Friday, April 24, 2015

Out of Hibernation & Open for Business

It's not just the bears that have come out of hibernation here in Alaska, it's the breweries as well. Tomorrow, Saturday, April 25th, 49th State Brewing in Healy opens for business. As they have done for the last couple of years, Jay Bullen and his crew will be offering the Hibernation series, a line of big beers which have benefited from a long cold-conditioning while the brewery was closed for winter. I plan to make the trek north myself soon, to see what they've got on offer this year.

Less than a week behind 49th State, Seward Brewing Company will be opening for the season next Friday, May 1. Erik Slater has been busily brewing up beers to pair with his excellent food, all on offer in a beautiful location in downtown Seward. Fingers crossed for nice weather next weekend and an enjoyable road trip to Seward.

The third seasonal brewery in Alaska is Gold Rush Brewing, located a couple of miles north of Skagway on the Klondike Highway. Not sure exactly when it will be opening for the season, but judging by its Facebook page, Gold Rush will be undergoing a major expansion. Two weeks ago, it posted pictures of a new brewhouse, which was expected to be in Skagway before the end of April. I'm beginning to wonder if there is any brewery in Alaska which isn't in the process of expanding in some form or fashion!

New brewhouse. Photo courtesy of Gold Rush Brewing.

Besides these established breweries re-opening for the summer, several of the crop of soon-to-open breweries have announced progress. Bearpaw River Brewing Company has received its Federal Brewer's Notice (TTB), an important milestone. Still lots of hoops to jump through on the state level, but the guys in Wasilla seem to be making excellent progress. Bearpaw River was also visited this week by a film crew from The Alaska Channel.

Photo courtesy of Bearpaw River Brewing

Odd Man Rush Brewing in Eagle River has posted several photos of the progress being made in building out the interior of the brewery. They are currently framing in the bathrooms, cold box, and loft.

Photo courtesy of Odd Man Rush Brewing

In Haines, they are pouring the foundations for the new home of the Haines Brewing Company.

Photo courtesy of Haines Brewing Company

While all that is good news, there was also some bad news: the 6th Annual Skagway Homebrew Festival has been cancelled, as the Alaska Alcohol Beverage Control Board has decided it (and the five previous festivals, which were approved by ABC) is illegal. The ABC Board's position now is that any event at which homebrew is consumed cannot charge an admission fee to the public. This sort of reading of state laws has caused problems elsewhere, most recently in Oregon, where a special law had to be passed by the state legislature to allow long-running (as in decades...) homebrew festivals to continue to be held. Given the near-total dysfunction of the Alaska State Legislature, I wouldn't count on any fixes for us coming out of them anytime soon...

On to happier news. The Biergarten at HooDoo Brewing in Fairbanks is now officially open for the year. Here is a photo of owner/brewer Bobby Wilken courageously ensuring it is safe and ready for the public:

Photo courtesy of HooDoo Brewing

The menu for Midnight Sun Brewing Company's 20th Anniversary Dinner at Kinley's , taking place on May 5th at 5 PM, has been released:

Click to enlarge

This one is sure to sell out, so call Kinley's and make your reservations now.

Anchorage Brewing Company has a new beer on offer in the brewery taproom: Improv is a collaboration beer, brewed with Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead two years ago, during the first Culmination Festival. It's a beautifully balanced sour ale, aged for two years in French oak. Also on offer is fresh Galaxy White IPA. Here is a picture of ABC's current taproom offerings:

Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy of Anchorage Brewing.

Moving on the the Peninsula, a website promoting "The Kenai, Alaska's Playground" had a nice write up on the five breweries/brewpubs on the Peninsula. You can check it out here.

Here are the beers on offer at St. Elias Brewing Company as of Tuesday, April 21:

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That's it for beer news this week. Let's move on to reviews:

St. Elias Brewing Company's Goat Dope Bock: This beer poured a lovely deep, clear gold color with a small cream-colored head that dissipated to a collar. The aroma was full of clean, sweet malt notes. The mouthfeel was very good and the carbonation was acceptable. The flavor profile was just what you'd expect from a bock: good, clean malt flavors up front, with only enough hops to give balance to the malty goodness, before falling away to a nice finish. An excellent seasonal choice, and another excellent lager from St. Elias.

