Well, I'm a week late on this blog, but there are extenuating circumstances. In particular -- particular, get it? -- the ash fall generated by our local volcano, Mt. Redoubt, has disrupted things a bit around south-central Alaska. My lovely wife Elaine and I were actually in Anchorage last week when it gave one of its more enthusiastic belches, so we cut our visit short in order to get home before the expected ash fall hit our portion of the Kenai. As luck would have it, the wind shifted and dumped the ash on Anchorage shortly after we left, meaning we never actually got any at our house. We also made it out of Anchorage before the avalanche that closed the only road south for several hours. So we were home by the time the snow storm blew in last weekend and dumped another couple of inches of snow on us. Springtime in Alaska, anyone?
The important part of all of the above is that we did make it to Anchorage and back, so I did get a chance to pick up some new and interesting beers to try. I was especially happy, after several months of trying, to find a six pack of Oskar Blues Brewery's Old Chub Scottish Style Ale. I have a small quibble with name, as a beer packing 8% ABV as this one does would typically be called a Scotch or Strong Scotch style, rather than Scottish. Regardless of what it says on the label, Old Chub has the reputation as being one of the best beers on the market today and I've been wanting to try it for months.
After I got the chance to pop open a can and pour it out for a tasting last weekend, I can definitely say that reputation is well-deserved. This is probably the very best beer I've ever had from a can and one of the finest Wee Heavy's I've ever tasted. The beer has the massive malt backbone you'd expect from the style, with just enough hops for balance. There's a touch of smokiness from a bit of beechwood-smoked malt from Bamberg, Germany. Personally, I think peat-smoked malt would be a little truer to the style, but that's a minor complaint, given the exceptional taste of this excellent ale. Anyone who thinks you can't get great beer out of a can has not tried this one. I could certainly see myself and my friends fishing the Kenai River on a drift boat this summer and working our way through a six-pack of this brew. I can't wait to get back to Anchorage to pick up a case!
In keeping with the Wee Heavy theme, I also snagged a bottle of Great Divide Brewery's Claymore Scotch Ale. Available from February to April, this was the first time I'd seen it here in Alaska. I drank it after I had my first can of Old Chub and I'm afraid it suffered by comparison. Don't get me wrong; it's not a bad beer. But when my palate is fresh from what could well be the best scotch ale in the country...
Still, Claymore is a respectable effort from a fine brewery. It was plenty malty, with a deep-ruby color and lots of caramel sweetness, a reserved hop profile, and a subtle warming from the alcohol. As I said, a good beer. Just not a classic.
Well, that's it for now. If Mt. Redoubt doesn't smother me, I'll be back next week to talk about some of the other new beers I picked up in Anchorage, like Midnight Sun's Descent.
Until then, Cheers!