Tuesday, April 5, 2011

National Beer Day

This Thursday, April 7th, is National Beer Day.  The reason this date is chosen as National Beer Day is that on April 7th, 1933, beer became legal again in the United States after some thirteen years of Prohibition.

If you know that the 18th Amendment, which stated that "the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited" wasn't repealed until the ratification of the 21st Amendment on December 5th, 1933, you might be wondering how beer became legal again 8 months earlier.  At this point, we must tip our hat to the ingenuity of Congress, which passed the Cullen-Harrison Act in March, 1933.  This Act simply declared that beer with no more than than 3.2% Alcohol By Weight was by definition not intoxicating.  Presto!  Beer is legal again on April 7th, 1933.

If you're interested in learning more about the madness that went into the birth, life, and death of the incredibly foolish and destructive attempt at social engineering known as Prohibition, I'd recommend you pick up a copy of The Last Call by Daniel Okrent.  I read it last summer and found it absolutely fascinating.  Or, if you prefer to get your history via film, Ken Burns is adapting it into a six-hour documentary, "Forbidden Fruit: Prohibition in America", scheduled to air this fall on PBS.

Regardless, be sure to raise a beer on National Beer Day in celebration of our freedom to do so, at least until Uncle Sam decides to try again to stop us...

Gabe Fletcher of Anchorage Brewing Company has released the label designs for the three beers that will be his first releases.  I don't have any specific release details yet, other than what I wrote in my blog of 1/20/2011, but here are the labels for your perusal. Click on a label to make it bigger.

Speaking of making things bigger, Kassik's Brewery is getting close to finishing their expansion.  They've gone from 1800 to 4800 square-feet, added a glycol chiller,  500 and 250 square-foot coolers, and a brand-new tasting room.  Best of all, by the end of April they'll be bottling their Beaver Tail Blonde, Moose Point Porter, and Morning Wood IPA.  Check out my column in this week's Redoubt Reporter newspaper for more details.

Kassik's also put a new batch of their Smoked Russian Imperial Stout on tap on Tuesday, 3/29.  I worked my way through a growler of this beer over the weekend and it was most excellent.  It poured completely opaque with a nice tan head that dissipated to a collar and left good lacing on the glass.  The aroma was just what you'd expect, chock full of roasty, espresso notes, backed up with malty sweetness and a touch of smoke.  On the palate it was rich and chewy, with lots of mouthfeel.  Flavors of roasted malt, smoke, and coffee intertwine in complex dance on your tongue.  I'm not sure of the alcohol, but based on the taste, I'm guessing the 8-9% range.  The finish is nice and warming.  If you're a fan of smoked beers or imperial stouts, you really need to give this one a try.

As long as we're out in Kenai, let's talk about a couple of beers that are on sale at Country Liquors.  The Firestone-Walker Brewing Company is located in Paso Robles, CA and has won numerous awards, including the Mid-size Brewery of the Year from the World Beer Cup three times, including 2010.  I don't believe I've seen any of their beers in Alaska before, but they are here now.  Country Liquors has two of them, on-sale for $2.99 each: Walker's Reserve Porter and the Union Jack IPAFirestone-Walker is most famous for its Union system, the only American example of a process developed in Burton-on-Trent in Britain.  It consists of numerous oak barrels connected via tubes (unions) that contain the beer while it undergoes its primary fermentation. 

Walker's Reserve Porter is in the robust porter style, weighing in at 5.9% ABV, and brewed using the Union system.  It's a blend of English and American ingredients, using Marris Otter malt, American and East Kent Goldings for hop additions during the boil, as well as Cascade hops in the whirlpool.  Poured into a glass, it is a dark brown with ruby highlights and a tan head that collapsed fairly quickly but left nice lace on the glass.  The aroma was primarily of the roasted malt, and on the palate the malt lead they way, but with enough hops for balance.  Extremely drinkable, this is one of the better robust porters I've had.

While I enjoyed the porter, the Union Jack IPA flat blew my socks off!  This was an absolutely amazing beer, so good that when I finished the one bottle I had purchased, I went back the next day and bought three more.  It poured a lovely dark gold, with a big white head.  The aroma was bursting with the odor of delicious floral hops.  For taste there was plenty more clean hop bitterness up front, with just enough malt backbone to balance, falling away to a nice finish.  Truly, one of the best IPAs I've ever had, a real pleasure in every way.

St. Elias Brewing Company also has a new release on tap.  Their Big Babushka Russian Imperial Stout has finally given out, to be replaced by Nocturnal, a Rye India Black Ale.  Another black beer with cream-colored head, this one has a strong hop & citrus aroma, likely from the dry-hopping during the barrel aging.  On the palate there's good carbonation and a light mouthfeel, with plenty of hop bitterness, some peppery, spicy notes from the rye, then a rapid fall off for the finish.  At 7% ABV and 66 IBUs, it's another quality beer from St. Elias.

Well, that's about it for this week.  Be sure to raise a glass on National Beer Day, and a middle finger for the neo-prohibitionists out there.

Until Next Time, Cheers!


Ned Duplantier said...

Now that is my kind of holiday!

Hunter said...

And today (6th) is National Tartan Day! Celebrate with a Scotch Ale. Or whisky.
Is the Firestone brought in by Specialty?

Anonymous said...

The Firestone IPA was sold out, at least when I went by the store on the 6th...

JESmith said...

Cheers!! My name is Justin Smith, and I am the founder of National Beer Day. When I started this holiday almost 3 years ago, I had no idea it would get so big so fast. It's good to see this important day in our history start to get the recognition it deserves. Thank you for helping spread the word about one of my favorite days of the year!