Friday, November 21, 2014

Breaking News Blog Post

Just after I got my last blog post on the street, I got word from Rob Weller of Specialty Imports that the next release of Anchorage Brewing Company's amazing A Deal with the Devil Barley Wine would be released TODAY, November 21st. Rob was kind enough to send along the list of the stores which will be carrying it. This stuff goes super fast and stores often limit the number of bottles you can purchase, so plan accordingly...

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Alaska Liquor Store - SKAGWAY
Alaska Wine Guy
Breeze In Valley Store #1
Brown Jug - FBX
Brown Jug Bragaw
Brown Jug College Gate/lake Otis
Brown Jug Downtown Wine & Spirits
Brown Jug Eagle River
Brown Jug Indy Park
Brown Jug Minnesota
Brown Jug North Muldoon
Brown Jug Northern Lights
Brown Jug Old Seward South
Brown Jug Red Apple/Mtn. View
Brown Jug Spenard
Brown Jug Tudor
Brown Jug Victor
Brown Jug W. Northern Lights
Brown Jug Warehouse
Brown Jug Wasilla South
Brown Jug Whaler/Muldoon Rd
Cafe Amsterdam
Carrs Safeway Aurora Village #1805
Carrs Safeway Huffman #1813
Carrs Safeway Seward #2728
Country Liquor LLC. #2
Fred Meyer West Fairbanks 485
Gavora's Gavora's #1
Gold Hill Inc.
Gold Rush Liquors
Grog Shop - 2
La Bodega / Isles, Inc.
Little Italy
Newtown Liquor / Clearwater Bay Corp
Party Time Plaza Liquor - LAKE OTIS
Percy's / Oke Rodman
Snow Goose Restaurant
Thibodeau Town Liquor
Wine House - Huffman

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Still Waitin' On The Snow

So here we are in the second half of November with still zero snow on the ground in southcentral Alaska.  Meanwhile, it's snowpocalypse in the Lower 48. Buffalo just got an entire winter's worth of snow in 24 hours. So let's continue to enjoy the relatively warm temperatures and snow and ice free roads for as long as we can. Looks like we might get some snow by Thanksgiving, but who knows?

There are a couple of pretty significant beer events taking place in the next couple of days. First up, tonight at the Snow Goose.  They are calling it Taps and Apps Head Brewer Greg Mills and Chef Jose Diaz have put their heads together and come up with 4 delicious appetizer and beer pairings.  The event will be held in the brewery from 6-7pm tonight, Wednesday, November 19th. Cost is only $25.  The fun doesn't end there.  In the pub from 7-9pm the first of three Gladys firkins (the beer Sleeping Lady brewed just for La Bodega and Bodegafest) will be on tap, plus music by Blaze and Eric.  Call the Goose to reserve your place for the Taps & Apps or just show up in the pub at 7 pm for the second part.

On this Friday, November 21st, Midnight Sun Brewing will be releasing this year's Arctic Devil Barley Wine on tap and in bottles at The Loft. It's time to lay in some bottles for the cellar, as well as enjoying some right now.

Besides the release on Friday, I had an email from the MSBC Beer Ambassador Darcy Kniefel earlier this week, letting me know about some more upcoming events/releases.  Here's what she had to say:

Matanuska Thunder Funk is due out in just a few weeks time. Playing with the name of a high potency strain of marijuana from the Matanuska Valley region of Alaska, we changed one letter to call our beer “Matanuska Thunder Funk.” And funky this beer is! Beginning as a Belgian-style Saison, MTF was transferred to oak barrels and inoculated with Brettanomyces for a long-many months. This batch created a mother funk, which will be blended with a fresh batch of saison to balance and soften the grassy/green apple/sweaty horse blanket character of Brettanomyces. MTF is heavy on the funk in a way laid back way. MTF is being bottle conditioned so the exact date is not set for release but keep an eye out for the first week of December to get a good pull off of this beer.

