Big Dipa Double IPA by Denali Brewing Company

Up here in the Great Land, everything is big.  Alaska is the biggest in the Union by a considerable margin.  We joke that Texans better not make us mad, or we’ll divide Alaska in half, and make Texas the third largest State.  One thing we love here in Alaska is big IPAs.  There is a big craft brewery named after the biggest mountain on the continent, Denali Brewing Co.  They just came out with a beer called the Big DIPA, which references our state flag and depicts Ursa Major, or the Big Dipper on the can.  A Double IPA is often referred to as a DIPA, hence the Big DIPA name.  The beer is full of hop flavor, and I recommend picking up a six-pack, but remember that this beer is not session-able, unless you’re a 350lb logger.  Cheers to Alaska, and Denali’s Dig DIPA!  May the stars guide your beer purchase tonight!

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Big Dipa Double IPA by Denali Brewing Co. Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. 8"x10", oil on panel.

Big Dipa Double IPA by Denali Brewing Co. Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. 8″x10″, oil on panel.

 

New Printer!

~ by Maria Benner

Epson Artisan 1430

We knew the day would come when our trusty inkjet printer, which we aptly named the Work Horse, would stop working.  We bought it about four years ago, so we knew it was probably on its last legs, because it had printed thousands of prints.  I was printing out several prints for a large order when, after printing a couple perfect ones, the Work Horse told me I needed to replace the photo black ink cartridge.  This happens often, and I’m prepared with replacement cartridges standing by.  No big deal.  After the new cartridge went in, the print head decided it had worked long and hard enough, and apparently was too clogged to keep going.  Since the printer had just made several perfect prints right before I changed the cartridge, I was convinced that the problem was the cartridge, so I called Epson support and convinced the guy who had an unidentifiable accent to send me a replacement one for free.  Three days later it arrived via FedEx, but sadly, the support guy was right, the problem was not the cartridge, it was our printer.  I called the local printer repair place, and the guy said it would cost $150 to clean the print head.  Considering there are nine of them, each of which are likely to get clogged sooner than later, we decided to retire the old Work Horse and replace it with a newer, slicker model.  We then learned that our printer had been discontinued!  So we ended up going for the Epson Artisan 1430 inkjet printer.  We ordered it from Amazon, because it was $50 cheaper than at Epson.com, and paid for faster shipping, since we had several orders that were way overdue by this point.  This printer has been working great, and the best part is that the ink cartridges are available at Office Depot just down the street, so I don’t have to order them in advance!  So we’re back in business.  Epson has a great recycling program, and provided a free FedEx shipping label so we could mail the Work Horse back.  Maybe it will get refurbished and put back to work.  It was a good machine, and I can only hope that the new printer, which doesn’t have a name yet, will last as long.

Lines Imperial IPA by Monkish Brewing Co. and Anchorage Brewing Co.

Hello beer hunters, connoisseurs, and hop-heads.  I am glad to release a new beer painting that I finished just a week ago.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on an über fresh can of Lines Imperial IPA, a collaboration between California’s Monkish Brewing and our famous local favorite Anchorage Brewing.  This beer is delicious!  At first it was very mellow, but as it warmed up, a floral and citrusy hop flavor became very evident, yet not overpowering.  I was able to bend the ear of Gabe Fletcher while sipping on this delectable brew.  He divulged that this was a zero IBU IPA dry hopped with lupulin powder, the secret ingredient in this fine beer.  This batch of lupulin powder was a blend of Mosaic, Citra and Simcoe hops that had been flash frozen to extract the most potent part of the hop, the Alpha acids.  I was surprised he was selling it for 10 bucks a can, but when you consider how far a schlep to LA is from Anchorage, and how long I would have to stand in line to get this beer down there, then it’s a steal of a deal.

The name Lines has two meanings to me.  One is evident from the label, since the powder reminded the brewers of another kind of powered substance, but the second meaning may be a reference to the fact that every time Monkish releases a new canned offering, beer nerds line up for hours to get it.  I stepped up to the bar as soon as I walked into Anchorage Brewing and Gabe himself poured me the beer strait from the can.  On a side note, that’s when I found out that the tall tulip glasses at Anchorage Brewing hold 14 oz when filled to the rim.  I was surprised that only 2 oz remained in my cool shiny can.

I am fond of the shiny cans.  So far I have not been let down by one.  Every time I have bought or tasted one, it has been worth the price…  They always seem to be somewhere around $4 a can for offsite consumption.  So at a bar in Alaska 10 bucks is a deal.  Breweries use these cans for very small releases, because they can just slap a sticker on them, and don’t have to order thousands of pre-printed cans.  Word is that Gabe plans to brew this again, and will can it when his new canning line is operational, so more people will get a chance to try this tasty brew!

