I've heard about this place. I'm going to have to find it.First rule of Dean’s Scene: You cannot buy beer at Dean’s Scene.
You can drink beer—there’s plenty of suds spouting from four taps inside the pub Dean Pottle built in the basement below his plumbing shop on Northeast Fremont Street—but you can’t buy it. That would be against the law, because Dean’s Scene isn’t a licensed business, let alone a bar. Dean’s Scene is, as far as we know, Portland’s only noncommercial homebrew pub. Strangers who’ve heard about the Scene come to drink in this dimly lit cave. They sit in a haze of tobacco and medical-marijuana smoke below a coaster-covered ceiling next to special bottle-sized shelving built to house the most honored of dead soldiers.
It’s low key and apparently legal: Pottle says both the cops and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission have dropped by in the last seven years, and both seem to be all right with the model since there’s no booze sold and people serve themselves. Legally, it’s a house party with a keg fund at the door. Though some think of Pottle’s place as a speakeasy, it isn’t exactly low-profile. He was filmed for the Oct. 29 episode of the Esquire Network’s Brew Dogs. This Saturday, the coconut-brown ale Pottle made with his neighbors at Alameda Brewing will be on tap at Portland’s first Pro-Am Beer Festival (buy tickets here). Pottle hopes to someday convert his space into a commercial brewery.
Though he’ll expect to replace his brewing equipment if he makes that jump, Pottle already has his one-barrel system rigged for efficiency, complete with faucets that pour automatically when positioned above the vessel they’re meant to fill. Currently it’s half-brewery and half-basement. A storage shelf holds six full glass carboys. Kegs of pumpkin brew for Pottle’s Halloween party are chilled by refrigeration panels salvaged from a plumbing job. There’s even a small commercial-grade glass-washing machine.
When Dean’s is open, a blue and green neon sign lights the window. Scenesters head down the heavy steel steps to his basement and stuff the $10 suggested donation into the box at the bottom of the stairs (“you don’t have to pay,” Pottle repeats) then grab a glass from the case which Pottle restocks at the 25 beer festivals he attends every year. Then, they sidle up to the double-sided bar. The brewmaster comes around to chat, an American Spirit between his fingers. He may or may not be wearing one of his Dean’s Scene T-shirts, which bear the slogan “The place where you never drink the same beer twice.”
Pottle is wiry and young for his 62 years, with a gray ponytail and mustache and square metal-rimmed glasses. By his count, Pottle was 41 the first time he had a “real beer.” It was 1991, and he was living in his hometown in Fairfield County, Conn. The beer was an amber ale from New England Brewing Company, and it made such an impression that Pottle wanted to learn how to make it himself. His wife, Misty, gave him a homebrew kit for Christmas. “I started brewing and I never quit,” he says.
In 1997, during his divorce from Misty—they were together for 20 years, split for 12, then got back together again four years ago but say they’re planning to split again—Pottle made his first pilgrimage to the West Coast and fell in love with Portland during a stay at the hostel at Edgefield. “I’d heard Portland had good beer, but we had no idea because we didn’t have the Internet back in those days,” he says. He spent the last night of his trip drinking in Edgefield’s packed Little Red Shed. “I was from the East Coast,” he says, “and I was like, ‘This is it!’’’
So Pottle moved to Portland in 1998. “Out here they really cared about shit, and that got to me,” he says. “That’s why people move here from all over the country, because they’re too good for where they’re from. And I feel bad, because they really needed me back there.”
After spending the summer in a hostel and a couple of years living off Southeast Foster Road, Pottle bought his Beaumont home for $140,000 in 2001. “Cheaper than shit,” he says, though the basement required more hours of work than he cares to count.
Shortly thereafter, he got back together with Misty, who’d been living in Tucson, Ariz. She became a fixture in the place and remains so. Even as they plan to divorce, she’s still there playing dominoes and calling for Dean to crack a framboise. They went to see The Heat last week, and have a couple’s Halloween costume planned.
