Alaskan Brewing

alaskanbrewinglogoAlaskan Brewing knows how to make an entrance.

I was recently contacted regarding their addition of Michigan to their distribution map, with the question “Would you like to try some of our beer? Where should we send it?

Less than a week later, a case of Alaskan Brewing Craft Beer arrived, and I was GEEKED.

To say I love my job is an understatement. 

I always felt this innate desire to visit Alaska, and I feel I took a virtual trip via pint-glass as I made my journey through the case Alaskan Brewing generously sent me.

I am fairly partial to my Michigan craft beer, being a Michigan gal living in Beer City, USA. I feel our close proximity to the fresh, clean water in the Great Lakes has a bit to do with the delicious Michigan beer our friendly brewers create. Add in the midwest charm and creative juices — boom. Deliciousness in a pint-glass.

Alaskan Brewing carries a similar vibe to my beloved Michigan beer. Their water originates in a 1500 square mile Juneau Ice Field, and from more than 90″ of rainfall Juneau receives each year. That fresh flavor I adore seemed to pour out of each sip I took. They say isolation forces creativity. The isolation of living on the island of Juneau has inspired brewers to create a mouth-watering flood of flavor! The flavor is certifiable — Alaskan Brewing has won more Great American Beer Festival medals than any other craft brewery… ever. EVER!

Would you like to take a journey through Alaska via pint-glass? Let’s go!

Let’s start at the very beginning, I hear it’s a very good place to start. The beginning meaning… the Gold Rush.

Alaskan Amber
Marcy and Geoff Larson spent 3 years perfecting a 100 year old recipe Marcy discovered on shipping records from Douglas City Brewing Co. (1899-1907). The article listed ingredients for this Alt (German for “old”) beer with a description on the way it was brewed. Alaskan Amber became their Flagship beer, made with ingredients believed to have been around when folks were digging for gold 100 years ago. The flavor is smooth with a few layers of flavor, beginning with the malty aroma, and finishing with carmel and toasted nuts. At only 5.3% ABV, it is a very sessionable beer, something you could drink all day, while digging for gold, or chasing your children into bed on a school night.

Icy Bay IPAIMG_3804.JPG
Hello, my name is Kelli, and I love IPAs. Hi Kelli. If wanting an endless supply of Icy Bay IPA on hand at all times is wrong, I don’t want to be right. At 6.2% ABV, it is something I could drink more than one of without question. IPAs are traditionally brewed with a large amount of hops for their preservative properties. The Summit, Apollo and Cascade hops provide Icy Bay IPA with an intense hop flavor and citrus aroma, completing each sip with a punch of more hoppy goodness in the finish.

Fun factoid: the name Icy Bay is a tribute to the surfers who ride the waves of Yakutat and Icy Bay, as the air and water temperatures are well below freezing, and water temps are not much higher. The bold, brisk taste of Icy Bay IPA is meant to match the intensity of a remote ride of a a wave breaking on an Alaskan beach.

Hopthermia
Alaskan Brewing has created a Double IPA that highlights everything I want a DIPA to be. Not too heavy, and something I can drink without requiring a siesta a half hour after my pint glass is empty. At 8.5% ABV, Hopthermia isn’t as sessionable as the Icy Bay IPA, but the balanced flavor will put a smile on many beer lover faces — not just hop-heads. The rich malt flavor paired with, are you ready… Nugget, Apollo, Amarillo, Citra and Centennial hops take your mouth on a fun roller-coaster ride through carmel and spicy citrus notes. I tell many of my thinks they are anti-IPA friends to try a double IPA sometime before they decide they are anti-hops. Certain DIPAs are like a gateway drug. Hopthermia is a delicious adventure to embark on.

Freeride APA
I arrived at this Pale Ale toward the end of my tasting adventure, and I was disappointed when these bottles were empty. There is a reason Freeride earned Gold among pale ales at the US Open Beer Championships last year. Being such a hard-core IPA lover, Pale Ales are not always my favorite style as they just don’t pack the punch that an IPA does, at least for me. But I believe Pale Ales may be making a comeback… starting with this beer from Alaskan Brewing. Freeride American Pale Ale started as a springtime staple for Alaskan’s backcountry skiing and snowboarders, then quickly morphed into a favorite for kayakers, bikers and hikers. The balanced crystal malt and light citrus hop flavor and aroma make this 5.3% ABV Pale Ale very drinkable any time of the year.

Pumpkin Porter
When you receive a package of beer in the middle of summer, the last style you would think of is… pumpkin. Let alone a Pumpkin Imperial Porter. But my taste adventures through Alaska did not end with a whimper. While I was leery of the traditional Pumpkin Ale going Porter, I was not disappointed. Alaskan Brewing features in-house smoked food and beer. Their Smoked Porter is a local favorite (and has won MANY medals). This Pumpkin Porter was the heaviest out of the case I received. Even if it didn’t have the highest alcohol at 7.0% ABV, it felt like a meal in a pint-glass. Made with 6 different malts, including smoked malt, brown sugar and a comforting blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. But let’s not forget the star of the show — the pumpkin. Pumpkins were first used in beer as a substitute for hard-to-find malt. George Washington — yes, the father of our great country — had a highly touted recipe. Yeah, that’s right, I’m waiting for my call from Drunk History for this fun lesson. 11lbs of pumpkin are added to every barrel of this porter, giving the beer a smooth, velvety rich flavor.

