Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bye, Bye Summer, Hello IPA Day

Well, it was nice while it lasted, but it looks like summer has passed here on the Kenai.  Oh, I'm sure we'll have plenty more nice days before the snow flies, but the fall rains have shown up early this year.  It's been pretty much non-stop rain since Sunday, and more predicted until the weekend.  On the plus side, the river closed to dip-netting on Sunday at midnight and the hordes of Anchorage-ites looking to score a freezer full of sockeye have departed, so maybe I'll be able to find a place to park at our local drinking establishments.  Always look on the bright side, right?

Speaking of the bright side, we're counting down to the First Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival on Saturday, August 13th.  I've been beating the drum about his fest for the last couple of blogs, so I'm not going to go into anymore detail.  I'm just going to say that if you like around here or even up in Anchorage, you owe it to yourself to make it to this event.  So buy your tickets and make your plans to be there. 'Nuff said.

Also on the bright side, today is International IPA Day.  It's the brainchild of a couple of beer bloggers and seeks to use all our new social media to link up celebrants around the world in experiencing the most popular style of craft beer on it's very own day, August 4th.  I'll definitely by having an IPA this evening; how about you?

Around town, the usual suspects are up to their usual good deeds.  Kassik's Brewery just shipped out 60 cases of their Caribou Kilt Wee Heavy Scotch and 60 cases of their Beaver Tail Blonde, so the beer drinkers in Anchorage will be smiling soon.  Kenai River tapped a keg of their 2008 Winter Warlock Old Ale on Tuesday, but unfortunately I missed the notice on Facebook and it was gone in a flash.  They're still waiting on the Sunken Isle cans, but they hope to be able to release them around Labor Day.  They've also acquired the lease for the rest of their building; the hairdresser next door has moved out.  This will let them expand their operations when things slow down in the fall.  There are still permits to get and plenty of work ahead, but eventually they plan to have a true taproom, with tables and everything, in their new space.  Their beer of the week is Arctic XPA, with $8 growlers and $2.50 pints.

I mentioned last week that St. Elias Brewing had re-released their Jabberwocky ESB, but that I hadn't tried it yet.  Now I have, and I pronounce it to be good.  Reviewing my tasting notes from last November, I don't think I would change anything, so you can check them out, or better yet, stop in and taste some for yourself.

In fact this evening would be a good time to stop in at St. Elias, since it's First Thursday and there will be live music and hopefully a cask to be tapped.  Plus there's a brand new beer on tap: Off the Hook, a Belgian dubbel style ale that's been aged for 6 months in bourbon casks.  Sounds delicious!

I tried a new beer over the weekend, one I'd been saving for a couple of months: Widmer Brothers Brewing's Galaxy-Hopped Barleywine.  I'm always interested in experiencing a new hop variety; after all, hops are the "soul" of beer.  Galaxy hops are an Australian strain, bred from the Perle variety.  They're a high alpha acid strain, and have a unique aroma, described as a blend of citrus and passionfruit.  So I was eager to taste them for myself.  The beer poured a dark, semi-translucent chestnut color, with a tan head that fell fairly quickly but left good lacing on the glass.  The aroma was of hops, with some unusual fruity notes, that I couldn't quite place.  It been quite awhile since I tasted passionfruit, so I suppose that might be what I was getting.  On the palate the mouthfeel was good, with decent carbonation.  The malt was definitely in the foreground, as in an English-style barleywine, with toffee notes and enough hops for balance.  The finish was long and nice, with a touch of alcohol heat on the very end from the 9.5% ABV.  All-in-all a nice beer and quite drinkable for a barleywine; I finished the entire 22 oz. bomber in a sitting without a struggle.  My only caveat is that I'm not sure it really showcases the Galaxy hops well; the barleywine style is so malt intensive, the hops are more or less forced to take a back seat.

Well, that's about it for this week.  Enjoy International IPA Day, get your tickets for the Kenai Peninsula Beer Fest, and keep drinking good craft beer.  If you see me leaning up against a bar this weekend, be sure to step up and say hello.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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