We have put the word out, just to pause all rumors, Gluttony is officially being brewed again. We finally have enough hops to recreate this monster Triple IPA originally brewed in the 7 Deadly Sins Series. Coming in at 10.5% and 200 IBU's, this is not for the hop weary. We are looking for a December 31st release, so all of our Gluttony fans can have one last hurrah before they give in to their New Year's Resolutions.

Plans for AK Beer Week are in full swing and we can say we are looking forward to another big 10 days of awesome beer fun. This year will include a Strong Beer Cocktail Competition pairing Alaskan Breweries with Alaskan Distilleries for the first time. The breweries and distilleries will put together one recipe including beer and spirit to be judged a week before AK Beer Week with the winner being named as the official Strong Beer Cocktail of AK Beer Week. We met with our partner, Alaskan Distillery, last week and had a great time playing with beer, gin, whiskey and vodka as we worked on our recipe. It really was a great experience and a lot of what we were hoping for when the idea came around. This is a chance for Alaskans to show off great beer and great spirits, and it's an incredible opportunity for partnerships to form as we all continue to promote and support local products. Keep an eye out for the AK Distillery and MSBC friendship to grow and bring you more great pairings.
Sounds like a lot of great stuff is in the offing.  Thanks, Darcy!

Celestial Meads in Anchorage will be having a tasting session this Satruday, from 4 to 8 PM.  Here are their descriptions of a couple of new releases they have on offer. 

Persephone's Fate - 14.0%abv - SPECIAL RESERVE
A sweet melomel made with fresh pomegranate fruit and aged for a full year. This is the first of our SPECIAL RESERVE meads. This is a complex mature mead that is best enjoyed in a brandy snifter late at night. Those lucky enough to get a preview sample have compared it to a "fine VSOP brandy". This second batch received aging in bourbon barrels for additional complexity.

Red Menace - 13.0%abv - SPECIAL RESERVE
A sweet melomel made with raw clover honey and handpicked Alaskan Red Currants. The spicy character of the clover honey really enhances the complex fruit characters of the red currants. The tart acidity of the currants perfectly balances the sweetness of the honey. Try this one by itself for dessert or maybe pour it over french vanilla ice cream?

Up north in Fox, Silver Gulch Brewing has a new beer on tap: Discombobulator Doppelbock.  Here's how they describe it:

‘Discombobulator’ is a Bavarian-style Doppelbock dark lager brewed with Pilsen, Caramel and Munich malts, with a bit of dark-roasted malts to impart of dark red/brown tint. European Hallertau and Saaz hops are added to give a spicy note to the huge, malty body of this festive beer. Brewed to keep you warm on those cold winter nights; the substantial alcohol content of ‘Discombobulator’ is hidden by the malt sweetness and roasted/toffee notes. Beware; this ‘goat’ will kick you! 8.70% ABV / 35 IBU

Sounds delicious. I also believe it's on tap at the Silver Gulch Bar on Concourse C of Anchorage International, so if you happen to be flying south for the holidays, you could try it there.

Based on Facebook posts, it looks like construction proceeds apace at the new brewery for Anchorage Brewing Company. The latest bottling of its Darkest Hour Imperial Stout is on the shelves right now, and the next release of its infamous Deal With the Devil Barley Wine just went onto the bottles.

If like me, you read the beer column of Jim "Dr. Fermento" Roberts in The Anchorage Press, the following will not come as news to you. There's a new brewery working to open in Palmer, AK. The Bleeding Heart Brewery is trying to get off the ground in the spring of 2015. To help with the launch, the folks behind it started a Kickstarter campaign.  The campaign has already raised more than double its initial goal of $7500. Now they are trying to his $20k with three days left. If you are interested in kicking in some shekels, you can do so here. If you'd like more details, be sure to check out Fermento's latest column here. Best of luck, guys; we can always use more good beer in Alaska!