Cheers to Lines, but not the kind I have to stand in!

This original oil painting, and 30 limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Lines Imperial IPA by Monkish Brewing Co. and Anchorage Brewing Co. Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. Oil on panel. 8"x10".

Lines Imperial IPA by Monkish Brewing Co. and Anchorage Brewing Co. Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. Oil on panel. 8″x10″.

 

A Tale of Two Homes… in Alaska

Back at the cabin after a skiing adventure.

People always ask how I like living in McCarthy.  They must see my Facebook posts and just assume since I spend a lot of time there that it’s my primary residence.  As of now, I live in an efficient downtown condo in Anchorage.  As much as I love going to McCarthy, and the Wrangell – St. Elias National Park that surrounds this cool mountain town, I will probably never spend more than five months of the year there.  It’s really remote without a real gas station and only a small seasonal grocery store.  Maria and I have been building a cabin on our lot two miles south of the town of McCarthy for about four years now.  We bought the lot in 2005, and I convinced Maria that we should start to build a cabin there in 2010.  In 2012 we broke ground on the foundation and started the log work.  Three summers later we were putting the roof on.  This year we installed the wood stove and moved in!

We have lived in a small apartment style condo in Anchorage since 2006.  It has been really efficient, and at 730+ square feet, two bedrooms with a small bathroom, it is not luxurious, but cozy and comfortable city living.  I just cleaned the entire pad in about an hour this morning.  However, it feels cramped after a long winter and I was just dying to go to McCarthy in the winter now that the wood stove is in.  Hanging out on our ten acres in the woods after living near the heart of Anchorage without an outlet to private outdoor space left us feeling hankering for some wilderness solitude.  I convinced Maria it would be cool to head out for a week in March, ski in with sleds of supplies and just hang at out mountain home.  I did some painting and Maria did some business work in the mornings and we would adventure in the afternoons.  Later in the day, which are getting longer and longer as spring rapidly approaches, we would burn large fires of forest brush in the outdoor fire ring.  On a couple of noteworthy outings we skied around the sleepy town of Kennicott, explored on skis the icebergs on the West side of the glacier, skied up McCarthy Creek, and in and around our neighborhood.  Overall, it really gave me a great feeling of mountains wilderness beauty that satisfied our itch to leave the hubbub of the city  behind.

Working next to the wood stove.

The trip was great, but a week was long enough during March.  First off, water is a problem in our subdivision.  We are up on a bluff, so you have to spend some serious cash to put in deep wells, so most of the time we collect rain water from our roof.  This works really well during the summer months, and in winter there is snow, but it takes a lot of energy and time to melt snow.  We can’t drive to our lot during the winter as the bridge is covered in three feet of snow and so is the road up to our place.  It is a snowmobile haven, and a good place to ski as well.  I ski, since I don’t have an Arctic Cat or a Ski-Doo.  Water is heavy, so we had to ration it to avoid too many heavy loads.  Another problem with wilderness living in the winter is using the outhouse, which is really far away from the warm house, and is frozen.  Lastly, the wood stove is an archaic technology that is a lot of work to keep a log cabin warm.  It’s hard to find wood that isn’t too wet from snow.  It seems that it rained and froze right before it snowed, and even though I stored the wood under a tarp, there was a lot of it full of moisture.  Yes, we are in the process of building a necessary woodshed, but as I said, we aren’t even fully done building the place yet.  The house has a bunch of drafts and we need to finish chinking, as well as installing a bunch of important trim pieces.  It seemed I was constantly loading the stove, until the creosote clogged the pipe.  This turned out to be a major cluster, but fortunately it happened at the end of the week so we just went home.  Next time I head out, I have to bring a chimney brush, climb on the roof and maintain the stovepipe before we have heat.  Then we will have to hope we don’t burn the place down.  It seems silly to have a house that is made of the same combustible stuff we heat it with, but it’s working for now.

Maria skiing past an ice berg on Kennicott Glacier.

Icebergs on Kennicott Glacier.

After a week in the woods, I’m glad to be back in Anchorage.  Working at the comfortable studio with running water, and hanging out in my small cozy condo at the corner of downtown and Fairview.  I can buy groceries and gas, drive on plowed roads, have indoor plumbing, and a thermostat.  The wilderness is very inspirational, and I loved my trip, but I also know that the people who live out there are some tough hombres.  It isn’t easy living off grid especially as you are building systems.  One thing goes wrong and you could be living in a cold cabin… or worse.