Kassik's Brewery's Buffalo Head Barley Wine: I first reviewed this beer back on 6/28/2012, when it was just on the cusp of being released in bottles, but I thought that after almost three years, perhaps I should take another look. I am happy to report that this beer is still just as exceptional as it was then. It's everything you look for in an English-style barley wine: rich and warming, with a deep, complex flavor profile that invites you in for some serious contemplation. Truly an outstanding beer.

Well, that's about it for this week. I hope to have some more new beers to review by next blog.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Friday, April 17, 2015

New Breweries Everywhere You look...

They say spring is the season of new growth, and breweries across Alaska really seem to be taking that to heart. Darn near every day, I read another Facebook post or press release about a new brewery getting ready to open or an existing brewery expanding or building an new facility. It's an exciting time to be writing about craft beer in our great state, let me tell you! So let's move on to the latest news.

First off, Haines Brewing Company has at last broken ground on their new brewery, being built at 4th & Main St. in downtown Haines. Paul Wheeler & Jeanne Kitayama hope to move out of Dalton City in August and open the new brewery for business in September. With a larger brewhouse and expanded fermentation capacity, we can hope to see Haines' beers on tap more frequently in other parts of the state. Speaking of which, The Island Pub in Juneau had four of Haines' beers on tap last weekend; not sure if any are still left.

Photo of ground breaking courtesy of Haines Brewing

Based on their Facebook posts, the Wade brothers at Bearpaw River Brewing are making steady progress towards being open for business. Most recently, they took deliver of their initial complement of kegs. Here's a photo of all the kegs in the new brewery.

Photo courtesy of Bearpaw River Brewing
Bearpaw River also made this announcement:
Breaking news for the BRBC! We’ll be over at Silvertip Design & Gifts next Saturday, 25 April, for the “Who Let the Girls Out?” event in downtown Palmer. We’ll be there to talk about our project and show off a few toys (though no beer samples, unfortunately). We’ll have Big News to share as well. Stop by and say hello! 

Speaking of Facebook posts, Odd Man Rush Brewing in Eagle River has posted several photos indicating that they have made good progress preparing the future location of the brewery to receive its brewing equipment.

Photo courtesy of Odd Man Rush Brewing
Recently opened Resolution Brewing Company has announced expanded hours and days of operation; it is now open until 8 PM and is open on Sundays as well. Resolution just released its long-awaited Cerveza De Los Muertos, coming in at over 9% ABV and brewed with chiles, cinnamon, and cocoa. It's even available on nitro, along with traditional carbonation. Father Dyer is also back on tap, along with Tent City Saison, First Chair Amber, and a new beer, Guttersnipe Golden Strong.

Photo courtesy of Resolution Brewing

Out on The Rock, Ben Millstein of Kodiak Island Brewing Company has purchased three new small conditioning tanks to be used to make, as Ben puts it, "the strong stuff."

Photo courtesy of Kodiak Island Brewing
At Anchorage Brewing Company, they are brewing another batch of Anadromous Black Sour Ale and will be bottling the new Mosaic Saison next week. Owner Gabe Fletcher has also announced the date of this year's The Culmination Beer Festival. Instead of being held in the spring, as in past years, this year's festival will take place on Saturday, August 22, and will be held in the brewery itself. So mark you calendars and start saving your pennies, as Gabe promises that this year's festival will be the best one yet! Anchorage Brewing Company also posted a short video of its bottling operation.

At St. Elias Brewing Company,  the excellent Cross Bo Pilsner has run out, but it has been replaced with another lager, Goat Dope Bock. This is a beer that Zach Henry has brewed before; see my review on 2/8/2013. You really can't beat a good bock as a springtime beer. Look for a review of this newest version of the beer next week.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company has released the next beer in its Alaskana series: Mudflats Belgian Quadrupel. It's available at The Loft now and should be available around the state next Wednesday. At 10% ABV, 35 IBUs, look for lots of dark fruit and chocolate notes from this one, plus plenty of oak. Early reports are that it's pretty exceptional. Midnight Sun has also posted the menu for this Sunday's Beer Brunch (see my last blog for more details):

Click to enlarge

On next Wednesday, April 22, Midnight Sun will be celebrating Earth Day by giving out hop rhizomes. Make a $10 donation to the Alaska Center for the Environment and MSBC will give you your very own hop rhizome to take home and plant!

