The Wild River Brewing and Pizza Co. in Medford, Oregon is another place here in the State of Jefferson to get great beer. We had a chance to partake on Saturday, and I had both the Kölsch and the Pilsener. Having never been to Köln or Pilsen I can't vouch for the "authenticity" so prized by micro-brewers, but I can tell you that both were delicious and drinkable. I found the Kölsch particularly lovely, with its clean, malty flavor perfectly balanced by subtle hop crispness. A perfect beer for a sunny spring day.
Stephen Dedalus spent the early afternoon regaling his friends with a number of wild theories about William Shakespeare. I'm just over the 200-page mark in Ulysses. The entire section is filled with wordplay, rhymes, and jokes. Buck Mulligan provides much of the silly banter, but also spots Leopold Bloom and makes anti-Semitic remarks about him. Mr Bloom is an acquaintance of Stephen's father, Simon, but unknown at this point in the story to Stephen. It seems like Joyce is cramming everything he knows into this one book--foreign languages, history, philosophy, politics--and taking every opportunity to show off his erudtion and arcane humor. I'm still surprised I'm enjoying the trip inside his head, as it is often tough going and impossible to follow. There's just something compelling about the whole thing. Perhaps when I'm done I'll understand why I took the plunge in the first place!
We visited our pals in Bend, Oregon this weekend and drank some primo brews. The Deschutes Brewpub is right downtown and always jammed, but we managed to slake our thirst with hand-pumped ales (Bachelor Bitter and Mirror Pond) before heading to dinner at the excellent but unpretentious High Tides Seafood Grill. There's nothing quite like the smooth creaminess of beers "from the cask." The Brits call it "real ale" and I can't argue with them. Later in the weekend we got a tour of the actual Deschutes Brewery (located in a huge building in the Old Mill district) which was very impressive. No beer was being made, but we got an up-close-and-personal look at the brew vessels: massive, gleaming, custom-made million-dollar stainless-steel tuns and kettles that had me swooning with brewer envy. The tour was free and low-key (only 6 people), but thorough, and the beer samplers were free, too. Who can argue with that? The Green Lakes organic has a clean, light maltiness, suitable for serious quaffing, while the Hophenge is its opposite, a massive humulone-soaked high-alcohol snifter-only brew. Both were excellent. After that we enjoyed a fine meal and some more outstanding Bend beer at 10 Barrel Brewing Company. The S1NISTOR black ale (on nitro) was dreamy, rich and satisfying, taking full advantage of the "de-husked" dark malts. The Apocalypse IPA was smooth and well-balanced, with just the right hoppiness. When we hesitated over our beer choices the waitress brought us samplers so we could make up our minds! That's how it ought to be--you don't want a full pint of a beer you won't enjoy. In fact, the only one I didn't like was their Dubbel, but I'm not particularly fond of Belgian-style ales anyway, so that's not a knock. All in all, a damn fine Easter weekend. Thanks, H & D, for the superb hospitality and the willingness to keep me thoroughly lubricated with the good stuff.
They don't call it Maundy Thursday anymore, sticking with the more palatable Holy Thursday. "Maundy" is a fine old word with not much going for it these days. WordMan™ has a fondness for such things. "Maundy" comes to English via Latin, mandatus being the past participle of mandare, meaning to entrust or to order. Mandatus is also a noun, meaning a command (you can see the obvious root of "mandate"). Thus Christians are mandated to be holy, I reckon. To fulfill the command of John 13:34 ("love one another as I have loved you"). To wash the feet of the poor (John 13:1-17). Interestingly, the Wikipedia entry for Maundy Thursday offers an alternative etymology for "maundy," saying it comes from mendicare (French mendier) meaning to beg. Apparently the English king distributed alms to the poor on that day, filling the "maundsor" baskets of the less fortunate ahead of the Easter feast. Now that's more like it, a fine old controversy for grey-bearded Oxford dons to thrash out with their grad students.