My Favorite Beers, Honorable Mentions, and Most Hated Brews

I have always enjoyed the myriad of beer options available in Portland, but until now have never really formalized a list of my absolute favorites. Below is that list, and I feel like it’s constantly changing. I think beer is a lot like music—everyone is entitled to their own opinion and likes what they like, but someone has to have better taste than others, right? Just kidding, but below are my favorite beers of all time, ranked from 10 down to the big dog.

Curious to hear if you agree/completely disagree with the list I’ve come up with, and what are/aren’t your favorites as well.

And without further ado..

#10: Mac and Jacks African Amber: American Amber-

When I think “best enjoyed at a sporting event or live concert type beer”, this is my go to. Super tasty malts and grain flavors make this beer stand out from all the other ambers I’ve tried, along with an incredibly delicious aftertaste.

#9: Newcastle Brown: English Brown Ale-

How did this beer make the list you ask? This was the first beer I ever REALLY liked. Again—I typically go for the smooth and sweeter beers, and this beer especially fits that profile. Easy to drink and found everywhere, and can be enjoyed in a summer or winter setting.

#8: Widmer 2010 Brrrbon: Winter Warmer-

Good thing this beer is super expensive and not readily available, or I’d drink it far too often. It’s basically candy beer with high alcohol content. It doesn’t even technically taste like a beer since the bourbon taste is so high, but I don’t consider that a bad thing. At all.

#7: Russian River Pliny the Elder: Imperial IPA-

One of the most famous and hardest to find IPAs, this beer has the biggest citrus profile I’ve ever found in an IPA, but it’s incredible at how well balanced it is with the hop profile mixed in. I can see why people would rank this the #1 beer in the world.

#6: Deschutes The Abyss: American Imperial Stout-

Probably the most complex and mysterious beer on the list. I’ve enjoyed this beer at the time of purchase, after a 6 month aging, and at 1 year. All of them tasted different, but were amazing for different reasons. My personal favorite was aging the beer for 6 months, as it was the perfect blend of sweet, sugarary chocolate and black licorice. It’s basically a beer milkshake of everything you’d want in a stout as far as consistency goes.

#5: Troegs Nugget Nectar: American Amber/Red-

Umm.. Had this beer for the first time a few weeks ago, and this beer alone makes me want to move to the East Coast. It’s unlike any beer you’ve ever had. It’s like if an IPA and Amber had a baby, then threw in some mysterious spices for good measure.

#4: Oskar Blues Ten Fidy: Russian Imperial Stout-

My favorite stout, by a mile. What makes it so unique is how thick it is. Pours as thick and as dark as motor oil, and lives up to its namesake by delivering 10.5% alcohol content. I’ve found it’s best enjoyed after aging for 6 months, as it releases intense chocolate, molasses, mocha, and brown sugar flavors.

#3: Green Flash Imperial IPA: Imperial IPA-

The ultimate IPA for hop heads. When I think hoppy beers, I think Green Flash Imperial. Basically Pine Needles in a bottle with 9% alcohol content. Sooooo good.

#2: Lagunitas Maximus: Imperial IPA-

This beer has quickly climbed my list of favorites, and rightfully so due to its refreshing flavor. It’s everything an Imperial IPA should be—hoppy, malty, right amount of carbonation and lacing, but what really puts this beer over the top is the citrus notes to balance the hops. Extremely easy to drink and smooth, and pairs with almost anything. Special beer, but easy to find!


#1: Oskar Blues Gordon/G’Knight: Imperial Red-

A buddy of mine introduced me to this beer in 2009, and I’ve never looked back. Have never found anyone that didn’t like it, regardless of what style you like. Best way to describe it: a perfectly balanced red IPA with an insane hop and malt profile that drinks smoother and creamier than any other beer on the planet. It’s also a heavy hitter at 8%.

Honorable Mentions

Victory Hop Wallop: Imperial/Double IPA-

I’ve never had a bad beer by Victory, but this one is their best. Very well balanced IPA that is not too bitter, not too light.


Laurelwood Workhorse IPA: American IPA-

Best Oregon IPA, in my opinion. Great hops, but great malts make this beer extremely enjoyable. They use hops no one else does but recently ran out, thus they aren’t producing the beer at the moment. Hopefully it’ll be back soon!


Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale: Pumpkin Ale-

Tried a few pumpkin beers in 2011, but this one took the, well, “pumpkin”. Tastes just like pumpkin pie. No joke.


Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale: American Amber-

This amber narrowly missed the top 10. Give it a try and you’ll see why.

Victory Storm King: Russian Imperial Stout-

One of the better stouts I’ve had in the last year. Great variance of flavors, but more carbonated that I would like.


