Talkeetna Brew Fest 2016

~ by Maria Benner

Well, Scott is on the opposite end of the continent right now, but started the long drive today from Philly to Monterey, CA with two buddies.  They are carrying precious cargo in a rented mini-van for one of the friend’s son’s wedding — six cases of beer from his cellar, and are planning to stop along the way to buy more beer.  One bottle has unfortunately already exploded mere hours after the journey began.  Evidently, the Brett in the bottle of Galaxy IPA by Anchorage Brewing Co. created too much gas over the years in the cellar, and finally popped in the rental van.  Luckily, the spill was quickly contained, and no other bottles were damaged from this incident.  Take heed, bottles conditioned with any yeast are likely to pop eventually, so don’t cellar them too long.

Anyway, while Scott is traveling, I’m batching it here in Anchorage.  I realized that the two weeks that Scott is gone will be the longest time I’ve ever lived alone.  Shocking.  So I’m learning a bit about my self, and so far I can conclude that I’m not an introvert, and not a hermit.  Yesterday is a perfect example.  I signed up to volunteer at the Talkeetna Brew Fest, which is a fundraiser for the Northern Susitna Institute, and one beer festival that I have never been to.  Who doesn’t love the quaint town of Talkeetna, especially when it hosts nearly every Alaskan brewery for one day?  Even the new cidery was there, Double Shovel Cider Co.  If you’re into cider, check out their tasting room in Anchorage.

What can I say about the beer at this event that you don’t already know?  We can all agree that Alaska has an impressive selection of excellent brews to offer, considering our small population, and lack of local hops and grains.  There were a number of beers that did have local Alaskan ingredients like spruce tips, and berries.  My favorite brews were Sitka Spruce Tip Ale by Baranof Island Brewing, Statny Statny Stout by Kassik’s Kenai Brew Stop, and of course Berserker by Midnight Sun Brewing.  Drinking two pours of that to cap off the event was not my smartest move last night.  Whenever my glass was empty, I would ask whoever I was talking to at the time what was the best beer they had tasted so far, and was steered in the right direction most of the time.  I really enjoyed the low-key atmosphere at this event.  It was not too crowded like most beer fests, and there was an outdoor area with fire pits and picnic tables.  The organizers didn’t skimp on the food, which is an important, and responsible thing to have at such an event.  There was plenty of fresh-baked bread by Mountain High Pizza Pie, and a generous spread of cured meats, and artisan cheeses.

After the four-hour fest, some of us headed to the bank of the beautiful, and currently over-flowing, Susitna River to watch the sunset.  Then somehow there was always a beer in my hand for the rest of the night as we danced to a righteous band at the Fairview Inn.  I have vague memories of a friend buying me a reindeer hot dog, which was a life-saver, around 10 PM.  Good thing I had that for a late dinner, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have had the mental capacity to find my bed.

I’m back in Anchorage now, and Scott already made it to Ohio.  Eight more days of batching it, and I’m planning on attending one more beer festival before Scott gets back.  Bodega Fest is next weekend, and tickets are still available for this party, celebrating La Bodega’s 10th Anniversary!

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Sunset over the Susitna River in Talkeetna.

Sunset over the Susitna River in Talkeetna.

After-party at the Fairview Inn.

After-party at the Fairview Inn.

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