Author Archives: realartisbetter

About realartisbetter

Real Art Is Better! Real Artist living and working in Anchorage and McCarthy, Alaska, making Real Art - colorful oil paintings and prints that brighten any space.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #143. Homebrew in Humpy Cove, Alaska.

“Life is Short, Drink Good Beer.” That’s quality advice printed on my steel pint cup.  You might not always get a great beer, but the least you can do is try.  This little painting tells a story.  For three years now I have been trying to correlate a time to go with my collectors and friends, the Kirkpatricks, to their cabin in Humpy Cove on Resurrection Bay.  After totally missing it for two summers in a row I finally nailed down a time when I wouldn’t be in McCarthy, dip-netting, or flying to a wedding somewhere out of State.  Alaska summers are nuts, but also a blast.  I try to just relax and let the insanity flow around me without letting it disturb my inner peace.  This is hard to do when the midnight sun is pulling you to do more and rest less.

Our trip to the cove was amazing!  After loading up the boat we stopped right outside Seward’s boat harbor to watch a pod of Humpback whales.  We actually saw whales every day on this adventure.  Then after arriving to the cove in the fast red boat we hung out on the dock and sipped delicious keg beer from our steel pints, while soaking in the sun.  After Taiya the Siberian Husky attacked a porcupine, and had to have a dozen quills pulled out of her paw and snout (could have been much worse), we went for a hike up the hill where the bay vistas were unbelievable.  Then Taiya went swimming and I got to play lifeguard, and got an armful of shivering wet husky.  Good thing I didn’t spill my beer!  I had to be careful around that pooch, because she likes to drink beer, so if I set my pint on the deck, it was likely to get the dog tax.

We went fishing and caught a halibut about the size of a chicken.  Maria got one that was so small, we all agreed it was the size of a large keychain.  After fishing I sat on the dock and made this painting while the boat took guests back to Seward, and Maria and Colleen went kayaking.  Yes, I drank some beer while I painted.  Overall a very noteworthy trip!  Whales, waterfalls, bluebird skies and three draft beer options made for a very exciting weekend!  Resurrection Bay is one of those places in Alaska that is definitely beautiful!  I left this painting at the cabin as a gift to our hosts for being so gracious!

Plein air oil painting of Humpy Cove in Resurrection Bay, Alaska.

Plein air oil painting of Humpy Cove in Resurrection Bay, Alaska. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

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Small Batch Brewing in a Condo Kitchen

I’m brewing a big batch of beer right now, which is taking up my whole day, but I have a few minutes of down time while the mighty enzymes break down the protein strains and starches from the grain, and turn them into beautiful grain sugars.  I’d like to take this respite from my brew day to talk about small batch brewing.  I have been working on a yeast project for over a year now, keeping a strain of yeast alive by brewing small batches almost every week.  My house yeast strain is a hybrid of a Wyeast Belgian Witbier strain and a yeast I propagated from the bottom of a Trappist Orval bottle.  I blended them together and keep them in a growler. When I told Gabe Fletcher of Anchorage Brewing about the project, he told me I created a Solera.  I feed the yeast the day before I need to use it by making a small amount of wort (unfermented beer) and adding it to the yeast growler.  The next day I brew a small batch consisting of six pints of water and about a cup of malt extract.  I don’t even need to boil this stuff for longer than 5 minutes because I don’t want this beer to be bitter, just floral.  I do add lots of hops, but basically no bittering hops for this particular style.  I have experimented using dry malt extract vs the liquid goo you can purchase in bulk at Arctic Brewing Supply.  I found that although the liquid goo is annoying to work with, it is more affordable than doing everything with the dry powder.  You do have to use a little more, and it likes to go everywhere.  I cool down the wort and put it in a gallon glass jug, add about a pint of my yeast slurry and cap it with an airlock.  A week later I dry hop it with about 1/4 to 1/2 ounce of pellet hops.  I have used all kinds of different hop varieties but the one that consistently tastes the best with this yeast is Citra — a very fruity hop in an orange/grapefruit kind of way.  I then let it sit another week before I bottle it, adding 4 charging tablets to each 11 oz bottle.  I get between 5-7  bottles in a  three weeks cycle.  If I brew weekly that makes about a six-pack a week, which is just enough home brew to keep myself stocked and to have a few to share with friends.

