New Beer on the Block: Last Cast Special Bitter

Greetings, beer drinker!  Yes, YOU!  We’ve got a new alcoholic beverage for you to try.  We’re calling it Last Cast.

Before we get into the details of the beer itself, let’s talk about the style of beer.  Our Last Cast is a Bitter Session Ale.  Remember the Brits?  You know, those guys who love tea, planting flags in foreign countries and making food that is somehow enhanced by vinegar?   Well, they’re responsible for a lot of modern-day beers, including IPAs, Stouts, Porters and Pales.  If the Brits were a Boy Scout, they’d be that annoying over-achiever who had a badge for everything and smugly told the rest of the world how they’re doing it wrong, like how beer is best enjoyed at room temperature.

So naturally, they’re responsible for the Bitter Session Ale as well.

The Session Ale is similar to the IPA in the sense that there’s no true history behind the name.  It’s somewhere between rumor, fact and hypothesis.  We have ideas, but no one wrote down the exact history as it happened.  Possibly because they were too busy drinking beer to write anything down.

With that in mind, here are some of the nitty gritty details of a Session Ale:

Technically called a Bitter Session Ale, this style of beer is characterized by its low alcohol content and drinkability.  A true session  is generally accepted as having lower than 4% alcohol content.  The point of the beer is to be able to enjoy its flavor over a plethora of pints, something not possible to do with a 6-7% abv. beer.  At least without stumbling into traffic.  Beyond the 4%, it’s broken down into two more specifications: a Special Bitter is between 4-4.9% and an Extra Special Bitter is anything 5% and above (but generally not higher than 5.9%).

Perhaps oddest of the name, a Bitter ale doesn’t necessarily imply bitterness.  Kind of like a pale ale.  A pale ale is a style that’s generally pale, but just because it might have a reddish or copper tone, doesn’t mean it’s no longer a Pale ale.  A Bitter Ale certainly has a hop flavoring to it, but it’s mild when compared to the heavy hopped Double and Triple IPA’s of the Northwest. The name is victim to the time in which it was created: at the inception of the Bitter Session Ale, the most popular ales in The United Kingdom were Stouts and Porters, a sweet and malty beer that could make just about any other style of beer seem bitter.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what does this all mean for flavor?  Well, we’ll step aside and let the Brewer and stats do the talking:

Last Cast Session Ale

Style:  Special Bitter (a British session beer)

ABV:  4.5% (easy drinkin’)

IBU:  30 (modest)

Malt: 

  • 2-row
  • munich
  • crystal
  • special roast (great malt backbone)

Hops:

  • Fuggle (traditional hop)
  • Goldings (traditional hop)
  • Amarillo (a little NW twist because that’s our jam)

From the John the Brewer:

Low alcohol, moderate carbonation, and round malt flavor finely balanced with modest hop bitterness create the easy-drinking effect.  In spite of its name, Special Bitter is NOT a bitter beer.  The British use the term metaphorically to refer to sessionable pub beers generally in the way one might use the word “pints” to describe “beer.” 

Pairing Suggestion:

Try this beer alongside our Pretzel, Herbivore Burger, or Stout Battered Fish & Chips!

 

Drive Less, Bike & Walk More, September 16 – 30th

The Oregon Drive Less Challenge returns for two weeks this year, September 16-30. At Common Block, our team is joining the fun and logging our collective trips to try and beat last year’s numbers – 1,523 total miles for Common Blockers not driven alone! Our favorite parts of the Challenge: catching up with coworkers during the commutes and rewarding our efforts with beer at the end of each day. Because, heck, we feel like we’ve earned it. Also avoiding traffic, because…grrrrr.

Join us in burning calories instead of gas by biking or walking to work and play. Divide the ride and the cost by carpooling, or take the bus and let someone else do the driving so you can listen to music, read or dominate Candy Crush. Then log your trips at DriveLessConnect.com to win awesome weekly and grand prizes!

Cutting back on driving alone even a few times a week can make a big difference for your health and happiness, and we’ve got the awesome Bear Creek Bike Path that makes it easy to get from Point A to Point B throughout the valley. Plus, the more non-drive-alone trips you log during the Challenge, the greater your chances are to win weekly and grand prizes like Hydro Flasks, Dutch Bros coffee, KEEN shoes, gift cards and more. Every trip counts!

