Friday, March 21, 2014

New Beer Releases for Spring

Spring definitely went on hold last weekend, with a big snow dump in Anchorage.  Wee didn't get nearly so much down here on the Peninsula and the last few days have been beautiful and sunny, if still a bit cold.  This will be a bit of a short blog, as I've been running behind this week, but there are some new beer releases out there that I want to write about before they are "old news".

But before I start talking about new beers, here's a tip of the hat to Gabe Fletcher of Anchorage Brewing Company.  His A Deal with the Devil Barley Wine just took 1st Place at the Brouwer's Hard Live Barley Wine Festival in Seattle, beating out 56 other entries.  2nd place went to Lost Abbey's Angel Share Grand Cru and 3rd place to Firestone-Walker's Sucaba.  Congratulations, Gabe!

Moving on to the new releases, HooDoo Brewing in Fairbanks released a Scottish Export Ale on Wednesday.  Here's how they describe it:
Photo courtesy of HooDoo Brewing

This is our take on the strongest of the Scottish Ales - the Scottish Export Ale. Rich and malty, but clean and dry. These beers often have a slight peat smoke character, so in addition to the nine varieties of Scottish, English and Belgian malts, we included a small portion of peat smoked malt to the grist for a hint of earthy smoke. OG: 13.6 // IBU: 26 // ABV: 5.6

I love Scottish and Scotch Ales and this one sounds excellent.  Too bad I'd have to drive 600 miles to try it!  There is also a very nice one-page spread on HooDoo in the latest issue of Alaska Magazine.

Barb Miller at Midnight Sun Brewing Company sent me some info about their upcoming releases.  Here's what you can expect from them in the next couple of months:

Friday, April 4th at 11 AM: Release of Unite (Strong) Pale Ale, brewed with hibiscus and aged with dark sweet cherries. This beer was brewed on March 8th, International Women's Day, as part of Pink Boots Society's inaugural International Women's Collaboration Brew Day.  8% ABV, 50 IBUs, late Cascade hops, plus the hibiscus and cherries.  Draft only.

A new beer series: ALASKANA- MSBC has 8 beers slated for this series at this time but this is an "open-ended" series so they can add beers as they go… The first 3 to be released in APR are Hibernator Double Smoked Bock, Matanuska Thunk Funk Saison aged in red wine barrels with Brettanomyces, and Bore Tide Wheat Wine aged in High West rye bourbon barrels.

Friday, May 2: For First Firkin Friday, MSBC will be tapping a firkin of a big beer (like Lust or Sloth).  Stand by for further details.

Saturday, May 3: Midnight Sun's 19th Anniversary Party.  They will be a tapping a  firkin of their 19th Anniversary beer,  a saison brewed with yarrow, dry-hopped with New Zealand Rakau hops.

Monday, May 5th: MSBC's actual 19th anniversary, along with Cinco de Mayo.  To celebrate, they will be  tapping a firkin of Pleasure Town IPA, cask-conditioned with jalapeños, serranos, coriander and lime zest.

Finally, Monday May 12th thru Sunday May 18th is American Craft Beer Week.  Look for food specials and and different brews on tap in The Loft all week long.  Midnight Sun will participate in the national toast to American Craft Beer at 4 PM on Monday May 12, so why not stop by and join in?

In my last blog, I wrote about some of the upcoming releases from Broken Tooth Brewing.  Well, they've been good enough to create a nice graphic showing off their new bottle releases, so here it is:

Click to enlarge

Alaskan Brewing has announced a change in both the label and the recipe of their IPA.  First released in 2007, Alaskan's IPA will now be called Icy Bay IPA and the label will feature a photograph of a surfer on that body of water, rather than a drawing.  Here it is:

Click to enlarge
The recipe will now showcase more hop intensity in aroma and flavor, and more hop complexity with Bravo and Calypso in addition to the Cascade, Summit and Apollo hop flavors that have always been in Alaskan IPA.There’s also a higher IBU without losing the balance of a great malt backbone. 6.2% ABV, 65 IBUs.

Finally, Glacier BrewHouse has just released two new beers for spring:

Kristal Weizen -- South German-style filtered wheat beer. Clear straw in color with aromas of banana and clove. Made with premium German Pilsner Malt and German Weiss yeast. 6.07% ABV.

Saison -- French-style Saison with fruity and spicy flavors supported by a soft malt character and slight tartness. Made with special French Saison yeast. Definitely a smooth operator. 8.26% ABV.

Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse
Some more news of the not-a-beer-release variety:

49th State Brewing Company in Healy has announced that they will open for business this year on April 25th, which is earlier than last year.  Now word yet on what they will be offering, though several of their Hibernation series should top the list. 

No date yet for the Seward Brewing Company's opening.  I understand that it is under new management, but I've been unable so far to contact the new owner to get any details on his plans for 2014.  I'll keep working on it.

Kenai River Brewing Company has sold their two-head manual canning machine to Baranof Island Brewing Company in Sitka.  My understanding is that it's to serve as a stop-gap measure until they can get their new canning line installed later this year.

