open palate


I’ve been–I’ve been walking in my sleep. I was taking medication. So I tossed my pills. I figured that’d be the end of it, but then I I grabbed Patti Levin and I took her to a cabin. And when I woke up I tried to let her go, but she wouldn’t let me. And she killed herself. So I called your brother Matt and we we buried her. And nobody else knows.

Real or Not Real?


[AU set post-war in Winterfell]

It is the sharp tossing and turning, the covers shifting back and forth roughly, that wakes him more than anything. Some of her cries are piercing, but he might have slept through them. The sounds of her fear and despair are, after all, ever present in his own nightmares. He could be forgiven for thinking, at first, that her sobbing is the product of his sleep. But when the cold night air hits his bare thigh, sending a shiver up and down his spine, he knows this is no dream.

She is flailing now, fighting her demons viciously in her sleep. She might have hit him too, but he takes her wrists gently in his. She stills, but not from feeling comforted; rather, her body freezes and her limbs stiffen, as if from the effects of falling into a trap. He has seen this happen to his wife before; her demons are his closest friends. Especially at night.

“Arya.” He breathes, rolling over and releasing her arms only to cradle her between his own. She is trembling violently, as if she were out in the middle of the storm instead of here in their cozy chambers, between the warmth of Winterfell’s naturally hot walls, between the warmth of his embrace.

Gendry whispers her name again, then kisses her forehead softly, softly. He doesn’t want her to mistake him for one of her night terrors. He couldn’t bear for her to look at him that way.

Slowly, slowly, she comes back into herself. Her eyes flutter open, confusion palatable in her gaze. The dread is still there too. Her body is still tense. A cold sweat has broken out over her brow. She blinks several times before she focuses on his face. Still, her eyes search him as if he is a stranger, or worse, as if she once but no longer knows him.

“You’re alright.” He promises her, as he has so many times before. And she is; he takes so much comfort in that truth.

“You’re safe.” He vows. He kisses over both her eyelids, her lashes fluttering delicately against his rough, unshaven jaw.

Beneath him, Arya’s frame relaxes. Her tensed arms and legs go lax. She melts into him, letting out a long, shuddering breath.

“You left me.” Her voice is small when she says it, but it cracks him in two. These are her nightmares he hates the most. The ones he has caused, no matter how unintentionally or indirectly.

“Real or not real?” The worst part is the hope, just there, in her voice that she might be wrong, that it never happened the way she’d just dreamed it.

But he couldn’t lie to her.

“Real.” His voice was hoarse, both from disuse and from the ugly truth.

She is trembling again. It could not be said of his wife that she was unsure of herself, that she was uncertain or even frightened. During the day, she was the warrior princess Arya Stark of Winterfell, the Night Wolf, daughter of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully, slayer of lions and leader of wolves. Only Gendry saw this side of her, during the darkest hours of the night. This was when her demons loved to taunt her.

“I came back.” Gendry asserted suppliantly. “Real or not real?”

She stares up at him, willing the truth to present itself. As if he might be some sort of delusion or hallucination. She lifts her hand and presses her palm into his face, her fingers trailing his forehead, his cheekbone. Then, clutching his jaw between her thumb and index finger, she brings his face down to meet hers.

The kiss is rough and desperate, an interrogation, a demand. She releases him finally, both their breaths ragged. He rests his forehead on hers, and he feels her hand clutching the back of his neck, as if he might disappear if she lets him go.

“Real.” She confirms. Her sigh of relief is everything he needed to hear.

They lay there looking into one another’s eyes, looking away, breathing into and out of each other. He knows she needs to know more. She has seen so much this night, all with her eyes closed.

Finally, she speaks.

“I killed.” Arya pauses. Then- “Many.” Her eyes are haunted. “Real or not real?”

He doesn’t hesitate. “You defended. You avenged. You protected. You served justice.” Then- “Real.”

She blinks up at him. It is his turn, he knows.

“You saved Winterfell. You saved your family. You saved me.” For this, he brushes her lips with his. Another promise. “Real or not real?”

She searches his face again desperately. The pads of her fingers now run soft lines across his face, tracing his eyes brows, the curve of his nose, his top lip.

“Real.” She finally settles on.

