Friday, December 6, 2013

Tis the Season to Drink Good Beer!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas out there, and lots of cool new beers are being released.  It's been a couple of weeks since my last blog (other than to announce the release of Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Everything In Between (Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska) (Volume 2) ), so let's jump right into the beer news.

 Silver Gulch Brewing and Bottling Co. got their Osculum Infame Belgian Golden Winter Warmer on tap on Thursday, December 5th, just in time to celebrate the 87th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.  See my review on 1/19/2010 about this excellent beer.

Denali Brewing's latest addition to the canned offerings, Chuli Stout, is now in stores.  Look for it at
Brown Jug now and more stores in a couple of weeks.  Denali also has a new beer out in limited quantities,  called Chinook Pale, a West Coast-style Pale Ale.  Here's how they describe it : 

Burst hopping with Chinook hops creates a low ABV session ale. The strong aroma of grapefruit gives way to restrained bitterness in this easy-drinking pale ale. 4.1% ABV, 31 IBUS.

Look for this on tap at the usual venues, like Humpy's, Cafe Amsterdam, La Bodega, Tap Root, and Brown Jug. Next up should be a schwarzbier and their No Dam Way RyePA.

King Street Brewing Company has officially released their Nobility Barley Wine.  They did a pre-release of a couple of cases of this barrel-aged English-style barley wine a few months back and I was able to snag a couple.  See my recent review on 11/15/2013.  It makes a great stocking stuffer!

Speaking of barley wines, Alaskan Brewing Company has released their 2013 Alaskan Barley Wine.  This brew weighs in at a hefty 10.7% ABV, 65 IBUs.  It's perfect for cellaring, as the flavors tend to mellow and improve over the first three years or so.  This beer was first released in 2003 for the GABBF, and it has become a real classic.

Speaking of the Great Alaskan Beer and Barley Wine Festival, tickets are now on sale via Ticketmaster.  Unless tasting beer with 2500 drunken twenty-somethings is your idea of a good time, I strongly suggest you sign up for the Saturday afternoon Connoisseurs' Session, from 2 to 5 PM.  It costs a little more, but it's certainly worth it.  There will be lots of other events leading up to the GABBF during Alaska Beer Week, so be sure to like them on Facebook and keep an eye on their website.  It hasn't been updated, but soon will be.

As long as we're still talking about barley wine, Glacier BrewHouse will be starting their Twelve Days of Barley Wine Festival next Tuesday, December 10th.  It will run through Saturday, December 21st.  Look for two or three barley wines to roll out each day.  If you'll be in Anchorage at any point during those days, you need to check it out.

Gabe Fletcher of Anchorage Brewing Company has announced that he will be bottling this year's version of his amazing and award-winning barley wine, A Deal with the Devil.  This 17.3% monster took first place in the barley wine competition at the last GABBF.  See my review of it on 1/25/2013.  The amount available will be extremely limited, but I will definitely be snapping up all I can.  Oh, and the label is totally kick-ASS:

Click to enlarge

Gabe has also announced Between The Staves,a collaboration brew with Crooked Stave out of Denver.  Here's the label for that beer:

Click to enlarge

Additionally, the date and brewery list for the 2014 Culmination has been announced.  The festival will take place on Saturday, May 17th from 4 to 8 PM at the Dena'ina Center.  I missed last year's due to a last minute family emergency, so I'm definitely planning to make it this year.  The  breweries are:

1.Jester King Brewery
2.Sante Adairius Rustic Ales
.Grassoots Brewing
6.Prairie Brewing
7.Crooked Stave Artisan Project
8.Jolly Pumpkin Artisanal Ales
9.Hill Farmstead Brewing
10.Russian River Brewing

11. The Rare Barrel
12. Mystic Brewing
13. Societe Brewing
14.Anchorage Brewing Company
15.Brewery Vivant
16.Evil Twin
17.The Ale Apothecary
19.Logston Farmhouse Ales
20.Side Project
21.The Bruery
22.The Commons Brewery
23.Tired Hands

26.Wild Beer Co.
27.Faction Brewing
28.Tree House Brewing
29.Off Color Brewing
30.Against The Grain
31.Heretic Brewing

33.Lost Abbey

Looks like a pretty amazing list, if you ask me!

