Friday, August 30, 2013

Welcome to Fall

Well, it's pretty obvious that summer is pretty much over here in Alaska.  Daytime highs are in the upper 50s to lower 60s, we're getting a fair amount of rain, and I just had a winter's worth of firewood dropped off at my house, so I guess I'll spend my Labor Day Weekend stacking wood.

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The good news is that all the special fall beer releases are either on the street or just around the corner, and we're not quite done with beer festivals yet.

In my last couple of blogs, I talked about the upcoming Bodega-Fest (Saturday, September 14th) in Anchorage and Talkeetna Beer Festival (Saturday, September 28th) in -where else? - Talkeetna.  If you can attend either or both, I'd highly recommend you do so, as I'm sure they will be excellent festivals.  Let's get out and enjoy ourselves while we can, 'cause we'll be hip-deep in snow before you know it.

Speaking of getting out and enjoying yourself,  Glacier BrewHouse will be having a Beer Dinner on Thursday, September 19th, starting at 6:30 pm.  It's $69.95 per person, which includes even the tip.  Here's the menu:

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Sounds like it will be some amazing food paired with exceptional beers, which is my definition of an outstanding beer  dinner.  Call 274-2739 for tickets.

Don't forget the Kassik's Brewery's upcoming Beer Dinner on September 11th at Jack Sprat Restaurant in Girdwood.  It will be $75 per person and you can make reservations at 907-783-5225. It's a five course meal, and I haven't seen a food menu yet, but Kassik's has posted that their Abbey Ale, Orion's Quest Red Ale, Caribou Kilt Wee Heavy Scotch, Smoked Russian Imperial Stout, and award-winning Vanilla Blueberry Cream Ale will all be served.

I wrote last week about the coming closure of Ring of Fire Meadery in Homer.  Thestarted a liquidation sale last Tuesday.All meads and merchandise - except cysers - are half price.  There a limit of 25 750ml bottles per person per day.  See my column in next week's Redoubt Reporter for more details on the closure.

Speaking of sales, Gold Hill Imported Beer and Fine Wines on the Parks Highway, just south of Fairbanks, will be having a Craft Beer Tent Sale today and tomorrow from noon to 9 pm.  The sale will take place rain or shine, so if you're reading this in Fairbanks, you should check it out.

As long as we're talking about Fairbanks, Silver Gulch Brewing and Bottling Company has a new brew on tap: Blueberry Groove, a Blueberry Wheat Ale.  Here's how they describe it:

Using the same base as the Paystreak Hefeweizen, Pacific Northwest blueberries are added and the beer is then filtered. The banana esters and blueberry aroma come off the nose and go to the finish. 5.6% ABV, 13 IBUs.
At HooDoo Brewing, their Stout is back on tap, replacing their XPA.

Denali Brewing in Talkeetna has announced that they will be releasing their Chuli Stout in cans soon.  Here's a picture (lifted from their Facebook page) which shows what the news cans will look like.

That will give them four beers in cans: Mother Ale, Twister Creek IPA, Single Engine Red, and Chuli Stout.

Anchorage Brewing Company has announced that they will soon be releasing a batch of Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast brewed at their facility.  Here's the graphic for it:

Snow Goose Pub/Sleeping Lady Brewery has a new cask version of their Braveheart Scottish Ale on tap; this one has heather flowers added to the cask.

At Midnight Sun Brewing Company, they've just released this year's batch of their justly famous Berserker Imperial Stout.  You can find it at the brewery on in the stores around Anchorage; I don't think any has made it down here to the Peninsula yet.

I topped in for lunch at St. Elais Brewing Company yesterday.  In addition to their usual regular beers, they were offering Island Girl, Flower Child XPA, Fair Trade Porter, and their Framboise Lambic.

I've also received word from Rob Weller of Specialty Imports that a couple of new brews from Gigantic Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon, have made it to Alaska.  Here are the labels and descriptions:

High Fidelity, a dry-hopped pale ale, 5.9% ABV, 35 IBUs

Hellion, a dry-hopped Belgian Golden, Ale, 8.5% ABV, 23 IBUs

Given how much I've enjoyed most of Gigantic's previous releases, I'm definitely going to give both of these a try.

