Common Block Women of the Outdoors

In celebration of tomorrow’s Force of Nature Film Night at Common Block — Thursday, July 25th at 8pm — we want to feature some of our own rockstar women of the outdoors. These are folks on our team who run, pedal, paddle, climb, shred and otherwise have a blast outdoors, in and around Southern Oregon. These are our own personal heroes, cheerleaders, and change makers — people we work with everyday who also have a blast making our local hills, trails, lakes and rivers their outdoor playing field.

To all the women on our team who rock doin’ their thing (and doin’ it well), we salute you!

 

Carla

Day Job: Server

Favorite outdoor activities: Trail running, backpacking, mountain biking, jumping into mountain lakes (in the summer!), car camping with an ice chest loaded with delicious food and drinks, and most of all…backcountry skiing.

Favorite post-activity beverage: After I get done with a long day adventuring outdoors, nothing satisfies quite like a Steep Slope Hazy IPA. Go figure!

 

 

Abby

Day Job: Server and Bartender

Favorite outdoor activities: I love getting off the beaten path with my two favorite gals, Brittney and Joey “the dog.”

Favorite post-activity beverage: Fiery Mule and the Deep Down Double IPA. And water, lots of water.

 

 

Ashley

Day Job: Graphic Designer

Favorite outdoor activities: My favorite outdoor activity these days is hiking new trails in new places with my family and spending time taking in all of the scenery! I love that no matter where you are, if there’s a trail nearby, there’s a new experience just waiting to be had!

Favorite post-activity beverage: After a hike we love to head to a nearby winery or brewery for a snack and liquid reward!

 

 

Gina

Day Job: Bar Manager and House Manager

Favorite outdoor activities: Nothing beats a morning of backside bluebird powder laps with friends!! Yes please!

Favorite post-activity beverage: Earn your turns, earn your post-workout libations! You can find me sipping me favorite combo, Rogue Runner IPA with a little bourbon on the rocks to boot 😉

 

 

Rachel 

Day Job: Marketing and Events

Favorite outdoor activities: Running, camping, lake swimming, rafting, biking and burying her kids in the sand.

Favorite post-activity beverage: Kombucha and a Common Block Rogue Runner IPA

 

 

Danielle

Day Job: HR, Host, House Manager, Team Mom

Favorite outdoor activities: Cross country skiing, running (a nice mix of trails and roads), anything on the water but not in the water (I’m always cold!), and riding my bike.

Favorite post-activity beverage: CBBC Pale Ale

 

 

Alecia

Day Job: Server, Host and (now!) Registered Nurse

Favorite outdoor activities: Experiencing the stillness of the outdoors is essential for my wellbeing. The stress of a busy life doesn’t stand a chance against my favorite outdoor activities: trail running, gardening, backcountry skiing, and mountain biking.

Favorite post-activity beverage: Old Fashioned or Steep Slope Hazy IPA

 

 

Jamie 

Day Job: Server, Bartender, House Manager, Line Cook (she does it all!)

Favorite outdoor activities: I have an amazing time pushing myself to do things I never thought I’d be able to do. From climbing to the top of Pilot Rock, to biking 30K in the Siskiyou Challenge, to running 220 miles to the coast with my teammates in the Wild Rogue Relay, I have squashed those voices telling me what I can’t accomplish!

Favorite post-activity beverage: Rogue Runner IPA is optimal for post-adventure, victory beer drinking!

 

Wild Rogue Relay 2019: Photo Recap

We ran, we cheered, we danced deliriously at 4am…another typical year at the Wild Rogue Relay! Team Common Block Rogue Runners traversed 220 miles from Applegate Lake to Brookings last weekend, 100% powered by their own legs (and beer). This was our seventh year running the race with friends and coworkers, and we’re here to tell you it’s one of the highlights of our year.

A bit about The Wild Rogue Relay…

It starts with packet pickup at Common Block, where we give racers a free pre-race beer to calm their nerves and hopefully slow them down so we can pass them on the course. Nah, who are we kidding? We’re enjoying our own pre-race beverages, too.