How to join the Oregon Drive Less Challenge

  • Sign up at DriveLessConnect.com (or reactivate your account)
  • Bike, take the bus, carpool, vanpool, walk or telework for work, errands or play
  • Log trips Sept. 16-30
  • Challenge yourself to drive less…every trip counts!
  • WIN PRIZES!
oregon drive less challenge common block

Last year’s dedicated Common Block commuters

Thank you to the Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) for promoting this awesome community event, and we’re excited to log trips and join events for the rest of the month. To see what’s happening near you, check out their Events page for meet-ups and themes everyday from Grants Pass to Ashland (and be sure to plan a bus trip on Transit Tuesdays, when you can ride the RVTD buses around the valley for free!). For more information, visit the Oregon Drive Less Challenge page on www.RVTD.org, and we’ll see you on the road!

Seven Wonders of Southern Oregon

You may have seen Travel Oregon’s list of Seven Wonders in the state. Heck, you may even be lucky enough to have visited a few (or all!). Well, we’re big fans of Southern Oregon in general, and feel like our home is worthy of it’s own Seven Wonders list.

So here you go! This is our list of mesmerizing, fascinating, super unique and fun-filled places to visit in Southern Oregon, for the adventurous local and globetrotter alike. Pack a bag, plan a trip, and let us know your own favorites to add to the list!

1. Crater Lake National Park

Obviously, this repeat from Travel Oregon’s ‘Seven Wonders’ list earns top mention as Southern Oregon’s most famous gem. The fifth oldest national park of United States, Crater Lake is an international destination for those in seek of a totally awe-inspiring view. The turquoise waters along the shore and dramatic view of peaks around its edges make for a one-of-a-kind backdrop for day hikes or picnics. As Southern Oregon is home to the state’s only national park, we’re pretty proud to call this second-deepest lake in the U.S. ours. We recommend grabbing a beer in the lodge during the summer season, or bringing your own to enjoy while hiking around in the snow much of the year.

2. Southern Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is officially divided into three sections, and we think the Southern portion is pretty darn great. At the mouth of the Chetco River, Brookings is home to several worth-while eateries (we like Oxenfré and Fat Irish), Chetco Brewing Co. and Superfly Distilling Co. Head north and find Gold Beach next, at the mouth of the Rogue River. Here, you can play all day at the beach, fish along the Rogue, wander inland to camp, or spend the afternoon soaking in hot tubs at Ireland’s Rustic Lodge (our personal favorite).

3. The Table Rocks

When it comes to volcanic plateaus, we’ve got it goin’ on. The Upper and Lower Table Rocks are both home to endangered wild flowers, vernal pools of fairy shrimp, and awesome views that extend along the Rogue Valley and to the Siskiyous and Cascades. Hike Upper Table Rock for an easier 2.8 mile loop, or head to Lower Table Rock for a moderate 5.4 mile trip, which ends with a slightly higher viewpoint of the valley. Together, the Table Rocks annually see about 45,000 hikers.

4. Mt. Ashland

Mountain biking, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, snowboarding, sledding, camping…if there’s an outdoor mountain sport you enjoy, Mt. Ashland delivers. In the Siskiyou mountain range, it’s the highest peak at 7,532’. The southernmost stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon skirts the south and east sides of the mountain, where you’ll find wildflowers like crazy in the summer months. For all you runners, we sponsor the S.O.B. race in July and highly recommend this trail run! In the late summer, we also like to head to the summit or any of the other secluded back roads and watch the annual meteor showers away from the lights (and sometimes smoke) in the Rogue Valley below.

5. Mt. McLoughlin

Also known as Mt. Pitt, Big Butte, or Snowy Butte, this steep-sided, lava-coned mount gives a dramatic view to hikers who climb the 10-mile roundtrip trail (FYI, it’s a rocky scramble at the top). It’s central to the Sky Lakes Wilderness, where you’ll find plenty of hiking and backpacking trails, as well as high mountain lakes all summer long. We recommend planning a trip in September to avoid the mosquitos.

Fun fact: each year, as the snow melts on Mt McLoughlin’s western side, the remaining snowpack takes the shape of wings. Locals see the wings as a sign that fishing at nearby mountain lakes is at its peak.

6. Rogue River

It’s wild. It’s scenic. It’s full of salmon and super fun for rafting. Bubbling up from a spring near Crater Lake, this rugged river gathers steam for 215 miles and then clashes with the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach. With public parks, hiking trails, camp grounds and boat ramps galore, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in and along the Rogue.