So he kisses her again, a real kiss, deep and unquenchable. She breaks it off. She has another question that can’t wait.

“My mother. She came back. Dead. Angry. Miserable.” Her breathing has gone uneven again, and not from the kiss.

Gendry soothes her hair back and traces her face now with his own fingers. He lays over her, hoping to smother her with his love so there is no room left for the demons. He knows it is a painstaking task, drawing them out of her one by one, but he knows it is worth it. She is worth this.

“Real.” He breathes. Then- “You got them back. Your pack. Jon Snow. Sansa. Bran. Rickon. Me.” He kisses the smooth skin of her neck now, feeling her veins pulsing beneath his lips. The proof that she is alive, that she is there, no matter how much the demons try to take her from him. “Real or not real?”

She tremors beneath his kiss, but it is no longer from fear. “Real.”

She hesitates. And he knows before she speaks her next word that he cannot protect her from everything, no matter how hard he tries to.

“Robb.” The word is hollow in her mouth. She tries to swallow, but her throat seems dry. “Real or not real?”

“Real.” He can’t save her from what she has already suffered, happenings he was powerless to protect her from back then. All he can do is ensure she never has to suffer another such loss.

“Robb.” It is a question. His hand goes to her slightly rounded belly. After all, they already had a little Ned. “Real or not real?

Tears spring to her eyes, but finally, they are the product of joy, not sorrow, not anger, not fear. “Real.” This time she’s the one who promises.

“You were always just trying to protect me.” He knows she is referring to so many things. One was his decision to stay with the Brotherhood, out of the need to do what was best for her no matter how much he wanted with her. Coming back was another. Finding her. Bringing her back to herself. Bringing her back to her family, her pack. Reminding her that no one isn’t no one after all. “Real or not real?” She asks.

He has one of her hands clasped in one of his. He runs his thumb over her skin. “Real.”

She doesn’t give him his turn. Instead, “You’re still trying to protect me. Real or not real?”

“Real.” He pauses, a sly smile forming with his lips. “But m’lady doesn’t need protecting. Real or not real?” He teases, nuzzling her nose with his.

She laughs despite herself. How many times has she said so? I don’t need anyone to protect me.Not real.” She kisses the edge of his jaw, savoring the feel of his stubble. He is so rough and so soft, all at the same time.

“You’re mine.” It is much more of a command than anything, but Arya asks anyway. “Real or not real?”

Gendry gives her a blazing kiss. His lips linger near hers when he tells her, “Real.” So she steals his lips back easily. He lets her. For a moment. Then- “And you’re mine.” His is a plea more so than a demand. He places a kiss on each cheek, then her nose with each following word. “Real or not real?”

“Real.” Arya’s turn to vow.

Random Star Wars headcanon

Unless he knows/suspects it’s poisoned, Anakin will eat everything on his plate and will always take food when others offer his leftovers. He has trouble turning it down even if he’s full, and even if he doesn’t like what’s being offered. It comes from his slave years where he never knew where the next meal would come from. It helped him bulk up and gain muscle as a Jedi, and since this meant that he would always eat whatever Obi-Wan served, there was no real effort to break the habit beyond ‘don’t eat suspect food’.

Padme has a relatively open palate, but is used to fresh, gourmet food. She really likes ripe fruit and grilled fish. However, she will try anything once. After that, though, don’t expect her to eat something she doesn’t like.

Funny enough, Obi-Wan can be a relatively picky eater. The life of a Jedi means that he can and will eat whatever is on hand when there’s no food, but if there’s a choice, he will absolutely refuse a lot of dishes, even if he’s never eaten them before. Just looks and smells can turn him off a dish.


Three Floyds “Backmasking”

90 A-

Backmasking is an Oatmeal Stout which Three Floyds lists as a pub-only release. The term backmasking refers to the use of reverse recording over a track, a technique once popularized by the Beatles. Pleasant aromas resemble vanilla over roasted malts with a strong focus on chocolate, as if outlined by burnt toast. It smells a little like brownies with a touch of walnut, topped by details of Kahlua, whipped cream, and a touch of smoke.

