Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Everbody Must Get Stoned

It's that time of year again! Time for Stone Brewing Company of San Diego to release their 13th Anniversary Ale. Beer geeks around the country look forward to this every year, when we get to learn what sort of memorable brew the Stoners have dreamed up for us all to enjoy.

And this year marks lucky 13, so you know they had to whip up something special!

The beer started hitting store shelves at the end of June, so it's only taken about two months for it to make its way to Alaska, which is pretty much par for the course up here on the Last Frontier.

I guess I would call this year's brew a Double Red IPA; it's definitely a hop bomb, with over 90 IBUs of bitterness from Chinooks, Simcoe, and Centennial hops. The Chinooks handle the bittering during brewing, with the Simcoe & Centennial hops being used for dry hopping during fermentation. Plus, Stone actually does a second dry hopping just prior to bottling! This is one hoppy beer, my friends! Even with all that hopping, the beer remains remarkably drinkable, though its 9.5% ABV demands it be treated with respect.

It also has a very unusual color for an IPA, being a dark ruby, from crystal and amber malts used during the brewing. There's plenty of malt backbone for all that hoppiness to hang off of.

This beer reminds me somewhat of Midnight Sun's Mars, also an "Imperial Red IPA", which was released early in 2008 (prior to my starting this blog). It was around 85 IBUs and 8.7% ABV. It was also hopped with Simcoes, along with Columbus & Amarillo hops.

Bottom line: If you're a hophead like me, pick up a bottle of 13th Anniversary Ale. You won't be disappointed.

And don't even think about cellaring this beer! These hop flavors are meant to be savored fresh.

As long as we're talking about what time of the year it is, let's talk about the end of Tourist Season in Alaska. We didn't have a great year up here, with visitors down 20-40%, depending on where you are. Of course that means things were a lot less crowded for a change...

But now that the touristas, what there were of them, have departed, Alaskan breweries can go back to releasing big, interesting beers for us Alaskans. At the head of the line, Midnight Sun just released this year's edition of their Berserker Imperial Stout. This bad boy shows up every year about this time and it is eagerly awaited by beer lovers both near and far.

This year, we've got a new label, sporting what I assume is supposed to be a viking axe. The beer pours black and slow, with a small tan head. Talk about mouthfeel! This brew is very heavy on the tongue, almost chewy. "Vicious and viscous" is the ad copy, and Berserker certainly lives up to it! You quickly pick up hints of the molasses and maple syrup that are added to it, along with notes from its aging in oak. This is a massive beer, fully capable of going toe-to-toe with Deshutes The Abyss, North Coast's Old Rasputin, or any of the other great Imperial Stouts out there. At 30 IBUs and 12.7% ABV, this is definitely one to share and sip slowly.

Bottom line: Midnight Sun has done it again. Run, don't walk, to pick up a few bottles of Berserker for your cellar.

Well, that's about it for now. Got to go cut more firewood; winter will be here before you know it.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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