Monday, October 20, 2008

A Relative Comes to Visit

It's a phenomenon that every Alaskan is familiar with: folks coming to visit. Moving to The Great Land is almost guaranteed to reacquaint you with friends and relations you thought long gone. The cousins from Philly who couldn't be bothered to visit when you lived in Cleveland will suddenly find that they can be bothered to fly thousands of miles to Alaska (to stay at your place and have you take them out fishing). Summer isn't just tourist season in Alaska; it's also Visiting Relatives Season.

However, once the snow has chased the last of our visitors back south, a more welcome relation pays us his annual visit. That visitor is Midnight Sun's CoHoHo Imperial IPA. This beer is one of their rotating seasonals, replacing their Meltdown Double IPA and is a more muscular version of their Sockeye Red. Long-time readers will know that I consider Sockeye Red to be my go-to beer, so it should come as no surprise that I also love its bigger, huskier cousin, CoHoHo.

CoHoHo weighs in at a hefty 8.0 ABV and 85 IBUs, as compared to Sockeye Red's 5.7% and 70, respectively. The folks at Midnight Sun achieve the increase in strength by adding fun stuff such as brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, and juniper berries. The same hops are used (Centennial, Cascade, & Simcoe) but at a more generous rate to balance the heftier grain bill. The end result is an exceptional beer, with a wonderful mouth feel and a massive hop bitterness and aroma. This beer is a wonderful drink on a long, snowy evening by the fire. It's a relation that is welcome to stay as long as he wants!

Speaking of distant relations, during my last visit to Anchorage, I picked up a bottle of Brewery Ommegang's Ommegeddon. It's described on the label as "a funkhouse ale brewed with brettanomyces" (right below the mushroom cloud!). This is one of the clearest examples of truth in labelling I've ever seen. Ommegeddon is an 8% golden Belgian style, generously dry-hopped and with plenty of brett-generated "horse blanket" funkiness. I loved it! Working my way through the 750 ml bottle, I knew this beer reminded me of another one I'd had. It took me a few sips before it finally clicked. Ommegeddon is strongly reminiscent of one of the great Trappist ales, Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval's Orval. The color is slightly different, with Orval being a bit more orange and I don't think Ommegeddon has candi sugar added, but otherwise they are very similar. Not bad for a beer brewed in Cooperstown, New York. All in all, it's a weird and wonderful beer. I plan to pick up another couple of bottles when I next get back to Anchorage, assuming there's any left.

Until next time, cheers!

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