Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Volume II Of Beer on the Last Frontier is in print!

As I mentioned last week, I won't be writing a blog this week, due to the Thanksgiving holidays.

However, I have some good news to report, news I am truly thankful for.

Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Everything In Between (Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska) (Volume 2) is now in print on Amazon.com.  You can get the papaerback for $11.99 or the Kindle verion for $8.99.

If you live in Alaska, you should be able to find copies for sale at the following locations within the next two weeks:

Arkose Brewery
HooDoo Brewing Company
King Street Brewing Company
Kenai River Brewing Company
La Bodega
Midnight Sun Brewing Company
KPC Bookstore

I've you live in the central Peninsula, I'll be doing a book signing on Friday, Dec 13th, at the Kenai River Brewing Company in Soldotna from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.  Stay tuned for other dates & places.

I hope you like Volume II.  If you do, please consider writing a review on Amazon, regardless of where you buy your copy.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Volume II is Almost Here

It's been an entire year in the making, but Volume II of Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska is almost here.  In fact, if you're the sort of person who likes to do their reading on an electronic device, it is here already.  This volume is titled Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Everything In Between (Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska) and covers the dozen breweries and brewpubs located in the part of the state.  It is currently available on Kindle on Amazon.com for $8.99 and includes full-color photos. Click on the title above to check it out.

If you are the sort of person who still likes to hold a book made from dead trees in your hands, the 166-page paperback version, with black & white photography, should be available by the end of the month for $11.99 on Amazon as well.  Or you can pick up a copy at several breweries across the state or at La Bodega in Anchorage.  Don't forget about Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island Breweries (Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska) (Volume 1) ); if you haven't gotten a copy yet, why not grab both at once?  They also make great Christmas gifts...

Speaking of La Bodega in Anchorage, I just learned from owner Pamela Hatzis that she will be opening a second location.  This one will be in Girdwood, on the "boardwalk" at the base of the mountain, three doors to the right of the Bake Shop.   It will be considerably smaller than the Metro Mall location, with a 4-tap growler bar.  Target opening date is December 15th.

Next entry in the more good news department: After numerous requests from around the country (and maybe the world), Anchorage Brewing Company is indeed going to release their amazing Deal with the Devil Barley Wine in bottles.  See my review on 1/25/2013 of this outstanding brew.  Look for it in January in extremely limited supply.

Anchorage Brewing has also released the label for this year's Rondy Brew.  Here it is:

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HooDoo Brewing has their Mild Ale back on tap.  Malty and low in alcohol, this beer makes a good pairing with the big traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Speaking of Thanksgiving dinner, this is the time of the year when everyone offers their suggestions as to what beer would go best with such a meal.  I have read about a hundred of them in the last week, but I have to award the prize for most unusual and intriguing to Beer Author Stephen Beaumont, who proposed a gueuze lambic is this blog post.  Granted Stephen is Canadian, so his Thanksgiving credentials are slightly suspect, but I still find his suggestion to be intriguing and worth trying out.  Now if I can just get hold of a gueuze before Thanksgiving...

Arkose Brewery has anew beer on tap, Peach Supreme.  Here's how they describe it:

"A slightly spicy wheat beer kissed with peaches. Peach Supreme features Late Addition German Northern Brewer hops and peach puree for a decidedly different take on a peach ale."

I love the label too:

Keep an eye out for the return of their Olde Colony Winter Ale next month.

I had another update from Tyler Jones at Broken Tooth Brewing.  They've just put two more new beers on tap at Moose's Tooth.  Here's what Tyler had to say about them:

Double Winter (Double Winter Warmer): With a winter as long as ours, why not brew another winter warmer? For this one, we took our popular Williwaw recipe and jacked it up in both alcohol and hops. The result? A delicious and deceptive treat. Double your pleasure, double your fun... Brewed By Dave Parker OG 1.082, ~45 IBU, 9.1% ABV

Czech Your Head (Czech Pilsner): This traditional Bohemian Pilsner pours a bright Gold. It’s assertive bitterness balances nicely its clean and solid malt base. Crisp, clean, bright & refreshing. The way a Pilsner should be! Brewed by Tyler Jones OG 1.045, ~22 IBU, 4.4% ABV

