Thursday, September 19, 2013

Still Alive

Yes, I'm still alive, in case any of you were wondering.  Sorry the blog has been so silent for the last three weeks;  life has conspired to get in the way, as it frequently does.  However, time, tide and beer wait for no man and lots of stuff has been happening while I've been off-line, so let's get to it!

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Both BodegaFest In Anchorage and the Capital Brewfest in  Juneau last week end appear to have been great successes.  The pictures I've seen on Facebook and from The Beer Up Here folks show lots of folks enjoying themselves and drinking plenty of good beer, which pretty much defines "great festival" in my book. I really hope to make it to BodegaFest next year.

As long as we're on the subject of festivals, don't forget about the 2013 Talkeetna Beerfest, taking place from 2 to 6 pm this Saturday, September 28th.  Last year's fest was delayed by flooding, but the weather looks a lot better this time around!  You can get your tickets here.

The main reason I was not at BodegaFest was that I was helping Zach Henry of St. Elias Brewing Company brew a batch of beer all day last Saturday.  This was our second go at such a joint effort; I blogged about our last effort, the under-appreciated H&H Highland Ale, back on 9/7/2010.  This time around, we adapted another of my homebrew recipes and created H&H Winter Warmer.  This one is a Burton Ale and has a long way to go yet before it will be ready to be offered to the public; look for it to be released around the Winter Solstice.  I sure hope it turns out well, as I twisted my back shoveling out the mash tun and had to get my chiropractor to snap my L1 vertebrae back into alignment!

Plenty of new brews have hit the shelves since my last blog.  Given the season, most of them seem to either have "pumpkin" or  "Oktoberfest" in their names.

Alaskan Brewing has a new addition to their Pilot Series:, as of 1 September: Pumpkin Porter. There's 11 pounds of pumpkins in every barrel, along with brown sugar and holiday spices.  Also for the fall, Alaskan released the latest in their Rough Draft Export series: Sentinel Rye Pale Ale.  At 5.7% ABV and 45 IBUs, this pale ale uses Summit, Magnum, Calypso, and Mosaic hops, plus a new and an as-yet-unnamed experimental hop variety to compliment the peppery notes of the rye malt. Alaskan was  also recognized with two medals at the European Beer Star 2013 awards ceremony held Sept. 18 in Munich, Germany. Alaskan Oatmeal Stout and Alaskan Smoked Porter were both recognized with Silver Medals

King Street Brewing Company released their 2013 Oktoberfest beer last Wednesday, 11 September.  It's 5.4% ABV and they brewed twice as much this year as last, but it still likely won't last long! Drop by their taproom on Saturday, October 5th for their Oktoberfest celebration, with drindls, German music and food, and great beer, including a collaboration brew with 49th State Brewing.  Should be a great time!

Speaking of Oktoberfest, HooDoo Brewing Company in Fairbanks is kicking off their celebration

this Saturday at 11 am and running it through Saturday, October 5th, just like the real one in Munich! They'll be tapping their new Oktoberfest Lager at noon on the 21st, and there will be additional contest and events throughout the next two weeks.

Silver Gulch in Fox also has an Oktoberfest beer on tap.  Theirs is 7.1% ABV and 25 IBUs, hopped with Czech Saaz.

49th State Brewing Company will be closing for the season on Saturday, October 26th, but they're going out with a bang: a Halloween Party,

The Seward Brewing Company has also announced that they will be shutting down for the season this Sunday, 9/22.  The will still be available for private functions through the winter and will be open for limited hours on Saturdays to fill growlers.

Midnight Sun has released this year's batch of their classic Berserker Imperial Stout (reviewed 9/9/2009).  Their Trickster Ale (reviewed on 10/15/2009) is one tap and will be out in the bottle soon, while everyone is counting down the days until the Monday, September 30th release of this year's T.R.E.A.T. (reviewed on 5/18/2012). Also on draft is Packer's Pride, a Dortmunder-style Lager and Sipster, a 6.7% ABV Pale Lager, made from the second runnings of their Arctic Devil Barely Wine.

Arkose Brewery in Palmer will be celebrating their second anniversary with another Beer Meets Chocolate event.  Here's the poster for it:
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Gabe Fletcher of Anchorage Brewing Company has made an announcement:

"I'll be traveling to Michigan to brew a beer with Ron Jeffries of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. This is a real honor for me personally. The beers Ron has made have inspired me as I have grown as a brewer over the years. We will be making a Saison named "Calabaza Boreal". 100 bbls will be produced and we hope to release it at The Culmination festival sometime in April. Ron will hopefully be joining us in Anchorage for the fest and the release, where we will brew the same beer again at Anchorage Brewing. Just another reason to come to The Culmination next year!"

