Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring's Just Around the Corner (I Hope)

Mid-March in the Great Land, with clear, sunny days reaching 40F and nights down around 0F.  It's not spring yet in Alaska, but we have hopes it will be here eventually.

St. Patrick's Day is this Thursday and St. Elias Brewing Company has released a new beer for the occasion: Dough-boy Stout, named in honor of Frank Buckles, the last American veteran on WWI, who passed away a few days ago at the age of 110.  I had a pint last Friday.  In the glass it was a good-looking stout, opaque with a nice tan head.  The nose was of nice roast malt, very clean.  On the palate there was good carbonation and mouthfeel, with a bit more body than their Mother's Milk Irish StoutDough-boy also has more alcohol, with 5.5% ABV, compared to Mother's Milk's 3.8%.  In honor of St. Patrick's Day, St. Elias is selling pints for only $3 though Sunday, so be sure to stop by and check it out.

By the by, the Feast of St. Elias falls on July 20th (Orthodox calendar) or August 2 (modern calendar).  I wonder if St. Elias Brewing will be doing something to honor their namesake?

Over at Kenai River Brewing, they have brewed up another Single Hop IPA; this one uses Nugget hops.  Keep an eye out for it on tap in a week or two.  They will also be having another can release party tomorrow (Wednesday, 3/16) at Spenard Roadhouse in Anchorage.  Cracking the Can will take place from 5 to 8 PM, and will feature dinner dishes specifically created to pair with Skilak Scottish Ale.  The guys from Kenai River will be there, so if you'll be in Anchorage tomorrow night, stop by and tell them what you think of their new cans.

Speaking of Kenai River's cans, I hear they're on sale at Fred Meyer and I saw some of them in the cooler at Country Liquors in Kenai.  While I was there, I picked up another interesting beer, a 2010 Olde Bluehair Barley Wine from Big Sky Brewing Company (Bottle # 151 of 3000).  The label stated that this beer is aged for a minimum of three months in American Bourbon casks.  On Sunday I popped the cork on the bottle and gave it a try.

The beer poured a dark honey color with a huge cream-colored head that collapsed fairly quickly.  The bourbon aging was immediately noticeable on the nose, along with notes of vanilla, dark fruit, maybe some leather?  A fair balance between the barley wine elements and the bourbon ones seemed to be maintained.

On the palate, I picked up hop bitterness first, then the alcohol (10.5%), next the vanilla & apricots, finally the wood from the barrels.  Very rich and complex, this is a beer you could spend quite some time contemplating and deconstructing. It's worth picking up a second bottle to cellar, just to see how the numerous flavor components will shift overt time.

Finally this week, I had some news from Gabe Fletcher regarding his new venture, the Anchorage Brewing Company.  He reports that he has at last gotten all of his final approvals and is fully licensed and ready to "get some brew out".  Back in February, I visited Gabe in his Bat Cave-style Barrel Lair beneath the Snow Goose.  I actually shot some videos of his operation, which I seem to have manged to misplace (not that I could properly embed them into my blog, anyway).  Still, if you follow the link above you will get to see some photos of the racks and racks of barrels he's using to age his beers.  While I was there I go to taste both his White Out Wit and his Bitter Monk Belgian Double IPA from the casks wherein Mr. Brettanomyces was doing his magic.  Obviously both beers were only part way along the road to their eventual finished selves, but based on how they tasted then, they will be truly exceptional brews.  As soon as Gabe starts putting these beers on the market, be sure to join the stampede and grabs yourself as many bottles as you can afford.

That's it for this week.  Now go out and find a new beer to enjoy.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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