Another fun fact: ‘The River Wild’ (you know, that awesome 90’s movie with Meryl Streep and Kevin bacon) was filmed along the Rogue River.  Watch the movie, and then go do a jetboat trip out to Hellsgate to see scenery from the film.

7. Umpqua River Hot Springs                                          

On your next secluded getaway, check out these geothermal pools on the North Umpqua River! Three oval soaking pools (one covered) are accessible all year long, giving you a warm water retreat even among the surrounding snow. The hike in is about ¼ mile much of the year, though you’ll have add an additional two miles if the access road is snow-covered and not plowed. Just so you’re not shocked when you get there, know that clothing is optional, and often missing.

New Brew on the Block: Tunnel 13 Cascadian Dark Ale

We’ve got a new beer on the block!  Tunnel 13 is a unique, dark ale with a crisp, hoppy finish.  The laymen might call it a Black IPA or a IBA (India Black Ale),  but we’ve been told by our brewer, John, in no uncertain terms, that this beer is not a Black IPA or IBA.  It’s a Cascadian Dark Ale.

What’s a Cascadian Dark Ale you might be asking?  It’s called a CDA for short, and the beer typically has proponents of flavor, color and aroma from both an IPA and something like a Stout or Porter.  CDAs typically combine a dry hop finish with a sweeter, roasted malt body.  The color is usually either very dark brown or black, and the head of the beer should be tan or khaki.  Black IPAs, IBA’s and CDA’s all share similarities.  What makes the CDA unique is in the ingredients list.  Like the name would suggest, Cascadian Dark Ales should source most of their ingredients from the Cascadia Region of the US (The Pacific Northwest).  This means, a beer made in a similar style should not be called a CDA if the ingredients were solely sourced in Europe or on the American East coast or from Gibraltar.   It might sound like petty semantics, and perhaps it is, but hop flavors are affected by different climates in the same way wine grapes, peppers and coffee beans are.  It is a technicality, but technicalities are what help us make distinctions, people.

Additionally, it’s a bit confusing to be drinking a Black India Pale Ale, and India Black Ale brings to mind the strong hop finishes an IPA typically has.  So what we’re saying is, most breweries making this particular style of beer will worry about semantics and call their beer what it is: A Cascadian Dark Ale.

Whew, OK, that’s enough beer style background. Let’s get to the beer itself.

Tunnel 13 Cascadian Dark Ale

 

7.1% ABV
65 IBU

Malts

  • 2-row malt
  • Carabrown
  • Chocolate
  • Carafa II

Hops

  • Columbus (bittering)
  • Cascade
  • Amarilla
  • Citra (dry-hop)

From the Brewer:

Common Block Tunnel 13 CDA balances the spicy, citrus, and piney hop flavors of the Pacific Northwest with a laid-back chocolate malt roastiness.  In spite of its dark appearance, Tunnel 13 CDA finishes light and smooth.  Dark as a tunnel, light as day!

That John, what a poet. We’ve debuted seven beers in the last eight months of being open, and we wont stop brewing now.  For further reading on the history behind Tunnel 13 (spoiler alert, there’s murder and robbery involved) check out our other blog post on the name behind the CDA. And keep an eye out for the next beer on the horizon –  we’ll be tapping our Session Bitter Ale come mid-September.

A Tale as Black as our New Tunnel 13 Cascadian Dark Ale

We released our Cascadian Dark Ale just over a week ago, one we’re calling Tunnel 13.  We wanted to give you all a little insight into how we came to the name the beer, so we’ve dragged back out our resident History Major, Nick Blakeslee. 

Oh, wow.  It’s great to be back.  Nothing says, “You’ve made the right decision” like being able to use your College Degree to write about beer.  Let me tell you, it’s pretty cool.  Anyway, I’m here to tell you all a little bit of history.  Wait!  Don’t leave.  I promise I wont be that boring history professor who wears nothing but mustard colored button ups and khakis.  My voice is much less monotone and I’d never wear socks with sandals.   Also, we’re talking about beer.  Not the Treaty of Versailles.  Specifically, we’re going to talk about our newest beer: our Tunnel 13 Cascadian Dark Ale

You are wondering a couple of things: 1.  What is significance of Tunnel 13? and 2. How can Nick read my thoughts?  For the latter: I really don’t know.  And the former?  Well, that’s a bit of a story.  So take a seat, grab a beer and drink in our beer’s dark history…

Told you it looked spooky.

