Friday, February 27, 2015

Two New Anchorage Breweries in March

The weather is still pretty good up here on The Last Frontier and March is starting to look like one helluva good month for craft beer, with not one but two new breweries opening.

The first brewery isn't truly new, strictly speaking, as Gabe Fletcher's Anchorage Brewing Company has been producing amazing beers for several years now, using the brewhouse of the Sleeping Lady Brewing Company. But the new stand-alone brewery at 148 W 91st Avenue, under construction since June, will hold its grand opening on March 14th, from 2 to 8 PM. I definitely plan to be there to celebrate the moment.  How about you? Gabe has spared no expense to create a truly exceptional craft brewery. From the radiant-heated floors, to the walls paneled in reclaimed wood, to the state-of-the-art brewhouse from Newlands Systems, to the hewn tree-trunk bar tops in the Tasting Room, you can tell that this brewery is a labor of love. Patrons in the Tasting Room will have an open view back to the brewhouse, through two rows of giant wooden foudres, five on a side. The aging room has sufficient space to house some 800 barrels for secondary fermentation.

Photo courtesy of Anchorage Brewing Company
Anchorage Brewing also released its 2015 Rondy Brew, 80 Year IPA at Humpy's on Wednesday night. It's brewed with Citra and Galaxy hops, then dry-hopped with Mosaic. Sounds juicy and delicious.

The second new brewery preparing to open isn't on quite the same grand scale as Anchorage Brewing, but it's still exciting, nonetheless. Resolution Brewing Company, located in a strip mall at 3024 Mountain View Drive (just behind and above Bass Pro Shop), should be open by March 15th. I stopped by on Wednesday, February 25, to meet the Owner/Brewer Brandon Hall.

Brandon Hall. Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell

The focus of Resolution Brewing Company will be direct retail sales in its taproom. Hall plans to self-distribute kegs of his brews to about five restaurants around Anchorage, but will reserve most of his production to support sales at the brewery. Resolution’s brewing equipment is a 3-barrel direct-fired system from Stout Tanks and Kettles of Portland, Oregon, along with three 3-barrel conical fermenters and one 3-barrel brite tank. Initially, Hall plans to only be open Thursday thru Sunday, until he’s confident he can meet customer demand at the brewery.

Serving bar and taps. Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell

When I stopped by on Wednesday, Hall was working his way through various final inspections by local government agencies, as well as brewing batches of beer and working to put the finishing touches on his taproom. The front potion of the taproom is occupied by a serving counter, while the back area runs parallel to the brewery proper, separated by a leaning bar where patrons will be able to set their drinks while watching the brewer at work. Further back in the taproom are booths and café tables where patrons can sit and chat. Eventually, Hall hopes to replace the back wall of the taproom with a glass roll-up door, enabling drinkers to enjoy an excellent view of the Chugach Mountains on pleasant days.

Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell

There are eight regular taps and one nitro tap installed, and currently Hall has five separate beers either finished or in various stages of brewing. A tripel and a pale ale were still fermenting, but three beers were complete enough that I was able to taste them. The first was a saison, as yet unnamed, which had been hopped with Sorachi Ace. This hop variety is famous for the lemony notes in both its flavor and aroma, and it worked extremely well with the spicy flavors generated by the Belgian yeast, resulting in a delicious and extremely refreshing farmhouse ale. The second beer was called Father Dyer Belgian Brown Ale, named for a Methodist preacher who was famous in the frontier-days around Leadville, Colorado. The influence of Belgian yeast was evident in this beer as well, but there were also some nice roasted flavors from the malt used, as well as good bitterness from the American hop strains. Finally, I tasted Rewind IPA, which is designed as a classic West Coast IPA, bursting with hop aroma and flavor. Hall told me that 90% of the bitterness in this brew came from hop additions in the final 15 minutes. Based on how difficult it was to make, this beer will probably not return often, so you will want to try it before it’s gone.

Brite tank and three fermenters. Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell

So it seems that by mid-March, craft beer lovers in Anchorage will have two new options when it comes to drinking good beer in a brewery taproom. Best of luck to both new operations, and I look forward to enjoying many beers at each.