The palate opens smooth as toffee sweetness flows into chocolate grains. Oatmeal, toast, and dark roasted coffee fill the middle register, heading toward a dark body of cacao. Hops gently twist the back-end in a dull bitterness, enclosed by a thin outline of orange. The finish fades into a cola reminiscence. Mouthfeel begins quite smooth, wet like a milkshake or heavy cream. The finish develops a dry, mineral quality with faint acidity. Drinkability is nice and easy.

Having loved all the hoppy beers from Three Floyds, I was curious to see how they handle malts. I’m satisfied where I find an agreeable balance of bitter and sweet elements. I appreciate the rich chocolate flavor. It doesn’t quite taste charred, but theres a high degree of malt roast happening here. This may be a little uncharacteristic of the traditional oatmeal stout. The vanilla detected on the nose isn’t so much apparent on the palate. This is different enough to stand out from the rest of the pack. Overall, it’s a pretty solid beer, so I recommend it.


32 IBU

Munster, Indiana

Winston never really liked any other fruit besides bananas. Not because he was a gorilla, but because they just never appealed to him. The stickiness, the seeds, the cores, the juices – just more things that added to the matting of his fur that he Absolutely Did Not Want™. The good doctor had always tried to get Winston to open up his palate, through smoothies to salads to the (not so) occasional treat, but the young genetically altered kid wouldn’t stand for it.

Ever since he could remember, Winston’s days were either filled trips to the lab or exploring the cache of information in the colony’s library. Nothing really “new” happened on the colony, and sometimes would drive him into boredom. (One can only reread theories on quantum physics so many times before even that becomes repetitive.) On one particular day, however, he smelled something new alongside the crisp ozone and obnoxious mint that initially he didn’t even register.

When it did, his nose took hold and he went crazy trying to look for its source.

Shimmying down corridors and impatiently waiting in crowded elevators, Winston spent the whole day searching.

He found nothing.

Putting it aside, he pushed the odd scent to the back of his mind.

Two months later, he smelled it again.

And then a week after that.

Then three weeks after that time.

He also caught the shimmering visage of someone – a tiny someone – sometimes running down hallways or slipping past doors when all he could think to say was, “You’re not allowed here.” She would be gone before he could find her, and no one seemed to know what he meant when he tried vaguely explaining the situation to other scientists.

Winston didn’t talk about it again after he was put under a psychiatric questionnaire (“for health reasons, you see,” one scrunch-faced scientist had told him), but he kept an eye out for the odd person.

It had all but slipped his mind before, but after seeing her countless times wandering through the colony he had to find out who she was. The closer he seemed to get, she just slipped through his fingers.

Sleepless nights became frustrating days, and even the good doctor had to corner Winston at one point to see what was wrong.

Explaining the situation to the good doctor, Winston watched as the man blanched and excused himself in an uncharacteristic fashion, running out of the living quarters and not even offering to say goodbye.

Maybe Winston was going crazy.

Hours later, however, he was proven wrong: in the middle of another attempt to figure out who this mystery person was, the good doctor barged in and quickly took Winston to another part of the colony. Pulled into a random room near the storage facility on the farthest side of their home, Winston was pouring questions out every second he wasn’t being shushed by the good doctor.

A picture suddenly sat before the gorilla’s face, and his eyes grew twice the size of the moon.

“Is this who you’re looking for?” the good doctor murmured, bags under his eyes and his lips pulled tight. Winston could only nod, his eyes forever stuck to the picture of a young brunette. “Her name was – is – Lena. She was thought to be lost.”

Winston finally looked up at the good doctor, who avoided the younger man’s gaze.

“Can we help her?” he asked shakily, grasping at the picture to hold.

“We can surely try.”


The longer he focused on aiding the good doctor with creating a temporal displacement chamber, the stronger the odd scent became.

Winston only understood bits and pieces of the program that had been the Slipstream, pouring over what available documents he could get ahold of.

He had asked himself before the project had begun, How hard can it be to reverse the polarity on a project that obviously succeeded?

Spoiler alert: it was very hard.

But weeks turned into months, and the work payed off the moment he and the good doctor saw the shimmery visage time and again enter the chamber, as if she knew it was for her.

Despite the progress of the chamber, Winston couldn’t help but feel… sorry for Lena. He couldn’t imagine what she was going through, and only imagined the worst. It was especially frustrating when she was able to finally say a few words after months of him searching for her, only for her visit to be cut short and force him to wait two weeks before hearing the rest of her thought.

