Wednesday, April 14, 2010

So When We Can Get Some of That Global Warming?

OK, so I'm looking out the window, watching it snow like crazy. We got two inches last night, and it's still coming down. Could this be the dreaded Fimbul Winter? In Norse mythology, the end of the world, also known as Ragnarok, would be heralded by three winters without any summers, where the snow comes from all directions. There will be wars, and brother will kill brother, until even the gods meet their doom.

Hmm, the Saints did win the Super Bowl. This could be it. Better run the checklist.

Let's see, snow from all directions, check. Let me turn on CNN; lots of wars, check. Brother will kill brother: well, mine's in Florida and there's no way he could get a flight up here in this weather. Whew! Guess it's not the end of the world after all.

Looks like it's just April in Alaska...

Not a tremendous amount of beer news up here this week; most of the local brewers are working their equipment as fast as they can to brew up the mass quantities of beer they're going to need for the tourists this summer. At least we all hope that a lot of beer will be needed; I guess if we don't have any tourists, we'll have plenty of beer to drown our collective sorrows in.

The 2010 World Beer Cup Awards have been announced. This year, 642 breweries from 44 countries and 47 U.S. states vied for awards with 3,351 beers entered in 90 beer style categories. The entries in each category were eligible for gold, silver and bronze awards. Judges presented a total of 268 awards. As usual, Alaska did well, with our brewers taking home three medals.

In Category 19, Aged Beer, Alaskan Brewing Company's Alaskan Smoked Porter 1998 took gold. There were twenty beers entered in this category. In Category 50, Other Belgian-style Ale, Sleeping Lady's Frozen Kriek took silver. There were 35 entries in that category. Finally, in Category 68, Barley Wine-style Ale, Alaskan Brewing's Alaskan Barleywine 2009 took bronze, with 58 entries. Considering we were competing against the entire world, this is a great showing for Alaska.

Over the weekend I did get around to having some of the Oskar Blues beers I picked up at SAV-U-MOR last week. On Saturday Elaine and I went over to a party at my boss's home. I thought that Mama's Little Yella Pils would be pretty approachable for most folks, so I brought a six-pack. It poured very nice from the can, bright gold with two fingers of nice white head. Moving on to aroma, there's not a whole lot. Nothing like the bright hoppy notes you'd look for from a Czech pilsner. Some malt, but nothing special. On the palate, it's more of the same. Mostly malt, in the style of a German pilsner, but no snap or spark. Very drinkable, but not at all challenging. At 5.3% ABV and 35 IBUs, this is the craft beer you offer your friends who don't drink craft beer so as not to scare them off. Easily the least impressive of any of the beers I've had from Oskar Blues. Not bad, just not special.

Moving on to the Ten-FIDY Imperial Stout, we confront an entirely different animal. I tried one last night, and it poured black as midnight into a glass, producing a one finger head that was also very dark, almost purple rather than tan. The aroma is full of chocolate and roast malts, and the mouthfeel is heavy and rich, like drinking ice cream. The tremendous maltiness is well-balanced by massive hops additions (98 IBUs), and the finish just seems to go on and on. At 10.5% ABV, this beer puts the Imperial in Russian Imperial Stout. It's an absolutely fantastic interpretation of the style, and one of the top three or four beers in this style available around here. Plus it's packaged in cans, so it would be easy to pack into the back country. This is certainly a beer to savor after a long day's work or play. If you haven't tried it, pick some up now.

Well, that's it for now. I should have more news next week, unless I'm wrong about the whole end-of-the-world thing and the Fenris Wolf breaks free from his bonds to ravage the world of men before slaying Odin...

Until Next Time, Skoal!

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