Friday, December 20, 2013

Last Blog of 2013

This will be it for 2013, baring some incredible breaking news that would necessitate me taking up my virtual pen between now and the New Year.  Looking back, it's been another great year for craft beer, and craft beer in Alaska in particular.  Good, sustainable growth, more new breweries on the horizon, multiple exceptional brews released -- yes, 2013 was a darn good year.  So let's wrap it up and go have a nice strong beer...

Lots of breweries and brewpubs will be closed on various days in the next two weeks, so rather than try to list them here, I will just remind you to check their websites or Facebook pages.

Speaking of websites, the one for AK Beer Week has been updated and new events are being listed regularly.  If you will be in Anchorage anytime from 10 to 19 January, you should definitely check out your options.

The Twelve Days of Barley Wine at Glacier BrewHouse is close to wrapping up, but you still have today and tomorrow to try them out.

Denali Brewing has released Milepost #2 in their Flagstop series; it's a Flanders Red Ale (see my review on 8/30/2013).  You can find bottles at their Beer Garden or Twister Creek in Talkeetna, or at SubZero in Anchorage.  They also have a slew of beer dinners coming up.  Here's the list that Shawn Standley sent me:



Fri, Dec 20: DBC Beer Dinner at Chinooks in Seward.  Each course will also have a bourbon paired with it. Here's the menu:


Chinook’s Bourbon/Beer Dinner Dec. 20, 2013
Welcome Beer: Agave Gold

Course 1
Grilled Spot Shrimp, Grits, Candied Bacon, Red Eye/Red Pepper Gravy, Truffled Popcorn
Cask Conditioned Single Engine Red aged with Pomegranate

Course 2
Smoked Beet and Goat Cheese Pie, Radish Sprouts, Pickled Beets, Foie Gras Mousse
Slow Down Brown

Course 3
Porter Braised Beef Cheek, BBQ Baked White Beans, Peppered Cabbage Roll, Pickled Peppers
Krük Schwarzbier

Course 4
Buttermilk Ice Cream, AK Barley Waffle, Vanilla Scented Fried Chicken, Bourbon Syrup
2010 Old Mad Dog Barley Wine




Mon, Jan 13: DBC Beer dinner at Eagle River Alehouse featuring: Agave Gold, Slow Down Brown, Kruk, NO DAM Way RyePA, 2013 Old Mad Dog Barley Wine

Mon, Jan 13: DBC Beer dinner at the Anchorage Curling Club.  Beers to be determined

Thurs, Jan 16: "I'll Have Another" collaboration release party at Café Amsterdam.  Coffee Stout.  Breweries: Denali Brewing, Midnight Sun, Kenai River Brewing, Haines Brewing

Jan ?-19: Burgers and Brew challenge at Taproot featuring burger and beer pairings from Denali Brewing and Midnight Sun

Note the collaboration beer release above at Cafe Amsterdam.  Each year, the four breweries listed agree on a beer style at the Haines Beer Fest to brew and release for AK Beer Week.  This year the style was coffee stout and all four beers will be released at 5PM on Thursday, January 16th.  Here's the flier for that:
I posted back on 12/6 pictures of Anchorage Brewing Company's new labels.  Here's some shots of the bottles themselves, "borrowed" from the Facebook page, fresh from being imprinted:






ABC will also be doing a Deal with the Devil Day at four bars in the Lower 48, and releasing their Jolly Pumpkin collaboration beer, Calabaza Boreal at The Culmination Festival on May 17th.

Out at Kassik's Brewery, they are rotating several specialty draft brews through New Years. including Chocolate Cherry Stout, Spiced Cream Ale, White Chocolate Ale (new release), and Smoked Russian Imperial Stout. They are also offering 10% off select 22 oz bombers, hoodies, shirts, hats, ornaments, and glassware.

Speaking of glassware, Homer Brewing Company has 2014 collectible pint glasses on sale.

Kenai River Brewing just finished brewing  batch #3 of their famous Gummi Bear Tripel, using 7,425 of the little candies.  Not sure when they plan to release it, but it's on the way.  I had a great time at the brewery last Friday night, signing books and drinking beer, even if it was blowing a blizzard out side!

St. Elias Brewing Company will be releasing H & H Winter Warmer tomorrow, Saturday, December 21st.  See last week's blog for a description of this collaboration brew between myself and Zach Henry.  If you try it, I'd appreciate some feedback, so feel free to make a comment and tell me what you think.

Speaking of feedback, if you are one of the folks out there who has purchased a copy of Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Everything In Between (Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska) (Volume 2) , I'd appreciate it if you would take a moment to go onto Amazon.com and write a short review of it.  Feedback like that is the only way things get improved, and I'm always eager to write better.

