Monday, June 27, 2011

Things Are Looking Up

The weather's warmer and drier, and Independence Day is right around the corner.  Thing's are looking up!  I've got a fair amount of news to cover this week, so I'm going to dive right into it.

The First Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival now has its own Facebook page.  That's probably the best place to keep up with new developments for it.  Tickets will be going on sale any day now at the local breweries, and it wouldn't surprise me if they sell out, so don't delay too long in getting yours.  Admission will be $20, which gets you a commemorative sample glass and three 8 oz pours.  Tickets for additional 8 oz pours will be available for $3 each.  The Fest will be held at the old Glacier Pontiac Dealership at 37661 Kenai Spur Hwy in Soldotna from 4 to 10 pm on Saturday, August 13th.  I'll see you there!

Second, Amy Hogue, the wife of Kenai River Brewmaster Doug Hogue was hospitalized over the weekend with appendicitis.  At last word she was doing well and should be out of the hospital soon, but I know we all will keep her in our thoughts and prayers.  Feel better soon, Amy.

Dr. Fermento hard at "work"
Third, the dean of Alaskan beer writers, James "Dr. Fermento" Roberts, paid us a flying visit on Saturday afternoon.  I hooked up with him at St. Elias Brewing Company to have a couple of beers and generally chew the fat on the local beer scene.  Jim was in town for a Peak company picnic up in Nikiski, and was happy to report that after years of his prodding, the organizers finally served Kassik's brews rather than generic macros at the event.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Jim's work, he writes the Alaska beer column for The Celebrator, a national beer newspaper.  He also has a weekly beer column in The Anchorage Press, and a weekly blog on the KTUU website, Last Frontier Beer.  He just got back from attending Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp.  Finally, he writes a semi-weekly PDF blog that he emails out to anyone who signs up (send him an email at to be added to the list).  Oh, and he's the President of the Brewers Guild of Alaska, too.  Knowing how hard it is to keep up with just this blog and a monthly column, I honestly don't know where he finds the time, but somehow he does.  So if you want to stay abreast of the Alaska beer scene, Jim's da man.

While talking things over, we drank goblets of Zach Henry's latest creation, Medusa. This beer was brewed at 10% ABV, then after primary fermentation was complete, it was put into oak barrels that had held white wine, along with fresh apricots, for aging and a secondary fermentation.  The result is indeed a monster of a beer;  it may not turn you to stone, but a couple of these will definitely get you stoned!

In the glass, it's a cloudy honey color with a small white head, as you can see from my amateurish attempt to photograph it.  The aroma was extremely rich and complex, with every aspect of the beer detectable.  I could pick up the apricots, the white wine, the oak, plus the underlying malt and hops of the base ale.  On the palate this beer was quite light for its strength, and had a nice, fairly dry finish. This is a brew that can well be called "dangerously drinkable", as it hides its high alcohol content extremely well.  Another delicious barrel-aged offering from St. Elias.

I stopped at St. Elias on Friday night as well, for a little relaxation at the end of the work week.  I had a pint of the year's version of their Sunfire Saison.  It's very similar to last year's (see my 8/22/2010 review), except that Zach has dialed the alcohol back a bit.  Last year's was 6.4%, while this year's is 6%.  Chatting with Zach, he told me that he wanted folks to be able to have more than one, hence the strength reduction.  Personally, I like the change.  The beer is just as tasty as it was last year, and that much more drinkable.

Up in Anchorage, Midnight Sun has released a new beer, Bangalore Double IPA, on draft and in 22 oz. bottles.  This is the first beer in their 2011 World Tour series.  It uses a mix of various Indian curry spices, and comes in at 9.5% ABV and 85 IBUs.  I haven't gotten a chance to try it yet, but I hope to soon.  Reports are the spices are fairly subtle and the overall effect is nice.

Midnight Sun will also be releasing their Sockeye Red IPA in cans beginning early next month, and will be at the Kenai Peninsula Beer Fest in August.  Also, mark your calendars for 11/11/2011: they will be tapping the very last keg of their Good Mojo Sour Brown Ale at the brewery on that date.  I was lucky enough to get a growler of this beer when it was first released and it was/is superb.  If you're a sour beer fan, you shouldn't miss your last shot at this one.

I tasted another new beer over the weekend: Ommegang Brewing's Belgian-style Pale Ale, or BPA for short. This beer is brewed using their Belgian house yeast but two of the three hops used are classic American varieties. Columbus hops are used for bittering, then three additions of Celeia hops for aroma, followed by dry hopping with Cascades.  The resulting beer weighs in at 6.2% ABV and is an interesting hybrid between the two brewing regions.  It poured a beautiful gold in color, with an absolutely tremendous white head.  The aroma clearly showed its mixed heritage, with spicy, peppery, earthy Belgian yeast notes, yet classic Cascade aromas from the dry-hopping.  On the palate, it was similar, with Belgian elements blending with the bitterness and hop flavors from the Northwest hops varieties.  Outstanding carbonation and a nice, light mouthfeel.  A lovely summer beer, I had mine with a BBQ pork sandwich and it complimented it nicely. Another excellent brew from the folks at Ommegang.

Well, that's about it for this week.  The forecast for next week's blog looks a bit iffy; my daughter and her fiance will be in town, so between that, Independence Day, and my 49th birthday, I'm liable to be a bit too busy to get anything out.  So enjoy the respite from my meanderings and drink some good craft beer.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

1 comment:

John said...


Happy Birthday. I enjoyed your latest entry. Sounds like I have a lot of good beer to look forward to when I get to Alaska. Hope to make it to the Kenai in the not too distant future!