He and the good doctor spent countless hours surveying the chamber, attempting every experiment they could to reach her only to come up with more questions than answers.

Winston had been moved closer to the chamber during its construction, partially for convenience and mostly because he was too big for his previous living arrangement, so half of an empty storage facility acted as his room and the other as the chamber. It gave him access to the cameras and microphones to monitor the chamber, and peace of mind that maybe he’d be the first face she’d see when she came back.

But how could he do it? He often wondered theories and half hallucinated others, trying desperately to find a way for the lost pilot to come home.

The only place she seemed to be able to stay put long enough was the chamber itself, and the only place she seemed to show up to anymore.

What he needed was a secondary device to keep her planted here long enough until he could figure something else out.

With that thought, he busied himself over every single quantum physics book he could grab to work out worm holes, dimensional time rifts, and time and reality itself.

It took only another three weeks for a prototype mini-chamber to be constructed, which he hoped (hoped) would work.

But the wait afterward was hard.

Weeks of readying himself to give her the mini-chamber turned into a race against time to retrofit her into the device once she reentered this string of reality.

It took five failed mini-chambers before Winston created a device that actually kept her tangible, and more importantly here.

Even then, that device was quick to short out and send her back into the loop. In what little time the scientist had with Lena, however, they went over what the devices were supposed to do and what he was attempting to accomplish with them: the chamber was almost like a lighthouse, allowing her to focus and at least aim close to it whenever she felt herself slipping through realities; the mini-chambers were supposed to give her an anchor that worked alongside the larger chamber to keep her in this quarantined zone; and finally, the last step was to make what Winston called the “chronal accelerator” that would allow her tangibility.

Throughout all of the trials, Lena was calm whenever she popped back into reality long enough to put the new device on. She wasn’t too upset with the idea that she might not come back, and was flattered at Winston’s devotion to this project.

Winston, on the other hand, was always an absolute wreck, afraid that this new device or that attempted thing wouldn’t work. Every time the device turned critical, he would force back the tears he’d feel threatening to spill over as he watched her phase in and out before leaving him entirely.

Back to the drawing board, with too much hope and not enough sleep.


Winston was always the first person she saw coming out of the loop. Or, at least tried to be.

This time was no different: when she put on the device, he held his breath and waited for what seemed like an eternity before – nothing. All signs were normal; she stayed.

He let out a triumphant cry and fell onto his face in near-exhaustion, running calloused hands through thick tufts of hair to calm himself down.

As he was sitting just within the chamber, it startled Lena when he suddenly collapsed. She paused as she leaned towards him, as if afraid of touching him, before placing a soft hand onto one of his own. He turned his gaze upward, his bright golden eyes brimming with happiness.

She offered him a lopsided smile before murmuring, “Hey, love. It’s alright. I’m here, dun you worry.”

Choking back a half sob, Winston caught the smell that once drove him insane on her skin. Lip quivering, he asked, “What is that smell?”

She didn’t understand his question immediately until she smelled her wrist, smiling even wider when it clicked.

“Oh, it’s apples.”

Winston never thought he’d crave anything as badly as he did right then, especially not when apples were involved.

I find dance is an outlet of music and its one of the best ways to express your feelings of music. I myself am a tap and hip hop dancer and love being able to use music as a way to move your body and paint a picture of what you are feeling, especially through freestyle. One of my goals is to get better at free-styling so it opens up a new palate of expression through music.

9 Tips for Growing from Seed

March 17, 2016

From the LA Times Home and Garden  3/5/16
by Jeff Spurrier

Gardeners grow from seed for a variety of reasons. It’s cheaper and more predictable, especially if you are using seed saved from that tangy Roma tomato that did so well last year.

And for lettuces, Asian greens and carrots, things that are quick to harvest, repeated successive sowing around the growing plants with seed means there’s always something to eat in the garden.

Growing from seed also opens up your palate to plants rarely found as six-pack seedlings at the local nursery. Read more

(Photos from my garden)


Widmur Brothers “Brotha From Anotha Motha”

82 B-

Brotha From Anotha Motha is a Bavarian-style Hefeweizen on rotational release. This marks my first experience with Widmur Brothers. I would first like to thank the Frank Creative design firm of Portland, Oregon for their thoughtful donation. Aromas blend the classic Pilsner grain quality together with hints of wheat and biscuit malts. Moderate sweetness is detected. Hops pull in a faint accent of lemon which melds to funky, fruity yeast that smells faintly of banana, clove, and vanilla.

