Friday, August 1, 2014

A Festive Time of the Year

As usual for Alaska, the summer is flying by. Hard to believe it's August already. At least that means dipnetting is finished for the year; the hordes can return to Los Anchorage and leave us hicks down here on the Kenai to rusticate in peace...

The good news about it being August is that we are now in the heart of the beer festival season in Alaska. First off, 49th State's Augtoberfest starts today in Healy. I have yet to attend this fest (next year, for sure!), but everything I've seen and hear tells me it's a fantastic time.

The brewery is offering special Bavarian-style food for the fest: Roasted Duck (duck braised in apple juice, fresh apples and white wine served with dumplings and red cabbage), Smoked Pork Chop (served with Bavarian sauerkraut, German potato salad, house-made dumplings and stone ground mustard), Smoked Trout Skewers (an Alaskan twist of the traditional "Bismarkhering", this is trout marinated in brine with blackening and pickling spices, then smoked on a stick), and Baked King Salmon (Alaskan King Salmon baked with German mustard and carmelized onions, then served with spaetzle).

For beers, besides their numerous regular offerings, look for Augtoberfest (their take on the traditional Oktoberfest brew, a 5.6% ABV, 26 IBU malt forward lager), Bulliner Weisse (in the style of a Berliner Weisse, this tart and refreshing wheat beer comes in at 3.7% ABV, 5 IBUs), Grizzly Bear (a classic Munich Dark Lager, 5.4% ABV, 26 IBUs), and Hibernator (a 7.9% ABV, 20 IBU doppelbock).  Toss in some great music and you've got the recipe for a fantastic time.

As I said, I won't make it to this year's fest, but look for me there next year for sure!

An event I will be attending will be the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America Event at Humpy's Alaskan Alehouse on Thursday, August 7th. For those of you who haven't heard about Beer Camp Across America, Sierra Nevada has been celebrating the opening of their new brewery in North Carolina by brewing collaboration beers with some of the best craft breweries in the US. Those beers have now been released in bottles and at various events across the country. Next Thursday's event is your chance to sample them all in one place.  What are the brews you ask?  Here's the list:

Yvan the Great – Belgian-Style Blonde (Russian River)
Canfusion Rye Bock (Oskar Blues)
Myron’s Walk – Belgian Style Pale Ale (Allagash Brewing)
Alt Route – Altbier (Victory Brewing)
Electric Ray – India Pale Lager (Ballast Point)
Chico King Pale Ale (3 Floyds)
Torpedo Pilsner (Firestone Walker)
Yonder Bock – Tropical Maibock (Cigar City Brewing)
Double Latte – Coffee Milk Stout (Ninkasi Brewing)
There and Back – English Style Bitter (New Glarus Brewing)
Maillard’s Odyssey – Imperial Dark Ale (Bell’s Brewery)
Tater Ridge – Scottish Ale (Asheville Brewer’s Alliance)

Click to enlarge

The event at Humpy's kicks off at 7 PM. There will be a tap takeover of sorts along with special pours of all the beers. The cost is $20 per person, first come, first serve, and will feature 3 oz. pours of each beer, served in three flights of four beer each. Leading the discussion of the brews as joint Masters of Ceremony will be Jim "Dr. Fermento" Roberts and yours truly. So if you'd like to sit down and sample all of these exceptional brews at once, this is your chance.

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Down here on the Kenai. the 4th Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival is happening next Saturday, August 9th, from 5 to 10 pm, at the Soldotna Sports Center. I've been writing about this for several of my last blogs, so this should come as no surprise, but there are a couple of new pieces of news. First off, HooDoo Brewing from Fairbanks has confirmed they will be attending, bringing the total number of breweries represented to nineteen! HooDoo's excellent brews seldom make it out of Fairbanks, so if you want to sample them here on the Peninsula, don't miss your chance. Also, all five of the breweries on the Peninsula (our three locals plus Homer Brewing and Seward Brewing Company) will be on offer.  This is the first time all of them have been at the same festival together.

