Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween

Here it is, the day before Halloween and I'm beginning to wonder if I should just change this from a weekly blog to an every other week blog, since that seems to be how often I can actually get the bloody thing done! Anyway, it's the end of October and we actually have snow falling from the skies here on the Kenai. Not sure how much accumulation we'll get, but it looks like winter might finally be here at last. Lots of beer stuff happening, so let's jump right in with news and events.

I already made a Breaking News post about this, but at Anchorage Brewing Company today from 2 to 8 PM is Jolly Pumpkin Night, with five different brews from that excellent brewery on tap. Free admission, pay as you go. In addition, the brewery will be releasing a new IPA in its Expiration series. This one is brewed using a new German hop called Manderina Bavaria, Germany's answer to all of the citrusy hops that have been coming out lately. It's also dry hopped with Manderina and a touch of Simcoe at the end. Sounds delicious, so stop by and get some while it lasts! ABC also put a new beer on tap last Sunday, a sour wheat beer called Debbie's Delight.

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Last night, Arkose Brewery celebrated its 4th Anniversary with a Beer Dinner at the Jack Sprat Restaurant in Girdwood. I haven't heard any reports, but based on the menu that was published, I'm sure it was a great time. Congratulations to Arkose Brewery on reaching this milestone.

Speaking of milestones, HooDoo Brewing in Fairbanks will be celebrating its 3rd Anniversary tomorrow, October 31st. There will be a party at the brewery, and the finalists in its annual limerick contest will face off to see who will take home the grand prize and bragging rights for the year.

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Gakona Brewing Company has gotten some of its brews finished and on tap. The Berry Bunny Wheat (5.2% ABV) was on tap at the Texas Roadhouse in Anchorage, but I believe it's all gone now. The Killer Bunny IPA (6.0% ABV) should still be available at the Trapper's Den in Gakona. Plenty of more details in this week's Dr. Fermento Anchorage Press column.

The Quake Brewing Company is working to open on Tudor Road in Anchorage. You can read more about it in Dr. Fermento's column from last week here.

There will be a new beer release event at Denali Brewing Company in Talkeetna tomorrow at noon. Slow Down Brown will be released in cans.

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King Street Brewing has released the first two beers in its new Imperial Series, its Imperial Hefeweizen and Imperial IPA. It will release its Imperial Pilsner of November  13th and its Imperial Stout on December 1st. See my review of the Imperial IPA below.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company has a new beer on tap at The Loft, Hellion Hellesbock, brewed by founder and President Mark Staples as part of the brewery's celebration of its 20th year in business.  The beer is 7.7% and 22 IBUs.

Photo courtesy of Midnight Sun BC
Midnight Sun was also recognized with two "The Best of Anchorage" Awards:

Resolution Brewing Company is currently closed for the installation of some new fermenters and to catch up on its brewing.  Here's the announcement posted on its Facebook Page:

"Dear loyal RBC fans: We are closing the doors for just this week, Wednesday - Sunday. We'll be getting our 7BBL fermenters up and running and working to get more beers on tap. We will be back open on Nov 4th with four beers ready for glasses and growlers: The Madam, Black Cup Porter, Tent City Saison, and Peak 3 Pale Ale. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience."

Moving on to the Peninsula, construction on the new home to Kenai River Brewing Company is proceeding at a rapid pace. Check out the brewery's Facebook page for the latest pictures, but the walls are going up!

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing Company

At Kassik's Brewery, the barrel-aged Statny Statny Stout is available in bottles at the brewery, and the Imperial Spiced Honey Wheat is on tap at the brewery.

At. St. Elias Brewing Company, here's a list of the current beers:

Zach Henry tells me that Moosejuice Barley Wine will be back on tap soon, along with more of his excellent Czech Pilsner. I'm still trying to convince him to replace his flagship Even Keel Kolsch with this excellent lager.

Moving on to beer reviews, first off, I must note the returns of a trio of my perennial favorites from Midnight Sun Brewing Company.

First up, CoHoHo Imperial IPA. See my review way back on 10/20/2008, written not long after I started this blog. One of my favorite things about fall in Alaska is that this seasonal from MSBC reappears on local shelves. I literally can't get enough of this beer!

Second, Termination Dust Belgian-style Barley Wine. This is another fall seasonal, as its name implies. See my 11/10/2014 review from when it was first released last year. This beer also took Second Place in the Barley Wine Competition at this year's Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival, so it is great to see it back on the shelves as well.

Finally, Pride, a Belgian-style pale ale aged in chardonnay barrels with brettanomyces. The first release of this beer predates the start of this blog by about a year, as it was initially part of MSBC's Deadly Sins Series in 2007. Because of that, I've never actually published a review of it, until now. It poured a slightly cloudy dark honey color with a nice, cream-colored head. The notes of brett funk were clearly evident in the nose, along with some oaky notes from the barrel-aging. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was borderline light to medium. In the flavor profile the brett funkiness was quite evident from the start, along with the vinous, oaky contribution from the barrel aging, before falling away gradually to a long, dry finish. One of the first brett beers I ever had, and still an excellent example of the style. 6.5% ABV, 40 IBUs.

Besides these re-releases, I reviewed two other beers during the last two weeks. The first is a world-class beer, the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen from Brauerei-Heller/Trum in Bamberg, Germany. This is one of the famous smoked beers (rauchbier in German) produced in this region. It poured a very deep ruby color with a nice, persistent cream-colored head. The aroma was of smoke and malt.The carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was nice.The flavor profile was the clean, smooth malt notes you expect from a good marzen, with a nice overlay of smoke from the beechwood used. Subtler than many other smoked beers, its truly is a classic of the style. 5.2% ABV.

Finally, King Street Brewing's Imperial IPA. As mentioned above, this is the second release in the brewery's new Imperial Series, at 8.5% ABV and 85 IBUs.It poured a slightly cloudy copper-gold color with a big off-white head. The nose was full of bright, citrusy notes from American hops. Carbonation was quite good and the mouthfeel was fairly light. In the initial attack there was good but not excessive bitterness, followed by lots of hop flavors and aroma, falling away gradually to a fine, hoppy finish. This is a well-balanced beer, with enough malt backbone to stand up to the massive hop presence, and quite drinkable for an imperial IPA. Well-made and delicious.

That's it for this week. I'll be back next week (or maybe the week after...) with more news and reviews. Meanwhile, be careful on the roads out there, as folks try to remember how to drive on snow again...

Until Next Time, Cheers.

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