Special shout out to the good people at Alaskan Brewing for hooking me up with a trip-to-Alaska-via-pint-glass! I truly enjoyed my adventure and hope to visit the brewery in person someday soon!

In the meantime, you can find Alaskan Brewing in your neck of the woods by checking out this distribution map.

CHEERS!

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Laughter is the Best Medicine.

I may have mentioned once or twenty dozen times that I grew up with a strict catholic mother. While she enjoyed comedians like Bill Cosby, she didn’t seem to “get” the comics that would cross the line. Her idea of “edgy” was the fact that she could laugh at a black man’s jokes.

While I’m grateful I grew up with shows like The Cosby Show… in many ways, it was a gateway drug to other comic-led shows like Roseanne. Which my mom hated (I believe she called it pure trash) but my dad and I LOVED!

Unlike my mother, my father has a fantastic sense of humor. Hearing his big belly laugh brings me SUCH joy, and always has. Especially when it’s humor that crosses the line.

My dad and I would sneak-watch SNL together — taped on a VCR one of us would program (we were the only ones in the house who knew how!) While my mom chuckled at Hans and Frans (ie — fairly vanilla sketches) many of the jokes went too far, or just flew over her head. If she caught us watching SNL, or even Roseanne, she’d stomp in screaming “Enough! Turn it off!” just as we were laughing our asses off at an unfiltered joke. God forbid we laugh at something so profound, we wish we thought of it ourselves!

I have a vivid memory of my dad coming home from a trip with the gift of Wayne’s World, the week it was released on VHS… he was so excited to share the movie with me and my sisters, but my mom stomped all over his joy and lost her mind over it. It was a big wake up call. I knew we got the jokes… and she didn’t.

While my mom would appreciate the family-friendly Robin Williams movies… she wasn’t a big fan of stand up comedians, or seeing people like Robin simply going off on talk shows like my dad and I. For us, seeing Robin cross the line was appointment television, and still was for me right up until his passing! My dad and I would laugh our asses off at the same jokes.

*interrupting editor’s note* I started writing this piece after Robin passed… and now that Joan has sadly joined him, I feel inclined to share more.

My mom wasn’t a Joan Rivers fan… I remember my mother specifically getting upset when she would guest host The Tonight Show. She’d complain about “That Joan Rivers is no Johnny” with her dad, my old fashioned Grandfather. Maybe on some level, that was *their* bonding moment.

But, my dad got the jokes. And so did I.

Female comedians were so rare for a VERY long time. And to see one that would frequently cross the line and never apologize for it… well, she was practically the polar opposite of my “what-will-people-think?!” mother. So I loved the shit out of Joan… and the many ladies that followed in her footsteps.

I’m a pop culture DORK… I should probably be in a 12-step program. And I hate death… but I try not to get my panties in a wad over people I don’t know personally. But Robin and Joan felt like a big part of my life. This space probably wouldn’t exist without their influence on me. Momma Needs A Beer?! People still don’t get it. But I’ve learned to get over it, because the people that DO get it are my people. The ones with a sense of humor. The ones that get the honest, occasionally bitchy jokes… that are partially therapeutic, because laughter *is* the best medicine.

The careers of other comedians I adore wouldn’t exist without Joan and Robin’s influence either. Sarah Silverman, Louis CK, Roseanne, Chelsea Handler, Jim Gaffigan, Whitney Cummings, Kathy Griffin, Maria Bamford, Russell Brand, Amy Schumer, Janeane Garafalo, Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler… seriously. Think about it.

Comedians like the ones I listed off the top of my head above have shocked me into belly laughs… and have inspired me to ignore those voices in my own head that attempt to shut my mouth when I feel the urge to say something shocking, offensive or questionable… but hilarious. My mind is pretty much like a 12yo boy after 2 beers. Ok, so all of the damn time. I’m a sick and twisted chic.

I know I censor myself more than many comedians. And I actually wouldn’t call myself a comedian. Ever! But, I do get the humor. I get it. And I’ll forever be grateful for my dad crossing a few tiny lines to help me laugh my way through an occasionally difficult childhood with a controlling mom who seemed to lack a sense of humor.

So thank you, dad, for letting me peek inside the wonderful world of edgy belly laughs. And thank you Robin and Joan for paving a very funny path often imitated, but never duplicated. You’ll forever own a piece of my funny-loving heart. Rest in peace Robin and Joan…IMG_3796.PNG

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Beer + Trees + Parks For The Win!