The Fest is also looking for folks with a TAMS card to help pour beers for some of the out-of-town breweries. If you are qualified and interested, I think this is your chance to get in for free! Send a message via the festival's Facebook page (click here) if you are interested. If you are going to have to pay full freight, tickets are on sale for $30 each at St. Elias Brewing, Kenai River Brewing, and Kassik's Brewery.  Or you can buy them online via the Festival's website.

In other beer news, I received the following press release from Darcy Kniefel at Midnight Sun Brewing Company:

Midnight Sun Brewing Company, MDA of Alaska and the Firefighters are teaming up to FILL THE BOOT! On August 17th the brewery will be invaded by Firefighters who will assist in brewing the first ever batch of DAS BOOT. The beer is being designed by Midnight Sun Brewer Davey Cacey, and will be a "sessionable" pale ale. At least as sessionable as we can get. The beer will be released on Thursday, August 28th, the day before the Anchorage Fire Fighters do their annual Fill the Boot Fundraiser for MDA.

To celebrate the release, The Loft at Midnight Sun Brewing Company will have, for the first time ever, traditional German Beer Boots for purchase. The boots will be a "one and done", weighing in at 36ounces of foamy love and will travel home with their purchasers, once they have been drained. There will be a very limited supply of the boots, so if you would like to be a part of this, come early! A portion of the proceeds from the boots as well as from the beer sales will go to MDA to support their efforts in finding a cure for muscular dystrophy.

As the release party also falls on a Thursday night, which is Tour Night at Midnight Sun, we will have our traditional FREE Brewery tour starting at 6:00 and we will include a tour of a fire truck which will be on sight for the night. The Firefighters will be at The Loft all night from 5-8pm to kick off the Fill the Boot extravaganza and there will be a chance for you to help fill the first boot.

Darcy also tells me that MSBC will be doing a second release of their outstanding Berserker Imperial Stout! They'll be bottling next week, with the beer hitting shelves the week after. Darcy says that this is the start of what they hope will be a new tradition of two releases of Berserker each year. Now that's what I call good news...

In other good news, it looks like the construction of Anchorage Brewing Company's new facility on King Street is proceeding on schedule.  They've posted several pictures of the construction on their Facebook page.

Denali Brewing Company in Talkeetna needs blueberries and they'll pay good money for them!  Here's the poster for that:

Glacier BrewHouse has two new beers on tap.  The first is a Strawberry Cream Ale.  Here's how they describe it:

Light, unfiltered, and refreshing with aromas of strawberry. Milk sugar (lactose) was added to render the ultra-creamy body. Infused with real strawberries! Nitrogenated.
Alcohol: 5.66% alcohol by volume. Starting Gravity: 13.70 Plato (1.056 S.G.)

Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse

The second is a Saison.

French style Saison with fruity and spicy flavors supported by a soft malt character and slight tartness. Made with special French Saison yeast, zest of lemon peel, and a touch of honey. Definitely a smooth operator. Alcohol: 6.38% by volume. Starting Gravity: 14.00 Plato (1.057 S.G.).
Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse

King Street beers are now available in the Fred Meyer stores in Anchorage and Eagle River.  Hey, guys, how about some love for the Peninsula!

Photo courtesy of King Street Brewing

Let's move on to some beer reviews.

St. Elias Brewing Company's Savage XPA: Another in Zach Henry's series of hoppy session ales, in the vein of his Insidious XPA (see my review 2/28/2014). This beer poured a crystal clear gold with big white head; very pretty in the glass. Besides the typical hoppy notes in the nose, I thought I was picking up some tropical fruit notes, leading me to think thank Zach had used some Galaxy hops, which he later confirmed. Carbonation was good, and there was a nice clean bitterness up front, then more tropical fruit/mango notes, before falling away to a nice finish. A great, easy-drinking brew, just what you want in a session ale.