I only have two new beer reviews for this week.  As promised last week, I tried Anchor Brewing's BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red Ale.  It poured a clear red color in the glass, with a nice, cream-colored head.  The aroma was sweet and slightly nutty, with the maple being easy to pick out.Carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was medium.  The flavor profile was well-balanced, with some nice up-front bitterness.  Overall the beer was slightly sweet, then a bit more bitter on the finish, with elements from Anchor's house yeast.  Another nice brew from the legendary Anchor Brewing Company. 6% ABV.

The second beer I tried was Milepost #2 from Denali Brewing Company's Flag Stop series, a
Flanders Red Ale.  This beer will not be released to the public for another six weeks or so, but Boe Barnett was nice enough to give me one to try last month when I was in Talkeetna.  It poured a deep clear ruby, with a massive off-white head. The nose had plenty of tartness, including some sour cherry notes.  Carbonation is excellent and the mouthfeel is nice.  The flavor profile is clean, with good lingering sourness on the finish. 6.6% ABV. An excellent take of the Flanders Red Ale style, and even better than Milepost #1, in my humble opinion!  If you like sour beers, don't miss this one!

Well, that's it for this week.  Hope you all enjoy your Labor Day Weekend and drink lots of great beer.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Well, if this rain keeps up, it will soon be time to book passage on an ark.  We've had more rain to date in August than we had in May, June, & July combined.  We certainly needed it, but two weeks of almost solid rainy days has been tough to take, especially when you start thinking about the fact that winter will be here before you know it.  We've got lots left to do outside before the weather turns cold, so enough with the rain already!

I have a piece of sad news to pass along.  Ring of Fire, Homer's award-winning meadery, is closing
its doors after ten years.  I haven't yet been able to talk to anyone from the business to get the specifics of why they are closing, but whatever the reason, they will be a real loss to the Peninsula.  There website says they will be selling off their remaining inventory at some point, and I will try to put the word out here, but if you really like what they produce, you'd best stock up while yous till can.

In happier news, the 2nd Annual Talkeetna Beer Festival will be held on Saturday, September 28th, from 2 to 6 pm in the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar in beautiful downtown Talkeetna.  Last year's event had to be re-scheduled due to flooding in Talkeetna; hopefully this year's weather will be more cooperative.  Expect 12 to 14 different breweries from around the state to be there, with about 250 attendees.  Admission is $50, which includes 15 3 oz. pours.  All proceeds go to benefit the Northern Sustina Institute.I'm sure it will be a great time, so if you can be in Talkeetna on the last Saturday in September, you should plan to attend.

At Midnight Sun, they've got a new brew on tap: Chug Monkey English Ale, made from the second runnings of Arctic Devil Barley Wine.  They also expect to release the next batch of their Berserker Imperial Stout in bottles next week.

King Street Brewing Company has added another beer to their canned line-up: their Stout has joined their Blonde, Hefeweizen, IPA, and Pilsner.  Look for it at the brewery or at La Bodega.

There's a competition for selecting America's Great Beer Bars by region at  There's only one entry from Alaska, Prospector's Pub & Pizzeria.  Even if you don't think they are the best in the state, I still think we should all vote for them out of Alaska pride!  So follow this link and vote.  You've got until 10 PM AST on 30 August.

I stumbled across a rather weird article in a British paper, describing a company in Talkeetna named Pat's Backcountry Beverages, which is working on a sort of beer concentrate for hikers.  The idea is that you would add water then quick carbonate with a carbon dioxide capsule to produce instant beer.  I have very serious doubts about the end result, but I'll withhold judgment until I get to try it.  I'm unclear as to whether they will brew the base beer themselves or have one of our established brewers (Denali Brewing Company?) produce it for them.  Anyway, you can read the newspaper story here and check out the company's website here.  Personally, I think I'll stick to hauling aluminum cans in my pack...

Arkose Brewery has released a new beer: Steed Rye IPA.  If you are going to be at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, check out The Reuben Haus.  They will be offering a classic Reuben on rye bread and sauerkraut braised in Arkose's Boxcar Porter.  Sounds delicious!

Don't forget the Kassik's Brewery's upcoming Beer Dinner on September 11th at Jack Sprat Restaurant in Girdwood.  See my blog on 8/9/2013 for more details.