Dean’s Scene isn’t much of a secret these days. Over the summer, his basement was a stop on the Fremont Festival’s pub crawl, closing out a night that began at Fremont Ridge bar and Smallwares. He’s had Yelp reviews over the years and, just this month, received a letter from Yelp congratulating him on the impressive reviews of his place. So, yes, it’s OK to talk about Dean’s Scene.
Just remember the second rule of Dean’s Scene: You cannot buy beer at Dean’s Scene. “People ask me for kegs and I say ‘I can’t sell you a keg,’” he says. “But invite me to the party and I’ll come and bring a keg.”
We started out by going to Sayler's Steak House. I had a nice 16-ounce prime rib. Well, I ate half of it and brought the rest home. It was nice going out with Joan.
Saturday was a lot of college football. I didn't get to the shower until four-thirty. Moving a little slow. At dinnertime Nancy from down the street came over and helped Joan make pizzas on our grill outside. Before she retired Nancy was a baker. I went across the street to the Laurelwood and filled up our growler with some Mother Lode Ale.
Today is a full day of NFL football, ending with the Niners up in Seattle tonight.
What a birthday weekend!
It was early September — that's springtime in Western Australia — and two young biologists, Dwayne Gwynne and David Rentz, were on a field trip, wandering dirt roads near the highways, looking for insects, when one of them noticed a loose beer bottle lying on the ground — not so unusual in the Dongara region, where Australians zooming by often launch beer bottles from their car windows. This particular bottle was a "stubbie," squat, 370 milliliters, colored golden brown.
When the two looked more closely, they saw something extra, hanging on the bottom end. It was a beetle, and it was fiercely gripping the glass. They shook it, and it wouldn't fall off. It wanted to be there.
Looking even closer, they recognized it as an Australian jewel beetle, and looking closer, they noticed it had (as they wrote later) its "genitalia everted — attempting to insert the aedeagus," which is a very polite way to say they were looking at a beetle attempting to mate with a glass container. Clearly, this was a very confused individual.
But then they found three more stubby beer bottles, and on two of them, surprisingly, were more male beetles, also "mounting" their bottles. That makes three frustrated males.
Hmmm. That got them interested. So they wandered about, found four loose stubbies, and placed them side by side on open ground where they could be seen by any male beetles flying overhead. "Within 30 minutes," they wrote later, "two of the bottles had attracted beetles. In total, 6 male beetles were observed to mount the stubbies. Once on the bottles, the beetles did not leave unless displaced by us."
More surprising, Gwynne and Rentz found one beetle hanging onto his bottle even while "a number of ants" were busy biting "the soft portions of his everted genitalia" — and still he stuck to his business. This was not just a pattern, this was a mission. What, the two scientists wondered, could explain these beetles' superallegiance to Australian beer bottles? It wasn't the beer. These males didn't gather at the spout end, and the bottles, the scientists said, were long dry.
The answer became obvious when they got a close look at a female Australian jewel beetle. Females, as it happens, are golden brown. They are big — much bigger than the males. But most important, they are covered, as you see here, with dimples, little bumps.
Clearly, Gwynne and Rentz wrote in their paper, the males were unable to distinguish between beer bottles and lady beetles. They thought — or rather their inner wiring told them — they were mating.
This is what biologists call "an evolutionary trap." It's what happens when birds, turtles, moths, beetles, all kinds of animals, wired to respond to certain cues in nature, bump instead into human inventions and get confused. They try to do the right thing — like having a little baby beetle, and end up spending hours scraping glass.
When sea turtles finish laying eggs on beaches, they look for moonlight over the ocean. The light tells them which direction leads back to the sea. Hotels with big lights on their end of the beach can confuse mother turtles, making them go the wrong way. Some hotels now douse their lights when sea turtles come to lay their eggs.
There are so many examples. Farmers in the Midwest used to put red insulators on their electric fences. Hummingbirds thought they were red flowers. If they touched the wire with their beaks, they died. The insulator company, when it realized what was happening, stopped using red paint, and farmers eventually substituted not-red models. As the world gets more crowded, some humans are learning to try — at least some of the time — to be less of a nuisance to other animals.