Hale’s Cream Stout (on Nitro)- Imperial Stout-

Creamy by definition, this beer doesn’t taste like a true stout, but that’s not a bad thing at all. Lots of banana, chocolate, but also minor bitterness make for a really interesting experience.

Worst Beers Ever:

Keystone Light: I can’t say it’s the worst as it has zero flavor, but that also means it can’t be the best. Thus, it’s the best/worst beer ever.


Trader Joe’s Bavarian Style Hefeweizen: Really hard to stomach. Found it tasted better at room temperature, but this was way too sour/bitter for my taste.


Gubna: The most over the top beer I’ve ever had. Tried it 3 times with friends, poured 75% down the drain each tasting. Way too much alcohol, hops, and metallic taste make it extremely unbalanced. Shame on you Oskar Blues.


Steel Reserve: This beer is by far the worst that’s ever touched my taste buds. Don’t need to say much here—if you’re drinking this, it’s not for the flavor.

Brandon Bell: All Grown Up

I recently had a few thoughts that proved I was getting older, so I figured I’d share them with the masses to see if anyone else can relate. Albeit I’m only 28 years old and still play Xbox 360 in my spare time, I am also completely bald and own an umbrella along with matching gloves. Thus, I feel like I’m getting older.

A few other reasons I know I’m getting old:

  1. Days with sunshine automatically equate to mowing the lawn and other yard work chores.
  2. I’m just as excited as I was in college for Friday to roll around, but for completely different reasons. Friday means I get to go to bed early (usually between 9:30 and 10pm).
  3. I actually have a kiddo to take care of (it was hard enough taking care of myself before I got married!)
  4. Leftover money at the end of the month doesn’t go towards movies, clothes, entertainment, or frivolous activities such as eating at Shari’s at 3 in the morning. It now goes towards diapers, college funds, car repairs, etc.
  5. My jump shot isn’t as “perky” as it used to be when I was 18 years old (but I’ll still shoot you out of the gym.. ;)
  6. Burning off that extra helping of mac n’ cheese isn’t as easy as it used to be (and feels like it piles up quicker!)
  7. I get practical items for gifts from people (umbrellas, gloves, shoes, clothes, stuff for the kitchen..)
  8. A lot of my personal friends that I spend time with are over the age of 38.
  9. I now worry about how good (or not good) my car’s gas mileage is.
  10. I get mad at neighbors for not cleaning up their yard and garbage.
  11. I think high school kids are “kids”, not peers.
  12. I drink coffee straight up black, every single day.

What makes you feel like you’re getting older? Or what’s keeping you from growing up? I better sign off.. It’s my bedtime in 20 minutes.

The Rat

I will never forget November 16, 2011 for as long as I live, for a very unfortunate reason. To paint the picture:

I was on the bus ride home when I received a phone call, at 4:50pm, from Becky: “There’s a rat in the bathroom”.

I didn’t answer her at first. It didn’t really compute. People that have rats in their house are hoarders, live out in the boonies, etc. right? She must be seeing things, as our house was none of those things.

However, as I slowly realized what she said, we both didn’t really know what to say. Would he stay in there? Where did he come from? How the heck do we get him out? Are there more rats? Are there holes in our bathroom we didn’t know about?

We eventually entered into a calm, adult conversation and realized we needed to phone an exterminator, but still, what the heck do we do in the meantime with our furry friend? We both agreed it best to close the door until I got home.

When I got home, my stomach was doing flip flops. Here I am, supposed to be the man of the house, and I was freaked out by something I hadn’t even seen yet, and he was likely more scared of me than I was of it.

Becky scheduled the exterminator to come the following day, at 8am, but that meant we still needed to deal with the rat in the bathroom.. if it hadn’t already gone back from where it came from..

We finally worked up the courage to take care of the situation. I had our gardening bucket, ready to trap him on the floor, and Becky had the broom, because she felt compelled to sweep the floor at a time like this. Just kidding..

When I opened the door, I half-expected to see a giant man-rat standing on two legs, ready to battle, a la Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a giant man-rat, but he wasn’t small by any stretch of the imagination either. I’d say his body was roughly 10 inches long, and his tail added another 6-8 inches. Big enough to terrorize a small town of Legos. He was simply basking on our bathmat, half covered by the shower curtain, not moving an inch. He never moved from when Becky saw him.

Becky and I both entered the bathroom, ready to tassle, and closed the door. He still didn’t move.

When I went towards him with the bucket, he let out a sickening scream, and ran behind the toilet, where he stayed for most of the battle. I continued to bang the bucket on the toilet, trying to coax him out, and he would continue to scream, jump, and climb.