Other than the fact that it bears the unluckiest number in English culture, Tunnel 13 started as a seemingly normal tunnel.  It runs through southern Oregon, cutting through a portion of the Siskiyou pass.  Those that are familiar with southern Oregon’s past, might know it’s story.  Namely, it’s haunted.

Whoa, I know, I know, that’s a big claim, certainly for a brewery to make.  Our tagline is “Welcome to the Block” not “Common Block: Beers, Ghosts, etc.”  But guess what, Google says it’s haunted, and who is going to argue with that?  After all, Tunnel 13 is home to one of the last great train robberies in America.  You heard me, a train robbery. 

Let’s rewind the clock, and take us all back to another time, when alcohol was illegal and America had just given women the right to vote: The 1920’s.  The year was 1922, and some brothers were looking to make their family rich.  They’re names were Roy and Ray D’Autremont.  They decided they were going to rob a train of its gold, and they knew of one that ran right through their backyard: the Siskiyou Station.

The train in question was from Southern Pacific, and carried the nickname The Gold Special.  Clearly, someone looking to protect their assets sucked at naming their trains.  The Balsawood Special or Paperscraps, Dead Pens, etc. would have probably done a better job at averting prying eyes.  Rumor had it, the train carried half a million in gold bars and an inordinate amount of cash as well.  Making the hit worth the risk.

Tunnel 13 marks the end of a steep incline that runs through the Siskiyou Mountain range.  The tunnel itself stretches just over 3,100 feet.  Additionally, it’s the beginning of a steep decline, one where the engineer of the train was required to stop in order to test the brakes.  This marked the perfect spot for the D’Autremont brothers to jump on the train and steal their fortune.

So they set the date, and eventually recruited their brother, Hugh, as well (clearly not fitting into the rhyming scheme of Roy and Ray).  They stole some dynamite from a construction site in northern Oregon.

On October 11th, 1923, they set their trap.  At the height of the summit, while the engine stopped for a brake test, Roy and Hugh D’Autremont hopped on the train, while Ray waited at the end of the tunnel with the dynamite.  Roy and Hugh held the engineer, a man named Sidney Bates, at gun point and ordered him to stop the train at the southern end of the tunnel.

With the train stopped, the Brothers would be able to begin their work getting the Mail Car open, which was believed to carry the half-million in gold, cash, and probably some love letters as well.

There was a hiccup, however, when the Mail Clerk in the car, Elvyn Daugherty, refused to open up.  The car was secured, and it would take something big to get it open.  Like, dynamite for example.  The brothers slapped on the explosives and ran.

Unfortunately, at the time there were no YouTube Walk-Through’s or “Dynamite for Dummies” books, so the brothers packed too much dynamite on the door to the mail car.  When the fuse fired, the dynamite obliterated not only the entire contents of the mail car—including poor Elvyn—but damaged the railcar as well.  So when they ordered Engineer Bates, and Marvin Seng to decouple the mail car and move the engine forward, they found the train to be too damaged to move.

Not exactly Ocean’s 11 caliber of execution.

The mail car that was obliterated by the dynamite blast.

Their plans were ruined, the gold, if it had even been there at all, was nowhere to be found.  And all they had were a series of witnesses to their crimes.  In the ensuing chaos, the robbery claimed the lives of three more, Sydney Bates the engineer, Marvin Seng a fireman, and Charles Orin Johnson the brakeman.  Bringing the final body count to four.

$4,800 reward for each man. That’s the modern day equivalent of almost $70,000

The robbery chilled southern Oregonians – a crime this brutal was not common in sleepy southern Oregon.  It received nationwide news and a massive manhunt took place.  It wasn’t until 1927, when Hugh D’Aturemont was found in the Philippines shortly after enlisting in the Military (no good deed goes unpunished).  Less than year later, both Roy and Ray were reported and arrested in Ohio, marking the end of a half-decade long manhunt.  Hugh was paroled in 1958, but died less than a year later of cancer.  His brother, Ray, served time until 1961, at which time he was released after repenting his crimes.  He was on record saying, “For the rest of my life I will struggle with the question of whatever possessed us to do such a thing?”  He settled down as a janitor at University of Oregon in Eugene and went on to write a book.  Apparently, he picked up painting Oregon landscapes as a means to reflect.

And finally, Roy D’Autremont was diagnosed with schizophrenia while incarcerated, and later underwent a frontal lobotomy.  Spooky.