That, happily, is how our jewel beetle story ends. When beer companies in Australia learned that their bottles were having a discernible effect on the population of jewel beetles — so many males were spending useless hours fornicating, often dying under the hot Australian sun and leaving no heirs — the companies decided to change their bottles. The little bumps were eliminated to be replaced by smooth glass, the beetles lost all interest in bottles, and life in the Australian west — at least beetle life — went back to normal.
The problem is, this problem doesn't end. Humans keep inventing things. Animals keep bumping into these things, sometimes with very unhappy results, and we have to keep correcting our mistakes. That's one reason we've been given the big brains, I suppose, to help us undo the many things we've done when didn't even know we were doing them.
And I mean classic. As in Sumerian.
The beer was full of bacteria, warm and slightly sour.
By contemporary standards, it would have been a spoiled batch here atGreat Lakes Brewing Company, a craft beer maker based in Ohio, where machinery churns out bottle after bottle of dark porters and pale ales.
But lately, Great Lakes has been trying to imitate a bygone era. Enlisting the help of archaeologists at the University of Chicago, the company has been trying for more than year to replicate a 5,000-year-old Sumerian beer using only clay vessels and a wooden spoon.
“How can you be in this business and not want to know from where your forefathers came with their formulas and their technology?” said Pat Conway, a co-owner of the company.
As interest in artisan beer has expanded across the country, so have collaborations between scholars of ancient drink and independent brewers willing to help them resurrect lost recipes for some of the oldest ales ever made.
“It involves a huge amount of detective work and inference and pulling in information from other sources to try and figure it out,” said Gil Stein, the director of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, which is ensuring the historical accuracy of the project. “We recognize that to get at really understanding these different aspects of the past, you have to work with people who know things that we don’t.”
There is an unresolved argument in academic circles about whether the invention of beer was the primary reason that people in Mesopotamia, considered the birthplace of Western civilization about 10,000 years ago, first became agriculturalists.
By about 3200 B.C., around the time the Sumerians invented the written word, beer had already held a significant role in the region’s customs and myths. Sipped through a straw by all classes of society, it is also believed to have been a source of drinkable water and essential nutrients, brewed in both palaces and in average homes. During the rule of King Hammurabi, tavern owners were threatened with drowning if they dared to overcharge.
But for all the notes that Sumerians took about the ingredients and the distribution of their libations, no precise recipes have ever been found. Left behind were only cuneiform texts that vaguely hint at the brewing process, perhaps none more poetically than theHymn to Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of beer.
The song, dated around 1800 B.C., had entranced modern brewers before. A brew based on the hymn was made as part of a partnership in the early 1990s between Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco and the University of Chicago, where a well-known interpretation of the text was translated in 1964.
Reproductions of ancient alcohols have since grown in popularity, largely through a partnership between the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware and Patrick E. McGovern, an archaeological chemist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Together, they have recreated beers from prehistoric China, from ancient Egypt and from evidence found in what is believed to be the tomb of King Midas.
“Of different people who do fermented beverages, microbrewers are the most willing to experiment,” Dr. McGovern said. “They’re ready to try anything.”
Great Lakes has no plan to sell its brew, also based on the Hymn to Ninkasi, to the public. The project, unlike others that recreate old recipes on modern equipment, is an educational exercise more than anything else. It has been shaped by a volley of e-mails with Sumerian experts in Chicago as both sides try to better understand an “off the grid” approach that has proved more difficult than first thought.
In place of stainless steel tanks, the Oriental Institute gave the brewery ceramic vessels modeled after artifacts excavated in Iraq during the 1930s. In keeping with the archaeological evidence, the team successfully malted its own barley on the roof of the brew house. It also asked a Cleveland baker to help make a bricklike “beer bread” for use as a source of active yeast — by far the most difficult step in the process.
The archaeologists, who have committed their careers to studying Sumerian culture, said having professional brewers involved in the effort had helped them ask questions they had not considered.
“We keep going back to the evidence and finding new hints that can help us choose between different interpretations,” said Tate Paulette, a doctoral student and a lead researcher on the project. “We are immersed in studying Mesopotamia, and this is a fundamental thing that we don’t understand well enough.”
