’

The declaration made me wonder: do women, in fact, worry more than men?  What is the objective of their worry compared to men?  Are they concerned about their reputations?  Or are they concerned about the well being of those they serve? Or is it pointless to even make that a thing because, we are all, you know, people?  After all, let’s not forget it was a man who penned the above warning regarding worry.  Many men have read that warning and have had to remind themselves of it during a stressful brewday.

Before you continue reading, I feel I must warn you – there are no answers to the above questions.  At least, not from me.  Go forth, then, and have a full discussion of gender roles.

Traditionally women have been entrusted with domestic management.  They have always been concerned about how and known the way to take care of their family.  An important part of family life is centered around food and drink.  Beer – or wine, or mead, or alcohol of choice – has always been a part of human life; from ancient times women were usually bread makers and beer brewers. It was a home activity. Once it became a profession or an industry men arrogated it.  More women are becoming involved in the commercial brewing industry now.  Women may especially worry about their performance in this industry and others because they are working in what has now become a man’s environment and they feel they must prove themselves.  Whose fault is that?

The point?  Humans have brewed.  Humans are brewing.  Maybe we should just leave it at that.  Gender politics should not be a thing.  Therefore, I have mixed feelings on whether I should write this up the way I am. But here I am doing it.  Fine.  I’ll throw this in – one difference I noted in the Belgian brewday was the number of selfies happening.  I have no idea how that fits into the gender role discussion.

As noted above the beer being brewed was Belgian Blonde with additions of prickly pear.  That’s right, No Pricks Allowed has returned.  While the female brewers of the beer were different than last year there have been no other stylistic to the beer.  From what I recall, it was a beautiful beverage – outstanding clarity and bright purple color.  It had a light body and drank quickly and easily.  It’s Belgian-ness was not overpowering, nor was the prickly pear.

Here we are in the post-modern information age and still arguing over race and gender.  I’m simply going to argue that No Pricks Allowed was a good beer last time around.   And If I recall correctly, last year’s iteration of this beer encouraged Janelle to begin her own home brewing adventures.

Politics, gender or otherwise, may be a verboten subject at the brewery (yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s not true) but beer and brewing is always on the table so check for this Belgian Blonde in the coming week.  Raise a glass to the people in your life.

A Belgian Inspired Imperial Porter

A new beer will soon be debuting at Black Bridge. Here’s a quick encapsulation. 

Remember in Star Wars (okay, Episode IV: A New Hope) when Luke and Han and Chewie and the droids that everyone was looking for were in a control room on the Death Star and R2-D2 locates Leia and Luke wants to rescue her and he’s got to convince Han to help?


 Luke tells Han … “She’s rich.”   That’s the new Belgian inspired Imperial Porter, Shuggah Momma, that’s on its way.    It is, essentially, the daring rescue of Princess Leia from the bowels of the Death Star.  In a bottle.  Without the trash compactor part.

What An Incredible Smell You’ve Discovered

The Belgian candi syrup powers the nose of this beer. It was immediately redolent of soda. Seriously, I thought they just gave me a Dr Pepper. 

Your Eyes Can Deceive You

Brownish orange really, the color seemed eccentric.  In other words, it’s not as dark as my perceptions make a porter. The Belgian motif, I would say, is at play here, too. The color is half trippel/quad, half brown porter. 

Your Focus Determines Your Reality

 It is lighter than I expected and not as roasted or rich as I imagined but it was intriguing. It’s full of two row and crystal malts.  It’s sweet, but not tropical or fruity.   Low carbonation, finishes dry, not much hops presence when I sampled it. 

I Sense Something

It’s a complex beer.  Where is it going?  What does it want to be?  Thematically and stylistically it is something it might not be but is. Confused? Delighted? Exactly. Well, anyway, make your own choice about it when it arrives.  These are just my initial perceptions and could be totally off. And after having aged for many weeks, the beer could transform into something other. Art lies in the realm of ambiguity and that’s what we have here. And at  10.9% abv Tom continues his strong beer — ah, I mean Tim. Tim continues his strong beer legacy.   

Sometime in June it’s supposed to be ready. Maybe sooner, maybe later.  Watch for it. 

The Role of Beer Books In Contributing to Beer Culture

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” ― Haruki Murakami

I don’t really know who that author is; I found that quote on Goodreads. It seems a good fit for The Session this month. The beer blogging Friday host Joan Birraire posited this for a subject:

“The discussion at hand is “The Role of Beer Books”. Participants can talk about that first book that caught their attention, which brought them to get interested in beer; or maybe about books that helped developing their local beer scene. … I believe that their importance for the beer culture makes books worthy for another Session.”

