Friday, February 8, 2013

Someday Spring Will Come...But Not Today

Well, here we are in Alaska in February, dreaming of spring.  People are drinking bock, the classic spring beer, and wondering when it will stop snowing.  We got at least six inches this week, and there's another six forecast for the weekend.  So throw another log on the fire, crack open another bock, and dream of spring...

Bocks were the theme beer of the most recent meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Brewing & Tasting Society, held on Wednesday at Kenai River Brewing.  While I was there, Doug Hogue took me into the brewery to see where they had installed their brand-new 20-bbl conical fermenter.  Doug said they currently had every fermenter full, meaning that they had 110 barrels of beer in production simultaneously, which is pretty cool.  Kenai River expects to receive their new 3-head automated canning machine in a few weeks, which should allow them to can 20 barrels of beer in about 6 hours.  It will also make life easier when they start canning their third beer, Peninsula Brewers Reserve, later this year.

Speaking of the Kenai Peninsula Brewing & Tasting Society, if you haven't renewed your 2013 membership, you're late.  Said membership entitles you to discounts at La Bodega in Anchorage and The Copper Kettle locally.  Plus Tracie Howard has put together a breweries tour for paid-up members.  The tour will be on Saturday, March 23rd, starting at 3:30 at Kenai River Brewing.  Stops will include St. Elias, Kassik's, Country Liquors, and then finishing at the Main Street Bar.  8 beers, pizza, snacks, seats in the van, door prizes, and a safe ride home are all included in the $78 price tag.  If you are interested, you can sign up on the groups Meet-Up page, by clicking here.

Tonight from 6 to 8 PM at Cafe Amsterdam, Alaska Meadery is releasing the second of its unique, high end, barrel-aged meads.  At 17% ABV, Batch #72 is made from 100% raw Tupelo honey from northern Florida and was aged in brandy barrels for six months, the received another year of bottle conditioning before release.

Also in Anchorage, King Street Brewing has expanded their hours.  They are now open Monday thru Friday from 3 to  8 PM, and Saturdays from noon to  8 PM.  They also have their second seasonal for 2013 on tap, La Dolce Vita. They describe it as a coconut chocolate porter, infused with both organic coconut and cocoa nibs to create a smooth velvety chocolate indulgence that is balanced by a subtle roasted coconut aroma and flavor.  I look forward to tasting it myself.

Finally, Country Liquors in Kenai has some bottles of Midnight Sun's 3000 Belgian-style Barley Wine on offer.  This beer won't be around long, either here or in Anchorage, so if you want to try it, this may be your only chance!

OK, let's have some reviews.

St. Elias Brewing Company has their Goat Dope Bock on offer.  I tried a pint of this last Friday.  It poured a deep honey color in the glass, with a small, cream-colored head.  The aroma was full of clean malt notes, just as you'd expect for this style.  The mouthfeel and carbonation were good, and the flavor profile was also full of clean, malty goodness.  If you are a fan of this style of malty lager, you'll find Goat Dope quite delicious.  ABV 7.2%.

Over the weekend I drank a bottle of Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw from Brouwerij Het Anker in Belgium.  This is an 11% ABV Strong Dark Ale, recommended to me by Pamela Hatzis, the owner of La Bodega.  Just looking at the stunning label design, I knew I was in for something special, and the contents of the beautiful bottle certainly did not disappoint. It poured a deep, semi-translucent ruby color, with a small, cream-colored head.  The nose was exceptional: plums, figs, raisins, and a touch of alcohol.  Excellent mouthfeel, with a rich and highly complex flavor profile, which included sweet notes of all the dark fruits above, plus elements of pepper and spices.  All-in-all, an amazing beer and a real masterwork of the brewer's art.  If you see a bottle of this one, don't hesitate!

 Another beer I picked up from La Bodega was L'Brett d'Or Surreal Golden Sour Ale, from Crooked Stave. In my last couple of blogs, I've talked about how impressed I was by this brewery.  Well, this beer was easily the most impressive of the three from them that I've tried.  It poured a slightly cloudy gold with a small white head.  The aroma was a combination of sour and funky notes, but very bright.  Upon tasting it , the attack is amazingly sour.  The first time I tasted this beer, all I could think to say was "Wow!"  It is shatteringly sour, but still wonderfully drinkable.  After the initial sour attack, woody notes from its wine barrel aging begin to be perceived, then the brett funkiness.  You have to really like sour beers, but if you do, you will find this one to be fascinatingly complex and incredibly well built.  A wonderful beer.

Finally, I picked up a bottle of Medvejie Stout from Baranof Island Brewing at Country Liquors. This Sitka-based brewery has just recently begun bottling and I believe this is the first time its product has made it to the Kenai.  It poured totally opaque with a small but persistent tan head that left nice lacing on the glass.  The aroma was mostly of roasted malt, but there was a touch of sweetness in the background.  A nice roasted malt attack, with good mouthfeel and fine balance, dropping off gradually to a fine finish.  A very nice American Stout, worth seeking out.

Well, that's about it for this week.  I'll be back next week with more news and reviews.  I hope you all have a Happy Mardi Gras and Happy Valentine's Day.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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