Friday, April 26, 2013

Missed It...

I had planned this blog to be a reckoning of what a fabulous experience last weekend's Culmination Beer Festival was.  Unfortunately, just before my wife and I were about to depart on the road to Anchorage on Saturday, we had a family emergency come up and had to cancel our plans to attend.

However, I have heard from many of the lucky folks who did get to attend how wonderful it was. (Way to rub it in, guys!)  The beers were superb and the attendees were there for all the right reasons. To quote my good friend Jim Roberts: "It was a whole different mood with serious beer drinkers in a dignified setting."  You can read much more about it in Jim's column in this week's Anchorage Press.  Given how successful it was, I'm sure we will be seeing another Culmination; I only hope I'll actually be able to make it to that one!

If like me you missed the Festival, all hope is not lost.  Some of the beers that were left over from the event will be going on sale today at Brown Jug, La Bodega, and Humpy's. Here's the list:

CAPTAIN LAWRENCE Smoke Porter $12.95
CAPTAIN LAWRENCE St Vincent Dubbel $19.95
CASCADE BREWING Strawberry $34.95
CASCADE BREWING Vlad The Imp Aler $49.95
CROOKED STAVE Origins Artisanal $14.95
CROOKED STAVE Surette Artisanal $9.95
FOUNDERS BREWING Breakfast Stout $4.95
JESTER KING Barrel Aged Sour Red $19.95
JESTER KING Organic Barrel Aged Wild Ale $19.95
JESTER KING Sour Barrel Aged Stout $19.95
GIGANTIC 22 OZ Geezers Need Excitement Choc IPA $6.95
LAWSONS FINEST Double Sunshine IPA  $16.00
LAWSONS FINEST Fayston Maple Imperial Stout  $24.95
LAWSONS FINEST Toast Black Ipa  $13.00
LOGSDON FARMHOUSE Seizoen Bretta  $15.95
SANTE ADAIRIUS Maiden Fields  $17.00
SANTE ADAIRIUS Saison Bernice  $17.00
SANTE ADAIRIUS West Ashley  $22.95
BLAUGIES-HILL FARM La Vermontoise  $14.95
JOLLY PUMPKIN Collababeire  $18.95
JOLLY PUMPKIN La Roja Grande Reserve  $17.95
JOLLY PUMPKIN Sobrehumano  $21.00
MIKKELLER GRASSROO Wheat Is The New Hops  $7.95
PRAIRIE Ale  $16.95
PRAIRIE Hop  $16.95
THE BRUERY Melange 3  $32.95
THE BRUERY Smoking Wood Rye  $22.95
THE BRUERY Sour In The Rye  $22.95
THE BRUERY Trade Winds Tripel  $11.95
THE BRUERY Mischief  $11.95
THE BRUERY Saison Rue $14.95
THE COMMONS Flemish Kiss  $16.95
THE COMMONS Fleur De Ferme  $16.95
THE COMMONS Urban Farmhouse Ale  $16.95

Quantities are most certainly limited, so if you want any of these fine brews, you'd better get after them post-haste.

Speaking of limited availability, Rob Weller of Specialty Imports reports that they have a very limited number of Distant Matter IPA kegs (#31685) in stock.  This beer is a collaboration between Anchorage Brewing Company and Hill Farmstead Brewery, which is a small craft brewery in Vermont producing IPAs and Belgian-style beers.  It's 6% ABV and uses Citra and Amarillo hops.  If you're the sort that buys beer by the keg rather than the bottle, I'd jump on this one.

On the national stage, the 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week is fast approaching. This year it will take place from May 13th thru May 19th.  This year's theme is "Toasts the Red, White, and Brew".  The Brewers Association press release states that there will be celebrations in all 50 states, but I have not yet heard of anything happening in Alaska.  So let's get something planned!

I wrote about some of the upcoming events for Midnight Sun Brewing Company two weeks ago, including their Beer Dinner at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood on May 1.  Here's the complete list of all their 18th Anniversary Week events:

Click to enlarge

Also in Anchorage next week, Glacier BrewHouse will be hosting a Beer Dinner on Thursday, May 2.  Here's the flier for that one:

