Thursday, July 23, 2015

Big News on the Beer Bottle Front

We are continuing to enjoy a pretty fine summer here on the Kenai, though we are still inundated with dipnetters. Only another week or so and then they can all trundle back whence they came and leave us to enjoy the rest of the summer in peace. Meanwhile, there has been plenty of beer news since my last blog.

First off, if you didn't see my Breaking News post, tickets for The Culmination Beer Festival went on sale yesterday at 2 PM, and sold out in about 6 hours. So if you are planning to attend, I hope you were able to purchase yours already.

Second off, just after I had posted last week's blog, I got an email from King Street Brewing about a brand-new bottled release: Crossroad Centennial Ale, released to commemorate Anchorage's 100th birthday. Here's how the brewers describe it:

"This Belgian Double style ale (ABV 8%) was brewed with 10 gallons of Talkeetna birch syrup from Kahiltna Birchworks.  Lots of dark fruit and Belgian sweetness to balance the roasted malts….and yes we used Centennial hops in the beer too."
 Most of the 17-barrel batch went into 750ml bottles, but there was a keg on tap at the brewery last weekend, though I don't know if there is still any left. Sounds like a great brew to celebrate a great city.

Photo courtesy of King Street Brewing

 Third off, and most significantly, Arkose Brewery has announced that it will begin bottling its four flagship beers --Bitter Earth ESB, No 5 Boxcar Porter, High Ridge Double Red, and Steed Rye IPA -- in 22 oz. bottles, starting this fall. The bottling line is being produced by Meheen Manufacturing of Pasco, Washington, and should arrive in Palmer next month. Here's a quote from the press release:

"We chose 22 oz bottles because it is the best way for an independent craft brewery like ours to get a variety of beers out to customers." said Co-founder and Head Brewer, Stephen Gerteisen. It was also decided to use screen-printed labels. "We went with screen-printed labels, because a well designed screen-printed label adds a distinctive touch and directly reflects the creativity and value of each of our hand-crafted beers. The bottle became my canvas and the beer my inspiration." says Co-Founder and Creative Director, June Gerteisen, who designed the labels. Stephen added, "The next step will be to put our most popular beers in cans."

This excellent news for beer lovers around the state. Specialty Imports had already been distributing Arkose beers on draft, but the new bottles should make it even easier for beer lovers to find these excellent beers.

Another big piece of news, though it doesn't impact craft beer directly, is the announcement of the sale of Chilkoot Charlie's in Anchorage to the owners on the Moose's Tooth/Bear Tooth/Broken Tooth. It seems the main concern from the new owners was to lock up parking for their other ventures. They are leaving the running of Charlie's to others. It will be interesting to see if the changes the new managers make lead to the bar being more craft beer friendly.

Finally, tomorrow, Friday, July 24thh, there will be a birthday bash for Barb Miller, aka La Femme De Beer, at Midnight Sun Brewing Company's The Loft at 5 PM. They will be tapping a firkin of Barb's special birthday beer, On My Way, a Sour Belgian Tripel, spiced with orange peel and coriander. This particular firkin has also been spiced with lemon, lime, grapefruit, and more orange peel in the cask. In addition, Midnight Sun will be releasing another new beer at the party: Funkin' A IPA, brewed with brettanomyces and lots of hops. Since this bad boy is brewed with brett, look for it to be draft only and mainly on offer at The Loft. Sounds like a great time, so stop by and wish Barb a happy 29th birthday!

Click to enlarge
Here on the Peninsula, we are getting closer and closer to the Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival on August 8th. I've learned that both Baranof Island Brewing Company from Sitka, and Humpy's Brewing Company from Anchorage will be joining the list of breweries pouring at this year's event. If you haven't already made your plans and gotten your tickets, I recommend you do so, as this is easily one of the best beer festivals in the state. Tickets are on sale on the website, or at Kenai River Brewing, Kassik's Brewery, or St. Elias Brewing.

That's about it for news this week, so let's do a couple of beer reviews.

Stone Brewing's Stone/Farking/Wheaton W00tstout: This is a collaboration beer between Greg Koch, Whil Wheaton, and Drew Curtis. It's the third year they have gotten together to brew this Russian Imperial Stout, and this year's version contains some of the 2014 version that was aged in bourbon barrels for a year. It poured opaque with a small tan head. The nose had plenty of rich, roasty notes. Carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was heavy and chewy. The flavor profile was very deep and rich, as you'd look for in such a big RIS. Along with the massive roast flavors, I also picked up hints of chocolate ice cream! There was a touch of alcohol warmth on the finish. An excellent RIS. 13% ABV, 45 IBUs.

Alaskan Brewing's Imperial IPA: The latest in Alaskan's Pilot Series, I wrote about this beer's release in my 7/9/2015 blog. It poured a clear copper color with a big cream-colored head that left good lacing on the glass. The nose was full of bright citrus and tropical fruit notes from the hops used. Carbonation and mouthfeel were both good. On the palate there was good but not excessive bitterness, followed by nice, clean hop flavors. Overall, the beer was better balanced than many imperial IPAs, with enough malt backbone to support the hop elements. Very enjoyable. 8.5% ABV, 80 IBUs.

That's it for this week. Get out and enjoy this nice summer weather while it lasts!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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