Tracking the Fresh Hop Ales in Real Time

In years past, I have tried (and failed, in lesser or greater degrees) to keep track of the fresh hop beers that blossomed across the Pacific Northwest. Despite my failures, I always wished that someone would do this properly. It seems like a great opportunity for one of the tourist boards or the Brewers Guild to get a month of post-summer travelers to the state and really boost what has become the region’s signature style.

Someone has finally done it! Meet Ryan Sharp of Bend, who has this detailed Google Doc that he is busy updating with all the beers as they come online. If you go over to column J (“release date”), you can do a sort so that it filters by date–allowing you to peruse exactly what’s out there at the moment you are jonesin’ for a green pint of fresh hops.

Thanks, Ryan!

from Beervana

A Visit to San Francisco; Last Portland Book-Signing

A few odds and ends. Let’s start with this. I will be at the Powell’s in Beaverton on Monday. It is the last scheduled book-signing in Portland (and Oregon), so if you have any interest in chatting with me about the book in person, this will the final chance around these parts. (My book tour continues in other parts of the country: full schedule here.)

Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
Monday, August 31st,  7 – 9 pm
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.
Beaverton, OR 97005

For those of you who can’t attend any events on my book tour but would like a signed copy, you can still order them through Powell’s–but only until Monday. It looks like you can order signed copies of the softcover, hardcover, or “library bound” edition (no clue) there. 

Meanwhile, as the tour unfolds, I hope to be sitting down with brewers and beer people at select locations as I move about the country. My first installment is up at All About Beer. I had the chance to sit down with Dave McLean of Magnolia Brewing, and saw the world through his pub’s window, sitting as it does one block east of the intersection of Haight and Ashbury.

McLean was at the tail end of the flower child migration (it seemed to die with Jerry Garcia), and he still embodies a part of that ideal. The pub was just coming alive as we sat down to talk, and the stereo’s first track, the Dead’s Franklin’s Tower, poured out as he described the changes he’d witnessed as two subsequent migrations had changed the city outside his doors.

“I came two years after the ’89 quake, so there was still a post-quake recession going on. It felt pretty sleepy when I got here. It was nice; the East Coast was very frenetic and people were hanging out in the parks. It was a nice time to come. Then the first dot-com boom took off just after I opened Magnolia—’98, ’99. It felt big at the time: the streets got more crowded, traffic got bad, restaurants were hard to get into. And then it crashed. 2001 was the bust, and that was the one year we didn’t have growth at this location. And then the slow climb back up to this crazy, current time which feels like an order of magnitude bigger than the first round. Everybody wants to live in the city; that’s different from the first round. There’s a lot of simmering resentment and anger because people are losing their apartments—there’s an interesting class economics dynamic that’s dominating all the news and papers and blogs.”

Read the whole thing here.

from Beervana

Wild Flowers in Wild Meadows

Castilleja miniata - 
Great Red Paintbrush,  scarlet paintbrush, flowering wildflower, California native plant meadow

Castilleja miniata - Great Red Paintbrush, scarlet paintbrush, flowering wildflower, California native plant meadow

For most of the eight years I have been contributing to Gardening Gone Wild I have wanted to simply show wildflower photos. I have been enthralled by California wildflowers for more years than I have been a garden photographer. Indeed, my portfolio of wildflowers got me my first job as a garden photographer in 1984. Thank you Barbara Ferguson Stremple for your encouragement.

Sidalcea hartwegii - Valley Checkerbloom - annual wildflower California native plant in Sierra meadow

Sidalcea hartwegii – Valley Checkerbloom

At the time, just beginning to understand the fine art of gardening, I made little connection between native plants and gardening. That first job was a book about Rhododendrons and Camellias. What did I know ? Native plants were, well – wild.

California native plant meadow

Solidago elongata – Canada Goldenrod

My wildflower excursions had nothing to do with gardening, organic gardening was a fringe term used by the Rodale Institute, and sustainability was irrelevant in a time when very few considered limits to our natural resources.

Delphinium, larkspur in Sierra meadow

Delphinium, larkspur in Sierra meadow

How we have come around. Gardening with nature rather than conquering it is now honored. Yes, there are still manicured lawns, topiaries, formal gardens, and hybrid tea roses (thank goodness), but naturalism and native plant gardening are becoming more and more popular. With good reason – it’s a beautiful look, an aesthetic that says I care about my own climate.

Veratrum californicum, California corn lily, California false hellebore, native perrenial in Sierra meadow

Veratrum californicum, California corn lily

When Fran Sorin and Nancy Ondra started Gardening Gone Wild I don’t think it was for wildflowers, “wild” being a term for exuberance not plants, but I always wanted to push GGW in the direction of celebrating wild gardens. I have used Gardening Gone Wild to promote garden photography, to help gardeners to take better pictures, even write my PhotoBotanic workshop e-books, but during this entire time I have been aching to show native plant gardens and wildflowers.

Navarretia leptalea - Bridges' pincushion plant (aka Gilia leptalea) flowering annual in Sierra meadow, California native plant

Navarretia leptalea – Bridges’ pincushion plant (aka Gilia leptalea)

These wildflowers were all taken during a recent trip to the Sierra Mountains in search of meadows and native grasses. I may be a garden photographer, but I am a gardener first and photographer second. As a gardener I want plants I can sustain, and I want beauty.

