Friday, April 28, 2017

The End of April

The month of April is almost finished and spring has definitely come to the Kenai Peninsula. Most of the snow has gone and plants are beginning to awaken from their long winter sleep. Breweries across the state are doing the same, with the seasonal ones opening their doors again, while the others begin ramping up production in order to be ready to slake the thirsts of the hordes of tourist who will soon be descending upon us.  It's a busy time.

I'll be on the radio again tomorrow, Saturday, April 29th, at 11 AM. My new radio program, Drinking on the Last Frontier, will be on KDLL 91.9 FM Kenai. If you miss it live, a recording of the broadcast will be posted on the station's website in a few days. I'll be on the air the last Saturday of every month, at 11 AM. I'm always interested in feedback and suggestions, so give it a listen and tell me what you think.

Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell

As I mentioned in my last blog, 49th State Brewing's Healy brewpub is opening its doors today, while Seward Brewing Company will open for business next Thursday, May 4th. The third seasonal brewery in Alaska, Gold Rush Brewing located just outside Skagway, seems to be undergoing a bit of a metamorphosis. I haven't been able to get anyone there to respond to my queries, but based on the brewery's website, it appears that it has changed its name to Klondike Brewing Company and moved into downtown Skagway. Rumor has it that it's under new ownership. I'll keep trying to get more information and let you know if I do.

Earlier this week, I received the following press release from Arkose Brewery in Palmer:

Arkose Brewery’s logo and label designs recently won Gold in the 2017 Hermes Creative Awards competition in the packaging category. “We wanted to put the emphasis on the brewery name and to create a classic yet modern and minimalist design that is eye-catching and easy to read” says Co-founder & Creative Director June Gerteisen who is responsible for the design.
The driving force behind the design was the launch of two new beers to their lineup of 22oz bottles. Mandarina Moose Grapefruit IPA and Ovis Belgian-Style Golden Strong will join No 5 Boxcar Porter, High Ridge Double Red, and Steed Rye IPA on store shelves this summer. To support the impact of the new look & feel, all five bottled brands were redesigned.
 June explains “We wanted to increase brand recognition of the brewery itself, increase sales in Alaska and elsewhere, address the trend that consumers are loyal to categories of beer, and implement a modern minimalist design to make it easier to find our products when scanning shelves.” She describes the Bauhaus principles of style and design are what inspired the design of the logo. Those principles include a minimalist approach which features clean lines with bold, simple coloration. The new Arkose logo combines a modern font with a cursive font along with a stylized icon representing ingredients used in brewing.
 As for the bottle label imagery, the handcrafted nature of brewing was the inspiration for the labels which were hand-drawn then screen printed directly onto the bottles. “I hand drew the imagery to support the whole idea of just how hands-on our craft is and that brewing truly is a work of passion and an art form both inside and out” says June.
Mandarina Moose Grapefruit IPA features Mandarina Bavaria hops which lends fruity and citrus tones, plus grapefruit adds just the right amount of fierce brightness. It is deep copper in color with an ABV of 6.2% and an IBU of 72.
Ovis Belgian-Style Golden Strong features characteristic floral spiciness from Belgian yeast with the addition of Perle and Hallertau hops with a highly attenuated dry finish. Sparkling gold in color with an ABV of 9% and an IBU of 35.

Congratulations to Arkose Brewery on earning this award. I'll be looking to score bottles of these two new beers to sample and review.

The new award-winning logo of Arkose Brewery

Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan has announced that it will begin distributing its beers in Alaska through Odom Corporation, making Alaska the 46th state to receive its beers. This is welcome news, as Founders produces some world-class beers, such as Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale (reviewed in my 6/1/2011 blog) and All Day IPA Session Ale (reviewed in my 8/1/2014 blog). Now that we'll be able to find them locally, I'll no longer have to beg my friends to mule them back up here for me to try! According to the press release, the beers will go on sale on Monday, May 8th. It also claimed that launch events will be taking place all that week and referenced the brewery's website for details. Unfortunately, when you go to it, the website has no mention of any events in Alaska. Will there be any? Your guess is as good as mine...