Speaking of good beer in Alaska, the Brewers Association has published its breakdown of craft brewing by state for 2013. With 4.3 breweries per 100,000 adults over 21, Alaska ranks 7th in the US. Our brewers produced 182,530 barrels of beer, which translates to 11 gallons for every adult over 21; by that measure we are 3rd in the US. Total economic impact was $150.7 million. Hopefully, everyone who reads this column was already aware of just how important the industry of craft brewing has become for both Alaska and the rest of the US, but this report should remove any doubt. Feel free to share these facts with your legislators the next time you get a chance! If you'd like to see the report for yourself, you can find it here.

Here on the Peninsula, Kassik's Brewery will be putting some special kegs on tap during the run up to Thanksgiving. On Friday, they will tap a 2012 Barley Wine, a 2013 Chocolate Cherry Stout, a 2014 Smoked Russian Imperial Stout, and a 2014 Caribou Kilt Scotch.  Then on next Wednesday, they will tap a 2011 Barley wine, a 2013 Smoked Russian Imperial Stout, the last keg of Black Jack Stout Imperial Stout brewed with Black Strap Molasses and Licorice root, a 2013 Chocolate Cherry Stout, and a 2013 Caribou Kilt Scotch. Kegs this special won't last long, so get there early to get what you want.

Kenai River Brewing has a keg of their 2013 Russian Imperial Stout on tap. I had some of this 10% ABV beast last night, and I can assure you that it has aged beautifully. Get some of it and the 2014 Winter Warlock Old Ale before they are gone! KRB also has their Christmas sweatshirts for sale.

There are only three reviews this week, as I'm still working on my special blog consisting of reviews of aged beers from my cellar.

The Bruery's Bottleworks XII: The brew was a leftover from The Culmination in May, which has been lurking in my beer cooler since then. I finally decide to tackle it.  It was brewed to commerate the twelfth anniversary of The Bottleworks, a well-known beer store in Seattle. It's a sour imperial wit with raspberries. It was fermented in large red wine barrels, with the raspberries added in toward the end of fermentation. It poured a clear, slightly reddish gold, with a nice white head. There were some spicy, fruity notes in the nose, plus some tartness. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light and spritzy. On the palate it was tart and refreshing with the raspberries input being a subtle rather than a dominate element. A very nice sour wit. 8% ABV.

St. Elias Brewing's Green Giant DIPA: This beer poured a clear, light gold color with a big white head. In the glass it looked more like a pilsner than an IPA. The aroma had plenty of juicy, citrusy notes from the copious addition of American hops. There was significant bitterness in the initial attack, followed by more hop flavor and aroma, then a return of the bitterness on the finish. More drinkable than a lot of the Double IPAs, Green Giant should appeal to the uber hopheads out there.

Kenai River Brewing's 2013 Russian Imperial Stout: Doug Hogue has been conditioning this keg for quite some time, and it shows in the finished product. It poured opaque aith a nice tan head that dissipated to a collar but left excellent lacing on the glass. The nose was full of the roasty notes you expect in a RIS, plus plenty of sweeter, almost dark fruit notes. The mouthfeel was rich and chewy, but also very smooth. The flavor profile was a melody of roasted coffee and sweeter, chocolate-like malt flavors, perfectly integrated and very clean tasting, all falling away to a long, nice finish. No trace of alcohol heat from the 10% ABV. This is a supper RIS and a testament to what patience can produce in a big beer.

Well, that's it for this week. Keep an eye out for my special blog of cellar beer reviews and get ready for the snow. It's got to show up eventually...

Until Next Time, Cheers!


Monday, November 10, 2014

So Where's the Snow?

It's the second week of November and we have no snow on the ground here on the Kenai Peninsula. None, nada, zip... In fact, today, temperatures are in the 40s, so any precipitation we get will be rain.  In a typical year, we'd have snow on the ground by Halloween, so this is a nice change of pace. The delay in truly crappy weather makes it easier to get around and attend the November beer festivals, at least.

Speaking of Halloween, that was the second anniversary of HooDoo Brewing Company in Fairbanks.  Bobby Wilken and his gang celebrated  by throwing a Halloween Party, complete with prize drawings for those in costume, a limerick-writing contest, Cacao Nib Cask Stout ice cream floats and stout-laced cupcakes, and the release of  their 2nd Anniversary Pumpkin Ale.