I wrote last week about the May 1 Taste of Alaska event at The Pub at UAF. Well, the night before that event, on Thursday, April 30th, HooDoo Brewing Company and Midnight Sun Brewing Company will be going head-to-head at a beer dinner at Lavelle's Bistro in downtown Fairbanks. The event is called Paired Up, and here is the flier for it:

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Obviously, both of these breweries make great beers, and the last time I was in Fairbanks I had dinner at Lavelle's and was totally blown away by the food, so this has all the makings of a fantastic event.

As long as we are talking about beer dinners, Midnight Sun will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary on Tuesday, May 5th with a beer dinner at Kinley's Restaurant. Chef Brett is working on a menu which will par with all eight of the beers from the Alaskana series, which is no mean feat. I attended a beer dinner at Kinley's a few years ago and it was easily in the top three of all the many such dinners I've attended, so I'd recommend you make this one if you can. Look for a menu soon, but mark your calendar now.

Also on May 5th, Denali Brewing Company will be holding its own five-course beer dinner at Jack Sprat in Girdwood.  Here's the menu for that event:

Click to enlarge

You can make reservations for this one by calling (907) 783-5225.

Denali will also be having an event this Wednesday, April 22, at the Eagle River Alehouse:

Glacier BrewHouse released another new brew yesterday; this one is called simply Red. Here's how they described it:

Red: Red, malty, smooth, and medium bodied with luscious hints of chocolate and caramel. Malt plays a defining role in the profile of this ale. Several color malts were combined with pale malt to form a wonderful malt profile. 
Alcohol: 6.43% by volume.Starting Gravity: 16.50 Plato (1.068 S.G.).

Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse
Glacier BrewHouse also announced that its Dinner with the King event last month raised over $3000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Great job guys!

Speaking of red beers, I have heard that Alaska will soon be getting a limited distribution of of Sierra Nevada's new River Ryed IPA in 12-packs and on draft. 6% ABV, 50 IBUs, hopped with Chinook, Citra, and Equinox.

Click to enlarge

Finally, on the news front, a word about distilleries. I don't usually write much about distilled spirits or wine, since my main passion is beer, but here are a couple of things I thought worth mentioning.

First, Ursa Major Distilling is moving from Fairbanks to its new facility just outside of town in the historic mining camp of Ester. The distillery is looking for donations to help support this move, to the tune of $25,000. As of this writing, the campaign has only raised $5,775. If you are interested in tossing a few buck in to help out a local Alaskan distillery (particularly if you live in the Fairbanks area), you can do so here.

Second, Port Chilkoot Distillery in Haines won a Double Gold Medal for its 50 Fathoms Gin at the 15th Annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition on March 31st. This is the second gold medal that 50 Fathoms has one this year; it also received a gold medal at the American Craft Spirits Association Awards held in Austin, TX. Elaine and I had a chance to visit Port Chilkoot last May, when we were in town for the Haines Beer Festival, and we were both impressed with what we saw. So congratulations to owners Sean and Heather on the awards. Unfortunately, I won't be sampling any 50 Fathoms; my gin days ended (badly) when I was still in college, and I'm strictly a beer and Scotch whisky man these days...

Photo courtesy of Port Chilkoot Distillery
That about wraps up the news this week, so lets move on to reviews.

My first review is actually not for a beer but for a new type of plastic cup. A company called Fermented Reality out of Florida has created a new line of high quality plastic cups optimized for drinking IPAs, called B Cups, and asked me if I would be willing to give them a test drive.  As I have a policy never to turn down free beer-related stuff, I agreed and last week I received four of the new cups in the mail. Here's a photo of one of the cups in use:

You can see that the shape is somewhat similar to the IPA glasses being sold by Speiglau. The cup holds 17 oz., so it can easily handle up to a full pint plus a head. The plastic is BPA free and fairly hefty, so it feels pretty good in your hand. You could easily use the same cup multiple times by just hand washing it in between uses (no dishwashers). So far, I have consumed two different IPAs from the cups, and I would say the experience is comparable to drinking the same beers from a Speiglau IPA glass, minus the expense of the glass and the worry about breakage. It seems to me that these B Cups would represent a vast improvement over the typical red cups in which beers are often served at outdoor events, or even the ubiquitous shaker pint glasses seen in so many craft beer bars. The price point is $10 for a pack of 4 cups, so they are not super cheap, but still much cheaper than replacing a broken Speiglau glass. Bottom-line, I think these B Cups lived up to their billing; if you are looking for a good plastic alternative to expensive beer glassware, you should seriously consider them.

