Friday, November 20, 2015

Another New Beer Tour

I wrote in last week's blog about a new bicycle & beer that will be offered next year here in Alaska by a company out of Florida. Given how strongly I advocate buying local to support Alaska businesses,  it seems only fair that I should give some time to our local Alaskan beer tour company, Big Swig Tours out of Anchorage.

Big Swig Tours was founded in 2014 by Bryan Caenepeel, a ten-year veteran of the Alaska tourism industry. Tour size is limited to twelve, so you really get an individual experience. It currently offers two year-round tours, the Anchorage Brews Tour and Hops on the Rail. The Anchorage Brews Tour takes about 3.5 hours and hits King Street, Midnight Sun, and Chilkoot Charlies. The Hops on the Rail, the newest tour, starts with a train ride to Talkeetna, then visits to Denali Brewing Company, Arkose Brewery, Odd Man Rush Brewing, and finishes up at Resolution Brewing. You can find tour schedules, prices, and lots of details on Big Swig Tours' website. These are year-round tours, with others available during the summer only. As I wrote in my last blog, I'm always excited to see new opportunities for people, tourists and locals alike, to experience the exceptional craft beers we are lucky enough to have made here in Alaska!

Also of interest, I received an email this week about a new craft beer web series on YouTube. It's called All Hopped Up and follows a couple of guys as they try pairing craft beers and dishes at local restaurants. The only downside is that they are based in upstate New York. However, it's still an interesting idea and one that someone here in Alaska might want to take on. I might have given it a go myself, if I lived in Anchorage and had lots of restaurants to chose from. Below is their most recent video:

Let's move on to news from the breweries.

King Street Brewing Company released the next beer in its Imperial Series, the Imperial Pilsner, on November 11. Most of this batched was bottled, but a limited amount was offered on tap at the brewery. Not sure if there is any still left. Here's how they described it:

"If you like our Czech style Pilsner you may just love our Imperial version. This Pilsner intensifies Czech hop aroma and flavor while amplifying European malts. Spicy and flora aromas of Saaz hops slowly give way to the bread-like grain of Central European 2-row barley."

Photo courtesy of King Street Brewing

La Bodega has a couple of pieces of good news. First, there are several new beers on offer; the list includes Denali's Slow Down Brown, Sierra Nevada's classic seasonal Celebration Ale, Arkose Brewery's Bitter Earth ESB, Boxcar Porter and Steed Rye IPA  in 22oz bottles, Deschutes' Hop Trip and Chasin' Freshies, Two Beers Fresh Hop, and Bridgeport's Hop Harvest. Also available are a new doppelbock from Maui Brewing Co., The Doppel Shot Double Bock, New Belgium's Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale, Hopworks Urban Brewery's new winter ale Abominable, and Denali Brewing's One Tree Birch Beer. In addition, La Bodega just announced that they will be opening a third location, on Northern Lights between R.E.I. and the Middle Way Cafe. It will be a small place, with only a six tap growler bar and a limited selection, and the soft opening is schedule for this Wednesday, November 25th. Congratulations to Pamela and the rest of the La Bodega team!

There are a couple of beer events in Fairbanks, tonight and tomorrow. Tonight's event will be at 7 PM at the Blue Loon and will have a $20 flat fee. Tomorrow's event is at The Pub on the UAF Campus and charges $1 per ticket to taste a beer. To learn more on tonight's event, click here. The event at The Pub runs from from 6 to 9 PM, and you can learn more about it here.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company will be featured at both events, and will be releasing this year's versions of a couple of its classic beers next week. On Monday, November 23, this year's Arctic Devil Barley Wine will be released, while on Friday, November 27th, MSBC will release Barfly Smoked Imperial Stout. The Loft will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, of course. Both of these beers are absolutely amazing (see my reviews in previous blogs) and are not to be missed!

Anchorage Brewing Company has announced that it is working on a new batch of its outstanding Time Waits For No One Imperial Stout. Where the last batch was aged in used Laphroaig Scotch whisky barrels, this new batch will be aged in used 600 liter tawny port casks from Portugal. Also, today a limited quantity of ABC's Darkest Hour Imperial Stout goes on tap at the brewery; get it before it's gone.