The palate opens in smooth, sweet wheat while gentle grain flavors begin to unfold. Crisp carbonation pairs with a mild citrus element like lemon. Floral yeast blends a sort of wild flower character together with clove. Submissive hops emerge from behind in an herbal, leafy touch with suggestions of sage. Fruity highlights close in a blend of flavor similar to star fruit and orange. Muted bitterness settles, then closes with a clean mouthfeel.

Overall, I think this is a good domestic take on a traditional style. Drinkability is superb, because the sustain is incredibly short. On the downside, I think it ends up a bit too watered down. You all know this isn’t my go-to style, but it’s always refreshing to return to the foundations of beer. Widmur gave this a good shot. I’m satisfied.

Known Hops: Hallertauer, Alchemy

Known Malts: Pilsner, wheat, Munich


16 IBU

Portland, Oregon


Odell “St. Lupulin”

89 B+

St. Lupulin is a Pale Ale is a summer seasonal released May through September. Aromas provide a nice display of hops, coming across rather soapy with primary suggestions of grapefruit and grass. Malts give bready notes of pale grains over a white sugar sweetness.

The palate opens sweet and creamy as biscuit malts quickly bolster a grainy backbone. Hops keep to a light, floral spectrum as citrus flavors approach from the distance like grapefruit. The climax hits in a dull, bitter edge of grass, followed by a couple drops of pine oil. The sour, citric element continues to accelerate, rising as the focal point. A fruity note lingers on the finish like apricot, developing a salty taste that quickly closes in a crisp, dry mouthfeel.

Now this is my kind of summer seasonal! It keeps to a lighter range, but gives excellent balance of bitter, sweet, and sour elements. A low IBU of 46 is high enough to level off the initial sweetness, but low enough to allow for an almost sessionable experience. When I first started drinking craft beer, I thought this was the best Pale Ale! While I still think it’s a tasty brew, in no way does this compare to Three Floyds. My palate has certainly developed since then. I still appreciate what St. Lupulin has to say, and still think it’s better than your average Pale Ale, so I recommend it.


46 IBU

Fort Collins, Colorado


Great Divide “Yeti”

95 A

This imperial stout is the base brew belonging to a family of beers, each of which include an additional ingredient. I really love this idea, because it allows us the ability to discover how oak, chocolate, espresso, and belgian yeast can fundamentally alter taste. This review just so happens to be a bottle I picked up straight from the Great Divide brewery! Pictures just can’t capture the beautiful, coke float-style head produced by a healthy pour. Aromas are dark and musty, like charred oats, cocoa covered brownies, walnut husks, and some delicious herbal notes below (C-hops).

The palate opens up with a big body of chocolate that swells up with a well-rounded, ultra-creamy feel. A robust, bitter bite of blackened barley pairs with a few drops of hop oil that rise up and strike midway. After this one-two punch backs down, flavors evolve into manifestations of cold brewed coffee. Herbal, pine-based hops occupy the final stage of flavor, with a citric astringency that soon rises up, propelling the beer toward climax. Alpha acids cling with an impressive amount of sustain. Alcohol is noted, but it’s such an integral part of the palate, it’s really of no concern at all. The level of bitterness (75 IBU) falls in proper proportion to sweetness, which eventually rises up into a semi-sour finish. The hops may be heavy-handed, but these malts sure do put up a fight, and I can tell they’re giving it all they’ve got.

For me, it was ‘Old Rasputin’ that first lead to my love of the double stout, but it was Yeti that revealed to me what the style could do with some hoppy aggression. I’ve got a soft spot for this original, but the Chocolate and Oaked Yeti are my two favorites, because they both seem to take the edge off the hops. I love to revisit them all as they fall in and out of season. If you have never had any of these in your life, I suggest you start here with the original, then work your way up to the Belgian. This would make an awesome addition to a Saturday brunch, but it’s good anytime. I recommend it to those of you who love a good hoppy double stout.


