Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Here Comes St. Patrick's Day

It's Spring Break Week here at KPC.  I have to wonder why we call it "Spring" Break; I'm thinking "Still Winter Break" might be a better choice.  It was 5F this morning, there's about 3 ft of snow on the ground, and another inch or two forecast for tonight.  If this is spring, we've got problems!

On a national note, many folks lately have been saying that beer is cheaper than gas.  Given how expensive gas in here in Alaska, I'd be tempted to believe it.  However, the folks at actually went to the trouble to calculate it out.  Check out this graphic:

They decided that the only way to have get beer cheaper than gas was to brew it yourself. Recalculating for Alaska, gas is about $4.45 a gallon here in Soldotna, and a 15.5 gallon keg of Kenai River's Peninsula Brewers Reserve will set you back about $115, or $7.42 a gallon. So we've still got quite a ways to go before beer is cheaper than gas.  Unless you homebrew, otf course...

Lot's of interesting beer news.  First off, I've been hearing rumors that there was a brewpub on the way in Seward at the old Elk's Lodge.  This weekend, I met a nice lady from that town, who gave me some more information, including a name, the Seward Brewing Company, and a website.  Check it out here. I'm told that the owners behind the project are Gene and Sandy Minden, former owners of Chinooks Restaurant at the Seward Boat Harbor, and I hope to get in touch with them at some point for more information.  Meanwhile, check out the website for some very interesting photos.

Next, Pam Hatzis, the owner of La Bodega in Anchorage, has announced that the shop will be moving out of their current hole-in-the-wall place at University Center Mall to a new and much larger location.  The new store will be located on E. Benson, in the same strip mall as Cafe Amsterdam, in the space the formerly housed the Keyboard Cache.  The new store will be much bigger (3,000 square feet) and boast special LED lighting and treated windows to protect the beers from being light-struck by UV radiation.  Best of all, there will be a growler bar, with between 10 and 16 beers on tap at any time.  Look for them to make the big move in late April.  Meantime, they will be having a celebratory Cider & Irish Beer Tasting this Friday (March 16) from 6 to 9 PM at Kinley's Restaurant. Word is it will be casual, buffet style food and plenty of it, along with the beer and cider.  Tickets are on sale at La Bodega, so if you'll be in Anchorage this Friday, you won't want to miss it. (Much of the foregoing info was lifted from my good buddy Jim Robert's most recent Anchorage Press column; read the whole thing here.)

Speaking of beer dinners, Alaskan Brewing will be holding one at Simon and Seafort's in Anchorage next Wednesday, March 21, at 6 PM.  The menu sounds delicious:

Portobello and Crimini Wild Mushroom Soup
Apple wood Smoked Pan-Fried Oysters with tobiko and warmed brie
Cedar Roasted Seafood with Shallot Beurre Blanc
BBQ Wild Boar Spare Ribs with a Citrus-Honey Porter Sauce
Warm Smore with House-made Marsh mellow, Chipotle Brownie, and Triple Sec Chocolate Sauce

As good as the food sounds, the beer choices sound even better, as the will be doing a vertical tasting of the odd years of Alaskan Smoked Porter, from 2003 to 2011. All this for only $65.  Reservations can be made through Michelle Aldana, via email at  If I was going to be in Anchorage next week, I would definitely be there!

Looking a bit further ahead up in Anchorage, on Friday, April 6th, from 6:30 to 9:30 PM at the Performing Arts Center, the 4th Annual Chemistry of Beer, Wine & Sake event will be a taking place. This is a fundraiser for the Alaska Museum of Natural History.  Tickets are available, starting at $45.
There was a very interesting interview with Gabe Fletcher from Anchorage Brewing Company by the blog Embrace the Funk; read the entire interview here. One of the more interesting things Gabe talked about was his upcoming collaboration brews: a wild ale with Mikkeller and and a Belgian Imperial Stout, aged in used cognac barrels with Gigantic Brewing Company. Also, the second batch of Whiteout Wit should be showing up on store shelves anytime now.  So if you missed it the first time round, here's another bite at the apple.
Locally, the date and location of the 2nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival has been confirmed.  It will take place on Saturday, August 11, 2012, from 4 to 10 PM, at the Soldotna Sports Center.  You can check out my blog of 8/17/2011 for details of last year's festival.  If you'd like to be a part of this year's event, either as a brewer, a vendor, or an entertainer, contact Matt Pyhala at  Last year was a fantastic time and I expect this year will be even better.

It's not exactly beer news, but what the heck.  I finally made contact with Felicia Keith-Jones, one of the people behind the High Mark Distillery, a project being developed in Sterling, not far at all from where I live.  I hope to have much more information in the near future, but I gather they'll be producing several types of spirits, including Arctic Ice Vodka, Nickel Back Apple Jack, and Blind Cat Moonshine.  Not sure about that last one; growing up in the South, I learned to be a little wary of 'shine, as that stuff packs quite a punch.  I think it's great that we'll soon have a local distillery here on the Peninsula to compliment our breweries, meadery, and winery.

In other news, as I reported last week, Kenai River's new Taproom is now open.  I hoped to have some photos of my own of it by now, but when I pulled out my camera last week, the battery had died.  So you'll just have to take my word for now that it's a great place to drop in for a brew.  That's especially true right now, as their new Russian Imperial Stout is on tap.  I had some last week and it's excellent, but I don't think it will last too much longer, so you'd better get it while you can.  Photos next week, I hope.

St. Elias Brewing is celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a week-long special on their Mother's Milk Irish Stout, so stop by and grab a growler before Saturday. Late Addition: There will be live music at St. Elias from 7 to 9 PM on St. Patrick's Day and there's a new beer on tap: Red-Headed Stepchild, an imperial red ale, aged for 6 month in Hungarian red wines casks!

Pushing on to reviews, I actually only have one to offer this week: Lectio Divina from Saint Somewhere Brewing Company of Tarpon Springs, Florida. This beer is from a brewer that doesn't distribute in Alaska (Florida's a long way from here), but I managed to acquire a bottle from a friend in the Lower 48. It's a hard beer to peg stylistically, being something like a dark saison crossed with a gueuze.

The beer poured a cloudy amber or honey color, with a big beige head.  The nose on this beer was amazing; hard to believe it came from Florida rather than Flanders, with such a characteristically Belgian aroma.  There were tart, acidic notes like you'd expect from a lambic, dark cherries, caramel, spiciness from the yeast and hops, not to mention some horse blanket funk from the use of Brettanomyces in the bottle.  On the palate, this same amazing complexity continues, with traditional gueuze sourness intertwining with fruity notes (apples, pears, strawberries), all hanging from a substantial caramel backbone and warmed by the 8% alcohol.  This is one extremely complex beer and a real triumph by the brewers at Saint Somewhere; I've had some pretty tame American interpretations of Belgian-style brewing over the years, but this beer certainly isn't one of them.  If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that receives shipments of this brew regularly, be sure to try it.

Well, that's it for this week.  More news and reviews when next we meet.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

1 comment:

Rick Andrews said...

It's great getting a Saint Somewhere shout out. Living here in FL, I have had the chance to assist on bottling days with them. I'll be sure to pass along the good words to owner, Bob Sylvester.