The guys at Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer have finally received their federal brewing license. Now they get to start threading their way through the state's bureaucratic maze to get their state license.

Kodiak Island Brewing Company has received a top rating on's Trip Advisor site. Congratulations to Ben and the rest of the Kodiak Island team.

Photo courtesy of Kodiak Island BC

I mentioned above that Arkose Brewery's new bottled beers were available at La Bodega in Anchorage. The are also available at Country Liquors here on the Kenai. I picked some up there on Wednesday.

 Also here on the Kenai, construction of the new home of Kenai River Brewing Company continues at a rapid pace. Yesterday and today, they were setting the roof trusses into place.

Photo courtesy of Kenai River BC

Meanwhile, at the current brewery, Gummi Bear Tripel is back on tap. Here's the latest tap list:

Over at St. Elias Brewing, both the Queen of Hearts Lambic and the 2013 Moose Juice Barley Wine have kicked, but they have been replaced by the Kriek Lambic and the 2014 Moose Juice, which won 1st Place in the Barley Wine Competition at the last Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival. Next up is Green Giant Double IPA. Also, if you haven't gotten in and tried the Pizza of the Month, the Achilles, you really should. I had one last weekend and it was delicious!

St. Elias tap list

St. Elias Seasonals
The Achilles, the November Pizza of the Month

As far as reviews go, I haven't actually been drinking much new over the last few days, as I've been hitting local brews like St. Elias's Czech Pilsner and H & H East India Porter, along with Kenai River's Winter Warlock Old Ale pretty hard. But I do have one beer to mention.

Guinness Brewing's Foreign Extra Stout: While the standard bottle of Guinness Draught is nothing special (better than having to drink a typical macro lager, but not that much better), this beer is truly something else.  For many years, it wasn't even imported into the US; most Americans got their first exposure to it in the Caribbean, where it is extremely popular. However, a few years ago, likely in response to the growing popularity of craft beers, Guinness started importing here, and you can find it in 4-packs in better beer stores, like Country Liquors in Kenai or La Bodega in Anchorage. It pours and looks very similar to a regular Guinness, but looks are deceiving. For starters, it's 7.5% ABV instead on Draught's meager 4.2%. Second, on the palate it is thick, rich, and luscious, almost like drinking rich chocolate milk, but with enough roasted barley notes and hops for balance. In short, it tastes like I think Guinness did a hundred or a hundred and fifty years ago, before it started it's long, slow dumbing down. If you like Guinness or any other dry stout, you really owe it to yourself to give Foreign Extra Stout a try.

Well, that's it for this week. Don't look for a blog next week, what with Thanksgiving and all. If you are here on the Peninsula, I'd like to let you know that I'll be at Kenai Fine Arts Guild Arts and Crafts Fair at Kenai Central High School on Friday, November 21, and Saturday, November 28, selling and signing my books. A book with a personal inscription from the author makes a great Christmas gift for family and friends! Even if you don't need any books, be sure to stop by and say hi if you're at the fair.

Until Next Time, Cheers.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Snow on the Ground

There's snow on the ground here on the Kenai, but we still haven't gotten any really bitter cold yet, though the forecasters are promising us some of that for the end of the week. Fortunately, the weather doesn't seem to be slowing brewery construction down very much; more on that below.

First up, I got a very interesting press release from an outfit in Gainesville, Florida called Pedalers Pub & Grill, about a new tour they will be doing next year in Alaska.  Here's the press release in its entirety:

 Craft Beers & Roadhouses: A new 10 day bicycling and beer tasting tour in Alaska from Pedalers

The bicycle touring company with a rather unique name - Pedalers Pub & Grille - recently announced a new bicycle tour that fits well with the company's name. Craft Beers & Roadhouses combines two of cyclists' favorite pastimes into one grand adventure - cycling through awe inspiring landscapes and relaxing with extraordinary craft beers after wards. The 10 day tour takes cyclists and adventurous travelers from Anchorage up to Denali National Park then across the Denali Highway, rated as one of the most beautiful highways in the world, before looping around to its conclusion at Sheep Mountain where guests enjoy a glacier walk. Each evening before dinner, guests will sit down for a beer tasting featuring a different one of Alaska's great craft breweries. The 10 day trip offers departures through the summer months and the per person price is $4250.

