The producer turnout was excellent, with 18 different breweries, wineries, & cideries on hand and pouring samples. This festival has become very popular among brewers, thanks I think to both its uniqueness and its laid back atmosphere. While I was there, I did interviews for my monthly radio show with most of the brewer attendees, which you can listen to by clicking here. As good as this year's Frozen River Festival was, I'm sure next year's will be even better.
On the same day as the Frozen River Fest in Soldotna, the Fur Rondy Festival was held up in Anchorage. I really wish we could deconflict these two events, as it makes it hard on the brewers to try to be two places at once. Be that as it may, 49th State Brewing Anchorage took home the Best in Show crown (literally) from that event for its The Intrepid Imperial Stout. This particular version was brewed with Sitka spruce tips, birch syrup, & cocoa nibs before being aged in whiskey barrels. I had a sample of this brew at Frozen River Fest and found it to be excellent, so I'm not surprised it took home this award. Well done to Devin and the rest of the team at 49th State!
|Photo courtesy of David Short
"Nearly 20 years ago, Northwest Brewing News, part of Brewing News Publications, began providing the PNW beer community with a news source "of record." Over the years, the paper has covered numerous topics of interest to craft beer drinkers and brewers, profiled brewers and breweries, and reported beer-related news from Alaska to the Bay Area - something no other publication in the region has done.
The Great Lakes Brewing News, another paper under the Brewing News Publications umbrella, recently published an article written by the publisher, Bill Metzger. The article contained unnecessary, offensive misogynist language, and had very little to do with beer. Northwest Brewing News had no knowledge of or involvement in the printing of this article; otherwise, it would never have gotten past the editor's inbox.
People within the beer industry took an immediate, vocal stand against the article and Brewing News Publications on social media. Breweries that advertised in the papers pulled their ads. One of our NW Brewing News writers publicly quit. As in many similar cases recently, the public outcry sparked a reaction in which, rightly, Mr. Metzger resigned from all Brewing News operations.
Northwest Brewing News has operated mostly independently of Metzger since its founding; as publisher, he facilitated printing, shipping, and the annual writers meetings. The editor and writers determine the written content of the paper. The staff includes women as an integral part of the editorial process, and we do our best at balanced coverage of women in the industry. The article in question misrepresents the values and goals of this paper, and other Brewing News papers as well.
Northwest Brewing News is faced with a transition of ownership; that has not yet been determined. It is our hope to continue to provide thorough and informative coverage of our brewing community, and to be conscious of the diverse culture that craft beer has become. We can always be better!
Thank you to our Northwest readers and breweries who have supported us over the years. We will be in touch about changes moving forward."
To date, the Northwest Brewing News has not found a buyer, and I gather it will not be published again until it does. Despite my column getting the ax, this saddens me, as I have always thought that NWBN did a pretty good job of covering the beer scene in its area of responsibility. Let's face it: no other magazine is doing very much to cover our beer scene up here!
|My last cover story at NWBN...
|Click to enlarge
Moving on to reviews, I only have one new beer to write about this time, but I have something else to review: the uKeg from Growlerwerks. I resisted buying one of these for quite some time, but finally decided to give it a try. I got the plainest, cheapest version out there, a 64 oz. plain stainless one. There are also 128 oz models, and both the half and full gallon sizes come in a variety of (more expensive) finishes. The other challenge is obtaining food-grade CO2 cartridges; forget buying them online, since they cannot be shipped to Alaska. They are available at Arctic Brewing Supply in Anchorage and at other places, I'm sure. After playing with it for a couple of months, on the plus side, I'd say that when it works properly, it lives up to its hype. It keeps beer fresh and properly carbonated more or less indefinitely, or at least longer than I can let a half gallon of beer sit around without drinking it. On the downside, there is a definite learning curve associated with filling it properly, operating the pressurization system, and keeping it working right. You have to be scrupulous in following the cleaning instructions and be prepared to disassemble the cap to clean the internals on a regular basis. However, if you're willing to do that, the uKeg makes an excellent addition to your beer tools. Also, if you're a member of the American Homebrewers Association, Growlerwerks offers a pretty sweet discount.
Here's my only new beer review:
Midnight Sun Brewing's Dark Night Winter Warmer: Another in MSBC's series of limited edition canned releases, this beer was aged in port wine barrels. It poured a very dark ruby color with a small, tan head. The port barrel aging was definitely noticeable in the aroma, along with malt notes and hints of spices. The mouthfeel was light, and the carbonation was good. On the tongue, the flavors were smooth and malty, with sweet elements from the raisins and brown sugar used, plus a touch of pepper from the rye. There were distinct notes of port and oakiness, before falling away to a long finish highlighted by the light use of cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange zest. An excellent choice of style to apply this particular barrel aging regime to, and the end product is a complex but quite delicious beer. 8.7% ABV, 30 IBUs.
Well, that's about it for this time around. Talk to you again in another week or two.
Until Next Time, Cheers!