I only got around to drinking one truly new beer this week, but it was a good one:

Alaskan Brewing's Imperial Rye IPA:  It poured a clear, deep red-copper color with a big, off-white head that left excellent lacing on the cup. The aroma had notes of citrus, rye, melon, and then some sweet caramel. The carbonation is good, and the mouthfeel is nice. On the palate, there is good balance between sweetness up front and bitterness in that back, plus peppery notes from the rye. A long, fairly dry finish with little evidence of the 8.5% ABV.  A very well-constructed Rye IPA.

My second review is an old beer under a new name:

St. Elias Brewing's H & H Burton Ale: This is beer has been brewed before in December, 2013, and was released as H & H Winter Warmer. It is a Burton Ale, a nearly extinct style which was one of the ancestors of India Pale Ale in Britain. It poured a dark ruby color with a nice, cream-colored head. The nose is not overly hoppy, especially since it was brewed using English rather than American varieties, but the dry-hopping with East Kent Goldings does give it a decent hop nose to balance the Marris Otter barley notes. On the palate the carbonation is good and the mouthfeel is quite nice. There is more balance than is typical in an IPA, with plenty of malt sweetness to go with the nice, earthy bitterness from the Fuggles used as the bittering hops. The finish is long and moreish, with the 6.5% ABV being well-concealed. Dangerously drinkable, this is a style of beer that truly deserves a resurrection.

Well, that's it for this week. Be sure to mark your calendar with all the upcoming beer events and keep drinking the good stuff.

Until Next Week, Cheers!

Friday, April 10, 2015

April Snow Showers

Well, it seems spring is on hold, as we have had snow almost every night this week here on the Kenai. It doesn't last, of course; as soon as the sun comes up, the temperature rises to the the high 40s and everything melts away by noon. Still, it makes it hard to think spring when you get up in the morning and see everything outside the window covered in a blanket of new fallen snow...

The big news on the personal front is that my new book, Alaska Beer: (American Palate), is now available for pre-order on If you'd like to reserve your copy, you can click on the link above. Unlike my Beer on the Last Frontier volumes, this book focuses on the history of brewing in Alaska, from the days of Russian rule right up to present day. I'm pretty happy with how it all turned out and eager to hear what folks think of it.

Click to enlarge the cover

Once I receive my copies, I'll be announcing one or more book launch parties, where you can buy a copy and/or get your copy autographed, so stay tuned. Now that the shameless self-promotion is done, let's move on to other beer news around the state.

Tomorrow, Saturday, Arkose Brewery will be holding another of its extremely popular Beer Meets Canvas events, from 2 to 4 pm. The theme for April is "Literary." Think "books and beer." $30 includes one pint and all art supplies. Paint to the theme or what ever your heart desires! 21 yrs and older. Call 746-2337 for reservations.

Here's the latest newsletter from Snow Goose/Sleeping Lady:

Click to enlarge

Anchorage Brewing Company has announced a new beer to be released in a few weeks: Mosaic Saison, brewed and dry-hopped solely with Mosaic hops. Here's what the bottle will look like:

Photos courtesy of Anchorage Brewing Company
A lot of breweries across Alaska are starting to get revved up for summer. 49th State Brewing Company in Healy is hiring staff and opens  two weeks from tomorrow, on Saturday, April 25th. Its sister operation, Prospectors Pizzeria, opens on Saturday, May 9th. Denali Brewing Company is looking to hire summer staff for its beer garden in downtown Talkeetna. Erik Slater has fired off the kettle at Seward Brewing Company and is brewing up a storm to be ready for his May 1 opening. His latest creation seems to be a chili beer.  Here's the photo he posted of chilies being roasted before being added to the brew:

Photo courtesy of Seward Brewing Company

Midnight Sun Brewing Company will be having a Beer Brunch next Sunday, April 19th, from 11 am to 2 pm. $45 gets you four brunch courses paired with four beers, while $30 gets the designated drivers out there food but no beer.

Looking a little further out, there will be a Taste of Alaska event at the UAF Pub in Fairbanks. Breweries from around the state will be pouring their brews on Saturday, May 1, from  8 pm on. Tickets are $30 in advance, and $35 at the door. HooDoo and Midnight Sun Brewing Companies have announced they will be there, and I'm sure there will be several others.