That's about it for news.  How about a couple of quick reviews:

Alaskan Brewing's Jalapeno Imperial IPA: I mentioned this beer in last week's blog.  Since then, I've had a chance to try it.  It poured a deep clear copper color - very pretty, like a fine Scotch whisky - with a big, cream colored head.  The aroma was of citrusy American hops; I couldn't detect the peppers in the nose. Carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was medium.  The initial bitter attack was good, then hop flavor, then the pepper heat, which increased toward the finish.  To be honest, I've never been a big fan of chili beers, but this one from Alaskan is one of the best I've ever had.  The pepper notes are restrained enough to compliment the beer, rather than dominate it.  If jalapenos are your things, definitely give it a try. 8. 5% ABV.

Gigantic Brewing's Bang On Pale Ale: Another deep clear copper brew, with a nice white head. The nose had lots of enticing hop notes.  Nice mouthfeel and good carbonation. Good up front bitterness, a touch of toffee, falling off to a nice, clean finish.  Very moreish as our Brit cousins would say.  An excellent pale ale. 5.6% ABV.

Victory Brewing's HopDevil IPA: One of the classic East Coast IPAs out there.  Poured the classic copper color with a big off-white head and a nice aroma of American hops.  Good lacing on the glass. Nice lingering bitterness, plenty of good clean hop flavors, but more restrained than its West Coast cousins. Very drinkable and an excellent IPA. 6.7% ABV.

That's it for this week.  Hopefully we'll have more spring-like weather next week.  Meantime, keep drinking good craft beer!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Not So Fast on That Early Spring...

Since in my last blog I speculated on a possible early spring, we had to get more snow.  Not a lot, but enough to remind everyone that winter's not quite done yet.  So batten down the hatches and stand by for some more heavy weather until we can finally escape this weird winter we've been having.

I wrote about the Beer and Swine Festival on April 5th in my last blog.  Nothing really new to say about them, but they do have a new poster out, which is a bit easier to read than their original one, so here it is:

Click to Enlarge

Last time round I also wrote about the Talkeetna Beer Trippin' that the Great Northern Brewers will be holding the same weekend as the Beer and Swine Festival.  The menu for the Beer Dinner at Twister Creek on Friday, April 4th has now been released.  Here it is:

Click to enlarge

Looks like there will be plenty of delicious food paired with outstanding beers and exceptional company.

Baranof Island Brewing Company is still on a roll after receiving their $350k loan from the city of Sitka.  They'll be holding an event at Nome's Arctic Native Brotherhood Club the Friday, March 14th, to raise money for the ANB.  Besides their beer, their will be food and live music.  Here's the flier for that event:

Click to enlarge

Midnight Sun Brewing Company has a nice new ad in this month's Beer Advocate magazine.  Here it is:

Sunday, March 8th, was National Brew Day for the Pink Boots Society.  I'm looking forward to tasting their collaboration brew.

Anchorage Brewing Company is working on Batch #2 of Arctic Soiree (see my review of Batch #1 in my last blog).  Look for #2 to hit shelves in about a month.  They also said to expect more Love Buzz Saison in June.  Gabe was also trying to enter Batch #2 of The Tide and Its Takers Tripel in the World Beer Cup.  If he was able to scare up enough of it to do so, I suspect ABC will have another award to hang on its wall soon.  Tickets for The Culmination Festival have still not yet gone on sale, but when they do, I will make a Breaking News post (after I've bought my own, of course!).

I had a data dump from Tyler Jones at Broken Tooth Brewing regarding beers that are on tap at Moose's Tooth.  Rather than paraphrase it, I'll just give you the whole thing:

Better Off Red (India Red Ale) When you’re down to one ski and you need fuel to tackle an untamed slope like the wicked K12, look no further. Takeoff with a burst of lavish flavor from Amarillo, Challenger and Crystal hops. Then ride the fortified base of pale and Munich malts, and finish with a touch of roast malt to score a luscious crimson hue. Go that way really fast, if something gets in your way, turn! You'll be the hottest thing since sunburn! Brewed by Sean Heyer. OG 1.058,  ~65 IBU, 6.2% ABV

Vanna Brown (American Brown)  Still missing the Midtown Brown? Solve the puzzle with this smooth, malt-rich roasty brown ale! Brewed by Sean Heyer OG 1.055 ~38 IBU ABV 5.4%
Something Red (Red Ale)  A beautiful single-hop red ale featuring fruity/citrusy Simcoe hops. Brewed by Dave Parker OG 1.064 42 IBUs ABV 6.1%.

