Friday, April 12, 2013

Still Waiting on Spring

Well, Break Up went into a bit of reverse this week, with about a foot of snow up in Anchorage and nighttime temperatures in the single digits.  At least the snow mostly passed us by down here on the Kenai Peninsula, but the frigid temperatures have put our spring thaw on hold.  The forecast is for sunny days and slow warming for the next week, so perhaps winter will finally release its icy grip on us.

The breweries around the state haven't let the delay in spring's arrival slow them down; new beers continue to be released and new beer events are taking place.

Glen Brady of Silver Gulch Brewing has been named to the board of directors of the National Restaurant Association.  That makes him one of 94 directors responsible for running the organization the represents some 500,000 restaurant businesses.  See a full story in the Farbanks Newsminer here.

HooDoo Brewing has been pouring their brews at Arctic Man 2013 this week.  Given that the brewery is named after the range where the event takes place, this would seem to be a match made in heaven.  They are also now on tap at The Pub on the UAF campus.

Two brewpubs are getting ready to reopen after their long winter's nap: 49th State Brewing in Healy reopens on Saturday, 27 April, while Seward Brewing Company reopens next Thursday, April 18th.  SBC will also be hosting a Ducks Unlimited Bar Night. It will be 7 pm - 10 pm on Friday, April 19th. Ducks Unlimited has scheduled a silent auction, live music, games of skill and luck, and of course, gun auctions. For more information, please call Heather at 224-2255. This event is open to the public, with free admission. You do not have to be a DU member, and there is no pressure to join.  Seward Brewing Company will be open from 4 to 10 PM, seven days a week.

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Coming off their big success of the Talkeetna Beer Trippin' event last weekend, Denali Brewing has more good news.  Their canned beers are now available in the Seattle market.  Additionally, they will be having a beer dinner at Sullivan's Steakhouse in Anchorage this Wednesday, April 17th.  Here's the menu:

Sounds like it should be a great time. $75 per person, call 258-2882 for reservations.

Denali Brewing has a second dinner coming up soon.  This one is on April 24th, at Jack Sprat's in Girdwood, at 6:30 pm.  This is the menu and beer pairings, from the restaurant's website: The welcome pairing will consist of  deep fried pickles, white cheddar, and Pimenton popcorn combination paired with Denali’s ESB. The second course will be an artichoke salad with hearts of palm, Wassail poached pink lady apples, radish and watercress with white truffle oil, all paired with Denali’s Wassail Winter Ale. The third course will pair Maple Leaf Farm roast duck, pineapple fried rice, cashews, scallions, and a hoisin glaze with Denali’s Hibernale. This will be followed with a “cheese and crackers” plate consisting of delice de Bourgogne, blackberries, celery, Alaskan wildflower honey and a sesame and celery seed lavash. This will be paired with Denali’s Bomb, a beer I have not heard of before and know nothing about. The 5th and final course will be sopaipillas with bananas, caramel ice cream, Mexican chocolate and dulce de leche paired up with Old Mad Dog 2012.  If you are interested, call 783-5225 for reservations, as there is only seating for 30. $65 per person.

 Midnight Sun Brewing Company has a Beer Maker's Dinner coming up, also on Wednesday, April 17th. This dinner is at 6PM at Kinley's Restaurant.   Here's the menu for that one:

Midnight Sun Belgian Beer Maker's Dinner

6pm - Wednesday, April 17, 2013

$70 per person
Reservations Required. Please call: 907-644-8953

Greet Beer

Snowshoe White:  Belgian Style Wit Beer, ABV: 4.8% IBU: 12

First Course

Fallen Angel:  Belgian Golden Ale. ABV 8.5% IBU: 35
Blue Crab and Wild Pacific Shrimp Cake with Chilies, Corn, Black Beans, and Chipotle Aioli