Well, I think that about wraps things up for 2013.  I want to thanks each and every one of you for taking the time to read my ramblings in this blog.  I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.  I'll see you in 2014.

Until Next Time, Cheers!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

More Breaking News: Two New Beers from Broken Tooth Brewing

Technically, this isn't breaking news at all.  It's "Regulars News that I should Have Reported But Totally Spaced Out."

Tyler Jones of Broken Tooth Brewing was kind enough to give me the head's up about two new releases on tap at the Moose's Tooth, but I completely forgot to include the info in my latest blog.

So here's what Tyler had to say about the two new releases:

Lunchtime IPA (Session IPA) You want a beer that’s bursting with hops and flavor like an IPA but won’t slow you down? This is it! Medium bodied, pouring a pale copper with tight white lacing and brimming with citric hop flavors with hints of orange and grapefruit. Lunchtime is a great time for IPA! Brewed By Sean Heyer OG 1.044, ~51 IBU, 4.7% ABV

Cheechokoholic (Brown Ale plus Cocoa) In the ancient Americas, Cocoa was offered to both Mayan and Aztec Gods as tribute. In modern Alaska we offer this Cocoa-infused ale as a brief respite to your hectic Holiday season. With three separate additions of Ghirardelli cocoa, this elixir pours a dark garnet color with a rich, roasty malt backbone and dry, clean finish. Some like it hot, some like it cold; we like it chocolate! Brewed by Sean Heyer OG 1.057, ~28 IBU, 5.2% ABV

They both sound mighty delicious, so head on down to the Moose and check them out!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Breaking News: New Beer Release at King Street

This came in from King Street Brewing Co. just too late to make yesterday's blog:

As the end of the year fast approaches, much like the diminishing daylight, many of us find ourselves scrambling to fit everything in during the limited time allotted.  Seeing an opportunity, King Street's lead brewer, David Short, has been experimenting, and has concocted a special treat to help keep you going during this crazy time.  Dave bills the creation as a Barrel Aged Breakfast Stout, and if you're a coffee aficionado, this beer is for you!  From the brewer himself:
 
Alaskans!  We are a hearty bunch.  We need a beer as robust as we are to carry us through the cold winter months.  In that spirit, and inspired by the ingredients in my wife's homemade Irish Cream, we aged our Irish Stout for four months in a Jack Daniels whiskey barrel, and then finished it off with spicing additions of cocoa nibs, Madagascar vanilla, and locally roasted Steamdot coffee.  The final product treats the pallet with a sublime blend of coffee, chocolate, roast, caramel, and graham cracker.  At 4.9% alcohol, this beer is smooth and deeply sessionable.  It'll have you racing out of bed in the morning to get your breakfast stout.  And, given that we're only going to release one or two of the three available kegs right now, you might want to do exactly that!

Sounds like the perfect beer for the snowstorm that we're in the middle of!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Well, temperatures have again dropped below zero here on the Kenai, the forecast for this weekend includes 3 to 5 inches of snow, the tree is up and the wood stove is blazing, so it's Christmas time for sure.  Time to break out all those strong brews you've been cellaring for a special occasion and celebrate the Winter Solstice, Christmas, the turning of the year, and/or whatever else suits your
fancy.

Speaking of the Winter Solstice, on Saturday, December 21st, St. Elias Brewing Company will be releasing H & H Winter Warmer.  This is a collaboration beer between myself and Zach Henry of St. Elias.  By collaboration, I mean that Zach supplied the ingredients, the equipment, and the brewing expertise.  I supplied the "Hey, wouldn't this be  a cool beer style to brew," a few suggestions on the recipe, and some grunt labor hauling grain bags and shoveling out the mash tun on brew day.  That brew day was way back on September 6th, by the way; the beer has been quietly conditioning at the brewery ever since.  Stylistically, it's a Burton Ale, a style that doesn't really exist anymore, but was once incredibly popular, both in Britain and around the world. I stopped by last Friday for a sample, just as Zach was dry hopping it with East Kent Goldings.  Even without the dry hops and totally uncarbonated, I could tell it was going to be a great beer.  It's darker and slightly sweeter than an IPA, but almost as hoppy, and at about 7% ABV, it'll keep you nice and warm through the coldest winter.  As I said, it'll be on tap on Saturday, December 21st, so be sure to stop by St. Elias Brewing Company and have a glass, then let us know what you think of it.

On this Friday, December 13th, I'll be signing copies of both Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island Breweries (Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska) (Volume 1) and Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Everything In Between (Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska) (Volume 2) at Kenai River Brewing Company in Soldotna.  I'll be there from 5:30 to 7:30 in the evening, so feel free to stop by and pick up a copy or two, either for yourself or as Christmas gifts, and I'll be happy to autograph them for you.