Bodega-Fest took place on Saturday, November 1.  By all reports, this years event was a big success.  Unfortunately, I keep having to miss it for one reason or another, and this year was no exception.  Hopefully next year, I'll finally get to attend.

Next Saturday, November 15th, will be the 8th Annual Beer and Wine Tasting Event to benefit the Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance; it will be held at the Sea-Life Center in Seward. Admission is $38 and includes 12 drink tickets.  There will be several breweries in attendance.

Click to enlarge

Also on Saturday, November 15th, Highmark Distillery in Sterling will finally be re-opening their Tasting Room. It took a change in Alaska law, but you will at last be able to taste and purchase bottles directly from them. The Grand Reopening runs from noon to 7 pm on Saturday, with all bottles marked down to $25.

At the Mighty Matanuska Brew Fest in October, 49th State Brewing won the People's Choice Award with its 12 Quad, the same Dark Strong Belgian Ale which took the People's Choice at the Kenai Peninsula Bee Festival.

Glacier BrewHouse has three new Pilot Series brews on tap.

DOPPELBOCK (aka The Glaciator) - This malty sweet, full bodied, deep amber German lager softly warms the palate with its adequate alcohol. A malt lover’s dream date. Alcohol: 7.66% by volume. Starting Gravity: 19.75 Plato (1.082 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: 4.22% by volume. Starting Gravity: 11.20 Plato (1.045 S.G.).

Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse
BLACK RYE BOCK - This dark lager combines the characteristics of three winter beer styles. All three of these styles traditionally come from the colder harsher areas of Europe. The styles are (1) Black Beer (aka Schwartzbier) originating from Bad Kostritz in Thuringia (former East Germany); (2) Rye Beer which at one time was only made in hardier areas of Eastern and Baltic Europe; and (3) Bock Beer which is widely known as the higher alcohol lager of Northern Germany. Our Black Rye Bock has a distinctive bitter chocolate palate and black color reminiscent of a black beer. The spiciness from the rye malt shines through in the flavor. The high alcohol balanced with malty sweetness rounds out this black beauty. Smooth drinking with a punch makes this lager a perfect dark quaffer for our Arctic winter. Alcohol: 6.67% by volume. Starting gravity: 17.90 Plato (1.074 S.G.)

Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse

I don't write nearly enough about Kodiak Island Brewing and the excellent beer that Ben Millstein is producing out on The Rock.  However, here are a couple of items which I couldn't let pass.  First off, Kodiak Island has just brewed its 1000th batch of beer, which is quite an accomplishment for any craft brewery. For this special batch, Ben decided to brew a special beer. It's called Event Horizon, a Russian Imperial Stout, 10.8% ABV, and 75 IBUs. 

Also, the brewery itself it getting a bit of a make-over on its exterior. The new copper trim looks great!

Photo courtesy of Kodiak Island Brewing Company

Alaskan Brewing's 2013 Smoked Porter has earned another medal, this time a silver from the Brussels Beer Challenge.  Keep an eye out for the new Vintage Pack from Alaskan, a box containing a 2008 & 2013 Smoked Porter, plus a tasting glass. Alaskan has also re-released its Double Black IPA in 22 oz. bottles. I haven't seen the Vintage Pack yet in the local area, but I have seen the Double Black IPA on sale.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company has announced that it will be releasing the next batch of Arctic Devil Barley Wine on Friday, November 21st, at The Loft. The release of this award-winning barley wine is always a cause for celebration, so make your plans to be there and to buy some bottles for your beer cellar, if you have one. If you don't have a beer cellar, this beer is a great one to start with...

Silver Gulch Brewing Company in Fox has their Spiced Strong Belgian Golden Ale, Osculum Infame, back on tap. It's 10.5% ABV, 20 IBUs.  See my review from 1/19/2010.