Highlights of the bike and sip experience include a visit to eclectic Talkeetna, the inspiration for the town of Cicely in the TV series Northern exposure, truly a town of characters and home to Denali Brewery. Bed down in a lodge on a homestead that was one of the first near Denali and enjoy a layover day at Denali National Park. Visits to three different micro-breweries are built into this first cycling leg, along with tastings of beers from as far away as Baranof Island located in Alaska's panhandle and as nearby right down the street.

The cycling is all about magnificent landscapes during the second leg, starting off with a traverse of the Denali Highway, frequently voted in the top spot for most scenic highway in the world. Guests will roll through vast areas of tundra with its lakes and diminutive trees, past the towering volcanoes of the Wangrell Range. The cycling winds down along the Glenn Highway snaking between the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountain Ranges capped off with a walk across the icefields of the Matanuska Glacier led by local glacier hiking guides. Of course each night will provide tastings of more Alaskan micro-brews from around the 49th state. And will be capped off with a final dinner and sampling at one of Anchorage's award winning brewpubs.

According to Tom Sheehan, Pedalers' founder and head Tour Imagineer "We have been organizing tours in Alaska for near 20 years and have watched the local brewing scene evolve from hobbyists to award winning small breweries. And as cyclists we have enjoyed sampling these beers while touring, and wanted to bring this experience to the forefront of one of our cycling trips. Craft Beers & Roadhouses fits perfectly with today's focus on experiential travel."

Guests cycle on average 60 miles daily along paved roads with some stretches on dirt. While the terrain is mountainous, the roads follow gentle grades as they cross the ranges, tend wend through the valleys in between. Traffic is light to moderate at times.

Except for air the trip is all inclusive of accommodations, most meals, evening beer tastings, professional guides, daily route directions and maps, sightseeing and cultural activities, rental bikes. Personal departures may be scheduled for private groups and bike clubs. More details can be found online at:

Pedalers Pub & Grille Background: Annually, PP& G offers multiple set departures and custom trips to 19 exotic destinations in Asia, the Pacific, Africa and Alaska. The company has been conducting cycling tours of these regions since the 1980's and is known for creating spontaneous, up close and personal cultural encounters along its well-researched cycling routes. Asia's most seasoned bicycle tour operator, Pedalers Pub & Grille specializes in sag wagon supported road bike tours. They organize rides that are geared toward cycling enthusiasts, featuring longer daily rides designed to fill the day with adventure, while still allowing sufficient time for "off the bike" exploration at fascinating stops along the route. Accommodations are carefully chosen to provide modern western amenities, a comfortable night's rest and an immersion in the local culture and lifestyle. Meals are a celebration of local cuisine and beverages. Trips are led by either a bi-lingual international guide living in the area or a native born guide fluent in English, complimented by an English speaking support crew from that country. All levels of riders are welcome, from energetic beginners to elite cyclists.

National Geographic Adventure magazine selected PP& G as one of the "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth". And National Geographic Traveler has selected some of Pedalers Pub & Grille's tours for the 50 Tours of a Lifetime honor. For more details you can visit Pedalers Pub & Grille online at their new website .

I'm glad to see that this tour company has recognized what a unique combination of superb beer and spectacular scenery that Alaska has to offer, and I hope these cyclists have a wonderful time when the visit our great state. It's things like this that should remind our local and state politicians what a valuable asset Alaska's craft brewing industry is.

Alaskan Brewing Company will be holding a beer dinner on this Thursday, November 12th, in Anchorage at The Lakefront Hotel on Spenard. It starts at 6 PM and cost $50 per person. Here is the flier with the beer list and menu:

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Also on Thursday, from 5 to 8 PM Resolution Brewing Company will be donating 20% of its beer sales to The Great Land Trust. Here's the flier for that event:

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 Speaking of charity events, Odd Man Rush Brewing will be hosting Fill the Keg for Maddy this Saturday from noon to 8 PM. Maddy is a local 5th grader battling a rare form of cancer. All tips go to help her family pay her medical costs.

I wrote in my last blog about the release event for Denali Brewing's Slow Down Brown in Talkeetna. Cans of this spiced brown ale should be on store shelves around the state this week.