The case is historically important not only because of the nature of the crime, but also the use of forensic evidence as well.  Edward Oscar Heinrich, dubbed “The Edison of Crime Detection”, used ground breaking techniques to tag the men with the crime.  Including forensic analysis of handwriting, curing an old receipt to read a postal code, and the chemical testing of grease found on the killer’s trousers to indict the murderer while proving the innocence of another man.  He did some amazing things, but really, he deserves his own post.

Since then, Tunnel 13 has never been the same.  Locals stayed away from it for decades and in 2003 the tunnel burned to the ground mysteriously. Officials thought it could have been transients or trespassers, but we know what it was: ghosts.

Today, Tunnel 13 is open for business, but that hasn’t stopped Ashland locals and travelers alike from coming to the tunnel to investigate its haunted properties for themselves.  Some say if you shut off the lights to your flashlight, you can see the apparition of Sydney Bates, patrolling the south end of the Tunnel where he lost his life.  Others suggest that the howling wind sounds less like gusts and more like the ghastly moans of Elvyn’s disembodied soul.

And if you sit in the darkness long enough, they say you can hear the crazed laughter of the lobotomized Roy D’Autremont.

Whatever the truth may be, the place is creepy as heck, but cool as well.   Making it worthy of our Tunnel 13 Cascadian Dark Ale.

 

Summer Concert Series Begins + New Parkside Picnic Tables

 

Flash back to summer of 2015, when we were just getting started building the brewpub…

The days were hot.

Like ridiculously hot.

Like this week kind of hot.

The building had no insulation or A/C.

And, sadly, there was no beer on tap yet.

But every week we looked forward to the concerts in the park across the street. We’d open the garage doors, continue working awhile longer, then sit back with a bottle of something good and listen to live music while imagining what it would finally be like one day when our restaurant was open in the summer.

 

Now the Medford Parks and Rec Summer Concert Series is finally here in Pear Blossom Park! Starting this Thursday, August 4th, you can come enjoy live music from the amphitheater across the street the way it was meant to be enjoyed (at least, according to us beer lovers). Come grab your favorite brew and sit back on the patio every Thursday at 7pm for fresh air, live shows and good grub at the Medford Commons, August through September.

 

Medford Parks & Rec Summer Music Concert Series: Pear Blossom Park

 

The Deadlies, 8/3

Sonido Alegre, 8/10

Fogline, 8/17

Bishop Mayfield, 8/24

Matt Brown, 8/31

Blue Lightning, 9/7

Salsa Brava, 9/14

The Evening Shades, 9/21

 

If you haven’t seen them yet, we also invite you to come sit at our next sidewalk picnic tables on the park side of the building. Perfect for four, it’s as up-close-and-personal as you can get to the live music while still having a beer in hand. And just in case the sun hasn’t quite gone down yet when the music starts, each table also has an umbrella for shade. Kids, families and dogs all welcome.

We’re excited to applaud a new concert downtown every week, and hope you’ll join us in supporting some awesome musical performances and the efforts of Medford Parks and Rec. If you decide to grab a front row seat on the lawn, bring along your lawn chairs and blankets and make yourself comfortable for the two-hour concerts. And if you get hungry, come on over for a bite, or grab yourself a pizza to-go to enjoy back on your blanket across the street. Concerts play until 9pm, and we’re here serving a full menu and full bar until 11pm, every night.

Stockholm Syndrome & The Wild Rogue Relay

With the Wild Rogue Relay just around the corner, we asked Common Blocker Nick Blakeslee to write a little something about the race and about running.  Take it away, Nick!

People do silly things.  Certainly looking at politics or my dating history, one can see that to be self-evident.  I’ve done a lot of silly things in my life, and one of them is picking up running.  I picked it up because of the Wild Rogue Relay, a 212-mile relay event that goes from the Applegate, Oregon to Brookings, Oregon.  All on foot, those miles are shared between twelve teammates over the course of 36-ish hours.  That was my first ever running event; the equivalent of entering your child in the Tour de France moments after removing their training-wheels.

Me, pictured lower right. Friends, pictured everywhere else, enjoying post-race relaxation. Yes, that’s a mimosa in front of me. Yes, my coffee has Baileys in it. Yes, that’s pain behind my smile.

