Monday, October 17, 2016

Legal Matters

A story which appeared in the Peninsula Clarion & Homer News has caused quite a stir here on the Peninsula. The article dealt with the proposed re-write to the portions of Title 4 which cover the issuance of alcohol licenses in Alaska. Senator Peter Micciche, who represents the Central Peninsula in the state senate, is the chairmen of the committee in charge of the overhaul. You can read the article in its entirety here, but before you begin sharpening your pitchforks and lighting torches, there are a couple of things you should know. To make sure I had the latest and most accurate info, I talked to Ryan Makinster, the Executive Director of the Brewers Guild of Alaska, and someone who is intimately involved in the re-write process. Here's what he had to say.

First, Ryan pointed out that the article is based on SB 99, which was submitted last session, but went no where in the legislative process. This year's bill will likely be pre-filed in January, and should have some significant changes from SB 99. Second, while Public Convenience Licenses will likely be going away, current holders will transition either to seasonal licenses (for truly seasonal operations, open six months or less a year) or to Restaurant/Eating Place Licenses. Third, the administrations of both Wasilla and Soldotna are involved in the process and are pushing for a mechanism which would recognize the fact that cities like them service a much larger population base than just residents within city limits, so the number of licenses able to be issued needs to reflect that. Public meetings are still taking place to try to hammer out all the details, which should be reflected in the new bill to be filed after the first of the year.

So in summary, this is certainly something anyone who enjoys consuming alcohol should pay attention to, but it's not yet time to storm the Bastille. Rest assured, I'll do my best to keep you all informed of developments, and when it's time to make our voice heard to Senator Micciche and the rest of the legislature, I'll definitely sound the trumpet. Until then, we can remain calm and keep our powder dry.

In another legal matter, Barb Miller, one of the owners of Midnight Sun Brewing, made the following post on Facebook on October 13th:

"So a brewpub named Sockeye Grill and Brewery in ID has just begun to move some product into the AK market. We discovered them a few years ago and decided to be respectful and not push our Sockeye Red IPA into ID. (Our beers are distributed in AK, WA, OR, CA, HI and NY.) Their labels are predominantly "SOCKEYE" then IPA or Porter, etc. Naturally, we are going to defend our territory, namely AK. We've been here since 1995. We now have our attorneys involved because we called them and they declined to retreat. I know this situation is not uncommon in our industry but we/MSBC always play respectfully with names/beers in our and others' distribution areas.
What are YOUR thoughts on this situation?
Supporting MSBC and not supporting this ID brewpub is any easy way to drive them out of AK. They are being distributed by the Odom Corporation, which is part of Southern Wine and Spirits. (And they definitely have attorneys on the payroll.)
Oddly, I was just talking about Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential book this week, which focuses on the underbelly of the culinary industry. YeaH, so welcome to the underbelly of the brewing industry."
I'm told that the beers from Sockeye Grill and Brewery began being distributed in Alaska on October 1st, so you can expect to see them on local shelves. I'm working to research more information on this dispute from all the parties involved, so look for more updates in the future, "as they develop."

Moving on to other, happier beer news.

Midnight Sun Brewing has announced that it will be holding a release party for its super-popular Berserker Imperial Stout on October 31st. The Halloween Horde Event will take place from 4 pm October 31st to 8 PM on November 1st. Besides the release of this year's Berserker, there will also be flights of previous vintages. In addition, anyone who comes dressed in "Ancient Norse Clothing" will receive 10% off their Berserker bottle purchase.

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Over at 49th State Brewing, they will be celebrating Halloween on Saturday, October 29th, with a combination Yoga & Halloween Party. Here's the flier with details:

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Glacier BrewHouse released a new Wet Hop IPA and a new Coconut Porter last week. Neither brew will likely last long, so try them while you can.

Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse
Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse

KTUU in Anchorage had a news report on the opening of Cynosure Brewing. You can read it here. Cynosure has also released a new beer, Cynosure Dark Lager, a German-style schwarzbier.

Photo courtesy of Cynosure Brewing

Alaskan Brewing has released a Wet Hop Pale Ale as part its Rough Draft series.

Photo courtesy of  Alaskan Brewing Company

Seward Brewing Company's Rockfish Tacos were selected as one of the top fish tacos in the country by The Food Network. You can read the entire article here.

Here's the latest tap list for Denali Brewing Company's pub in Talkeetna:

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Specialty Imports will  be holding a Beer Tasting at Mykel's Restaurant in Soldotna on Saturday, October 29th, focusing on German beers. It starts at 6:30 pm and includes the beers and an appetizer buffet. Call 262-4305 for reservation or more information.

Grace Ridge Brewing in Homer has released another new brew, Rocky River Orange Wheat.

Here's the latest tap list from St. Elias Brewing. Look for the return of the popular Vanilla Bean Porter within the next few days.

At Kenai River Brewing, I'll be holding a Book Signing this Friday, October 21, from 4 to 6:30 pm. Come in and get a copy of my latest book.

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That's it for news. I've got reviews of two beers this week, both from out of state:

Firestone-Walker's Oaktoberfest Marzen: I will confess to initially being confused about this beer. From its name, I had assumed it was aged on oak, and then was surprised when I could not taste any. The brewery straightened me out: the name is in reference to the brewery's hometown, so there's no oak in the beer itself. It poured a clear gold with a nice, white head. The aroma was nothing but good, clean malt notes. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light. The flavor profile was spot on for a marzen, with lots of clean malt flavors, and only enough hop bitterness to balance things. A top-notch marzen. 5% ABV, 24 IBUs.

Two Beers Brewing Company's Forester Double IPA: This was my first beer ever from this Seattle-based brewery; I picked it up on a whim at Country Liquors in Kenai. It poured a light, clear copper color with a big, cream-colored head. The nose had a mixture of citrus and piney notes from the Simcoe, Centennial, and Super Galena hops used. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was between light and medium. The initial bitter attack was good, though not as aggressive as the claimed 92 IBUs would lead you to expect. That was a good thing, in my book. Following the initial attack, the hop flavor and aroma came through, but was somewhat balanced by the big malt backbone. More drinkable than the average DIPA, I liked it quite a bit. In the future, I'll be keeping my eye out for other beers from this brewery. 7.8% ABV

That's it for this week. I hope to see you at my Book Signing on Friday.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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