I found that it is really fun to experiment this way.  I don’t take too many notes, so this is more like an art project than science.  Dates and hops are about all I record, but I have a really good feel for what this yeast will do and how it will taste after making about 30 batches.  Small batch brewing requires less time but you also get less beer.  I spend about 90 minutes a week to make my six-pack, mostly bottling time and wort chilling.  It is my fun kitchen time, and I enjoy it thoroughly.  The best part is sharing it with friends in 3-4 oz tasters, and comparing the different batches.  Well, I have to attend to my mash so that the West Anchorage ’98 high school reunion has some of my homebrew to drink.  “Peace, Love, Happiness!” That is my brewery’s name, and motto.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #142. Moon Juice Galactic IPA by SanTan Brewing Co.

What happens when you go to Arizona?  If you’re from Alaska, probably a sun tan, but what about the beer you ask?  Well, you might end up drinking a delicious beer from SanTan Brewing Co.  This beer known as Moon Juice Galactic IPA is a great version of IPA with enough hops and strength to make sure you feel satisfied.  My mother-in-law winters in Surprise, Arizona, and I was pleasantly surprised when I found Moon Juice readily available at Fry’s grocery store when we were visiting her in February.  I’m beginning to really like the desert the more time I end up spending in the Grand Canyon State.  The desert, despite making one feel like being on the moon, has way more life than an Alaskan guy would expect.  More culture is growing in the form of breweries too.  Eight breweries have sprung up in Flagstaff and at least 29 in Phoenix recently.  SanTan is located in Chandler, AZ, but is opening a second location in Uptown Phoenix.  SanTan not only makes Moon Juice, but also brews a grapefruit version of its über popular IPA.  They also make a pineapple wheat beer among many other creative offerings.  SanTan is leading the AZ canning revolution and only has its products available in 12oz, 24oz and onsite 32oz cans!  While I was working on this painting I was listening to a Sci-Fi book about war on the moon.  I totally felt like I was that guy in the pressure suit pictured on the can!
Cheers to an unearthly beer!  Great work SanTan, and keep up your well-crafted Arizona ales!

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #142. Moon Juice Galactic IPA by SanTan Brewing Co. 8"x10", oil on panel.  By Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #142. Moon Juice Galactic IPA by SanTan Brewing Co. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #141. Grand Opening of King Street Brewing Company 2.0

King Street Brewing Company’s amazing pop top IPA tastes even better when you are on top of Bird Ridge, where you can chill your beer in the snow.  Bird Ridge is a grueling 4.6 mile (each way) hike with several false summits, so nothing is better than a tasty craft beer once you get to the top!  Oh, and the view is pretty good too.
King Street opened its doors in 2010, and I remember the two home-brewers, Shane and Dana, standing up at our local home-brew club meeting and proudly stating,  “We are going to open a brewery!”  They have been doing a bang up job, and their 10 barrel brewhouse just hasn’t been big enough due to popular demand.  They are going big and built a new KING sized brewery!  Other good news is that it is now much closer to Anchorage Brewing Company, so if you feel like a Brett-forward saison after a traditional King Street West Coast Style IPA, you can simply walk on over!  Unfortunately, still too far to walk to both Cynosure Brewing, or Midnight Sun Brewing, but totally an easy bike ride.  I love the Anchorage tetrahedron of breweries!
I didn’t know when the new King Street brewery was going to open, but I knew it had to be soon.  Luckily, I have Shane Kingry’s phone number, so I gave him a call this morning.  He told me that the new facility opens up at noon this Saturday, June 2nd!  Shane said the new place will be open, clean, and they will have tables and beer.  They also plan to have a food truck.
The month of June is starting out beertastic with my First Firkin Friday art opening at Midnight Sun Brewing.  I will be tapping the firkin at 5pm this Friday, June 1st.  Then on Saturday I will definitely be going to King Street Brewing’s grand opening.  I can’t wait to check out the new three-story building!
Cheers to growth and success!  Way to be King Street!  You are doing it the right way!

