Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Another Player Joins the Game: Welcome to Bleeding Heart Brewery

It's mid-April and lots of things are beginning to bloom here in Alaska, including our newest crop of breweries. First out of the gate is Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer, which opened for business at noon on Saturday.

Stefan Marty and Zack Lanphier. Photo courtesy of Bleeding Heart Brewery
Looks like the initial tap list consisted of the brewery's four flagship brews: Grounds for Divorce Coffee Porter, Valley Trash Dirty Blonde, Kold Shoulder Kristallweizen and the namesake Bleeding Heart India Pale Ale. Bleeding Heart has also fired up a blog, with an initial post about how it got started. Congratulations on finally making it, guys,, and I can't wait to get up to Palmer and check things out.

While Bleeding Heart is open for business, Quake Brewing in Eagle River is still working towards that goal. As part of that effort, Quake has initiated a campaign to raise $10,000 to help finish the brewpub. Quake will also be unusual in that it will offer other breweries' beers, alongside its own. To my knowledge, the only other brewpub in the state doing that is the Seward Brewing Company. Here's a video from February, describing their plans.

If you'd like to contribute to getting Quake Brewing up and running, check them out on

Speaking of new breweries, there was a report in the Alaska Dispatch News that a business plan for a new brewery in Unalaska won first place and $20,000 in a contest sponsored by the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association and Aleut Corp. Josh Good is a 5th Grade teacher who hopes to open the Unalaska Brewing Company. He's obviously got a long way to go, but I certainly hope he's successful, even if it means a long trip to pay him a visit and sample his beers. You can read the entire ADN report here.

While new breweries are working to open, existing breweries continue to expand. Midnight Sun Brewing Company has just taken delivery of a fancy new bottling machine. Here are some pictures of it being delivered:

Images courtesy of Midnight Sun Brewing Company
At Kenai River Brewing Company's new brewery, Doug Hogue finished assembling the new 20-bbl brewhouse last week, so it's likely been plumbed in and wired to power by now.

Some assembly required... Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing.

Brewhouse in its new home. Photo courtesy of Kenai River.
Ed Miner of Gakona Brewing let me know that he has bought a 3-barrel brewhouse from Odd Man Rush Brewing in Eagle River. He should be picking it up this week, and then he will need to get it plumbed in and wired up, but he expects to have it up and running by the beginning of June, give or take. Along with his new tanks, this should significantly increase his production.

Over at Bearpaw River Brewing in Wasilla, they have finally gotten ahead of the demand curve enough to send some beer out to a few places around the area. As of last Thursday, Bearpaw River was on tap at:

  • Spenard Roadhouse
  • PubHouse
  • Settlers Bay Golf Course 
  • Fat Ptarmigan 
  • La Bodega 
  • ER Alehouse 
  • Palmer City Alehouse 
  • Schwabenhoff

Or just hit the brewery itself.

Moving on to beer events, at 6 PM on Thursday, April 28, Kinley's Restaurant and Bar in Anchorage will be hosting the Sierra Nevada Beer Makers Dinner,which will feature the beers of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, paired with the amazing food that Kinley's is known for. There will be six beers and five course, and the detailed menu is posted here. The cost is $70 per person; call 907-644-8953 to make reservations. I have attended beer dinners at Kinley's in the past, and they were all amazing, so if you will be in Anchorage next week, I'd definitely try to make this one.

49th State Brewing Company in Healy will be celebrating the end of its annual winter hibernation with a 2016 Kick Off Party on Saturday, April 30th. The brewpub will actually open next Monday, April 25th. There's rumor that there might even be a barley wine on tap during the first week in Healy!

49th State Brewing Company in Anchorage will be hosting an Audience Appreciation Show by the comedy improv group Scared Scriptless this Saturday, April 23rd,  from 8 to 9:30 PM.

La Bodega will be hosting a beer and small bites tasting with John Kathman of Rogue at its Northern Lights location on Tuesday, April 26th at 5:30 PM. $10 gets you beer samples and small bites. Seating is limited to 25, and tickets are only on sale at the Northern Lights store, next to Hearth.

Here on the Peninsula, the Three Bears Warehouse Store in Kenai has added a 6-tap growler bar to its liquor store. I'm told that the beers currently on tap are Elysian Brewing's Space Dust IPA, Alaskan Brewing's Honey Hemp Ale (ESB), Broken Tooth Brewing's Apple Ale, two beers from Glacier Brewhouse, and Kassik's Brewery's  Morning Wood IPA. This means we now have more growler fill options!

Moving on to beer reviews, I've got three for this blog.

Burton Bridge Brewing's Olde Expensive Ale: To be honest, I picked this one up on a whim at La Bodega because I liked the label design. It poured a deep copper color and was seriously over-carbonated, with a huge meringue-like head that took forever to settle, making this beer a real pain to pour. The aroma was zesty, with some pear-like notes. Too much carbonation, okay mouthfeel. Flavor profile seemed a bit off, which along with the excessive carbonation, makes me suspect problems with this beer. Some yeasty notes, but plenty of medicinal ones as well. Not really worth drinking, so I'm afraid I can't recommend this one, despite its cool label. 6.5% ABV.

Sierra Nevada Brewing's Otra Vez Gose-style Ale: This beer poured a cloudy gold with a white head that slowly dissipated to a collar. The nose had citrus & grapefruit notes. The mouthfeel was light and the carbonation was good. On the palate there was a subtle tartness, which made the beer seem light and refreshing, before making a nice, clean finish. I could see enjoying this on a hot day or pairing it with a nice, light salad. 4.5% ABV.

Black Raven Brewing's Splinters Bourbon-barrel Aged Scotch Ale: I am somewhat familiar with this brewery from its participation in the Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival, not to mention I'm a sucker for Scotch Ales, so when I saw this beer at La Bodega, I decided to give it a try. It poured a deep ruby color with a good cream-colored head. The aroma was strongly of bourbon, and only bourbon. Mouthfeel was good, a bit heavy as a Scotch Ale should be, and carbonation was okay. The flavor profile tracked with the aroma, i.e. overwhelmingly bourbon. For me, this beer illustrates the mistake many breweries make with barrel-aging: they allow the barrel to totally dominate the beer. If all I want is bourbon flavors, I'll drink bourbon! If I'm having a beer, I want it to taste primarily like beer, with some bourbon notes, not the other way round. However, if you want to drink a beer that tastes like bourbon and only bourbon, this one's for you. 10.8 % ABV.

That's it for this week. More news and reviews next week.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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