Tuesday, October 12, 2010
OK, Peninsula Homebrewers, It's Time to Get Organized
One of the things that I've never been able to figure out is why we don't have a homebrew club here in the central Kenai Peninsula. There's one in Seward (the Malt Marathon Brewers Association) one in Homer (the Q and Q Brewers Guild), and of course the Great Northern Brewers in Anchorage, but there's nothing in the Kenai-Soldotna area. We've got two breweries & a brewpub, but no homebrew club? That doesn't make sense.
In my experience, homebrew clubs are very important to the development of the appreciation and demand for craft beer in an area. They are one of the best ways to recruit and educate folks who have just discovered craft beer. When I first got serious about beer, way back in 1989, it was the guys I met in the Hampton Roads Brewing & Tasting Society who taught me most about what made craft beer special and how to brew it. I haven't lived in that area since 1991, but I still carry the lessons I learned from those fellows around with me today.
So why don't we have a club like that around here? Beats me, but I'm tired of waiting for someone else to start one, so I hereby announce the formation of the Kenai Peninsula Brewing & Tasting Society! (If you don't like the name, show up at the first meeting and suggest a better one). The location of the first meeting will be the Kenai River Brewing Company in Soldotna, and the date and time will be the first Wednesday of next month, November 3rd, at 6:30pm. If you are at all interested in craft beer, please show up at this first meeting. Also, spread the word about this meeting to anyone you know who might be interested.Please note, this will not be just a club for homebrewers! Even if you don't brew, but just appreciate good beer (or cider or mead), you are welcome. Bring some homebrew to share if you've got some or just come and drink mine.
I've never organized anything like this before, so I'm sure it will be somewhat chaotic, but the end goal is to have a lively organization that meets once a month to allow people to share their experiences, good and bad, with craft beers and homebrew in a friendly social environment. Everything else is open for negotiation.
Thanks to Doug, Wendell, Joe and the rest of the gang at Kenai River for being willing to let us use their space for this meeting.
Speaking of Kenai River, they will be part of an upcoming beer dinner at Firetap Alehouse in Anchorage, along with Denali and Midnight Sun Brewing Companies on Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm along with a 5 course gourmet dinner. If you're interested, call 561-2337 for reservations. Seating is limited to 50 people and the cost is $50 per person
Judging by their Facebook posts and pictures, the folks at Kassik's Kenai Brew Stop have been making good progress with the better weather. Here's another photo that I lifted which gives you a pretty good view of the sheer scale of their expansion. Trying to run the brewery and coordinate all this work must be like trying to run down the road and put your shoes on at the same time. The good news is that they seem to be managing pretty well. Looking forward to seeing the finished product, guys!
I made it to the Firkin Friday last week at St. Elias Brewing Company, where they tapped a cask of Black Hole CDA that had been dry-hopped with Citra hops. Why I was waiting for the tapping at 6, I had a pint of their regular Black Hole (strictly for purposes of comparison, you understand). The major difference I noted between them, other than the creamier carbonation characteristic of any cask-conditioned as opposed to force-carbonated beer, was in the aroma and the finish. It both places I picked up the citrus/grapefruit notes that this variety of hop is well-known for. However, I though the impact of the dry-hopping was less-pronounced than when I had cask versions of their Williwaw IPA. Perhaps this is because of the roasted flavors in the CDA or perhaps it's a function of the Citra hops. Either way, it still made for a very good pint of cask ale.
Speaking of of IPAs, when I was in Anchorage over the weekend, I stopped by La Bodega to see what was new. Among the beers I grabbed was a bottle of Hop Czar Imperial IPA, from Bridgeport Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon. This is a serious IPA, with 85 IBUs of bitterness from additions of 4 different hop varieties (Nugget, Chinook, Cascade, & Centennial) and 7.5% ABV. It poured a beautiful dark copper, with a decent head that dissipated fairly rapidly to a collar in my snifter. The aroma was very clean, almost nothing but floral hops. On the palate the mouthfeel was good, with a ton of hop bitterness up front. There is a malt backbone underneath all those hops, but it is buried pretty deep. The finish is long and lingering, quite dry. This beer is definitely not for the faint of heart; you really have to love PNW hops, but if you do, you'll love Hop Czar.
Also just in at La Bodega is Rumble Oak-Aged IPA from Great Divide. See my review back on 9/27/2010 from my tasting this beer at the brewery in Denver. Anytime you're in Anchorage, La Bodega is always worth a stop.
Well, that's about it for now. Don't forget the Mighty Matanuska Brewfest happening in Palmer this weekend and Oktoberfest at St. Elias next Friday, October 22nd. And mark your calenders for the first meeting of the KPB&TS on November 3rd at 6:30.
Until Next Time, Cheers!