While the project continues, Great Lakes’ brewing vessels are already a popular addition to guided tours of the brewery. The company is making plans to showcase its Sumerian beer at events in Cleveland and Chicago by the end of this summer, offering a public tasting of the final brew alongside an identical recipe made with more current brewing techniques.
In the meantime, there is still some tweaking to do.
After months of experiments in the brewery’s laboratory, Nate Gibbon, a brewer at Great Lakes, said he had stood over a ceramic vat on a recent Wednesday, cooking outside on a patch of grass. The fire that heated the vat was fueled by manure.
The batch, spiced with cardamom and coriander, fermented for two days, but it was ultimately too sour for the modern tongue, Mr. Gibbon said. Next time, he will sweeten it with honey or dates.
Without sophisticated cleaning systems to rid the vessels of natural bacteria, Mesopotamian imbibers might have been more familiar with the brew’s unwanted vinegar flavor, archaeologists said. Yet even with the most educated guesswork, they said, the Sumerian palate might never be fully uncovered.“We’re working with questions that are not going to have a final answer,” Mr. Paulette said. “It’s just back and forth, trying to move toward a better understanding. We’re pretty comfortable with that.”
I'm glad science has started focusing on the important things.
I remember quite vividly the first time I tried beer — I almost spit it out. Bitter, bubbly and generally bad, I didn’t get why everyone seemed to be so enamored with it. Yet I, like so many people in the world, continued to drink it. Have you ever wondered why we, as a species, consume alcoholic beverages even though they taste terrible at first?
A new study suggests that despite the bitter taste, the chemicals in beer trigger the brain’s reward system. This pleasurable effect might just explain why we’re so willing to keep drinking past the first sip — until intoxication takes over, and we’ll drink just about anything. But more importantly, this new research, published today in the journalNeuropsychopharmacology, may explain why some people can drink casually while others slip into alcoholism.
Addictions occur when the brain betrays the body, causing feelings of pleasure from activities that are unhealthy. Scientists have long known that the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that stimulates the brain’s reward system, is strongly associated with addictive behaviors. The pleasure kick stimulated by alcohol, drugs or risky behaviors tells our bodies to repeat the behavior, starting a dangerous cycle that can be tough to break. Understanding exactly what triggers the release of dopamine in the brain is key to understanding and preventing addictions and relapses.
For alcoholics, previous research has found that even the sight or smell of beer is rewarding to the brain, pushing them to drink. David Kareken and his colleagues wanted to know whether the same was true of the taste. Forty-nine men whose relationship to alcohol varied from almost non-existant to perhaps-too-intimate were given tiny tastes of their favorite beer while scientists watched how their brains reacted using a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner. They also asked the men to report their desire to drink, and whether they had any family history of alcoholism.
They found that the very first sip of beer is enough to begin the neurotransmitter cascade. Within minutes, dopamine was released by the ventrial striatum, and the men reported increased cravings for more. The same effect was not seen when gatorade or water was substituted for alcohol. The men only received 15 milliliters of beer on their tongue over the course of 15 minutes through an automated sprayer, so there was no chance that changes in the brain were due to intoxication. Instead, flavor cues alone — before the alcohol could enter the body — caused the release of dopamine and induced the desire to drink, even in men with no alcoholic past. The subjects that did had a family history of alcoholism, however, had notably higher levels of dopamine release after tasting beer than those who didn’t. Meanwhile, the heavy drinkers who didn’t have any family history had only moderate dopamine release, suggesting that heritable traits are more important in influencing the brain’s reaction to beer than behavior.
The scientists suggest that these data explain why people with a family history of alcoholism are twice as likely to become alcoholics themselves, and why it’s so difficult for some to stay sober even when they try to quit. The release of dopamine in the brain is a powerful motivator, part of an intricate reward system that has been honed by evolution to encourage important behaviors like reproduction. Unfortunately, alcohol and other addictions take over this vital pathway in the brain, compelling us to do things we might otherwise realize are damaging. But what’s worse is that those who are predisposed to alcoholism have the same neurotransmitter release whether they drink or not, so even if they make the effort to avoid alcohol in most cases, this study suggests a sip may be enough to tip them over the edge.
