Friday, May 3, 2013

Two New Beer Books

Well, it was snowing as I drove to work this morning.  Yes, two days into May and it's snowing.  This is the winter that just will not end.  Oh well...

On a more positive note, I recently received two new beer books which I had on pre-order from
Amazon.  The first is one I've been waiting for since I sat next to the author, Tom Acitelli, at a media luncheon in Denver at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010.  He told me then that he was working on a book that he hoped would be the definitive history of the American craft beer movement to date.  He called it The Audacity of Hops: The History of America's Craft Beer Revolution , which I thought was a pretty clever title.  Fast forward to last month, as his book was finally published.  I have not yet had the chance to sit down and read it from cover to cover, but in just my casual perusals to date, I can tell it's an excellent work.  Tom has done a fantastic job of research, but he has also coupled it with an interesting and engaging style of writing.  The result is no dry tome of history, but captures the excitement and vigor of the American craft beer movement.  I can't wait to incorporate this work into the college course I teach on beer.  If you have any interest at all in the American craft beer phenomenon, you need to read this book.

The second book that I received was called simply Cheese & Beer by Janet Fletcher.  As you might guess from its title, it is wholly dedicated to pairing up those two most delectable foods.  While I like to think I know a fair amount about beer, my knowledge of cheese is somewhat limited, so I was very interested in what I could learn from this book.  Lavishly illustrated, I found what the author had to say about craft beers to be spot on, so I suspect her cheese recommendations are equally good.  This is the first book that I have come across which is solely dedicated to pairing cheese with beer, and I'd say it was long overdue.  If you really enjoy good artisanal cheese, you should definitely buy this book.

Up north in Fox, Silver Gulch Brewing has their Old 55 Pale Ale available from the cask!  Get some while it lasts!  In Fairbanks, HooDoo Brewing currently has their Kolsch, their Stout, and their IPA on tap.

Now that they are open again, 49th State Brewing Company has a new website.  Check it out here.

Gabe Fletcher of Anchorage Brewing Company is currently in Copenhagen, Denmark, getting ready to pour his brews at a beer festival being held there on May 3rd & 4th.  Sounds like a lot of fun, though I'm not quite sure what to make of their festival logo...

As I wrote last week, we're in the middle of Midnight Sun Brewing Company's celebration of their 18th Anniversary.  If you will be in Anchorage this week, you should certainly be checking out that list of events I posted last week.

Looking ahead to American Craft Beer Week, May 13 thru May19, I'm sure there will be events planned all around the state, but it seems Midnight Sun is first out of the gate.  Here's a list of what the have planned so far:

SAT MAY 11 @ 11am
During AK Beer Week in January, the fine folks from Black Raven Brewing Co. in Washington traveled north to collaborate on a beer. Sun of a Beak, Imperial Bourbon Barrel Coconut Porter, will be released simultaneously in Washington at Black Raven Brewing Co. and Alaska at The Loft at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. for Craft Beer fans to enjoy.

SAT MAY 11 @ 9pm
Even if it is still snowing we are getting our cans over to Mad Myrna’s for the grand opening of their outdoor, summer time Tiki Bar. Be one of the first to sip a can of Kodiak Brown, Snowshoe White Ale or Sockeye Red IPA in the best outdoor Tiki Bar in Alaska.

SUN MAY 12 @ 12:30pm
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Tour for Crush and The Cellar
The Folks of Crush and The Cellar will be coming to tour the brewery, taste some beers and get a brief beer class with Darcy.

MON MAY 13 @ 6pm
BEER DINNER: OLD Midnight Sun Brewing Company @ Sub Zero/Humpy’s
Kick off Craft Beer Week with some incredible pairings from Humpy’s/ Sub Zero and some fine selections from the cellars of Midnight Sun Brewing Co. and Humpy’s.
Reservations: 276-BEER


Greet Beer: CoHoHo Imperial IPA brewed with Juniper

Appetizer: Midnight Sun 3000 / Belgian Style Barleywine 2013 /13.2%
Grilled tomato & tart cherry compote. Served on grilled on Baguette and finished with fresh thyme.

Salad: Arctic Devil / Barleywine 2002/ 10 %
Fresh apples tossed with crisp romaine, dates, raisins and walnuts in barley wine vinaigrette. Topped   Fried goat cheese.

