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! 

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