As long as I'm tooting my own horn, I might as well mention the class I'll be teaching in the spring semester, CED A157 The Art & History of Brewing.  It's a one credit course taught on Tuesday nights from 5:30 pm to 6:45 pm at the Kenai River campus of Kenai Peninsula College.  It starts on January 21st and runs through April 29th.  We taste a different beer in each class, take field trips to the local breweries, have guest lecturers, and generally have a great time while learning about the origins of various beer styles, how to store and serve beer properly, how to pair it with food, and a whole lot more.  If this sounds like something that might interest you, you can find more information at the KPC website at www.kpc.alaska.edu or by calling 907-262-0330.

Enough about moi, let's get to the latest beer news.

Things are starting to rev up with Alaska Beer Week.  The website will be up soon, and you can subscribe to get email notices of updates here.  Tickets for the Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival are on sale through Ticketmaster.

HooDoo Brewing in Fairbanks has just released a new brew, a Porter.  It's brewed with a Maris Otter pale malt base, plus seven specialty malts, then aged on Madagascar Vanilla beans.  Word is, it's smooth, rich and delicious.  They also have their Mild, Kolsch, and IPA on tap.

Glacier BrewHouse's Twelve Days of Barley Wine Fest is in full swing; stop by and check it out!

Snow Goose/Sleeping Lady has their $5 Growler Wonderful Wednesdays & Fantastic Fridays.  You can get fills of their Golden, Pale, Scottish, Porter, & Stout at that price.

Anchorage Brewing Company's Hibiscus Double IPA is on tap around town.  There's only 8 kegs total, so it won't be around long.

Homer Brewing Company had some of their 2008 Barley Wine on tap; supplies were limited so it may be gone soon, if it's not already.

I only have one new beer review for this week:

Nissefar Christmas Ale from Haand Bryggeriet in Norway: I picked up a bottle of this brew at Country Liquors in Kenai.  It poured a very deep, almost opaque ruby color with a nice, mocha-colored head.  The nose was rich, with notes of licorice, caramel, dark fruit, and some subtle smoke.  The mouth was medium to full with good carbonation.  The licorice gives depth to the overall flavor profile, with more dark fruit elements, then a hint of smoke on the finish.  Almost like a delicious slice of fruit cake in a glass. 7% ABV.

That's it for this week.  I should have more reviews for next week, and hopefully some events for Alaska Beer Week.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tis the Season to Drink Good Beer!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas out there, and lots of cool new beers are being released.  It's been a couple of weeks since my last blog (other than to announce the release of Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Everything In Between (Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska) (Volume 2) ), so let's jump right into the beer news.

 Silver Gulch Brewing and Bottling Co. got their Osculum Infame Belgian Golden Winter Warmer on tap on Thursday, December 5th, just in time to celebrate the 87th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.  See my review on 1/19/2010 about this excellent beer.

Denali Brewing's latest addition to the canned offerings, Chuli Stout, is now in stores.  Look for it at
Brown Jug now and more stores in a couple of weeks.  Denali also has a new beer out in limited quantities,  called Chinook Pale, a West Coast-style Pale Ale.  Here's how they describe it : 

Burst hopping with Chinook hops creates a low ABV session ale. The strong aroma of grapefruit gives way to restrained bitterness in this easy-drinking pale ale. 4.1% ABV, 31 IBUS.

Look for this on tap at the usual venues, like Humpy's, Cafe Amsterdam, La Bodega, Tap Root, and Brown Jug. Next up should be a schwarzbier and their No Dam Way RyePA.



King Street Brewing Company has officially released their Nobility Barley Wine.  They did a pre-release of a couple of cases of this barrel-aged English-style barley wine a few months back and I was able to snag a couple.  See my recent review on 11/15/2013.  It makes a great stocking stuffer!

Speaking of barley wines, Alaskan Brewing Company has released their 2013 Alaskan Barley Wine.  This brew weighs in at a hefty 10.7% ABV, 65 IBUs.  It's perfect for cellaring, as the flavors tend to mellow and improve over the first three years or so.  This beer was first released in 2003 for the GABBF, and it has become a real classic.

Speaking of the Great Alaskan Beer and Barley Wine Festival, tickets are now on sale via Ticketmaster.  Unless tasting beer with 2500 drunken twenty-somethings is your idea of a good time, I strongly suggest you sign up for the Saturday afternoon Connoisseurs' Session, from 2 to 5 PM.  It costs a little more, but it's certainly worth it.  There will be lots of other events leading up to the GABBF during Alaska Beer Week, so be sure to like them on Facebook and keep an eye on their website.  It hasn't been updated, but soon will be.

As long as we're still talking about barley wine, Glacier BrewHouse will be starting their Twelve Days of Barley Wine Festival next Tuesday, December 10th.  It will run through Saturday, December 21st.  Look for two or three barley wines to roll out each day.  If you'll be in Anchorage at any point during those days, you need to check it out.