Founders Brewing Company's All Day IPA Session Ale: Sticking with the theme of session ales, I got to try this one, thanks to the generosity of a colleague, who had her parents hand carry some up from Michigan for me. It also poured a clear gold with a nice white head. The aroma was classic American hops, very citrusy and fresh. The carbonation was good, was the mouthfeel. Initially there was a crisp, clean but not overwhelming bitterness, then lots of hop flavor before dropping down to a nice clean finish. At 4.7% ABV and 42 IBUs, this is indeed an excellent session beer.

Deschutes Brewing's Foray Belgian-style IPA: This is another of the oxymorons that craft brewers seem to love today, like black IPAs. Technically, there's no such thing as a Belgian IPA, since Belgian brewers don't brew IPAs. However, it's come to mean an IPA that uses a Belgian yeast to impart some of the characteristic peppery, spicy notes that such yeasts are known for. So this beer is Deschutes' entry in this new style, which I bought at our local Fred Meyer. Foray poured a clear light gold with a big white head. I picked up plenty of citrusy hop notes in the aroma, but none of the earthy, spicy notes I look for in a Belgian beer. Carbonation was excellent, and the beer had a nice mouthfeel. On the palate there was plenty of nice, bitterness, followed by lots of great hop flavor, but I tired in vain to pick up anything that I could identify as Belgian yeast notes. Frankly, it just tasted like a good American IPA to me. 6.4% ABV.

Well, that's it for this week.  If you're going to be at either the Humpy's Beer Camp Event or at the Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival, be sure to look me up and say hi.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Fisher Folk Are Coming!

Short blog this time, as the weather is too nice to spend much time at a keyboard! The assault on the Kenai Peninsula continues, with something like 40,000 fish seekers from all around Alaska descending on us for the "personal use" fishery. It's a pretty amazing sight, sort of like watching a slow-motion train wreck taking place in your front yard: it's horrible, yet you find it very difficult to look away...

While the hordes are down here trying to stock their freezers, they are also hitting our local breweries hard. Good luck trying to find a parking spot at St. Elias or Kenai River tonight!

In case you've missed it, there's a show on the Esquire Network call Brew Dogs.  It focuses on the guys behind the Scottish brewery BrewDog,  James Watt and Martin Dickie, visiting craft breweries around the US and brewing beer in outlandish ways (like in the back of a pickup will doing laps around a NASCAR track). The show has a certain amount of silliness, but overall it's pretty good.  The second season is being broadcast right now, and the final show of the season will be set in Alaska, primarily at Alaskan Brewing in Juneau.  As part of that show, a crew has been shooting what I guess will be "B-roll" footage around the state.  They were at HooDoo Brewing earlier this week and will be at Cafe Amsterdam in Anchorage this afternoon at 3:30.  so if you're reading this in Anchorage and want to see yourself on TV, head over to Cafe A immediately!

Brew Dogs at HooDoo. Photo courtesy of HooDoo Brewing.

As I mentioned last week, the Saturday there will be a BBQ, Burgers & Blues event at The Vagabond on K-Beach.  Kenai River is sponsoring the beer garden.  It starts at 4 PM and here's a flier for it:

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Up in Healy, 49th State's Augtoberfest is only two weeks away. In case you missed it, here's the flier for that again:

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 Senator Lisa Murkowski has been taking a serious interest in craft brewing.  In May, she talked with Jim "Dr. Fermento" Roberts, in his role as the President of the Brewers Guild of Alaska.  You can read his description of the conversation here.  More recently, she visited Denali Brewing in Talkeetna.  Here's what she had to say about it in her most recent e-newsletter:

As co-chair of the Senate Small Brewer’s Caucus, I’m a big supporter of the many craft breweries in our state. These brewpubs and small breweries benefit communities by creating both jobs and a sense of local pride. I’m trying to visit all of our local breweries throughout the state, and this trip I was able to go to the Denali Brewery Company in Talkeetna to meet with the General Manager, Sassan Mossanen, and learn that they are one of the largest year-round employers in the area."
Photo courtesy of Senator Lisa Murkowski

It's great to see Alaska's two senators taking such an interest in craft brewing (see last week's blog for a picture on Senator Begich at Kenai River Brewing), but now I'd like to see some of our state legislators step up to the plate.  Frankly, most of the onerous restrictions our local brewers have to put up with are imposed at the state, rather than the federal level. Perhaps the folks in Juneau can take a hint from our Washington lawmakers...

