Monday, April 11, 2016

Support Your Local Brewery!

Support Your Local Brewery was created by the Brewers Association several years ago as a way to rally grassroots support for the craft beer industries in all 50 states. I first blogged about it over six years ago (2/16/2010) and have mentioned it on occasion since then. However, given the recent push by the governor to double our beer taxes here in Alaska, it seems like this might be a good time to mention it again. Basically, you can go to the website and see if there is any legislation pending on a state or federal level which would impact craft beer, read about it, and then decide if you want to contact your representatives and voice your opinion about it. If you don't want to check the website regularly, you can also sign up for email notifications, which are sent out whenever a local brewers guild needs to mobilize public support. Here's a much better known beer person than I to tell you why this is important:

So if you care about craft beer in Alaska or anywhere else, please go to and sign up.

Speaking of the Brewers Association, it has also released the list of the top 50 Craft Breweries in the US, based on volume of beer produced in 2015. Here's the graphic showing who and where they are, though several of these (marked with an asterisk) have been bought out by the mega brands, so they won't appear on next year's list.

Click to enlarge
You can see that in 2015, Alaskan Brewing Company ranked as Number 22 in total volume of craft beer produced.

If you haven't done so already, mark your calendars for the brand-new Alaska Crafted Festival on May 21st in Anchorage. As I mentioned in my last blog, this event is looking like it's going to be one of the premiere events of the beer season, especially for those of us who can't make it to the sold-out Haines Fest the following weekend. I'm even more excited about it now, as I've been asked to give a presentation on the history of brewing in Alaska and do a book signing as part of it. Tickets are selling fast, so if you plan to attend, you'd better buy yours sooner rather than later.

There will be a Beer Dinner featuring beers from 49th State Brewing Company this Wednesday, April 13, at The Sitzmark Bar & Grill in Girdwood. Here's the menu:

6 beers and 5 courses.
Prospectors Gold as a welcome beer.
1st) Roasted Pineapple, Jicama & Watercress Salad Crisp – Baked Blonde
2nd) Choucroute Garnie – Amber Borealis
3rd) Buffalo Style Fried Oysters w/ Celery Carrot Salad – Vagabond Saison
4th) AK Barley Risotto w/ Braised Beef Short Rib – Solstice IPA
5th) House Made Marshmallow “S’more” skewer – Smoked Marzen

There will be music by Melissa Mitchell and Spiff. Weather permitting, there will also be a bonfire.

The dinner starts at 7 PM and runs until 10. Tickets are $49 and are available at

I wrote last week about the opening plans for Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer. I also mentioned that Grace Ridge Brewing in Homer was not far behind. I've got some additional info on that opening, courtesy of Jim "Dr. Fermento" Roberts' column in last week's Anchorage Press. Here's the relevant quote:
 “We’re brewing our first beer in our system,” says owner/brewer Don Stead. “We’ll be opening in the first part of May, but we’ll definitely be open in time for the Shorebird Festival [May 12 through 15]. We want to open a little bit before that, but if this is my first brew, it will be tight getting it in before May” he says.
You can read the rest of the column for more details on the brewery's plans.

Not far behind Grace Ridge Brewing is Cynosure Brewing in Anchorage. It's located at 144 Potter Dr., just east of C Street, between Dowling and International Airport. It's the brainchild of Clarke Pelz, long-time head brewer at Broken Tooth Brewing. No firm date there yet, but the best estimate seems to be late May or early June for its opening.

Anchorage Brewing Company has announced that it will be partnering with The Motorcycle Shop to hold the First Annual Vintage Barrel and Bike Show at the brewery on Sunday, May 15th. More detail as they become available.

Here on the Peninsula, the big news is the arrival of Kenai River Brewing's new 20-barrel brewhouse from Specific Mechanical. It's been delivered to the new brewery (see pictures below, courtesy of Kenai River Brewing); now Doug Hogue just need to figure out how to put it all together!

New Mash Tun

New Hot Liquor Tank
Talking with Doug, I learned he plans to hold the Grand Opening of the new brewery on Saturday, June 18th, to coincide with Kenai River's 10th Anniversary Celebration. The brewery will have a soft opening before that in mid- to late May, stay tuned for the exact date. Here's the tap list at Kenai River as of Tuesday, April 5:

That's about it for news this week, so let's do a couple of beer reviews.

Alaskan Brewing's Kicker Session IPA: I first wrote about this beer back on March 7th, based on a press release from Alaskan, and I've been waiting to see it show up on our local shelves. I finally found some last week at Country Liquors in Kenai, so here's a review. It poured a clear gold with a slight red tint and a large white head that left good lacing on the glass. The aroma was of citrusy American hops. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light. The initial bitter attack is restrained, greatly increasing the drinkability, followed by nice hop flavor and aroma on the back end. Finish is a tad quicker than I would like, but it leaves you eager for another sip. If you are looking for a hoppy beer that you can drink several of without suffering palate fatigue, this is a fine choice. 4.5% ABV, 45 IBUs.

Kenai River Brewing's Dr. Rudi Imperial Rye Pale Ale: If the previous beer is designed for sustained drinking, this beer is its antithesis. It's a clear, reddish-gold in the glass with a small cream-colored head. The nose is balanced between malt notes and Dr. Rudi hops. The mouthfeel is medium and the carbonation is good. The initial attack has a ton of bitterness, but there are some balancing caramel notes, followed by more hop flavor, as it falls away to a long finish. At 9.2% ABV and 103 IBUs, the beer is not one you're likely to have more than one of, but it's excellent nonetheless.

Well, that wraps things up for this week. Get out and enjoy this great spring weather with some excellent craft beer and support your local brewery!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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