Alaskan Brewing has announced that, thanks to the completion of its recent brewery expansion, it can now distribute its canned beers to the Lower 48. Alaskan Amber and Freeride APA in 12 ounce cans will be on the shelves soon in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Glacier BrewHouse released another new beer yesterday, Platinum Blonde. Here's its description:

Platinum Blonde: Creamy and refreshing, light body, and brilliant platinum blonde in color. Secret adjuncts were added to the mash to render this summer beauty. Premium two row barley from the Pacific Northwest lets this beer shine.
Alcohol: 5.74% by volume.
Starting gravity: 12.15 Plato (1.044 S.G.).

Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse
Here on the Peninsula, Kenai River Brewing Company posted a photo of its staff hard at work prepping 80 pounds of fresh kumquats to be used in brewing its kolsch and wheat beers for the summer.

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing Company

Finally, I received a nice little package from Deschutes Brewery containing two bottles of its new Pinedrops IPA (reviewed below) and an insulated pint mug from Hydro Flask.

A surprise package from Deschutes Brewery

Those of you who have been reading this blog for years might remember that I bought a Hydro Flask growler way back in December of 2011. I used it a few times but ultimately was disappointed in the closure design. While it did an admirable job of maintaining temperature, it did a poor job of maintaining carbonation; many of my friends around town had similar issues. That's obviously not a concern for the True Pint cup pictured above. The pint is stainless on the inside with a double-walled vacuum for insulation, and a nice, non-slip texture on the outside. Easy to keep clean and tough, this would be great on a camping or fishing trip, where you didn't want to bother with fragile glasses but still didn't want to drink your craft beer out of a can.  If you're interested, you can find out more about the True Pint here.

Okay, let's move on to the beer reviews. Three different IPAs this week:

Oskar Blues Brewing's Pinner Throwback IPA: Poured a clear gold from the can, with a big, pillowy white head. The aroma was full of bright hop notes, with lots of citrusy and tropical fruit flavors.Carbonation was excellent and the mouthfeel was good. The initial bitter attack was restrained; this beer is only 35 IBUs, which I suppose is appropriate if it is a "throwback" to the IPAs of a few years ago. Following the initial attack, there was lots of hop aroma and flavor, falling away to a nice finish. At 4.9% ABV, this is an extremely drinkable IPA, inviting you to have more than one.

Anchorage Brewing Company's Rondy Brew 2015 - 80 Year IPA:
I had a glass on this at the new brewery's grand opening, but didn't do a formal evaluation, so I picked up another bottle. It poured a slightly cloudy gold with a big white head that left good lace on the glass. The nose was full of bright citrusy hops. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was nice. The initial bitterness was good without being overwhelming, and the beer had decent balance between the hops and the malt backbone. A very enjoyable IPA. 6% ABV, 50 IBUs.

Deschutes Brewery's Pinedrops IPA: It poured a clear gold with a big white head that left good lace. The description accompanying the beer said to expect pine and citrus hop notes on the nose, but I only picked up the former. The overall mouthfeel was good and the carbonation was nice. The beer claims 70 IBUs, but it did not taste that bitter, at least to me. The initial bitter attack was good but not overpowering; I would have guessed it to be in the 40 to 50 IBU range. I could definitely taste the Chinook hops used, which was a real plus for me, as I love that particular hop variety. The beer also used Equinox hops, which are supposed to deliver tropical fruit notes, but as I said above, I could not detect any. The balance on the beer was good, and it had a nice finish. Overall, not the palate wrecker I was expecting from its advertised specs. I enjoyed it and would certainly drink it again. 6.5% ABV.

Well, that's it for this week.  See you next week with more news and reviews, and hopefully and end to snow.

Until Next Week, Cheers!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Yes, It Was Indeed a Good Friday

This blog post is a day late. I usually try to get it out on Friday, but I was busy yesterday covering the visit of the senior U.S. Senator from Alaska, Lisa Murkowski, to the Kenai River Brewing Company in Soldotna. Politics really isn't my thing, but beer certainly is, and Senator Murkowski is the co-chair of the Senate Bipartisan Small Brewers Caucus. While most legislation impacting craft beer usually happens at the state level, the Small Brewers Caucuses (there's one in the House as well) do play a significant role in supporting the ever-increasing craft beer movement across the country.