 That's about it for news this week.  Here are a couple of reviews:

The Commons Brewery's Bier Royale Sour Ale with Black Currants: The beer poured a clear pinkish-red with a small white head - a very unusual color for a beer! The aroma had some tartness plus fruity notes. The carbonation was good.  The initial attack was quite tart, then the fruitiness of the currants came through, before falling away to allow the tartness to come back on the finish. Like the other brews from The Commons, this one is unusual but excellent. 5.5% ABV.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company's Modern Romance Spicy Chocolate Dark Ale: This brew was released quite a bit back; the bottle I had of it was hiding in the back of my beer frig until just the other night!  It poured opaque with a small tan head that dissipated rapidly to a collar. The aroma was laced with sweet malt and chocolate notes.  The carbonation was a bit on the low side, but the mouthfeel was very good. There's a lot going on in this beers, as you might guess from the "Spicy Chocolate Dark Ale" nomenclature. There's some nice roastiness up front, resting on a gold malt backbone, then a distinct note of heat, either from spices or alcohol or both, that lingers and becomes more pronounced on the finish as the other flavor components fall away. For my personal tastes, I thought it was bit too busy, as some of the flavor components did not seem to quite mesh, but your mileage may vary. 9.3% ABV, 37 IBUs.

Well, that's it for this week.  Try not to get run over by any of the fools for fish clogging our rods and get out and enjoy this nice summer weather while it lasts, preferably with a beer in hand.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Reds Are in the River

Been a little rainy here on the Kenai, but it looks like things might be clearing out for the weekend.  That's good news, since our summer is too short for everything the needs to be done.  Plus, we wouldn't want bad weather to hinder the hordes of folk descending on us to dip sockeyes, now would we? Still, as annoying as the dipnetting hordes might be to most of us, they're a godsend to our local breweries and brewpubs. So we'll just have to make the best of it.

La Bodega in Anchorage and Girdwood is having  a "Dark & Quirky" growler sale. The following growlers are 25% off until the kegs kick:

Midnight Sun Fairy Dust $4.75 32oz / $9.00 64oz AND Silver Gulch Low Bush Cranberry $4.50 32oz / $9.00 64oz

- Kenai River Breakfast Beer (Oatmeal Milk Stout) $4.25 32oz / $8/50 64 oz
- Souther Tier Mokah $8.00 32oz / $16.00 64oz
- Stone Matt's Burning Rosids (Imperial Smoked Saison) $7.00 32oz / $14.00 64oz
- Homer Kings & Wings ESB $4.75 32oz / $9.50 64oz
- Bosteel's Kwak $14.50 32oz / $29.00 64oz
- Liefman's Goudenband (Flanders Oud Bruin) $16.00 32oz / $32.00 64oz

Get 'em before they're gone!

Tickets for next month's Kenai Peninsula Brew Fest are now on sale.  Here's the press release I got from Matt Pyhala, the Soldotna Rotary's point man for the festival:

"The 4th Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival is Saturday, August 9 from 5-10 pm.  The entry cost is $30.  We are selling tickets online already at our new website  We will also sell tickets at Kenai River Brewing, Kassik's Brewery, and St. Elias Brewery.  The festival will again have live music, and food in addition to our featured breweries.  All proceeds from the festival are used for local projects of the Soldotna Rotary Club.  We have confirmation of attendance from Alaskan, Broken Tooth, Denali, Glacier Brewhouse, Kassik's, Kenai River, King Street, Midnight Sun, Seward, Sleeping Lady, and St. Elias breweries.  ODOM Corporation, Specialty Imports, Open Wine Distributors have also confirmed.  We have strong maybes from 49th State, Arkose, Baranof Island, Homer, Bear Creek Wine, and Anchorage Brewing.  This year is shaping up to be our best yet."
I've got my tickets, and it's likely the event will sell out again this year, so you might want to get yours.