Gabe Fletcher of Anchorage Brewing Company has announced that he will be bottling this year's version of his amazing and award-winning barley wine, A Deal with the Devil.  This 17.3% monster took first place in the barley wine competition at the last GABBF.  See my review of it on 1/25/2013.  The amount available will be extremely limited, but I will definitely be snapping up all I can.  Oh, and the label is totally kick-ASS:

Click to enlarge

Gabe has also announced Between The Staves,a collaboration brew with Crooked Stave out of Denver.  Here's the label for that beer:

Click to enlarge

Additionally, the date and brewery list for the 2014 Culmination has been announced.  The festival will take place on Saturday, May 17th from 4 to 8 PM at the Dena'ina Center.  I missed last year's due to a last minute family emergency, so I'm definitely planning to make it this year.  The  breweries are:


1.Jester King Brewery
2.Sante Adairius Rustic Ales
3
.Grassoots Brewing
4.Cantillion
5.Allagash
6.Prairie Brewing
7.Crooked Stave Artisan Project
8.Jolly Pumpkin Artisanal Ales
9.Hill Farmstead Brewing
10.Russian River Brewing

11. The Rare Barrel
12. Mystic Brewing
13. Societe Brewing
14.Anchorage Brewing Company
15.Brewery Vivant
16.Evil Twin
17.The Ale Apothecary
18.Mikkeller
19.Logston Farmhouse Ales
20.Side Project
21.The Bruery
22.The Commons Brewery
23.Tired Hands
24.Surly
25.Alpine

26.Wild Beer Co.
27.Faction Brewing
28.Tree House Brewing
29.Off Color Brewing
30.Against The Grain
31.Heretic Brewing

32.DeMolen
33.Lost Abbey


Looks like a pretty amazing list, if you ask me!

Midnight Sun Brewing Company has announced their first AK Beer Week Event: Fermented and Frozen Ice Cream Social on Wednesday, January 15th. It starts at 5 PM and the first flavor on offer will be The Devil's Dulce De Leche made with Arctic Devil Barley Wine.

Broken Tooth Brewing has begun releasing some of its beers in 750ml crown-capped bottles. Last week, I reviewed their Double Winter Warmer and their Devil's Thumb DIPA.  Those two brews have not been released yet, but two others, Foulweather IPA and Beg, Yarrow, or Steal Saison have gone on sale at the Moose's Tooth.  Unfortunately, at the time I write this, the Foulweather has already sold out and the saison isn't far behind, so you may have missed your chance at them.  See their reviews below.

Moving on to the Peninsula, Kenai River Brewing Company just released a new Single Hop IPA today.  This one is hopped with Pacific Gem hops from New Zealand.  The Herkules Imperial Rye Pale Ale is still on tap; see my review below.  Kenai River will also be hosting a book signing by yours truly.  I'll be there from 5:30 to 7:30 next Friday, December 13th, to sign copies of both Volume I and Volume II of my book, Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska.  If you already have a copy, feel free to bring it by, otherwise you can purchase one at the brewery.  They make great Christmas gifts...

Word on the street is that the Seward Brewing Company has been sold to a new owner.  I haven't been able to confirm that, but as soon as I do, I will put the word out here.

St. Elias Brewing Company has several new brews on tap, starting with a delicious Peche Lambic.  They have also released this year's Moose Juice Barley Wine, a blend of several previous years' batches.  I haven't had a chance to try it myself, but Zach Henry says it's the best he's ever made. Also on tap is their Matushka Imperial Stout.

Speaking of St. Elias, mark you calendars for the release of H&H Winter Warmer on the Winter Solstice, December 21st.  This beer is a collaboration between Zach and myself (Henry & Howell, H & H).  It's based on one of my homebrew recipes which recreated a once popular but now extinct British beer style known as a Burton Ale.  If you'd like to know more about it, check out this column I wrote for The Redoubt Reporter.  You can expect the beer to be sweeter and darker than an IPA, and not quite as hoppy, but very warming on a cold day at about 6.5% ABV.  If you try it, let me know what you think!

OK, let's hit the beer reviews:

Broken Tooth Brewing's Foulweather IPA: A companion to their flagship Fairweather IPA, this beer poured a lovely clear gold with a large white heavy; beautiful in the glass. The aroma was full of bright floral and citrus hop aromas; very enticing.  Carbonation was good, and the upfront bitterness was very nice, followed by clean, crisp hop flavors and aromas, falling away to a nice finish.  All-in-all, an excellent brew and a good match for their Fairweather IPA.