There's a new beer release from Anchor Brewing Company that has made it to our local stores.  Thanks to the hard-working folks at Specialty Imports, you can now buy Bigleaf Maple Autumn Red Ale at our local stores.  Thanks to the generosity of Rob Weller of Specialty, I have some to try, so look for a review of it next week.  Here's how Anchor describes their newest beer:

BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red™ is a quaffable, well-balanced red ale with character. Its malty complexity and coppery color come from a combination of two caramel malts, pale malt, and a hint of maple syrup. To complement these flavors, we used three additions of Nelson Sauvin hops in the brewkettle and a unique blend of Nelson Sauvin, Citra, and Cascade for dry hopping. The result is a distinctive fall seasonal with extraordinary depth and intriguing aroma.

I'm looking forward to giving it a try this weekend.

Let's move on to reviews.

When I was in Talkeetna last month, I was able to pick up a 750ml bottle of Denali Brewing Company's Flagstop Milepost #1 Belgian-style Golden Ale.  I finally got around to tasting it last weekend.  It poured a deep, clear gold with a dense and slightly rocky white head, perfect for the style.  The aroma had the peppery, spicy notes that I always associate with Belgian yeast strains.  Carbonation was excellent. and the mouthfeel was light and fairly dry.  The initial impression was of clean, crisp bitterness, followed by some more spicy yeast notes, then a long finish with a touch of alcohol heat from the 9.7% ABV.  Very nice, a spot-on interpretation of the style, right up there with the classic example of Duvel.  Worth seeking out.  Keep your eye out for Milepost #2, which will be a in the style of a Flanders Red Ale.

Sour brews are all the rage these days, and Full Sail Brewery has released a Berliner Weiss as part of
the Brewer's Share series.  It poured a slightly cloudy gold with a dense white head.  The nose was primarily fruity/spicy with only a hint of tartness.  Carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was light and bone dry.  The tartness was uniform, but well below the level of a true-to-style berliner weiss.  You will certainly not be tempted to add syrup to this beer!  That being said, it is quite drinkable and refreshing.  4% ABV and 9 IBUs of bitterness.

Finally, during my recent foray into my crawlspace/beer cellar, I retrieved several beers.  I reviewed on last week, a Deschutes Black Butte XXI.  This week, I tried a bottle of Midnight Sun Brewing Company's London Old Ale.  This was the fifth beer in their World Tour series, and I originally reviewed it on 12/15/2011.  It was made from the second runnings of their Arctic Devil Barley Wine and then aged in oak with Brettanomyces.  Despite being second runnings, it was still 8.8% ABV and 20 IBUs.  I dropped a couple into my cellar, since I was curious what sort of changes the brett would make over time.  So here we are, almost two years later.  What was it like?

It poured a deep honey or caramel color, with a nice cream-colored head.The aroma was quite funky; in 2011 the malty notes lead off, followed by the brett and the oak.  Now the brett was definitely in the lead, followed by the oak, with the maltiness a distant third.  The initial attack on the palate was also from the brett, followed by the malt and oak elements.  The beer had dried considerably over the two years, reducing the maltiness and increasing the perception of the vanilla notes from the oak and the barnyard notes from the brett.  All-in-all, quite a significant change, though I'm not sure it was an improvement, as my notes and memory suggest the fresh bottle might have been a bit better balanced.  Still, an interesting exercise, and one I'll repeat in another year or so with my last bottle.

Well, that's it for this week.  Hopefully we'll get a break in the rain this weekend.  It will be nice to get outside and get some yard work done!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Festival Hangover

Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell
Well, we had another wonderful beer festival here in Soldotna last weekend.  For a general description of the 3rd Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival, I'll refer you to my article in this week's Redoubt Reporter, which you can read by clicking here. There  were several breweries from across the state who had previously planned to attend but didn't actually make it to the festival: Seward Brewing Company, HooDoo Brewing Company, 49th State Brewing Company, Arkose Brewery, & Last Frontier Brewing Company.  In each case the problem was a shortage of available beer, after a long and unusually hot and sunny summer.  Still, there was lots of good beer on offer from the breweries that did make it, along with the beers being poured by the four distributors.  I don't yet have a figure from the Rotary of how much money was raised by the Festival, but as soon as I do, I'll pass it along.

JOB OPPORTUNITY: If you live in the local area and are interested in working in a brewery, Kassik's Brewery is looking to hire a part-time entry-level Brewery Assistant.  You must be 21, have or be willing to obtain a DEC food worker's card, able to lift 55 pounds to shoulder height repeatedly on occasion, be able to be on your feet for long shifts, and be willing to work early morning, late night, and weekends shifts.  The position will start with keg cleaning and keeping the warehouse and other parts of the brewery clean.  If you're interested, apply in person at the brewery.