Photo courtesy of Denali Brewing Company

King Street Brewing Company will be releasing the next beer in its new Imperial Series, the Imperial Pilsner, this Friday, November 13th. See my last blog for a review of the Imperial IPA and below for a review of the Imperial Hefeweizen. The Imperial Stout is scheduled for release on December 1st.

Up in Palmer, Arkose Brewery took delivery of a new 20 bbl fermenter last week. The brewery also has another Beer Meet Canvas Event scheduled for this Saturday, November 14.

Photo courtesy of Arkose Brewerey

Here on the Peninsula, there's quite a bit of brewery activity. At Kenai River Brewing Company, construction on the new brewery continues on schedule. Doug Hogue tells me he has ordered his new 20-bbl brewhouse from Specific Mechanical, along with an additional 80-bbl and a 100-bbl fermenter from Premiere Stainless. For any of you aspiring or expanding brewers out there, this means he'll be looking to sell his current 10-bbl Specific Mechanical brewhouse in the April-May time frame. Contact Doug if you're interested.

At St. Elias Brewing, Zach Henry put a keg of 3.5 year old Barley Wine on tap last week as a prelude to the release of this year's Moose Juice Barley Wine, which will go on tap soon. The Oktoberfest Lager is gone, but Zach has brewed another batch of the excellent Czech Pilsner, so that one should be around for a while.

No more Oktoberfest until next year.

At Kassik's Brewery, they were bottling Cherry Chocolate Stout on Saturday. The specialty beers on tap were Imperial Spiced Honey Wheat, Big Nutz, Caribou Kilt Scotch, & 2014 Barley Wine.

However, the biggest news on the Peninsula is that construction is underway on a new brewery in Homer, Grace Ridge Brewing Company. Back in my 7/17/2015 blog, I mentioned that Don Stead and his wife Sherry were working on starting a new brewery in Homer. Well, things are finally coming to fruition. The building which will house the brewery (along with a UPS office) is under construction at 1495 Ocean Drive, and should be finished in December. According to Don, the brewery expects to receive its final license from the ABC Board about the same time. The brewery's portion of the building will be 1500 square feet, split evenly between the brewery proper and the tap room, which should allow for an occupancy of about 25 customers. The brewing system is on order, a 3-barrel direct-fired system from Stout Tanks and Kettles of Portland, along with three 3-barrel conical fermenters and two 3-barrel brite tanks, very similar to the set-up at Resolution Brewing in Anchorage. Don is planning to do the brewing himself, with an assist from his son Scott. He plans to have six beers on tap continuously, focusing primarily on English-inspired styles. Besides retail sales at the brewery, Grace Ridge will self-distribute to select restaurants around Homer. As of now, Don plans to be open at least five days a week year-round. Currently, the target opening date is sometime in March or April.

This all sounds very exciting to me. Grace Ridge will be the sixth brewery operating on the Peninsula (at least in the summers when the Seward Brewing Company is open). I am very gratified to see the craft brewing culture continue to expand, both here on the Kenai and across the rest of the state. The golden age of brewing in Alaska is still in front of us, I think!

Now let's do some beer reviews. Just two new beers to cover this time, and plus a renewal of an old acquaintance. First up, my old friend Kassik's Brewery's Smoked Russian Imperial Stout. I reviewed this beer back on 4/5/2011, but I picked up a bottle as part of a column I was writing for The Redoubt Reporter on smoked beers. I found it to be excellent, with no perceptible change from the draft version I thoroughly enjoyed 4.5 years ago. Highly recommended for fans of smoked beers or imperial stouts. 8.5% ABV.

The second beer is the 2015 release of Alaskan Brewing's classic Smoked Porter. This beer has won more gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival than any other, and deservedly so, as it is the granddaddy of every American smoked beer sold today. This year's vintage poured opaque with ruby highlights and a nice mocha-colored head. The nose was a blend of alder wood smoke and malt. There was good carbonation and nice mouthfeel. The flavor profile had lots of smoke, as these porters always do when young, plus some good, roasty malt flavors. Very good now, and destined to become outstanding with a few years in the cellar. 6.5% ABV.

