Friday, August 22, 2014

Beer Camp & Beer Fest

Bit behind on the blogging (what else is new..), but I've got a lot of great beer stuff to write about since my last blog three weeks ago.

On Thursday, 7 August, I rolled up to Anchorage to help host the Beer Camps Across America event at Humpy's Alaskan Alehouse, sponsored by Sierra Nevada Brewing and their distributors here in Alaska, K & L Distributing. The event was a sell-out, with a hundred people paying $20 to sample all twelve of the beers in three flights of four 3 oz. samples. There was a pretty good turnout of beer writers as well.  Besides yours truly, Dr. Fermento and newcomer to Alaska Kristi Trimmer were also in attendance.

From L to R: me, Chris Heim of Sierra Nevada, Kristi Trimmer, Chris from Gold Rush Liquors, & Dr. Fermento. 
I included a graphic describing the beers in my last blog and they were uniformly excellent, but let me mention a couple of them that I thought were absolutely outstanding.

Torpedo Pilsner (5.2% ABV, 45 IBUs, brewed with Firestone Walker) - a pilsner infused with New Zealand hops using Sierra Nevada's hop torpedo technology, this brew was a clean, crisp masterpiece

Maillard's Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale (8.5% ABV, 40 IBUs, brewed with Bell's) - rich, dark, and chewy, this beer was everything you look for in a strong, dark ale.

Yvan the Great Belgian-style Blonde Ale (6.3% ABV, 50 IBUs, brewed with Russian River) - a delicious blend of brett and Belgian influences, plus plenty of hop goodness.  Doesn't fit in any conventional category, but who cares?

If you can still find any of these twelve beers, I strongly suggest you give them a try. My only regret is that they will not be offered in the future.

A couple of days later, on Saturday, August 9th, it was time for the 4th Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival.  As in past years, the weather looked very iffy in the morning, but the clouds parted and the sun shown just in time for the start of the fest at 5 pm. This year's event was another sell out, with 1200 attending and about another hundred turned away at the gate, after it sold out.  We had even more breweries in attendance than in the past, including a couple from pretty far away:

49th State Brewing from Healy

HooDoo Brewing from Fairbanks

49th State Brewing took the People's Choice Award for Best Beer with their 12 Belgian Quadruple, which was an absolutely fantastic brew, while Kenai River Brewing took the People's Choice Award for Best Brewery. Besides the great beers and wines on offer, their were several food trucks and lots of great music.  It was easily the best Kenai Peninsula Beer Fest yet.

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing

After the fest shutdown, Zach Henry of St. Elias Brewing hosted a private after party for all the attending brewers, at which I tapped the last cask of our collaboration beer, H & H Winter Warmer, which is now completely consumed.  However, we have decided to brew it again next month, for a December release, so you should get to drink it again this winter.

Tapping a cask of H&H Winter Warmer at the after party.

Besides the events above, there has been plenty of other beer news.  The Brew Dogs episode set in Alaska was broadcast on August 13th.  If you missed it, you can find it on HuluPlus or in reruns on the Esquire Network. The show was fun, though I was a bit disappointed that James and Martin never ventured any further into the state than the Juneau area.  At least they did send a film crew out to shoot some footage in Anchorage, Healy, and Fairbanks for their best breweries and best bars short segments. Here are their picks:

You may not agree with the exact rankings, but I think we can agree that they are all great beer bars and breweries and its good to see them get recognition

In other news, Baranof Island Brewing Company in Sitka has taken delivery of their first shipment of cans.  Here's the visual proof:

Photo courtesy of Baranof Island Brewing Co.
We should be seeing a lot more of their Silver Bay IPA soon, and that's a good thing!

Alaskan Brewing Company has moved their Pumpkin Porter from their Pilot Series to their first Seasonal release for fall. It will now be in 12 oz. bottles, rather than the 22 oz. bombers of the Pilot Series. For those of you who may have missed it last fall, Pumpkin Porter weighs in at 7% ABV, 25 IBUs, and over 11 pounds of pumpkins used per barrel.

