Sunday, June 21, 2015

Smoky Summer Solstice

It's the longest day of the year, and in Alaska that's always a cause for celebration. Down here on the Peninsula, we have all been keeping one eye on the Card Street Wildfire, which started last Monday and has burned more than 8000 acres and several homes. Fortunately, it looks like the prevailing westerly winds have pushed the active part of the fire well into the Kenai Wildlife Refuge, so there's no longer any big threat to anyone's home. Meantime, the rest of us have just been dealing with the smoky haze coming off the fire. Makes for a good excuse to have a nice. cold craft beer, if one is ever needed...

However, while all the fire excitement has been happening, I've been trying to generate a little heat of my own, about the release of my newest book, Alaska Beer: Liquid Gold in the Land of the Midnight Sun. It's now available locally at River City Books in Soldotna, at Midnight Sun Brewing Company in Anchorage, or via Amazon at the link above. You can also get a Kindle version as well, if you prefer it in electronic format. Or come by the Soldotna Wednesday Market on 1 July and I'll be happy to sell you a copy!

The glamorous life of a freelance author

I had a nice Book Launch Party at Kenai River Brewing Company on Friday. Thanks to Doug Hogue for hosting it and to my many friends who showed up.

I will also be signing copies at The Loft at Midnight Sun Brewing Company from 4:30 to 6:30 pm this Wednesday, June 24th, so if you are in Anchorage, this is a chance for you to stop by and get an autographed copy.

Moving on from my personal news to beer news in general, I received an email notice about a new Kickstarter campaign. This one is for The Beer Connoisseur Club, which is being started by The Beer Connoisseur magazine. Some of the benefits of membership include:

  • One-year subscription to The Beer Connoisseur® magazine
  • One-year ALL ACCESS to the newly revamped AND interactive Beer School
  • Full access to The Beer Connoisseur® Network, a world-wide program that provides discounts and incentives provided by a global network of partners (think: breweries, brewpubs, cideries, meaderies, restaurants, gastropubs, specialty foods and grocery stores, retails stores, homebrew supply stores, beer tastings and events)
  • Membership to the online club forum that serves to be a collective voice for beer by being a place to discuss the latest beers and trends
  • A dedicated staff to assist with beer-related travel and event arrangements (VIP service!  Hard to come by event tickets!) 

All this for $35 a year. If you are interested, check out this Kickstarter page for more info.

Alaskan Brewing Company has revamped its website and webstore. If you haven't visited recently, click on over to to check out the new look.

As mentioned in my Breaking News blog last week, Anchorage Brewing Company released its latest batches of Bitter Monk DIPA and Love Buzz Saison on Friday. These are both amazing brews; I reviewed them both back in my 10/12/2011 blog.

Photo courtesy of Anchorage Brewing Company

Resolution Brewing Company has expanded its hours. It will now be open Wednesday to Sundays, from 3 to 8 pm on Wednesday and Thursday, and from noon to 8 pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Plus the patio is open, and it's an awesome place to enjoy a beer in all this summer sunshine!

Snow Goose Pub/Sleeping Lady Brewing has a new beer on cask as of today: Fish On! IPA dry hopped with Citra and jalapeno peppers.

Photo courtesy of Snow Goose/Sleeping Lady

At HooDoo Brewing Company in Fairbanks, the Bavarian Weissebier is back, just in time for summer.

Photo courtesy of HooDoo Brewing Company

Here on the Peninsula, the Seward Brewing Company has released a new beer: Police and Thieves Pilsner, a Czech-style pilsner, with sweet orange peel added.

Photo courtesy of Seward Brewing Company

I was at Kenai River Brewing Company on Friday for my Book Launch Party and had a couple of glasses of the new Apollo Imperial Rye Pale Ale (see review below). KRBC is also pouring in the Beer Garden at the (A)Live After Five, taking place each Wednesday evening this summer in Soldotna Creek Park. Along with Kenai River, the Bear Creek Winery is also pouring.

That's about it for news this week, so let's do some beer reviews, as promised last week.

Firestone-Walker Brewing's 2015-vintage Sucaba Barley Wine: Another one of those big, bourbon-barrel-aged barley wines that are so prevalent these days. It poured a translucent ruby with a small, cream-colored head that dissipated to a collar. The aroma was of sweet malt and oak notes. Carbonation and mouthfeel were both good. Overall flavor profile was a bit too bourbon-like for my tastes; the beer elements seemed overwhelmed and lost amongst all the whiskey flavors. 13.3% ABV, 42 IBUs.

 North Coast Brewing's 2012-vintage Grand Cru: I pulled this brew
after three years in the cellar. It was brewed with an addition of agave nectar and aged on bourbon barrels. When I removed the cork, there was only the lightest of pops, so carbonation was clearly going to be low. It poured a cloudy honey color, with a small, off-white head that dissipated rapidly to a collar. The nose was of oak and agave, very reminiscent of tequila. Mouthfeel was good. The flavor profile was not at all beer-like, but was much more tequila-like, though without the alcohol burn I associate with that spirit. There was a bit of heat present on the finish from the 12.9% ABV. Once again, not really my cup of tea. I prefer my beers to taste like beer, rather than bourbon or tequila.

Baranof Island Brewing's Sitka Spruce Tip Ale: You can't get much more iconic that spruce tip ale in Alaska. This one poured a clear ruby with a nice cream-colored head. The aroma was of sweet malt and the piney spruce tips. Carbonation was good , as was its mouthfeel. The flavor profile had a good malt backbone, balanced by the piney, resiny spruce notes. Hops were unobtrusive. A real "taste of Alaska" beer. 6.5% ABV.

The Bruery's 2014-vintage Rueuze Sour Blonde Ale: Anyone who says you can only brew a proper gueuze in Belgium should try this beer. It poured a cloudy gold with a lovely white head. The nose had all the tart funkiness you expect from the style. The carbonation was excellent, which combined with the light mouthfeel to give the beer an effervescent quality. It was light and tart on the palate, the perfect quencher on a hot summer night! An outstanding beer from an exceptional brewery. 5.6% ABV

Kenai River Brewing Company's Apollo Imperial Rye Pale Ale: The latest in the series of Imperial Rye Pale Ales from Kenai River. This one is hopped with the Apollo variety. It poured a dark, clear honey color with a cream-colored head. There was plenty of hop nose, but none unusual aromas associated with some of the newer varieties. No tropical fruit, mangos, or citrus. The carbonation was good, and so was the mouthfeel. The beer was well-balanced, with plenty of malt backbone to support the excellent hop bitterness. I found it surprisingly drinkable for a 9.2% ABV, 103 IBU beer, even to the point of having a second glass. If you like big, burly, well-hoped beers, this one is for you!

Well, that's it for this week. Look out for wildfires and keep enjoying this great summer.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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