Tuesday, November 28, 2017

First Annual Portland Gloom Fest 2017!

Who's ready for Gloom Fest '17?
The assignment presented to the group of beer bloggers seemed easy enough: create and design your own BEER FESTIVAL! Hell, I've dreamed about that for years! DECADES! So why couldn't I think of anything to write? Why did I sit there staring at my blank computer screen for hours? Days? Writer's block? Nah, I'd actually have to be a writer for that to be the case. I pondered and pondered, stroking my unkempt, wizened beard, as I stared glumly out at the gray, dreary, November sky. The leaves endlessly falling into my yard. The rain drizzling, drizzling, drizzling... THAT'S IT! Seasonal Affective  Disorder! I'd solved the riddle of my doldrums AND come up with the perfect Portland beer festival!

Welcome to PORTLAND GLOOM FEST! (This festival is particularly appropriate, given that the topic of this assignment was created by beer writer extraordinaire, Brian Yaeger, who recently relocated from Portland to...Santa Goddamn You Brian Barbara.) Now that I've taken a fistful of Sunny Gummies, I'm ready to create my fest!

Here are ALL the details:

SIZE: The Portland Gloom Fest should remain a small event of fewer than 500 participants. Why? More than 500 people and you've got a PARTY! Portlanders are just too damn resourceful and I have no doubt that they will always find a way to have a good time if enough people are involved.

BEER STYLES: Typically, a free-for-all is not advisable when it comes to the beer styles allowed at a beer festival, but this is Gloom Fest. My initial thought is that the beers involved should not be for beer newbies. No session beers, no hefeweizens, no fizzy, yellow, wussy beers. Gloomy Portlanders need something to remind them that their taste buds are still alive when the winter gloom REALLY sets in. Gloom Fest beers need to be dank, bitter and nasty, just like my soul after 97 days of continuous rain. I want to see ridiculous IBU's in those IPA's. Barleywine Ales with enough ABV to get an elephant drunk. Russian Imperial Stouts with the viscosity of motor oil. Bringing a chile beer to Gloom Fest? It better ring up on the Scoville Scale at around 250k. I think you get the idea.

The perfect beer fest for
a case of the SADs...
LOCALS ONLY: Needless to say, this is a locals only affair. The last thing we need is some beer tourist from a sunny clime mucking the whole thing up with their chipper disposition and sun-evened complexion. Breweries need to be local, too, but we'll accept offerings from our brothers in gloom over in Vancouver, WA. They understand the necessity of a tightly clinched hoodie in the deep throes of a Pacific Northwest winter.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: It shouldn't be too difficult to find an empty, burnt out old warehouse down by the river--not all of them have been turned into high-end condos yet. A damp, moldy tent set up at the Oaks Amusement Park could also fill the bill. As long as the roof leaks, we should be good to go! Of course, the third or fourth week of December would be an ideal time for Gloom Fest. The Winter Solstice is on December 21st, which is a Thursday this year. True seasonal depression should be just getting a deep footing in the psyches of most PDX denizens right around that time. Too bad the corrupt and incompetent officials of Multnomah County already sold the abandoned Wapato Corrections Facility. That would have been a swell location for Gloom Fest!

GLASSWARE: Bring your own Mason Jar and get 50% off admission! Free Sharpees will be provided so you can add your own damn logo. This is Gloom Fest. Nobody is going to design some awesome logo just so the City of Portland can try to steal it from us! Hells no!

ADMISSION: I don't know about you, but I don't like expensive beer festivals. Gloom Fest admission is FREE! (I know, that kind of takes the "deal" out of the 50% off deal for bringing your own glass, but life's a bitch, then you move to Portland and die.) Taster tickets are $1. Need to leave and come back? I will personally draw a unicorn on your goddamned face with one of those Sharpees. Designated drivers? Of course! We'll have special NOT DRINKING wristbands for your long-suffering, beer-hating bestie or significant other that you selfishly and mercilessly drag along to every beer festival, you schmuck, you.