Finally, something completely new, King Street Brewing's Imperial Hefeweizen. This beer poured a cloudy honey color with a very nice off-white head. The aroma had the banana and clove notes of a hefe brewed with a proper Bavarian yeast. The  carbonation was excellent and the mouthfeel was fairly light. On the palate, there were plenty of the banana and clove notes, along with the spicy flavors you expect from a wheat beer. There was a touch of alcohol heat on the finish. Overall, a very nice amped up hefe. 7.5% ABV, 30 IBUs.

That's it for this blog. Notice, it didn't take me two weeks to get this one out, just ten days! Meanwhile, it's time to start shopping for Christmas. I'd remind you that a signed copy of my book Alaska Beer: Liquid Gold in the Land of the Midnight Sun makes an excellent gift. If you are local, I'll be selling and signing copies at the Christmas Craft Fair at Kenai Central High School, November 27th and 28th. If you're not local but would like a signed copy, contact me at and we'll work something out.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween

Here it is, the day before Halloween and I'm beginning to wonder if I should just change this from a weekly blog to an every other week blog, since that seems to be how often I can actually get the bloody thing done! Anyway, it's the end of October and we actually have snow falling from the skies here on the Kenai. Not sure how much accumulation we'll get, but it looks like winter might finally be here at last. Lots of beer stuff happening, so let's jump right in with news and events.

I already made a Breaking News post about this, but at Anchorage Brewing Company today from 2 to 8 PM is Jolly Pumpkin Night, with five different brews from that excellent brewery on tap. Free admission, pay as you go. In addition, the brewery will be releasing a new IPA in its Expiration series. This one is brewed using a new German hop called Manderina Bavaria, Germany's answer to all of the citrusy hops that have been coming out lately. It's also dry hopped with Manderina and a touch of Simcoe at the end. Sounds delicious, so stop by and get some while it lasts! ABC also put a new beer on tap last Sunday, a sour wheat beer called Debbie's Delight.

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Last night, Arkose Brewery celebrated its 4th Anniversary with a Beer Dinner at the Jack Sprat Restaurant in Girdwood. I haven't heard any reports, but based on the menu that was published, I'm sure it was a great time. Congratulations to Arkose Brewery on reaching this milestone.

Speaking of milestones, HooDoo Brewing in Fairbanks will be celebrating its 3rd Anniversary tomorrow, October 31st. There will be a party at the brewery, and the finalists in its annual limerick contest will face off to see who will take home the grand prize and bragging rights for the year.

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Gakona Brewing Company has gotten some of its brews finished and on tap. The Berry Bunny Wheat (5.2% ABV) was on tap at the Texas Roadhouse in Anchorage, but I believe it's all gone now. The Killer Bunny IPA (6.0% ABV) should still be available at the Trapper's Den in Gakona. Plenty of more details in this week's Dr. Fermento Anchorage Press column.

The Quake Brewing Company is working to open on Tudor Road in Anchorage. You can read more about it in Dr. Fermento's column from last week here.

There will be a new beer release event at Denali Brewing Company in Talkeetna tomorrow at noon. Slow Down Brown will be released in cans.

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King Street Brewing has released the first two beers in its new Imperial Series, its Imperial Hefeweizen and Imperial IPA. It will release its Imperial Pilsner of November  13th and its Imperial Stout on December 1st. See my review of the Imperial IPA below.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company has a new beer on tap at The Loft, Hellion Hellesbock, brewed by founder and President Mark Staples as part of the brewery's celebration of its 20th year in business.  The beer is 7.7% and 22 IBUs.

Photo courtesy of Midnight Sun BC
Midnight Sun was also recognized with two "The Best of Anchorage" Awards:

Resolution Brewing Company is currently closed for the installation of some new fermenters and to catch up on its brewing.  Here's the announcement posted on its Facebook Page:

"Dear loyal RBC fans: We are closing the doors for just this week, Wednesday - Sunday. We'll be getting our 7BBL fermenters up and running and working to get more beers on tap. We will be back open on Nov 4th with four beers ready for glasses and growlers: The Madam, Black Cup Porter, Tent City Saison, and Peak 3 Pale Ale. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience."

Moving on to the Peninsula, construction on the new home to Kenai River Brewing Company is proceeding at a rapid pace. Check out the brewery's Facebook page for the latest pictures, but the walls are going up!

