Tuesday, June 23, 2009

You Never Know Who You're Going to Meet Along the Way...

Well, I'm back from the National Homebrewers Conference in California. After the better part of six days in Oakland, it was good to get home and give my liver a bit of a rest!

I won't go into a tremendous amount of detail, since this blog is supposed to be about drinking in Alaska, not California, but I will mention a few things.

I got to visit Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, CA. We get their beers here in Alaska, and I've found them to be uniformly excellent. They had a very impressive operation, especially their huge fermenters, which were located outside! I've never seen a craft brewery with its fermenters outside before. Of course, that wouldn't work too well here in Alaska...

Then we visited Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa. For me this was a real treat, since their brewmaster, Vinnie Cilurzo, has won numerous awards over the last few years AND we can't get any of his beers in Alaska. When I asked Vinnie when we could expect to start getting Russian River brews here on The Last Frontier, his answer boiled down to "Not in the foreseeable future." That's too bad, as the beers themselves were amazing. There's no point in my giving detailed reviews, since they're not available here (and it would just depress me!), but if your travels take you to the lower 48, my advice is to grab anything you can with Russian River on the label. I predict you will not be disappointed.

The other cool thing about my time at the Conference was that I bumped into some interesting folks along the way. Take the photo above. I sat next to this guy all day long on the tour bus that took us to these breweries. He said his name was Sam and that he was from back east somewhere. Delaware, I think. Nice fellow and seemed to know quite a bit about beer, though he had some trouble handling West Coast IPAs. Too strong for his refined eastern palate, I guess.

Looking ahead, a new beer venue is schedule to open in Anchorage this week. The Fire Tap Alehouse, located on O'Malley & Old Seward in South Anchorage, opens its doors at 4 PM on Thursday, the 25th. Word on the street is that there will be 36 tap-lines, 25 of which will be filled from local Alaskan breweries. Hopefully that number will grow in the future. Their target audience is locals, not the tourist crowd, so stop by and check them out.

Also coming up on Saturday, 27 June, Midnight Sun Brewing Company will be having their official grand opening of their new location. Yes, I know they've been there for several weeks, but this is the official opening. They're also releasing this year's batch of Fallen Angel, their outstanding Belgian Golden Strong Ale. I'll be in Anchorage on Friday & Saturday, an I plan to be there to grab some. Maybe I'll see you there!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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