75 IBU

Denver, Colorado


Oskar Blues “G'Knight”

87 B+

G'Knight is a hybrid Strong Ale with Imperial IPA tendencies. Due to the heavy addition of amber malts, Oskar Blues have appropriately deemed this an “Imperial Red IPA” (a non-existent style). Aromas give tropical hop notes that remind me Juicy Fruit gum. Citric characters smell like grapefruit and blood orange. Herbal characters rest below with hints of evergreen and pepper spice. Malts come across like Golden Crisp cereal, bready grains, and toffee.

The palate opens in a creamy flood of sweet malts, flavored like caramel and syrup. Fruity flavors unfold into suggestions of papaya, apricot, then candied orange peel. At this point, grapefruit becomes the focal point as the sour element reaches its climax, then collides with a well-controlled, sappy bitterness. Sweetness continues to accumulate into thicker layers of raw cane sugar. Herbal hops encroach from the rear, delivering a bitter payload that leaves behind a final kiss of spice. The mouthfeel gives light, supportive carbonation over a rounded, medium weight body. Sticky sugars and clingy hop oils are left behind, culminating to a semi-dry conclusion. Alcohol gives a light touch of warmth, but the flavor is well-concealed.

The balance holds steady, despite the strength of the two prime ingredients. Hop flavors are practically bursting, and the bitterness is actually pretty tame at only 60 IBU’s. Since this is somewhat of a fusion beer, it’s difficult to judge, because there’s not much frame of reference. Regardless of the style, G'Knight delivers good flavor and drinkability, plus you can’t beat the pint can! I recommend it.


60 IBU

Longmont, Colorado or Brevard, North Carolina


Deschutes “Mirror Mirror”

95 A

Mirror Mirror is a limited-release English Barleywine aged in oak barrels. This is only brewed every four or five years. The heart of the brew consists of a double batch of Mirror Pond Pale Ale, of which 50% then goes on to be aged in retired Pinot Noir, Tempranillo and Malbec barrels for ten months. Aromas are malt-forward, suggesting caramel sweet bread and cinnamon rolls. Sweetness is like brown sugar with heavier notes of maple syrup. Booze gives obvious fusel notes.

The palate opens in a flood of sweet, caramelized barley with that classic Barleywine flavor. Hops rise with modest orange-citrus highlights. A big body of dark fruits touches on dried apricot, raisin, plum, and date. The barrel-aging has a drying effect with tart, vinous qualities reminiscent of cherries and tannins like red grape skin. A spicy quality hits, then hops re-emerge with herbal bitterness to help counterbalance the heavy sugar weight. Malts develop a mild roast with weak hints of chocolate. Final remarks give details of oak and caramel popcorn. The mouthfeel carries soft carbonation over a full, creamy body that ends a little dry and sticky. Sweetness stops just shy of cloying. Lingering bitterness does a great job at persistently masking the alcohol.

Overall, I think this a finely tuned, exceptional Barleywine. Although the barrel has a restrained impact, it adds a unique flavor that bumps the complexity a few points. As it warms, the hops and booze land a bit more front-and-center. Sweetness is right on target in terms of style, coming to a pleasant agreement with the hoppy bitterness. The hop level itself is about right for my taste, but a little age would probably do wonders. I recommend it to malt lovers with high sweet tolerance.


53 IBU

Bend, Oregon


Hair of the Dog “Fred”

95 A

Fred is a Strong Ale, deemed “Golden Special Ale” by the brewery. It belongs on the year-round lineup from Hair of the Dog, and was named in honor of beer historian and writer, Fred Eckhardt. This is brewed with an impressive total of ten hop varieties! It’s clearly unfiltered, showing loads of yeast sedimentation left behind from secondary fermentation.

Aromas reveal fragrant yeast like flowers and a certain degree of earthy funk, merging with hops that give an herbal touch. Malts bring up heavy sweet notes like toffee, honey, and maple syrup. Fruity aromatics resemble fig newtons, dried apricot, orange, and spiced apple. Alcohol comes across like rum.