Massie, RBC's mascot. Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell

While I was busy learning about new Anchorage breweries, the Dean of Alaska beer writers, Jim "Dr. Fermento" Roberts, was busy scooping me on my home turf. In his latest column for the Anchorage Press, he reports that the Seward Brewing Company has purchased a new "crowler" machine. This wasn't something I'd ever heard of before, but Owner Erik Slater apparently saw one in operation in Colorado and thought it would be perfect for his brewpub. It sounds like it's a cross between a can and a growler, hence the name. Basically, it's a filled to order 32 oz can of beer, that you can purchase and take home. Since it's in a sealed can, the beer will keep much longer than in a screw-top growler. Read Jim's article via the link above for more details and pictures. Seward Brewing Company is planning to open again for business on Friday, May 1.

Besides it upcoming Beer Dinner with Jeff King (see last week's blog for details), Glacier BrewHouse has released another new beer. Here's what they have to say about it:

Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse

LEAD DOG LAGER FOR MAKE-A-WISH - We will donate 50 cents from every pint of Lead Dog Lager sold in our restaurant during Fur Rondy to Make-A-Wish Alaska. Medium bodied, sweet, malty, and supremely smooth. The color is a brilliant light copper. The beer was brewed using only the finest German Pilsner and Munich malts along with very subtle German hops. This one will get you down the trail! Alcohol: 6.28% by volume. Starting gravity: 15.30 Plato (1.064 S.G.)

 Arkose Brewery in Palmer has announced that it Maiden Mild (reviewed 3/22/2013) will be returning soon.

At Alaskan Brewing in Juneau, the Crab Feed and Pub Crawl last week was apparently quite successful, as it sold out. After feasting on crab at Tracy's Crab Shack, the celebrants visited the Red Dog, the Alaskan, and the Imperial saloons during the pub crawl. These three saloons were selected to spell out "Alaskan Imperial Red", since the event also celebrated the release of Alaskan Imperial Red Ale in 12 oz. bottles.

Phase One of Alaskan's expansion plan, which started last spring, is almost complete. The brewery expects to be moving beer into the new space by the middle of March.  Here are a couple of photos that give a pretty good idea of the space being gained:

Click to enlarge. Photos courtesy of Alaskan Brewing.

Besides the new space, Alaskan Brewing in also in the process of taking delivery of four 1,400-barrel tanks.

Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy of Alaskan Brewing

Together, the new facilities and increased tank capacity should allow a significant increase in annual production.

HooDoo Brewing's famous firetruck beermobile was featured in Outside Magazine. You can read all about it here.

On the national beer new front, I received some good news the other day. As the 2010 Wynkoop Beer Drinker of the Year, that competition has always been near and dear to me. The Beer Drinker of the Year Contest had been held annually by Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver until its merger with Breckenridge Brewery in 2013. No competitions were held in 2014 or this year, but there will be one in 2016. So it's time to start buffing up those beer drinker resumes; they'll be due at the end of the year. The finals will likely be held on February 20, 2016 at the Wynkoop in Denver. If you'd like more details, you can check out this blog post by Cody Christman, the 2009 BDOTY.

Here on the Peninsula, St. Elias Brewing Company has the following beers on tap as of yesterday:

Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell
The newest is the Cross-Bo Pilsner. Look for a review in next week's blog.

Speaking of reviews, here are two for this week:

Anchorage Brewing Company's The Tide and its Taker Tripel (Batch #1, bottled October, 2011): I first reviewed this beer on 1/13/2012. I stashed a bottle in my cellar, curious what the brett in it might get up to, after a long aging. I fished it out this week and drank it. After over three years in the bottle, the brett had consumed everything. The first clue to this was the way the cork shot out of the bottle on its own, as soon as I removed the wire. It poured a clear gold, highly carbonated, with a nice white head that slowly dissipated to a collar. The nose was overwhelmingly brett funk; the fruit notes and wood from the chardonnay barrels were no longer noticeable. On the palate, the brett notes again dominated, coming on strong upfront, then fading a bit in the middle to allow a few hints of the tripel's fruity esters to come forth, before roaring back strong on the finish. The beer was bone dry, with the brett having consumed all the residual sugars. An interesting experiment, but this beer is much better fresh or with only a few months aging on it, if you prefer a stronger brett character. After three years, it was pretty much a one note song. 9% ABV, 30 IBUs.

Firestone Walker's Pale 31 California Pale Ale: This beer poured a clear, slightly orange-gold color, with a nice, white head. The aroma was laced with bright, crisp American hop notes. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was fairly light. Flavors were clean and crisp, good hoppiness balanced by a decent malt backbone, with restrained bitterness. A delicious and highly drinkable pale ale, this beer would be an excellent pairing with a wide variety of foods. 4.9% ABV.

That's it for this week. Keeping enjoying this lovely Alaskan weather, and keep drinking good local beer.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

1 comment:

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