Friday, February 20, 2015

Early Spring?

While a large chunk of the Lower 48 is shivering through record cold, here on the Kenai it's starting to look like an early spring. Temperatures were in the 40's yesterday and we've got a lot of rain forecast for the weekend, which should pretty much take care of the little bit of snow we've got left on the ground. So let's have another beer in anticipation of a quick breakup and a warm and early spring!

Taking a look at what's new in Alaska beer news, first up is King Street Brewing Company. Last Friday, February 13th, it released a new seasonal, Baltic Porter.  Here's how the King Street Crew described it:

The Baltic Porter style developed as a cross between English Porters and Russian Imperial Stouts. While the porter style has its roots in London, in the 18th century, strong porter variations became templates for brewers in the Baltic states of Latvia, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia. These brewers were also influenced by German brewing techniques, and so most versions, including ours, are brewed with lager yeast and aged to present a smooth clean lager finish.

Our interpretation has a malty sweet nose of plumbs, raisin, and chocolate, and has a clean dark brown/light black color.  The taste is a complex of velvety malty goodness, toffee, black current, a very slight hint of chocolate, and has a restrained roast lager finish.  7% ABV
 Sounds delicious, so I hope there's still some on tap when next I get up to Los Anchorage.

I received the February newsletter from Snow Goose/Sleeping Lady. Rather than paraphrase it, I'll just reproduce it in its entirety.

Click to enlarge
Congratulations to Alaskan Brewing Company for earning two more medals, this time at the 2015 International Brewing Awards. Its Hopothermia took Gold in the Strong Ale Category and its 2014 Alaskan Smoked Porter took Bronze in the Specialty Other Special Feature Beer Category. You can read all the details and see a list of all the other winners here.

Photo courtesy of Alaskan Brewing

Alaskan Brewing Company also announced its Charity Partner for 2015.After voting by all employees, it was decided that the Gastineau Humane Society (GHS) will  be the beneficiary of many of its fundraising efforts for 2015. The brewery has a tradition of choosing a new non-profit partner every year. Last year, Alaskan Brewing was able to donate over $14,000 to the non-profit chosen for 2014, Trail Mix, through the proceeds of a number of charity events and through the donation of the brewery’s gift shop tip jar. Past non-profit partners have included Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL), The Red Cross, The Glory Hole, Southeast Alaskan Food Bank, AWARE, Cancer Connection, Hospice & Homecare of Juneau and SEADOGS.The first major brewery sponsored event that will raise funds for GHS will be the Crab Feed and Pub Crawl, which starts today at 6 PM at Tracy's King Crab Shack at  406 S. Franklin St. in Juneau. Here's your chance to drink beer and eat crab, all for a good cause!

Glacier Brewhouse released another new brew yesterday, a Vanilla Milk Stout.  Here's its description:

Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse

Vanilla Milk Stout - Smooth malty sweetness, chocolate, vanilla, and caramel flavors dominate this milker. Milk sugar (lactose) was added to render the smooth malty body. Vanilla beans were infused to achieve the fudgesicle-like flavors. Udderly fantastic! Alcohol: 5.14% alcohol by volume. Starting Gravity: 14.00 Plato (1.057 S.G.).

La Bodega has added another beer tap to each of its growler bars in both Anchorage and Girdwood. for a listing of what's on tap, click here.

Lots of news from the folks at Midnight Sun Brewing Company. First and foremost, another batch of Berserker Imperial Stout will be released next week. This is a truly amazing beer; see my review on 9/9/2009 if you've never been fortunate enough to have any in the past. So make your plans now to load up on it next week; you can drink it now, cellar it for a couple of years, or use it as trade bait for beer lovers from the Lower 48.

The other big news from Midnight Sun is that the planning has already started for its big 20th Anniversary bash this May. This brewery is the second oldest operating brewery in Alaska, after the venerable Alaskan Brewing Company. Owner/Founder Barb Miller sent me a email with a general outline of what's being planned.  Here's what she had to say:

FRI MAY 2 – First Firkin Friday – 20 artists, each having created one piece that "celebrates Midnight Sun Brewing Company at 20 years." This will be a very exciting and eclectic exhibit. All pieces will be for sale throughout the month of MAY.  5 – 8 PM. Firkin to be determined.

SAT MAY 3 – Midnight Sun's "official" anniversary party – special dishes and merchandise with beers tapped throughout the day

TUE MAY 5 – Cinco de Mayo – MSBC's actual anniversary date – Upscale Taco
Tuesday with a firkin tapped at 5:05 PM on 05-05-15

TUE MAY 5 – MSBC Anniversary Beer Dinner at Kinley's – 6 PM – Menu and price TBD

MSBC will be participating in Seattle Beer Week, MAY 7 – 17th. MSBC will probably not have events all 11 days — mostly likely, MSBC events will be TUE MAY 12 – SAT 16th in Seattle.

 American Craft Beer Week is MAY 11 – 17th: MSBC will create events at The Loft for all 7 days of ACBW.

Making it to 20 years is a big deal, so make your plans now to help the good folks at Midnight Sun Brewing Company celebrate this milestone.I'll share more details as I get them.

Moving on to beer reviews, here are three for this week.

St. Elias Brewing's Frozen River Fest Doppelbock. This beer was brewed specially for the Frozen River Fest held on Saturday, 7 February. Zach Henry brewed it strong, which is fortunate as it needed the extra alcohol to help it keep from freezing in the fest-goers mugs! It poured a very dark caramel color with a nice mocha-colored head that left good lace on the glass. The aroma had notes of sweet malt plus some hints of caramelization from the long boil. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was on the heavy side, as you'd expect from such a big beer. On the palate there were plenty of rich malt flavors, very clean tasting, but no hint of alcohol heat. Spot on for the style and delicious. Still on tap at St. Elias when last I checked, but sure to go fast.

St. Elias Brewing's White Cap Lager: At the opposite end of the lager spectrum from a doppelbock, this beer is a light lager.It poured a light gold in color, crystal clear, with a nice white head. The nose had some biscuity malt notes. Carbonation was very good and the mouthfeel was quite light. The flavor profile was very clean, with a light hoppiness providing balance to the underlying malt. A perfect accompaniment to pizza or salad, this beer is very refreshing and highly drinkable. I'd think it would go over even better during hot summer months.

Victory Brewing Wild Devil Ale: This is a variation on Victory's popular HopDevil IPA (reviewed on 3/21/2014). As you might have guessed from the name, this beer adds Brettanomyces to the party. It poured a clear copper color with a big off-white colored head.  The nose had bright, almost tropical hop elements, plus some of the barnyard funk that is Brett's signature. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light and slightly effervescent. The was good up front bitterness, then some nice hop flavors, with the Brett funkiness coming to the fore on the finish. All-in-all, a very nice blend of hops and funk. 6.7% ABV.

Well, that's about it for this week. Enjoy the unseasonably warm weather, and keep drinking good, local beers.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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