Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Tax Man Cometh...

We're well into Break Up here on the Kenai Peninsula and it's April 15th, traditional tax day, though our overlords have generously decreed that the peasants may delay submitting their tributes until April 18th this year. Speaking of overlords, it appears that the Alaska Legislature will be too busy squabbling over the budget to take any action on SB 76 for the second year in a row. For those of you who don't remember, SB 76 is the complete re-write of Alaska's liquor laws, the first one in over 30 years. It has the potential to be either a very good thing or a very bad thing, depending on what actually gets passed. That's true of most laws, I guess, but especially true in this case, as small changes can have huge impacts on the ability of new breweries to open. If you're interested in reading the bill (fair warning: it's a long slog), you can find the current text here. If it looks like anything's likely to happen on it, I'll let you know.

On a more upbeat note, SAK Town Liquors held its Grand Opening yesterday. The liquor store is located on the Seward Highway, just across from the Pit Bar. It's been closed since last summer, but new owner Jared Wallace has the doors open and is enthusiastic about bringing in lots of good stuff. I stopped by about 1 PM yesterday to see how things were going and sign up for the prize raffle. Here are some photos I snapped:

Exterior of Sak Town

Not a huge interior...

But it does have a 14-tap growler bar!
And plenty of good craft beer!
So let's wish Jared every success, and make a point of stopping in whenever you're heading into or out of Seward.

There's a new nanobrewery opening next weekend in Juneau. Barnaby Brewing will be opening for business on Friday, April 21, though for the first two days you will need to get a ticket in order to get in the door. This is due to the small size of the tasting room (only 250 square feet), so the owner, Matt Barnaby, wants to limit it to 16 folks per hour during the initial crush after opening. After 3 PM on Sunday, April 23, it's officially open to the public, no ticket required. If you want to visit on Friday, Saturday, or earlier on Sunday, call 419-0916 to reserve a spot. The brewery is located at 206-1 N. Franklin Street in downtown Juneau.

I talked with Matt a few days ago by phone. He told me that he's brewing on a 1-bbl, all-electric system from Spike Brewing; it's a Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System (HERMS), which is very practical for him, given the small size of his brewery (only 800 square feet). He's using 1-bbl Speidel fermenters, then on to a 1-bbl brite tank for carbonation, and finally into half-barrel kegs for dispensing. Given the small size of his system, he has no plans to distribute any of his beer off-site. He will be offering four standard beers, ten rotating seasonals and five imperial brews that will also rotate. You can check out some of the beers that he intends to offer on the brewery's website. According to Matt, his brewing philosophy is to produce mostly typical American ales, but to also mix in some of the less orthodox ones, like steam beers, cream ales, and American lagers. This brewery represents the first time we've had another brewery in Juneau besides Alaskan Brewing since the Dillo Brewery, located in the Armadillo Tex-Mex Restaurant operated for a brief period in the late 1990s. If you can't make it to Juneau to sample Matt's beers, he told me that Barnaby Brewing will be pouring at the Haines Beer Fest on Memorial Day Weekend.

While we're on the subject of new breweries, Alex MacGillivray has applied for a state license to open Baleen Brewing in Ketchikan. I know that Alex has been working toward this goal for years, so it's great to see him getting close to the finish line. The brewery will be located on Mizzen Lane, off North Point Higgins Road. The press article I read seemed to indicate that there would be no objections to the license being issued, so hopefully, Alex can get things up and running soon.

In two weeks, Anchorage Brewing Company will be hosting a major charity beer event. Gabe Fletcher will be opening up his personal beer cellar, as well as bringing in other rare brews. The event is called A Cellar Tasting for Roxy. Here's what Gabe had to say about it:

This is a fund raiser to help our friend Roxy Wills with the costly out of state cancer treatment she will need. There will be food provided by 49th State Brewing Company, live music by Brandon Cockburn and the Brett quartet and many hard to find beers to taste. 100% of all money will be donated to the Wills Family.

