Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Sky is Crying

Kassik's 5th Anniversary Party
There's a wonderful blues song by the late, great Elmore James by that title.  It's first line is: "The sky is cryin'.  Can't you see the tears roll down the street?"  Well, for the last week here on the Kenai, the answer to that question has too often been "Yes".  In other words, we've gotten quite a bit of rain, and we're getting more of it today.  I'm hoping for a better day tomorrow, when my lovely wife Elaine will be manning her tent at the Soldotna Wednesday market.  But we bought a propane heater on Saturday, just in case...

Click to enlarge.
The dreary weather didn't put a damper on the 5th Anniversary Party at Kassik's Brewery on Saturday.  Elaine and I managed to stop by around 1 PM and things were in full swing.  The Couzins were playing some great tunes, lots off good beer was being poured, and Carroll Martin of Diamond M Ranch was dishing up some delicious BBQ.  All-in-all, it was a grand affair.  Additionally, the labels for their Caribou Kilt Wee Heavy Scotch Ale came in, so bottles are now on sale at the brewery and will be going out today to their distributor, which means they will be on local shelves very soon.  More good news:  Kassik's Dolly Varden Nut Brown Ale is also being released in bottles today.

Last Thursday evening, St. Elias Brewing Company continued their First Thursday tradition of tapping a cask-conditioned beer.  I'd missed the last two tappings and darn near missed this one, thanks to construction delays on the Sterling Highway.  When I walked into the place, Zach Henry was just setting the cask up on the bar and getting it ready to tap.  I walked over to get a picture, at which point Zach announced that I would be the guest tapper that evening.  Despite all the time I've spent hanging around in bars, this was a first for me.  Here are a few of photos (courtesy of Brandi Kerley), so you can see how it went:

Safety brief from Mr. Henry before conducting the evolution.

Lining up the mallet with the spigot.

Looks like we have penetration.

All done.  Someone hand me a glass.

It was a lot of fun, and I recommend you give it a try if the chance ever presents itself.  But what about the beer?  It was a Puddle Jumper Pale Ale, dry  hopped with 4 ounces of East Kent Goldings.  It had the same wonderful, creamy carbonation that's the hallmark of cask-conditioning.  Very nice.

St. Elias has another new beer on tap: Lucid, a Belgian Pale Ale that was barrel-aged for over a year.  It poured a cloudy honey color, with a small, fast-dissipating head.  The aroma was of hops and some woody notes.  It was nice and light on the palate, with good hop bitterness, then with a nice woody tang on the finish.  This beer wasn't aged in a "wet" bourbon cask, so you should expect no whiskey; it's just wood.  At 5.7% ABV, it's much more sessionable than the usual barrel-aged offerings from St. Elias.

On the debit side of the ledger, the much beloved Tin Hat has finally gone; my friend Curt and I got a couple of goblets on Friday, and were sitting at the bar as the keg blew.  It will be missed.

Over at Kenai River Brewing, the march towards their second canned offering continues.  They've just brewed a triple batch of their Sunken Isle IPA, and I can't wait to grab a six-pack of that next month to take out on the river.  This week's beer special is Arctic XPA, at $8 a growler or $2.50 a glass.

Besides the Lucid reviewed above, I didn't get to try any new brews this week, as I was too busy drinking old favorites.  Among them, I had a nice bottle of Anchor Brewing's Porter; it's a beer I've been drinking for about 25 years, and it's still amazing.  Last month it was on draft at The Back Door Bar in Kenai.  I don't know if it still is, but if so, it's worth the trip.  If not, you can find it at Save-U-More or Country Liquors.

Well, that's about it for this week.  Cross your fingers for some better weather; we need some sunshine!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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