Thursday, May 10, 2012

More Excuses

 Damn, seems like every time I go to write this blog, I have to start out with making excuses as to why it's either late or was missing all together the previous week.  Too many irons in the fire, not enough hours in the day, etc., etc. So pick whatever excuse seems best to you and consider it to be the one I'm using for not getting a blog out last week.  Now let's move on.

I don't usually bother with news about overseas breweries, but this one is just too amazing to pass up.  Click here to read how the huge conglomerate Diageo (owner of Guinness, Heineken, and numerous other brands) threw its weight around to deny BrewDog an award and got caught red-handed.  It doesn't surprise me that this sort of stuff goes on, but it does surprise me that anyone would think they could be so brazen about it and not have it blow up in their face. To me it's telling that such a big company would feel so threatened by a small craft outfit to actually do something like this; even they must know that craft beer is the future of the industry.

On a more positive awards note, Alaskan Brewing Company reeled in another three medals, this time from the World Beer Cup, the international competition sponsored every two years by the Brewers Association. Judges blind tasted 3,921 beers from 799 breweries in 54 countries to award gold, silver, and bronze medals in 95 beer categories.  Alaskan Stout took the bronze medal in the Oatmeal Stout category, Alaskan IPA took the bronze in the American-style  Strong Pale Ale category, and Alaskan Amber took the silver in Irish Red Ale category.  Congratulations to the gang in Juneau and keep up the good work!

More good news:  Jim Roberts, AKA Dr. Fermento, the Dean of Alaskan Beer Writers and a good friend, has resumed publishing his occasional newsletter-style blog, know as Da Rant.  If you're interested in the Alaskan Beer Scene at all and you're not on his mailing list, you are missing out.  Send him an email at to receive a copy.

Here a chance to win something cool:A travel company known as Zephyr Adventures has teamed with World Class Beer, Untapped, New Belgium Brewery, and Draft Magazine to give away a free spot on an upcoming Colorado Hike, Bike, Beer and Brewpubs Adventure, plus round-trip airfare to Denver.  Follow this link to register for a chance to win this free trip.

I was in Anchorage for one day this week for a conference.  Meetings lasted most of the day so I didn't get to do much except drive up and drive back, but I made a point to delay departure for a few minutes to check out La Bodega's new store.  I talked about all of the upgrades in their new location in prior blogs, so I won't rehash them here, but I will say this: WOW!  The place looks fantastic, the growler bar is great, and I'm really confident that this is going to boost the craft beer profile in Anchorage tremendously.  Here are some photos, courtesy of my wife Elaine:

Exterior shot
Looking right from the growler bar
Interior shot
Looking left toward the growler bar
Close up of the growler bar
If you live in Anchorage and haven't checked La Bodega out yet, what the heck are you waiting for?

OK, let's turn to some reviews.

Click to enlarge

Here's a new brew from Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, NY: The Art of Darkness.  All of Ommegang's beers are of the highest quality and this new brew is no exception.  Brewed in the style of a Belgian Strong Dark, it poured an almost-opaque ruby color with a giant khaki head.  The nose was of dark fruits (plums, figs, raisins) plus earthy, spicy Belgian yeast elements.  On the palate, there was more of the same, with plums, raisins, figs, and some chocolate notes blending into a rich and complex ensemble.  A fine take on the style and another proof that you don't to be Belgian to brew absolutely fabulous Belgian beer.

 I also have had the chance to sample several beers in Samuel Smith Brewery's Organic line of beers and cider.  Samuel Smith's is a very traditional brewery located in Tadcaster in the U.K., famous for still fermenting their beers in open fermenters made from huge slabs of  Yorkshire slate.  Their beers have been imported into the US for decades by Merchant du Vin.  In fact, I can remember times in the late 80's and early 90's when they were about the only decent British ales you could find in this country.  These days they have much more company, but they are still producing some excellent brews, including their classic Yorkshire Stingo Ale, which I reviewed back on 8/31/2010.

With regards to the value of paying for organic brews, you will have to decide for yourself whether or not the added cost is "worth it" for you.  Personally, I have been perfectly satisfied with non-organic beers, but if you feel strongly on the subject Samuel Smith's is now presenting you with a viable option.

The organic line consists of a cider, a lager, a best bitter, and fruit beers: cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and most recently apricot.  I have tried several, and found them all to be uniformly well made; I particularly enjoyed the Organic Lager Beer.  It poured a lovely straw gold, very clear, with a big white head.  It had a nice, clean hop aroma and a very crisp, clean and refreshing taste.  It was more in the style of a German than a Czech lager and quite delicious.

Among the fruit ales, I found the Apricot Ale to be the most interesting.  I am not overly fond of apricots, but even so I enjoyed this beer.  It poured a cloudy orange-gold with a nice white head and a strong apricot aroma,  On the palate, there was enough natural tartness to keep the beer from being too cloyingly sweet, as fruit beers can sometime be.  I'm not sure I'd have another, but I suspect that's because I'm not as big a fan of apricots as someone else might be.  If you like apricots, this is definitely the beer for you.

Well, that's about it for this week.  Hopefully next week's blog will be out on time.  I will certainly do my best to make it so.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

1 comment:

takajose said...

I know all about to few hours in the day, too many irons in the fire, etc...from back in the day ;) No worries (didn't notice as I haven't been visiting as often as I'd like myself).

Anyhow, I'm a big fan of Ommegang, and will now have to see if I can rustle up some of that dark brew!

Keep up the good work Bill!