Ready or not, 2012 here we come! Hope you all had a nice Christmas and New Years celebration. Elaine and I kept things pretty low key here in Sterling; dodging amateur drunks on icy roads fits neither her nor my idea of a "fun" New Years Eve.
In the personal betterment department, I promised myself I would finally get going on earning my Cicerone Certification, from www.cicerone.org. For those of you not familiar with the Cicerone Certification Program, it is similar to the programs that exist for wine sommeliers, but focuses on beer rather than wine. There are three levels: Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone, and Master Cicerone. I have been meaning to get started for quite some time, but I finally took the plunge and signed up for the exam to earn the Certified Beer Server designation. You will be happy to hear that I am now Certified Beer Server # 8845. Stay tuned for updates as I work my way through the higher level certifications. They will take longer, as they involve face-to-face examinations, none of which are currently scheduled in Alaska...
Looking ahead to Alaska Beer Week, the list of events is now posted on the Brewers Guild of Alaska webpage. The dedicated AK Beer Week webpage is still under construction, but may be working by the time you read this. So far I count about SIXTEEN different beer events, not counting the Great Alaskan Beer & Barley Wine Festival itself! I am already making my reservations to ensure I don't miss out on events such as the Alaskan Brewing's Dark Beer Dinner at Simon & Seafort's, Kenai River Brewing's Dinner at Spenard Roadhouse, or Anchorage Brewing's Belgian Beer Dinner at SubZero. These are some of the top beer events in Alaska every year, so decide which ones you'll attend and make your reservations now!
In the two weeks since I last took my keyboard in hand to blog, there have been several new beer releases that I need to tell you about.
Another beer that's been released but hasn't made it down here yet is Anchorage Brewing Company's The Tide and Its Takers Tripel. This is the latest beer from Gabe Fletcher and I am very anxious to try it. Once again, likely the only local place to find it is Country Liquors in Kenai, though if you find yourself in Anchorage, I know La Bodega at the University Center Mall has it as well.
Let's move on to some beer reviews.
I mentioned in an earlier blog that Alaskan Brewing Company was releasing their 2011 Barley Wine on 1 December this year, earlier than in the past. When I visited out local Fred Meyer shortly after Christmas, I was pleased to see that it had arrived, and I grabbed two bottles, one to cellar and one to drink. Earlier incarnations of this beer have won several awards, including first place at the Toronado Barley Wine Festival in 2007 and a bronze at the 2008 World Beer Cup. I had tasted and enjoyed those previous examples, so I was looking forward to this year's effort. It did not disappoint. It poured a very pretty dark ruby with a decent cream-colored head. The aroma was primarily of caramel and sweet malt, with some alcohol heat. This is an English-style barley wine, so the emphasis is primarily on the malt, not the hops, but there was still enough bitterness for good balance. It had a long, smooth finish, which left me wanting another sip. As 10.7% ABV, this is not overly strong for a barley wine; you can't call it sessionable, but I had no problem finishing a 22 oz bottle by myself over the course of a couple of hours. This is an excellent beer and I'm planning to pick up a couple more bottles, to both drink and cellar, the next time I'm at the store.
Well, that's it for this week. Hope you all have a wonderful 2012, and get to enjoy many excellent beers in the coming year. I know I plan to.
Until Next Time, Cheers!