Tag Archives: alaskan beer

Brewing Beer with Alaskan Ingredients

Brewing beer with Alaskan ingredients

I am a home-brewer, and I live in Alaska. The majority of beer ingredients are not found in Alaska. Although barley does grow in Alaska, no one malts it here on a large commercial scale. Hops do not really grow well in Alaska, they don’t seem to flower before they wilt, due to our extreme daylight in summer and cold fall season. Yeast is totally available in Alaska.  I have harvested yeast in my backyard successfully. It is a wild ingredient and the outcome can vary wildly. We have a lot of water in Alaska, and that is probably the most important ingredient in beer. You can substitute all kinds of other things, but if you don’t have water, you can’t make beer. We have plentiful soft water in Alaska, that is similar to the water found in the southern part of Germany. It is easy to work with, and can be manipulated to produce water chemistry similar to anywhere in the world. This is probably why beer from Alaska is some of the best to be found anywhere. 

The most classic Alaskan ingredient is spruce tips — you can find this in commercial examples like Alaskan Winter Ale, and Sprucesplosion by 49th State Brewing.  Spruce tips have been used since Captain Cook sailed to Alaska in 1778. His crew made malt extract beer and used spruce tips as a flavoring and enriching ingredient. Spruce tips are high in vitamin C, so the beer prevented Cook’s crew from getting scurvy.  Another interesting ingredient used by Alaskan commercial breweries is rhubarb.  Turnagain Brewing’s, Rhu Framb, and Girdwood Brewing’s, Rhu Hefner, are both excellent examples. There are a lot of commercial blueberry beers made in Alaska: Turnagain uses it frequently, Glacier BrewHouse makes a blueberry IPA, and Matanuska Brewing makes a blueberry beer. My favorite blueberry beer is Anchorage Brewing’s Experiment, a sour blueberry beer. Raspberry is often used to make a delicious fruity beer, not just in Alaska, but it has traditionally been used in Belgium to make Framboise.  Glacier Brewhouse makes a raspberry wheat, and Turnagain makes a beer called Framb Was.  Basically, you can put anything you want into a beer to create unique and interesting flavors. 

This year I made a 10 gallon batch of pale ale, around 5.5% ABV, and pretty basic. It is lightly hopped with Mosaic and Citrus hops, and the base recipe is a fairly sweet ale. I took five gallons and dry-hopped it with Azacca hops and put it on draft in my kegerator. The other five gallons I racked into five one-gallon jugs, and then flavored each one differently.  I put blueberries in one, lingonberries in another, gooseberries in a third, raspberry in the fourth, and to the last one I added a lot of dried yarrow flowers. I pureed all the fruit, which was frozen first, with an immersion blender.  I let them age another week before I bottled all five batches.  I’m waiting two weeks to try them, and I hope they are as delicious as the beers I brewed last year. Maybe next year I will use wild Alaskan yeast, but this year I used American ale yeast, which is a go-to in our home-brewery.

Cheers to Alaska! Cheers to Alaskan ingredients! Cheers to Alaskan beers!


Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #137. Live painting at Odd Man Rush Brewing.

Hello beer art lovers!  It’s Thirsty Thursday yet again!  How did the last week go by so fast?  There is a sweet brewery in Eagle River, not far from Anchorage, called Odd Man Rush Brewing.  The brewers there are making some pretty great beers like the coffee-infused red IPA, a new hazy IPA, as well as many other great new beers.  You might ask what the name Odd Man Rush means.  It is a hockey term referring to when one player is in the penalty box, which creates an odd number of players on the ice and the team with the “power play” (another hockey term referring to the team that has more players on the ice) has an opportunity to rush the goal.  So there is a serious hockey theme going on at OMR Brewing.  Combined with 80’s and 90’s nostalgia as well.  Hockey sticks and cassette tapes along the walls create an ambiance that brings me right back to my youth.  The huge scoreboard on the wall is very iconic to this brewery and sums up the aesthetic of the establishment.  I painted their popular flagship brew the Enforcer IPA.  I was amazed how the head on this American IPA held until I nearly finished the painting.  That’s well over an hour!  I would also like to mention how refreshing it was to not be drinking a NEIPA (New England IPA) for a change.  There is nothing wrong with the NEIPA style, but a great West Coast IPA will always have its place in my heart.  Enforcer is another hockey term, meaning a defenseman who dishes out the punishment, aggressively slamming the offense into the boards, and maybe even getting put in the penalty box for roughing.  In my humble opinion, that’s a great name for this particular beer!  If hockey is your game, you’ll feel right at home at this taproom.  Put on the foil, these goons are making some great brews!  Cheers to your victory on the ice and in the brewery!