Looking a bit further ahead, this year's Capital City Brewfest in Juneau will take place on Saturday, September 13th, from 1 to 5 PM at the Juneau Arts & Cultural Center (JACC). Tickets go on sale next week on the festival's website.

The date for the Talkeetna Brewfest has also been announced. It will be Saturday, September 20th, from 2 to 6 PM. Admission will be $50, which includes a taster glass, brewery guide and a selection of quality meats, cheeses and breads provided by local businesses. I've missed this fest for the last two years for various reasons, but this year I plan to be there.

Next Saturday, July 19th, Kenai River Brewing will be one of the sponsors of the BBQ, Burgers & Blues event at The Vagabond Bar on K-Beach.  It's a fundraiser for KDLL, our local public radio station, featuring good food, great beer, and live music.  Things kick off at 4 PM and culminate is a performance by world-famous master blues harmonica legend Gary Sloan. Sounds like a great time and it's for a worthy cause.

For you homebrewers out there, I found a site with some nice plans for building your very own kegerator.  Check them out here

Tomorrow is the Golden Days BeerFest at Silver Gulch Brewing in Fox.  Here's the flier:

I was at last year's fest and had a great time.

Silver Gulch also has a new brew on tap, Solo Hop, a Rye Pale Ale.  Here's how they describe it:

Spicy rye provides a stellar base to showcase citrusy Amarillo hops in this single hop pale ale. Hoppy yet not bitter, this is a refreshing and drinkable summer offering. 5% ABV, 47 IBU’s
Osculum Infame is also back on tap.  Check out my review from 1/19/2010 on the Belgian Strong Golden Ale.

Speaking of Belgian brews, HooDoo Brewing has their Tripel back on tap.

Denali Brewing has two new brews on at their tap in downtown Talkeetna:

Mother Superior Double Blonde (Double Mother Ale) 10.2%ABV, 31 IBU. Same recipe as Mother Ale, only with more of everything! More pilsner malt, more noble hops, more of what makes Mother Ale a favorite. To give rise to this special beer, it was aged on chardonnay-soaked oak chips, resulting in subtle hints of cinnamon and spice. When it comes to imbibing this unique creation, get in the habit! 

2014 Raspberry Wheat 5% ABV. An American Wheat Ale brewed with bushels of Oregon raspberries.

Also, McKinley Princess Lodge is hosting a Denali beer tasting for its guest on Monday, July 21st at 12:30 PM.

King Street Brewing has re-released their Golden Lager.  This is a classic German Helles-style beer, easy drinking and light-bodied; the perfect brew for a hot summer day in Alaska!

Kassik's Brewery tapped a 1/2 barrel keg of their Smoked Russian Imperial Stout yesterday. It won't last young, so get over to the brewery taproom ASAP if you want some before it's gone!

Senator Mark Begich paid a visit to Kenai River Brewing on July 1st. Glad to see he's interested in supporting our local businesses, at least during an election year...

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing
Now let's do some beer reviews.

Anchor Brewing's Anchor IPA: Back in 1975, Fritz Maytag created what is arguably the first modern American IPA, Anchor's Liberty Ale.  Now under new ownership, Anchor looks to be trying to liven up their line-up. Anchor IPA pours a deep copper color with a big cream-colored head.  The aroma has some nice  but not overpowering floral hop notes. Carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was nice.  Bitterness is restrained, especially by the recent American IPA standards, and is balanced nicely by the malt. This beer might pass for an English IPA except for the use of American hops, making it extremely drinkable, if slightly unremarkable.  Personally, I prefer the classic Liberty Ale, but Anchor IPA is a well-crafted brew for folks who prefer their IPAs more refined. 6.5% ABV.

