Friday, July 18, 2014

The Fisher Folk Are Coming!

Short blog this time, as the weather is too nice to spend much time at a keyboard! The assault on the Kenai Peninsula continues, with something like 40,000 fish seekers from all around Alaska descending on us for the "personal use" fishery. It's a pretty amazing sight, sort of like watching a slow-motion train wreck taking place in your front yard: it's horrible, yet you find it very difficult to look away...

While the hordes are down here trying to stock their freezers, they are also hitting our local breweries hard. Good luck trying to find a parking spot at St. Elias or Kenai River tonight!

In case you've missed it, there's a show on the Esquire Network call Brew Dogs.  It focuses on the guys behind the Scottish brewery BrewDog,  James Watt and Martin Dickie, visiting craft breweries around the US and brewing beer in outlandish ways (like in the back of a pickup will doing laps around a NASCAR track). The show has a certain amount of silliness, but overall it's pretty good.  The second season is being broadcast right now, and the final show of the season will be set in Alaska, primarily at Alaskan Brewing in Juneau.  As part of that show, a crew has been shooting what I guess will be "B-roll" footage around the state.  They were at HooDoo Brewing earlier this week and will be at Cafe Amsterdam in Anchorage this afternoon at 3:30.  so if you're reading this in Anchorage and want to see yourself on TV, head over to Cafe A immediately!

Brew Dogs at HooDoo. Photo courtesy of HooDoo Brewing.

As I mentioned last week, the Saturday there will be a BBQ, Burgers & Blues event at The Vagabond on K-Beach.  Kenai River is sponsoring the beer garden.  It starts at 4 PM and here's a flier for it:

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Up in Healy, 49th State's Augtoberfest is only two weeks away. In case you missed it, here's the flier for that again:

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 Senator Lisa Murkowski has been taking a serious interest in craft brewing.  In May, she talked with Jim "Dr. Fermento" Roberts, in his role as the President of the Brewers Guild of Alaska.  You can read his description of the conversation here.  More recently, she visited Denali Brewing in Talkeetna.  Here's what she had to say about it in her most recent e-newsletter:

As co-chair of the Senate Small Brewer’s Caucus, I’m a big supporter of the many craft breweries in our state. These brewpubs and small breweries benefit communities by creating both jobs and a sense of local pride. I’m trying to visit all of our local breweries throughout the state, and this trip I was able to go to the Denali Brewery Company in Talkeetna to meet with the General Manager, Sassan Mossanen, and learn that they are one of the largest year-round employers in the area."
Photo courtesy of Senator Lisa Murkowski

It's great to see Alaska's two senators taking such an interest in craft brewing (see last week's blog for a picture on Senator Begich at Kenai River Brewing), but now I'd like to see some of our state legislators step up to the plate.  Frankly, most of the onerous restrictions our local brewers have to put up with are imposed at the state, rather than the federal level. Perhaps the folks in Juneau can take a hint from our Washington lawmakers...

 That's about it for news this week.  Here are a couple of reviews:

The Commons Brewery's Bier Royale Sour Ale with Black Currants: The beer poured a clear pinkish-red with a small white head - a very unusual color for a beer! The aroma had some tartness plus fruity notes. The carbonation was good.  The initial attack was quite tart, then the fruitiness of the currants came through, before falling away to allow the tartness to come back on the finish. Like the other brews from The Commons, this one is unusual but excellent. 5.5% ABV.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company's Modern Romance Spicy Chocolate Dark Ale: This brew was released quite a bit back; the bottle I had of it was hiding in the back of my beer frig until just the other night!  It poured opaque with a small tan head that dissipated rapidly to a collar. The aroma was laced with sweet malt and chocolate notes.  The carbonation was a bit on the low side, but the mouthfeel was very good. There's a lot going on in this beers, as you might guess from the "Spicy Chocolate Dark Ale" nomenclature. There's some nice roastiness up front, resting on a gold malt backbone, then a distinct note of heat, either from spices or alcohol or both, that lingers and becomes more pronounced on the finish as the other flavor components fall away. For my personal tastes, I thought it was bit too busy, as some of the flavor components did not seem to quite mesh, but your mileage may vary. 9.3% ABV, 37 IBUs.