Let me be honest with you all for a moment: I really like relaxing.  Like, really like it.  If I were to make a list of the top 10 things I enjoy in life, nine of those things would be centered around relaxing.  Like eating, or sleeping, or eating then sleeping, or reading a book, or watching a good movie, or sitting by the river drinking my favorite trashy—err, economic beer.  Relaxation is the ultimate first world pastime, and if half the world can’t enjoy it, I mean to enjoy it for them, dangit.  I live in a day in age when I can spend more than half of my week not hording food for winter, or dying of dysentery, or stockpiling guns to deal with bandits.  If there ever was a time to be alive, and live in America, it would be now.  I just ordered 20 pounds of cat litter, from the comfort of my home, and it arrived two days later.  I didn’t even have to get up.  If that’s not the future, I don’t know what is.

So picking up something like long distance running has perplexed some people.  Certainly myself.  It’s one thing to pick up a sport, or a workout paired with fun.  It’s a whole different story running forward at an even pace for 45 minutes.  I’ve always said I detested things like long distance running and working out – if I get in shape, I have to be tricking myself.  I have to be chasing a Frisbee or racing a friend or leaping for some flags in football.

Let me be clear: I’m not a true distance runner.  I’m a fake, in that I don’t really work hard.  In a way, I won the genetic lottery when it comes to long distance running and it allows me to get away with a lot.  I don’t know of many people who can train for a 21-mile event only four weeks prior.

I’ve alienated a few of you with that last comment.  I understand.  I hate those types of people, too.  The kind that can just pick something up and fly with little or no repercussions.  I have a friend who does that with anything art-related, and a little piece of me hates him for it.  He’s the guy that sees you trying to learn something and says, “Let me try” and proceeds to demonstrate your inadequacy without the need for words.

Running long distances, in my mind, is the ultimate display of masochism.  It’s quintessential flagellation, self-abuse, or self-hate.  Only humans existing in a first world, modern society would long distance run during their free time.  Only someone like us would deal with boredom by putting on a pair of shoes and running for 35 miles, just because.  I smile at a thought; wondering what our ancestors would think if we told them that we spent our weekends, our early pre-sunrise mornings, our post-work evenings, and overall free-time, running.  Choosing running.  Actively chasing it, spending hundreds of dollars on expensive shoes and sportswear.  Worst of all, we pay money to enter races.  No one owns the globe, or even the property on which we run a lot of times, and yet we give them cold hard cash to be able to sweat and hurt and run.   We give them money to run on the same streets we walk to work on everyday.

You can tell this is a candid photo because no one looks like they know what they’re doing.

And yet it’s the perfect representation of humanity’s desire to move.  It demonstrates that we weren’t meant to sit in cubicles or melt into couches five hours a day or commute to work for twenty years.  It’s a part of me I’ve actively tried to smother, to say, “Listen here, pre-industrial-revolution-evolutionary-biology, you don’t need to move.  You don’t have to get up.  Just sit down and let Netflix take dictate the next three hours.  Also, pass the popcorn.”

But even I, a man who carefully partitions out his schedule with items titled “Relax,” was coaxed into exercising.  A few years back, there was an opening on a team for the Wild Rogue Relay.  I felt reluctantly obligated because everyone kept telling me how good I was going to be at it.   And being a true, selfish millennial I thought, “Well, gee, I wouldn’t mind spending a weekend receiving compliments on my natural athleticism.”

So I opened my closet, quite literally dusted off my $20 New Balance tennis shoes I bought on sale at Costco three years prior, and went on a run.  We ran three miles that first time.  And I did pretty good.  I rewarded myself with a Blue Cheese and Bacon Burger with a side of fries and three fingers of Whiskey. I know, I’m channeling that insufferable friend of mine.  There’s a special place in hell for people like me.

This is the part of running stories where it usually diverges.  In one camp, there are those who instantly fall in love with it.  They love the pain, they love the suffering, they love pushing themselves and seeing how far they can go.  And they don’t stop.  They keep going and going, increasing their mileage and their speed until they’ve gone too far.  We call them Ultra runners, but really they should be named Stop-you’re-making-me-look-bad runners.  They enter into crazy things, like 50 milers and 100 milers – spans of distance most people wouldn’t want to hop in a car and drive, because it takes too long.  This is where my theory of masochism enters.

We’re smiling because this is after we’ve had (several) beers.

And then there are those who never really fall in love with it.  These are my people.  We look at running like the DMV or foot-corn pumice stones: disgusting, but a necessity in modern day society.

I’ve never felt what’s called the “Runner’s High.”  I don’t know if my tolerance is too high, or if it’s things like joint pain, exhaustion, and side aches getting in the way.  People like me can’t enjoy the run because according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we’re stuck at the bottom of the pyramid: we’re in pain.