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As long as we're talking beer dinners, let's head down to the Peninsula, where Homer Brewing Company and The Homestead Restaurant are having their annual Dinner at the Brewery next Saturday, May 4th, at 6:30 pm. Chef Jeff Hulscher and sous Chef Alber Balderas come together to pair Homer Brewing beers with specially prepared high-end food that starts with crab wontons consisting of crispy wontons filled with crab, cilantro, cheese and red peppers. They're dressed with a spicy sauce and paired with Homer Brewing’s Red Knot Scottish Ale. This is followed by a cheese & ESB soup including Tillamook aged white cheddar and broccolini, paired with Homer’s King and Wings Extra Special Bitter. A shrimp spinach salad comes next consisting of fresh spinach with an orange abbey vinaigrette, topped with grilled rosemary shrimp and paired with Homer’s Abbey Ale. The main course consists of short ribs, braised with a porter reduction and served with roasted sweet potatoes and grilled marinated red cabbage and paired with Homer’s China Poot Porter. Pan-seared local sablefish is an alternative to the meat dish, also dressed with a porter reduction and accompanied by roasted sweet potatoes and grilled, marinated red cabbage. This is paired with China Poot Porter as well. For dessert, expect a “Cherry Garcia stout float” which consists of Cherry Garcia ice cream and a Florentine cookie paired with Homer’s Odyssey Oatmeal Stout. Call The Homestead at 235-8723 for reservations.

As I reported a couple of weeks ago, 49th State Brewing in Healy will be reopening tomorrow, April 27th.  While they have been closed all winter, they have not exactly been idle.  Before shutting down, they filled their fermenters with brews that would benefit from a long, cold aging through the winter months in Healy. Their opening day beer line-up will be as follows:

Baked Blonde
Solstice IPA
Golden Dahl Tripel
Oatmeal Stout
Vienna Lager
Vagabond Saison
Chocolate Porter
Smoked Marzen
White Peach Wheat
Double IPA

I'm really looking forward to heading up that way this summer to try out some of their new brews.

Up in Talkeetna, besides their canning efforts, Denali Brewing Company has also been bottling some special beers.  Somehow this escaped my notice until recently, when Boe Barnett was nice enough to send me some images of the labels for these beers.

Front label

Back label
Front label

Back label

Boe reports that the Bomb finished 4th out of 75 entrants in the Wild-Acidic category at The Festival of Wood and Barrel-aged Beers in Chicago last November.  I'm not sure how wildly distributed either beer is, but I'd certainly snag a bottle if you happen to be passing through Talkeetna and they are still available!

Speaking of competitions, a couple of our local breweries have been quite successful.  Alaskan Brewing Company's much-beloved Smoked Porter took a Bronze Medal in the "Specialty Other Special Feature Beer" category at the 2013 International Brewing Awards in London.  This competition has been held since 1886 and is often call "the Oscars of the brewing industry."  All the judges are currently practicing brewers, and this year saw over 800 entries in 10 categories with 35 classes.  Congratulations to the Brew Crew in Juneau.

Moving down to the Peninsula, the latest issue of All About Beer Magazine  reports that the Chicago-based Beverage Testing Institute recognized two beers from Kassik’s Brewery as being in the top three beers in the world in their respective categories for 2012. Their Big Nutz Imperial Brown Ale (8.5% ABV) took top honors in the Strong Beer category, while their Buffalo Head Barley Wine (10.5% ABV) was tied for third place in the Barley Wine category. Congratulations to Frank, Debbie, Jason, Luke & the rest of the crew at Kassik’s.

At Kenai River Brewing Company, they have just released the fourth beer in their Imperial Rye Pale Ale series: Falconer's Flight Imperial Rye Pale Ale, aka FFIRPA, at 9% ABV and 103 IBUs. I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but if it's anything like the first three, it will be excellent.  And if you haven't gotten any of their superb Wee Heavy Skilak Scottish yet, what are you waiting for?

Seward Brewing Company reopened for business last week; they are now open from 4 to 10 pm, seven days a week.

St. Elias Brewing Company has put a new brew on, a Munich or Vienna Lager.  I have not had a chance to stop by and try it yet.  When I was last in, their excellent Czech Point Pilsner was still on tap, but it may be off by know.  Check out my column in next week's Redoubt Reporter for a discussion about fruit lambics in general and St. Elias' new Kriek in particular.

I haven't had the chance to try too much in the new beer department lately, more's the pity.  but I did drink bottles of Alaskan's Smoked Porter from 2006 and 2007 which I have had in my cellar.  This is a beer that really ages well, possibly because the smoke components act as anti-oxidation agents.  I like a fresh Smoked Porter, but then I love Islay Scotch Whisky -- the smokier the better.  A few years in the cellar helps tame the smokiness a bit, for those of you who aren't as fond of it as I am.

Both beers looked the same in the glass: opaque with small tan heads that dissipated to collars, though the '07 seemed to dissipate a bit more slowly.  The aroma was also similar with the smoke being balanced by chocolate and roasted elements from the malt.  On the palate, the initial attack of smokiness from the '07 was noticeably fiercer than that of the '06, then the malt flavors come in to balance, with the smoke returning on the finish for the '07.  Overall, I thought the extra year in the cellar produced a much better balanced and integrated beer, with a longer and smoother finish.  I'll be interested to taste another bottle of the '07 next year, to see how it's doing.

Well, that's about it for this week.  I hope to be back next week with more news and beer reviews.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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