Well, that's it for this week.  Try not to get run over by any of the fools for fish clogging our rods and get out and enjoy this nice summer weather while it lasts, preferably with a beer in hand.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Reds Are in the River

Been a little rainy here on the Kenai, but it looks like things might be clearing out for the weekend.  That's good news, since our summer is too short for everything the needs to be done.  Plus, we wouldn't want bad weather to hinder the hordes of folk descending on us to dip sockeyes, now would we? Still, as annoying as the dipnetting hordes might be to most of us, they're a godsend to our local breweries and brewpubs. So we'll just have to make the best of it.

La Bodega in Anchorage and Girdwood is having  a "Dark & Quirky" growler sale. The following growlers are 25% off until the kegs kick:

Midnight Sun Fairy Dust $4.75 32oz / $9.00 64oz AND Silver Gulch Low Bush Cranberry $4.50 32oz / $9.00 64oz

- Kenai River Breakfast Beer (Oatmeal Milk Stout) $4.25 32oz / $8/50 64 oz
- Souther Tier Mokah $8.00 32oz / $16.00 64oz
- Stone Matt's Burning Rosids (Imperial Smoked Saison) $7.00 32oz / $14.00 64oz
- Homer Kings & Wings ESB $4.75 32oz / $9.50 64oz
- Bosteel's Kwak $14.50 32oz / $29.00 64oz
- Liefman's Goudenband (Flanders Oud Bruin) $16.00 32oz / $32.00 64oz

Get 'em before they're gone!

Tickets for next month's Kenai Peninsula Brew Fest are now on sale.  Here's the press release I got from Matt Pyhala, the Soldotna Rotary's point man for the festival:

"The 4th Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival is Saturday, August 9 from 5-10 pm.  The entry cost is $30.  We are selling tickets online already at our new website  We will also sell tickets at Kenai River Brewing, Kassik's Brewery, and St. Elias Brewery.  The festival will again have live music, and food in addition to our featured breweries.  All proceeds from the festival are used for local projects of the Soldotna Rotary Club.  We have confirmation of attendance from Alaskan, Broken Tooth, Denali, Glacier Brewhouse, Kassik's, Kenai River, King Street, Midnight Sun, Seward, Sleeping Lady, and St. Elias breweries.  ODOM Corporation, Specialty Imports, Open Wine Distributors have also confirmed.  We have strong maybes from 49th State, Arkose, Baranof Island, Homer, Bear Creek Wine, and Anchorage Brewing.  This year is shaping up to be our best yet."
I've got my tickets, and it's likely the event will sell out again this year, so you might want to get yours.

Looking a bit further ahead, this year's Capital City Brewfest in Juneau will take place on Saturday, September 13th, from 1 to 5 PM at the Juneau Arts & Cultural Center (JACC). Tickets go on sale next week on the festival's website.

The date for the Talkeetna Brewfest has also been announced. It will be Saturday, September 20th, from 2 to 6 PM. Admission will be $50, which includes a taster glass, brewery guide and a selection of quality meats, cheeses and breads provided by local businesses. I've missed this fest for the last two years for various reasons, but this year I plan to be there.

Next Saturday, July 19th, Kenai River Brewing will be one of the sponsors of the BBQ, Burgers & Blues event at The Vagabond Bar on K-Beach.  It's a fundraiser for KDLL, our local public radio station, featuring good food, great beer, and live music.  Things kick off at 4 PM and culminate is a performance by world-famous master blues harmonica legend Gary Sloan. Sounds like a great time and it's for a worthy cause.

For you homebrewers out there, I found a site with some nice plans for building your very own kegerator.  Check them out here

Tomorrow is the Golden Days BeerFest at Silver Gulch Brewing in Fox.  Here's the flier:

I was at last year's fest and had a great time.