Luckily, rats aren’t the best climbers, but holy smokes can they jump! He literally could have cleared the toilet with his vertical. Easily 1.5-2” at times..

This went on for a few minutes until Becky decided to use the broom as a weapon. She starting wailing on the rat, and he was not a fan of this new method.

This finally prompted him to dart out from behind the toilet, running straight towards me.

In one of my proudest I’m-going-to-show-off-for-Becky moments, I quickly dropped the bucket on him, capturing the rat in a split second, tail and all.

This encouraged him to shriek all the more, in addition to peeing on our beautiful tile floor.

I didn’t care, as he had been bested by Brandon and Becky Bell: Rat Capturer Veterans (yes, that’s a real thing..)

Becky then ran out to the kitchen to grab the heaviest and most sensible object she could find to keep the bucket from moving. The heaviest and most sensible object came in the form of a 24 pack of Kirkland Signature water bottles. Boom. Take that rat.

 We then debated what to do with our new pet and how we would be able to sleep that night, as he continued to scream, and there could very well be other rats lurking around.

I eventually decided to do what most people do in this situation: call Dave Rookus, the black bearded equivalent of Chuck Norris.

He offered to come over to help get the rat outside and kill it, and I was all for that.

When Dave arrived, we both agreed that the easiest way to get the rat outside was to slip cardboard under the bucket, flip it, then get the rat in a huge black garbage bag.

We did all of those things without a hitch, and Dave had the rat in the bag. He then acquainted the rat with the pavement, as hard as he could. 3 times for good measure. Like I said, Dave > Chuck Norris.

Crisis averted.

THE AFTERMATH

The question we continued to wonder come Thursday was “where the heck did the rat come from?”

The exterminator confirmed that there were no holes or damage inside of the house (great news!!) so he wasn’t 100% sure where the rat came from in the first place. He eventually came to the conclusion that the rat literally came OUT OF THE TOILET, as this is fairly common in other cities like Seattle and London, and I went on Youtube and saw a few similar situations.

The next question I asked is obvious: how the heck am I ever going to use our restroom again? The only conceivable option I have come up with so far is to go to the restroom with a handgun. Haven’t convinced Becky on that one yet, but I’m working on it…

Thankfully, the exterminator found no signs of rat activity in the attic or in the garage, but he did see some light signs of new activity under the crawlspace. Turns out that the vent under our deck was not sealed off, and the rats managed to chew through another plastic screen on the other side of the house. That leads me to believe that our dead rat and the ones under our house are not connected in any way.

All of that to say, we now have rat traps on either side of the house, we had to rip up part of the deck to get to the screen that needed to be fixed, and both screens are covered with metal wire. Hopefully our home is now rat proof.

What did I learn from this event? A few very important things:

  1. Becky handles stress much better than I do. She never screamed or freaked out and handled the entire situation like a boss.
  2. As manly as I like to think I am, I hate rats and they break my testosterone down to a Justin Bieber level.
  3. I will never underestimate the Samson-like power Dave’s beard provides him.

And that’s my rat story.

THE END

(Public) Bathroom Etiquette

So, some people may not find bathroom humor funny, and that’s not necessarily what this blog post is about, but on some level, I think we, men and women, can agree on certain things that are and aren’t acceptable in a public restroom.

Maybe I’m alone in this camp, but I feel that when you’re using a public restroom, it should be a private experience not to be “enjoyed” by others. Here are just a few of the people and experiences I like to avoid:

  1. Talking on your cell phone—seriously, come on people. The stall isn’t a phone booth. No one wants to hear about your plans later in the evening while you’re doing the deed.
  2. Being a “noisy neighbor”—without going into too much detail, I feel very uncomfortable sitting next to someone who sighs a lot, is breathing too heavy, or is going through a divorce with Taco Bell. If you’re one of these people, keep it PG please.
  3. Listening to your iPod—There’s nothing like listening to your favorite tune, tapping your foot along to the beat, and completely blocking out what’s actually going on in the background. These people are generally the biggest offenders of #2, without even realizing it.
  4. Talking to the guy/gal in the stall/urinal next to you—This is the definition of the word awkward. I know some people are trying to be friendly, but it comes across weird and creepy. Besides, some of us could be going through a lot of stress during that moment in time, and we don’t want to talk about it.
  5. Eye Contact—this is probably the most debated rule on this list. I personally can’t make eye contact with a stranger in a public restroom. It’s way too personal of a connection to be made in this type of location.
  6. The “Seventh Grade Humor 4Ever Guy”—this is the guy that thinks every sound, sight, and smell is hilarious, and isn’t afraid to share his laughter with strangers. AKA The “makes-you-feel–uncomfortable-enough-that-you-wait-until-you-get-home-to-finish-your-session” guy.
  7. The “No Hand” Washer—how have we not invented the technology yet that prevents the “no hand washers” from leaving the restroom until they wash their hands in soapy warm water? Oh wait, his name is Chuck Norris (coming soon to a bathroom near you..)