Lepidium nitidum -Shining pepper grass, Martin's Meadow Eldorado National Forest

Lepidium nitidum – Shining pepper grass

In photographing The American Meadow Garden I realized the importance of modeling our garden meadows after nature and the native plants of whatever region we garden. I went around the country to photograph Rocky Mountain meadows, glades in the midwest, “balds” atop the Blue Ridge Mountains, abandoned farm fields in New England, prairies and savannah grasslands, but not to the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

A High Sierra source of South Fork American River - Carex springs, California native plant meadow.

Meadow as High Sierra source of the American River.

I assumed I knew what I would find there, that I had enough photos in my library, and that I did not need to go take pictures. About those assumptions? Yes, yes, and no.

Artemisia arbuscula little sagebrush with Collomia grandiflora - in Martin Meadow Eldorado National Forest

Artemisia arbuscula – little sagebrush

The recent trip did validate what I expected to find: yes, Sierra meadows are full of lovely grasses and flowers in late summer. And yes that book needed nothing I had not already seen, but oh lordy how I needed to go to the mountains to take pictures. It is a need deep within me, to be with the plants, to get down on my belly and view them straight on.

Collomia grandiflora - Large-Flowered Collomia, flowering annual wildflower in Martin's Meadow Eldorado National Forest

Collomia grandiflora – Large-Flowered Collomia.

The romance of a meadow has much to do with the fecundity of the earth, moisture implicit by lushness. We are expected to roll around in the grass surrounded by nature’s wild gifts, the flowers.

Lupinus formosa - Blue flowering summer lupine in California native plant Sierra meadow

Lupinus formosa – blue flowering summer lupine

This is what I did for three days, rejuvenated by nature’s gardens, guiltlessly celebrating these plants that needed no supplemental water, no weeding, no fertilizer, no nursery.

Eriogonum umbellatum - Sulpher Buckwheat ymellow flowering wildflower above Martin Meadow Eldorado National Forest

Eriogonum umbellatum – Sulpher Buckwheat.

We may be in a long term drought in California but that does not mean the native landscape is gone. In the mountains, at the headwaters of the rivers, high up there still are creeks, and the springs that feed them begin in meadows. I knew this must be true, I am so, so very happy to report to you: I found them.

Ipomopsis aggregata - scarlet gilia in open forest above Martin's Meadow Eldorado National Forest

Ipomopsis aggregata – scarlet gilia.

Veratrum californicum, California corn lily yellow late summer foliage native perrenial in Sierra meadow

Veratrum californicum, California corn lily yellow late summer foliage

Oh, Did I say I found grasses too ?  Photos for another post begin with this:

California native grass in Sierra meadow

Stipa occidentalis v. californica, California Needle Grass,

from Gardening Gone Wild

A Sour, a Porter, and an IPA Walk Into a Book Signing…

On Friday, I had the great pleasure to visit Book Passage, a fantastic independent bookstore in Corte Madera (Marin County), just north of San Francisco for a Beer Bible-related event. And thanks to their wonderful pre-planning, I learned something incredibly valuable.

Pouring Beatification.

To make it a fun and memorable event, they had arranged to have some beer on hand for tasting: Russian River Beatification and Pliny the Elder, Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, and Anchor Porter. I decided to incorporate the beers into a little presentation about the book. As I’ve been going along, I’ve been focusing on the nature of “style,” and how it comes together as a result of a tangle of interesting factors (history, national tradition, ingredients, technology, war, and law). Having four beers there meant we could go through them and I could tell the story of the style as we went. Plus, it game me an opportunity to describe beer tasting and what to look for.

We started out with the Beatification, which is Russian River’s spontaneous beer roughly in the gueuze style. The crowd was composed mainly of novices and intermediate drinkers, so I saw a lot of surprised looks with the first sips. I was describing how lambics have been made, and the effect of wild yeast, and at some point I mentioned that basically everything we were tasting came from the fermentation. Again, surprised looks.

The next beer was Lagunitas, and I mainly described the American practice of brewing, focusing on the way we have developed for exhibiting hop flavors and aromas. (If you’re interested in a deep dive about that, listen to our podcast on Session IPAs.) I pointed out the flavor elements, but because there’s a fair amount of caramel in it, I talked mainly about older-school IPAs and the development of the American oeuvre than I did on the flavor components.

Photo by Patty Stanton.

It was when we got to Anchor Porter, and I was mentioning that basically all the flavor there came from the malt, that I realized what a great line-up Book Passage had solicited. One beer’s flavor came exclusively from fermentation, and one almost exclusively from malt. The last one, Pliny, gets almost all of its flavor from hops. For people who have been drinking craft beer sporadically or who don’t brew or spend times on the blogs, this was absolutely revelatory information. Flavors in beer can be so strong, and in many beers, they are a melange of several sources. Having three beers where the sources were singular really demonstrated how variable beer is–and helped the people there begin to decode its flavors.

If you have people in your life who are a little interested in beer but not especially knowledgeable, I recommend buying three bottles of yeasty, malty, and hoppy beer and walking them through these flavors. (Something like a low-hop bock might be better than a porter.) It’s quick, easy, and very useful.

from Beervana