The starting line at Applegate Lake is stunning (even if you’re still half-asleep at 6am), and then it only gets more beautiful as the course winds around wineries, trails and the Rogue River. Around 8pm, runners head up into the mountains and run all night. In the dark. In the woods. In costumes (some of them).

Then, at the crack of dawn on Saturday, runners start the trek down from the Coast Range and meander back along the Rogue River, popping out at the Pacific Ocean in Gold Beach.

But wait, the race isn’t done! No, no, no. There are still beaches, roads and trails to run (including our favorite leg of the relay – The Clown Puncher), until the finish line at Azalea Park in Brookings. There, all teams finally converge and share stories of killer hills, shoe-sucking sand, gravelly trips and brushes with sun-stroke. We bond over our collective trauma, thank others for their support during the course, clink our finish line beers together, and then talk about signing up again for next year.

We love this race, and you can absolutely plan on seeing us on the course next year. We’re addicted, in the best way. Until then, we want to thank the organizers, volunteers, racers and supporters along the relay for another amazing year! See everyone in 2020!

 

Thanks for Joining Us at Bales & Ales!

We had a toe-tappin’, pumpkin-carvin’, corhole-throwin’ good time last Sunday at Bales & Ales at Common Block, and want to thank everyone who joined us throughout the day! You all carved nearly 200 pumpkins, and we loved seeing the sweet, scary, silly and spooky jack-o-lanterns from kids and adults alike. Seeing families hanging out on hay bales warmed our hearts (and the Bale Bucker Harvest Ale warmed the rest of us!).

Tunes from DK Jazz Duo and The Brother’s Reed were fantastic, and we so loved the live music in the sunshine. A huge thank you to both groups for joining us and keeping the outdoors fall-time spirit alive! And we were so happy Pint Rider spent the day with us, too. Nothing like a beer bike in the sunshine to remind us why we love downtown Medford.

We want to share some photos from throughout the day, because y’all are just so darn cute. And — wow — we were lucky to have some amazing Southern Oregon autumn weather. We loved getting everyone together to share good food, beer and company, and we can’t wait to do it again next October!

Open Thanksgiving Day at Common Block

Love beer with your turkey? We invite you to join us for Thanksgiving Day at Common Block!

Because we just can’t bear to be away from our beer for the holiday, we are open all day with a special three-course Thanksgiving dinner with all the traditional fixings ($30 per person). We’ll also have a limited menu available, with beer, wine, cider and hot drinks (you know, the important things) to pair with your holiday meal. So whether you’re hungry for a full Thanksgiving feast or simply want to grab a snack with friends in town, we’re here 11am-8pm to serve you and say thanks for being a part of Common Block’s first year open!

Here’s what’s on the menu for the big day:thanksgiving restaurant menu

 

And just for the holiday, we’re taking reservations for parties of all sizes! Whether you’re a group of two or twenty, you can make your reservation by calling us at (541) 326-2277 or emailing us at info@commonblockbrewing.com. Let us know how many people you have in your party and what time you’d like to come in, and we’ll set aside a table with your name on it.

We look forward to serving you on Thanksgiving Day and throughout the holiday season, and we’re so thankful for all of our wonderful customers who have made this first year of being open so fulfilling! We’re excited to spend the day with our favorite comfort foods, yummy drinks, and good friends, both old and new.

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.

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.

Beer History: India Pale Ale

We invite you to sit back with a cold one and enjoy a guest post by bartender, history major and story-teller extraordinaire: the one, the only, Nick Blakeslee.

There are many different styles of beer in the world.  Beer Advocate puts the number around 104, but styles are constantly being invented or improved upon, mixed or matched, tweaked or tailored.  Once upon a time, there were only a handful of selections: stouts, porters, pale ales and the like.   But where did those staples come from?  Great question, hypothetical inner monologue that brings up the perfect questions exactly when I need them.  Today we’re going to talk about a beer that has become a staple for breweries all over America for the past decade: the India Pale Ale – or as you probably know it, the IPA.

The IPA is a relatively new ale, one that’s only graced bars, saloons, restaurants, tap houses and my weird teacher’s secret cache, since around the turn of the 18th century, making it one of the newest ales brewed to date, considering beer has been consumed for the past several thousand years or so.