Silver Gulch also has a new brew on tap, Solo Hop, a Rye Pale Ale.  Here's how they describe it:

Spicy rye provides a stellar base to showcase citrusy Amarillo hops in this single hop pale ale. Hoppy yet not bitter, this is a refreshing and drinkable summer offering. 5% ABV, 47 IBU’s
Osculum Infame is also back on tap.  Check out my review from 1/19/2010 on the Belgian Strong Golden Ale.

Speaking of Belgian brews, HooDoo Brewing has their Tripel back on tap.

Denali Brewing has two new brews on at their tap in downtown Talkeetna:

Mother Superior Double Blonde (Double Mother Ale) 10.2%ABV, 31 IBU. Same recipe as Mother Ale, only with more of everything! More pilsner malt, more noble hops, more of what makes Mother Ale a favorite. To give rise to this special beer, it was aged on chardonnay-soaked oak chips, resulting in subtle hints of cinnamon and spice. When it comes to imbibing this unique creation, get in the habit! 

2014 Raspberry Wheat 5% ABV. An American Wheat Ale brewed with bushels of Oregon raspberries.

Also, McKinley Princess Lodge is hosting a Denali beer tasting for its guest on Monday, July 21st at 12:30 PM.

King Street Brewing has re-released their Golden Lager.  This is a classic German Helles-style beer, easy drinking and light-bodied; the perfect brew for a hot summer day in Alaska!

Kassik's Brewery tapped a 1/2 barrel keg of their Smoked Russian Imperial Stout yesterday. It won't last young, so get over to the brewery taproom ASAP if you want some before it's gone!

Senator Mark Begich paid a visit to Kenai River Brewing on July 1st. Glad to see he's interested in supporting our local businesses, at least during an election year...

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing
Now let's do some beer reviews.

Anchor Brewing's Anchor IPA: Back in 1975, Fritz Maytag created what is arguably the first modern American IPA, Anchor's Liberty Ale.  Now under new ownership, Anchor looks to be trying to liven up their line-up. Anchor IPA pours a deep copper color with a big cream-colored head.  The aroma has some nice  but not overpowering floral hop notes. Carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was nice.  Bitterness is restrained, especially by the recent American IPA standards, and is balanced nicely by the malt. This beer might pass for an English IPA except for the use of American hops, making it extremely drinkable, if slightly unremarkable.  Personally, I prefer the classic Liberty Ale, but Anchor IPA is a well-crafted brew for folks who prefer their IPAs more refined. 6.5% ABV.

Logsdon Farmhouse Ale's Peche 'n Brett: This bottle was part of the leftovers from The Culmination in May. I'm usually not a great fan of fruit beers, which is probably why I didn't get around to sampling this one during the festival. It poured a deep, clear gold with a huge, dense white head. The nose was absolutely full of delicious peach notes, and just the slightest touch of Brett funk. Carbonation was excellent, as you'd expect from the head.  On the palate there was tons of excellent peach flavor up front, backed by Bett funkiness, before falling away to an excellent dry finish. Absolutely no sign of heat from the 10% ABV. I think I can honestly say that this may have been the finest fruit beer I have ever had.  I only wish that I had several more bottles to cellar; I'd love to experience the beer's evolution as the Brett continued to work in it. If you can find a bottle of this beer, buy it!

Logsdon Farmhouse Ale's Far West Vlaming Sour Red Ale: In the style of a Flanders Red, this beer poured a deep ruby color with a small cream-colored head that dissipate fairly quickly to a collar. The aroma was tart with some oaky notes. Carbonation was decent, as was the mouthfeel. The initial attack was tart, falling away quickly to allow some oak to express itself.  The finish was rather quick and a bit disappointing.  Overall, a decent brew but lacking the depth and complexity of a classic sour red such as those from Rodenbach.  Enjoyable but unspectacular. 6.5% ABV.

That's it for this week.  Good luck with the fishing and enjoy summer while it last.

Until Next Time, Cheers!