Wednesday, November 2, 2011

...Winter is Here!

If last week's flipped car was the harbinger of winter, we've got the real deal now.  There's an inch of snow on the ground at my house, I've got the snow plow on my faithful steed, and Tuesday's wind storm knocked out power all over the area (including Kassik's Brewery up in Nikiski).  Time to fort up with plenty of wood for the stove, a big glass of strong ale, and listen to the wind howl outside.

Speaking of strong beer, Midnight Sun has released the next beer in their 2011 World Tour series, London Old Ale.  I haven't been able to get my hands on a bottle of it yet, but I hear it's made from the second runnings from brewing their justly-famous Arctic Devil Barley-wine.  Even using the second runnings, you get an 8.8% ABV beer!  It's aged in bourbon oak casks that have been dosed with brett.  I'm really looking forward to getting hold of some of this one.  The last two brews in the series, Moscow Rye Russian Imperial Stout and Anchorage Bock both sound pretty darn good, too.

If you're going to be in Anchorage on Veterans Day (11/11/11), be sure to swing by the Midnight Sun Loft Bar for the very last Good Mojo Day.  These are the days when their 13th Anniversary Good Mojo Sour Brown Ale is on tap. This beer is now over 10 years old, and this is the very last keg of it.  When it was first offered for sale in May, 2008, I was lucky enough to get a growler of it (this was before I started writing this blog) and it was phenomenal.  Everyone else who tasted it thought so too, so the good folks at Midnight Sun saved the last 45 gallons and they've been doling them out every so often over the last three years.  But they've just about hit the bottom of the barrel, so next Friday will be your absolute last chance.  If you happen to be in Anchorage on Veterans Day, don't miss out.

A couple of beloved winter seasonals are back on the local shelves.  Alaskan Brewing's 2011 Smoked Porter is out, as well as Midnight Sun's CoHoHo Imperial IPA.  I had a bottle of the latter Monday night, and it was as delicious as ever (see my review from 10/20/2008).

In other Anchorage brewery news, Bitter Monk Double IPA from Gabe Fletcher's Anchorage Brewing Company was picked as one of Draft Magazine's Top 25 Beers of 2011.  Read all about it here.  Next up from Gabe should be The Tide and Its Takers Tripel, made with Sorachi and Styrian Golding hops and aged in French oak Chardonnay barrels. 9% ABV & 30 IBUs.

In spite of the power troubles mentioned above, Kassik's Brewery now has their Chocolate Cherry Stout on tap at the brewery.  Look for 22 oz bottles soon.  They also have some very cute pewter Christmas ornaments, based on the label for their Morning Wood IPA.  You can get them at the brewery or through the online store on their website, for $20 plus shipping.

Over at St. Elias Brewing Company, the special Oktoberfest beer that they released on 10/22 for their Oktoberfest celebration is still on tap.  I stopped by last Friday and had a glass.  Visually, it's perfect for the style, being a reddish color with an off-white head and crystal clear.  The aroma was of nice, clean malt, which pretty much describes the taste as well.  Zach fermented this beer at such cold temperatures that it tastes more like a lager than an ale.  It's very refreshing and extremely drinkable; I found it hard to stop with only one glass.  Spot-on for the style, I suspect this one will sell out fast, so get by and try it while you can.

And good time to try it would be this Friday, which happens to be First Firkin Friday!  Zach will be tapping a cask of Puddle Jumper Pale Ale, dry-hopped with Amarillo hops.  There's nothing quite so special as a pint of cask-conditioned beer, just like you could get in an English pub.  So be sure not to miss it.  The tapping usually happens about 6 o'clock, but you can get there early and drink pints of the Oktoberfest beer until it's time.

Just one new beer from Outside this time around: Anchor Brewing Company's Brekle's Brown Ale.  The beer is named for the Gottlieb Brekle, who purchased a San Francisco saloon in 1871 and converted it into the brewery which would eventually become Anchor Brewing in 1896. I had some on draft a few weeks ago at Humpy's in Anchorage, but this review is based on a 22 oz. bottle I picked up at La Bodega last week.It poured a translucent ruby-brown, with a big khaki-colored head.  The aroma was mostly of bready malt, with hints of citrus, probably from the Citra hops.  On the palate there was medium body with good carbonation.  The flavor profile is fairly subtle, with some toastiness from the malt balancing the touch of grapefruit from the hops.  Very drinkable and a nice take on the fairly nebulous Brown Ale style. 

Well, that's about it for this week.  Stay safe on these winter roads and stay warm.  Remember: alcohol will keep you blood from freezing, so be careful not to run out!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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