Well, it's that time of year again. No, not Christmas time, though that is fast upon us. (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you, by the way.)
No, I'm talking about the annual Great Alaska Beer and Barley Wine Festival, which takes place in Anchorage each January. This is more or less the premiere beer festival in Alaska and is a fantastic beer experience. Just about every brewery in Alaska is represented, along with many from the West Coast and across the country. Personally, I've had the great good fortune to attend in 2007 and 2008, and I'm looking forward to being there again next month.
This time around, the festival will take place on Friday, January 16th and Saturday, January 17th in the Egan Center in downtown Anchorage. There are three sessions, Friday evening at 5 pm, Saturday afternoon at 2 pm, & Saturday evening at 6 pm. A ticket gets you a program, a commemorative tasting glass, and tickets for 30 beer samples. The tickets for the evening sessions go for $30, while the Saturday afternoon session is $40.
Why $40 for the Saturday afternoon session? Well, that session is billed as the Connoisseur Session. The brewers will be pouring special beers during that session, with the additional $10 going to benefit the Brewers Guild of Alaska. Having been to the Friday evening session in 2007 and the Connoisseur Session in 2008, take it from me that the later is well worth the extra ten bucks. The evening sessions seem to fill up rapidly to the capacity of the Egan, mostly with young adults looking to "drink their $30 worth". Not fun, if you're a serious beer fancier. The Saturday afternoon session is much less crowded and much more relaxed, with time to interact with the brewers. Not to mention the extra beers to sample...
Also, the Captain Cook Hotel and the Copper Whale Inn B&B (both within a couple of blocks of the Egan) will be offering special rates to festival goers. If you're interested in attending, check out the details at the Festival's website at http://www.auroraproductions.net/beer-barley.html. Hope to see you there!
I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I had picked up a bottle of Midnight Sun's Venus, one of this year's Planets series. I finally got a round to drinking it the other night, and it is a true monster of a beer, let me tell you! They're calling it a Belgian-style Quadrupel, so stylistically it's similar to a dubbel, except that it weighs in at a kickin' 14.3% ABV! This is really and truly a sipping beer, believe you me! It's also been spiced with star anise and aged in Cabernet Savignon casks, giving it some subtle woody notes. This would be a very likely candidate for cellaring, I think. I can't reccommend this brew too highly, so pick some up if you can.
Finally, this is likely my last post until the New Year, so I'll take this opportunity to thank you all for your kindness in reading my ramblings and pass along my hopes that you all have a Happy (and Beery!) New Year.
Until next time, Cheers!