Broken Tooth Brewing's Beg, Yarrow, or Steal Saison: As the name implies, this beer is made using the ancient brewing herb yarrow.  It has a sweet but slightly bitter taste and was once used in the recipes for gruit, the herb mixture used to flavor ales prior to the use of hops.  It poured a clear gold with a small white head that dissipated to a collar.  The nose had spicy, peppery notes, some from the Belgian yeast and some from the yarrow.  There was good carbonation and a flavor profile with earthy, spicy Belgian yeast notes, as well as some herbal bitterness from the yarrow.  An unusual brew, but one with an interesting flavor profile.  I very much enjoyed it.

Kenai River Brewing's Herkules Rye Imperial Pale Ale (H.I.R.P.A.): This beer poured a deep honey color with a nice, cream-colored head.  The aroma has hints of pine, lemon, and black pepper, at least to my nose, but is fairly well-balanced with the malt elements.  Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium.A first-rate bitter attack is balanced by a solid malt backbone, enhancing its drinkability.  The 8.6% ABV is evident in a slight heat on the finish.  Extremely drinkable for 103 IBUs.

Boulevard Brewing's Reverb Imperial Pilsner:  Another in this brewery's excellent Smokestack Series of brews, this beer makes it easy to understand how this style took the world by storm in the 19th Century. In the glass it's a beautiful clear gold with a nice white head.  The aroma is of fresh, bright Saaz hops.  The carbonation is effervescent, and the beer is full of crisp, clean hoppiness, balance by clean malt flavors.  This is an outstanding example of just how good a pilsner can be.  7.7% ABV.

Well, that's it for this week.  Be sure to keep an eye out for those great seasonal beer releases.

Until Next Time, Cheers


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Volume II Of Beer on the Last Frontier is in print!

As I mentioned last week, I won't be writing a blog this week, due to the Thanksgiving holidays.

However, I have some good news to report, news I am truly thankful for.

Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Everything In Between (Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska) (Volume 2) is now in print on Amazon.com.  You can get the papaerback for $11.99 or the Kindle verion for $8.99.

If you live in Alaska, you should be able to find copies for sale at the following locations within the next two weeks:

Arkose Brewery
HooDoo Brewing Company
King Street Brewing Company
Kenai River Brewing Company
La Bodega
Midnight Sun Brewing Company
KPC Bookstore

I've you live in the central Peninsula, I'll be doing a book signing on Friday, Dec 13th, at the Kenai River Brewing Company in Soldotna from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.  Stay tuned for other dates & places.

I hope you like Volume II.  If you do, please consider writing a review on Amazon, regardless of where you buy your copy.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Volume II is Almost Here

It's been an entire year in the making, but Volume II of Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska is almost here.  In fact, if you're the sort of person who likes to do their reading on an electronic device, it is here already.  This volume is titled Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Everything In Between (Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska) and covers the dozen breweries and brewpubs located in the part of the state.  It is currently available on Kindle on Amazon.com for $8.99 and includes full-color photos. Click on the title above to check it out.

If you are the sort of person who still likes to hold a book made from dead trees in your hands, the 166-page paperback version, with black & white photography, should be available by the end of the month for $11.99 on Amazon as well.  Or you can pick up a copy at several breweries across the state or at La Bodega in Anchorage.  Don't forget about Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island Breweries (Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska) (Volume 1) ); if you haven't gotten a copy yet, why not grab both at once?  They also make great Christmas gifts...

Speaking of La Bodega in Anchorage, I just learned from owner Pamela Hatzis that she will be opening a second location.  This one will be in Girdwood, on the "boardwalk" at the base of the mountain, three doors to the right of the Bake Shop.   It will be considerably smaller than the Metro Mall location, with a 4-tap growler bar.  Target opening date is December 15th.

Next entry in the more good news department: After numerous requests from around the country (and maybe the world), Anchorage Brewing Company is indeed going to release their amazing Deal with the Devil Barley Wine in bottles.  See my review on 1/25/2013 of this outstanding brew.  Look for it in January in extremely limited supply.

Anchorage Brewing has also released the label for this year's Rondy Brew.  Here it is:

Click to enlarge


HooDoo Brewing has their Mild Ale back on tap.  Malty and low in alcohol, this beer makes a good pairing with the big traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Speaking of Thanksgiving dinner, this is the time of the year when everyone offers their suggestions as to what beer would go best with such a meal.  I have read about a hundred of them in the last week, but I have to award the prize for most unusual and intriguing to Beer Author Stephen Beaumont, who proposed a gueuze lambic is this blog post.  Granted Stephen is Canadian, so his Thanksgiving credentials are slightly suspect, but I still find his suggestion to be intriguing and worth trying out.  Now if I can just get hold of a gueuze before Thanksgiving...

