Monthly Archives: September 2018

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #152. 907 Frontier-Style Lager by 49th State Brewing Co.

When you think of Oktoberfest, one of the things that probably comes to mind is a big stein full of beer, and you dream of one day going to Münich to drink one of those (or seven).  When we heard that 49th State Brewing Company was offering free steins with every liter of 907 Frontier-Style Lager ordered, Maria and I headed straight there after work.  Luckily our studio is only a couple blocks away.  We were slightly disappointed when we found out the steins were plastic, but they were still full of a liter of delicious AK-brewed lager for a mere $9.07.  This Continental style lager was not too bitter and had a really nice flavor.  It tasted different from the beers we were drinking in Germany, but I feel that was a good thing.  Not that Germany is producing bad beer,  it’s just so traditional.  After a couple pints it gets a bit boring.  The 907 lager is not too crazy either, not like some of the great NE IPAs that 49th State has been killing it with lately.  I probably wouldn’t order a whole liter of NE IPA though.  One pint at a time seems like a better way to dole out the hoppy stuff.  I  suggest if you like lager beer to give the 907 a try.

Prost to the spirit of Oktoberfest, where beer comes in a giant glass and your pretzel is a whole meal!  Thank you 49th State for remembering the tradition, and serving up beer in German sized portions!

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #152. 907 Frontier-Style Lager by 49th State Brewing Co. 14"x11", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #152. 907 Frontier-Style Lager by 49th State Brewing Co. 14″x11″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.



Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #151. Beer Please!

When I was decorating my first dorm room, I bought a beer poster called Beers of the World.  It was inspirational to me on a number of levels, and probably has led directly to this painting I am calling Beer Please.  These two simple words can bring so much when you are out traveling the world.  Nothing brings a smile to your server’s face faster than asking for a beer in the native language.  I made this painting in honor of beer around the world, and getting it served to you.
Foreign language is a bit tricky for me.  I always just skirted by in my foreign language classes.  After this last trip overseas, I have sworn to renew my efforts at learning other languages, and am currently spending an hour a day on Russian language lessons while painting in the studio.  Normally I listen to books on tape with exciting plot-lines, and the switch has made painting more tedious.  I always feel better when I have finished the lesson and then I am rewarded when I resume listening to the stories.
I urge you to raise your pint and celebrate international beers.  Believe me, the beer tastes great out there in other countries, but nothing tastes as good as your local favorites!

The original oil painting sold. Limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.  Contact me if you’re interested in licensing this image.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #151. Beer Please. 11"x14", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #151. Beer Please. 11″x14″, oil on panel.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Studio

Well, we got back from our cabin in McCarthy yesterday, and we don’t have any trips planned for the foreseeable future, so it’s time to get back to regular life and knuckle down in the studio.  Today I signed the contract for a big 1% for Art project at Gladys Wood Elementary in Anchorage, so now I can start working on the design.  I gathered some good reference material in McCarthy, where Fall arrived a couple weeks earlier than here in Anchorage.  We also picked about 13 pounds of lingonberries, and I’ll be making many jars of jam this week.  I’m looking forward to being grounded here in Anchorage for the winter, and working in the studio.  We’ll be hosting a First Friday in October for the first time since last April!  I hope you’ll stop by.  I’ll be baking my famous chocolate chip cookies for the event.

Here are photos from my proposal for the Gladys Wood Elementary 1% for Art project.  The requested theme was Southcentral Alaskan natural scenery.  The final paintings will be different, but this is the overall concept based on my existing oil paintings.  I’ll be creating four large elliptical paintings for the walls, and six circular ones for the ceiling.  They will be displayed in two different hallways.  One hallway is themed Spring, and the other Fall.  I have until October 2019 to complete this project.  I’ll post updates on Facebook and Instagram along the way.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #150. Midnight Still Imperial Stout by Holy Mountain Brewing Co.