So it’s weird that I’d not only run in something like the Wild Rogue Relay, but I’d do it without a threat to my being or a family member held hostage.  Even more odd, The Wild Rogue Relay is something I look forward to every year.

Don’t tell my friends, and certainly don’t tell my teammates (I have a reputation to uphold), but there’s something to be said about willing yourself to do something difficult.  Running 21 miles over the course of a weekend is no easy feat, especially when one only spends four weeks preparing for that run.  At some point during my legs, usually between the first and last mile, I hate everything.  I hate the music I’m listening to.    I hate the heat.  I hate my life and I hate my legs. I hate running.  And I hate myself for signing off a weekend away—one that could be spent drinking beer and relaxing—so I could run 21 miles.

But when I see the finish line, a part of me stirs to life.  It’s that piece of my humanity that knows I have to stop being sedentary.  It’s that portion that hates cubicles, that despises commuting every day, detests the social media lifestyle our world has become.  I come to life, a smile on my face, in part because I’m almost done, but also because it feels good to accomplish something.

Best of all it’s the faces that greet me that fill me with joy.  My friends and teammates cheer me in; they lie to me and say, “You look great” and “Wow, a 12 minute mile? That was quick,” and “You look so relaxed.”  They hand me my things: my coconut water, my banana, and my chocolate bar.  Small bits of pleasure that keep me running.

I sit in the back of the truck or van with the window down, usually my legs are shaking and I’m still out of breath.  But I feel good, certainly not high, but good.  Even if only for that moment—that infinitesimal amount of time where I rehydrate and catch my breath—I feel more alive, and I don’t really mind that my weekend isn’t filled with relaxation practices and the whole thing doesn’t seem as silly to me anymore.

And, really, that’s what it’s all about.  It’s about saying, “No thank you” to the smothering language of our society that says, “Sit down.  Stop moving.  Relax.  You’ve earned it.”

Because moving is in our biology.  It’s in our DNA.  Moving is what makes us what we are, and if deny it, we deny our humanity.  And that would just be silly.

Our Top Picks for Medford Beer Week 2017

It’s like Christmas, but with beer and in June, and only in the Rogue Valley! Medford Beer Week is an annual Southern Oregon-wide celebration of our awesome region’s contributions to the craft beer world. Not only do we have world-class beers being brewed locally and regionally, we’re also home to top-notch establishments – both restaurants and bars – that understand the importance of quality beer and the food served alongside it.

For the celebration, June 1st-10th, we’ve teamed up with Climate City Brewing Co. in Grants Pass for a collaboration beer – Slow Row Single Hop Amber. This brew is made with smooth and floral Azacca hops and Mecca Grade malts, and you can come get a taste starting this Thursday, June 1st to kick off the celebration week!

 

Here are our top 5 picks for things to do during Medford Beer Week 2017:

 

Brews, Burgers & Bluegrass | Saturday, June 3rd | RoxyAnn Winery

This family-friendly, fundraising event includes more than a dozen breweries, five foot-tapping bluegrass bands, delicious BBQ, home brew classes, and kid’s activities all at RoxyAnn Winery. Ticket outlet and online sales at roguebbb.org

6th Annual Kickball Tournament | Saturday, June 3rd | The Schoolhaus Brewhaus, Jacksonville

Teams compete in a double elimination bracket for the coveted Deschutes Kickball Trophy (and of course bragging rights!). $50 per team, minimum 8 players fielded (teams are co-ed, 21+ only on the field – minors welcome in the audience). Sign up at info@theschoolhaus.com

Cornhole Tournament | Thursday, June 8th | Middleford Alley, Medford

Get your team together, and come downtown on Thursday night to try your hand at the Ninkasi and Summit Cornhole Tournament. Sign-ups and beer garden open at 5pm, and live music with Beth Henderson & Blowin Smoke starts at 6pm. Cornhole until 9pm, with prizes for the top three teams.

2nd Annual Hearts and Hops Food Truck and Brewery Competition | Friday, June 9th | The Medford Commons

Join your favorite food trucks as they compete for the “Best Pairing” with local craft beer offerings. Enjoy music by The Rogue Suspects and sample tons of specialty brews all evening long. 100% of the proceeds go toward community-based organizations dedicated to the elimination of domestic violence. For more information and tickets visit www.heartsandhops.com

9th Annual Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival | Saturday, June 10th | The Medford Commons

This is the mac-daddy finale of Medford Beer Week! With over 60 beers to sample, the Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival is a “must attend” for Beer Week lovers. $20 gets you a commemorative pint glass and eight tasting tickets, with additional tasting tickets available for 5 for $5, or 12 for $10. Finish your week at Southern Oregon’s only beer-centric beer festival. Pre-sale tickets available at Beerworks Medford and Beerworks Jacksonville for $16.