La Bodega has announced the details of this year's Bodega-Fest.  Here's the poster for it:

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Once again, please note the venue change.  This year's event will by in Cuddy Park, not Kincaid Park where last year's took place.  It should be a great time, if you can be in Anchorage on Saturday, September 14th.

Up at 49th State Brewing, they are having a Rare Keg Beer Showcase, featuring some exceptional beers that Jay Bullen and David McCarthy brought back from their winter travels in Europe.  Here's the poster describing what's on offer:

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 I've had several of these brews myself in the past and they are truly exceptional, especially the Gouden Carolus "Cuvee van de Kaizer Blauw" (see my review of the bottled version on 2/8/2013).

King Street Brewing Company has a Jack Daniels barrel-aged version of their Chocolate Coconut Porter on tap.  Stop by and try it this weekend, as it's sure to go quickly!

Midnight Sun Brewing Company's Joan of Arctic Ale has been released in bottles. See my 6/14/2013 blog for details on this collaboration brew.

This Saturday, August 17th at 6 pm, Moose's Tooth in Anchorage will be holding their 17th Anniversary Party.  The band O.A.R. will be providing the music.  So if you're in Anchorage tomorrow evening, you should consider dropping by for the celebration. 

It's been a busy week for me (hence the short blog) so I only have one beer review.  I dipped into my cellar and recovered a bottle of Deschutes' Black Butte XXI.  It had a "Best After" date of 10/17/2010.  I reviewed a bottle of this beer back on 8/23/2011, so I was curious what impact another two years in the cellar might have. Comparing my tasting notes between now and two years ago, the only difference I noted was a slight drop in the amount of roastiness in the aroma; otherwise, they were pretty much a carbon copy.  However, I don't think I would cellar this brew any longer, if you still have any.  I doubt it will improve any further, and might start to deteriorate in the near future.  Since this was my last bottle of the XXI, that won't be a problem for me!

Well, that's it for this week.  As I said, a short blog this week do to being very busy.  More beer reviews and news next week.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Eve of the Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival

Well, tomorrow is the 3rd Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival and it's raining.  Not that we don't need the rain; at the end of July we'd only had half of what we would normally have gotten at that point.  I've got my finger crossed that things let up by tomorrow afternoon, but rain or shine, we'll be having our festival here in Soldotna!

If you'll be at the Festival and would like to say hello, I'll be wandering around this year, covering the event for The Redoubt Reporter, rather than serving homebrew at the Kenai Peninsula Brewing and Tasting Society's booth.  They'll still be pouring some of my homebrew, along with that of other club members, so be sure and stop by to try some.  But look for me amongst the throngs enjoying themselves, listening to good music, eating good food, and - of course - drinking good beer.

There will be another brewery at the Festival, as well.  Homer Brewing Company has decided that they will attend this year, which will mean that every brewery or brewpub of the Peninsula will be there, making it a true Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival.  Welcome aboard, Homer!

HooDoo Brewing in Fairbanks released a new beer this week, an Extra Pale Ale.  Here's how they described it:

"The HooDoo Extra Pale has a clean, lightly toasted, American malt body, with a clear hop bitterness that finishes surprisingly smooth. Our XPA has a slightly spicy hop aroma - you’ll experience the Oregon-grown Horizon and Santium hops taking center stage. The clean, crisp hop flavor rides on top of a refreshing bitterness that doesn’t linger, leaving your palate refreshed."
Reports from Healy say that last weekend's Augtoberfest at 49th State Brewing Company was a great success, power outage in the middle of Friday night's festivities notwithstanding!  Despite power being out for several hours, Trampled by Turtles shifted to acoustic, folks turned on their car headlights, and the party kept going strong.  It takes more than a lack of electricity to put Alaskans off their game!

I doubt if there is any left at this point, but King Street Brewing Company sent over two cases of their new barrel-aged barley wine, Nobility, to the new Brown Jug at 9200 Old Seward Highway in Anchorage.  The actual release will be later in the fall, with these two cases constituting a "sneak peak".

Glacier BrewHouse is having another one of their Blood Drive events next Saturday, August 17th.  Here's the poster for it:

I can't think of a worthier cause, so donate if you can.