The palate opens with a deep, rounded malt body carrying rich sweetness with flavors of butterscotch and brown sugar. A fruity character emerges in details of fig and red apple. Hops appear as tropical fruit, followed by an orange high note that rises with a dull, sour highlight. Modest bitterness emerges, washing into spicy rye with earthy, almost woody undertones. Digging slightly deeper, roasted barley begins to add cocoa notes, reminiscent of chocolate covered raisins. An escalating sweetness reaches a pinnacle point in a final blow of caramel and molasses. Fruity esters leave behind hints of boozy solvent. The mouthfeel is slick, creamy, and sticky, then thins out with a touch of dryness, closing in modest warmth.

Malts completely dominate this beer, while hops play more of a modest, supportive role. It appears to draw upon several different styles for influence, those which lean toward malts with a sticky, fruity, sweet tenacity. I’m not quite sure how, but the drinkability remains decent, which is impressive considering the circumstances. I’ve always loved Fred and felt he was a rather unique fellow who doesn’t quite compare to anyone else. I will continue to gladly return to this wonderful brew. I recommend it to those of you who crave malty, sweet, complex ales.


65 IBU

Portland, Oregon


Great Divide “Orabelle”

87 B+

Orabelle is a newly released Belgian-style Ale (based loosely on the Tripel), available January through March, and sold as a six-pack. Aromas are distinctly Belgian with yeast that exhibits colorful fruit tonality (apple, orange, banana), hints of spice (white pepper, coriander), and alcohol phenols expressed like a band-aid.

The palate opens as malts reveal flavors of cereal grains, saltine crackers, and white sugar. The middle register quickly fills with a body of fruit flavored like banana, green apple, and pineapple. A twist of juicy citrus rises from behind, revealed just like orange peel and fresh lime. The finish is signaled by a subtle onset of bitterness as hops unfold into a subtle body of grass. During its final descent, spicy flavors evoke coriander, clove, and white pepper. Carbonation is slightly spritzy with active carbonation, held over a moderate body which is slightly disrupted by the eventual onset of alcohol.

Overall, this really isn’t much of a Tripel, but I genuinely find enough to appreciate when viewed outside the context of style. In the triad of major flavor notes, sweetness takes the lead, followed by sour and bitter notes that coalesce toward the end. Drinkability is surely one of its greatest assets, especially when considering the elegantly disguised 8.3% ABV. Altogether, I think this is a decent stateside Belgian interpretation. I don’t quite recommend Orabelle, but those with a more mild, tame palate would probably appreciate it.



Denver, Colorado


Deschutes “Hop In The Dark”

90 A-

Hop In The Dark is a seasonal Black IPA (Cascadian Black Ale) available May through June. Aromas appear rather dull, but hops stand at the foreground with bright hints of citrus (orange) and pine. Malts lie below as roasted barley give notes of burnt toast, cocoa, and coffee.

The palate opens in a gentle malt roast initiated by baker’s chocolate. Hops steadily rise with a tart edge of grapefruit. Sweet malts slightly take the lead in flavors of caramel and malted milk balls. Bitterness jumps into the back in an herbal character driven by pine. Escalating toward a bitter climax, grapefruit zest becomes the focal point. Final suggestions of coffee surface on the back-end as malts unfold grainy details of oatmeal. Hop oils leave behind a thin coating which lingers as a prolonged aftertaste. The mouthfeel is very smooth and stout-like, then slightly shifts gears as hop oils accumulate for a somewhat dry conclusion that closes clean and crisp. Drinkability is very good, aided by a modest ranking 6.8% ABV.

Overall, this isn’t as aggressive on the hop load as other Black IPA’s in my memory. It comes across more like a hoppy porter than anything. I find the bitterness to be perfectly aligned with the degree of malt roast, resulting in a complementary flavor combination where each side fights for control. As in all Deschutes brews, this is very balanced in terms of malt and hop weight. In the end, it probably ends up more on the hoppy end of the spectrum. I have always appreciated this style, but having anticipated something bigger and better, I guess I was a bit disappointed with Hop in the Dark. I think this is a good, palatable example of this niche style, so I recommend it to those of you who share a divided love for both Stouts and IPA’s. I’m not overtly impressed here, but it’s at least worth one go.

Known Malts: Pale, Crystal, Chocolate, Chocolate Wheat, Black Barley, Flaked Oats, Midnight Wheat

Known Hops: Northern Brewer, Nugget, Centennial, Amarillo, Cascade, Citra


70 IBU

Bend, Oregon