Arkose Brewery has anew beer on tap, Peach Supreme.  Here's how they describe it:

"A slightly spicy wheat beer kissed with peaches. Peach Supreme features Late Addition German Northern Brewer hops and peach puree for a decidedly different take on a peach ale."

I love the label too:


Keep an eye out for the return of their Olde Colony Winter Ale next month.

I had another update from Tyler Jones at Broken Tooth Brewing.  They've just put two more new beers on tap at Moose's Tooth.  Here's what Tyler had to say about them:

Double Winter (Double Winter Warmer): With a winter as long as ours, why not brew another winter warmer? For this one, we took our popular Williwaw recipe and jacked it up in both alcohol and hops. The result? A delicious and deceptive treat. Double your pleasure, double your fun... Brewed By Dave Parker OG 1.082, ~45 IBU, 9.1% ABV

Czech Your Head (Czech Pilsner): This traditional Bohemian Pilsner pours a bright Gold. It’s assertive bitterness balances nicely its clean and solid malt base. Crisp, clean, bright & refreshing. The way a Pilsner should be! Brewed by Tyler Jones OG 1.045, ~22 IBU, 4.4% ABV

So the current lineup at the Moose's Tooth looks like this, according to Tyler:

 American Hefeweizen
 Beartooth Ale
 Chugach Session
 Fairweather IPA
 Hard Apple Ale
 Rye Me to the Moon
 Moonflower ESB
 Northern Lights Amber
 Pipeline Stout
 Polar Pale
 Prince William Porter
Wild Country Raspberry
Wheat Oh My Gourd!
Double Winter
Pinot Porter
Don Oso
 KiloWitt
 Devil's Thumb Double IPA
 Williwaw Winter Warmer
 Beg, Yarrow or Steal
 Czech Your Head
 17er XPA

He asked: "Is 22 too many?"  My response: "No, I'd say it's just about right."

I'll have reviews of the Double Winter and Devil's Thumb below.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company is running a special at The Loft, starting on Monday, November 25.  Buy a bottle of Hop Dog Wheat IPA and get one free.  Also, on Saturday, November 30th, they are serving a free piece of bacon from 11 am to 3 pm.  They will be offering a Cellar Pack, consisting of one bottle each of Second Hand Smoke Stout, Moscow Rye Russian Imperial Stout, and Brewtality Espresso Black Bier.  Plus, if you buy the Cellar Pack, they will toss in a Belgian beer glass for free!

Glacier BrewHouse is getting ready for their Twelve Days of Barley Wine, which starts on December 10th.  Here's the flier:


I have yet to make it to Anchorage during this event.  Maybe this year...

At Kassik's Brewery they have the 2013 Christmas ornaments on sale, along with new stainless steel growlers, and bottles of their Chocolate Cherry Stout and Spiced Cream Ale.

That's the news, so let's have some reviews:

 Devil'sThumb Double IPA from Broken Tooth Brewing: I was given a bottle of this by Tyler Jones a couple of weeks ago.It poured a light copper color with a big, off-white head that left good lacing on the glass.  The nose had plenty of nice floral hops notes, without the heavy citrus that you get in so many DIPAs.  The carbonation was good on the palate and the initial bitterness attack was good but not unbalanced.  Lots of hop flavor and aroma as a follow-up, with perhaps the littlest touch of alcohol warmth on the finish.  Quite delicious.

Double Winter from Broken Tooth Brewing.  Also a bottle from Tyler. This is an souped up Winter Warmer.  It poured a deep, almost opaque ruby color in the glass, with a cream-colored head that left excellent lacing on the glass.  The aroma was primarily of caramel malt, rich and inviting.  On the palate it was quite malt forward, but with enough hope bitterness for balance.  This is a classic English-style Strong Ale, with plenty of caramel malt backbone.  It reminds me a bit of a homebrew of mine, Captain Benjamin Merrill's Strong Ale, except that I oaked my version. It's just the thing for a cold winter's afternoon by the fire. 9.1% ABV, 45 IBUs.

The entrance to De Garre
Tripel Van De Garre from Brouwerij Van Steenberge: One of my absolute favorite place in the world is the lovely town of Bruges in Belgium.  And my favorite place to drink in Bruges is De Garre, a cozy little two-story cafe tucked down a small side street.  It's been over a decade since my last visit, but I'd return in heartbeat, given the chance.  So when I saw this house beer on offer at the La Bodega growler bar, I had to get some to take home.  It poured a clear gold with a nice white head.  The nose had plenty of the fruity and spicy notes that are associated with this style.  I got bananas, lemons, oranges, apples, perhaps even peaches, along with pepper, coriander, and even a touch of clove.  The excellent carbonation gave it an effervescent feel on the palate. On the tongue there is some sweetness and some bready notes, mixed with plenty more fruit flavors, eventually falling away to a hint of the 10.5% ABV on the finish. A wonderful tripel, and one I'd like to have some day sitting in its namesake cafe.