Now, before we get started, like many things in history it’s hard to say which story is true – which is legend and which is just a bold-faced lie. Humans are OK at record keeping, but they’re even better at telling stories. We have the uncanny ability to embellish, over-exaggerate or just straight make things up: for example, my uncle thinks he’s a good fisherman.

Artist’s rendition of what Billy McSchnockered might have looked like.

Which is where our friend, the IPA comes in.  In our research, we found that there’s no agreed upon origin story of the IPA.  There’s no clear document that says in bold typeface, “THE IPA WAS CREATED BY BILLY McSCHOCKERED, THE TOWN DRUNK OF LONDON IN 1821.”  Instead, like much of history, we have to piece together bits of a story—some truth, others fiction—in order to find the semblance of what really happened.

So we’ll start with a disclaimer: there’s no 100% agreed upon origin story of the IPA.  That said, there is one that highlights the most common history told of the IPA; a story that provides at least a bit of insight, as to how the iconic beer may have gotten its name.  It involves soldiers far away from home, an overreaching brewer and colonial England.

At the time of the IPA’s creation, pale ales were very popular in England.  Often floral, a milder flavor than the stout and porters, this beer was enjoyed year-round, but especially in the summer time in England—a season lasting about four days.

Though recently losing the thirteen territories, England was nearing the height of its empire – it spanned from Europe, to the Americas, to Africa, Australia and India.  Being a large empire means having a lot of peacekeepers, which is just a fancy way of saying, “people with guns.”  The Royal Navy was at its zenith, and it held the trophy for largest naval force since the sinking of the Spanish Armada in the late 16th century.  Having the largest navy meant England was able to plant loads of flags all over the world to claim territories for queen and country (kind of like a kid at a dessert buffet sticking his finger in every cake to claim them for himself).  Wealth, power and commerce flowed freely into the hands of England.  This tiny country had all the things it’d need to become the largest empire in the world and eventually hold sway over a quarter of the world’s population.

And this large population needed food and drink…and beer.  British soldiers were actually given a beer ration, because beer is a great way to keep people happy (especially those very far away from home).  India was a relatively new territory for England (who showed up early in the 17th century), and supplies were sent from all over for their soldiers, but one thing could never quite make it: a nice pale ale.

Route from England to India, before the construction of the Suez Canal.

Because here’s the deal with pale ales: they’re delicate, temperamental and arguably weak in constitution (basically me in middle school… and high school…and now.).  It was much too hot to brew a pale ale in India (remember: no refrigerators) meaning the beer would need to be imported from England.  But the delicate beer couldn’t make it; merchants had to go around the tip of South Africa (the Suez Canal wasn’t constructed until 1869), meaning the trip would take six months by ship, one way.  Ales only take 2-4 weeks to brew, so the beer would be sitting in barrels for 5 months.  That, compounded with dangerous seas and mankind’s uncanny ability to reason their way into drinking someone else’s beer, meant that the ales never survived the trip.

Porters and stouts could last the voyage – the heartier beverage is naturally more resilient, due to many things (like its color, inherent ingredients and abv.).  But having a porter on a hot 115 degree day isn’t exactly what many would call refreshing.

English soldiers wanted beer, specifically refreshing English beer.  So a London brewer by the name of George Hodgson took up the case.  They decided to prolong the life of the beer by changing one simple thing: adding freshly picked hops, and lots of them.  The increase in hops elongated the brewing process while also bittering the beverage and increasing the alcohol content.  This allowed the more delicate pale ale to be resilient to natural beer-destroying things like bacteria.  He called it the “October Beer.”  Rumor has it that Hodgson steeped the first test brew in a tea kettle, though that can’t be confirmed as a fact or simply a legend.

His idea for including more hops originally came from barley wine, a style of beer rich in both color and alcohol content that used just-picked hops for the brewing process. These beers lasted years, and sometimes lords and ladies would brew a batch for a newly born child and tap it once that child turned 18.

