Saturday, March 18, 2017

Girdwood Brewing Is Open!

It's been years in the making, but Girdwood Brewing is finally open to the public. The new brewery at 2700 Alyeska Highway opened its doors at 4 PM on Thursday. I'm not sure what it's final operating hours will be but it's open noon to 8 PM thru this Sunday if you want to stop by and check things out. I drove up yesterday to see it for myself.

The brewery is in a great location, right off the main road, with a nice view of the ski slopes from the parking lot. The tap room is beautiful, with lovely timber-framing and a gorgeous bar top made from a huge piece of Costa Rican hardwood. It's decorated with plenty of skis and skiing stuff. Here are some photos my wife Elaine took which should give you a feel for the place. Click on each to enlarge.

Brewery exterior
Brewery tap room
The brewhouse

Brite tank and three conical fermenters

When I was there, owners Brett & Rory Marenco and Josh Hegna were behind the counter, so I talked to them for a few minutes. They plan to take things slow at first, getting the feel for their production process and tap room demand. Eventually, they'll likely begin to self-distribute to local bars and restaurants, but they want to be careful not to get ahead of themselves. As Rory told me, "We want to make sure we can meet tap room demand before we start branching out. The worst thing would be to go into an outlet, and then have to pull back because we couldn't meet demand." Currently, Girdwood has three 20-bbl conical fermenters and one 20-bbl brite tank, but the brewery was built and plumbed to make adding up to three more fermenters a relatively easy affair; bravo to them for thinking ahead. But for now, if you want to taste Girdwood's beers, you're going to have to make the trek to the brewery.

And what about those beers? There are currently three on tap (along with Zip Kombucha), and I sampled each yesterday. While I never do a formal review based only on a sample, here are my "first impressions" of each of the three beers on offer.

L to R: AK-IPA, Down the Chute Kolsch, & Hippy Speedball Coffee Stout

Down the Chute Kolsch: An easy-drinking, clean tasting beer, with mild hoppiness. Nothing here that should scare away the Bud drinker, so this is the perfect beer for someone who's unfamiliar with craft beers. 5.3% ABV, 16 IBUs.

AK-IPA: This unfiltered IPA is cloudy in the glass, with plenty of hop aroma in the nose. While it may resemble some of the newest IPAs made with Mosiac and other hip new hop varieties, AK-IPA doesn't have the tropical fruit notes that come from those hops. Instead, it's brewed with Amarillo and other more familiar American hops, giving it a bright citrus aroma and flavor, along with its bracing bitterness. 6.4% ABV, 78 IBUs.

Hippy Speedball Coffee Stout: Black as midnight with a nice mocha-colored head, this beer lives up to its name with plenty of roasted flavors, both from the grain and the cold-steeped coffee. If you like coffee stouts (and I do), this beer is an excellent example of the style. 6.7% ABV, 24 IBUs.

So in conclusion, congratulations to Girdwood Brewing on opening its doors. I'm sure it will do a fantastic amount of business, especially when the tourists return with the warmer weather. Near as I can tell, this brings the brewery count in Alaska to 32, pushing us even higher in the breweries per capita rankings.

Before I wrap up this blog, I want to make sure everyone is aware of the upcoming Talkeetna Beer Trippin' Event. This event is organized each year by the Great Northern Brewers, Anchorage's homebrew club. This year it takes place from 3/31 to 4/2. Here's the schedule of events:

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Here's the menu for the Korean-themed beer dinner that will be held on Friday at the Denali Brewpub:

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The Talkeetna Beer Trippin' is always a great event, so I strongly recommend attending, if you can.

That's it for this blog. I hope everyone had a good St. Patrick's Day and did not drink any green beer. Green beer is a crime against nature, and any brewer who dyes his or her beer green should be beaten silly with a giant shamrock...

Until Next Time, Cheers!

1 comment:

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