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Drinking in Alaska

Homer Brewing Company - Homer, AK
I sampled three beers; The Pale ale was hazed over and had a funk in the aroma. The flavor was a touch yeasty with some mild hopping, but it fell flat. The Oatmeal Stout was served in a freshly washed glass and smelled of cleaner/sanitizer, I could not overcome this. The Porter was the best they had, so I bought a growler to take back to my cabin. The copious hops covered up some problems.

I met the brewer outside and learned a bit about his brewery. He uses a complete open fermentation for all of his beers, and credits St. Arnold for never infecting his beers (Did I violate SPHBC rules when I didn't tell him his beer sucked). He uses Wyeast smack packs grown to a 5 gallon carboy, then to 15 gallons in the fermentation vessel prior to adding the 6 keg batch on top. He uses his yeast for 17 generations before re-growing a new smack pack. He gives extra slurry to the local homebrew shop, who then sells it to customers.

Ring of Fire Meadery - Homer, AK
Eric the self proclaimed Zymergist (I have his card) gave samples of all of his current Meads. Two stood out the Raspberry, and the Cherry Reserve. The Raspberry packed a lot of fruity aroma and flavor with a little residual acidity for balance. The Cherry Reserve had been aged in oak for a year, and was very sweet - on the verge of coying. It would be nice as dessert mead. The Rhubarb was subdued in flavor and aroma.

Eric uses mostly all local honey for his meads. The most popular flower for the bees is called Fireweed. He thinks he will be able to ship his meads to the lower 48 starting sometime in November. I did purchase a bottle of the Raspberry Mead, but I intend to drink it on the cruise ship. You can thank the Shoe Bomber for making it more difficult to transport mead on planes.

Chinooks Waterfront & Brewpub - Seward, AK
A fancy restaurant with brewing capability, the fresh grilled salmon was excellent and the beer was ok. Wife had the raspberry wheat - nice aroma with some subdued raspberry flavors - very cloudy. I had the amber ale that was almost as cloudy as the wheat - it was almost as cold as the glacier I was looking at earlier that day so the flavors were masked. There were some caramel notes and a little malt in the flavors while the aroma was non-existent.

Humpy's - Anchorage, AK
A downtown bar with about 35 taps scattered about. They had imports (including some nice Belgians), a few lower-48, and a few Alaska beers - a nice mix of everything. I missed the name of the brewery but I had some local version of a Kolsch (in their eye's anyways).I found it on the list among California Commons and Pilsners; it could have been a less than fresh Pilsner Urckel for all I know. The hop profile missed the mark. The Fish (halibut) & Chips were less than spectacular but ok. Due to time constraints I didn't sample more.

There was a brewpub in town, but due to a lack of time I missed it. Humpy's was strongly suggested by a family member - so it won my presence for dinner. I would have loved to stayed at Humpy's for a few hours and downed more of the local beers, but I was tired from climbing glaciers and driving in from Seward.

Yukon Brewing Company - Chilkoot, Canadia
Yesterday I tried two local beers, in Canadia I tried Yukon Brewing Company's Amber Ale and Pale Ale. The Amber was flat (uncarbonated) and a little lifeless. The Pale, which the wife drank most of) was a little cloudy but otherwise flavorful with a delicate aroma - sort of an English style. Overall not worth the travel for the beer but if your near 60 degrees north latitude at the golf course, they serve Yukon Brewing Company Beers - and that beats the hell out of Coors Light (sorry Kris - it just does).

Skagway Brewing - Skagway, AK
Skagway is a small port town near Glacier Bay with a small brewery, which makes two beers, and serves a bunch of Alaskan Brewing stuff. The Pale Ale was described by a local as fair, and the bartender was having trouble with the lines so it wasn't pouring yesterday. Screw it, so I tried their Spruce Tip Ale - in a word - STUNNING. I lightly hopped pale with plenty of maltyness, nothing to get in the way of the spruce tips. They aren't strong, but they blended in well and created a really fresh tasting beer. I fct'd up and didn't bring my growler from Homer to fill up with this nectar.

Alaskan Brewing Company - Juneau, AK
Screw it, this stuff is all over the lower 48. I'm going kayaking along-side glaciers instead!  Can I chip a chunk of glacier away and use it for brewing water?

The cruise ship only carried two varieties of Alaskan Brewing's beer, and an assortment of other watered down mass produced crap. The two they carried were Alaskan Amber and Summer Ale (a Kolsch). Unfortunately they don't carry the Smoked Porter so I will write a complaint! The Summer Ale was very nice though a touch more hops would do it some good, and I even got Karen to have a few bottles. We got punchcards so after consuming 12 bottles, we'd get a FREE Alaskan Brewing hat. That is, if we mail the card, wait six weeks, and pay postage both ways. Oh yeah, there's a glacier in the background. It was a crappy glacier; parts keep breaking off and falling into the ocean.