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing Company

At Kassik's Brewery, the barrel-aged Statny Statny Stout is available in bottles at the brewery, and the Imperial Spiced Honey Wheat is on tap at the brewery.

At. St. Elias Brewing Company, here's a list of the current beers:

Zach Henry tells me that Moosejuice Barley Wine will be back on tap soon, along with more of his excellent Czech Pilsner. I'm still trying to convince him to replace his flagship Even Keel Kolsch with this excellent lager.

Moving on to beer reviews, first off, I must note the returns of a trio of my perennial favorites from Midnight Sun Brewing Company.

First up, CoHoHo Imperial IPA. See my review way back on 10/20/2008, written not long after I started this blog. One of my favorite things about fall in Alaska is that this seasonal from MSBC reappears on local shelves. I literally can't get enough of this beer!

Second, Termination Dust Belgian-style Barley Wine. This is another fall seasonal, as its name implies. See my 11/10/2014 review from when it was first released last year. This beer also took Second Place in the Barley Wine Competition at this year's Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival, so it is great to see it back on the shelves as well.

Finally, Pride, a Belgian-style pale ale aged in chardonnay barrels with brettanomyces. The first release of this beer predates the start of this blog by about a year, as it was initially part of MSBC's Deadly Sins Series in 2007. Because of that, I've never actually published a review of it, until now. It poured a slightly cloudy dark honey color with a nice, cream-colored head. The notes of brett funk were clearly evident in the nose, along with some oaky notes from the barrel-aging. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was borderline light to medium. In the flavor profile the brett funkiness was quite evident from the start, along with the vinous, oaky contribution from the barrel aging, before falling away gradually to a long, dry finish. One of the first brett beers I ever had, and still an excellent example of the style. 6.5% ABV, 40 IBUs.

Besides these re-releases, I reviewed two other beers during the last two weeks. The first is a world-class beer, the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen from Brauerei-Heller/Trum in Bamberg, Germany. This is one of the famous smoked beers (rauchbier in German) produced in this region. It poured a very deep ruby color with a nice, persistent cream-colored head. The aroma was of smoke and malt.The carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was nice.The flavor profile was the clean, smooth malt notes you expect from a good marzen, with a nice overlay of smoke from the beechwood used. Subtler than many other smoked beers, its truly is a classic of the style. 5.2% ABV.

Finally, King Street Brewing's Imperial IPA. As mentioned above, this is the second release in the brewery's new Imperial Series, at 8.5% ABV and 85 IBUs.It poured a slightly cloudy copper-gold color with a big off-white head. The nose was full of bright, citrusy notes from American hops. Carbonation was quite good and the mouthfeel was fairly light. In the initial attack there was good but not excessive bitterness, followed by lots of hop flavors and aroma, falling away gradually to a fine, hoppy finish. This is a well-balanced beer, with enough malt backbone to stand up to the massive hop presence, and quite drinkable for an imperial IPA. Well-made and delicious.

That's it for this week. I'll be back next week (or maybe the week after...) with more news and reviews. Meanwhile, be careful on the roads out there, as folks try to remember how to drive on snow again...

Until Next Time, Cheers.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Breaking News: Jolly Pumpkin Night At Anchorage Brewing Company

I just received the following breaking news from Gabe  Fletcher of Anchorage Brewing Company:

"So we don't make a pumpkin beer here at Anchorage Brewing right now and maybe never will, but we brought you the next best thing for Halloween this year:
Jolly Pumpkin Night at the brewery!!! Our great friends at Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales sent up five amazing kegs of there beer from there brewery in Michigan, including there first pumpkin beer ever! So come down to the brewery this Friday Oct 30th from 2-8pm and try these rare treats we have gathered!"

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Still Waiting on the Snow...

It's mid-October here on the Kenai Peninsula, but still no snow. Last year, we got out first significant snowfall on October 9th, but here we are a week later with nothing and none in the forecast. Perhaps all the predictions of a warm winter will be accurate. Or maybe Mother Nature is just saving up to give us a super big blast, like she did to Fairbanks a couple of weeks ago. Time will tell, I guess.