Holy Mountain Brewing is a fresh new Seattle brewery that has been leading the Emerald City to new heights and flavors in the craft beer community.  Colin Lenfesty and Mike Murphy opened their doors in 2014 (the same year I was painting a new beer painting every day), and were overrun with beer enthusiasts so much that they ran out of clean glassware.  Holy Mountain is the new type of brewery with a barrel aging program and amazing fresh pale ales and traditional styles that are often overlooked in the local beer scene in Seattle.  Midnight Still is a great barrel aged imperial stout.  I was lucky enough to be stationed next to Holy Mountain’s table at the Culmination Beer Festival hosted by Gabe Fletcher at Anchorage Brewing Company, and had a taster, or two of this amazing stout.  The Bourbon notes are delightfully blended with the robust, dark, coconut, vanilla, raisiny, plum-like flavors and aromas that this black dank brew encompasses.  As far as barrel aged imperial stouts go, you really can’t do much better than this.  Midnight Still is a perfect example of what BAIS should be!  This beer is hard to get, and I feel lucky to get to try it.  I got to meet the cool dudes from Holy Mountain at Culmination, working at the table, serving up beers and giving me a break so I could go around and sample the other great brews.
Cheers to Midnight Still!  When you drink this, your night will be tranquil for sure!  A beverage for those late night quiet hours to be enjoyed silently and with sophistication.

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #150. Midnight Still by Holy Mountain Brewing Co. 8"x10", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #150. Midnight Still by Holy Mountain Brewing Co. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #149. Beer Pint in Russia.

If you read Maria’s blog post about our latest trip, you know that I recently flew to Kamchatka, over the Bering Strait to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.  Then on to Irkutsk, Kaliningrad, Amsterdam, and various spots in Deutschland before catching a direct flight back from Frankfurt.  I really enjoyed Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.  The main town on the Kamchatka Peninsula is a really cool place in the world, and it’s only a short 4.5-hour flight from Anchorage.  The town is surrounded by large volcanoes, and the place really has a feel of Alaska to it, even though it’s on a different continent, and everything is in Russian in the Cyrillic alphabet.  The public transportation is both cheap and convenient with busses arriving every 10 minutes.

One of the things I love about Russia is the relaxed laws about the sale of alcoholic beverages.  Pазливное (razlivnoye), or draft beer is readily available all over Russia.  The draft beer place will fill you a to-go plastic bottle of пиво (pivo), or beer in English, or you can have them pour it into a glass for you to drink on premise.  That’s right, you can drink beer in public in Russia as if it’s a soft drink.  Since they fill the plastic bottle first, that eliminates short pours and also limits the waste that happens at a growler bar in the States.  I always cringe when I see a bartender just pouring beer foam down the drain.  There is a lot of beer that gets thrown away that way.  Is this why growlers are often $18?  In Russia every cafe, and store, even the mini markets have an alcohol section.  It’s way cheaper than here in the States, assuming you don’t buy some ungodly expensive imported something.  Russian beer is about $.50 to $1 per half liter, and there isn’t a deposit as Russians are not really into recycling.  The quality is somewhere between a decent Mexican lager and a rot gut malt liquor, depending what you order.  Some of the dark beers, or the unfiltered white beers are actually quite a bit better.  What you will not find readily available is any form of good IPA.  I didn’t see any of that anywhere on this trip aside from what was marketed as IPA by Amstel (which is actually brewed in St. Petersburg by Baltika, which also produces Heineken and Hoegaarden).  Russians also don’t seem to refrigerate stuff as often as I would expect.  Most of the beers are served warm,  and have some strange off flavor, which I think I have discerned as Diacetyl.  Getting the pivo properly chilled seems to improve most of these less than crisp lagers.  The one pictured here was purchased on draft at a local snack cafe near the beach in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.  It was cold and refreshing, and I didn’t notice anything off about it.  Maria and I shared a shawarma, some fries, and watched people at the beach and the town square.  There were two gentlemen who appeared to be renting two battery operated toy cars to parents and their kids.  The Russians are becoming quite the entrepreneurs.  The sun was setting and it was a nice evening.  We then walked back to our hotel and prepared to leave to Irkutsk and Lake Baikal the following morning.