Second Course

Panty Peeler: Belgian Tripel Brewed with Coriander and Orange Peel, ABV: 8.5% IBU: 15
Pan Seared Kodiak Scallop with a Grapefruit and Dijon Mustard Sauce, Gingered Jasmine Rice Cake, Sautéed Napa Cabbage, Peppers, and Carrots Topped with Black Tobiko

Third Course

Barn Burner: Belgian Red, ABV: 8.5% IBU: 27
Grilled Pork Chop on a Creole Crawfish Demi with Organic Stone Ground Grits and Sautéed Swiss Chard

Fourth Course

Modern Romance: Belgian Chocolate Ale brewed with Mayan Spices: ABV 10.2% IBU: 37
Chili and Cocoa Rubbed Beef Brisket with Roasting Jus, Mashed Potatoes, and a Strawberry Salsa

Fifth Course

Monk’s Mistress: Belgian Style Special Dark Ale, ABV: 11.5% IBU: 13
Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate and Orange Crème Anglaise Sauce

I was fortunate enough to attend a beer dinner at Kinley's in January, and I can assure you the food there is absolutely superb.

Besides this beer dinner, Midnight Sun is gearing up for their 18th Anniversary Celebration, on the week of 29 April to 5 May.  Look for their anniversary beer, Bionic Blonde, a Belgian Blonde Quadruple (??), to be released on April 29th.  There will also be a Beer Dinner at 6:30 PM on May 1st at the Aurora Bar & Grill at the Alyeska Resort.  $65 per person and you can make reservations here. This will be the menu for that dinner:

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There will be plenty of other events throughout the week.  Check the Midnight Sun website or Facebook page to stay abreast of the happenings.

Another big event coming up in Anchorage is The Culmination  Beer Festival, next Saturday, April 20th, but if you don't already have your tickets, that ship has sailed, I'm afraid.  However, on the same day, Glacier BrewHouse will be doing another of their A Pint for a Pint events, from 10 AM to 5:30 PM.  Here's the flier for that:

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It's a worthy cause, without a doubt.

Over at Anchorage Brewing Company, besides gearing up for The Culmination,  they've been bottling like crazy, including 1300 cases their batch of Mikkeller AK Alive.  The Alaska-Denmark connection will continue to grow, as Gabe Fletcher is traveling to Europe for the first two weeks of May.  He will be pouring six Anchorage Brewing Company beers at a festival in Copenhagen, then traveling to the Netherlands to do a collaboration brew with Menno Oliver from Brouwerij De Molen.  How cool is that!

At King Street Brewing Company they will be releasing their very first bottled beer on Tuesday, April 15th: Irish Gael Export Stout.  Here's the label:

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This brew is 9% ABV and aged in bourbon and chardonnay barrels, then re-blended.  Sounds magically delicious.  Later this year, look for a barrel-aged barley wine from King Street : Nobility English Barley Wine.No release date yet, but here's the label for that beer:

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On Wednesday, King Street will be releasing their third seasonal of the year, Nirvana Wit, a beer based on the winner of last August's Anchortown Invitational Homebrew Competition, a Belgian Witbier by John Boyd.  Shane Kingry describes Nirvana Wit as follows: "complex herbal lemongrass aroma introduces you to this beer and is followed by a light sweet citrusy wheat taste that ends crisp, dry, and with a clean and refreshing tartness."  Sounds like a great spring beer.  Now if we could just get some spring weather to drink it in...

 Here on the Peninsula, Kassik's Brewery has a new beer on tap: Pretty Fly for a White IPA.  This is a White Double IPA, weighing in at 8.3% ABV.

Kenai River Brewing has their latest batch of Wee Heavy Skilak Scottish Ale.  This is easily my favorite of all the great beers they brew, so if you like this style, be sure to drop by for some.  Also, as of yesterday, they had some of their excellent 2012 Winter Warlock Old Ale on tap, limited supply and for sale by the goblet only.  If you missed it last winter, this is your very last chance.