Meanwhile, it's two weeks since my last blog. In my defense, I can only say that I have been pretty busy, between teaching my college class, doing presentations and book signings, and taking an on-line class together with my wife. The Peninsula Clarion covered my presentation at Kenai Peninsula College on October 8th and did a front page story on it, which you can read here. Plus I've been watching the baseball playoffs, of course... So let's start playing catch-up.

The really big news is, of course, AB-InBev's buying SABMiller for $104 billion. This deal has been rumored for years, but now it looks like it might actually take place. It will be interesting to see what the US regulators force them to divest, but from my perspective, the biggest impact on/threat to craft breweries may come from the consolidation of distributors. We are lucky here in Alaska to have three distributors (K&L, Odom,  and Specialty Imports), each of which handles craft beers. In some areas, there are only two, and one of them handles only AB-InBev, forcing all the craft breweries to use the other. It's much too soon to panic, but the merger process will certainly bear close watching, at least for craft brewers located Outside.

Like Alexander, will Carlo Brito weep because there are no breweries left to buy?
Speaking of distributors, Alaskan Brewing has announced that it is changing its Seattle-distributor to Odom Distributing. Odom has been distributing Alaskan's beers in Eastern Washington since 2004, and now will be handling the Seattle area as well. There is no indication that Alaskan has any plans to change its distribution within Alaska from K&L Distributing to Odom.

Since my last post, both the Eagle River Brewfest and Bodega-fest took place, along with the Great Alaska Beer Train. I wasn't able to attend any of them, but by all reports, they were each a great time. Tomorrow night, Saturday October 17th, will be the Mighty Matanuska Brewfest in Palmer.  Here's the poster for it:

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I received the following updates from Darcy Kniefel, Beer Ambassador at Midnight Sun Brewing Company:

"Full Curl Wee Heavy Scotch Ale is BACK! A trusty favorite has returned for a fall (is that winter out there?) release. Originally brewed in the late 90's, Full Curl makes an appearance to many a fan's delight from time to time and we are sneaking him in for some fall sipping. First pour will happen on Wednesday (10/7) at 11am at The Loft at Midnight Sun and a draft only release will follow in the Anchorage Areas.

BarFly - OH YES! We will be celebrating National Stout Day, November 5th, with this year's release of BarFly Imperial Smoked Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels. Somber and smoky, BarFly Smoked Imperial Stout saunters into the room slowly. Thick smoke. Cool swagger. Good wood. Bit of bourbon. Sticky leather. Slow glances. Lingering looks. Vanilla. The only thing that didn’t make the glass was maraschino cherry. Bring your own and…WEAR OUT YOUR WELCOME. First brewed as part of our 2010 Pop Ten Series, BarFly was added to our Alaska’s Most Wanted line-up in 2014. Bourbon barrel-aging requires a long leisure so this beer is not on a set schedule but we hope to get a batch out about once a year. This will be a very limited release with some heading to each of our distributors in draft and bottle after the initial release in November at The Loft.

Toklat Hoppy Golden Ale aged in Chardonnay Barrels was released to a great reception at the March of Dimes Signature Chef's Auction last week and what a splash it made! For those looking to get a taste, you will have to come by the brewery as it is only available through our taps or cooler. The artwork was provided by local artist Katie Sevigny and the original artwork went home after the release to a very happy raffle winner! Grab your own version of the artwork on the bottle, and enjoy this oaky golden with Nelson Sauv hops, the fruit mingles with the barrel in a magical tango. A portion of all proceeds goes to March of Dimes. Very limited edition, get yours now!"
Personally, I'm very excited to see Full Curl make a re-appearance. It was always a personal favorite of mine, and I was bummed when it went out of regular production a few years back.

On Wednesday, King Street Brewing Company released the first of four beers in the brewery's new Imperial Series. The first beer was an Imperial Hefeweizen.  Here's how owner Shane Kingry described it:

Photo courtesy of King Street Brewing

"King Street Imperial Hefeweizen has roots that were inspired by our own tap room attendants that blend IPA and Hefeweizen King Street’s Imperial Hefeweizen is brewed to artfully blend a strengthened version of a classical Bavarian Hefeweizen with New World citrusy hops to create an incredible new bouquet of aromas and flavors."
The beers are in 750-ml screen-printed bottles, as well as limited draft distribution around town. The next beer in the series, King Street's Imperial IPA, will be released next Wednesday, 10/21.

