Monday, May 30, 2016

The New Kenai River Brewing Is Open!

It's been a long time coming (kinda like this blog post), but Kenai River Brewing has finally completed its move to its new brewery and is open for business! The new building opened its doors to the public last Wednesday, and owner Doug Hogue was planning to brew on his new 20-barrel system for the first time last Thursday. I arrived about 10 minutes after the doors opened, but there were already folks in the tap room celebrating. Here are some photos of the soft opening taken by my wife Elaine:

Front-side of the brewery, with main entrance on the right.

The first crowd. The round area at the end of the bar will be reserved for growler fills.

A 100-barrel, an 80-barrel, two 40-barrel, and three 20-barrel conicals

Looking down on the brewing floor from the grain storage 

The new 20-barrel brewhouse from Specific Mechanical

Another angle on the brewhouse

18 regular taps plus 3 nitros!

The covered patio out back

The tap room from the patio door

While the new brewery is open now, the Grand Opening Celebration won't be happening until June 18, which is also Kenai River Brewing's 10th Anniversary. There will be live music and the beer line-up will be retro, featuring the beers that were on on tap when Kenai River first opened its doors ten years ago. Congratulations to Doug and the rest of the Kenai River Brewing Team on bringing their vision into reality.

As long as we're talking about improvements to Peninsula breweries, let's talk about the new layout of St. Elias Brewing Company's bar. Zach Henry has completed the installation of the new 12-tap tower for his beers and a smaller tower on the back bar for his house wines. Here are some photos of the new layout.

The new 12-tap beer tower

The new back bar layout

In addition, St. Elias has two new beers on tap. The Bavarian Hefeweizen is back for the summer, and is being poured in the traditional 20 oz. glasses. There is also a new lambic style on offer, brewed with a combination of apples and raspberries, which Zach is calling Frapple Lambic. Also, the H&H All-American Stout is now being offered in pints, rather than just goblets. Here's is a tap list, but this photo was taken before the Hefeweizen was added.

Since my last blog, we've had two big beer events here in Alaska. On Saturday, March 21st, the Alaska Crafted Festival took place in downtown Anchorage, and I attended it. The weather was fairly uncooperative, with light rain and gusty winds, but those who braved the elements had a wonderful time. The live music was great, the food on offer was excellent, and the beers, wines, mead, ciders, and spirits were superb. I hope there will be more such events in the future to continue to showcase the remarkable crafted beverages being produced in Alaska.

Click to enlarge

This weekend just passed was the 24th Annual Alaska Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival in Haines. I wasn't able to attend this year, but I'm sure that it was the same great event that it always is, with the Brewers Dinner on Friday evening and the Festival itself on Saturday afternoon. I know tickets to both sold out well in advance and that there were 20 breweries in attendance from across Alaska, including Kodiak Island Brewing, plus Yukon Brewing and Winterlong Brewing from the Yukon Territory in Canada. Senator Lisa Murkowski attended the Brewers Dinner, which was produced by Chef Travis Kukull of Seattle for the fourth year. This is the oldest beer festival in Alaska and always a wonderful time.

 May is a big month for brewery anniversaries. Besides Midnight Sun Brewing's 21st Anniversary on May 5, Glacier BrewHouse celebrated its 20th on May 20th, and Kassik's Brewery opened on Memorial Day Weekend ten years ago. Winterlong Brewing of Whitehorse will mark its one year anniversary on Wednesday, June 4th. Winterlong will be celebrating by releasing its Spruce Tip Ale, a Belgian-style saison, as well as having prizes, giveaways, and treats.

Click to enlarge

On the list of not-so-good news, it was announced on Friday, May 20, that SubZero Microlounge was closing, effective immediately. Apparently, the plan is to expand Flattop Pizza + Pool into the space that SubZero formerly occupied. Here's the statement from the owners:

"Although it was harrowing to announce that Sub Zero was closing last Saturday, we are excited to announce that the closure was for the summer expansion of Flattop Pizza + Pool. The expanded bar and restaurant space will now be open 7 days a week. Rest assured that we are incorporating many of the Sub Zero favorites, including our spectacular Kobe beef sliders, creative craft cocktails, and Belgian beer selections into Flattop’s expanded menu."
"We’d like to thank our friends, family, patrons and vendors for your tenacious support over the last ten plus years – and we thank our exceptional staff. We are so proud of the strides our team has made in recent years and the awesome amount of blood, sweat and tears they dedicated to Sub Zero. They worked hard to bring an incredible dining & beverage experience to each and every one of our guests. Sub Zero will live on in many features and menu items incorporated into the expansion of Flattop Pizza + Pool as well as its sister restaurant Williwaw. It is important to note that our valued Sub Zero bartenders, chefs, and servers are now part of our exceptional teams at Humpy’s, Flattop, and Williwaw."
"Sub Zero has been privileged to be a part of so many special life occasions - first dates, 21st birthdays, and wedding receptions; and to have played a part in nurturing the culinary & cocktail movement in the Anchorage food community. It’s our goal to continue this legacy by evolving our bars and restaurants to meet the expectations of our loyal local guests as well as visitors to our great city.
Stay tuned over the summer and fall for new and exciting changes to the corner of 6th & F!"

