Thursday, February 9, 2012

Still Working My Way Back

It's been a bit of a rough week.  I'm still working my way back to full health, and my sinuses have been pretty screwed up, which has seriously impacted my perception of taste and flavor.  So I've steered away from trying any new brews (since I can't really evaluate them properly).  I do have some reviews below of beers I tasted before I got sick, but nothing really recent.

However, just because I've been ill, beer news hasn't stopped happening. A big announcement from Alaskan Brewing Company: they are following in the footsteps of Sierra Nevada Brewing and moving to get rid of twist-off caps on their 12-oz. bottles.  Pry-off caps are much better at protecting beer, and better protected beer means greatly improve quality and consistency.  The sacrifice in convenience is minimal, in my opinion, so the trade-off is well worth it.  A tip of the cap to the folks at Alaskan for doing the right thing.

Locally, tomorrow night (Friday, 10 Feb) is The Taste of the Kenai Event, and many local food vendors, including the local breweries, will be taking part. It will be held at the Soldotna Sports Center, from 6 to 9 PM.  Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased from the Kenai Peninsula Tourism & Marketing Council office.  It's a great chance to experience the best in food & drink that the Peninsula has to offer, and a fine way to spend a Friday night.

Zach Henry's new Vanilla Bean Porter at St. Elias Brewing has been getting some rave reviews from my friends, especially the folks who were able to get it from the cask last Friday.  I'm looking forward to trying it as soon as I shake this head cold.

Kassik's Brewery just released a new batch of their award-winning Carribou Kilt Wee Heavy Scotch Ale last Tuesday.  I think I'll make a run out their way this weekend and get me some!

Normally, I'd say things are going well at Kenai River Brewing, but after I saw this on their Facebook page this morning, I'm not so sure:
Forky strikes back!

Could it be that Joe Gilman's absence is being keenly felt?  Say it ain't so, Joe!

Now for some reviews:

While I was in Anchorage, I picked up an interesting looking porter from Sweden, D. Carnegie's Porter.  There's a very long history of porter brewing in the Baltic, including Sweden, so I thought it would be worth a try.  Since then, I've also seen it for sale at Country Liquors in Kenai.  It poured a deep ruby color with a small khaki head that dissipated pretty quickly. The aroma was mainly of chocolate malt, with a little roastiness.  This carried through onto the palate, before dropping away to a bit of a disappointing finish.  Stylistically, I'd say this was more of a brown porter than a robust or Baltic one, even though its 5.5% ABV is a bit strong for that style.  When I finally finished the beer, I took another stab at translating the Swedish label.  That's when I realized it was actually brewed by Carlsberg, one of the biggest breweries in the world.  Suddenly it's inoffensive mediocrity made perfect sense...

Another (and much better) beer that I grabbed in Anchorage was Boulevard Brewing Company's Harvest Dance Wheat  Wine-style Ale.  Since I pretty much love anything from Boulevard, especially their Smokestack series, I was looking forward to this one.  It poured a clear, deep gold color,with a truly massive white head that kept threatening to overflow the glass.  The nose was of bright, fresh Citra hops. Carbonation was exceptional, making the beer very light on the tongue.  There was nice bitterness but it wasn't excessive, and the French & American oak aging comes through a bit on the finish.  The single adjective that came to mind as I drank it was "brisk".  It hides its 9% ABV fairly well and is quite drinkable for such a big beer.  Another exceptional brew from Boulevard!

Finally, as I wrote last week, Alaskan's Black IPA is in the local stores at last, in both six-packs and 22-oz. bombers.  It poured very dark, almost opaque, but with some ruby highlights.  It had a nice, khaki-colored head and the aroma was chock-full of Centennial and Cascade hops.  Both the aroma and flavor had no discernible roastiness, leaving the field primarily as a showcase for the hops.  This is a nice, easy drinker, a beer you could readily have more than one of in a single sitting.

Well, that's about it for this week.  Hopefully the next time I take keyboard in hand, I'll be back to 100% in the tasting department and will have some more interesting brews to report.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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