As an example of how important these caucuses are, currently there are two different acts before Congress to change the amount of federal excise taxes collected from brewers. One is designed to help small brewers (the Small BREW Act) while the other is designed to fatten the wallets of the big multinational brewers (the BEER Act). Here's a side-by-side comparison:

Click to enlarge

Given the deep pockets of the big brewing corporations, it's important to have someone looking out for the small craft brewers, and I commend all the senators and representatives who have joined the Small Brewers Caucuses. I am hopeful that Alaska's junior senator, Dan Sullivan will soon join the caucus as well.

Since taking on her role as co-chair and as a supporter of Alaskan industry, Senator Murkowski has been quite active in visiting and engaging with the various craft brewers around the state. In January, she addressed the annual meeting of the Brewers Guild of Alaska, held each year in Anchorage in conjunction with the Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival. She also presented the awards to the winners of the barley wine and winter warmer competitions at that festival. As I said, I'm not much into politics, but I do find it commendable when one of our political representatives goes out of his/her way to actually engage with their constituents. Given our small population base, Alaska is one of the few states left in the country where it's still possible for ordinary citizens to meet and talk to their representative and senators in a meaningful way, as our Founding Fathers intended.

Senator Murkowski arrived at the brewery at about 5 PM and spent an hour there, talking with owners Dogue Hogue and Wendell Dutcher, their wives Amy and Wendi, touring the brewery, and chatting with several of the patrons. Here are some photos of the event, courtesy of my wife, Elaine:

Having a drink in the brewery's taproom.

Doug Hogue explaining the production cycle to the senator.

From L to R: Wendell & Wendi Dutcher, Senator Murkowski, Doug & Amy Hogue

Besides Senator Murkowski's visit, the other big news from Kenai River Brewing is the presence of the Blue Moon Burgers Food Truck in its parking lot. It arrived on Thursday and will be parked there all summer, so if you are in Soldtona and want a delicious burger and fries, washed down by some excellent beer, you know where to go. Just remember, while Blue Moon opens at 11 AM, the brewery doesn't open until noon.

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing Co.

I paid a visit to Kassik's Brewery last Saturday, as part of a tour for the class I'm teaching this semester on The Art & History of Brewing. I picked up a growler of Barrel-aged Caribou Kilt Scotch Ale.  See my review below. Here's what was on tap at the brewery then:

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As of today, St. Elias Brewing Company has released a new beer, H & H Burton Ale. As with all the H & H (Henry & Howell) beers, I had a hand in making this one. It's actually the same recipe as H & H Winter Warmer, which went on tap in December of 2013. Check out my 2/12/2013 blog for details on the making of this beer. We decided to change the name this time around, since we didn't get the beer finished in time for winter!  Here's the current beers on tap at St. Elias Brewing:

Click to enlarge

I got the following big piece of news from Darcy Kniefel of Midnight Sun:

"Midnight Sun Brewing Co. is excited to announce a Summer camp out like no other as a part of our 20th Anniversary Celebrations. Save the date: August 29th, Midnight Sun Brewing Company will be taking over a riverside campground in gorgeous Cooper Landing, Alaska. The evening will feature a fireside catered beer dinner followed by a session of cigars and stouts by the campfire."

"Pricing will include the use of tent or RV space for Friday and Saturday night as well as the dinner, cigars and stouts. While Friday night will have people on their own, the camp fires will be blazing for anyone who might have a bottle or two they might want to share around. Saturday is a great chance to go enjoy some local activities including hiking, fishing, a corn hole tournament, or whatever Alaskan relaxation you like before the big dinner."

"Tickets will officially be on sale in about two weeks, straight through the brewery. Packages are available for 2 or 4 people per site, so get your team together and get ready for a beer dinner like no other!"

Sounds like a great time, especially since Cooper Landing is only about 40 miles from my front door in Sterling!

La Bodega has a new beer in stock: The Calling IPA from Boulevard Brewing Company's Smokestack Series. Billed as Boulevard's hoppiest beer yet, The Calling weighs in at 8.5% ABV and 75 IBUs. Using a single malt base, eight different hop varietals were used as well as a small addition of lemon peel to add just another punch of citrus flavor. Expect punchy hop aromas and flavors of tropical fruit and pine over a bed of slightly sweet malt that leads to a dry, crisp finish.