While I can see how SubZero might be a bit redundant, now that the Williwaw complex has opened, I will still miss it. I have some great memories of that bar, especially the Beer Dinners held there during Alaska Beer Week.  So long, old friend.

There's a new quarterly magazine coming out in June which should be of interest to the craft beer drinker in Alaska. Its called Edible Alaska, and will cover locally produced food and drink. Full disclosure, I will be doing some writing work for them. Here a shot of the cover of the first issue:

I mentioned that Kodiak Island Brewing was at the Haines Beer Fest last Saturday. If your summer travels should take you to The Rock, be sure to stop in and try its excellent beers. Here's a current tap list:

Click to enlarge

Well, that about covers the recent beer news. I've got five beer reviews for this blog, two of which are of classic Trappist ales that I've had many times but never got around to formally reviewing. Let's start with those.

Rochefort 6 Trappist Ale: It poured a lovely dark copper color with a big, off-white head. The aroma featured the classic Belgian dubbel profile of dark fruit notes (plums and raisins) plus the spicy, phenolic contribution of a Belgian yeast. The mouthfeel was fairly light and the carbonation was good. On the palate, the dark fruit and yeast notes were repeated, though the overall impression was of a lighter beer than many other dubbels out there. One of the classic Trappist Ales. 7.5% ABV.

Rochefort 8 Trappist Ale: It poured a dark but still translucent ruby color with a large and persistent cream-colored head. Again, the nose was dark fruit and yeast notes. The mouthfeel was medium and noticeable fuller than that of the 6, while the carbonation was excellent. The flavor profile was also similar to the 6's, but fuller, richer, and more complex. The finish was nice and also noticeably longer than that of the 6. 9.2% ABV.

Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp 2016 Tropical IPA: It poured a clear gold color with a nice white head that left good lace on the glass. The aroma certainly lived up to the beer's name, being chock-full of tropical fruit notes. The mouthfeel was light and the carbonation was good. The initial bitterness was good but not excessive, followed by plenty of clean, fruity hop flavors. A nicely-made brew. If you like your IPAs tropical, this one delivers. 6.7% ABV, 55 IBUs.

Brouwerij Van Steenberge's Gulden Draak 9000 Quad: It poured a dark, clear copper color with a small, cream-colored head that dissipated to a collar. The nose was full of raisins and figs, plus the spicy notes of the Belgian yeast. Mouthfeel was fairly light for the style, with satisfactory carbonation. On the palate the beer was fairly dry, with more dark fruit notes, followed by some alcohol heat on the finish. A nice Belgian strong dark ale, drier than most but still rich and satisfying. 10.7 % ABV, 25 IBUs.

Seward Brewing's Lazy Otter Lager: I picked this up on May 7th and drank it 19 days later, but the beer was still in perfect shape, which is a testament to the effectiveness of the crowler that it was packaged in. It poured a very light gold color, clear with a white head. The aroma was of malt and some crisp hop notes. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light. On the palate, the malt and hops were in balance, making for an extremely drinkable brew. The perfect beer to have outside on a sunny day or after mowing the lawn, plus one that would pair well with almost any sort of food. 5.6% ABV.

That's it for this time. I hope everyone gets out and enjoys the excellent weather we are having here in Alaska. Remember to be careful with fire; everything is tinder dry out there, so it won't take much to get a huge blaze started.

Until Next Time, Cheers!


Debra Burrow said...

I like you post, the way you show the information through the pictures or describe it very nicely.This is appreciable!
Here we provide bartenders for any party if you wanna get in Los Angeles, you can visit on this website Event Bartenders LA

hotbartenders said...

Wow this is such a beautiful post, I really enjoyed reading your post, actually great post!
All views around the pictures are amazing.
This is our website Hire A Bartender
Where we provide bartender service.

Scott Fajkus said...

This great! Every single glass or bottle looks fantastic each other.
Anyone looking for bartender service you can give us a call.. our contact can be found here Hire A Bartender For Party Los Angeles