Logsdon Farmhouse Ale's Peche 'n Brett: This bottle was part of the leftovers from The Culmination in May. I'm usually not a great fan of fruit beers, which is probably why I didn't get around to sampling this one during the festival. It poured a deep, clear gold with a huge, dense white head. The nose was absolutely full of delicious peach notes, and just the slightest touch of Brett funk. Carbonation was excellent, as you'd expect from the head.  On the palate there was tons of excellent peach flavor up front, backed by Bett funkiness, before falling away to an excellent dry finish. Absolutely no sign of heat from the 10% ABV. I think I can honestly say that this may have been the finest fruit beer I have ever had.  I only wish that I had several more bottles to cellar; I'd love to experience the beer's evolution as the Brett continued to work in it. If you can find a bottle of this beer, buy it!

Logsdon Farmhouse Ale's Far West Vlaming Sour Red Ale: In the style of a Flanders Red, this beer poured a deep ruby color with a small cream-colored head that dissipate fairly quickly to a collar. The aroma was tart with some oaky notes. Carbonation was decent, as was the mouthfeel. The initial attack was tart, falling away quickly to allow some oak to express itself.  The finish was rather quick and a bit disappointing.  Overall, a decent brew but lacking the depth and complexity of a classic sour red such as those from Rodenbach.  Enjoyable but unspectacular. 6.5% ABV.

That's it for this week.  Good luck with the fishing and enjoy summer while it last.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Back From Another Trip to Southeast Alaska

So no blog last week, but that was because I was on my second trip to Southeast Alaska in about a month.  The stops this time were Juneau and Sitka.  Elaine and I had visited Juneau several years ago, but this was our first trip to Sitka.  The purpose of the trip was research for Volume III of Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska, which will cover Southeast Alaska. We didn't get to spend a ton of time in either town, but we were there long enough to tour both Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau and Baranof Island Brewing Company in Sitka.

We'd toured Alaskan Brewing on our previous visit to Juneau in 2007, but the brewery has grown considerably since then, and more expansion is underway.  I've toured plenty of big breweries Outside, but it seemed really strange to be walking through such a big operation (about 145,000 barrels produced last year) in Alaska.

Checking out Alaskan's 100 barrel copper with Andy Kline.  Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell.

Alaskan's Tap Room & Gift Shop. Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell.
There expansion seems to be proceeding on schedule, and will provide them with some much needed space to expand their packing operation, as well as allowing them to move between their two current existing buildings using forklifts rather than trucks.  On the beer front, I got to sample one of their Rough Drafts, a very nice golden ale, light and refreshing.  It would be the perfect beer for a nice sunny summer day, if they ever get any of those in Southeast.  I also sampled a bottle of the next Pilot Series release, this year's version of their Imperial Red Ale.  It was nicely balanced and delicious.

Traveling on to Sitka, we visited Baranof Island Brewing Company, which was the only operating brewery in the state that I had not yet visited.  It was a Friday afternoon and by the time we left, the Tap Room was full of folks, enjoying a relaxing drink after a long week of work.  The brewer, Mike DesRosiers, gave me a tour of their small, but growing operation.  They are waiting on the first shipment of cans to arrive, at which point they will begin canning their Silver Bay IPA.  While I was there, besides a nice slice of pizza, I enjoyed a glass on their Single Speed Stout,  a glass of their IPA which had been run through a device filled with whole hops to give it an even more intense hop flavor and aroma, and a sample of their Spruce Tip Pale Ale.  They were all delicious, but I really liked the hop-boosted IPA.

BIBC Tap Room.  Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell.
Here are also some pictures from our visit in May to Skagway and Haines, all courtesy of my wife Elaine:

Skagway Brewing is tiny!

Paul Wheeler of Haines Brewing & Chatlie Papazian at the Brewers Dinner.

Part of the 1400 folks who attended the Haines Beer Festival.