Today in Anchorage is the release of Resolution Brewing Company's first collaboration beer, Black Cup Porter:

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Arkose Brewery in Palmer celebrated its 4th Anniversary this month and has begun bottling its four flagship beers. Here's a photo, courtesy of Arkose, that shows its new bottles:

Congratulations to Stephen & June, and the rest of the folks at Arkose on reaching both these important milestones.

Here on the Peninsula, Kenai River Brewing Company continues to make good progress on the construction of its new brewery. The pour of the concrete for the brewery's floor was completed on Monday, and the walls will be up soon.

Photo courtesy of KRBC
At Kenai River's current brewery, Arctic XPA is back on tap, at least for the moment. The Winter Warlock Old Ale is still on and drinking extremely well. The KRBC Tap Room in Soldotna is getting to be a little like Rick's Cafe in Casablanca, as in "Everybody comes to Rick's". I was in there last Friday and snapped this picture:

Soldotna's Mayor-elect Pete Sprague meeting with his constituents

Kassik's Brewery will be teaming with 1 Crazy Cupcake for a series of events pairing beer and cupcakes. The first event scheduled for Thursday, October 22th, from noon to 7 PM at the brewery. Subsequent events are on November 5th & 19th. The event lasts all day, but the supply of cupcakes is limited so RSVP at 776-4055 to reserve yours. On tap at the brewery: the 2009 Barley Wine and the 2014 Smoked Russian Imperial Stout, as well as last keg of the Apricot Wheat. Coming soon: Barrel-Aged Statny Stanty.

No changes to the tap list at St. Elias Brewing since my last blog, but it does have some swanky new tap handles.

New tap handles made by Adams Fabrication

Finally, a short personal note. I'll be doing another signing of my books next weekend at River City Books in Soldotna. I'll be there from noon to 3 PM on Saturday, 10/24, if you need an autographed copy for yourself or perhaps as a gift for someone else. It's not too early for Christmas shopping, you know.

With the news done, let's move on to beer reviews. I only have two this week, along with a quasi-review. Let's do the quasi-review first.

Kenai River Brewing's 2015 Winter Warlock Old Ale: I don't really have a new review of this beer, as Doug Hogue consistently produces the same excellent brew year after year. Almost a year of cold-conditioning produces an exceptionally clean-tasting brew.  So rather than repeat myself, I'll just refer you to my review on 9/8/2008 and add that you really don't want to miss out on experiencing this annual fall treat. A truly outstanding old ale.

Brouwerij de Molen's Heaven & Hell Russian Imperial Stout: Another leftover from The Culmination, this beer poured opaque with a nice tan head that left good lacing as it slowly dissipated to a collar. The aroma was roasty and rich, promising a very intense experience. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was thick and chewy, which is how I like my imperial stouts. The flavor profile was rich and complex, heavy with both roasted and sweet malt notes. A definite sipper at 10.2% ABV, this was an excellent Russian Imperial Stout from The Netherlands.

Stone Brewing's Ruination Double IPA 2.0: First things first: I picked this off the shelf at Country Liquors in Kenai on 10/7/2015 and got around to opening it on 10/13/2015, at which point I noticed it had an "enjoy by" date of 10/6/2015. So shame on me for not checking it in the store, and I'm sure the folks at Stone would say that I shouldn't even review this bottle. However, I'm going to do so anyway, mainly because I thought the beer, despite being a week out of date, was still excellent. It poured clear gold with a big white head. The aroma was loaded with bright, slightly citrusy American hops. Carbonation was excellent, and the mouthfeel was light. The initial bitter attack was not excessive, and was followed by tons of hop flavor. As much as I liked the Stone's original Ruination Ale, I think this beer is a significant improvement, with more hop flavor and less palate-wrecking hop bitterness. If you like a good DIPA, I highly recommend you hunt up a bottle of this beer, preferably prior to its enjoy by date. 8.5% ABV.

Well, that's about it for this post. Hopefully I'll get a blog out next week, with more news and reviews, but you never know. Expect it when you see it.

Until Next Time, Cheers!