I’ve learned much about microbrews in my four years as a non-native Portlander. Between the rain, the hipsters, and the abundance of wheat grown in the state, Portland is a vortex of good local beer. A “Perfect Storm” of brewing, if you will. When I was asked to do a guest post for Bula’s Best, my thoughts immediately turned to that bastion of organic brewing just over the Ross Island bridge, Hopworks Urban Brewery.
Hopworks Urban Brewery is a special place, and not just because you go there to get drunk. They cater to the bike lifestyle of Portland, offering plenty of bike parking and being conveniently located near the popular trail, the Springwater Corridor. Hopworks is a biker bar for bicyclists.
This time I tried their Organic Survival “7-Grain” Stout. Clocking in at 5.3% ABVs, 15 Degrees Plato, and 35 IBUs, the Survival Stout lives up to its nickname: it is brewed with barley, wheat, oats, amaranth, quinoa, spelt and kamut. If you’re thinking “breakfast beer,” you’d be right, because it has been topped off with Stumptown Hairbender espresso. It’s like cereal that gets you drunk.
I tried Survival Stout as a midday snack during happy hour, and it certainly did the trick. After two pints you can wobble home on your bike, but visit when it isn’t raining and you’ll have a much happier ride.
A natural dark brown (like the trunk of the ubiquitous Douglas Fir), Survival Stout has a pleasant nutty aftertaste. You definitely notice those grains; like bread, the Survival Stout is better with more. Can we get a 12-Grain version someday?
If Survival Stout were a person, he would be a deliriously mellow hippie, lazing on his front lawn soaking up the summer sun. He’ll always smile as you pass his house and if you ever get to talking he’ll pepper his language with words like “sustainable” and “auspicious.” Of course I mean that in the best possible way.
Matt Groening used to trace his comic strip, Life in Hell, using his sliding glass door. He’d do the pencil sketch, then tape it up on the door and ink the final strip while standing. The fact that he lived in sunny Los Angeles probably helped; if I had to wait for a sunny day in Portland I’d never get any inking done. And forget using a brush, unless you like the Pollock drip method applied to comics.
Another tracing method I’ve recently tried is good old fashioned tracing paper. I’m able to draw in pen on the tracing paper, because when I scan the image it looks the same as if I drew on Bristol board. I only use tracing paper for little drawings or pieces of larger things; drawing an entire comic on tracing paper wouldn’t be pretty. I press too hard when I draw; the paper would get torn. And the originals would get crinkled up and lost.
In my high school art class, there was a huge light box that allowed you to put your sketch on a shelf that you could crank up and down. You could make the sketch bigger or smaller to fit the final drawing. Because it was in a bright classroom, our art teacher had built black curtains all around the light box. You entered it like a voting booth. I wonder if Matt Groening has one of those in his house now, since he’s got like a billion dollars. I know I would.
I got to thinking about the ubiquitous Keep Portland Weird bumper stickers you see on all the nicest cars around here. Similarly, I’ve been urged to Keep Boulder Weird and to Keep Austin Weird. I hope I did. Anyway, I came up with a variation on this theme:
I hope I’ve helped keep Portland weird today. If that didn’t work, tomorrow I’ll post a rambling open letter to the zoo’s polar bear.
Ha ha. Joke’s on you, planet Earth.
Seriously, I can’t think of a more pertinent and chilling metaphor for the fate that awaits us all if we don’t change our oil-consuming ways than the inky black mass of death that is currently floating towards the Gulf Coast states.
When I was three days old, my dad sat me down at the kitchen table. He set a coconut in front of me and said, “Son, if you want to survive in this world, you need to be a man.”
He said that I had to open and eat that coconut or I would die of starvation. And you know what? At three days old, I opened and ate that coconut.
My dad went to the neighborhood bar that night, as he did every Monday-Thursday for the first 20 years of my life. But that night was different; that night was special. My dad told all the guys at the bar that he had a son, and his son was a real man.
Thanks Dad, for letting me be your son.
I just checked Powells City of Books; they only have 4 copies left of See America First! If you find yourself in that bookstore anytime soon be sure to grab a copy before they’re all gone. You can find them in the Green Room!
Big news on the book front: See America First! is now on sale in the great city of Los Angeles! Meltdown Comics and Collectibles, a behemoth comic shop on Sunset Boulevard, has begun stocking my book. Many thanks to to their brilliant buyers; now let’s make sure they don’t regret their choice. SoCal fans of Falling Rock, make sure to patronize the heck out of Meltdown.
And for Oregon fans who live west of Portland and east of the Pacific Ocean, Amazing Stories of Astoria now carries Falling Rock books. Astoria, as you may well know, is the filming location and setting for The Goonies. I am thrilled beyond belief to be associated, however tangentially, with that fine film. Be sure to check out Amazing Stories, located in historic downtown Astoria.