Photo courtesy of Alaskan Brewing Company
Denai Brewing managed to get all the blueberries they needed, so you can expect to see a Blueberry Wheat Beer from them in the near future.  They have also announced the date of this year's Talkeetna Beer Fest: Saturday, September 20th, from 2 pm to 6 pm at the Don Sheldon Community Arts Hangar in beautiful downtown Talkeetna. Tickets are $50 per person and include a selection of cured meats, fine cheeses, and locally baked breads, besides beer from several of the state's finest breweries.  Tickets are available from the Denali Arts Council's website. This is a fest that I really want to attend, but fate keeps conspiring against it. In 2012 it was flooding, and last year I was of of state when it took place, and this year I will be out of state again. Next year for sure!

At Midnight Sun Brewing, they will be releasing their Das Boot Pale Ale next Thursday, August 28th, at 5 pm.  All the proceeds of this beer will go to the local firefighters' Fill The Boot campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. They will also be selling a limited number of 36 oz. glass boots at the release party in The Loft.  It's a great cause, so if you'll be in Anchorage, stop by and help fill the boot by emptying a glass...

Construction on the new home for Anchorage Brewing Company seems to be proceeding rapidly.  The only real snag they have hit was Gabe Fletcher's busting his right index finger up pretty badly trying to club a halibut. In spite of that mishap, the erection of the metal skeleton was complete on August 11th. Can't wait to see the finished product.

Photo courtesy of Anchorage Brewing Company

Here on the Peninsula, Seward Brewing Company has been getting some rave reviews for their food and beer.  I haven't made it back there since my last visit in June, but I got to have some more of their beer at the Kenai Fest, and it was excellent. I definitely need to make time to try their food again before they close for the winter.

OK, let's do some beer reviews.

Sleeping Lady Brewing Company's Tiny IPA: I had a pint of this with my supper at the Snow Goose before I walked over to the Humpy's Beer Camp Event on August 7th. It was a clear light gold in color with a persistent white head that left good lacing on the glass. The nose was full of nice, citrusy American hop aroma, and their was a pleasantly bitter attack, followed by nice, clean hop flavor.  The kicker is this is a low ABV beer, about 3.5% ABV, give or take, but it's packed with great flavor.  One of the best session beers I've had this year. At tip o' my hat to Greg & Karl; nice job, gentlemen.

Oskar Blue's Old Chub Nitro Scotch Ale: This is a beer I've wanted to try ever since I heard it was being released. I finally managed to score some at The Brown Jug at 9200 Old Seward.  Manager Roy Chapel is doing an outstanding job on the beer selections there and anyone who likes good beer and finds themselves in Anchorage should definitely check it out. Back to the beer: it poured a very dark ruby with the super creamy head that you expect from beers on nitro. All the classic flavors of a great Scotch Ale are there, plus the outstanding mouthfeel from the nitro. This beer was already one of my all-time favorites (see my review on 3/31/2009), but having it on nitro just make sit that much better.  If you're a Scotch Ale lover like me, be sure to try this one out!

Midnight Sun Brewing's Cache Biere de Garde: The latest beer in the Alaskana series, this brew is aged in oak barrels. At 8.2% ABV and 20 IBUs, this beer is all about the malt and the oak. It poured a dark, semi-translucent honey color, with a nice cream-colored head. There was some oaky notes discernible in the nose. The carbonation was good. The initial impression is malt, then strong oaky notes that persist through the finish.  The beer is oaked to such a degree that it almost becomes astringent as you continue drinking it. This beer truly showcases the impact of oak aging.

Well, that's it for this blog.  Get out and enjoy the last few weeks of summer while you can.  The days are getting shorter and it will be fall before you know it.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

1 comment:

Wenni Donna said...

It would be an amazing summer Beer fest!! I am so pleased to know about this event. Thanks for the information. Last year I attended couple annual events in NYC and choice event rooms for rent was great. Those were great events and an amazing experience for me!