Another shot of the Haines Festival.
Lots of good beer in Southeast Alaska; I'm really enjoying writing about it in Volume III of my book.

Moving on to other beer news, there a new beer on tap at the Snow Goose Pub in Anchorage.  It's a Honey Cream Ale brewed with spruce tips.  Usually you'll see spruce tip beers based around a pale ale, so basing on on a honey cream ales is a bit different.  I haven't tried it yet, but I hear it's very good.

Up in Healy at 49th State Brewing Company, things have been hopping all summer.  Here's a video of some of their latest musical excitement.

Tickets are now on sale for their big Augtoberfest event as well.

Denali Brewing Company's excellent Twister Creek IPA is now on draft at The Flats Bistro in Kenai.  Their Single Engine Red Ale was also the first beer poured at the brand-new Hard Rock Cafe in Anchorage.

The big news out of Anchorage is that Anchorage Brewing Company is going to be moving to a brand-new, built to order 7600 square foot brewery on King Street in South Anchorage.  I got the word from last week's column by Jim "Dr. Fermento" Roberts in The Anchorage Press.  Rather than just rewrite it, I think I'll just let you read it for yourself by clicking here.  Look for the new brewery to open in November, if all goes as planned.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company has released the next beer in their new Alaskana series: Cache, an oak-aged bierre de garde at 8.2% ABV.

Glacier BrewHouse has released another new beer today, a Double IPA.  Here's how they describe it:

Double IPA (DIPA) - Hops are the predominant characteristic in this brew. Over twice the amount of hops are used in this beer as compared to our standard IPA. The hop flavor is citrus, floral, and undoubtedly strong, but still clean. The bitterness is intense but held in check with the malt and high alcohol. Unfiltered and reddish-copper in color, this hop monster is a hop head’s delight. Alcohol: 8.20% by volume. Starting gravity: 17.40 Plato (1.072 S.G.)
Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse

I don't write often enough about what my buddy Ben Millstein of Kodiak Island Brewing Company  is up to, mainly because so little of his excellent brews ever make it off The Rock.  But just to give you all an idea of what were missing by not being on Kodiak, I thought I'd share Ben's latest brewery tap list:

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Makes me want to hop a plane or a ferry to Kodiak...

 For beer reviews, I only have one this week, as I was too busy enjoys beers in Juneau and Sitka to formally review them.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company's  Zzzzz.. Hibernator Doppelbock: The first brew in their new Alaskana series, this beer poured a very dark ruby color with a small tan head.  The nose is smoke and sweet malt, striking a nice balance between them.  Mouthfeel is good and the carbonation level is nice.  On the palate it's the same as the aroma, smoke plus clean malt flavors, well-balanced between them, before falling away to a nice clean finish.  Very drinkable for such a big beer, mainly due to the excellent balance between the smoke and malt. 7.4% ABV, and 25 IBUs.

Well, that's it for this week.  I likely won't have a blog next week, what with the 4th of July holiday and all, so look for a new post in two weeks.  I should have several new brew reviews by then.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, June 13, 2014

There's a New Place to Eat & Drink Craft Beer in Town

Hello again, folks.  Been a busy couple of weeks.  First, I was sick as a dog for about four days (101+ fever anyone?), then my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson came up for a visit.  Hadn't with visited my #1 guy Liam since he was born in September, so spending time with him has taken precedence over writing about beer!

Liam Kile Thompson

However, while they were here we all went to dinner at a brand-new restaurant, The Flats Bistro, at 39847 Kalifornsky Beach Road in Kenai, which just opened on Friday, June 6th.  Not only do they have exceptional food, they have twelve beers on tap, all of which are brewed in Alaska.  Breweries represented include Kassik's, Kenai  River, Midnight Sun, Denali, Silver Gulch, Glacier BrewHouse, and Alaskan. Even more importantly, owners Luke and Naomi are taking their beer offering seriously.  I know this because (full disclosure) they had me provide training to their staff on beer serving and food pairing on the Monday before they opened.  So if you're going to be in this area and are looking for a place to have some wonderful food and great craft beer (or wine; they have that too), I strongly recommend checking out The Flats.  You can get reservations at 335-1010, but they always hold half their tables for walk-ins.