Anchorage Brewing Company has been posting photos of barrels being delivered to their new warehouse facility.  As I reported over a month ago, Gabe Fletcher's collection of wooden foudres and barrels has now greatly exceeded the capacity of his Brett Cave below Sleeping Lady Brewing Company, requiring him to rent additional warehouse space to house the overflow.

At Kenai River Brewing, they are working hard to get caught up again after being slammed by tourists and dipnetters in July.  All their "regular" beers are now back on tap, though Doug Hogue told me on Wednesday that it will still be another month or two beer he feels comfortable again.  That's partially due to the new canned version of his Peninsula Brewers Reserve absolutely flying off the shelves.  Check the Fred Meyer insert into this weekend's local papers; I understand PBR will be on the cover!

Kassik's Brewery has announced a beer dinner at Jack Sprat Restaurant in Girdwood, on Wednesday, September 11th.  The menu is not out yet, but it will be $75 per person and you can make reservations at 907-783-5225.  I've never eaten there myself, but everyone who has says their food is fantastic, plus Kassik's has saved some special brews for the occasion.  Sounds like a great time.

St. Elias Brewing Company has released another in their series on lambic-style beers.  The first was their Kriek Lambic (reviewed on 5/3/2013).  Their latest is a Framboise, aged in Chardonnay barrels with Brett.  I'm looking forward to giving it a try.  I was actually able to get into St. Elias last Friday, and have a couple of their new brews, which are reviewed below.  I missed their Brass Monkey ESB completely, however; it came and went without my even getting a taste.

Now that we're done with news, let's move on to beer reviews.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a bottle of Anchor Brewing Company's Anchor Zymaster Series #4 Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale at La Bodega.  It poured a deep orange-gold color, with a dense white head. The nose had Belgian yeast notes, suggesting bananas and other tropical fruits.  Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light.  The flavor profile was similar to the fruity, earthy taste of a classic saison, but perhaps a little bit muted.  Bottom line:  a decent workman-like effort, but not on the same plane as some of the best American saisons out there, like Boulevard's Tank 7 or Ommegang's Hennepin.

The right to brew something which can be called a Trappist Ale is jealously guarded; it is something called a Controlled Appellation, meaning that certain stringent requirements must be met to allow its use.  In the case of a Trappist Brewery, Trappist monks must oversee the brewing process and the proceeds must be used for charitable works.  until recently, there were only seven such breweries; six in Belgium and one just across the Dutch border.  Now there is an eighth: Stift Engelszell in Austria. I picked up a bottle of their Gregorius, a beer in the style of a Belgian quadruple.

It poured dark and opaque with a nice mocha-colored head. The aroma was of dark fruits - figs and raisins - with a touch of roast malt.  On the palate the beer was fairly sweet, more so than a typical quad, with more dark fruits, honey, and even a touch of smoky/burnt flavor from the roasted malts.  It hides the 9.7% ABV well, but I would not rate it as high as the brews from the established Trappist breweries, or even some of the better American beers in the same style, such as Midnight Sun's Monk's Mistress.

One of the new brews on at St. Elias Brewing Company is Daddy Warbock, a bock beer aged in used Cabernet barrels.  In the glass it was a clear ruby color, with a small, cream-colored head.  The nose had plenty of oak and wine notes in it, along with clean malt.  All that carried through to the flavor profile: good clean, malt flavors that you'd expect from the style, overlaid with oak and winey notes, falling away to a long finish.  An interesting take on this style of strong lager.

I also tasted the latest versions of their Flower Child XPA and the Vanilla Bean Porter.  I've reviewed them in the past, and the current versions are comparable, and delicious.

Well, that's about it for this week.  Look for a wrap-up of the Beer Festival in next week's Redoubt Reporter, but there will likely be no blog next week, as I will likely be working some extra hours at my day job, as we will be cutting the ribbon on two new buildings next week, including our new dormitory.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 1st: International IPA Day

Well, it's that time of year again: International IPA Day! If you'll allow me to quote my favorite author on the subject of beer, myself, here's what I had to say last year at this time:

"It's a day when we pause from our busy lives to reflect on the impact that a style of beer, created some three centuries ago to sell to British nabobs busy building their Raj over the objections of the local inhabitants of the Indian sub-continent, has had on modern craft beer culture.  Nearly extinct as a style of beer forty years ago, today IPAs (and Double IPAs and Imperial IPAs and Black IPAs) bestride the beer world like a colossus.  Everybody brews them and almost everybody drinks them."
That statement is still accurate today.  The flood of IPAs pouring forth from craft breweries across the US and around the world shows no signs of slackening.  Indeed, judging by the recent statistics released by the Brewers Association, with the numbers of breweries continuing to grow at an amazing rate, I expect this trend will only continue.

