Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Some Long-Promised Beer Reviews

Now that I'm finally over my long running illness (I finally rolled out the big guns and got a prescription for some antibiotics), I can do some serious beer tasting again.  So let's jump right in to some beer reviews.

Back in November of 2010, I reviewed a couple of beers from the Three Musketeers Microbrewery in Quebec.  Recently, I was lucky enough to get my hands on another of their brews, a bottle of their Porter Baltique.  At 10% ABV, this is one serious brew.  It poured absolutely opaque, with a nice tan head.  The aroma was exceedingly complex, with notes of dark fruits, chocolate, caramel, woody vanilla notes, and a touch of smoke.  On the palate, it was a thick, chewy beer, with hints of molasses, coffee, brown sugar, and more woody notes, falling away to an excellent finish.  This is easily one of the best Baltic Porters I've ever had, and an excellent after dinner sipper on a cold winter's evening.  If you get a chance to snag a bottle of this beer, don't hesitate.  In fact, grab all you can afford.  It's that good.

The latest releases from Gabe Fletcher's Anchorage Brewing Company are available in Kenai at Country Liquors (unless they're sold out when you happen to stop by).  First up, there's his Galaxy White IPA.  I've written quite a bit about this brew in the past, mainly because I was fortunate enough to be asked by Gabe to write the back label for it.  In order for me to do so, he described the beer to me before its release.  I got to try it in January in Anchorage during Alaska Beer Week, but circumstances were such that I never had the chance to do a formal review.  Then I got sick.  Finally last weekend, I sat down, opened a bottle, and did a real tasting and review.  Here it is:

The beer poured a crystal clear pale gold into the glass, with a big, rocky white head.  The spices added to the beer were evident in its nose, with the kumquats being especially noticeable.  I also picked up the littlest hint of funk from the brett.  The beer was very light on the palate, with excellent carbonation and a very refreshing balance of bitterness and spiciness.  The brett again makes its presence felt on the finish, though it is still pretty subtle (at least until the beer spends more time in the cellar).  An excellent example of the White IPA style, and one I plan to taste again at regular intervals to monitor the impact of time on its flavor profile.

Next, I opened a bottle of Gabe latest release, the 2012 Fur Rondy Brew, his Running of the Reindeer Saison.  If you're not from Alaska, the name probably makes no sense, so if you're unfamiliar with Anchorage's answer to running with the bulls in Pamplona, you can check out the 5th annual installment here.  But on to the beer.

The saison poured a slightly cloudy gold with a massive white head.  The aroma was full of bright, citrusy hops and a fair amount of brett funk (more than in the Galaxy White IPA).  The beer was nice and dry (the way I like my saisons) and light in the body, with wonderful bitterness and a nice amount of funkiness from the brett.  Quite refreshing and one of the best saisons made with brett I've tasted.

Turning to other beer news, the 2nd Annual Bering Sea Beer Fest will take place at 2 PM on Tuesday, March 13th. It will be held on the sea ice just outside Nome near the Iditarod finish.  If you happen to be in town for the race, this would be a unique chance to drink various beers while standing on the frozen ocean.  Wisely, the organizers suggest that you "bring a coat".

Over at Country Liquors, Sierra Nevada's 2012 Bigfoot Barley Wine has made its annual appearance on the shelves, as well as the latest beer from Alaskan Brewing's Pilot Series, their new Birch Bock, which I wrote about in my last blog.  I haven't had a chance to drink the Bock yet, but I had a Bigfoot the other night and I can confirm that this year's batch is wonderful, just like it always is.

Moving to local breweries, I finally got some of St. Elias Brewing's Vanilla Bean Porter from the cask on Friday, February 24.  I never fail to be impressed with the difference cask conditioning makes in a beer's carbonation, and the extra vanilla flavor from "dry hopping" beans in the cask made this beer particularly delicious.  Zach's got some interesting new beers waiting in the wings to release as soon as some of his current brews tap out.  Also, look for a special price on Mother's Milk Irish Stout next week, in honor of  St. Patrick's Day.

Kenai River Brewing has the biggest news, however.  First, they have brewed a new Abbey-style beer, using Gummi Bears among other things.  It's still working away, but Doug tells me that it smelled delicious going into the fermenter.  Even more exciting, their new tap room is officially open!  As you can see from the photo (which I borrowed from their FB page), it looks gorgeous.  After Kassik's big expansion last year, Kenai River was our only local that lacked a decent place to sit and have a brew, so it's great that they have finally rectified that shortcoming.  The extra room should also makes things go a bit easier on the brewery side, as it will allow them to set up their canning line permanently, rather than having to break it down to get it out of the way after each canning run.

Well that's about it for this week.  Look for more reviews next week, as I work my way through the backlog of interesting beers that I wasn't able to taste, due to being sick.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

1 comment:

Jeffrey Daniels said...

Where did you pick up the Baltic Porter? Bodega? Both the Galaxy and the Rondy beer were wonderful....not surprising considering the source though.