Thursday, January 28, 2010

My first Heather Ale

I broke down and bought my first Heather Ale today. I was correct in assuming that we could get Williams Bros Brewery's Fraoch Heather Ale in Portland. At $2.79, it's really not a bad price for an imported 12oz bottle, plus it's packaged in this awesome castle four-pack carrier. I'm a big fan of nice packaging, even though many beer lovers think it's unnecessary baggage. I wish I could get my ticket to Scotland for $2.79.

So, my first impression is that this is a great drinkable beer. It is much better than I imagined it would be, and it's a lot lighter in color and body than I thought. I imagined a dark beer with floaty proteins and yeasts. I don't know why, but I did. So, immediately this reminded me of some farmhouse style ale's that Upright in Portland is brewing, and I'm a big fan of their beers. The head was small and didn't last long, the aroma is a pleasant sweet weedy (not pot) smell that reminds me of yarrow. It's balanced very nicely and isn't as powering as yarrow is to taste. It doesn't push me too far over any edges and the malt tastes are nice and round. Has a dry finish. Maybe I'm partially swayed by the amazing history of this beer, but I think I can say that I'm a fan.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Scottish Pub Sing

Is this what all the pubs are like in Scotland? I'm just kidding.

Last night I attended the Scottish Pub Sing, led by the Portland Revels, at one of my favorite breweries, Lucky Lab in Portland, Oregon. It was beautiful hearing everyone sing while we all drank together. We sang love songs, sad songs, and outrageously fun songs about sharing homebrews, making you feel at home, and drinking the city dry. Having a group of people sing together like this reminded me very much of church and just further solidified in my mind that the pub is really a wonderful social center, and good beer is an important element in bringing people together.

The brewery had a whole load of new specials so I had to try out a few. I ordered the sample tray and had two different Alts, a Scottish Ale, Barleywine, an Amber, an IPA, and a Cascadian Dark Ale (Black IPA). It was a great night.

Here's the chorus of one I don't remember hearing, but I imagine would have been a good one:

There was Brown, up-side-down,
Moppin' up the whiskey on the floor.
"Booze, booze," the firemen cried,
As they came knockin' at the door.
Don't let 'em in 'till it's all mopped up
Somebody shouted, "Macintyre!"
(Everyone shout) MACINTYRE!
And we all got blue blind, paralytic drunk
When the Old Dun Cow caught fire.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hot Knives Beer Book

Greatest Sips from Hot Knivez on Vimeo.

This is a video from Hot Knives, a group of bloggers devoted to elevating vegetables and drinking good beer. They've put together a book that has 21 or so of their favorite writings from their blog. It looks like a pretty nicely packaged book and it comes with a URL where you get a mixtape of music that "goes well with the beers." A pretty exciting package I think, combining good design, craft, and beer. They even have a review of the 20th anniversary Heather Ale from Williams Brothers on their site, and it seems like their logo was inspired by Scotland's BrewDog Micro Brewery.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Market Gallery Pub

The Market Gallery Pub is an all-senses, one-night, pub that will serve homebrewed beers to the public. Homebrewers all over Scotland have been invited to create beers for this event, where they will be presented as expanded artworks. This event will be part of the programming of the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art and will serve to bring attention to beer as a site for social and creative artmaking. The Market Gallery Pub is the culmination event for the Pub School, a weekly educational-event series where visitors were asked to consider the aesthetics of beer and brewing and the blurring art and beer.

One beer will be selected to be reproduced for a short 600 bottle production on the system at Williams Bros. Brewing. The selected beer will be sold via mail order and in specialty shops. This beer will also receive free entry into the International Beer Challenge.

When: April 30th, 2010 - 6-10pm
Where: @The Market Gallery (334 Duke St. Glasgow)
Cost: Free (visitors will receive a limited number of drinking tickets)


There will be 29 different beers available throughout the night. 26 will be homebrews, and 3 will be from local breweries. Beer Pours will be approximately 240ml per cup, depending on the beer. Keep in mind the event is not just a sampling-event, it is also a pub. 10-15 beers will be available at any given point, and the other beers will rotate on and off regularly throughout the night.


A list of participating homebrewers:
Andrew Billcliffe
Balls to the Wall Brewing
Bennachie Brewery
Buccleuch Brewing
Geoff Traill
Jacob Griffin
Little Lectures Brewing
Mark Brannan
Owen Sheerins
Pub School Beers
Rhys Thomas
Robbie Pickering
Steve McQueen Brewery

Participating Breweries:
Harviestoun Brewery
Williams Bros. Brewing Co.