King Street Brewing Company has announced that its taproom will now be open on Sundays! New hours are:

Monday thru Friday   2 to 8 PM
Saturday & Sunday    noon to 8 PM

Resolution Brewing's yoga at the brewery event, Brew-Ga, was so popular last Saturday that they have decided to make it a weekly event, every Saturday from 11 AM to noon. Resolution has a new beer on tap, First Chair Amber, along with Tent City Saison, Father Dyer Belgian Abbey-Porter, and Ixelle Tripel. The brewery also had it first "First Friday" art opening, showcasing the work of the late Rob Holt:

Click to enlarge

Alaskan Brewing Company has reopened its taproom/retail store at the brewery following a renovation/expansion; here's a picture of the new space:

Photo courtesy of Alaskan Brewing

The Brewers Association also released its list of the 50 Largest Craft Breweries for 2014, and Alaskan Brewing Company came in at #20. Alaska Airlines is also offering a new beer from Alaskan Brewing this spring: Icy Bay IPA.

Photo courtesy of Alaskan Brewing Company

On Thursday, Glacier BrewHouse released three brand-new brews. Here's the description of each:

Eisbock: Big, malty, slightly fruity, and high in alcohol. The higher alcohol is a result of the icing process where a portion of the water is frozen and removed from the beer. Brilliant dark ruby red in color. Served in a snifter. Three-time Champion Winter Beer at the Great Alaska Beer & Barleywine Festival. Alcohol: 9.00% by volume. Starting gravity: 24.80 Plato (1.104 S.G.

Nitro Oak Bock: Aged one year in American Oak wine barrels. Medium bodied, malty, with velvety smooth flavors of vanilla, chocolate, and toastiness. The color is a brilliant dark ruby. Nitorgenated. Alcohol: 6.67% by volume. Starting gravity: 17.50 Plato (1.072 S.G.)

2014 Razz Infused Beam Imperial Stout: This is the big daddy of stouts. The style was originally brewed in England for Catherine II, Empress of all the Russias over 200 years ago. The high alcohol helped the beer make the journey to Russia. Our whopper was aged one year in a raspberry-infused Jim Beam barrel and boasts flavors malt, chocolate, roast, vanilla, coconut, alcohol, raspberry, and much more. Served in a snifter. A true comrade. Alcohol: 9.25% by volume. Starting gravity: 25.15 Plato (1.105 S.G.)

Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse
Haines Brewing Company has announced a new shirt design for its Captain Cook's Spruce Tip Ale. Here it is:

Courtesy of Haines Brewing Company

Denali Brewing Company has released a special beer, Clean Air Pale Ale. It will be on tap at the Talkeetna Alaska Lodge and all proceeds will go to support the American Lung Association in Alaska as part of the Clean Air Challenge

Denali Brewing Company and Arkose Brewery are also supporting this year's ExTRAVELganza Auction at Evangelo's Restaurant on Saturday, April 11.  Here's the flier for it:

Click to enlarge

Arkose Brewery will also be hosting another Beer Meets Chocolate event, this Friday, April 10th. Call 476-2337 for reservations.

 That's the news, now let's do some reviews. Only two new ones this week.

Kassik's Brewery's Barrel-aged Caribou Kilt Scotch Ale: I've been a fan of this award-winning wee heavy ever since Kassik's Brewery opened for business almost ten years ago. This version was aged in a wet bourbon barrel, which has given it a lot of strong bourbon notes in the nose and on the palate. It poured a dark, clear honey color, with a small, cream-colored head that dissipated fairly rapidly to a collar. The bourbon elements were dominant on the nose, completely over-shadowing the contribution from the malt. Carbonation was good, as was the mouthfeel. On the palate, the bourbon's contribution was again quite dominant, shadowing the malty notes from the base beer. If you are a huge bourbon fan, you'll probably love this beer, but personally I love Scotch Ales, so I felt that the base beer was being overwhelmed here. I think I'll stick to the straight Caribou Kilt.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company's Sloper Baltic Porter: I had a glass of this at the brewery back in January, but never did a formal review, so I recently picked up a bottle. It poured opaque with a small tan head that dissipated to a collar. The aroma was of malt and roasted coffee notes. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was nice. The flavor profile emphasizes the roasted malt notes a bit more than is typical in Baltic porters, which tend to be smoother, but I liked this approach. The balance between the sweet malt and the bitterness from both the hops and the roasted malt was spot on, and there was a very nice finish. An excellent porter, Baltic or robust, call it what you will. 9% ABV, 50 IBUs.

That's all for this week. I should be back on my normal schedule next week, so expect this blog on Friday, April 10th.

Until Next Time, Cheers!