Friday, September 11, 2015

It's Raining, So This Must Be September...

The coming of fall is making itself felt here on the Peninsula. The trees are turning, school is back in session, and it's raining. Even with this dreary weather, there's lots happening on the beer scene, so let's dive right into it.

The big news on the national level is Heineken's purchase of 50% of Lagunitas Brewing for $500 million. You can find various spins on the deal from owner Tony Magee's "Everything is Awesome!" post to various ones that decry the end of craft beer as we know it. As usual, reality is somewhere in between, but in keeping with my philosophy that there are plenty of truly small and independent craft breweries out there who really need my money, I will be crossing Lagunitas off my "beers I drink regularly" list. See my previous post on the Elysium buyout for more details.

Moving on to more pleasant stuff, there are several beer events happening this weekend. Tomorrow, Saturday September 12th is the Beer Dinner at Seward Brewing Company. It was limited to 25, so it may already be sold out. Here's the menu:

Seward Brewing Company has also shifted to its winter hours, until it closes next Saturday, September 19th.

Also this weekend is another Beer Meets Canvas event at Arkose Brewery in Palmer, tomorrow at 2 PM. Arkose also re-released its excellent Spindrift IPA yesterday.

Speaking of re-releases, Midnight Sun Brewing Company is re-releasing a classic today: Pride, a Belgian-style pale ale aged in chardonnay barrels with brett, which was first brewed back in 2007 as part of its Seven Deadly Sins Series. See my review from 9/14/2009.

Over at Resolution Brewing, there is a nice new sign out front, to replace the temporary banners:

Photo courtesy of Resolution Brewing

Here's what's on tap today at Resolution:

Photo courtesy of Resolution Brewing

Speaking of being on tap, next Saturday, 9/19, will be Cantillon Zwanze Day 2015 at Anchorage Brewing Company. The following amazing brews will be on tap:

By the Bottle:
  • Vigneronne
  • Cuvée St-Gilloise,
  • Drie Fonteinen Oud Geuze,
  • Grand Cru Bruocsella

 On Tap:
  • Zwanze Wild Brussels Stout
  • Kriek
  • Iris Grand Cru
  • Rosé de Gambrinus
  • Classic Gueuze  

If you are all interested in Belgian beers and you'll be in Anchorage next Saturday, you need to check this out.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend this event, because I'll be in Talkeetna next Saturday for the excellent Talkeetna Brewfest. It's from 2 to 6 PM at the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar. I'll also be attending the beer dinner on Friday night at Denali Brewpub. I suspect it's sold out, but here's the menu:

Click to enlarge
If you'll be at either the dinner or the brewfest, be sure to look me up and say hello.

More news: Paul Wheeler of Haines Brewing has brewed his 1337th and last batch of beer at his old location in Dalton City. He'll be moving the brewhouse to his new digs at the corner of 4th and Main in downtown Haines. The new brewery is scheduled to open to the public on Monday, September 14th. Paul is still looking for a new 7-barrel system to replace his current 3.5-barrel one.

Courtesy of Haines Brewing

Construction on the new home for Kenai River Brewing in Soldotna continues at a good clip. The last time I stopped by the site, it looked like they were working to put in the sewer and waterlines before beginning the foundation work.  Meanwhile, the road work in front of the old location looks like it's almost finished at last. Here's what was on tap at Kenai River Brewing yesterday:

Tap list as of 9/10/2015

Last Friday, Zach Henry and I brewed another of our historical recreation-collaboration beers at St. Elias Brewing. Our previous efforts included a Scotch Ale and a Burton Ale. We plan to call this one H & H East India Porter, and it's based on research by Ron Pattison (Shut Up About Barclay Perkins).  If you are interested in reading more details, check out my latest column in The Redoubt Reporter. The beer we brewed is a very hoppy (90+ IBU!) porter, with an O.G. of 1.064 and a target F.G. of 1.014. It's hopped and dry-hopped exclusively with East Kent Goldings and fermented with an English yeast. We won't be able to send it around the Cape of Good Hope by ship, but otherwise it's a close a recreation to an 1860 East India Porter as we can manage. Look for it to go on tap in a couple of months or so.

Mashing in H & H East India Porter

Speaking of on tap, here's what was on offer at St. Elias Brewing as of last Friday:

St. Elias tap list on 9/4/2015
See below for a review of Snowbird Belgian White IPA.

Speaking of reviews, the Alaska Dispatch News finally got around to reviewing Alaska Beer: Liquid Gold in the Land of the Midnight Sun.  You can read the review here. If you're still looking to buy a copy, you can get one at several of the local breweries, Barnes & Noble, or via my Amazon store.

That looks to be about it for news this week, so let's move on to some reviews.

Anchorage Brewing Company's Czech Pilsner: I picked up a growler of this on my last trip to Anchorage and shared it with Zach Henry while we were brewing last Friday. It poured a slightly cloudy gold with a big white head. Lots of good noble hop aroma. Good carbonation and the mouthfeel was light. Crisp ho bitterness up front, nice hop flavor followed. Overall, a very well-made, highly drinkable beer.

St. Elias Brewing Company's Snowbird Belgian IPA: I had a pint of this after drinking the aforementioned Czech Pilsner. It poured a cloudy gold with a white head. Lots of citrusy notes in the nose from the Citra, Simcoe, Centennial, and Sorachi Ace hops used, along with orange peel. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was fairly light. On the palate there was plenty more bright, citrusy hop flavor. A refreshing brew, but it's 7.2% ABV so not as sessionable as some.  Excellent beer.

Holy Mountain Brewing's The Goat Rustic Brett Saison: A leftover from The Culmination, I picked this up at La Bodega. It poured a crystal clear gold with a white head that was smaller than you usually see on a saison. There were hints of brett funk in the nose, but not super strong. Carbonation was on the low side, but still okay, and the mouthfeel was nice. On the palate there was a bit more maltiness than I'm use to in brett saisons; they tend toward the dry side. With more time to work, it's likely this one would dry out also. The brett was present in the flavor profile, but it was subtle. This is the brett saison for folks who don't like brett a whole lot, I guess. Overall, good but not great. 4.9% ABV.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company's Tundra Wookie Belgian Special Dark Ale with Tart Cherries: This beer poured a semi-translucent ruby color with a small, mocha-colored head. The nose was rich, with notes of plums, figs, and the tart cherries. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was very nice. On the palate there were more dark fruit notes, balance by some pleasing tartness. The overall impression is a beer that in vinous and rich, almost like a dessert. I really enjoyed it. 13% ABV, 13 IBUs.

Well, that's it for this week. With the Talkeetna Brewfest coming up, I may or may not get a blog out before it. Either way, it's time to get out and enjoy these festivals and start laying in your beer supplies for winter.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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