The Market Gallery Pub will be available for installation viewing May 1-15th. Please see the Market Gallery Webpage for visiting hours.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Heather Ale

One of the beers that I am most excited to try when I come to Glasgow is the Williams Bros Heather Ale. In the book Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World I've been reading about beer diversity and how the Industrial Revolution has caused many beer styles and recipes to go extinct. For this reason, and also because in 18th Century the British banned Scotland from using anything other than malt and hops in their beer. In the 1980's a recipe was found for the Heather Ale, which uses heather and bog myrtle.

I have not seen the beer in Portland, Oregon (where I'm from) but I bet if I looked hard enough I could find myself a bottle of it. I'm more interested in tasting this beer in it's homeland though. Roots Brewing Co. here in Portland makes their own version of a Heather Ale. I have not tried it yet but I will make certain that I do before I head over to Scotland.

I'm interested in learning more about these traditional recipes as they show us much about the culture and life of their particular regions before the people were forced to change, and the diversity level dropped. I hope to find someone who would like to talk to a group about these recipes and about this history of these beers. We could incorporate their talk into the pub-crawl. There is some great content for art projects in the field of disappearing beer styles. This is something to keep thinking about.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Art & Beer Documentation at Apexart

This week I installed some work at Apexart in NYC for the exhibition Incidental Person, which uses The Artist Placement Group as a point of departure for a series of events and visual displays. It will be on view until Feb. 20, 2010. At Apexart I wanted to present documentation from what I thought was a successful project - Art & Beer (At the Museum). When asked to be a part of the Incidental Person exhibition, I knew that I wanted to prepare documentation from this project. I gave three Portland breweries a tour of the Portland Art Museum, had them choose an artwork and then brew beer based off that artwork. I then worked with the museum to ensure that this beer could be given for free to museum guests. I wanted the display to be relevant for this second audience, in this second site, without just hanging a bunch of relics on the wall.

I thought I would show you this image because as an artist my work explores 1) how people's ideals influence the way they create the world they want to live in and 2) beer as an agent for social change. I will be in Glasgow, Scotland from March 24 - May 5 fulfilling my research and production goals. In Glasgow the work I plan to make will be activity-based with less emphasis on gallery display. There will be a gallery component at some point, but even then the focus will be on the activity.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A call for Glasgow students

The call:
To participate in an experimental and informal class where students will research and study Glasgow pub culture and make connections in Glasgow’s beer industry. The research and connections will be used to create social, site-specific work for the Market Gallery and the Glasgow International Festival for Visual Art.

Further Details:
Eric Steen is an artist and beer-lover from Portland, Oregon. His art has centered on two main things: 1) people’s notions of living an ideal life by creating the world they want to live in and 2) beer as an agent of social change. You can see his work at: Eric is participating in a residency for the Market Gallery and will create work for the upcoming Glasgow International Festival for Visual Arts. Participating students will also have the opportunity to be a part of these projects.

For the festival Eric would like to work with students from the Glasgow School of Art and other Glasgow Schools to conduct field research in Glasgow pub culture by learning about pubs, beer, brewing, the aesthetics of the beer culture, and beer/brewing politics. Together Eric and these students will create an event series that will highlight beer culture as an important social agent for community development and building relationships. For the final project, they will create a temporary pub (for 1-3 nights only) in late April or early May 2010.

If you like to be a part of this please contact ericmsteen AT

Starting in January 2010, Eric will need committed and motivated students to help with researching pubs, breweries, beer culture, and making connections with homebrewers in the Glasgow area. We will begin planning an event series as well. Eric is asking for students who will commit from 30 min to 2 hours per week until he arrives in Scotland in March. Starting in mid-March, more time will be devoted to organizing and building the projects.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pub School

The Pub School is a weekly educational event-series that explores the aesthetics of beer and brewing in Glasgow. The public is invited to consider how beer making is an art form by taking part in homebrewing demos, beer sampling sessions, lectures, presentations, pub-crawls, and more.

Every Wednesday in April
@Market Gallery (334 Duke St. Glasgow)

Click on links below for full event details.

APRIL 7 - 5pm - about 9pm
All-Grain Brewing Demo - Free
Bring your dinner and a drink.

APRIL 14 - 7pm
Selected Readings About Beer - Free
Bring yourself a drink!

APRIL 21 - 7pm
Meet the Brewer: Scott Williams of Williams Bros. Brewing - Free

APRIL 28 - 7pm*
WEST Brewery Tour - Free
*A group of us will walk from Market Gallery to WEST Brewery, leaving the gallery at 6:30pm.

APRIL 30 - 6-10pm
Market Gallery Pub - Free