 What am I missing? Am I alone on the above? Curious to hear your thoughts.. just don’t talk to me about it in the restroom (all of these things have actually happened to some capacity, mostly at my place of work).

Best Worst Restaurant Ever

Oh America. You and your junk food. At least I don’t have the urge to eat out at crappy junctures. Oh wait. I’ve thought about opening my own greasy restaurant before. 

I think most people can identify with this topic of “best worst restaurant ever”. Examples include Shari’s, Denny’s, Applebees, Chilis, etc. I think the key is having the restaurant end in the letter “s”. I personally wouldn’t include Red Robin on the list, but as soon as you change the name to “Red Robins”: best worst restaurant ever.

So, with those places in mind, how do you actually qualify to be one of the best worst restaurants? I’ve come up with the following criteria:

  1. You’re restaurant is open ridiculous hours. Not even 24 hours a day. More than that. People come at hours you didn’t even know existed. You remember the 3am breakfasts at Denny’s right?
  2. The food looks more fake than the stuff you eat out-of-the-box at Costco. Perfect example=criss-cut fries from Shari’s.
  3. The restaurant has a sign up front that directs you to the smoking section or non-smoking section (but let’s be honest, these restaurants are 100% smoking sections).
  4. It doesn’t matter what time of day you go, there has to be a baby screaming at the next table over.
  5. Your waiter is usually over the age of 55, and has worked at this restaurant for 10+ years.
  6. They always seem to bring the check when you’re only a few minutes in to your meal, as if they have a ton of people waiting to get in at 3am.
  7. A glass of wine=a mouthwash sized personal bottle of deliciousness (Sutter Home perhaps?)

These things can be perceived as negatives, but I see them as 100% positives. Some of the best things in life come from these types of restaurants: steak and pancakes on the same plate, bacon somehow incorporated into almost every meal, milkshakes the size of Big Gulps, and make-out booths.

Say what you want about these types of restaurants, but people continue going to them, myself included. I even tried to convince my wife that I would pay at least $40k more over time for our new home just because it’s within a 5 mile radius to a Shari’s.

What do you think? Most of these places come with a bad reputation, but what the heck do you really expect? Are you seriously going to complain about service at 3am? Where else can you have nachos and a veggie omelette side by side for $10 flat? Nuff said. 

Winco

It is only appropriate for my first blog to be about Winco. I’d say the only place more intriguing on earth than Winco might be the airport due to the fascinating people that you’re bound to see traveling, and the amount of high emotional electricity in the air. People leaving, coming home, etc. Another blog for another day.

But Winco. Man. Talk about fascinating people, but for completely different reasons.

When was the last time you went to Winco and hoped that you didn’t see something bad/gross/illegal happen? Oh wait, that’s actually written into their company’s mission statement: “We are going to offer sub-par products for cheap prices, all while guaranteeing that you’ll likely see someone shopping in their pajamas at 4pm in the afternoon”.

When Becky and I first moved to the Portland area, we naturally went to Winco to buy our food as we were fresh out of college and broke. A $40 grocery budget goes a LONG way at Winco I will say. You can buy approximately 39 Arizona Iced Teas for that much. Heaven.

Anyways, on our very first trip, we pull into the freshly paved parking lot of a brand new Winco. Everything was still shiny, the employees were actually smiling, the sun was out. I pulled in thinking that this actually might be a worthwhile experience. Then… wait for it.. we get out of the car, and see a guy sitting in front of the entrance, clipping (well, more like “blasting”) his fingernails all over the ground, creating the perfect welcome mat for us as we entered the brand new store.

That moment single handily whipped me back into reality that Winco will always be Winco, no matter how new it might be. 

Unfortunately, last week I was placed into another situation where I was forced to shop at Winco for a few items due to the proximity of where I was at the time. This easily tops the fingernail guy: I literally saw a guy pick his nose, look at his finger, then wipe-whatever-is-in/on-your-fingernail-off-on-your-tooth move. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same guy as the fingernail guy. He very well might be a paid Winco employee that is simply asked keep up the “image” of the store, aka make you throw up in your mouth.

All that to say, I have now stuck my nose in the air and only get my groceries at finer grocery establishments such as Safeway or Thriftway (preferably any store that ends in “way”).

What have your Winco experiences been like? Do you agree? Can you prove me wrong?

All I know is that you should check your lettuce for boogers and/or fingernails before you buy it.. ;)