Here are the latest numers for breweries in the US:

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 We now have more breweries in the US than we did in 1870!  At this rate, it won't be long before we have more than at any time in American history.  We truly are living in the Golden Age of American Beer.

And besides the number of breweries opening, the production of craft beer by volume also continues to grow, even as the big macrobrews continue to decline.  Granted, craft beer is still small by percentage of total beer sales, but its share keeps growing.

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As if we need more evidence of craft beer popularity, here's another on for you: tickets for the 2013 Great American Beer Festival went on sale to the public earlier this week.  They sold out in twenty minutes.  Yes, you read that right: 49,000 tickets were sold in a third of an hour!  What does that say about the popularity of craft beer?

All this spells continued growth for craft beer in general and IPAs in particular.

 With its growing popularity, India Pale Ale has developed several sub-styles.Three are actually "official,", being defined by the Beer Judge Certification Program: English-style, American-style, and Double/Imperial IPAs.  But there are several others being brewed:

Belgian-style IPAs: similar to a standard IPA with regards to malt and hops, but brewed using a Belgian yeast.  Local examples: Bitter Monk DIPA from Anchorage Brewing Company or Mayhem Belgian IPA from Midnight Sun Brewing Company.

White IPAs: The grain bill of a wit beer but hopped like an IPA.  Local examples: Pretty Fly for a White IPA from Kassik's Brewery or Galaxy White IPA from Anchorage Brewing Company.

Brettanomyces/Wild IPAs: An IPA that uses either brett or wild yeast in primary or secondary fermentation.  Local example: Bitter Monk DIPA also fall into this category, as it uses brett in its secondary fermentation.

Rye IPAs: An IPA that includes Rye in the grain used.  Local examples: Kenai River Brewing's Imperial Rye Pale Ale series.

And last but not least, Black IPAs: as the oxymoronic names suggests, this is an IPA brewed with specialty malts to make it black in color, with a hint of roasted flavor.  Local examples: Kenai River Brewing's Black Water Bend-R Black IPA or St. Elias Brewing Company's Black Hole CDA.

So with so many different IPAs to choose from, I hope you will join me in hoisting a glass filled with this hoppy elixir to celebrate International IPA Day!

If you are looking for a place to hoist that glass, Kenai River Brewing has both their Falconer's Flight IPA and their Falconer's Flight Imperial Rye Pale Ale (reviewed 5/3/2013) on tap today.

As I reported a couple of weeks ago, King Street Brewing Company in Anchorage has started canning their beers, bringing the number of breweries in Alaska doing so to five.  Given the numerous advantages cans bring to the table, I suspect it won't be long before a sixth brewery joins the mix.

King Street is offering several of their beers in cans, on a rotating basis.  so far they have offered their Blonde Ale, their Hefeweizen, and their Pilsner.  Now, in honor of International IPA Day, they will be offering their IPA as well.  I was wondering how they would manage to offer so many different brews in cans, given the minimum run sizes (100,000+) associated with having cans produced.  Shane and Dana at King Street have come up with a very clever work-around.  All the cans are identical, except for the name and ABV of the beer.  These are added using a stick-on label to the can, meaning they can use the same base can for any of their beers!  Very clever, guys!  I picked up a six-pack of their Pilsner last Sunday at La Bodega and have been enjoying them (and our great sunny weather) all week.

Besides their new cans, King Street also has another new brew on tap: and oaked version of their Nirvana Wit.  The aging in a used chardonnay barrel was apparently very beneficial to the Nirvana,  "imparting a white grape flavor with soft European oak-derived honey-like sweetness, yet it still finishes crisp and has a new beautiful crystal clear presentation."  Sounds delicious, so be sure to stop by and give it a try, if you're in Anchorage.