Temptation Sour Ale from Russian River Brewing: This is a beer I brought back with me from my recent trip to the Bay Area, since we don't get Russian River brews here in Alaska.  It's billed as a sour ale aged in chardonnay barrels.  It poured a clear light gold with a dense white head that left good lace on the glass.  The aroma was peppery, earthy, and tart; obviously there's some Brett at work her.  Great carbonation, giving it an airy mouthfeel.  The attack is pure Brett funk, followed by some oaky notes.  Very dry. The tartness and the carbonation combine to make this beer hugely refreshing, even at 7.5% ABV.  A world-class beer.

Saison Rue from The Bruery: I mentioned back on 11/1/2013 that Specialty Imports had gotten in a limited supply of brews from the exceptional California brewery, and I was lucky enough to snag a few samples.  This saison made with rye is one of their flagships and is absolutely superb.  It pours a clear gold with a massive white head.  The nose has the earthy, spicy notes of a Belgian yeast, plus a touch of Brett funk.  On the palate, the pepperiness of the rye blends well with the Brett funk and the warmth of the 8.5% ABV.  It finishes long and slightly dry, with more funk at the end.  This beer is both unique and spot-on for the style, two characteristics which seldom go together.  Seek it out.

Rugbrød Julebryg-style Dark Rye Ale from The Bruery: Taking it inspiration from Danish Christmas beers, this brew poured a dark, clear ruby color, with a big, mocha-colored head. The aroma was primarily of malt, plus some yeasty notes as the beer warms.  There carbonation is good, and the mouthfeel is medium.  Very much a malt-forward brew, it is smooth ans sweet of the palate, almost like a slice of good fruitcake.  The 8% ABV makes itself known ever so slightly on the finish.  A beer to have with dessert or perhaps even as dessert.

Well, that's about it for this week.  Next week is Thanksgiving and I doubt I'll have the time to get a blog out, so let me take this chance to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you get to spend it with family or friends, enjoying lots of good food and plenty of excellent beer.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Snow At Last

Well, we finally got some snow this weekend, so I guess winter is here at last, even if it is about 42F
as I write this.  Surely it won't be too long until we've got lots of snow and the temperature is hovering around zero, so now's the time to stock up on those winter warmer type beers.

By the fact that I'm writing this, you can surmise that I'm just about finished with Anchorage, Fairbanks, & Everything In Between, Volume II of Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska.  I'm waiting for one last contribution to come in, and then it will be ready to upload to the printers so I can get the proof sent to me.  It should be available for purchase in early December, for a $11.99 cover price, on Amazon or at local breweries.  It will be about 164 pages (70 more than Volume I).

So now that I've got that monkey (mostly) off my back, let's get back to some beer news.

There's a new website to assist you in planning your beer travels: the Brew Trail. It lets you map out an itinerary of brewery visits for a particular state.  Looks like it's a pretty cool tool.  I plan to go over the Alaska data in the near future to check it for accuracy.  I'll be surprised if it's perfect, but even with some errors, it should still be very useful.

Here's a new release from Broken Tooth Brewing.  Thanks to Tyler Jones for the info:

Oh My Gourd! Here’s a our take on a holiday favorite. Brown in color, aromas of pumpkin spice are prominent but not overwhelming. Light in body, this malty brown ale offers a well balanced, not-too-sweet slice of pumpkin pie in every pint. Exclaim the name!
I was actually up in Anchorage this Saturday and stopped by the brewery for a quick tour.  Tyler was kind enough to give me several of their beers to bring back to try, so look for reviews in up-coming blogs.  While there, I had some of their excellent Anniversary Ale.  It's in the style of an XPA, so look for good hoppiness without the bitterness or alcohol of a full-blown IPA. Also, there are now Hydroflasks with the Broken Tooth logo for sale at the Moose's Tooth.

Silver Gulch has 40 Below Imperial Stout back on tap.  Here's their description:

An Imperial Stout with an intense flavor of bittersweet chocolate and a hint of raisins and dates. A full-bodied brew with a luscious velvety texture. 8.5% ABV, 77 IBUs.

HooDoo Brewing Company is holding a mustache contest through November to raise money to support men's health. Their Pumpkin Ale is still on tap -- along with their Kolsch, Stout, XPA, and IPA-- but it almost gone, so act fast if you want some.

Today, Friday, November 15, the guys from Denali Brewing will be in Chicago at Spiteful Brewing to make a collaboration saison using an as-yet-undisclosed ingredient.

