Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring For Real

Well it's finally spring for real up here on The Last Frontier, and it's actually been a pretty mild Breakup, since most of the snow melted months ago.  The roads are in good shape, people are starting to work on their yards and gardens, and tourist season is barely a month away.

Still, everything is not perfect.  The Alaska Legislature is still in session, so no man's life, liberty, or property is truly safe.  They did manage to pass HB 309, which requires the Alcohol Control Board to let distilleries in Alaska enjoy the same opportunities that wineries and breweries have, i.e. they can have a tasting room, offer samples, and sell their products directly to the public.  A small triumph for common sense...

With the coming of spring, all of the breweries are starting to ramp up their production in anticipation of the flood of tourists heading our way.   However, Alaskan Brewing Company has gone one better, breaking ground on a new expansion that will link its two existing buildings together and create more space for warehousing and packaging.  And Alaskan will need that space, since they have also announced that they will be canning Alaskan Amber and Freeride APA for sale in the in-state market!  I have been wondering how long it would take them to get on the can bandwagon; guess the answer is "until right now".  Alaskan also announced that they are expanding distribution into South Dakota and Michigan, which means they are now on sale in a total of 16 of the Lower 48.

Here are some nice photos that Alaskan sent out with their press release:

Co-founder Geoff Larson looking at the start of the new construction
Alaskan Amber cans at Auke Bay Harbor in Juneau

Alaskan Freeride APA cans overlooking Juneau

The tickets for The Culmination Beer Festival went on sale at 9 AM yesterday.  In spite of some computer glitches, they sold 150 of the 300 available spots within the first hour.  At last report yesterday evening, there were less than 100 left, so if you haven't gotten yours yet, you had better hurry.  You can reserve a ticket here: but you will need to pay for it with cash at the door.

49th State Brewing Company in Healy will be opening for the season this Friday, April 25th.  Here's the flier for their opening bash:

Click to enlarge

Denali Brewing Company has announced a Spring Beer Dinner at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge on Friday, May 30th. A selection of their beers will be paired with a four course dinner from executive chef Cris Rosemond. Including a nights lodging, it will be $134.50 per person.  Call 877-777-4067 to make reservations.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company will be celebrating their 19th Anniversary in May, and they are kicking things off with a dinner at Jack Sprat Restaurant in Girdwood at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, April 30th, where they will premiere their 9TEEN Saison anniversary beer.  It's a five course, five beer menu, which you can check out here. It's $90 per person, and you need to make reservations on the Jack Sprat website.

Glacier BrewHouse has three new brews on tap.  Here's how they describe them:

RYE PALE ALE - Made with 25% rye malt, which adds a distinct spiciness. Light copper in color, the RPA boasts a huge hop aroma and flavor accompanied by a slightly sweet, malty finish. The hop flavor has pine and citrus emanating from the Simcoe dry hop. The bitterness is mild and pleasant. A great quaffer for the spring. Unfiltered. Alcohol: 4.63% alcohol by volume. Starting Gravity: 10.50 Plato (1.042 S.G.).

 OAK AGED PORTER - Aged in American oak barrels for 1 year. Loaded with smooth chocolate and vanilla flavors from the oak. With medium body, low bitterness, and velvet mouth feel, this black beauty is sure to please. Nitrogenated. Alcohol: 6.69% by volume. Starting gravity: 16.00 Plato (1.065 S.G.)

 NUT BROWN - Malt plays a defining role in the profile of this ale. Several color malts are combined with premium imported base malt and a touch of chocolate malt gives the sweet nutty flavor and copper-brown color. Alcohol: 5.92% alcohol by volume. Starting Gravity: 13.10 Plato (1.053 S.G.).

If you haven't made plans already, you're probably too late, but Snow Goose also has a beer dinner scheduled for 6 PM tonight.  here's the menu:

Click to enlarge
Here on the Peninsula, new owner Erik Slater at Seward Brewing Company is getting closer to opening on Thursday, May 8th.  They've taken delivery of their grain and should start brewing soon.

Kenai River Brewing has acknowledged the arrival of spring with the return of their Hoppin' Salmon Wheat Ale. See my review on 6/1/2011 of this well-hopped American Wheat beer.

St. Elias Brewing Company has two new beer on tap. First, Dos Lobos Vienna Lager is back; see my review on 5/3/2013. Second, there's a completely new beer, Yeti White IPA, which I've reviewed below.

Speaking of reviews, here are a few:

Deschutes Brewing's Cinder Cone Red Ale: This beer poured a deep, clear red with a big, cream-colored head.  The aroma was laced with nice, citrusy American hop notes.  Carbonation and mouthfeel were good.  There was decent bitterness up front, but plenty of malt backbone for balance.  Clean, crisp flavors made this a very nice and highly enjoyable read ale.  5.3% ANB, 55 IBUs.

Vielle Provision Saison Dupont Cuvee Dry Hopping 2013:  This is a new twist on one of my Saison Dupont, using Triskel hops. The cork came out with the loud pop I always expect from Dupont's beers, and it poured a lovely bright gold with a huge white head.  The nose had all the earthy, spicy notes that I associated with the characteristic Dupont house yeast, plus some additional ones from the dry hopping.  Carbonation was outstanding, of course, and the beer was deliciously dry and hoppy on the palate, with plenty of spicy notes from the yeast.  Given that I think the classic Saison Dupont is an absolute masterpiece of a beer, I can't say that this version was any better, though it is a fascinating variation on the theme.

St. Elias Brewing Company's Yeti White IPA: This is Zach Henry's first foray into the White IPA territory, but he nails it.  Yeti pours a cloudy gold with a big white head.  You can pick up the spice notes in the aroma - orange peel and coriander, I think -- plus fruity notes from the hops.  Carbonation was good, and mouthfeel was light.  There's a refreshing up front bitterness that works well with the spicy notes, before falling away to a nice finish.  Very clean and even more drinkable than your typical IPA, this beer is a taste of spring and a promise of the summer to come.

Well, that's it for this week.  I'll have more beer news and reviews next week.  By the way, I've also created a Twitter account, to better put Breaking News and such.  You can find me at BillHowellauth; not enough characters to spell out "author" I'm afraid.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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