Speaking of being in Anchorage, I haven't heard they're doing anything for International IPA Day, but tomorrow is First Firkin Friday at Midnight Sun.  Here's the flier for it:

Arkose Brewery has apparently been having some technical issues.  They have been closed since Tuesday, 7/30, but plan to reopen to the public next Wednesday, August 7th.  They will be having another Beer Meets Canvas Event on Saturday, August 10th, from 2 to 4 PM, for $30.  Here's how they describe the event:

"Sip. Relax. Create. Tap into your inner artist while we tap into our tap lines. Paint freely during this month's Beer Meets Canvas. The theme is "Summer Nights." Paint to the theme or bring your own inspiration. Includes one pint and all art supplies for 21 yrs and older. Pre-registration is required. Call 746-BEER (2337) to sign up."

They have also announced a new beer, Steed Rye IPA, to be released on Thursday, August 22nd, at 6 PM.

This Friday and Saturday will be 49th State Brewing Company's Augtoberfest, up in Healy  I written about it several times, so hopefully you've already made your plans, if you're going to attend.

I still haven't gathered my courage enough to brave the hordes eating and drinking at St. Elias Brewing Company, but they have announced a couple more new beers.  Not sure if there's any left at this point, but last weekend they had a cask of the Brass Monkey ESB available on their hand pump.  Zach Henry has also brought back a popular beer, his Flower Child XPA, this time using a mix of American and Australian hops.

Well, that's it for news.  Let's move on to some reviews:

Let's start with Arctic Saison from Grassroots Brewing, a subsidiary of Hill Farmstead Brewery of Greensboro, Vermont.  It was brewed at Anchorage Brewing Company in the spring; Batch #1 has a May 2013 release date.  It poured a slightly cloudy gold, with a white, slightly rocky head.  The aroma was earthy and slightly funky, thanks to the presence of brett; the barnyard notes were subtle, though likely to increase with time.  Carbonation was good, and mouthfeel was light.  The brett was evident on the initial attack, then floral notes from the hops, plus some citrus.  The finish was quite dry, which further accentuated the hoppiness.  Overall, a very dry and refreshing saison, perfect for the hot, sunny days of summer we've been having. 6% ABV.

Next, I need to wrap up from last week, with the third bottled 49th State Brewing Company beer that Jay Bullen was nice enough to give me.  This one was a Smoked Marzen, at 7.2% ABV.  This is a classic style from the region around Bamberg, Germany, and I found Jay's take on it to be spot on, just like his doppelbock.  It poured a dark ruby color with a nice, cream-colored head.  The nose was redolent with smoke,backed by a bit of malt sweetness.  Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium.  There was plenty of smoke on the attack, followed by the good, clean maltiness of a well-made marzen.  This brew could hold its own with the classic Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen.  Well done, Jay!

We don't get a lot from The Commons Brewery in Portland, Oregon up here, but I snagged a bottle of their Urban Farmhouse Ale at La Bodega a while back.  It poured a clear gold with a dense white head, looking every inch the classic saison.  The aroma was full of the earthy, spicy notes that tells you a true Belgian yeast is in play.The carbonation was goo, the mouthfeel was light.  The flavor profile was crisp and clean, with several flavor elements -bready, honey, citrus, floral - all in balance.  Another excellent summer refresher, in keeping with the historic roots of the style. 5.3% ABV.

I also picked up a bottle of Oak-aged Backburner Imperial Barley Wine from Southern Tier Brewing.  I've had many brews from Southern Tier, and while this one was good, it was not the best they produce.  It poured a dark honey collar with a small cream-colored head that dissipated rapidly to a collar.  The aroma was full of American hops: Amarillo, Centennial, and Williamettes.  The mouthfeel was surprising light for a 9.6% ABV barley wine.  The flavors profile had element of toffee and raisins in it, with good balancing hop bitterness, and oak and alcohol heat on the finish.  A workman-like effort, but not in the league of the really top-notch barley wines out there.

Finally, I picked up a growler of Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge from Brouwerij Bockor at La Bodega last Sunday.  This is a Flanders Red Ale by style, so I was expecting something sour and this beer did not disappoint me!  It poured a clear ruby color with a small, cream-colored head.  The nose was tart, with sour cherry notes, followed by some vanilla from the wood.  On the palate there was intense sourness in the initial attack, like sour cherries or plums, then some oak elements, then a return to lingering sourness.  Carbonation is on the low side, which helps make the sourness manageable.  The finish is long and intense, very dry and crisp.  5.5% ABV. Quite a complex sour ale, very enjoyable in hot weather.

Well, that's it for this week.  Be sure to celebrate International IPA Day and don't forget to get your tickets to next weekend's Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival.

Until Next Time, Cheers!