I am certain that the “culture” referenced above is not of the sort found in the pages of this book: Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation.   It would refer more to this kind of culture: “the ideas, customs, and intellectual and artistic conditions of a society or group.” – This definition contributed by Vocabulary.com. The following are the books that have influenced me and that I feel added to the ideas, customs and intellectual conditions of beer and brewing.

Do you remember the Star Trek episode, “A Piece of the Action?”  Yes, the one where Kirk and Spock get to act like caricatures of gangsters from the 1920s (it also introduced the geniotic card game, fizbin, but that doesnt play into this story, so never mind that part). The entire species on the planet the Enterprise crew was visiting had been influenced by a single book that a previous starship had left, Chicago Mobs of the Twenties.  So, Joy of Homebrewing is that book for home brewers. It has influenced, maybe not the planet, but a huge percentage of the home brewing population. Just a few days ago I was commanded to follow the Papazian Mantra – relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew – and that’s, what, about thirty years post-publication! Good show, Mr Papazian. The book is full of great advice and technique, to be sure, and it has a little history, and certainly it contains the home brew philosophy that many of us live by, especially on Brew Day. As far as importance to culture, I put it at numero uno.  

  • A side note: the Trek episode reminded me of this treasure from Retroactive*.  (Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, Black Bridge – Def Leppard Friday’s should be a Thing!)

As far as quick reference goes, Miller’s book, Brewing the World’s Great Beers is fantastic, in my opinion. It is categorized in sections for extract, partial mash and all grain, quickly lays out the basic grist bill and instructions for all the basic beer styles. It’s often where I start in recipe formulating. I like the sparse nature of the book, too. No fluff, just beer stuff; knowledge at your fingertips. Like the JoH above, this book has served me well for years of successful home brewing and has survived two children, several dogs, and lots of Brew Days. 

I am enthralled by Belgian beers so it was a lot of fun to read Brew Like A Monk. There are recipe breakdowns throughout, but also brief histories of breweries and the philosophy of the brewers. I am more beholden to beer styles than I realized, though I like to consider myself more creative than to be restricted by rules since they are, like time and reality, just societal constructs and from what I got out of this book the monk brewers are not interested in styles. They make a beer over and over and know it and treat it like a living thing that must be cared for. As far as culture of beer goes, it seems to me that these monks possessed a proto-Papazian RDWHAH thinking.

Randy Mosher enjoys uncovering the arcane secrets and tastes of beer, firing the desires of other brewers. I’ve only read Tasting Beer, but it was enlightening. It again provided some history and discussed the derivations of various beer types. I’ve also been able to hear some of his talks from the home brewers convention. He seems to be always searching for beer knowledge and wants to correct inaccuracies in technique or folk knowledge or wherever so that all can enjoy true beer. 

History flavors culture. At least, it gives us context which is vital for insight into character, decisions, goals. It is the first step to subtext. You can navigate life without being aware of context, but it just makes you appear egotistical, foolish or a bully. No finesse. So books like Ogle’s help provide context to the beer world. Ambitious Brew was a fun read about brewing history in the United States. It provides a glimpse of the goals of those we refer to now as Big Brewers. What stood out to me was their need to expand. Expand. Expand. Take over. Etc. Now, a century later they still expand, by buying independently owned breweries. Stop helping them do that! I think books like this can serve as caution tape for craft brewers who are huge. While it’s nice to have good beers available nationally when do you draw the line between beer passion and building empire? I remember a time when it was the thing to mock Bud for being the SAME product from one end of the country to another. No character, as it were. Now I can pick up a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale anywhere and it’s gonna taste the same – granted its still a better taste than Bud. Before all the proverbial hackles are raised, this is not any kind of indictment, I am not qualified to make a judgement like that about brewery business and goals. What I’m really saying is history books can add to beer culture because it can make us discuss beer ethics. Ethics are the reason I choose to avoid big beer whenever possible. It’s not the taste, it’s the … context. It’s also why I prefer to drink at a local brewery whenever that’s an option. Speaking of local:  this will be out soon, Brewing Local.

To all the beer book authors out there: Thank You. Your work is being appreciated. You are affecting people’s thinking about beer. Cheers. 
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*A cover, I know. Sweet.