Entree: The New Black /Belgian Black Bier 2010/ 8.4%
Bier braised lamb shank w/ sweet potato mash and baby arugula & grilled radicchio

Dessert: Tree Hugger /Spruce Tip Stout 2010/ 12.6%
Chocolate raspberry mouse with fresh berries and crushed coffee beans

THU MAY 16 @ 4pm
Raise a glass to Craft Beer! This will be a massive toast, taking place at the same time from coast to coast, so you can raise any glass wherever you are, but if you happen to be in The Loft at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. we will have a taste of 3000, Belgian Style Barleywine Oak Aged in Red Wine Barrels for you to offer your SALUT to!

THU MAY 16 @ 6pm
So you drink a lot of beer, but do you know where it comes from? Do you want to get a sneak peak (taste) of what is in our tanks now? Join our FREE tour, offered every Thursday, but with even more craft beer fun during American Craft Beer Week.

FRI MAY 17 @ 6:30pm
This is the third annual, adults only, night out in the Zoo. Join the Midnight Sun Chapter of the American Assoc. for Zookeepers for beer tasting, silent auction, food and some furry friends putting on a special show. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 the night of. To purchase go to

Silver Gulch Brewing & Bottling Company has also announced an ACBW event.  Each day at 3:30 from May 13th thru 17th, they will be having a vertical tasting of a different beer style.  Some will be their own beers and some will be examples of the style from around the world.  There will be a presentation on the style each day by their head brewer, Levi Hansen.  $10 for each daily tasting.  Here's the schedule of styles:

Monday - Porter
Tuesday - Lager
Wednesday - Belgium
Thursday - Barley Wine
Friday  - IPA

Sounds like a helluva good time!

Here on the Peninsula, Homer Brewing Company's annual beer dinner with The Homestead Restaurant is coming up this Saturday.  See last week's blog for more details.

Seward Brewing Company is open and has posted their new food menu.  Here it is:

Click to enlarge

St. Elias Brewing Company has released another new beer, their Dos Lobos Vienna Lager.  It's a clean, slightly sweet, reddish lager that makes an excellent accompaniment to lots of foods.  I paired it on Sunday with some home-made BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, and it was superb.  When I was last there, they still had the excellent Czech Point Pils on tap, as well as Kriek Lambic and Forbidden Fruit Pomegranate Lager.

Let's do some beer reviews.

First up, something from the cellar.  I opened a bottle of Deschutes Brewery's Black Butte XXIII Porter this week.  It was released in June of 2011, with a "Best After" date of June, 2012, so it was quite ready.  25 % of this beer was bourbon-barrel aged, and it was brewed with orange zest, chocolate nibs, and Pasilla Negra chillies.  It poured opaque with a good-sized mocha colored head.  I could pick up the orange and chocolate in the nose, but not the bourbon or the chillies.  Great mouthfeel and good carbonation.  On the palate the flavors were rich and deep; a very complex profile, with all of the numerous elements -- oak, bourbon, chocolate, roasted malt, oranges, peppers -- in a nice balance.  It reminded me of a complex dance, with the various dancers moving in and out of the spotlight, without ever getting in each others way.  The 10.8% ABV was only evident in a touch of alcohol heat on the finish.  Delicious and worth waiting two years for!

Next, St. Elias Brewing Company's Kriek Lambic.This beer was fermented with a yeast strain “captured” from the air of the very same Senne Valley where traditional lambic is brewed. It was fermented in Hungarian Oak for nine months, where the sour cherries were added.  It poured a slightly cloudy, pinkish-orange color with a small head.  The aroma was tart, with notes of oak and cherries.  The taste was similar, being tart but not sour, with oak and cherry notes.  Dry and refreshing, this beer will be excellent in warmer weather (if we ever get any). 8% ABV.

Finally, Kenai River Brewing's Falconer's Flight Imperial Rye Pale Ale (FFIRPA).  The fourth in the series, this one is the best one yet, IMHO.  It poured a deep honey color with a big, off-white head.  The aroma is laced with the characteristic American hop notes from the Falconer's Flight hops.  At 103 IBUs, I was expecting an initial bitterness attack that would take the enamel off my teeth, but it was amazingly subdued, with the hops being very well-balanced by the big malt backbone. At 9% ABV, this beer is wonderfully drinkable, with on a slight lingering bitterness on the finish.  As I said above, I think this is the best beer yet in Kenai River's Imperial Rye Pale Ale series, so if you liked any of its predecessors, you really need to seek this one out.

Well, that's it for this week.  More beer news and reviews next week, I hope.

Until Next Time, Cheers!


Fredrik A said...


We have recently launched a new magazine called Craft Beer Magazine:

Any way I could reach you?


I'm Bill Howell. said...

You can reach me at or 907-394-3025.


Fredrik A said...