Saturday, April 1, 2017

"It's the Latest Thing From Q-Branch. It's Called Radio."

Thanks for the hint, Mr. Bond. Yes, I've decided to take Drinking on the Last Frontier into a new bleeding edge field of communications: National Public Radio. On the last Saturday of each month, I'll be broadcasting from 11 am to noon on KDLL FM 91.9 Kenai. The show is called -- wait  for it -- "Drinking on the Last Frontier." Pretty cunning, huh? The first installment went out over the airwaves last Saturday, March 25th, and the next one will go out on Saturday, April 29th. We're still working out the technical details, but soon the shows will also be available via podcast; I'll let you know when they are up on the web.

On the national craft beer scene, the Brewers Association has published its annual statistics on the growth of craft beer as of the end of 2016. Here's the infographic with the numbers:

As you can see, the overall growth rate has slowed, mainly because acquisitions have caused several successful breweries to lose their "craft" designation. It also looks like the BA's stated goal of "20 in 20", i.e. that craft beer have 20% market share by 2020 ain't happening. Still, the numbers keep growing steadily, so that a good thing.

In more local news, as mentioned in my last blog, Anchorage Brewing has released a limited amount of Lines DIPA, a canned beer brewed in collaboration with Monkish Brewing of L.A. and using 100% lupulin powder. The release took place yesterday, but there are still some cans left for sale at the brewery today.

Photo courtesy of Anchorage Brewing Company

Gabe Fletcher has also announced that he has ordered a canning line from Codi Manufacturing, out of Golden, Colorado. The 5-head counter-pressure system should be able to handle 120 cans per minute. Gabe hopes to have it in operation by the end of May, producing 16 oz. can 4-packs of various IPAs for sale at the brewery and select local stores.

Photo courtesy of Codi Manufacturing

Just today, Anchorage Brewing also psoted the labels of two soon to be released beers:

Midnight Sun Brewing Company has announced that it is going to be adding a pilsner to its line-up of flagship brews. The brewery staff has been taste-testing various recipes. They have narrowed it down to two possibilities, which were both offered to the public a week ago, so stop by the brewery, give them both a try, and let the folks at Midnight Sun know which one you want to have on tap year-round. I'm not sure when the final decision will be made.

Photo courtesy of Midnight Sun Brewing

Photo courtesy of Midnight Sun

Midnight Sun has also announced that it will be releasing three of its canned beers in 12 packs soon.

Photo courtesy of Midnight Sun

At recently opened Girdwood Brewing, they have announced new operating hours:2 pm to 8 pm on Friday, and noon to 8 pm on Saturday and Sunday, closed Monday thru Thursday.

Seward Brewing Company has announced that it will be opening for the 2017 season on Thursday, May 4th.

Also in Seward, Kassik's Brewery will be holding a Meet The Brewers dinner tonight at The Cookery.

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At noon on Friday, April 14th, Sak Town Liquor in Seward will celebrate its Grand Opening under new management. As part of the celebration, it will also be holding a free raffle for a 3-liter bottle of Stone Brewing's Double Bastard Ale. One ticket per customer and you must be 21+. There will also be free hot dogs for the first 50 people. The store will have a growler bar and a nice selection of local craft brews, so stop by and check it out if you can.

Click to enlarge

Come by and win me at Sake Town Liquors!
Cooper Landing Brewing Company announced on Thursday that it had received its federal brewery license; now comes the bigger hurdle of satisfying the state of Alaska.

I've heard that starting in May, Kenai River Brewing plans to have its tasting room kitchen open seven days a week for the busy summer season. Currently, the kitchen is closed on Monday and Tuesday. Kenai River is also offering its excellent Oak-Aged Russian Imperial Stout on nitro at the brewery. It's definitely worth your time to stop in for a glass.

At St. Elias Brewing, the extremely popular Green Giant Double IPA should be back on tap sometime this week.

Current tap list at St. Elias Brewing.
Moving on from news to reviews, this time around I have four big beers to talk about.

Denali Brewing's Hibernale (2016 Sour Barrel): This beer poured a clear, dark honey color with a nice, cream-colored head. The aroma was plumy, with plenty of Belgian-yeast notes. The carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was light. On the palate, there were some tart notes, plus the classic dark fruit notes of a Belgian quad. A sour Belgian quad -- a very unusual but excellent combination. 9.3% ABV, 20 IBUs.

Alaskan Brewing's 25th Anniversary Perseverance Ale (2011): I was reorganizing my beer cellar and came across this five-year-old gem. I originally reviewed it back on 9/7/2011 and again on 10/2/2014. This will be my last entry, as this was my final bottle. Looking back at my prior reviews, I thought the beer was a little too sweet at the start but had come into a nice balance at the three-year point. So what's it like after 5.5 years? It poured opaque, and still had enough carbonation to form a nice tan head (I hadn't waxed the top, but probably should have). The nose was more subdued than at 3 years, but still had hints of sweetness and smoke. Carbonation was acceptable and the mouthfeel had lightened a bit, thanks to the beer drying out. The flavor profile was smooth and well-integrated, much drier and less sweet, but still fairly smoky. I think I could detect the beginnings of oxidation so this beer may be about as good as it's going to get. If you still have any in your cellar, I'd suggest careful monitoring on a 6-month basis at this point. Still delicious now, so don't let it go to waste. I'm looking forward to seeing how the 30th Anniversary version of this beer develops in the cellar. 9% ABV, 50 IBUs.

Anchorage Brewing's Time Waits for No One Imperial Stout (Batch #2, Portuguese port barrel aged). I tasted Batch#1 of this beer (aged in Laphroig Scotch Whisky barrel) at the second Culmination Festival and was absolutely blown away by it. (See my review on 5/30/2014.) This batch poured opaque with a small, brown head that dissipated to a collar. You could tell as the beer poured just how thick it was, like 40 weight oil! The nose was heavy with deep, rich malt notes. The mouthfeel was super thick and viscous; carbonation was okay. The flavor profile was that of a Russian Imperial Stout turned up to 11: heavy malt flavors and colossal roasty notes, plus some notes of sweetness from the port barrels. Given how partial I am to Scotch whisky, I must admit that I preferred Batch #1; however, Batch #2 is some super stuff as well. And you can take it home to drink or cellar, which you couldn't do with Batch #1. My advice is to share the bottle with a friend or two, as this is a big league beer! 14: ABV, 60 IBUs.

Anchorage Brewing Company's The Darkest Hour Russian Imperial Stout (Batch #2, Aged in Spanish Brandy Barrel): Another recent release, this beer poured opaque with a nice brown head. The nose was rich with notes of both malt and roasted coffee, plus hints of alcohol. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was thick and chewy. Again, we're talking huge RIS flavor profile here, with a tremendous amount of sweet and roasted malt elements, yet somehow they balance each other nicely. The brandy notes from the barrel come in on the finish and add a further intriguing element. Another kick-ass stout from Gabe Fletcher. 13% ABV.

Well, that's it for this blog. Looks like we might finally be starting Break-Up, so perhaps when next we meet spring will actually have come to here in The North Country. But for now, keep your snow tires on and keep drinking good craft beer.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

1 comment:

coldnorthgamer said...

Congratulations on your radio debut! Can't wait to hear you across the airwaves. Cheers!