Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Beer Editor? I Rather Like That...

I got a pleasant surprise the other day, when my old friend Karl Klicker sent me an email announcing that he had published a book via Amazon Kindle, and that he had credited me as its "Beer Editor".  Karl and I have been friends for over twenty years, ever since we served together at the Navy-Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center (NMITC) in Dam Neck, VA.  Karl is one of those Renaissance Men you hear about so often but so seldom meet.  He has a PhD in Sociology, is retired from the Marine Corps (twice - a long story), and has done leadership training for just about every major company and organization, from NASA on down.  Oh, and he was working at Enron when they imploded.  So he's uniquely qualified to write a book about leadership and management; he's lived the good, the bad, and the really, really ugly.

Tested by Fire: Recipes for Leaders with Metaphors on the Grill  applies the time-tested principles of leadership developed by the United States Marine Corps to common managerial challenges.  It illustrates the points being made through the rather unique metaphor of recipes for the grill.  My small contribution was to suggest some appropriate beer pairings, especially for the Beer Can Chicken recipe.  So if you're interested in honing your skills as a leader/manager, I heartily recommend you give this book a look.

On the beer news front, the relentless march of new canned craft beers continues.  Broken Tooth Brewing in Anchorage has released their Fairweather IPA in cans.  By my count, we now have four breweries in Alaska releasing beers in cans (Broken Tooth, Midnight Sun, Sleeping Lady, and Kenai River) and at least one more starting soon (Denali).  That's mighty cool.

Greg Koch, founder & CEO of Stone Brewing Company, held a tasting event at Humpy's Alehouse in Anchorage last Friday.  However, earlier in the week, he visited the true beer capital of Alaska, Soldotna.  Check this out:

Yes, that is indeed Greg behind that beard, come to consult with our very own Zach Henry for advice on how to run Stone Brewing.  Or maybe he just wanted to have a good beer and some pizza in Soldotna.  It's hard to say for sure...

Speaking of beer celebrities, Zane Lamprey and his film crew will be at Midnight Sun's Loft Bar on Saturday, July 14th, filming part of an Anchorage episode for his show, Drinking Made Easy.If you're going to be in Anchorage this weekend, why not drop by and say hi? It's your chance to be on TV.

At St. Elias, there currently a very interesting beer on cask.  It's their Sunfire Saison, but Zach has dosed it with some brettanomyces.  I made a special trip on Sunday to try some (and buy my tickets for the 2nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Fest on August 11) and it was excellent.  It's still the Sunfire, but the brett is beginning to dry it out and give it the characteristic barnyard funk.  Those of you out there who are brett fans (you know who you are) need to hotfoot it over to St. Elias and try a pint of this beauty before its gone.

Also back on tap at St. Elias is Fair Trade Porter.  I wrote about this Kahladi Brothers coffee-infused porter back on 10/21/2011.  It was an excellent beer and a big hit, so Zach has brought it back for a return engagement.

More beer news from Soldotna.  If you've been wondering, as I have been, what's going on at the former BJ's Bar on the corner of Kobuk and the Sterling Highway, wonder no more.  Words is, it will be a new sports bar, The Pour House, serving beer and wine, plus bar food like wings.  It's scheduled to open sometime next week.  Interestingly, they'll be putting in three self-serve table taps, which have just been approved by the state Alcohol Control Board.  Click here to read an article about this growing trend in the Lower 48. I'm still trying to contact the folks behind it to get more details, such as how many taps, what sort of beers, etc, etc.  As soon as I get any more details, I'll pass them along.

Kenai River Brewing just conducted a vote on Facebook to decide whether to put their Imperial Rye Pale Ale (IRPA), Gummi Bear Tripel, or Russian Imperial Stout on tap.  I voted for the stout, but the gummi lovers carried the day, so the tripel will be on tap until its gone.  Also, Doug Hogue tells me that his beers will be on offer at The Pour House.

Kassik's Brewery has their Imperial Spiced Honey Wheat on tap now, with their Double Wood Imperial IPA coming next week.

Homer Brewing is now selling fresh local eggs at the brewery store.

Moving on to beer reviews:

Collaboration beers all all the rage these days, and I picked up a brand new one from La Bodega: Collage, #1 in the Conflux series, produced by Deschutes Brewery and Hair of the Dog Brewery in Oregon. We get plenty of Deschutes brews up here in Alaska, but none of the highly-regarded Hair of the Dog beers, so I was quite excited to give it a try.  Reading the label, I first noted that I was perhaps drinking it a bit young, since it had a "Best After" date of 4/30/2013!  Still, I pressed on.  The label also stated that the beer was a blend of Deschutes' The Dissident (reviewed 9/28/2008),and The Stoic with Hair of the Dog's Fred and Adam beers.  This potent brew was then aged in a combination of used rye whiskey, cognac, pinot noir, bourbon, and sherry barrels, plus new American oak and new Oregon oak.  The end result of all this poured a deep chestnut color, with a small but persistent cream-colored head. The nose was rich in whiskey and wood, with a hints of dark fruit and a touch of sourness in the background.  On the tongue, there is so much going on between the four different beers and the numerous types of wood-aging that it takes quite a why to sort out.  The different flavor elements seem to take turns coming to the foreground, before drifting back into the background to make room for the others.  I can see why they recommend a year of bottle aging, to give the various flavor profiles time to marry properly and settle down together as one big happy family.  Young as this bottle was, it was still delicious, but it also gave hints that in another six months it might be extraordinary.

Moving from a beer that needs a year in the bottle to one meant to be drunk right away, my next review is of Russian River Brewing's Pliny the Elder Double IPA.  I reviewed its younger sibling back on 3/3/2011.  What can you say about a beer that has been voted the best beer in the US for the last four years by the members of the American Homebrewers Association?  It's made to be drunk fresh, and my bottle was barely a month old when I cracked it.  It poured a crystal-clear gold with a big white head.  The aroma was packed with lovely floral hops, which is just what the beer delivers on the palate as well, i.e. tons of hop flavor without excessive bitterness.  The beer is amazingly drinkable, even at 8% ABV, and it's little wonder why it continues to snag top honors.  This beer is truly the gold standard of Double IPAs.

You may be tired of me reviewing beers from Green Flash Brewing in San Diego, since I've done one for about the last four blogs.  If so, you'll be happy to hear that this is the last one, at least until I can get my hands on some more of their excellent brews.  Their Tripel weighs in on the hefty side, with 9.7% ABV.  It pours a honey-gold with a nice white head.  The aroma has the classic earthy, spicy notes of a Belgian yeast, plus some hop aroma from the Saaz hops used.  The carbonation is good, the mouthfeel is light, and the spicy, fruity notes work well with the hop bitterness and flavor.  Surprisingly, there's no alcohol heat at all, despite of the relatively high strength.  A nice, pleasant tripel.

Finally, there's Unibroue's Grand Reserve 17 Dark Ale.  This beer poured a translucent chestnut with a big, off-white head.  The nose was redolent of figs, plums, raisins, and other dark fruit, plus some spicy notes from the Belgian yeast.  There was a nice, chewy mouthfeel, with plenty of vinous, woody notes, with a touch of alcoholic heat on the finish.  At 10% ABV, this big Belgian is a definite after dinner sipper, and like everything else that Unibroue produces, it's of the highest quality.

Well, that's about it for this week.  Don't forget to visit one of the local breweries (or La Bodega for you Anchorage folks) and buy your tickets for the Kenai Beer Festival.  You don't want to have to wait in line to get in, or even worse, not be able to get in at all.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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