Using this method of brewing—incorporating fresh hops and plenty of them—Hodgson sent off his first batch of beer late in 1821.  That first shipment showed up on the shores of India in January of 1822.  It was a historical event even then, “Hodgson’s warranted prime picked ale of the genuine October brewing. Fully equal, if not superior, to any ever before received in the settlement.”

For a time Hodgson and his sons had a monopoly on the beer style, being the only brewery that made and shipped this style beer to India. They also let merchants pay for their beer shipments after reaching India and returning, meaning merchants were more inclined to take his goods because they could pay him after they’d seen a profit and made the voyage back.  But after overreaching for a price deal, other breweries threw their hats into the ring.  Burton-on-Trent and Bass breweries both created a similar style of ale and thus the style of beer was popularized.  That said, Burton-on-Trent was the first to designate it by its modern name: the India Pale Ale, or IPA for short.  Before long, it found its way back to Europe and became another popular style alongside porters, stouts, pales, and the like.

And that’s where things begin to differentiate.  Some sources say an IPA style beer had been brewed in England for decades prior to Hodgson ever conceiving the idea.  Others say Hodgson wasn’t even the first one to send it off to India.

Whatever the origin is, there is truth to Hodgson’s creation of his beer.  It happened.  It was sent.  It was loved by the British Peace Keepers.  He just may not have been the first, but it was certainly the most romantic of them all; and if history has taught us anything, it’s that we humans love a good story, even if it’s a bit exaggerated.  We like the idea of this beloved beer having a romantic origin story: of being created in a small kitchen, in something as iconic to British culture as a tea kettle, and sent off to imbibe soldiers in a faraway land.  That sounds a lot nicer than, “It just kind of showed up, no one really knows.”

Since then, the IPA has become a staple for breweries to have on tap.  Frankly, we love it.  It’s a beer that goes great with any season, and its relative flexibility means there’s a style of IPA for everyone: a Ruby Grapefruit IPA from Wildcard brewery in Redding for some summertime citrus, or perhaps Ninkasi’s Tricerihops for the masochists out there that love their beer to taste like the Dead Sea.

And that’s all I’ve got on the IPA.  Look at that.  You learned something today.  Feel free to gloat about it and be that person at the dinner table that shares a bordering-inane piece of triva.  Better yet, appreciate the men and women before us who made it possible for us to enjoy such a delicious beverage.

A Brief History with Beer

April is beer history month.  You’ve probably never heard that because it’s not actually a thing.  UNTIL NOW.  We’ve made it beer history month for a few reasons:

  1. No one claimed April.
  2. We love beer. Duh.
  3. Nick wanted to prove his degree in History wasn’t completely useless. (see, Dad?)

We want to start things off with a little bit about people in beer history. For example, did you know that John Adams loved beer?  All alcohol, actually.  So much so he tried to use his diplomatic immunity with France to try and smuggle in 500 bottles of French Bordeaux duty free.  When that didn’t work, he just made his friend Thomas Jefferson and his connections do it for him.  Those founding fathers hated taxes.

But John Adams wasn’t the only one; far from it.  Check out our five picks for people in history who loved beer!

  1. Benjamin Franklin. Founding father, professional partier, often misquoted.

Appears both on the $100 bill and upset.

“Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Actually, the quote goes, “…wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves us to be happy.”  Perhaps one of the more misquoted men in history about beer.  That said, we don’t think Ben would really be upset with the change in vocab; the guy liked to have a good time.  We get the gist of what you’re saying, Ben: you like to imbibe and FRANKly (get it?), we don’t blame you.  Benjamin Franklin was known to party, known for his relations with loose women and also, you know, helped start America or whatever.  He was never one to shy away from having a good time, especially if spirits were involved. Some people call him America’s Winston Churchill – a man always quick with a retort, often at the opposing party’s expense.

He enjoyed imbibing spirits so much, he published The Drinker’s Dictionary.  A list of 228 “Round about ways” to describe drunkenness.  Seriously.

Our three favorites are: Sir Richard has taken off his Considering Cap, Nimptopsical, and As Dizzy as a Goose.

Call us crazy, but something tells us personal experience might have played into coming up with some of those names.

