Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cellar Diving

I had some business down in the crawlspace under my house this weekend.  Since I had to go down there anyway, it was the perfect time to both move some new bottles (MSBC's 3000 & 2013 Arctic Devil) in and to pull some old bottles out of my "deep storage".  I don't cellar a huge amount of beer - my entire collection down there is less than 75 bottles - but even so, it can sometimes be difficult to keep on top of dates to make sure some bottles don't age too long.

This time around, I pulled four bottles to drink: bottles of Alaskan's Barley Wine from the 2007 & 2009 vintages and Deschutes' The Dissident from 2008 and 2010.  I've sampled the first two and my reviews are below.  Look for reviews of the other two bottles next week.

The beer list for The Culmination Beer Festival on 20 April has been finalized.  I posted most of the list back on 1 March, but here are the rest of the brews on offer:

New Belgium Brewing:
Cascara Quad
Fujuia Fruit Tripel
Tar Lychee

Gigantic Brewing Company
Anchorage/Gigantic Collaboration Belgian Imperial stout aged in cognac barrels
Chocolate IPA

Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Lower Dens Hibiscus and Spelt Beer
Folklore Belgian Stout
Cellar Door Wheat Beer with White Sage
Stateside Saison

Hill Farmstead Brewing
Biere de Norma
Convivial Suarez
Civil Disobediance #4

Jackie O's:
Cellar Cuvee
Oil of Aphrodite 

Lost Abbey:
Saints Devotion

Port Brewing:
Hop 15 Fresh
Board Meeting Imperial Brown
Santa's Little Helper

The Billy Booth:
Dupont Bons Voeux 2005
St. Feullien Cuvee Noel 2005
Gouden Carolous 2005

Stone Brewing:
Enjoy by 4/20/13 IPA

Cigar City Brewing:
Hunahpu's Imperial Stout
Humidor IPA
Cherry Cordial

Cascade Barrel House:
Cerise Nouveau

 More news about the festival.  Tickets ARE NOT be on sale via Ticketmaster, since they wanted to charge 22% on top of the $100 face price.  Instead, there is a separate website where you make reservations using a credit card.  Then, when you show up at the door to redeem your reservation, you pay for the ticket in cash.  Your credit card will only get charged if you fail to show up to claim your reserved tickets. Not sure if there will be any seats left by the time this is posted but go to to find out.

Hoo Doo Brewing in Fairbanks has released a Belgian Saison.  they say it's "Locally made, globally inspired."  That sounds pretty good to me!

Glacier BrewHouse will be having a brunch on Easter Sunday, March 31st.  Go the their website to make reservations.

Kenai River Brewing has their Falconer's Flight 7-C's IPA on tap; see below for my review.  They will be open this Sunday from noon until 2 PM for a for mini-St. Patrick's Day potluck, so stop by if you're in town.

I'll be at the Arkose Brewery tomorrow, Friday, at about 2 PM.  I'll be happy to sign copies of my book for any Valley folk, and I will also have copies to sell, if you haven't gotten one yet.  It'll be my first visit to that brewery and I'm looking forward to it.

Next Wednesday, March 20, at 5 PM Midnight Sun Brewing will be having their Bring on the Funk Event, at which they will release their new Sex Machine: James Brown Sour Ale.  If you'll be in Anchorage and like sours, be sure to stop by The Loft to give it a try.  Midnight Sun is also running their 3rd Annual Photo Contest.  The the theme is "Where Can You Go", so start snapping photos of MSBC cans in interesting locations.  Entries are due by April 17.  Check their website for details, rules, and prizes.

I've got four beers to review this time.  First up, as mentioned above, I enjoyed bottles of both the 2007 and 2009 vintages of Alaskan Brewing's Barley Wine.  The physical appearance of both beers was the same (obviously), pouring a deep ruby color with a small, cream-colored head that dissipated rapidly to a collar.  Both had the same, deep, rich malt aroma with a touch of alcohol heat.  On the palate, both had the deep malt complexity of a classic English-style barley wine, with almost zero appreciable hop bitterness.  However, I thought the flavors of the '07 were noticeably deeper and better integrated, more mellow, and with a better finish.  This tracks with my past experience, in that I think this beer peaks at 5 to 6 years in the cellar.  So if you have any 2007 or older bottles in your cellar, I'd advocate you seriously considering drinking them fairly soon; they are ready, IMHO.

I also enjoyed a bottle of Meantime Brewing Company's Scotch Ale, which I had in my cellar for about six months.  While fine to drink fresh, I have found that this brew improves after a few months.  Meantime is a wonderful brewery out of Greenwich in the U.K., and I've never had a bad beer from them.

This one poured a deep but translucent ruby with a nice, persistent cream-colored head.  The aroma was true to style, being  complex full of sweet malt/caramel notes, plus figs, leather, and just a hint of peat smoke.  They mouthfeel was medium, with good carbonation.  The flavor profile was as complex as the nose, with caramel, leather, raisins, figs, brown sugar, and peat all making themselves known.  The finish was nice and long, with no cloying sweetness.  All-in-all, and excellent example of a Scotch Ale, one of my favorite styles.

Finally, I picked up a growler of Kenai River Brewing's Falconer's Flight 7-C's IPA on Saturday and drank it on Sunday.  It poured a slightly cloudy dark honey color, with a nice off-white head that left good lacing on the glass.  The aroma was packed with citrusy American hop elements, as you'd expect from this popular hop blend. On the palate there was good but not excessive bitterness, making for a more drinkable than average IPA, with clean, bright hop flavors that gradually fell away to a nice finish.  A delicious beer! I had no trouble polishing off the growler by myself.

Well, that's about it for this week.  More reviews for next week, and don't forget to reserve those tickets to The Culmination Beer Festival!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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