 

Don’t forget to come by for the newest Common Block/Climate City beer on tap, Slow Row Single Hop Amber. It’s got a medium body, malty mouthfeel and light hoppy finish – we’re thrilled with how this beer came out! We feel ridiculously lucky to live, work and brew in this awesome place, and can’t wait to celebrate with everyone during Medford Beer Week 2017,

 

 

 

 

 

New Beer on the Block: Common Ground Collaboration Northeast IPA

There are so many things we love about the beer industry. Mainly, it’s the beer. But it’s also absolutely the people. Folks in the beer industry, in general, are super fun, helpful, and creative – we all love to brainstorm about a good brew or celebratory event with a beer in hand.

We’re lucky to have partnered with one such awesome group of people at Wildcard Brewing Co. in Redding, CA, where we’ve brewed our latest beer – a collaboration Northeast-style India Pale Ale. Our brewers put their heads together to create this recipe that has us begging for a cold glass on a hot day. Here are all the specs on the new Common Ground Northeast IPA:

About Common Ground Northeast IPA

6.9% ABV

44 IBU

Malts

  • 2-row malt
  • red & white wheat malts
  • crystal malt
  • rolled oats

Hops

  • Columbus
  • Centennial
  • Mosaic
  • Waimea

From the brewer

“Common Ground has a juicy, tropical aroma and flavor that comes from the
use of Centennial, Mosaic, Waimea hops and a unique fruity yeast strain; a
soft mouthfeel from the wheat malt and rolled oats; a less bitter hop taste
than a West Coast IPA; and a hazy unfiltered appearance.”

Take food with your beer? We recommend pairing Common Ground Northeast IPA with the Brussels Sprouts, Kale & Pear Salad (with bacon and blue cheese), Fish & Chips, Truffle Sea Salt Chicken Breast, or the Herbivore Burger.

This brew marks our fifth Common Block beer on tap, alongside a dozen other awesome beers from all over the region. Stay tuned for our next specialty beer (another collaboration) in June to celebrate Medford Beer Week. Cheers!

 

May is the Month to Hop On Your Bike!

 

May is National Bike Month, making it the ideal time to pedal, walk, bus or carpool around town from Point A to Point B. It’s also the month for joining two statewide and local challenges: The Street Trust’s Bike More Challenge encourages individuals and workplaces throughout Oregon to compete for most miles and trips biked during the month of May. The Rogue Commute Challenge by the Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) pits local workplaces on a leaderboard to see which organization can log the most collective alternative transportation trips. Both are awesome reasons to try new ways to get where you need to be!

 

About the Bike More Challenge

 

The Challenge is a state-wide, month-long friendly competition between workplaces to see who can get the greatest percentage of employees to log the most trips on their bike. Ride your bike to work, the grocery store, or for fun and log all of your trips at bikemorechallenge.com! At the end they tally the results, give out awards in different categories of company size and sector, and celebrate everyone’s hard work and commitment for the month.

 

About the Rogue Commute Challenge

 

The Rogue Commute Challenge allows workplaces to team together and compete against other local workplace teams to see who can log more walking, biking, carpooling, transit, or telecommute trips and earn glory by being named King of the Rogue Commuters! This fun competition is a great way to learn more about commuting options, earn prizes, get healthy, reduce our carbon footprint and build camaraderie while competing to have your workplace win the Challenge! It’s all about fun, building teamwork, and learning about the commute options available in the Rogue Valley.

 

If you haven’t already, you can still sign up for the Bike More Challenge, as well as enjoy all the local events associated with RVTD’s Go By Bike Week, May 15-19. Register for the bike skills class, join group rides with free snacks and schwag, visit a breakfast station, and sign up for the Grow a Pear Run, Walk, or Bike 5K.

 

And if you find yourself biking in downtown Medford, feel free to use our community bike racks! We’ve got plenty of room for all, and then come inside and grab a beer because, dangit, you deserve it! Our team of Common Blockers will be cruising on bikes and busses logging points, too (we have coworkers biking from Ashland, Talent, Phoenix and Eagle Point!), so please cheer them on if you see their blue shirts commuting around the valley.