Let It ESB (Extra Special Bitter)  A big ESB which straddles the fence between a traditional ESB and a contemporary IPA. Brewed by Sean Heyer OG 1.068 ~50 IBU ABV 5.9%

Méprise (Belgian Brown)   A fortuitous accident while loading grain yielded this Belgian Beauty. Spiced with Coriander & Orange Peel. Brewed by Dave Parker OG 1.084 ~26 IBU ABV 8.4%

Wheatwine ’14 (WheatWine) You all know by now what a BarleyWine is. A WheatWine is similar, only it’s brewed with, you guessed it: Wheat.Brewed by Dave Parker OG 1.091 ~65 IBU ABV 10.1%
C’est Chic (Belgo-Amero IPA) Auhhh - Freak Out! Le Freak - C’est Chic… Freak Out! Le Freak - C’est Chic... Brewed by Dave Parker OG 1.078, ~87 IBU, 8.4% ABV
Smokin' Willie Porter (Smoked Brown Porter) Based on our Prince William Porter, this beer begins very subtly and (slowly) develops into a filling, rich and adventurous experience. A beautiful balance of chocolate and brewery-smoked malt character that’s flavor-forward without being overwhelming. Brewed by Aaron Benolkin OG 1.065 29 IBU ABV 6.0%
Darth Delirium 2014 (Belgian-Style Stout) Bold, Black & Beautiful. Brewed with love and chocolate and aged for a year. Brewed by Sean & Dave    OG 1.099 ~78 IBU ABV 10.1%

Devil’s Thumb Double IPA (Double IPA) 6 Varieties of American hops balanced with strong citric and tropical flavors. Brewed By Dave Parker OG 1.082, ~86 IBU, 9.4% ABV
Cheechokoholic (Brown Ale plus Cocoa) Chocolatey and Fresh in Alaska!Brewed by Sean Heyer OG 1.057, ~28 IBU, 5.2% ABV

Tyler also reports that Broken Tooth should be releasing their bottle-conditioned beers soon, perhaps as early this week. They had some problems with the labeling, but that's been taken care of.

Silver Gulch Brewing and Bottling Company will be having a First Tap Party this Saturday, March 15th, at 5 PM.  In homer of St. Patrick's Day, they will be serving Kachemak Bay Oysters and corned beer and cabbage to pair with their news Dry Irish Stout.  Here's how they describe it:

 Stepping Stone Stout
(Irish Dry Stout)

Stepping Stone is a tip of the hat to the Yukon Quest and one of the most inviting hospitality check points on the trail. Congratulations to Mandy Nauman and her dogs for their 2014 Quest finish!

This stout should not be feared. While it is dark and roasty it is smooth, easy-drinking and ‘session-able’. This stout starts with hints of coffee and chocolate then gives way to a clean and dry finish leaving you yearning for the next sip. Sláinte! 4.9% ABV, 30 IBUs.
South on the Parks Highway from Fairbanks, 49th State Brewing has begun to stir to life after a long winter's nap.  It may be -22F in Healy, but that's not stopping them from taking delivery of new tanks which will triple their production capacity.  Still a month or so until they open, but it looks to be another banner year for them.

Alaskan Brewing has released the latest beer in their Pilot Series: Jalapeno Imperial IPA.  I've seen it on sale locally, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet.  Their release notes describe it as an "Imperial IPA made from glacier-fed water, the finest quality Centennial, Sterling, Magnum, and Apollo hops, premium two-row and specialty malts, and a whole lot of fresh jalapeños."  I'm sure I will have a review done soon.

Speaking of reviews, I only have two for this blog, as I haven't been drinking a lot of new beers lately. But first, I want to do a quasi-review of the latest batch of Czech Point Pilsner from St. Elias Brewing Company.  I reviewed this beer back on 4/12/2013, and this year's batch is just as excellent.  The only difference is that this year, Zach Henry used Sterling hops, rather than the traditional Saaz.  Comparing the present beer to my memories, I couldn't taste a difference. It would be interesting to taste them side by side to look for changes, but alas, that's not possible.  Regardless, it's an excellent pilsner, so get it while it lasts.

Midnight Sun's 3000 Belgian-style Barley Wine: I reviewed this beer on 2/15/2013, shortly after its release, so how has a year in the cellar changed it? It poured opaque with a mocha-colored head that was much bigger and denser than is typical for such a strong beer; it was also surprisingly long-lasting and left excellent lacing.  The red-wine & oak notes in the nose had eased off a bit after a year, but they were still there, while the alcohol and malt notes seemed to have increased.  Carbonation was excellent and the mouthfeel was good, though a bit drier than its typical for such a big beer.  The flavor profile was just a complex as you'd expect, with the rich caramel and toffee notes contrasting to the vinous oak notes, before falling off to a nice finish.  A year in the cellar has definitely improved this beer, but I still don't think it's reached its peak. 13.% ABV, 25 IBUs.

Mikkeller's Beer Geek Breakfast: Brewed at the Anchorage Brewing Company, this is an oatmeal stout made with coffee and fermented in oak.  It poured opaque with a nice tan head that left good lacing.  The aroma was a blend of roasted coffee flavors and sweet malt notes, like a cup of black coffee with sugar in it. The carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium.  On the palate there was a silky smoothness from the oats and a roasty bitter bite, that grew even stronger as the rest of the flavors fall away at the finish. An excellent example of a coffee stout. 7.5% ABV.

Well, that's it for this week.  I should have more beer reviews next time around.

Until Next Time, Cheers!