Arkose Brewery will be having another Beer Meets Chocolate event next Friday, November 22.  Here's the flier for it:

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Tomorrow will be the annual fund raiser at the Sea-Life Center in Seward.  Here's the flier for it:
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On Tuesday, the guys at Anchorage Brewing bottled their collaboration beer Arctic Soiree.  They just shifted to a new bottle supplier, which caused them more than a few headaches adjusting their bottling line, but they got it done in the end. You can see a short video of the bottling run here.

King Street Brewing Company has their Winter Warmer on tap now.  This is a Belgian-inspired Dark Ale with notes of chocolate, raisin, dried fruit and a subtle balance of spice.  Also, the Wheel Good Food truck will be at the brewery from 4 to 8 PM this evening.

CruiseExperts.com named the five top places to eat in Anchorage.  Glacier BrewHouse was #2, Humpy's was #4, and Wheel Good Food was #5.  You can read the entire article here.  And don't for get about the Flavors of Fall Dinner at Glacier next Thursday.

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Kassik's Brewery has released another batch of their Pretty Fly for a White IPA. They have also just received a new shipment of stainless steel growlers.

At Kenai River Brewing, the Winter Warlock has come and gone.  However, their new Herkules Imperial Rye Pale Ale (I.R.P.A) will be going on tap today.  It's 8.6% ABV & 103 IBUs of beery goodness!

 I mentioned last time about the slew of beers from The Bruery that Specialty Imports had gotten in.  Well, one of them, Tart of Darkness Sour Stout, has actually made it down here to the Peninsula.  We even had a bottle of it at the last Kenai Peninsula Brewing & Tasting Society meeting.  You can find it at Country Liquors in Kenai.  I reviewed it back on 10/14/2013.

OK, let's do some reviews.

King Street Brewing's Nobility Barley Wine: I finally got around to trying King Street's second
bottled offering. This English-style barley wine was aged for several months in used whiskey and chardonnay barrels before being bottled.It pours a very dark honey color, with a small cream-colored head that dissipates rapidly to a collar.The nose is of caramel and toffee, with hints of oak.The mouthfeel is good and the carbonation is moderate.The flavor profile is quite malt-forward, in keeping with the style, with elements of toffee and vanilla, quite rich and flavorful.It falls away gradually to a nice, long finish. 9% ABV.

Anchorage Brewing Company's Salvation IPA: I had this beer on draft at Humpy's in October.  It poured a lovely clear gold with a small white head. The aroma was packed with bright, citrusy American hops.It was clean and crisp on the palate, with good carbonation and a snappy hop bitterness, plus lots of aroma and flavor.  Very much of piece with the other draft-only IPAs Gabe has produced recently.  Worth seeking out. 6% ABV, 70 IBUs.

Suede Imperial Porter: This beer is a collaboration between Stone Brewing in San Diego, 10-Barrel Brewing in Bend, Oregon and the Blue Jacket  Brewery in Washington, DC.  I had it on draft at Humpy's as well.  It poured opaque with a small mocha-colored head. The nose was a pleasant mix of malt sweetness and roasted notes, like a coffee with plenty of cream and sugar. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium. On the palate the flavor profile was quite rich, with more sweet notes than roasted ones in evidence. Suede seemed an apt description of the smooth, silky way this beer went down. 9.6% ABV.

Stone Brewing's Enjoy by 10/25/2013 IPA:  I drank this one on 10/22/2013, so I complied with the instructions on the label. It poured a clear gold with a nice white head.  As expected, the aroma was full of citrusy American hops.  Carbonation was good, and the initial attack of bitterness was not overwhelming, and it was followed by plenty of hop flavors and aroma.  All the flavors were exceptionally bright and clean, as you'd expect in such a fresh beer.  Very nice. 9.4% ABV.

Allagash Brewing's 2012 Fluxus: A little something I brought back from the Bay Area, which we can't get up here in Alaska. In the Belgian farmhouse style, this beer poured a slightly cloudy gold with a big white head that left excellent lacing on the glass.  The aroma had the classic spicy, earthy notes that screams Belgian yeast, at least to my nose.  The excellent carbonation made it very light on the palate, with some spicy, peppery notes, both from the yeast and from the addition on peppercorns.  Overall, one of the most "Belgian" tasting beers I've ever had, from a brewery I wish we could get up here in Alaska.  7.7% ABV.

Midnight Sun's Second Hand Smoke Stout: Brewed from the second runnings of MSBC’s popular Barfly Smoked Imperial Stout, this beer pours opaque with a slight brown head. The aroma is rich with chocolate, coffee and smoke. On the palate, the beers is thick and chewy, a pleasing blend of roasted flavors and smokiness. I had tasted this on draft back in May, but this was from the bottle.   8.4% ABV, 56 IBUs.

Well, that about it for now.  Look for more reviews next week, as I should be back on a regular blogging schedule, at least for a bit.

Until Next Time, Cheers!