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!

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