Friday, July 27, 2012

New Bars, New Beers

Summer rolls on here on the Kenai, with no king fishing (so the river guides are going broke) and no set netting (so the set netters are going broke).  In a situation like this, the only booming businesses are the ones supplying the means for drowning your sorrows...

As mentioned here two weeks ago, the former BJ's Bar in Soldtona is now The Pour House.  It's the brainchild of owner Molly Poland and general Manager Dee Roddis.  They have transformed this old Soldotna landmark into a bright, new sports bar.  The interior of the bar has received a thorough makeover, with the old, dark, nicotine-stained interior giving way to a much more modern look, boasting bright colors, metal trim, and numerous flat-screens tuned to various sporting events, just in time for the Olympics.  There are a dozen beer taps, and besides the usual macro suspects, on draft you can find beers from Kenai River and Alaskan Brewing, plus the former brewery's Skilak Scottish and Sunken Isle in cans.  The food is good, if a bit eccentric; their burgers are served either on waffle buns or dipped in a light batter and deep fried.  Personally, sports bars are not my favorite type of watering hole -- I prefer to do my imbibing sans TV, given the choice -- but if you like your burger and beer with a side of ESPN, The Pour House looks to be a great choice.

Tap tables where you can pour your own beer.

Exterior of The Pour House

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The 2nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival is only two weeks away.  I'm told that tickets are selling fast at the local breweries, so you'd better get yours now, before they sell out like they did last year.  $20 gets you admitted, a commemorative tasting glass, and six 4 oz beer samples.  If you'd like additional samples, you can buy more tasting tickets at the rate of 2 for $3 or 12 for $15.  Like last year, there will be nearly continuous live music and lots of food vendors, so it should make for a great evening.  4 to 10 PM, Saturday, August 21, at the Soldotna Sports Center on K-Beach.

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It turns out that ours won't be the only beer fest on that date.  49th State Brewing in Healy is also hosting a festival that Saturday, their 1st Annual Augtoberfest.  It's also $20 admission, but there that gets you a 25-oz souvenir stein and one fill.  It's pay as you go after that.  Look for 49th State's First Tap Vienna Lager, along with all their other brews, plus a selection of local an international Oktoberfest beers.  Add in lots of traditional German fare, such as hot potato salad, brats, & sauerkraut, plus an oompah band, and you've got the makings of a great time.  So if you will be up Denali way instead of down here on the Peninsula, you've still got a good option.

Those are both happening in two weeks.  This Saturday, at Midnight Sun Brewing Company in Anchorage, they will be rolling out the 2011 Big Fish Barley Wine.  This is the commercial version of the best in show beer from last December's Big Fish Homebrew Competition. This beer was brewed at Midnight Sun by Don Lewellyn and and Tim Strayer of the Great Northern Brewers earlier this year and aged in oak barrels for about 90 days.  If you miss it this weekend, look for it on tap at Humpy's Alaskan Alehouse.

Alaskan Brewing Company is holding a raffle to win a three-day free trip for two to Juneau, including a VIP tour of the brewery.  Follow this link to sign up.  Entry deadline is 30 September.

The latest word from Seward Brewing Company is that they plan to open to the public on Wednesday, August 8th, so keep your fingers crossed. Hoo Doo Brewing in Fairbanks is also getting closer to brewing.  They are still navigating through the oceans of red tape involved in opening a brewery in Alaska, but they expect to be brewing by the end of August, and to open to the public in October.  If all goes according to plan, they may well be pouring their beer at the Talkeetna Beer Fest on 22 September.

A couple of canned beer reviews to finish things up this week.  First, Midnight Sun Brewing's  Snowshoe White Belgian-style Wit.  This beer was recently released in cans; along with Kodiak Brown Ale, it joined Sockeye Red IPA in their canned offerings.  Word is that this beer was only a so-so seller on draft, but in cans it's selling like hotcakes.  It poured an ever-so-slightly cloudy gold, with a decent white head that slowly dissipated to a collar.  The aroma was full of spicy notes, both from the Belgian yeast used and from the coriander, cumin, and citrus peels added to the brew.  The carbonation was nice, and the mouthfeel was light, making this an excellent summer refreshment beer.  A very nice wit, and packaged to make taking it along on a busy Alaska summer very easy.

The second canned brew I tried was Deviant Dale's India Pale Ale, from Oskar Blues Brewing in Colorado.  This brewery was one of the first to prove that craft beer in cans was a winning combination, and there beers are always excellent.Deviant Dale's poured a deep copper color with a big, cream-colored head from the 16 oz. tallboy can.  At 8% ABV & 85 IBUs, this is Dale's Pale Ale on steroids!  There's a ton of citrusy, resiny hop aroma from PNW hops.  On the palate there's plenty of bitterness but enough malt to balance, and a very clean taste.  Very drinkable for its strength, but we are definitely in Double IPA territory here.  It's a big can and a big beer, so don't plan on having more than one.  Another excellent beer from Oskar Blues.

Well that's about it for this week.  Looks like we might finally have some sun this weekend, so let's get out and enjoy it.  If you make it to Soldotna Progress Days, perhaps I'll see you there.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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