Friday, October 2, 2015

Awards, News, and Reviews

Hello again, craft beer fans. I had hoped to get this out early in the week, but I was overcome by events (again). I hope everyone is busily enjoying their Permanent Fund Dividend, as I've got a feeling we won't get too many more like this one. At least we can each spend some of it on some good local craft beer. Anyway, let's move on the awards, news, and reviews.


Congratulations to Jay Bullen and the rest of his brew team at 49th State Brewing for earning a Gold Medal at this year's Great American Beer Festival in Denver. His Smoked Marzen (reviewed back on 8/1/2013) took gold in the Smoked Beer Category. A frequent past winner in this category has been Alaskan Brewing's Smoked Porter, but this year the little brewery from Healy took home the prize. If you's like to sample this brew, you'd better hurry, as 49th State closes for the winter after tomorrow's big Halloween Party.

Also at the Great American Beer Festival, the North American Guild of Beer Writers announced the winners of its 2015 Beer Writing Awards. Awards were made in nine different categories, and you can see the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in all of them here. I'd like to call your attention to the 1st place winner in the Local/Regional Category: Alaska Beer: Liquid Gold in the Land of the Midnight Sun by yours truly! It's always great to be recognized by your peers, and I'm very excited that all my hard work researching and writing that book paid off, as well as the superb photos by my wife Elaine.  While we are talking about the book, I will be doing a reading/signing session at 4 PM tomorrow at the Soldotna Public Library, with part of the proceeds going to benefit the Friends of the Library. I will also be doing a presentation on the role of beer and brewing in Alaska history on Thursday, October 8, at 6:30 PM in The Commons at Kenai Peninsula College. This presentation is part of the KPC Showcase series.

1st Place!



The October issue of Alaska Airlines Magazine has a nice article about brewing and distilling in Alaska. You can read it at The writer actually called and talked to me for about an hour in August regarding the history of beer and brewing in Alaska, and you'll see that I was quoted in the article.

See my last blog for information on the upcoming Bodega-Fest Beer Dinner, Bodega-Fest itself, the Eagle River Beer Fest, and the Great Alaska Beer Train, all coming up next week.

Just-opened Odd Man Rush Brewing Company has posted its hours of operation:

Wednesday thru Saturday: noon to 8 PM
Sunday: noon to 5 PM
The Chef Stop food truck will be on site Thursday thru Saturday, 5 to 8 PM. Here's a copy of its menu:

Click to enlarge

Resolution Brewing Company has just purchased two new 7-barrel fermenters, which are twice the size of its current 3.5-barrel ones. It also has the excellent Ixelles Belgian Tripel back on tap. Today the brewery will be opening a new show in its taproom for First Friday by photographer Kristen Swann.

Photo courtesy of Resolution Brewing

Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse will be celebrating Oktoberfest with a special dinner on Saturday, October 10th.  Here's the flier for it:

Click to enlarge
Midnight Sun Brewing Company released a new beer yesterday: Toklat Blonde. It's a blonde ale aged in chardonnay barrels and named after the grizzly bears on Denali. It is a one-shot release, so get it while you can.

Photo courtesy of Mark Staples

Anchorage Brewing Company has announced that in a couple of weeks it will be tapping its first cask-conditioned beer, a firkin of its Triple IPA. The brewery also has cheese from the famous Trappist monastery Chimay available in the taproom. I had some of this cheese several years ago, and belive me, it's amazing!

Photo courtesy of Anchorage Brewing Company.

Also Anchorage Brewing Company Owner Gabe Fletcher is on the cover of the latest issue of The Beer Connoisseur:

You can read his interview at

Arkose Brewery will be having its anniversary Beer Meets Chocolate event on Thursday, October 8th, and its anniversary Beer Meets Canvas event on Saturday, October 10th.

Tomorrow, October 3, Baranof Island Brewing Company will be holding its 4th Annual Oktoberfest.

Kodiak Island Brewing Company was featured in the latest issue of Brew Your Own Magazine. Its Oktoberfest beer was the subject of the magazine's "Replicator" column.

Here on the Peninsula, both Kenai River Brewing Company and St. Elias Brewing Company have new beers on tap.

At Kenai River Brewing, October 1st means the annual release of its Winter Warlock Old Ale. This year, things were even more exciting with the release of a limited amount of barrel-aged Winter Warlock. I hear that the barrel-aged stuff was gone in a couple of hours, but there's still plenty of the classic Winter Warlock available, so stop by and grab some of this excellent brew.

Kenai River chalkboard. The right-hand column now says "Winter Warlock"!

At St. Elias Brewing Company, there are three new beers on tap: H&H East India Porter, Czech Pilsner, and Oktoberfest Lager. All three are reviewed below.

St. Elias chalkboard as of 10/1/2015
I think that about does it for news, so let's do some reviews.