It’s no secret that I adore beer, but you know what else I love? Trees. BrewersGroveProject

Yup, my secret’s out… I love trees. I’ve even hugged a few! I know, I live on the EDGE. 

So you can imagine my excitement to be invited to lend a hand in The Brewers Grove Project, right here in Beer City! 

The Brewers Grove Project began last year, when each Grand Rapids area brewery collaborated to create their own unique spin on a tree-inspired beer. At first, I thought… wait, what? Tree-inspired? But when I think about all the oak-aged, maple-infused, cedar-smoked, fruit-tree deliciousness that trees play a role in beer I already love… this is a brilliant concept. 

But wait, it gets better

Grand Rapids area breweries are teaming up with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks to raise money for their Urban Forest Project, an initiative to maximize the tree canopy in all parts of the city. 

Yes!! These tree-beers will serve a purpose… $1 of each pint sold will go toward the Brewers Grove Fund! 

Starting on Friday, August 29th, pop into any Grand Rapids area brewery as well as local brewpubs The Meanwhile Bar, Green Well, and Big Bob’s Pizza to order a tree inspired beer. The money collected from each tree-inspired beer will support tree plantings and expand The Brewers Grove concept started at Riverside Park last fall, where brewers planted 30 (!!) trees with the money raised. 

A kickoff party is planned at Harmony Brewing Company at 5pm on August 29th, where city commissioners, brewers, media, and YOU can learn more about The Brewers Grove Project and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, while sampling tree inspired beers from around Beer City, including selections from White Flame, Pike 51, Cellar Breweries and Harmony’s own tree-themed Sumac Hefeweizen. 

Finally, at the end of this drool-inducing tree-beer trail, there will be a party of EPIC proportions!! 

A Tree Beer Party at The Brewers Grove space on the north side of Riverside Park is planned on Friday, September 12th, beginning at 7pm. Bring your own wine, cider or beer to enjoy, along with blankets and chairs to watch an outdoor screening of the cult-classic movie “Strange Brew” at 8:30pm. This movie was shot in 3B – three beers – and it looks good, eh? 

This is where you can bring your favorite growler of tree-beer, chat with brewers and fellow craft beer-lovers, and sign up to take part in the The Brewers Grove tree planting in October.

Looking for the latest information? How about a Tree Beer Map? Check out BrewersGrove.com

Also, if you’re sick of, ya know, reading, this fantastic video promoting The Brewers Grove Project rocks! 

And finally… here’s what you’re really looking for — *drumroll* — the tree-beers!!

Hope to clink pints and toast to trees with you over the next few weeks! 

B.O.B.’s Brewery
Tangerine Trees, Fruited Wit

Brewery Vivant 
Devastation, Oak Aged Double IPA

Cellar Brewing Company 
Apple Ridge IPA, Fruited IPA

Crankers Brewery
Kangaroo Rodeo, Barrel Aged Brown Ale

EB Coffee & Pub 
Oaked Melon Saison, Red Oak Saison

Elk Brewing 
Sassafras Brown, Sassafras Brown

Founders Brewing Company 
Lil’ Saplin’, Young Barrel Aged Scotch Ale with Additional Oak

Grand Rapids Brewing Company 
Bonita Applebrown, Smoked Brown Porter with Apple

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply 
Cedarino, Cedar Planked Pale Ale

Harmony Brewing Company 
Sumac Attack, Sumac Hefeweizen

The Hideout Brewing Company 
Sticky TreeHugger, Maple Oak Pilsner

HopCat 
Naughty Nicodemus, Cucumber Juniper Lime Gruit

Jaden James Brewery 
Smoke on the Water, Smoked Marzen

The Mitten Brewing Co. 
Oak Aged Pine Tar DIPA, DIPA (week 1)
Cherry Oaked Wee Heavy, Wee Heavy (week 2)

O’Connor’s Homebrew Supply, 
Smokin’ Red Wood Scotch Ale, Extract Kit

Osgood Brewing
Spruce Almighty, Spruce Tip Black IPA

Perrin Brewing Company 
Hopwood, Oak Aged Double-IPA

Pike 51 Brewing Company
Beer that shall not be named, Maple Almond Belgian Brown Ale

Rockford Brewing Company 
Beechwood Brown, Smoked Oatmeal Brown

Schmohz Brewery 
Barrel Aged Kiss My Scottish Arse, Smoked Scottish Ale

White Flame Brewing Company
Nut Job, Black Walnut Ale

The Peoples Cider Company
Cherry Tree Cyser, Cherry Cyser

Cheeers!

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  • About Me

    Kelli Williams

    Kelli Williams

    Keeping up with 2 little girls, writing assignments, music gigs, the house, laundry, ETC, backwards, wearing ass kicking boots and a smile, without spilling my beer. Ok, ok, so I spill my beer, but my floors have never been more germ-free since I started putting a little alcohol on them. Who needs ammonia...

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