So the current lineup at the Moose's Tooth looks like this, according to Tyler:

 American Hefeweizen
 Beartooth Ale
 Chugach Session
 Fairweather IPA
 Hard Apple Ale
 Rye Me to the Moon
 Moonflower ESB
 Northern Lights Amber
 Pipeline Stout
 Polar Pale
 Prince William Porter
Wild Country Raspberry
Wheat Oh My Gourd!
Double Winter
Pinot Porter
Don Oso
 Devil's Thumb Double IPA
 Williwaw Winter Warmer
 Beg, Yarrow or Steal
 Czech Your Head
 17er XPA

He asked: "Is 22 too many?"  My response: "No, I'd say it's just about right."

I'll have reviews of the Double Winter and Devil's Thumb below.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company is running a special at The Loft, starting on Monday, November 25.  Buy a bottle of Hop Dog Wheat IPA and get one free.  Also, on Saturday, November 30th, they are serving a free piece of bacon from 11 am to 3 pm.  They will be offering a Cellar Pack, consisting of one bottle each of Second Hand Smoke Stout, Moscow Rye Russian Imperial Stout, and Brewtality Espresso Black Bier.  Plus, if you buy the Cellar Pack, they will toss in a Belgian beer glass for free!

Glacier BrewHouse is getting ready for their Twelve Days of Barley Wine, which starts on December 10th.  Here's the flier:

I have yet to make it to Anchorage during this event.  Maybe this year...

At Kassik's Brewery they have the 2013 Christmas ornaments on sale, along with new stainless steel growlers, and bottles of their Chocolate Cherry Stout and Spiced Cream Ale.

That's the news, so let's have some reviews:

 Devil'sThumb Double IPA from Broken Tooth Brewing: I was given a bottle of this by Tyler Jones a couple of weeks ago.It poured a light copper color with a big, off-white head that left good lacing on the glass.  The nose had plenty of nice floral hops notes, without the heavy citrus that you get in so many DIPAs.  The carbonation was good on the palate and the initial bitterness attack was good but not unbalanced.  Lots of hop flavor and aroma as a follow-up, with perhaps the littlest touch of alcohol warmth on the finish.  Quite delicious.

Double Winter from Broken Tooth Brewing.  Also a bottle from Tyler. This is an souped up Winter Warmer.  It poured a deep, almost opaque ruby color in the glass, with a cream-colored head that left excellent lacing on the glass.  The aroma was primarily of caramel malt, rich and inviting.  On the palate it was quite malt forward, but with enough hope bitterness for balance.  This is a classic English-style Strong Ale, with plenty of caramel malt backbone.  It reminds me a bit of a homebrew of mine, Captain Benjamin Merrill's Strong Ale, except that I oaked my version. It's just the thing for a cold winter's afternoon by the fire. 9.1% ABV, 45 IBUs.

The entrance to De Garre
Tripel Van De Garre from Brouwerij Van Steenberge: One of my absolute favorite place in the world is the lovely town of Bruges in Belgium.  And my favorite place to drink in Bruges is De Garre, a cozy little two-story cafe tucked down a small side street.  It's been over a decade since my last visit, but I'd return in heartbeat, given the chance.  So when I saw this house beer on offer at the La Bodega growler bar, I had to get some to take home.  It poured a clear gold with a nice white head.  The nose had plenty of the fruity and spicy notes that are associated with this style.  I got bananas, lemons, oranges, apples, perhaps even peaches, along with pepper, coriander, and even a touch of clove.  The excellent carbonation gave it an effervescent feel on the palate. On the tongue there is some sweetness and some bready notes, mixed with plenty more fruit flavors, eventually falling away to a hint of the 10.5% ABV on the finish. A wonderful tripel, and one I'd like to have some day sitting in its namesake cafe.