Gabe has also announced another collaboration brew with Hill Farmstead Brewery.  Here's the label for their Arctic Soiree:

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Glacier BrewHouse has also released an Oktoberfest beer, as well as their Beam Stout, which is their award-winning oak-aged oatmeal stout specially aged for nearly 2 years in used oak barrels acquired straight from the Jim Beam distillery in Kentucky. The barrels impart flavors of vanilla, bourbon, coconut, chocolate, and more. It is served nitrogenated for that extra smooth mouth feel.  Sounds amazing!

Sleeping Lady Brewing also has an Oktoberfest on, as well as a cask of their Honey Cream Ale,  primed with braggot and aged on local spruce tips.

Kassik's Brewery's Beer Dinner at Jack Sprat's in Girdwood was a great success, judging by the pictures and comments on Facebook.  Not sure if there's any left, but they did have a Hyper Heifer Espresso  Milk Stout on tap earlier this month. 

Kenai River Brewing will have a new Single Hop IPA on this Friday: Herkules Single Hop IPA.  An they are counting down to Tuesday, 1 October, when this year's Winter Warlock Old Ale will be tapped.  I had a sneak preview at the Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival and it was exquisite as always.

St. Elias Brewing Company has several new beers on tap.  Fair Trade Porter (reviewed 9/15/2011) is back on tap.  The also have Garden Gnome, a 3.1% small beer made from the second running of their Moose Juice Barley Wine, and -- yes, you guessed it -- an Oktoberfest Lager.  What a surprise!  St. Elias will also be having an Oktoberfest party of Saturday, October 5th.

Now that we've made it through all that news, let's do some reviews.

In my last blog, I wrote about a couple of new releases from Gigantic Brewing Company: High Fidelity and Hellion.  Since then, I was able to obtain a bottle of each.

High Fidelity poured a clear gold with a big white head.  The aroma was full of bright, citrusy hop notes.  Carbonation was good and its mouthfeel was light.  There was good, clean hop bitterness up front, then the hop flavor and aroma came through on the back end.  5.9% ABV, a nice, solid pale ale.

Hellion also poured a crystal clear gold with a dense white head.  The nose was full of spicy Belgian yeast notes, plus some hints of tropical fruit.  On the palate there were fruity ale notes that lingered to the finish.  Very much in the style of a tripel. 8.5% ABV.

I was able to snag a growler of Kenai River's Chocolate Milk Stout, which came and went between my last blog and this one.  It poured opaque with a small tan head.  The aroma was sweet malt with some roasty notes behind it.  Very smooth and rich on the palate, with nice mouthfeel from the lactose, plus plenty of nice roastiness.  Very tasty.

I had a glass of St. Elias Brewing Company's Framboise Lambic.  It was a pinkish-red in the glass, with a small, off-white head that dissipated to a collar.  The aroma was tart with plenty of oak notes from the wine-barrels it was aged in.  On the palate, the raspberry notes came forward, along with plenty of more oak, before dropping off to a fairly abrupt finish.  Fruit beers are not my forte, but this one was dry enough and oaky enough that I really enjoyed it.

I've had a bottle of Boulevard Brewing's Love Child #3 for some time in my beer frig and I finally got around to drinking it.  It poured a clear deep honey color, with a nice cream-colored head.  The aroma was heavy on the funky, tart brett notes.  There was good carbonation and a fairly tart attack, the a long, slow finish with plenty of lingering brett notes.  9.5% ABV.

Finally, I opened the bottle of Judgement Day from Lost Abbey that I acquired in February of last year when I visited the brewery.  It poured opaque with a mocha-colored head that left excellent lacing on the glass. The aroma was just what you'd expect from a massive quadruple: plums, raisins, figs, bourbon, oak.  Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was exceptional.  The flavor profile was ridiculously rich, with elements of chocolate, coffee, dark fruit, and oak dancing around each other to a long, lingering finish.  A truly wonderful beer, and I wish I had a dozen more bottles like it in my cellar. 10.5% ABV.

Well, that's about it for this go.  Stay tuned for next week, when I reveal my choices for the ultimate six-pack of Alaska beers, as part of the Six-Pack Project.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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