Friday, July 31, 2015

The End of July

It's that last day of July, which also means it's the last day of dip net season, and I'm sure I speak for everyone on the Kenai except the RV park owners when I say: "Thanks goodness!" Everyone can bundle up their fish and trundle back up to Anchorage, and we denizens of the Kenai can have our roads, stores, and beaches back. Happy days!

On a personal note, I'd like to let everyone know that the print edition of the third volume of Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska is now available. You can purchase Southeast Alaska from my Amazon Store (via the link under the header at the top of this page) or at Kenai River Brewing Company in Soldotna. Midnight Sun Brewing Company in Anchorage should have copies by the end of next week. My next project will be to update and revise the first two volumes and then combine them all into a single book. Look for that early next year, if things go to plan.

In some other personal news, I'll be a guest on KDLL's Conversations Radio Talk Show this Wednesday at 10 am, along with Doug Hogue of Kenai River Brewing  and Zach Henry of St. Elias Brewing. We will be discussing the upcoming Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival as well as the current state and the future of craft brewing on the Central Peninsula. I think we'll be taking calls, so if you've got a burning question for any or all of us, here's your chance. Look for us at 91.9 FM on you radio dial.

The Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival is taking place a week from tomorrow here in Soldotna. If you haven't gotten your tickets yet, you might want to consider doing so. It gets harder and harder to get tickets at the door each year, as word of how great a festival this is continues to spread. You can get tickets via the festival's website or at St. Elias Brewing, Kenai River Brewing, or Kassik's Brewery. Tickets are $30 per person, which gets you admission, a sampling glass, and eight 4 oz. drink tickets. Additional tickets are on sale at two for $3 or twelve for $15. The entertainment line-up has also been finalized.  Here's the list:

  • 5:00-6:00 Good Time Travelers
  • 6:00-7:00 Braided River
  • 7:00-8:00 Gary Sloan
  • 8:00-9:00 Trajectory
  • 9:00-Close Todd Grebe and Cold Country 
There will be a couple of first-time brewery attendees: Baranof Island Brewing Company from Sitka and Humpy's Brewery from Anchorage. As an added bonus, I will be selling and signing copies of all four of my books at the Festival from 5 until 7 PM. At which point I'm going to stop working and start enjoying myself, thank you very much! Gates open at 5 PM, and I hope to see you there!

Speaking of festivals, another big one will be happening up at 49th State Brewing in Healy next weekend as well.  I haven't made it to Augtoberfest myself yet, but by all reports it's a wonderful time. So if you are closer to Healy than to Soldotna, you might want to check it out.

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A final word on festivals. The Golden Days Beer Fest took place at Silver Gulch Brewing & Bottling Company in Fox back on Saturday, July 18th. I attended this festival back in 2013 and found it to be an excellent one, well organized and with lots of great beer, music, and food. I wasn't there this year, but reports from those who were indicate it was a great time.

Photo courtesy of Barb Miller of MSBC

On the national news front, the Brewers Association has released its annual report on the state of the craft beer industry. These two graphs pretty much say it all:

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Craft beer continues to grow and macro brews continue to shrink. Little wonder that AB-InBev and MillerCoors keep looking to snap up established craft brewers. If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em seems to be their plan.

 Also in the national news, Trip Advisor picked Moose's Tooth as the #3 pizzeria in the country. Here's a link to the article. I can't help thinking that maybe their excellent beer had something to do with it...

I received word from Rob Weller of Specialty Imports that there's a new release from the Belgian Trappist brewery Chimay in Alaska. Chimay's  Doree is the beer the monks of the abbey drink with their meals, so it is only 4.8% ABV. Here is the sell sheet for it.

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I haven't sampled it yet, but I plan to do so soon and write a review for this blog.

Also under new releases, last Sunday Resolution Brewing in Anchorage released another batch of its Lost Anchor IPA. It won't be on tap long, so get it while you can!

On the Peninsula news front, St. Elias Brewing Company has another couple of new beers on tap.  Here's its taplist from earlier this week.

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See reviews of Yeti White IPA and Independence ASB below.

At Kenai River Brewing, there's some great new swag: stainless steel insulated mugs.

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing Co.

That's it for news, so let's move on to this week's beer reviews.

Alesmith Brewing Company's Speedway Stout: I pretty much love everything this California brewery produces, which is unfortunate, since its beers aren't distributed in Alaska. That means I usually have to buy them Outside and mule them back home in my suitcase. I picked this one up in Seattle back in June. It poured opaque with a big mocha-colored head. The aroma was a mixture of sweet and roasted coffee notes. Carbonation was outstanding and the mouthfeel was quite good. Flavor profile was what you'd expect from a top-shelf RIS: big and bold, with lots of roasted malt and coffee notes. The finish reminded me of drinking Irish coffee, in that it was a mixture of coffee and alcohol warmth. An exceptional Russian Imperial Stout, worth seeking out. 12% ABV.

St. Elias Brewing Company's Independence ASB: Brewed in the style of an ESB but with American hops, this beer is another of Zach Henry's style-bending creations. It poured a deep ruby color with a nice cream-colored head. The nose had plenty of citrus notes from the Amarillo and Citra hops used. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was fairly light. There was good up front hoppiness, without being overly bitter. Overall, a very nice beer. It may not fit into any particular style, but it's still delicious.

St. Elias Brewing Company's Yeti White IPA: This is a re-release of a beer I reviewed back on 4/23/2014. However, I think Zach has been tweaking the recipe, so here is a fresh review. It poured a slightly cloudy gold with a nice white head. The aroma had plenty of citrus and tropical fruit notes from the hops. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was nice. There is plenty of initial bittereness, then the fruity hop flavors take over, before falling off to a nice clean finish. A highly drinkable IPA; I finished a liter growler solo without wrecking my palate.

Dogfish Head Brewing Company's 120 Minute IPA (2008):
This is another brewery that doesn't currently distribute in Alaska, but Dogfish Head used to do so. I picked up this bottle back when it did. The bottle was filled on 7/7/2008, so it's been in my cellar for the better part of seven years. I finally decided to give it a try. It poured a dark honey color with a small, cream-colored head that dissipated quickly to a collar. The aroma was pretty much devoid of hops, being purely malt and alcohol. Carbonation was quite low, and the mouthfeel was thick and sticky. On the palate the hops had completely vanished, leaving sweet malt and some alcohol heat. It tasted closer to an English-style barley wine than any sort of IPA. I guess seven years was quite a bit too long for this one.

That's it for this week. Be sure to get your tickets to next Saturday's Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival and catch me on KDLL this Wednesday morning at 10 am.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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