Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Like a Kid in a Candy Store...

Yesterday my lovely wife Elaine and I made a shopping run to Anchorage. For anyone who isn't from Alaska, you probably don't quite grasp what that entails. It means we got up at 5:30 and were on the road shortly before 7 am, for a 150 mile/three hour drive over snowy roads with temperatures in the teens. Oh, did I mention that sunrise is about 10 am this time of year?

In Anchorage, we tried to cram as much shopping as we could into the few hours we had, making nine stops around town (plus lunch) in under six hours, all the while dodging the insane people who seem to be so prevalent behind the wheel inside city limits.

And then there's the return journey, leaving Anchorage at about 3:30 pm, with sunset at 4 and arriving back home at 6:30, to unload the car and feed the cats before collapsing on the couch. That's what an Anchorage shopping run in December means.

After hearing that, you're probably wondering why in the world we would be so crazy as to do something like that. I can answer that in one word: MONEY. We estimate shopping in Anchorage saves us 40% over local prices, even after you figure in the gas for a 300 mile round trip. Two added benefits are greatly expanded choices for lunch (Thai, anyone?) AND a fantastic beer selection (at least compared to my local stores). Visiting La Bodega and The Brown Jug Warehouse, I am indeed like the proverbial kid in a candy store. In fact, Elaine says that the only store we visit that I'm not in a hurry to get out of is the liquor store. I'm not sure that's true; after all, we went to Arctic Brewing Supply to buy more homebrew ingredients as well...

So what did I pick up in the candy store? Lots of cool stuff, much of it from Midnight Sun. I picked up a bottle of Saturn, one their Planet Series, billed as a "Belgian-style Fresh Hop IPA" and Venus, another in the series billed as Belgian-style Quadrupel, spiced with star anise and aged in Cabernet Sauvignon casks. I also grabbed a bottle of the 2008 version of their award-winning Arctic Devil Barley Wine and their Obliteration IV, something they're calling a Double Wheat India Pale Ale. Four beers that I am very anxious to try.

Besides these new beers from Midnight Sun, I also picked up two others to try: a 750 ml corked bottle of Lost and Found Ale from The Lost Abbey Brewery and another 750 ml of Avec les bon Voeux, a Christmas ale from Brasserie Dupont, one of my favorite Belgian breweries. I learned about this particular beer by reading an excellent book: 100 Belgian Beers to Try Before You Die by Tim Webb and Joris Pattyn. I won't go into any more detail about the book now, as I plan to cover it in more detail soon. Suffice it to say, it's a great Xmas present for a beer lover.

As I sample all these beers over the next few days, I'll be taking notes and will be reporting my impressions in this blog.

Until then, Cheers!