So here we are, two weeks after my last post. My day job, the one that puts beer in the fridge, at Kenai Peninsula college has been absolutely crazy, since this is the first week of classes. Plus there has been quite a bit of beery going-ons as well.
I won't go into detail about King Street Brewing Company's Barbecue and Free Wort Day, since I wrote about it in my column in next week's Redoubt Reporter. However, here are a couple of photos from that day. Owners Dana Walukiewicz and Shane Kingry are giving out the free wort. Note the two new 40 barrel fermenters in the background.
Besides this event, I have heard that their Gourmet Beer Dinner at Sullivan's Steakhouse on Wednesday, 8/29 was a huge success.
Kenai River Brewing has Arctic XPA back on tap. They will be closed Sunday and Labor Day, so be sure to get you holiday supply before then.
St. Elias Brewing has brought back one of their more popular beers from the past: Flower Child XPA. I believe this is the third incarnation of this brew. The base of the beer is always the same: German malts fermented at cool temperatures for a clean flavor. Where Zach makes his tweaks between batches is in the hopping schedule. The first version used noble European hops, while the last time round, Galaxy was the hop of choice. This time, Zach has cut back on the Galaxy and added Falconer's Flight, a proprietary hop blend. See below for my review of the latest version and my blog of 3/9/2009 for a review of the original.
Pushing on to beer reviews, I finally got to try the appallingly-named Pixie Dust Wit at St. Elias. If you recall, this wit underwent a secondary fermentation using a "wild" Belgian yeast strain. In the glass it was a cloudy gold with a small white head. The aroma had primarily citrus notes from the curacao orange peel, but there were also some tart notes, I'd assume from the wild yeast. On the plate there was nice mouthfeel, good carbonation, and the same touch of tartness that I picked up in the aroma. Overall, it was very refreshing, a great summer beer. It will be interesting to see if the beer evolves and becomes even tarter over time. Of course, you have to be a real man to walk up to the bar and order a glass of Pixie Dust...
I also got to taste the latest iteration of Flower Child XPA.It poured a clear gold with a small white head. The aroma was full of nice, crisp American hops from the Falconer's Flight. There was good carbonation, very clean flavors, and a crisp level of hoppiness that I found very enjoyable and moreish. It actually reminded me quite a bit of Sierra Nevada's classic Pale Ale (which is now available in cans at Fred Meyer, by the way). I like this latest version better than last year's; in that one the Galaxy hops were a bit too prevalent for my tastes. If you like a good, hoppy pale ale, you'll like Flower Child.
While I was at King Street Brewing on Saturday, I had a pint of their Black IPA. The beer was very dark with some ruby highlights when held up to the light and a small khaki head. The aroma was mostly of roasted malt, with some hop aroma around the edges. When I tasted it, there was some nice, clean roasty flavors and a fair amount of bitterness. I liked it a lot, though it seemed more like a hoppy robust porter than a black IPA to me. Oh well, a rose by any other name...
Finally, I got around to trying the winner of the People's Choice Award from the 2nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival, Kenai River Brewing's Chocolate Coconut Almond Porter. This beer is somewhat problematic for me, since I really don't like coconut in any form, and I haven't had much luck with "nut" beers in the past (Lazy Magnolia's Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale comes to mind). It poured a very dark, almost opaque, brown, with a small head that dissipated to a collar. The aroma had plenty of roasty porter notes, plus a touch of sweetness that I'd attribute to the chocolate. There was good mouthfeel with more roasted flavors and hints of chocolate; I'm afraid I couldn't find any coconut or almond (unless they were part of the roastiness), but since I don't like coconut, that probably wasn't a bad thing. Overall, it was OK, but not something I'd go out of my way to get more of. Obviously, my tastes differ from the public at large's, given how popular this beer has been, so what the heck do I know? Go by Kenai River and try it for yourself, then come back here and write a comment to tell me how wrong I am.
Well, that's about it for this week. More news and reviews next week. Until then, enjoy these last gasps of summer; the fireweed has all gone to seed, so fall will be here at any moment.
Until Next Time, Cheers!