Midnight Sun Brewing Company has announced their first AK Beer Week Event: Fermented and Frozen Ice Cream Social on Wednesday, January 15th. It starts at 5 PM and the first flavor on offer will be The Devil's Dulce De Leche made with Arctic Devil Barley Wine.

Broken Tooth Brewing has begun releasing some of its beers in 750ml crown-capped bottles. Last week, I reviewed their Double Winter Warmer and their Devil's Thumb DIPA.  Those two brews have not been released yet, but two others, Foulweather IPA and Beg, Yarrow, or Steal Saison have gone on sale at the Moose's Tooth.  Unfortunately, at the time I write this, the Foulweather has already sold out and the saison isn't far behind, so you may have missed your chance at them.  See their reviews below.

Moving on to the Peninsula, Kenai River Brewing Company just released a new Single Hop IPA today.  This one is hopped with Pacific Gem hops from New Zealand.  The Herkules Imperial Rye Pale Ale is still on tap; see my review below.  Kenai River will also be hosting a book signing by yours truly.  I'll be there from 5:30 to 7:30 next Friday, December 13th, to sign copies of both Volume I and Volume II of my book, Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska.  If you already have a copy, feel free to bring it by, otherwise you can purchase one at the brewery.  They make great Christmas gifts...

Word on the street is that the Seward Brewing Company has been sold to a new owner.  I haven't been able to confirm that, but as soon as I do, I will put the word out here.

St. Elias Brewing Company has several new brews on tap, starting with a delicious Peche Lambic.  They have also released this year's Moose Juice Barley Wine, a blend of several previous years' batches.  I haven't had a chance to try it myself, but Zach Henry says it's the best he's ever made. Also on tap is their Matushka Imperial Stout.

Speaking of St. Elias, mark you calendars for the release of H&H Winter Warmer on the Winter Solstice, December 21st.  This beer is a collaboration between Zach and myself (Henry & Howell, H & H).  It's based on one of my homebrew recipes which recreated a once popular but now extinct British beer style known as a Burton Ale.  If you'd like to know more about it, check out this column I wrote for The Redoubt Reporter.  You can expect the beer to be sweeter and darker than an IPA, and not quite as hoppy, but very warming on a cold day at about 6.5% ABV.  If you try it, let me know what you think!

OK, let's hit the beer reviews:

Broken Tooth Brewing's Foulweather IPA: A companion to their flagship Fairweather IPA, this beer poured a lovely clear gold with a large white heavy; beautiful in the glass. The aroma was full of bright floral and citrus hop aromas; very enticing.  Carbonation was good, and the upfront bitterness was very nice, followed by clean, crisp hop flavors and aromas, falling away to a nice finish.  All-in-all, an excellent brew and a good match for their Fairweather IPA.

Broken Tooth Brewing's Beg, Yarrow, or Steal Saison: As the name implies, this beer is made using the ancient brewing herb yarrow.  It has a sweet but slightly bitter taste and was once used in the recipes for gruit, the herb mixture used to flavor ales prior to the use of hops.  It poured a clear gold with a small white head that dissipated to a collar.  The nose had spicy, peppery notes, some from the Belgian yeast and some from the yarrow.  There was good carbonation and a flavor profile with earthy, spicy Belgian yeast notes, as well as some herbal bitterness from the yarrow.  An unusual brew, but one with an interesting flavor profile.  I very much enjoyed it.

Kenai River Brewing's Herkules Rye Imperial Pale Ale (H.I.R.P.A.): This beer poured a deep honey color with a nice, cream-colored head.  The aroma has hints of pine, lemon, and black pepper, at least to my nose, but is fairly well-balanced with the malt elements.  Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium.A first-rate bitter attack is balanced by a solid malt backbone, enhancing its drinkability.  The 8.6% ABV is evident in a slight heat on the finish.  Extremely drinkable for 103 IBUs.

Boulevard Brewing's Reverb Imperial Pilsner:  Another in this brewery's excellent Smokestack Series of brews, this beer makes it easy to understand how this style took the world by storm in the 19th Century. In the glass it's a beautiful clear gold with a nice white head.  The aroma is of fresh, bright Saaz hops.  The carbonation is effervescent, and the beer is full of crisp, clean hoppiness, balance by clean malt flavors.  This is an outstanding example of just how good a pilsner can be.  7.7% ABV.

Well, that's it for this week.  Be sure to keep an eye out for those great seasonal beer releases.

Until Next Time, Cheers

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