At St. Elias Brewing Company, I managed to do a proper review of their Czech Point Pilsner last Saturday, when my beer class was toured around the brewery by Zach Henry.  See below.  Last Tuesday, they put another new brew on, the first in a new series of beers Zach is calling The Mark of the Yeast series.  This one is a Kriek.  Here's what he has to say about it:

"Authentic Lambic beer is produced by spontaneous fermentation, where it is exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria that are said to be native to the Senne valley, in which Brussels lies. It is this unusual process which gives the beer its distinctive flavour: dry, vinous, and cidery, usually with a sour aftertaste. We fermented this Ale using a distinctive Lambic yeast strain Captured from this region. It spent 9 months in Hungarian oak where tart cherries ("Kriek" is Flemish for Cherry)were added, feeding this unique yeast strain which produced a dry tart cherry pie character.
8% ABV."

Sounds delicious and I'm looking forward to trying it.

Finally, down at Kodiak Island Brewing Company, they have a couple of more brews on tap.  First, their Arctic Night Baltic Porter is back.  This batch is aged on oak and weighs in at 9.5% ABV.  They are also pouring a batch of their Snowshoe Pale Ale, which is their single hop beer.  This version is hopped with Simcoes, so expect grapefruit and pine aromas and flavors.  Easy drinking at 4.5% ABV.

Moving on to beer reviews, we'll start with the Czech Point Pilsner from St. Elias Brewing.  According to Zach Henry, this is the first pilsner he's ever brewed.  So they only thing I can say about his first attempt is: Nailed It!  The beer pours a lovely clear gold with a nice, dense white head.  The aroma is spot on, full of Saaz noble hop notes.  The carbonation is great, the mouthfeel light, and the flavors crisp and clean.  This beer is everything good pilsner should be (and so seldom is in the world today).  I predict this beer is going to fly out of the tanks, so get some before it's gone.

Next, I had a bottle of Thornbridge Brewery's Kipling South Pacific Style Pale Ale that I picked up in Anchorage.  I was greatly impressed with their Jaipur IPA which I reviewed on 12/5/2012, so I was eager to try this beer.  Apparently it was hopped using Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand, hence the "South Pacific style" on the label.  It poured a lovely clear gold with a nice white head that left good lacing on the glass.  The aroma was highly unusual, with tropical fruit notes mingling with the more typical hop elements.  Those flavors were also apparent on the palate, giving the beer what was to me a very odd flavor profile.  The carbonation was good, the flavors were clean, and the bitterness was good, but I personally couldn't get past the strange tropical fruit elements.  To me, it was like drinking a pale ale and chewing a piece of Juicy Fruit gum at the same time.  So I think I'll give the South Pacific ales a pass from now on, and stick to their excellent Jaipur IPA.

Finally, I had two more beers from Gigantic Brewing Company, both of which I also picked up in Anchorage.  The first was their Time Traveler Porter (Beer #7).  It poured very dark, but with some ruby highlights and a small tan head.  The aroma was of roast malt and caramel.  There was medium mouthfeel and good carbonation, with plenty of roasty malt flavors and some spicy hop bitterness, falling away gradually to a long, pleasant finish.  All-in-all, a nice, quality robust porter that would make a great pairing with a nicely grilled steak.  5.8% ABV.

 The second beer from Gigantic was The End of Reason (Beer #6), 8.3% ABV.  It poured a deep ruby color with a nice-cream-colored head.  The aroma was definitely of sweet malt, and that was what carried through on to the palate.  The brewery does not define a style for this beer, but I would call it either an Old Ale or an English-style Barley Wine.  Hops were just there for balance, and were not detectable.  A good beer, but not Gigantic's best.  The label indicates it to be suitable for cellaring, so it might be interesting to see how the flavor profile develops over time.

Well, that's it for this week.  Cross your fingers (if they haven't been frostbitten off!) that we get some warmer weather next week and make your beer dinner reservations.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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