Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Festive Season

We are now into what I always think of as the festive season here in Alaska, i.e. the season when it seems we're having a beer festival about every other week. Yes, we have great festivals other times of the year, but it always seems that we have the greatest concentration of them in this part of the year.

First up was the Annual Kenai River Beer Festival, which took place last Saturday. As this is my local fest and I had a (small) part in getting it off the ground a few years ago, I suppose I'm biased, but I still think it's one of the best festivals in the state. The weather could have been better this year, but the sporadic light rain couldn't keep the hardy beer drinkers away. Here are some photos that I snapped at the start of the festival.

Kenai River Brewing had a new twist this year. In order to taste the various vintages of its Winter Warlock Old Ale (which changed each hour and ranged from 2015 all the way back to 2009), you had to find the "Winter Warlock" and get a "magical gem" from him, which you then surrendered (along with a drink token) for your sample. Here's what the Warlock looked like:

All this helped Kenai River Brewing win the Best Brewery in the People's Choice Awards (for the 5th year running, I believe). King Street's IPA won as Best Beer. All-in-all, it was a great festival.

Next up is The Culmination, which will be taking place this Saturday at Anchorage Brewing Company, starting at 2 PM. Amazingly, I think there are actually a few tickets left, so if you haven't purchased yours yet, there's still time. And don't forget Hill Farmstead Brewery Day tomorrow at Anchorage Brewing; I wrote about this in detail in my last blog.

Speaking of Anchorage Brewing Company, it is putting three new beers on tap today:

Migrating Eyes - Collaboration with Tired Hands, spelt saison aged one year in French oak. Fermented with Tired Hands house culture.

An Eternity - Collaboration with Gigantic Brewing, Saison aged one year in French oak with Organic Oregon Marion Berries and Alaska Apples.

Mikkeller Invasion- Rustic IPA brewed with Citra and Galaxy Hops, fermented in Foudres with Brett. Dry hopped with Citra and Galaxy.

On September 17, Glacier Brewhouse will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Here's the flier for it:

September 17th will also be the day of the 5th Annual Talkeetna Brewfest. I attended this last year and had a great time, so if you can be in Talkeetna on that weekend, I strongly recommend it. Tickets are available at

September 17th also happens to be the date of the 5th Annual Capital Brewfest at the Juneau Arts & Cultural Center (JACC) from 12:30 to 5 pm. See what I mean about the Festive Season? So if you're in Southeast, here's an alternative festival for you.

Silver Gulch Brewing will be celebrating Oktoberfest on 16 & 17 September. It will have First Tap of this year’s Oktoberfest Brew Great polka from Alaska Blaskapel. Plus Steve Brown and the Bailers Tickets are only $10 at the door! Designated drivers get in free.

And we're not done yet! One week later, on Saturday, September 24th, it will be Bodega-Fest in Anchorage's Lucy Cuddy Park from 1 to 6 PM. Tickets are $39 and on-sale now. Besides beer and music at the fest itself, this year there will also be a concert at Tap-Root after the fest itself. Click on the link above for all the details.

But wait, there's more! October 1 is this year's Zwanze Day, sponsored by Belgian brewery Cantillon. Anchorage Brewing Company will be a Zwanze Day location again this year, as it was last year. There are only 27 other locations in the entire US, so were are fortunate to have one in Alaska.

Whew! That's a lot of festivals in the next six weeks or so. See why I think it's the Festive Season?

In other news, Midnight Sun Brewing has released its 21st Anniversary Beer, Grand Crew Brew. I got to taste a small sample of it at the Kenai Beer Festival, and I can tell you that it's outstanding! You definitely want to pick up as many bottles of this one as you can find, both to enjoy now and cellar for later. I believe it's only available at the brewery itself.

If we didn't have enough going on in the next few weeks, you can add in the Grand Opening of Quake Brewing Company in Eagle River on 1 September. Everything appears to be on track, and you can get details on Facebook here.

Arkose Brewery will be a part of an event called the Sapling and Smolt Soiree, along with the Great Land Trust, on August 28th, just before the start of the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Here is the flier for it:

Arkose will be pouring its Palmer Extra Pale Ale and its Sister City Raspberry Saison. The brewery will also be hosting another of its regular Beer Meets Chocolate events this Friday, August 19th.

Newcomer Grace Ridge Brewing was at the Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival (and I believe it will be at the Talkeetna Brewfest). It is hosting a fund raiser for the Kevin Bell Arena/Homer Hockey Association on Friday, August 26th, from 4 to 8 PM. Here's the flier:

Note that there will also be beers from Kenai River Brewing and Odd Man Rush Brewing on offer as well.

St. Elias Brewing's Old's Cool Session IPA (reviewed in my last blog) has already run out. However, the very popular Green Giant DIPA should be back on tap before the end of the week. Here's the current tap list:

That's the news, now let's do some reviews.

Southern Tier Brewing's Salted Caramel Imperial Stout: It poured opaque with a small tan head that dissipated to a collar. The aroma was caramelized sugar and cocoa notes. The mouthfeel was medium to heavy, with good carbonation. Flavors were rich and thick, with intense notes of caramel, chocolate, and coffee. A big sipper, and one that would make an excellent ingredient in dishes calling for a big stout. 10% ABV.

49th State Brewing's Foxcatcher Saison: I picked this up in a crowler during my first visit to the new Anchorage location. It poured a slightly cloudy gold with a nice white head that left good lace on the glass. The nose had the peppery, earthy notes I associate with a Belgian yeast. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light. Good upfront bitterness, followed by earthy, farmhouse notes. An excellent saison in the style of the classic from Dupont. 6.2% ABV.

Midnight Sun Brewing's Feast Doppelbock: This beer was released several weeks ago, but I finally managed to score a bottle. It poured a deep, semi-translucent ruby color, with a nice, cream-colored head. The aroma was rich and malty, with no noticeable hops. Carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was rich and heavy. The flavor profile was all strong, smooth malt flavors, with hints of oak and alcohol from the barrel-aging. A delicious doppelbock. 7.4% ANB, 15 IBUs.

Boon's Oude Geuze (2011-2012): From the famous Belgian brewery, this beer poured a clear, slightly reddish gold color with a big white head. The nose was full of tart and oaky notes. Carbonation was intense, and the mouthfeel was effervescent. On the palate it was tart and refreshing. A superb geuze, very dry and oaky. 7% ABV

Stone Brewing's Who You Callin' Wussie Pilsner: I found this in a six-pack of 16 oz. cans at Country Liquors in Kenai. It poured a clear gold with a nice white head that left good lace. The aroma had plenty of noble hops. Carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was light. The flavor profile was clean and crisp, and reminded me strongly of German pilsners. A very nice and enjoyable beer.

That's it for this blog. I hope to see you at one or more of the upcoming festivals. Look for me at The Culmination this Saturday for sure.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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