Temptation Sour Ale from Russian River Brewing: This is a beer I brought back with me from my recent trip to the Bay Area, since we don't get Russian River brews here in Alaska.  It's billed as a sour ale aged in chardonnay barrels.  It poured a clear light gold with a dense white head that left good lace on the glass.  The aroma was peppery, earthy, and tart; obviously there's some Brett at work her.  Great carbonation, giving it an airy mouthfeel.  The attack is pure Brett funk, followed by some oaky notes.  Very dry. The tartness and the carbonation combine to make this beer hugely refreshing, even at 7.5% ABV.  A world-class beer.

Saison Rue from The Bruery: I mentioned back on 11/1/2013 that Specialty Imports had gotten in a limited supply of brews from the exceptional California brewery, and I was lucky enough to snag a few samples.  This saison made with rye is one of their flagships and is absolutely superb.  It pours a clear gold with a massive white head.  The nose has the earthy, spicy notes of a Belgian yeast, plus a touch of Brett funk.  On the palate, the pepperiness of the rye blends well with the Brett funk and the warmth of the 8.5% ABV.  It finishes long and slightly dry, with more funk at the end.  This beer is both unique and spot-on for the style, two characteristics which seldom go together.  Seek it out.

Rugbrød Julebryg-style Dark Rye Ale from The Bruery: Taking it inspiration from Danish Christmas beers, this brew poured a dark, clear ruby color, with a big, mocha-colored head. The aroma was primarily of malt, plus some yeasty notes as the beer warms.  There carbonation is good, and the mouthfeel is medium.  Very much a malt-forward brew, it is smooth ans sweet of the palate, almost like a slice of good fruitcake.  The 8% ABV makes itself known ever so slightly on the finish.  A beer to have with dessert or perhaps even as dessert.

Well, that's about it for this week.  Next week is Thanksgiving and I doubt I'll have the time to get a blog out, so let me take this chance to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you get to spend it with family or friends, enjoying lots of good food and plenty of excellent beer.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Snow At Last

Well, we finally got some snow this weekend, so I guess winter is here at last, even if it is about 42F
as I write this.  Surely it won't be too long until we've got lots of snow and the temperature is hovering around zero, so now's the time to stock up on those winter warmer type beers.

By the fact that I'm writing this, you can surmise that I'm just about finished with Anchorage, Fairbanks, & Everything In Between, Volume II of Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska.  I'm waiting for one last contribution to come in, and then it will be ready to upload to the printers so I can get the proof sent to me.  It should be available for purchase in early December, for a $11.99 cover price, on Amazon or at local breweries.  It will be about 164 pages (70 more than Volume I).

So now that I've got that monkey (mostly) off my back, let's get back to some beer news.

There's a new website to assist you in planning your beer travels: the Brew Trail. It lets you map out an itinerary of brewery visits for a particular state.  Looks like it's a pretty cool tool.  I plan to go over the Alaska data in the near future to check it for accuracy.  I'll be surprised if it's perfect, but even with some errors, it should still be very useful.

Here's a new release from Broken Tooth Brewing.  Thanks to Tyler Jones for the info:

Oh My Gourd! Here’s a our take on a holiday favorite. Brown in color, aromas of pumpkin spice are prominent but not overwhelming. Light in body, this malty brown ale offers a well balanced, not-too-sweet slice of pumpkin pie in every pint. Exclaim the name!
I was actually up in Anchorage this Saturday and stopped by the brewery for a quick tour.  Tyler was kind enough to give me several of their beers to bring back to try, so look for reviews in up-coming blogs.  While there, I had some of their excellent Anniversary Ale.  It's in the style of an XPA, so look for good hoppiness without the bitterness or alcohol of a full-blown IPA. Also, there are now Hydroflasks with the Broken Tooth logo for sale at the Moose's Tooth.

Silver Gulch has 40 Below Imperial Stout back on tap.  Here's their description:

An Imperial Stout with an intense flavor of bittersweet chocolate and a hint of raisins and dates. A full-bodied brew with a luscious velvety texture. 8.5% ABV, 77 IBUs.

HooDoo Brewing Company is holding a mustache contest through November to raise money to support men's health. Their Pumpkin Ale is still on tap -- along with their Kolsch, Stout, XPA, and IPA-- but it almost gone, so act fast if you want some.

