Friday, July 17, 2015

The Dipnetters Are Upon Us!

It's that time of year again here on the Kenai, when about 40,000 folks from Anchorage and the rest of the state descend upon us to claim "their" share of our sockeye salmon run. While it's not the most extreme example in the state (10,000 cruise ship passengers descending daily on Skagway, pop. 850 holds that title), it's still quite jarring when your population doubles, almost overnight. Visiting the grocery store becomes a major hassle, and forget trying to go to a brewery or brewpub, unless it's very early or very late. Still, it's wonderful exposure for our great craft breweries here on the Kenai, not to mention helping them to improve their bottom line. So come on down and stomp all over our beaches and buy our craft beers. Just remember to clean up after yourselves, okay?

Photo courtesy of the Peninsula Clarion.

Moving on to the real topic of this blog, the big beer news just announced today is that Duvel Moortgat  is "investing" in Firestone-Walker. This sounds very similar to what they did with Boulevard Brewing a couple of years ago. Hopefully, this will be a positive thing for all concerned, as the relationship with Boulevard seems to have been.  You can read more on this here.

Here in Alaska, we are moving hot and heavy into the summer beer festival season. Tomorrow is the Golden Days Beer Fest at Silver Gulch Brewing in Fox, Augtoberfest at 49th State Brewing starts three weeks from today, and out very own Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival will take place three weeks from tomorrow, on Saturday, August 8th. The Alaskan Brewing Beer Dinner at Kinley's Restaurant  is next Wednesday at 6 PM. Tickets go on sale on July 29th for the 2015 Great American Beer Festival in Denver; they routinely sell out in what seems like minutes, so if you plan to attend, you'd better mark your calendar. Finally, the 3rd Annual Beer & Bacon Fest will be taking place from 1 to 6 PM on August 15th at the Lakefront Anchorage Hotel. Going to be a busy few weeks!

Click to enlarge

On a personal note, I have finally completed Southeast Alaska, Volume 3 of Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska. It is already available in Kindle format of, and should be available in paperback, both on Amazon and at locally breweries, within 2 or 3 weeks.

Next, I plan to work on updating Volumes I & II, and combining all three volumes into a single, up-to-date edition.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company re-released its Matanuska Thunder Funk on Wednesday. This brew was very popular during its first release. As mentioned last week, its new Tundra Wookie Belgian Special Dark Ale with Tart Cherries is also available in bottles and on draft.

Photo courtesy of Midnight Sun BC

At Resolution Brewing Company, Ixelle Tripel is back on tap. It will be releasing a new beer on Sunday at 3 PM: a White IPA made with Cascade, Citra, and Sorachi Ace hops. Resolution will also be releasing another new beer next week, named Tent City, to commemorate Anchorage's centennial. Now details on its style yet.

Bleeding Heart Brewery held the Thank You Party for its Kickstarter backers last Sunday in Palmer, and it was apparently a great success. Both Bearpaw River and Odd Man Rush Brewing also appear to be making steady progress toward opening for business. Last Friday at Kenai River Brewing Company, I met a couple who are working on opening a new brewery in Homer. Keep you eye out for Grace Ridge Brewing Company.

Speaking of Kenai River Brewing Company, Doug Hogue tells me that in about ten days, he will be putting Hoppin' Salmon Wheat Ale back on tap. See my review on 6/1/2011. Additionally, he will be releasing a kumquat-infused version of this beer at the Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival on August 8th. He just finished kegging and carbonating a bourbon-barrel-aged version of his Russian Imperial Stout, but we won't be seeing that until October, at the earliest. Finally, Kenai River Brewing Company hopes to break ground on the construction of its new brewery on Monday, August 10th.

Tap list at KRBC on Thursday, July 16.
Over at St. Elias Brewing Company, Zach Henry has released Independence Ale and re-released his Hefeweizen. The former is similar to an ESB, but brewed with American hops, including Citra and Amarillos, while the later is slightly drier than his previous versions. Good luck getting in there to try any though; with the dipnetters in town, St. Elias seems to be constantly packed with people.

St. Elias tap list on Friday, July 10.

Okay, let's do some beer reviews. Been busy finishing a book this last week, so I only have two new ones to offer.

North Coast Brewing's Puck the Beer Petite Saison: I thought the idea behind this beer sounded interesting, in that it was supposed to be a sort of session saison. Of course, I find most saisons very sessionable, but I was willing to play along. It poured a light, clear gold with a nice white head, just as you'd expect from a saison. The nose had some of the spicy notes I associate with Belgian saison yeast, but not much else. Carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was very light. The flavor profile seemed pretty thin, just not much there other than some slight Belgian yeast notes. It almost tasted as if you'd taken a regular saison and added water to it. No off flavors, just not much there. Disappointing rather than objectionable.

Anchor Brewing's Double Liberty IPA: The post-Fritz Maytag Anchor decides to take a classic and
kick it up a notch, forty years after it was first brewed. It poured a deep gold-copper color with a nice off-white head that left good lacing. Plenty of classic Cascade hops in the nose. Both the mouthfeel and carbonation were good. On the palate there was plenty of bitterness, but also enough malt backbone for some balance. This was not a one note hop bomb, like so many current DIPAs, but hearkened back to beers like Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale, beers that had plenty of malt for the hops to bump up against. Very nice.

Well, that's it for this week. If you are on the Peninsula, I hope you laid in enough craft beer so that you won't be forced to brave the occupying hordes to get more. Wherever you are, enjoy your summer and keep drinking good craft beer.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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