This will be a short post, as I am really looking forward to taking a break until the new year. However, I've got a few pieces of news to pass along and a some reviews to post before we say so long to 2012.
My good friend Jim "Dr. Fermento" Roberts reports that 22 oz. bombers of several of Baranof Island Brewing Company's beers will be making the long trek from Sitka to Anchorage, thanks to the efforts of Specialty Imports. You can be on the look out for their
Halibut Point Hefeweisen, Peril Strait
Pale Ale, Medvejie Stout, Silver Bay IPA, Redoubt Red Ale, and Baranof Brown Ale. I've tasted their beers at the last Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival, and they were excellent, so I'm really looking forward to being able to taste them more than once a year.
Ben Millstein out at Kodiak Island Brewing reports that he has taken delivery of two 300-gallon square tanks that were formerly used at a winery. These will be his dedicated brettanomyces tanks, allowing him to conduct long, slow secondary fermentations using that yeast without risking cross-contamination of his primary brewing equipment. No word yet on when the first new brett-laced brew might be ready...
I was up in Anchorage for a few hours on Monday and stopped by The Loft at Midnight Sun. Since we were still counting down to the Winter Solstice at that point, they still had their "all dark beers" tap line-up on; as of today, they should be pouring all light-colored beers. Anyway, while there I had a small glass of their Oaked Even Dahker; it was outstanding! I was lucky enough to get the first bottle off the line of Obliteration IX DIPA; I'm looking forward to trying it. Plus I got my brauler filled with their Full Curl Scotch Ale, which will go nicely with the turkey we're smoking for Christmas dinner.
For those of you who care, sales of Elaine's and my book Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska have been pretty brisk. The signing we did last weekend at Kenai River Brewing Company was a lot of fun. If you are local, copies are available at Kenai River, St. Elias, and the KPC Bookstore. Further afield, you can find them at Homer Brewing and Kodiak Island Brewing. In Anchorage, they have them at MSBC's The Loft and La Bodega. Otherwise, look for it on Amazon.com.
OK, let's move into reviews; I've got four new ones for this week.
First, Kenai River Brewing's Kenai Classic Pale Ale. I was drinking this at our book signing and took some home as well. It poured a lovely honey color with a good-looking off-white head. There was a nice hop nose and plenty of good carbonation. The beer was lighter on the palate than a full-on IPA, as you expect from a pale ale, but still had plenty of good, clean bitterness with zero off-flavors. Extremely drinkable and an excellent accompaniment to food. A top-notch pale ale.
The next three beers were all supplied by an acquaintance on the East Coast, who shipped them to me. To my knowledge, they are not available in Alaska. The first one was an anniversary beer from Weyebacher Brewing, their Fifteen Smoked Imperial Stout, released in 2010. I had a couple of Weyerbacher brews back in 2010 during my last visit to the East Coast, so I already knew that they brewed good stuff. Fifteen poured opaque with a small tan head. The aroma was of chocolate, roasted coffee, and a touch of smoke. On the palate there was lots of good mouthfeel, more malt and roast flavors, as well as more smoke. I thought it was quite well-balanced, with no single component running away with things. 10.8% ABV. All-in-all, an absolutely excellent smoked imperial stout.
The second beer was Belle Saison from a brewery I'd never heard of, À l’abri de la Tempête. Since the entire label was in French, I surmised (correctly) that this beer was from a brewery in Quebec. It poured a light, clear gold, with a small white head. There were spicy notes in the nose, ginger and cinnamon, I believe. The beer was very light on the palate, with good carbonation and more spicy flavors. 5.8% ABV. Personally, I prefer my saisons dry and without spices. In this one, the spices seemed to be to the forefront. Well-made, but not my personal cup of tea.
The last beer was Troegenator Double Bock from the award-winning Troegs Brewing in Hershey, PA. I'd heard of this beer before, most notably when it took a Gold Medal at last year's GABF, so I was eager to give it a try. It poured a deep, translucent bronze color, with a very nice cream-colored head. The aroma was primarily of bready malt, as befits a style of beer nicknamed "liquid bread". On the palate there was great mouthfeel. This is certainly a malt-forward beer, with the 25 IBUs there purely for balance. Very clean tasting, as you'd expect from a lager. An excellent example of the style; easy to see why it has won so many awards. 8.2% ABV.
Well, that about wraps it up for this week and for this year. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and drink plenty of excellent beer with your friends and family. I'll see you all in 2013, where will will continue our explorations of craft beer in Alaska and beyond.
Until Next Time, Cheers and Happy Holidays!