This original oil painting and 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #141. King Street Brewing Company IPA. 8"x10", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #141. King Street Brewing Company IPA. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

First Firkin Friday Art Show at Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Twice a year I get to have art shows at Midnight Sun Brewing Company in Anchorage.  Once in January, and also in June.  There are a couple perks to showing my oil paintings at this venue.  First, I get to tap a firkin (a small keg) at 5pm of opening day to kick off the month-long show.  Usually the firkin is filled with one of MSBC’s delicious brews cask-conditioned with special ingredients.  For example, at my upcoming art opening this Friday, June 1st, the firkin will be Panty Peeler Belgian-style ale cask-conditioned with tequila-soaked oak spirals and lime!  That sounds festive and refreshing!  Another benefit of having an art show at a brewery is that every time I go there to check on the show, I order a beer, which is tax deductible!

I’ve been working on several new pieces for this show, including paintings of the Homer Harbor, a K2 plane flying by Broken Tooth Mountain, a tandem bicycle, and a 5ft x 4ft piece of birch trees that is for people who have big empty walls.  I’ll be posting pictures of these paintings each day for the rest of the week on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds.

Click here for details about the event, and please invite your friends!  I hope you can be there at 5pm on June 1st to watch me tap the firkin, but if not, we’ll be there until 8pm on Friday, and my art will be on display and available for sale until July 5th.

I hope that when I tap the firkin, this happens, because a beer shower is always fun, although I don’t want to waste too much beer.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #140. Schnickelfritz Weissbier by Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.

Ist das nicht ein Schnickelfritz! Ja das ist ein Schnickelfritz, oh du schöne Schnickelfritz!
“Is this not a Schnickelfritz, yes this is a Schnickelfritz, oh you pretty Schnickelfritz!”
The Schnickelfritz is so German you just might find yourself singing this ditty auf Deutsch (in German) after drinking this tasty heffe.  Schnickelfritz is slang for a German misbehaving child, but is also a weissbier, a beer brewed with wheat in St. Louis, MO, at the Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.   This beer is becoming very popular in the area, so popular that guys like me in Alaska are getting to try it!  Thanks John Rice for driving this one all the way to McCarthy!  I was thinking I could put a Schnitzelbank (a traditional German tool for log peeling) in the background, but I told Maria about it and she said that was way too obscure of a reference.  So I did more research and found out that this beer, as well as many other Urban Chestnut beers, are served at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.  I think the reason it would be so good at the stadium is the 360 pop top that lets you really smell the aromatics of the beer.  No plastic cup, thank you!
Florian Kuplent, brewer and startup founder of Urban Chestnut, started the brewery with David Wolfe in 2011.  Florian was born in Germany and spent many years brewing traditional german beers before coming to America where he worked at an East coast brewery and spent some time honing his skills making craft beer for the giant Anheuser Busch.  Basically, Kuplent worked all over the world with some experience in Germany, England, Belgium, and America!  No wonder the Schnickelfritz Weissbier is so world class!  It was brewed with world renowned experience!  Prost (cheers) to Schnickelfritz, a truly German-American beer!

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday #140. Schnickelfritz Weissbier by Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. 8"x10", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday #140. Schnickelfritz Weissbier by Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #139. Corvus Double IPA by Anchorage Brewing Co.

Which bike is the coolest, most drool-worthy, Alaska-designed, full carbon fat bike?  Anybody in the cycling community will tell you it is a Fatback Corvus.  Perfectly designed for Alaskan expeditions by Greg Matyas, owner of Speedway Cycles, this fat bike is getting rave reviews all over the country.
Basically this is the lightest, strongest, and best fat bike you can buy!  It is such a great bike that Gabe Fletcher of Anchorage Brewing Company made a beer in honor of it — the Corvus Imperial IPA.  This NE DIPA is no joke at 8.4% ABV and teeming with Mosaic hops.  Getting a beer made by Gabe is an honor and you know that the Corvus is the real deal.
Corvus refers to a crow, or a raven in Latin.  The label of the beer has a crow with a crow skull, so I decided to paint one in the composition, grabbing hold of the grips of this bad boy.
Cheers to bikes and beers, and two guys who make great examples of both, Gabe and Greg.  I hope you get to ride and drink beers for a really long time!

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #139. Corvus IPA by Anchorage Brewing Co. 14"x11", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #139. Corvus IPA by Anchorage Brewing Co. 14″x11″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.