I've been down this road before, but it's a good essay.
Human beings are social animals. But just as important, we are socially constrained as well.
We can probably thank the latter trait for keeping our fledgling species alive at the dawn of man. Five core social instincts, I haveargued, gave structure and strength to our primeval herds. They kept us safely codependent with our fellow clan members, assigned us a rank in the pecking order, made sure we all did our chores, discouraged us from offending others, and removed us from this social coil when we became a drag on shared resources.
Thus could our ancient forebears cooperate, prosper, multiply — and pass along their DNA to later generations.
But then, these same lifesaving social instincts didn’t readily lend themselves to exploration, artistic expression, romance, inventiveness and experimentation — the other human drives that make for a vibrant civilization.
To free up those, we needed something that would suppress the rigid social codes that kept our clans safe and alive. We needed something that, on occasion, would let us break free from our biological herd imperative — or at least let us suppress our angst when we did.
We needed beer.
Luckily, from time to time, our ancestors, like other animals, would run across fermented fruit or grain and sample it. How this accidental discovery evolved into the first keg party, of course, is still unknown. But evolve it did, perhaps as early as 10,000 years ago.
Current theory has it that grain was first domesticated for food. But since the 1950s, many scholars have found circumstantial evidence that supports the idea that some early humans grew and stored grain for beer, even before they cultivated it for bread.
Brian Hayden and colleagues at Simon Fraser University in Canada provide new support for this theory in an article published this month (and online last year) in the Journal of Archeological Method and Theory. Examining potential beer-brewing tools in archaeological remains from the Natufian culture in the Eastern Mediterranean, the team concludes that “brewing of beer was an important aspect of feasting and society in the Late Epipaleolithic” era.
Anthropological studies in Mexico suggest a similar conclusion: there, the ancestral grass of modern maize, teosinte, was well suited for making beer — but was much less so for making corn flour for bread or tortillas. It took generations for Mexican farmers todomesticate this grass into maize, which then became a staple of the local diet.
Once the effects of these early brews were discovered, the value of beer (as well as wine and other fermented potions) must have become immediately apparent. With the help of the new psychopharmacological brew, humans could quell the angst of defying those herd instincts. Conversations around the campfire, no doubt, took on a new dimension: the painfully shy, their angst suddenly quelled, could now speak their minds.
But the alcohol would have had more far-ranging effects, too, reducing the strong herd instincts to maintain a rigid social structure. In time, humans became more expansive in their thinking, as well as more collaborative and creative. A night of modest tippling may have ushered in these feelings of freedom — though, the morning after, instincts to conform and submit would have kicked back in to restore the social order.
Some evidence suggests that these early brews (or wines) were also considered aids in deliberation. In long ago Germany and Persia, collective decisions of state were made after a few warm ones, then double-checked when sober. Elsewhere, they did it the other way around.
Beer was thought to be so important in many bygone civilizations that the Code of Urukagina, often cited as the first legal code, even prescribed it as a central unit of payment and penance.
Part of beer’s virtue in ancient times was that its alcohol content would have been sharply limited. As far as the research has shown, distillation of alcohol to higher concentrations began only about 2,000 years ago.
Today, many people drink too much because they have more than average social anxietyor panic anxiety to quell — disorders that may result, in fact, from those primeval herd instincts kicking into overdrive. But getting drunk, unfortunately, only compounds the problem: it can lead to decivilizing behaviors and encounters, and harm the body over time. For those with anxiety and depressive disorders, indeed, there are much safer and more effective drugs than alcohol — and together with psychotherapy, these newfangled improvements on beer can ease the angst.
But beer’s place in the development of civilization deserves at least a raising of the glass. As the ever rational Ben Franklin supposedly said, “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
Several thousand years before Franklin, I’m guessing, some Neolithic fellow probably made the same toast.
PACIFICA, Calif. — Three people were arrested Monday after they stocked a stolen, 82-foot yacht with pizza and beer, and then ran the vessel aground on a Northern California beach, authorities said.
