Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My 200th Post

I'm not usually big on milestones, but a couple of weeks ago I happened to notice that this blog was coming up on a pretty big one: this is my 200th post.  I made Post #1 on July 10, 2008, so it's taken me just shy of four years and four months to get to this point.  Checking my stats, it seems this blog as has had 37,719 page views to date.  I honestly never thought it would last anything like this long. Besides sheer longevity, writing this blog has led to many other good things, like my Redoubt Reporter column, becoming Wynkoop's Beerdrinker of the Year, writing for the Northwest Brewing News, and now publishing a book.  I want to thank each and every one of you who read this blog; without your support, I certainly wouldn't still be doing this.

Today is also another important milestone.  On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution was officially ratified, ending the disastrous social experiment of Prohibition.  While the anti-alcohol forces are still with us, they are but a shadow of what they were a century ago, for which we can all be thankful.  So pour yourself a craft beer, fill your bathtub with gin, and let's celebrate the day that America came to her senses seventy-nine years ago! 

Now that it's December, it's time to really start thinking about Alaska Beer Week in January.  This year it will run from Friday the 11th thru Sunday the 20th.  Events are already beginning to be scheduled and tickets for some of them are already on sale.  Events happen all around the state, not just in Anchorage.  For example, our very own St. Elias Brewing Company will be offering $5 goblets of their beers all week.  Your best bet is to pay frequent visits to the Alaska Beer Week website at and check out the events listed there.  You wouldn't want to miss out on a great event simply by learning about it too late, would you?

In addition to AK Beer Week next month, there are lots of things happening this month.  I wrote in last week's blog about Glacier BrewHouse's Twelve Days of Barley Wine.  Well, on Saturday, December 15th, they will also be having a "Pint for a Pint" Event.  The Blood Bank of Alaska'a LIFEmobile will be parked out front and anyone who donates a pint of blood will get a pint of root beer and a complimentary pint glass from Glacier. You can call 222-5630 to make an appointment between 10 AM and 5 PM, or just stop by see if they have an opening.  There's no worthier cause than giving blood so others may live, and I think it's great that Glacier is supporting this.

Over at Midnight Sun Brewing, their new Brew Crew has released their first beer: Pleasure Town IPA is brewed with Cascade and Citra, then dry hopped with Chinook and Citra, a great refreshing touch of grapefruit at the end of this crisp treat.  6.13%ABV and 65 IBU's.  This Friday is First Firkin Friday, and they will be tapping a cask-conditioned Lust Belgian Dark Strong with Sour Cherries and Bret.  This marks the five year anniversary of the original release of Lust; I wrote a bit about it back on July 27, 2009, but it had been out for over a year and a half at that point.

This firkin is coming out of the original batch; it has been quietly waiting, un-carbonated, in a keg in MSBC's "cellar". Last month it was transferred to the firkin to begin it's natural carbonation process. If you want to actually get some of this, I recommend you are at The Loft well before the firkin's tapped at 5 PM; this one won't last long...

This just in: The Loft at MSBC was selected as the Best Brewpub in Alaska for 2012 by the readers of the Northwest Brewing News!  Also, MSBC's Arctic Devil Barley wine tied with Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot for Best Barley Wine in the Northwest!

I have also heard that La Bodega was voted the Best Beer Store in Alaska for 2012 by the readers of the Northwest Brewing NewsLa Bodega's Christmas Party at The Snow Goose is tonight; check last week's blog for details.  They will also have La Fin du Monde, Unibroue's Belgian-style tripel, on tap at their growler bar starting on December 19th; stop by and stock up for The End of the World...

Moving to local news, Kassik's Brewery has Big Nutz Imperial Brown Ale Christmas ornaments in and they look great. Kenai River Brewing put a new beer on tap last Friday: Kenai Classic Pale Ale.  It's described as "an American-style golden-straw colored ale assertively hopped with Pacific Northwest hops."  I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but I plan to stop by soon.  St. Elias Brewing Company now has the latest version of their award-winning Moose Juice Barley Wine on tap.  I stopped by last Friday after work and had a glass, so let's move into beer reviews.

The Moose Juice poured a murky brown with zero head.  The aroma was of malt, alcohol heat, plus some oaky, bourbon notes.This version was aged for over a year in bourbon, rye whiskey, and brandy barrels before being blended together, and the blending is top-notch.  The various flavor profiles come together in perfect harmony, making for a rich and warming whole.  Every aspect is properly integrated, making this an exceptional barley wine.  I would not be at all surprised to see this take another medal at the GABBF next month.

Thanks to La Bodega's growler bar, I also got to try To Ol's Snowball Saison, from De Proefbrouwerij in Belgium.  De Proef is an experimental/contract brewery; as such, they brew beers for many, many different people.  This particular beer is an 8% saison, heavier and hoppier for the cold winter months. It poured a slightly hazy gold with a dense, white head.  The aroma was of hops (Styrian Goldings?) plus the classic spicy, earthy notes of a Belgian yeast.  There was good mouthfeel and plenty of hop bitterness plus a good malt backbone.  it some ways it reminded me more of a Belgian pale ale than a saison, but there is a touch of funkiness.  The flavors fall away nicley to a good finish.  All-in-all, and excellent brew, though stronger and maltier than your typical saison (if there is such a thing).

Finally, I had a bottle of Jaipur IPA from Thornbridge Brewery in the UK, again thanks to La Bodega. I had read many good things about this beer, mostly in blogs written by beer lovers in the UK, so I was excited to give it a try, even if it was in a bottle rather than cask-conditioned.  It's 5.9% ABV and poured a lovely light, clear gold with a big white head.  There was a wonderful clean, floral hoppiness about the beer, with excellent carbonation.  This beer reminds me of everything I love about a great British Ale: spritely & refreshing carbonation, delicate but assertive hoppiness, and what I call "moreishness", i.e. when you finish one, you always want more.  As good as it was in the bottle, I shudder to think how outstanding a well-kept cask of this beer would be, served on hand pump in a fine British pub.  Truly an exceptional beer, and one I plan to do my best to drink more of.

Well, that wraps things up for this week, more or less.  It appears that the printed version of Elaine's and my book, Beer on the Last Frontier, will be for sale on Amazon soon.  With any luck, you will be able to order it for $8.99 by the weekend.  Or you can wait about a week more and it will be on sale at several of the local breweries.  It makes a great stocking stuffer...

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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