Friday, January 4, 2013

2013: A New Year of Beer

So here we are again, having survived both the Mayan Apocalypse, and the Holiday Season.  Time to buckle down and get back to talking about beer.  Lots of beer news has accumulated during my holiday stand-down, so let's get to it!

Perhaps the single biggest piece of news was the announcement by Midnight Sun Brewing Company of the impending release of their 3000th brew, named appropriately enough, 3000 Belgian-style Barley Wine.  This is indeed a name to conjure with, given that their 1000th brew, named simply M from the Roman numeral for 1000, has become one of the most legendary and sought-after brews among beer hunters around the world.  Bottles have been seen for sale on E-Bay for prices north of $1500.

So with a track record like that, you can be sure that the demand for 3000 will be fast and furious.  The entire 15 barrel (465 gallon) batch will be released in Alaska, on draft and in 22 oz. bottles.  Here's what Barb Miller, MSBC's VP of Sales and Marketing had to say:

"In this ridiculously wonderful world we’ve created,we make beer- one batch at a time. As the scientist in us demands, we number said batches. And while every batch of our beer is special for us – providing a fresh start on a new day, establishing an experimental opportunity, bringing together our minds and spirits, projecting our company forward – each batch also scores time."

"To celebrate our 3000th batch, we present a Belgian-style Barley Wine, simply called 3,000. Luscious layers of flavor begin with barley, wheat and rye malts followed by triple-hoppping with a single varietal. Fermentation, using two distinct yeast strains, achieves complexity in character and, of course, alcohol. This special batch was transferred into red wine oak barrels for eight months to age gregariously yet gracefully. After bottle-conditioning, this exclusive beer is ready for immediate enjoyment although it can be lovingly cellared for future festivities."

"As we release 3,000 in January 2013, we hoist our glasses in thankful toast to YOU – our dearest friends in beer!"
The latest word is that that they are shooting for a release next Friday, January 11th, so make your plans now.

More good news from Midnight Sun:  their Fallen Angel Belgian Strong Golden Ale will now be available year-round. Also, on Friday, January 4th, the artist Scott Clendaniel will be kicking off his month long show at MSBC's Loft Bar.  This is Scott's third show there, and is titled "Homage to Homebrew".  He's got quite an eye for beer, so if you 'll be in anchorage on the 4th, you should stop by to check it out, as well as sample the firkin that they'll be tapping.  If you miss the opening, the paintings will be on display all month long.

There will be plenty of other beer events taking place, as we all spool up for the start of AK Beer Week on Friday, 11 Jan.

Denali Brewing Company has released their Single Engine Red Ale in cans, joining the growing number of AK craft brewers to opt for that packaging choice. They are also holding a "Brooms & Brews" event from 6 to 10 PM on Monday, January 14th during AK Beer Week.  This will not involve competitive sweeping or playing quidditch; it is all about curling.

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This particular event takes place at the Anchorage Curling Cub and will include food, as well as big rocks sliding on ice and craft beers.  As you can see from the flyer to the left, there will lots of good food to enjoy with eight different beers from Denali Brewing Company.  Boe Barnett of Denali says: "Basically we were looking for a fresh take on the conventional beer dinner, of which there are so many during [AK] beer week."  I'd say this event definitely qualifies as something different! Admission is $50 per person, with a portion of the proceeds being dedicated to the Anchorage Curling Club's expansion project.

The Snow Goose has released their 2012 Old Gander Barley Wine, and has their monthly beer dinner next Thursday, January 10th.  You can find the entire menu here and the beers will include three of their own ales, plus some imports from Specialty Imports.  Cost is $55 per person (tip included), and you must buy tickets in advance as seating is limited.

 Up in Fairbanks, HooDoo Brewing Company now has a Mild on tap;  I'm a huge fan of this obscure style of beer, so I'm hoping they will be bringing some to the Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival in a couple of weeks.  Other than St. Elias Brewing Company's Marathon Mild Ale from several years ago, I'm not aware of any other Mild that has been brewed in Alaska.  So here's an official tip of my hat to Bobby Wilken and the guys at HooDoo for doing so.

Speaking of St. Elias, they have a new beer on tap, named Horseshoe Porter.  It's brewed with a bit of peated malt, giving it a nice, subtle smoked flavor.  Along with their CK Porter, it presents another nice option.  For AK Beer Week, they will be offering $5 goblets of all their specialty beers (like their award-winning Moose Juice Barley Wine) from Friday, 11 Jan thru Thursday, 17 January.

Kenai River Brewing also has a new beer on tap: Pilgrim Imperial Rye Pale Ale (P.I.R.P.A.), at 8.8% ABV.  I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but I hope to soon.  At Kassik's Brewery, they are giving away a free Bob's Pint Glass with every $10 purchase. Down at Homer Brewing Company, I believe they still have their special holiday ale Clestiale available, so get ti while it lasts.

Moving on to some beer reviews, over the holidays I had a couple more brews from Troegs Brewery, part of a shipment from a friend on the East Coast.

The first one was Dead Reckoning Porter. This beer poured opaque with a decent khaki head. The aroma was redolent of roasted malt, chocolate, and Chinook hops; very nice.  The carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was middle of the range. On the palate there was a good match between bitterness from the roasted malt and bitterness from the Chinooks; too often the flavors clash rather than compliment.  To me, this was a classic hoppy porter, with the hops coming in before the roast, then lingering after it on the finish.  Quite enjoyable.

The second beer from Troegs was their Java Head Stout.  This is an American Stout brewed with coffee, hence the name.  This beer weighs in at 7.5% ABV and also poured opaque with a nice khaki head.  The nose was a combination of coffee notes and citrusy American hops.  Carbonation was good, as was its mouthfeel.  There was no acid coffee "bite" and the citrusy hop flavors actually worked quite well with the coffee elements, which were especially evident on the finish.  Not a flavor profile that I would have expected to work, but it was actually extremely successful, making this a very nice American Stout.

Finishing up the porters, I also had a bottle of Firestone-Walker's Walker's Reserve Porter. At 5.8% ABV, this beer was actually not opaque, just very dark with some ruby highlights and a big, dense tan head.  The aroma was entirely of roast malt, and there was good carbonation, but it was a bit thin on the palate for my taste.  Roasty malt flavors lead the flavor parade, but there were also some woody notes in the background, especially towards the finish.  A nice beer, but not exceptional.

I also finally cracked open a bottle of Brux Domesticated Wild Ale, a collaboration brew between Sierra Nevada and Russian River Brewing Companies. It poured a lovely clear gold with a nice white head.  In the nose the unmistakeable aroma of brettanomyces was quite prominent. There was excellent carbonation and very light mouthfeel.  The beer was exceptionally dry, with plenty of brett flavors, though it did drop off a bit abruptly toward then end.  If you like brett in your beers (and I certainly do!) you should really enjoy Brux.

Finally, I had the bottle of Midnight Sun's Obliteration IX Double IPA that I was given during my last Anchorage trip.  The latest iteration of the series uses Citra & Saaz hops, a most atypical pairing.  It poured a lovely golden color, with a dense white head.  The nose was loaded with hop notes, from both varieties.  I had thought the brash Citra and delicate Saaz might clash, but it did not happen.  Instead, each complimented the other quite nicely.  On the palate, the 80 IBUs made itself felt, but it was still quite drinkable for such a hop bomb, clean and crisp, with some spicy, peppery rye notes. At 8% ABV, this is a big beer, but a very enjoyable one.  Another great addition to the series by Midnight Sun.

Well, that's it for this week.  I'll be back next week with all the last-minute news before AK Beer Week kicks off.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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