Photo courtesy of The Flats Bistro
Moving on to other beer news, HooDoo Brewing has been offering a cask-conditioned version of their IPA, as well as a special Fathers' Day deal on their Braulers and glassware.

At 49th State Brewing in Healy, they'll be having a Solstice Brewfest Brewer's Dinner on Thursday, June 19th.  Here's the poster:

Click to enlarge
The Solstice Brewfest itself will take place on Saturday & Sunday, June 20th & 21st.  To see a list of bands and to buy tickets, check out this webpage.

Arkose Brewery reports that their beers are now on tap at the Eagle Hotel and Lounge in Palmer. Ask for their High Ridge Double Red, New Colony Hefeweizen, and Boxcar Porter.

Anchorage Brewing Company has just bottled a couple of new beers.  First, there's their collaboration brew with Jolly Pumpkin, Calabaza Boreal.

Photo courtesy of Anchorage Brewing Company

Next, there's Thank You, a German Hefeweizen dosed with Brett.  It's made in gratitude to Gary Klopfer, owner of  Sleeping Lady Brewing, whose brewhouse Gabe has been using to produce his beers. 

Photo Courtesy of Anchorage Brewing Company
Finally, the next batch of ABC's original beer, Whiteout Wit, will have a new label design:

Photo courtesy of Anchorage Brewing Company

Over at Glacier BrewHouse, there's a new beer on offer, a Black Rye Bock.  Here's how they describe it:

This dark lager combines the characteristics of three winter beer styles. All three of these styles traditionally come from the colder harsher areas of Europe. The styles are (1) Black Beer (aka Schwartzbier) originating from Bad Kostritz in Thuringia (former East Germany); (2) Rye Beer which at one time was only made in hardier areas of Eastern and Baltic Europe; and (3) Bock Beer which is widely known as the higher alcohol lager of Northern Germany. Our Black Rye Bock has a distinctive bitter chocolate palate and black color reminiscent of a black beer. The spiciness from the rye malt shines through in the flavor. The high alcohol balanced with malty sweetness rounds out this black beauty. Smooth drinking with a punch makes this lager a perfect dark quaffer for our Arctic summer. Alcohol: 6.67% by volume. Starting gravity: 17.45 Plato (1.072 S.G.)

Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse
At Midnight Sun Brewing Company, the big news is the return of a classic: Barfly Smoked Imperial Stout is back! See my review of this wonderful brew back on 2/1/2011. MSBC is limiting folks to 6 bottles per person, but even so, it will go quickly, so get yours while you can!

Photo courtesy of Midnight Sun Brewing

Moving on to the Peninsula, Kenai River Brewing has their Black Water Bender back on tap.  I hear they did a roaring business at the Kenai River Festival last weekend.

On Monday, I and my family paid a visit to Seward, and while we were there we stopped in at the Seward Brewing Company.  They had four of their beers available, and I had a pint of their Inked Out Stout, which was quite tasty.  As good as the beer was, the food was even better.  I had a plate of their lamb fires, which are fries smothered in shredded lamb, cheese curds, and gravy.  They were exceptional, and the perfect choice for a cold and rainy day, which is what last Monday was.  If you find yourself in Seward, be sure to stop by and check them out.  I also see that they released a new Imperial IPA yesterday, weighing in at 8.8% ABV.

I shared a growler of St. Elias Brewing Company's TurmOil CDA with my son-in-law a few nights ago and found it to be excellent: nice and dark but no roasty flavors to distract you from the hop flavor.  St. Elias just put two more of their returning summer brews back on tap today: Island Girl Raspberry Kolsch and their Hefeweizen.

Well, that's about it for this week.  I should have some new beer reviews in my next blog, as well as some pictures from the various festivals I been to in the last month or so.

Until Next Time, Cheers!