Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The First of November

So, in spite of my best efforts, it's been over three weeks since my last blog. Oh well, what can I say?Part of the reason is the other Drinking on the Last Frontier, my monthly radio show. If you missed my broadcast on last Saturday, October 28th, you can listen to a recording of it on the KDLL website. Just click on this link.

By the way, my radio show received an Honorable Mention in the Broadcast/Podcast Category of the 2017 North American Guild of Beer Writers Awards. Winners were announced on Friday, October 6th, at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. You can see a complete list of this year's awards here. So if you haven't listened to it yet, you might want to check it out.

There's been a fair amount of beer news since my last blog. Let's hit some highlights.

Denali Brewing Company received a Small Business of the Year Award from the Alaska Chamber of Commerce. Here's its press release:

"Denali Brewing is proud to announce that we have won the 2017 Bill Bivin Small Business Award from the Alaska Chamber of Commerce!  This award pays tribute to businesses that exemplify leadership, ethics and organization.  Our brewery’s achievements are directly related to the dedication and passion of our employees. We’d like to express our gratitude to our community, customers, and the Chamber for their constant support, enthusiasm, and love of locally made craft beer."

Owner/Founder Sassan Mossanen has also been busy. In July he traveled to Beijing, China to brew with Jing-A Brewing. Their joint effort was released this month. It's called Mead Me in the Middle (Kingdom), a 9% braggot brewed with chasteberry honey from a nature reserve in the hills west of Beijing. Then in September brewers from Nogne O Brewery in Norway visited Talkeetna and helped brew a Sea Truffle Gose. Sea truffles are a rare delicacy harvested on the southern coast of Norway. Other ingredients included Himalayan sea salt and coriander.

Photo courtesy of Denali Brewing Company

As part of my radio show, I drove over to Cooper Landing to interview Nelz Barnett of Cooper Landing Brewing Company. You can listen to the interview using the link above, but here are some photos that I took.

The exterior of Cooper Landing Brewing Co.

The interior of Cooper Landing Brewing Co.
Nelz Barnett and Assitant Brewer Charlie next to his brewing system.
Cooper Landing's beers are on sale in crowlers at Wildman's Liquors in Cooper Landing and should be on tap soon at the Sunrise Inn.

HooDoo Brewing Company in Fairbanks celebrated its 5th Anniversary on Halloween. Congratulation to Bobby Wilken and the rest of the crew, and best wishes for the next five years!

Anchorage Brewing Company's Deal With the Devil Day was apparently a big success. It even received covered from KTUU Channel 2. The brewery sold 443 boxed sets at $300 each. People began lining up the evening before, camping out in the brewery's parking lot in 30-degree weather. Gabe Fletcher estimated that over 120 people flew into town just to purchase the six-bottle box set.

Photos courtesy of Anchorage Brewing Co.

QUAKE! Brewing Company has announced that it will be closing for the season Saturday, November 4th. During QUAKE!’s off-season founder Danyelle will travel abroad; honing his skills, studying with various brewmasters, and continuing his education in the fine art of making beer. The Season Closing Party will run from 3 to 8 PM.

Photo courtesy of QUAKE! brewing.

La Bodega's annual Bodega-Fest will be taking place on Saturday, November 11th, from 5 to 9 PM, at the Alaska Aviation Museum. This year, it will feature brews from Kodiak Island Brewing Company; these beers seldom make it off The Rock, so this is a wonderful opportunity to taste them without having to fly to Kodiak! Tickets are available online for $35 each, $45 at the door.

Also on November 11th, Kenai River Brewing Company will be hosting its first Fall Beer Dinner. Tickets cost $70, which includes the gratuity, but if you don't have yours already, you're out of luck, as the event sold out in less than an hour! Menu for it includes Braised Pork Belly over a crispy rice cake, Maple Bacon Salad, Butternut Squash Bisque, 8 oz. Beef Fillet topped with crab compound butter, along with roasted red & purple potatoes and asparagus with a bearnaise sauce, plus dessert. I've got my ticket, so I'll be sure to paste some photos for people to drool over...

Midnight Sun Brewing Company in Anchorage has announced that it has a new head brewer. Sean Jackson has been an assistant brewer at Midnight Sun for several years and is now heading up the brewing team. Former head brewer Lee Ellis has become Midnight Sun’s Chief of Brewing Operations. Ellis became head brewer in 2012, after being an assistant brewer for several years. Midnight Sun has also begun selling its newest flagship beer, Wolf Pack Pilsner, in 6- and 12-packs of 12 oz. cans. It's available here on the Peninsula at Country Liquors; see below for my review.

Photo courtesy of Midnight Sun Brewing Company

Alaska Brewing Company’s Heritage Coffee Brown Ale was awarded a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. There were 89 entrants in the Coffee Beer category this year. Alaskan has also released its 2017 Smoked Porter; just weeks after the 2016 vintage received a Gold Award for Strong Smoke Beer at the European Beer Star Awards. First brewed by Alaskan in 1988, Smoked Porter is a pioneer of the American smoked beer movement and has won more medals at the Great American Beer Festival than any other beer in history.

Photo courtesy of Alaskan Brewing Co.

So that's it for news, let's do some reviews.

Kenai River Brewing's 2017 Winter Warlock Old Ale: Released on October 1st of each year, this is Kenai River's renowned old ale. It's brewed each October and then cold-conditioned for a year before being released the following 1 October. This year's version poured a slightly cloudy honey color with a nice, cream-colored head. The aroma has lots of clean malt flavor. Carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was medium. The flavor profile is definitely malt forward and clean, with enough bitterness to balance. It's another excellent batch of the Winter Warlock. 9% ABV.

St. Elias Brewing's 2017 Oktoberfest Lager: This year's version of this traditional lager poured a lovely clear red/copper color with a nice, cream-colored head that dissipated to a collar. The nose had plenty clean malt & caramel notes. Carbonation was good, and mouthfeel was light. The flavor profile was classic marzen - clean malt, caramel notes, and a balanced hoppiness. Another excellent lager from St. Elias Brewing. 6% ABV, 20 IBUs.

Broken Tooth Brewing's Hive Mind Tripel: This limited release poured a clear copper color with a dense, off-white head. The aroma had the spicy, peppery notes you'd expect from a Belgian yeast. Mouthfeel was light thanks to the use of honey, and the carbonation was excellent. On the palate there were nice fruity notes; overall, the flavor was excellent. A delicious tripel from Broken Tooth! 9.5% ABV, 21 IBUs.

Midnight Sun Brewing's Wolf Pack Pilsner: This is the newest flagship beer from Midnight Sun. It pours a clear gold with a small white head that dissipated to a collar. The nose was mainly clean malt notes, with little hop presence. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light. The flavor profile was maltier than a typical Czech or Bohemian pilsner. It's hopped with Galaxy and Hersbrocker hops, but just enough for balance. 5% ABV, 34 IBUs.

Well, that's it for this time around. Winter is definitely on its way, which means everyone will be releasing their big winter beers, so keep an eye out for them on the shelves. Soon it will be time to start drinking all those imperial stouts and barley wines!

Until Next Time, Cheers!