Wednesday, July 20, 2016

It's Crazy Days in Soldotna...

Well, it's the second half of July, which means it's crazy days in Soldotna. The reds are running quite well this year, which means we're hip-deep in dip netters here on the Peninsula. Fred Meyer's is packed constantly, and the breweries are seeing so much business that they are having trouble keeping beer on tap. On the (sort-of) plus side, the McHugh Creek Wildfire might slow down the deluge of people, at least for a day or two...

That's the price of living in paradise, I guess, so let's talk beer news. First up, Girdwood Brewing posted a video to show everyone where its location will be. The brewery is still scheduled to open "by ski season." Here's the video:

More exciting news: Midnight Sun Brewing Company is launching a new beer club. Here's the flier announcing it:

Click to enlarge

The Beer Club Kick-off Event will be on August 8th at 11 AM in The Loft. The brewery has also announced that its 21st Anniversary beer, Grand Crew Brew, which I wrote about in my last blog, will be released in August, rather than this month.

Arkose Brewery will be continuing its Small Batch series tomorrow:

Arkose has also released an new beer:

Odd Man Rush Brewing  won two Denali Awards by being selected as both the 2016 Best Brewery in Alaska and as the 2016 Best New Start Up in Alaska by Alaska Business Monthly. The brewery also has new growler labels in:

Photo courtesy of Odd Man Rush Brewing

The dates for the 3rd Annual Yukon Beer Festival in Whitehorse have been announced: 14 & 15 October.

Out at Gakona Brewing, Ed Miner has made several post on his progress of installing his new 3-barrel brewing system. Various problems have been overcome, including gas, exhaust, and electrical installations. No timeline yet, but I'm sure Ed will have his new toys up and running soon!

Tickets are now on sale for this year's Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival. All tickets are being sold online, via the website. $32 per person. The event runs from 5 to 10 PM on Saturday, August 13, at the Soldotna Sports Center. I am certainly biased, but I still think this is one of the best festivals in Alaska!

The Culmination Festival at Anchorage Brewing Company is looking for volunteers with TAP cards to serve beer. The Festival will run from 2 to 6 PM on Saturday, August 20th. If you have the proper credentials and want to volunteer, contact Heather at Specialty Imports via email at The names of participating breweries are beginning to appear on the website, but tickets are not yet on sale, as of today. However, ABC has announced that the band Mos Generator will be performing after the Festival at the brewery.

Seward Brewing Company released a new beer on Sunday, July 17th:

Here on the Peninsula, the breweries have been working hard just to keep up with the demand of all the summer visitors, as mentioned above. Elaine and I stopped by Kenai River Brewing yesterday for lunch (outstanding burgers and fries from the Blue Moon Burger food truck), and I grabbed a sampler of four of beers:

From left to right, Kolsch, Chocolate Porter, Honeymoon Hefe, Russian Imperial Stout. All beers I've had before, but not recently. Check out the cool sampler tray, made from birch roots by a local artist.

As you can see from this photo, Kenai River currently has seven beers on offer, the four listed above, plus Naptown Brown, Skilak Scottish, and Sunken Island IPA.

I also stopped in at St. Elias Brewing. The delicious Sprout IPA that I reviewed in my last blog is already gone. Coming soon to replace it will be Ole's Cool IPA, brewed with Centennial, Crystal, and Simcoe hops. Only 5.8% ABV, so it's almost a Session IPA.

At Grace Ridge Brewing in Homer, there should be a new beer on tap this week: Bear Cove Berliner Weisse, a kettle-soured wheat beer made with raspberry syrup. The brewery's parking lot has was also paved last weekend.

Photo by Elaine Howell
That's it for news, so let's do a few beer reviews:

Ommegang's Three Philosophers Quad: A classic Belgian Dark Strong Ale from the excellent brewery in Cooperstown, NY. It poured a translucent ruby color with a nice cream-colored head. The aroma was of figs and plums. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was nice. The flavor profile was rich and complex, as you'd expect for such a big beer - more dark fruit notes, plus hints of sherry and tobacco, before gradually falling away to a long finish. An excellent interpretation of this classic style, and much more reasonably priced than imports from Belgium. 9.7% ABV, 19 IBUs.

Schlenkerla's Smoked Doppelbock: A new beer (at least to me) from the German brewery that's world-famous for its rauchbiers. For this beer, the malt was smoked using oak, rather than some of the more traditional woods. It poured a dark honey color with a small, off-white head that dissipated to a collar. The nose was of caramel and smoke. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium. On the palate, it was all sweet, clean caramel and malt notes, plus lots of smoke. A very tasty entry to the smoked beer category, and one I used to chase a dram of Lagavulin single malt Scotch Whisky. 8% ABV.

Alaskan Brewing's Smash Galaxy Double IPA: This beer is brewed using a single kind of malt and a single hop (SMSH or Smash).  In this case, the beer showcases the Galaxy hop. It poured a clear gold with a big, white head that left good lace on the glass. The aroma was full of tropical fruit notes from the Galaxy hops. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel as light. The initial bitter attack was good but not overwhelming, followed by plenty of clean Galaxy hop flavor and aroma. Overall, a very nice beer and one that does a great job showing off the characteristics of this popular hop variety. 8.5% ABV.

That's it for this week. If you dodge the McHugh Creek Fire and make it down to the Peninsula, please enjoy yourself. Be sure to stop by our local breweries. And if you're one of my neighbors down here, just keep reminding yourself that dipnetting only lasts until the end of July. Just grit your teeth, pour yourself a beer, and hang on 'til then.

Until next time, cheers!

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