A Winter Warmer–Alaska Style

Now one thing that a lot of people on this blog probably don’t know about me is that I used to live in Alaska.  I lived just outside Anchorage in a little town called Eagle River, and one of my family’s favorite activities while we were there was to go to the start of the Iditerod Dog Race.  We had friends who were mushers, and we really got into the dog part of the experience while we lived there.  If we had stayed I’m sure we would have started our own team, and if for some reason I ever move back there I’m certain we will be involved to some level with dog sled racing.  It is a way of life and something that is quite unique to the 49th state.  It is actually where my wife (A resolute cat person) fell in love with man’s best friend.

Another tradition that Alaska is lesser known for is their microbreweries and home brewers.  Many people in Alaska brew their own beer, and if they live in the bush it may be the only way to get decent beer throughout the year.  Anchorage has recently started a Barley Wine Festival that kicks off this weekend, and the State has long been known for the Great Alaskan Beer Fest every year in Juneau.  I had a beer last night that took me back to the howling of the dogs, the cold nights and the Northern Lights…

Alaskan Brewing’s Barley Wine Ale is a 10.4% ABV winter warmer that is a good substitute for a wood stove!  This was hot and very “boozy” as the beer nerds say. (I’m not ready to include myself in that category just yet)  The nose on this brew was intriguing.  It had the fruity smell of the hops, but then almost a woody quality to it, although it was not aged in wood.  It had a big maltiness in the nose that balanced it out nicely.  I picked this one up as it was bottled in 2008, so it was already conditioned quite a bit.

The pour on this brew was interesting too.  It came out of the bottle a deep mahogany color that when held up to the light shown a ruby red luminescence.  As I added more from the bottom of the bottle the sedimentation became greater and the beer became opaque and cloudy.

The conditioning was necessary as this brew was still quite hoppy with a lot of IBUs in there.  The sweet maltiness was first on the palate followed by the bitter and fruity hops, and rounded out with a caramel toastiness that was warm all the way down.  the mouthfeel was medium bodied and creamy.  This brew was good, and I’m glad I chose it as my first barley wine.  I would however recommend that you share the bottle.  It was a bit of a task to finish as the sediment built up in the glass.

So if you’re looking for a brew to keep you warm on a three dog night try the Alaskan Barley Wine Ale, it will warm you all the way down to your toes.

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5 Comments on “A Winter Warmer–Alaska Style”

  1. January 15, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    “Boozy”? Sounds more like teetotaler terminology to me. Hmmmmmmm. We better check Don’s credentials!

    Still, this beer sounds like a good way to keep the heating bills down a bit over the winter!

    • Don
      January 15, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

      It certainly had a blast furnace effect on me! It was interesting, because the warmth wasn’t in the mouth like it is with whiskey, but once you get a few ounces in the belly it really begins to heat things up a bit. It was good, and I’ve heard great things about their Baltic Porter. I’m on the hunt for that now.

  2. January 15, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    Looks very nice. I’m wanting to brew a barley-wine before too long. I don’t know what the grain bill was for this but I’m going for Maris Otter. I don’t know if you can get it but Thomas Hardy’s is a must.

    • Don
      January 15, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

      I have a few Barley Wines at home right now. The one I can remember is Deschutes Mirror Mirror, but I know I have a couple others. I know I don’t have the Thomas Hardy, so I will look for it. Thanks Mike.

  3. January 16, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    Mirror Mirror is the best of the Reserve Series (in my opinion). I don’t know that many beers hold a candle to the classic Thomas Hardy’s Ale. J.W. Lees Harvest Ale is pretty good as well.

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