Friday, January 10, 2014

AK Beer Week Is Upon Us!

Hello and welcome to 2014!  I hope everyone had as nice a holiday break as I did, but we're back at it now, hot and heavy!

AK Beer Week starts today and the number of different events happening over the next ten days is simply staggering.  I can't even begin to list all the different releases, tastings, beer dinners, and other events scheduled both in Anchorage and at breweries and brewpubs around the state.  The AK Beer Week Facebook page is simply overflowing, while the events section of the AK Beer Week webpage is packed as well. I counted 32 different events, not counting daily specials. If you are going to be in Anchorage or anywhere else in the metro areas of the state between now and next Sunday, you should definitely check out what's available in your area.

And if you see something you are interested in, I'd suggest making reservations right away, as many events are already booked up/sold out!

Moving past AK Beer Week, there has been some other pieces of news since my last blog before Christmas. Alaskan Brewing Company has announced the return of their ESB as a seasonal release. From 1995 to 2008, this beer was one of Alaskan's flagship beers, but it has not been available in a bottle since then. It will be available through the end of March.

Alaskan has also added Hopothermia Double IPA, formerly one of its Rough Draft series, to its line-up of year-round brews available on draft or in four-packs of 12 oz bottles.This beer is brewed with Nugget and Apollo hops to provide bittering in the kettle, then late additions of Amarillo, Citra, and Centennial hops to add notes of spicy grapefruit and orange. HOPothermia has 8.5% ABV and 70 IBUs of bitterness. Alaskan has also released a new beer in the Rough Draft Export Series, Taku River Red Ale. Made with four different caramel malts and using Apollo, El Dorado, Summit, Meridian, Centennial, and Citra hops, this hoppy red ale comes in at 5.7% and 55 IBUs.

They are sort of AK Beer Week events, but each of these new releases deserves its own mention. Midnight Sun Brewing will be releasing this year's Arctic Devil Barley Wine at 3 PM tomorrow at the brewery.  They are also releasing their new Pleasure Town IPA at 5 PM today at the brewery, while Broken Tooth Brewing will be releasing this year's Darth Delirium at the same time at the Moose's Tooth.  And last Tuesday, King Street Brewing released their Bock, which weighs in at 6.8% ABV.

Given all these great new beers being released, I wanted to mention a cool new gizmo I got for Christmas: The Growler Saver.  Here's a video that shows how it works:

As I said, I got one and I've used it and it works quite well.  If you're the sort who ends up pouring out half-full growlers of flat beer, this is the solution to your problem.  You can find more info on their website here.

 At St. Elias Brewing Company, H & H Winter Warmer is now on tap.  Since I helped brew this beer, I won't write a review (since that would be a bit self-serving).  I'll just say that I'm extremely happy with how it turned out.  For more info on what we were trying to accomplish with this brew, check out my 12/12/2013 blog.

I realize that I have fallen quite far behind with my beer reviews, so let's try to make up some ground, before I have a bunch more to do from AK Beer Week.

Kenai River Brewing's Pacific Gem Single Hop IPA is still on tap.  The beer pours a clear honey color with a nice, cream-colored head.  To my nose, the aroma had plenty of piney notes, and good bitterness on the palate.  The Pacific gem hops reminded me a bit of Chinooks.  Very nice. 7% ABV and 70 IBUs.

Oakshire Brewing's Watershed IPA: This brew pours a clear deep gold with a big, white head.  The nose was full of bright citrusy hops.  On the palate there was good bitterness, followed by tropical fruit notes, without being overwhelming.  The beer had a nice clean finish.  Another quality American IPA. 6.7% ABV, 70 IBUs.

Rivertowne Brewing's Maxwell's Scottish Ale:  I received a can of this beer from Wendell Dutcher of Kenai River Brewing.  Looking at the can, I thought that perhaps Kenai River should sue them, since the label design is so similar to their Skilak Scottish Ale!  The beer wasn't too different either, pouring a deep ruby with a cream-colored head.  The aroma was of caramel with a touch of smoke.  The carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was nice.  Definitely malt forward, with clean flavors and no discernible hop bitterness.  Smooth finish.  Nice beer, though I think Skilak Scottish is better. 5.1% ABV.

Alaskan Brewing's 2014 Barley Wine:  This year's version of this perennial favorite was released before Christmas. It poured a clear, deep honey color with a nice, cream-colored head.  Unlike many barley wines, this one actually had some hops in the nose, along with the massive caramel sweetness.   On the palate there was a nice balance between malt and hop bitterness, with a touch of heat from the 10.7% ABV on the finish.  Great now, but perfect for cellaring, it's worth picking up multiple bottles of this one.

Deschutes Brewing's 2010 The Abyss Imperial Stout: I pulled this beauty from my cellar to open over the holidays. It poured opaque with a small brown head. The aroma was rich and decadent, full of coffee, vanilla, & molasses notes.  Carbonation was light, but mouthfeel was excellent, with plenty of chewiness.  The flavor profile was extremely rich and complex, with coffee, dark fruit, vanilla/oak, and molasses all making their presence felt.  The 11% alcohol reveals itself during the nice, long finish with some warming notes.  An exceptional beer, one of the best Deschutes brews, in my humble opinion.

Gouden Draak 9000 Quad from Van Steenberge: Another brew that I was saving for the holidays.  This strong Belgian beer poured lighter than most quadruples, as it was a deep honey color with an off-white head, rather than being brown.  The aroma had the spicy, peppery notes characteristic of Belgian yeasts.  The 10.7% alcohol was apparent from the start, with a rich and warming flavor profile.  There was some honey-like sweetness, but balance with good hop bitterness.  Overall, it was lighter than the typical quad, but very nice. Almost a Belgian barley wine, if such a thing existed.

Well, that's it for this week.  I'll be in Anchorage for a good part of next week, so don't expect a blog, but if you are at any of the Alaska Beer Week events, keep an eye out for me.  I'm always happy to talk to anyone who actually reads this stuff that I write.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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