Today, Friday, November 15, the guys from Denali Brewing will be in Chicago at Spiteful Brewing to make a collaboration saison using an as-yet-undisclosed ingredient.

Arkose Brewery will be having another Beer Meets Chocolate event next Friday, November 22.  Here's the flier for it:

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Tomorrow will be the annual fund raiser at the Sea-Life Center in Seward.  Here's the flier for it:
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On Tuesday, the guys at Anchorage Brewing bottled their collaboration beer Arctic Soiree.  They just shifted to a new bottle supplier, which caused them more than a few headaches adjusting their bottling line, but they got it done in the end. You can see a short video of the bottling run here.

King Street Brewing Company has their Winter Warmer on tap now.  This is a Belgian-inspired Dark Ale with notes of chocolate, raisin, dried fruit and a subtle balance of spice.  Also, the Wheel Good Food truck will be at the brewery from 4 to 8 PM this evening.

CruiseExperts.com named the five top places to eat in Anchorage.  Glacier BrewHouse was #2, Humpy's was #4, and Wheel Good Food was #5.  You can read the entire article here.  And don't for get about the Flavors of Fall Dinner at Glacier next Thursday.

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Kassik's Brewery has released another batch of their Pretty Fly for a White IPA. They have also just received a new shipment of stainless steel growlers.

At Kenai River Brewing, the Winter Warlock has come and gone.  However, their new Herkules Imperial Rye Pale Ale (I.R.P.A) will be going on tap today.  It's 8.6% ABV & 103 IBUs of beery goodness!

 I mentioned last time about the slew of beers from The Bruery that Specialty Imports had gotten in.  Well, one of them, Tart of Darkness Sour Stout, has actually made it down here to the Peninsula.  We even had a bottle of it at the last Kenai Peninsula Brewing & Tasting Society meeting.  You can find it at Country Liquors in Kenai.  I reviewed it back on 10/14/2013.

OK, let's do some reviews.

King Street Brewing's Nobility Barley Wine: I finally got around to trying King Street's second
bottled offering. This English-style barley wine was aged for several months in used whiskey and chardonnay barrels before being bottled.It pours a very dark honey color, with a small cream-colored head that dissipates rapidly to a collar.The nose is of caramel and toffee, with hints of oak.The mouthfeel is good and the carbonation is moderate.The flavor profile is quite malt-forward, in keeping with the style, with elements of toffee and vanilla, quite rich and flavorful.It falls away gradually to a nice, long finish. 9% ABV.

Anchorage Brewing Company's Salvation IPA: I had this beer on draft at Humpy's in October.  It poured a lovely clear gold with a small white head. The aroma was packed with bright, citrusy American hops.It was clean and crisp on the palate, with good carbonation and a snappy hop bitterness, plus lots of aroma and flavor.  Very much of piece with the other draft-only IPAs Gabe has produced recently.  Worth seeking out. 6% ABV, 70 IBUs.

Suede Imperial Porter: This beer is a collaboration between Stone Brewing in San Diego, 10-Barrel Brewing in Bend, Oregon and the Blue Jacket  Brewery in Washington, DC.  I had it on draft at Humpy's as well.  It poured opaque with a small mocha-colored head. The nose was a pleasant mix of malt sweetness and roasted notes, like a coffee with plenty of cream and sugar. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium. On the palate the flavor profile was quite rich, with more sweet notes than roasted ones in evidence. Suede seemed an apt description of the smooth, silky way this beer went down. 9.6% ABV.

Stone Brewing's Enjoy by 10/25/2013 IPA:  I drank this one on 10/22/2013, so I complied with the instructions on the label. It poured a clear gold with a nice white head.  As expected, the aroma was full of citrusy American hops.  Carbonation was good, and the initial attack of bitterness was not overwhelming, and it was followed by plenty of hop flavors and aroma.  All the flavors were exceptionally bright and clean, as you'd expect in such a fresh beer.  Very nice. 9.4% ABV.

