Since my decidedly literary-lite high school and college days, I have often said that there was one particular book and one specific movie—seemingly with nothing in common—which made a lasting impression on my psyche; the book being Catch 22 and the movie, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
The book, a satire based on real-life characters, was written by the Merry Prankster, Ken Kesey, and was a story based squarely in a mental ward, while the movie, staring Alan Arkin, took place in the European theater of World War II.
To me, there was an overriding theme in that what society thinks as insane may not be such, while what some think as an acceptable act, is quite insane.
In other words, the epiphany became that determination of saneness is subjective and open for personal interpretation.
To this day, I am not sure if that revelation made me feel better about myself and the world around me, or worse.
How in the hell did I get to this point of sober introspection during a three-day visit to the beer capital of the Pacific Northwest—Portland, Oregon?
Well, it came to me in the night.
The wife-person and I tried out a bed & breakfast in the southeast quadrant of Portland, by the name of the Bluebird Guest House. As the wife-person made the reservation, I did not notice that each room was named, until I saw a copy of the aforementioned Ken Kesey’s iconic novel-cum-movie on the dresser, which lead to my discovery that we were in the room of the same name.
Then things really got weird, when I noticed an announcement in one of those free, weekly alternative street newspapers that we were in Portland during the weekend celebration of the 50th Anniversary of that book. Given the literal life-changing impact it had on me during my impressionable youth, this made for a very strange coincidence.
(As an aside, many people think Kesey’s best-written novel was Sometimes a Great Notion, which was about the life of logging, a book that I read years ago while I was working in and around forestry and loggers.)
Having gotten past that short visit to the Twilight Zone, I was back on my goal to try out as many brewpubs that were pulling cask-conditioned ale, as humanly possibly in a three-day period.
The problem, this being Portland, there may be dozens (hundreds?) of this type of beer being poured, and I could only do so much for my mission.
Cask ales, for the uninitiated, is the typically British-style ale, which develops a natural carbonation in the beer cask, and is “pulled” by pumping the bar tap directly from the cask, without the need for added bubble-forming gas, hence a very smooth texture (kind of like a nitrogen-pumped Guinness, but even smoother). Contrary to the reputation of warm English beers, the cask ales are at, what is called, cellar temperature, which, yes, is not as cold as a refrigerated brew.
From what I can recall, I did make it to the Rose & Thistle, Rogue Ales, Horse Brass…and I cannot remember after that.
Among other obvious limitations to the
gung ho guzzling deliberate sipping of these fine adult beverages, you can only take on more fluid as fast as you can…ah…eliminate the existing amount onboard.
Thankfully, I had also just read about a recent addition to the sophisticated culture of Portland: places to piss along the sidewalk.
The Portland Loo is advertised as being, “family friendly and affordable.” I’m sorry, wife-person and daughters, but, personally…I’d just as soon be in there alone.
They are on Facebook and Twitter (would you expect less?) and they even post a map of their current locations.
I did not track them, but maybe they follow the food trucks as they drive around town. That would make sense.
And given all the brewpub fare I consumed while quaffing, I could have used a local loo between stops.