Authorities took two men and a woman off the boat hours after the "Darlin" got stuck in shallow water at Pacifica State Beach, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said.
Pacifica police arrested Leslie Gardner, 63, Dario Mira, 54, and Lisa Modawell, 56, on suspicion of grand theft and conspiracy. They were being held in the San Mateo County Jail.
The strange tale began early Monday when beachgoers phoned police to report the sailboat in trouble.
The luxury yacht was trapped on a sandbar in shallow water at low tide and unable to get back out to sea. A few wetsuit-clad surfers had paddled out in the frigid water near the grounded vessel as its hull was battered by 4- to 5-foot waves.
After television news reports of the grounding aired, the boat's owner called police to report it stolen, Sausalito police Sgt. Bill Fraass said.
"We do have thefts of vessels throughout the area, but the theft of a vessel of this size is uncommon," Fraass said.
However, no one waved a gun.
Police arrested a 61-year-old Florida woman for allegedly pointing a gun at Walmart employees, threatening them after the store refused to honor her coupon for $1 off of a purchase and later attacking authorities.
The Smoking Gun reported on Monday that Mary Frances Alday was arrested on March 1 and charged with four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count apiece of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence stemming from a confrontation in which she allegedly took a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber gun out of her car and pointing it at the staff saying, “I have something for y’all.”
The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Department said in a release that the Crawfordsville, Florida resident “became verbally abusive” toward the store’s assistant manager, Tracy Stockslager, when Stockslager said the store’s policy prevented them from honoring the coupon.
Alday allegedly hit Stockslager with her shopping cart while being escorted out of the store and warned the staff not to follow her. When Stockslager said she intended to get Alday’s license plate number, Alday allegedly said, “If you follow me, I have something in my car for you.”
After going outside, Alday allegedly pulled the weapon out of her car and pointed it at the staff before leaving the scene in a 2011 Ford Escape. When authorities pulled her over later that evening, the department said, her pattern of belligerence continued.
When asked if she had a weapon in the vehicle, she allegedly told Sgt. Danny Harrell, “Yes, I have a concealed weapons permit, and you are not taking my gun.” She also refused to give up the weapon when asked where it was.
Authorities said Harrell was forced to use a taser on Alday when she “reached over the console for something in the passenger seat” after she refused to get out of her vehicle. The gun was found in a console in the center of the vehicle.
Alday is currently in jail while she awaits her first court appearance.
Craft beer fans in Los Angeles have never had more choices for local beer, and you're not limited to enjoying fresh brews just in the brewery's tap rooms or buying bottles or cans to take home. One of the best ways to enjoy the freshest brews at home is with a growler -- a specialized glass jug that you can have filled and re-filled at nearly all of L.A.'s local breweries.
Historically, growlers were metal pails with tight-fitting lids that were used to take beer home from the saloon. These days, growlers are glass jugs that hold either one or two liters of beer and are sealed with either a screw-on cap or a bail-top stopper. When properly filled and sealed, they will keep a beer fresh and carbonated for a few days, but once they're opened the beer will quickly go flat and should be enjoyed within 36 hours (for best results, keep your filled jugs as cold as possible, as cold beer will not go flat as quickly).
Getting a growler filled is a great way to enjoy the freshest beer from breweries, especially beers that are not available in bottles or cans, and they provide an important revenue source for the start-up brewery. The initial buy-in for the glass itself varies from a few dollars for the 1-liter screw-top bottles to about $20 for the larger and heavier bail-top jugs, and the cost to fill a growler ranges from under $10 for a 1-liter "mini growler" to more than $20 for two liters of a brewery's special release brews. The bottles are endlessly reusable; just be sure to rinse them out promptly and thoroughly when you pour the last pint from one.
One downfall of the growler is that, in California at least, the law requires that a brewery only fill a growler printed with their own name and address. You can't have Monkish Brewing fill one of yourBeachwood BBQ bottles. This can lead to an unwieldy collection of empty glass jugs for breweries across the Southland, but it's a small price to pay for the convenience of fresh and local beer in your own fridge.