Allagash Brewing's 2012 Fluxus: A little something I brought back from the Bay Area, which we can't get up here in Alaska. In the Belgian farmhouse style, this beer poured a slightly cloudy gold with a big white head that left excellent lacing on the glass.  The aroma had the classic spicy, earthy notes that screams Belgian yeast, at least to my nose.  The excellent carbonation made it very light on the palate, with some spicy, peppery notes, both from the yeast and from the addition on peppercorns.  Overall, one of the most "Belgian" tasting beers I've ever had, from a brewery I wish we could get up here in Alaska.  7.7% ABV.

Midnight Sun's Second Hand Smoke Stout: Brewed from the second runnings of MSBC’s popular Barfly Smoked Imperial Stout, this beer pours opaque with a slight brown head. The aroma is rich with chocolate, coffee and smoke. On the palate, the beers is thick and chewy, a pleasing blend of roasted flavors and smokiness. I had tasted this on draft back in May, but this was from the bottle.   8.4% ABV, 56 IBUs.

Well, that about it for now.  Look for more reviews next week, as I should be back on a regular blogging schedule, at least for a bit.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Latest News

Hello!  This blog will be a short one.  As I said in my last one, I'm putting all my spare time (except for meeting column deadlines at The Redoubt Reporter and the Northwest Brewing News) into finishing Volume II of Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska.  But there's been some news items in the local beer scene that I want to relate now.  Otherwise, it will be too late when I do get around to writing about them.

So no reviews or comments this time, just news.

First, the US will be home to the newest  Trappist brewery.  St. Joseph's Abbey in Massachusetts will be brewing and selling beer under the name Spencer Brewing Company.  Word is that they are getting help from Scourmont Abbey (the brewers of Chimay) and Dann Paquette from Pretty Things.  I'm looking forward to trying their beer.

Second, Rob Weller of Specialty Imports let me know that they have received several beers in from in Southern California.  I've reviewed some of there beers here (and got to visit the brewery in person a couple of years ago) and their stuff is uniformly excellent.  Here's what came in last week:
The Bruery

Anniversary (Bois)
Oude Tart
Saison Rue
Tart Of Darkness 

If you can find them, buy them.

HooDoo Brewing celebrated their First Anniversary yesterday with a party and the release of their Anniversary Pumpkin Ale, which consumed over 200 pounds of pumpkins.

Silver Gulch Brewing just did a bottling run of their Epicenter Ale.

49th State Brewing closed for the season on Saturday, October 26th.  Now we can all look forward to seeing what sort of cold-conditioned beers their long winter slumber will produce!

For the fourth year in a row, one of Denali Brewing Company’s beers took First Place in the People’s Choice Competition at the Mighty Matanuska Brew Fest, held at the State Fair Grounds in Palmer on October 18 & 19th. Slow Down Brown, a brown ale brewed with a proprietary blend of spices from Sri Lanka was this year’s winner. Spices in the mix include cumin, coriander, fennel, fenugreek, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne. This win means it will be the official beer of the 2014 Alaska State Fair. Denali Brewing also plans to begin packaging this beer in cans in 2014. 49th State Brewing Company of Healy earned the 2nd and 3rd place ribbons for its Golden Dahl Tripel and Equinox Double IPA. In total, thirteen breweries were present at the fest, offering over eighty beers.

This event is coming up soon:

Click to Enlarge

Today is First Firkin Friday at Midnight Sun Brewing.  Word is that they'll be tapping a cask of Monk's Mistress spiked with tart cherries.

Alaskan Brewing Company 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, two of the 37 medals won by US brewers in this annual international beer competition. Alaskan has also announced that its beers will now be distributed in New Mexico, bringing the number of states where they are available to fifteen.

King Street Brewing released their Poltergeist Pumpkin Ale on 10/18 and held a costume party on Halloween.

Kassik's Brewery is about to place another order on Monday for Monson snowboards decorated with their Morning Wood IPA logos.  Boards are $425 each, with $200 down when you order.  Contact the brewery right away if you want one.

When I was in St. Elias Brewing a week ago, they had a nice Munich Helles Lager on draft, and were serving it in 20 oz. glasses.

That's it for now.  Short and sweet, as promised.  As soon as I finish writing Volume II, I'll get back to my weekly blogging.

Until Next Time, Cheers!