The original oil painting sold.  Limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday #137. Enforcer IPA by Odd Man Rush Brewing. Painted live at the brewery's taproom. 8"x10", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday #137. Enforcer IPA by Odd Man Rush Brewing. Painted live at the brewery’s taproom. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #109. Wolf Pack Pilsner by Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Happy Thirsty Thursday, beer connoisseurs!

A new, “modern” Pilsner is available from our local favorite brewery Midnight Sun Brewing Company — a brew known as Wolf Pack!  I think it may be one of the best pilsners available in the city.  It’s been my libation of choice lately when I go to Crush Wine Bistro to check on my current art show there, which will be up for the month of October.  MSBC is known for brewing bold, big beers, but this one is a bit more on the normal side.  Still a very hop forward version of Pilsner, but only 5% ABV, and compared to an IPA, not a hop bomb.  More balanced, yet still hop forward.  This beer is true to Pilsner style with more hops on the bittering end, and less in the aroma.  It drinks like an aggressive Czech, or dry-hopped German Pils.  Beers that come to mind when drinking it are Bitburger, Budvar, Pilsner Urquell, and one of my all-time favorite pilsners Berliner Pilsner.  So now when I get a hankering for the Euro flavor, but don’t want to travel halfway around the world, I’ll save the airfare and just buy a 12 pack (coming soon) of the Wolf Pack Modern Pilsner.  

Midnight Sun has a beer for just about anyone, and if you are a pilsner fan, this is a good example of a not boring version of this classic style.  Thanks MSBC for not only making huge beers like Termination Dust (I’m a fan), but making great classic session-able styles as well!  You can actually drink this beer at the brewery and still drive home safely.  

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #109.  Wolf Pack Pilsner by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. By Scott Clendaniel. 14"x11", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #109. Wolf Pack Pilsner by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. By Scott Clendaniel. 14″x11″, oil on panel.

Year of Beer Paintings – Day 20

Happy MLK DAY!

Today’s Year of Beer is Hopothermia from Alaskan Brewing Co.  Hypothermia is always a concern when living in Alaska, that is why we consistently drink heavy winter warmers all winter long.  Alaskans do this to reduce the anxiety of knowing we are one step away from freezing to death.  That is why this American Double IPA measures 8.5% ABV and 70 IBUs.  It will definitely provide that warm glow you need to get through the month of January in the nation’s darkest, coldest state.

This is the poem that’s on the Hopothermia packaging. Can you tell of which poem by which northern poet this is a parody?  Hint, his initials are R. S., and the poem is about his friend Sam.

“There are strange brews made where glaciers cascade
By the brewers who know no bounds.
For they stuff in the hops ’til the temperature drops
And then call for a few more rounds.
In Alaska, it seems, every brewer dreams
of a bold Double IPA.
Hopothermia’s the beer, in the Last Frontier
That will keep the wild wolves at bay.”

You can purchase the original painting or a limited-edition print at my Etsy shop.

Year of Beer 01.20, Hopothermia Double IPA from Alaskan Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8"x10".

Year of Beer 01.20, Hopothermia Double IPA from Alaskan Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8″x10″.

Year of Beer Paintings – Day 15

AK Beer Week is in full swing, so today’s painting is of IPA from the state’s largest brewery, Alaskan Brewing Co. located in Juneau.  The beer is pictured on a classic long board with a red stripe on Cannon Beach in Yakutat in front of Mount Saint Elias.  Yakutat is a surfing destination in Alaska where surfers catch “Icy Waves”.

The original painting sold. You can purchase a limited-edition print at my Etsy Shop.

View the complete Year of Beer Paintings gallery.

Year of Beer 01.15, IPA from Alaskan Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8"x10".

Year of Beer 01.15, IPA from Alaskan Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8″x10″.