We waited for this giant slab of snow and ice to crash all week, and it finally fell with a loud thud on our last night at the cabin.

The gray jays were happy to see us. They finally started eating out of our hands last summer.

The Kennicott Mill building.

The Kennicott Glacier.

Blind Pig IPA by Russian River Brewing Company

If you walked into a speakeasy during Prohibition and asked for a “Blind Pig”, you may have received a beer.  I should have painted the pig drinking from a blank Mason jar, as that is the way beer would have been served during those times.  A pint jar was known as a pig, and a blank one was known as a “Blind Pig.”  Ironically, the first time I drank Blind Pig IPA by Russian River Brewing Company was not in California, but in Philadelphia at Monk’s Cafe.  I ordered it thinking that it was probably the best thing on the extensive menu, called the Beer Bible, and I was not let down.  I drank it again at the Russian River brew pub in Santa Rosa, and came back the next day, nearly emptying my bank account, and making a generous addition to my beer cellar.  All I have left is a couple bottles of the barrel sour ales now.  Looks like I will have to make another trip to Santa Rosa to refill my private stock.  If you do get your hands on this treasured ale, don’t hoard it, but drink it.  IPA is best fresh!  So share and enjoy!  Don’t let your cool pet pig get ahold of it.  Once they have gotten the taste, they will never be satiated!   Cheers to the “Blind Pig” — the best pig for drinking!

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Blind Pig IPA by Russian River Brewing Co. Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. 14"x11", oil on panel.

Blind Pig IPA by Russian River Brewing Co. Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. 14″x11″, oil on panel.

The Troll House Cookie Recipe

Scott Clendaniel Real Art Is Better Studio Troll House Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. The awesome cutting board was made by Josh Ahsoak.

Troll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. The awesome cutting board was made by Josh Ahsoak.

If you have visited our studio during a First Friday, or another open studio event, you may have nibbled on my homemade chocolate chip cookies that I always bake for your enjoyment.  Once a young boy asked for the recipe and I scrawled it down for him on a sheet of paper, and I wonder if he ever bothered to bake them.  The word is getting out about the freshly baked cookies at the Real Art Is Better studio, and since several people have now asked for the recipe, here it is.  This is my modified version of the Nestlé Toll-House recipe.  

Clendaniel “Troll-House” Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Ingredients:

1 cup (scant) coconut oil

1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar

1 tbsp molasses

2 eggs

1 bag Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate premium baking chips

1/8 cup crushed macadamia nuts, or pecans, or a blend of the two, or your favorite nut

1 tsp aluminum free baking powder, or baking soda if you don’t have baking powder

 2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On low heat melt the coconut oil.  In a large bowl combine the sugar and the molasses, and add the melted coconut oil.  Add eggs, and mix.  Add nuts and chocolate chips, and mix.  Add baking powder and flour, and mix until a fine cookie dough forms.  Form 1 inch balls and place them on an un-greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on size of cookies.  Cool and serve.  Makes 24-48 cookies, depending on cookie size.

Honeymoon Hefe by Kenai River Brewing Company

Kenai River Brewing has bottled another beer, and it’s a great session-able brew.  I’m glad it’s not another IPA.  Don’t get me wrong, I love big, bold beers and session IPAs, but it’s nice to get a good beer that is highly drinkable that is a little bit different.  With 45% wheat malt, the Honeymoon Hefe Ale is a true marriage between flavor and refreshment.  This fine fermented beverage would be great out on the river and even late at night around the campfire.  Not only is it delicious, the yellow can perfectly compliments the cool blue of the Kenai River, won’t get lost easily, and the cans are easy to pack out. 

I included a pair of Rufous Hummingbirds in the painting to emphasize the honeymoon part of the name of this beer.  This mated pair is completely in love with each other, and this beer.  As long as we’re talking about honey and birds, I also had to include Fireweed, one of Alaska’s truly amazing flowers, and of course Alaska’s official State flower, the Forget-Me-Not.  So grab a sixer of this tasty beer, and head out to the Kenai to really have a good time recreating!  This beer is a perfect accompaniment to the Alaska outdoors.

Cheers to drinking the best beers in the Last Frontier!

The original oil painting sold. Limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Honeymoon Hefe by Kenai River Brewing Company in Soldotna, Alaska. Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. 8"x10", oil on panel.

Honeymoon Hefe by Kenai River Brewing Company in Soldotna, Alaska. Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. 8″x10″, oil on panel.