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!


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