Ther's a huge list of rare beers on offer (see Anchorage Brewing's Facebook page for the list) and your money could not be going to a worthier cause. The event runs from 2 to 6 pm on Saturday, April 29th and is limited to 200 attendees. Tickets are $100, and you can purchase them by clicking here. If you'll be in Anchorage that weekend, I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Glacier BrewHouse will be holding a beer dinner on Wednesday, April 26th. Here's the poster for it:

Click to enlarge

Alaskan Brewing has announced that Big Mountain Pale Ale will be joining its year-round beer lineup. Big Mountain was originally released as part of the Boundary Range Sampler Pack, and is brewed using the popular Simcoe and Mosaic hop varieties. Alaskan has replaced Big Mountain in the Boundary Range pack with a new beer, Ridge Hop IPA. This beer is brewed using a single hop variety: Azacca hops from Australia. These hops give it notes of citrus, pine, and grass. Ridge Hop IPA will only be available in the sampler pack.

Photo courtesy of Alaskan Brewing Company

A website called The Daily Meal is asking people to vote for the best craft brewery in America, so why not go and vote for your favorite local brewery? Click here to vote.

Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer is celebrating its 1st Anniversary today from noon to 8 pm. Congratulations to them on reaching this important milestone!

Denali Brewing Company has released a new brew in canned six packs: Big DIPA, a double IPA weighing in at 8.6% ABV and 100 IBUs!

Here on the Peninsula, St. Elias Brewing Company has its very popular Green Giant Double IPA back on tap. The brewery is also sporting a new tap list display:

Finally, though some folks seem to have thought it was an April Fools prank, I really am doing a monthly radio show about beer on KDLL FM 91.9 Kenai. The show is broadcast the last Saturday of each month, from 11 am to noon. Eventually, the shows will also be available online as a podcast, but for now, you'll need to listen to it live, either over the airwaves or via an app like Tune-In. The next one will be in two weeks, on Saturday, April 29th. Please tune in and tell me what you think; any and all feedback is welcome.

That about covers the news, so let's do some reviews. I have three for you this time:

Deschutes Brewing's Mirror Mirror Barly Wine (2014): Another beauty from my beer cellar, this classic English-style barley wine poured a deep, slightly cloudy honey color with a good, cream-colored head. The aroma was primarily of malt notes, but there were still a few hints of hops. The mouthfeel with thick and coating and the carbonation was good. The flavor profile was rich, deep, and complex, with layerings of malty goodness, barely kept in balance by hop bitterness. Quite delicious, and an outstanding example of a straight ahead English-style barley wine. 11.2% ABV.

Lagunitas Brewing's Davey Murray's Best Scotch Ale: As anyone who has read this blog for a while knows, I'm very partial to Scotch ales. It's definitely one of my favorite beer styles, going all the way back to when I first started drinking craft beers thirty years ago. So when I saw this new and limited release from Lagunitas at La Bodega, I had to try it. It poured a clear, dark ruby color with a nice, off-white head. However, when I nosed it, I immediately realized that this was not a traditional Scotch ale, as I could pick up quite a lot of hops in the aroma. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light to medium. The flavor profile was primarily hops and some smoke notes; the traditional malt-forward wee heavy flavor profile was nowhere to be seen. If you are a hophead who doesn't like the traditional malty wee heavy, you might enjoy this beer, but as someone who loves a good Scotch ale, this "re-imagining" of the style was not to my taste. 9.5% ABV.

St. Feuillien Brewing's Saison: A saison in a can? Why not? The unfiltered beer poured a slightly cloudy gold with a nice white head, though not as big as some saison heads. The aroma had the spicy, peppery notes I always associate with a Belgian yeast strain. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light. The flavor profile had all the classic saison elements: earthy, spicy, and on the dry side. Overall, a very nice brew and wonderful to have available the options of cans available. 6.5% ABV.

That's it for this time. Enjoy the wonderful sunshine we've been having lately and keep drinking good craft beers.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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