Man! I don't know about you, but I'm getting really excited about Gloom Fest! I'm all a-tingle! It's either excitement or the two Monster Energy drinks I mixed with a lager and  used to  wash down my high blood pressure meds. Either way, I'm psyched! I hope you are, too! See you at the Portland Gloom Fest!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Is the City of Portland a BEER BULLY?

Old Town Brewing's Leaping Stag
logo on a delicious IPA.
Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat, I am NOT a fan of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. Hey, I voted for the guy, but it seems like he's been trying his damnedest to make me regret checking that checkbox since the day he took office. In my opinion, Wheeler has provided zero effective leadership AND he has proven time and time again that he is woefully out of touch with his constituents. 

I could go on and on about how Wheeler has fouled things up by choosing the wrong side during the alt-right protests this year, (Psst, Ted, Nazis are bad and you should tell them to stay the f**k out of Portland.) but recently, Wheeler has gotten into my own personal wheelhouse by trying to screw over a Portland craft beer mainstay, Old Town Brewing.

OH, NO, HE DIDN'T! Yeah, he did. WTF, Wheeler? Don't you know that craft beer helped make the City of Portland the tourist destination that it is today? Do you not understand what side your proverbial bread is buttered on? Do you really want to be One Term Ted?

I first read about the dirty dealing that the City of Portland is doing to Old Town in an article posted by Jeff Alworth in his Beervana blog. Read all about it HERE. In a nutshell, Old Town has owned the trademark rights to Portland's Leaping Stag logo for the past five years. I talked to Old Town's owner Adam Milne today and he told me that he has been engaged in a legal battle over the logo with the City of Portland for the past two years. Yes, that predates Mayor Wheeler's tenure in office, but it certainly appears he has no intention of reversing the ridiculous course the city is taking on this issue.

Milne advises that he only wants to maintain the exclusivity of the Leaping Stag logo for beer and other alcoholic drinks. The City of Portland wants total control of the logo to sell it to the highest bidder--now hold on to your hats, Portland craft beer peeps--including BUDWEISER! I ask you, is Portland, Oregon a BUD TOWN? Nope, nope, nopiti-nope! The last thing I want to see is the Leaping Stag affixed to a bottle of Bud Light. We're talking Oregon beer SACRILEGE! I'm pretty sure Mayor Wheeler and his toadies downtown have no idea how offensive that would be. I'm also sure they sip on $500 bottles of wine up in some Penthouse eatery, as they look down at the unwashed, beer drinking masses.

This really is a case of bureaucratic bullying of the worst kind. The City of Portland intends to win a war of attrition, even though they have lost every legal challenge on the issue thus far. They simply plan to fight until Old Town Brewing can no longer afford to defend itself. 

I'm taking this personally because the folks at Old Town Brewing are NICE. I consider them to be my neighbors--because they are. The Old Town location is minutes away from my Lloyd District office by MAX and I eat lunch there all the time. The MLK location is a short bus ride from my Alberta Street home address. This isn't a nameless, faceless, giant corporation that doesn't give a crap about our town. They are good people who greet me warmly when I walk through the door. The money I spend at Old Town goes right back into OUR community. That means something to me. I think it should mean something to you, too. Sadly, it doesn't seem to matter one iota to the fat cats at City Hall.

I called the Mayor's "Opinion Line" today and left a message detailing my displeasure with the city's bullying of one of our upstanding craft breweries. I would implore you to do the same. The number is 503-823-4127. Let Wheeler know that the city's position on this issue will not stand and could very well result in some changes in leadership next term.

That Leaping Stag logo doesn't belong on any beer except one brewed by Old Town. I'm not sure how much money the City of Portland believes it can scoop into the coffers by effectively stealing the logo for their slimy exclusive branding scheme, but that's absolutely not the Portland way. Perhaps a few protest parties in front of Ted's house are in order? I think I know where we could get a few kegs...