Arkose Brewery in Palmer was honored by the Mat-Su Convention & Visitors Bureau with its Cheechako Award on November 7th, in appreciation of its "entrepreneurial enthusiasm". Congratulations!

Stephen and June Gerteisen of Arkose receiving the award. Photo courtesy of Arkose Brewey
On Friday, November 7th, Snow Goose Pub put Equinox Fresh Hop IPA, cask conditioned with extra Citra hops on tap.

Photo courtesy of Snow Goose Pub
Kenai River Brewing has a batch of brand new, insulated, swing-top stainless steel growlers in stock.  I've checked one out and they look very sweet!

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing

I spent yesterday, November 8th, brewing a batch of beer with Zach Henry at St. Elias Brewing Company in Soldotna. We decided to re-create our H&H Winter Warmer from last year. If you'd like to read up on this beer, which is in the almost extinct style known as a Burton Ale, check out my blog on 12/12/2013. This particular style requires a long period of cold-conditioning, so don't look to see this batch on tap before February at the earliest. Meanwhile, besides its flagship brews, St. Elias Brewing has several choices on tap: Gypsy Pilsner, Baltic Porter, Green Giant Double IPA, and Black Bird Lambic.

That's about it for the local beer news.  Let's do some reviews:

Firestone-Walker's Pivo Pils: This beer shows why this style of beer became so popular around the world. It poured a crystal-clear light gold with a nice white head. There was plenty of hop aroma from the dry-hopping using Saphir hops. Carbonation was good, as was the mouthfeel. Even though the particular six-pack I bought was bottled on 1/31/2014, it still had lots of wonderful hop flavor on a nice malt backbone. I'd love to get my hands on some that was fresh, however. 5.3% ABV.

 Midnight Sun Brewing's Son of Berserker Stout: Made from the second runnings of MSBC's wildly popular Berserker, this is a classic American Stout. It poured opaque with a small tan head. The nose was of roasted malt plus some malty sweetness. Carbonation was okay and the mouthfeel was good. On the palate there was lots of roasted coffee notes, with plenty of malt behind it. All-in-all, a very nice straight ahead stout. 6.9% ABV, 20 IBUs.

Stone Brewing's Coffee Milk Stout: It poured opaque with a small tan head that dissipated quickly. The aroma had some roasted notes, as you'd expect. There was plenty of mouthfeel from the added lactose. The overall flavor profile was of roasted malt, coffee, plus some slightly sweet notes. Not bad, but overall a little pedestrian, especially compared to Stone's other brews. ABV 4.2%

Midnight Sun Brewing's Termination Dust Belgian Barley Wine: The folks at MSBC certainly know how to brew good barley wines, so I was very eager to taste their latest. It poured quite dark for a barely wine, essentially opaque with a small tan head that dissipated rapidly to a collar. The aroma was rich and boozy. On the palate it was not overly sweet, unlike many young barley wines, with lots of oak and bourbon notes, plus alcohol heat, especially on the finish. I found it to be much drier than MSBC's flagship Arctic Devil, which suggest it might not cellar as well. Personally, I couldn't detect much contribution from the Belgian yeast used, but your mileage may vary. ABV 13.0%, 70 IBUs.

The Bruery's Smoking Wood Smoked Imperial Porter (2014): It poured opaque with a small but
persistent tan head. The nose had plenty of bourbon and oak notes, plus hints of smoke and roasted malt. The mouthfeel was excellent and the carbonation was good. The flavor profile was deep and complex; the bourbon is more subtle in the taste than in the nose, while the smoke is dense and rich and balances the sweetness of the malt.  I picked up a bottle of this while visiting Seattle, and I don't think any of it is available in Alaska. That's unfortunate, as this is really an exceptional beer and very much worth seeking out. 14% ABV

Well, that's it for this time. I am planning a special blog in the near future, which will consist only of beer reviews of aged beer from my cellar.  Meanwhile, keep a weather eye out for snow and keep drinking good beer.

Until Next Time, Cheers!