Cheers to cold beer all over the world!

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #149. Beer Pint in Russia. 11"x14", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #149. Beer Stein in Russia. 11″x14″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

15 Highlights from Our Trip to Russia, Amsterdam and Germany

~ by Maria Benner

We just got back from a month-long trip around the world!  We flew East from Anchorage to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia.  Then we flew to Irkutsk.  If you’ve ever played Risk, these places probably sound familiar.  Next, we flew to Kaliningrad, then Amsterdam, and the final leg was from Frankfurt back to Anchorage.  In total we spent 29.5 hours in the air.  The reason we went on this epic journey was because my Mom always dreamed of seeing Lake Baikal, the largest fresh water lake in the world, and then we visited family.  So here are the 15 most memorable highlights of our trip.

1. Seeing the Pacific Ocean from the other side in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.  The beach had black magnetic sand!

Black sand beach (the sand is magnetic) on the Pacific Ocean in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.

Black sand beach (the sand is magnetic) on the Pacific Ocean in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.

2. Eating delicious red caviar every day in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.

Red caviar (salmon roe) in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.

3. Seems like each town in Russia has at least one magnificent church.  They are beautiful!

Kazan Church in Irkutsk.

Kafedral'nyy Sobor Svyatoy Zhivonachal'noy Troitsy in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.

Kafedral’nyy Sobor Svyatoy Zhivonachal’noy Troitsy in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.

Monastery of the Holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elisaveta

Monastery of the Holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elisaveta.

4. The food in Russia is ridiculously delicious, and very affordable.  Meat, bread, potatoes, beets, cucumbers, dumplings, and of course borsch are the main staples of the Russian diet.  Look at these huge chebureki (kind of like Indian fry bread with different fillings like meat, or potatoes, jam, cheese, etc.)


5. Riding a train that was pulled by an old Soviet-era steam engine.  We rode this train along Lake Baikal just like in the good ol’ days.

Soviet-era steam engine.

Soviet-era steam engine.

6. Seeing the seals that live in Lake Baikal.  They are called Nerpa in Russian.

7. Learning about Shamanism, and visiting holy Shamanistic sights on Lake Baikal.  People tie ribbons to these posts while making a wish, and when these ribbons blow in the wind, the wishes get sent to the gods.

8. Seeing the beautiful clear, clean blue water of Lake Baikal.

Lake Baikal.

9. Riding around in Russian vans called “Uaziki” around Olkhon Island.  These vans have a lot of clearance, and can do some serious off-roading.

10. Swimming in Lake Baikal.  Sorry, no pictures.  There was a banya (Russian sauna) on the beach, so we reserved it for an hour, and got to warm up in the banya, and then dive into the icy cold waters of the lake.  We could only tolerate the cold water for 30 seconds max, before running back to the banya.

11. Russian parties, and shashliki (Shish kebab).  We went on an overnight trip to a former Soviet summer camp that had been remodeled into a resort, and our new Russian friends brought enough food for a month.  The pork was marinaded in mayonnaise and vinegar with onions, and it was delicious! 

12. Boat tour on the canals in Amsterdam.  In this photo you can see seven tunnels if you look closely.

Tunnels on a canal in Amsterdam

13. Driving on the Autobahn in Germany at 180kmh (112mph). I only got to drive that fast for about ten seconds before there was a speed limit zone, and after that there was a traffic jam.

14. Riding all over Germany on the amazing trains in first class.  When you buy a Eurail Pass, you automatically get first class.  I wish America had trains like this.First Class on a German train

15. Seeing the incredible painted ceiling at Asam Church Maria de Victoria in Ingolstadt, Germany.Asam Church Maria de Victoria Ingolstadt, Germany

There were many more tremendous moments on this trip, and I wrote down everything that happened every day in my journal.  We’re happy to be back home, but that was a trip we will never forget.  If you haven’t been to Russia, I highly recommend going.