  1. Peter the Great. He’s pretty great. Also, Czar of Russia.

    A completely undoctored painting of Peter the great balancing his favorite beer with his favorite sword.

“Destiny may ride with us today, but there is no reason for it to interfere with lunch.”

Peter the Great was pretty great, but don’t take our word for it, just read the guy’s business card.  Like a proper royal, he was a fan of food and alcohol.  His beer of choice was Stout; an ale he first fell in love with when visiting England in the late 17th century.  He requested some be shipped to Russia for him to enjoy in his imperial courts, but when the beer got there it had spoiled.  The Barclay Brewery in London came up with an idea to increase the shelf life of the beer: increase the alcohol content and hops used in the beer.  Making it one of the first high abv. stouts to date.   Since the beer was enjoyed in Peter’s imperial court, it became known as the Imperial Stout.  The name is regal, so really it makes sense that it stuck.

150 years later, Catherine the Great (also a great person) would enjoy the same beer.  So much, in fact, she’d get special Imperial Stout imported much like Peter before; the beers supplied were brewed to last “as long as seven years.”  But somehow we doubt they made it that long; they just taste so darn good.  Those Russians know how to drink.

  1. Dionysus, God of Wine and Beer.

    “Who the eff put wine in my beer goblet?!” -Dionysus. Probably.

“I love booze.” – Dionysus. Probably.

What else can we say about this dude?  The guy was the Greek God intoxication, does he really need more of an explanation?  He was into being happy and partying, and even showed up in politics a few times.  So, in a way, he was a lot like Benjamin Franklin.

  1. Ernest Hemingway Professional Drinker with a Writing Problem

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.  That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

This one might be cheating.  Saying a writer enjoyed alcohol is kind of like suggesting Bob Marley enjoyed Cannabis.  They really go hand in hand.  What do you get when you combine a drunk with the ability to write?  A lot of great quotes about beer.  Seriously, the guy has dozens of them.

Like: “I drink to make other people interesting.” And “An intelligent man is often times forced to be drunk to spend time with fools.”

He liked to insult people, that’s for sure.

Ernest Hemingway was a man who enjoyed all spirits, beer included.  His drinks of choice usually centered around cocktails—extra dry martinis especially—but the Ballantine Ale was his favorite.  At least, according to an ad he appeared in where he talks about the best thing to do after catching a big marlin (something we can all relate to):

“…You are tired all the way through. The fish is landed untouched by sharks and you have a bottle of Ballantine cold in your hand and drink it cool, light, and full-bodied, so it tastes good long after you have swallowed it. That’s the test of an ale with me: whether it tastes as good afterwards as when it’s going down. Ballantine does.”

OK, the money he got (and rumored free beer for life) might have had more influence than the actual flavor, but we appreciate him gentrifying the beer culture.  Arguably one of America’s founding fathers of writing, it’s no wonder he’s made this list.  His works include For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea.

  1. George Washington Beer lover and all around nice guy.  Oh, and the first president of the United States of America.

“I use no Porter or cheese in my family, but such as is made in America.”

Shop local, folks.

Washington’s Distillery.

There’s been debate about how our first president felt about alcohol in general.  Certainly in all of his speeches (especially to his troops), he speaks ill of imbibing spirits:

“An aching head and trembling limbs which are the inevitable effects of drinking, disincline the hands from work; hence begins sloth and that listlessness which ends in idleness.”

But actions speak louder than words (he did admit to chopping down that cherry tree, after all).  Washington was the first president of the United States to start a distillery.  And it was no small time operation, either.  By 1799, Washington’s distillery barreled 11,000 gallons alone.  And during his presidency he spent an estimated 7% of his income on alcohol.

And what about beer?   He loved beer so much he became a regular customer with brewer Robert Hare and had dozens of cases of Porter sent to his offices during his presidency.  He even had that Porter sent ahead of him when taking a small vacation to his estate in Virginia.  In multiple letters, he described the beer as the “best Porter in Philadelphia.”