A new craft beer documentary is being released today on iTunes: Blood, Sweat & Beers is directed by Chip Hiden and focuses on two craft breweries, one in Ocean City, MD, which is already open, and a new craft brewery trying to open in the decayed steel-town of Braddock, PA. Interspersed between the two stories are interviews with craft brewers from around the country, talking about the present state and future of craft brewing in the US. The stories of the two breweries are very engaging, especially that of Danny Robinson, whose boardwalk brewery in Ocean City is facing a potentially devastating trademark lawsuit. The film is well-shot and visually interesting, as well as being an engaging look at the challenges facing small craft brewers in today's marketplace. Full disclosure: I contributed to the Kickstarter campaign which made this film a reality and I'm glad I did, as it's an excellent look at the current state of play in the craft brewing industry. If you'd like to watch it, Blood Sweat & Beers can be found on iTunes at Here is a trailer:

 Now let's move on to some beer reviews.

Holy Mountain Brewing's The Gray Tower: Another leftover from The Culmination, this beer poured a clear, light gold with a big white head. The aroma spritely, with a mix of brett funk and oak. Carbonation was good, and its mouthfeel was light. On the palate it was tart but effervescent. The brett was noticeable but not overbearing. Very refreshing and enjoyable. 5.3% ABV.

Alaskan Brewing's Heritage Coffee Brown Ale: The latest beer in Alaskan's Pilot Series, this beer uses coffee from Heritage Coffee Roasting Company. In fact, some of the malt was also roasted with the coffee beans. The beans were then cold-brewed to reduce the acidity and the resulting coffee was added at various points throughout the process. The beer-poured a semi-translucent brown with a cream-colored head. The nose was not as roasty as many coffee beers, with sweet malt notes present along with the roasted coffee ones. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was nice. On the palate there was good balance between the flavor elements from the coffee and the malt. On the subtle side as coffee beers go, but I think that's what they were aiming for. 7% ABV.

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project's Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison: Also a leftover from The Culmination. The beer poured a clear gold with a small white head that left good lace on the glass. The aroma mixed notes of lemon grass and sage with brett funkiness. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light. On the palate the beer was tart with spicy notes from the herbs used. Personally, I prefer my saisons without spices, but this one was well-made and the spice notes were not overly aggressive. 7.2% ABV.

St. Elias Brewing Company's H&H East India Porter: As the name implies, this beer was another collaborative project between myself and Zach Henry. To learn the background on this historic beer style read my latest column in The Redoubt Reporter. The beer poured very dark in color but with some ruby highlights and a nice mocha-colored head. The nose was primarily roasted and chocolate malt notes. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium. On the palate, the bitterness and the body were fairly balanced, which was slightly surprising, given how heavily hopped the beer was. We used English malts and East Kent Goldings exclusively in the brew. OG was 1064 and FG was 1019, for 5.9% ABV. I realize I am a bit biased, but I think this beer tasted outstanding, and I strongly suggest you give it a try.

St. Elias Brewing Company's Czech Pilsner: Zach Henry contiues to demonstrate his master of the art of making pilsners. Each beer he releases in this style seems better than the last, and I truly wish he would replace his Even Keel Kolsch flagship beer with this Czech Pilsner. It poured a crystal clear gold with a nice white head. The aroma was full of the noble Saaz hops that define a classic pilsner, backed up with some biscuity malt notes. Carbonation was excellent and the mouthfeel was light. On the palate there was the clean, crisp bitterness you expect in a good pilsner, balanced with nice, fresh malt, before falling away to a crisp, clean finish. Every time I taste a really well-made pilsner, I am reminded again why this style took the world by storm a century and a half ago. As I said, hopefully one day this beer will be a flagship brew at St. Elias, but until then, you need to enjoy it while you can.

St. Elias Brewing Company's Oktoberfest Lager: It's that time of year, so we are again treated to the release of this excellent marzen/Oktoberfest brew. It poured a rich, honey color in the glass, with a small, cream-colored head. The nose is of clean malt flavors. The carbonation is good and the mouthfeel is medium. Clean malt flavors dominate is this beer, with the hops providing the balance to keep things from getting too sweet. Rich and satisfying, this beer heralds the coming of autumn and warns us to get ready, as winter is just around the corner.

That's it for this blog. If you'll be in Soldotna, remember I'll be at the Public Library at 4 PM on Saturday, October 3, and at Kenai Peninsula College at 6:30 PM on Thursday, October 8.

Until Next Time, Cheers!


Gayle (Beer lover in Florida) said...

Congratulations on all the things that are going on in Alaska regarding craft beers!

Wenni Donna said...

This is nice dear and the place is also looking great to hangout. I am also interested in doing all this as I get to know about this from my friend who is a party freak and generally hosts all his parties at venue NYC.