Monday, August 3, 2009

Summertime is Party Time in Alaska

If you've been reading this blog for more than a couple of months, you know that we Alaskans talk about the weather A LOT. Winter cold, heavy snows, spring floods, fall rains, we've got it all. As I've said before, Alaska is one place you learn to respect the weather; folks who don't have a bad habit of ending up rather dead.

The flip-side of all that is that Alaskans tend to really "seize the day" when the weather decides to cooperate. I'd hate to tell you how many folks just don't show up for work around here during the summer when we get a really nice summer day (especially if it's during the time when the reds are running). We all know that beautiful, warm summer days are all too few and fleeting; you've got to enjoy them when you can.

So it was in that spirit that my lovely wife Elaine and I threw a little shindig at our place over the weekend, ostensibly to celebrate the completion of our patio paver project, but really just to take advantage of the gorgeous weather we've been having for the last few days. Here's a picture of me with one of the surprise attendees: my good buddy Jim Roberts, AKA Dr. Fermento, beer scribe extraordinaire!

Also attending from the local beer crowd were Doug & Amy Hogue and Joe Gilman from Kenai River Brewing Company. Unfortunately Frank & Debara Kassik and Zach & Jenny Henry weren't able to make it, so I guess we'll just have to have another party. By the way, Zach and Jenny's daughter Claire is doing much better. She's back home and looks to be on the road to complete recovery, so that's good news.

Anyway, between all us beer-types and a dozen or so of our other friends, you can imagine that we went through plenty of suds, mostly from Kenai River (Thanks, Doug!). Particularly of note are a couple of new brews they now have on tap. First up, Raspberry Razz is back! This beer was available last summer and lots of folks (including my wife) have been eagerly awaiting its return. Basically it's Kenai River's Resurrection Summer Ale, but with some raspberries added to it. This gives it a very subtle fruit flavor, which for my money is the best way to go for a fruit beer. Some fruit beers taste way too much of the "fruit" and not nearly enough of the "beer"; Raspberry Razz does not make that mistake.

If you're in the mood for a different fruit, Kenai River also has a version of their Northern Lights with peaches added to it. The plain beer is an adaptation of one of Doug's old homebrew recipes. It's a what a light beer would taste like if the big brewers were interested in actually making beer instead of producing a commodity to be marketed with clever add campaigns. (Triple-hopped my ass!) Anyway, Doug added some peaches to this batch, once again going for a subtle flavor, one that compliments the beer rather than masks it. Very drinkable and a great summer thirst quencher, just like the Razz.

Last week I decided to open a bottle of Deschutes Mirror Mirror barleywine, just to get a baseline read on what it was like. The bottle I opened had a "Best After" date of April, 2010, so obviously I wasn't getting exactly what the brewer intended. Still, even drinking it 10 months early, I thought it was very respectable. At 11% ABV and 30 IBUs, it's another great American-style barley-wine, and a perfect choice to cellar, if you're looking for a candidate after reading my blog last week.

The Vanilla Porter went back on tap at St. Elias about 10 days ago; sorry for the late notice. Comparing it to my memories of it's previous incarnation last year, I think the vanilla flavor is a bit more pronounced. Talking with Zach Henry, he attributed this to the fact that this time around he was about to add the vanilla beans loose into the brew (due to having installed a new in-line filter). In his previous batches he had to contain them in a bag, to keep them from clogging his system, which probably reduced their ability to impart flavor. So if you liked the Vanilla Porter last year, you should like it even more this time around.

Finally, Cafe Amsterdam has a new website, Check it out for their latest doings and offerings.

Well, that's the latest news from the Kenai. Now get out and enjoy that weather, 'cause we'll have snow before you know it!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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