But his beer love didn’t stop there.  Our first president was a brewer. In his journal, he wrote down a recipe for small beer; an alcoholic beverage that didn’t exceed .75% that was meant for everyone.  Including the children.  Yes, children.  The 18th century was a different time.

The best part about Washington?  During a farewell party his troops threw for him before the signing of the constitution, he and his men accrued a tab over $15,000.  Which included 54 bottles of wine, 36 bottles of beer (including his favorite: Porter), and seven “Large bowls of spiked punch.” The guy knew how to throw a sendoff, that’s for sure.

 

Who knew history was so rich with beer?  The beverage has been a centerpiece for enjoyment in humanity for a very long time.  Some potteries indicate its consumption from as far back as 3,500 BC.  It’s no wonder there’s been some important people that have enjoyed a good ale every now and then.  And who knows, maybe one of you will be the next person in history who loved beer.

If you are, just make sure to use Common Block Brewing by name, so the future beer lovers of the world know where the good stuff was.

An April 1st R&D Update

It’s been a while since we checked in with our Research and Development Department.  Mostly because our R&D is located in the deep catacombs that run beneath the Hydronic Heating system of our restaurant.  To be honest, we forgot about them down there.  Well, Nick did.  He can be forgetful.  The good news is they have health insurance and are being treated by the doctors, so we’re hoping for a speedy recovery.

While we weren’t able to save all of their fingers, we DID get a hold of all the wonderful things they’ve been researching.  Frankly, we think the sacrifice was worth it, and we hope their lawyers feel the same.  Speaking of sacrifice, doesn’t it totally suck that you can’t have beer all the time?

Like, if you’ve ever been at work and thought to yourself, “Man, I could really use a beer right now.” Especially when it comes to paperwork.  Who hasn’t, right?  We’ve got some good news for you!  Common Block Brewing is happy to announce our newest merchandise item: Beer Flavored Post-it Notes.  I know, I know, we’re brilliant.  Now, whenever filing something or leaving a note for someone, you can choose that special flavor that’s perfect for the occasion.

Want to tell someone they did a great job and you think they’re sweet?  Go with the Chocolate Porter Post-it!  There’s nothing quite as good as getting a compliment and then being able to eat it.  That’s decadence as far as we’re concerned.

Leaving a note to remind Debbie that she needs to stop eating your clearly labeled tuna salad in the fridge?  Why not choose the IPA Post-it note to match the bitterness in your heart.   It’s called a bag lunch, Debbie.

Need to remember a bachelorette party?  Why not write it on our Blueberry Hangover Gose flavored Post-it?  It’s a little like pregaming.

 

Our team is also working on some Common Block Brewing Beer Goggles.  Perfect for weddings, blind dates or settling.

But our changes don’t stop there.  Taco eaters will be happy to hear that we’ll be serving all you can eat tacos between 4:45am and 5:03am on Tuesdays, 3:17am to 4:01am on Wednesdays and every 6th Sunday from 10am to 5pm during the month of Octember.  Whoa!  So cool.  Our chef is never happy about giving things away, but we feel like he’s wrong and we’re right.  Also we have the login information for Facebook where we post all of our special menus, so generally things go our way.  Also he doesn’t know  yet.

Photo of our vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free Flank Steak served with our current gluten free, nonalcoholic beer option.

Where were we?  Oh yes!  Menu changes. Don’t worry about your favorite food item getting the ax because we’re keeping everything on the menu the same, with one exception: we’re going to be modifying our Flank Steak (served with buttered mash and beer marinated vegetables) to allow for a Dairy free/Gluten free/Vegan option. (See photo >)

Finally, we’ll be drawing checks at random every week to give our customers some GREAT giveaways.  We don’t want to spoil all of the surprises, but the raffle prizes will include things like 99¢ Dollar Store Gift Cards, DISCOUNTED Blockbuster Memberships and a lifetime supply of toothpicks**. WOW! Those are some enticing prizes.

That’s all we’ve got for now!  But keep an eye out for future announcements.  We can’t give you all the details, but we will say this:

Post-it note flavored beer.

 

**Lifetime supply calculated using data from the American Dental Association study on toothpick consumption with denture dependent patients.