Back on Thursday, April 20th, La Bodega celebrated the 5th Anniversary of it's move from University Center to its current location in the Metro Mall. Hard to believe it's been five years already. Congratulations to Pamela and the rest of the team there and keep up the great work that has made you far and away the best beer store in Alaska!

I mentioned in my last blog the charity event A Cellar Tasting for Roxy that will be taking place tomorrow, Saturday, April 29th, starting at 2 PM at Anchorage Brewing Company. Owner Gabe Fletcher will be emptying out his personal beer cellar, as well as offering beers sent to him by breweries all around the country. All proceeds will be going to support the cancer treatments of his friend Roxy Wills. Instead of giving you all the details, I'd rather point you toward the excellent article from Jim Roberts in this week's Anchorage Press; you can read it here. Admission is $100 and there will be food and live music as well as amazing beers on offer. You can purchase your tickets at This event will be like a mini-Culmination, Fletcher's annual five-star beer festival, so if you can be in Anchorage tomorrow, get your ticket now. Remember, every penny is going to support a good cause.

Photo courtesy of James Roberts
On Friday, May 12th, 49th State Brewing in Anchorage will be conducting a bit of an experiment. At 4:30 PM, the brewery will tap two cask-conditioned firkins of its Solstice IPA. One has been dry-hopped with the new Cryo-Hops from Hopunion (I wrote a bit about this new product back on 3/11/2017). There other is dry-hopped with Alaskan spruce-tips. Stop in and taste the two beers side-by-side, then tell 49th State what you think.

Congratulations to Baranof Island Brewing Company. It's Medvejie Stout took Best Dark Ale and  Best in Show at the Leavenworth Ale-Fest in Washington state last weekend.

Photo courtesy of Baranof Island Brewing
It looks like Anchorage will be getting another alehouse soon. It appears that the owners of the Eagle River Alehouse and Palmer City Alehouse will be opening the Anchorage Alehouse in the location formerly occupied by the Crossbar.

Photos courtesy of Palmer City Alehouse
Here on the Peninsula, Kenai River Brewing's kitchen is now open seven days a week. The brewery also has two new brews on tap: Resurrection Summer Ale and an Oak-aged Russian Imperial Stout.

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing.

St. Elias Brewing has announced that it will soon have its popular Fair Trade Coffee Porter back on tap.

Photo courtesy of St. Elias Brewing

That wraps the news, so let's do some beer reviews. I've only got two for this blog, both big barrel-aged imperial stouts.

Deschutes Brewing's The Abyss Aged in Rye Whiskey Barrels (2015): This beer came with a Best After Date of 12/18/2016. It poured opaque with a nice tan head. The aroma had elements of molasses, licorice, and whiskey. The carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium to heavy. On the palate, it was smooth and slightly boozy, with the molasses and licorice appearing again to contribute to its deep and complex flavor profile. There was a touch of alcohol warmth on the finish from the 13.2% ABV. As I've come to expect from The Abyss, this is a top-flight Russian Imperial Stout. The rye whiskey aging seems to work pretty well with the underlying beer.

Anchorage Brewing Company's The Darkest Hour (Batch #3 Whiskey Barrel Aged): The beer was brewed in December of 2016 and spent a year in the barrels, I believe. It poured opaque with a nice brown head. The nose was of chocolate, sweet malt, and whiskey. The carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium to heavy. The beer also had a rich and complex flavor profile, with elements of chocolate and roasted coffee. The whiskey elements were very well-integrated (even better than those in The Abyss); this can often be a flaw, IMHO, when the whiskey seems to just be overlaid on top of the beer. However, in this case, it was deeply intertwined with the other flavor elements. An outstanding beer. 13% ABV, 40 IBUs.

That's it for this blog. Please try to catch my radio show tomorrow, and I'll be back in another week or two with more beer news and reviews.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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